Monday, September 29, 2003

History Is The Story Of The Winners And That Is The Side That God Is On

by Grayson Harper

And Columbus made gold miners
of the New World Indians
and cut off their hands
when they came up empty.
All in the name of the Holy Trinity.
Then he turned them into slaves
and shipped them home via
Federal Express in the early days of
Walmart and Pier I Imports.

And Jesus came down the chimney
and Santa Claus died on the cross;
It's so nice to have an enemy
and someone we can boss.

Then the slavers in America
said it was all right with God
but go easy on the whip.
Dawn comes early
and the cotton looks like clouds
over the kingdom of earth.

It's a jubilant little history
when you dress it all up,
a dainty nursery rhyme
at the bottom of your cup.

The witchhunts and the slave hunts,
night riders with Old Testaments
in their saddlebags;
burnings and lynchings,
holy wars and good ol' boy wars
when God delivered up
the losers to the winners.

Then Jesus slithered down the chimney
and sidewined into the future
while Saint Nick signed off on the cross.

It's a pesky little pantomime
when you pull it all apart,
a frisky little friend o' mine
with a brand new apple cart.

He was for the poor and weak
but soon after resurrection
was seen
schlepping on the side
with the best ammunition.

It's a dainty little folktale
when you spread it on the ground,
a dandy little school yarn
when you spank it all around.

And the Lord Our God turned Himself
into a Hotchkiss rapid-fire gun
in the winter of 1899
slaughtering 200 unarmed
men, women and children
to put an end to the Ghost Dance religion
and the sun dancers; still later,
He morphed into a .50-caliber machine gun,
and Budha's bullets were no better
than the Great Spirit's had been;
they were no match for God's bullets.

Now Jesus and the Jolly Elf
have joined hands; they are
one and the same, indivisible,
under God, they sitteth on either side.
Santa's in charge of charge cards
and Family Values,
Jesus is Secretary of the Navy,
And God is Chairman of the Board
of MacDonald's (we're told
he likes his meat a little bloody.)
Their minions are multiplying,
Their truth is marching on.

Wake the dead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

WHAT'S NEXT? by Grayson Harper

Why do I get the feeling that the next big catastrophe, i.e., war, invasion, etc., will take place sometime during or slightly before the next election cycle? And why do I get the feeling that this war, this invasion, this attack, or whatever it will be, will be provoked by us, whether it's the U.S. attacking someone, or someone attacking the U.S.?

Perhaps it will be Iran moving on our troops in Iraq while they're still sitting across the border, vulnerable to attacks from almost anybody. We may consider Iran already provoked into defending its borders by our threatening language and acts of aggression in the region. They certainly have been made aware that they're on our invasion hit list.

Or maybe Korea will do something--also substantially provoked by our clueless leaders, every one of whom, from the Prez, to Rumsfeld, to Wolfowitz, to Rove, to Condi Rice, seem willing and ready to "do war" at the drop of a ten-gallon hat. Even perhaps nuclear war. Whoopee!

No doubt many red-blooded Americans couldn't care less that they were lied to about the justifications for the present invasion and occupation. The reasons for that, I believe, are 1) they just love war, regardless of the reasons; and 2) they especially love war if the right groups of people are being annihilated. Again, justification is a mere formality. In which case, your good old back alley lie is at least as good as the truth. And maybe better.

But there is a growing list of Americans of a more "treasonous" stripe, to paraphrase Ann Coulter, who are not quite so comfortable with being lied to by their elected (or not-so-elected) leaders. That list includes members of Congress and Democratic candidates for President. I suspect this may be causing some discomfort for Team Bush, particularly Karl Rove. As the election process heats up, I doubt they are going to want this foul hunk of fish repeatedly tossed back on their plate, stinking up their message of patriotism, God, family values, and so on.

Which is why I'm putting my money on the wild card. Catastrophe! Team Bush is going to need something big, something climactic, to fog up the mental landscape once again, to get everybody off the word, "liar," and back onto the word, "hero."

G.W. was nowhere before 9/11 set him on a golden pedestal. Next thing we knew, he was making his made-for-TV landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Can the magic work again? Who knows? But so far, this bunch has shown a remarkable facility for taking rotten meat and making it look good enough to eat.

So. War, Famine, Pestilence. . . What's next?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

LET AHAB BEWARE OF AHAB by Copeland Morris

"You said to me: "The greatness of my country is beyond price. Anything is good that contributes to its greatness. And in a world where everything has lost its meaning, those who, like us young Germans, are lucky enough to find a meaning in the destiny of our nation must sacrifice everything else." I loved you then, but at that point we diverged. "No," I told you, "I cannot believe that everything must be subordinated to a single end. There are means that cannot be excused. And I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice. I don't want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born of blood and falsehood. I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive." You retorted: "Well, you don't love your country." (Albert Camus, "Letters to a German Friend", Resistance, Rebellion, And Death, p. 5)

A circumspect President George W. Bush stood hesitantly, arms at his side, and he seemed remarkably distant and a bit nervous. There were omissions in his September 7th speech and no surprises. The media seemed thoroughly prepared for the sagging emotion, the $87 billion added cost of the war, and the crestfallen air of a government that must present a face of contrition to the international community. The past arrogance and the go-it-alone melodrama had gone out of fashion. The disdain that Rumsfeld, the President's Defense Secretary had offered in previous months to selected allies, was clearly the embarrassment of the moment. The President did not bother to mention that U.S. Army Reservists in Iraq would have their tour of duty extended up to a year; and his oblique mention of sacrifice did not include vivid descriptions of American wounded, some 1200 soldiers with serious disabling injuries, and hundreds and hundreds more who have filled all available space at Walter Reed Hospital, and Bethesda, and a number of Washington area hospitals.

Lies were subsumed into lies, in such numbers as to create a tragic gravitas, an appalling and unbearable mass.

"The triumph of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan and beyond would be a grave setback for international terrorism."

The President did not miss the opportunity to cross-up the separate issues of Afghanistan and Iraq. And the supposition of a linkage between the al Qaeda terrorists and Iraq was still the same lie, it was still the same propaganda that was whispered in the nation's ear, following the World Trade Center attack. Bush even shifted into ridiculous analogy mode, by comparing the present model of reconstruction to the Marshall Plan after World War II, which helped rebuild the infrastructure of post-war Germany and Japan. However, the victorious America of 1945 did not have profiteering in mind: its aims, by comparison, were more principled.

But from 2003 onward, George W. Bush has invited Haliburton, Bechtel, Kellogg Brown & Root, and others, to gorge themselves at the trough of public money and Iraqi resources. Rather than paying for these high-profile and politically-suspect corporations, it would be possible to utilize Iraqi labor, raw materials, engineering and construction expertise, at a fraction of the cost.

..."I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts and in many places. Iraq is now the central front."

But the President has never explained what warped calculation points to Iraq as the central front in the war on terrorism. The supreme illogic resides in the evidence that Iraq did not attack the United States and was not behind the destruction of 9/11. In the 12 years that preceded America's conquest and occupation of Iraq, the U.S. had contained that country in a military and economic stranglehold. The President's melodramatic appeals to urgency and imminent threat in the run-up to war are exposed as an agenda fueled by nothing but obsession and misrepresentations.

When the cloud of debris from the World Trade Center was still settling on South Manhattan, Bush and his senior officials began their whisperings and their leaks to the media about Iraqi connections to the crime. But while other aircraft were still grounded, special arrangements were made to fly disparate members of the Bin Laden clan back home to Saudi Arabia. George W. Bush wasted no time in appealing to Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle, urging him not to instigate an investigation of events surrounding the 9/11 attack. Many weeks later, when the 9/11 commission finally got underway, the Bush Administration stonewalled requests for information. They also sent "minders" to be present when department personnel were being interviewed. Commission members complained that tactics like these were delaying or obstructing the final publication of the report. And when the 9/11 Commission's report was finally made public, there were 28 pages redacted, withheld from the public. And though Commission members were forbidden to divulge the details, some did indicate the general scope of the information. This information ought to have been made public, since it pointed to Saudi Arabia and connections between some of its citizens and officials in the terrorist infrastructure and economic support of al Qaeda.

A lot of deception was crammed into the President's 18 minute speech:

"We are staying on the offensive, with a series of precise strikes against enemy targets increasingly guided by intelligence given to us by Iraqi citizens."

"Our military commanders in Iraq advise me that the current number of American troops--nearly 130,000--is appropriate to their mission."

..."we are encouraging the orderly transfer of sovereignty and authority to the Iraqi people."

"Iraq is ready to take the next step to self government".

..."$87 billion"..."we will ...restore basic new schools, roads, and medical clinics."

"We are fighting that enemy in that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities."

..."all our men and women serving in the war on terror, are serving on the front lines of freedom."

The most discouraging deception is the one that presumes the sufficiency of our military presence, the high morale and confidence of our soldiers, and the effectiveness of the tactical raids the President mentioned. Combat troops are simply wrong for policing duties. Our soldiers have too often been caught up in tragic misunderstandings, which have led to civilian deaths, in just the kind of raids Bush was describing. It is understandable that morale would fall; these young soldiers are exhausted, burnt-out, nervous and skittish. And the secretive Bush&Co has not been at all forthcoming about the number of our wounded. And what of Bush's hyperbole about fighting in Iraq so we don't have to fight the enemy in our streets? This is nothing if not rehashed Vietnam War rhetoric.

And what freedom on the front lines can he possibly be talking about? Is the "freedom" all about sheltered corporations and their enrichment? Is he talking about the freedom to engage in preventative war and occupy weaker countries?

Veteran White House reporter, Helen Thomas, recently called George W. Bush "the worst President ever". Helen has been a kind of mother-figure through the years of Presidential Press Conferences, beginning with John Kennedy. Recently interviewed on Australian tv, she admitted to being presently relegated to the back row at a White House Press Conference and never being recognized for a question. Wouldn't it be great if Bush just forgot and recognized her by accident? Maybe she could jump to her feet and shout, "Let Ahab beware of Ahab!"

Friday, September 05, 2003

copeland morris IPHIGENIA

Brave marigold, ruth and compassion, leaf
That is rubbed and tasted. Iphigenia,
Eulogized, blindfolded, made to sleep,
Bound with the sacred deer to the altar;
She dreamed she was burned alive.

Women who perish in childbirth clothe her;
Piecing together another story, a rumor
Surfacing of her rescue, spirited away
Under plumes of smoke, attended at Blauron
With yellow blossoms. Autumn opens them.

Partitions muffle the dry voices,
The rasping sound which they alone make,
All clustered together before the body,
Mezmerized by incense and ashes.
Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes, Electra.

"Iphigenia"? they whisper, "are you here"?
And those in mourning kiss her talisman
Within the temple laid down for Artemis.
Brave marigold, ruth and compassion, leaf
That is rubbed and tasted.

copeland morris ENTWINED SONNET

Her shaded eyes, her necklace black velvet, onyx. Anguish she spoke; and he carried on, obsessed As only a young man could. An odd harm...