Some quick thoughts: US politics
I've been thinking about these things for days. I don't expect to have time soon to develop them as they deserve, so here are just the starter thoughts.

• The juggernaut of the right is grinding to a halt, its impressive assault on civil rights, democratic voting procedure, and economic equity is finally falling apart. The juggernaut was not a single machine (like the original Juggernaut of India), but a coalition of single-cause anger groups, united only by their belief that it was the liberal establishment that stood in their way. Now that not much of anything stands in their way, they have only each other to blame for the massive failures of their policies. The Iraq disaster, the economic disaster (both entirely unprovoked), the many assaults on personal privacy, the "war on terrorism" that ignores the causes of terrorism and instead inflicts terror ("shock and awe") on another country and asks for $87 billion to cover its errors -- hey, you can't fool all the American voters all of the time.

• Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in California was a defeat for the extreme right (which had expected something entirely different). Of course it was also a defeat for Democratic machine politics, but maybe that was necessary to clear the deck for a real renewal of progressive politics (with or without, probably without, Arnold).

• When the president of the United States has to go around to non-news TV stations to make the case that his policies are not a failure, you know his end is near. Like Nixon, when he felt obliged to declare, "I am not a crook!"

• Reporters have mocked John Podesta's new progressive think tank for not coming up with a single unifying "big idea" to counteract the propaganda skills of the rightwing think tanks. Maybe we should suggest some. How about democracy? It's time we tried it again. Let the people vote! In the U.S. and in Iraq. And let's let the votes be counted.

More later when I get more time. Any comments are welcome. Just click on "Contact" over on the left of this page.


Good news!
My short story "Stairways" (one of my South American tales, featuring a very young Ted Auer) has been selected for publication in the Winter 2003 Edition of Small Spiral Notebook, a handsome and well-edited e-journal. I'll let you know when it's up. Meanwhile, check out the current (Autumn 2003) issue of Small Spiral Notebook. It's worth a look.


Phony letters from G.I.s?
I first saw mention of this in a short article in the NY Post. The NYT so far has not deemed this fit to print. It appears to be a new twist in the propaganda war. CBS News article
Re-blog: item of interest from the Poynter Org.
Posted by Juan Carlos Camus 12:17:08 PM

Digital Journalists Meet in Buenos Aires
The Iberoamerican Congress of Digital Journalism, organized by Clarín.com and Fundación Noble, will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 29-31. With 10 tracks, this event will include discussions on many digital-media issues, from business models to weblogs as new mass media -- with specialists from many countries including Spain, the U.S., and Argentina, of course. The sessions will be brodcast live by Clarín.com.


U.S. as all-devouring monster
Yesterday was the last day for "The American Effect" show at the Whitney Museum of Art here in Manhattan. As you surely know, the show brought together works about the U.S. by artists from many other countries. Some were whimsical, like the delightful large-scale model of "New Manhattan City, 3021" by Bodys Isek Kingelez of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- a future Manhattan full of shiny, bright-colored towers of fanciful shapes and many corporate logos. Some were pseudo-anthropological, like Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe's drawings by an imaginary ethnographer documenting racial types in 19th century America, or the hyper-realistic, out-sized figures of Custer's Last Stand by Ousmane Sow of Senegal, now living in France. The twisted, dying, still shooting Custer and the Sioux attacking or falling from a horse or, in the case of Sitting Bull, praying, are all made of wire, mud and cloth by somebody who really understands anatomy. The scene is quite frightening in its violence as the visitor walks among these straining, reaching men, right onto the battlefield and into the line of tomahawk thrust or bullet. Video permits the sequential telling of a story, and the three-channel video about the international battle for custody of little Elián González, made by two Cubans -- Meira Marrero Díaz and José Angel Toriac -- and one U.S. artist -- Patricia Clark -- goes futher, by playing off contrasting and complementary scenes on the three screens. Particularly effective is the "rewinding" -- the tapes actually do run backward briefly, with the scenes of the rescue/seizure of Elián from his Miami relatives, and Fidel Castro and Elián's father, and various other political and cultural figures. Then the story begins again, but much earlier, with the first great attack of the U.S. against the Cuban revolution at the Bay of Pigs, thus giving context to the tensions over the child more than 30 years later (José Martí's children's book gives the video its title).

The fear and hostility toward the U.S. in some of the other works might seem over the top, unless you've been reading the papers lately to see what the U.S. is really doing to countries around the world. For example, Hisushi Tenmyouya (Japan) has a wonderfully complex, comic book-like drawing of "Tattoo Man's Battle" in which Tattoo Man -- Japan -- on a white horse and waving a glowing sword confronts a huge monster, the United States, whose three leering mouths spew flames and whose biceps are other angry monsters and whose claws reach down to grasp Tattoo Man. This is what the U.S. must seem like to many Iraqis and Afghanis these days. The U.S. submarine's apparently careless sinking of a Japanese fishing boat a couple of years back, and the utter lack of remorse for the loss of lives, are commemorated in another of this artist's drawings. And then there are the Mughal-style miniatures by Pakistani artist Muhammad Imran Qureshi. In one, we see the tops of a cluster of trees, about to be bombarded by U.S. aid. Qureshi is quoted saying about this drawing, "no matter whether for good or for bad, everyone today is a target of America."

Over the top? Check out this article by a Chicago Tribune reporter: U.S. data mining riles Latin America.