American Views Abroad

Monday, June 26, 2006
The Los Angeles Times reports on War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000 -- Higher than the U.S. estimate but thought to be undercounted, the tally is equivalent to 570,000 Americans killed in three years.

An initiative has started in Hamburg, according to a local newspaper, to protect children in wartime. The idea called the 'Hamburger Erklaerung' will be officially proclaimed on Friday, June 30 and the aim is to declare certain cities and other areas where civilians live off-limits to destruction in wartime. A further aim is to have this declaration added on to the Geneva Convention. Until now the plight of children caught up in the bombings and fighting of war has not received the attention it deserves. More information in German at Kinder besser vor Kriegen schuetzen at

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Clint Dempsey is my hero of the day for having scored America's only goal in the 2006 Word Cup games, not counting the own goal given us by Italy. The final score, however, was Ghana 2 - USA 1. So the USA team will be going home now. It's a long time that I felt proud to be an American, but when our team held its own against Italy in their second World Cup game, recovering their honor after the disastrous first game, I felt proud. Which team will we cheer for now?

The extreme right in America becomes very upset when they are compared to Hitler and the Nazis, but that these comparisons are valid is suggested by this elegantly simple test:

"The Hitler-Coulter Quiz"

How many did you get wrong?

Annie was written up recently in the Hamburger Abendblatt. The article is an objective report of the controversy surrounding this woman in America, on the occasion of her new book, which immediately jumped to number one on the bestseller list.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I've posted here about Stephen Colbert and Tina Dupuy. Now I have another hybrid in the way of a reality check to mention, namely the article by Steve Young: If the Media Reported on Democrats the Way they Report on Republicans. It demonstrates just how twisted the media coverage in America has become.

Monday, June 19, 2006
It is vital and essential that every US citizen registers and votes in the upcoming US General Election on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. Those of us living abroad often encounter extra hurdles when trying to register and depending on your state, it is important to start early on. We have set up a link to the Overseas Vote Foundation at our sidebar under Important Links.
Go to where RAVA, a wizard tool, will help you complete your official voter registration 'FPCA' form to vote from abroad.

Recently I met the voting officer for the US General Consulate here in Hamburg. She told me that thus far only two citizens have called for voting information. She recalled how just before the November 2004 election very many citizens came to the Consulate wanting to cast their ballots ---- some of them, unfortunately, had missed the deadline to register in their states. Many of us automatically receive our forms from our states. My two adult children and I received our registration forms from New York City in April. However, if you have never voted before or have tried only to find the process frustrating, start today. The address you use is the last place you lived in the US before moving abroad.

Vote because a citizen's responsibility knows no borders.

Saturday, June 17, 2006
In Grantanamo, I did see some people for whom jihad is life itself, people whose minds are distorted by extremism and whose souls are full of hatred. But the huge majority of the faces I remember -- the ones that haunt my nights -- are of desperation, suffering, incomprehension turned into silent madness. ......there is no evidence that most of the 465 or so men there have committed hostile acts against the United States or its allies. .....There is unlimited cruelty in a system that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty.
Mourad Benchellali: The Torture of Detainees in Despair at

Hunger strikes, restraint chairs, forced feedings, beatings, sexual humiliation, sensory bombardment and deprivation, and three Grantanamo detainees commit suicide. And the U.S. accuses them of not playing fair. .....All this adds yet another nail into the quaint coffin of the Geneva Convention, therein residing the decaying honor of the United States of America.
James Ryan: Guantanamo: The Subject was Linens at

Friday, June 16, 2006
Five non-partisan American overseas organizations, including Overseas Vote Foundation and American Citizens Abroad, will hold the 5th annual Overseas Americans Week in Washington, DC. Keynote speaker is The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Senator from Nebraska on Wednesday, June 21 at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. More information on these organizations and the week in Washington at

Monday, June 12, 2006
Avant Garde Theater in Hamburg - House of National Dog

Hamburg is indeed fortunate to house the avant garde talents of visual artist Mariola Brillowska. In a city where leash laws are considered an attack on the dignity of the dog, in certain circles, at least, Mariola Brillowska has presented us with a land called H.O.N.D. (House of National Dog), home of the Snupiehund-Sekte (Cult of Snoopy Dog) in which women who have chosen pet dogs over children learn through mock births and therapy to cope with their guilt. In particular the story follows the destiny of Lola, banished by her parents to the Land of Hond following a sexual transgression with a pet, inopportunely filmed by a news team. Excerpts of this are presented to us later in the form of an animated film. Included in the ensemble were four dancers (the Leon Dziemaszkiewicz Company), a therapist (the magician Manuel Muerte), five citizens, an orator (Holger Steen), a young and innocent Lola (Mariola's daughter Gloria Brillowska) and an adult and fallen Lola (Ulrich Wienand), along with original musical compositions and sound effects played live by the innovative musician / sound artist Felix Kubin. Together these performers succeeded in creating the illusion of an entirely new and compelling reality. That's where this show transcended everything else I had seen before. Indeed, this was more than one could have expected beforehand, and it left me in a daze for hours afterwards trying to decipher the secret of that 1 hour and 15 minutes. On one item I am clear: this was avant garde theater at its best, tearing apart all that we know, and reassembling the pieces in a completely new way.

One contributing factor to the show's success was the seamless choreography of events - not an instant was allowed us in which the intensity could wane. Consultations of the therapist with the adult Lola segued into dance sequences, statements by the orator or by Mariola Brillowska, and the stunning songs of young Lola sung with haunting honesty, suggestive of erotic innocence, her knee-length, backless costume sliding naturally on the lithe figure she presented - Lola before the "fall" - Lolita before her debauchment.

As one segment of the show ended the other began, dynamics which often had the subsequent scene moving in on the previous. There was always some activity to draw our attention. I marveled at the dance troupe, two men and two women, who in each of their incarnations presented a completely new repertoire of movements, so much so that I could easily have accepted the existence of several different troupes, though I knew it to be one. Their first appearance was in a highly symbolic scene as wolves - in the depersonifying facade of rubber masks - encroaching upon a similarly masked old woman the size of a dwarf, rocking a baby in her arms. Another time they roiled about in inflated costumes, like spinning blobs of flesh. The final decadent dance in costumes of red netting and marvelous physiques beneath, seemed symbolic of the predicted metamorphosis from dog to human: "Dogs will become human and humans will die out," performed while the adult Lola gave birth to a stream of dogs, the country's leader Mariola presiding over the births with open gown, revealing the upper body of a woman who in real life has borne a child, one breast affixed decorously with a rubber nipple.

In reality, events are not always coordinated with each other. They occur simultaneously and we focus our attention on those events we choose to perceive. Here several significant elements combined to create a contiguity of parallel events. At the rear of the stage five dog houses had been placed, frameworks lined with lights, each house containing a pet-owner and a dog, either live or stuffed - this collection of human-dog pairs was present during most of the performance, a second audience to the show, but watching from behind, reacting to and interacting with the on-stage happenings. This shadow audience sat, bounced and moved about on gymnastic balls, their pets in continual motion, discordant half-human howls rising occasionally to coincide with the main focus. Later these citizens of H.O.N.D. became active elements as they escorted the pets on a catwalk, presenting a fashion show for dogs.

Seemingly insignificant details supported the parallelism, as well, such as the figure of young Lola in something of a sleepwalk, moving behind the set, almost as a ghost, disconnected from the actions on stage. These dynamics barred all retreat - there was no place for us to take our attention if we wanted to escape, no way for our mind to wander from the Land of Hond. The music and sound effects added a further layer to all this and intensified what we saw, heard and felt: a reality with complex layers of main and subliminal occurrences.

None of this would have functioned without the performers who sustained a convincing portrayal the entire time on stage - they never once let us believe they were anything else than that character, with the unique movements, bearing and expression, especially so, the dancers, who applied their sublime art of movement to weave these illusions. This forced us to suspend our awareness that what we were seeing was merely a performance. Also notable was the attitude of self-evidence with which Mariola Brillowska played her role as leader of the cult. She was so immersed in the concept H.O.N.D., its logic was so natural to her, with a tinge of madness perhaps, that it became natural for us, as well.

But also, in this play, an entirely new social order was created. Aside from the primary premise of a society in which dogs have replaced children, we are presented with further elements that at first glance would be slightly surreal, should we encounter them in reality, but not completely impossible. At second glance they might represent new norms: the dog owners we see are four men in dark negligees and one woman. The adult Lola is also a man, in a hospital gown, and a male voice. And we have the therapist and his intrusive manner with Lola in the application of his shock therapy, magic as medical science, though even the magic was turned on end. The primary element of magic is misdirection, but in this context the magic itself seemed intended to misdirect. There's the orator, symbolic of an extensive belief system, who enters in the formal robe of a high priest to recite the Hondian manifesto, and Mariola, the rubber nipples of a baby bottle hanging from her blouse. We realize there is no other use for this baby paraphernalia in H.O.N.D.. Through the simulation of a television broadcast and the presentation of a fashion show we see that this country has a well-developed entertainment art of its own. Taken together this all suggests a new culture, new norms, the slighter parts of an entire whole, the details of which we fill in bit by bit, based on the contradictions we see. One minor but significant detail was Mariola's statement at the beginning, pointing out the map of H.O.N.D. hanging on the upper rear wall of the stage. This defines the country as a self-contained entity with boundaries, the entirety of which we have before us in its complex dynamic, and which we are continually trying to grasp among the unceasing chain of impressions shown to us on the lofty stage. The easiest scene to perceive follows the close of the curtains, as the dogs rush out one-by-one yelping in the aftermath of this experience.

After a few rounds of enthusiastic applause and the final closing of the curtain we were left to ponder the individual parts of that multifaceted whole. Even now, a week later, I carry vivid images of that night, Lola singing, the wolves, the birth of the dogs, etc., and though I cannot be sure to have identified every ingredient of what I have seen, I am left with the distinct feeling that the story was completely secondary to the success of the performance. Given a new premise and this combination of creative talent, the effect would have been the same.

House of National Dog was seen at KAMPNAGEL KULTURFABRIK * JARRESTRASSE 20 * 22303 HAMBURG
Premiered on May 24th, additional showings on May 27th and May 31st through June 3rd, 2006.

Acknowledgements: Photos are reproduced here with kind permission from Mariola Brillowska.

Sunday, June 11, 2006
Der Tagesspiegel has an opinion piece on the state of the world by Bernd Ulrich, an editor of Die Zeit. Power over the rest of the world is slipping away from the western democracies and that, in turn, demands a radical re-thinking and change of course in its politics.
In German (of course) at

Thursday, June 08, 2006
Carol Lynn Price Video

Tina Dupuy's Carol Lynn Price video satire of right wing pundits is rippling through the Internet. As of this writing it has over 7,000 viewings at (on June 5th it was the 80th most viewed video), and it has been linked at various prominent Websites including, My Direct Democracy, and Seeing the Forest.

You may vote for the video at The Huffington Post Contagious Festival (by following the link). It is already making its way into the top ten - yesterday night at #17, this morning at #14.

I've found that the video holds up quite well under repeating viewing. The comedic nuances are so on target and so well thought out, that it's a fine pick-me-up to start the day. You may enjoy more of Tina Dupuy's cutting humor at The Sardonic Sideshow, and this Website featuring the Carol Lynn Price bibliography.

Yes, this post has a lot of links in it. The most important one is the one where you can vote for the Carol Lynn Price video, because we all need to get in the habit of voting, and this is the best place to start.

Postscript: The voting is traffic-based. Each visit to the Website counts as a vote. You don't have to push any buttons.

Another postscript: Carol Lynn Price has started her own blog! And it's as great as the video!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Der Spiegel reports on how Europe 'participated' in secret CIA flights at,1518,420054,00.html.

John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine, in One More Illlusion Down the Drain takes a hard look at war, the U.S. Marines and the killings of 24 civilians in Iraq. His conclusion:

'The Marines who did the killing at Haditha will no doubt be scapegoated....for an unjustifiable and unwinnable war, created by venal politicans. If we're to punish anyone for Haditha, we should start with President Bush and the congressmen, including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who sent Roel Briones and Kilo Company on a murder-suicide mission in which there can be no justice.'

Harper's Magazine has been sited at press shops at various main railroad stations throughout Germany. The June issue is particularly riveting.

An interesting site and agenda at

Saturday, June 03, 2006
US Citizens for Peace and Justice in Rome participated in the 'Peace Parade', an alternative to the military parade held every year on June 2, Festa della Repubblica. Links to photos and a report at

Indeterminacy uses a key scene from the 1932 film To Whom Does the World Belong written in part by Bertolt Brecht to hit home who is going to change the world.

This is War
Following Stephen Colbert's slam dunk, the left has declared war on the right. Remeber the fun, joy and elation in the Wizard of Oz when the tables turn on the wicked witch, right in the midst of those darkest moments, and she's finally defeated? That's what reality-based people may feel now in the weeks to come...

The latest knock-out punch against the raving right is fired off by stand-up comedian and humorist Tina Dupuy as Carol Lynn Price. She masterfully one-ups the ilk of rabid right wing personalities such as Ann Coulter, who I have happily seen very little of, living overseas in Europe.

And there's a Website! -

Now go and vote for the video at The Huffington Post Contagious Festival !

Friday, June 02, 2006
Simply breathtaking and worth reading, in fact essential reading: Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House by Robert F. Kennedy Jr in Rolling Stone magazine at

Kennedy writes: 'After carefully examining the evidence I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election.'

Further he points out how the mainstream US press passively accepted the result as a given fact, without even considering looking into any irregularities. Why? The lone journalist (a former sports report who was used to dealing with numbers) gives his take on why: 'You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble. You cannot say: By the way, there's something wrong with our electoral system.'

Kennedy's conclusion: 'The issue of what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. For the second election in a row, the president of the United States was selected not by the uncontested will of the people but under a cloud of dirty tricks. .... The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If people lose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded, they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake here than the entire idea of a government by the people.'

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