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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in "A.J. Rose" (Jonathan)'s LiveJournal:

[ << Previous 20 -- Next 20 >> ]
Tuesday, February 13th, 2007
3:16 pm
Libby Trial Predictions
93!

When I was in college I spent several intense years clerking in my dad's little Santa Monica law office -- rapidly becoming one of the first paralegals (brand new idea back then), and participating in some hundreds of cases: of all sorts, but with a specialization in criminal defense. This plus an LJ account makes me as good a judge as anybody on earth1 of the perjury and obstruction trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor. In brief:

(1) Nobody knows anything about what juries will do. Apply large bags of salt to all commentary on same, including this one.

(2) In a normal perjury/obstruction case, Libby would be toast -- not just because his Grand Jury testimony (played in court) has been decisively refuted by a large number of highly credible witnesses,2 but because he's elected not to take the stand. I take the presumption of innocence with the utmost seriousness, and it would be hella wrong for any jury to assume a person guilty just because they elect not to testify...but I'm also here to tell you that juries ALWAYS3 assume EXACTLY that. The reasoning is simple: your liberty and honor are at stake and you don't feel like explaining yourself? You clearly have something to hide, most probably your guilt in the current case. QED.

(3) This is not a normal case in any sense of the word. First of all, juries disproportionately find more "reasonable doubt" in the cases of privileged folks (celebrities; rich, powerful white men, etc.) -- if only because they can afford lawyers who will vigorously fight their case. My dad won more cases than most criminal defense attorneys simply because he fought -- as he put it, in his mind "every case is Murder One," irrespective of ability to pay. (This also made for more favorable plea bargains, because prosecutors didn't have to go through too many trials with Dad before they wanted to avoid any more. It also kept him from making much money, but thereyago.)4

Beyond that, this is a highly politicized case. The odds that two or three jurors will be simply unwilling to convict, irrespective of the evidence, are very high: the "FOX says this is b.s.!" effect.

So...(drumroll, please):

(4) Nothing is impossible; Libby could be found Not Guilty. I put that possibility at about 1-2%. OTOH, thanks to the privilege and politics aspects, I suspect there may well be holdouts against conviction, irrespective of the evidence. I conclude that there's a 59% chance for outright conviction -- probably after extended deliberation to wear down the holdouts -- and a 39% chance of a hung jury, with little chance for a retrial if so. If the jury hangs with more than three votes for acquittal, I'd be very surprised; OTOH, the closer the hung jury is to 6-6 (or better, for acquittal), the likelier the government will not refile. In fact, I'd be very surprised if they refile even with a single holdout (11-1 to convict), for reasons unrelated to strict justice.

Whatever happens will either be described as exoneration (which short of a Not Guilty it isn't, legally speaking)...or (if a Guilty verdict) either bizarrely overturned on appeal, or pardoned by the President. Scoot actually seeing a prison, much less testifying against former boss Cheney in a subsequent case, is virtually certain never to occur.

Youse guys gots predictions? Or just want to slam the fine art of criminal defense? -- which deserves some slamming, though also the sort of system-supportive explanations I'd be happy to share.... :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

P.S. Our icon is from Charles Bragg's wonderful series of legal prints, a number of which hung in my dad's office. My favorite -- Dad's, too, I shouldn't wonder -- was probably the scummy defense lawyer holding the halo over his rotten client's head. But maybe Dad preferred this hanging judge. ;)

P.P.S. Thanks to sal93 knowing how to do it, I finally figured out (from her posted example) how to do numbered footnotes. (The command is [sup] for superscript, & [/sup] to end it, on either side of the number: [sup]1[/sup] -- only with the usual pointy command brackets, natch. Cool! No more *******'s! :D

1. Arr-arr, humor. :)
2. I'd be happy to lay this out in detail, if anyone cares. In the meantime, I don't say it lightly; this is one of the tightest perjury/obstruction cases I've ever seen.
3. Yes, I mean "always." That they sometimes find a non-testifying defendant Not Guilty anyway is most often a testament to their own sense of honor in obeying the law, whatever their personal conclusions.
4. The next book after ITNV finally comes out will be 1532 Third Street, a fictionalized account of the years in Dad's office. I can't wait. :)
7:54 am
Reality Visits the Set of "24"
93!

Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake* links a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer about the popular fantasy action show "24":

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/070219fa_fact_mayer

Excerpts:

Bob Cochran [the show's co-creator] admitted, "Most terrorism experts will tell you that the 'ticking time bomb' situation never occurs in real life, or very rarely. But on our show it happens every week." [...] [Head writer Howard] Gordon [late of "X-Files"], who is a "moderate Democrat," said that it worries him when "critics say that we've enabled and reflected the public's appetite for torture. Nobody wants to be the handmaid to a relaxed policy that accepts torture as a legitimate means of interrogation." He went on, "But the premise of '24' is the ticking time bomb. It takes an unusual situation and turns it into the meat and potatoes of the show." He paused. "I think people can differentiate between a television show and reality."**

This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind "24." Finnegan, who was accompanied by three of the most experienced military and F.B.I. interrogators in the country, arrived on the set as the crew was filming. At first, Finnegan -- wearing an immaculate Army uniform, his chest covered in ribbons and medals -- aroused confusion: he was taken for an actor and was asked by someone what time his "call" was.

In fact, Finnegan and the others had come to voice their concern that the show's central political premise -- that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country's security -- was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers. "I'd like them to stop," Finnegan said of the show's producers. "They should do a show where torture backfires." [...]

The meeting, which lasted a couple of hours, had been arranged by David Danzig, the Human Rights First official. Several top producers of "24" were present [though not the show's main creator, who was brainstorming with Roger Ailes of FOX News about their upcoming rightwing comedy show to counter Jon Stewart's "Daily Show"]. [...] Before the meeting, Stuart Herrington, one of the three veteran interrogators, had prepared a list of seventeen effective techniques, none of which were abusive. [...] After Howard Gordon, the lead writer, listened to some of Herrington's suggestions, he slammed his fist on the table and joked, "You're hired!" He also excitedly asked the West Point delegation if they knew of any effective truth serums.

At other moments, the discussion was more strained. Finnegan told the producers that "24," by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country's image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors -- cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by "24," which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, "The kids see it, and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about "24"?'" He continued, "The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do."

Gary Solis, a retired law professor who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders curriculum at West Point, told me that he had similar arguments with his students. He said that, under both U.S. and international law, "Jack Bauer is a criminal. In real life, he would be prosecuted." Yet the motto of many of his students was identical to Jack Bauer's: "Whatever it takes." His students were particularly impressed by a scene in which Bauer barges into a room where a stubborn suspect is being held, shoots him in one leg, and threatens to shoot the other if he doesn't talk. In less than ten seconds, the suspect reveals that his associates plan to assassinate the Secretary of Defense. Solis told me, "I tried to impress on them that this technique would open the wrong doors, but it was like trying to stomp out an anthill." [...]

At the meeting, ["24" co-creator] Cochran demanded to know what the interrogators would do if they faced the imminent threat of a nuclear blast in New York City, and had custody of a suspect who knew how to stop it. One interrogator said that he would apply physical coercion only if he received a personal directive from the President. But Navarro, who estimates that he has conducted some twelve thousand interrogations, replied that torture was not an effective response. "These are very determined people, and they won't turn just because you pull a fingernail out," he told me. And Finnegan argued that torturing fanatical Islamist terrorists is particularly pointless. "They almost welcome torture," he said. "They expect it. They want to be martyred." A ticking time bomb, he pointed out, would make a suspect only more unwilling to talk. "They know if they can simply hold out several hours, all the more glory -- the ticking time bomb will go off!" [...]

The third expert at the meeting was Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator in the war in Iraq. [...] "In Iraq, I never saw pain produce intelligence," Lagouranis told me. "I worked with someone who used waterboarding" -- an interrogation method involving the repeated near-drowning of a suspect. "I used severe hypothermia, dogs, and sleep deprivation. I saw suspects after soldiers had gone into their homes and broken their bones, or made them sit on a Humvee's hot exhaust pipes until they got third-degree burns. Nothing happened." Some people, he said, "gave confessions. But they just told us what we already knew. It never opened up a stream of new information." If anything, he said, "physical pain can strengthen the resolve to clam up." [...]


Anyway, might be worth a look. :)

93 93/93 -- AJ

* http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/02/12/where-fiction-crosses-the-long-gray-line/
Btw, firedoglake.com is liveblogging the Scooter Libby trial.
** I disagree. Show co-creator Cochran certainly doesn't, and some interrogators don't, either. Dangerous stuff, IMO. :(
Thursday, February 8th, 2007
3:43 am
Mercury visible to naked eye! :D
93, all:

As you doubtless know, the planet Mercury is usually too close to the sun to be seen; it only gets far enough away from the sun's light to be visible a couple of times a year. Having seen all of the traditional seven except Mercury (we saw Saturn through the Griffith Observatory telescope a number of years back: it looked suspiciously like a cardboard cut-out of Saturn), I have been trying for upwards of fifteen years to get a glimpse of elusive Mercury, without success -- usually because the required times (always predawn or post-sunset) tend to coincide with overcast horizons in Los Angeles.

Until last night!, when C and I saw it plainly from our back balcony. It's pale, but quite visible to the naked eye in the west, just after sunset (once it's dark enough out it fades into view, but don't wait too long or it'll set), and better still easy to find because a very bright Venus is on a diagonal immediately to its upper left (as viewed from the States). If you look through binoculars, as we did, it's a bright red.

I am so jazzed. ;)

Anyway, a photo and locator chart are at: http://spaceweather.com/

93 93/93 -- AJ

EDIT: Dang -- they changed the top page. Anyway, here's the locator:
http://spaceweather.com/images2007/07feb07/skymap_north.gif
...and it looks like a Do Not Delay kinda deal. Now you know!
Wednesday, February 7th, 2007
2:22 pm
Simple answers to simple questions*
93!

1. Gosh, AJ -- here we are a year out from the Democratic primaries, and they're already saying that Sen. Clinton has a lock on the nomination, with only Sen. Obama able to give her a real challenge. Why do you suppose that is?

Because of all the Democrats on earth, only Sens. Clinton and Obama are even theoretically capable of losing the presidential election in 2008.** If you were the GOP, whose nomination would you be moving heaven and earth to arrange?

2. But I thought the GOP was insisting Sen. Clinton was unbeatable! WTF?

The GOP said the same thing about John Kerry in 2004, until he had safely secured the nomination. So, y'know, see above.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.* Carry on. :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

P.S. I have a post about world-saving, taking off from the TV show Heroes (Mondays, NBC) coming up soon...but this one wouldn't wait. Awww-henh.

* A formulation I stole from Duncan Black/Atrios. http://atrios.blogspot.com/
** An exaggeration -- e.g., Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton are two others. Believe me, if they had any prayer of taking the Democratic nomination, they -- particularly Sharpton -- would be the "frontrunners." :P
Saturday, January 27th, 2007
4:16 am
Oh, my :(
93, all!

Having explained here at exhausting length why I felt the Iraq Study Group provided the best available chance at a bipartisan compromise on Iraq policy -- and indeed pretty much the best policy choices available, from a very bad lot -- only to see the President completely reject same, I have seen no point in commenting further on the subject (beyond that screwwwwwwwwwed post). I have to confess, though, that I have found the President's own announced strategy completely incomprehensible: militarily, politically, diplomatically, you name it. I've been (not for the first time) at a complete loss to understand his motives.

(It doesn't help, btw, that he recently explained to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi why the current strategy will work by saying he "told them it had to." According to a Democratic colleague, Pelosi replied, Why didn't you tell them that the last two times?)

I still haven't a clue what the President thinks he's doing...but at the following link (PDF file, using the free Adobe Acrobat reader) you'll find a truly horrific speculation. The author, Stephen P. Pizzo, covered the Savings & Loan scandal of the 1980s, and his article "Texas Hold-em" compares the mindset of the Texas S&L highrollers to the President's Iraq strategy. I don't know whether the comparison is fair. I do know that it is plausible enough to scare the hell out of me.

Sample:

"every single Texas S&L crook I interviewed after the feds closed their bankrupt thrift and/or foreclosed on their projects, made the same claim -- almost word for word. It went like this:

'My S&L (or project) would not have failed if the feds had just let me complete my plan. If they had just funded it to completion it would not have failed. They caused the loss by stopping us from seeing the project through.'

And that's precisely what Bush will claim if he can just roll over his Iraq loans for two more years. He will leave office and go back to Crawford. The new administration will be forced to declare his Iraq project in default, bite the bullet and withdraw US troops. The lid will come off the already simmering Sunni/Shia civil war and that's when we'll hear from George again. He'll sidle out from his ranch house, cozy up to the Fox News microphone and declare:

'See, I warned that's what would happen. I didn't lose Iraq, the new administration and congress lost Iraq. Had they stuck with my plan and let it run to completion, my Iraq project would not have failed.'"


The whole thing is here:

http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=800

93 93/93 -- AJ
Thursday, January 25th, 2007
7:37 am
Ohio Prosecutor Charges Workers For Rigging 2004 Presidential Recount
93

The AP story linked below is -- as are the prosecutors in the case* -- at pains not to suggest that the defendants' motive was anything beyond laziness, and not to claim that their actions affected the outcome of the 2004 presidential election. Problem is, there's no way to know without the hand recount their allegedly criminal actions prevented.

Like many jurisdictions, Ohio provides that where a recount is requested, it'll be done in two parts: first, a hand recount of a random sample of the ballots, to make sure there aren't significant discrepancies; then, if there aren't, a machine recount of the remaining ballots (which takes about a day, and nearly always gets pretty much the same results it did the first time).**

Problem is, in several Ohio counties -- in one of which criminal charges have been brought -- apparently election workers "pre-screened" the ballots to find ones without major discrepancies, and then made these squeaky-clean ballots their "random sample." This is illegal.

From the article: http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/state/16486387.htm

"There were allegations in several counties of similar presorting of ballots for the recounts that state law says are to be random.

[Prosecutor] Baxter said testimony will show that the three workers secretly chose sample precincts for the December 2004 recount that did not have questionable results to ensure the tally from the sample matched a previous vote count. Sample precincts were [legally required] to be selected randomly before witnesses"
...just what these workers did not do.

Perhaps the election workers really were just being lazy; and in any case perhaps a complete hand recount would still have given Ohio to President Bush. OTOH, if one were aware of serious election fraud, a "pre-screening" to find "clean" ballots -- to then use as your sample "selected randomly before witnesses" -- would be the easiest way to cover up fraud.***

I don't know which it is. I do know it's not stupid to wonder...and that those who religiously disbelieve in the possibility of electoral fraud are looking just a little bit naive today. ;)

93 93/93 -- AJ

EDIT. Interesting detail on how the case was brought, which I got by rewatching the relevant section of the HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy." I posted this in a comment, but wanted to add it topside, as well:

"The dead giveaway that necessitated a prosecution was even simpler than the videotaped admissions, however. On looking over the "random selection" meant to be "publicly recounted" that day, the witnesses immediately noticed that before the recount started, the votes had already been "clumped": the Bush votes were all clumped together, as were the Kerry votes. The original machine count wouldn't produce this result; only a hand count would. By definition, then, the "random public recount" taking place before them that day was staged, a publicity stunt, a complete fraud for public consumption. The votes in question had already been checked to make sure they were "safe." Hence the charges."

* I might have handled it the same way, in the face of the possibility that this presidential election, too, was stolen, in a way not traceable to the administration itself. Things are bad enough already. :(
** I'm summarizing; the full procedure is explained in the article.
*** For that matter, if the votes were all clean, how would pre-sorting to find a clean sample save them any work? Wouldn't the pre-screening only make sense if they at least suspected discrepancies were there to be found?
Monday, January 22nd, 2007
1:50 am
Quote of the Year
93

I got this from the excellent PBS show "Now," last Friday night, and haven't been able to put it out of my mind. I should have noted the set-up...I recall it as an exchange between an instructor and soldier-student in a military setting, but can't nail it down beyond that. Anyway, here it is:

INSTRUCTOR: America is at war --
STUDENT: No, sir. The United States Army is at war. America is at the mall.


One of my favorite writers -- let alone Vietnam vet writers -- Larry Heinemann, recently summarized it this way, in that slow, lingering drawl he has:

"We have a vol-un-TEER army now. All of 'em are vol-un-TEERS.
Those boys are screwwwwwwwwwed."


The girls, too, one might add.

Oughtta be the opener of the State of the Union, hunh?, 'cause at least we all have that in common, now. "Good evening. As your President, I am here this evening to tell you that the Union is screwwwwwwwwwed."

Sir, yes Sir! We noticed.

Pray for deeply undeserved luck.

93 93/93 -- AJ
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007
2:35 am
Phil Farber on New Year's Resolutions
93!

N.B. Hereabouts begins crunch year for Unca AJ -- Nightmare Village is running late, and right behind it is the new two-projects-at-once schedule. Owtch. I'll be staying on LJ, but prolly doing a lot more reading (and occasional comments) than writing, at least compared to what you've had to wade through (or, okay, scroll past) of late. ;)

In honor of the vulgar new year, a piece by my good friend Phil Farber: New York Times bestselling author* and magician who wrote FutureRitual, and whose wonderful seminars, tapes, you name it, can be snagged here:

http://hawkridgeproductions.com/
http://www.meta-magick.com/

Finally, as some of you know, I'm not a hypnosis fan; but the advice is still excellent, and anyway, while he's a certified hypnotherapist Phil's definition of "hypnotism" is rather broader than most.

Enjoy! :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

* Co-author on a seriously bigdeal mainstreamy reference book, some years back. Now he gets to do COOL stuff instead. ;)

***

Five Reasons New Year's Resolutions Fail
by Philip H. Farber


1) They are usually phrased as a negative... without providing any kind of actual choice. For instance - "I resolve to stop smoking," "I resolve to stop drinking," "I resolve to stop eating like a pig." What can you do in place of these habits? Positively framed, these might read: "I resolve to learn how to relax through meditation," "I resolve to learn how to have more confidence in social situations," (relaxation and bolstering confidence being possible motivations to smoke or drink) or "I resolve to develop healthy eating habits."

2) They are all goal, no technique - Simply stating a goal, whether positively or negatively phrased, has little effect unless there is some technique to incorporate that suggestion into your behavior. Where's the ritual? Where's the induction? (Possible techniques: hypnosis, self-hypnosis, ritual magick, NLP techniques, etc.)

3) They are all goal, no methodology - Even with a great goal and excellent technique, some methodology has to be devised. HOW are you going to stop smoking? HOW are you going to get fit? What are the steps involved in these changes? (Going "cold turkey"... changing specific habits one at a time, tapering off the sweets, etc.)

4) Lack of real motivation - What is driving this new behavior? Are you doing it to please another person or because you fully believe it will be a positive change in your life?

5) Goal is based on conditioned behavior or whim - Similar to #4, but on broader scale (or rather, a contributing factor to #4). Was this decision to change based on a cultural pressure of some kind? To look like a movie star? Because all your friends are doing it? Because advertising convinced you it was necessary? What's really important to YOU?

http://hawkridgeproductions.com/
http://www.meta-magick.com/
Thursday, December 21st, 2006
5:24 pm
"The Festival of Change"
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The following excerpt from the Winter Solstice (Earth) Ritual of the Collegium Gnosticum is Copyright 1995, 2006 The Consciousness Institute. All Rights Reserved. So, y'know, don't rip it off 'n' stuff. Like all our quarter rituals, it will be included in its entirety in A.J. Rose's 2007 novel In The Nightmare Village, which is really groovy even if you don't like stupid rituals like this & you should definitely buy one, hell, several!, once it comes out. And, uhh, all the previous volumes, in the meantime. Plus the C.'.G.'. Student Handbook. C'mon! Who's it gonna hurt?!

We join the desultory proceedings of four (female) Pages*, already in progress...

**********

[...] PENTACLES: Sisters, what is the Hour?
OTHERS (look around; reaching agreement): I suppose it's Midnight.
PENTACLES: And the Place?
CUPS: Who can say? A Cold place.
SWORDS: A place of Change.
WANDS: In the Kingdom called Earth.
PENTACLES (looks annoyed; then, shrugging): In the Name of Earth, then, let us Invoke.
(They perform the Confession & Section I of the Supreme Ritual, as follows: choral on opening quatrain, then Pentacles, others joining in (verbally, & with Typhon sign) on the "Thee I invoke"s and "Abrahadabras". This improves the mood. When finished:) PENTACLES: Mmmm, girls? Someone is coming. A man.
SWORDS: I think it's our Master.
CUPS: He looks rather spooky.
WANDS: Yet rather spiffing.
(The Magician arrives, clad in a black Tau robe, but with a few silver ornaments; he does not speak at first. The four Pages look at each other; they are plainly apprehensive.)
PENTACLES (clears throat): We are Four Neophytes of the Collegium Gnosticum --
MAGICIAN: Then you shouldn't be associating!
PENTACLES: Oh, ahh -- and who might you be?
MAGICIAN (looks like he's deciding whether to answer; finally): I am Saturnus that comes to thee; but also the Mage from the top of the Tree.
PENTACLES: Why, then, it must be Saturnalia!
MAGICIAN (with a twinkle): 'Tis the season to be jolly! Well, you invoked me: what did you want?
PENTACLES (gamely): Well -- something other than what we have, I should imagine!
MAGICIAN: Now we're getting somewhere: Your Will is Change. I can see that you've come to the right place. And you'll get Change, right enough; like it or not. (He sighs.) Look, girls -- you're getting chilly out here. I have a message for you. Do you care about that, or not?
PENTACLES: I say! -- yes, I remember, it was right...! (Clears throat again.) "To pass the Gate of Winter requires three tokens: A Word, an Oracle, and an Omen. Have you these?"
MAGICIAN: I have. But they won't do you any good without this.
(He kisses her, with more generosity than passion; she practically swoons, just the same.)**
MAGICIAN (Calm): The Word of the Current Semester is [gives it, from Autumnal Equinox]; the Oracle is [gives it]; and the Omen is [gives it]. (Again, a pause.)
CUPS: You're mean!
WANDS: You're arrogant!
SWORDS: You're a masher!
PENTACLES (wonderingly): You're -- putting on an act.
OTHERS: What?
PENTACLES: You are; you're faking. You aren't dark or evil or scary at all: you just act that way --
MAGICIAN (sad smile): -- on this part of the Tree. Yes, you're right. The Path is scary sometimes; but it leads out of darkness, and into light. The trouble is, only the strong will even begin to essay it. Are you feeling strong, little mountain goat?
PENTACLES: "With hoofs of steel I race on the rocks / through solstice stubborn to Equinox." That's from Mr. Crowley's "Hymn to Pan."
MAGICIAN (Shrugs.): It's easy enough to say.
PENTACLES: Try me, then.
MAGICIAN (Regards her; then:) I believe I might. (Smiles) I will tell you something I learned from a Fool -- The Wisdom of the Seasons is Reconciliation: in Light Darkness, in Darkness Light, and Love and Freedom in All.
PENTACLES (barely audible): Love -- and Freedom...?
MAGICIAN: As saith the Holy Book, Liber Tzaddi: (reads out Liber Tzaddi, verses 33 to end (only). At end, he turns to her again:) D'ye think you actually heard that, or not?
PENTACLES: I think perhaps I did; or started to, anyway.
MAGICIAN: Then the lesson is learned, as before, and to come; and in Equilibrium, we are free to enjoy. (Formally:) By virtue of this insight, and the tokens three, I Open The Gate Of Winter -- And Proclaim The Midnight Sun!
(wild applause, hooting, merriment &c. by all)
PENTACLES: I have to close the Temple, first.
MAGICIAN: You certainly do.
PENTACLES: But then we're going for a walk.
MAGICIAN: I believe we are.
PENTACLES: Now, Sisters, to your Stations! [...]

* As a sometimes-public ritual, the quarter rituals use exoteric title and suit names. (Don't you feel cool to know that?, I know I do.) The whole thing is also intentionally archaic; the conceit is that it was written in the 1950s by the Order's (imaginary) founder, echoing the 1930s style of his middle age. (He also repeats himself, uses idiosyncratic spelling, and does other stuff to make him sound less like me. ;) )
** The "kiss" transmits the original "Message from the Throne" -- from the 20 March Supreme Ritual -- down the Tree from Kether; Pentacles is not "swooning" at a kiss. "VQ" was old, but he wasn't delusional. :)

**********

HAPPIEST OF SOLSTICES, EVERYBODY!!! :D

Love is the law, love under will.


Yours in Love and Freedom, THETA
2:07 am
Unsolicited aside to an online pal :)
93!

When someone around us is in difficulty -- even more so in fear and pain -- there's a sort of "mental contagion"* we can find ourselves sharing, if we're not careful. This is especially the case where the sufferer is someone we love: we hurt to see them this way, yet feel guilty that their misery is messing with our own clarity, and so forth. After a while this can lead to a sort of feedback loop, such as I discuss here:

http://ajrose93.livejournal.com/31214.html

-- we feel bad, things look worse, we feel worse still, etc., and pretty soon trouble is coming out of the woodwork: stupid stuff, out of nowhere, with no end in sight. We inadvertently start to curse ourselves: "This is just how it works for me. Thanks loads! Wonder what's next!"

Fortunately, our own clarity, harmony, peace, joy, confidence, and other convictions -- like all conviction! -- also tend to be contagious, and to objectify themselves. The key, then, is to let our harmony and peace and well-being "infect" the sufferer (if they'll have it), rather than the other way around. This is not (of course!) an argument for indifference to their suffering; it is instead, IMO, a practical effort to ease that suffering, for them as well as for ourselves...though only consistent experiment will let us decide whether that's true or not.

At the least, having a consciousness contagious with harmony couldn't hurt someone in need. Isn't it worth a try to see whether it could help?

HTH :*

93 93/93 -- AJ

* The term is Mary Baker Eddy's. For some reason, the Christmas season itself frequently seems to bring a depressive contagion of its own; perhaps the Old Aeon distance between ideal and "reality"? -- a "Wouldn't it be wonderful if things could be wonderful?" sort of thing, rather than the New Aeon notion of making them wonderful through joyful effort?
Wednesday, December 20th, 2006
6:10 pm
(Preach it, brothah)
93

Mah blood ran cawld when they took the stayge
Double-checked my ID! make sure I'se not UNDERAGE!
They din't wear undays, not even brassieres!
MICKI ASS AND THE ASS-KE-TEERS!

Oh yeah it's Crimbus!, ribbonz red and GRAYN
Hangin over tha lights an tha bomp maSHAYN
But all I could sees, and all I could hears -- ?!
-- Don't even haveta buy them beers! (Noooo) --
MICKI ASS AND THE ASS-KE-TEERS!
MICKI ASS AND THE ASS-KE-TEERS!

It's a show, it's a cause, it's a REVELATION!
Make your EARBALLS bleed wif da FASCINATION!
And from station to station, it's a pollination, make your shoes
kick your ears in syncopation,
-- Make them other acts taste like KENNEL-RATION! --
(And, no, I'm not gonna do THAT rhyme -- so don't ASK!)
and if it don't sweep the nation, in commemoRAtion,
well ah SWEAR to Cthulhu I WON'T KNOW WHY!!!

MICKI ASS AND THE ASS-KE-TEERS! (Ownnh)
MICKI ASS AND THE ASS-KE-TEERS!
MICKI ASS AND THE ASS-KE-TEERS!


Payce. Tip your wait-staff. :)

93 93/93 -- AJ
Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
1:05 am
and here you thought...
93!

...Unca AJ never had to answer the hard questions! :)

An IRL questioner asked two good ones, about the Iraq Study Group stuff: one about Harry Reid's support for a surge (which has been widely misreported), the other about how it feels to "argue for defeat." :/

My replies, for anyone else interested, are posted as a comment here: http://ajrose93.livejournal.com/96336.html

93 93/93 -- AJ
Monday, December 18th, 2006
2:55 am
This would have been...
93!

...a good thing to ask christeos_pir before winter break -- but if one of you folks knows, or can easily find out?

The Mishima story "Death in Midsummer" is noted as translated and abridged by Seidensticker. Question: any idea what he abridged, and why?

It ran long for western tastes? Or what?

Just askin you folks 'cause you tend to know so much about so much. Thanks for listening! :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

P.S. I Googled every way I could think of first, btw; as usual, western scholarship on Japanese work tends to neglect the stuff you'd really like to know. I might add while I'm at it that while I cordially disliked Temple of the Golden Pavilion, "Death in Midsummer" is an extraordinarily fine short story, particularly as a meditation on grief, and I loved his Five Modern No Plays. Nerves me for the Sea of Fertility tetralogy, after I finish the present collection.
Sunday, December 17th, 2006
5:47 am
"And the winnah is...!" (ISG addendum)
93!

I know, I know -- you kids just couldn't get enough of AJ's eight-part series on the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group!* Well, thanks to Col. Pat Lang** (whose bio, in case you assume he's a Dirty @#$%ing Hippie, is here: http://turcopolier.typepad.com/about.html ) -- we now have a preview of what amounts to The Anti-ISG Report, which sets out the course that (all sources are now saying) the President will almost certainly follow in Iraq, instead of the ISG recommendations. The counter-proposal is that "surge" we discussed,*** and it's laid out by Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute in a 52-page Power Point presentation which includes charts, maps, and maybe ten pages of reasonably-formatted actual text. Col. Lang has the whole thing up for your perusal, here:

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/files/200612141_choosingvictory6.pdf

Despite the fact that leaks initially described the "surge" plan as the "Pentagon's" preference -- leaks which, as we noted before, Pentagon sources immediately denied -- I have yet to find any military officer who's willing to say that he thinks this is a good idea; Army Gen. Schoomaker, already compelled to call for forced deployments of reserves and national guard on an accelerated schedule, is practically in open revolt against this plan. Needless to say, that goes quintuple for intelligence people, let alone diplomats. This plan is a certified Very Bad Idea.

But it's what the President is about to do, so you might want to give it a glance.

Brief version: double the U.S. troop strength in Baghdad, then kill al-Sadr (more martyrs, anyone?) and take on his Mahdi Army, oh, yes, and the Sunni insurgents, and such other folks as may oppose us, both before, during, and after the announced "surge." Then, having "cleared" Baghdad (at whatever cost in U.S. and Iraqi lives), hold it securely to make room for some sort of Iraqi government to take over -- if not the elected one, then some different one.

Remember how the muscle guys in the group that kidnapped the Christian Peace Team members, murdering one, weren't radicalized until their families were killed at Fallujah? We're now gonna do Fallujah Writ Large, in Baghdad, where a quarter of the country lives.

Wow.

The plan tilts, btw, explicitly to the Shia over the Sunni...but not just any Shia: like all neocon plans, it coincidentally favors only the pro-Iranian Shia, while, like the entire war itself, spending U.S. blood and treasure to wipe out all of Iran's enemies in Iraq, at no cost to Iran itself.**** Sadr, as the main nationalist (not aligned with Iran) Shia, has simply got to go. OTOH, the (get this!) "Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq" -- closely allied with Iran -- gets a friendly meeting with the President of the United States.

I mean, y'know. Just wow, is all.

The only officeholders who like this plan are Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, and the President (and, presumably, VP Cheney). I won't speculate on their motives...except to note that it postpones their having to admit that they've been utterly, and completely, and disastrously wrong, each and every time, about, well, everything. I did note that Sens. Susan Collins and Lindsay Graham seemed unable to believe what McCain was suggesting at the press conference they all held in Iraq; particularly military man Graham, who looked like his head would explode.

No wonder TIME Magazine nearly made Iran's president, Ahmadinejad, their Person of the Year. He's gamed the United States, and taken over the ME, and while we plan to secure his military gains for him, at no cost to him, he can cheerfully hold a Holocaust-Deniers' Conference.

Amazing, in a horrifying sort of way.

No more ISG for me, I hope. Next time, maybe teh funny. I bet we could all use it. :0

93 93/93 -- AJ

* (deep breath): http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=ajrose93&keyword=%22Clash+of+Civilizations%22%3F&filter=all
** His blog: http://www.turcopolier.typepad.com/
*** One wag calls this plan the "Powerless Surge," given its likelihood of leaving us powerless in Iraq. And, you know, everywhere else, what with a guaranteed broken infantry on the other side of this plan.
**** When I first ventured to suggest that's what we were doing, I could scarcely believe it myself. There may still be some in the administration who imagine that after this we'll somehow also stop Iran, but I have no idea how anyone thinks that will be possible. At the very least, it's a dizzyingly dangerous gamble: get rid of Iran's enemies, and only then see what we can do to impede a vastly more powerful Iran.
Thursday, December 14th, 2006
3:02 am
ISG, Part VIII, Conclusion: "The Way Forward" (2)
93!

Final pass on the ISG Report. Ta-daaah! ;) Read more...Collapse )
Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
5:35 am
ISG, Part VII: "The Way Forward" (1)
93!

Not long ago, Steve Clemons* attended a party with about sixty foreign policy heavy-hitters, and was struck by how glum the attendees were: struck that it was one thing to be unable oneself to imagine a good option for current U.S. policy, and quite another to be in a room full of foreign policy giants and discover that they couldn't, either. As you know by now, ten such heavy hitters -- five Republicans, five Democrats (some quite likely at that glum soiree, come to think) -- came together last March, at the instigation of Republican Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, as the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Though bipartisan, the panel leans conservative -- as it must, to influence a hard-right Republican president -- and (to the dismay of folks like liberal Sen. Russ Feingold) includes nobody who publicly opposed the Iraq War. Yet that too is its strength, given it must explicitly criticize what is currently being done, and implicitly criticize much that has gone before.

Its procedure was simple: assemble the best understanding available of the current situation, and get the best options-assessments available, with an eye to rebuilding an American consensus on the issues involved in what has become a deeply unpopular war. Our final two posts on the subject analyze (this one) the current state of affairs; then (next time -- at last!) the ISG Report itself.** Read more...Collapse )
Sunday, December 10th, 2006
7:56 am
ISG, Part VI: An Interlude, or Court & Snark ;)
93!

Encouragement: Every American who can needs to read the ISG Report -- if not for its conclusions, then at least for its description of where we stand. It's 84 pages of unusually straightforward prose, intended for everybody with basic reading skills, and it's available for free pdf download here:*

http://www.usip.org/isg/iraq_study_group_report/report/1206/index.html

This is the first time a reasonably objective overview of the situation has been available in print, and I'd really encourage folks to give it a glance.

Brief snark: if that's the word for it. I am deliberately keeping this primer as nonpartisan as possible, as the Report itself is -- I agree with the latter's conclusion that we can't hope to handle the difficult coming days without some national consensus, and I don't wish to undermine that hope. That said:

Reading the summary that begins the report it is difficult to escape the paranoid-feeling suspicion that such an overwhelming blow to American power almost cannot have come about by accident. I mean, think about it: we went in and -- I don't want to say deliberately, but certainly systematically -- destabilized the single region most vital to our energy consumption; the policy we're pursuing there is virtually guaranteed to destabilize it further, quite possibly prompting the regional conflagration Defense Secretary-designate Bob Gates has warned us against (not to mention the terrific jihadi recruitment effort it's proving to be); and all of this is done while we absolutely guarantee that U.S. military victory is flatly impossible.

Look, Americans have endured horrific casualties without shrinking, when there was a clear point to doing so: the Pacific theater alone (WW II) devastated the Marine Corps beyond anything we've yet seen in Iraq. Americans supported the Pacific campaign anyway because it had a point: our maimed and dead made their sacrifices so that we could, however slowly and painfully, make our way to the Japanese home islands, and ultimate victory.

Iraq is not like that. Iraq isn't even like Vietnam, where our casualties came from search and destroy missions against a mixture of insurgents and local rebels.

Day after day, Iraq is a fucking shooting gallery, and our brave men and women in uniform are targets.**

Look, if this IS the world war, or at least multigenerational struggle, the President and Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney have insisted it is, why aren't we taking the steps necessary for actual victory, however unpopular at home? Raising an army capable of defeating the enemy, even if that means a draft? Raising the funds needed to pay for it, even if that means whopping tax hikes, most especially at the corporate and high-income end? Instead, as their last official act before ceding control of Congress, the outgoing Republican majority refused to finish nine of the eleven budget bills for the current fiscal year...and instead made darn sure there were more tax CUTS.

Nor does it make sense to me that the refusal to raise taxes or institute a draft comes from an attempt to maintain unified American support for the war. The current administration and outgoing Congress have spent years, now, doing their damnedest to divide the American electorate in as hateful a way as they can...and support for the war as currently waged is at a breathtaking 27% (with 71% disapproval). You never see numbers like that. The whole thing is beyond me.

OTOH, if this is not the world war/multigenerational struggle the administration (and, largely, GOP) have claimed,*** why in heaven's name oppose the ISG's suggestions as a "recipe for defeat"? I mean, seriously: if you're not willing to "win," why oppose compromises designed to salvage what we can?

If this bundle of policy is a mistake, it is one of the biggest mistakes in world, let alone U.S., history. If it is not a mistake, it is high treason. I'm damned if I can decide which it is.

I find the motives here obscure to any non-paranoid analysis I can muster. If anyone has any theories, I'd be more than delighted to hear them.

After this thread, back to nonpartisan discussion -- I promise. :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

* Schmamazon has the hard copy for like $6.50. I ordered one, but am also making my bleary-eyed way through the pdf file online.
** Though not the main targets, of course, who are ordinary Iraqis. More on this -- and on the induced, rather than organic, nature of the "civil war" now developing there -- in later posts.
*** Or even if it is, come to think. Btw, I'm leaving aside in-depth discussion of troop levels for later posts.
Saturday, December 9th, 2006
6:11 pm
WHAT A GROOVY IDEA!!! :D
93

Next October, I'm gonna send Crowleymas cards to EVERYONE I KNOW, most ESPECIALLY the people I'm certain are NOT Thelemites (much less actual Crowleyans, like me).

Really heavily RELIGIOUS Crowleymas cards, mind you:

Unto us a Child is born...
Unto us a Son is given....


Maybe a little snow falling on Cefalu. (Or is that too secular?)

Anyway, won't that be great?

:D

93 93/93 -- AJ
5:37 am
ISG, Part V: "The Cold Equations" (3)
93!

The rest of the Kiesling quotes. Read more...Collapse )
Friday, December 8th, 2006
6:00 am
ISG, Part IV: "The Cold Equations" (2)
93!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John Brady Kiesling.* Read more...Collapse )
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