Monday, July 31, 2006

Republicans Never Fade Away...

Years ago, a very melodramatic General Douglas McArthur told Congress that, "old soldiers never die, they just fade away."

McArthur, a very popular and skilled Army general, had just been fired for not doing his job the way the boss, President Harry Truman, wanted it done. This was before the (r)epublican party turned Congress into a rubber-stamp for presidential whims and, in defiance of Truman, leadership of the House and Senate gave the old soldier a rather large opportunity to address a joint session and make his case.

Today, highwayscribery does the work you don't have time to do and points out that unlike old soldiers, old (r)epublicans never fade away, they just keep soldiering on.

And, in case you are buying all the pap about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) being a kindler, gentler version of the guy who last year, kicked nurses' asses, look at what came in over the transom.

Arnold announced that he intends to appoint "James" Rogan to the Orange County Superior Court. "James," used to be "Jim" Rogan, one of the notorious "House managers" who decided putting President Clinton through the political ringer was more important than fighting Usama Bin-Laden.

Yes, one of those yokels who took up the nation's time by putting the president on trial for, well, you remember, instead of leaving the matter up to his wife and daughter.

"Jim" was a Congessman representing a northeastern swathe of Los Angeles at the time; Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena etc., and he went against the wishes of his liberal constituents on behalf of THE RULE OF LAW.

He was warned, but went ahead and voted for impeachment anyway. Soon after he was out of a job. Now he's up for a new one: upholding THE RULE OF LAW in Orange County, which is way south of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and the scribe can only hope he's moved down there where his politics are a little more, if not completely, in sync with the citizenry.

"Intends to appoint" announcements are rather rare in politics, and if Schwarzenegger follows through on his intention, Rogan will be pulling in $150,696 annually at his latest stop in the political version of musical chairs.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Three More Dead Soldiers

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Fort Irwin Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Specialist Andrew Velez of Lubbock, TX:

"Today, we solemnly add Specialist Velez's name to the list of fallen service members. Maria and I offer our deepest sympathies to Andrews loved ones. We feel honored to have people like Andrew protecting our country and will remain forever grateful for the sacrifices made for our freedoms."

Velez, 22, died July 25 of non-combat related injuries sustained in Sharona, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the Corps Support Battalion, Theater Support Command, Fort Irwin, CA.

In honor of Specialist Velez, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Discovery Bay Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Joseph Graves of Discovery Bay:

"Spc. Graves courageously undertook his duties as a member of the United States Army. Maria and I want to reaffirm to Joseph's family that we are forever indebted to him for giving his life to the cause of freedom. Our hearts go out to his family during this painful time."

Graves, 21, died July 25 of injuries sustained when his convoy encountered enemy fire in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 110th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Spc. Graves, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Geofrey R. Cayer of Fitchburg, MA:

"Today, we honor Lance Cpl. Cayer, an individual who walked courageously in harm's way and risked his life for his country. Maria and I wish to send our condolences to Geofrey's family, friends and fellow Marines who served along side him. Our prayers go out to those who mourn his loss."

Cayer, 20, died July 18 of injuries sustained from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Cayer, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

cigarette poetry and other oddities (from Christine)

Our tagline here at highwayscribery promises “politics, poetry and prose,” but they do not appear in equal doses, for whatever reason.

Today we are going to reproduce a poem written by Charles Loomis entitled “My Cigarette.” So popular was it that the author had it copyrighted.

We run it today to mark the limited availability of the highway scribe's novel,
“The Sidewalk Smokers Club.”

What the scribe has done is publish a limited number of galley copies which will be sent out to a (naturally) limited number of folk. The idea is to get some reviews on this outstanding and original work of literary fiction. As it turns out, most media outlets like a four-month lead time for reviewing books so that they can assign them, schedule, and publish them to coincide with the book’s actual release.

the scribe learned that the hard way with “Vedette.”

Gushing reviews garnered, we’ll then resubmit to the publisher, erase the “Galley Copy Not For Resale” blazoned across the front, and have a launch party sometime soon, somewhere in Los Angeles to which all will be invited to come and hear the scribe read to
Omar Torrez’ guitar and then join us outside for a big old sidewalk smoke.

Meantime, if you want one of these handsome galley copies, e-mail the scribe by clicking the little envelope at the bottom right hand of this post, and we can work out something nice (and cheap) together.

Here’s the poem:

My Cigarette

My Cigarette, Can I forget
How Kate and I, in sunny
Sat in the shade the elm-tree
And rolled the fragrant weed
I, at her side, beatified
To hold and guide her fingers
She, rolling slow the paper’s
Putting my heart in with the

My cigarette! I see her yet,
The white smoke from her lips curling,
Her dreaming eyes, her soft
But clearest, dearest of them
And oftenest that I know,
the old parlor there across
the hall,
And Gran’ma’s faltering little
“Your mama aske for you”–
New England fifty years ago,
And I just turned two.

White shutters by the whiter
And a whitest face therein;
A strong man pacing still and dread,
And the tall clock ticking,
ticking slow
Where little boys must never
go –
but now they led me in.

Thin fingers, like as petals,
Cold to a baby’s cheeks;
Big eyes so deep I cannot
see –
Till stars come up in them for
The shadow of a breath that
“God keep my little boy!” And
Slow lids – and – Nothing.
And they bore me out again.

Loomis was born in Massachusetts (1859) where he demonstrated formidable intellectual ability and curiosity. He went to Harvard but quit, clearly one of those restless types who can’t bear the burden of institutional rules. He was living in Cincinnati when, in 1884, an offer from the “Los Angeles Times” piqued his interest. Accepting the position, Loomis got it into his head to make the journey west on foot. He achieved the trek to Los Angeles, although he almost lost his life in the snows of New Mexico. He almost met Geronimo at one point, lived in New Mexico, was good friends to Teddy Roosevelt, lived in Peru, served as head librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library and generally experienced a life worthy of recounting.

Here’s a
bio and other stuff.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Specialist Manuel J. Holguin

We try not to manipulate these announcements of sad departure and tragic death with additional text, rather attempt to remember these men and women for a solemn written moment as it were. But it's getting ridiculous. The deaths are eating up all the space and time at highwayscribery. We are committed to running them and therefore must forego our own thoughts, ever-mindful of your television-age inspired attention spans.

But now the (p)resident, not happy with the level of tension and violence he has created world wide, would like to send more troops to the Middle East. Shaun Mullen at "Kiko's House" wants to know where the outrage is.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Woodlake Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement on the death of Spc. Manuel J. Holguin of Woodlake:

"Maria and I join Californians in expressing our sadness over the loss of Spc. Holguin. Manuel willingly gavve his life for the noble cause of freedom. We will remember Manuel as he joins the brave servicemen annd women who have lost their lives serving our great nation.

Holguin, 21, died July 15 of injuries sustained when his dismounted patrol encountered enemy small arms fire and an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

In honor of Spc. Holguin, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Monday, July 24, 2006

On China

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The big news, of course, and as per usual, ad nauseum is the war in the Middle East.

Don’t know why. That’s what they do over there.

the scribe’s neighborhood is pocked with the giant Jewish Federation Building and on Sunday it was overrun by pro-Israel people, and pro-Palestinian people, and pro-Lebanese people, who, when you boiled down their slogans and speeches all had one thing in common – they are all pro-war people.

The whole “solidarity” rally was naught but a big, blood-curdling war party and both sides couldn’t have appeared happier. Their signs and chants revealed their blindness to any cause but their own and the extremes they were willing to entertain on behalf of those causes.

They really are a big pain in the ass to the rest of the world and if you read Marguerite Yourcenar's “Memoirs of Hadrian,” which dates back some 2,000 years, you get the idea they always have been.

Bush, of course, doesn’t read and makes much of the fact, tapping into the long-standing American penchant for anti-intellectualism and to which highwayscribery’s over-to-top snob scotch approach to news is an answer.

So screw ‘em all; they don’t know how to enjoy life.

the scribe, a fresh pan of baked ziti in his lap, drove Mrs. Scribe and Scribe Jr. out of the neighborhood so as to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of bile and hatred, and came upon a working man sitting on the curb, sweating in the triple-digit heat, waiting for the bus.

Always the working stiff.

Yeah you.

Today, that’s our topic of conversation, the long preamble notwithstanding.

The AFL-CIO did something that needed doing for a long time now. It asked the Bush administration to look into labor practices in China (for lack of a better word).

Here's an Associated Press account of the labor fed's nice try.

Lots of people, the scribe included, think doing business with China is a lot like shooting yourself in the face (as a country, that is).

How are people paying a decent wage here supposed to compete with those running slave labor camps over there?

The short answer is that they can’t.

The administration, of course, said, “While there is much room for improvement, there is evidence of real progress.”

That is, how do you say it, um...bullshit.

But don’t take our word for it. Read this fascinating
article written by radical scribe Len Bracken (“Book Report - Snitch Jacket," April 29)

Bracken’s been to the Middle Kingdom and brought his formidable brain power and camera in tow. If you don’t know much about today’s China or would like to know more than you get from the usual cast of characters, read it.

For openers, Bracken puts the lie to the administration’s soft-sell on Chinese progress in the area of labor rights.

“The current leaders, President Hu Jintao — also general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party — and Premiere Wen Jiabao, advocate the development of a “harmonious society,” but the contradiction between their plans and everyday life is painfully sharp in a society where 5 percent have 50 percent of bank holdings. The masses believe their eyes not their ears — they are the ones who have created the new China, often paying for it with their lives: over 6,000 miners died on the job in 2004, for example, and China has the highest total work-related fatalities of any region in the world."

Naturally, this kind of thing is progress to the those in the soon-to-be-deposed governing (r)epublican majority.

Here’s some more progress:

"Researchers find that in the current market conditions of labor oversupply, employers make working conditions worse to pursue higher profits, and “workers may work excessively when they are in competition for jobs and tend to underbid one another to get a job.

"In addition to evidence of a great deal of forced overtime, a Renmin University survey finds that the most prevalent reason for the extension of work hours is intensified market competition. In the three cities they surveyed, 43.2 percent would prefer not to work overtime, compared with those who wanted it and those who were indifferent. Workers with lower education had longer hours, with construction being one of the hardest jobs in terms of hours and hazardous conditions.

"In 2001 the Chinese public learned with alarm that a man worked 226 consecutive days and 17 hours every day, becoming the first reported “death caused by tiredness” from work. Moreover, China surpasses all other regions in work-related accidents, fatal and nonfatal work-related diseases, and deaths by dangerous substances from work.Work-related fatalities in China are over 450 thousand per year. Like workers everywhere, the Chinese die of violence at the workplace, and of work-related conditions such as cancer and suicide, not to mention a host of respiratory, circulatory and communicable diseases that come unwanted with the employee benefits package.

"But the problem is worse in China. In 2001, for example, 102,606 workers died from contact with dangerous substances on the job. Although market reforms have lifted many millions of Chinese out of absolute poverty, i.e. living on less that a dollar a day, the work safety figures show this meager salary is stained with blood and often so tainted with toxins that it’s better left untouched.

"Those who would organize or protest in favor of labor rights and many others, including 'hooligans and lazy people,' are abducted and without trial sent away for 're-education through labor.' Prisoners — the world doesn’t really know how many — rise at five in the morning and work in brainwashing camps until midnight. “We carried stones to a river wharf all day then made artificial flowers at night, seven days a week,” said one former inmate. It is difficult to imagine more a hopeless scenario than being forced to chant pro-work slogans while toiling deep underground in a dirty prison mine.”

So that's what they mean by workers' paradise.

But seriously folks, no fair and just democracy should do trade within the context of such a tyranny, but this is the United States of America, an entity that has forfeited the first two adjectives although, thankfully, the “democracy” part hangs on by a thread, proof of which highwayscribery is proud to stand.

But don’t get comfortable, because they are working on it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stockton Boy Down

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Stockton Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Jason M. Evey of Stockton:

"Staff Sgt. Evey was a heroic soldier who fought with determination and gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Maria and I send our condolences to Jason's family, friends and fellow soldiers. Our thoughts go out to his family as they suffer this extraordinary loss."

Evey, 29, died July 16 of injuries sustained when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 10th Calvary Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Staff Sgt. Evey, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Friday, July 21, 2006

School Daze

Sending your kid (or someone else’s) to public school is as good a bet as forking over thousands a year for a private institution according to a report just put out by the department of education.

Here’s a complete article published a few days ago in the “San Diego Union-Tribune.”

The report was put out by the U.S. Department Education.

For those of you weak on government structure, that’s part of the executive branch and, hence, part of the Bush administration’s apparatus (for just a few more years, thank God).

And that’s relative for the usual reasons: the administration’s dishonesty, raw politics, and obfuscation.

the scribe says this because the article written by Diana Jean Schemo of the New York Times News Service makes fairly clear that the administration didn’t want you to know about the study and released it without a press conference, on a Friday morning (considered the “bottom” of the news cycle) largely because the results aren’t what it had hoped for.

Here’s some stuff from the article about that: “Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the union for millions of teachers, said the findings showed that public schools were ‘doing an outstanding job’ and if the results had been favorable to private schools, ‘there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools.’

‘The administration has been giving public schools a beating since the beginning,’ Weaver said, to advance [p]resident Bush’s political agenda of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools.”

Weaver of course is part of a union, a teachers union at that; one of the Democratic Party’s pillars.

The only union Bush can relate to is the one he slices for putting on his buffalo burger while down at the ranch and Crawford, Texas (pronounced, “UN-yun”).

An administration spokesperson said the report was only of “moderate utility,” which means it does nothing to promote its agenda and therefore qualifies, like so many biological opinions on environmental issues, as “bad science.”

These guys take the cake.

Their vision of America is 300 million tiny parcels split up by fences, security gates, behind which education is achieved by home-schoolers. They have no sense of public enterprise; the village square is a place where the homeless sleep on rounded benches, not where citizens gather to shape a national life together.

They’ve even gone rather far in the privatization of war.

And while the report may be of “modest utility” to the Bushies, it turns out to be a Godsend for thus of us whose tax breaks won’t cover the cost of sending junior to a private institution.

The facts: In reading and math, kids in public schools do “as well, or better” than those who go to private school.

Conservative Christian schools lagged way behind (Biblical prose can be a burden in the information age).

Eighth grade private school students read better than their public school counterparts.

(Ya see W? It’s not so hard to tell the whole truth.)

If you’re going the religious route, you might go Lutheran because kids in those schools fared well in eighth grade math, outpacing those drinking from the public trough.

The article quotes someone from the Council for American Private Education saying, “In the real world, private school kids outperform public school kids.”

The real world?

That’s where fact and fiction get confused, where weapons of mass destruction are found in recreational vehicles and global warming is the product of “alarmist” mentalities.

Must be nice to live there.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just Remembering

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Huntington Park Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Andres J. Contreras of Huntington Park:

"By voluntarily joining the armed forces, Sgt. Contreras courageously took on the risks of protecting our freedoms. Maria and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Andres' family and friends as they mourn his loss. We will keep them in our prayers."

Contreras, 23, died July 15 of injuries sustained when his HMMWV encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Combat Support Brigade, Fort Polk, LA.

In honor of Sgt. Contreras, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Cottonwood Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Thomas B. Turner Jr. of Cottonwood:

"The loss of Sgt. Turner is a painful reminder of the price paid for our treasured freedom. Maria and I extend our sympathies to Thomas' loved ones. Californians are deeply grateful for his courage and his dedicated service to our country."

Turner, 31, died July 14 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained on July 13 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Al Muqdadiyah, Iraq. Turner was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY.

In honor of Sgt. Turner, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Monday, July 17, 2006

70 Years Ago Today

To the left is the flag of the Spanish Republic.

It was the flag of a second republic, a prior one having been dispatched with by the forces of Bourbon monarchy some 60 years before.

The second one, brainchild of elegant intellectuals such as Jose Ortega y Gasset and Manuel AzaƱa, was a "workers republic," declared when municipal elections in 1931 led to a sweeping away of royalist political parties in a fashion so complete that the reigning King, Alfonso XIII, fled the country.

The Republic was born April 14, 1931 to overwhelming joy and hope.

A marvelous experiment began to unfold; a liberal attempt to use the powers of the state, through laws, to right wrongs and inequalities dating back to the Middle Ages.

They tried reform of the land, they tried bringing culture to the backward provinces, threw out the Jesuit order, loosened the Catholic Church's stranglehold on Spain, tamed the army's more dangerous elements, and extended the reach of public education throughout the poverty stricken country.

There was much, much more and, as such things go, it was very complicated and perhaps beyond the power of a parliament to undue the maladies inherited.

Tensions rose, regional revolutions launched, and people killed on both "sides" of a growing national divide.

In February of 1936, the left-wing parties joined together in a Popular Front; a formula cooked up by Joseph Stalin to fight the surge of fascism across Europe. That meant a coalition of liberals, trade unionists, socialists, communists and such pooled their votes and pulled out a governing majority.

These were not the parlour room socialists and communists of our times, but people who weren't screwing around when they said their aim was to transform society.

And it would not stand.

Seventy years ago today, a cabal of retrograde generals stationed largely in the Spanish colonies of North Africa, with the help of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, launched a military rebellion that, after three years of noble resistance, would crush the Spanish people and cruelly lord over them until the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.

the highway scribe's novel, "Vedette or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows" (which you can buy through clicking on the pretty flamenco girl up a little and to the left) takes place in this milieu and seeks to render some of its sentiment, both noble and otherwise.

It was an out-and-out bummer, a death knell for true progressive hopes the world over, compounded by the refusal of England, France, and the United States to even help the beleaguered Republic with some arms shipments.

They would all pay later as Axis troops and bombers trained in the killing fields of Spain would turn their expertise to exterminating British, French and American boys in a little episode known as World War II that, clearly, could have been avoided if Spain had been worth anybody's time and effort.

If you can read Spanish, here are some interesting profiles of those still living whom experienced the conflict. If you can't read Spanish, the pictures themselves are interesting enough.

As for Spain itself, the country prospers today, but under the tutelage of a king, and true democratic republics have no place for kings. So there was compromise of a terrible kind, born mostly of fears harkening back to the Spanish Civil War, that someday, hopefully we be redressed.

Here are prior posts related to Spain and her civil war written over the last year at highwayscribery

"Four Recordings: Vedette in New York"

"An Enduring Civil Peace"

"Death in El Valle"

"ETA Declares a Truce"

¡Viva La Republica!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Pot and the Kettle

It’s funny that the (p)resident and his crooked minions are always talking about the furtherance of our “values” and democracy being “on the march” around the world thanks, in large part, to their violent tendencies.

But democracy’s got to be in trouble when the debate is being led by the two biggest spooky-snoopy types in high government worldwide: Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and U.S. shadowmeister Vice Decadent Prick Cheney.

Putin, a former KGB agent, has been in power some six years now, thanks mostly to his penchant for jailing anybody he doesn’t like or, perhaps better said, anybody that doesn’t like him.

Cheney, of course, brings art to life with his own six-year portrayal of Dr. No; running in and out of secret bunkers, shooting his hunting buddies and blaming them, leading the charge for torture paid for with your tax dollars.

Now the pot is calling the kettle black.

You pick who is the kettle and who is the pot, because here at highwayscribery we practice democracy in most everything we do.

Anyway, some dissident people in Russia decided to have a conference on democracy in Russia over the weekend. The goal was to anticipate the arrival of the big G8 leaders to conference in the former Soviet Union.

Putin, who can shut down any media outlet he likes, had no problem sending his goons into the conference hall, in full view of foreign diplomats, press and the like, to pull some of these people out, by force, and disappear them to jail for a while.

That's what dictators do and they get away with it because anyone who thinks about speaking out has, well, seen what happens.

These dissidents are not like our dreadlocked, black bloc dissidents (bless the radical little hearts); they wear suits and count in their numbers a former Russian chess world champion.

Surely a sad and damning spectacle and it would have been nice if anyone of the cabal who govern us had the democratic credentials to step in and point a long, bony finger at the Russian dictator.

Instead, Cheney stood up; the guy who goes in for waterboarding (see Gitmo torture methods). He said this, that, and the other high-flown thing; the usual lip service the administration pays democracy abroad while crushing it at home.

Putin, of course, was having none of it and made a joke about Cheney’s hunting habits, which would be funny were it not so sad because when discussion of democracy is led by two thugs such as these, routine round-ups and detentions without rights, unauthorized tracking of phone calls, and secret monitoring of our financial transactions are just around the... hey wait a minute!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Down the Tubes

E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post” wrote a piece a couple of days ago chronicling the Republican Party’s perils.

It represents a D.C. insider’s shake-out of what we can already look back on as, God help us, “The Bush Years.” A shake-out within the party’s rank-and-file whom, Dionne says, “are decidedly mixed in their view of the Bush years...”

Bushism, as a political philosophy, he notes, has not rooted the way Reaganism did.

Reaganism, God help us twice, was successful at least in achieving the goals of the rather rich-people centered political entity known as the GOP.

Under Bush, of course, nobody’s really winning. Nobody at all. Look around and you see losers. Your children, mine, yourselves, the scribe, Democrats and certainly (r)epublicans who are, like it or not, living off one notion: insulting the other guys as mamby-pamby weaklings in the face of the “new kind of war” on terror.

What does that mean, new kind of war? It suggests that the brutalities of the past were somehow milder and therefore we could afford to be sure the person we were holding was actually guilty by extending them a little due process. That we could afford to leave them in the clink to stink without jolting their nuts with electric prods and unleashing dogs on them.

It suggests that this new breed of murderers are especially vicious given that they aim purposely at civilians. But that’s not new to military science and never has been. The United States boiled the waters of Tokyo with its fire bombing and much the same happened in Germany where plenty of people who couldn’t abide by Hitler had their lives snuffed out by the allies.

The administration's posture essentially says that civilian death is more correct when some legislative body full of men in suits and gray hair put their imprimatur on it; when guys in uniforms bomb civilians from above and go home for a good night sleep.

the scribe says not.

And you know what? The Supreme Court recently did, too and now the administration has been forced to put out this memo forbidding inhumane treatment.

It’s sickening really, that such a topic must be broached in an official document. It’s sickening because it really means we’ve been torturing and killing people in our custody. And trust the scribe, it’s no big deal because our little clatch of dictators has decided they need not abide by all the articles of the Geneva Conventions, just those the Supreme Court spanked them on.

And that’s not what we’re supposed to be about.

Which may be why, as Dionne again notes, “Even in this year’s elections, (r)epublicans are fleeing aspects of the Bush record.”

And well they should for it is not a pretty sight to watch a violent and overconfident rich-boy come out and tell us, the way he did on Tuesday, what good news it is that instead of $Y trillions, the deficit will only be $X trillions.

Wonder if he learned that at Harvard Business School?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No Corner Un-turned

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of San Francisco Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Christopher Rose of San Francisco:

"Cpl. Rose was committed to the safety and protection of his fellow Americans. California has lost a brave individual who risked his life to preserve our freedoms. Maria and I send our condolences to Christopher's family, friends and fellow soldiers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who mourn his loss."

Rose, 21, died June 29 as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, TX.

In honor of Cpl. Rose, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Monday, July 10, 2006

How Do You Sleep?


They buried a lot of guys last week. We ran the obituaries of four here at highwayscribery (immediately below), but there were others. Men and women dying the same way, cruising an inhospitable land in armored vehicles unequal to the task at hand, dying upon the trigger of an improvised explosive using a washing machine timer.

And, of course, there are the endless and countless civilians trapped in a nightmare from which there is no escape. One must go to the market to feed a malnourished, war-time family. And at the markets they bomb you. One must have a job, but oil workers are traders to the cause (whichever) and get shot in the back of the head.

Oh to be liberated.

The lines here posted are the result of casual musings by a man almost numb at the madness and violence all around him. You conservatives may sense they are laced with the glee you suspect so many leftists of harboring at the (p)resident’s colossal failure and, heck, you’re probably right.

What should we have done? Used the flag to blind ourselves to the injustice, to the unprovoked and (what seemed) uneven war? Should we have compromised our principals and said “violence now!” the way you have compromised yours and said, “we surrender our rights”?

Should we have hoped for the crushing of an impotent and submissive people, the establishment of rote democracy from on high, and then watched (r)epublicans turn it to an electoral boon that lifts only their corporate clients and loots the country?

No and no and no.

We all have the responsibility of at least attempting to perceive nuance and question the actions of those we support and believe in. We must not be blind to any movement, person, or symbol. We must be able to say, “It is wrong, in every instance, to invade a country that had not invaded us.”

We must be able to say, “As Americans it is our birthright to freedom and privacy at all times, that it is wrong to sift through our phone calls and bank accounts, and e-mails.”

We must be able to say, “Three weeks ago you killed a myth and hoisted this murder as evidence of some corner turned, some proof of a weakened resistance, of something other than the open-ended disaster you have made us pay for and deliver unto a beleaguered people. Again you were wrong as we were right, again, to oppose you.”

How do you sleep with these deaths floating in the sea of your existence, actions, and responsibilities?

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Rex A. Page of Kirksville, MO:

"Each time we lose a member of our armed forces, we are reminded of the high price paid for our continued freedom. Pfc. Page was a proud member of the United States Marine Corps and willingly risked his life for his country. Maria and I offer our prayers to Rex's loved ones during this difficult time."

Page, 21, died June 28 as a result of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Pfc. Page, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Three More Dead Soldiers

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Lancaster Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Ryan Clark of Lancaster:

"Today Maria and I join all Californians in expressing our sadness over the loss of Cpl. Clark. We wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to Ryan's family. Every person willing to sacrifice their life for this country and our freedoms deserves our utmost respect and gratitude."

Clark, 19, died June 29 in the Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX, of injuries sustained on June 17 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Baumholder, Germany.

In honor of Cpl. Clark, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Riverside Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Jason Morrow of Riverside:

"The sacrifice Cpl. Morrow made in defending freedom is an inspiration to all Americans. Maria and I join all Californians in sending our thoughts and prayers to Jason's family and friends as they mourn this painful loss. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and we will remember his service with gratitude."

Morrow, 27, died June 27 as a result of wounds received on June 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Cpl. Morrow, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Raymond Plouhar of Lake Orion, MI:

"Through his courageous service Staff Sgt. Plouhar exemplified an unwavering commitment to protect our nation and its citizens. Maria and I send our deepest gratitude to Raymond's family for the service their loved one bravely took on in serving his country. His loyalty will never be forgotten."

Plouhar, 30, died June 26 as a result of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Staff Sgt. Plouhar, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Book Report: "A Writer's Life" by Gay Talese

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

In his latest (and final?) literary installment, “A Writer’s Life” Gay Talese is rather frank about the stuff from which it is woven. While not tarrying over the matter, the master of literary fiction makes it quite clear that some time in the ’90s he was pretty late with a book to his publisher.

Later, as we cruise through various and vaguely related topics, borne along by the flow of his mellifluous prose, Talese is again frank and fun enough to offer up his pitches, and the responses of N.Y.C. literary illuminati, such as Tina Brown.

Even with queries referring back to his big,“Honor Thy Father,” “Unto the Sons" -bestsellers - the writer is subjected to rejection with such lines as, “At your level, we need a book with a very large sales potential. I don’t think this is it.”

(An editor named Jonathan Segal)

So it is a writer’s life, as the title proclaims, and Talese makes use of the large and copious files he maintained over the years while flailing from subject-to-subject, trying to generate a book that he confesses to having been “blocked” on.

Still cookin’, but old enough to have witnessed things rendered ancient history by 24-hour news cycles, Talese deftly ties his times to his failed proposals that included stories about a cursed building that served as a graveyard for expensive restaurants in his Upper East Side neighborhood, the castration case of Lorena Bobbitt, the peculiar historical saga of Selma, Alabama, or the plight of an ill-starred member of the Chinese national womens soccer team.

The author takes you through these projects of his, shedding light thanks to his low-key, but persistent way of gaining access to people, leveraging his writer’s celebrity as well as possible, hanging around making observations both detailed and general in nature.

highwayscribery’s familiarity with Talese dates back, and is limited, to his reading of “Unto the Sons,” which the scribe’s dad gave to him. Get it? “Unto to the Sons?” It was a charming and in-depth story focusing upon life in Talese's East Coast, Italian-American family, and their forebears in Calabria, Italy.

The paternal half of the scribe’s pedigree traces back to Calabria and so the book was a kind of family tree done with another family, but which provided a good idea regarding this unique province of origin.

The cover jacket of “A Writers Life” features a b&w photo of Talese captured in a thin-lipped half-smile the scribe’s old man possesses, and which will one day (too soon) be passed onto the highway scribe.

So, anyway, there is an interest in Talese that propelled highwayscribery through this collection of anecdotes by a man of his times.

Among the interesting and unexpected turns in Talese’s life was a stint down in Alabama, where he went to university. Years later, in the heat of the civil rights confrontation in the Deep South, this familiarity netted him a plum assignment covering the famed March on Selma, which led to a rather public and televised bloodletting.

In addition to his eye-witness account of what happened, not only at the fateful “bridge” but elsewhere in town beyond the camera’s eye, Talese provides ample coverage of a return trip to gauge the progress between races in Selma. His cautious eyes sees improvements in some places, but subtle retreats elsewhere.

In this section of “A Writer’s Life” Talese is at his best, using what he refers to as secondary characters to render the true portrait of a subject.

Talese is the king of digression, starting with an Italian waiter at Elaine’s in New York, telling you about Elaine, about the waiter, some about the waiter’s father, about the new restaurant the waiter was planning to open, about the waiter’s wife’s sneaking suspicion the place is cursed (she was right), something about her life, before fishtailing off into a history about the building in which the restaurant was to be lodged.

But we say master because it all works as Talese weaves the impulses and energies of distant and disparate occurrences into one another, seeing chains of events and people affecting one another’s lives without wanting or even intending to; oft times never knowing.

Although the writer and the book travel well, “A Writer’s Life” has a distinctly New York cast to it. Talese enjoyed fame throughout his career and therefore had access to some of Gotham’s tonier haunts and denizens. At time it’s got a definite “Vanity Fair” feel to it, a touch of the Dominique Dunne, recounting the names of hoo-hahs at fancy schmanzy eateries, but good for him.

And, in the end, that may say something about the change in publishing and what the market deemed doable in this particular writer's life.

Monday, July 03, 2006

John Kerry: blogmeister

highwayscribery certified John Kerry as a sort-of blogger quite some time ago.

Kerry, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, and the party’s most recent national candidate for president, has been working the Internet since his defeat in 2004. Kerry decided to maintain his e-mail list and keep them updated regarding his position on a number of issues. And that he has done.. A few weeks ago he convened some liberal bloggers in Los Angeles to hear them on the issues of the day.

Building on his yen for Internet organizing, he of the jut jaw just sent out a new e-mail regarding Internet neutrality.

the scribe is a member of the “Save the Internet Coalition” for which there is a button at right. Being a member, as far as we can tell, entails writing something about this issue now and again.

And so, using Kerry’s e-mail as a spark, here goes:

They are reorganizing telecommunications in the Senate, for the most part and a big bill is expected some time in the next year.

The larger companies, remnants from the dismembered AT&T system, want to charge all the countless and intermediary service providers that have sprung up in the wake of the Net revolution for using their networks - the cables and wires under- and above-ground, the satellites (don’t quote the scribe on this) they own and operate.

The search engines, the Internet service provides, cable service providers have all have functioned by grace of the reigning legislation, and allowed the Net to develop as a free highway for travel. This is largely because the larger companies have been ordered to provide access to their networks, not because they love the idea of it.

SBC used to have a commercial making fun of the “middle men” who don’t own their own networks. Now they’ve dropped comedy from something a little more effective. Lobbying.

They say, “we built them networks and we should earn from them.”

The other people say, “your pipes run through public lands and probably at little cost to you.” They say there are other telecommunications interests and that the big companies are acting like, well, you know, monopolies.

the scribe belongs to “Save the Internet” because he agrees.

For now, the monopolies are winning.

the scribe is not one-hundred percent clear on all the issues, but companies, Google being one of them, are looking for legislative language guaranteeing “net neutrality.”

Net neutrality means the request you make, with a click, to travel the information superhighway is no less important than any other click.

You ask, you get taken there, which is what you’re used to. The fear for bloggers and anyone else with a presence on the world wide web is that companies will be able to pay for preferential treatment or, depending on the economics, be shaken down in exchange for a little traffic.

That would make the Internet a lot like “The New York Times,” for too many writers: a place where influence and pedigree trump talent in the selection process. It would be a great loss, because the Internet is the closest thing to a level playing field we have: both as a commercial market, and one for ideas.

Kerry’s e-mail says that net neutrality’s chances are not looking good. (r)epublicans are in the majority and (r)epublicans have their corporate marching orders and they also have more votes and all of the relevant committees treating the legislation.

Here’s what an angry Kerry said after the Commerce Committee put an end to any talk of a net neutrality provision in the upcoming telecommunications bill:

“Free and open access to the Internet is something all Americans should enjoy, regardless of what financial means they’re born into or where they live. It is profoundly disappointing that the Senate is going to let a handful of companies hold Internet access hostage by legalizing the cherry-picking of cable service providers and new entrants. That is a dynamic that would leave some communities with inferior service, higher cable rates, and even the loss of service, not to mention inadequate internet service – in the age of information.”

Democrats, or some of them, are cast in the role of proponents for and the committee vote was 11 -11 along party lines. Sounds like a Republican crossed over to create the tie, which apparently, won’t due, for whatever it is they were trying to do.

Anyway, according to Kerry, the bill now goes to the full Senate where one of the members, a Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon as put a "hold"on the bill. Call him to say thanks: (202) 22405244.

Nonetheless, Kerry warns, “there will be a day of reckoning on this legislation soon.”