Murdoch gets Wall Street Journal

According to the Boston Globe, the Bancroft family has accepted Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation’s bid for the Wall Street Journal.

The takeover had been controversial even among many in the political left, who saw the Journal as a rare source of factual reporting. Those on the left, who oppose this deal and believe that the “facts” reported in the Journal more often support their views, have failed to answer how it is that the Journal could report facts objectively yet continue to be a cheerleader for capitalism and the conservative cause.

What I think is really going on here is that many on the left are as deeply invested in capitalism as anyone on the right. Just as Professor Robert Terrell (my favorite professor) denounces the ruling class for war crimes and thievery, yet favors the indistinguishable-from-Republican Democrats despite their collaboration in imperialism and capitalism for only one coherent reason: he wants to protect his IRA.

To the extent that the status quo is built on propaganda, Murdoch’s purchase of the Journal can only widen the discrepancy between reality and the illusions by which this society is governed, and thus hasten its collapse. I therefore welcome the acquisition, in the spirit of Vladimir Lenin, who argued that “a capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with.” Authoritarian communism might not have worked out in the Soviet Union, but that does not mean that capitalist republicanism is the only alternative.

More on the Western Naturist Gathering

So now that a more (apparently) normal age group has arrived at Lupin for the Western Naturist Gathering, I also notice that an intimacy workshop had been scheduled, and the restaurant had a vegetarian pasta available for $9.95 last night–which sold well.

I can at least hope that the restaurant will henceforth be friendlier to vegetarians, if not vegans, and that organized naturism will take further steps away from the erotophobia expressed by so many.

The age of the group is troubling. It could be argued that younger naturists simply could not take the time away from work in society that increasingly demands more labor for less money. But I am inclined to think that systemic problems within organized naturism remain.

Pat Tillman murdered? And, did he provoke it?

Capitol Hill Blue carries a story that “Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. . . . The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.” But the Pentagon concluded this was “friendly fire” when there was no enemy action in that place at that time to be confused about. It seems his mother finds this suspicious.

I’m not wild about attention to celebrity soldiers. For every story like this, I wonder how many other stories go unreported and uninvestigated. I sense an injustice. But we can also look to this story as evidence that those other stories might even exist, a possibility unexamined in the media.

An earlier story describes Tillman this way: “Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.” This raised the specter that Tillman might have been shot by fellow soldiers for disloyalty.

Today, however, Tillman’s final moments are described this way:

It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O’Neal, who was at Tillman’s side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting “Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat fucking Tillman, damn it!” again and again.

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said that O’Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman’s side, “crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your fucking mouth? God’s not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling …”

This casts Tillman in a rather different light, more like General George Patton berating a “shell-shocked” (that is, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder) soldier. It is hard to imagine someone who views Chomsky as a “favorite author” even enlisting, let alone berating a fellow soldier for cowardice.

There are serious inconsistencies in this story, and I have a hunch that if the truth ever emerges, it won’t be entirely flattering to Corporal Tillman.

Western Naturist Gathering at Lupin

The Naturist Society is holding its Western Naturist Gathering at Lupin Lodge today through the weekend. A lot of people are coming and Lupin has raised its price of admission for the event.

It is early, and the group that is here, will by definition be a group more committed to organized naturism than most naturists. But one thing that is striking is the age of these attendees, which, on the whole, appears a bit younger than the usual Lupin crowd.

A recognized problem of organized naturism is that its membership is aging, both in Canada and in the United States.

Membership at Solair for people over forty runs $500 a year. Members under forty pay $300, and college students are charged a $150 fee. In spite of the price concessions for younger members, the average age at the resort is 55. This mature age average was emphasized by Sam Miller, a medical student from Riverside, California, who is 32 years old and a member in a California nude resort. “If a young person is enlightened enough to go to a (nude) beach or resort, they’ll find that they’re outnumbered by people who are not like them. They may go once or twice, but going back becomes a lonesome kind of endeavor”.

One of the arguments I’ve made is that organized naturist rhetoric goes beyond the slogan of “nude is not lewd” to prude, and that prude is inconsistent with body acceptance, leading young adults to conclude, I suspect, that organized naturism charges too much money–typically including several hundred dollar initiation fees for membership–for too much of the same old sexual hypocrisy.

In Northern California, the age difference between attendees at Red Rock Beach, who must be in sufficiently good physical condition to get down (and back up) a steep trail, and even attendees at somewhat-easier-to-access Little Beach (the north end of Muir Beach) with the members at Lupin is striking. Both Red Rock and Little Beaches are in Marin County, a county with the highest number of clothing optional beaches in California. Santa Cruz County has the second highest and is just over the hill from Lupin.

Santa Cruz appeals to a health-conscious and progressive market, as can be seen downtown, where a theater was among the first to show Michael Moore‘s Sicko, and Bookshop Santa Cruz prominently features a “Bush Countdown Clock.” Organic and sweatshop-free clothing stores can be found here, along with an independent organic grocery. Kiva Retreat House is located nearby, offering “a gathering place for people to come and reclaim their natural self,” including hot tubs, a sauna, cold plunge, and massage. Santa Cruz also features an extraordinary number of alternative medicine practitioners.

Lupin, located near Silicon Valley, then known as Lupin Naturist Club, took a hit in membership beginning with the dot-com collapse. An unwise choice of manager caused membership to plummet. Since evicting this manager last year, Lupin membership has rebounded somewhat, but the membership is, on the whole, old enough to raise serious questions about the club’s long-term viability. The club has done little to appeal to its market just over the hill in Santa Cruz and has been reluctant to improve restaurant offerings to include organic, vegetarian, and vegan fare.

And today, it appears that Lupin membership may be old even by the aging standards of organized naturism.

We had to wait four years to find this out?

According the latest National Intelligence Estimate, the four-year old war on Iraq has increased the danger of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I think I, and an awful lot of other people, could have told you that, certainly at least three years ago. Of course, that’s also what I thought the war on Afghanistan would do and a major reason I opposed that war, which we are also losing.

“If Republicans insist on blocking a change of course in Iraq, Democrats will give them the opportunity to explain this. Lots of opportunity to explain this,” [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid said. “We are going to have votes during the night. We’re not going to let everybody go home and have a good night’s rest.”

So tonight, we are scheduled to wait out a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate opposing a timetable for withdrawal, and according to the Telegraph, “Senator George Voinovich, a close ally of Mr Bush, delivered a withering assessment of the situation in Iraq, declaring that the Bush administration had ‘f****d up the war’.”

Sicko and Sense

I went to see Sicko tonight. Right wing claims that Michael Moore has highlighted only the positives in other health care systems and only the negatives in the US health care system ring distinctly hollow.

I enjoy good health and as a student, I have access to subsidized health care at my university. But as a student, I will likely rack up $100,000 in student loan debt by the time I finish my PhD. Moore also points to free education in France.

Meanwhile, heroes of 9/11, who worked in the toxic rubble of the World Trade Center, in Moore’s film, wind up in, of all places, Cuba, to receive care denied them in the U.S. A lot of people in a lot of places have longer life expectancies than in the U.S. Cuba is one of those places, and that hospital looked far nicer than anything I’ve seen here.

While hospitals in the U.S. dump the indigent on skid row, and insurance companies raise the denial of claims to a high art, Moore shows free, universal health care, elsewhere.

What are we doing? And how does it make any sense?