Monday, July 30, 2007

Vito Says, "Prepare for Peace"

The business of America is war.

It was back in 1939 when Rep. Vito Marcantonio (American Labor Party - NY) spoke out against defense appropriations and it was again in 1949 when he cast the lone vote against Harry Truman’s little military adventure in Korea.

It is the same today, according to the “New York Times,” which reports a series of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt worth bazillions of dollars.

More specifically, Saudi Arabia will get some satellite-guided bombs, upgrades for fighter jets, and new seafaring toys to the tune of about $7 billion. Egypt will get $13 billion worth of weapons, and, so they don’t feel bad about themselves, the Israelis will get $30 billion.

That's a lot of new schools and teachers' salaries.

Which brings us to another installment of “Vito Says.”

It has been a while since we’ve visited our feisty left-wing, Italian-American whom has advised us to “Can the Patriot Act,” and “Pass the Card Check Labor Law.”

Both times he has been ignored, but Vito’s used to it.

The Bush administration, which makes war and bloodshed willy-nilly, is operating from some perverse notion that it will get love from Iraq’s Sunnis by showering this hardware on Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni, too.

The guns for Egypt are meant to serve as “a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East.”

That was one of the purposes to our ill-fated Iraq mission. They were going to create a “stable democracy” representing a “bulwark” in the region that would counteract Muslim lunacy.


A long time ago, before World War II, Marcantonio was trying to prevent Americans’ tax dollars diversion from domestic blessings to a “two-ocean” navy in the name of national defense.

The fast-talking congressman from East Harlem resorted to sarcasm on the House floor (Sept. 30, 1940).

Vito said: “Why confine ourselves to just a two-ocean navy? What we really need is a nine-ocean navy. If you tell me there are only seven seas on which men can sail ships, I say that all we have to do is to put the American boys we are conscripting to work digging two more oceans. What better way is there to toughen them up? After they have dug these two extra oceans then we can build two-more navies and thus we shall have a nine-ocean navy. Our defense program therefore should be based on an interplanetary defense, with the Milky Way as our first line, with a nine-ocean navy. With all this how can we miss protecting this so-called American way of life in the name of which we are now destroying the lives and liberties of the American people?”

Only Ronald Reagan took him seriously about the interplanetary stuff.

Ten years later (Dec. 15, 1950), in his last speech on the floor of the House, Vito was more taciturn: “Armaments per se have always meant nothing; armaments are merely the implementation of a policy. Armaments implementing a policy of genuine defense of a people’s interest is one thing, but these armaments implement an insane war program which has never been in the interest of the Nation, and it is today definitely not in the best interest or defense of the people of the United States.”

The issue was Korea, and Vito’s policy answer was to call for a cease-fire and “honest negotiations for an honest conclusion for peace.”

We haven’t changed much.

Last week, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) had the temerity to suggest he’d talk with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea during the first year of his administration.

He added: “The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous.”

All of which was too much for conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer whose reams of nonsense were voice in a larger chorus of nitwits that got us into the current bloody mess.

In “Can Obama perform on the world stage?” the pro-war pundit spewed what passes for conventional wisdom in a country that spends better than half its shared wealth on arms.

“To be on the same stage as the leader of the world’s greatest power is of course a prize,” he wrote. “That is why the Chinese deemed it a slap in the face that President Bush last year denied President Hu Jintao the full state-visit treatment. The presence of an American president is a valued good to be rationed - and granted only in return for important considerations.”

Well, that was very bold of w. to deny Hu a fancy dinner and limousine or whatever, but he didn't cheat China on the important stuff and the proof is in this article from Floyd Norris of the New York Times News Service, which noted, “Whereas it was long said that the world caught pneumonia when the United States suffered a cold, it is now the Chinese economy that has taken world leadership.”

So they can do without photo-ops with a guy everybody is waiting to leave office.

But Krauthammer’s conclusion is that “Obama is not ready to be a wartime president.”

What he doesn’t understand, is that the world may be waiting for that: someone who talks to them, rather than paints them as evil and unworthy of his company. Someone who looks at the problem of Muslim fanaticism as something other than a “new kind of war” to be fought the old-kind-of-war-way by inundating the world with arms until the tide rises so high our own bombs end up killing our own soldiers and our own citizens.

In his “The Assault on Reason,” Al Gore observed that, under the administration’s interpretation of the world, the war on terror will last “the rest of our lives.”

Krauthammer is hoping that’s true and hoping the Democrats make a “mistake” in nominating a man of dialogue and peace who’ll get mopped-up in a debate with “Sept. 11, 2001 veteran Rudy Giuliani,” who recently advised us we can never go back to the 1990s. That we must live with the fundamentalist scourge forever.

Vito Says (March 25, 1935): “I disagree with the gentleman. Under the guise of defense you prepare for war, and when you prepare for war you are bound to have war.”

So try something new America; prepare for peace.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Faces of War

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Dixon Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Shawn G. Adams, of Dixon, CA:

"Serving in the United States Army, Sergeant Shawn Adams fulfilled a tremendous duty to our country. He made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his fellow Americans and will forever be remembered for his bravery and dedicated service. Maria and I extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family and friends."

Adams, 21, died July 22 as a result of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device in Owaset, Iraq. Adams was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, United States Army, Fort Richardson, AK.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Bakersfield Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. 1st Class Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales, of Bakersfield, CA:

"Today, Californians mourn the tragic loss of Sergeant First Class Luis Gutierrez-Rosales. Luis will forever be remembered for his courage and honor in defending our nation and his dedicated service to our country. Maria and I extend our sincerest condolences and prayers to his family, friends and fellow soldiers during this difficult time."

Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, died July 18 as a result of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked by enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in Adhamiyah, Iraq. Gutierrez-Rosales was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, United States Army, Schweinfurt, Germany.

In honor of Sgt. 1st Class Gutierrez-Rosales, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Shawn V. Starkovich, of Arlington, WA:

"Maria and I are saddened by the death of one of our nation's heroic marines. Lance Corporal Shawn Starkovich served our country with tremendous courage and profound bravery. Shawn's commitment to his country will not be forgotten. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends as they mourn their loss."

Starkovich, 20, died July 16 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Starkovich was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer, of East Northport, NY:

"The death of Corporal Christopher Scherer is a tremendous loss to our nation. Maria and I, along with all Californians, mourn the loss of this brave individual and express our sincere gratitude for his selfless service in defense of our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this time of grief."

Scherer, 21, died July 21 as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Scherer was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Fair Oaks Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Ronald L. Coffelt, of Fair Oaks, CA:

"The loss of Sergeant Ronald Coffelt reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices that members of our armed forces make to protect our freedom. Maria and I thank him for his dedication and love for his country; his bravery will forever remain an inspiration to all Californians. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends and will pray for their comfort during this difficult time."

Coffelt, 36, died July 19 as a result of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq. Coffelt was assigned to the 503rd Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), XVIII Airborne Corps, United States Army, Fort Bragg, NC.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"No" to the Dems' Brainchild

Sometimes you break ranks. It’s good.

Yesterday, the “New York Times” wrote an article about how the Democrats, with a little help from that fractious GOP clan, were going for a veto override if and when the president put the kibosh on their plan to expand health care coverage for low income children.

The president says the bill is step, “down the path to government-run health care for every American.”

He means it as a threat when millions hope it’s a promise.

So here’s a twist: the highway scribe thinks the president is right to veto the measure, if for all the wrong reasons.

Rather than sell Americans on paying for something they want, the Dems are trying to get smokers to foot for kids health care.

the scribe has a kid. He’d like government health care, but doesn’t think the guy with the nicotine habit should have to foot the bill.

And as the author of “The Sidewalk Smokers Club,” and a fierce opponent of targeting certain groups for punishment and special taxation, the scribe says “pooh” to the Democrats and their idea for furthering the ostracizing of puffers in our society.

We line up here with the Democrats on most occasions, but we are anarcho-syndicalist in bent and tend to part ways with them on nanny-state issues and on humdingers like the Department of Homeland Security, which was their idea first.

We wish the Democrats weren’t so corporate, not in their fundraising, but in the way the organize government relief around such large and impersonal civic structures.

We think the conservatives are right when they say liberals, reaching for smoke bans everywhere, think they know what’s good for all us, and invite themselves into lives that do not welcome their input.

And we like Nancy Pelosi a lot, but didn’t go in for her banning the smoking patio at the House of Representatives, because we put her there to cut funds to the troops and bring them home from war.

Everybody needs to pay for social programs that expand medical care to children; not just the bad people.

We need the bad people. They remind us what’s good. And they remind us of who the whole concept of rights really applies to.

Of course, finally they are going to override the president’s veto, something we’ve always wanted to see at highwayscribery.

They’re just doing it when we’re not on board.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mon Dieu! Dumbing Down La France

We knew the United States purchased more things from foreign countries than it sold them, but this is ridiculous.

The “New York Times” reported on Sunday that France’s new, and “pro-American” President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with lesser members of his government, is telling the French to think less and work more... be more like people in the United States.

His finance minister, one Christine Lagarde, suggested in a speech on (what else?) tax cuts, that the French should give up an “the old habit.”

More specifically, Lagarde remarked, “There is hardly an ideology we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

“Roll up your sleeves,” by the way, is right-wing code for “work more (for me).”

Lagarde, of course, is taking her pointers from Sarkozy who, like some American politicians, is playing for style points by jogging a lot.

That’s the projection of Kennedy-esque “vigor” President John Fitzgerald (1961-1963) made a trademark, despite the fact he used crutches when his back could not support him and suffered mightily from something called Addison’s disease.

Of course, Kennedy was something of an intellectual, at least by new world standards, having written and published “Why England Slept,” when he was twenty-one years old and garnered a Pulitzer prize for “Profiles in Courage” (a turkey if ever one were written).

But Sarkozy’s not up on that facet of the American presidency, and who can blame him given what w. has done to demean it?

According to the article written by Elaine Sciolino, Sarkozy said in a recent (last month) televised interview, “I am not an ideologue, Oh, I am not an intellectual! I am someone concrete!”

Anarcho-syndical translation: “I stand for nothing. I don’t put much stock in thinking, and I’m a blockhead.”

The French, it turns out, are a little bored with their egalitarian society and healthy welfare state. They are going through a time of “malaise” the kind which Jimmy Carter identified to such fatal results back in the late ‘70s. the scribe remembers the malaise with fondness. You can begin to “malaise” when you’ve got three squares and basic survival assured under your social contract.

Ronald Reagan shook us from the malaise, slicing and dicing our public commitment to one another, unleashing the commercial zeal on behalf of the commonweal, busting the unions and building up the bankers.

Lagarde wants the bankers back in France, too. It would seem they are presently spreading their insidious expertise in London as “financial exiles” and privy now to Sarkozy’s pledge that, “we open our doors.”

Oh Marcel! Pull your daughter from the street. Bar the doors, Jacqueline! You are about to become objects of capitalism’s “dynamism” and from the bottom of our hearts good luck and don’t get sick!


Take an Air France flight to Europe and the first thing flight attendants offer you is a baguette from a woven basket. They break bread with you, the subtext being that while you may have more than me, our mutual humanity comes first.

It gets worse from there, but they do give you the bread. Take a Jet Blue to Tampa and pray you’ll be allowed to buy some tortilla chips and fake cheese.

So it’s no surprise that not everyone in France likes the Sarkozy approach.

“This is the sort of thing you can hear in café conversations from morons who drink too much,” says “FRENCH INTELLECTUAL” Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Philosophers like Lévy are fighting for their lives. He too, is “pro-American and pro-market,” but can’t bare the “anti-intellectual tendency” and that is why he voted for the hottie who went around blabbing wacky things, but at least represented a hallowed tradition, Socialist Ségolène Royal.

And who says North American intellectual culture is shallow, lame, and overly-influenced by the output of our own cultural canon?

Read any of the “Reagan Diaries” floating around out there?

the scribe savored some excerpts in “Vanity Fair.” The magazine’s analysis, such as it was, suggested Reagan’s entries were “economic,” which was a nice way of papering over the fact they tell you nothing of what he thought, confirming your worst fears, about whether he truly thought.

Conservatives were so relieved Reagan even kept a diary they forgot to assess it with proper rigor.

In fact, the entries read like news summaries of the same events at which Reagan was chief protagonist.

“Saw Gorbachev and told him he needed to get rid of his mid-range missiles. They need to get rid of some of those missiles or we won’t have as many as them. Came upon Tip O’Neil in the hallway. We talked about some bills.”

But hey, we got through that.

Sure, highwayscribery gets ebullient from time to time and cranks out pieces about
Al Gore and “The New Intellectualism.” It is comforting to know we’ve produced that rare fellow who can do two things: working at something “real” (as they say in Hollywood) like vice president, and not so real, like film-making.

But, let’s face it, Gore seems uninterested in serving a country where his accomplishments make for a nice comeback story and the commentariat demands he lose weight before launching another campaign for THE BIG PRIZE.

Which is how we do and see things here in Unity States. France, on the other hand, is a land where philosophers and poets have an actual public profile and function.

We export the idea of putting them out of business by the ultimate elevation of business.

Ms. Sciolino points to a “cultural change” in France where flaunting the exact math of your “wealth” is no longer déclassé (which means not cool).


“Working families in France want to be richer. Wealth is no longer taboo,” says a guy for Morgan Stanley, sounding most relieved. “There’s a strong sentiment in France that people think prices are too high and need more money.”

Oh, sure. People over here get that feeling, too.

The question for the French is whether things will go the bankers’ way, or the pensioners’ way: whether France keeps trying with the shining city on the hill idea, or becomes a giant Wal-Mart on the hill.

Some would (were they actually reading) accuse the scribe of fomenting the class war and pessimism; for not seeing that both bankers and pensioners can win under this perpetual economic miracle we are all so lucky to be enjoying...that we are equal in our ability to walk through the door of Barney’s New York.

the scribe awaits convincing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment thirty-one)

(okay, maybe it is Lolita lit)

THE SORORITY HOUSE (and other savory situations)

“You said you’d be gone 18 months,” shot Lana Price across Elendele’s bow. “This whole operation would have been moved out by then.” Lana was talking about the Chi Omega sorority chapter we found ensconced in the salon when we got back.

Elendele, it seemed, had sublet to her.

“Yeah, but we saw a ghost,” parried Ms. tequila-and-lime-time before launching into a typical tirade about the immorality of Greek fraternal groups, in particular sororities, which she considered nothing more than bootcamps for mothers of three or four more future children. “They are class-based,” she said, “require money to get in,” roared, “contribute to old and negative female stereotypes,” she pleaded, “split campuses into haves and have-nots,” reasoned, “leave certain people on the outside looking in,” trembled closingly.

Lana blanched because she’d never given thought to such things. She was still doing what her parents told her was right. And she had no plans to change.

Elendele threw them all out with the help of Gina Night’s father, but it took a long time after the agreement was sealed. All the furniture they had moved into the once-empty and cavernous salon was not removed easily.

The phone calls at 2 and 3 a.m. from drunken rich boys for Little Suzy continued for months, too. Elendele, with little use for statistics, applied this new knowledge to the larger, social picture and drew a distinct conclusion: “Even after the decision is made,” she posited, “it takes a while to take apart and change a system.

“Still,” she collapsed, “I wish these bitches would get the hell out.”

Cortez and I stayed at his place one weekend painting, eating wafers dipped in scotch and talked about the sorority saga. He told me that it may have had something to do with Elendele having been rejected by the Tri-Delts during her freshman rush, “simply because she wasn’t blonde.”

Then he showed me some new painting from his continuing series of religious icons, but again, none of them contained the freshness so typical of his paintflinging period.

After the sorority saga had been over a while, we ran short of money and Elendele went out and got a part just like that. For the audition she did a piece from Orpheus, which she’d learned about from the daughter of a state senator during our separation.

The production was called “The Luddites of Lordstown.” It had to do with a workers’ movement that called for the smashing of machines during the last century. Even in the industrial shadow of the subject they managed to work a part in there where Elendele had to lift her skirt up and reveal her panties for the 99-seat Equity Waiver theatre.

She obliged with noblesse, with a passion for the staged vocation. She’d graduated, and it was a union production. After every performance the cast would come out and have little wine mixers with the audience, because the only people ever played to in risky avant productions like that are those known intimately to the players.

That lasted through fifty bottles of superb wine the spendthrift thrift-spent her earnings on. The soda pop commercial of times past got picked up for a run in Australia because what’s hip there is stale elsewhere, at least according to Elendele, and we went through all that residual money, too.

Louisa threw Lydia out of the house for representing the worst of American adolescence.

She came back to stay with us and lay her little warmth of hand on mine, moving it here, then there...volcanoes erupting all inside her. She was shuddered and she wagged her little tail...still under age.

“But she is older,” I convinced me and caressed the small of her back...she hissed slowly like she was steaming off and placed her chin above her breast in search of composure...but failed to find it, so instead rode my legs down to the floor, to her knees.

When I saw the bobby pins in her hair, that’s when I pulled away. She didn’t care. She knew I knew, now. Her eyes were bloodshot. She’d besotted herself on seduction. It would never matter how old she was again. She was already grown up. I pulled her oh so close.

Three Lost

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Crestline Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Eric M. Holke, of Crestline, CA:

"The loss of Specialist Eric Holke weighs heavily on the hearts of all Californians. Eric risked his life to safeguard the lives of all Americans and our country will be forever indebted to him for his sacrifice. Maria and I extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends in their time of grief."

Holke, 31, died July 15 as a result of injuries sustained from a vehicle rollover accident near the city of Tallil, Iraq. Holke was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry, California Army National Guard, Fullerton, CA.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Twentynine Palms Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Angel R. Ramirez of Brooklyn , NY :

"Today, we honor Lance Corporal Angel Ramirez who gave his life in the service of his country and freedom. As a member of the armed forces, Angel fulfilled a tremendous responsibility to our nation's citizens. Maria and I send out heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the family and friends of this brave Marine in their time of grief."

Ramirez, 28, died February 21 at Marine Air Ground Combat Center , Twentynine Palms, CA, after being medically evacuated following a non-hostile incident in Al Qaim, Iraq , on December 21, 2006. Ramirez was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Twentynine Palms, CA.

The announcement surrounding the death of this Marine was delayed by the United States Department of Defense due to an administrative adjustment to the Marine's original death classification.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Steven A. Stacy, of Coos Bay , OR :

"Lance Corporal Steven Stacy's noble pledge to our nation was unwavering. His valiant dedication to the fight for freedom and the preservation of democracy will never be forgotten. Maria and I offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of this brave Marine."

Stacy, 23, died July 5 as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq . Stacy was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton , CA .

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

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Vedette" on t.v.

Maybe during your day off there will be time to watch the scribe and guitar God Omar Torrez rip through a session of "Vedette Does La Danza" for Calabasas (California) television. An verbal, musical, and visual presentation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Give 'Em Hell Harry (III)

the scribe’s going to weigh-in on the war (again), because the beast (this blog) needs a feeding.

Everybody's got an opinion on Harry Reid and the Democrats’ latest attempt to end the war.

You’ve read over and over how they lost, got it wrong, will need to rethink their strategy.

But it is a victory for those of us who want the war ended and voted to put Reid’s party in control of Congress.

It is important to understand the Democrats are not losing the vote to stop the war; instead they are losing procedural votes to end debate.

You may or may not know that the U.S. Senate, once considered the greatest deliberative body in the world, permits unlimited discussion of issues.

In his “The Assault on Reason,” Al Gore points out they are all so busy raising money that they hardly ever show up to the Senate chambers any more, but that’s a topic for a different post.

In the House you get a certain amount of time, three or five minutes, and after that other representatives can yield a portion of their time to you, but at some point it is time to shut up.

To make a senator shut up you need 60 of 100 total votes. That’s what they’ve been voting on; shutting up Republicans promising a filibuster, which is a way of killing a bill through the application of verbal diarrhea.

The Democrats have the votes they need to pass the bill, just not enough to shut the Republicans up and that is what the GOP has been reduced to: the party of war babbling about war until there is war and more war.

Which, by the way, is costing this much to date.

Reid sent out this e-mail in which he accused the Republicans of obstruction.

the scribe says tough nuts Harry.

What? You scribe? Turning coat?

Yup. Let’s be clear, the scribe is for Democracy, not the Democrats. There is a rich irony in a guy who, as minority leader, promised to “screw things up” if he didn’t like what the (p)resident and his rubber-stamping majority were doing.

You may remember the Democrats were leaning heavily upon the 19th century parliamentary tactic that is the filibuster in an effort to prevent the Republicans from returning us to the Stone Age with their Biblical take on everything.

The Republicans were going to apply something called a “nuclear option” by eliminating this tool of minority resistance from the then-minority Democrats.

It was ghastly, terrible, frightening and finally did not come to pass thanks to Sen. John Warner of Virginia and some other level-headed GOPers who put institution and country ahead of party.

Not coincidentally, some of these same level-headed Republicans have abandoned w.’s war even as their more muddle-headed colleagues pray for a “surge” of good luck.

So long live obstruction! the scribe sayeth. It is one of the least American traits built into our governing system and it has saved us time and time again.

Those seven senators Reid needs to achieve “cloture” (re: shut up the Republicans) must count for a little while longer the soldiers’ deaths, like drops of Chinese torture water on their foreheads, before they come round.

But they will come round.

Below is a letter from a poet rejecting Laura Bush’s invitation to some White House she-bang or other. It takes courage to reject the gifts of power, and somewhere down the line she will pay.

So highwayscribery says thanks.

Laura Bush
First Lady, The White House

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure,and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers.

Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students --long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone non-speaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing.

When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely non-speaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit -- and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC.

I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country -- with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain -- did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top"and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and
religious chauvinism -- the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness -- as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing -- against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, high-handed actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from
the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed
this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting
"extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will
be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Film Nerd: "The New World"

One of the best things about blogging is writing on topics you want to write about, when you want to write about them.

For example, this take on Terrence Malick’s “The New World” is pure pleasure, because the film is so lovely and because the scribe loves Terrence Malick’s films.

If you don’t know (and it’s okay if you don’t) Malick has done two classics, “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven.” His 1999 epic, “The Thin Red Line” is just as artful and riveting as the prior two, but it seemed to pass without much-ado.

Since the earlier “classics” were made before his time, the highway scribe is not sure there was much-ado about them, either. There was little-ado about “The New World” despite its obviously sizeable budget and the marquis name of Colin whatever his name is...the Irish guy.

That’s what’s so great about Malick: He somehow gets big money to do films only a few people will care about; the few, the proud...the poets!

Yes, there is more than a little that is self-conscious and pretentious about Malick’s films. They scream to be considered great “art.”

And they deliver.

Just so you know, here in Los Angeles/Hollywood, “Days of Heaven” is very popular amongst working thespians of all ages and classes and, as such, held up for special derision by agents and other elements of the film-merchant class.

And that’s because Malick is a pain in their ass with his four lousy films in thirty years and the prickly insinuation to romantics that such topics and treatment are appropriate to the business of shows, or show business.

In his “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” Gordon Lightfoot sings about a time in the new world, “When the green dark forest was too silent to be real.”

highwayscribery hoped “The New World” would somehow capture that time and sense of things, because if Malick couldn’t, nobody else would.

In “The New World,” the director mostly succeeds and that’s because in most of his films nature is not an object of subjugation by the characters traipsing all over it, but an equal protagonist.

Nature lurked in “Days of Heaven” where tiny creatures crawled in holes beneath the feet of the flawed characters, and others took to the sky and destroyed an entire prairie world inhabited by Malick the screenwriter’s losers.

So, in a time where people are only sprinkled across the continent like so much apple seed, and those with the deepest roots seem more a part of the landscape than dominators of it, Malick’s eye for animal spirits great and small is a boon to his efforts.

Nonetheless, the director’s script is largely waylaid by his choice of actress to the play the role of Pocahontas; the Indian princess who fell in love with Captain John Smith and later married into English aristocracy through another guy named John Rolfe (played by Christian Bale).

To say 15-year old Q’orianka Kilcher steals the show is to overlook the fact she steals the whole story.

Sure the troubles of the scurvy sailors and mercenaries who settle Jamestown in Virginia are interesting enough; the weird and blind conviction they possess, their mistrust of one another, their complete freak-out at being in such a strange and wild place.

Still it is a hard to focus on them when Kilcher is running about barefoot, playing a mid-Atlantic forest sprite, regal and childish, earthy yet modern, stern but soft, rendering countless other shadings of emotion that seem to come from some place beyond the “actress” in her.

Her body movements and gestures as Indian princess, while predictable and obvious, are invested with such genuine spirit it’s hard to forget you’re not really looking at Pocahontas, because you don’t want to.

She makes suspension of belief a kind of necessary narcotic.

Her turn as Indian ends broken-heartedly enough (for Pocahontas and ourselves) when the English fit her for shoes and her spirit gains an unhealthy weight. Even so, as the film makes a “costumer” turn, Kilcher moves easily from evoking the “natural” spirit (as the colonists call the Indians), to a perfect model girl for cool and old clothes.

You will accuse the scribe with having lost the story for the girl and you would be right. the scribe would tell you that film is very much the business of the pretty girl; that years ago when he schlepped his indie creation from festival to festival it was a marvel to see how every striving movie team showed up and shopped their the sale was all about the poster, which was all about the feminine face that graced it.

Malick’s familiar touches are there beneath Kilcher’s shimmering personality, framing and exalting her: the lyric voice-overs, the meandering storyline, and hard-to-discern dialogue.

He’s a visual film guy. Exactly what people are saying is incidental because you get the drift and Malick loves leaving you with nothing more than the drift.

Always has.

His power lies in sequences such as that wherein the Indian emissary, sent by Pocahontas’ father to check out England, walks through the stately gardens and architectural marvels of the old world so different from his own.

Always understated. The natural doesn’t need to (over)react before what he sees, because somehow you are him and understand fully. When Pocahontas dies, Malick delivers a haunting touch -- an Indian spirit astride a throne in one of the English palaces suddenly abandons it -- and Pocohantas, still dressed as an English lady bounds by the river bank, a Indian dryad once more...

...Closing her own circle: new in the old world; old in the new.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment thirty)


His own departure was the last change Cassius had been able to arrange in our already scrambled timelines. Elendele wasn’t really that bothered by his having been with Saturn. “Anyone could understand that,” she would always say. “Besides, it’s possible for a person to be wrong and still do the right thing.”

She made too precious use of her energy to engage the delicacies of jealousy. She was disillusioned with him because he had failed as a person in her eyes, failed to make good on one single goddamn dream.

She was a secular nonbeliever still holding us all to a pledge of aspiring godliness.

“I let my guard down Cassius,” she tried in pricking his thick skin. “I let you know who I was and what I dreamed and I let you touch my body, and in exchange I learned what you don’t want people to know…that just because you’re wearing a white hat doesn’t mean you’re the good guy.”

Cassius knew he would lose the scene, but retorted more cleanly than she had accused: “Peeling your orange mostly resulted in piles of skin Elendele. All the gears are there, you just can’t seem to mesh them. I worked with what you gave me.”

He would have insulted her less by sodomizing her, than by besting her rhetoric one last time.

“Behold the white male and his unnerving collection of confidences!” my lady hero sobbed in surrender.

Saturn and Cassius had moved on from their seduction of each other, leaving Elendele to clean herself of its secretions.

He immediately ran back to his well on Wall St., made some kind of name for himself punching out his boss and getting hired by the rival firm seeking to portray an aggressive marketing stance. Cassius cut Elendele a check for what he said he owed her and made her cry again, one time after that.

She was bitter at his success: “I’m the one who taught him about the inherent brutalities of business…the advantage of the aggressive option.”

Elendele was here and stuck with me. So we unstuck ourselves and finally went to Mexico after making a mint selling cappuccinos at a series of arts and crafts affairs. Elendele was dousing them in Colombian aguardiente and passing them off as Vienna brown with cinnamon, “to avoid the alcoholic beverage control bureaucrats,” she whispered her regular customers, clandestinely.

She just adored a good conspiracy.


Elendele had to be the first sports enthusiast the bronze boatboys had ever seen throw a marlin back into the water after a two-hour battle to dock it. They all loved her in the port and those Mayan children would all of them make motions, with two clenched fists that they brought close to and then pushed away from their pelvises, suggesting a most fundamental piece to the human ballet, every time they saw her.

She would say they were disgusting and then revel in the attention.

Her body was tight and tanned from days of swimming and goldbaths that began when darkness caved in completely, and the outboard motors of those heading for work woke up everybody that didn’t have to.

During the days Elendele would work the beachfront bars, making friends and findings us a boat we could sleep on. Boats and boat people. A world unto themselves. A life that is difficult and big with its dinghies back and forth to shore and the persistent wetness. The dreamer men and jobless girls that ride the choppy blue carpet talk about a sense of freedom they feel when they’re finally, and once again, on the open sea. It’s what they say they like most.

“It’s what they talk about when you bring up the problem of wet blue jeans,” noted Elendele.

“These are real working women,” she would say of the raggedy creatures we’d see sweeping the floors of their shacks and carrying loads on their backs. “They are not painted or brushed. They’re beautiful, don’t you see, Dominique? Beautiful without being trophies.”

There at the tip of the world we poured over small things, over the dust on the backstreets and the sand and sand and more sand. We endured the dance lighted boats and buoys, swaying for free, for those in houses around the surrounding mountains of night.

There are hundreds of dogs there in our paradise. And one night when Elendele leaves Estela’s Cantina with another guy because I spent too much time in the bathroom, and because she found some bobby pins in my suitcase, I walk home alone. I can hear those dogs. I can hear them call to each other, and talk their language issued forth from yards along side one or two-room shacks, from which girls step out all dressed to go uptown dancing.

Beautiful clear-eyed girls with clearer minds, free of drugs, and filled with the strength of noble insistent fathers guiding them in the backs of their heads...

...Beautiful girls. Beautiful dancers. Beautiful dogs and donkeys and cows springing forth from bushes at 3 a.m. when I’m walking alone, tequila drunk and dreaming of the saltdust and the sand and the sand and the sea all around me.

On Christmas there were Santa Clauses riding the dirt streets of the tropical cove town in the backs of pick-up trucks. Elendele and I watched them from hard seats on a wooden table outside a storefront, where the beer was cheaper than anywhere else. It was not a bar at all, and so the table was brought out front for the lazy and yellow-fevered.

We stumbled home shameless before the celestial witnesses of another lithe evening. We took cold showers, because there were no hot ones to be had, and we cuddled close under wooden blankets, to draw warmth from each other – one of the better habits we developed together.

Some hours later, under cover of dark and St. Tequila, a ghost sat upon the bed next to ours. He was crying and nodding his head in pitifulness against a mutilated and bloody shoulder. He told us he was the kind of ghost that was stuck between hell and earth. That he’d died in a horrible accident before his spiritual clock had ticked out. That it had been in a church burning in which he’d perished. That this was his room now.

“We’re out of here in the morning,” Elendele managed to tell him through dry throat. He was about to leave when I said, “Elendele, you’ve got to remember that he didn’t clarify his terms and he failed to allow time for rebuttal.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Turning Left to Go Right (on the war)

Perhaps the most obfuscated article of faith in American politics is that Republicans are stronger on national security than Democrats are, and consequently, more “supportive” of the troops.

Progressives get tired of electronically circulating lists of Democratic lawmakers past and present who have served in wars, attached to contrasting compilations of Republican “chicken hawks” like Dick Cheney who can’t get enough violence as long as they’re not in the crossfire.

The New York Times News Service reported July 12 that Republicans in the Senate killed a Democratic proposal “to give U.S. troops more time between combat tours.”

Supportive, you see.

It was the same kind of support the troops got two months ago when Democrats voted to fund a winding down of the war so that these guys and gals driving around getting blown up IEDs could come home and get on with (what’s left of) their lives.

Bush successfully portrayed that as leaving the troops in the field without the tools they need to do the job and so they got the tools and got to stay for some more IED action, rather than less.

To quote Lightning McQueen from Disney’s “Cars” movie, “Thank you or should I say ‘no thank you,’ because in opposite world maybe that really means thank you!”

The troops are definitely living in “opposite world” with the kind of support they’re getting from their Republican allies.

To be fair, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virg.) was joined by Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska in bringing this common sense and humane bill to a vote, but if the latter doesn’t quit the GOP some time soon, it will certainly quit him.

Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Gordon Smith (Ore.), John Warner (Va.), Norm Coleman (Minn.) and John Sununu (N.H) also thought these overworked and stressed people (the troops) should at least spend as much time recuperating at home as they spend in the hornets’ nest.

It’s probably a good measure of the disconnect between the philosopher kings ruling us that all except Snowe are up for reelection in 2008. Put another way, it’s pretty clear where the constituents of these Republican senators stand on the war and it’s not with the president who is either “firm” in his posture, or delusional depending on your own level of delusion.

In “Cars,” McQueen’s hysterical response is to the character Doc’s (Paul Newman) suggestion that when driving on dirt, “...if you’re going hard enough left, you’ll find yourself turning right.”

That sort of sums up efforts to stop this war so far; hampered by a Republican Party driving itself over the cliff, which they deserve. b

But they don’t have to bring these guys with them:

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Cpl. Jeremy D. Allbaugh, of Luther , OK :

"Our nation's servicemen and women put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy every day. Corporal Jeremy Allbaugh's bravery in the face of danger is an inspiration to all Californians. Maria and I join all Californians in extending our heartfelt sympathies to Jeremy's family and friends."

Allbaugh, 21, died July 5 as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq . Allbaugh was assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton , CA .

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of San Jose Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Roberto J. Causor Jr., of San Jose , CA :

"Maria and I respect Specialist Roberto Causor's unwavering fortitude in the face the ultimate danger. Roberto has left an honorable legacy of safeguarding the rights for which our nation stands. Maria and I extend our sympathies to his family and friends as they mourn their loss."

Causor, 21, died July 7 as a result of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in Samarra , Iraq . Causor was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, United States Army, Fort Bragg , NC .

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Monterey Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. 1st Class Sean K. Mitchell, of Monterey , CA :

"Sergeant First Class Sean Mitchell valiantly fought for the freedoms that we hold most sacred. Californians are forever grateful for his sacrifice for our nation. Maria and I pray for Sean's family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn the loss of a loved one."

Mitchell, 35, died July 7 as a result of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident in Kidal , Mali . Mitchell was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, United States Army, Stuttgart , Germany .

In honor of Sgt. 1st Class Mitchell, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Tracy Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Bruce C. Salazar Jr., of Tracy , CA :

"Words cannot adequately convey our gratitude for Private First Class Bruce Salazar's brave sacrifice for our country. He pursued the cause of liberty with strength and resolve. Maria and I extend our deepest condolences to Bruce's family, friends and fellow soldiers in their time of mourning."

Salazar, 24, died July 6 as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device in Muhammad Sath, Iraq . Salazar was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Army, Fort Stewart , GA.

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Crisis? What (mid-life) Crisis?

the highway scribe is learning how to surf this hot summer.

He’s been out on the waves eight times since April, has some kind of torn rib ligament, and actually tread the black night waters off Marina del Rey ‘neath a dome of Fourth o’ July sky fire, which, by the way, raises the minor and obvious point that we Americans really like our gunpowder.

Surfing at 47 is pretty dangerous, the scribe will admit, but it’s certainly fun and very physical and when you’re facing your third mid-life crisis since the age of twenty-five, a most worthwhile endeavor.

And, besides, it’s a good way to go.

How’s that for facing up?

Some will note that there are plenty of surfers out there in their forties, and fifties, even.

And that would be true, but those guys know what they’re doing.

the scribe, to continue, has also read two issues of “Surfer” magazine from cover to cover, can tell you that a “Grom” is surf talk for surfer, what a "rash guard" is, and certain rudimentary things about tides, waves and currents the existence of which he was only vaguely aware prior to his new passion.

This mid-life crisis can’t be nearly as fun as the one at twenty-five. That guy was nuts and is lucky to be alive. The one at 36 was the bad one and it was born of the realization teenage girls were pretty much a thing of the past.

Once you’ve accepted that, the rest is butter.

This current rendition is proof life keeps getting better, that you don’t enjoy your fun less than when you are younger: You enjoy it more because you have less of it.

If you follow.

Mid-life crisis is not a crisis at all, it’s a wake-up call to take advantage of what’s around you; a reminder that time is passing and that what is, will soon have been.

Perhaps this is cause for great depression in some people, but those people just don’t get before you lose the use of your feet.

Mid-life crisis was invented by young and not-so-young people who are afraid of life beyond 40, or 50, or whatever age it is that you’re supposed to feel old at (they keep raising the bar on it).

And don’t get the scribe wrong, all the surf excitement does not signal agreement with Dennis Hopper and his big insurance company sponsor’s hooey about boomers “redefining” retirement.

Here’s a newsflash. The redefining’s already been done, you're not doing that redefining, and it spells NO RETIREMENT!

Nobody wants to pay for it, not your employer and not your government.

When you read about the recent elections in France and about how the new President promises an end to benefits that are “too generous” that’s what they’re talking about: a pension payment that permits you to stay home when you're old.

Too generous?

As ampm mini-marts reminds us, “You can’t have too much good stuff!”

And you can’t have too many mid-life crises; can’t have too many breaks from the grind because commitment to the grind is enough without proving how commercial cool you are by doing it forever.

You need to do some other stuff and do it before it’s too late. If you still have the option, consider it good news and don’t sit around lamenting what is past.

As the surfers say, “Life is sick!”

(that means “totally radical”)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some People To Think About

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Chula Vista Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Michael J. Martinez, of Chula Vista , CA :

"Maria and I join all Californians in mourning the loss of Sergeant Michael J. Martinez. Michael served his country selflessly and his bravery and courage in defending our nation will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fellow soldiers."

Martinez , 24, died June 28 as a result of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by insurgents using improvised explosive devices in Baghdad , Iraq . Martinez was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division, United States Army, Fort Carson, CO.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Fullerton Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Shin W. Kim, of Fullerton , CA :

"Our nation has suffered a great loss with the death of Sergeant Shin W. Kim. We are forever indebted to him for his service to our country and his sacrifice in defense of freedom and democracy. Maria and I send our heartfelt condolences to Shin's family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn the loss of a brave individual."

Kim, 23, died June 28 as a result of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by insurgents using improvised explosive devices in Baghdad , Iraq . Kim was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division, United States Army, Fort Carson, CO.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of La Verne Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Cory F. Hiltz, of La Verne , CA :

"Maria and I extend our sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Private First Class Cory Hiltz. In selfless service to our county, Cory courageously undertook the duty and responsibility as a member of the United States Army. We are forever indebted to him and his family."

Hiltz, 20, died June 28 as a result of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by insurgents using improvised explosive devices in Baghdad , Iraq . Hiltz was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division, United States Army, Fort Carson, CO.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of North Hollywood Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Giann C. Joya-Mendoza, of North Hollywood , CA :

"Today, Californians mourn the tragic loss of Sergeant Joya-Mendoza. Giann served with courage and dedication, making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Maria and I wish to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends and we will pray for their comfort during this difficult time."

Joya-Mendoza, 27, died June 28 as a result of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by insurgents using improvised explosive devices in Baghdad , Iraq . Joya-Mendoza was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division, United States Army, Fort Carson, CO.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Rialto Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Victor A. Garcia, of Rialto , CA :

"Today, we pay tribute and honor Specialist Victor Garcia for his dedication to freedom and democracy and his service to our nation. Words cannot adequately express our reverence for Victor's sacrifice. Maria and I send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to his family and friends in this time of grief."

Garcia, 22, died July 1 as a result of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire in Baghdad , Iraq . Garcia was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), United States Army, Fort Lewis , WA .

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Yosemite Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Michael L. Ruoff Jr., of Yosemite , CA :

"Maria and I send our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sergeant Michael Ruoff. His commitment and service overseas is a resounding reminder of the importance of democracy and freedom. Michael's honorable sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Ruoff, 31, died July 1 as a result of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire in Ta'meem, Iraq . Ruoff was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, United States Army, Schweinfurt , Germany.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Twenty-Nine Palms Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Juan M. Garcia Schill of Grants Pass, OR:

"With respect and gratitude, Maria and I express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Lance Corporal Juan Garcia Schill. Juan fought courageously to protect the freedom and democracy of our nation. His honorable sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Schill, 20, died July 2 as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq . Schill was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps, Twentynine Palms, CA.

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

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Hawthorne Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Thomas P. McGee, of Hawthorne , CA :

"Maria and I, along with all Californians, are saddened by the loss of Sergeant Thomas McGee. As a soldier, Thomas courageously fulfilled his duty and service to his country. We are forever indebted to him and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

McGee, 23, died July 6 as a result of wounds sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Wazi Khwa , Afghanistan . McGee was assigned to the 546th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, United States Army, Fort Stewart , GA.

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

Sunday, July 08, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment twenty-nine)


Saturnina was big in the belly by Cassius and forced to leave them when her mother, an indirect descendant of Mozart, ordered her home... immediately. That broke the charm. She licked her chops like delicious over the brawl she had started back home and left at midnight with all types debts and bets unpaid.

No one came to foreclose.

Elendele remained stoic and true to her principals of free love, but she bled internally, and thereafter her smile was always more knowing. That Cassius had beaten her barely with a little seduction of his own.

No one was surprised.

Saturn left with a Cortez original under her arm. She’d had it so long and the paint still hadn’t dried. It was from his flinging phase. Since then he’d painted on rugs, throw away doors, and sheets. He used much less paint now since it was cheaper that way. She had given the grateful painter a thousand dollars for the work just to get under Elendele’s skin. But Elendele was too saddened at her leaving to notice.

Saturn, she said, was a once in a lifetime friend who would simply grow up to become someone we once knew.

I was sad, too. My affection had always been hers and she drank freely of it, longingly, without ever laying a hurtful glove on me. And I was flattered. She remained forever softly Saturnina. I didn’t even get an hour with her to say goodbye. And you should always say goodbye. She invited me over to smoke a joint while she was packing and seemed mildly surprised I hadn’t brought the Maria myself.

And even though she didn’t get her treasure, she gave one, a bracelet; her blue-stained glass moon crescent, and a new drug she and Trini had invented called Executrip, on the condition that I think about her through most of it. That was easy, and I did.

We called her every week until we lost track of how long she had been gone. The conversations had no detail. We’d get clumsy and would end up saying things at the same time. Then she’d say, “I’m sorry, you go ahead,” and I’d say, “No, you, please.” Of course, when Saturn was near I could hardly be heard, but I never got soliloquy from afar. And anyway it was the same on the phone with either of them, they were rainbows and were reduced by wire to one color in voice.

“Maybe she was afraid someone was listening,” I indulged Elendele whose speeches I had to content myself with, and which were in the end much better; more jaunty, more thickness in the lyric. Whitey McEntee had said he’d hire her after watching her turn a speech to a local union on the plant closings bill into a song.

Anyway, Saturn was changing politically, was growing enamored of a dangerous French outfit called Direct Action or, at least, wasted way too much time pulling their leaflets off the walls of Marseille, reading at night for insight into government, and ways it might be moving market forces.

Elendele approved. Only they, she said, believed in real revolution, anymore. So, Saturnina had come to know them, had grown away from us to brighten their edgeworld. “Sad Lisa Lisa” remained her favorite song.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Plame Game (II)

The essence of blogging is to go where the big boys will/shall/or cannot go, and the whole Scooter Libby commutation thing is certainly being covered by anybody who is anybody among the big fish in the big media pond.

Nonetheless, the mid-week holiday has done little to temper the furor over Bush's giving the penitentiary keys to a guy who worked for him after promising to "get to the bottom" of the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson "outting" etc.

One of the points Al Gore makes in his latest book essay, "The Assault on Reason" is that we live in a one-way kind of democracy where citizens get hit with whatever the government has up its sleeve, but never really get to say or influence things in the other direction given the swelling of concentrated media and the way politics are played out through them.

Which is to say the highway scribe is choking on this whole business, having tried to leave a comment with the White House for three days only to be met with an interminable busy tone.

How convenient.

When the Department of Justice wants to nail your ass, it will spare no expense, but when it comes to sampling vox populi the White House feels no need to dig deeper and put in a few more phone lines, or contract out (read: privatize) a call center because it doesn't think the populi are entitled to a vox.

So highwayscribery's weighing in.

The White House and the punditry whom carry its brackish water are doing their best to guffaw at criticisms by Hillary Clinton of the president's irresponsible action regarding Libby.

"Look at everyone Bill pardoned," they say, and then note that each beneficiary was, Gulp!, a criminal, as if you could pardon anybody but a convict.

Of course, people have short memories. Back when Bush came to office they made much of the fact Clinton had pardoned international slimeball Marc Rich. The pardon, it turns out, was a product of the mysterious "talks" heads-of-state hold, the details of which we are rarely privy to.

In any case, the idea was that Ehud Barak, one-time Israeli prime minister, had asked for the pardon as a precondition to signing some failed peace agreement or other with the Palestinians.

Republicans were shocked, SHOCKED! at the news such things were done (to quote "Seinfeld") in the "high-stakes world of diplomacy and international intrigue."

They, of course, would be much different and blew smoke all over the place with assistance from "Time" magazine, which had one last Clinton cover declaiming "The Incredible Shrinking Presidency."

Of course, that was before w.'s implosion, the likes of which we have never seen in politics.

the scribe did not have a blog at the time of tainted transition to the Bush II regime. Had the technology been known to him, he'd have pointed out how Bush's dad pardoned a ton of Reagan administration stalwarts accused of getting into the business of arms-trading with Iran, of all countries, in an effort to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, which the Congress, on to them, had expressly forbade.

Wacky, the scribe knows, and thinks Keith Olberman's tirade on MSNBC framed things most clear: "And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush of giving through that vice president [Cheney] carte blanche to Mr. Libby to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary; to lie to grand juries and special counsels and before a court in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison."

Olberman's call for the president's and vice president's resignation is pretty strong stuff and will certainly alleviate the feeling someone has stuck a sock in your mouth, if you're as exercised (if not surprised) as the scribe is.

Harry Reid, says the move was "disgraceful," says, "The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own vice president's chief of staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law. This action is nothing short of a continuation of the obstruction of justice begun by Scooter Libby."

Reid wants those who agree to sign his petition at "Give 'Em Hell Harry."

We did.

The White House response was the usual glib and snarky stuff from mouthpiece Tony Snow. You would think he was a blogger given the flippant way he deals with weighty matters of state.

Wilson whom, along with his wife, is at the heart of this whole thing was having none of Snow's snow, saying, "To claim that leaking the identity of a covert operative is simply part of the 'Washington culture' suggests a deep disdain for those patriots who risk their lives to protect our national security. Mr. Snow's comment was insulting not just to Valerie Wilson [nee: Plame], but to all covert operatives who believe that in return for their sacrifices, our government will do everything it can to protect them. A genuine and sincere apology from the White House -- not just to Mrs. Wilson -- but the entire intelligence community -- is long overdue."

Wilson knows better than to hold his breath.

Here are two examples of conservative hypocrisy on the issue of perjury, for which Mr. Libby was convicted, back when it was a Democratic Presidential on the spit:

Bill (gambling is a virtue) Bennett: "And we know that when a person testifies under oath that he doesn't remember something when in fact he does, he has committed perjury."

Henry (don't talk about my affair) Hyde, "If citizens are allowed to lie with impunity, or encourage others to tell false stories or hide evidence, judges and juries cannot reach just results. At that point, the courtroom becomes an arena for artful liars and the jury a mere focus group of choosing between alternative fictions."

That, as they say, is too rich.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Vedette, the highway scribe and Omar Torrez on TV

Maybe during your day off there will be time to watch the scribe and guitar God Omar Torrez rip through a session of "Vedette Does La Danza" for Calabasas (California) television. An verbal, musical, and visual presentation.

Lucha VaVOOM! (Los Angeles)

When the 15-year-old girl turned out to be an 18-year old boy in fringe panties twirling a hula-hoop... that was when it became clear what kind of night was in store for us.


Not that standing on line watching extravagantly dressed lucha libre wrestlers and girls in hotpants roll up to the Mayan Theatre on noisy, mini-hot rods was less, er um, entertaining.

Or that the assemblage of downtown hipsters-cum-EastAztlan-cholo promised an evening with the bridge club.

But that was supposed to be a 15-year-old up there in the long white and frilly dress, backed by four other girls of varying youth and innocence in the same gown. It was a “quinceañera” to celebrate the fifteenth edition of the Lucha VaVOOM.

The evening’s program promised “sexo y violencia,” and the Mayan is not on any short list for next year’s Latin Grammy’s, so we knew what we were in for...


It was just a matter of time before the erstwhile 15-year old’s clothes were coming off and, you know, that’s always a little hard to not get excited about. And the dress was dropped as the Deejay took things up a notch, or five, and sure enough, it was happening.

Then the top came down and the roof on the Mayan nearly blown off. That’s no girl and what's (s)he doing with the hoola hoop...that ain’t workin’, even if it was terribly impressive in a Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not kind of way.

There was a buzz goin’. The EmCee, who had led us willingly into the pleasant duping, Blaine, came back to set up the first wrasslin’ match of the night, pointed the microphone at his mouth and said, "Lucha!"

“VaVOOM!” the in-the-know crowd leapt to its feet cheering, whooping.

“Lucha...!” “VaVOOM!”

The girls, including “Cry Baby,” “Nikki” and two identical sisters billed as the Poubelle Twins took to the stage, er um ring, and wrung one another out. There was violence, sure, but of a mocking kind; fake kicks and punches and nicely choreographed tumbles and bumbles that brought more cheers of delight from a crowd constantly being prodded to buy more El Jimador (the evening’s tequila sponsor) and a waitress too inviting to permit any resistance to the call.

Blaine, joined by a tuxedo-wearing Dana Gould, ostensibly commented on what was happening in the world, although anything in American culture was fair game.

“This referee is about as useful as Nancy Pelosi,” one of them (it was hard to tell which after a while) remarked. And that was about the least offensive thing fired from their scattershot, machine-gun mouths all night.

Unfortunately, the sexy Poubelle (“trash can” in French) twins lost the match to somebody else; it was a little confusing what with all those girls in bikinis flying into and around and all over one another.

Most of the violencia may have been faked, but the sexo... Let’s just say there are things that happen when people are wearing, you know, underwear while they roll around positioning their butts in each other’s faces and..."Lucha!"


Before the defeat of the black-vinyl clad siblings could sink in, Lucy Fur came out and danced and took off almost all of her clothes, leaving a little to what little was left of our imaginations and then some more wrestlers came out.

These were guys including somebody named “Dirty Sanchez” (don’t ask). He lost, but it was hard to feel sorry for him, because he was laughing as hard as everyone else in the place.

The El Jimador was kicking in pretty good at this point so it’s a little hard to remember who Dirty Sanchez lost to, but that’s okay because then another stripper, Lola La Cereza (the cherry) came out and took her clothes off, wrapped up (unwrapped?) in a routine featuring a hanging banana, a big baggy of white dust, and a mock straw the size of a plumbing pipe.

Use your imagination.

The lucha libre began to grow more serious in the level of acrobatics and narrative when “El Chilango” and “El Chupacabras,” “El Misterioso,” and others took to the stage.

These are real figures of the Mexican wrestling world with well-developed personae and fans to match them and just one more reason why we endure the overheated real estate market and overpriced rents.

Chilango, despite, all the hype, lost, but it really didn’t matter because a stripper “from Chicago” named Michelle L’Amour came out and helped us all forget his bitter defeat.

Then a midget chicken was born out of an egg under the spotlights, to the “Theme from 2001.” The world being what it is, a very unpleasant trio, one being another midget, dressed in black leather, sporting Coyote masks, tried to violate the newborn’s innocence.

Blaine had warned those seated up-close earlier in the night to, “pay attention or you’re going to get midget all over you.”

Not to worry because out came “The Crazy Chickens” to the rescue, riding into the room on an earthshaking House music bass beat. After an unfortunate beginning, and more unfortunate commentary from the EmCees, the Crazy Chickens vanquished the vile Coyotes, which meant we could finally get onto the next stripper.

(If this sounds monotonous, it wasn’t).

The name escapes (if the presentation doesn’t) and finally we were treated to a finale of lucha libre icons including Cassandro.

For those of you unschooled in Spanish grammar, it should be noted that an “a” at the end of something usually denotes the feminine gender, an “o” the masculine.

Which makes Cassandro a kind of middle-aged mentor to the 15-year-old quinceañer(o) with the hula hoop, if you follow..."Lucha!"


The choreography and flips and everything were much advanced in this group, which also included “El Psicodelico” wearing a mask spangled with concentric circles.

The big running joke was that whenever the bigger, more threatening, opponents had Cassandro in trouble (s)he would smack someone’s lips with a kiss and send them screaming for the exits in a homophobic tizzy.

Maybe it’s not so funny without the El Jimador, but with it...

Cassandro won and that was good because then a quartet of most worthy strippers known as the Ungawas came out and did a cowgirl routine that included a return of the quinceañer(o) with the hula hoop.

From there to the ending was just the usual total breakdown of order managed beautifully by those inciting it (no security visible) throughout the room, echoing with the deafening and racuous chant, “Lucha!”


Sunday, July 01, 2007

"The Liquid Life" (installment twenty-eight)

Public sex material is certainly delivered in different ways, dating this piece somewhat, but that's kind of what makes having a detailed literary piece from 20-years ago so valuable.


“Dominique,” Elendele beckons me, locking my locks in her long nails and pulling on them for just the perfect hurt. “Baby,” she pursues, pushing me back against two stacked pillows and sitting on my chest with her precious puma before my faltering eyes, “don’t you have any dirty magazines we can look at? You know, sex books. We could look at them and get high and hot and try something different.”

I can dig the protocol. “Baby,” I baby her back, “I don’t have any, but if you want I’ll run down to the Korean liquor store. Those people will sell anything for a buck.”

She smirks me, “You don’t think they’re dirty do you?” And she waits, still smirking, thinking with her little line-irrigated forehead. That’s what is going to make her look older than her age, those wrinkles there from all the worrying, plotting, and philosophizing under all those curls. She runs her finger in circles round her tire-tread lips. Here it comes.

“You know,” Elendele says, and she pulls up close to my ears to whisper, “I was in one. Naked I mean. You know, with my legs spread.”

I’m numb to all this by now. That’s how she is. I don’t even think about her in a magazine because I can’t spend the energy when there’s some fandango in a door in her head waiting to pop out, perhaps at any moment. No jumping. No speech. No catharsis. So on she goes. “Cassius got me to do it.”

“I have asked you not to mention the name of that false prince in front of me.”

“You were the one who said we needed a good agent,” she reminded me, “Anyway, it wasn’t a centerfold or anything. One of the girls after the centerfold, one of the girls at the end, near the advertisements for the real porn. I was going to be the centerfold, but they got the Redondo Beach Miss Budweiser at the last minute and put there.”

I am a dustsurfer on the wave of stucco swooshing the ceiling over.

“Sooo,” she yells, hoping to move me with volume now. Fully afraid that I’m bored of her vaudeville. “You’re not mad. Sure you’re mad you damn Catholic mama’s boy, say something. You think they’re dirty those magazines, don’t you?”

I decide to give her a little. I love her so much. “No, I like them a lot. It’s just that I wouldn’t want someone in my family or the police to find them cleaning out my place if I died suddenly.”

Curve ball. Strike. She actually has to shut up a minute and redo the forehead. She says, “But you’d be dead. What makes you think you’d care about what happens after you’re dead?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” I say, “but still.”