Sunday, August 31, 2014

hitler of the weak

We all laugh today at people who are so naive, or badly-informed,or just stoopid, that they still believe in Saddam's WMD, and that they're still hidden away somewhere in the world.

But when friends reach that level of self-satisfacion, or to put even less positive spin on it, smugness, I invariably want to ask them if they learned anything. What I'm asking is "Does this mean that YOU won't be fooled again?"

And since just today, Little Annie Apple Tree did some classic  warmongering in the WaPo, and, among other things, announced the identity of the new Hitler, who of course we'll be looking at for a year or more during the daily two-minutes' hate, it's a good day to ask.

Under a headline which claims the idea of war in Europe is not hysterical, Ms. Applebaum opines a couple paragraphs in: "I realize that this question sounds hysterical, and foolishly apocalyptic, to U.S. or Western European readers. But hear me out..." then goes on to claim that Vlad Putin is the equivalent of Hitler.

Boy, always Hitler. I guess you could say he set the standard, for bad guys. The US has faced a whole string of Hitlers in recent years, each one  badder & more scarier than the last: Osama bin Laden, the untoppable Saddam, Ahmedinejad, and now Putin. It's gotten predictable the way they pop up, always with the same little mustache, the comically bad haircut, and the facial expression that betrays a sexually repressed, sick and twisted mentality. But enough about us -- let's talk about why attacking Putin's Russia is necessary!

The argument boils down to  the threat that Putin poses for all of Europe, bein as how he's lookin for empire, means we gotta be ready to intervene militarily. Because it's like, that's achieved such fantastic results wherever we've been doing it in the world. We've improved life so much in the  Mideast; now it's Europe's turn.

There's one more thing I need to point out about this article: Anne Appelbaum is also Mrs. Radek Sikorska, for she is married to Poland's foreign minister, and became a Polish citizen last year. That makes her a partisan and a participant in one of the oldest European tribal conflicts. I would think the unwritten rules of full disclosure would require the Washington Post to tell us these things, & that failure to reveal them looks very, very bad, as if Applebaum and the Post both have something to hide.

Anyway, the last thing we need right now is another foreign war.We got a few things to settle right here at home, such as determining who it is, exactly, our local cops protect & serve. And suppose old Vlad IS planning an Eastern European "empire?" So how is that different from the Monroe Doctrine?

deep blues

The St. Louis Blues is 100 yrs old.

Composed and arranged by WC Handy in 1914, the song is touted on its original sheet music cover as "The first successful blues published" as well as "The most widely known ragtime composition."

For modern music lovers, that's a confusing blurb, since blues and ragtime sound nothing alike. Yet this strange piece does have elements of blues, mixed with raggy interludes and even a little plagiarism (I recognized "Tuck me to sleep in my old Kaintucky home") among the various themes and modes in the 1914 recording by Handy's orchestra.

"St. Louis" followed Handy's "Memphis Blues" and the "Dallas Blues" by a white composer, Wand Hart. Both were published in 1912, and both are great songs, but neither is actually a blues. Even though Hart attempts a blues-like structure in Dallas's chorus, like Handy's Memphis Blues it remains essentially a fox trot.

The blues -- a series of rhymed couplets in iambic pentameter, with the first line in each stanza repeated, appears prominently for the first time in Handy's pastiche of blues, rags, and pop tunes and lends the song an authenticity earlier efforts lacked. Blues is otherwise noteworthy for its utter lack and total ignorance of romanticism & sentimentality, the characteristics of 19th-century music & culture that cause modern listeners to squirm.

Cultural assimilation is glacially slow. After 1914, 16 years went by  before genuine blues patterns entered the musical mainstream, and another 30 years elapsed before white Americans were ready in large numbers for the "real thing," rural blues from the Mississippi Delta, sung 30 years earlier by Robert Johnson.

It would be impossible to overestimate the effect of the release of the first Robert Johnson LP (Columbia, 1961) had on pop music. The record caused Eric Clapton to retire from the scene for over a year and retool his approach to guitar, incorporating a bottleneck slide.

Once Robert Johnson was a pop sensation, the door was opened for the public to assimilate and appreciate other country blues icons, all long dead but not forgotten: Blind Willie McTell, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Charlie Patton, the latter of whom I think of as the absolute heart of Darkness.

It all started 100 yrs ago with "I hate to see the evenin sun go down."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

привет Москва, до свидания Бирмингем

Not very many people worldwide read this blog. On a good day it might get 100 looks, which isn´t going to  set any records.

The thing is, on a day when catboxx gets 100 looks, 55 or 60 of them are in Russia, not the US.

This surprises me & warms my heart. But why? Maybe it´s because I´ve alwys been annoyed by cold-warism, by teachers telling us those Godless atheistic commies are gonna come over here & eat us. Somehow in my childish wisdom, I knew them Russkis were soft human beings, like us.

And now our masters in the Pentagon are trying to reanimate the corpse of the CCCP, but that's going over like a lead fart mostly. Americans are a little smarter than they yoosta B.

But I digress. What I wanted to ask is whether anyone there might consider dropping me a line, perhaps helping to explain to me why I have a disproportionate number of readers in the land of ice and snow. If it´s in Russian, that´s cool, I can translate. I know Google makes it nearly imposible to leave a comment here, so you can email or touch up on Facebook, where I´m Dave Brice.

And I want u to know Moscow and P'Burg are on my bucket list. Have to be in the summertime though, since my honey and I are allergic to snow and cold.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

program notes

You can´t tell which players are which without a program, and you don't know where you're going without a road map.

A map of the US today would show two regions: Upper U.S. and Whompon U.S.

Upper U.S. is the suburb. It´s Bellevue, or Upper Arlington, or San Anselmo, or any of the places where the men get in cars 
5 days out of 7 and drive a long, tedious commute to "work," while their women stay home, get the kids off to "school" (day prison), then sit around watching daytime TV and making gay potholders out of their husbands old socks.

Whompon U.S. is another story. People tend to spend more time on the streets there, because dwellings are crowded and there´s nowhere else to go. This is inner suburbs, or the parts of big cites that are neither rich nor gentrified...yet. There´s little regular employment except for shit jobs, and Whompon, U.S. can be occupied at a moment´s notice by an army which, though composed of fellow Americans, might as well be from Bulgaria, or Outer Mongolia, or Lower Slobbovia, or Tierra del Locos.

There is no contact and little understanding between the regions of the dis-U.S. of America. And it´s the same between the army which periodically occupies Whompon U.S., and the occupied.

BUT...the reality is that we are all in the trenches.

At a time like this, when Ferguson, Missouri, located, of course, in the Whompon region, is invested by a hostile army, we think of the victims of the occupation as the front line troops in a struggle for democracy and freedom. But the reality is that due to the nature of modern war, we are all, rich and poor, residents of Upper U.S. as well as denizens of Whompon, in the trenches.

If the local police have overpowering weapons such as armoured vehicles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, warfare-grade gases, flash grenades, rubber bullets and wooden discs, how much more powerful are the weapons of the national police force, i.e., the standing military?

Even though the entire world is in the front lines of any nuclear exchange, we tend to never think about the meaning of nuclear weapons, because actually using them is literally unthinkable.

But we need to think about them, because this is reality. And survival.

The Calculus of Destruction

Little Boy, the bomb with which the U.S. destroyed Hiroshima 69 years ago, yielded 13 to 18 kilotons of explosive force. So let´s say a 15 kiloton bomb, which is 15,000 tons of TNT = 15,000 x 2,000 = 30 million pounds of fresh dynamite, less than a pound of which (one stick) would blow a good-size hole in the house you're sitting in right now.

                                                                           LittleBoy / Fat Man

The Fat Man bomb, dropped on Nagasaki a couple days after we nuked hiroshima, yielded a harvest of 21 kilotons, somewhat larger than the previous one. However, these were both tiny little nukes compared to the big boys of our own generation. The smallest warhead carried today by our fleet of Trident Nuclear submarines is the 100-kiloton W76, while the W88 tips the scale at 450 kilotons. A single W88 warhead is 30 times the size of the bomb that leveled Nagasaki, shown here the day after it was destroyed by a lone aircraft dropping a single bomb.

We tend not to think about those earlier bombings too much because they happened "a long time" ago. Few of us ever reflect that even thinking about using those earlier, comparatively tiny weapons was  brash, unwholesome, and awesomely perverted. But Harry Truman went further, and actually pulled the trigger. This also set a horrible precedent; henceforth no one could pretend that there was no one in the world crazy enough to actually use nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon, in its mission to protect and serve the citizens of the U.S., is currently deploying 22 Ohio-class nuclear submarines, powered by nuclear generators, enabling them to stay submerged at sea for months at a time. Each is armed with up to 24 Trident missiles; each of these missiles carries up to four independently-targetable re-entry vehicles, and each of these is tipped with a nuclear warhead with a "yield" of between 100 and 450 kilotons, each many times the size of Little Boy and Fat Man.

We could go on to multiply the number of warheads per ship (up to 96) times the number of boats (22), and factor in the total kilotonnage and megatonnage, but that would be depressing, and we already know enough to know what must be done.

The only way most of us are able to deal with this information is to put it our of our minds, but that´s no answer. The biggest monsters have already been defanged -- at one time the U.S. deployed weapons with "yields" of 9,000 kilotons, one of which might have been suficient to bring on nuclear winter. We backed away from that cliff, at least -- all of the super-nukes were decomissioned some time back. But anyone who thinks that our systems are fail-safe, ad there won´t ever be a catastrophic accident with these fkng things is makng like Pollyanna. We've already come way too close way too many times, and the only good thing about such an occurrence is that the survivors would finally be forced to wake up to the reality caused by complacency, which plays us very false.

But we don´t have to wait. Kos ran an article yesterday which detailed how the residents of Ferguson,  Missouri, if they got their shit together and worked united, could fire the entire police force of their town, and hire a new one. We could get rid of nuclear weapons tomorrow, if most of us simply decided it was going to happen. We really don´t have to live this way.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

the sultans of swat

Welcome to a new era of American policing, where cops increasingly see themselves as soldiers occupying enemy territory, often with the help of Uncle Sam’s armory, and where even nonviolent crimes are met with overwhelming force and brutality. (ACLU's Matthew Harwood @ TomDispatch).
 There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, you can't take part. And you've got to put your body upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. (Mario Savio, author of UC Berkeley's Free Speech Movement, 1963)
Become an internationalist and learn to respect all life. Make war on machines. And in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them. (Abbie Hoffman, activist)

This would be one thing if Ferguson were in a war zone, or if protesters were violent — although, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which American police would need a mine-resistant vehicle. But an episode of looting aside, Ferguson and St. Louis County police aren’t dealing with any particular danger. Nonetheless, they’re treating demonstrators — and Ferguson residents writ large — as a population to occupy, not citizens to protect. (Jamalle Boule in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

I suppose it was inevitable that the War on Terror, like the War on Drugs, would become a War on American Citizens. In fact, it was from the beginning. And in any War on American Citizens, America's minority communities are the front line. (Mark Summer @

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace, but there is no peace... (Patrick Henry)

At the website Naked Capitalism,  Lambert Strether asks, 'Will the  political class of today ever  admit the U.S. lost the two major land wars they got us into?" then answers his own question: "Sure! On the 1st of Never."

Having lost in Iraq & Afghanistan, but still looking to let out no-bid contracts to their fat friends, since that, not victory, is the real objective of the U.S.'s war machine today, our political class has decided to continue the war on our own ground. They've sent innumerable armies among us, armed with humvees, grenade launchers, machine guns, racial animosity and ethnic chauvinism. Police departments nationwide are now fully equipped to continue their War on Terror right here in the USA. (Originally it was called the War on Drugs, but they lost that one, too.)

If it's war they want, we'll bring it. Keeping in mind that there's no way we can ever hope to prevail in a hardware war, we'll need to fall back on the strategy and tactics taught to us by Mr. Gandhi, via Dr. King, and lie down on the pavement. The neighborhoods, those places I still call "the ghetto" are the front lines, and we'll have to be willing to become martyrs along with the the people who live there if it's required of us. We'll also have to take the war to the enemy, in his precinct stations, bomb factories (Pantex, Amarillo, Texas), nuclear firepower depots (the Trident bases in Bangor, Washington, and Camden County, Georgia), and it will require are opening the doors of the endless interstate gulag where the best of our soldiers are warehoused by the millions -- young black men doing 10,20, or 30 years for possession of a joint.

It'll be a long war.. I don't expect it to be concluded in my lifetime, but one can hope, 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Reform happens in two ways:

Through legal channels and legislatures, laws are altered which make possible that which was formerly impossible, such as total disarmament.

Hermann Scheer, a German Social Democrat accomplished this by mostly single-handedly converting his country to a commitment to 100% renewable energy. Concluding that energy gerneration was the main cause of global climate change early in his career, Scheer worked the rest of his life first laying the legal and economic foundations that would make 100% renewable energy possible, and then getting the laws passed which require it.

That kind of work is extremely difficult at best, and impossible for some of us. It requires sitting in endless meetings, listening patiently to the trumped-up concerns of people on oil company payrolls, and suffering partial defeats while remaining alive to fight another day. Anyone who truly wants reform will avoid from the "politics is bullshit" temptation, because unless someone is willing to submit to the compromises, forced cordiality, and choreographed pecking-order rituals ojf political life, reform can´t happen.

Politics is truly working within the system.

The other thing that makes reform possible is social agitation, disorder, riots, and anarchy. Street war, the weapon of demoralized proles who have nothing left to lose, causes oligarchs and dictators to doubt themselves, and pressures the established order from the outside. The qualities that make an effective agitator are the diametrical opposite of those possessed by an effective politician.

The US is Ground Zero in the struggle for reform, and Ground Zero is doing the best political work I've seen in promoting the necessity of disarming. The political functioning of the Ground Zero organzatin consists mostly of graying rich and middle-class liberals. Some would call them Baby Boomers, and politics is an older person's game. The agitation function of the organization is less clear than I had hoped, and I believe needs to define its objectives. If disarmament is necessary to survival, and I agree that it is, then pressure from outside the established order must be brought, as quickly, forcefully, and unexpectedly as possible. Politics alone won´t get the job done.

Search through history and find the roster of dominant institutions -- governments, churches, etc. -- that reformed themselves from the inside. Such a list doesn´t exist, so far as I know. It never happened.

Next year is the 70th anniversary of the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The US was the world´s only nuclear power then, is still the largest by far, and still out of control. The Trident Nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Washington, is home to maybe 1/4th ofthe kilotons with which we have concluded our murder-suicide pact with the world. Eight Ohio-class submarines dock there; each is capable of carrying 24 Trident missiles, each of which can be fitted with four independently-targetable vehicles, each tipped with a nuke. That´s 96 nukes per boat (potentially -- I don´t know what these vessels typically carry) times 8 boats = 768 nukes.

The  problem: nobody seems to know; nobody seems to care. People need to know, and wake up to the danger all of us are in. If the legal groundwork is laid, reform can occcur overnight. It won´t happen without pressuring the oligarchy, to where they can´t sleep at night. Our message to them:
Planet Earth -- love it or leave it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

нашим читателям в pоссии

Porfirio Diaz. Presidente de Mexico, 1876-1880 and 1884-1911 

If you´re not aleady reading Dmitri Orlov´s blog,, you should be. Lately, since the trouble in Ukraine has snowballed out of control and anti-Russianism is higher in the US than at any time since the cold war sputtered out, Orlov, who left the Soviet Union at age 12 in 1974, and sees the same fate for the US. Orlov has concentrated on analyzing relations between the two countries, with the EU stuck on the hind tit and watching the heavyweights to see which way this will go.

Vladimir Putin, the Czar of all the Russias, for his part has been the picture of restraint and self'-efacement, as Obama & the rest of the clowns in the US polititical apparatus try to outdo each other in their condemnations of ¨The Russian dictator¨ and his flocks of syncophants, and proposing new, harsher, and more suicidal economic sanctions.

Putin, who finally ran out of patience and put countersanctions in place, doesn´t have to worry, and he doesn´t. When you´re he world's biggest oil producer nobody can do much to you (unless they can live without oil), and politically he´s still in his salad days. His dictatorship is approaching its tenth year, still in the ¨honeymoon¨ period. My observation of dicatorships.going back to Ollie Cromwell and a couple thousand years beyond is that they´ve got shelf lives of 30 years or so. The first 10 everybody loves Dick, and they tell each other he's the hottest thing since spicy guacamole. From years 10 to 20, it´s touch-and-go. After 20 years his beloved people are waitiing for the old dog to leave, one way or the other. If he´s still around after 30 years of rule, he has to be helped toward the exit.

Its the fortunate dictator who dies before he´s held power for 20 years -- the late Mr Chavez is a good example. Russians and Venezuelans will be quick to point out that both Putin and Chavez were popularly elected to their positions, but almost all of them start out that way -- as reformers. Porfirio Diaz of Mexico was beloved by his people, and modernized Mexican infrastructure, economy, & military. Under Diaz, the country for the first time truly became the United Sates of Mexico. But he stayed on the job too long, & by the time he left, feeling agaist him was universal. The old war horses never know when to quit, & feign blindness to the corruption that inevitably overtakes their administrations.

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is now 34 years the dictator, and so far past his pull date he´s stinky Limburger. That´s the same length of time we´ve been ruled by a tyrranical oligarchy in this country. So I realize an oligarchy is not the same as a dictatorship, since no single individual bends the nation and people to his will. However, the tyrrany is as great as that of Robert Mugabe or Vlad the Impaler, beginning in 1980 with the elevation of St. Ronald the Good and Great to the presidency, which might  easily and appropriately be renamed The Office of the Head Bullshitter.
                     With the oligarchy now so far past its viable shelf life it´s stinking up the globe, the US is in its death spiral. Orlov has known this since he got here years ago and began looking around. Americans are mostly impervious to reality these days, but as the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick once said, "Reality is the one thing that, when you stop believing in it, it doesn´t go away." Orlov's hypothesis relates back to his own experience as the old CCCP unraveled, and he knows what even school kids now know  hang on to any gold and silver you have, and get more now while it´s cheap.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I was thinking about past anti-war demonstrations I've participated in as I made the short drive to Poulsbo, Washington today. Motoring along in bright sunshine through cathedrals of Doug fir, hemlock, and cedar, I concluded it had been 44 years since my last demo, at Stop the Draft Week in Oakland, 1967.

My memory was faulty -- that happens a lot these days -- but in this case I know why. There were thousands of us on the streets of Oaktown that day, fully expecting to be charged and clobbered by the Oakland  cops, many of whom were recruited to the OPD from the deep South. They were younger men who loved hippie punching, and many of them were looking forward to a repeat of the action two days previous, when a line of Oakland's finest charged the crowd, which was attempting to block access to the Oakland Induction Center, and scattered it with flailing clubs, leaving blood, broken eyeglasses, hair, and a few injured bodies in their wake. 

But even a conservative police chief has to remember that public relations demands one abstain from unnecessary brutality, and the press is always watching. People all over the US were outraged by film of the Police attacking demonstrators. When the crowd swelled to about 4 thousand  by late afternoon, We were surprised to see the line of cops back off. I was near the front, and for the next couple of hours no one came or went through the Induction Center's main door, since (I later learned) demonstrators on streets a block away had barricaded the buses full of draftees from approaching the Center. 

Then, late in the afternoon, down the street comes the California National Guard, with bayonets fixed. Many of us had been there since before dawn, and prudently decided to call it a day. 

As I drove home on this calm and bright Saturday afternoon, it occurred to me that I've been to several such events since 1967, but  they were all sedate affairs compared to the '67 rising. The liveliest one was the most recent, 8 years ago in Seattle, and I wrote it up for the other blog, newser style.

Today's march and demo was a placid affair, consisting of a mile-plus march along the side of the road from the Ground Zero organization's site to the Bangor Trident Submarine base. Arriving at the base, I noticed that the leaders of ground zero are on cordial terms with the police -- in this case the State Patrol -- and that the cops knew exactly how this would go. There were maybe 50 people in this demonstration, and half a dozen of us got cited for attempting to block traffic in a choreographed sort  of interlude, (I was one) although there was precious little to traffic to block, and we were into, and out of the street before anyone's progress into or out of the base was interfered with.

Nearly all the demonstrators were over 50, and the organizational leadership is all 60 or more. I heard one leader noting the cost of printing leaflets, and remarked to myself that "leaflet" sounds awfully 20th century. These are solid people -- the kind you'd meet at a Universalist-Unitarian Church, and I'll bet there's quite a lot of overlap there -- and the organization is characterized by the same careful politeness, attention to protocol, and scrupulous commitment to non-violence as any UU church. I liked everyone I met, and I met quite a few.

However, 50 people turning out at the Trident base to protest nuclear weapons is pretty sad. The leaders say they want more young people at these things, but do they? I could probably recruit a couple hundred young, hoody-clad, unemployed 20-somethings to show up, but they would be hard to control. Even if they behave immaculately on that occasion, the youth of America these days  are dangerous  and unpredictable, because they have nothing to lose. The leaders of Ground Zero, if such a thing was to happen next year, would quickly find themselves on the WSP's shit list.

I've been in the habit of writing once a week lately, but tomorrow, I'd like tell why I think next year's 70th anniversary of  the doomsday bomb at the Trident nuclear sub base is so extremely important to this country.

Photo © Dave B.,a.k.a. Catboxer 2009, 2014.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

hiroshima week

(Being a fragment of an interminable conversation at F***b***k.)

Ron, I think the parallels between then & now are enormous, and everywhere.

How did Lincoln see the Civil War? As the war went on and the lists of dead and maimed grew beyond what anybody thought possible, he came to see it as a blood sacrifice demanded by the god he worshiped, the God of the Israelites, of Abraham and Isaac.

Slavery, he concluded, was a sin so abominable, and we had gone on with it so long, that normal acts of penance couldn't wash it away. God demanded blood, and bodies. Think I´m all wet? Read or listen closely to the short speech at Gettysburg.

Fast forward to America´s second great sin. It began at Hiroshima, exactly 69 years ago next Wednesday. And we´ve obstinately clung to our god of war way too long. Like slavery, the war machine will destroy us if we don´t pull it out by the roots. 

Maybe, as Nietzsche once wrote, God is dead. But the fact is, Nietzsche is dead, and if there is a god, he, she, or it will require a sacrifice.

Think of it like you would an amputation. Why amputate a limb? To save a life, obviously.

And by the way Ron, guess what flag I fly in front of my house? It might surprise you. Oh, and I tried to read Saul Alinsky once, cause wingnuts kept telling me I´m a disciple. He was a crashing bore, and not radical in the least.