it off, her brother was a priest.”



the entropy project title

    The Entropy Project originated as a music collection from Order From Chaos, and was released onto a compact disc. Because the engineer from Order From Chaos is a politically-motivated soul, we converted this compact disc into a book - but included both political poetry and political editorials into the collection.

    So the first siz poems in this book are from the original compact disc, which was released in 2002. The second part of this book contains political poetry (many of which were also in the 06/07/05 live Chicago performance art show Stripped).. The third part of this collection is of political editorials — all of which had previously appeared in the literary & art magazine Children, Churches and Daddies (all of these editorials also appear in Writing For The Masses).







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salamander

when the tail comes off of a salamander
the salamander ="0" alt="">

A Retired Policeman Talks About Suicides He’s Seen.

“I remember one lady, we found her
in her bathtub, she cut her throat. That’s
odd, for women, normally they take
pills, they don’t like to disfigure them-
selves. But she knew what she was
doing, cutting her throat in a full bath.
Less messy that way. Autopsy said
she was full of barbiturates. She was
a nurse, that explained how she knew
how to do it, but then we found out
that she was pregnant, too. And to top
it off, her brother was a priest.”












odd how things turn out that way.

husband-beaten wife
in a panic
the cops showed up

she shot an officer
wanted
to be left alone

the cop wore a bullet-
proof vest
but the bullet hit his arm

ricocheted off a bone
right into his
heart and killed him dead












ranting

    I don’t like to watch movies. Since when did America decide that people need to escape so desperately? Yes, switch off the brain for a few hours because work is such a bitch, trying endlessly to find a infinite number of ways to make it look like you’re actually working when actually you’re screwing off, so you need to unwind with pictures and sound but not actual interaction or dare I say activity, unwind with pictures and sound of an overly-muscular leading man decorated with ammo belts blowing away a faceless enemy, because we all want to actually kill, don’t we?, and this is just a way to live out our sick little fantasies, so we watch this leading man decorated with ammo belts blowing away a faceless enemy, punctuating the scene with a less-than-witty one-liner. Oh, sorry. Was I ranting?












salamander

when the tail comes off of a salamander
the salamander grows back a new tail

and at twelve, we were amazed
with this little morsel of knowledge

and wanted to catch
a salamander

so we could pull off its tail
and see for ourselves

and i find it amazing and wonderful
and frightening, and disturbing

that our quest for knowledge
is greater than our compassion












Tall Man

I can feel your presence across the room
a movement a stir

your long shadow stretches across the walls

an occasional glance
I’ll take whatever I can take

a stranger
yet I feel I know you all too well












too much light

too much light makes the baby go blind
and too much light makes the moth
rush into the flame
and die in a glorious blaze of glory

and I have seen the light
and I have seen it

what is my choice:

burn in the flame
to burst quickly
to die young
or to slowly slip away
to die slowly
day by day
to let people in darkness
pull me in
inch by inch
until the light
kills me












get me out of this cage

you’ve been trying to censor me
for God knows how long

I don’t know, maybe you didn’t want to hear my views
because you didn’t believe those views should be expressed
but you never knew what I stood for

you never wanted my voice to be heard
because you always thought of me as a possession
and not a person

yeah, I can be a real pain in the ass
to anyone that doesn’t want to hear me
but you know what?
people do want to listen
people value the right to speak their minds

and people know that if you take that away from someone
you’re taking it away from everyone

so you can try to leave me in this locked cage
you can try to keep me away from everyone else
but you know, I’ve been clawing at the roof
I can feel the grooves in the ceiling here from my fight
but I still have nails on the tips of my fingers
so I know I can keep clawing,
I know I can keep fighting
because I know I have more work to do
and I’ll get it done, I tell you
I’ll be free again

your cage isn’t air-tight
I’ve seen light from outside
when you’ve had me trapped
and every once in a while, I’ve seen shadows
and I’m sure there are people there

you can’t keep me trapped like this forever
because people will hear my screams
through the cracks in your precious cage

and no, I don’t care what kind of cage you put me in
cause I’ll keep fighting
I’m strong like that, you know

I don’t want to hear that you think I go too far
because as much as you try to oppress me
as much as you try to repress me
I’m supposed to have some inalienable rights here

I’ve heard the way you think
and I know you think I already have too many rights
and I know you’re a product of the MTV generation
and I know you’re addicted to playing video games
yeah, you’d rather spend you time
interacting with a story on a screen,
with your precious little joystick,
than actually talking to someone

but just because you don’t feel like reaching out to people
doesn’t mean you can force me into that cage again

I suppose if you don’t think
if you don’t watch the news
if you don’t interact with people,
you think,
why should anyone want to talk to people?

if you want that for yourself, fine
if you don’t mind giving up rights
because you have nothing to offer
fine
but the rest of the world doesn’t think like you
and we sure the Hell don’t want you
ruling over us

since nine eleven, laws have been passed
to legally take our rights away
you know, to make us more safe

fair trade, freedom for perceived safety

but I’d rather fly in the face of danger in this country
I’d rather make it on my own without the likes of you
if it means I might be more free

I’ll look over my shoulder
I’ll watch out for myself

I’ll do whatever I have to
to make sure that the likes of you
can never stop the likes of me












Outsourcing the American Dream

we’ve been doing pretty well over the years
and I’ve seen you strutting around
showing off all your peacock feathers
feeling like you’re the big man on campus

and you know, it had to feel pretty good
I know what it was like, I’d hold parties
& I’d change from one fancy dress to another
& I’d be the center of attention

I remember my novel release party, my
sister came, and I know she likes Red Rose
wine, and I was standing in the kitchen
chatting it up when I saw her approaching

so I turned to the fridge to get the wine
and as soon as she got to me I tilted the bottle
toward her glass and just started pouring
& she said, hey, I was coming to get some

wine & I said I know, and I just kept grinning
& talking to others & having a splendid time

yeah, I know the feeling, like you own
the world, you’d be dressed up wearing a
red robe & a hat & it looked like you should
be saying “where are all of my bitches?”

or when you’d take your black convertible
out, top down, as you’d be dressed in your
fancy suit, ready to hold open your
car door, just like you’d hope the man

who owns the world would. You’d show up
to parties in the tuxedo you own, you’d
give flowers to a girl you were smitten with
just after you’ve met her to woo her

you’d go jet-setting throughout Europe, visiting
China — you’re the one on top, aren’t you?

well, you always have been, you’re the man
with the plan, you’re the one who lives life
to the fullest, you show the world how
arrogant you are with your past successes

but Houston, there’s a problem, you
might not want to believe it, but since
we’ve been resting on your laurels all this
time, since our fat uncles have been

sitting on the couch, burping with their
cans of beer, watching the football games
while someone else has been doing all the
cooking and cleaning for them, well,

while we’ve all been feeling cocky,
thinking about how great we are,
other countries have been training their
students in our schools, and because

we’ve been busy basking in our glory
we’ve outsourced all the work we’re too
lazy to do & we’ve trained everyone else
to beat us at our own game

(oh, I forgot to mention, we were so busy
celebrating our military and business
accomplishments that we gave up
on training ourselves to stay ahead)

well, while we’ve gotten lazy and taken a
break for a while, everyone else has started
excelling past us, so we buy our Japanese
technology and drive our German cars,

drink our French water when we’re not
drinking our French wine, and we get
as far away from the United States as we
possibly can when we want to take a

vacation

well, I’m waiting for someone to realize it,
maybe having the economy fall out from
underneath our overzealous desire to
get rich quick didn’t allow us to see

but we’ve always been the giant, we were
first to fly an airplane, the first to land
on the moon, we’re in front in the world
with medicines and health care

hmmm, speaking of healthcare, most people
can’t afford it now, because we’ve researched
the Hell out of the diseases we choose
to kill ourselves with, I mean, stats say

us North Americans have the highest rates
of cancer verses the world, our kids are
fat, we work so many more hours but still
can’t keep ahead, and at this point we

can’t afford the fruits of our labor any longer

do we bring it upon ourselves when we
want to get rich quick by suing doctors,
forcing them to charge higher prices,
driving up the cost for everyone?

we complain that people who are on welfare
still on average own two television sets
and every teen in America now seems to
expect their own free cell phone

is it that our standard of living has risen
so dramatically that everyone now expects
everything handed to them on a silver
platter? do we ask for more without

working for more?

teens complain about not getting a job out
of school, while their guidance counselors
tell them they might have a chance if
they get rid of the excessive body piercings

or not wear a mohawk or color their hair
pink or stain their skin with tattoos
& that’s when the teens complain that
they don’t want to work for a place

that can’t accept them for who they are

our President wants to protect our borders
from terrorists, but he wants to give
temporary work visas to illegal Mexican
immigrants, so that other nations can do

our work for us

and we wonder why we’re unemployed

we get rid of excess building & manufacturing
metals, which we think would cost
too much to melt down to reuse, & our excesses
go to China, where they build high rises

from our scraps

yeah, we can talk about how we were the
high school quarterback, & how we
scored so many touchdowns & everyone
loved us back then

while we credit card ourselves into debt
because we deserve the good things in life,
as we train other people to help us
lose more in the world economy

pretty soon prices will keep going up
& we won’t be able to afford that convertible,
or the nice clothes, or for that matter,
any of the niceties anymore

& we’ll become a people who have the
basics, but not much else, & we’ll wonder
how we’ve become a third world country
& never saw it coming

because we’re on a mountainside, slipping
into the canyon hole but instead
of enjoying the roller-coaster ride before
we crash & burn, can we stop it?

can we stop asking our government to tie
our shoelaces for us, because you know,
man didn’t land on the moon because we didn’t
work for it, so can we start to live off of

what we can afford, so we can look ahead
to what we can accomplish?























We Listened

yeah, we listened to MTV
and we listened to the rap stars
they told us to get out there
and let our voices be heard
well, we did what you said
because the wool has been
pulled over our eyes
for far too long
and no one has been held accountable

but yeah, we listened talk radio
where people are stuck in their cars
every day on their commute
home from work
where people could call in and agree
with whatever was spouting out at them
over the radio waves

where’s the gratification
when you can’t talk to rap stars
or have your voice heard on MTV
and you can’t be broadcasted on the radio
where everyone stroke your ego
and agrees with you completely

yeah, we’ve tried to listen
but we’ve been bombarded with
war images in the tee vee
and you know, congress
hasn’t declared a war
since world war two
but we can still blow people up,
can’t we?
cause our view is getting clouded
because now we can see for ourselves
that war is so gory,
that war is bad
and we’ve got those images in our heads
and we hear quote unquote news
from every source under the sun
some reliable, some not
i mean, we’ve got cable news,
we’ve got the internet
and you know, some of the
reputable news sources
even give us slanted information
who are we to trust now?

well, we listened
but most of us mustn’t have known
what we were listening to
when you idolize a rock star
and they tell you what to do
wouldn’t you just follow?
and when you get your voice on the radio
to talk someone you’ve grown to idolize
and you’re busy
stroking each others egos
wouldn’t you do whatever they said?
yeah, most us didn’t know
how to decipher the jargon
thrown at us
but we soaked it all in anyway
and spit it out as our new mantra

maybe we all just followed blindly
after listening to one side of the story
over and over again
without getting all the facts
it was like we were told
to jump in a pool, that we’d like it
and we all just ran to the pool and jumped
without looking to see if
there was any water in the pool

but looking back, after we’ve chosen
we’ve got a more ethnically mixed leadership,
but we’re ignoring some of our problems
to help others
people pull some of our rights away
to help us somewhere else

but you know, i’m trying to remember
what ben franklin said
that people who give up essential liberty
to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither

so i guess,
thanks to our choices,
people are taking some of our
essential liberties
and do we feel
temporarily
more safe?
And does that mean that we deserve either?
because i can tell you,
i don’t feel more safe
and i sure the hell don’t feel more free
and i see that pool up ahead
that everyone’s just rushing to
but i can’t see any water in there
and i’m trying to stop
this mob rush
as everyone is jumping in without looking

the way jews were forced in mass
to run
and they’d see they were running
to the edge of a cliff
but the ss was behind them
and they had to keep running

and the ss’d shoot them as they were
about to run over the edge
so they’d fall to their deaths

i see this, i see the mass grave
in the bottom of that swimming pool
and we listen to our leaders
as they tell us to jump in












What I Would Ask

Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.
— Lao Tzu

I hear radio talk show hosts
like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity
and I listen to our religious President

I hear these radio talk show hosts
praise the life of an unborn child
or try to save Teri Schiavo on life support
I know some even run charities
or help natural disaster victims

kind people, these Republicans

then I hear that Texas
our President’s state
has put ten times more prisoners to death
than any other state since the seventies

I then even hear Republicans protest
the Supreme Court’s decision
that minors shouldn’t get a death penalty

when I heard about their love of life
then heard about their hatred of life
I wondered if I was the only one
who saw their moral confusion

so when I hear these radio talk show hosts
get on their high horses over the radio waves
downplaying anyone’s arguments
and galloping away on their steed
I’d like to call in
to ask them the question:

“Excuse me, I see that you Republicans
seem to revere life so much,
from the unborn
to those on life support
who need our help
so I have to ask:
how can you support the death penalty?
why do you revere some life
then decide to exterminate
someone who committed a crime?
I’ve heard you talk about the evils of abortion,
but why,
when its wrong to kill a fetus,
a life yet to breathe on its own,
why it is okay to kill people
who have been breathing for years?”

but hey, mister President
when our country’s now so far in debt
because of your “war”
maybe we could start to save money
by not killing prisoners?

I mean, the death penalty doesn’t deter,
and it costs more taxpayer money
when every man on death row
gets appeal after appeal
while every taxpayer
pays the court costs,
the judge costs
and the government-appointed lawyer costs
Hell, with the death penalty we still pay
for their food and keep in prison for years
so if we spend more money killing people
than keeping them in prison for life
why don’t we learn to be moral
and cut financial corners
to help out the economy?

but I’m sure those talk show hosts
would cut me off
discussing the heinousness of prisoners’ crimes,
but I’ll try to ask them
who made them the judge

I’ve heard death penalty supporters claim
that the bible supports the death penalty
though they don’t say where
I suppose that in the Old Testament
God killed entire towns, flooded the earth
but according to their religion
God is the judge
not them

I’ve heard these supporters say they’re religious,
Christian, like their wonderful President,
and then they say they support “an eye for an eye”
which is when I wonder why
they’re referencing the Old Testament
not that there’s anything wrong with the Old Testament
but they’re referencing the Old Testament
not their Christian New Testament
they’re not listening to Jesus’ words
when he told them to
ignore what his father said
but do as he does
and love one another

Jesus said to turn the other cheek
killing someone is hardly
“turning the other cheek”

I mean, where is their Christian forgiveness
when they sentence people to death?
and wait a minute,
do these Christian people believe
Jesus would support their death sentences?

it makes me think of terrorists
who support killing people
who don’t believe in their God, in their way
we find terrorist behavior abhorrent
and we sit here behind our mighty Constitution
deciding who lives and who dies

but our Christian President likes playing God
the Presidency mustn’t be enough for him

I guess President Bush is now running this casino
and he just keeps saying to himself,
because he has to be right,
that the House always wins












a Great American

and when listening to Sean Hannity,
one of the Republican’s icons in punditry,
I hear him say to all veterans,
“you’re a great American.“
then other people
later on his show
would say that he is a great American

and it becomes like a contest sometimes
where everyone who supports
Sean Hannity on his show
is calling each other a great American

and I’m thinking:
he thanks veterans
because they fought in a war
and protected our country.
and I’m thinking,
we thank people
for finding a loophole to legally kill people,
we thank people for going through hell
in a current war that we don’t support

a war not defending our country
but killing our people nonetheless

Hell, people now aren’t even in a war
only Congress can declare a war
and we haven’t been in an actual war
sine World War Two

but I’m sure they’re great Americans
because they fought
in these President-proclaimed wars

yeah, Sean Hannity thanks veterans
because they fought in a war
and protected our country
but he also calls anyone a great American
only because they agree with him

you can elevate anyone to that tall pedastal
idolize them, call them a great American
as long as they support the Bush kakistocracy

hey, we’re Americans,
we’ve proclaimed ourselves to be the best
we don’t idolize anyone
I think it’s time we all start thinking
the Sean Hannity way
and be great Americans again












your minions are dying

we seem to have allowed ourselves this fate
we seem to have asked for this
but maybe we didn’t know what we were asking for

I

we thought we were doing the right thing
when we chose you
but I suppose that’s what all battered housewives say
“he wasn’t like this when I met him”
“he’s a good man, really”
but it was only after we accepted you
that you asked us to sacrifice
you told us to have faith
like all those preachers who ask you to give
when you’ll only be rewarded after you’re dead
(if you believe ‘em)

you told us we’d be free
if we stayed together as a family
and it was like you placed your hand on a Bible
and asked us to give up more for you

(don’t most dictators ask their followers
to sacrifice until they’ve been sapped dry?)

II

you weren’t the only one fighting for me, you know
you had competition
you both tried to woo us over,
even though you two were
more alike than you think
(who am I kidding,
you two were just like everyone else)

you two were two sides of the same coin
yeah, yeah, you may have been opposite sides
but you were the same damn coin

you all wanted us to trust you
and even though we were harmless
you still pulled out all of your weaponry
to keep us in line
when we weren’t looking,
all while saying
it was for our own good

with you two, my choice
was to either
jump in and drown in someone’s abuse
or be dragged in by the other
for the same fate

III

you can keep throwing your generalities at us
and expect us to eat it up
like hungry animals
waiting for your handouts

but if we were hungry animals,
we’d take what you gave us,
then kill you and eat your remains

but we’re not animals
so stop treating us like fools

IV

yeah, you had competition
but no one could save us from your fate,
you all were just so much alike
that we only had to choose the lesser of two evils

but did we make the right choice?

V

you keep saying you’ll make me feel safe
but all I can think of
is that dictators
historically played on fear
to make their minions
feel like they need their leader
well, you don’t make me feel more safe
you make me feel more scared
and I wonder if I can take care of myself
and I never needed any of you anyway

VI

others have come along
and tried to save me from the likes of you
but they never told me how I could be free
I never knew how I was going to be rescued

when I was little
I played office with my friend Sheri
we had a little board painted white
with little toggle switches stuck on it
and buttons and dials on it
it probably had the ear piece of a phone on it too
and we had this little control panel,
this little console
sitting on our little desk
and we’d sit there with it
and press a lot of buttons
and we’d flip the toggle switches up and down
and act like we were receiving important calls
and it looked like we were doing something
it looked like we were accomplishing things

and all you men, you all say you have a plan
but I haven’t seen it
I haven’t seen how you can
save me from the madness

you men are trying to flip those damn toggle switches
and you don’t know what the Hell they do
but you’ll act like you know,
and you’ll act like you’re accomplishing something

are we supposed to blindly accept
whatever the likes of you hand out to us?

VII

you try to act like you can save us
but there are people dying over here,
we’re jobless, homeless, dying

we’re drowning in this ocean of helplessness
and we’ll grab on to whatever line
we can get a hold of

is that why we counted on you

but your minions won’t be stong enough
to support you forever












marry me... whatever you are

I have gay friends who considered leaving this country
because George Bush was re-elected

hits to Canada’s web sites for immigration skyrocketed
after the election results came in

and I thought, hey, a president may have some problems,
but that’s no reason to desert your home

but they were sure after this election that
same-sex partner rights would never be granted to them

I mean, when one person is ill and in the hospital
the other has no rights to be there for them

and I thought, if Bush was trying to appeal to a vast majority
of people, he’d be good for everyone, right?

I even heard Bush say that rights should be given to
same-sex partners, even if they don’t call it ‰??marriage‰??

and I thought, well, it might sound rude, buy he’s gotta
respect the red-neck back-ass country folk in this country too

and they only believe in man and woman marriages
while screwing the animals at the farm

but at least he was going to give same-sex couples rights,
that’s a good sign, isn’t it?

but then I heard that Republicans want to make a
constitutional amendment defining marriage

they wanted to define something that is not the
governemtn’s business

(then again, they make enough laws now that overstep
the bounds of any rational government already)

Then fourteen states made laws defining marriage
as only between a man and a woman

okay, I’m beginning to see why some of my friends
are worried












What the Hell is She Complaining About

i can’t go around telling people
about what you did to me
you see, nobody wants to hear it
and nobody wants to hear a girl whining
what the hell’s she complaining about anyway?
but you know, nobody knows
the effects of what you’ve done
nobody knows that I showered for weeks
no, months
to try to feel clean after you did that to me
nobody knows why i have
violent fits of rage
how I’d hit the wall, rip up the plaster

you want to know what i think of men now?
you want to know their place in my life now?
you see, i didn’t know what else to do
so i became the rapist
and now i let men do nice things for me
but i always keep them at a safe distance
i never let them get too close
because i don’t care how nice you are
i’ll always keep you at arm’s length
i learned my lesson

so yeah, you had an effect on me
and i have to bottle it all up
because no one wants to hear the details
i mean, i wasn’t physically injured
what the hell could i be complaining about anyway?

but you know, there are times
when i wish you left a mark,
like a bee sting or something,
so people could see a welt
from what you had done

wait, no, i take that back
i’d wish i was stung by a bee
and i was allergic to bees

because then my blood pressure would drop,
my pulse would get rapid,
i’d fall into anaphylactic shock
my skin would turn white
before I got the the hospital
as they tried to keep me alive

all because of a bee sting

while everyone else is thinking,
a bee sting,
what the hell is she complaining about












flooded war memories

it was st. patrick’s day,
went to another country to see you

met up with you at a hotel
it was like we were never apart

we talked like old friends,
old war-time veterans

who fought in a war together
who shared our life stories

while sitting in a trench together
waiting for a bomb to strike

it was st. patrick’s day,
and everything seemed normal
and right

even though you lived far away
and even though we had different
life plans

it was st. patrick’s day,
i remember you laying down

in the bath tub, like a little boy,
splashing and playing in the water,

not even flinching that i was there
talking to you, naked in the tub

it was st. patrick’s day,
i wanted to get out, see the town

and you didn’t want to move
content in a dingy hotel room

all i could think was that
it was st. patrick’s day,

and i was in another country,
i wanted to get up and go

and i don’t know what snapped
in you on st. patick’s day,

but i was in a dress, ready to go,
and you knocked me down

i remember being knocked on to
one of those hotel beds

in my panty hose and dress,
and you strangled me

it was like you were in the war again
and you were fighting to the death

but i thought we were on
the same side

why are you trying to hurt me

and like a bull dog that finally listened
to the commands of their master,

you finally stopped, and
there i was, your ally,

the one that sat in the trenches
with you all those years ago

torn panty hose, bloody knees

i never thought you’d fight
one of your buddies, i swear

*

i got out and called for back up
in the hotel lobby

at the pay phone an older woman
came up to me, asking
if i was all right

her question stopped me
from hyperventilating

i looked down at my torn hose,
bloody knees

and I said,
i’m fine

*

i just knew i had to get out of there
before more shells fell












Fitting the Mold

he told them repeatedly that the government
has to get an employee into this division,
so he was willing to sit in his colleague’s office
and they kept the speakerphone on
as they started conducting telephone interviews;
knowing that persona made a difference for
public speeches for this branch
of the government for this position,
Gerald sat in Stephan’s office silently
as Stephan pulled the first resume sheet
dialed the number and started the interview

I

Gerald listened, and heard the first applicant
discuss that he understood government spending
in education, health care, helping the poor,
paving roads, keeping water safe to drink,
fighting pollution and the like
but he wasn’t in favor of money going to
religious groups, or even helping corporations
who have previously failed so miserably

he said he was against the expansion of the
Patriot Act (that’s a blow against him
for this government position), but he was
in favor of holding the military responsible
for illegal acts committed while in service

and oh, we just heard another issue that’s a
strike against him: he claimed that abortion
is nobody’s business but the woman (and
secondarily the man)

well, he was sounding good, but
we have to make sure some topics are not
covered when he’s making public speeches
while at work

to close the phone interview, Stephan asked
what religion he was
the first applicant said confidently that
he was jewish
and after he gave his answer
Stephan thanked him and ended the interview

with the phone off the hook, Stephan said
under his breath,
“well, we’ll have to find someone else,
we’ve got two more phone interviews”

II

when the second man answered his phone,
Stephen immediately started asking
questions, and this new candidate
had a lot of intriguing opinions

he understood that taxation existed
to secure the people view of a good society
but people who are taxed can’t control
if the money is spent efficiently
but he also made a valuable point:
that nothing guarantees that people
are correct in assuming that what they want
is what they need
americans, through taxation, display
faith in the government to accomplish
what we need
government spending gauges where
our values lie
choices of spending money
to house orphans or to subsidize industry,
on education or incarceration are a direct
reflection of what the people want

Gerald listened to this interviewee, thinking
that this person could be molded into
whatever they needed for this new position

not knowing what he’d say about the wars and combat,
Stephan guided the questions to the military.
he responded by saying that a common defense
is the most enduring and universal symbol
of all successful human societies

treaties and alliances effectively stop people
from continuing to build their arsenal

so, he’s also in support of finding more allies
after the war Bush was walked us into,
to cut our costs down as well. make sense.
so Stephan closed the interview asking
what religion he ascribed to,
and he replied that he was muslim

Gerald and Stephan both looked at each other
with wide eyes when they heard that,
so Stephan asked if he was muslim
from birth

no, he replied, i was raised christian,
but i became muslim
was i was probably around twenty-five

oh, well, thank you, Stephan said,
thanks for letting us know

he then graciously said thank you
to Stephan as they ended the interview
and hung up the phone

Stephan then looked up at Gerald

well,
he finally said

yes,
Gerald answered

i don’t think that would work out well
for us, Stephan said

i don’t know what the ramifications
would be,
Gerald answered

well, one more interview to go
as Stephan looked at the last application
and phone number to dial

III

before Stephen dialed the last number, he said
that this one’s a woman,
well, we should listen to her anyway
Gerald pointed out
that if the President can bring a black woman
into his cabinet, this might not be a bad thing,
so Stephen relented and dialed the phone.

after greetings, he started asking her
questions, and she answered honestly,
though she tried to back up every answer
with facts and details that made her answer
seem like the most plausible choice

she believed it was a woman’s right
to have an abortion since the woman
is the one who has to host the fetus
until it can become a life on its own,
but she also felt
that if people were looking to adopt,
and doctors can keep premature babies alive
well after their first trimester, she had
less of a moral argument for late term
abortions

she said that even though she was
a woman and in a minority,
she didn’t believe in laws to assist
women, or people in minorities
with jobs
because people should only be hired
on merit and talent,
not on the color of their skin or
whether they’re male or female

she believed taxation was appropriate
to keep the society functioning,
even though some are unwilling
to pay higher taxes
while wanting more things
done for them

she then pointed out that these same people
want to gamble some of their money away
at casinos
this made her wonder why gambling
is not more prevalent, and taxed heavily,
so the government could get money
for work that needed to be done

Stephan asked her about the military,
and she responded by saying that
war is always a gruesome thing,
people are realizing that now because
television cameras are now on the front lines,
showing them details of the gore
but one thing she noted
when the gulf war was going on
in the early nineties (though it wasn’t
technically a war, people use the term “war”
flippantly whenever there’s a conflict
or an invasion now, even though
congress hasn’t declared a war
since world war two),
but what she noted
was the staggering ease
America had in attacking the
middle east, how casualties were low,
and how a lot of amazing technology
was used to fight the first gulf war.
the country is filled with amazingly
intelligent people, she said,
and that intelligence will keep our
numbers of injured or killed low
when in battle again

approaching the end of their interview,
Stephen remembered the first prospective
employee talking about keeping the
government away from religion,
he asked her what she thought of the
separate of church and state.

she pointed out that there is nothing
in the Constitution that declares the
separation of church and state,
but she also knows that there are
many people in this country who
aren’t christian, who have to deal with
christian holidays and churchgoers
imposing their christian mentality

then all she heard was silence

she knew this christian interviewer
didn’t like her non-christian answer,
so she tried to fill the silence
with justification
since this country is a melting pot,
she said,
and people have had to accommodate
differing languages of citizens
for years, people should also be able
to accommodate different religions as well,
or even atheism

i see, Stephan said

i am not saying that christianity
should be out of the government,
she said,
it’s in our government’s roots.
i know full well that most people
who founded this country
were christians;
they just didn’t want a
government-sanctioned religion
forced down people’s throats

people who complain about the
separation of church and state
don’t have a problem using our money,
where every bill and coin says
“in god we trust”

Stephan noted her beliefs about
the inclusion of religious phrases
in money, so he asked
about the inclusion of “under God”
in the pledge of allegiance

well, she said,
i believed it should have remained there
if that is the way it had always been,
but then i found out
that it hadn’t always been that way.
from the best i can gather,
FDR added “under god” to the pledge
to show how us Americans
were better than those godless communists.

does that mean we should
pull the added phrase out now?
she asked.

the invocation of religion in Bush’s cabinet
does make this middle eastern attack
more like a holy war,
whether or not anyone wants to
believe it,
but instead of pulling those two words,
which would anger a lot of americans,
i don’t see why children
who are opposed to saying “under god”
can’t just not say those two words
while reciting the pledge
and leave it at that

i wouldn’t say we should remove
those two added words to the pledge,
but i also don’t see why so many people
in america want to search for problem
to complain about
if i didn’t like something
when i was growing up,
i didn’t try to uproot the system,
because the systems’ often
far too powerful to overcome,
i’d just found a way around the problem
for myself
and didn’t make any waves

we can’t get along as a country
if everyone is complaining about
little details they can just work around.
people have different beliefs in this country,
and one of our saving graces
is that we’ve allowed those differences
to help us thrive

Stephan was coming around
to what she was saying,
and when he looked up at Gerald,
he saw him smirking
at the sense in her comments

well, thank you very much
for your opinions in this interview,
Stephan finally said
just out of curiosity,
what religion are you

do you need that,
she asked

well, weÌÔ
Stephan was cut off

you’re not allowed to hire
based on religion,
she cut in

we’re not,
Stephan answered,
we’ve just been talking about religion,
that’s all

she knew he was expecting her to answer

she panicked

she knew he was a christian,
she knew they wanted a christian
in this job

everyone in the government
has to fit what they see
as the perfect American mold

she knew she’d be flat-out rejected
for a job
if she told them she was an atheist
her mind started reeling
she was born catholic,
but she learned to think for herself
as she grew older
so she knew better

her morals were very christian,
and she was told more than once
that she was a good gnostic christian

all of this flashed through her head
in about one and a half seconds
and she finally answered,
i’m a christian

oh, Stephan answered,
what denomination?

excuse me?
she asked, to steal herself a little more time

oh, what denomination,
catholic, protestant, lutheran, baptist,
just wondering what church you went to

she gulped

people have told me
i’m a good gnostic christian
but
i was born a catholic

ah, keeping company with the
president, Stephan said

no, i’m not a roman catholic
but catholicism does make
a good portion of christianity
in this country

they both laughed in agreement
as Stephan started to close
the interview

IV

after she hung up the phone
she thought about how the cards
are stacked against woman

then again, they’re stacked against you
if you are anything other than
an anglo-saxon male
sorry blacks
sorry latinos
sorry asians
sorry native americans

but now she was seeing that
the cards could be stacked against you
if you’re not a christian
sorry jews
sorry hindus
sorry muslims
sorry atheists
you’re screwed too
if you don’t fit into the perfect mold

she almost felt like she needed
to take a shower,
to clean herself off
from having to lie ÌÔ
wait, she didn’t lie,
she just didn’t reveal
the entire truth

then she realized
that if she got the job
she’d have to get used to
covering up the truth all the time












September 11, 2001

i remember my husband
getting ready for work
and i walked to the tv in the den
and i thought he was watching a movie

he said,
i don’t think this is a movie

i think the world trade center
has seen struck

and we stared at the television
and watched the second tower hit

and watched the towers collapse

i can’t even remember
if my husband went to work that day
as i just stared at the tv

it took two days to get through
to everyone
    my friend and one brother-in-law
    rescheduled Pentagon meetings
and we tried to call his sister
in somerset pennsylvania
    our nephew heard news reports
    say this if flight ninety-three
    landed thirty seconds later
    the plane would have hit his school
my husband’s brother in new jersey
    was supposed to be
    in the world trade centers
    for meetings that day
    but you see, he decided
    not to go to the meeting

lucky him

and i remember watching the tv
like i was some sort of zombie
thinking this was bigger then Pearl Harbor
i had to do something
    maybe i could go there
    i’d traveled around
    the country by car before
    i could drive this
    maybe i could stay
    with my husband’s brother
    and train into manhattan

my husband couldn’t go,
he had to go to work
so i took off on my own,
paid the tolls on i eighty
even forgot my camera
got to his brother’s place
after one in the morning

he told me what train to take,
but said half of the train lines
have to be closed

so i trained as far as I could
and found out I had to walk nine miles
to get to ground zero

and i thought,
i walked seven miles to work
that’s no problem
and hour and a half
i can do that

i thought i could buy an
instant camera
at some tacky shop
on my walk to ground zero
and maybe i could buy a film canister
so i could collect some of the remains
    because someone gave me ashes
    from the mount saint helen’s eruption
    and i thought,
    i lived through this
    i should bring something back with me
    i should
    i should something
but every store was closed
when i tried to walk
anywhere in the city
and everything was congested
businesses seem closed,
but you still couldn’t go anywhere

so three hours later
i got to ground zero
i was wearing gym shoes and jeans
had a bottle of sealed water
in my back pack purse
and wanted to get in to try to help
i don’t know,
to shovel things out of the way,
something

but no one had maps
of where everything was
there were so many people there
trying to help
that they told me
that the best way i could help
was to just clear the way
so people could do their jobs

and i just stepped back,
unable to do anything,
    unable to collect anything,
    unable to photograph anything,
only able to stare,
like i was watching it on my tv

###

i used only lowercase writing this
even when i said “i”

i’m only lowercase
because i’m nothing

when i watched the news
on that first day
they showed people
jumping out the windows
    these silhouettes of people
    looked like floating paper
    in a ticker tape parade
    in all the debris floating around
    i had to keep telling myself,
    “these are people”

and when i looked around
at all of the remains
from these towering office buildings
i thought of the dust
i was breathing in
i thought
i’m breathing in drywall
i’m breathing in paperwork
i’m breathing in people

so yes, i’m only lowercase
because i’m nothing












Writing Doesn’t Halt Violence

Stanley “Tookie” Williams

    I usually try to not pay attention to mainstream news, because, well, it’s so slanted. And don’t for a minute think I’m going to say ‘yippie skippie’ because the media is so liberal (which it is), because I don’t think it’s a good message by our media to so slant this country’s perception of the war that it potentially demoralizes our soldier at this quote-unquote war (I mean, just because the president calls it a war and the newspapers call it a war, it doesn’t change that only Congress can declare a war... and it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve got our people in harm’s way right at this very moment in Iraq...). Besides, the demoralizing slants on our work in Iraq is probably also the only thing Al Quaeda hears from our news, so they’ll think they have a leg up in their desire to further destroy us.
    And this war is NOT even a genuine attempt to destroy the people who originally attacked us (did Iraq, or Saddam Hussein, take credit for flying our planes into the World Trade Center towers? No.) Even at the beginning of President Bush’s crusade to start a war against Iraq, because of what evidence they thought they had about them having weapons of mass destruction, I thought,
    Why is he picking this as his enemy? We support getting the enemy from the 9/11 attacks, and in this case, Iraq wasn’t it, Al Quaeda was (Al Quaeda is only now fighting us in Iraq, since we’ve started trying to liberate Iraq, destroying their breeding grounds).
    Okay, This president has supported taking us to war, when it was technically the actual enemy of the ones who originally attached us 9/11. He (and all other Republicans) seem to support life so much otherwise, from the likes of Terri Schiavo to the likes of an embryo that has yet to develop to a life-sustaining form (or even a form sustainable by doctors). This same president find a two-day old fertilized egg more valuable as a life form than a prisoner that is given the death penalty.
    Maverick, from Signs of the Times, even wrote in The Thin Line Between Life and Death:
    “I just feel that based on the principles that we claim to subscribe to, it is hypocritical to push for death of others as compensation for the death of someone else...
    What is really ironic to me is how during many elections, the debate often turns to the fight over abortion rights and the pro-life/pro-choice argument. I remembered President Bush’s speeches on “promoting a culture of life” so well, that I found Promoting A Culture of Life on the web.
    But how can you say that you promote a culture of life when as the governor of Texas, you have signed more death warrants than any other elected official alive today? And therein lies the hypocrisy. As much as we often like to say how much we value life, all we do nowadays is judge whose life is valuable and whose life is not. George Bush can execute numbers of people very nonchalantly, but he can fight to the death for embryos that are frozen by scientists (more than likely to never be used) so that they will not be destroyed for stem-cell research. And this is the man that represents America...”
    
    In this culture of Life, we’ve learned to “disregard” some lives. And as I said before, I try not to pay attention to the slanted news, but I did hear something about an ex-gang leader being executed in California, and that every left-wing group protested it.
    I better cut in right now and let you know I’m against the death penalty. I could talk about the fact that sometimes innocent people are killed, but more importantly, it’s not supposed to be our decision, or our right to kill people. There are commandments and laws stating we shouldn’t kill (right-wingers even find killing an unborn child abhorrent), so how can we allow killing people who have committed a crime? We may want vengeance wrought on people who have done heinous crimes, but if you want to be mean and vengeful, bring torture back into the game, but vengeance isn’t justice, and there is no justice in killing someone because of something they did.
    Back to the story... Stanley “Tookie” Williams is a man who joined the Crips, then founded the Los Angeles west side Crips in 1971. He said it was initially started as a means to keep the streets safe, reducing violence and police brutality, but eventually came to be known to be the one of the most violent and horrific gangs in existence today. The gang is now in 42 states and on at least one other continent: South Africa.
    Williams was sentenced to death in 1981 for gunning down a convenience store clerk at a 7-Eleven and killing a family of three at the Los Angeles motel they owned. Though he has always claiming his innocence, trial witnesses even said he bragged about the killing.
    There have also been reports of his violence while in prison since 1981, and he spent spent 6.5 years in solitary confinement in the late 1980s for multiple assaults on guards and fellow inmates.
    But Williams has become an anti-gang activist during his many years on death row at San Quentin State Prison, and he started writing children’s books about the evils of gang life. As the former leader of such a dominant gang, his voice was heard and understood by some children, and he has done good for helping children stay clear of gang life today. There’s even a web site for his nine books at http://www.tookie.com/booktemp.html.
    How much good has he done? I don’t know. I did hear that he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Price on at least 6 occasions for his writing, so I researched it, and found out that you can only be nominated from a college professor in literature and of linguistics, but I also found our from Wikipedia:
    “Williams has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2001. The first year he was nominated by Mario Fehr, a member of the Swiss Parliament; four additional times he has been nominated by Notre Dame de Namur University Philosophy and Religion Professor Phil Gasper and other professors. He has also been nominated several times by William Keach, Brown University Professor of English Literature, for the Nobel Prize in Literature.”
    And it’s true, he hasn’t won a Nobel Peace Prize for his writing. I didn’t win an NEA grant either (and Karen Finley has), so an individual’s talent and merit can’t be judged on winning awards alone. Besides, his not getting a Nobel Peace Prize for Literature doesn’t mean that his writing isn’t valuable.
    This is interesting to me because a man on death row was writing, and his writing is doing some good. But his writing isn’t relevant to the fact that he committed a crime. And it does give a mixed message to people about being a good person, if the preacher can’t even atone for his past sins (in this trial) by apologizing or giving information about the murders he committed.
    What would Tookie say? Don’t join gangs, kids, ‘cuz it’s not good. But no, I won’t even admit the wrong I did in this murder case.
    Reuters even noted this in Real Tookie Williams elusive in death row debate. Because “gang experts dispute Williams’ claims to have founded the Crips and say he has little influence over teens. Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton has said that few gang members had likely heard of Williams before press coverage of his execution.”
    And all of this begs the question on whether or not Tookie killed those four people. He always says he didn’t, but we can’t say that witness testimony about him bragging about the “gurgling” noises one victim made before he died are inaccurate. Williams has stated that the police found “not a shred of tangible evidence, no fingerprints, no crime scenes of bloody boot prints. They didn’t match my boots, nor eyewitnesses. Even the shotgun shells found conveniently at each crime scene didn’t match the shotgun shells that I owned.” He says this, while in trial, a prosecution firearms expert testified that recovered shells conclusively matched to Williams’ gun. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger even said (in the New York Times) that the proof of his guilt was “strong and compelling.”
    Which leaves us no closer to his guilt or innocence than when we started. All we’re left with are both sides screaming their case, even after the U.S. Supreme Court on October 11, 2005 ruled against Tookie on his final appeal and set his execution date for December 13, and after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied the convicted murderer and former gang leader’s appeal for clemency less than 12 hours before his execution.
    But Robert, a reporter from ThugLifeArmy.com, reported in Stanley Tookie Williams Vengeance or Justice:
    “Friday evening [Robert] saw a report on BET about how some LA Blood members turned weapons over to a BET reporter for her to turn them into the police. The gesture was one in ‘good faith’, showing that peace is possible.
    Now we all know the Bloods and the Crips have always struggled as rivals against each other, and in this show of ‘good faith’ the members of the Bloods told the BET reporter that if they do this to Tookie they can do it to any of us.”
    And you didn’t hear anything about this on the news because it’s a shallow effort, and it’s not like the Bloods actually got rid of all their guns. But it does show that there are two very violent sides to this very violent issue.

•••

    So, since appeal after appeal failed (all without an admittance of guilt), we waited for him to be executed by lethal injection. And all we’re left with now are the accounts of his death.
    So for those who want the eye-witness details, you can go to the San Francisco Cronicle’s web site at http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=5&entry_id=2145 and follow the link to the PodCast from reporter Kevin Fagan at 1:15 AM, one of 17 media witnesses who witnessed Williams’ 12:35 AM execution.
    Agreeing with United Press International, MTV.com reported that “In the end, the execution process took longer than usual as technicians struggled for more than 10 minutes to find a vein in Williams’ muscular left arm. As the team searched, Williams visibly winced and lifted his head off the gurney several times and, according to the Times, at once appeared to say, “Still can’t find it?” Witnesses said his death from the lethal injection took close to 20 minutes.”
    The prison warden, Steve Ornoski, even noted to the New York Times that “It depends on the person’s veins and whether they are readily accessible,” not believing this was a difficult execution.
    MTV.com added that Williams “ate nothing but oatmeal and milk on Monday, refusing a special last meal and a spiritual advisor. Williams had no last words before being strapped to the gurney.”
    Which leaves us no closer to his guilt or innocence than when we started. Which I suppose then begs the question on whether the death penalty was a just sentence for his crime... And you know my slanted view on that one. So let’s get someone else’s...
    Marian Liu of the Mercury News noted that “this case raised the question of whether a person who has committed such a heinous crime can redeem themselves?”
    She seems to be stuck asking questions too, so maybe we’re not alone here. Reuters brought this debate up, along with the question of whether or not Williams was playing the innocent card instead of the “cold-blooded killer” card, so to speak.
    You can listen to the Malibu Times, who wrote that “Once (Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a convicted murderer and co-founder of the notorious Cripps street gang) is dead, the world will be no better a place in which to live than it was before the execution, nothing will have been learned, and all that will have been accomplished is the continuation of a bloodthirsty American tradition.”
    The Telescope stated in David A. Love’s story Tookie Williams case reveals death penalty flaws that “America’s love affair with capital punishment is a sordid tale of racial bias, arbitrary justice and state-sanctioned violence.” And “In competition with China, Iran, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Singapore (which recently hanged an Australian citizen for possessing 14 ounces of heroin), the United States is in the unenviable position of using the law to kill its fellow citizens.”
    The US has to achieve all of it’s goals, I suppose, including being able to kill their prisoners. We’ve just passed our 1,000th execution since the death penalty’s reinstatement in 1976. But even a reporter for The Political Cortex (Brain Food for the Body Politic), who has been a liberal with conservative views on allowing a death penalty, wondered about the number of innocent people who have been put to death. “I think what Tookie Williams has done while in prison is nothing short of amazing and inspirational. He’s gone from unrepentant street thug to ambassador for peace. His critics say that everything he’s done is a sham, that his Nobel Peace Prize nominations are nothing but a PR stunt. They say that at the end of the day, he’s still killed 4 people, ruined the lives of those families forever and must now pay the ultimate price for his crimes. Tookie’s supporters claim that the trial was a fraud, that there was misconduct from every quarter during his prosecution. I don’t know one way or the other.”
    Well, neither do I. But when we don’t know, is it then safe to resort to the death penalty to fall back on?
    Just remember what Maverick said from Signs of the Times, when he wrote in The Thin Line Between Life and Death: “When Tookie Williams is executed, always remember that we are promoting a culture of life in all things that we do...”












The World Knows You

well, at least they can

    Hearing about people’s rights infringements. And hearing both sides of this debate has left me stuck. I don’t know what to hold my allegiance to, and I don’t know what to feel safe around. But more importantly, I don’t know if I have a choice.
    This all started when we all started hearing on the news about President Bush allowing the NSA to allow wire tapping on phone calls within the United States. I thought, “This can’t be right, we’re supposed to have constitutional rights here, isn’t this an illegal privacy issue?” But after searching, all I could see in our constitution was that we were protected against “unlawful search and seizure”... which I would hope means that it unlawful to search through phone calls, letters or e-mails.
    My husband cleared up a few things for me. One was that it is unlawful to open someone’s letter in the United States (you know, if someone is addressed to someone, it should only be opened by that someone). But phone calls which are international (our rights don’t apply outside this country, so if we make an international phone call, we better not expect to be able to fall back on our U.S. protections), and emails don’t apply at all to any privacy protections. Why? Because it’s not in a sealed envelope (like, if you write something on an envelope that’s privately mailed to someone, like an address, anyone can read what you wrote), but more importantly, it is sent electronically to the recipient’s address. And that doesn’t mean that an email teleports — decomposes, then recomposes — to arrive in someone else’s e-mailbox, it means that your letter (with all of the coding of it’s mailing dat and what computer it came from) goes to the main computer system that says it will e-mail it for you, then it is brought to a local center for distribution, then it goes to someone else’s local network, then it is brought to the specific system the recipient;s computer is on, then it goes to the e-mailbox of the recipient. And at any point there, anyone can read the electronic file (you know, because it’s not in a sealed envelope).
    Hmm. I never thought about that with emails. I always knew there was an electronic record of where emails went, but I didn’t think that meant it was fair game to read the letter at any point.
mock FBI Badge


    I was watching a conspiracy show in the History channel about the FBI files that were accumulated about John Lennon (since he lived in New York for so long, while Yoko looked for her daughter from a previous marriage). They were part of peace concerts (probably the first concerts ever for a cause), and affiliated themselves with revolutionary peace beatniks, which the FBI wanted to keep tabs on in the 60s and early 70s. I heard the history channel report say that whenever someone mentions the government or the President, they keep a file on it. So I tuned to my husband and asked, I’ve written about our government for years. Do you think they have a file on me? And all he was able to say was that since my editorials are on the Internet, well, they’ve probably found it.

•••


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on 02/06/06 that this kind of surveillance isn’t new, because Washington, Lincoln, Wilson & Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a much broader scale...

•••


It seems strange, the more the government knows about the people, the more closed off the government is to the people. Think of how the governmet seems to allow itself to wire tap some calls now, and think of how Internet companies know us after we purchase products. So with the more transparent we are being forced to become, the more opaque our government now is.

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American Love of Privacy

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    But the NSA said they were watching all international emails, when then made me think of my emails to my friend Jim in China. Were they reading about my plans to visit him?
    Well, I was told they were only interested in looking for key words in emails, so as long I didn’t use the words bomb or weapon along with the President’s name or the government, I should feel safe.
    Ah yes, the rights we give up for we feel safe.
    But the thing is, I, and a lot of other people, have communications with people internationally (cc&d magazine has received submissions from all over the U.S. and Canada, England, Australia, Belgium, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Norway, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, as well as got input from places in Japan and Slovenia via email), so even when we hear that our government is only looks of Al Qaeda activity, it doesn’t make us feel much better. And people complain about wanting to impeach President Bush for this, but my husband pointed out to me that right after 9/11, Bush was granted power to do anything to protect this country, and that could mean that would give him the right to wire tap or intercept emails or phone calls, if they thought it was in the countries best interest to keep America safe. You see, right after 9/11, everyone was in such a panic about what to do to protect our country, that they agreed to anything, allowing the President to do anything, all in the name of security against these terrorist attacks.
    But I’ve also heard that there are laws that allow the president to do these things — and that they have been on the books for probably 20 years, and a number of presidents have used that law to do what W is doing now — from Carter through Clinton. So if he’s had the right to do this all along, people should either be (1) finding another reason to impeach Bush (if they’re Hell-bent on it), or (2) look into the fact that these laws have existed infringing on our rights for so long, and try to attack a different enemy.
    So I’ve heard people complain about Bush for these things, and I’ve heard very valid arguments supporting Bush. What should I believe?
    All I’ve been able to believe is that our right to privacy has been infringed. Don’t know what I mean? Then I’ll ask: do you use the Internet much? Because, for example, I sometimes buy books at http://www.amazon.com, and when I go to their home page, they see what I’ve purchased and searched for in the past and create a home page listing what books I might like to buy. Now, I know they’re trying to sell me stuff, but this means they’ve been collecting data on what I look for and what I’ve purchased to make choices for me. Doesn’t seem too scary, seems kids of convenient, if you walked into a store someone would do these same things for you, but on the Internet this means that a really big company (in this case, amazon.com) has keep a record of what I look for, where I’ve gone and what I do.
    Again, this doesn’t seem to ominous, it’s still kind of convenient, but the government has also been trying to get this information from big companies, so they can have a better record of what you’re interested in and what you do.
    Now, I know the government can keep records of what books you take out of the library (maybe they’ll think I’m a Nazi sympathizer because I took Mein Kampf out of the library once...), but if the government makes these agreements with companies, that means they can even know what I’m thinking about (as if my editorials weren’t enough).
    This applies to all U.S. citizens — and even if Google doesn’t want to sell this information to the government, that means the information about you is still out there, in someone else’s possession.
    Wow, I’m starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist, and I swear, that’s not where I’m coming from. It’s not something we can really change (like companies keeping on line information about us, if we’ve already used these companies), though if we were genuinely concerned about these things, we could change the way we interact with companies like this (or choose to not interact with them at all). And wow, I’m not trying to tell anyone to stop using companies, I’m just asking people to think about every step they take with monolith companies and service providers like amazon.com, or even AOL or Google.
    The point from all of this is to think that you’re not safe when on the Internet. Consider the published book “No Place To Hide,” which points out that any place you go can lead to you losing your privacy — from security cameras at most every public place to WIFI at computer stations and cell phones located anywhere. ATM machines are everywhere, and you can use your credit card in a ton of places, and all of these things are ways you can be tracked. And you know, there are even expensive cars that have satellite control that allows them to locate their driver when they leave their car anywhere (any GPS system like that can be purchased now). Hell, I mentioned call phones — new cell phones now can even transmit their location every few seconds to a mobile network. Yes, they can find you anywhere.
    Ah, the great feeling of being watched, wherever you go.
    From reading “No Place To Hide,” I learned that a Richard Smith was a former computer programmer, and this Internet specialist actually found code in Microsoft Word (which, instead of MS Word, I still call Multiple Sclerosis Word) that showed who had handles the program files.. Which means there are so many ways we can be monitored, with all of the different forms of data we go through in our lives.
    But speaking of Smith, he even found in New York sensors everywhere that absorbed information about anyone there, and sending it to databases (public and private) to... to what? To keep tabs on everyone?
    And if you wanted to get away, don’t think of using any toll roads, because not only would you either have to interact with a person at a toll booth, which may have a camera watching them, or you would use an E-ZPASS, or an I-Pass, which you pay for in advance, and yes, electronically monitors where you go and when you pay to get through that booth. Hey, want to get out fast? Don’t automatically pay for gas with things like the speedpass, but don’t use it if you don’t want a record of where you’ve been or what you’ve done.
    Okay, don’t shop or use a credit card. But when you use the Internet, companies record where you go on the web. If you use a TiVo machine with your TV, it records what shows you watch. At a lot of offices, you need an ID strip, so they can monitor where you are when too. And hey, even every 800 number you call — they record anything about you, your name, phone number, your voice, and key words you use.
    If you're feeling claustrophobic yet, go ahead and look over your shoulder.
    But some of these things are a convenience, and we’ve been willing to accept them to make our lives better (like paying for gas or tolls quickly, or taking less time at checkout because they can scan a bar code which tells them everything they would otherwise have to type in slowly by hand). And employers have the right to know when their employees get in and out of work (I mean, they’re paying them), but there a places that have students needing to use ID tags for monitoring while in school. Well, that might be good if they’re in such a violent high school that people are only worried about their safety, but ... at what point is this electronic convenience so imposing that you want to just cover your house in tin foil and duct tape so no radio or electronic signals can track you sown?
    As Robert O’Harrow, Jr. said about everything being tracked and recorded so there’s a record of everyone in “No Place To Hide,” there apparently are “intelligence officials who believe that some form of Total Information Awareness will make us safer.” But when marketers lead the way in encoding everything about us, do we feel any safer?

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    I don’t know if you feel safer or not, but after hearing all about how the government can have info on you, and how companies can get info one you, you have to decide where to draw the line. Yeah, you could decide that you want to cut off all electronic communication, but if you go out in public, you’d have to stop worrying about the possibility of your image being recorded. We live in a world where one some levels we have to be willing to give up some privacy if we want to function with the modern world. And, well, you can guess my take on the situation, if I’m willing to post my editorials in a magazine and have all of my writings and art posted in the Internet, but think of it this way:
    You can live in this world and enjoy companies knowing on the Internet what kinds of books or CDs you like to shop for, but these same companies can keep track of your credit cards and your purchasing history. That might allow you to fall into unintentional purchasing traps, or it might even make identify theft easier. (And trust me, I understand identity theft. In the same month Internet shoppers took my Visa card number and Discover card number that I have used on the Internet to make thousands of dollars in false purchases. And if you want to know which credit card company revoked those false charges faster, it was Discover — everything was cleared within two weeks. I didn’t use that Visa card for months to a year because their research department put my account in financial limbo.)
    The point? Watch your step, because I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but when we make these steps in the technology world, we might have to start looking over our shoulders to make sure people aren’t tracking too many of our moves.












Losing Her Chance at the Presidency

Wasn’t sleeping in the White house for eight years enough for her?

    When popular opinion seems to hold that Clinton was a Godsend (because this presidency coincided with the stock market boom with the computer technology decade, so the economy was good), and every news media outlet proudly proclaims that Bush is bad after “robbing” Gore from the presidency. People have wondered that after the Clintons moved to New York and since Hillary Rodham Clinton has become a senator, people have wondered if Hillary would be a shoe-in for the presidency after W’s eight years are up.
    By definition, I’m a feminist — and that doesn’t mean when should have special rights, that means women should have equal rights. But as a “classic” feminist, I believe it would be a good move if a talented woman was elected president. Now, Hillary was only the first lady in the 90s, but she was involved enough with knowing about what business Bill was involved with (Presidential business, apparently not all personal business), and she was involved with health care reform, so I’d think she would know how to step into those presidential shoes. She kept a good face for the public when Bill Clinton was going through his personal “cigar” ordeal, and both Hillary and her husband Bill are even lawyers (just proving that she’s not just some dumb cookie). But I know there are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t want a woman as their President, so any woman who runs for office will really have an uphill battle. So... going on her lawyer schooling, and her eight years of semi-experience in the White house (even if it’s only as the first lady, she probably knew more about the business of the Presidency than first ladies thirty years ago), and her position as a senator in New York now... People wonder if she has the experience. But then the question then arises: does Hillary Rodham Clinton deserve it?
    Some Democrats love Hillary Clinton (but then again, they lost the Presidential election when they wanted anyone and anything to get rid of Bush), but Republicans will quickly point out that as Senator, Hillary Clinton has introduced tons of relatively useless legislation that hasn't gone anywhere in the Senate (if she actually spearheaded something of value, it would show initiative, and the desire to make positive changes and the ability to lead). A writer has even released a book hoping for an all-female Presidential battle, pitting Hillary Rodham Clinton against the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who has stated she didn’t want to run for President), where race could also play a serious role in electing a new President. So where does that leave us?
    It leaves me seeing television shows highlight her talking to a black group on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, saying the current government was run like a Plantation. å “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about,” is what this Democrat Senator of New York told the crowd at the Canaan BaptistChurch of Christ in Harlem.
    Yes, she said that. You know, to relate to the black people she was talking to. And well, I’m not black, but I don’t know what she was talking about with that remark. Did she mean that the House of Representatives owns a plantation and the rest of the government works like slaves for the House of Representatives? Or is it that because the government is so Republican right now, did she mean that it allows the House of Representatives to act like Plantation owners, and all American civilians are slaves? Her statement is confusing, and probably offensive to black people, and I still don’t even get what she means. When I heard about her comment, and when I even heard the liberal media comment on it on television, they even thought she was off her rocker with that line.
    All I could think was, ‘doesn’t she have someone to bounce off speeches to? Wouldn’t someone have pointed out that this might not be an appropriate thing to say?’ But I was told that she probably did confer with a writing staff to pull that line off, and staff writers could have even suggested that line to her. So I thought, ‘And they let her say that?’
    So then I wondered that if she couldn’t figure out how to use decorum talking to a group on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, maybe she wouldn’t be appropriate for the Presidency.
    And yeah, it’s not fair of me to make a judgment about a potential Presidential candidate from one bad quote, but there are a lot of people — including Democrats — talking about her potential - and the potential demise for a Democrat as president, if Hillary is their front runner. Everyone seems to agree that she would be a shoe-in for the Primaries, but she wouldn’t stand a chance in a general election. That she’s too liberal, she’s polarizing, that people aren’t ready to vote for a woman President. And if people think she’s too polarizing, consider a nationwide Quinnipiac University poll conducted on December 16, George Bush’s negatives are even worse than hers—by six points. Or consider Ronald Reagan, who in 1978 was only some b movie actor, who even played second fiddle to a monkey in a movie. But he strutted around like he knew he was good to be the President, and said the right things - and this cheesy actor managed to win two elections. In 1980, Democrats were praying Reagan would run in the Republican primary, believing he was too conservative, and he won. In this case, people say Hillary is too liberal, so she would never win. So who’s right?
    And there are both sides to every story told. Because if people think she’s too liberal, well, since working in the Senate, she has done everything to look like a centrist, from supporting the death penalty to supporting the war in Iraq. She’s even sitting on the Armed Services Committee... And although she appears to have become more centrist, according to the National Journal, Hillary’s voting record has gotten increasingly liberal, as her senatorial career has worn on.
    Although she could raise a ton of money for her Presidential run, and although she’d have the charming Bill Clinton helping her every step of the way free of charge, and although she can charm anyone she meets, she still seems bland and unappealing on television. She’s got a lot of uphill battles, and... And saying things like she said
    Jennifer Senior of The New York Metro noted that if this were to actually happen, we’d see two strange alternating political dynasties, one composed of husband and wife, the other of father and son. She also noted in her article The Once and Future President Clinton (http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/politics/national/features/11082/): “Unlike Bush, though, who never seemed to wrestle with his political eligibility—that’s the marvelous thing about family wealth, how it lends the illusion you’ve earned your privileges—Hillary would be dogged by the same questions that dogged a whole generation of feminists about power and how it’s acquired. Sure, her candidacy would be the ultimate suffragette triumph, but it’d also send a complicated message: So this is how we get to the White House? On a flagstone path laid by our husbands? And what would Bill be, if she won? Co-president? Just as her husband promised to end welfare, as we knew it, Hillary, by definition, would have to end the office of the First Lady, as we know it. Unless Bill was content to spend the next four years selecting china patterns.”
    So yea, there are a lot of questions on both sides. But a Quinnipiac polls even show she’d beat Rudolph Giuliani if he ran against her for Senate in 2006. And I don’t even know if she actually could stand a chance. All the things we’re sure would be her downfall, are things others have used to actually win the Presidency.
    But then again, I read on BBC News that Hillary Rodham Clinton said to ABC’s Barbara Walters she has no intention of running for the White House herself in 2008. At this point in the game, I don’t know her intentions, or her chances.












Shoving our “good life” down the enemy’s throats

And what makes us think they want to be like us?

    I was thinking about the cartoon show South Park last night, thinking about how they try to talk about middle-eastern interests (granted, they only refer to Saddam Hussein as being killed and being Satan’s lover and they only refer to Bin Laden once in an Afghanistan episode), but one episode of South Park made me think more about our “war” in Iraq than any other show... In one episode the boys went to Colorado’s version of “Cirque du Cheville” (a parody for the French circus “Cirque Du Soleil”) and saw contorting Romanian quintuplets who later escaped and stayed at Stan Marsh’s house. The boys wanted to show the little Romanian girls why America was so great, by taking them to places like the mall, or fast food restaurants. I’ll even quote Eric Cartman: “You see, in America we have log rides! Bacon double-cheeseburgers! Sheep-shearing contests! And shopping malls!” But the quintuplets decided they wanted to go back to Romania, because it was their home, and it was their way that they understood and loved. The third quintuplet even said, “You know nothing about Romania, and yet you assume America is so much better! Maybe Romania isn’t as nice as America, but it is our home! We are Romanian!”
    Now why do I think this has anything to do with our “war” in Iraq? Because these young Romanian quintuplets in South Park were saying what many Iraqis are probably saying now... That although the citizens may not have liked living in fear under Saddam Hussein, that doesn’t mean they want to to exchange their middle-eastern Islamic life for an American, Christian network-show and fast-food-meal mentality. The kids at South Park tried to show the Romanian quintuplets all of the decadence of America (in the same way the boys took the Ethernopian — I mean, Ethiopian boy Starvin’ Marvin to the all-you-can-eat buffet, where Eric Cartman said “See, Starvin’ Marvin, these are appetizers...that’s what we call food that makes you hungrier”). South Park manages to exemplify the the over-abundance and decadence that Americans are associated with.
    I mean, think about it — we now have TIVO for television sets, because videocassettes are too time-consuming and we can now eliminate any commercials (because we don’t have the time for commercials). We have “Merry Maids,” so we can pay people to clean our homes for us, when we already pay for dry cleaners to wash our clothes and we pay for restaurants because we don’t feel like cooking. We now have the Internet (and yes, South Park even had Chinese men in the Dodge Ball World Olympics make fun of how Americans — who created the Internet in the first place, at my old college stomping grounds at the University of Illinois — now even use the Internet as a marketing center), so we can shop online instead of going to a store. Hell, we have PeaPod, where people can buy your groceries for you and bring them to your house. Someone even told me that you can order a chef to cook a meal for you in your own home!
    So... do you think we Americans aren’t decadent?
    I’m sure we don’t do all do the things I’ve listed above, but they’ve been created here in America, because there’s a market for it, and people have been looking to spend more and more of their money on service industries so that people can hire others do their work for them (like clean their house, or their cloths, or buy their groceries, or deliver our products to us, or cook our food). Couple that with good ol’ W (I mean, President Bush) seeming to be doing his damnedest to infuse Christianity back into the culture (yes, our founding fathers were Christian, but they wanted freedom from religion indoctrinating their lives — it still says “In God We Trust” on our money, and President Eisenhower added “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance so we wouldn’t appear like those godless Communists, but people are allowed to have any belief they so choose in this country)... So I wonder if the Iraqi people think that a Christian nation is trying to push a political philosophy on them that they don’t want to follow.
    We’re not just trying to free people from a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein — we want a country that isn’t in political conflict with us (because apparently this is Bush’s way of freeing us from the chances of another nine eleven). The problem is, for example, we’ve set up a timeline for Iraq to vote for a President, and although Iraqis came out in record numbers to vote, more than half of the Iraqi people don’t consider this a valid government. If you’re wondering why, consider that the United State’s democracy, which is not religious, directly clashed with how Iraqis view their leader. Who is their leader? Allah, not a President. And in their government, religion is the most important thing — so anything we’re suggesting clashes with their basic beliefs.
    Also keep in mind that we’re the same people that don’t want us occupying Iraq and think we should be able to just free these people from Saddam Hussein and leave. Good point, we’re an impatient people, and why keep our military there, in harm’s way. If that’s what you want, I have to ask you then: why do we still have military in Germany and Japan from World War II? Because we do, because there is always a potential conflict, and we need to keep our soldier close-at-hand, you know, to help keep us free. It sounds silly, but it’s true — we’ve got our military hand in enough places so that we can always keep watch over most anything happening in the world. Maybe we’re not hearing about our troops still in those countries from World War II because people weren’t up in arms about our involvement in World War II, and half of this country is up in arms about the “war” in Iraq. It seems that our intent has changed pertaining to Iraq, from defensive, a preemptive attack because we were led to believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (as defending our nation is the only real reason we should ever go to war) to liberating oppressed people. If defending ourselves was the point, then there is still a debate over whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (well, we haven’t found any, and trust me, we’ve looked — but a high ranking air force official from Saddam’s regime wrote a book & told Jon Stewart at the Daily Show about how the weapons did exist, and they were moved. Is he right? We don’t know...). If liberating was our intention, then why didn’t we start a war with most of the Middle East, or half of Africa? And if we’re supposed to be liberating them, then shouldn’t we stay for years until they’re free of any terrorist regimes?
    Our country seems to have stuck its nose for a little too long where a bunch of people don’t want it. Many in Iraq may be pleased that Saddam Hussein is out of power, but many of them probably don’t want to be forced to convert to the Christian mentality of the people who freed them from Saddam Hussein, with the way we’ve been “guiding” them through creating the government we would think it would be best to deal with in the future. I know, I know, if we don’t keep military there, then bad forces can easily take over the country, so after deposing a vicious ruler, another will take his place. But maybe if we took the time to evaluate how these people need to be helped (and don’t try to force our way of thinking down their throats), maybe there would be fewer problems in the upcoming weeks... and months... and years.












Do Protests Equal Violence?

    Years ago, I was photographing a march of women walking the streets of Urbana, but on that same say, Rodney King was convicted of a police brutality crime. The black community was outraged, saying that the white man was holding them down, and a large group of people started their own rally that night which seemed to take center stage from the women’s rights parade... Later in the evening I went to Union Square, where the women’s rights parade was supposed to end, and a ton of black people were together there, yelling and protesting together. We went out that night for only a little while, because everyone in town was agitated — and apparently commiserating outdoors with their friends. I went home, but I heard the next day that in light of the Rodney King trial 23 fires were started on school property, and most of them were of books in libraries.

    I thought, this isn’t nonresistant violence, this is out and out violent and what they’re destroying are opportunities for learning and not ideas. But protester advocates would say, “Yeah, but do these books hold what the white man wants you to learn? Is this how he alters our perceptions?”

    Then I heard about one of my best friends, a white man, he was hit once by a black man in the street while he went out that night. The doctor said that they had to have a roll of quarters in their hand or brass knuckles because with one hit, there was a clean break of my friend’s jaw. For six weeks my friend’s jaw was wired shut, and he had to throw pizza or meat loaf in the blender so he could eat something instead of ice cream while he tried to recover.

    It was after this that I wondered the value of violence in protesting. Does the violence get anything positive done? After the Rodney King protest, did we get any closer to racial harmony? And after people were hurt, did anyone learn anything from this pain? The libraries that had fires replaced the materials that were lost, so these protests and violence didn’t stop this anglo-saxon form of education, it only cost money and made people bitter.

    I thought this was an isolated incident, until I made the connection in my head to current Middle Eat protests. now, I’m not referring to people trying to violently stop armed military American soldiers from invading their land, but to the tactless release of a cartoon — yes, a cartoon — of Mohammed with a bomb as his turban.

    News reports stated that “The anger has also resulted in attacks on several Danish diplomatic missions in Asia and the Middle East, and other European diplomats have been threatened.” And In addition to this, Lebanese demonstrators have set the Danish embassy in Beirut on fire. CNN has even reported that the leader of the world’s largest Muslim organization has joined other world leaders in condemning violence over the publication of cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed — but there is still a large amount of violence over this cartoon.

    And yes, maybe instead of violence, people could retaliate with, well, more cartoons. I heard on The Daily Show 02/09/06 (yes, I do see the irony in the fact that I’m using The Daily Show as a news source...) that Israelis have come up with a non-violent wat to protest the cartoon’s existence... They posted a contest in their newspaper for people to design cartoons about the Holocaust (Seriously, there was a newspaper that legitimately had a contest for cartoons about the Holocaust). And yes, this idea of Holocaust cartoons is tacky, but some Israelis even said that any cartoons submitted about the Holocaust wouldn’t be a fair comparison to the cartoon about the founder and prophet of Islam with a bomb for their turban, because a cartoon about what the once-ruler of Germany did to Jews is not the same as saying Islam’s founder is only interested in bombing other people.

    The only thing that confuses me about using violence to protest this cartoon is that they are protesting that Islam’s founder condoned violnce, and that Muslims condone violence. Understood, but then I ask: why are they protesting with bombingand setting fire to buildings? Why are they protesting with violence?

    Now, I can understand offense taken at any cartoon making fun of a religion. I could imagine that Christians would be up in arms if images of Jesus was somehow made fun of (though I wonder how appropriate it is for Kanye West to imitate Jesus for a cover of Rolling Stone, apparently that didn’t offend anyone...), but I think us American citizens wouldn’t set buildings on fire is someone did this.

    Wait, did I just say that? I just told you the story of people protesting the Rodney King trial, where libraries were set on fire. My friend even had to go to the hospital because of riot violence — not because he did anything wrong, but because of the color of his skin.
    So, maybe there are people who don’t know that violence isn’t the answer. Other than teaching by example, I don’t know the next step to geting people to learn.












About the Author

09-02-99 modeling photos
    Janet Kuypers graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana with a degree in News/Editorial Communications Journalism (with computer science engineering studies). She had a minor in photography and specialized in creative writing. In the early 1990s she was an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator, and edited to two literary magazines.
    Since she got fed up with her job as the art director of a few magazines for a publishing company, Janet Kuypers, to relieve the stress:
    (a) vents her twenty-something angst musically with acoustic bands called Mom’s Favorite Vase, Weeds and Flowers and the Second Axing, and attempts to learn to play the guitar,
    (b) writes so much that she irritates editors enough to get her published in books, magazines and on the internet over 8,800 times for writing or over 17,000 times for art work in her professional career, and has been profiled in such magazines as Nation and DiscoverU and has been interviewed on ArtistFirst dot com’s Internet radio station, and has repeatedly been highlighted with interviews and readings for years with WZRD 88.3 FM radio in Chicago,
    (c) turns that writing into performance art on her own and with musical groups like Pointless Orchestra, 5D/5D and Order From Chaos,
    (d) writes so much that in order to make her feel like a big shot she gets ten books published: Hope Chest in the Attic, The Window, Close Cover Before Striking, (woman.) (spiral bound), Autumn Reason (novel in letter form), the Average Guy’s Guide to Feminism, Contents Under Pressure, Changing Gears (travel journals around the United States), The Key To Believing (2002 650 page novel), and etc.
    (e) gets tired of thinking about her own pathetic life, so runs a non-profit publishing company, where she does internet work and book design, and edits a literary and art magazine so she can read and broadcast other people’s depressing stories,
    (f) performs spoken word and music, both locally and across the country - in the spring of 1998 she embarked on her first national tour, with featured performances, among other venues, at the Albuquerque Spoken Word Festival during the National Poetry Slam, in 2003 she hosted and performed weekly at a poetry and music open mic called Sing Your Life, starting in 2002 she was a featured performer, doing quarterly performance art shows with readings, music and images, in 2005 she started monthly iPodCasts and an Internet radio station of her work,
    or (g) all of the above.
    When doing all of that didn’t work, Janet decided to quit her job and travel around the United States and Mexico, writing travel journals (collected into a book called Changing Gears) and starting her first epic novel (The Key To Believing). She also released a final collection of poetry called Oeuvre, a final collection of prose called Exaro Versus, and an art book called L’arte.
    But after that work wasn’t enough, she thought she would try to get her life back into order by moving across the country once or twice, getting married and getting a house with fireplaces, a jacuzzi and a sauna. After venturing to Puerto Rico, to nine European countries (Germany, Austria, Italy, the Vatican City, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland), and to China (Shanghai and Beijing), Kuypers thought she would (because she’s psycho on never being at rest) do more design work, master compact discs and Performance Art shows in Chicago, and yes, have more books of hers published. Doesn’t she know how to rest?