Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Is Our Business?

When I turned on my computer this morning, a headline flashed before me "John Edwards talks about his son's death," and got me to wondering:

Why is the death of a political candidate's son, and his wife's spreading cancer our business?

Why is it that ongoing genocide in Darfur, starvation, and homelessness not?

Why is the sex life of teenagers our business, but

implementing programs to provide the tools required to ensure safer sex not?

Why does Katie Couric cross-examine a prospective president about his capacity to cope with grief, and function as commander in chief, and NOT question the current chief executive about his delusions of grandeur, and how it affects world peace, as well as stability at home?

Why so much concern about eight fired U.S. attorneys, and so little attention paid to the fact that, " new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980," as reported by David Cay Johnston in today's New York Times?

What skewed priorities when we, as a society, no longer distinguish between that which is private, and that which we have a right to know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

hearts and prayers...

Our hearts and prayers go out to Tony Snow in his hour of pain, as well as to Elizabeth Edwards both of whom show the true meaning of the word courage. Putting politics aside, Tony Snow is a stand-up guy who possesses, in good measure, both humor and grace. And, after all, what can be more appropriate than to put politics aside, and celebrate the deep humanity that unites us all.

As one who has looked mortality in the eye, I can tell you that precious little matters, in the final analysis, not one's stand on the war, or on government spending, but whether one can see, and convey, the ray of light that surfaces after the storm passes, as well as that adversity is a challenge, and defeat is merely a matter of perspective.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Russian Sources Report...

that a U.S. attack on Iran is scheduled for April 6th...

Sunday, March 25, 2007


One lives with hope, but not for it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How's This for a Marriage?

How's this for a marriage...Dick Cheney and Mel Gibson? They're both practiced at spewing obscenities, for one thing, as well as mistaking monuments for the stuff from which low budget movies are made. They both have their passion, and both are also mistaken if they think their passion has anything to do with Christ. Well, if you don't believe me, just ask the former residents of Baghdad, that is, the Baghdad before Cheney and his Fortune 500 cronies took over.

To say that House Democrats don't support the troops only goes to show just how much closer this administration has come to the stuff of monarchies, and totalitarian states. If history can be seen as a series of mimetic events, the Bush regime shows, if nothing else, that what the president calls "political theatre" is in its finest hour. Far be it for me, or anyone, to eclipse or upstage the vice president's histronic claim that the House Dems are sending a message to "terrorists" but, hey, somebody needs to remind Mr. Cheney that there were no "terrorists" in Iraq until he and his homeboys chose to invade, and topple a sovereign state. And , while we're on the subject of history, history may well show that legislation passed yesterday, by the House, calling for pulling troops out by next year was too little too late. Iraq is one problem that won't be solved by throwing more coins into the war purse, but only by cashing out.

If, as they claim, Mr Cheney and Mr. Bush are looking for "stability in Iraq," (AP) then their only hope in finding it is in a concrete, and coherent exit strategy. What's more, if Mr. Cheney really wants to support the troops, he'll resign, go home to Halliburton where he belongs, take Rove, Gonzales, and his other lapdogs with him.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ultimate in Ultrasounds

Clearly, someone isn't thinking soundly in the South Carolina legislature given this week's passage, by a whopping 91-23 , of a bill that will require a woman, before having an abortion, to view ultrasound images of the fetus. The measure, which now goes to the state senate, does allow for rape and incest as exceptions to what can only be seen as an horrific, and medieval ordeal, and one that is tantamount to psychological waterboarding. While South Carolina isn't the only state giving a woman the option to look at an ultrasound of the fetus in her womb, it is the only state that mandates this procedure. All those for whom the words "civ il rights" still resonate cannot afford to be anything less than outraged by this bill, and those who support it. (AP)

Apart from the obvious, and egregious, attempt to intimidate, and mortify a woman when she is at her most vulnerable, there are serious flaws in the logic underlying such a proposal . Think, for a moment, about the legal viability of requiring members of our armed forces, as part of boot camp, to sit through hours of footage showing the bombing of Hiroshima., that is unless you think it's okay to blow up a city, and many thousands of its civilians. Or, better still, how about playing a DVD featuring a corpse in advanced stages of rigor mortis before administering the death penalty? But, then , of course, these folks who consider abortion murder, by and large, have no problem with bombing the hell out of Baghdad, Beirut, Tehran ... these folks who want to deny a woman the right to choose claim that abortion means killing an unborn child have no problem with killing an adult man, or woman, on death row, in a thatched hut in southeast Asia, or in Iraq.

What eludes me is this: why is it that those who speak the loudest about protecting an unborn life don't give a damn about putting an innocent man to death for a crime he didn't commit? Why don't they apply their "ultrasound argument" to capital punishment, and insist that a convict who might otherwise be sentenced to lethal injection be forced to endure reels of footage reenacting not merely his crime, but every major event in the lives of his victims? But, of course, this would never be allowed. Why? It would go under the heading "cruel and unusual punishment," a phrase these "right to lifers" have perverted just as they have that of torture, and due process, but forcing a woman to look at ultrasound images of a pregnancy she feels she must terminate, does that not also constitute cruel and unusual punishment?

Anyone who thinks that this primitive, and deeply disturbing act of coercion will make a woman change her mind has no respect for the native intelligence, sense, and sensitivity of those who gave them life. This is about way more than terminating a pregnancy. Whether we agree with legalized abortion or not, anyone who supports neanderthal bills like this doesn't respect the right to privacy, and independent decision-making guaranteed us by the Constitution, and instead supports allowing the state to interfere, in a most insidious way, in what is, and must remain, a deeply private process. More importantly, we find here the seed of crime; the crime of contempt for the rights of the living in favor of those of the unborn and, by extension, contempt for the lives of those who serve in favor of those who profit from their service. Make no mistake, the right to choose is among our most fundamental, and inalienable civil rights.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

from "Executive Privilege is a Dodge"...

by Tony Snow, yes, the current White House Press Secretary penned the below, nearly a decade ago, as an op-ed for the St. Louis Dispatch, and what we hear today is little more than another Snow job from Tony. The below is from his piece called...

"Executive Privilege is a Dodge"

"Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time. One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public's faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold -- the rule of law."

Tony Snow
March, 1998

Ah, cynics and the folks who love them. Tony Snow hit the nail right on the head when he wrote of upholding the "majesty" of office, and how those words may now come back to haunt him. One can only hope that Mr. Snow, and his benefactors, are made to feast on his above opinion piece, and pony up to its irony.

Oh, and what is the line from that John Lennon song, "Happiness is a warm gun;" this gun's not just warm, it's smoking.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Das Capital

If New York is the city that never sleeps, Washington, D.C. is quickly coming to be known as the city that sleeps all the time, at least insofar as "functional literacy" is concerned.

A study by the State Education Agency recently revealed that fully one-third of the residents of our nation's capital not only would be unable to wade through Karl Marx's modern classic on class struggle, "Das Kapital," or make it through a novel by John Dos Passos, but have difficulty doing such basic tasks as reading train schedules, maps, and completing employment appications. What's more, D.C.'s senior population ranks number one in low scores. (AP)

While the U.S. Department of Education study attributes the astonishing 33% illiteracy rate to the recent proliferation of immigrants whose grasp of English is tenuous, this number becomes even more mind-boggling when considering that the national illiteracy rate is 20%, hence Washington, D.C.'s rate is 13% higher than the national average .

Factoring out the growing number of people moving to our nation's capital from Spanish-speaking countries, and Ethiopia, consider for a moment that D.C. is the nucleus of legislation, as well as home to Congress, and the Supreme Court. What a statement this makes about the direction in which we're going, and growing.

Still, fair is fair, and literacy, too, may be seen as a relative concept which leads one to wonder if future generations of Americans might well look back at these desperate times, and wonder if congressional approval of the USA Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, as well as other stultifying legislation that aims to tweak definitions of torture, as well as what is legitimate, if unauthorized, domestic surveillance may be seen as a by-product of functional illiteracy. Or, more to the point, will we yet live to see the day when historical revisionists may have their way with the way we define what it means to navigate our way through the world with words?

Will, for instance, a scholar at Harvard, say in the year 2110, look back at statements made by a former administration official claiming the right to edit scientific reports about global warming so that they reflected an official, if erroneous, report by the National Academy of Sciences as a newfangled form of functional illiteracy? Or, will the hazardous effect of our perversion of greenhouse gases be such that human intelligence will exist only on paper, and no longer as a matter of fact?

And, more importantly, what will our future Harvard historian have to say about a Senate Judiciary Committee that aggressively sought subpoenas for White House officials who were charged with lying about the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys for political reasons, yet stood quietly behind the obscene appropriation of funds for a war that only one who is functionally illiterate can justify.

While we send heartfelt congratulations to Senator Leahy, and applaud his efforts to get to the bottom of who gave the green light to fire these federal attorneys, truth is, if the Senate had subpoeaned the White House, four years ago, and paid this much attention to fraudulent claims of "weapons of mass destruction," we wouldn't be in Iraq now!

So, some might even call it poetic justice that the greatest number of those deemed "functionally illiterate" should find themselves in the proverbial backyard of those who govern them. In an odd sort of way, it looks like Karl Marx may have been right; those who decide what functional means, as well as what literacy is, more often than not, are running the manor, and not mowing the lawn. The irony is, the economics don't matter when considering the concept of nuclear proliferation, and the clear and present danger of human extinction brought on by corporate greed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The "C" Word

In a week that witnessed so-called Al Qaeda "mastermind," Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, at his military hearing at Gitmo insist that he was "responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z" and, indeed, claim responsibility for everything but sinking the Titanic, the letter "c" repeats itself like a bad case of acid reflux. Take, for instance:

" c" as in "criminal:" From London , this morning comes a stunning ruling by the Oxfordshire deputy coroner, Andrew Walker, that what was dubbed a U.S. friendly fire attack, which resulted in the death of a British soldier, in southern Iraq, nearly four years ago to the day, "amounted to an assault," and was "unlawful because there was no lawful reason for it." What's more, eleven lines of the American military's own 1100 line investigation into the incident, an aerial assault on the tank carrying Lance Cpl. Matty Hull, had been blacked out, or deleted. (AP)

Moreover, the British coroner's office that conducted the inquest made no bones about his dissatisfaction with the U.S. military's failure to
"c" as in "cooperate" with his investigation into the incident which suggests that the official Pentagon findings were spurious, and concocted. Lance Cpl. Hull, and his family, believe that the interrogation of a British air controller who witnessed the attack has been "c" as in "censored." In a statement to the press, the slain English soldier's widow urged President Bush "to release the 11 lines," in the report, that were deleted so that the "c," "coroner," can get to the truth of who, how, and why this 25 year old coalition serviceman was slain. The question, of course, is: onc e the truth has been obtained, will there be any "c"onsequences in that the American military is not subject to British law?

Oh, and speaking of consequences, what can be more ironic than hearing the word "criminal" applied to a military operation by our own government, especially when it comes on the heels of a ubiquitous confession, by a notorious member of Al Qaeda, in a hearing meant only to establish him as an "enemy combatant," and to pave the way for charges of war crimes? Apart from the obvious, namely that only the Bionic Man could have been involved in as many terrorist attacks for which Mohammed takes credit, his confession sets the stage for de facto exoneration of the remaining 550 "enemy combatants" who may now point the finger at him.

And, in her testimony before a Senate committee, the face behind the Libby trial, Valerie Plame Wilson, stated repeatedly that she was a "c" as in covert agent for the CIA working on clandestine operations. What's more, Ms. Wilson insists, her "cover" was blown by Libby and company, thus compromising not merely her job, but her personal security. Clearly, we live at a time in which concerns for "national security" supersede those of personal security.

But, arguably, the most daring use of what has increasingly become an essential, if surly, letter of the alphabet comes in remarks by the "c"hairman of a Senate committee investigating the egregious mis conduct, and abuse of power, in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys whose unprecedented midstream presidential termination has aroused the ire of key Democrats and Republicans alike who are now calling for a "c" as in controversial attorney general to step down.

Importantly, too, at least one high octane Senate democrat, Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, isn't willing to take White House blarney, and has authorized subpoenas for a handful of Justice Department officials. Yes, and Leahy intends to keep going until he reaches the "c" as in commander-in-chief, saying that it is his belief that the attorney general and his deputy "misled" the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is a serious "c"harge. Leahy asserts "Whether it was deliberate or not we're going to have to find out." (CNN) Refusing to be bullied, and humbled by a unitary executive branch, and its claims of executive privilege, the Vermont senator promises that his committee will "subpoena who we want." Good for him, and better for us!

Which brings me, alas, to those "c " words that have been missing in action since the onset of the present regime, one that censors scientific findings, military investigations, as well as the carnage of a cowardly, vindictive war:

Why is it that not merely truth, but "c" as in "character" has been the first casualty of the war in Iraq?

How is it that those who brought us counterfeit phrases like "family values," and "right to life," have usurped our trust in their contempt for the lives of those who struggle to provide food and shelter for their wives and children, those who come home maimed, and disfigured to join the ranks of the homeless, or waste away in dry rot V.A. hospitals ?

What happened to the kind of "c" as in "courage" that inspired the framers of the Declaration of Independence to board the Mayflower, change course, and venture away from "c"oronations to transparent leadership that is answerable to the people; leadership that doesn't hide behind dubious concepts like executive privilege, as well as immunity from charges of war crimes as legitimatized by the Military Commissions Act. What would folks like George Washington, and John Adams have to say about the "right makes might" attitude, and religious intolerance infesting their country today?

When, as a nation, we surrender our collective vision, and voice, we have lost the framework upon which this nation was founded. And, in the memorable words of one of the U.S . pilots involved in what a British inquest has now determined to be the criminal firing on a coalition tank, "We're in jail, dude." There's only one way out, and that is to commit to
"c" as in change.

Friday, March 09, 2007

He May Not Be Houdini, But...

He may not be Houdini, but how many smoking guns will it take to impeach this president? While it's downright decent of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller to take responsibility for the fact that the FBI "broke the law," and "underreported" to Congress the number of National Security Letters it used by, oh, a mere 20% (AP), there is one daunting, and unavoidable question here: who appointed the prominent San Francisco attorney to the helm of an increasingly unbiquitous governmental agency in the first place? Why, yes, it was the president who, back in 2001, decided upon Mueller to replace then beleaguered Louis Freeh.

But, will the problem be solved by having Mueller step down as Rumsfeld did? Who is at the helm? Is it Mueller? Isn't he just following orders? Wasn't Rumsfeld just following orders, too, or maybe refusing to get with the program? And, now that April 15th is just a month away, what do you think would happen to you and me if we were to underreport our earnings to the IRS by, say, 20% this year the way the number of National Security Letters issued was underreported?

Even Houdini had to worry about showing panty lines every now and then, but this president never has to worry about anything. He would make Midas blush. How Mr. Bush manages to escape facing a grand jury in light of the scandals that were Plame-gate, Katrina, weapons of mass delusion, warrantless surveillance in defiance of FISA, and now this, the admission by the two head honchos of law enforcement, in the U.S., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation committed illegal acts. Maybe we need to introduce a modern day Mata Hari into the inner circle, maybe as a White House intern, before people will take anything this president does seriously enough to make him testify, in an impeachment trial, the way another former president did.

Even a desultory look back, over the past six years, will demonstrate that the USA Patriot Act, and National Security, or demand for information, Letters, are the warped progeny of the 43rd President of the United States. Moreover, as we have seen earlier this week by the controversial firing of eight U.S. attorneys whose views conflict with those of the White House, a single sentence in the controversial legislation falsely confused with patriots entitles the chief executive to "replace a U.S. attorney without Senate confirmation." (AP) This habit of bypassing Congress, and inflating executive branch authority, has already resulted in prolonging, and exacerbating, a grossly misrepresented, unjust, and unwarranted war.

That said, it must be noted that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears to be quite upset by revelations that the FBI falsified its reporting, and exceeded its authority by demanding personal records without first getting approval, and in non-emergent situations. Gonzales suggests the possibility of maybe even pursuing indictments against those Bureau agents, or counsel, whose use of the Patriot Act was spurious, and unauthorized.

Mueller, on the other hand, seems to think that issues of underreporting, falsifying data, and unwarranted action can be readily remedied by "training employees on the limits of their authority." (AP) But, ironically enough, the person who most needs to be "trained" on the limits of his authority gets to flex his unitary muscles with impunity in the Oval Office, and at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Just the mere thought that the Justice Department felt compelled to spend taxpayer's money on an audit of the FBI's activities is, in and of itself, a statement of just how far over the line this administration has gone with respect to its own hubris-begetting criminal misconduct; it's positively biblical. That legislation was introduced, and passed, during a time of mass hysteria from which members of Congress were not exempt has opened the door for the egregious, and illegal abuse of power which now rears its ugly head in every branch of government. Indeed, corruption thy name is terror. What's more, release of the Justice Department's astonishing findings today only leads us to say this: so much for Patriot Acts---it's time to give these "patriots" the axe.

Howell: A Postscript

By way of postscript to a piece I wrote, last week, which details efforts on the part of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education (LOVE) to pressure the school board, in Howell, Michigan, into removing such modern classics as Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," Richard Wright's "Black Boy," and Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" from high school curriculum on grounds of obscenity comes the following:

Late yesterday, U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy III and the Michigan attorney general's office announced that complaints of obscenity by LOVE are without merit, and there has been no violation of federal law by placing the above-mentioned books on the Howell school approved reading list. (ABFFE) While this is a clear victory for the First Amendment, and shows that there are signs, however small, of intelligent life left in this country, one cannot help but wonder, along with American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression president, Chris Finan, why it is that a complaint by one person to a local school board about what she considers objectionable content would be referred by a U.S. attorney to the FBI in the first place? If one patron in a movie theatre complains about the air conditioning, the theatre seldom turns it off, but if one parent complains about profanity in a novel, it gets referred to the U.S. attorney who then summarily passes it on to the FBI? Hopefully, Murphy's decision shows that he's done his homework, and recognizes that pursuing this obscenity charge is both ludicrous, and frivolous in light of obscenity trials of the past century

And, at the end of a week in which it was disclosed that the Justice Department has been investigating underreporting of use of the USA Patriot Act to harass companies to turn over personal data about their customers, one also wonders how it is that there is so little focus on, and i nvestigation of a proliferation of inc idents involving attempts to ban books in public schools, such respected titles as "Tiger Eyes," by Judy Blume, and "The Chocolate War," by Robert Cormier? While we are all outraged by the prospect of a presidential pardon of Scooter Libby, where is our rightful sense of outrage over the affliction of right wing agoraphobia into our public schools?

The Price of Gas

A friend was right, the other night, when, at a play reading, she said that the price of gas would climb to $4 a gallon, in California, where it will remain indefinitely. Yes, indeed, and we don't need crystal balls to see the extent to which corporate gluttony has damaged not merely the socioeconomic hemisphere, but the heart, and ethos, of this country.

What is often ignored by the mass media is how lots of folks, including myself, will be forced to roll over, and make some immensely tough choices thanks to the lewd and lascivious conduct of the oil cartels. We hear much talk about the obscene profits the oil companies have made over the past year. We don't hear about the daily sacrifices, at the altar of the almighty buck, that 99% of Americans daily make in order to go about living their lives, feeding their families, and finding their way to work. After all, in Southern Califoria, Florida, and most of the country, which is rural, a car is not a luxury item; people must drive to get to and from work, and often in wrenching traffic.

And, we're not even going to talk about the cost to human lives of this monstrous appetite, and lust for profit, this warmongering that has cost more than 3,000 American, and 600,000 Iraqi lives.

This is usury on the part of Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, and the other gout-ridden oil giants. And, if the Internal Revenue Service can devote itself to going after John Doe Taxpayer who screws up on the number of deductions he claims, why in the hell can't the Justice Department go after these crooks, and carpetbaggers, friends of the president, and oil baron in chief, who are raping the middle class in the name of a war on terror. T his is a travesty that requires herculean consumer organizing efforts to stop it, and fast.... where is Ralph Nader when we need him most????

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Just fifty short years since the censorship trial of Allen Ginsberg's historic poem, "Howl," the publication of which landed poet, and City Lights publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in jail, another Howell is in the news, Howell, Michigan. In an otherwise innocuous midwestern town, last month, the U.S. Attorney's office requested that the FBI investigate claims of obscenity based upon a complaint filed with the Howell Board of Education.

The complaint was made by a woman who failed in her mission to have the county Board of Education ban books currently on eleventh grade reading lists on grounds that they are not only obscene, but "violate the laws against child pornography and child sexual abuse." (ABFFE) Which books does the complainant want banned, and pulled from school shelves? None other than Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," Richard Wright's "Black Boy," and Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five."

How is it that one person's disgust can garner the attention not merely of a local school board, and the state's attorney's office, but the FBI? Arguably, because this woman has the support, and backing of a group- called Livingston Organization for Values in Education (LOVE) comprised primarily of parents, clergy, and others in the community who also believe that the aforementioned books are unfit for high school students. And, when rebuked by the Howell Board of Education by their decision, in a vote of 2 to 1, to defend the books by Morrison, Wright, and Vonnegut, a prominent member of the organization called LOVE took their complaint to the Livingston County prosecutor, who then turned it over to U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy, III. It was Mr. Murphy's call to involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to Chris Finan, President of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Murphy "routinely refers all obscenity complaints to the FBI." One would think that a U.S. Attorney, and his pals at the FBI, would have a lot on their plates these days what with the war on terror, and would find themselves short of the manpower to wage a war on innocent literary texts by investigating such lean, and frivolous charges, especially in light of the fact that Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Kurt Vonnegut are among the best, and most prominent writers of our times.

Moreover, if, as has been suggested, the aforementioned literature violates laws against child pornography, child abuse, and is "obscene," then one might also reasonably expect that the Howell Board of Education be compelled, by the FBI and/or the U.S. Attorney, to ban the Old Testament from school currirulum, too, given its lurid, and incestuous nature. One has only to recall the rape of Tamar, as well as the first circumcision, and the murder by Jephthah of his daughter, to call for banning the bible on grounds that it promotes child abuse.

Wouldn't it be something if all those who speak out the loudest in favor of creationism, and so-called "intelligent design," were to have their bibles pulled from public school shelves based on charges that they contain child pornography!

Consider, too, the ruling that as long as a book has "literary merit," it may not be considered obscene in light of some superbly lascivious biblical passages. If a school district may be allowed to condemn a book like "Slaughterhouse Five," why not Exodus 4 :24 in which Zipporah is forced to cut off the foreskin of her baby in order to keep the Lord from killing her husband Moses? And, putting literary texts aside for a moment, what reasonable person can read an account of how our forefathers slaughtered the native Americans, in a history textbook, and not condemn that as obscene?

To think that our friend, U.S. Attorney Murphy, has reportedly referred the offending books to the FBI makes one take a long, hard look at just how far we've actually come since July, 1933 when another judge, in the southern district of New York, Judge Woolsey, ruled that James Joyce's "Ulysses" may legally be admitted into the United States.

It takes one's breath away to think that we live in an age when anything we can think of can be digitalized, when we can communicate with someone 9,000 miles away, by means of a laptop computer, instantly, when we can fly 30,000 feet above the ground, and we still have to defend literature, and writers, against a hard-boiled band of neanderthals who have a longer life expectancy than your average garden variety cockroach. For shame, America, hope of many, embarrassment to all.