Thursday, August 24, 2006

Getting ready for Burning Man: It's like getting ready for Armegeddon!

My son Joe just gave me a ticket to Burning Man, a festival of fire and art that takes place once a year out in the Nevada desert every Labor Day weekend. Joe couldn't make it this year because he is in the California Shakespeare Theater's excellent production of "The Merchant of Venice" (yes, there are still tickets available to see Joe -- he plays a cameraman. You gotta go see him. He's SO good!).

"I think you will love Burning Man," said my son, "but I've got to warn you that temperatures in the desert reach 115 degrees during the daytime. And be prepared for dust storms and be sure to anchor your tent down hard because it might blow away in the 70-mile-an-hour winds. And bring goggles for the dust. But you'll have fun."

My friend Russell e-mailed me from San Diego. "With 30,000 people there, your biggest problem is going to be finding a place to pee," he warned. "You pee anywhere you can find enough privacy to satisfy your urge. However, the more urgently you need to go, the less you care about privacy! Or you spend a lot of time waiting in lines and such, and mentally noting where the rows of potties are. Men have it SOOOOO MUCH easier than women because they can just line up some troughs for us." Oh. Rats.

"Frankly, Jane, I swore I'd never go back again unless I had an RV with a BATHROOM," he continued, "never mind a place to sleep and AC! Everyone acts so free and loving there, it's great -- but there's one secret you can't crack no matter how much people seem to like you -- do they have a clean bathroom you can use? And maybe a shower? And an air conditioner? Can I sleep on your floor tonight? But you'll probably do fine and find what you need -- but be warned! And you MUST drink, whether you can find a private place to pee or not! And if you DO find a clean Porta-Pottie, don't tell anybody where it is, okay?!? But you'll have fun."

Then I got an e-mail from the co-ordinator of the event. "Burning Man's art department is all ablaze with anticipation, as 2006 promises to be a banner year for art at Burning Man, with 240 registered art installations -- the playa [that's Spanish for beach aka desert] is jam-packed with art!" She also went on to warn about sunstroke, dehydration, falling off of moving vehicles, running out of food, sandstorms and "Playa Foot" from not taking a shower for a week. "But you'll have fun."

As I pack up my water supply, my hand sanitizer, my canned food supply, my flashlight, face mask and other survival gear, I have NO idea what to expect up at Burning Man. I feel like I'm preparing to live in the bombed-out ruins of southern Lebanon or the deserts of Iraq -- or Bush's post-Armageddon America. So this is what it will be like after Bush gets done causing all those wars: Canned food, flashlights, deserts from global warming, no infrastructure.

But will there be artwork in Bush's post-Armageddon America? And will I have fun?

Invading California: Bush lost in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon but his victory over CA is almost assured

It was your usual late-summer chilly day in Berkeley and I was attending a small garden party being given for Phil Angelides, who is running for governor of California. Phil has an up-hill battle in front of him and needs all the help he can get! Why? Because President [sic] George W. Bush has already been defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon and he is DETERMINED not to lose in California too! Our George is anxious to finally be victorious over SOMETHING and is willing to spend whatever it takes to defeat Angelides and keep his man Arnold Schwarzenegger in power.

In 2001, President [sic] George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan, bombed the heck out of the place, destroyed much of its infrastructure, wasted billions of dollars of American taxpayers' money doing it and STILL lost the "war". You almost want to feel sorry for the guy. Here he practically decimated the place and he STILL didn't win. However, not to worry, George. Afghanistan is just a blip on the map of the world. You lost there. So what.

In 2003, President [sic] George W. Bush invaded Iraq, bombed the heck out of the place, destroyed much of its infrastructure, wasted billions of dollars of American taxpayers' money doing it and STILL lost the "war". You almost want to feel sorry for the guy. Here he practically decimated the place and he STILL didn't win. However, not to worry, George. Iraq is just a blip on the map of the world. You lost there. So what.

In 2006, President [sic] George W. Bush planned and financed the invasion of Lebanon, bombed the heck out of the place, destroyed much of its infrastructure, wasted billions of dollars of American taxpayers' money doing it and STILL lost the "war". You almost want to feel sorry for the guy. Here he practically decimated the place and he STILL didn't win. However, not to worry, George. Lebanon is just a blip on the map of the world. You lost there. So what.

Why should Bush fret about losing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon when he has a very good chance of invading and conquering the fifth largest economy in the world instead! Yep. California. If the Bush-Schwarzenegger team wins in California, George's sorry defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon won't even matter. Between Bush's hidden agenda to re-fill his "war chest" from California's plundered tax base and Schwarzenegger's hidden agenda to hand our captive middle class over to the insurance companies and energy czars who are financing his campaign, the defeat and occupation of California is almost assured.

So. Even as we speak, Bush is marshaling his generals, preparing his troops and getting his Special Forces ready to invade us. You think I'm kidding? You think this is funny? You should live here! Bush has already sent his advance guard to California. He has already spent millions on the invasion. We are already under 24-hour bombardment by Swift Boaters and psy-ops operations! Help!

Meanwhile, back at the garden party, we were sipping coffee, eating cookies and preparing ourselves to Fight Back. I talked with some of the people I knew there. The general feeling was that we were in for a long, bitter siege.

After the refreshments -- never turn down free food! is my motto -- Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke. "Schwarzenegger's agenda is similar to Washington DC's," she said. "Cutbacks for the average American, young people unable to afford to go to college. Small businesses without tax breaks. First we need to take back California. Then we need to take back Washington in 2008."

Then former U.S. Secretary of Labor Richard Reich spoke. "In the 1990s we had 22 million net new jobs," he said. "Everybody got a raise. It was the best economy we've had in decades. And now our economy is not working." I'd spent all last winter applying for jobs. I knew EXACTLY what he was talking about.

"What was it that the Clinton administration did that Washington is not doing now? To get a good economy up and running, you want to invest in education, close corporate welfare loopholes, help the middle class and reduce the budget deficit. Washington is doing the exact opposite. And Sacramento under Schwarzenegger is following Bush's example. This is a recipe for economic ruin. Only 900 jobs..." I didn't hear what kind of jobs these were, having been distracted by cookies, "...have been created in California. We have not seen this kind of inequality in opportunity since 1890!" Scary. Our economic infrastructure is being destroyed!

"Phil Angelides," Reich continued, " believes in education and opportunities for young people and the average citizen." Me too! I applauded. And dropped my cookie. Rats.

Then the guy who gave the garden party spoke. "I've listened to so many bad luck stories in the past two years in my work with the Berkeley public schools. These stories all started about two years ago -- when Schwarzenegger took office. He is using the Washington model here in California -- where 1% of the people benefit and the other 99% of us don't!"

Then the candidate himself was introduced. "When I was a kid growing up in California," he said, "we believed in education and the American dream. My grandmother was a seamstress. She worked 15 hours a day so my father could go to the public university and become an engineer." Phil was kind of a good-hearted numbers-crunching nerd up against a movie star but he was a deep thinker and, as the California State Treasurer for all these years, he knew his stuff cold -- and also where all the Schwarzenegger bodies were buried. I listened up.

"Now we see the economy growing but all the benefits are going to the people at the top. The oil companies are now making 350 million dollars A DAY. I'm running for governor to stop the gravy train." The K Street lobbies have run America for the last six years. Now apparently they are running California too.

"Our only chance to renew the promise of California is to take the high road -- not the low road. Schwarzenegger has spent 19 million dollars on ads saying that I was going to take us backwards? Yes. I am. Back to when we had the most affordable public colleges in America. Back to when the rich paid their fair share of taxes. Back to when California was a world leader..." and not just another potential Lebanon! "...back before the governor's agenda wasn't a public interest shopping list." Go, Phil!

"The Bush-Schwarzenegger agenda is to help multi-nationals instead of anyone else. I am going to give a tax break to those who make this economy hum. We are going to roll back college tuitions. Schwarzenegger says that he won't raise taxes? He's raised California State University tuitions by thousands of dollars. That's not a tax? We need to put government back on the side of hard-working people!" Hear, hear!

"Why is Schwarzenegger attacking me day in and day out?" asked Phil. Yeah. Why? "Because the rich are paying no taxes and I want to put a stop to that. Schwarzenegger is in Texas right now, having a fund-raiser. We are the only oil jurisdiction in the world that doesn't have an oil assessment fee when the oil comes out of the ground. Our economy is being devastated over the long-term by the pernicious drain on our wealth. We have to address this fundamental inequality. My tax plan helps middle class Californians," No wonder Bush and Schwarzenegger hate Phil!

"The Bush Washington DC election team has been sent out here to California to help Schwarzenegger because the last thing they want is a state that is asking corporations to pay their fair share. And they are running their usual campaign. Distort. Lie. Smear." Oh dear. Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon got off easy! They didn't have to deal with the Bush "Big Lie" tag-team on TV day after day! The Bush campaign-ad tanks are amassed at our borders already. Sigh.

After the speeches, I got to shake Barbara Lee's hand. She was the ONLY Congressperson who voted against the invasion of Afghanistan. I really wanted to kiss her feet but thought she might be embarrassed so I didn't. But I thought about it. Then I shook Phil Angelides's hand. Then I looked around for more cookies. There weren't any. So I went home. It was a totally productive morning -- despite the chill in the air.

PS: Don't worry about me. I still have a stash of Girl Scout cookies hidden away from last year. You wanna worry about something? Worry about California! Bush has got us in his cross-hairs just as surely as he had Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon in his sights -- only this time, Bush just may win.

PPS: Angelides is also totally against Bush's war on Iraq. "I oppose the war. I have never been for it," Phil told the Berkeley Daily Planet. For that reason alone, every sane person in America should be vocally supporting Phil's campaign.

Donations to Phil can be made at

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The collection agency wears Prada: Taking a student loan debt to small claims court

"I want to be a fashion designer, Mommie," said my little girl. It's every little girl's dream. Then my little girl grew up -- and guess what? She STILL wanted to be a fashion designer. So we sent her off to FIDM, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Happily we signed their student loan form and indebted ourselves for big bucks. After all, my daughter was destined to become a star in the fashion world and SHE would pay it all back. No problem. Yeah right.

Then reality struck. My daughter lost interest and dropped out after ONE QUARTER. So much for her becoming the next Dolce & Gabanna. No future Donna Karan in our family. And no wearing Prada.

The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising was very nice about it. Not. "You co-signed an agreement with us. Whether your daughter attended FIDM or not, you owe us for one whole year. Pay up within a month or we'll sic our collection agency on you."

FIDM was telling me that, after they had already been paid $13,000 in FAFSA student loans and grants to cover that first unhappy quarter, I still owed them $7,393.98 more? What!

Can they do that? Apparently they could. There goes my credit.

In desperation, I re-read my contract. "For services rendered...." Hey! They didn't render me no stinking services! Or my daughter either. So I took FIDM to small claims court. I love small claims court. On the day of my trial, there was a dispute between a landlord and a tenant. And a despute between a car mechanic and a customer. It was just like Judge Judy! I loved it.

And then it got even better. I got my own day in court. And I won!

I won the right to not have to pay FIDM for the part of the school year that my daughter didn't get any services rendered for. "The contract between the parties is satisfied and terminated." Plus they have to give me back the $1,500 I already gave them as a down payment and pay me $40 in court costs too. I feel all devilishly proud of myself. I've struck a blow for unfairly-indebted college students everywhere!

But I'm still not very stylish. Despite my fabulous judicial triumph on her behalf, my ungrateful daughter has still not re-vamped my wardrobe. I'm still in sartorial hell. "The Devil Wears Goodwill." Maybe FIDM will offer to give me a make-over in lieu of Satisfaction of Judgment?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Red Alert: Why is GWB hijacking our airlines?

"It takes hours to get through airport security," said my friend. "I'm staying home." I don't even have to write this article. That sentence says it all.

"You could drive?" I suggested. Not at $3.50 a gallon for gas.

Okay. You can't fly. You can't drive. So much for the global village, the travel industry and "America on the Go".

"There's still the train," I said, "but don't let Bush know -- or he'll start hijacking Amtrak too." And get Homeland Security to issue terror alerts for Trailways and Greyhound as well.

Why have so many of the Bush bureaucracy's policies systematically led up this -- America's Big Summer of Staying at Home? Why is Bush driving our airlines out of business? Why is Ford laying off workers like crazy and closing down plants? Why are gas prices skyrocketing? Why are bridge tolls going up? Why is our income so low, our taxes so high and our utility bills so expensive that we can't afford to go anywhere anyway? Why does a trip to Grandma's now cost an arm and a leg? Why does Motel 6 have to leave the light on for us all night long and we STILL don't show up?

Why has it suddenly become such a hassle to get from here to there?

And why are Americans putting up with it?

PS: I'm still about to crank up my 1990 Toyota and go off to the Nevada desert for the Burning Man festival over Labor Day. My 1990 Toyota gets 35 miles per gallon. Eat your heart out, Hummer owners!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Return of the Jedi: Are the Ewoks kicking George Bush's butt?

A friend of mine just went on a cruise to Alaska this week and I entertained her 11-year-old while she was gone. We made a lot of pancakes. We went to toy stores, parks, movies, libraries and fast-food places. We rented videos. I did kid stuff all week. We had a good time.

I even found myself watching the Star Wars trilogy again. What did I learn? That the Ewoks, armed only with bows and arrows, actually kicked the Evil Empire's butt!

Do I have to spell it out to you? GWB, fourth-generation warfare is here! Does it work? Just ask George Lucas. Or Hizbullah.

PS: At the library, I picked up a copy of Time magazine and was amazed at their cover story,9171,1223363,00.html on Iraq. It described a descent into Hell. Bush has now been in Iraq for longer than it took us to fight World War II and what has he accomplished in that time? He has created a terrible nether-world, a destroyed planet, a Darth-Vader-like reality that staggers the mind. It's like the Death Star has landed in Iraq.

PPS: In just 12 days, I leave for the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. I got my tent, my sleeping bag, my canned food supply from Trader Joe's and my sun screen. All I need now are some mushrooms, a video camera and a hook-up to YouTube and I'll be ready for the ultimate wilderness experience!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Israel in danger: Apparently Bush thinks that Israel is expendable too

Okay. Explain this to me once again. With the Middle East already in incredible turmoil, how come George W. Bush keeps egging Israel on to commit even bigger and more outrageous acts of belligerence which anybody with half a brain KNOWS is guaranteed to cause even more problems in the Middle East?

Why does Bush constantly keep giving Israel all sorts of horrendous weapons and really gross war plans?

Why is Bush doing this, knowing full well that Israelis are sitting right in the middle of almost a billion people who are already really really angry at them?

According to journalist Robert Parry, "Amid the political and diplomatic fallout from Israel's faltering invasion of Lebanon, some Israeli officials are privately blaming President George W. Bush for egging Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into the ill-conceived military adventure against the Hezbollah militia in south Lebanon. Bush conveyed his strong personal support for the military offensive during a White House meeting with Olmert on May 23, according to sources familiar with the thinking of senior Israeli leaders." May 23?

Israel is surrounded by bulls with sharp horns? And Bush keeps telling Olmert, "Here. Wave this red flag...." And Israel does it? That's just crazy!

It seems to me that Bush doesn't give a rat's behind about Israel. If Israel gets blown off the face of the map in this humongous showdown at high noon on Arab Street, who would benefit? George W. Bush!

"Jane, what are you thinking?" I'm not really sure. But, judging from his actions in the last six years, it seems to me that Bush's foremost Middle Eastern policy is to kill as many Arabs/Muslims/whatever in the region as he can in order to destabilize oil prices.

So help me out here. When Israel roils up the water in the Middle East, isn't that helping George Bush? Even if, when all this water is churning around, Israel also should happen to drown?

If I were the Prime Minister of Israel, I would learn to swim fast -- and keep away from those sharks in Washington who are looking for blood. Muslim blood? Jewish blood? Christian blood? Do you honestly think that sharks can tell the difference? Do you honestly think that sharks care?

PS: Let's move on to the next obvious step, boys and girls. "Sharks also can't tell the difference between foreign blood and American blood either." You think that I'm wrong? Then you need to go chat with the Downing Street boys -- or the Jersey Girls.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A kid talks about current affairs: "That war is on crack!"

This morning I was talking with a friend about the current situation in the Middle East. "Looks like Lieberman's defeat sent a message to Bush, Olmert and AIPAC." sez me, "that they had better think twice before blatantly massacring women and children again."

Up until now, the Bush mafia, Olmert and AIPAC have been acting too sure of themselves, thinking that they can do just about ANYTHING and get away with it -- and trick us naive American taxpayers into paying for it too!

"But after the Lieberman defeat, it looks like Bush and them are gonna have to step up their game in order to stay in control. They are gonna stage a lot more of their water-bottle-waving, airport-clogging terrorist alerts -- if not actual 9-11s -- in order to keep voters' minds off their massive policy failures and intimate friendship with Diebold."

Of course my friend agreed with me. And, according to the latest polls, most of America does too. But that's old news. My friend and I were basically just chatting in the blogger-type shorthand that most sane people use these days while waiting for the rest of America to wake up.

"And that whole Lebanon ceasefire thing and Olmert taking advantage of it to seize all of Lebanon up to the Litani? That's outrageous! That's like a football referee blowing his whistle for a time-out but the quarterback keeps running with the ball, runs into the end-zone and then expects the ref to award him the touchdown. And the ref does!" That's just wrong.

My friend's 12-year-old son piped up at this point. "I wonder who won the 49ers game last night?" I looked at him. He looked at me.

"Hey, you're a smart kid," I said. "What do YOU think of the various wars in the Middle East?"

"Nothing." Nothing? This is Berkeley! Former home of the peace movement before it moved to Crawford! You gotta think something!

"Can you even find Iraq on a map?"


"And surely you see stuff about the war on the TV news?" Yes. "So what do you think about that?

"I think it's stupid. I don't even know why they are fighting. They're killing millions of people. That's stupid. This war is on crack."

If that's what the next generation of voters is thinking, Bush and Rove had better step up their war-crack-selling game immediately or approximately ten years from now they will be out of a job. Older Americans who should know better may still be buying Bush's war propaganda crack on every street corner -- but the younger generation already knows that Bush's war-crack may get them high once or twice -- but eventually the effects will wear off and they, like Bush, will have to steal from honest citizens in order to pay for their stash.

PS: My efforts to embed in Iraq are going poorly right now. No matter. I've still got lots of time. If it will take the younger generation another ten years to grow up, get sick of "war," tax repression and stolen elections and finally kick Bush and Cheney out, the war on Iraq will still be going on ten years from now and Bush and Cheney will still be in the White House in 2016.

I still have PLENTY of time to get embedded in Iraq.

PPS: Another friend just sent me a video showing some "doctored" photos from Lebanon, making it appear that all that tragedy, death and destruction didn't really happen but was just a result of the illicit use of PhotoShop. Whew! That's good news! For a few weeks there, I thought Israel had ACTUALLY bombed Lebanon to cinders. I'm glad that it was all just an illusion created by Reuters, Associated Press and PhotoShop!

Reuters! AP! Call me! I PROMISE that all my pictures will be taken with a Walgreens disposable camera! Hey, I'm a Notary Public AND a techno-dunce too. The State of California has made it illegal for me to lie. Plus I don't even KNOW how to doctor a photograph.

Want someone to embed in what is left of Baghdad, Fallugah, Beirut, Tyre, Bethlehem, Jenin, Haditha, Gaza or Kabul? Call me! 510-843-0581.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My friend's letter from northern Israel: They did it 60 years ago & they're doing it again

This new round of Israeli attacks on villages near the Israel-Lebanon border struck a chord with me. Where have I heard that story before?

Then I remembered. A friend of mine had visited Israel earlier this year and had written me about her experiences there. It all sounded SO deja-voo. She had driven up from Tel Aviv to go see a place in the hills near the Lebanese border where an old Palestinian village had been bombed and shelled and occupied by Israeli soldiers 60 years before. I re-read her letter. And, yes, 60 years after this village had been bombed and gutted and destroyed by the Israeli army, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. They are still doing it -- maybe using a BIT more airpower now -- but the plan is the same. For the Israeli army, blowing up villages is still the preferred activity of choice.

Here's my friend's letter:

Today we drove up into northern Israel, to see the remains of a Palestinian village that had been destroyed by the Israeli army approximately 60 years ago. As we drove along the freeway toward the Lebanese border, we passed a McDonalds sign. And a sign for KFC. It reminded me of when I used to take my children on trips. They would see a McDonalds and say, "Are we there yet?"

Finally we arrived in a relatively large Israeli city near the Lebanon border. Mostly it seemed to consist of miles and miles of strip malls. The best of American architecture! I felt right at home. Then we drove out through the countryside on the far side of the city and then up into the mountains, finally arriving at a hilltop somewhere near the Lebanese border. Lots of trees. Nice view. "Oh, look! There's a cow." There was a bunch of cows.

We arrived at the site of the former Palestinian village, apparently one of 450 Palestinian villages destroyed at the time. But I couldn't see nothing but trees and grass and cows.

"Some of the original inhabitants of the village will be meeting us here," said the Israeli man I had driven up with. He, like many other Israelis, strongly objected to the drunken use of force by the IDF and he, like many other Israelis, has made a point of learning some of the true history of what had gone on way back then. When he had offered to bring me here, I had jumped at the chance. "This is one of over 500 Palestinian villages that were destroyed by the Israeli army back around 1948-49." Wow. They certainly did a good job on this one! There was nothing left but stones -- and cows.

"All record of what the Palestinians call the Nakba -- the catastrophe -- are absent from Israeli school curricula, from most history and geography books and even from maps of Israel itself. The sites of the old Palestinian villages have even been erased and re-named on all of the maps. And even today there is no official Israeli recognition or commemoration -- let alone apology -- for the Nakba."

We got out and walked around the land where the village used to be. There was nothing left. Just a lot of scattered stones. Another bunch of cows appeared as we walked down a dirt road. Photo op! Except that these cows had horns. Big horns. Lots of horns.

"In the Zionist collective memory," continued my Israeli friend, "the Palestine of 1948 was a 'A land without people for a people without a land'. Yet the place where Israel was founded was never empty. This was home to almost one million Palestinians living in over 700 villages and cities, most of which were depopulated and re-named in the period during and immediately following 1948." Now all there was here was cows. And cow poop. Opps.

It was a peaceful afternoon in the country. We walked up the path to the top of another hill. Terrific view -- almost like the Sierra foothills near Auburn and the California gold rush country up before you get to Lake Tahoe. "Here is an old fortress that was bombed by the Israeli air force back in 1949. 99% of the houses were still standing in 1950 but the Israeli army returned and blew up everything that was left. You are now standing on the site of the elementary school and the high school. The village used to make its living by growing bees and harvesting honey." Not any more. Nothing was left. It looked like even the bees had left town.

"And here is the Muslim cemetery and across the road is the Christian cemetery, dating back from the time of the Crusades." Now a small stone building was all that was left. "It used to be the minister's home. For hundreds of years, Muslims and Christians had lived -- mostly -- in peace in this village. And over there was the village pool and the village green."

On that day in 1950 when the rest of the villagers had been driven away by the occupying Israeli army, one family had been down in the fields during the seizure and occupation of the village. "When they came back and one of their boys had a wound that he had gotten while farming, the Israeli soldiers said that it must have come from resisting the invasion so the soldiers tortured him and killed him. His parents were too scared to even come out of the trees in order to collect his body. The rest of the surviving villagers had run and hidden in their olive orchards but after a few days without food, two old men went back to the village to try to get supplies from their homes. They were shot."

The Israeli army wanted to hide any evidence of destroying the village. "But they were stupid. They left all the stones."

Then somehow we got into a discussion of eye-wear and, Jane, I gave my friend your famous "glasses as accessories" speech. "Nobody manufactures yellow glasses," I lamented. "Do I have to do everything myself? Now I have to manufacture glasses too?"

Then we toddled off to what was left of the village church. I met an Arab-Israeli man there who was also touring the ruins and he told me his story. "My grandfather was a Palestinian and he had a very high regard for education. When I was a boy, he made each of his grandchildren learn a different language. Unfortunately I got stuck learning English," he joked. "The others learned French, German, Spanish and Chinese." Chinese? "Yes but unfortunately the only textbook he had was Chinese to English so he was forced to learn English too."

Apparently when the Israeli soldiers stormed the village back in 1950, they confronted the headman, who was a Christian. "Why are you defending these Muslims," the Israeli commander asked and the headman answered that, "in this one moment, we now are all belonging to the same religion -- and it is God, not us, who will sort out who is good and who is bad."

The air today smelled of pine trees. There were stone blocks everywhere. Thousands of them. One of the villagers who had survived the massacre and who had come back for the day spoke to us. "Every year since the Nakba, those of us who are left feel so empty inside. The horrible violence seemed so senseless. It has split our bodies and minds. Our bodies stand here 57 years later but our souls are still back in our village, so long ago, in this beautiful place. And no matter what the Israeli history books say, this village did once exist." That man survived. And he remembers.

"We thought at first that we might be allowed to come back to our village," said the man. Who could blame him. This place was -- and is -- beautiful. "Other villages took us in but then they too were destroyed. But we will never give up our dream of someday coming back here, back to our home."

Apparently after 1950, this village was declared to be a "military area" and so the villagers were never allowed to return. And even today, even with all the trees and the cows, this village is still labeled a "military zone". The sun was beginning to set so we walked back to our car and drove back to Tel Aviv. And we didn't stop by McDonalds for dinner on the way back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Quarterbacking for Hezbollah: The best defense is a good offense!

I don't think I should even be writing this. Is supporting Hezbollah a form of treason? Bush wants Hezbollah GONE. But I myself can never resist rooting for the underdog. And Hezbollah is DEFINITELY the underdog here. But do I have any allegiance to George W. Bush? Not on your life. He is a barnyard bully who represents everything I hate: Greed, injustice, sadism, evil. That kind of stuff. The stuff that comes out in teenage horror movies -- great for the box office but not quite the thing to look for in an American president.

I'm no Paris Hilton but, George, "I know what you did last summer". You played Jason in Iraq. And Freddie Kruger in Lebanon. So. Against my better wishes -- I would LOVE it if America had a real president instead of just a mad slasher -- I'm gonna support the underdog here and give Hezbollah some Monday morning quarterbacking advice: The best defense is a good offense.

Hezbollah fighters, according to the Stratfor Report, a ground invasion of Lebanon by Israel's crack Golani troops is about to happen. Big land invasion. So. if you are going to all become martyrs anyway while trying to protect southern Lebanon from George Bush -- you can just bet he's the puppet master behind Ehud Olmert -- then don't make your last stand in Lebanon. Make your last stand as far south as you can.

Hezbollah, it is far better for America that YOU make a stand against Bush. Why? Because sooner or later, bush is going to intensify his attacks on American patriots defending democracy here.

Better you guys than us.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Little Miss Sunshine": Can she stop World War III?

You just gotta go see that new movie, "Little Miss Sunshine". It is SO funny! It's all about this "gotta love 'em" dysfunctional family. I have never laughed this hard in my life. By the time the credits rolled, the whole audience was cheering and clapping (and laughing).

You will love this movie!

I smiled all the way home.

Then I got home. And checked my e-mail. And instantly found myself watching yet another episode of the Bush-Olmert neo-cons' drab, dreary, never-ending movie entitled "Death in the Middle East".

WHY are the Bush-Olmert neo-cons doing everything they can to steal America's laughter? Geeze Louise. If money and power mean that much to them, can't we taxpayers just give them a few billion dollars, send them off to Fantasy Island and let them play "Masters of the Universe" all by themselves? Do they have to bum the rest of us out too?

Okay. According to journalist Mike Whitney -- who is never wrong -- the Bush-Olmert neo-cons' ultimate goal is to own Lebanon and Syria so they can run oil pipelines through them to Israel from northern Iraq and the Caspian Sea. Oh my God. It's that dreary oil pipeline obsession again. What's with this mortician-like fixation with freaking pipelines!

George. Rummy. Dick. Ehud. Lighten up! Go watch "Little Miss Sunshine". Get a clue. Not all of us want to live in your dark unhappy paranoid sad little world.

PS: Speaking of sunshine, wouldn't it be easier (and cheaper) to develop solar energy than to survive World War III?

PPS: God may or may not be in our schools, but He is DEFINITELY not in our White House. Sorry, guys, but The Rapture is just not gonna happen -- no matter how many World Wars you start or Arabs or Israelis you kill -- because there is a higher truth than "Revelations". It's called, "God don't like ugly."

Monday, August 07, 2006

2006: The year we lost our chance

"I coulda been a contender!" America could have been a great democracy.

"Every child has the chance to become President." Not any more.

"Who will be the last man standing?" It won't be us.

"....with liberty and justice for all." Not after 2006, the year we lost our chance to chose democracy over sound-bites, honesty over corruption, hope over violence, bravery over fear, love over hate. Don't you people understand? Our way of life is on its way out. Ten years from now, the America that we know will be GONE. And those of us who are left will be scratching our heads and muttering, "What happened...."

What happened is this: Americans forgot their responsibilities as citizens to be ever-vigilant, to protect our liberties, to take care of business, to CARE. And we got manipulated. And lied to. And conned. And trapped. And coerced into thinking that WAR is the answer to everything.

And in 2006, the great neo-con war machine began to turn inward and the war on US began. It started out simply enough. In November of 2006, the Bush-Cheney faction lost too many seats in Congress and Diebold wasn't enough to push them over the top. Then we had another September 11 and the White House was forced to declare martial law. Some people protested. But most of us did nothing. "Go along to get along." It escalated so slowly, no one got alarmed....

Then they started rounding people up. Our liberal neighbors started to disappear. Our schools decayed. The electricity stopped working. What happened to our jobs? We waited to be told what to do.

In 2006, we lost our chance. Now there are only a few of us left -- who remember the old days. "I coulda been President...."

Not any more.

PS: Is there still a way for us to avoid this obvious projection of our future based on our present and past? Yeah duh. Let's start by defending the Constitution with our very lives if necessary, tossing the Bush bureaucracy in jail, passing election finance reforms, dealing with terrorists realistically instead of just constantly blowing up their wives and children, killing off the Halliburton/Lockheed war machine -- and re-starting those daily tours of the White House!

2006: The year we took our chance back again!

Friday, August 04, 2006

An angel in trouble: Schwarzenegger's war chest is massive! Please help Angelides win in California!

"Campaign contributions for Phil Angelides, California's Democratic candidate for governor in November 2006," the KPFA morning news told me, "are running behind campaign contributions to Republican gubernatorial incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger at a ratio of two to one."

Try saying THAT sentence ten times as fast as you can.

Okay, let's simplify. Let's just say "Arnie" and "Angel". Arnie's got big bucks coming his way. Angel does not. Which of these candidates is going to be in a position to buy the leadership of the fifth largest economy in the world? You got it. Arnie will make the high bid for sure.

Unless we get a really startling surge in grassroots contributions to Angel, Arnie is gonna buy the governor's mansion. Again. Plus if his advertising blitz doesn't buy the great state of California for him this time, he can always fall back on Plan B again. Those pesky programmers at Diebold seem to really like Arnie. They all voted for him last time. Why would they vote differently now?

Have you SEEN the freaking ads that Arnie is running? "If Angelides is elected, he is planning a TEN BILLION DOLLAR tax increase." That's not a "True Lie". That's an out-and-out lie. Arnie, who has already committed Californians to a horrific 15-billion-dollar debt that we can never pay back -- one that Angel fought against tooth and nail -- is trying to make ANGEL out as a spendthrift. That's mean. That's unfair. That sucks eggs.

According to the L.A. Times, "[Arnie's] ad campaign is expected to run statewide in every major TV market, at an estimated cost of $3 million." And we know who will pay for that. Arnie's biggest donors. Oil executives, insurance companies and Wal-Mart.

And Arnie will get away with it, get re-elected [sic] and continue to lead California taxpayers down the garden path towards the ultimate Bush-Cheney corporate welfare state.

Folks, we gots an Angel in trouble here. What to do? Send money? Help out?

You say that you are tired of giving money to yet another grassroots campaign in order to buy our country back? Me too. I have no more money left to give. On my below-the-poverty-level income, I am already donating a whole bunch to MoveOn, Barbara Boxer and Cynthia McKinney. "Jane, NO ONE can buy back the United States from the neo-cons -- let alone you." You're right. I can't even afford to give my cat canned cat food. And boy is he angry about that!

Okay. I'll send Angel $20. But only if you do too.

But even more than I can't afford to give big bucks to Angel, I can't afford to live in California if Arnie is going to be running the state for the benefit of corporations receiving taxpayers' welfare -- for another four years.

PS: My friend Leona just wrote me, "Regarding your candidates, if what you had to say does not convince enough folks, tell readers to beg, borrow or steal a copy of 'Armed Madhouse' by Greg Palast and go straight to Page 292. Topic: When Ahnold got Lay'd. It's about howArnold nixed the giving back of the nine billion dollars that was comingto the state, settling with a deal with Reliant, Williams Company, Dynergy, Entergy & others for 10 to 20 cents on the dollar -- and Enron got off with giving back almost nothing."

What! Arnie just cost California taxpayers nine billion dollars?

Why am I not surprised.
How America can FINALLY win a war: Fight it in Utah?

Well, the Peace Corps just rejected me because they say I've got bad knees. "Jane, you would be using squat toilets for two years. Be realistic!" And at my new part-time job, everyone there is younger than me by at least forty years. However, yesterday, on my break, I found a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle and started reading an article by Jon Carroll.

In his article, Carroll stated that because America's "leaders" do not understand the nature of modern -- or even stone-age -- warfare, they keep getting bogged down in these stupid high-tech wars that end up being quagmires. They just don't understand the most basic rule of warfare. "People have a unique attachment to the country of their birth, and they will fight for it beyond all reason."

Hummm.... THAT explains why America hasn't been winning any wars. They've been fighting them on foreign soil in places where we have no business being.

Carroll's solution to our government's military woes? Fight our wars here! Then we will be sure to win. "We can take to the hills, we can take to the subways. We'd draw our new leaders from two under-appreciated groups of Americans: serious hikers and homeless people."

Carroll also said that Mexican immigrants would make incredible resistance soldiers. "They know a lot about survival in hostile terrain." And 14-year-old boys would be invaluable. "They know the secret hidey-holes, the long-forgotten tunnels...." Corporate Americans, experts in deceit, would also be good. "Double agents? Hell, in today's corporate world we're all double agents, one way or another." America would finally have a war we could win. "Imagine how great that would be for morale."

My morale is in the basement since Bush and them started losing all of those wars. My morale sucks eggs. I mean, how many more photographs of bulging-full morgues and dead babies can I take? It is SO pathetic -- that I associate America's current "government" with images of violent and extremely painful death. When you think of John Kennedy, you think of the symphony. When you think of George Bush, you think of Beirut, Haditha and Abu Ghraib. And the NSA.

Does it have to come to this? Do we have to have a WAR in America to finally understand what motivates people to fight for their lives like the poor schmucks in the Middle East do -- despite all technological odds -- and still win? Does Utah have to be invaded before incompetents like Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney can actually cough up an American victory? That's sick.

PS: Someone just e-mailed me, "But what if Bush, Cheney, and Rummy were in charge of the resistance? I think we'd even lose a war in Utah if Bush & company are still in charge."


Jon Carroll's article:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Where have all the Pro-Lifers gone: Long time passing...

The Middle East is on fire. The Dogs of War have been loosed and they are ripping the eyes out of the skulls of dead babies. And just to show you that I am no Mel Gibson, babies are being butchered in Israel as well as Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. Have our "leaders" gone crazy? I lie awake nights crying because I'm so frustrated that there is NOTHING I can do to stop this gory dismemberment of our young.

But there is one group of people who DO have the political clout to stop this insane and bloody maiming of babies. You know who I'm talking about. The same people who haunt the malls and websites of America with photos of dead fetuses. The same people who lament and be-moan abortions.

Pro-Lifers? Baby protectors? Where are you now?

This savage and brutal slaughter of innocents in the Middle East is one of the most -- if not THE most -- horrendous disasters to strike the infants of our world since the end of World War II. Not since Herod....

Pro-Lifers? Baby protectors? Where are you now?

The world's babies are being cruelly mauled, exploded, massacred and dissected. Partial-birth abortion is not even CLOSE to being as extreme and nauseating as this.

Pro-Lifers? Baby protectors? Where are you now?

PS: Speaking of double standards, "Where have all the Christians gone?" And the Jews? And the Muslims? Have they "gone to neo-cons cons every one"? Sing along, boys and girls. "When will they ever learn? "When will they -- ever -- learn?"

A Bush-Cheney neo-con with a lust for power in his heart and blood in his eye is NOT a Christian. An Osama bin Ladin neo-con with a lust for power in his heart and blood in his eye is NOT a Muslim. And a Olmert-Ramon neo-con with a lust for power in his heart and blood in his eye is NOT a Jew. They are wolves in sheep's clothing. And make no mistake. WE are the sheep. "Bon appetite."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's that time of year again: My Weird Weekend at the Bohemian Grove!

[This account was written in 2004. Nothing's changed. You might substitute Condi Rice lying to the UN instead of Colin Powell but basically nothing's changed -- except that my daughter no longer lives at home]

"Wanna go to the Bohemian Grove with me this weekend?" asked my friend. I can't! Why? Because I'm not a billionaire, I'm not a man and I'm not a Republican! And besides, I have nothing to wear.

"We can fix that," said my friend. "From now on, you are going to be Fred Armitage, GOP super-tycoon billionaire!" Fred?

Then my friend started handing me stuff. "Identification?" Check. "Hong Kong-tailored sweatpants?" Check. "Chest binder, voice deepener, toupee?" Check. "Limo driver?" Check. I felt like James Bond.

The Bohemian Grove is where fantastically rich men from all over the world go each year -- with one goal in mind: To learn new and better answers to that age-old question, "What can we do to screw America?"

Once up in the Russian River area, we turned off the highway, drove three miles into the Grove and passed through a bunch of checkpoints. Security was tight here. They stopped just short of giving me a retinal scan. I had been expecting a castle. There were redwood trees everywhere.

"This is it? This is where the power brokers of the world wheel and deal? The fat cats' Mecca, Xanadu and Nirvana? These little...cottages?" They all looked like the Swiss Family Robinson tree houses at Disneyland. Hide the Armanis, guys. We were clearly roughing it. "Hey! Look! There's Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor's husband and Clarence Thomas!"

Chris Matthews from Hardball strolled by. There's Henry Kissinger. There's Clint Eastwood. "Nice knee socks, Chris!"

Just then George Bush Senior ambled over, wearing a...sarong? And there were a couple of white-robed Saudi princes too. "I didn't realize that everyone here would be wearing table linen," I said. "I thought they were all going to just run around nude." Sorry, Jane. That only happens when they can't find their sheets.

After a quickie tour of the encampment, I schlepped off to my very own non-electrified chalet/hunting lodge/wet bar. On my right were a bunch of newly-elected Republican governors -- all of whom have already failed their campaign promises miserably. Special interests? Absolutely! On my left were a whole bunch of cottages occupied by the matching billionaires of Carlyle.

About 2,400 men come to the Grove each summer. "The Grove is divided into over one hundred camps. Each camp has a theme." Just like the Boy Scouts! I sat in on some of the "focus groups". One seminar was on how to get Americans to buy more junk food. If I sit all the way through it, will I get a free Big Mac?

Over near the steam baths, I thought I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping iron with some former Enron executives. That would certainly explain the Grove's lack of electricity!

At one camp frequented by Rumsfeld, Baker, Powell, Cheney and even Dubya himself before he was elected, Henry Kissinger was holding forth. "I support George Bush 100%" Why not? You have so much in common. Killing, outrageous profits and fake Texas accents. I think that I heard him say, "Fear is good for Americans. It makes them vote Republican." But maybe I just misunderstood.

Speaking of Georgie, the one small glitch in the generally self-congratulatory mood at the Grove was the latest report that GWB and Tony Blair were seen holding hands at the latest G-8.

Who else did I see? Bob Weir and Mickey Hart? What in the world where they doing here? Maybe they took a wrong turn on their way to Burning Man?

At a "'Lakeside Talk" on the Federal Reserve, it was clearly obvious that no one had read "The Civilizing of the United States" by John Machado, who has stated that, "when your government borrows money, it removes from the kitty the dollars that would have been available to businesses for start-up, growth, research, testing, innovation and invention." No, the Federal Reserve was not overly concerned about preserving the American economy.

Then Colin Powell dropped a bombshell. "Seven out of twelve of our naval carrier strike groups have just been deployed off the coast of China." What! Bush is at war with half the Middle East and our naval backup is over ruining diplomatic relations with China? What's with invading China? Doesn't the Bush Gang know that China has already won the war with us? Their workers went up against our workers. We lost. But this economic disaster for America had no effect on the Grove boys. In fact they are doing quite well as they help collect interest on our six hundred billion dollar debt to the Chinese.

The main theme of the Bohemian Grove was money and power. Lots of money. Lots of power. How to get it. How to keep it. I thought about my measly little nest egg of $200. I thought about being continually out-maneuvered by the two-year-old next door. "I want money! I want power!"

Sorry, Jane. No money for you. And definitely no power. You keep thinking that life's winners are the pure of heart. Forget that. It's all about who you know. "One guy came up here last year. His business was failing. So what did he do? He networked! This year he is a millionaire. They told him what to invest in and when." There's a lot of insider trading going on here.

What else did I learn? Toupees and chest binders suck? That America is ripe for the picking? How to slit my country's throat and sell the corpse while it is still warm? Like Sherman marching through Georgia, the Grovies are taking America by storm.

Did you know that within 20 years, 1% of America will hold 90% of America's wealth? At the Grove, these guys are getting a big head start.

But enough of talk. I was getting bored. There's no problem with boredom at the Grove. "Bring on the Bacchanalia! Bring on the whores!" So they DO allow women here.

What did a weekend at the Grove teach me? That what the wealthy men of America have in mind for us commoners is NOT some simplistic, level-playing-field, up-by-your-bootstraps, no-child-left-behind bull dookie. No, sir. I learned that the world is run by secret men in secret clubs behind closed doors. I learned that the rich dudes of the world are NOT willing pay taxes here -- even as the price for doing business in our great country -- when it is so easy to avoid it. (Is it easy for US to avoid paying taxes? Ha!)

I learned that these men of great wealth and power have no desire at all to share this wealth with the likes of you and me or even to do what they must to not kill America, the goose that is laying their golden eggs.

And I learned that fabulous chefs from all over the world are flown in to the Grove to cook for these fat cats while they are divvying up the spoils. Which brings up the moral question of temptation. Exactly how far would I be willing to go in order to be fed by the best chefs of the world? Would I be willing to join these so-called Bohemians and to sell my soul? Well, the creme brulee really was good....

As the limo dropped me back at my housing project in south Berkeley this Sunday, I was really, really glad to get home. How much power is enough power? How much money is enough? There's never enough. Yet for all their money and power, the Bohemian Grovies could never buy the happiness I felt when I took off my Armanis and hugged my son and daughter. "Honey! I'm home!"