Monday, June 29, 2009


So, they speak freely now
the men at home in
their alibis
they speak of
they speak of
a thousand
rivers with
no teeth they speak of
the silent
sombrero of
dawn and the
frightened eyes of
We set the table for
thieves, but
find barbarians
instead hiding in
the dark like
We are imposters all
we know not the honor of

by: Jayne Lyn Stahl

from "Riding with Destiny"

(all rights reserved)


The recognition of duality is the acknowledgment that human understanding comes about only through acceptance of paradox.

Madoff scores 150

You know when we can really celebrate? When the guys who left town with our Constitution get 150 years behind bars (and not the kind that offer dry martinis)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

from JFK

"An error doesn't become a mistake unless we refuse to correct it."

A pulse..

Given the current state of the economy, we should be asking if America was found with a pulse, not Michael Jackson.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


History doesn't repeat itself. We repeat history.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

From Michael Winship

I Can See Tehran from My House!

By Michael Winship

Being a total history geek, I confess that there's almost nothing as entertaining to me as a good historic house tour. It's a great way to get a feel for how someone from the past lived his or her life. I realize that this nerdish interest would seem to indicate that conversely, I have no life of my own, but bear with me.

An hour or two spent at Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill home on Long Island, or Mark Twain's rambling riverboat of a house in Hartford, Connecticut, or even Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home in the Kentish countryside of England, is an ideal portal into the mind of an historic personage and the times in which they lived.

A large part of a recent weekend in Chicago was spent visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's home and office in nearby Oak Park, Illinois, and the mansion of a 19th century industrial tycoon whose daughter made miniature dollhouse recreations of homicide scenes, published in a collection titled, "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death." You can't make this stuff up.

Luckily, my girlfriend Pat and my sister Patricia are as nerd-like as I am, so on a beautiful spring Saturday last month, while visiting my sister upstate, we drove over to the home of William Henry Seward in Auburn, NY.

Seward served as Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state - and Andrew Johnson's, too, that hapless Tennessean who succeeded Lincoln after the assassination and came within a whisker of being convicted in the Senate after impeachment by the House of Representatives.

On the evening of Lincoln's murder, Seward also was attacked, targeted for death by one of John Wilkes Booth's accomplices. He survived a vicious stabbing and lived for another seven and a half years. On display in the Seward House is a tiny scrap of bloodstained bedsheet from the night of the assault.

The trappings of the home are evidence of an educated and well-traveled man of erudition, imagination and especially foresight, for it was Secretary of State Seward who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867.

He paid $7.2 million for it - almost two cents an acre -- and was attacked by politicians, the media and the public for a foolish waste of government money - a "polar bear garden," critics called Alaska - "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox." Of course, now the sound you hear is Seward's ghost laughing all the way to the Federal Reserve.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Alaska's statehood, and so Governor Sarah Palin arrived for a visit to Auburn and the Seward House just a couple of weeks after we were there. Presented with a picture of Seward negotiating the Alaska deal, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported Palin said to the surrounding crowd, "They're looking at a globe and they're pointing to Alaska in this painting, and I'll betcha anything what Seward was pointing out was: 'Lookie there, you can see Russia from Alaska.'"

More likely, Seward was saying something like, "Now can I go to bed?" The Alaska treaty was quickly negotiated during an all-night session at the State Department when the czar's ambassador, Baron Edward de Stoeckl, interrupted Seward's Friday evening whist game to tell him he suddenly had his government's approval to make a deal. Staffs were hastily assembled and the papers signed by 4 a.m. on March 30.

I was struck by the speed with which Seward pulled this off, especially in contrast with the deliberate pace President Obama has taken with regard to the Iranian elections. But they're really not all that different.

Consider that when Seward and the Russians pulled their all-nighter it was a time when global communications were slower. It would be a while before news of the treaty reached the Russian capital of St. Petersburg.

The Transatlantic Cable was finally in place - just -- but communications back and forth with Russia were slow. In fact, a company had just abandoned a scheme to extend telegraph lines from California to Alaska, then across the Bering Straits into Siberia.

It would be more than a year before the House of Representatives allowed the check for the purchase to be cut. So there was plenty of time to mull over the ramifications of the treaty - and Seward, a knowledgeable and cautious diplomat, had been in talks with Russia about Alaska off and on for years.

President Obama said about Iran at his Tuesday press conference, "We don't know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not." In comparison to Seward's time, news travels in a nanosecond today. All the more reason to consider even more carefully before making decisions, especially ones that could hurt the very democratic cause you support and which will be manipulated by the Iranian government for its propaganda purposes no matter what.

At a private fundraiser for the Seward House, the Associated Press reported that Governor Palin had "sharp words" for Obama's national security policy but it was a week before the Iranian elections and she has since had little or nothing to say about the situation there - as opposed to Republican leaders in Congress and other neo-cons who have lashed out at the President's caution. "He's been timid and passive more than I would like," said South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, and
Senator John McCain announced, "He should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election, and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights."

All well and good, but as Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution writes, at Foreign Policy's website, "The fact is, no matter how much Americans like to think they are the ones shaping events in Iran, it's just not true. The dramatic events in Iran have been wholly internally driven. They are the product of three decades of semi-competitive Iranian elections, a sophisticated population that warily guards its limited rights and freedoms, the tensions of a longstanding elite power struggle, and the ever-important force of unintended consequences --among other factors."

GOP leaders who question and challenge President Obama's Iranian strategy thus far would well remember their late Republican colleague William Henry Seward's calm prescience in the face of opposition. As an admirer wrote, he was "one of those spirits who sometimes will go ahead of public opinion instead of tamely following its footprints." That's how history is made.

Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program
Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS.
Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at

Rest in Peace

I join many who have always been a big fan of one who pushed the envelope, refused to play Barbie Doll, and instead pursued a serious career in acting. Her courage on screen was no match for her courage in life, and few have fought cancer as courageously, and with such humanity, as she did.

Rest in Peace, Farrah Fawcett. There is no pain where you are now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tricky Dicks

Too bad Richard Nixon didn't have a mistress in Argentina, but he would have had to invade it first. In fact, anything outside his liquor cabinet was rightly thought of as a demilitarized zone.

Yet, while we're bombarded by the mainstream broadcast media, and the blogosphere, with chatter about the marital infidelity of a South Carolina governor, we hear virtually nothing about more than 150 hours of recently released tapes, recorded secretly in the Oval Office, in the days immediately after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in favor of Roe v. Wade in which the former president talks about the ruling: "There are times when abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or rape," Nixon said.

Though it is widely thought that Nixon opposed abortion, devout racism overpowered his disdain for the procedure.

And, while we were treated to nonstop images of a disgraced, and penitent, Governor Sanford, discuss how many times he met his lover in Argentina, how long they knew each other, ad nauseum, we were too busy to pay attention to even one of the 30,000 pages of documents that were also released today like a tidbit from a telephone call between then Republican Party National Committee chair, George H.W. Bush, and Richard Nixon, in which Mr. Nixon extolled the virtue of having female candidates in his party.

Nixon is heard to tell Bush: "I noticed a couple of very attractive women, both of them Republicans, in the legislature. I want you to be sure to emphasize to our people, God, let's look for some ... Understand, I don't do it because I'm for women, but I'm doing it because I think maybe a woman might win someplace where a man might not."

We'd rather read e-mails from the governor of South Carolina than listen to a former president tell an evangelical minister, Billy Graham, "deep down in this country, there is a lot of anti-Semitism... It may be they have a death wish. You know that's been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries." Arguably, the former president might think the Holocaust is evidence of that "death wish."

Of course, there is no escaping the audacious hypocrisy of a political figure like Sanford who, ten years ago, worked sedulously for the impeachment of another president, Bill Clinton, for compromising public trust with his marital infidelity, but the larger question is one of priorities.

Images of casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and reminders of high octane nuclear threats from N. Korea don't boost television ratings as much as the face of a fallen political figure. The release of dozens of hours of tapes that prove a fallen, and morally corrupt, president, Richard Nixon, was not only a virulent racist and anti-Semite, but also a sexist, doesn't produce half the advertising revenue as one salacious e-mail to Sanford's Argentine mistress.

In this country founded by Puritans, it looks to me like we're focusing on the wrong Dick.

Which is the greater outrage---another outed Republican "family values" sinner, which has become a cliche, or indisputable, documented proof that we let a man who disgraced the presidency resign rather than be impeached ? An outrage that continues when we consider that another president, who did to the Constitution what Nixon did to the basement of the Watergate Hotel, just resigned with dignity, and at taxpayer expense.

It's about priorities, and those who allow themselves to be entertained by disgrace, and distracted by a faux sense of vindication, merely perpetuate the weaponry of mass distraction in the name of media corporate profit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Under Bush

What we had under Bush wasn't foreign policy, but diaper rash.

Monday, June 22, 2009

how to tell...

How to tell the men from the boys: the boys carry guns.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Time Out for Tyranny

It doesn't seem like it, but it is almost two weeks ago that the people of Iran went to the polls to choose their next president. On June 12, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced off against his challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, in what was to become an historically contested race, but in the aftermath it is clear that this is not about Ahmadinejad or Mousavi. It is about radical change.

One can't help but think that the actions of the Iranians are mimetic, and that they want to join the American president, Barack Hussein Obama, in the audacity to hope. Iranians, along with the rest of the world, were thrilled to see the ouster of Christian fundamentalist jihadists, Bush and Cheney, and the election of the first president of color, a man whose vision is transformative if only because he embraces both Christianity and Islam.

How often, in this country, have we met people of Iranian descent who call themselves "Persians" because they don't want to be associated with radical fundamentalists in their country, people we label "terrorists" out of ignorance. Many, in Iran, wonder: "is it too much to ask that we be proud of our country?"

If what is happening in Iran now can be called a revolution, it is not about ideology; it is about inclusion.

Whether it can be shown that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad legitimately won the June 12 election or not, the recent actions of his regime will render his a renegade rule, and one rife with human rights abuses. And, it has become clear, the apocalyptic devastation that has been witnessed, over the past several days, has little to do with election fraud, or who will next report to the Ayatollah Khamenei, and more to do a growing sense of disenfranchisement among the Iranian people, a desire for unity, not dissonance, with the west.

All but the most hard of heart must turn away from footage of the barbaric shooting of a teenage girl, on a Tehran street, capturing her last seconds on earth, that went viral on the Internet. Still, we watch as, deep down inside, we know that her death is our death, too. We have seen the horror in the eyes of a student at Kent State who stood over the cold body of a friend gunned down by a National Guardsman. Surely, we would see the same horror on the face of the daughter of an unarmed civilian slaughtered by U.S. forces in Haditha. Iran has not invented barbarism. It is a universal pathology from Stalin to Franco to Darfur.

Never think for an instant that this kind of civil suppression has anything to do with law and order any more than it has to do with one religion or another, or who wins an election. This is nothing more than the exercise of brute force.

Ironically, it was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself who said "I don't know why some countries do not understand the fact that the Iranian people do not tolerate force." Did he mean that to apply only to external force?

Whatever the outcome of this week's protests, one thing is certain: Iran, and the world, will never be the same. And, should Ahmadinejad and Khamenei prevail, or the Revolutionary Guard declare martial law, the confrontation between the United States and Iran will be no less inevitable than it was before June 12.

Efforts, on the part of the west, to demonize Iran, and those fundamentalist isolationist Islamists, will continue; Ahmadinejad, and the supreme leader, have just given the west more ammunition. But, they have also made it impossible to forget the faces of those protestors on the streets of Tehran, and the Iranian people's time out from tyranny.

Justifiably, there are grave concerns about the news blackout, the report of twenty journalists arrested, the disappearance of prominent photographers, and the effort, by the Iranian government, not merely to stifle resistance, but to eliminate any record of it.

There is no longer any moral high ground. We're all sinking. Ultimately, there is little difference between a radical Islamic jihadist and a radical Christian jihadist. All too often we forget that behind every ideology is a human face. After the events of this week, we will no longer forget.

So, in the days, weeks, and months ahead, when we hear the clamor of war drums, and phrases like Islamofascism coming from the radical right, keep in mind we have been to the heart of darkness. Remember, too, that every man, woman, and child who participated in these protests would want us to consider that, when war is declared, it will be their blood that will be spilled which, in the end, makes us no different than those who spill their blood today


We came, we conquered, and we left a mess.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day...

to all fathers, and especially to mine:

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew."
Guillaume Apollinaire

Few things last longer than a father’s love.

(Photo of my father, David Darwin Stahl, age 3, with his sister Sylvia; taken circa 1923)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Move Over Gloria Steinem

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, is rightfully grabbing the spotlight today, but the speech he gave in Tehran, earlier today, couldn't help but make me think of the Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination, and how much progress we, in the west, have made in how we treat our women.

Okay, so nobody's ever accused me of being a feminist. Some have even suggested that Arthur Rimbaud was more of a feminist than I am. But, lately, I've been wondering about a few things:

Think about this: why is it that when men do it, it's called work; when women do it, it's called sublimating. When men do it, it's called driven; when women do it, it's called pushy. And, when men do it, it's called assertive, when women do it, it's called bitchy.

I wonder how Dostoyevsky, or Joyce, would have responded were they to be told they were "sublimating" instead of creating works of art.

Yes, these are all cliches. We've heard these before. But, as we listen to Iran's supreme leader demand subordination from his people, as we put the remote back where it belongs, we need to think about the odor of mendacity, and the hypocrisy with which we live every day. We hear about all the advances women have made, and continue to make daily. Look at Sonia Sotomayor, for example, and Hillary Clinton. Still, we must ask why character assassination, and gender stereotypes, continue to figure so heavily into the selection process when women are considered for the Supreme Court, and/or other high government posts?

We have become so adept at disenfranchisement, in this country, that nobody even notices we do it anymore.

How many women political commentators do we read in the mainstream press? And, what does this say about just how much we've really changed in our attitudes toward women?

Now that there are some who want to take us back to the days when a woman had no choice about motherhood, we must, yet again, examine if a woman's primary mode of creation must pass through the birth canal.

Arguably, what's happening in Iran is as close to revolution as any of us will see in our lifetimes. This is not to say that we don't need radical reform, just that we are not nearly as close to recognizing this need as our Iranian counterparts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Being single

Being single means only having to do your own dirty laundry.


If I sublimate any more, I'm gonna turn into a submarine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Before leaving office...

Before leaving office, George W. Bush asked John McCain what he should take with him from the White House, and McCain said "a doggy bag."

From Oscar Wilde...

"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."

(courtesy of Philip Proctor)

Sarah Palin and her Frank Sinatra Complex

Okay, to start off with, two disclaimers: first, I'm a big Sinatra fan, always have been, and secondly, I was too young to swear that this story isn't apocryphal, but if memory serves me right, sometime in 1980, one of my favorite disc jockeys at the time, Jonathan Schwartz, was suddenly taken off the air for making a pejorative remark about one of Sinatra's latest recordings.

Fast forwarding to David Letterman show in June, 2009 and someone who is currently being groomed to be the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012. I'm not suggesting, for a minute, that Letterman's comment about knocking up either of Palin's daughters wasn't crude, and even a bit over the top, but it wasn't in violation of FCC rules which are already antediluvian, and draconian.

Moreover, the larger question here is--should any one person be so powerful that they have the ability to force management to pull the plug on a radio, or television, personality? And, what does it say about someone abusing power that they don't really have, especially when that person might, gawd forbid, be the next president of the United States?

Apparently, the far right, and NRA's darling, Sarah Palin, has a bit of a Frank Sinatra complex, meaning when she waves her magic wand, she expects the entire world to shake as it would during a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. In this country, we make politicians of our celebrities, and celebrities of our politicians. Well, Ms. Palin, here's some breaking news for you: you've used up your fifteen minutes of fame.

A great English poet once wrote: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." In his defense, Frank Sinatra was born great. Ms. Palin---well, she has had greatness thrust upon her. She must learn to use that instrument judiciously, or relinquish it along with her crown.

Keep in mind, we are supposed to have a little thing called free speech here. A few generations of Americans paid the ultimate price in defense of it. Well, I thought we did anyway, and today, this being Bloomsday, is as a good time as any to revisit the days when the first edition of James Joyce's "Ulysses" was banned in the U.S., under the Tariff Act, from date of publication in 1922 until Judge Woolsey's ruling in July, 1933 that the novel wasn't "pornography." If you have a copy handy, you might want to take a peek at "Ulysses," the greatest novel in the English language, and ask yourself whether Governor Palin might be among those who would still like to see it banned.

You'll recall, in the 2008 presidential campaign, there was a story circulating about how Sarah Palin asked a Wasilla librarian how she might react should she be instructed to remove certain books from the public library, arguably books that might contain passages about young girls getting "knocked up." Well, I can tell you how Judge Woolsey would react--he wouldn't like it; that's why we have a First Amendment, remember?

So, Mrs. Palin now goes from trying to have books removed to trying to have late night entertainment figures removed.

Or, maybe it's not the Alaska governor, after all, who is trying to force David Letterman to his knees, but his network's management after the show reportedly lost one major sponsor, Embassy Suites.

Those who say that David Letterman should not have apologized are right, but he, too, may have faced the threat of termination like the radio announcer in New York who dared to criticize a Frank Sinatra song.

If anyone needs to apologize here, it's those sponsors who withdraw their support from Letterman's show, those major networks like CNN who give Sarah Palin ammunition by running her impotent claims, and anyone else who supports a climate that engenders censorship, hate, and lies.

From Leopold Bloom

and friends...

Happy Bloomsday!!!

"On now, dare it, let there be life!"

James Joyce, "Ulysses"

(The greatest work written in English, and not by an Englishman!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Call me superstitious, but...

June 16 has come to be known as "Bloomsday" as the entire novel, "Ulysses," took place on that day---the day that James Joyce first met his lifetime partner, and later wife, Nora Barnacle.

And, this morning, I awoke with the same sense of panic I've felt for the past seven years at the approach of Bloomsday two days from now. Yet another year, and no closer to bringing the story of the censorship battle to publish "Ulysses" to the big screen. If ever I meet Mr. Joyce in the next world, I thought, he'll kill me.

Covered with the kind of sweat that typically comes when one is behind with studying for one's Final Exam, I thought---well, now, here's the solution. Maybe this is not a dream, maybe it's a delusion. Maybe destiny isn't cable ready after all. Maybe there is no inspired hook-up with his Bloomship. So, I thought I'd do what JJ might himself do, and jumped out of the bed in my pajamas raced over to the bookcase, and quickly grabbed "Ulysses."

The book nearly fell to pieces in my hands. Call me superstitious, but I placed it on the kitchen table, closed my eyes, put my right hand on the cover and, as if approaching Tarot cards, took a deep breath. Wherever I open it, I'll find some kernel of truth as to whether or not the past seven plus years of my life have been wasted on the illusion of a telekinetic journey.

As luck would have it, the book opened at page 396----good strong numbers, I thought, all divisible by three---Joyce would have liked this. But, to my chagrin, unlike all the other pages in the novel that are ensconced in my scribbles, there's not the hint of ink on this page. Hmmmm..... strange, I thought; nothing underlined?

But, as I was just about to close the book, two-thirds down the page, I found the following:

"So Thursday sixteenth June Patk. Dignmam laid in clay of an apoplexy and after hard drought, please God, rained, a bargeman coming in by water a fifty mile or thereabout with turf saying the seed won't sprout..."

and more...

"All the world saying, for aught they knew, the big wind of last February a year that did havoc the land so pitifully a small thing beside this barrenness."

Can't help but think, in a novel nearly 800 pages strong, it is not by coincidence that both June and February would find their way to my eyes.

"Ulysses" was published on February 2, 1922.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, on this "sixteenth June Pakt," join me in remembering the "big wind" of that February "so pitifully a small thing beside this barrenness," and in hoping the story of how "Ulysses" fought the censors to take its first breath upon this swollen globe, as only I can tell it, will yet see the light of day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


We were children once
before there was a wave
before thunder and
before highways and
hollow roads
before there was
a knowing
grin in
our back pockets.
We were children once
when magic
had a
middle name.

by Jayne Lyn Stahl

from "Riding with Destiny"

From October, 2004


A lot can happen in two weeks: in two weeks we go to the polls in what will be a crucial election. On November 2nd, we get to opt for regime change in Washington, and possibly eliminate what history may someday view as the greatest weapon of mass destruction the world has to worry about today –the man who is currently sitting in the White House.

We live in a world in which evil doesn’t distinguish itself by acts of terror, but by acts of righteousness; in which power and progress are too often inseparable. Regardless of which candidate, or party, you favor, the right to choose who your next president will be, and not have one chosen for you is more important now than ever before.

While voting is critical, there are some issues that transcend elections; indeed some issues speak to the core; the heart and framework on which our country was founded. Elections come and go; we have but one Constitution and we must call to task any president who challenges our rights under the First Amendment.

In the throes of party conflict, in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Alas, more than two hundred years later, we are still fighting this same tyranny.

Forty years ago, this December, over 800 students were arrested at the UC Berkeley campus over their right to use university facilities for their campaigns against the Vietnam War. Folk singers Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and others, were present for demonstrations at Sproul Hall back in the winter of 1964; the Free Speech Movement took a back seat then to protests against the war in Vietnam. We cannot, and will not, allow free speech to take a back seat to the war on terror now.

Two weeks ago, Howard Dean spoke at the U.C. Berkeley campus to commemorate this important 40th anniversary. Let it be known that, despite the war, despite the president, free speech will take a back seat to no one.

Let us support our libraries – booksellers; our privacy and constitutional right to assemble, and express dissent for our government. The Bill of Rights didn’t come with an expiration date. The freedom to read and write must not take a back seat to this war or any war; the First Amendment must not take a back seat to this president or any president; free speech must take a back seat to no one---not even George W. Bush.

While it may not seem that the differences between the two presidential candidates are great where the war in Iraq is concerned, where civil liberties are concerned, they are vast. It is this president’s goal to finalize “the Patriot Act” upon re-election. And, as William Carlos Williams once said: “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

Two weeks ago, a forum convened at Columbia University to remember the prophetic words of a graduate student Randolph Bourne who wrote, back in 1918, about the danger to civil liberties posed by war—about the use of institutionalized terror as a pretext to subvert the First Amendment; words that still ring true today.

He wrote: “With our deep seated distrust of social equality, our genius for race-prejudice, our inarticulateness and short-sightedness, it seems highly probable that we shall evolve away from democracy instead of toward it.”

Randolph Bourne died, in 1918, in his early 30’s, during a flu epidemic. A year later, John Dos Passos wrote that if ever a man had a ghost, it was Bourne “hopping along the grimy old brick and brownstone streets still left in downtown New York, crying out in a shrill soundless giggle: War is the health of the state.”

Today, on the scarred streets of lower Manhattan, we see not only his ghost, but the specter of World War I, and the tyranny of “the State-obsessed herd” he warned of.
The war on terror is not the only time war has been used as justification for stifling dissent, or a “derangement of values” in which one is silenced, or punished, for expressing opinions that differ from national policy.

Our concerns “lest democracy suffer more at home from an America at war than could be gained for democracy abroad,” as Bourne suggests, are just as valid now.
The sense of government as a runaway train, and exemplar of the kind of dis-ease, and rancor, that goes back to the days when something was rotten in the state of Denmark prevails. The pathology of force, what Bourne calls “the terrorization of opinion,” has led, ironically enough, to legislation that claims to result from a “war on terror,” but which shows instead that the cure is often worse than the poison.

Historical ramifications of pending legislation, erroneously named for patriots, may prove even more menacing to those fundamental principles upon which our country was founded, such as religious freedom, than the bombing of the World Trade Center was. While the war may be different, the struggle remains the same: the threat to democracy looms as large, if not larger, today than when Randolph Bourne wrote the essay, “War is the Health of the State,” nearly a century ago, which he never did get to finish, and which we may yet finish for him.

Through gag orders and secret evidence, this administration is withholding vital information about its use of “the Patriot Act” to investigate Americans. The ACLU, Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write Program, and Core Freedoms Group are to be commended for their ongoing efforts to derail Section 215 of “the Patriot Act,” and to protect our right to reader privacy, confidentiality of our medical records, as well as the rights of journalists to withhold their sources.

As citizens, we must express our solidarity and support for our librarians who respect our right to read those materials we wish to read in confidence; we must affirm the right to buy those books we want to buy without surveillance, the right to visit those Web sites we want to visit without being monitored. We must not allow the war on terror to be used as yet another weapon of mass deception to divest us of our constitutional rights. We will make our voices heard before the FBI becomes the KGB.

Around the time of the First World War, a graduate student at Columbia spoke about using war as a pretext for suppressing civil liberties. Now, once again, we see our government busily engaged in chipping away at the First Amendment. We cannot, and will not, stand by and watch this administration’s jihad on the Constitution in the name of a war on terror. A federal appeals court ruled, in late October, that protestors may not be required to pass through metal detectors during a planned rally in November. We want to applaud this ruling that says quite simply: “September 11th cannot be the day liberty perished.”

As foot soldiers in the battle for free speech, our work does not end with the November 2nd election. We must continue to hold both candidates – both political parties, and all elected officials accountable for upholding those inalienable rights that are not a matter of privilege, but are the foundation of our democracy.

On Election Day, and thereafter, whoever occupies the Oval Office will be responsible, to posterity, for implementation of “the Patriot Act,” Section 215, and draconian measures currently being proposed by the GOP, in Congress, which, if passed, will give free rein to law enforcement, and state attorneys, to impose surveillance upon, and prosecute, those who they consider “terrorists,” domestic or otherwise, and/or those who consort with “terrorists.”

As artists and as human beings, we’re committed to launching a pre-emptive strike on any attempt to take us back to the days of Joe McCarthy, and the House Committee for Un-American Activities as indeed there are no patriots in “the Patriot Act” only saboteurs, and mockers, of those values which, for generations, have made us a safe haven for dissent, freedom of religion, and a free press.

We pledge to fight the good fight for those who have died, and continue to die, in the name of freedom. We will not have our libraries hi-jacked, and held hostage, by those who send our young men and women to war based on deception and lies. The future depends on the ongoing struggle for free speech, and against censorship, with or without regime change in Washington. Presidents come and go, but we have but one Constitution. If we tear down the foundation, the house too must fall.

A footnote: Following his re-election on November 2, 2004, President George W. Bush said he now has “political capital.” One can only hope he doesn’t spend it all in one place.

By: Jayne Lyn Stahl

“Bourne Again” was published in “Nuestra Voz (Vol. III),” a publication of International PEN Women Writers’ Conference., 2005”

Friday, June 12, 2009

From Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Why Have We Stopped Talking about Guns?

Bt Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

You know by now that in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, an elderly white supremacist and anti-Semite named James W. von Brunn allegedly walked into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum with a .22-caliber rifle and killed a security guard before being brought down himself. He's 88 years old, with a long record of hatred and paranoid fantasies about the Illuminati and a Global Zionist state. How bitter the bile that has curdled for so many decades.

You will know, too, of the recent killing, while ushering at his local church, of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country still performing late term abortions. Sadly, this case was proof that fatal violence works. His family has announced that his Wichita, Kansas, clinic will not be reopened.

You may be less familiar with the June 1st shootings in an army recruiting office in Little Rock that killed one soldier and wounded another. The suspect in question is an African-American Muslim convert who says he acted in retaliation for US military activity in the Middle East.

Soon, however, these terrible deeds will be forgotten, as are already the three policemen killed by an assault weapon in Pittsburgh; the four policemen killed in Oakland, California; the 13 people gunned down in Binghamton, New York; the 10 in an Alabama shooting spree; five in Santa Clara, California; the eight dead in a North Carolina, nursing home. All during this year alone.

There is much talk about hate talk; hate crimes against blacks, whites, immigrants, Muslims, Jews; about violence committed in the name of bigotry or religion. But why don't we talk about guns?

We're arming ourselves to death. Even as gunshots ricocheted around the country, an amendment allowing concealed weapons in national parks snuck into the popular credit card reform bill. Another victory for the gun lobby, to sounds of silence from the White House.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, wrote - just days before the Holocaust Museum incident - that "rather than propose concrete action that makes it harder for dangerous people to get firearms - while still respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners - all Washington can seem to muster after high-profile shootings are 'thoughts and prayers' for the victims and their families.

"For his part, the President has also included sincere expressions of 'deep sadness' at these tragic losses - though without any call to change any of our policies to prevent those losses."

Yet, as a presidential candidate, Obama pledged "our determination to do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets, from our schools, from our neighborhoods and our cities. That is our duty as Americans."

The fact is, neither party will stand up to the National Rifle Association, the best known front group for the arms merchants. In Virginia, just across the Potomac River from the Holocaust Museum, this week's Democratic primary for governor was won by state legislator R. Creigh Deeds, a man who supports allowing concealed weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol and opposes limiting handgun purchases to one a month.

After Wednesday's shooting, a conservative organization immediately offered those of us in the media a chance to interview the founder of "Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership," whose expertise, it was said, is in helping people understand why gun control doesn't belong in a civilized society.

The e-mail went on to say, "Your audience will appreciate [his] non nonsense common sense talk that will make them wonder why anyone wants to ban guns in the first place."

Thanks, but no thanks. And no thanks to his counterparts among Christians and Muslims who use every violent shedding of blood to try to promote the worship of guns. Guns don't kill people, they say. People kill people. True. People kill people - with guns.

So let the faithful of every persuasion keep their guns for hunting and skeet, for trap and target practice, for collecting. They can even have a permit for a gun to protect their business or home, even though it's 22 times more likely to shoot a member of the family (including suicides) than an intruder.

But please, there are already some 200 million, privately owned firearms in America. Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and in some years more than 400,000 non-fatal, gun-related assaults. The next time someone wades through a pool of blood to sidle up and champion the preservation of firearms, can't we just say, no thanks?

Enough's enough.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Faith-based Stimulus and HHS

With all the out of business signs popping up everywhere you look lately, who would have thought that the Office of Faith-based Initiatives is not only thriving, but has relocated to Health and Human Services.

Lost in the shuffle of manufactured controversy over the Sotomayor confirmation is another important nomination. Alexia Kelley, co-founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and considered by some to be a "dissident Catholic," is President Obama's pick to head the faith office at HHS, which raises the question--why do we need a "faith office" at HHS in the first place?

There are some who suggest quid pro quo -- Ms. Kelley, a loyal Obama supporter, has been repaid in kind with this nomination, but is this not more a case of quo than quid---status quo, that is.

Clearly, the president is trying to appease the religious right and, at the same time, reify his pro-choice agenda, with this nomination. But, what happens to a ship, or airplane, when all of the weight is moved to the center---it sinks faster.

It would appear that Obama's gift of a stimulus package to faith-based groups, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is baggage left over from the Bush years. Yet, once again, we must stand by and watch science, and medical mandates, placed in the hands of those whose primary identity is inseparable from their religious affiliation.

In fairness, Ms. Kelley has said her goal is not to eliminate abortion, per se, nor would she work with those who wish to overturn Roe v. Wade. That said, the group she co-founded solidly opposed choice, and her advocacy of what she calls "abortion reduction" makes one shudder at the thought of a possible quota of allowed procedures for federally funded clinics. After all, the former faith based group, along with their chieftain, George W. Bush, denied tax dollars to any federally funded clinic that did not promote abstinence-only.

Ms. Kelley is also said to oppose contraception, and may indeed be among those trying to convince themselves, and the rest of us, that life begins not only at conception, but at the moment of penetration.

That Obama's HHS nominee has aligned herself with traditional Catholicism in opposing the use of contraception may be all well and good, in theory, but when one considers that the use of condoms not only prevents pregnancy, it also radically reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS, this position is untenable, and runs counter to the fundamental purpose of Health and Human Services, which is to promote policies that advance human survival.

There are some who would argue she is following the centrist lead of her boss who has said his objective is to reduce the number of abortions, and provide women with alternatives to terminating pregnancy. But, in light of the last week's murder of a Kansas late abortion doctor, she may find herself having to jump the fence, and choose allegiances--either to her president, or her Pope. Is this the kind of decision the founders had in mind when they opted for separation of church and state?

Yes, it's true that the group she founded, CACG, drew contempt from the Catholic hierarchy by suggesting that ending poverty is as much a moral issue as ending abortion, but Catholics in Alliance also says it is opposed to choice, and offers the church a firm handshake on the abstinence issue.

If Kelley thinks her views of reducing the number of abortions while, simultaneously, opposing contraception, may be viewed as the politics of "common ground," it is clearly not that of common sense. The notion of working to limit the number of abortions is nothing more than a veiled, and failed, attempt to eliminate abortion altogether. What's more, we, in the U.S., need to concern ourselves more with weight reduction than abortion reduction.

With the savage killing of abortion providers, George Tiller being only the latest, we are slowly coming to see that there can be no middle ground in the choice debate. Ms. Kelley, and anyone else who holds a government post entrusted with the health, and safety, of our citizens, must not be allowed to carry baggage from an administration that put ideology above public health. One has only to witness the horrific escalation of HIV/AIDS cases in our nation's capital to see the consequences of those who claim the moral high ground by refusing to make contraception available to all.

We must seriously question not merely conflict of interest, but whether a so-called faith office belongs in a secular institution, and whether it should be given a government stimulus.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Birthday...

Judy Garland!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A National Outrage: Wichita Abortion Clinic Now Closed

Far be it for me to judge the decision by George Tiller's family today to "permanently close" his late abortion services clinic in Wichita, Kansas in light of the horrifying murder of their loved one.

In a statement released today the Tiller family says "We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women's health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service." A consequence of closing the clinic, Dr. Tiller's colleague, LeRoy Cathart, who intended to stay on, and continuing providing care to women, will no longer have the opportunity to do so.

Far be it for me, or anyone, to sit in judgment of the actions of Dr. Tiller's family unless we have walked in their shoes, unless we have witnessed the barbaric gunning down of a loved one, and even then, it is their call, and their call alone.

But, given that there are only a handful of other late abortion practitioners, in the country, some of whom, like Dr. Tiller, daily risk infamy, injury, and worse to dedicate themselves to protecting the lives of women, one can't help but wonder what signal permanently closing Tiller's clinic sends to those who would like to put a permanent end to choice. In the words of a Boulder late abortion provider "this is what they want. They've been wanting this for 35 years." And, today, the Tiller family have given choice opponents what they've wanted.

For more than twenty years, George Tiller, and his clinic, have been the target of choice opponents. This was not the first time the Kansas physician was the victim of a barbaric, and heinous, act of violence, but it was the last time.

Today, too, it is fair to say that Dr. Tiller is no longer alone. Today, we're all victims as fear has triumphed and we, as a society, have taken one huge step back to the days when a mother can, once again, be allowed to die in childbirth. Only a hundred years ago, we didn't have the science to prevent the tragic loss of the mother's life; now we do. There are some who would like to take us back to the same mindset that makes procreation a woman's primary reason to live. So, indeed, when Scott Roeder took George Tiller's life, not only did he commit first degree murder, he committed a hate crime against women.

Closing the Wichita clinic will not only deny women access to a medically-necessary procedure, and one intended to save their lives, but it will send a message that fear is the most powerful weapon of all.

Far be it for me to judge, but somehow I can't help but think this is not what George Tiller would have wanted. He would want to know that courage didn't die with him in that Kansas church, and that those who care about the lives of women won't be bullied into submitting to the tyranny of those who claim to be protecting the life of the unborn often at the expense of the living.


If there were more women interrogators, we'd be ironing instead of waterboarding.

A first...

Liz Cheney may well be the world's first successful voice transplant.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Disposable Furniture

I dreamt
I was in
heaven where
I met a guy at
a bus stop who said --
heaven or not --
the only thing
worth buying is
disposable furniture.

By Jayne Lyn Stahl


Friday, June 05, 2009

My Flight with a Spook

A friend of mine has a name for anyone working in government who conducts surveillance on private citizens, and that word is spook.

Well, on Wednesday night, I took a connecting flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco International Airport, and who should sit next to me, but a guy one might easily identify as a garden variety spook, or spy. But, the obvious way you could tell he was not on company time was when he ordered a Bloody Mary.

The minute he sat down two seats away from me, I knew he worked for the federal government, and when he started a conversation, I managed to get the topic around to what he "does"----he said "I work for the federal government. I'm in security." I said "as in homeland security---intelligence?" He shook his head. He went on to tell me that he owns a "small house" in Sonoma, and lives 60 miles outside of Philadelphia. I asked if he was flying to SF on pleasure---"no," he said "I have some business to take care of."

It was a five and a half hour flight, and we talked for about three of the five hours. We did a lot of laughing. I asked him how he usually responded when people asked him what he did for a living. "Oh, I just tell them I'm in security, and they figure I work as a security guard for Walmart," and laughed "not many people guess what I do, or ask as many questions as you do."

I said "since you're in intelligence, you ought to know that I've been writing articles about George W. Bush administration's practices of giving permission to shoot unarmed Iraqi civilians at Haditha, and so-called alternative interrogation techniques for about six years now." I then gulped, and asked if I should be paranoid for telling him that. He chuckled, and said he admired my truthfulness.

Don't know whether it was the Bloody Mary, or the prospect of having to spend several hours thumbing through Sunday's newspaper, but he managed to give me his life story in a thumbnail. It turns out that he started out as a pilot -- (he'd flown in "the service), after which he became a junior college instructor in Florida, before deciding to join the feds. He holds a BA in Political Science, an M.A. in English, and an Ed.D.

We never exchanged names, so I will call him Mr. Security.

Mr. Security is quite enlightened; quite liberal, really, says he likes Obama, thinks he's a special guy, though he likes Hillary Clinton much better; has been working for the feds for 20 years; thinks Bill Clinton got a raw deal; doesn't think much of GWB's foreign policy, said that "enhanced alternative interrogation techniques" like waterboarding have been going on secretly for years; said that he thinks acts committed by the previous administration deserve to be prosecuted, also thinks that the "war on terror" has been mismanaged, and should have been treated as a criminal matter.

I quickly rummaged around in my head for 101 reasons why I should dislike this guy, but couldn't come up with any. I wondered if his sitting next to me was an accident, and indeed it wasn't. The temptation to stereotype, and prejudge, often seems as innate as the temptation to cheat on a test, but it is one that must be resisted. This is an educated person, not someone willing to be a human shield for any president's policies. We can only hope that there are others like him.

From Michael Winship

The Privatization of "Obama's War"

By Michael Winship

The sudden reappearance of former Vice President Dick Cheney over the last few months - seeming to emerge from his famous undisclosed location more frequently now than he ever did when he was in office - does not mean six more weeks of winter. But it does bring to mind that classic country and western song, "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?" Or, maybe, "If You Won't Leave Me, I'll Find Someone Who Will."

In his self-appointed role as voice of the opposition, Mr. Cheney has been playing Nostradamus, gloomily predicting doom if the Obama White House continues to set aside Bush administration policy, setting the stage for recrimination and finger-pointing should there be another terrorist attack on America.

Cheney's grouchy legacy is the gift that keeps on giving. Just this week, The Washington Post reported for the first time that while vice president, Cheney oversaw "at least" four of those briefings given to senior members of Congress about enhanced interrogation techniques; "part of a secretive and forceful defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for the harsh techniques used on detainees...

"An official who witnessed one of Cheney's briefing sessions with lawmakers said the vice president's presence appeared to be calculated to give additional heft to the CIA's case for maintaining the program."

And remember Halliburton, the international energy services company of which Cheney used to be the CEO? After the fall of Baghdad, Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR were the happy recipients of billions of dollars in outside contracts to take care of the military and rebuild Iraq's petroleum industry. Waste, shoddy workmanship (like faulty wiring that caused fatal electric shocks) and corruption ran wild, Pentagon investigators allege, even as Vice President Cheney was still receiving deferred compensation and stock options.

Reporting for, Pratap Chatterjee, author of the book,
Halliburton's Army, writes, "In early May, at a hearing on Capitol Hill, DCAA [Defense Contract Audit Agency] director April G. Stephenson told the independent, bipartisan, congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan that, since 2004, her staff had sent 32 cases of suspected overbilling, bribery and other possible violations of the law to the Pentagon inspector general. The 'vast majority' of these cases, she testified, were linked to KBR, which accounts for a staggering 43 percent of the dollars the Pentagon has spent in Iraq."

In one instance, KBR was charging an average $38,000 apiece for "prefabricated living units" on bases in Iraq; another contractor offered to provide them for $18,000. But of a questionable $553 million in payments to KBR that the DCCA blocked or suspended, the Pentagon has gone ahead and agreed to pay $439 million, accepting KBR's explanations.

KBR, Halliburton and the private security firm Blackwater have come to symbolize the excesses of outsourcing warfare. So you'd think that with a new sheriff like Barack Obama in town, such practices would be on the "Things Not to Do" list. Not so.

According to new Pentagon statistics, in the second quarter of this year, there has been a 23% increase in the number of private security contractors working for the Pentagon in Iraq and a 29% hike in Afghanistan. In fact, outside contractors now make up approximately half of our forces fighting in the two countries. "This means," according to Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, "there are a whopping 242,647 contractors working on these two U.S. wars."

Scahill, who runs an excellent new website called "Rebel Reports," spoke with my colleague Bill Moyers on the current edition of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. "What we have seen happen, as a result of this incredible reliance on private military contractors, is that the United States has created a new system for waging war," he said. By hiring foreign nationals as mercenaries, "You turn the entire world into your recruiting ground. You intricately link corporate profits to an escalation of warfare and make it profitable for companies to participate in your wars.

"In the process of doing that you undermine US democratic policies. And you also violate the sovereignty of other nations, because you're making their citizens combatants in a war to which their country is not a party.

"I feel that the end game of all of this could well be the disintegration of the nation-state apparatus in the world. And it could be replaced by a scenario where you have corporations with their own private armies. To me, that would be a devastating development. But it's happening on a micro level. And I fear it will start to happen on a much bigger scale."

Jeremy Scahill's comments come just as Lt. General Stanley McChrystal, the man slated to be the new commander of our troops in Afghanistan says the cost of our strategy there is going to cost America and its NATO allies billions of additional dollars for years to come. In fact, according to budget documents released by the Pentagon last month, as of next year, the cost of the war in Afghanistan - more and more known as "Obama's War" - will exceed the cost of the war in Iraq.

The President asserted in his Cairo speech on Thursday that he has no desire to keep troops or establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan. But according to Jeremy Scahill, "I think what we're seeing, under President Barack Obama, is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world," he told Moyers, "but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era." Maybe that's one more reason Dick Cheney, private contractor emeritus, won't go away.

Courtesy of Bill Moyers Journal, and Public Affairs Television.
Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program
Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS.
Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Il faut dormir avec le feu et comme les anges.

en anglais:

One must sleep with fire and like the angels

After Cleaning Ashes Off the Dresser, I Sit Down to Read Artaud

"The sun seems to be staring
But it stares as if it were
staring at the sun."
Antonin Artaud

After cleaning ashes off the dresser I
sit down to read Artaud
it is like looking in the mirror
his mouth,
in one photo,
bleeds with one of his own bones stuck
there like a cigarette conspicuously
chewed out
with that
'how dare you crucify me when I'm not even'
looking' look
the self-conscious lips the over-
whelming invisibility
Artaud in 1920
the lines in the cheeks razorsharp
the icicle-scarred throat covered
carefully with a cadaverous scarf
Artaud the actor
Artaud of Boris Karloff eyes
eyes that rape heavens just by
looking up
Artaud who is wholeheartedly
hellish unthinkably so.
can I wipe the fire from your
face or must I wait for the ashes?
you who need no mirror to
look yourself in the eye.
you who defy mirros
who defy photographs
you who perpetually spit at the sun
and then demand protection.
tell me who you are
& why there is moonblood on
your fingers
tell me who you are
tell me who you are
& I will tell you how much
you escape.

By Jayne Lyn Stahl

First published in "Earth's Daughters," Buffalo, 1971

republished in "Fine China: Twenty Years of Earth's Daughters, " from White Pine Press

From Lao Tze

"Love the world as your own self."


On my way home from LaGuardia Airport and an exhiliarating, if exhausting, week in Manhattan, I decided to take the Bay Area Rapid Transit train from the airport in San Francisco to the East Bay instead of the shuttle.

An attractive young woman sat only feet from me in one of the first rows of the train. She was in her late twenties--no more than about 30, brunette, a few extra pounds, wearing the proverbial tight jeans, and light cardigan.

After one or two stops, a guy in his mid to late fifties gets on. He is substantially gray, in excellent shape, good looking, looks like he might have been a financial analyst, or a law firm associate, and is hooked up intently to his I-Pod.

He sits down across from the young lady, and continually takes her in with his eyes as if he is touching every inch of her. Her back is to me, so I can't see her face, but he keeps winking and smiling at her, so I imagine that she doesn't mind his attention. He seems like the kind of guy who would stop if she was the least bit bothered.

I'm sitting a few rows back with my cowboy hat on, and sun-soaked eyes bloodshot from insufficient sleep, but still feeling hot and sexy. All I can do is watch as he ingests every inch of this young girl while, simultaneously, slurping from bottled water, and popping a series of little white pills. Cialis, I think, he must be taking Cialis.

After several minutes, he notices me watching him enjoy mentally ripping every last bit of clothing off the nubile body of a girl who must be at least half his age. When I take my sunglasses off momentarily, he smiles at me rather mischievously as a young boy would when his mother catches him with his fingers in the cookie jar.

Naturally, I can't help but think about how meticulously I've unclothed him in my imagination, as well as how quickly, and defiantly, we discard anything that smacks of age. How little we humans value the kind of beauty that ripens, and instead opt only for that which ultimately rots.

Suddenly, I feel painstakingly ancient. I may be the same age as my libidinous friend, but the only desire I see coming from him is the futile urge to be immortal, and through flesh to transcend flesh. He's hopelessly young, and endlessly unfulfilled. A bit presumptuous of me to think so, but it is an irresistible urge rather like looking for a rainbow after a stubborn storm.

Hmmmmmm.... I think, it's a lucky thing this guy likes young girls. Cialis wouldn't even begin to help him when it comes to knowing how to satisfy me.