Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh Really.....................

Drawing by R Crumb

July 30, 2008
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Yes, Really

Practice can be stated very simply. It is moving from a life of hurting myself and others to a life of not hurting myself and others. That seems so simple--except when we substitute for real practice some idea that we should be different or better than we are, or that our lives should be different from the way they are. When we substitute our ideas about what should be (such notions as "I should not be angry or confused or unwilling") for our life as it truly is, then we're off base and our practice is barren.

-- Charlotte Joko Beck, in Everyday Zen
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm So Grateful...I Made It Out Of My Mooning Days Alive....

Dutch man injures posterior in mooning accident

Utrecht police say a 21-year-old Dutch man is recovering after a "mooning" that went horribly wrong.

A police statement says the man and two others had run down a street in Utrecht with their pants pulled down in the back "for a joke."

It says that at one point the 21-year-old "pushed his behind against the window of a restaurant" that broke and resulted in "deep wounds to his derriere."

The statement released Tuesday says police detained the three men after the incident Sunday morning. But the cafe owner decided not to press charges after the men agreed to pay for the broken window.

The injured man was treated for his injuries at a nearby hospital.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Real Pornographers.....

The Pornography of Power: Lust for Empire Has Weakened America

By Emily Wilson, AlterNet Posted on July 25, 2008

Robert Scheer has been a journalist for 30 years, over which time he has interviewed presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, as well as other major political figures. For years a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and now for the San Francisco Chronicle, he's currently the editor-in-chief at and represents the left point of view on KCRW's political radio show "Left, Right and Center." In addition to print and radio, Scheer has also worked in movies: He played a reporter in Warren Beatty's "Bullworth" and was a project consultant for Oliver Stone's "Nixon."

Scheer is the author of eight books, among them, Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton -- And How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush (Akashic Books, 2006). His latest is The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. In it, Scheer takes on the United States' foreign policy, arguing that our military budget, which amounts to more than the rest of the world's combined, has gotten completely out of control. AlterNet writer Emily Wilson recently sat down with Scheer at a restaurant in San Francisco to hear his views on the federal government, the media's complicity in war, the rise of the neocons and how even Nixon got some things right.

Emily Wilson: You write in the acknowledgements that you had one book in mind, but your editor wanted you to do this book. Why did he want this book?

Robert Scheer: I had just given a lecture to this libertarian convention. It was called "Ike was Right," and it reflected some of the evolution of my own thinking. I no longer am enamored of the big federal state, because most of what it does I oppose -- particularly once Clinton cut the welfare program. We no longer have a federal program to aid poor people. We don't have a poverty program. And Clinton, with his Financial Services Modernization Act, managed to give the banks everything they wanted and take away more rights from the state. It used to be that in California we had a limit on interest payments. States had reasonable, populist-inspired controls over corporations. And then there's the Telecommunications Act. We used to believe communications should be in part locally owned to have diversity and so forth; that's all gone bye-bye with the Telecommunications Act. So there you go: You have three things the Clinton administration, presumably a progressive administration, did that took away three reasons that I would care about the federal government.

… Now, as my book lays out, six out of ten dollars of the discretionary budget go to the military, and in Congress they're scrambling over how to use the other four out of ten for the other things we care about. So my concern is, all right, let's let California keep its money, let's keep it on a state level -- and in my book I even argue that's what the founders had in mind. I quote George Washington, who's my great hero in this book: They knew if you got into empire you weren't going to have representative democracy. Because when you're on the local level, people can be informed, they can demand the truth, there isn't classification, there isn't national security -- and when you get to empire and foreign adventures (being) the norm, not the exception, is to be lied to and not to discover the truth for 20, 30, 40 years or whatever. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which Johnson and McNamara said was the basis for expanding the war to North Vietnam, was based on a lie, that they knew to be a lie when they went to the nation and said we were attacked. They knew there was no evidence of an attack. We didn't learn that for 20 years.

So my feeling before I went to the libertarian convention was … what do I think about the federal government? We needed the federal government when a guy like Roosevelt was our president and we could set some standards of child labor and the right to organize unions, and pay people adequately, and health and safety and so forth. But what the federal government has come to mean is basically an arm of the military industrial complex that favors big business and big agriculture. We'd be better off with the states just keeping their tax dollars and using them to educate their people, and fix their levies, and deal with their subprime mortgage scandals, and all the other things we want money for.

EW: You say the administration used 9/11 as an excuse for this military spending.

RS: Most of the pundits make themselves stupid in the interest of their careers. They devote very little time to looking back at what happened, what are the lessons to be learned, and so forth. I was at one conference at the University of California at Berkeley, sponsored by the journalism school, and they had this one panel titled "Did we get it wrong?" I pointed out: You guys got it wrong, but some of us got it right, and a good chunk of people in the streets around the world got it right. Really, the more interesting question is: "Why did you let yourselves be had in this way? Why were you so easy to co-opt?" And it has to do with fear. It was the trauma of 9/11: You didn't want to be on the wrong side of it, and the people who own your broadcasting stations and your newspapers were afraid if they lost viewers and readers, they wouldn't come back. And these cable lunatics of the right, the O'Reillys and Rush Limbaughs, they might be picking up this big fan base and you forgot your obligations under the Constitution to inform the public. And I said: More importantly you didn't look back at anything. You didn't look at the history of Iraq; where does Saddam Hussein come from? … You went along with the crap about weapons of mass destruction, but also, you didn't look carefully at the politics of that area. Didn't you know that if you invade Iraq, all you're going to do is strengthen Iran?

The whole fallacy, the lie that most people subscribe to in the media and the elite, is that adults are watching the store. Sensible, solid people are making sensible, solid decisions. They may get it wrong from time to time, but it was not for lack of effort and work and serious discussion of NBC and "Meet the Press." The fact is, you look at what they've been reporting on for most of my adult life since World War II, and it's mostly gibberish.

EW: But you make it sound in The Pornography of Power like our foreign policy was more sane before this Bush was president, and that people like his father and Nixon were more moderate on defense.

RS: We've had a struggle between the realists and the adventurists, as I call them, going back to Nixon's opening to China. I wrote a Nixon re-evaluation for the L.A. Times in the '80s. That does not make Nixon a great man. I think he was a war criminal. Once he went and visited China and was making peace with bloody communist dictators like Mao; how in the world could you justify escalating a war to stop the spread of communism? It was absurd. But he did -- and millions of Indo-Chinese died as a result. I'm not trying to exonerate Nixon, but in opening to China and in developing detente with the Soviets, he undermined the whole basis of the Cold War. He said, communist is nationalist, not internationalist, and it's capable of change. And he was right. That's why the communist governments of Vietnam and China are competing for shelf space at Wal-Mart.

In response to Nixon, you had the development of the neoconservatives. This is where they come from. They were grouped around Henry "Scoop" Jackson, the senator from Washington who was called the "Senator from Boeing." Richard Perle worked for him, and Paul Wolfowitz, and so forth. These people were very angry with Nixon, and they started all this threat inflation, and fear of the enemy, and so forth -- and Nixon was suddenly seen as a pinko or something or weak on defense. That's where it all starts. And then the Soviet Union did collapse -- and not because we invaded, but because the economy sucked.

The neocons used every trick in the book to attack Nixon. All of it was aimed at undermining the detente with the Soviets and the opening to China and bringing us to a much more primitive imperialist position, which they favored. These people are mostly ex-Trotskyists, or there fathers are … and they believe in permanent revolution, only now it's from the right rather than from the left. But it's the same notion: You have to make turmoil, you have to break eggs to make an omelet, and they've combined that with a Pax Americana mission that Reagan had, that we are the keepers of the flame, we are the sanest, smartest, most wonderful people in the world; everything we do, even when it's all screwed up, is done for good reasons -- and we're the indispensable agent to human progress. So they become the neocons. They're not really conservative in any way at all; they're betraying the conservative tradition of this country as defined by Washington and Eisenhower, and they get us into these incredible adventures.

Well, they were going nowhere fast because the facts were undermining them. The fact was, the world was becoming multipolar; we didn't have an enemy in sight, and George Bush's father in 1992 gave a speech that was of historic significance. He said the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is dead, and I've ordered my secretary of defense to cut defense spending by 30 percent. And Dick Cheney, who was his secretary of defense, went along.

EW: You write about how McCain launched a Mr. Smith-style crusade against a deal with Boeing and the Air Force. Do you think he would cut the military budget? How about Obama?

RS: I don't know what McCain or Obama will do when one becomes president. I am quite enthusiastic about Barack Obama. I like his freshness. I like that he can think out loud, and I like that he has been tough in his opposition to the Iraq War. I like his willingness to advance negotiation rather than conquest -- as opposed to Hillary, who was talking about obliterating Iran. I mean, what God-given right do we have to obliterate 80 million people? A country that we have screwed around with ever since we overthrew Mohammed Mosaddeq 54 years ago? Obama said he would talk to them. He didn't say, "I'd give away the store." He didn't say, "I'll endorse anything they do." He said he would talk to them. And then you have McCain acting the total fool, saying, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," like it's some kind of game. You know, metal piercing the skins of children -- and that's a game?

So I think Barack Obama has been a good candidate, and I respect his ability to engage young people. So (it's not that) I don't think there is a big difference between Obama and McCain. I do.

… I'm very worried about McCain on … a very critical issue, because it really goes to the heart of … the prospect for peace and war. The Democrats scare me a little. Republicans scare me more because I don't see any Eisenhowers or even Nixons in the ranks of the Republicans. The Republican Party has moved very far right, and people like Nixon would be considered flaming peacenik liberals by today's standards. After all, Nixon believed in a guaranteed annual income for everyone. Imagine if Clinton had done that instead of wiping out welfare. And Nixon believed in the Environmental Protection Agency. He did many sensible things. He did terrible things in escalating the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, but he broke the whole momentum of the Cold War by opening to China. By today's standard there are no Republicans like that.

On the other hand, Barack Obama has shown a freshness of approach to a complex world. He doesn't feel the need to impose values he's taken from Illinois on everybody in the world. He's lived out there. So there is something very exciting about Barack Obama. However, I find it unnerving that the Democrats and Republicans at this time both want to expand military spending rather than cut it. I understand all the arguments why you can't do that as a Democratic candidate and why you have to be strong on defense, but that's how we get into this madness. And if you listen to the tapes of Lyndon Johnson, he said, I cannot get out of Vietnam because Barry Goldwater will have me for lunch -- he will wipe the floor with me.

So that's the problem with the Democrats. And I think people who support Obama should say they expect him not to get us into wars like Iraq but also to question all this enormous spending on the military, which is making for a more dangerous world.

Emily Wilson is a freelance writer and teaches basic skills at City College of San Francisco.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Who Was That Masked (Wo)Man??

July 8, 2008

Tricycle's Daily Dharma

There’s an old koan about a monk who went to his master and said, “I’m a very angry person, and I want you to help me.” The master said, “Show me your anger.” The monk said, “Well, right now I’m not angry. I can’t show it to you.” And the master said, “then obviously it’s not you, since sometimes it’s not even there.” Who we are has many faces, but these faces are not who we are.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Real Bozo Dies..........

Larry Harmon, longtime Bozo the Clown, dies
Wasn't first to play character, but licensed rights to others
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 83.

His publicist, Jerry Digney, told The Associated Press he died at his home.

Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.

“You might say, in a way, I was cloning BTC (Bozo the Clown) before anybody else out there got around to cloning DNA,” Harmon told the AP in a 1996 interview.

“Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us,” Harmon said.

Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney’s Goofy, was the first Bozo the Clown, a character created by writer-producer Alan W. Livingston for a series of children’s records in 1946. Livingston said he came up with the name Bozo after polling several people at Capitol Records.

Harmon would later meet his alter ego while answering a casting call to make personal appearances as a clown to promote the records.

He got that job and eventually bought the rights to Bozo. Along the way, he embellished Bozo’s distinctive look: the orange-tufted hair, the bulbous nose, the outlandish red, white and blue costume.

“I felt if I could plant my size 83AAA shoes on this planet, (people) would never be able to forget those footprints,” he said.

Susan Harmon, his wife of 29 years, indicated Harmon was the perfect fit for Bozo.

“He was the most optimistic man I ever met. He always saw a bright side; he always had something good to say about everybody. He was the love of my life,” she said Thursday.

The business — combining animation, licensing of the character, and personal appearances — made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.

“I’m looking for that sparkle in the eyes, that emotion, feeling, directness, warmth. That is so important,” he said of his criteria for becoming a Bozo.

The Chicago version of Bozo ran on WGN-TV in Chicago for 40 years and was seen in many other cities after cable television transformed WGN into a superstation.

Tickets to 'Bozo Show' sold out for a decade

Bozo — portrayed in Chicago for many years by Bob Bell — was so popular that the waiting list for tickets to a TV show eventually stretched to a decade, prompting the station to stop taking reservations for 10 years. On the day in 1990 when WGN started taking reservations again, it took just five hours to book the show for five more years. The phone company reported more than 27 million phone call attempts had been made.

By the time the show bowed out in Chicago, in 2001, it was the last locally produced version. Harmon said at the time that he hoped to develop a new cable or network show, as well as a Bozo feature film.

He became caught up in a minor controversy in 2004 when the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee took down a plaque honoring him as Bozo and formally endorsed Colvig for creating the role. Harmon denied ever misrepresenting Bozo’s history.

He said he was claiming credit only for what he added to the character — “What I sound like, what I look like, what I walk like” — and what he did to popularize Bozo.

“Isn’t it a shame the credit that was given to me for the work I have done, they arbitrarily take it down, like I didn’t do anything for the last 52 years,” he told the AP at the time.

Harmon protected Bozo’s reputation with a vengeance, while embracing those who poked good-natured fun at the clown.

As Bozo’s influence spread through popular culture, his very name became a synonym for clownish behavior.

“It takes a lot of effort and energy to keep a character that old fresh so kids today still know about him and want to buy the products,” Karen Raugust, executive editor of The Licensing Letter, a New York-based trade publication, said in 1996.

A normal character runs its course in three to five years, Raugust said. “Harmon’s is a classic character. It’s been around 50 years.”

On New Year’s Day 1996, Harmon dressed up as Bozo for the first time in 10 years, appearing in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.

The crowd reaction, he recalled, “was deafening.”

“They kept yelling, ‘Bozo, Bozo, love you, love you.’ I shed more crocodile tears for five miles in four hours than I realized I had,” he said. “I still get goose bumps.”

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harmon became interested in theater while studying at the University of Southern California.

“Bozo is a star, an entertainer, bigger than life,” Harmon once said. “People see him as Mr. Bozo, somebody you can relate to, touch and laugh with.”

Besides his wife, Harmon is survived by his son, Jeff Harmon, and daughters Lori Harmon, Marci Breth-Carabet and Leslie Breth.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


MSN Privacy . Legal
© 2008

The More Obama Kisses Clinton's Ass the More Likely I'm Going to Support Nader.....

Greed Without Accountability

Economic Domino Theory

From Counter Punch July 2, 2008

The worst top management of giant corporations in American history is also by far the most hugely paid. That contradiction applies as well to the Boards of Directors of these global companies.

Consider these illustrations:

The bosses of General Motors (GM) have presided over the worst decline of GM shares in the last fifty years, the lowering of GM bonds to junk status, the largest money losses and layoffs of tens of thousands of workers. Yet these top executives are still in place and still receiving much more pay than their successful counterparts at Toyota.

GM’s stock valuation is under $7 billion dollars, while Toyota is valued at over $160 billion. Toyota, having passed GM in worldwide sales, is about to catch up with and pass GM in sales inside the United States itself!

GM’s executives stayed with their gas guzzling SUVs way beyond the warning signs. Their vehicles were uninspiring and technologically stagnant in various ways. They were completely unprepared for Toyota’s hybrid cars and for the upward spiral in gasoline prices. They’re cashing their lucrative monthly checks with the regular votes of confidence by their hand-picked Board of Directors.

About the same appraisal can be made of Ford Motor Co., which at least brought in new management to try to do something about that once famous company’s sinking status.

Then there are the financial companies. Top management on Wall Street has been beyond incompetent. Wild risk taking camouflaged for years by multi-tiered, complex, abstract financial instruments (generally called collateralized debt obligations) kept the joy ride going and going until the massive financial hot air balloon started plummeting. Finally told to leave their high posts, the CEOs of Merrill-Lynch and Citigroup took away tens of millions of severance pay while Wall Street turned into Layoff Street.

The banks, investment banks and brokerage firms have tanked to levels not seen since the 1929-30 collapse of the stock market. Citigroup, once valued at over $50 per share is now under $17 a share.

Washington Mutual – the nation’s largest savings bank chain was over $40 a share in 2007. Its reckless speculative binge has driven it down under $5 a share. Yet its CEO Kerry Killinger remains in charge, with the continuing support of his rubberstamp Board of Directors. A recent $8 billion infusion of private capital gave a sweetheart deal to these new investors at the excessive expense of the shareholders.

Countrywide, the infamous giant mortgage lender (subprime mortgages) is about to be taken over by Bank of America. Its CEO is taking away a reduced but still very generous compensation deal.

Meanwhile, all these banks and brokerage houses’ investment analysts are busy downgrading each others’ stock prospects.

Over at the multi-trillion dollar companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the shareholders have lost about 75 percent of their stock value in one year. Farcically regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, Fannie and Freddie were run into the ground by taking on very shaky mortgages under the command of CEOs and their top executives who paid themselves enormous sums.

These two institutions were set up many years ago to provide liquidity in the housing and loan markets and thereby expand home ownership especially among lower income families. Instead, they turned themselves into casinos, taking advantage of an implied U.S. government guarantee.

The Fannie and Freddie bosses created another guarantee. They hired top appointees from both Republican and Democratic Administrations (such as Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick) and lathered them with tens of millions of dollars in executive compensation. In this way, they kept federal supervision at a minimum and held off efforts in Congress to toughen regulation. These executives are all gone now, enjoying their maharajan riches with impunity while pensions and mutual funds lose and lose and lose with no end in sight, short of a government-taxpayer bailout.

Over a year ago, leading financial analyst Henry Kaufman and very few others warned about “undisciplined” (read unregulated) and “mis-pricing” of lower quality assets. Mr. Kaufman wrote in the Wall Street Journal of August 15, 2007 that “If some institutions are really ‘too big to fail,’ then other means of discipline will have to be found.”

There are ways to prevent such crashes. In the nineteen thirties, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose stronger regulation, creating the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and several bank regulatory agencies. He saved the badly listing capitalist ship.

Today, there is no real momentum in a frozen Washington, D.C. to bring regulation up to date. To the contrary, in 1999, Congress led by Senator McCain’s Advisor, former Senator Phil Gramm and the Clinton Administration led by Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury, and soon to join Citibank, de-regulated and ended the wall between investment banks and commercial banking known as the Glass-Steagall Act.

Clinton and Congress opened the floodgates to rampant speculation without even requiring necessary and timely disclosures for the benefit of institutional and individual investors.

Now the entire U.S. economy is at risk. The domino theory is getting less theoretical daily. Without investors obtaining more legal authority as owners over their out of control company officers and Boards of Directors, and without strong regulation, corporate capitalism cannot be saved from its toxic combination of endless greed and maximum power—without responsibility.

Uncle Sam, the deeply deficit ridden bailout man, may have another taxpayers-to-the-rescue operation for Wall Street. But don’t count on stretching the American dollar much more without devastating consequences to and from global financial markets in full panic.

Consider the U.S. dollar like an elastic band. You can keep stretching this rubber band but suddenly it BREAKS. Our country needs action NOW from Washington, D.C.

Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent.