Thursday, July 28, 2005

New Blog: My Corridors

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I've decided that the creative writing I explore online doesn't really fit with the identity of this blog. My story entries just end up looking out of place, and also interupt the flow of my older articles for anyone interested in looking back.

So, I've started a seperate Weblog called "My Corridors - Stories To No One" that will be devoted entirely to improptu short stories, plays, and scripts. The sub-title is an homage to Jeff Buckley, and also a statement of intent to focus on having fun writing creatively for myself...

For anyone interested, the second and third part of my short play, "The Passage of Time," can now be read here: My Corridors

Also, one of my fave blogs, Eban's "Reaching For Lucidity," has moved from blogspot to its own server. I highly recommend you check out the very cool new design and excellent podcasts here: Reaching For Lucidity

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bayh watch...

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Anyone who read my personal overview of the candidates who, thus far, appear to be the forerunners for the Democratic 08' nomination, know that I quite like Evan Bayh. Beyond the fact he is an Indiana Senator, and inherently possesses more electoral potential in the traditionally Republican states... I've also liked what I've seen of him over the last few years. I like the fact that he embodies value politics. He's a man, especially when challenged, who exudes principle, integrity, and consistency. He possesses a vision of intellectual subtely and honesty that has actually struck me as very sincere... and "very sincere" in the Democratic Party usually means being to the left of Denis Kucinich.

Here is a video link on C-Span for a Democratic meeting in Manchester New Hampshire at which he spoke:

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  • C-Span - scroll down to second clip listed 'Recent Programs'

  • The speech begins at about 12.15 minutes.

    I have to to be honest. He doesn't immediately strike you as compelling. I imagine anyone who watches this link will think I'm nuts for entertaining his viability for running for President. But, in certain instances he is very impressive. The nuance and intelligence to his appreciation of problems, and suggestions for solutions slowly engages and enlightens if you have the attention span to keep listening. I like a lot of what he said about confronting Iraq's problems by combining the big, industrial economic intiatives with smaller, bottom up, economic stimulus. After all, it's the widely spread unemployment of young men in Iraq which underpins the social unrest there and creates fodder for extremists to exploit. It's an assessment that is in tune with my own about the failings of Bush's economic dochtrine generally. Trickle down economics is not the sole basis upon which you can expect any society to flourish. It needs to be combined with dexterious methods to train, re-train, raise community standards, and incentivize employment in those struggling communities.

    I like this about him.

    I'm watching this video as I write, and I was just about to say something negative about Bayh. An elderly supporter asked a question about what is the point of grass roots Democrats putting their heart and soul into winning elections, when, as she believes, the last two elections were stolen by George Bush. I was going to criticize Bayh, because he seemed to indulge the notion that the election of 04 was stolen... which is absolutely ridiculous. Bush won fair and square. But, to his credit, he forcefully asserted that he respectfully disagreed, and that it was incumbent upon Democrats to learn from past mistakes and present a positive vision for change. The time on this is around 30.00 if anyone wants to see it. It's moments like this that display Bayh's strength. His soft, but immovable stickability to matters of principle and common sense. It's stuff like this that defines him as a centrist, mainstream candidate.

    To have any hopes of winning the election in 08 Democrats have to fight an internal battle. As a party we need to be defined less by fringe reactionary, bitter elements like Dean and Pelosi, and more by a moderate vision and emotional passion for how great a nation the US can be. Yes, sometimes I want to call Republican's names. Yes, sometimes I want people to scream out angrily against policies that I believe do the country and the wider world harm. But, this is not the best part of who any of us our... regardless of our political affiliations. It's Bush's strength, and the weakness of his policy staff. Bush's sincere determination to be positive, and respectful, ultimately, is what elevated him above some of the less savoury tactics of his own party, orchestrated in large part by his Senior Political Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff. It's what Clinton exuded in abundance. And, it's obviously something I see in Bayh.

    Kerry avoided this internal battle by allowing himself to be so dramatically swayed by the ete's of popular opinion during the primary season. He gave arguments attacking the war while Dean surged, and arguments supporting it when Dean mis-spoke about Saddam Hussein. Someone has to fight this battle and win the respect of the party's base... if they are to go to the rest of the country and be considered mainstream.

    There is a long way to go before I decide he's my guy. Bayh has human moments, much more so than Kerry, but he takes time to warm up, and in the interim appears forced. He speaks articulately, but very, very calm and quietly... which might not extrapolate into a BIG voice that will connect with the nation as a whole. He connects emotionally, but, without any real, big, refreshing ideas that I think a lot of us our searching for: Some real imaginition to solve our problems, domestically, and globally.

    But, thus far, I must say.... looking very far ahead I know... Evan Bayh is definately my fave.

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    Monday, July 25, 2005

    The Passage of Time (part one)

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    I have some time to kill re-capturing some footage for my editing project so I thought I'd try something a little different. I perchanced across a blog that had told a story, entry by entry, surfing earlier today. I found the idea quite challenging. I like the thought of free styling a bit with my writing... I'm going to make it a drama play because I don't have a lot of time available. I'll keep each section short so it's not a hassle to read, and I'll try to do it in five parts (or maybe less if it's a pile of shite). I'd like to make it a feature of my blog… to have a little story progressing each week. Anyway, here is the beginning of my off the cuff play: "The Passage of Time." This is my first, so be gentle. They'll get better I promise.

    Scene One:

    ALANA, a twenty something young woman with dyed green hair is casually dressed in a small T-Shirt and pair of jeans, sitting with her legs crossed in the corner of the patio garden. A lit cigarette is streaming smoke in the ashtray placed in front of her. KELLY, her sister, a few months pregnant, emerges from the house humming a classical melody, serene and at ease. Alana by comparison is restless. Kelly strolls out onto the grass.

    KELLY: So what do you think of the place?

    Alana pauses in consideration.

    ALANA: I think... Mum and Dad would be proud if they were still here.

    Kelly glances back and smiles.

    KELLY: That's uncharacteristically sweet of you to say.
    ALANA: Pu-lease... you were the light of their life, and I was the scourge...
    KELLY: You were not.
    ALANA: Was too.
    KELLY: They loved you, babe.
    ALANA: You left the house when you were sixteen, Kelly. That was fifteen years ago.
    KELLY: (sighing) I'm beginning to remember why these get togethers between us became so infrequent.
    ALANA: Like I said, I'm the scourge.

    Kelly returns to the patio and takes a chair in front of Alana.

    KELLY: Tell me about what's going on with you?
    ALANA: You don't want to know about my life.
    KELLY: I asked, didn't I?
    ALANA: My life doesn't fit into this neat equation of familial bliss you're creating out here with Robert. My life isn't a picture book fairytale.
    KELLY: Stop being a presumptuous little shit... you're my sister, I haven't seen you in months and I'm interested in you.

    Alana takes a drag of her cigarette and then puts it out. She nods to herself.

    ALANA: Well, let's see... my council flat is infested with cockroaches and that's been a pre-occupation of mine recently. I find them in my kitchen drawers, and under the bathroom sink, and crawling up the ceiling when I wake up in the night. I've been waiting in most afternoons for Pest Control to show up from the council but thus far they haven't seen fit to keep an appointment. My ex-boyfriend is certifiably unstable. Last week he came into my work and demanded I talk to him outside in the car park. I refused and he got into a fight with security. My rent is in arrear. I'm tired. I hate my job... is that what interests you?
    KELLY: You know I can give you a loan, sis.
    ALANA: I don't want your money. I don't want anybody's money.
    KELLY: You can't keep going on like this. Do you ever think about getting out of the city?
    ALANA: come and join you in the Twilight Zone?
    KELLY: The Twilight Zone?
    ALANA: Every house looks the same, every car looks the same, everybody's life is the same. Married, children, dinner at seven, TV from 8-10... it's like Night of the Living Dead.

    KELLY: Then what are you going to do?
    ALANA: I have options.
    KELLY: You're almost thirty.
    ALANA (sarcastic): You're kidding? I had NO idea.
    KELLY: Where are you going to be when you’re thirty-five, or forty?
    ALANA: Where will you be? Dealing with your dysfunctional kids and wondering why your husband can't keep his dick hard. Yes, I won't be wrapped up in a suburban cocoon, changing nappies, and playing housewife, Kelly... is that okay with you?
    KELLY: God, I wish Dad was still here. At least Dad could talk to you.
    ALANA: Don't you get it? I'm not you. I'm not like you. I've never been like you!

    To Black

    Scene Two:

    Kelly and Alana are both sitting in front of the TV... Alana’s feet are on the sofa, and her hands are around her knees in a defensive posture. Kelly begins to laugh at something they are watching. Alana can't help but smirk at her sister.

    KELLY: Why are you smiling at me?
    ALANA: I don't know. It's weird seeing you laugh. It undermines my notion of you as some kind of robot.
    KELLY: You know I hate to break it to you Alana, but I do have feelings. And, it hurts me when we argue like we did in the garden.
    ALANA: I meant what I said. Mum and Dad would be very proud of you. You've come along way.
    KELLY: They'd be proud of you, too.
    ALANA: Yeah, right.

    Kelly turns around to look directly at her sister.

    KELLY: Look at you, look how beautiful you are, it's sick.
    ALANA: Okay you're starting to freak me out.
    KELLY: It's true. You're smart, you're insightful. And, you can be very charming sometimes... I emphasize SOME of time.

    Alana chuckles nervously.

    ALANA: For some reason I'm trying to remember the last time I punched you.
    KELLY: Y'know, it's okay to receive a compliment, Alana...
    ALANA: Okay, that's it...

    Alana jumps up from the sofa, shivering a cringe out of her system, grabbing and lighting a cigarette, before walking to the window and gazing out into the darkening night.

    ALANA: Are you happy here with Robert? Really.
    KELLY: Why do you ask that?
    ALANA: When I arrived earlier, and you took me on your little guided tour of the new Shabby Chic furniture, and the beautifully designed garden, and the baby's room to be...
    KELLY: And what?
    ALANA: And it was weird. It was like he didn't exist...
    KELLY: What do you mean?
    ALANA: You didn't mention Robert once.

    Kelly appears perturbed by Alana’s insight.

    KELLY: It's the house. This is my thing. This is what I'm going to be doing for the next six months before the baby arrives.
    ALANA: You're bored aren't you?
    KELLY: Absolutely not. I love it; I want to make this house our paradise.
    ALANA: I mean you're bored by him...

    Kelly again takes a moment.

    KELLY (vulnerable): I...don't see enough of him to be bored.

    Kelly's openness strikes Alana and her face visibly softens. She walks up to Kelly and puts her arms around her. Hugging her tightly. Kelly is taken back, smiling, shocked.

    KELLY: What's is this for?

    Alana starts to cry.

    KELLY: What's wrong?

    She is crying hard.

    KELLY: Babe, it's okay. Baby. What's wrong?
    ALANA: I miss them so much. I miss them soooo much.
    KELLY: I know, darling. Me too.
    ALANA: Why did they have to go like that? Why!
    KELLY: Shhh...

    Kelly rocks Alana back and forth.

    To Black


    I'll try and do part two tomorrow

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Blair's legacy...

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    This is a quote from John Pilger's article in the New Statesman:

    "Blair brought home to this country his and George W Bush's illegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in the Middle East. Were it not for his epic irresponsibility, the Londoners who died in the Tube and on the No 30 bus almost certainly would be alive today... To paraphrase perhaps the only challenging question put to Blair on the eve of the invasion (by John Humphrys), it is now surely beyond all doubt that the man is unfit to be Prime Minister."

    The reality is that any President or Prime Minister who serves for eight years in power will become a publicly divisive figure. But, in the aftermath of the London bombings something deeper is behind the animosity directed towards Tony Blair. John Pilger's sentiments have been echoed by Alex Sammond of the Scottish National Party, and, to some degree, the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone. In the press conference immediately following the second failed attack last Thursday, the questions that were posed to the Prime Minister were forceful and direct: "Do you feel any responsibility for putting Londoners on the front line of the war on terror?" One particular journalist asked.

    The war in Iraq is one method by which the anxiety in this country can be purged, and perhaps, an element of blame can be apportioned.

    It is such a frustrating, disheartening part of the emerging discourse. The idea that the terrorists who blew up innocent people on 7/7 were possessed with some kind of humanitarian concern for the innocent dead in Iraq, or were waging a political campaign like the IRA for the removal of the the US from Iraq, is clearly wrong. These are men devoted to the violent supremacy of their warped dochtrine.

    Blair's domestic legacy isn't difficult to discern at this time (although I'm sure many will disagree with my assessments). We know that his stewardship will be defined by an uninterupted period of economic stability and growth, as he is predicted to leave the government at the end of next year. We know that the policies that have been the bedrock of securing that success were fought for and won by his courageous attempt to bring the Labour party into the mainstream of British politics. The Labour party's current viability in government, (three successive election victories, and predictions of a fourth)
    as a result of his youth, charisma, moderate vision, and appeal to middle England, are where Tony Blair's legacy begins.

    In addition to low interests rates, low inflation, and all time record low levels of unemployment, he has been able to combine a secure economy with increased investment in public services. The hospitals, schools, police and emergency services, all have greater resources at their disposal, and the common consensus at the last election was that, while maybe not to the desired degree, they had all improved.

    The next point is a difficult one to make in the light of the fact we've learned the terrorists of 7/7 were British born. But, I believe it to be true, in spite of this. We live in a more inclusive society than that under 18 years of Conservative rule. The eightees are defined by many things, but part of that retrospective equation is the social unrest of the time. The poll tax riots, the miners strikes, and a general sense of exclusion are my memories of being one of "Thatcher's children." The real domestic legacy of Tony Blair, in my opinion, is that we are not as divided as we once were. People in most of the country comfortably feel part of where the nation is heading, and what it stands for, with the possible exception of elements of the countryside.

    Blair's approach to international affairs has been bold. I think no one would disagree with me on that. He has taken a leadership role in the military action in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and also the peace negotiations in N.Ireland. The accusations levelled against him of electioneering, and popularism, at least in this instance, do not seem to be fair.

    There was nothing popular about stading up to Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with 16 successive security council resolutions. There was nothing popular about backing the United States when the French refused on any basis to agree to a second resolution directly threatening military action for another breach and continued non-compliance.

    I supported the war in Iraq. And, I continue to support it. I continue to believe that the free world should be active in trying to manage the threats posed by facistic, dangerous regimes. But, there have have been some awful mistakes in securing and rebuilding Iraq after the war.

    One of Paul Bremmer's first actions was to create a more liberalized economy than arguably any other on the face of the planet, by removing all barriers, trade borders, or protectionist measures. Traders streamed across the Iraqi border with goods to sell. Iraq's comparitively well developed economy, in the drama of Saddam's removal was suddenly exposed to a whole host of new trading variables. In stead of a rebuilding effort lead by economists, international institutions, and humanitarian agencies, secured by the US military presence... we had instead a rebuilding effort lead by the US military pursuing the naive Bush economic dochtrine of less government is always for the best.

    Was this even Democratic? Was it not up to the Iraqi people to determine their economic future when elections could be held? Was it not incumbent upon us as self-perceived liberators to safeguard the big decisions that the Iraqi people would face, and might in turn be united by... like the direction of their economic policy? Wasn't there some other way of managing the requisite private investment other than opening up Iraq's borders to everyone? Has this not aggrevated the perceived notion of the US being occupyers and not liberators?

    Post war Iraq, has been, in my opinion a mismanaged failure. The British Empire invaded arab nations centuries ago under no professed intension to liberate their inhabitants... without any pretense that they were anything other than invaders and occupiers, and yet, miraculously, they managed the economic growth and security of those nations with a great deal more efficiency than has taken place in Iraq.

    The insurgency, terrorism, beheadings, social fragmentation IS the epitaph of the Iraq war. And, unfortunately, it will be the legacy of what I still believe to be a brave confrontation with a malevolent dictator capable of committing mass murder and destablising the entire region.

    It doesn't matter if I, and others who thought like me were right to support the war. The reality is it has failed thus far because the primary objectives have not been achieved.

    The region is not more stabile.
    The integrity of the U.N. has been undermined, and not upheld.

    It was very sad for me to see Tony Blair sail into a healthy 9-12 point lead during the build up to the British general election as the public debate focused upon domestic issues, only for Iraq to rear its head in the last two weeks, and for that lead to be consequently eroded to three points of an embarrisingly limp opposition Conservative party.

    The terrorism on September 11th, in Bali, Madrid, London, and now Egypt has nothing to do with the operation of Iraq. Two of those attacks took place before the war in Iraq had even begun. Like I said, in my opinion, this terrorism is the last throes of a failing theocratic facistic ideal. These terrorists cannot stand the incompatibility of their pre-eminence with free societies, and the way freedom spreads throughout all nations over time.

    John Pilger is so wrong. He doesn't understand the nature of the threat posed to us, and further, why inaction, and passivity in the face of this violent threat is the worst way of securing our safety.

    But, Blair's legacy, so sadly spoiled by the failure of Iraqi reconstruction, is now a very easy place for anxious ideologues to lay blame.

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    Saturday, July 23, 2005

    Jeff Buckley

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    The saddest thing about Jeff Buckley was that he never romantically prevaricated upon the notion of an idealistic, rock star, self destructive early death. He was a musician, and wanted to live on, and experience, and grow. His best work was so obviously ahead of him.

    And then he jumped in a river with a heavy tide, wearing all of his clothes... and we lost everything he potentially had left to share.

    He's one of the few artists I admire without any reservation. A beautiful man, with the ability to evoke the most emotional depths of the human soul with the astonishing range of his vocals and brilliance of his songwriting. At the worst of times, his wailing cries of "hallelujah," are of immense comfort to many.

    We can only be grateful that he left anything behind for us at all.



    Me and my sis, last year :):

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    I've just spent a long, eventful night with my family, all together, for the first time in quite a while. The bickering, miscommunication, arguments, and banter was difficult for me. All of those feelings I've previously described of displacement, and the people and places I miss elsewhere make it difficult for me to engage with those I love so much. But, I do love them, regardless of anything. They are such an integral part of who I am, and I hope in some way I can make their lives easier in the future.

    Family is very important. I love my mum, dad, and sister. Just wanted to say so, cause sometimes it is a struggle to express it to them personally.

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Prepared to kill and die...

    These are the images that were released earlier this evening by the British Police.

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    "Everything honest and true: our careers, relationships, and families... flourishes as part of the graceful fearless strides we take. I hope in the face of fear our courage can define us. I hope we can continue gracefully strident, without descending into divisiveness and terror. Somehow we must remain free and strong."

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment reply, I have never previously seen so many police on the streets as I noticed today. I had no idea London even had that many police. I find it so sad, because, unlike two weeks ago, we are not consumed with the determination to continue on unhindered. Instead, we are all dealing with the fact that our lives appear to have permanently changed, and attacks like these could well become a constant feature of our day to day experiences in the city.

    The faces of these men tell a story. They obviously seem panicked and confused. But, they do not strike me as the type who could have together masterminded such an attack. They appear to be very different people. The young man in the first picture does not seem like someone you would naturally expect to spend time with the man in the last. The way they dress makes me think they come from completely different regions in the UK. Who brought these men together like this???

    Last night was a low point for me since I've been back in the UK. I was very emotional, for reasons other than the attempted attack, although it certainly played its part. My sister, after all, lives two miles away from the failed explosion in Hackney, and frequently uses public transport.

    But, more so, in light of some recent personal events, outside of the above situation, I feel irrevocably scarred. Sometimes I think maturity, and growing older is simply the way bitterness, and hurt eventually seperates us from our heart. I spent some time with a friend of mine this morning and her little kid... and it was absolutely stunning/amazing/wonderful/beautiful. I remember being a pretensious eighteen year old convinced intellectually it would be a dire act to introduce a human life into this terrible world... and yet, right now, I can think of nothing that would bring me greater joy than to be surrounded by that kind of honesty, and purity everyday of my life.

    I think of my friends that get to go home and experience their families filled by that love, happiness, charm, and joy each evening and night, and every morning they wake up... they are IMO the luckiest souls alive.

    To have someone you live for beyond any selfish designs, and beyond the ease of self destruction. This little baby goes around with his mum, my friend, all day to horse stables, and cafes, and shops, and so on (his mum is quite the social butterfly) and he just brings a smile to every single person he encounters. How can you not look at his cute little face and funny little expressions and feel something real and beautiful inside.

    There are lots of reasons why I feel disappointed in myself at the moment. A sense of self is perpetually in a state of re-alignment as our briefly indulged grandiose pretensions get eviscerated by harshness of real life... until, of course, we resurrect them all over again.

    I'm done with that. As Nick Hornby wrote in "High Fidelity," I'm not the greatest guy in the world, but I'm not the worst. I don't know everything, but I have something to say that matters. And no, I don't send shivers down every gals spine when I walk into a room. And no, I'm not god's gift to the female sex :(.

    You have to be able to fundamentally be ok with yourself to move on from pain in a healthy way. I don't want to be stunned off my feet every time I feel something, in between month long emotionless interludes. And that's a journey I have to start taking. I have to live with my mistakes, not hide from them. I want to retain an open heart, and rediscover generosity and care for the people I love, of which I've had very little recently to provide. Like I said, "let go, jump in," and all that good stuff.

    After finishing my work tonight I compiled some writing clipings, put them together with novel proposals and wrote an introductory email to literary agents and publishers. I'd been meaning to do it for months. I've already started receiving automated replies informing me of proper submission procedures... but, at least I got around to trying. If I get one response from which I can ask questions and broaden my understanding of how the industry functions, I'll be better equipped to succeed in some fashion. I just started reading "Cosmopolis," by Don Delillo, which I've adored thus far... the rhythm and poetry to each paragraph Delillo writes is so sublime, and his perceptions so broad and meaningful... and in my heart, I know writing is what I want to pursue above any other potential career, as much as other alternatives appear easier from time to time.

    Anyway, off to get some well needed sleep.

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Let Go, Jump In...

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    I never intended for this to be a personal blog. I just wanted a resource to develop some concepts and enjoy my writing... to focus upon the ideas that rattle around between my ears, regardless of grammar and craft, and share them with different types of people. One of the things I've thoroughly enjoyed has been, ironically, conversing back and forth with staunch conservatives. It's ironic because my original idea was to call this blog, "I hate the right," as a result of the residue of hurt left from November 04. But, I realise now I have so much to learn, and most of it comes from people who hold different opinions and ideas to my own.

    Generally speaking, this is a pretty sizemic episode in my life, and it's hard re-adjusting to this weird little island.

    The news about the attempted bombings today left me feeling numb. Hopefully, some good will come from the unexploded bombs that were left behind, and as a result, the people responsible will be tracked down, arrested, and used by police to obstruct future terrorist activities.

    After watching the news, and taking a break from my work, I took a long walk through my local golf course and watched people calmly enjoying the beautiful weather as if nothing unusual had transpired. It was actually quite amusing perusing seventy year olds scooping their golf balls along each fairway, twenty yards a time, feverishly in competition with each other. It reminded me of a comedy sketch as they plodded along through the thick grass, tapped the ball a little further, and then plodded along all over again. I wondered how on earth they would manage to total their scores.

    Travelling on the train tonight was strange, even if it was a main line train. I remember being 11 years old and taking the underground to school everyday during the height of the IRA. The same kind of messages about making sure to not leave behind anything behind that could be construed as a suspect package are now being played repeatedly. I wonder if they are the old ones I used to hear in 1990.

    Central London remains a sight to behold. All of the winding roads, and ancient buildings are in stark contrast to the large gridded roadways of LA. In small stretches you are surrounded by theaters, beautiful architecture, the throng of consumerism, jam packed bars and clubs, and some really cool bookstores :). Late at night inebriated groups of young men and women vomit in dark corners, and take drugs on dance floors.

    Quote from a favorite movie of mine:

    "Do you remember that point in your life when you realise the house you grew up in isn't your home anymore? All of a sudden, even though you have someplace to put your s**t, that idea of home is gone."

    I've been feeling a lot like that about being back in England. I haven't done much living since my return. I've been grappling with my inner turmoil, the pressures I've put on myself, and the aloness inherent in my displacement.

    The truth is that I don't know where I'm heading. I don't really know if there's much time left to this journey. I don't know where I'll end up, or how I'll ever learn to live without the special someone I lost. I don't know if it will all make anymore sense in a month, or two months time from now. I don't know where I'll be then. I don't know where I'm about to land.

    All I know is it's time to let go, and jump in...

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Billy, the era of big government is not over...

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    During George Bush's first term in office spending rose by 23.7 percent. In 2003 the overall federal expediture was an estimated $2.31 trillion compared to $1.86 trillion in 2000 while Clinton was in power.

    Terrorism, wars in Afghanistan, and Iraq, + inflationary pressures upon Social Security, medicare, and Medicaid all contributed to this, but, most significantly, discretionary spending had also risen 31.5% by 2004, compared to an annual average of 3.4% during the Clinton years.

    In the UK also, we have seen expansionist policies in place for the last six years or so, after the tight reins Gordon Brown immediatley employed during the early stages of his career at #11 Downing Street. Billions of new moneys invested in schools, and hospitals, generated by a higher proportion of the nations wealth being taxed, as well as increased government revenue. A statistic I saw last year said something like one in five Britain's are employed by the state in the United Kingdom.

    In the European Union, there is a push towards liberalising markets driven predominantly by Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, and the recently intergrated former eastern block countries. But, most drives toward market reform are being aggressively fought by nations such as France insisting upon huge subsidies, and protectionist measures for their domestic economies.

    In the developing world the predominant consensus is that the West needs to work harder to provide access to our markets, but it is also commonly argued that protectionism needs to be employed in poorer nations to prevent resources and labour being exploited, and their potential consequently stagnated by monolithic multi-national corporations.

    The era of big government, or the concept of an expansionist government, is not by any means over.

    Regardless of your political affiliation you cannot deny that trade is the foundation upon which we organize ourselves as a society. As an individual I cannot be personally responsible for every provision I need, or desire... I can't grow my own food, educate my children, provide my own healthcare, design and construct my own means of transport, create my own means of communicating with, and learning from the wider world.

    We depend upon each other for our civilisation to flourish... our needs and demands as a society creating opportunities for us as individuals... to inturn generate currency from which we can fulfill our own ever broadening range of needs and desires. This is simply the basis upon which an interconnected collection of people evolves into a community/town/city and so on. Trade has been just as vital a tenet of guaranteeing civilisation in the past as our relgious institutions and forms of governance.

    The question is whether we seek to intervene and control the distribution of provisions, as a collective, or instead, allow the needs and demands we have as individuals to create a comprehensive and accessible, ubiquitously fulfilling supply of goods and services.

    Two issues arise that focus our predominant political ideologies...

    1) A free market is not perfect.

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    Watching on as huge sways of a community struggle to find opportunity and in turn the means to provide for themselves and their families, invests in a lot of people the urge for us to act together, or elect and fund representatives upon our behalf, to intervene and influence the areas of society that are affected by the market's inadequacies.

    2) Our individual pursuits as free individuals.

    My exploration within the infrastructure of civilisation to determine my personal worth to society is a fundamental, spirtual right that we all intrinsically crave. To freely decide to farm, or build houses, or design houses, or design clothes, or write, or whatever else that enlivens our respective spirits and invests us with meaning... is as essential as any part of our experience on this earth. Our life's course should not be predetermined as a labourer in the local factory in the cause of the greater good, when everybody's individual liberty is, after all, a vital prerequisite of the greater good.

    My personal belief is that our progress as a civilization is an evolutionary process, just as our biological evolution has been. See the irrefutable diagram I made below :)

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    Our evolution from centuries past can be seen in our consciousness, in our relationships, and in our notions of self. We are no longer simply defined by our part in a collective. We are increasingly endowed with self determination and the freedom to define ourselves as a Christian, or a Hindu, or a football supporter, or a jogger, or a dreamer, or a know it all, or a singer, or a computer nerd, or an S&M freak... or all of them at the same time.

    Just look at the blogosphere, and the sheer diversity of our humanity flourishing and connecting and becoming something more. We are all more as a result of the incumbency that is placed upon our shoulders: to determine our own path in society. To not stand in a cue, and be directed to one industry or another in the quest of sustaining a communal ideal.

    These ideas may seem lofty, but, they are the bedrock of politics. I believe in an activist government. I believe we can craft government intervention to educate and create opportunities in a way that retains our individual freedoms. I also believe that commercialism is often an entity unto itself, divorced from our needs and desires... busy MANUFACTURING DEMAND, instead of meeting it. And god knows the pressures of the market aren't always best placed to provide a continent, like Africa, in the midst of an AIDS epidemic with kind of medical care it needs.

    But, this should never cloud the fact that we are better for the responsibility we have over our own lives. In the pub tonight, I was talking to this guy who bemoaned how difficult he found life. London was too expensive, he lost all his money in a divorce, he gave up his career. His negativism clouded the possibilities of all that life might continue to hold. I see so much of that in this country. A void of imagination, education, and self-belief.

    When in the pursuit of communal ideas like nationhood, and religion, the very worst human attrocities have been committed. When, as I believe, human beings are fundamentally good, compassionate, social, interconnected creatures, the influence of government in fully developed economies must begin to reside in a different type of activism. Government must become smaller... it just has to.

    We need to start doing everything we can to help people help themselves. To focus upon enterprise in our schools, and role models for kids from less priveleged backgrounds who don't believe in a better future... and universal access to an excellent education... and training centers, and processes to get the unemployed skills to pursue different types of work... and all kinds of stuff like that. This, is what I believe the role of government should be: a smaller, leaner, inspiring platform for everyone. The growth of our economy demands that we search out alternatives to the role the state currently plays in our lives... Social Security being the most obvious example. It's just ironic that this administraion has failed so miserably to decisively confront the role of government in our evolving society, and, of course, that their fiscal imprudence has jeapordized it all anyway.

    What happened to big ideas and inspirational minds in politics confronting the larger societal trends? Looking at the prospective nominees for 2008 is so depressingly soul destroying.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    An Anti-Anti-American Sentiment...

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    I was recently in a pub with friends... an Irish pub in Kilburn that’s usually populated by very old men slurring their speech, and stumbling around the bar with pints of Guinness and the Racing Post. On the neighboring table to me three American students were quite boisterously discussing international affairs: the march of globalization, American Imperialism, etc. Subsequently, amongst the people I was talking to, a similar conversation began about terrorism and the role of Bush and Blair.

    One particular friend began an aggressive, drunken diatribe about the United States, knowing full well that the table of US students were close by. In essence he blamed the stupidity, and ignorance of Americans for the terrorist bombings on the 7th of July. Americans were isolated, hamburger eating, religious zealots, and their ignorance, and election of George Bush, alongside Tony Blair’s unconditional support for the war in Iraq, was ultimately responsible.

    The US students finished their drinks and left offended and shocked by what I think they perceived as a personal attack. I was on my sixth pint and in no condition to express myself lucidly so I sadly watched them pack up their things and exit onto the busy street… feeling rather ashamed of my companions, and disappointed in myself.

    I’m not sure what Anti-Americanism really amounts to. Is it a sincere concern for the way a superpower wields its influence in the world? Is it insecurity? Is it jealousy?

    The first thing that strikes you as a foreigner in the US is just how vast a society it is. The kind of pretentious cultural assessments you've grown up with are inherently flawed. States as large as most European nations comprise their own identities and values... where I lived in California was a world away from Montana, or New Hampshire, or Mississippi for example.

    I lived in the US for two years and I considered it my home.

    I fell in love with the perpetual optimism and enterprise of the people I encountered. I fell in love with the ubiquitous lust and drive for living. I fell in love with its deep sense of national identity forged in fundamental human ideals like freedom, individualism, self-determination, and self-reliance.

    I loved the fact you could drive for a day and see settings so disparate... Desert lands, snowy mountain ranges, sky scraping cities, and a beautiful oceanside.

    I loved that Americans were smarter, more thoughtful people than the rest of the world gave them credit for. I loved that in any public venue you would randomly find people discussing, with an enlightened intricacy, investments, business, foreign policy, healthcare, community... in terms of how it affected the vastness of America, rather than the relative smallness of my native country, and our thinking (in spite of our claims to be more internationally aware).

    I acknowledge that the U.S. isn't perfect... after all, I'm a man who supports Kyoto and the ICC :)

    But, I miss it a great deal. There's something about being surrounded by cynicism, pessimism, and negativism in the UK that ultimately wears you down. I miss hearing people's grand ambitions to start their own companies, or their determination to ascend to a better job. I miss listening to people dream without fear of incredulity, or people's perceptions. I miss that energy...

    I only wish young people in this country, like my 22-year-old sister for instance, could experience that freedom, and license to dream, and the opportunity to try. After all, it's our individual pursuits, whether they are altruistic, or otherwise, that drive us forward together as a society... that allow us to keep people in work, to invest more in our infrastructure/schools/hospitals, and to keep our economy growing.

    The United States is so much more than the two-dimensional stereotype it is so often reduced to. Some of the greatest minds have grappled with its immensity in some of the world's greatest novels... I miss the little part of it I experienced, and can think of few other places in the world I'd rather make my home in the future.

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    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    A Shattered Consensus

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    Sometimes, when I'm randomly pondering ideas in my head I think to myself it's hard to square a belief in democracy with a fervent zeal for your particular political party to obtain and remain in power. Many Republican's currently think armegeddon will be wrought upon the earth if a Democrat becomes President in 2008, and most Democrats think we are currently suffering an incarnation of Armegeddon at the hands of the Bush Administration.

    Apart from all of the obvious fundamentals that we all, I expect, embrace and adore, what good does it do to have two competing political philosphies undoing each others work before re-implementing their own ideas decade after decade, on and on in some kind of paradoxical loop? Surely this is not the purpose of Democracy...

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    In the UK, the past twenty six years have manifested the remarkable phenemona of four successive Conservative terms in office, followed by three Labour terms. The reason behind this is that 1) the respective parties in power both attained a high degree of success in implementing their policies, and 2) their respective opposition parties struggled to drag themselves back from the political extremes on the left and right... where, notoriously, the British electorate rarely dwell.

    What good is done for us to simply sway between competing political visions, like this?

    Well, for me, I believe it's about progress through consensus. The Conservative party liberalized the British economy dramatically in the early 80's which transformed our society for good and bad. The test of their accomplishment, or of any political accomplishment IMO, is the response the opposition takes to regain support and power, and of course, what it does when it gets into power. Margaret Thatcher's reforms had so many positive benefits that slowly but surely the Labour party was required to reposition its economic vision. The Labour vision remained distinct and unique, with elements of increased taxation, and more gov't activism, but they were suddenly forced to acquire a pragmatic conviction in the positive benefits of free markets domestically, and abroad.

    Progress through consensus. The public's recognition of what constitutes progress redefining the electoral landscape.

    And now, after three successive election defeats, the British Conservative party is faced with similar choices. They have to somehow reflect the public consensus, while incorporating it into their own ideas. It's an exciting opportunity for an innovative vision of Conservatism in the UK, confronting the widely held negative perceptions that continue to hold them back. The only problem the Conservative party faces is finding the big, bold, brave men and women courageous enough to meet this challenge, and fight for progress... men/women with sufficient charisma and popular appeal. Where is the Tory Tony Blair? They will hopefully find him in the coming months. David Cameron, maybe? We'll have to wait and see.

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    Many Republican's can not understand, or simply do not care why, George Bush inspires so much hatred... they wonder why he is such a polarizing charcter, and usually reduce it to the flag bashing treachery of the Liberal left.

    It's not, IMHO, because he's from Texas. It's not because he mispeaks in sentences. It's not because he went to war in Iraq. It's not because he lost the popular vote in 2000.

    The reason why the US is split so dramatically on the question of George Bush is because he has split the country himself by his style of governance. He has thrown the concept of 'progress through consensus' out the window, and with it, a little piece of what makes everybody, Liberal and Conservative alike, left feeling democratically involved regardless of who the President is.

    It's incumbent upon any administration that sincerely has the well being of everyone at heart to take your predecessor's copy book, and read, and learn, and realise what worked, using those ideas and making them better, not simply chucking them all into the trash, saying "ok boys, screw the last lot... now we do it our way."

    To me, for Democracy to work, for this not to be an endless loop going back and forth between one political vision and another, our political parties have to retain more humility, they have to not be such rigid ideologues... otherwise what is the point? We have to learn from each other, looking ahead twenty, thirty, forty years into the future.

    How do you take a budget surplus into trillion dollar defecits? For all of the many external pressures, the tidy economic management of Rubin, et all, in the 90's should have harboured some lessons for Conservatives... not tax less and spend more, more, more!!! Y'know, the way we all on the left learned from Reagan/Thatcher... the third way and all that stuff. But, for some reason the Bush administration just wanted to make like the 90's never happened.

    Sadly, the adept electioneering of Karl Rove, and this administration, which itself incurs a greater societal polarization, has simply afforded George Bush the opportunity to drive an even wider wedge between the left and right. Which, depressingly, was everything he promised not to be in 2000.

    I remember when George Bush was interviewed by Tim Russert before the last election, he was asked about why partisanship on the hill had got worse in his time in power, when one of his platforms in 2000 was to bring Democrats and Republicans together. Bush's response was to say that Democrats just haven't wanted to budge, effectively it was all their fault. But, it was he, and not the Democrats in Congress that had abandoned consenus politics.

    Over the following months we will see a philisophical, cultural, and political war explode over Bush's next Supreme Court Nominee. It will be divisive, brutal, perhaps violent, and ultimately tragic.

    ...and, it will be all the fault of this administration.

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    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Democratic Candidates for 2008

    I've been thinking a great deal about the extreme partisanship currently surrounding Karl Rove. Liberals (like me) want him tried for treachery, while Conservatives think the rationale behind his involvement is just delusional, wishful reasoning of sparse, and ambiguous facts.

    When combined with two consecutive U.S. elections where the popular vote has been so evenly divided across the nation... you recognize the huge weight that will fall upon the shoulders of both the Republican and Democratic nominee for President in 2008... to bridge the vast partisan divide, and the broad churches that exist within their own parties. Regardless of what any Conservative or Liberal might tell you, no one particular value system will have an electoral advantage come 2008.

    So, in the wake of Hillary's bid being so widely discussed in the mainstream media outlets, I wanted to quickly explore some of the current potential candidates for the Democratic Party:

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    Hillary's strength is that she will possess in her team the best political strategist in the Democratic Party... her husband. She has sincere principles, an enigmatic voice... she's capable of grappling with policy issues with intelligence and ingenuity... and has been referred to as a forceful galvanizing presence in the Senate ever since her arrival. She also has the advantage and disadvantage of her comparatively high profile, having been First Lady.

    But there are many things that concern me about Hillary. I see strange parallels between her and Kerry. Her political judgment has, on occasion, proven to be very poor. Kerry's mindless decision to repeatedly mention Dick Cheney's gay daughter was symptomatic of insincerities that dogged his campaign... cringe worthy acts that remind me of Hillary, and her audacity to hold up a copy of a NY tabloid during a press conference which said "THEY KNEW," regarding September 11th and speculative reports of intelligence the WH had about terrorists using planes to blow up buildings.

    Hillary has also been about as warm, fuzzy, and emotionally accessible as a refrigerated dung beetle ever since the Lewinski affair... her Vulcanesque debates in the NY senate race in 2000 were incredibly tedious and boring...

    ...much like with Kerry, we need to see the heart and guile of the old Hillary, without the radicalism... the woman who made you take notice, or compelled your attention... she needs to believe in what she wants to do to improve the country... she has to connect to her soul if she is going reach beyond the narrow love/hate relationship she currently has with the American people.

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    One of the least discussed parts of the last campaign was the complete non-existence of a Kerry running mate. The 04 ticket was Bush/Cheney Vs Kerry and everyone could see it. If Kerry out muscled Bush in the first debate, Dick Cheney out schooled and outclassed Edwards in the VP debate. Edwards' impact resided only in a wonderful stump speech, which on occasion, particularly in the aftermath of Iowa primary, he delivered very, very well.

    Like no other potential candidate he possesses a real empathy and compassion for those he encounters... the man really cares. He also has his moments... the best of which was heroically standing up to another example of Howard Dean lunacy as the former Vermont Governor rambled on, patronizingly, about the confederate flag... that, along with Dean's mental breakdown in Iowa, was arguably the most compelling moment of the Democratic primary campaign.

    Edwards' strength: his heart and humanity, as essential ingredients as they are... unfortunately, get negated by his lack of stature and his lack of gravitas. In the VP debate Edwards' limitations... boyish charm embarrassingly contrasted with an earnest statesman like Cheney... were there for all to see.

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    Biden, to use a cricketing analogy, is an all rounder. He does everything very, very, very well... but nothing extra-ordinarily well. He's a good orator, but not great... he's got substance, but, he doesn't really powerfully connect with your gut... he's a serious, intelligent man... but, his ideas and perceptions tend to be unremarkable...

    For the life of me I can't figure out why he is not the Senate Minority Leader... if there is a reason for this that I am unaware of please feel free to explain it to me. He's an immense asset for the party, who adeptly elevates himself above partisan bickering.

    And, the reality is, that if he runs, I think he has to be in the top two or three candidates to win the Democratic nomination, because he will consistently out perform the field...

    ...but, again like Kerry, whether he really has what it takes to uplift millions and millions of people, I doubt very highly. Might be more viable as a VP pick.

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    The dark horse and thus far, my favorite. The challenge facing Hillary is to re-package her particular belief system into a broader image of a passionate, principled, strong American woman. Evan Bayh, by contrast, is quite obviously a man of principle, and quite conservative principles at that. Whether those principles come from his heart, and they can bridge the concepts of social justice, and improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged, etc, in a coherent platform is yet to be seen. I've seen him out fox Hannity cleverly by his positioning on policies like Gay marriage, and he unquestionably possesses the look and stature that prosaically will put him at the top of the pile.

    The problem with Bayh is that I've never detected his ability to project himself to a larger audience, which was Clark's problem in 04. Clark was by far the most impressive candidate in intimate, small town hall gatherings... one on one he could informally discuss issues very impressively, but he crackled, and grasped when addressing larger sentiments to a broader scope of people. I think it is yet to be seen whether Bayh has an ability to become something larger than himself... which is vital... to spearhead a political movement for change, etc... And, of course, coming from Indiana, he naturally has the potential for greater resonance in the south than any of the other candidates.

    It's early days, and I guess time will answer my questions.

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    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    Why did the terrorists attack?

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    The police press conference held earlier today depicted a very comprehensive picture of the events that led up to the attack last Thursday. Three men, closely connected, travelled to meet another individual in a rented car, and then all together journeyed to Kings Cross, London. From Kings Cross they parted ways, and within brief moments of each other exploded bombs on three trains and one bus, killing 50+ innocent civilians, and also themselves.

    I was watching the Channel 4 news this evening, and my blood boiled at host, John Snow’s repeated desire to establish a political reasoning for the attacks, in the aftermath of the news that young, alienated, British born Arab men were responsible. What issues had taken them to such extremes? Iraq? Afghanistan? Palestine? “It is easy to condemn,” Snow commented, “But, it is more important that we try and understand.”

    I remember in the aftermath of September 11th, a show of some kind was held in a large auditorium, including music and celebrities, for a crowd that was populated mainly by police officers, and firemen. I think it was perhaps in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the service of the city. Richard Gere gave what appeared to me, from my distant vantage in the U.K., a beautiful speech about how it was incumbent upon the western world to reach out with understanding, while not perpetuating a cycle of violence.

    The crowd jeered him, and he left the stage… and I was shocked and saddened. However, right now, I know that if I was from NYC, and in that crowd, I would have probably jeered too.

    The frustration I have with the notion of exploring the circumstances that are inspiring twenty something Arab men from parts of England to travel to terrorists camps around the world, educating themselves about an extreme doctrine of Islam, and explosives, and warfare… is not just my disgust and abhorrence, it’s not simply that I want to see them all behind bars or dead, regardless of the broader picture (although I do feel this way).

    My frustration is deeper than that. The issue of Iraq, and the continued perceived oppression of the Palestinian people, and American forces in Saudi Arabia etc, are all simply conduits through which the fundamental conflict between two divergent civilizations has escalated into violence.

    I acknowledge we are living in a world that consists of many more world views than that of radical orthodox Islam, and the Secular West… but these two world views in particular are at odds like no other. Proponents of Islamic theocratic societies know all too well that their world view cannot continue to thrive precisely because of what the Western world represents... Precisely because of who we all our as free individuals (somebody shoot me if I start to sound like George Bush).

    When I walk down streets in London, and see women covered from head to toe in Burka’s, while other women express themselves freely, when I consider a value system that says women aren’t entitled to vote and influence their lives, when I see images of violent control exerted in nations like Saudi Arabia, and the old Afghanistan, to sustain the rule of scripture, when I see an increasingly interdependent world learning to respect and live side by side with one another contrasted by communities and entire societies retaining aggressive supremacistic ideals… when I see all of these things the friction between the two world views is ubiquitously stark. The difference is so inherently violent.

    While to many, the innocent loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan is offensive, they would be wrong to ascribe a similar humanistic value system to the murderers in London… these terrorists are not motivated by the loss of life in Iraq, they are motivated by the fact that the West would intervene in Iraq at all, and via its actions, threaten their supremacy. It is their wounded ego, and not wounded innocents that inspire their violence.

    Osama Bin Laden does not weep out of empathy for the young that have been callously murdered in Palestine by the Jewish military (in fact I think he finds the U.S. military presence in his homeland Saudi Arabia much more offensive)… he weeps because the mere existence of Israel is a blight on the supremacy of his world view.

    I hope people of all denominations and creeds might slowly begin to see that the violence we saw in London, and the violence we saw in Madrid and New York was the brutal throes of a failing supremacistic and fascistic ideal.

    We need to see this, because somehow, two civilizations need to reconcile each other. I am convinced that at its core Islam is a harmonious vision of faith... but our differences can no longer stand in the way of the fact that beyond ideology, religion, and the color of our skin, inside, we are all the same...

    ... and whether we like it or not, we all have to learn to accept and live with each other in peace.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    The ten steps that have implicated Karl Rove...

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    The evidence has been accumulating over the course of the last two weeks, and finally, with the information we've learned via Time reporter Matthew Cooper's decision to co-operate with Special Council Fitzpatrick... we now possess a pretty clear idea of how Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative was leaked to the press. There is an awful lot involved in this complicated web of conspiritorial intrigue, and I can imagine it's difficult to digest all of the information for people who are just discovering the story. These ten steps are a brief overview of all of the pertinent details as I see them... some of these notes comprise information from previous entries I've made.

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    To begin with Robert Novak published a story in 2003 to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson's visit to Niger. Plame, Wilson's wife, was based there as a CIA operative, and Novak inferenced that her nepotism lead to Wilson's investigation into the British Intelligence that had claimed Iraq attempted to purchase enriched Uranium in Niger. The enriched uranium allegation had found its way into the 2003 State of the Union address, implying substantive proof that Saddam Hussein was actively pursuing a nuclear arsenal. Wilson's findings were, to the contrary, that there was no evidence to support the verdict of the British intelligence.

    It would emerge later that his report was one of three that the CIA conducted, which all reached the same conclusion.

    Novak's article revealed to the world that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative, undercover in the field accruing info on WMD's. Plame's cover was blown, and allegedly, her personal safety was threatened. Novak said he received this information from two senior officials in the White House.

    Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine agreed to hand over documents to an investigation into the Whitehouse leak, including Time reporter Matthew Cooper's emails.

    Cooper had claimed, like Novak, to also have received information about Plame from the White House.

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    O'Donnell, a Democratic pundit, then stated on the television show, "The Mclaughlin Group," that the emails in question would reveal Karl Rove, Senior political advisor to the president, as Matthew Cooper's source on Valerie Plame's identity.

    Robert Novak made a deal with Special Council Fitzpatrick investigating the leak, while Cooper, and NY Times reporter, Judith Miller, another journalist who had received information on Plame from the White House, refused to co-operate with the investigation.

    Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, admitted that his client DID have discussions with Cooper a full week before Robert Novak's article was originally published. He made two fascinating statements about what Rove did not say to Cooper in his conversations with him. Luskin stated that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA."

    The first statement implies that Rove did pass on classfied information, but just wasn't aware that he was doing so. The second implies that Rove DID discuss Valerie Plame with Cooper but simply didn't make reference to the fact that she was a CIA operative.

    Lawrence O'Donnell, on his website column, insightfully noted Robert Luskin's use of the word "knowingly" during the attorney's description of what Rove didn't do in his conversations with Mathew Cooper. O'Donnell said: "Not coincidentally, the word 'knowing' is the most important word in the controlling statute (U.S. Code: Title 50: Section 421). To violate the law, Rove had to tell Cooper about a covert agent 'knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States."

    Tangential evidence pointed to Rove's involvement:

    According to Newsweek, a couple of days after Novak's column was published, Rove called Chris Mathews and told him that Wilson's wife was "fair game."

    In the 1992 campaign Karl Rove worked for Bush Sr. he was was fired for smearing chief campaign fundraiser Robert Mosbacher, Jr. Rove partly employed these smear tactics by planting a negative story with, none other than, Bob Novak. Once this was discovered he departed the campaign. This proves that using Robert Novak as a means to leak information in an attempt to discredit a political foe was a tactic Rove had used in the past.

    When faced with jail, Matthew Cooper received sudden information from his source (Rove) allowing him to co-operate with the investigation. NY Times reporter, Judith Miller, however, stuck to her journalistic principles, and is now serving time in prison for the duration of the inquiry for protecting her sources.


    ...finally, the email's between Karl Rove and Matthew Cooper were leaked to Newsweek.

    From Newsweek:
    Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCIA"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip... The e-mail characterizing the conversation continues: "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. he [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger ... "

    The email establishes that Rove DID reveal to Matthew Cooper that Wilson's wife was working for the CIA. It also reveals Rove implied that she was repsonsible for Wilson's trip to Niger.

    However, what the email does not establish is whether Rove disclosed information KNOWINGLY about Valerie Plame's undercover status in the CIA. The email also does not establish whether Rove disclosed Valerie Plame's actual name to Matthew Cooper (which would contradict an earlier statement he made).

    It seems unlikely then, that considering Bob Novak's full co-operation with the investigation, causing little concern in the whitehouse, that Karl Rove will have committed perjury to the Grand Jury. (shucks)

    What we do know now is precisely what was responsible for the Whitehouse leak: A concerted, co-ordinated smear campaign against Joseph Wilson, of which Rove was at least involved. In response to this controversy George Bush stated "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is...If the person has violated the law, that person will be taken care of."

    If the person has violated the law? What if the whole episode was wrong regardless of the legal implications. As each framgment of truth slowly emerges into the public sphere the most disturbing thing to me is the way in which everybody involved... including the President himself... has been cleverly parsing their words cogniscent of the potential for controversy...

    It seems, with the facts apparently out in the open... we all have to place our faith in the honesty and integrity of the Special Prosecutor. I desperately hope he can cut through the semantic games being played and lay responsibility for these reckless and cynical activities firmly where it belongs... Karl Rove's doorstep.

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    Sunday, July 10, 2005

    To think you were winning me over Bill...

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    A close friend of mine told me a story about a woman who recently tied up her partner in bed and sliced off his penis. If your politics are left of center, watching the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News is a lot like this... a lot like being tied up and having your manhood cut up into tiny little pieces. It's 60 minutes of immasculation viewing your political kin interrupted, demonized, insulted, and pulverized.

    But you know what's really weird?

    If you watch the show long enough (I'm coming up to five years) terrifyingly... you actually start to like it.

    You catch yourself saying to your girlfriend, "Don't change the channel, baby, O'Reilly's on in five minutes," and you catch yourself thinking "you tell'em Bill," when he's screaming at an excessively cerebral commentator who spins (y'see!) around the point of the argument.

    You think to yourself, Bill's not a conservative, he's an independent. He likes Bobby Kennedy. He's against the death penalty.

    You hear him in one of those rare moments chastize Bush, and you think "wow, Bill's looking out for me," I'm one of the folks, too... (it doesn't really matter that he's chastizing Bush for not putting the military on the border to combat the national security threat posed by impoverished mexicans)

    But, y'know, when I watched his show last Thursday, and listened to his talking points, it finally happened. I finally reached the point I never thought he could take me... I truly couldn't take it anymore.

    I don't imagine Bill's talking point memo (link at bottom of post) will read quite as offensively as I took it on Thursday night. Barely twelve hours prior fifty innocent Londoners had been brutally murdered, and my city's whole infrustructure had been threatened desperately by the chaos surrounding what felt like a neverending stream of bomb reports.

    And yet, as a city, and a nation, we were all pulling together to find strength in our own ideals. We weren't consumed with rage, we were solemn and sad for the poor individuals that had lost their lives, and their families. The questioning, the retrospectives, the anger, the reactions, would all have their time and place, but, as a nation we were still in the midst of the tragedy... we were still wondering what tomorrow would bring.

    Bill had other things on his mind.


    Bill thinks we placate terrorists. Bill thinks we don't kill them hard enough. Bill thinks when we raise human rights issues in Guitmo terrorists want to kill us more. Bill thinks the French luuuuuvvvv terrorists, and the terrorists luuuuuvvvvv the French. Bill thinks Osama and Chirac have long distance phone sex. Bill thinks the NY Times is satan. Bill thinks the NY Times wants to give Al Quaeda hugs and kisses while appealing to their humanity...

    Who knows, Bill might be right. It doesn't really matter. Thursday night was not the time to so aggressively address the political implications of the terrorist attack. Nor was it the time to use the events in London to support a political argument, regardless of how valid and pertinent that argument was. It was utterly disrespectful of what we were experiencing here, and, in my opinion ... a mindless attempt to define the parameters of the ensuing dialogue. It was a shallow, narcissitic, insensitive ramble and, as a consequence, I'm going to finally try and bring my days of watching O'Reilly to an end.

    P.S. As a side note, I think it deserves mention that Fox's general coverage of the events was respectful, and very informative.

  • Bill's talking point memo, Thursday

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    In the pursuit of happiness...

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    I remember being fascinated at college by Aristotle's concept of happiness(eudaimonia)... I loved the rigorous mathematical analysis involved... the argument building, the philosophical inquiries into our behavioural patterns as human beings... I loved the way in which it all related to those large, deeply intrinsic questions that we all ask of ourselves:

    Why are we here? Does God exist? What is the meaning to our lives?

    I loved how it all mattered to me, practically, in a real and tangible way... I loved how it emboldened me with even grander dreams for the future.

    I still don't claim to grasp every logical increment that led Aristotle to define an emotional, and intellectual state of contentment as a "A virtuous activity of the soul..." unfortunately, my ADD saw to that...

    ... however, in spite of the fact my days at college were mostly preoccupied by smoking hash and listening to death metal music ... the experience of those philosophy classes left me profoundly transformed...

    I was left cogniscent of those deeper currents that sway within my soul, the grander tapestry that we all weave on our journey through life, beyond the tapestry we see in front of our eyes.

    I read a little about Buddhism today, and the "art of happiness," which rekindled these memories. Life constantly poses us questions, and no matter what hurdles we overcome, there are always more around the corner to challenge us further. We all encounter trying times, and despite the fact that loved ones of mine are suffering from potentially terminal diseases, and such a grave tragedy has befallen my home city... I am currently struggling to muster the perspective to rise above my own difficult moments.

    There were many things that interested me about what I read today. The concept of causality... that we possess the power to identify positive and negative emotions inside us and examine their causes, and the way in which we contribute to them. The notion of self discipline... that the human mind is like a muscle... and our capacity to wield influence over our emotional well being requires that we exercise that muscle. A healthy, informed, engaged mind is the foundation upon which we can easily build... it reminded me of a friend emerging from AA recently and telling me that he acquired the most strength from taking seriously all of the little things that comprised his day... washing his teeth, household chores, that's where it all begun again for him...

    As far as I know happiness is simply a state of mind...

    ... a state of mind fuelled by our deepest capacities: to be emotionally aware of others, and ourselves, to share, to learn, to grow, to remain open and receptive... to engage, and take part in life, and all of its wonderful possibilities... to refrain from judgement in pursuit of truth... and finally, to allow our hearts to mature and be predisposed by the welfare of our loved ones... to eventually live for something, or someone more than just ourselves...

    Hopefully I can continue working towards those lofty goals.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    When The Unthinkable Happens...

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    It’s highly ironic that I spent part of my last blog entry reverentially praising my city. Especially when the subsequent 24 hours would evoke such a powerful example of what makes London so incredibly special.

    Like everyone, I have my story to tell. Power surges, and technical failures, transforming, via horrific chaos, into and endless stream of report after report detailing barbaric explosions and bombings. Suddenly the world knew London was under attack.

    This in an unapologetic cliché… to remark upon the bravery of those involved… a reaction of solidarity and strength to assert hope, and valor in the face of such cowardice. I can’t constrain such urges, when, in the aftermath of yesterday, there is so much to be proud of.

    A website belonging to “Al Quaeda, Europe,” proclaimed responsibility for the attacks. In doing so they described a hellish vision of London submerged in chaos and terror. Their ascriptions could not have been further from the truth.

    Londoners met this assault with calm, and a determination to continue on with their lives. The streets were solemn, and sad, but there was little panic, as, within hours, order re-emerged thanks to the phenomenal response of the emergency services. A lot of people in the United States can’t comprehend the extent to which Londoners rely upon public transport for their commute into the city. London is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

    This morning, somehow, people continued on. They took trains that were struck by security alerts, and evacuations from suspect packages. They took the number 30 bus that imploded so disastrously the previous day. Together, we’ve been here before, not so long ago.

    If they object of terrorists is to terrorize, they could not have been less successful.

    9/11 was a catastrophic, historic event. By any standards what occurred yesterday, was a massive terrorist assault… and yet, to 9/11 it pales by comparison. But, nobody should minimize the fear instilled in every passenger of a bus or train the breadth of this country because of this, and the courage required to continue on.

    There were many heroes in uniform, but, unfortunately for them, they won’t be elevated to sainthood… as might have been the case in other parts of the world. Such is not the British way. Our press might consistently respond vitriolically over the course of the next few weeks… it’s what they do to sell copy, but, the people of London will simply proceed… working, loving the people close to them, enjoying the company of their friends, attending their favorite pubs and clubs… our lives will not change. We are sublimely assured of our own specialness, in this free, brilliantly diverse, multicultural city… there is little anger here… what remains is the determination to face tomorrow, unhindered by intimidation.

    As Ken Livingstone articulately stated, this was not an attack against the mighty, nor presidents and prime ministers. The most powerful men on the planet were at the G8 conference in Scotland, from the richest countries in the world. And, yet, these cowards decided to plant bombs on trains and buses murdering defenseless civilians. This is all we ever need to know about those responsible… and the response of Londoners, I hope, is self evident to themselves, and to the world, that the perpetrators of these atrocities… picked the wrong fucking city to pathetically attempt to terrorize.

    Life goes on.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Congratulations London

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    My home city has won the right to host the Olympic games in 2012. I grew up in London for the first sixteen years of my life before moving to Berkshire, and then finally abroad, but I've always thought of the city as my true home. There's something about its greyness, pessimism, smog, etc, that I find weirdly comforting.

    It's one of the most successfully multi-cultural cities in the world... unlike most other large capitals that I've been to, communities of rich and poor, black, white, asian, etc, are much more intergrated. It's ridiculously expensive... as I'm sure most tourists can attest. And, unlike New York, the city to which it compares best I suppose, it has such history around every corner. Every spell from which I've returned to London, I've always had to take a day or two just walking and travelling around the center of the city. It's such a beautiful contrast between history, tradition and modernity.

    The strength of the cities involved was amazing... Paris, New York, Madrid, Moscow. A lot of people in the UK, when the bid started, took offense to London automatically being picked by the nation as the city to host the games. Some thought a more central location like Birmingham, or a city with a better infrastructure like Manchester would be more suited... but the truth is no other part of the UK has the glamour and cache' of London. It's one of the greatest parts of the globe, and I think it's about time that Britain started taking pride once again in its capital city, instead of resenting its prosperity.

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    White House Leak Controversy - Journalist, Judith Miller Jailed!

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    NY Times journalist, Judith Miller was jailed today for the length of the current investigation into the white house leak that exposed Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA agent. Miller's only opportunity to free herself in the interim would be to testify as to who her sources were. Mathew Cooper, the Time journalist also threatened with a jail sentence, has now said that he's received a dramatic message free'ing him to testify.

    Crazy stuff. How could anyone allow someone to go to jail like this. Whomever leaked the information about Valerie Plame to Judith Miller is, as far as I'm concerned, the lowest of the low. Not only has he/she freely endangered Valerie Plame's life in a political attack against her husband, he/she has also now sent an innocent journalist to jail for sticking to her principles.

    While Judith Miller isn't advancing the cause of justice, I do believe her courage is remarkable in an age where substance is sorely lacking in all spheres of public life. Would any politician - senator, or even President, go to to jail in defense of what they thought was the service of the people. Whatever Mathew Cooper's dramatic information, I doubt very highly that it involves the permission of his source. If it does, though, this categorically proves that Miller and Cooper's respective sources were different individuals.

    The gutter pundits seem to have been avoiding the story. Even Sean Hannity, who can usually turn anything into an opportunity to bash the Democratic party, rapidly moved off the subject when the situation was raised by a caller on his radio show. He simply stated that Rove talks to reporters all the time, and there is no evidence he leaked anything about a CIA agent. A lack of a coherent defense strategy from the right has been discussed as proof that their feathers are ruffled on other blogs... in actual fact I think it points to the fact that they are either trying to let the story die by not adding any fuel to the fire, or they are really not taking any of this seriously.

    On another blog, I also found a great statement from Rove that seems to contradict the implications of his lawyers qualified statement to the press, which stated he had not knowingly divulged information about Valerie Plame CIA position, potentially meaning he had discussed Valerie Plame with journalists, and unknowingly said something about her position in Niger.

    In August of 2004, asked about his involvement in the leak, he said, "Well, I'll repeat what I said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago. I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name." [CNN, 7/4/05]

    If there is one leak that I think everybody would like to see, it would be what exactly Rove has testified to the grand jury thus far. Because in the end I have a feeling that this will be the measure by which he is judged.

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    Monday, July 04, 2005

    Latest on Rove

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    George Bush, 2003 State of the Union: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. ... Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

    In amongst all of the conspiratorial speculation that is contextualising the discussions about Rove... it's important that people don't lose sight of why this story matters so much. It isn't simply that Valerie Plame's life was endangered while she was in service of her country... nor that these events potentially expose a sleazy, co-ordinated smeer campaign to undermine Joseph Wilson's credibility...

    ...The primary issue at stake is that the crucial piece of disputed evidence which is responsible for this furore, that Iraq attempted to purchase enriched uranium from Niger, was presented by the Bush Administraion as part of their justifcation for going war.

    As of right now, the story hasn't really progressed in the last few days. Discussion is exponentially growing online, and it's quite amazing to watch. I'm not too familiar blogging and I'm finding it awe inspiring witnessing the power of the medium at work. In so many ways people feel disenfranchised by the current political climate, and yet, online, they are making their voices heard loud and clear.

    Karl Rove is refusing to answer any questions on the case. Democratic Senator Chuck Shumer cleverly capitalized, ""We've heard it from his lawyer, but it would be nice to hear it directly from Mr. Rove that he didn't leak the identity of Valerie Plame, and that he didn't direct anyone else to do such a dastardly thing..."

    Lawrence O'Donnell insightfully notes Robert Luskin's use of the word "knowingly" in Luskin's description of what Rove didn't do in his conversations with Mathew Cooper: "Not coincidentally, the word 'knowing' is the most important word in the controlling statute ( U.S. Code: Title 50: Section 421). To violate the law, Rove had to tell Cooper about a covert agent 'knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States.'"

    From a great editorial in 2003 on I discovered some great great snippets of relevant info:

    - In the 1992 campaign Karl Rove worked for Bush Sr. and was was fired for smeering chief campaign fundraiser Robert Mosbacher, Jr. Rove partly employed these smeer tactics by planting a negative story with, none other than, Bob Novak. Once this was discovered he departed the campaign.

    -Joseph Wilson was dispatched to Niger by the CIA, after Dick Cheney requested that the CIA verify the British Intelligence about Iraq's activities in Niger. On his return, Wilson debunked the evidence, and he has since claimed that his analysis was one of three intelligence reports that reached the same conclusion. Wilson told Cheney's office, the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council. Inspite of this George Bush made the above statement at the 2003 state of the Union address. George Tenet approved that speech, which for the first time makes me think he had no other choice but to resign.

    -Allegedly, an anonymous administration official quoted by the Washington Post claimed that two White House officials cold-called six different journalists and informed them of Valerie Plame's status as a CIA agent, the anonymous source stating, "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."

    - And finally, John DiIulio, a domestic policy advisor, who left the White House in 2003, told Esquire magazine the following story about once overhearing an argument that involved Rove: "Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. 'We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!'"

    There is more than enough evidence to suggest that this story has legs. Rove was clearly instrumental in the dissemination of information about Valerie Plame to journalists. But, the problem is that the lengthy investigation process by Special Council Fitzgerald, which, ironically, appears to embody none of the zeal which the Whitewater investigation exhibited... seems likely to drag on for quite sometime. It will be hard over the coming weeks and months for the story to really penetrate the mainstream news media in a fashion that will actually hold this Administration to account, unless a more indisputable piece evidence surfaces. Right now, we are all relying upon whatever it is that Lawrence O'Donnell knows about what exists in Mathew Cooper's email inbox. O'Donnell is waaayyyyyyy too easy to smeer because of his party political affiliations.

    Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson:

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    Sunday, July 03, 2005

    The ethics of being a boxing fan...

    This morning I watched Nigel Benn Vs Gerald McClellan. It is 30 minutes of pure carnage, at the end of which McClellan is physically damaged beyond repair. Powerfully struck by the fight... I searched online about McClellan and came across an incredible article from 2001, which paints an intimate portrait of who Gerald was before the fight, and who he is as a result of it.

    This is the letter I wrote the author of the article, which I think elaborates upon what I was thinking and feeling:

    I just finished reading an article you wrote about Gerald McClellan that was published in the Guardian in 2001. It was a powerful, beautifully insightful piece of journalism and I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts on what I read.

    I had awoken this morning to my Limewire (file sharing software) having downloaded Nigel Benn Vs Gerald McClellan on my computer… I have been a fairly enthusiastic boxing fan for about five years or so now, and I frequently enjoy downloading classic bouts like Castillo-Corrales, Gatti-Ward, Duran-Leonard, while also perusing the current crop of aspirant pound for pounders, like Winky Wright, and Floyd Mayweather.

    I'm only relatively young at 26, and I must have been around sixteen when Benn fought McClellan in 95... too busy discovering girls, alcohol, and dance clubs todigest the sports stories of the day in any meaningful way. I became interested in the prospect of watching the fight after reading an article in Boxing Monthly where Ricky Hatton's victory was compared to the other great British victories by a vast array of the sports’ contempories. While I was familiar with most of the fights mentioned... the kind of dramatic context with which people described Benn Vs McClellan caught my attention. It wasn’t the tragic epitaph of the fight that caused what I read to linger in my mind… it was the dynamics of the fight itself… a stirring, spirited comeback from Nigel Benn in what had appeared a fight that he had lost. This was something I wanted to see and experience for myself.

    I've watched many fights over the past few months online. I watched Gatti and Ward’s relentless power slugging over the course of three battles. I watched Corrales get taken apart by Castillo in their final round, only for Corrales to spit out his mouth guard twice during each knockdown and exploit the afforded extra seconds to gather himself. He finally arose to courageously walk through Castillo’s spitfire punches and knock him out in devastating style. And, of course, recently, I saw Hatton ferociously smother Kosta Tzyu.

    These fights were beautifully brutal to me. Each of them made me gasp in exhilaration, and astonishment… each fight further educated me about the technical, and tactical science of the sport… each fight reflected the sheer will and courage of the human warrior spirit to overcome all odds.

    Watching McClellan Vs Benn this morning was not an experience I can compare to those I've mentioned. The fight was more savage than all of the above put together, but in a very different way. It was savage watching McClellan’s mouth guard hang from his mouth as he struggled to breathe in the later rounds. It was savage slowly watching an outstanding ring craftsmen disperse in his own mind as something went terribly wrong physiologically inside his brain. It was savage and heart breaking witnessing all of the signs McClellan exhibited that he was becoming increasingly unwell... especially when contrasted to the aggressive bravado of his corner men, giving him no respite or potential opportunity to fully contemplate his physical condition in between rounds.

    Yes, Benn would have been TKO’d in round one by any proficient referee today, but that doesn’t explain what followed... it only provides a sense of how tenuous circumstance is, and how, circumstance permitting, everything might have been so different. The savagery is made all the more difficult to digest because of Benn’s unremorseful attitude at the end of the fight, as, by comparison, McClellan’s physical pretense fades, and from walking to the corner, he sits on the ring apron, and eventually slumps onto the floor...

    I was shocked, appalled and wracked with guilt as a boxing fan. I thought about Hatton walking through Tzyu’s big right hands, I thought about the glazed look on Castillo’s face as Corrales finally began to connect in that final round, and I thought about the joviality with which I enjoyed watching Gatti and Ward take themselves to the razor’s edge of destruction.

    I could weigh up the ethical deliberations involved: the autonomy of these men as individuals to make their own choices, etc… but, I’m much more interested in the human dimension. These men are more than technique... more than a brawler, or a puncher, or, like Floyd Mayweather, a veritable magician in between the ropes. And, I guess that’s what I was searching for when I began to look online for news of McClellan. His humanity, which I felt, was so sorely demeaned by the events of that night.

    Your article was everything I was looking for… an intricate evocation of the man. I one day hope to be a writer. But, I doubt very much I’ll ever write anything as important as the story you told. There was nothing sentimental about Gerald, and consequently all sentimentality drained from my thoughts as I read about his passion for dog fighting, and almost psychopathic characteristics, running over birds in the street. It’s funny that none of those details make the image of him lying under the ropes of ring, tended to by medical professionals any less tragic. The video I had was also of the Showtime production, and your quotations of the commentary made the description of the fight all the more personal as I relived it. His compassion he displayed for his dog, Deuce, showed that this was a man at war with the way the world made him, as much as he was at war with the world. The images you depicted of his health in 2001 made the reality so much worse. On that night everyone else walked away from the carnage, anecdotally reducing the events to an 'all time favorite fight', or even a moral distaste for the sport, or something ambiguously in between… and I do not doubt I will do the same… but, the minutiae of that night that you so brilliantly described is something Gerald McClellan has to live with every second he remains alive.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough as it is. I just really wanted to write to you and let you know how much I appreciated your article. It certainly helped me grapple with my own responses to the fight, as well as being a truthful representation of Gerald’s humanity.

    I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer, and recently returned to the UK, from Los Angeles and a successful marketing career to pursue that dream. But, such is the extent to which I found your article inspirational; maybe journalism is something I might explore.

    Like I said, thanks for the inspiration.


    It was a great article. The reason why I posted this letter was that I was just checking my favorite news feed for boxing stories and I saw that Martin Sanchez, a mexican, super lightweight contender, died after being knocked out in Las Vegas. It's a strange feeling i have right now... I still love the sport so much.

    Whatever little it means, Gerald McClellan is a warrior, a courageous man still fighting his toughest battle, which just gets worse day by day. He is blind, and almost completely deaf. His story isn't one that I'll forget anytime soon...

    ...and maybe it should be that way for every boxing fan.

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  • The Gerald McClellan trust fund

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