Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Million Miles a Minute Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Does the Democratic Party Have a Future?

Does the Democratic Party Have a Future?

by: Alexis E. Santi

Half of the nation follows the leadership of a splintered, dysfunctional Democratic Party. Their message is erratic, off point, and holds no shared value structure. The Democrats are contrasted by a Republican Party that is well organized, thoroughly ruthless with a well defined, bullish and crude message. The Democrats have allowed themselves to be made into the “other”, a position allowing the rapid marginalization of a steadily growing number of constituents that no longer know what their party stands for and are gravitating to Republican leadership. The Democratic Party structure and mores are based on models left over from an era of Kennedy style politics and an industrial economy, the only ability they have to win elections is the triumph over the personal and the personal is not enough to win a contemporary election. At the time when our nation is rapidly trying to define itself in a post 9/11 world, our country has never needed an alternative point of view more. The Democratic Party is failing in that battle to define its position, itself and the new; if something does not change the fabric of this country will be forever changed.

The Democrats reached this point as a result of its history and time. The 90’s were boom times for the Democratic Party, with Clinton in the White House, a booming economy and record surpluses. The 90’s were also a time when a little movement that started off as a quirky linguistic movement and spread to a social political movement: Political Correctness, or PC. The 90’s reentered American’s thoughts on the issues of the “so called” minority classes: the poor, women, people of color, the disabled, and so on. The focus of Political Correctness sought out to right for Americans to communicate more effectively.

The party didn’t last for long though, with the 21st century, America ushered in a backlash to this “PC” world, the Republicans got hold of something big and it only takes looking at your newspaper today to realize what they got a hold of are now called “wedge issues”. We know language matters and the Republican Party, knew, that the PC world left someone out, left a population that had to make recourse in this linguistic/social moment. Young, rich white men were marginalized by this ultra pc world and were infuriated and chose not to buy into it. If you take a look at the great shapers of the Republican Party today, Karl Rove, Grover Norquitst or Jack Abramoff and you see the roots of their training in the party young Republican clubs from college 10-20 years ago, an environment the pc liberal college campuses of the 80’s and 90’s was a hard place to be your, rich, white and Republican.

Today, when I watch Fox news I’m reminded of these young, white men who went to college with me. Then, they hated Bill & Hilary, they still do mind you, yet, now I find their arguments on TV. You hear the terms, liberal PC tree huggers. Liberal propaganda. Crunchy PC hippies. Birkenstock wearing, Communist naïve pigs. A foreign policy that includes “nurturing or therapy”. Social causes that may require equitable tax proposals, or suggestions that your average American works too much, for too little, are simply either called “French” or “un-American statements” that seek to tax and spend. Today’s so called “Republican Revolution” was not a “Revolution” it was a backlash to an extended Political Correct debate that went over board, abused by both sides of the aisle for profit.

The mistake the Democrats made, the mistake the entire country made in the 90s was that the disparate social groups fought on their own, for their own rights, their own piece of the pie by themselves (never realizing that oppression is oppression and they had more to gain together than alone) and wound up fighting for crumbs instead. Rather than concentrate on formulating a true left wing coalition policy, the Democratic Party faltered, never turning the corner ignoring their constituents and the new face of the party. A group that was melded in democratic and libertarian principles has increasingly sounded conciliatory or, worse, uttering or crafting watered down conservative policy.

The past is the past, or rather the present is the present, and the question is how do you fix it? The Democratic Party must reach out to the various molds of the party in the same fashion that the Republicans had. Contest elections based on what the people in each area want, not what the party wants and accept the fact that the Democratic Party is not “any one thing” in the same way the Republican Party is not. The Republicans felt there were three mini circles of the party that overlapped: fiscal conservatives, the religious right, and gun owners. The Republicans are a loose collective of conservative libertarians, the rich (or fiscally conservative) and the quasi-Evangelicals under the banner of the government staying out of their lives. The new faces of the Democratic Party as well in three groups are the Social Liberals, the Libertarian Democrats, and the Greens. Social liberals are a group that doesn’t mind a responsible tax structure, they’d like the government to do more, but to do it well, and they’d like expanded healthcare, retirement. Libertarian Democrats, this group in fact, has more in common with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party as they don’t want the government in their lives, they are the liberals who want their guns but don’t want to hear a politicians granting one freedom only to take away other measures. Finally, the third group, the Greens is environmental supporters, the recyclers, the people who want the land the way it is, and care about living responsibility living on this world. This is a diverse group of individuals that is bound by one overarching point of view. Yet, the Republican Party is just as diverse, contains just as many disparate messages. The difference though is that while the Republican Party is steeped in egregious accounts of hubris, including, a massive deficit, misleading the country to war, outing CIA agents for political reasons and rampant nepotism we at least know what they stand for.

Each member of the Democratic Party must cater to both: their constituents and their particular needs inside of the community, they are all bound by a shared principle of an American government that is for the people and is not for perpetuating their own wealth and corruption. In the same way that the Republicans differ from state to state, the Democrats must accept a broad understanding and definition of this adapting social, libertarian and environmental agenda. Whereas, the Republicans unified their groups under the banner of having the Government to stay out of their lives, the Democrats must unite under a Banner of Government responsibility, efficiency, and honesty for the country’s future. It may very well spell the end of the Democratic Party as we know it, but then again, what really do we have today anyway?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Brandy Maker Posted by Hello

The Online Guillotine

“ A low that appears as if our world, our humanity, has entered a pervasively shrouded dark age where we can witness in real-time, our descent swapped online.”

The Online Guillotine
Alexis E. Santi

Last night, on a binge of too much coffee and incessant wondering about the war I journeyed to a P2P network online. These P2P networks are the place where illegal traders are hunted down by the Recording industry that are looking for a free version of Jay Z’s “dirt on your shoulder” or Britney’s latest single, “Everytime.” It is a silly, time consuming activity surfing on these P2P networks where files are swapped from the latest video game, to bootleg shaky cameras of blockbuster movies that begin on the streets of New York, and end up, thrown to anyone with a high speed internet connection. It is also, the only place where you can find the last moments of Daniel Berg’s life with only a few clicks of the button.

It seemed silly, stupid really, a group of masked men standing reading into the camera. With a man with a beard and an orange jump suit sitting down in front of them with his knees upward, arms tied behind his back. Berg’s voice is familiar, an accent which we understand, as our own, our own American intonations are spread through the various words. He finishes.

A single man speaks, in chanting type of Arabic to the camera. The camera is steady and held back over 10 feet away. The men all wear black fatigues and masks of varying colors; there are five of them: red, white, yellow, and black. They wear flak jackets looked like, well, goofy. They stretched their arms and were fidgety throughout their speech, they moved and acted not as cold-blooded killers, but as young men that should have been somewhere else – like a soccer field awaiting to be picked for one team, or the other. At one point the man in the center, standing over Daniel Berg got lost in his notes and shuffled papers back and forth. The camera continued to roll, this appeared to be a one-take type of session, there were not multiple angles or extensive positioning and noted ques that would have allowed a director to shout out “cut, we’re going to have to do it all over again.”

Suddenly though, while you are watching it – there are screams, there is a knife that is sliding across Berg’s throat as the camera is picked up swirling through the screams it focuses downward towards the body of a man. The screams stop and the man who had read from cryptic, hard to follow notes is butchering him. Blood is flowing across the floor – more chanting, and shouting occurs. He is pulling the head, while cutting away. It is detached at last. Then held in front of the camera.

I have never seen death recorded on camera. I have never seen death, at all in my life. I am also, not familiar with torture, with imprisonment. My generation’s great wars were played on video games and action movies. The state of our humanity has ebbed at a new low with both, the Polaroid’s of prisoners from Abu Gharib prison, and the subsequent decapitation of Daniel Berg. A low that appears as if our world, our humanity, has entered a pervasively shrouded dark age where we can witness in real-time, our descent, swapped online.

I turned off the movie player open. I sat there, in my chair, my fan whirling next to me pushing the humid DC air around my apartment, the glow of my computer screen lighting up my face. I clicked a feature on this P2P service, which allows me to see what files are being queried screen opens up and the searches appear scrolling downward, one word, or two at a time. Berg. Decapitation. Beheading. Daniel, Iraq. Porn. Sex. Berg. Abu Gharib. Berg, Iraq. Over, and over again.

future Posted by Hello

Generation 2.0

"Most of my generation would rather fight for a demographic right to marry than for the liberty that protects them. Most of my generation would rather fight over who knew what about Sept. 11 than chase down its perpetrators. Most of my generation would rather fight for their "right to choose," while denying it to the innocent, than place their own lives on the line so that this and future generations may enjoy the same free choices. Have we lost our love of liberty or forgotten that our right to choices was paid for by the blood of those great Americans who have gone before us?"

A segment from, On the Record, frm, The Hill, Albert Eisele’s editor’s column -
Stephen Aaron, contributing writer, June 16th, 2004

Generation 2.0
Alexis E. Santi

I have a slight trouble with this logic but on the whole the writer provides a powerful articulation of what I have been hearing my whole life, only with new terms, and a new backdrop spliced in. I have studied, talked about and wondered out loud about our generation for literally now a dozen years, wondering what our mark will be. Much movie headway has made it into the screen, ala of the Fight Club sort, but let me run wild with this and see where it ends up.

Herein lies the contradiction: by continuing to fight for greater access, information, understanding, beliefs we are in some way turning our heads away from freedoms and liberties. By questioning authority, and the status quo, in the same way that generations before us did so we are then guilty of a consumer-culture-like-mind of not working for the greater ideals. I find it interesting that the writer will go on, not to serve in the military, or into intelligence services, or stay inside the beltway to articulate a direction forward with what our generation should stand for -- but, of all things, go to South Carolina and work as a wildlife lobbyist, a noble quest, of course, yet, I dare ask though “kettle, black?” With that said though, I will say something a bit sophomoric, why can we not have it both ways? why not both, why not use all of our mirrors to drive on the road to the future so-to-speak, the side view mirrors, and the rear-view if we can afford all of them? Why not find out what happened before 9/11 and invest heavily in counter-intelligence agents who would be able to infiltrate al Qeyda? Is there something, dare I ask, wrong with trying to find out if there are ways to protect our nation better? Is there is a way to think our way through what happened?

Our generation is a generation which has faced the shroud of pain from generations before us, the mere thought of living up to our grandparents, or our parents for that matter is a type of monumentally troubling thought. The mantel (of the fighters of Vietnam, and WWII) is nearly impossible to earn in many eyes, in the years they had their victories, our same victories came from the safety of our living room and TV screen, and there is often this whisper about "us" that we are no good slackers, that have no clue about life, or the world.

Let me point something out here though: we, as a generation face further doubt and dismay than any other generation before us. What need proof? We have of course, the as of yet incurable disease of AIDS which has ravaged an entire generation, international hunger and 24/7 impact of images from strife around the world (remember We are the World?,) then there's the spiraling out-of-control national debt which looms on all of us, each citizen born with a debt of what, 24,000 dollars and unable for any of us to pay off, nuclear weapons that we fear landing in roving terrorists hands, the drug war, racial injustice and the pervasive gangbanging drug smothered youth of the inner city, the collapse of the educational system, 44 million Americans without health insurance, the teetering collapse of particular world markets (Japan and Russia come to mind) cancer eating away the older generations, homelessness, the fall of the Berlin wall and restructuring of Europe, a life almost entirely rife without an overriding political agenda (communism) that played contrary to our way of life, and now a "war on terror." It is all rolled into us, the next generation to lead, a generation that has inherited, and I do mean inherited, a world of problems, and then told we don't have a chance at solving them, worse we've been labeled as incompetent.

We are a generation raised by TV, movies, a generation of adapters from TV screens, to tape players, to CD players, to online servers, to email, to Xbox controllers, backward compatible to Nintendo, to HD TV, to On Demand, digital, wireless, cell phones, DVD, Palms, secure IDs, blogspots, blogrolls, faxes, blipping, phone connections, Blackberry -- we don't speak French or Spanish, we speak IT, we speak a language of Windows, Apple, Word Documents, Excel charts. We move between platforms, phones, we juggle everything at the same time going a million miles a minute, as we listen to an Ipod with one ear, and keep the wires hanging out of the other ear talking on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette with sunglasses on at the same time running a million miles a minute.

We are not a generation that can be easily defined, and I would argue we are not even a generation, we are a version of a humanity, version 2 point 0, downloadable firmware available at the click of a button. No other generation, none, had to deal with such a revolution of lifestyle changes -- the car -- the phone -- the plane – please, give me a break. Yet despite all of that we've been medicated, drugged, thrown into psychiatric clinics, told that we have something wrong with us, the water, the hormones, the special sauce, all of it that we've been fed for all our years on this earth.

We are a generation of volunteers, at a greater level than any other of any other time period or culture: this generation goes out and fights because they want to, not because they were drafted into doing it, imagine, if you will, if we were to have fought WWII, or Vietnam on a volunteer basis, what would've they said about those generations? We are a generation that faces the troubles of invisible wars, fought in other worlds; we know the land of Iraq and Afghanistan better than we know the land of Washington state. We don't believe in any one man or woman of this generation being cannon fodder. Vietnam taught us that.

We volunteer in other lands, and do something crazy like live at the same level as the local population and help them, learn their languages, and sit with them and try to teach them new things, and they try to teach us new things as well. We are a generation of hope, a generation that all has their own truth, a knowledge base which is supplemented by each and everyone of each other's lives and thoughts and IMing messages flipped on a screen for 14 hours a day, and when we can't find exactly what we want we look for it online, and find it, just where 5,000,000 other people looked in the last 14 seconds on Google.

We want everything, we want it all, we choose both, we choose Republican, we choose Democrat, and we choose Green and Libertarian, and we choose America, because that's what is great about this generation, that is what is so great about all of us all the ideas, all of the thoughts, all of the wonders, all of the arguments, all of the talks, all of the debates, all of what older generations believe is so cut and dry. We hate hypocrites, we hate liars, and we hate the destruction of our way of life -- these things, our generation cannot live with.

So ask me -- what is that we are against? We are against being defined in simple terms, and we are against lacking a choice in our lives. 9/11 brought an entire generation together, it is, without debate the greatest rocking moment that any of us, any of us. From the elder generations it is one of a list, when Kennedy got shot, or when Pearl Harbor was bombed it is written down sharing company, for us it is the list, the list completely. Everything else, beheadings live streamed, bombings, presidential deaths, births -- nothing will ever compare -- and in all of our minds if we could we would've used all of our collective beauty about the world to prevent it from happening, we would've, we want to, we want the Twin Towers to be rebuilt twice as high, right now, at a click of a button, and we hate the very fact that it doesn't go up, now, right now, in this instant and we of all people, of all generations have to wait for that skyline to be filled again. Al Qedya did not attack our government, they did not attack a Republican president, they did not attack any of that -- you do not feel something more about 9/11 depending about your religion, or party affiliation. Al Qedya attacked one thing, and they gave it a swift quick, a kick I felt from my apartment in Romania, a kick, a slap, a gunshot wound, a cut across my chest which you can all see because I am pouring all of this out to you that I have still not recovered from, an attack against our very way of life.

A way of life which is built on our idealism to think through our divides, to think through our problems, to believe that we are capable of great things, and the problems that the world that we, yes WE will find solutions to: AIDS, Cancer, civil strife, world hunger, rebuilding economies. For that reason, and many more I do not believe in labeling this generation and I believe we are saving the world, as we speak, in everything that we do - because to face all that we face, and be told we can't possibly hand it, and not become completely and utterly insane - is the miracle of our generation; our battlefield, is our very way of life.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

On Our Way Posted by Hello

'When We Fought With Radicals'

Tora Bora, 1982.
Communists surround the mountain
balancing all that is on our back
and all that we have in front of us
we hop hop hop
from rock to a
that eventually slides
crack as the
trigger pins pulled

fire is tossed spinning
up along
all around
and the wondrous view epileptically shaking
around us in 360 degrees
sun goes down
sun goes
then the crest is attained

the cherub bushes that stand off on the
edges of my periphery
stare like Mexican peasants standing
with blankets over shoulders
all in green
worshiping the descent of
the world’s great sacrifices are always
told in the footnotes
received in a volcano
they are expecting the miracle
to brush across the side of their face
a blessing

He is also an observer here
but the connection
between the two
of us freedom fighters
separated by religion and culture
and the sound of the fallout
of the blast now
brings the two of us together,
one mission under God.


*This poem 'When We Fought With Radicals' orginally appeared in, it was chosen as poem of the week at 6/14/2004.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Steeples by J. "Roy" Campbell Posted by Hello

Generally Speaking

"The great sadness of our generation is not that we are unable to change the world it is that we have been muzzled from doing so."

Generally Speaking
By: Alexis E. Santí

I come from the generation of GI Joe and Transformers action figures. Star Wars; a good & a dark side. There always was an enemy, there was always good there was always evil. I have been raised and fed this message time and time again. I grew up where the world of my passivity gave way to commercial breaks. This is the commercial break. And this is what I have to say:

I am from the generation of cynicism. I have always lived in the world of strife of worlds digitally connected, of computers blipping and screaming at us loudly. Things got easier. Things got more complicated. I have been cast away, tossed aside by the elite. My purpose has been undefined I am the heir to the throne of millions of dead dying of AIDS, cancer, heart disease and obesity. At birth my great inheritance was the debt of my country. I am depressed. Medicated. Scared and proud.

I am a generation; I am a single voice that speaks. You will hear my voice; you will feel the words spilling out into the page, for these words were drawn from the blood of my tears. I am apologizing. I have been long been silent, my voice ignored and I have been labeled with an X.

I am the future of America, and I will no longer remain silent. My pain is the pain of millions like me who have popped the pills we were offered as a child. We have no war to fight; the terror is our own lives a fear of a future that remains unseen and undiscovered. There are thousands just like me across America today unemployed, underemployed, employed leading pathetic lives that they do not believe that they were supposed to live. The America that their youth promised them is unfulfilled. They are tired of waiting, they are ready, and they are hungry. We are tired of your half-truths. The politics of daily life that have invaded every inch of our sense of decency.

A world where honor and trust has been lost to cronyism and bigger businesses getting bigger and then heading abroad. Our icons have marketed themselves without the desire or intent to move our lives to a better place. While our schools fail we remain convinced that our tax dollars would go towards saving it, when the only thing saved is the pocket change of the privileged. Cynicism has become the great cancer of our generation; it is a sickness that is eating away at the inside of our bodies, and the inside of our souls.

The great sadness of our generation is not that we are unable to change the world it is that we have been muzzled from doing so. We are passionate, articulate, and emblazoned to change the world while the men and women we have watched publicly serving us have paid lip service to our mores and gone along the same road, long paved. They have proved that back room deals and side stepping values will pay off in the long run. They have waged war against our generation, a generation of nameless citizens that grew up fighting wars in their mind. Their great battles seen on the computer screen, for reality held nothing for them. TV shows emerged attempting to prove that our voyeurism of other’s lives may prove to make up for what our lives lack.

I am calling for an end. I am calling for a new beginning. I am calling for the end of divisions and divisiveness that seeks to attack legitimate leaders for illegitimate means. I am calling for a leader of our generation that knows of our pain and has personally struggled against the same system. I am calling for a warrior who knows the depth of humanity. He has taken life. He has given life. He inspires. He weeps freely and does not judge others nor seeks to destroy their lives, but seeks to make them believe in the world we were promised as children and we are on the verge of losing. A leader who will not be mocked for understanding the complexity of the world, but who leads the country in complex times. A multi-linguist. An inspiration not corrupted by the cancer eating away at our society and our political system. Someone who saved thousands from the holocaust of ignorance.

A hero of a war that our generation has been told to hate. A man who can ease our pain and unite our country to greatness. He will repair the fellowship that was cast aside for immediate gains, in favor of the future of our country, and the good of the world.

We can die meaning something; the great society that was built will be rebuilt. We are no longer playing games with the toy soldiers of our youth. The future of our generation is firmly on our shoulders, it is time to choose the man who we were promised as children would lead our country. A generation is speaking, a generation is crying. A generation is torn by the reality of our state, and all that will become of it if we do not act now. Our greatness will depend on a leader –our generation will step forward into its rightful place in destiny, they are led by a General, General Clark.

* I served as one of the DC coordinators of General Clark's bid for presidency, this homage to Clark was orginally posted on the Clark04 blog. and on another site dedicated to ex-deaniacs that supported Clark. I currently support Kerry's bid for the presidency though have not been as active in his campaign as Clark's. 6/29/04

#20/Apt.40 Posted by Hello

Kazaa and the Evil it Makes Us Do

"In the double zero years power & access are what it is all about. Our generation didn’t go to the zoo we wanted the zoo. The Internet is our generation’s great social equalizer; we want what you have always had."

Kazaa and the Evil it Makes Us Do
Alexis E. Santí

We want what you have always had. We want the music, movies, software, and porn. We want it all, and we want it zipping into our computers in high-speed, cable modems, blipping streaming, gurgling, sucking sucking sucking it all down like the super-sized Coke™ we have been nursing on our whole lives, twaddle around the ice and suck it again. Kazaa, Napster- whatever you want to call it, is the straw of our Generation X and what you take away today, will be rebuilt tomorrow.

We have been saturated with Mass Media our entire lives. Having spent our formative years connected to video games, movies, radio; at our middle school dances we learned how to do the “Hammer”, screaming “Like a prayer” at the top of our lungs. MTV fulfilled all our fantasies; it told my generation that if all the worlds a stage, then we were part of the great stage of entertainment. But we wanted more, more {insert slurping sound here.}

I lost my Internet virginity when I sat in a small computer room in college, a world of news, art, stories, and images exploded over my screen. I was online, it was the nineties, and becoming part of the Internet revolution meant I suddenly had access to it all, I had control, and I was no longer changing the channel. I was clicking, expanding, moving, printing, saving and consuming everything I wanted. I was online, it was mine, all mine!

The Internet became how I communicated with friends, family, and strangers, the world! It became my rec room, my library, my dictionary, my encyclopedia, my photo album, my calendar, and my cookbook. It became my entertainment center, complete with movies, music, stories of the stars – the digital images replaced the channeling TV generation. The seemingly unquenchable “Entertain me!” thirst of an entire generation at work on one machine, the CPU connected to the great World Wide Web.

We consume the images of Beyoncé exiting a jet she arrived in NY for free, stepping out of a limo she did not have to pay for, strutting onto the red carpet, wearing a dress from Versace that came for free, her earrings, her shoes the whole bit, everything for the stars is complimentary, whether they are Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Kobe Bryant they are exempt from the most basic, to the most lavish expenses. The super rich and our entertainment royalty have the privilege to preview whatever movie they would like in their private screening room, call up Bill Gates and ask for the latest copy of Windows™, while they catch a listen to a pre-release of the latest Nelly CD.

We the consumer generation have watched as the rich and famous touted by Robin Leach, the NY Times, or MTV Cribs and learned that the rich pay for nothing, they are held accountable for nothing, white collar crime lands you government contracts, our generation has been raised as babies hearing Michael Douglas’ voice cooing over us: “greed is good” and the examples are splashed everywhere our ever-roaming eyes take us.

In the double zero years power & access are what it is all about. Our generation didn’t go to the zoo we wanted the zoo. The Internet is our generation’s great social equalizer; we want what you have always had.

A social equalizer, or Digital Affirmative Action, our generation when confronted with the decision, “I would really love to listen to that song” face one of two roads: do we want to walk to the closest record store, or flip a few switches and type up the name of the song? The answer: our genie in a bottle tells us: our request will be fulfilled in under 2 minutes. Whatever, whenever, like the screams of Shakira coming over our radio: Kazaa and us are meant to be together. Access & power, freed from the ever-awkward record button on our tape deck, or VCR, an entire generation is slurping down what we have been born to love.

Are we thieves? Are we Internet junkies, Kazaa crack babies, hacker-punks, perverts: we are all simply consumers left without enough money in our pockets to buy what you have asked us to fall in love with, and have dutifully become addicted to: our own society. Why? Why do you do it? Where did you learn to do this? Well I guess; we learned it from watching you.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Master of the Cow Posted by Hello

The War on Odor & The War on Terror

"Terror’s purpose is to cause fear. Thus, a fundamental part of the war on terror must be to destroy fear. Yet, fear is inherent in all man thus, we must overstate the obvious: we cannot destroy fear."

The War on Odor & The War on Terror
Alexis E. Santí

We live in a world where the very word terror seems as if it was just invented; everything has now become a function of terror. Terror has become the most popular, pervasive, ear-catching issue in our society today. Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are the worlds top terrorists, or sponsors of terror. Protesters in the streets of London raise placards accusing Bush and Blair of being themselves terrorists. At the same time the protesters themselves are considered a brand of terrorists. Eco-terrorists vandalize Humvees in a car lot. Lee Boyd Malvo and John Mohammed, the DC snipers, are prosecuted under anti-terrorist legislation. Email spammers, cyber hackers, also now seem to be considered terrorists. Sellers of bootleg CDs, and knock-off Kate Spade handbags, are also supporting terrorists. Terror has become the most pervasive issue in our culture, and the direction our foreign and economic policy is headed over the next generation. We are in the midst of a war, a war that will cost countless money, time and manpower: A war on terror.

Those who like Kurt Vonnegut’s novels are familiar with the character Kilgore Trout. Trout, a failed science fiction writer, whose brief stories are referenced in Vonnegut’s books, are full of sardonic wit. In God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, one of Trout’s stories appears; a story of a country that is at war with odor. A country, where millions are spent fighting odors, chemicals are developed to neutralize every odor. Time, money and manpower goes into a full-frontal attack on the scourge of the earth, odor. Finally a dictator assumes power that has an answer, a perfect solution to win the war against odor. He is assailed as a genius, his solution: cut off everyone’s noses.

Terror’s purpose is to cause fear. Thus, a fundamental part of the war on terror must be to destroy fear. Yet, fear is inherent in all man thus, we must overstate the obvious: we cannot destroy fear. But, what if we could find a nose in the war on terror, a nose on fear that we could cut off?

There are three logical ways to search for the nose on terror; they are by confronting terror on mental, physical and cultural battleground.

The easiest way to confront terror and its cousin, fear would be by eliminating it inside of us – in some sort of Clockwork Orange science experiment; destroy the very nature of fear inside of us. Now, this won’t happen, but what I think can happen is to adapt to the notion that our world will always be invaded by terror, that we are not ever 100% safe from the madness of the world. The clearest example of this mental shift is the lives of the Israelis, living, working, yet not knowing that terroism is a way of life. The events of September 11th initiated the American public into the global world of terror and we have been playing catch up ever since.

Physically there are two fronts where we can confront terror; they are publicly and privately. Publicly, large masses of men and women of the armed forces can invade nations. This is, well, expensive, and does not exactly go after small groups of individuals in the war on terror. Whatever side of the political spectrum we fall, we cannot argue with the fact that full-scale wars are not a very cost effective way of battling roving terrorists.

The second way, which remains eerily out of the news, is clandestine operations working across the world, silently confronting terror. The world can only hope that appropriate anti-terrorism units across the world have already begun to collaborate and embed themselves into the terrorist culture, with the goal of muting their attacks on innocent citizens.

Finally, confronting terror must happen culturally in the United States. We relied on the breadth of our population to win both World Wars and the Cold war. The resiliency of the American society is woven into our ability to adapt and tap into the diversity of our population. Today soldiers are dying in the Middle East because their language training is so insufficient that they can’t read roadside signs that say “Caution, Bomb!” in Arabic. America more than ever must begin to educate our population regarding the history, culture, region and languages of the world and specifically the Middle East. If we are to assume that the immediate future of American Foreign Policy will be centered on the Middle East, and Global politics then we have much to do. American diplomatic, military, civic corps, and the American public will be forced as a new generation of multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, politically savvy citizenry. Their mentors will be their neighbors, the grocer, the cab driver, the professor long shunned by his home country – their new country is calling on them to provide a service to their country, educate and build America’s best and brightest.

It is only by utilizing the breadth of our population that America will achieve its full interests in the War on Terror. We have the population, the ability and the vast understanding. The United States must now more than ever adapt to a global world based on an aggressive understanding of global politics, history and the multiplicity of languages and cultures. Ignorance unfortunately is no longer bliss, ignorance is in fact, the very nose of terror that we must cut off.


* This piece was orginally published in the Democratic Underground

Water in my melon Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 24, 2004

An English Major's Persepective on the Economy

"...what I HATE about conservative spin on the economy is the outright failure to give a damn about the deficit and the belief that there will be some sort of midnight prayer service that will fix social programs at the last minute in the year 2012."

An English Major’s Perspective on the Economy
By: Alexis E. Santí

I was an English major in college so I try to walk carefully when talking about the economy, as I would urge any of you to do if you were interested in giving your attacking my opinion in relation to The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, chances are you are entitled to your opinion - but you are out of your league when talking to me; as I am thus, out of my league when addressing topics dealing with the economy. I do though, of course, have something to say.

To me arguing about the economy is like arguing about the weather: the economy is great then, before you know it, the economy sucks but chances are if you wait awhile it will get back to being great. So I cede the points that have been made that Clinton cannot take all the credit for a great economy - he did not invent the internet, neither did Al Gore of course invent the internet, nor claimed he had. We had a great boom that was followed by a great bust. So what? Really, that's what I say - that's life - we weren't thrown into massive overwhelming poverty everywhere and civil strife right? People have not taken to the streets because of the economy have they? No, no and no.

I cede that the downward spiral of the economy is not Dublya’s fault, how could it be anyone's fault really? Did Dubyla have a way to slow it down? That I don't know either. What seems bizarre is that we have an economic policy that is eerily similar to the Reagan years, tax the bottom 90% and give tax breaks to the top; thus, they will fuel the rest of the economy. We called this voodoo economics; Ferris Bueller's day off cemented that in the minds of our generation. Did it work, well I don't quite think so. We don't call it Voodoo economics now, we call it compassionate conservatism this of course is bizarre and it is spun like Dubyla's Thanksgiving Turkey. Will it work, I don't know - I hope so. Do we have a crystal ball that will predict the future? Is that what the "futures" that I hear about (proving my ignorance) I don't know. I admit though, I worry about what will happen in 8 years when predictions of the deficit will implode into the trillions of dollars.

What I dislike, and I hesitate to use the word hate, but oh well, what I HATE about conservative spin on the economy is the outright failure to give a damn about the deficit and the belief that there will be some sort of midnight prayer service that will fix social programs at the last minute in the year 2012. As it is Dubyla has got spending fever and federal spending is up over 16% across the board.

Let me spend a few seconds on the deficit - though because this of course is the big mystery of our generation. What does having a deficit mean? I recently took a Federal budget course with a professor who had worked as a budget officer for 30 years. His views on the deficit were essentially this: "It doesn't matter" - my question is simply this "when does it start to matter? If ever?" This is the question that remains largely unanswered in any particular way. Regardless, of our disagreement the Professor and I shot the breeze after class got out and we started putting together a theory, and I challenge any of you to take a look at it: if the interest on the deficit grows to be larger that the total amount of other amounts in the non-discretionary (things like social security, VA benefits, postal service, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment) budget then we are in trouble.

So, you see what I'm saying? If, the amount of money we pay to the interest on the deficit is larger than our fixed expenditures we need to pay, we both postulated it would be a marker to spell doom. Now he said he'd have to test it, and look at how that theory played out in history but let's look at a couple fancy charts here about the deficit.

If we are paying more money in the interest on the deficit than we are paying on the things we actually have to pay for things will get messy - here because it is money that goes into the past, not money that goes into the future of the country - I don't know how we can argue that point it's like believe that having shitty credit is awesome and good for your long term finances. Another thing I found interesting on the above charts was the fact that Clinton was the only president that significantly taxed the population and did not match that tax with an increase in spending -- not exactly fitting into that "Tax and Spend Democrat" argument.

Right now the interest on the federal budget is 318 billion dollars, the total amount of the non-discretionary budget was 16% in 2001. With record spending taking place over the course of the next couple of years we can only assume that the Bush Administration will continue the proud legacy of Reagan economics, which entails giving themselves everything, they want. At the end of the day this is neither compassionate nor conservative, it is in short the very definition of irresponsibility.

The best argument I've found is to pay off the debt for the next 30 years, like a mortgage -- this is not a liberal or conservative argument, it is, an argument that makes sense for our children and the future of this country. Do any of you have an argument with that?

Here are some other articles that I found useful.

Somewhere over the DC rainbow Posted by Hello

Following the Bottom Line

"So when the Washington Post staffer suggests, “The only clear economic winner will be Lockheed, for whom the deal is a boon.” I beg to differ. The winner is Poland. The winner is the United States. It is in the end a win-win situation. Poland gets one step closer to be a serious contender for European Union membership and will undoubtedly score future US investment by throwing its borrowed weight into the war."

Following the Bottom Line
Alexis Santí

In the January 15th article “A Pact with Poland” the Washington Post staffer muses over Washington’s “new” interest in Poland. Bush himself even goes so far as to state “I have no better friend in Europe.” One can hardly doubt that indeed the powers that be at the White House are wooing their Eastern European counterparts. The courtship has been taking place since the fall of the Iron Curtain, not merely with the current White House Administration.

This past November NATO pushed the door open for 7 new Eastern European neighbors to join the measuring stick of European stability. Poland was not one of those seven, Poland having joined NATO over 5 years ago - now has the majority of its borders covered by its fellow Article 5 abiding allies. So then we must wonder out loud, why is it that Poland a progressive, liberal state without any future war looming in its future would need to buy 44 F-16 fighter jets, can we assume as the Washington Post article speculates it is: “because of its history as a victim of aggressive neighbors….” Why would Poland go to such lengths to not only support America in an ever-present conflict in Iraq, but also drive itself into dept to do so? Whereas 600 miles to its west France decries that it will do nothing to support any American led attacks. We must delve deep to discover why exactly one part of Europe can take such a hesitant stance towards American led involvement towards a possible war with Iraq, and others are willing to delve headfirst.

In Western Europe the American influences; albeit much more than the McDonalization of its culture is seen to have negative impacts. Simply put, Western Europe does not wish its foreign policy to be dictated by America Western Europe is content to follow it’s own agenda and foreign policy and although they understand our mission, rely on their own means and ideas of how to relate with the rest of the world. Which is why in Paris, Barcelona and Berlin they protest in the streets, and why foreign ministers are calling for America to show caution because being led by America in a unified Europe does not show EU power, but merely their obedience. This of course has moved the post 9/11 coalitions from rock solid alliance to a series of anti-American squabbles, which have poured out in the newspapers. This has gone on to play out dramatically when we saw in Germany being “anti-war” in Chancellor Shroerder’s case was enough to swing his re-election.

This process has been developing for years – and has been coupled with the European Union’s movement to a single monetary system. Splintering the economy of the EU based on American foreign policy simply does not have a net gain for Western Europe. Best put, unless the economy of the EU is at a point that it is clearly stable we cannot assume that a divided EU will seek to participate in any war. Remember EU stability is not like American statehood and the concept has been a type of silent revolution to reverse thousands of years of separation. As it is now though, the Euro is now at a high compared to the dollar, thus coupling the net gain loop: Europe standing on it’s own does in the end pay off.

While on the other hand, Eastern European member states of NATO see assisting America as a boon to their economy, and hope that it will level the playing field against their counterparts in the west. The East, long held under the arm of the USSR control militarily did not have the capability nor finances to equip itself in any war, which is why most tanks and jets currently in these states are better equipped for antique shows than actual war.

So when the Washington Post staffer suggests, “The only clear economic winner will be Lockheed, for whom the deal is a boon.” I beg to differ. The winner is Poland. The winner is the United States. It is in the end a win-win situation. Poland gets one step closer to be a serious contender for European Union membership and will undoubtedly score future US investment by throwing its borrowed weight into the war. Poland, a front runner in EU acceptance still has been riddled with holes in its economy, as reported by Breffni O'Rourke for Radio Free Europe in article entitled EU: Trouble May Loom In Expansion Process, Dec. 5th, 2002 article states: “… most of the trouble is between the European Commission and the biggest candidate country, Poland.” America equips a NATO nation to provide ally-ship for the war on Terrorism, member nation gets one step closer to what it really wants, EU membership.

Of course Poland is not the only nation in Eastern Europe who would like to throw its weight behind the Bush administration. Even resource strapped Romania replaced a battalion of Canadian soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan in May of this past year. I was in Romania when Romanian soldiers were preparing to board trains leaving their families. Their mentality was Orthodox: logical – the reporters interviewed their bereaved families and they said, “This is a great opportunity for our family…” “he will be making more money there than he can here.” Which of course is not to say that neither Romanians, nor any other East European country is seeking to fill the roll as a hired hand – but in countries where the monthly salary is 100 dollars, it is a rule that plays out on the Marco and Micro level of economics. So in the end we can see that the diversified defense firm of Lockheed Martin is not only the profiteer, but also a conduit in the game of global politics, which may dramatically shift the balance of power in Europe in years to come.

Published in the DC Independent Media feature section January 30th, 2003