Thursday, November 18, 2004

maybe it's me...

Robert Manne wrote an article which was printed in The Age. In it he asks: How long till we realise what we have done to Iraq?

I think it will be a very long time before we see what we have done. As long as is humanly possible.

A small illustration from my life:

My 14 year old daughter said to me, 'Mum, I'm fighting with Sylvie. And yesterday I was fighting with Chanel. And last week I had a fight with Clayton.' Long pause. ' I'm starting to think that maybe it's me.'

I almost cried. If ONLY our leaders could get to the stage of saying, ' Maybe it's me.' But most people don't start from the conflict resolution point of 'Maybe it's me.' They start from 'Of course it's them.' And that's why I fear it will be years before anyone who supported this mess can bear to look at it. And even then, most of them will have come to believe they were against it from the start.

There are a lot more bombs yet in America's vast arsenal that are addressed, 'To Iraq, with love.'

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

vive le liberte

gimme liberty or gimme death... 'ere you go, sunshine - I'll give you both at once...

FALLUJAH, Iraq, Nov. 15 -- Even the dogs have started to die, their corpses strewn among twisted metal and shattered concrete in a city that looks like it forgot to breathe.
The aluminum shutters of shops on the main highway through town have been transformed by the force of war into mangled accordion shapes, flat, sharp, jarring slices of metal that no longer obscure the stacks of silver pots, the plastic-wrapped office furniture, the rolls of carpet. These things would be for sale, except there are no traders, no customers, hardly any people at all in the center of Fallujah.

A U.S. Marine picks his way through bombed-out western Fallujah. U.S. commanders say they now control the city except for a few pockets of resistance. U.S. Marines searching for insurgents in the Jolan neighborhood in the northwestern side of the city on Monday did see two elderly men emerge from a pile of rock. The men, who looked too old to fight, pointed to their stomachs. They were hungry. They were given brown, plastic pouches of military rations and disappeared back into the rocks, the Marines recounted.

Black smoke rose from buildings across the city as U.S. artillery continued to bombard insurgent positions and weapons bunkers a day after commanders declared that the city had been liberated.

The Washington Post

Monday, November 15, 2004

all the world's a pyramid scheme...

"pyramid schemes, chain letters and Ponzi schemes

A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent system of making money which requires an endless stream of recruits for success. Recruits (a) give money to recruiters and (b) enlist fresh recruits to give them money.
A pyramid scheme is called a pyramid scheme because of the shape of a pyramid: a three dimensional triangle. If a pyramid were started by a human being at the top with just 10 people beneath him, and 100 beneath them, and 1000 beneath them, etc., the pyramid would involve everyone on earth in just ten layers of people with one con man on top. The human pyramid would be about 60 feet high and the bottom layer would have more than 4.5 billion people!
A diagram might help see this:
Thus, in very short order, 10 recruiting 10 and so on would reach 10 billion, well in excess of the earth's population. If the entire population of earth were 5 billion and we all got involved in a pyramid scheme, the bottom layer would consist of about 90 percent of the planet, i.e., about 4.5 billion people. Thus, for 500 million people to be WINNERS, 4.5 billion must be LOSERS."

In other words, the first world is ripping off the the third world in a scam widely recognised as being completely immoral and unjust.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

fighting fire with fire....

Thanks for sending me this joke, Noela.

A plane leaves Los Angeles Airport under the control of a Jewish captain. His copilot is Chinese. It 's first time they've flown together and an awkward silence between the two indicates a mutual dislike. Once they reach cruising altitude, the Jewish captain activates the autopilot, leans back in his seat, and mutters, "I don't like Chinese."
"Not like Chinese?" asks the copilot, "why not?"
"You people bombed Pearl Harbor, that's why!"
"No, no," the copilot protests, "Chinese not bomb Pearl Harbour. That was Japanese, not Chinese."
"Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese ... doesn't matter, you're all alike!"
There's a few moments of silence.
"I don't like Jews!" the copilot suddenly announces.
"Why not?" says the captain indignantly.
"Jews sink Titanic."
"Jews didn't sink the Titanic!" exclaims the captain, "It was an iceberg!"
"Iceberg, Goldberg, Greenberg, Rosenberg, no matter ... you're all alike.

Thought it might be fun to substitute Liberal and Labor, Dems and Reps or Palestine and Israel for Chinese and Jews here. And any one of a thousand perceived transgressions on either side for Pearl Harbour and Titanic.

I am getting so sucked into the vortex of either/or thinking in this climate, it's alarming.

It's alarming because it's really not me. Until a year or two ago, I was always the moderator in any group. My parents have a tendency to list to the right and in my discussions with them, I would lean left in order to try to bring feelings back towards the Middle Path. Many of my friends list left and a couple of them I have affectionately named Automatic Radicals, accusing them of automatically taking the radical stance on any topic. I would always find myself listing right with this people in search of balance and asking them to examine their thinking before they took up a position.

Now I fear I am becoming one. We are being called apon to step either side of the centre line. We are being called apon to take a radical stance. The climate demands it. The words of world leaders demand it. When George Bush told the world that we were either with him or ag'in him, where did that leave us? When John Howard follows him to war as a means of political expediency when most of Australia don't want it, where does that leave us? It leaves us all, either side of that line, becoming more and more radicalised.

Some people would reply that the Muslim extremists say, 'You are either with us or against us." So what? If it is in any way productive to have two groups of murderously enraged religious zealots running around the world proclaiming that each is against the other, I'd like to know how.

"You don't fight fire with fire - any fool knows you fight fire with water."

That's a quote but I don't remember its source.

so it's 1-2-3 ! what are we fightin' for?

The title is a quote from a 60's country protest song by Country Joe MacDonald. It continues....

... Don't ask me! I don't give a damn.
Next stop is Vietnam
And it's 5-6-7
Open up them pearly gates
Whoa! there ain't no time for wonderin' why -
Whoopee! We're all gonna die!

Many of the soldiers who are trying to finish the war George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz began would wonder the same thing if they read the following story. It tells how eight US journalists are being threatened with jail if they don't reveal the sources of their various 'offending' articles. One of these stories involves the case in which CIA Agent Valerie Plame's identity was leaked to the public in revenge for her husband's opposition to the Iraq war. One of these journalists is being fined $1000 per day until he reveals his source or goes to jail - whichever comes first. None of them have committed a crime themselves but have only revealed someone else's crime.

Explain to me again what kind of freedom it is that we are so highly qualified to export to the brown people of the world.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

boycotting The Australian

Some weeks ago, I entered into a strange twilight zone of correspondence. Don't be scared by this, little ones. It is not quite as frightening as it seems. It is however fairly bizarre.

I am a prolific letter writer and in recent years most of my letters have been directed to the editor of The Australian. As many of you will know, when you write a Letter to the Editor, four times out of five, nothing happens. The fifth time, you open the letters page and there you are, bold as brass with your strongly held opinion right there in black and white for the whole damned world to see. That's it. That's the alternatives. You get printed or you don't. That's all she wrote. Except when....

The Editor writes back!

Now, I have been reading The Australian for a good long time. I remember when the editorials were not love songs to George Bush or odes to the righteousness of his war mongering or congratulatory snivelling to John Howard for his cleverness in supporting King George Bush 2nd. I still remember fondly the days when I was not referred to scathingly as a chardonnay socialist. Hell, I don't even drink. And back in the days when I did, it was fourex out of the stubby, mate or in a financial bind, Cardonnay or Mossel from the 'goon. .... I recall when I could open that paper and feel like I was among friends. But in the last couple of years, I have become a left wing intellectual elitist (which is a VERY BAD THING according to The Australian) simply because I believe that war is fundamentally wrong under any circumstances and that there is an even deeper bottom line than the dollar. It's called principle.

Soon after the election here in Oz, I had an epiphany! As I read the bizarre orgy of gloating that the right wing readers and the editorial writers indulged themselves in, I suddenly realised I did not have to take the abuse being meted out to me and my kind any longer. I could .... STOP BUYING THE PAPER. I could exercise the only power a consumer truly has! I would BOYCOTT THE AUSTRALIAN.

So, since I am fundamentally a polite sort of a cove, I wrote a letter telling them that I was terminating our relationship. The letter went something like this:

Dear Australian,

I'm sorry but it's over between us. What happened to us? When did you stop caring about me? When did I become nothing but a loopy loony left wing intellectual elitist to you? I have been a loyal long suffering reader but I can no longer put up with your abuse. This member of the lunatic fringe is off the books for good.

Yours truly

leigh langtree

Imagine my surprise when this arrived in my inbox:

> That's a shame, you write a good letter.
> Regards,
>> Matthew Spencer
> Letters Editor
> The Australian

At around this time, I had come up with the idea of setting up a web page explaining to the world my intention to boycott The Australian because of the way the Editorials had begun to careen out of control to the right. What a shame I didn't have a copy of the Dear John letter I had written to The Australian. It would be perfect for the home page of my new Boycott The Australian web site. I opened Outlook again and this is what I wrote:

Thanks for that, Matthew - I do love a civilised break-up. Since we are parting on good terms, I wonder if I could impose on you to forward me back a copy of my Dear John/Australian letter if you still have it on file?
Thanks, Christine

Back came this reply:

> What were some key words in the letter?
>By the way, I often get people from
> the Right saying their abandoning the paper cos its letters are biased
> against Howard. I know this week things got interesting but you need to
> expect some outpouring - especially as we have run lots of letters attacking
> Howard and he did get re-elected. Swings and roundabouts, I say.

To which I wrote:

The letter started: (I think)I'm sorry, Australian - but it's over between us. ....I also wrote in it that: I have been very loyal but ....And that: .... this loony (?) loopy (?) left wing (?) um... intelligentsia(?) person is off the books.
Thanks for your effort. And by the way, it is not the individual letters which have finally driven me away - I enjoy them. But the Editorials and the continuing venom expressed there for those of us who believe the war is wrong, that there must be a higher common denominator in society than the mighty dollar and that people who are running from regimes that we consider bad enough to wage war upon, ought not to be jailed when they turn up on our shores looking for succour. I think The Australian has forgotten who comprises its traditional base and that the growing circulation figures boasted about earlier in the week would take an enormous nose dive were the left wing lunatics the Editorial so consistantly ridicules to stop buying.

But, you know, don't get me started, Matthew! I have a soap box nailed to my shoes. I appreciate your attention and will miss the Letters page very much come the weekend.


Alas it seems I went a little too far, for no further reply was forthcoming. Neither was the copy of my letter for my home page. Dang! I was just getting to where I liked it too. I was just starting to feel the kernel of understanding beginning to emerge from the swamp of harsh words that bubbled odiferously between Matthew Spencer's place of work and the hallowed sanctuary of my mind. The moral of the story is never give your heart to a letters page editor. They are a fickle lot.

But that is not the end of my story.

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

gat dammed coastal rascals...

Quoted from the reader's forum at re: the results of the US election:

"On the other hand, in the great green underbelly of middle America lies a savage morbid soul that raised his pitchfork with his putrid fist and said "By golly, them gat dammed coastal rascals are gonna eat bull scat and no man gonna marry a man, run off with my daughter or use god's name in vain". "

Sunday, November 07, 2004

another smart Texas gov'nuh

Texas governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, barred the teaching of foreign languages about 80 years ago, saying, "If English was good enough for our lord Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us."

Friday, November 05, 2004

Tell Dr Leigh all about it now...

Please sit down - I have some bad news for you all. There is a terrible plague running through the population of the world like wild fire. At this rate it's possible we'll all be infected within the space of another election cycle.

It's called amnesiosis nostalgia dumbsuckeritis syndrome. We call it ANDS for short. Nobody knows how it's spread as yet but it is starting to look like it has something to do with homosexuality since every time someone mentions homosexuality, ANDS sufferers get themselves into a lather. The symptoms are varied and bizarre but include such things as the complete inability to remember that the '50s were not Eden on a stick. There is also a real loss of working memory which leads to the inability to learn from experience which means basically that once bitten, the ANDS sufferer pathetically extends his / her hand over and over again, saying 'Doh! That hurts...' every time.

A couple of disturbing symptoms have emerged over the past few days. One is the news that John Howard is going to allow George Bush to test his military's new bombs in our country. Pardon me? Imean I knew that John and George had a 'special relationship' but surely this is downright dysfunctional. Obviously George is the Dominant one.

Another of the symptoms of ANDS is abortion's sudden change in status. A month ago, abortion was a medical issue for women. This week, it has suddenly become a political issue for men with ANDS. .... Human beings, that is, the animal species of Homo Sapiens is running in plague proportions over the world. They are like locusts, consuming everything in their path, killing other species at will, generally fucking up the world with their unsustainable numbers.

And yet... And yet... we have these poor unfortunate ANDS sufferers hysterical with the idea that all human life is sacred. ... Except of course for the lives of the brown peoples of the world, many of whom currently starve to death while the first world countries throw food away or are bombed and shot by the weapons produced by companies of the leaders of those who suffer most severely from ANDS.

Let me take you back to the good old days for a moment. This is a true story. In the 40s, there was no compulsory reporting of child sexual abuse. A three year old girl was taken into a hospital with appalling vaginal tears brought about by her father having sex with her. She was treated and sent home. Nobody interfered in family problems back then. It was what was called an open secret. The mother knew that was going on but did not do anything about it.

There were several reasons for this:

1) She could not get financial aid if she left him and so could not support her four children.
2) She had been brought up to believe that once married always married.
3) She had been brought up to believe that if you ignored something it would go away.
4) She had been brought up to believe that children had no rights.

The little girl grew into a woman who could never have children. She lives near me. If you think this is an abberrant case, think again.

There is a theory that the entire world is a creature who has been named Gaia, that she is an intelligent system who will act for her own preservation, that destructive plagues such as the black death and the spanish flu and aids are the work of gaia culling mankind in the same way as we culled rabbits with mixamatosis. ANDS is just the latest in this plague and it has the potential to be the most deadly of all since one of the sickest of it's sufferers has his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

the computer imprint of my tears...

Just as I suspected, in the harsh light of the morning, I have relented and no longer consider myself to be anti-american. Once more I am simply anti-neo-con. .... I spoke on-line with my dear friend Chicago Dave this morning and we shed cyber tears together at the number of people who have died due to George Bush and his insane crew and for the escalating number who will die in the next four years. ....

Why do so many of the people not see him for what he is? A rich boy who dont try to hide it. A rich boy who never met a problem he couldn't buy the solution to. But he's a rich boy whose Texas heritage makes him look like he's jest one of th' common folk.

To all the Americans who worked so hard to see him deposed, I apologise for my bitter words of yesterday. To those who voted him in - what is it, me hearties? Would you rather have a president you can down a few tubes and talk about the game with rather than one who might actually know what he's doing? ... You know people used to look to those who were smarter than themselves for leadership It's just common sense really. ... Now they look to those who seem familiar for some reason.

George Bush was familiar. Remember the first time you ever saw him? I bet you had a little frisson of deja vu. Come on - admit it! ..... It's okay - don't be scared. There's a perfectly logical reason for this spooky feeling. .... George Bush seems so familiar because he is a TV character! He is the naughty boy in every whacky family show from our childhood; always getting into scrapes but charming his way out with a crooked grin and a promise never to do it again. Leave it to Dubya.

He is the stupid Dad in every sit-com you ever saw; always trying to do more than he is capable of and botching the job while Deborah and Marie stand by with their arms folded shaking their heads ruefully and rolling their eyes at his masculine naivity. Everybody Loves Dubya.

He is the centre peg of every disfunctional bunch of friends you ever saw: Dubya Seinfeld. Condi Rice is Elaine with her bad hair and temper tantrums. Dic Cheney is George with his self centred schemes and repressed rage. Colin Powell is Kramer mainly just because he's tall but also because we all used to wonder what the marvellous Kramer was doing hanging out with this bunch of selfish bastards and we wondered the same about Colin Powell. But over time, Kramer showed us that he was just as shallow and conformist as any of them and so has Colin - in spades. .... George Bush makes me angry. Colin Powell makes me sad. .....

So I repeat - to the Americans who tried so hard to stop this happening again; I'm sorry. I'm sorrier still to the people of Iraq that we weren't able to stop this terrible thing that has happened to your country and I'm sorry too that it looks so much like none of us could care less.

the anti american shuffle

Shooby dooby doo wah. Shooby dooby doo wop! Come on baby - meet me at the hop. Or we can meet at the polling booth instead, me with my empty heart, you with your empty head! We'll vote for Bush and so we can see another hundred thousand dead. Shooby dooby doo wah! Shooby dooby doo wop! ...............

Okay. That's it. I'm a-comin' out of my anti-american closet. I admit it completely! At this point in time, although I have individual Americans in my life whom I love and respect, as far as America in general goes, I don't much care for it, thanks all the same. ..... Why? Why? Why? I hear them whining. Why don't they like us? To those Americans who really don't understand why the world is so damned angry at you - follow these instructions. Get out your dictionary, if you have one, and turn to the 'H' page. Now find the place where there is a 'y' directly after the 'h'. Pretty soon you will stumble across a word that looks like this - HYPOCRITE. Yes, I know it's a big word and to comprehend the meaning of it requires a certain subtlety of mind that you as yet haven't displayed. But I think it's worth staying on task here and trying to focus. Okay, if you must have a cheeseburger first, do so - but be quick. You don't have much time left to understand what's going on here and even so, it may be too late. I wish I could put some flashing lights and a pretend gun into this page to further assist you in your effort to stay with this tiny foray into self examination. ...... The definition of the word hypocrite in my dictionary is this: a person who pretends to pious, virtuous etc without really being so. ...... Oh, my god! you say, Why would anyone think that about us? We're an open book! Collectively, we are an open library! What you see is what you get! .... The saddest thing is that so many of you truly believe this. .... Your country has now killed, with your weapons of mass destruction, an estimated 100 000* Iraqis, up to two thirds of them women and children. Why have you done this? Well, some days you tell us it's because Saddam Hussein was killing so many innocent Iraqis. Other days, you tell us you have turned your weapons of mass destruction upon this tiny, barely armed country in order to prove that it is wrong to have weapons of mass destruction.

In Vietnam, our countries killed millions of Vietnamese. Millions. And still, thirty years later, you continue to weep and wail and beat your breast about 50 000 American soldiers who shouldn't have been there in the first place! And so, it seems, shall it be in Iraq. Each day, you cry about your thousand dead soldiers. Do you have no shame? YOU started it. The Iraqis have suffered unbelievable losses and still you whine that you are not being appreciated. .... Why should you be the only country in the world allowed to have nuclear weapons? Can you not see the breath taking ARROGANCE of that? America, you are the problem. Your support of the barbaric and brutal Israeli regime while it commits genocide against the unarmed population of Palestine is the problem. ....... And now.... And now..... it seems that you have re-elected the other butcher of Bahgdad. The brown peoples of the world will not comprehend this. Do you know what they see? They see that you think that the murder of 3000 Americans entitles you to kill as many of them as you like without calling it murder, all the while justifying it by saying that God is on your side WHILST, and this is the kicker, accusing them of being fundamentalist madmen. .... Tomorrow I will probably feel different. Tomorrow, I may not consider myself to be anti-american anymore but only anti- Bush. But for now... you and your apathy and your smugness and your conviction of your own superiority and your inherent unacknowledged racism masquerading as virtuous assistance make me sick to my stomach.

Shooby dooby doo wah! Shooby dooby doo wop! They're saying bad things about us. Make them stop! We saved you all in World War 2 / so we can start number 3 if'n we want to.

* Research figures by Johns Hopkins -

Johns Hopkins study finds 100,000 Iraqis, mostly women and children, killed by US forces!
by EMMA ROSS, AP Medical Writer Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004 at 1:32 PM

Designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the study is being published Thursday on the Web site of The Lancet medical journal. The survey indicated violence accounted for most of the extra deaths seen since the invasion, and air strikes from coalition forces caused most of the violent deaths, the researchers wrote in the British-based journal. "Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," they said. Even with Falluja factored out, the survey "indicates that the death toll associated with the invasion and occupation of Iraq is more likely than not about 100,000 people, and may be much higher," the report said. The most common causes of death before the invasion of Iraq were heart attacks, strokes and other chronic diseases. However, after the invasion, violence was recorded as the primary cause of death and was mainly attributed to coalition forces — with about 95 percent of those deaths caused by bombs or fire from helicopter gunships...