Saturday, April 30, 2005


"It's farewell to the drawing room's civilized cry,
The professor's sensible whereto and why,
The frock-coated diplomat's social aplomb,
Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb."...

"So Little John, Long John, Peter and Paul,
And poor little Horace with only one ball,
You shall leave your breakfast, your desk and your play
On a fine summer morning the Devil to slay."...

For it's order and trumpet and anger and drum
And power and glory command you to come;
The graves shall fly open and let you all in,
And the earth shall be emptied of mortal sin."...

--W.H. Auden, Danse Macabre
It can be said that a sociopath has at least one card missing from his deck. On the other hand, there is often evidence of enabling behavior, a misguided, dysfunctional support, in the family or community that surrounds his psychopathic personality.

The President lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and the Pentagon, that he controls, covers up for torture, and shields senior officers from prosecution for crimes against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and in Afghanistan. Moreover, Republican accomplices try to use a family's legal dispute over removing a brain-dead person's life support, as a gambit in their gameplan for packing the courts with political and religious extremists.

And against this background of abuse of power, there is an even more dangerous suspicion, confirmed by "Justice Sunday" in Kentucky, of a cultural war which is waged against secular institutions, journalistic integrity, and democratic process, here in America. With respect to co-dependency, let's take the example of ABC Nightly News, and its April 29th report on the diplomatic dispute, that arose from the wounding of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and the killing of Nicola Calipari, an Italian security agent, only a short distance from Baghdad airport.

Calipari had obtained the release of the kidnapped journalist Sgrena from Iraqi insurgents. But only minutes from the airport, they were fired on by a mobile "checkpoint" , a recently formed detail of American troops, put together to protect Ambassador John Negroponte, on a special, restricted road, on which Calipari had obtained clearance to travel. And in point of fact, Agent Calipari had used his cellphone to call American authorities to confirm their arrival just minutes before he was shot dead, as he attempted to shield Ms. Sgrena from bullets.

ABC Nightly News is doubly concerned to inform its viewers of the serious illness of its News Anchor, Peter Jennings; but when it comes to reporting the rift between the American and Italian governments, it is indeed more circumspect. Talk about an absence of context and background information. ABC shows a photograph of the death car, taken from an angle that shows none of the important evidence of bullets. It's reported that the American and Italian governments have had a falling out over their contradictory accounts of what happened; and ABC News just can't summon the courage to say why.

ABC might have informed the public that the bullets struck the car from behind. They could have reasonably concluded that evidence more strongly supported the Italian version of events. But no, they are only able to report that the Americans and Italians just don't see eye to eye on this one. It's not sufficiently patriotic to suggest that American military authorities are telling lies. The ABC Nightly News omits crucial information; and of course, they are not accused of bias, which is something else altogether.

President Bush runs the government on a "need to know" basis; so why shouldn't ABC NEWS operate on the same assumption? And patriotism is an important consideration. There's such a thing as too much information, after all. On the other hand, it's important to come back to the question of the psychopathic personality, to the President himself, that is.

Dr. Hervey Cleckley's famous book, The Mask of Sanity, published in its Third Edition in 1955, used case studies to illustrate this kind of disorder:
"He shows a total disregard for truth and is to be trusted no more in his accounts of the past than in his promises for the future or his statement of present intentions. One gets the impression that he is incapable of ever attaining realistic comprehension of an attitude in other people which causes them to value truth and cherish truthfulness in themselves."
This immersion into the psychopathic personality is characteristic of what has befallen America, these days. The manipulative genius that still operates with this level of moral impairment, is bound and determined to use American cult energy and religious extremism for partisan political leverage. Bush is not concerned in the least about releasing religious fanatics into our domestic political life; he is not phased when it comes to ultimately destructive borrowing, or unrestricted license to lenders, or the undermining of Social Security. or even the enslavement of the middle class. Here we have a man for all seasons of madness.

We also have a complacent press that facilitates Bush's irrational behavior. And worst of all are the Radical Republicans and their religious extremist base, who with the ease of a psychopathic personality, would knock the laws flat and destroy democracy itself, if only for the momentary satisfaction of wrapping their fingers around the throat of the Devil.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Could Have Been Said A Moment Ago

"The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first. . . . The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: 'it is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war.'

Then the few will shout even louder. . . . Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it. . . .

Next, the statesmen will invent cheap lies. . . and each man will be glad of these lies and will study them because they soothe his conscience; and thus he will bye and bye convince himself that the war is just and he will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys by his self-deception."

--from The Mysterious Stranger, by Mark Twain.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


The following excerpt is from Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, and author of Jewish Renewal, whose article is entitled The New Pope is a Disaster for the World and for the Jews
Many Jews are outraged at a Church that denies communion to those who have remarried or those who oppose making abortion illegal but that did not similarly deny communion to those who participate in crimes against humanity.

"In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger publicly praised the fascist movement in the Church known as Opes Dei and supported canonization of Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, an open fascist who served in the government of Spain's dictator Franco, and who publicly praised Hitler.

"While many of us agree with Ratzinger's critique of moral relativism, he extends that critique in illegitimate and dangerous ways, equating secularism with moral relativism and suggesting that secularism is now repressing religion. Ratzinger also publicly critiques all those inside the Church who are tolerant enough to think that other religions may have equal validity as a path to God. This is a slippery slope toward anti-Semitism and a return to the chauvinistic and triumphalist views that led the Church, when it had the power to do so, to develop its infamous crusades and inquisitions. In 1997 Ratzinger called Buddhism an "autoerotic spirituality" that offers "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations." Hindusim, he said, offers "false hope," in that it guarantees "purification" based on a "morally cruel" concept of reincarnation resembling "a continuous circle of hell." At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy.

"Ratzinger is being falsely described as a conservative, when in fact he, despite his publicly genteel manner, is a raging reactionary. Unlike many American conservatives who oppose gay sexual practices but not their legal rights, Ratzinger in 1992 argued against human rights for gays, stressing that their civil liberties could be "legitimately limited."

"Those of us in the Jewish world who have enormous respect for Christianity and for the wisdom and beauty of the Catholic tradition are in mourning today that the Church has confirmed for itself a destructive direction that will hurt not only Catholics but all those who seek peace and justice in the world."

IMAGE VIA Body and Soul

P.S. Follow the Body and Soul link to a beautiful article written by Jeanne d'Orleans

Friday, April 22, 2005


% of born-again Christians who have been divorced: 35.

% of other Americans who have been: 35.

Chances that the divorce of a born-again Christian happened after he or she accepted Christ: 9 in 10.

Estimated number of young Christians in 1995 who had pledged to wait until marriage for sex: 2,500,000.

Estimated % who waited: 12.

*Source: Harper's Index for April, 2005.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


1,169,000: Number of American jobs that have been lost since G.W. became prez.

45 million: Number of Americans without health insurance. (Millions of
Americans are now 1 illness away from bankruptcy.)

$1 trillion: Amount Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, if made permanent, will cost this country over the next ten years.

485,000: Number of children Bush eliminated from after-school programs.

$7,217,762,361,782.23: National debt (Your share is $24,512.70. So is your spouse’s. And each of your children, if you have any. (And their children, too.)

$155 billion: The amount the Iraq War has cost so far.

1 in 5: Number of children living in poverty in America (the wealthiest nation on the planet.)

And what is Our President’s response to these catastrophes? What is His best thinking in the matter?

1. Raise the National Debt level.

2. Bankrupt the Social Security Trust Fund.

3. Change the bankruptcy laws to make it more difficult for poor people to get out from under the thumbs of predatory lenders, particularly credit cards.

4. Increase military spending (despite the fact that the Pentagon’s budget is larger than the entire economy of Russia, and would presently feed every man, woman and child on the planet.)

5. Cut school funding.

6. Throw kids out of Head Start, childcare, after-school and literacy programs.

7. Cut Pell grants, making college less affordable to working families.

8. Call for $80 billion dollars more to fund the war in Iraq. (On top of $25 billion already allocated.)

9. Plan a new war in Iran.

10. Cut the pay of military personnel.

11. Cut education for military dependents.

12. Cut federal housing subsidies.

13. Cut Medicaid (thus hurting the most vulnerable in our country—seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those in need of catastrophic care).

14. Cut food stamps for some 300,000 recipients.

15. Eliminate childcare for thousands of poor working mothers.

16. Make sure gays can’t get married.

17. Make sure everybody has a gun.

18. Post the Ten Commandments in every classroom.

So much for the LOSERS. Now, for a brief look at the WINNERS!

Top Ten CEO pay for 2004.*

Terry S. Semel . . . . . .Yahoo Inc. . . . . . . . . . .$109,301,385
Steven P. Jobs. . . . . . . Apple Computer. . . . . . $86,315,789
Lew Frankfort. . . . . . .Coach Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . $64,918,789
John C. Wilder. . . . . . . TXU Corp. . . . . . . . . . . .$54,960,893
Ray R. Irani. . . . . . . . Occidental Petroleum. .$52,648,142
Dwight C. Schar. . . . . .NVR Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .$51,058,500
Bruce Karatz. . . . . . . . KB Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . $47,288,228
Robert I. Toll. . . . . . . Toll Brothers. . . . . . . . . . $44,240611
Paul J. Evanson. . . . . .Allegheny Energy. . . . . . $40,543,354
Edward J. Zander. . . . Motorola, Inc. . . . . . . . . $38,851,374

Miscellaneous others:

H. Lee Scott, Jr. . . . . . Walmart. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $22,991,599
Gary D. Forsee. . . . . . Sprint. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $19,480,225
E. Neville Isdell. . . . . . Coca Cola. . . . . . . . . . . . . .$17,501,693
Kevin W. Sharer. . . . . .Amgen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$11,031,845
Bruce A. Williamson. . .Dynegy, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . $5,045,694
Stephen L. Baum. . . . . Sempra Energy. . . . . . . . $4,945,107

*Total compensation package includes salary, bonus (usually larger than salary), stock options, and "Other."

Source for CEO info: AFL-CIO Executive Watch List.


"The Reich's Finest Single-Malt Whiskey"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Wily satirist, Billmon, is responsible for the PhotoShop spoof on Eva Braun.

But TIME MAGAZINE has blurred the line between the surreal and the real.

Digby writes:

"The recently annointed GOP saint, Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was the one who coined the phrase "defining deviancy down" and I think he's been validated. When a deranged, flamethrowing fascist like Ann Coulter is called "amusing" and "entertaining", deviancy has definitely been redefined."

Monday, April 18, 2005


The U.N., and specifically its leader, Kofi Annan, have long been targets of the unilateralist boys on the right, who are not keen on having little impediments, such as the rule of law, get in the way of their war-mongering agenda. It is true that the U.N. is not a paragon of perfection, and the Oil For Food Program is in need of reform, but we note that the independent inquiry, lead by former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker, found no link between Mr. Annan and the Oil For Food problem. The Wall Street Journal states: "The panel has concluded there is no evidence Mr. Annan rigged. . .procurement. . .exerted undue influence. . .or ever sought or received improper financial benefits."

Even so, the attacks on the secretary-general by the Neo-Con right will probably continue, lead by propaganda hacks such as Judith Miller. Miller, you may recall, in a series of articles in the New York Times, assisted in propping up Bush's march to war in Iraq by repeating the lies about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Now, since late October, she's pumped out numerous articles attacking Kofi Annan, and even persisted in doing so, using snide innuendo, despite the Volcker finding that there was nothing untoward in his behavior.

Annan's real problems began back in September, when he went on record saying the U.S. led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the U.N. charter. At the same time that he made this statement to the BBC, he also said, "I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time, without U.N. approval and much broader support from the international community." This elicited vociferous attacks from the Bush Administration, and from then on, the campaign in the right-wing media to malign Annan's character really heated up.

With an invasion of Iran looming on the horizon, it seems likely we will hear again from the gentleman at the U.N.; at least we hope so. And, no doubt, the right's attack dogs will once more bare their teeth in his general direction.

* * * *
When the eyes are blind and the lips are silent, when the pain of poverty, of unemployment, of ill health, are blocked from our vision, then we, too, are diminished. Who will act for justice?

When anyone goes hungry, when anyone is cold, when anyone is without proper honor in the community, we have not the right to be silent. When people grow complacent in the face of the hunger of their sisters and brothers, there can be no peace. Such peace is but the harbinger of other wars.

There was a prophet who said, "Do justly and love mercy." This is our duty and our dignity. If we fail in justice and mercy, there is no hiding place, no homeland that will shelter us.

We are here today because we can see beyond the darkness of present reality. We are the inheritors of realistic hope. We affirm the oneness of humankind. The pain of those hungry, of those homeless is our responsibility. Hope is resilient and enduring.

We stand, not one upon another's shoulder, but arms entwined together, united, and ready to act for change. Hope is not housed in shallow vessels. It dwells in a deep and flaming chalice.

It is we who say: the people united will never be defeated. We pray today for all who struggle for better conditions for our neighbors and for ourselves. It is we who say: hope publicly expressed will nurture our actions for change. We commit ourselves to the struggle ahead.

--Litany for justice, from the 1984 U.N. Sunday Guide.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


"I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes,--a justifier of the most appalling barbarity,--a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds,-- and a dark shelter, under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strangest protection. Were I again to be reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst"
--Frederick Douglass

David Kirkpatrick's article of April 15, 2005 in the New York Times, goes a long way toward exposing the extremist intentions of the radical and increasingly theocratic clique of Republicans, whose cause is spearheaded by the likes of Bill Frist, their leader in the Senate. The axis of the Republican Dream is being aligned, in order to pack our judiciary with Christian fundamentalists. And this march backward, to the Middle Ages, is being sponsored under the notion that the Democratic filibuster against Bush's nominees will be the filibuster "against people of faith".

In a telecast, scheduled for April 24, "Justice Sunday", Senator Frist will join an enormous church event in Kentucky. According to Kirkpatrick, a prominent flier being circulated will "depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other".

When Frederick Douglass began his struggle against slavery, while he was still a slave, helping other slaves learn to read, he had already come to the conclusion that "religious slaveholders are the worst". But to be clear about Douglass and his own religious feelings, he did heartily endorse what he called the "Christianity of Christ"; but he had made the point of saying that what passed for religion in the South, at that time, was something very different.

The observations of Frederick Douglass are quite necessary, in order to refute the base and puerile suggestions of the Republicans, which will soon be heard on the floor of the Senate; which like the church event in Kentucky, will state that "The filibuster was once used to protect racial bias, and is now being used against people of faith". The Republicans have burst through the irony barrier, like it was made of tissue paper, and are now breathing in the air of perversion.

After a Republican-appointed judge recently chastised Congress (and its Republican overlords) for over-reaching and trespassing against the constitutional Separation of Powers in the Schiavo Affair, we are only left with the sinister words of Tom DeLay, accusing the liberals of hostility toward Christianity, accusing them of running amok.

Didn't Puritan ayatollahs burn witches at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts? Didn't Southern Revivalists, living in the 1840s, preach that blacks were the descendants of Ham, condemned by God to slavery in The Old Testament? And wouldn't our 21st Century Republican fundamentalists and their religious fringe love to knock down the filibuster rule itself, which is a check against the unbounded authority of the majority over the political minority? If the radical Republicans were not so blinded by their zealotry, they would realize that the filibuster, a valuable American tradition, would serve and protect them over time, as political fortunes change.

Frederick Douglass began writing his famous narrative, sometime after he had escaped his bondage in Maryland, and had established himself up north, in New Bedford. One of the strongest points he makes, is concerned with the corruption of people previously unaffected, as soon as they become slaveholders. It is his observation that the possession of "irresponsible power" over slaves acted like a poison upon the character of those who were otherwise good people; and that rage and frustration began to fester in them, and it became more difficult for them to keep their humanity intact.

And following this line of reason, it is hard to see how religious extremism is much different, then or now. The power and the temptation to win their cultural war with legislation and propaganda and intrigue seems to be overwhelming, in the hands of today's Republican leadership. They are not above trying to threaten our judiciary, by intimidating judges who are now sitting, and by knocking the filibuster flat, in order to remake the courts in their own image. This is the intoxication of "irresponsible power" contained in the warning of Frederick Douglass.

Gay or straight, liberal or conservative, believer or non-believer, you will have no shelter from these keepers of the one, true faith.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation,
are people who want crops without plowing up the ground.
They want rain without thunder and lightning;
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters.

This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be both moral
and physical; but it must be a struggle.

Power concedes nothing without a demand;
it never did and it never will.

Find out what people will submit to,
and you have found out the exact amount of injustice
which will be imposed upon them.

The limits of tyrants are prescribed
by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

--Frederick Douglass

(Born and brought up in slavery on a Maryland plantation, Douglass twice tried to escape and succeeded the second time. Afterwards, he gained worldwide recognition as an abolitionist lecturer, newspaper editor, and one of the most important men behind the anti-slavery movement. Anyone who knows the names of Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln, should also know the name of Frederick Douglass.)


From One day after a Gallup poll revealed that George W. Bush's approval ratings had dropped to the lowest level of any president since World War II at this point in his second term, a new USA Today/CNN poll brings more bad news for the White House.

USA Today notes, "By 55%-40%, respondents say Republicans, traditionally the party of limited government, are trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans on moral values."

Also: "By more than 2-to-1 (39%-18%), Americans say the 'religious right' has too much influence in the Bush administration," according to the daily.

Bush's approval rating for handling the economy hit a new low--41%. That's down nine points in just two months. Bush's approval rating on Social Security cratered to 35%.

And how people feel about Bush personally fell to a new low: Forty-five percent say they view him favorably.

And (at long last) for the first time in the USA Today/CNN poll, a solid 50 percent of Americans think "the Bush administration deliberately misled (in other words, lied to) the American public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction."

Better late than never, I suppose, but what a shame it's taken all this killing to figure it out.

Friday, April 01, 2005


"I got your berada nikto right here", sez Gort.
The Earth stood still in Washington D.C. this morning. After recent confirmations of Global Warming and news reports reiterated that the human race has now used up three-fourths of all planetary resources, there were multiple UFO sightings worldwide. The climax of this came with the landing of a "mothership" in the U.S. Capitol. Gort, a robot archetype sent by the Law-Givers, announced the necessity of the apparent pre-emptive strike and occupation.

Gort said that certain symbolic gestures were important. For starters, the U.S. Pentagon would be encased in a concrete sarcophagus of approximately 100 million metric tons and consecrated as a memorial. Radical Republicans, their sponsors, families and pets, would be transported to a small planetoid on the outskirts of the Magellenic Cloud, called Orgiastic Virtual World, where they could descend into madness without harming themselves or anyone else. "It's just a stopgap measure". the Law-Giver said, "until some therapy could rehabilitate them".
"Worse than your abysmal stewardship of this world", Gort said, "was your exploitative economy and misanthropic greed"..."Your own leaders have said 'it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it'. "WE especially abhor that kind of linguistic nonsense, and have considered destroying humanity for that reason alone."
At that point, several of Washington's homeless came forward with wildflowers and other humble gifts. "That last bit was a joke", Gort sighed, "in fact it's all a bit of burlesque; but hear me now and believe me in a fortnight; intergalactic, trans-dimensional beings everywhere are putting you on notice."

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...