Wednesday, November 24, 2004

U.S. Disease Warning

From the Center For Disease Control:

The US Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of sexually transmitted disease. This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea lecthim (pronounced "gonna re-elect him").

Many victims have contracted it after having been screwed for the past 4 years, and in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially virulent disease.

Cognitive sequellae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea lecthim include, but are not limited to: Anti-social personality disorder traits; delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor; chronic mangling of the English language; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information (pronounced xenophobia); inability to accept responsibility for actions; desire to pick fights and inflict violence; exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado; ignorance of geography and history; tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies; and a strong propensity for categorical, all-or nothing behavior.

After gathering wisdom and experience for many years, we are now confused at a very high level.

There appears to be no immediate cure, at least not for the foreseeable future. We are doing our utmost to educate the public, but those who have succumbed to the illness apparently believe it is the handwork of God, and thus are staying away from doctors, or, for that matter, anyone in the scientific community.

Thus far, the disease seems to be confined mostly to Republicans, but we have noted some of the above symptoms among a number of prominent Democrats. We strongly urge the public, and especially our Senators and Congressmen to be mindful of the following precautions:

1) As much as possible, avoid intimate contact with those already infected.

2) We have also discovered a close link between the disease and money! Apparently, the disease is carried on money--especially bills of high denomination, and even checks!
Money from corporations appears to be the most contaminated at this time. We have seen complete changes in personality occur when large amounts of money change hands.

So just be careful who you take money from and who you lie in bed with.

Monday, November 15, 2004


"And Death fell with me, like a deepening moan.
And He, picking the manner of a worm, which half had hid
Its bruises in the earth, but crawled no further,
Showed me its feet, the feet of many men,
And the fresh-severed head of it, my head."

--Wilfred Owen, The Show

"They left this dead with the older dead,
Stretched at the cross roads.
Burnt black by strange decay,
Their sinister faces lie;
The lid over each eye,
The grass and coloured clay
More motions have than they,
Joined to the great sunk silences.

Here is one not long dead;

His dark hearing caught our far wheels,
And the choked soul stretched weak hands
To reach the living word the far wheels said,
The blood-dazed intelligence beating for light,
Crying through the suspense of the far torturing wheels
Swift for the end to break,
Or the wheels to break,
Cried as the tide of the world broke over his sight.

Will they come? Will they ever come?
Even as the mixed hooves of the mules,
The quivering-bellied mules,
And the rushing wheels all mixed
With his tortured upturned sight,
So we crashed round the bend,
We heard his weak scream,
We heard his very last sound,
And our wheels grazed his dead face."

--Isaac Rosenberg, Dead Man's Dump

"All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment
But one telling me plain what I escaped,
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice."

--Edward Thomas, The Owl

Source: Fallujah In Pictures

Thursday, November 11, 2004



"Today, it is not merely justice itself, but the idea of justice that is under attack. The assault on vulnerable, fragile sections of society is at once so complete, so cruel and so clever - all encompassing and yet specifically targeted, blatantly brutal and yet unbelievably insidious; that its sheer audacity has eroded our definition of justice. It has forced us to lower our sights, and curtail our expectations. Even among the well-intentioned, the expansive, magnificent concept of justice is gradually being substituted with the reduced, far more fragile discourse of "human rights".

"If you think about it, this is an alarming shift of paradigm. The difference is that notions of equality, of parity have been pried loose and eased out of the equation. It's a process of attrition. Almost unconsciously, we begin to think of justice for the rich and human rights for the poor. Justice for the corporate world, human rights for its victims. Justice for Americans, human rights for Afghans and Iraqis."

It is becoming more than clear that violating human rights is an inherent and necessary part of the process of implementing a coercive and unjust political and economic structure on the world. Without the violation of human rights on an enormous scale, the neo-liberal project would remain in the dreamy realm of policy. But increasingly Human Rights violations are being portrayed as the unfortunate, almost accidental fallout of an otherwise acceptable political and economic system. As though they're a small problem that can be mopped up with a little extra attention from some NGOs."

"This is why in areas of heightened conflict (in Kashmir and in Iraq for example) Human Rights Professionals are regarded with a degree of suspicion. Many resistance movements in poor countries which are fighting huge injustice and questioning the underlying principles of what constitutes "liberation and development", view Human Rights NGOs as modern day missionaries who've come to take the ugly edge off Imperialism. To defuse political anger and to maintain the status quo."

"It has been only a few weeks since a majority of Australians voted to re-elect Prime Minister John Howard who, among other things, led Australia to participate in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought."

"It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it and are now in the process of selling it. I speak of Iraq, not because everybody is talking about it" ..."but because it is a sign of things to come. Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the Corporate-Military cabal that has come to be known as "Empire" at work. In the new Iraq the gloves are off."

"As the battle to control the world's resources intensifies, economic colonialism through formal military aggression is staging a comeback. Iraq is the logical culmination of the process of corporate globalization in which neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism have fused. If we can find it in ourselves to peep behind the curtain of blood, we would glimpse the pitiless transactions taking place backstage."

"But first, briefly, the stage itself."

In 1991 US President George Bush senior mounted Operation Desert Storm. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were killed in the war. Iraq's fields were bombed with more than 300 tonnes of depleted uranium, causing a fourfold increase in cancer among children. For more than 13 years, twenty four million Iraqi people have lived in a war zone and been denied food and medicine and clean water. In the frenzy around the US elections, let's remember that the levels of cruelty did not fluctuate whether the Democrats or the Republicans were in the White House. Half a million Iraqi children died because of the regime of economic sanctions in the run up to Operation Shock and Awe. Until recently, while there was a careful record of how many US soldiers had lost their lives, we had no idea of how many Iraqis had been killed. US General Tommy Franks said "We don't do body counts" (meaning Iraqi body counts). He could have added "We don't do the Geneva Convention either."

"A new, detailed study, fast-tracked by the Lancet medical journal, and extensively peer reviewed, estimates that 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the 2003 invasion."

"Let's not forget Iraq's children. Technically that bloodbath is called precision bombing. In ordinary language, its called butchering. Most of this is common knowledge now. Those who support the invasion and vote for the invaders cannot take refuge in ignorance. They must truly believe that this epic brutality is right and just or, at the very least, acceptable because it's in their interest."

"So the "civilized, modern world" built painstakingly on a legacy of genocide, slavery and colonialism, now controls most of the world's oil. And most of the world's weapons, most of the world's money, and most of the world's media. The embedded, corporate media in which the doctrine of Free Speech has been substituted by the doctrine of Free If You Agree Speech."

"The UN's Chief Weapons Inspector, Hans Blix, said he found no evidence of nuclear weapons in Iraq. Every scrap of evidence produced by the US and British governments was found to be false; whether it was reports of Saddam Hussein buying uranium from Niger, or the report produced by British Intelligence which was discovered to have been plagiarized from an old student dissertation."

"And yet, in the prelude to the war, day after day the most "respectable" newspapers and TV channels in the US , headlined the "evidence" of Iraq's arsenal of weapons of nuclear weapons. It now turns out that the source of the manufactured "evidence" of Iraq's arsenal of nuclear weapons was Ahmed Chalabi who, (like General Suharto of Indonesia, General Pinochet of Chile, the Shah of Iran, the Taliban and of course, Saddam Hussein himself) - was bankrolled with millions of dollars from the good old CIA."

And so, a country was bombed into oblivion. It's true there have been some murmurs of apology. Sorry 'bout that folks, but we have really have to move on. Fresh rumours are coming in about nuclear weapons in Eye-ran and Syria. And guess who is reporting on these fresh rumours? The same reporters who ran the bogus "scoops" on Iraq. The seriously embedded A Team."

"The head of Britain's BBC had to step down and one man committed suicide because a BBC reporter accused the Blair administration of "sexing up" intelligence reports about Iraq's WMD programme. But the head of Britain retains his job even though his government did much more than "sex up" intelligence reports. It is responsible for the illegal invasion of a country and the mass murder of its people."

"Even though no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, stunning new evidence has revealed that Saddam Hussein was planning a weapons programme. (Like I was planning to win an Olympic Gold in synchronized swimming.) Thank goodness for the doctrine of pre-emptive strike. God knows what other evil thoughts he harbored - sending Tampax in the mail to American senators, or releasing female rabbits in burqas into the London underground. No doubt all will be revealed in the free and fair trial of Saddam Hussein that's coming up soon in the New Iraq.
All except the chapter in which we would learn of how the US and Britain plied him with money and material assistance at the time he was carrying out murderous attacks on Iraqi Kurds and Shias. All except the chapter in which we would learn that a 12,000 page report submitted by the Saddam Hussein government to the UN, was censored by the United States because it lists twenty-four US corporations that participated in Iraq's pre-Gulf War nuclear and conventional weapons programme. (They include Bechtel, DuPont, , Eastman Kodak, Hewlett Packard, International Computer Systems and Unisys.)"

"So Iraq has been "liberated". Its people have been subjugated and its markets have been "freed". That's the anthem of neo-liberalism. Free the markets. Screw the people."

The US government has privatized and sold entire sectors of Iraq's economy. Economic policies and tax laws have been re-written. Foreign companies can now buy 100% of Iraqi firms and expatriate the profits. This is an outright violation of international laws that govern an occupying force, and is among the main reasons for the stealthy, hurried charade in which power was "handed over" to an "interim Iraqi government". Once handing over of Iraq to the Multi-nationals is complete, a mild dose of genuine democracy won't do any harm. In fact it might be good PR for the Corporate version of Liberation Theology, otherwise known as New Democracy."

Not surprisingly, the auctioning of Iraq caused a stampede at the feeding trough. Corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton, the company that US Vice-president Dick Cheney once headed, have won huge contracts for "reconstruction" work. [Let's pick] Bechtel [as an example] only because poor little Halliburton is under investigation on charges of overpricing fuel deliveries to Iraq and for its contracts to "restore" Iraq's oil industry which came with a pretty serious price-tag - 2.5 billion dollars."

"The Bechtel Group and Saddam Hussein are old business acquaintances. Many of their dealings were negotiated by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. In 1988, after Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds, Bechtel signed contracts with his government to build a dual-use chemical plant in Baghdad. Historically, the Bechtel Group has had and continues to have inextricably close links to the Republican establishment. You could call Bechtel and the Reagan Bush administration a team."

"Former Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger was a Bechtel general counsel. Former Deputy Secretary of Energy, W. Kenneth Davis was Bechtel's vice president. Riley Bechtel, the company chairman, is on the President's Export Council. Jack Sheehan, a retired marine corps general, is a senior vice president at Bechtel and a member of the US Defense Policy Board. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on the Board of Directors of the Bechtel Group, was the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq."

"When he was asked by the New York Times whether he was concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest between his two "jobs", [Shultz] said, "I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it [The invasion of Iraq]. But if there's work to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it." Bechtel has been awarded reconstruction contracts in Iraq worth over a billion dollars, which include contracts to re-build power generation plants, electrical grids, water supply, sewage systems, and airport facilities. Never mind revolving doors, this -if it weren't so drenched in blood- would be a bedroom farce."

"Between 2001 and 2002, nine out of thirty members of the US Defense Policy Group were connected to companies that were awarded Defense contracts worth 76 billion dollars. Time was when weapons were manufactured in order to fight wars. Now wars are manufactured in order to sell weapons."

Between 1990 and 2002 the Bechtel group has contributed $3.3 million to campaign funds, both Republican and Democrat. Since 1990 it has won more than 2000 government contracts worth more than 11 billion dollars. That's an incredible return on investment, wouldn't you say?"

"And Bechtel has footprints around the world. That's what being a multi-national means."

"The Bechtel Group first attracted international attention when it signed a contract with Hugo Banzer, the former Bolivian dictator, to privatize the water supply in the city of Cochabamba. The first thing Bechtel did was to raise the price of water. Hundreds of thousands of people who simply couldn't afford to pay Bechtel's bills came out onto the streets. A huge strike paralyzed the city. Martial law was declared. Although eventually Bechtel was forced to flee its offices, it is currently negotiating an exit payment of millions of dollars from the Bolivian government for the loss of potential profits. Which, as we'll see, is growing into a popular corporate sport."

"In India, Bechtel along with General Electric are the new owners of the notorious and currently defunct Enron power project. The Enron contract, which legally binds the Government of the State of Maharashtra to pay Enron a sum of 30 billion dollars, was the largest contract ever signed in India. Enron was not shy to boast about the millions of dollars it had spent to "educate" Indian politicians and bureaucrats. The Enron contract in Maharashtra, which was India's first "fast-track" private power project, has come to be known as the most massive fraud in the country's history. (Enron was another of the Republican Party's major campaign contributors). The electricity that Enron produced was so exorbitant that the government decided it was cheaper not to buy electricity and pay Enron the mandatory fixed charges specified in the contract."

"This means that the government of one of the poorest countries in the world was paying Enron 220 million US dollars a year not to produce electricity!"

"Now that Enron has ceased to exist, Bechtel and GE are suing the Indian Government for 5.6 billion US dollars. This is not even a minute fraction of the sum of money that they (or Enron) actually invested in the project. Once more, it's a projection of profit they would have made had the project materialized."

"To give you an idea of scale, 5.6 billion dollars [is] a little more than the amount that the Government of India would need annually, for a rural employment guarantee scheme that would provide a subsistence wage to millions of people currently living in abject poverty, crushed by debt, displacement, chronic malnutrition and the WTO. This in a country where farmers steeped in debt are being driven to suicide, not in their hundreds, but in their thousands."

"The proposal for a Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is being mocked by India's corporate class as an unreasonable, utopian demand being floated by the "lunatic" and newly powerful left. Where will the money come from? they ask derisively. And yet, any talk of reneging on a bad contract with a notoriously corrupt corporation like Enron, has the same cynics hyperventilating about capital flight and the terrible risks of "creating a bad investment climate". The arbitration between Bechtel, GE and the Government of India is taking place right now in London. Bechtel and GE have reason for hope. The Indian Finance Secretary who was instrumental in approving the disastrous Enron contract has come home after a few years with the IMF. Not just home, home with a promotion. He is now Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission."

"Think about it: The notional profits of a single corporate project would be enough to provide a hundred days of employment a year at minimum wages (calculated at a weighted average across different states) for 25 million people. That's five million more than the population of Australia. That is the scale of the horror of neo-liberalism."

"The Bechtel story gets worse. In what can only be called unconscionable, Naomi Klein writes that Bechtel has successfully sued war-torn Iraq for "war reparations" and "lost profits". It has been awarded 7 million dollars."

"So, all you young management graduates don't bother with Harvard and Wharton."

"[H]ere's the Lazy Manager's Guide to Corporate Success: First, stock your Board with senior government servants. Next, stock the government with members of your board. Add oil and stir. When no one can tell where the government ends and your company begins, collude with your government to equip and arm a cold-blooded dictator in an oil-rich country. Look away while he kills his own people. Simmer gently. Use the time collect to collect a few billion dollars in government contracts. Then collude with your government once again while it topples the dictator and bombs his subjects, taking [pains] to specifically target essential infrastructure, killing a hundred thousand people on the side. Pick up another billion dollars or so worth of contracts to "reconstruct" the infrastructure. To cover travel and incidentals, sue for reparations for lost profits from the devastated country. Finally, diversify. Buy a TV station, so that next war around you can showcase your hardware and weapons technology masquerading as coverage of the war. And finally finally, institute a Human Rights Prize in your company's name. You could give the first one posthumously to Mother Teresa. She won't be able to turn it down or argue back."

"Invaded and occupied Iraq has been made to pay out 200 million dollars in "reparations" for lost profits to corporations like Halliburton, Shell, Mobil, Nestle, Pepsi, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Toys R Us. That's apart from its 125 billion dollar sovereign debt forcing it to turn to the IMF, waiting in the wings like the angel of death, with its Structural Adjustment program. (Though in Iraq there don't seem to be many structures left to adjust. Except the shadowy Al Qaeda.)"

"In New Iraq, privatization has broken new ground. The US Army is increasingly recruiting private mercenaries to help in the occupation. The advantage with mercenaries is that when they're killed they're not included in the US soldiers' body count. It helps to manage public opinion, which is particularly important in an election year. Prisons have been privatized. Torture has been privatized. We have seen what that leads to."

"Other attractions in New Iraq include newspapers being shut down. Television stations bombed. Reporters killed. US soldiers have opened fire on crowds of unarmed protestors killing scores of people. The only kind of resistance that has managed to survive is as crazed and brutal as the occupation itself. Is there space for a secular, democratic, feminist, non-violent resistance in Iraq? There isn't really."

"That is why it falls to those of us living outside Iraq to create that mass-based, secular and non-violent resistance to the US occupation. If we fail to do that, then we run the risk of allowing the idea of resistance to be hi-jacked and conflated with terrorism and that will be a pity because they are not the same thing."

"So what does peace mean in this savage, corporatized, militarized world? What does it mean in a world where an entrenched system of appropriation has created a situation in which poor countries which have been plundered by colonizing regimes for centuries are steeped in debt to the very same countries that plundered them, and have to repay that debt at the rate of 382 billion dollars a year? What does peace mean in a world in which the combined wealth of the world's 587 billionaires exceeds the combined gross domestic product of the world's 135 poorest countries? Or when rich countries that pay farm subsidies of a billion dollars a day, try and force poor countries to drop their subsidies? What does peace mean to people in occupied Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Tibet and Chechnya? Or to the aboriginal people of Australia? Or the Ogoni of Nigeria? Or the Kurds in Turkey? Or the Dalits and Adivasis of India? What does peace mean to non-muslims in Islamic countries, or to women in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan? What does it mean to the millions who are being uprooted from their lands by dams and development projects? What does peace mean to the poor who are being actively robbed of their resources and for whom everyday life is a grim battle for water, shelter, survival and, above all, some semblance of dignity? For them, peace is war."

"We know very well who benefits from war in the age of Empire. But we must also ask ourselves honestly who benefits from peace in the age of Empire? War mongering is criminal. But talking of peace without talking of justice could easily become advocacy for a kind of capitulation. And talking of justice without unmasking the institutions and the systems that perpetrate injustice, is beyond hypocritical."

"It's easy to blame the poor for being poor. It's easy to believe that the world is being caught up in an escalating spiral of terrorism and war. That's what allows the American President to say "You're either with us or with the terrorists". But we know that that's a spurious choice. We know that terrorism is only the privatization of war. That terrorists are the free marketers of war. They believe that the legitimate use of violence is not the sole prerogative of the State."

"It is mendacious to make moral distinction between the unspeakable brutality of terrorism and the indiscriminate carnage of war and occupation. Both kinds of violence are unacceptable. We cannot support one and condemn the other.
The real tragedy is that most people in the world are trapped between the horror of a putative peace and the terror of war. Those are the two sheer cliffs we're hemmed in by. The question is: How do we climb out of this crevasse?"

"For those who are materially well-off, but morally uncomfortable, the first question you must ask yourself is do you really want to climb out of it? How far are you prepared to go? Has the crevasse become too comfortable?"

"If you really want to climb out, there's good news and bad news."

"The good news is that the advance party began the climb some time ago. They're already half way up. Thousands of activists across the world have been hard at work preparing footholds and securing the ropes to make it easier for the rest of us. There isn't only one path up. There are hundreds of ways of doing it. There are hundreds of battles being fought around the world that need your skills, your minds, your resources. No battle is irrelevant. No victory is too small."

"The bad news is that colorful demonstrations, weekend marches and annual trips to the World Social Forum are not enough. There have to be targeted acts of real civil disobedience with real consequences. Maybe we can't flip a switch and conjure up a revolution. But there are several things we could do. For example, you could make a list of those corporations who have profited from the invasion of Iraq. You could name them, boycott them, occupy their offices and force them out of business. If it can happen in Bolivia, it can happen in India. It can happen in Australia. Why not?"

"That's only a small suggestion. But remember that if the struggle were to resort to violence, it will lose vision, beauty and imagination. Most dangerous of all, it will marginalize and eventually victimize women. And a political struggle that does not have women at the heart of it, above it, below it and within it is no struggle at all."

"The point is that the battle must be joined. As the wonderful American historian Howard Zinn put it: "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train"."


Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Well, it’s done. Another election is behind us, and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, and especially Karl Rove, are triumphant. On top of the world, you might say.

And my condolences to the rest of the world, by the way. Whoever reads this—wherever you may be out there, please know: we did everything we could to try and prevent this from happening. I earnestly believe we did. Please remember that a large percentage of Americans are with you today, and in the weeks and months, and—I suppose—years to come, in spirit and solidarity, against this rising tide. Some will say that Kerry did not run a strong enough campaign, that perhaps he wasn’t “liberal” enough, or he wasn’t this or that. But, to be honest, I don’t think it would have made any difference. The people that voted for Bush did so with their eyes open. They lined up in droves and voted for him. Their votes represent a full-throated acceptance of all this administration stands for.

Thus, lying to Congress, the UN, the American people, and the world and proceeding with needless preemptive wars, is perfectly acceptable. The people have spoken and they have said “Yes” to these things. They have said “Yes” to the incarceration of hundreds of innocent people without benefit of legal counsel or due process.

They have said “Yes” to the torture of prisoners, the outing of CIA agents, the muzzling and firing of anyone the administration disagrees with.

They have voted and said “Yes” to the goon tactics of Karl Rove.

And to the overthrow of the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, and church-state separation, they have voted with their hearts and minds, and the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

As I write this, thousands of American troops are massing on the outskirts of Fallujah, to be supported with tanks and air strikes. I begin to think our wars are less about what is real than what is unreal. Of course, we know—at least some of us do—that the war in Iraq was never about weapons of mass destruction; but in truth, I don’t think it really ever mattered to the American people whether weapons existed or didn’t exist, just as some years ago, it didn’t matter that there was no Gulf of Tonkin incident. Those items are just what in movie parlance would be called the “mcguffin,” the money, the jewels, the microfilm, whatever happens to be in the box that sets the whole plot in motion. As Hitchcock said, it really doesn’t matter what the mcguffin is. It’s immaterial. And the proof that the mcguffin doesn’t matter in Iraq, just as it didn’t matter in Vietnam, is that the war goes on and people are still dying, while the so-called reason for being there in the first place—the mcguffin—has long since gone up in smoke. And that, sir, is War. Just a big catastrophe, a big nothing, that sucks up human life, that is always looking for an excuse and usually finding it among weak-minded people. And in a country that loves war as much as this one, the mcguffin can be about as flimsy as you wish, and the people will wave their flags and shout themselves into exhaustion.

As for the election, it, too, had its mcguffin. And the mcguffin was fear. Fear of gay people, fear of diversity. Fear that God is so weak in the world that He must be backed up by amendments, mandates and armies. We have seen this before. And we have seen what superstition can do.

At least half the people in this strange country actually believe the earth was created in seven days. A high percentage believe in angels. They believe the fables and proverbs of the Bible are literally true. And they believe there are weapons of mass destruction sitting in Iraq, just as their president told them there was.

And they believe that whatever their country chooses to do or not do is right and righteous. End of story.

So, it is not just Bush and his cohorts that are triumphant here. They are just the symptom, the nuts and bolts of what is broken in my country, for it is really the triumph of lies, the complete unquestioning embrace of superstition and fantasy over reality.

And that, I guess, is why I’m in mourning today. Because it feels like somebody I care about is in dire trouble, maybe losing their mind, or worse. The country that I knew, the country of Jefferson and Ben Franklin and Lincoln, but also of Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. . . .

It’s like the day my grandmother died. It’s as if I were awakened this morning and told that someone very close to me was killed during the night. Murdered. And now they want me to get dressed and come down and identify the body. Yeah, okay, that’s a little melodramatic, I suppose. Maybe so. And when I get down there, maybe it won’t be her, after all. Maybe she’s just gone missing awhile. Wandering around somewhere, homeless, living out of garbage cans. And if I happen to run into her again, I’ll let you know.

But I just hope I’ll be able to recognize the old girl.

Peace, brothers and sisters.

Monday, November 01, 2004


PHOTOGRAPH: Sharon Farmer

This is the moment of truth. Americans are going to the polls to choose their President. Tomorrow we decide; and the whole world is holding its breath, and wondering if America can get back in touch with its "better angels". The disgrace of Abu Ghraib stabs at our hearts. The President's lying, scheming, sick adventure in Iraq is a failure. The jig is up for George W. Bush. Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." No, not in a democracy. Not in our country.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson nails it, in the most recent issue of RollingStone Magazine:
"The question this year is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way."

The most obscene thing about the Bush Government is that they just continue telling lies that have been publicly discredited by authoritative sources. They continue to spit out the Big Lie that connects the 9/11 destruction in New York to Iraq. They have continuously justified the bloodletting in Iraq in those terms. And they smear their political opponents with indiscreet, ruthless enthusiasm. Calumny and hypocrisy present no barrier to them. Karl Rove, the Regime's hatchet man, specializes in poisoning the well, twisting an adversary's actual virtues and slurring and mangling them so that they seem like vices. Malicious rumors and whisper campaigns are the specialty. This administration is one that has shamelessly appropriated public anxiety over terrorism for its own partisan purposes. They have clearly damaged America's reputation and have lowered this nation's effective prestige. Bush is a dangerous leader who is addicted to risks and is apparently indifferent to the tragic consequences of his actions.

There is an alternative. The beautiful photograph taken by Sharon Farmer is a tangible image of our hope. Our candidate for President, John Kerry, is sharing the stage with Caroline Kennedy at a rally during the last days of this campaign. This image represents a continuity of purpose. It represents the promise of public service. It is proof that our history will not be re-written by those who lack moral courage and compassion for their neighbors. Our American history is not a plaything for the small-minded, and it is not a prize to be won by opportunists.
Those of us who remember President Kennedy can see a flicker of something in John Kerry. This is why we believe. Even if Kerry possesses just a flicker from that flame, it will be enough.

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...