Sunday, June 26, 2005


Continuing my interview of Jubal Durfee, whom I met at the gun show recently. Jubal is active in Republican politics in his hometown of Bee Keeper, Arkansas.

THOLOS: You seem to say that if the President lied to Congress and the American people to get us into the war in Iraq, that it was okay, because it was a lie for God. Is that correct?

JUBAL: Yeah, somethin’ like that.

THOLOS: But what about the rule of law?

JUBAL: Rule of law?

THOLOS: Don’t people in a democracy have a voice in what happens?

JUBAL: Oh, sure, they do. You betcha. They can go vote, which is what they did. They voted Bush back in.

THOLOS: But if he’s lying to us, how can we make an informed decision about how to cast our votes?

JUBAL: Well, if he’s lyin’ for God, then I don’t think we need to be concerned. Our vote is bound to come out right.

THOLOS: So, you’re saying we just throw out the rule of law and go with lies and deceptions?

JUBAL: Rule of law? What is that? I don’t know anybody that even thinks like that, except liberals. I mean, sure, we have to have laws and rules, I guess. But I don’t see that many people squawkin’ about the rule of law, at least, not in this country. First place, people are too damn busy to think about those kinda things. It’s too abstract for ‘em. You know, most of us aren’t trained as lawyers. We don’t sit around readin’ the fine print. But that’s why we elected a strong leader—somebody that would just roll up his sleeves and get the job done, and not get hung up on all these rules. These Godless liberals think they have to have a voice in everything that happens.

THOLOS: But isn’t that the definition of a democracy?

JUBAL: Well, technically, I guess. But are we talkin’ about actual democracy? How do we define that, anyway? I think it’s strictly an ideal kinda thing, ain’t it? Like when you’re out huntin’ and you run up on the perfect deer—a fine buck with a nice rack on, and you got a clear shot. It’s like winnin’ the lottery or not havin’ to work for a livin’. Sure, we all want those things. And we should strive to get ‘em. But nothin’s perfect, and you can’t spend every minute whinin’ over ever’ little flaw. Not when we have enemies in the world that covet our way of life and would like to kill us. See, you cain’t reason with people like that. Best you can do is just round ‘em up and throw ‘em in a pen, like a bunch of mad dogs, which is what they are.

THOLOS: Where does that leave the Bill of Rights? Do you believe in that?

JUBAL: Well, sure. Of course I do! I love the Bill of Rights. But you know what? Between you and me, I’ve never actually read ‘em. Have you? Can you name ‘em all off, one after another? I doubt if G.W. knows what they are. I guarantee you he’s too damn busy to sit down and learn all that stuff. I mean, if that’s what it took to be President, nobody would be President. I know there’s s’posed to be freedom of religion, but these secularists are doin’ their best to break that rule. And there’s freedom of speech. But we can’t pray in the schools, so I don’t believe we have freedom of speech. So, what good is the Bill of Rights? Maybe you can answer me that, ‘cause I can’t.

THOLOS: Getting back to the prayer issue. I’m curious. Why do you have to have prayers said over a loud speaker in a classroom? If a child just wants to quietly bow his head in school and say a prayer, who’s actually stopping him?

JUBAL: Ah, man, you know as well as I do a kid ain’t gonna do that on his own. In the first place, all those kids with Godless liberal parents would probably ridicule the kids that wanted to pray. And anyway, you gotta make ‘em recite. That’s the whole foundation of our schools. I mean, do you honestly think a kid is just gonna sit there and read his textbook without somebody pushin’ him to do it? Same thing with prayer. Same thing with the Pledge of Allegiance. All these things. Which every kid was brought up to do since the beginning of this country. Including Thomas Jefferson and you and me. I don’t see that it did us any harm, do you? Do you feel like you were brainwashed or somethin’?

THOLOS: I was raised a Methodist, so reciting Christian prayers aloud didn’t really bother me. But perhaps if I’d been a Muslim or a Jew or any other faith, then I can see how it might have made me or my parents uncomfortable. Do you think we have a responsibility to protect the rights of those people?

JUBAL: Look, all I see is too many people worried about the rights of this little handful over here, and nobody worried about my rights or my kids’ rights. And this was our country long before these Godless outsiders showed up here. Our founding fathers weren’t Jews or Muslims or Hindus, or any of these other things. They were God-fearing Christians and they wanted God in our country. An’ I don’t see what’s so terrible about that. I’ll be runnin’ for school board next year, so I’ll be workin’ on that real hard. I’ll also be lookin’ into the textbook problem, as well.

THOLOS: What problem is that?

JUBAL: Just—the whole evolution fiasco. I’ve already told my kids to ignore it, since it’s just a half-baked theory, anyway, and not a proven fact. I think a majority of Bee Keeper folks are doin’ the same with their kids. Right now, we’ve got after school classes goin’, teachin’ our kids the correct version of things. And if I get on the school board I’m gonna see to it that our viewpoint gets equal time in the classroom.

THOLOS: So you want Creationism taught in the public schools?

JUBAL: We call it Intelligent Design.

THOLOS: Do you want that presented as science or as--?

JUBAL: I think it oughta be taught in the same class as evolution. They’re callin’ their thing science. I don’t see why we can’t call ours whatever we want.

THOLOS: You mean you would call the Bible story—science?

JUBAL: I don’t see why not.

THOLOS: So, you’re saying you believe strictly in the Biblical version of the origin of the earth and of all life on the planet?

JUBAL: Yes, sir, all the way.

THOLOS: And so, do you believe the earth is—what? Four thousand years old?

JUBAL: Closer to six thousand, I think.

THOLOS: Six thousand. Really?


THOLOS: Do you think it just took six thousand years for the Colorado River to carve the Grand Canyon?

JUBAL: Well, first off, I don’t think the Grand Canyon was carved by any river.

THOLOS: You don’t?

JUBAL: No sirree-bob. God carved it. God was the artist. And He could’a done it in six minutes if he’d wanted to. Personally, I think it arrived intact.

THOLOS: Intact? You mean—already completed?

JUBAL: Right.

THOLOS: So, the geologists got it wrong?

JUBAL: I dunno. What do they say?

THOLOS: They think it took a little longer. A few million years.

JUBAL: They got it wrong.

THOLOS: They’ve got ways of measuring the age of rocks, you know. They can do it pretty accurately, now.

JUBAL: So they’d like us to think. But I think they’re blowin’ smoke out their rear ends.

THOLOS: Are you saying that scientists around the world are just making these things up?

JUBAL: Maybe.

THOLOS: Why would they do that?

JUBAL: Maybe you oughta ask them.

THOLOS: I’m asking you.

JUBAL: Well, I think they’re in league with the Devil.

THOLOS: So, archeology, botany, biology, chemistry, physics, and geology—these are just things the Devil dreamed up—is that what you’re saying?

JUBAL: I don’t know if the Devil dreamed ‘em up or the scientists did. But the Devil has his seal of approval on all of it, and that’s what I’m against.

THOLOS: Why would the Devil have so much interest in evolution?

JUBAL: Because it wins people away from God, as our Creator and Redeemer.

THOLOS: I see.

JUBAL: You know, if you look at all the things that are goin’ on right now—that are bringin’ our country down, you can trace just about all of it back to one place—one wrong turn in the road. Evolution.

THOLOS: What things are you talking about?

JUBAL: Oh, things like the Kinsey Report, for instance.

THOLOS: The Kinsey Report?

JUBAL: Yeah. You had this sex-crazed man and his wife—both of ‘em, atheists—tryin’ to promote their perverted lifestyle by callin’ it science.

THOLOS: I see. And what other things were caused by evolution?

JUBAL: Well, the sexual revolution, feminism, divorce, abortion, homosexuals, even Hitler.

THOLOS: Evolution caused all those things?

JUBAL: Belief in it, yessiree.

THOLOS: And caused homosexuals?


THOLOS: Divorce? Feminism? And Hitler?

JUBAL: Yep. Hitler was big into evolution. Survival of the fittest, right? He was real big on that. So was Kinsey. So are all the feminists, the fairies and the abortion doctors. It’s the one thing they all have in common. They’ve all rejected God and believe in the false god, evolution. See once you accept evolution, you’ve opened the door to all kinds of deviant thoughts and behaviors.

THOLOS: I see.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


It's hard to listen to the pronouncements of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and "architect" Karl Rove. There will be no soft landing for America. The country is in the hands of shallow men, and has fallen under the influence of their weak and disingenuous smiles, and is almost smothered at times, by all that pettiness and deceitful nonchalance. It is easy to feel ashamed of these small men. But men of this calibre are, by no means, a full reflection of our predicament.

Already there is sentiment, both in Democratic and Republican ranks, that under all circumstances the occupation should continue; and if it is tragic, it is still inevitable. What none of them has yet revealed to the public, is that this heavier and committed occupation can only be sustained by a larger, conscripted, US Army. John Kerry, our erstwhile Democratic candidate, supports "fixing" what we have done in Iraq. But there's no point in singling him out, because this is bipartisan madness. Even a casual review of the voting records and rhetoric of Senators like Clinton and Lieberman, Biden and McCain, Warner and others, will bear this out.

The Iraqis refuse the long term presence of occupiers. And an occupation that extends into the indefinite future, is impossible without compulsory military service. It's not so clear to American families now, but when their children have been betrayed, when another young generation is being sacrificed for essentially economic reasons, it will be our own country which Bush and his accomplices have placed under Occupation. This is no joke. Talking heads and economic experts will be solemnly declaring that George W. Bush, as cockeyed and cracked as he may be, has ransomed or gambled the continued role of the USA, as a superpower, and its economic future on the continued occupation, if not subjugation, of Iraq. You see, under their logic, we can't afford not to be imperialists.

An imperial power will have to pay a steep price in blood and treasure. There is one estimate that puts the accumulated expenditure in money, by the end of Bush's term in office, at $600 billion. But a much more grievous injury to American society will be the sacrifice and betrayal of the younger generation. It will be done for the increasingly tawdry prize of American prestige and a truly Faustian wager on the economy. A resistance was made, nearly forty years ago, against the expansion of militarism during the Vietnam War; and it was necessary to oppose many of the same corporate/political factions and the same sort of ambitious men who were then standing as a dire threat to our real security, to our dignity and self-respect as Americans, and to the well-being and life of every conscripted soldier.

Those who claim that they are speaking in our interest, will soon be telling us that we face recession and even worse calamities, if we withdraw from Iraq. Don't listen to them. The worst thing that we could do as a nation would be to commit to a heavy, ongoing occupation of Iraq. There should be a more dedicated movement for withdrawal from Iraq; and under no circumstances should we allow them to draft our children.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


"To adore the "Great Beast" is to think and act in conformity with the prejudices and reactions of the multitude, to the detriment of all personal search for truth and goodness."
--Plato, The Republic, Book VI
America's TV anchors, so superbly tailored--urbane and impeccable in every detail--are unperturbed by the encroaching medievalism that is bleeding slowly through the fabric of national life.

A feudal power like Walmart is on the make, in America, where "There's always lower prices".

This trademark has become a culture, a twisted religion. And the false God said, "Screw your neighbors, while the screwing is good. Smash'n'Grab Capitalism has made a comeback." At the top of the food-chain there are the insiders and stockholders. And for the vassals and peons there is paranoia in the workplace, and a pox on any signal of worker solidarity. Even in the land of Washington and Lincoln, there is a war waged on the quality of life: subsistence or below-subsistence wages, timeclock swindles that make people work off the clock.

And above all else, there is the evil of "Always lower prices"--the obscene smiley face-- that covers up the horror of sweatshop labor, on the supply-end, and leaves employees (so-called "associates") dangling on welfare", at the sales-end.

The whole system, in which customers earn and buy, is being diminished, jot by jot, year by year. This methodology is subversive and gradual; and "Always lower prices" is a slogan that works like a drug, to control the mood and maintain the stimulus. Walmart is the 21st Century's premier retail monster: dictating terms to employees, vendors, overseas suppliers, as it pushes into communities with--and sometimes without-- the consent of the governed.

Meanwhile, another space in the nation's history books is being prepared, for the latest outbreak of vulgarized religion and vulgar patriotism.

The Bush Administration's Smash'n'Grab operation in Iraq has gone tragically awry; since our leaders didn't expect so much "interference". Notwithstanding the US Army (whose job was just to "smash the storefront") there remain the sublet mercenaries, and the Halliburtons that handle the handling fees, and the government and Iraqi puppet agents, in charge of the transfer of assets, infrastructure and businesses.

Journalist Greg Palast has presented the following chronology of George W. Bush's pre-war planning, that began in early 2001, with Cheney's secretive Energy Summit, on the heels of State Department screenings of favored Iraqis , possible replacements for Saddam Hussein:
  • "October/November 2001: Then--[Deputy] Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz"..."convince[s] the Administration to junk the State Department "coup" plan, in favor of an invasion and occupation that could remake the economy of Iraq. "..."[The plan] scopes out the "sale of all state enterprises"..."especially in the oil and supporting industries."
  • "2002: Grover Norquist and other corporate lobbyists meet secretly with Defense, State and Treasury officials to ensure the invasion plans for Iraq include plans for protecting "property rights" . The result was a pre-invasion scheme to sell off Iraq's oil field, banks, electric systems, and even change the country's copyright laws to the benefit of the lobbyist's clients. Occupation chief Paul Bremer would later order these giveaways into Iraqi law."
  • "Fall 2002: --Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil USA, is brought in by the Pentagon to plan the management of Iraq's oil fields. "There were plans," says Carroll, "maybe even too many plans," --but none disclosed to the public nor even the US Congress."
  • "January 2003: --Robert Ebel, former CIA oil analyst, is sent, BBC learns, to London to meet with Fahdil Chalabi to plan terms for taking over Iraq's oil."
  • "March 2003: --Defense Department is told in confidence by US Energy Administrator Guy Caruso that Iraq's oil fields are incapable of a massive increase in output. Despite this intelligence, Dep. Secretary Wolfowitz testifies to Congress that invasion will be a free ride. He swears, "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be US taxpayer money...We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." a deliberate fabrication promoted by the Administration, an insider told BBC, as "part of the sales pitch" for war."
Intertviewed on Fox News, Secretary of State Condi Rice recently said, "[T]he Administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment in Iraq." [my emphasis]

The Secretary immediately qualified her statement, by saying that she didn't imply military means, but primarily suggested a continued relationship with the country.

The President, of course, didn't mention a generational commitment when he was pitching the Iraq war to Congress; that wouldn't have been a good sales point. He said that the war on terror was a generational commitment; and much later he said that the war in Iraq was "the central front in the war on terror".

Republican America today is an alliance between the ruling class and the luckless people who covet that kind of power. But at the end of the Civil War, in the 19th Century, President Lincoln understood that all which America had suffered was an expiation of the sin of slavery: the blood wrung in bitterness from the backs of slaves, placed on a sacred scale, and set to balance by soldiers' blood at Gettysburg and elsewhere on the tormented landscape.Sin and expiation form a recurring theme in American history; and we haven't done nearly enough healing. In the wicked days we have seen, nothing is so good for the soul, than to remember the best people who have passed our way. Simone Weil was a person like this. In her life it's possible to recognize what solidarity and compassion signify, and why we can't live without these things.

The death of Simone Weil is about saintliness. This French woman who lived too brief a life, grew up in a Jewish family, a brilliant philosopher and religious thinker. During World War II, she escaped occupied France, and by way of New York, reached wartime Britain. In a hospital there, in a country where food was strictly rationed, she stopped eating. She refused all nourishment, including intravenous, because as she said, children were starving to death in her country.

From her writings, Weil presents us with another perspective of the Great Beast,--or the social Beast,--as she sometimes called it. This Beast, first outlined by Plato, is actually not the property of any particular political affiliation or specific religion; but arises when people cannot discriminate between the sacred and profane, but only think they can, as a group.
"The collective is the object of all idolatry, this it is which chains us to the earth. In the case of avarice, gold is the social order. In the case of ambition, power is the social order."
It is as Plato warned us, because those who adore the Great Beast, take refuge in "the prejudices and reactions" of the collective, and its spokesmen; and "all personal search for truth and goodness" suffers from this attachment.

The social Beast sits front-and-center at those carefully staged and screened rallies for the President, riding his policy bandwagon. Those who have been groomed and ideologically filtered, wave hundreds of little plastic flags, and scream at their Leader's imbecilic sylables, and grow quiet on cue. Radical Republicans rejoice in the Beast.

And the Beast is attractive to some in the Democratic ranks, especially those who cry out that we should "stay the course" in Iraq; notwithstanding the President's intended aggression, going in there, and the aggression he still intends.

All that is worst in Americans, in their collective "Beast",--whether it is an outmoded notion of world supremacy, or an unhealthy idea of righteousness, or an addiction to SUVs,--is considered to be absolutely indispensable.
"The service of the false God (of the social Beast under whatever form it may be) purifies evil by eliminating its horror. Nothing seems evil to those who serve it, except failure in its service."
--Simone Weil, Gravity & Grace, p, 221

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Continuing my interview of Jubal Durfee, whom I met at the gun show (See Part I below.) To recap: Jubal is in his mid-thirties, active in Republican politics in his little hometown of Bee Keeper, Arkansas. He was at the gun show to buy his son a birthday present--a brand new AK-47 assault rifle. Billy just turned fifteen. The boy took off to look at guns while his father and I sat in the café and chatted.

THOLOS: What is your thinking about God, as far as His position on this war is concerned? Do you basically believe that God is on our side?

JUBAL: What other side is there?

THOLOS: What about people in other countries. Maybe they think God is on their side.

JUBAL: Well, I think they’re in for a disappointment.

THOLOS: Are you saying God only loves Americans?

JUBAL: No, I think He loves everybody alike. But He demands faithfulness. He’s a jealous God. He wants everybody on His team. If you’re not on His team, then He just figures you’re lost to the Devil, and there’s nothin’ he can do to help you. And that applies to Americans as much as anyone else in the world.

THOLOS: Do you think God was on our side in the Vietnam conflict?

JUBAL: Of course I do.

THOLOS: Why do you think we lost that war?

JUBAL: Well, I don’t think we lost, really. I mean, we pulverized the holy fuckin’ shit out of ‘em, didn’t we? We killed a couple million of those little gook bastards, whereas we only lost about fifty-four thousand on our side. Does that sound like we lost? Don’t sound like it to me. I just think we got weak, that’s all. We let the dopers, the hippies, the fairies and the radicals, like George McGovern, have their way. So, we pulled out early. Nixon was on the right track, though.

THOLOS: You mean, with his bombing campaigns?

JUBAL: You bet.

THOLOS: So you think we should have continued bombing them?

JUBAL: I just think you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to win people over to Jesus.

THOLOS: Even if it means killing them all?

JUBAL: Well, I believe in ferocious war, ‘cause that’s what’s called for in the Bible. Look, God gave us life, man! God gave us this beautiful creation! The only thing He asks in return—the only thing—is a little faithfulness. Is that too much to ask? I, for one, don’t think so. And that’s why I think it’s so important right now to elect candidates who have an ironclad belief in their creator. Nixon was one of those people—he was a Mennonite, I think, or somethin’ like that—so he had a deep faith in God, and he was willing to do whatever it took.

THOLOS: Actually, he was a Quaker.

JUBAL: Whatever.

THOLOS: Quakers are usually pacifists. They’re usually found among the peace demonstrators.

JUBAL: Well, maybe they lost their way since Nixon’s time. I wouldn’t be surprised. But he was on a path, see? And now, George W. Bush is continuing on that same path. And this guy that came out of his hidey hole after thirty years and said he was Deep Throat and helped to bring Nixon down is nothin’ but a coward and a traitor to our country. I think they oughta put him up in front of a firing squad, myself.

THOLOS: But Nixon lied and committed crimes. Do you think it was wrong to try to bring him and the other Watergate criminals to justice?

JUBAL: I think they were trying to do what they knew was right for the country. Does that make ‘em criminals?

THOLOS: Then, you think lying and stealing are okay as long as the cause is right?

JUBAL: I think there’s such a thing as lies for personal gain, and we all know that’s a sin. But then there’s such another thing as lies for God.

THOLOS: Lies for God?

JUBAL: Yeah.

THOLOS: And lies for God are okay?

JUBAL: Look, I think God is out to win as many converts over to his side as He can before the End Times. I think if I was to tell a lie that resulted in just one person bein’ saved on this whole planet, that God would pat me on the back and say, “Good for you, Jubal! Now, come on up here and sit beside me!” We’re in a war, you see? A war for peoples’ souls. And in a war, you do what you have to.

THOLOS: So, you think Bush’s lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a good lie? In other words, it was a lie for God?

JUBAL: Well, I don’t think he lied about those weapons, myself. I think they’re out there, somewhere. They’re in Iran or Syria, or somewhere, and we’ll find ‘em one of these days, and then a lot of people in this country and around the world will be eating their words. All liberals, I imagine. But even if it was a lie, yeah, I think it was a lie for the right reason. Saddam was an evil tyrant. We needed to get him out. And I think Bush is just trying to do what he believes God wants him to do.

THOLOS: About 95% of the rest of the world is in disagreement with this war and with the policies of the Bush Administration.

JUBAL: Well, I’m not surprised. Look, we finally have a president who believes in God, who puts God above everything else. Of course, the rest of the world’s out of step with that! Most of the world is a Godless place! I think there’s a reason why people are choosin’ up sides right now. And I just hope, for their sakes, they start makin’ the right choices.

THOLOS: Because the “End Times” are coming?

JUBAL: Absolutely. Jesus is comin’ back, and He’s not a happy camper. You remember when Bush said, “You’re either with us or against us”?


JUBAL: Lot of people thought he was bein’ a bully, tryin’ to talk tough or somethin’. I remember the press tried to make a big deal out of it. But that wasn’t it at all.

THOLOS: It wasn’t?

JUBAL: No. He just meant you’re either on God’s side or you’re on the Devil’s side, that’s all. He was speakin’ Biblically, you see. He was testifyin’ for God. Man, I just loved it when he said that! See, all of us in the Christian community—we knew what he meant. We sat up and said, “Finally! Somebody that gets it!—somebody that understands!” Man, it just got me so stirred up! I was pumped for days after that. (He wipes a tear from his eye.) See, you really have to pay attention when Bush talks. He’s way smarter than most people give him credit for.

THOLOS: I believe you.

JUBAL: Do you wanta know why that guy’s so strong?


JUBAL: Because of his beliefs, that’s why. And what’s the one thing his enemies are tryin’ to do right now? What are they focused on?

THOLOS: I don’t know. What?

JUBAL: They’re focused on his beliefs! They’re tryin’ to tear down his faith. Makes sense, don’t it? But they can’t do it! There’s no way! And the more they try to tear him down, the stronger he gets. Shit, I hear all this liberal talk about how Bush is just some frat boy, oh, he’s not his own man, it’s really Cheney runnin’ the show, and all that baloney. Well, don’t you believe it. He’s in charge, all right. He’s his own man. Hell, Bush makes Bill Clinton look like a little girl. Remember when they started in on ol’ Bill about that blowjob he got off’a Monica? Remember that? Shit, he just folded up. Tried to lie his way out of it. What a jackass! Looked like a kid that’d been caught with his pants down by his Sunday school teacher. You know what I would have done?

THOLOS: No, what?

JUBAL: First time they ever asked me that question about Monica, I would’a looked them assholes straight in the eye and said, “It’s none of your goddamn business!” And I would’a kept sayin’ it till they finally quit and went home. And that would’a been the end of it. Case closed. There never would have been a case ‘cause I never would have lied in the first place. And that’s what’s so great about George W. Bush. He don’t apologize for nothin’. He don’t wiggle-waggle or make excuses, even if he’s wrong. And he has been wrong a few times. So what. Nobody gives a flyin’ shit. Why? ‘Cause he don’t give a flyin’ purple shit! And the whole country just loves that! Really, they do. Look, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Okay? Are you ready? Here it is: Americans don’t care what their president does. They really don’t. Lie, cheat, steal—even kill, maybe, but I’m tellin’ you, they don’t care. All they want is somebody to look ‘em in the eye, tell ‘em what he’s gonna do, and then do it. And if people don’t like it, fuck ‘em! And G.W. does just that. Now, you take this PBS thing. There’s a good example of Bush in action. He wants to cut their funding, right? Wants to break ‘em. Well, okay. I really wasn’t thinkin’ about PBS till Bush got focused on it. Hardly ever watch it, myself. But yeah, I can see they got too liberal, so okay, let’s break ‘em. Same thing with Medicare and Social Security. I wasn’t focused on them, either. I didn’t know there was all these problems till he pointed ‘em out. But, see, that’s what I like about Bush—and I’ve heard a lot of my friends back home in Bee Keeper say the same thing—is not so much what he does, as how he does it. It’s the way he sets his sights on these things and gets after ‘em. You know, if he thinks somethin’ needs fixin’, he’ll fix it. But on the other hand, if he thinks somethin’ needs breakin’, he’ll, by God, break it all the way. No half measures. And you gotta respect that. You know who Bush reminds me of?


JUBAL: Clint Eastwood. You know—The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly? The no-name dude with the serape over his shoulders and the little cigar in his teeth? Check it out, sometime. Bush even squints a little like Clint, and kinda mumbles like him when he makes a speech. And who in this country don’t like Clint Eastwood, huh? And why is that? ‘Cause he never hesitates, that’s why. Never flinches in the face of fear. He just rides in and cleans up the town. Just like we’re doin’ in Iraq. And that’s the difference between Bush and Bill Clinton. I actually think they were a little hard on ol’ Bill with that Monica business, but hell, he asked for it. Maybe he’s got a guilt complex, or maybe Hillary’s got him pussy-whipped, I don’t know. But all that’s beside the point since he’s goin’ to hell, anyway.

THOLOS: Clinton’s going to hell?

JUBAL: I would bet on it.

THOLOS: I thought Clinton was Southern Baptist.

JUBAL: Nope. He betrayed the church. Him and Gore both.

THOLOS: Gore’s going to hell, too?

JUBAL: I imagine so.

THOLOS: What about Tipper?

JUBAL: Jury’s still out on her. But the main thing you need to know is that all these people that are tryin’ to run God out of our country right now are not gonna succeed. We’re forming an army to fight ‘em and we’re gonna win—big time!

THOLOS: An army for God?

JUBAL: That’s right. An army of believers.

THOLOS: Who do you think is trying to run God out of the country?

JUBAL: C’mon, man, you know they’re takin’ prayer out of our schools. They don’t even want God in the Pledge of Allegiance. They tried to make Roy Moore remove the Ten Commandments from the Alabama state capitol. But he wouldn’t do it, God bless him! So the bastards took his judgeship away from him. Can you imagine? Man, you know somethin’s dead wrong with this country when everybody holds up this Deep Throat dipshit as a hero, and then turns around and spits on a real hero like Roy Moore. But that’s all right, ‘cause now, our guys in the Senate are kickin’ some liberal butt. We’re gonna get all the judges we want, including the Supreme Court, and there’s not a thing these faggots can do about it, except sit on their hands and watch it happen. Before we’re done, we’ll have the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and schoolroom in America. And Roy Moore’s face will be up on Mount Rushmore.

THOLOS: No kidding? Roy Moore’s face on Mount Rushmore?

JUBAL: I know it sounds kinda wild, don’t it? But I guarantee you it’s gonna happen. Me and some of my buddies have already formed a committee to get it done.

THOLOS: But you live in Arkansas. Mount Rushmore’s in South Dakota.

JUBAL: Well, you gotta start somewhere. So far, we got the City Council to vote on a referendum—the vote was unanimous, by the way. And we got over eight-hundred signatures on a petition to the governor—that’s just about the entire population of Bee Keeper! I’ve been in contact with people in South Dakota and I’ve written letters to Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, and they like the idea. See, it’s what we call grassroots politics. Maybe you’ve heard of it, I don’t know. You liberals see four guys hunkered over a table in a café up in the mountains somewhere, and you think, “Oh, there’s some hillbillies. How quaint.” Just remember—these same hillbillies are about to get Roe V. Wade thrown on the ash heap. So, I don’t think puttin’ Roy Moore’s face up on Mount Rushmore is gonna be too big a challenge for us. Yeah, it may seem kinda far-fetched just now. But once we get the Ten Commandments installed in every courthouse in America, most people are gonna remember that it was Roy Moore who first had the idea and who refused to back down when he was ordered to take ‘em out. By the way, does he remind you of somebody?


JUBAL: Roy Moore.

THOLOS: I don’t know.

JUBAL: How ‘bout that nigra lady back in the sixties—you know, the one that refused to give up her seat on the bus?

THOLOS: Rosa Parks?

JUBAL: Yeah, her. Now, let’s be fair, here, and admit that what Roy Moore did is ever' bit as big as what that nigra did. And everybody treats her like Jesus. She’s written up in all the history books, and even got her face on a postage stamp. And I just think Roy Moore defending the Ten Commandments is a way bigger deal than somebody keepin’ their seat on a bus. Anyway, it’s high time we added some new faces up on Mount Rushmore. Maybe Karl Rove oughta be up there, too.

THOLOS: Karl Rove?

JUBAL: Sure, why not.

THOLOS: Would you rank Karl Rove alongside Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson?

JUBAL: Is Lincoln up there? That’s right, he is, isn’t he? Well, I think Karl’s done an awful lot for our country. I think he’s had a huge impact. He’s a big reason why we have so many Born Agains runnin’ almost every office of our government, now. The country owes a huge debt to Karl and Grover, and G.W., too.

THOLOS: You think George W. Bush should be on Mount Rushmore?

JUBAL: Well, sure, if there’s room for him. I think he might prove to be one of our greatest presidents.

THOLOS: There may not be room for all those new faces up there.

JUBAL: Maybe not. Maybe it’s time we blasted the old ones off. I think everybody’s tired of lookin’ at ‘em. They’ve been up there a long time. If we clean ‘em off, then we can put some new ones up there. What do you think?

THOLOS: Well, that’s a heck of an idea.

More to come. --Grayson.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Here’s my interview (Part I) of Jubal Durfee, whom I recently met at the gun show. He was there to buy his son his “first” assault rifle—an AK-47—on the occasion of the boy’s fifteenth birthday.

I actually found Durfee to be an interesting and loquacious character, if somewhat long-winded. I think he rather delighted having the audience of someone he obviously considered to be from the “enemy’s camp.”

We spoke in the café area of the gun show. We got fresh cups of coffee and then I started by asking him what he did for a living. He said he was in the roofing business. Married to a school teacher with two sons, Durfee has been active in local politics for about ten years, and, for the last three, served as Republican precinct chair in his little hometown of Bee Keeper, Arkansas. In addition to his politicking, Durfee is a Civil War reenactor—a sergeant in the Bee Keeper Irregulars of the 33rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment. He said he was one of hundreds of reenactors who performed in the movie, Gettysburg. I asked him if he considered himself a “Neocon” or just a “garden variety Republican.”

JUBAL: Well, I ain’t sure what the difference is. What I think I am is just a good ol’ garden variety patriot.

THOLOS: What is that to you?

JUBAL: A patriot? Well, that’s somebody who loves God, this country and its flag—in that order. And he loves ‘em so much that he’s willin’ to put his life on the line for ‘em. And anybody who doesn’t love those three things, and ain’t a hundred percent willin’ to die for ‘em at the drop of a hat, well they just don’t need to be here. They need to be somewheres else.

THOLOS: Would you want your son to fight in a war?

JUBAL: You bet I would. His older brother, James, is in Iraq right now, fightin’ for freedom. I would hope that when the time comes—and I’m pretty sure it will—that Billy will take his rightful place on the front lines and be a man.

THOLOS: Even if it means coming home in a body bag?

JUBAL: I hope that don’t happen. But yeah. Even then. I’m prepared for whatever happens. And I think he is, too. See, when you have God in your life, then you have a strength and a power that nothing and nobody can defeat. It prepares you. It’s your foundation. Your armor. I would no more dream of leavin’ my house in the morning without God in my heart, than I would head off to the firing range without bullets in my AR-15. And I’ve tried to give my boys that foundation, so they can get out there and do what they have to do when the time comes.

THOLOS: Did you fight in a war, yourself?

JUBAL: I sure as hell did. I was in Desert Storm, 110th Armored Division. And you know what? I was never afraid for one minute, even though I knew every minute that I could die. Now, that’s the power of God. (He laughs.) I just don’t see how anyone can deny God. I’m living proof that God exists. And so are you. And so are all these people here—all living proof that God is real. See that dog over there? That’s proof that God exists.

THOLOS: What about all the children in Iraq, killed or maimed by our bombs? Are they proof of God’s existence?

JUBAL: They’re proof that God don’t tolerate our enemies.

THOLOS: Children are our enemies?

JUBAL: When you’re exterminatin’ roaches, you don’t worry about the babies, do you? In fact, it’s better if you can get the babies along with the eggs. At least, that’s what I was always told. I don’t mean to sound callous, but these kiddoes are bein’ raised by their parents to hate Americans. Sooner or later they’ll strap bombs on theirselves and come after us.

THOLOS: I see. You said that a patriot was somebody who loves God and this country—meaning, the U.S. Do you think it’s possible there could be patriots in other places in the world who love their countries as much as we love ours?

JUBAL: Well, I just think God has a plan for America—that’s what I meant by that. He has a mission for us. He wants us to spread Democracy throughout the world, like we’re doin’ right now in Iraq. And if everything goes as planned, we’ll be doin’ the same thing in Syria and Iran, and probably North Korea. Maybe China later on down the line. Hell, I just might sign up again, myself. I’m not too old, yet. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get a chance to fight alongside my two boys. Whoo-ee! Wouldn’t that be somethin’! I can’t imagine a better high than that. See, I believe God wants us to spread His word among all these nations, and get as many as possible to turn away from their false religions and false gods.

THOLOS: Is the Muslim religion a false religion, in your opinion?

JUBAL: Why, hell yes! Are you shittin’ me? It’s a heathen religion, straight from the devil’s mouth. Personally, I wasn’t all that upset over that Newsweek article. You know, the one about them flushin’ the Koran down the toilet? Oh, I know they wrote it to make more people hate us, and I’m glad to see ‘em gettin’ their butts kicked for it. But hell, that wasn’t the first time I’ve heard of the Koran bein’ flushed down a commode or stomped on by some guard. But I just don’t know why they’re makin’ such a big fuss over it. I mean, just because a few people got inflamed? Is that all? Uh, hey, fellas! I think that’s the point, ain’t it--to inflame all these Middle Eastern bastards? Ain’t that the whole reason for this war? For any war? To inflame the other side? Duh! What do they think this is, a garden party? Shit, man, these are our enemies. That’s their book. What else are we s’posed to do with it? Put it on display somewhere? Treat it like the Holy Grail? Shoot. Gitmo ain’t s’posed to be a day at the spa anymore than San Quintin. That ain’t why it’s there. Or Abu Grab, either. (Ghraib.) Nope, you’ll never convince me that George W. Bush was upset over that! No way, man! You notice he ain’t said nothin’ about it. Not a peep out of him. He lets Scotty (Scott McClellen) do all his talkin’ for him. Gotta placate the lefties, I guess. But we all know G.W.’s a Bible man all the way. I’ll bet you my entire gun collection he was slappin’ his thigh when he heard about them flushin’ the Koran.

THOLOS: Do you think that detaining people indefinitely in places like Guantanimo and Abu Ghraib is okay? And do you think torturing them is acceptable, according to our Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions?

JUBAL: Well, I think our new Attorney General—

THOLOS: Alberto Gonzales--

JUBAL: Yeah, Gonzales. I think he was dead on about the Geneva Conventions bein’ quaint nowadays. And as far as rights are concerned, I don’t think we should be extending rights to terrorists. That’s my opinion. Rights are for people that earn ‘em.

THOLOS: Most of the detainees have not been proven to be terrorists.

JUBAL: Well, that’s a hard thing to prove, I suppose. But we can’t afford to take chances with people like this. People who hate us because of our freedoms. And as far as torture goes, well, I think the press kinda blew that out of proportion, which we all know is somethin’ they're inclined to do. Okay, so maybe we’re shockin’ some prisoners a little, or stackin’ ‘em like cordwood. Hell, I’ve seen pictures of high school cheerleaders formin’ human pyramids and I never heard anybody boo-hooing over that, or callin’ it “torture.” I’ve heard of fraternity hazings that were worse than what that little gal (Lindy England) was doin’ to those ol’ boys at Abu Grab (Ghraib), puttin’ dog collars on ‘em, havin' 'em jack off, and all that. C'mon, lighten up everybody! She was just havin’ a little fun, there. Any Boy Scout would'a done the same in her position. The point is you gotta be able to interrogate the enemy, get information out of him, somehow. And how you gonna do that? I doubt if he’s gonna give up anything by offerin’ him a tootsie roll. At least we’re not cuttin’ their heads off, like they’re doin’ to our people. But, hey, maybe we oughta jump in and do some of that ourselves. You know, for every one of ours, cut off one of theirs. And run it on TV, too. Broadcast it all over Iraq. I bet that’d give those insurgents somethin’ to think about.

THOLOS: Yes, I imagine it would.

JUBAL: Instead, what are we doin’? We’re punishin’ the guards—that girl and her boyfriend—puttin’ ‘em in prison! For what? For doin’ their goddamn jobs! Now, that’s just plain crazy! First place, it sends the wrong message to our enemies. Makes us look soft. Second, it confuses our own people. You can’t say to a soldier one day, “Okay, boy, you’re a killer, now, so go on out there and kill people.” And then the next day, say to him, “Wait! Hold the phone! I didn’t mean kill just anybody. I only meant kill the right ones—just the ones we approve of. Government certified.” Now, you got yourself a confused soldier out there, ‘cause you’ve put doubt in his mind. Doubt is poison to a soldier. Now, he’s liable to hesitate before he pulls the trigger and that moment’s hesitation could cost him his life or his buddies lives. Well, same thing with these guards. One day Rumsfeld's tellin’ ‘em to yank some Arab’s fingernails out with a pair of vice-grips, and the next day he's sayin’, “No, no, leave the fingernails. Just slap ‘em around a little. Or better yet, flush the Koran down the toilet.” And then still another day, he comes in sayin’, “Nope, don’t even think about flushin’ the Koran today. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t get these rules right, we’ll boot you out of the military and put your ass in prison for twenty years!” Well, I just think that’s the wrong way to treat your people. Now, I know Rumsfeld and Bush are worried about the moderates in the party. The softies. They don’t wanta appear to condone torture, even though we all know they do. And so do most Americans, if the ratings of that TV show, 24, is any indication. Ain’t a week goes by somebody don’t get tortured on that show, and nobody flinches over that. So I think they’re makin’ a bigger deal out of this than they need to.

THOLOS: You really think so?

JUBAL: Oh, sure. Look, you remember when that story broke in the news—about Abu Grab (Ghraib)? And they had all those pictures they took over there, the ones with that girl guard (Lindy England) and all them naked Arabs? Okay, I guess you could say it created a stink for awhile. Yeah, Rumsfeld might have broken a sweat for about half a minute. A few people, a few Congressmen, bitched and moaned for a week or two. They said how it was all so "shameful" and “un-American,” and all that bullcrap. You know, the same tired ol’ bunch of liberals raisin' a ruckus. By the way, did you ever see a dog wake himself up out of a deep sleep?

THOLOS: Beg your pardon?

JUBAL: You know, like an ol' coon dog? How sometimes, they’ll just sort of bark themselves awake? You've seen 'em do that, haven't you? Maybe a flea bit him, or somethin', so he barks himself awake. Then, what does he do? He gets up for a second, turns around, then drops back down, and in less than a minute, he’s asleep again. As if nothin' had happened. Know what I mean?

THOLOS: Sure, sure.

JUBAL: Well, these liberals kinda remind me of that dog. Once in awhile, they just kinda bark themselves awake. You know, they’ll blink and look around; maybe they’ll notice somethin’ goin’ on that offends their sensibilities a little bit. And that’ll make ‘em kinda barkey and gripey for a minute or two, like that ol’ dog. But it never lasts long. And pretty soon, you’ll see ‘em yawn, and turn around once or twice, and—plop!—back down they go! Before you know it, they’re off snoozin’ again, in a deep slumber, leavin’ the rest of us to get on with the work of the country. And that’s your liberals—especially the ones that pass for Congressmen these days. Point is, I don’t hear anybody complainin’ about torture. Do you?

THOLOS: How about Amnesty International?

JUBAL: Amnesty Who? C’mon, man, who gives a shit about what some “Amnesty” outfit thinks or says. Who are they, anyway? Nobody knows who they are. Nobody in this country, that’s for sure. Shit, that’s like sayin’ the U.N. don’t like somethin’. The U.N. didn’t like the war. So what? Now, we’re drop-kickin’ their asses. We’ll do the same with this Amnesty bunch. What I want to know is, does anybody in this country give a purple flyin’ shit about torture? That’s the real question, and the only one Bush needs to look at. How ‘bout it? Anybody in the press? In the Congress? Show me one Democrat or one Republican whinin’ over that issue today. What about the churches? Any Catholics worried about torture? No? How ‘bout Methodists or Jews or Presbyterians or Pentecostals or Disciples of Christ? Well, I can tell you right now, us Baptists ain’t losin’ any sleep over it, either. So, there’s your answer, George. Which means that all this hoopla over these guards is a waste of time. They’re just scapegoatin’ those poor bastards. They oughta put medals on ‘em and send ‘em back to work. I guarantee you nobody would notice. Michael Jackson—now there's what people are worried about. The trial of some deviant rock star. Or who Brad Pitt’s fuckin’ this week. I guarantee you that’s all people care about in this country.

(Look for Part II on this site!)

--Grayson Harper.

Friday, June 10, 2005


More of my adventures at the local gun show:

Booth Number 649

I stopped at several booths here and there and talked to different sellers and listened to their spiels. It was all quite entertaining, actually. I took a break for a cup of coffee and a donut, then stopped at booth number 649, owned and operated by Luther Bavitch and his wife, Melissa. Luther’s booth was mostly all knives, everything from the smallest Swiss Army Knife with two folding stainless steel blades, that would easily fit in your watch pocket, up to some really big Bowie knives with elk horn handles and grisly serrated bayonets. Somehow, I didn’t think those knives were for cleaning fish.

Hanging on the back wall of the booth was a beautiful four-foot long Samurai sword in a shiny gold scabbard decorated with intricate engravings. Price for the sword--$10,000. What made it so valuable, Mr. Bavitch said, was that it was about five-hundred years old and that it had been used by the actor, Toshiro Mifune, in the movie, The Seven Samurai. Well, I didn’t know whether to believe that or not, and even if it were true, I’m not sure that would make it worth ten grand, except in Mr. Bavitch’s mind. But I suppose it’s worth whatever someone’s willing to pay for it. To give some credence to his claim, Mr. Bavitch had posted several movie stills of Toshiro Mifune right under the sword in little black plastic frames. Sure enough, in each picture, the famed Japanese actor was shown either wearing a big sword on his hip or wielding one in his hands. But the pictures were too murky to be able to definitely identify his sword as the one hanging in Luther Bavitch’s booth.

Still, Mr. Bavitch was a jolly sort—very thin, stringy looking fella with long black hair, a ring in his ear and tattoos on his arms. He wore black blue jeans and a black sleeveless sweatshirt emblazoned with gold script that proclaimed: “Luther’s Knife World, Carson City, Nevada.” His talk was constant, sprinkled with a lot of jokes, many of which were somewhat off-color. Every time he told an off-color one, his wife, Melissa, would laugh and say, “Oh, Luther! You’re so bad!” She sat to one side, in a high-backed rocking chair, doing cross-stitch. In contrast to her husband, whose arms resembled shredded beef jerky, her arms were about as big around as fair sized watermelons. Her pale white and blue checked dress looked homemade. It fell to about mid-calf and tied in back with a bow. Not unlike the kind of dress you might see on a five-year-old. She had long lustrous blonde hair with little girl bangs and her skin was creamy white. She looked like she lived on a diet of mutton and fresh goat’s milk.

They both chatted like magpies and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the frenetic gun-show atmosphere. Melissa rocked and worked right along as she talked, never missing a stitch. Her cross-stitch featured a house with a man on one side and a woman on the other, both wearing overalls. There was a dog and a cat, a little boy and a little girl. And a printed legend over the whole thing that said: “A House Is Not A Home Without Jesus.”

I asked them if they had any children and they said, yes, they did, indeed, have a boy and a girl. Their names were Sammy and Shelby. Melissa said she was going to cross-stitch their names under them, but she just hadn’t gotten to it, yet. She had already put “Mother” and “Father” under the mother and father figures. “Oh, I would love to have three or four more kiddoes,” she said, “if I could just get him off the road for a few days.” Her whole body shook with laughter. She looked like she could handle having a few more kiddoes.

The Filibuster

While I stood there talking to Luther and Melissa, another fella walked up with his young son. He introduced himself as Jubal Durfee and his son, Billy. Jubal was about thirty-five. He wore a T-shirt that said, “Christians aren’t perfect, just saved”; his blue baseball cap featured a hand gripping a large pistol with the words, “Keep Back” printed underneath. He looked like he worked out—his arms were big and muscular, he had a bulging neck and his pecs stood out through his T-shirt. Billy looked about fifteen, wore a Nike T-shirt, baggy pants and a baseball cap screwed on backwards.

Jubal asked Luther some questions about knives, then we all somehow got into a discussion about the recent fight in the Senate over the filibuster issue. Of course, Jubal and Luther were pretty upset that certain Republicans had compromised. That’s when Melissa chimed in. “Well,” she said, looking up from her cross-stitch, “far as I’m concerned, John McCain is toast. He’s a traitor to our party, and we just need to kick his sorry butt out, along with all those other moderates.” I noted her smile was gone for the first time. Now, her soft round face was flushed and she was panting a little. You’d have thought the Republicans had come out in favor of abortion instead of merely brokering a compromise in which the filibuster can stay as long as the Democrats don’t use it, and the Republicans will still be able to seat the most zealous right-wing judges since the Salem witch trials.

“Yeah,” said Jubal Durfee. “I’ve just about gotten my fill of these moderates in the party. They’re out to destroy our country.”

Jubal’s voice cracked slightly. For a second, I thought he was going to cry. I couldn’t help but be amused over all this grieving over “moderates.” It seemed only yesterday, it was the “liberals” who were the devil incarnate. Today, it’s the “moderates.” I wondered who it would be tomorrow. But I’ve heard that in some circles nowadays, even G. W. isn’t considered rabid enough anymore.

More to come, including an interview of Mr. Durfee! A real eye opener!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


"What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm?"

--Herman Melville, Moby Dick, p. 534-5
A Great Leviathan has appeared periodically in American History.

Herman Melville wrote about this "vast, shadowed bulk still half blending with the blue of the sea",..."floating up from the undiscoverable bottom"..."crooked rows of white, glistening teeth". This was his Moby Dick, the largest of American metaphors. Tangled in the troubled soul of Ahab, the captain of the Pequod, we have the dilemma and the tragedy of men, signed on together as shipmates, who follow a leader whose transgression and vengeful obsession can have but one end.

Civilized customs have been cast aside nowadays, and Melville wouldn't recognize this America. But the White Whale, the Leviathan would be easy to spot. Much of its bulk edges toward the shore of the so-called "central front in the war on terror". In the quagmire of Iraq, there is a much larger transgression and obsession at work. And those fundamentalists in Afghanistan and elsewhere, who had a hand in collapsing the Twin Towers in New York, have less to fear than ordinary Iraqis, killed in the crossfire, blown up by insurgent bombs, or shot at checkpoints by their liberators.

President Bush is waging a real war; but it is a war with dissent. His war is a war against contradiction, against world opinion, against any disruption of authority or frustration of his ambition.

George Bush is not suspected of having a great or troubled soul; he is no Captain Ahab, in that respect. But while the boats are being lowered for the final assault on Moby Dick, an illegal weapon has been discovered in his arsenal. Torture.
"With finger pointed and eye leveled at the Pequod, the beggar-like stranger stood a moment, as if in a troubled reverie; then starting a little, turned and said:--

"Ye've shipped, have ye? Names down on the papers? Well, well, what's signed, is signed; and what's to be, will be; and then again, perhaps it won't be, after all. Any how, it's all fixed and arranged a'ready; and some sailors or other must go with him, I suppose; as well these as any other men, God pity 'em! Morning to ye, shipmates, morning; the ineffable heavens bless ye; I'm sorry I stopped ye."..."Oh! when ye get there, tell 'em I've concluded not to make one of 'em."

"Ah, my dear fellow; you can't fool us that way--you can't fool us. It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him."

"Morning to ye, shipmates, morning."

""Morning it is," said I. "Come along, Queequeg; let's leave this crazy man. But stop, tell me your name, will you?"

""Elijah."" (Ibid, pp. 93-4)
The President, George W. Bush, was still standing before the cameras and reporters; he stood as the natural leader for those who pretend not to know about the torture. The President had, as he often has, that strange, comic sense of timing, a trickster's instinct, and his cunning way of presenting himself as an uncomplicated man. He was not there to accept the charges Amnesty International had laid; he was not inclined to express remorse on behalf of his country, or accept accountability for himself or his administration. G.H.W. Bush, the former president, his father, had had a much steadier harpoon hand; but the younger Bush did what he could with the tools of his trade. His best toss was thrown against ex-inmates of the military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba--an entity outside US Territory and beyond the procedural protections of US Law.

The President belittled the men, the victims, he called them enemies of the United States. The former prisoners had never been allowed to appear in a court of law; they were never charged or proven guilty; they were never afforded a presumption of innocence, according to US law. Only mounting international pressure had secured their release.

The President was actually smiling when he said, "[They] disassemble,...that means not tell the truth." Readers should note his comic misuse of the word, disassemble, (to take apart), instead of the correct word, dissemble, (to lie). Some have commented on the perfect, comic beat, or interval, between the word, disassemble, and the President's cockeyed definition. But Amnesty International was not in a joking mood; and for their money some disassembly was required. Their expectation was for the United States to dismantle something alright, to "close Guantanamo and disclose the rest."

How many Americans will ship with a Captain like this? What part of this crowd will sign on to commit torture? Which of those onboard will say, "Torture them--but excuse me while I turn my head?"

Amnesty International's spokesperson, Irene Khan, also spoke to reporters, but not in the same venue as President Bush. The Bangladeshi woman read off the following charges:

  • "In 2004,"..."we saw a new and dangerous agenda in the making, rewriting the rules of human rights, discrediting the institutions of international cooperation and usurping the language of justice and freedom to promote policies that create fear and insecurity."
  • "The refusal of the US Administration or US Congress to conduct a full and independent investigation of the use of torture and ill treatment by US officials, despite the public outrage over Abu Ghraib and"..."similar practices in Bagram, Guantanamo and other detention centres under US control."
  • "The US, UK and some European countries [have attempted] to set aside the absolute prohibition of torture and ill treatment by re-definition and "rendering"--or the transfer of prisoners to regimes that are known to use torture."
  • "Under this dangerous agenda, justice is not only denied, it is distorted."
  • "The incommunicado detention of unregistered detainees [ghost detainees] --bring back the practice of "disappearances" so popular with Latin American dictators in the past."
""SHIPMATES, have ye shipped in that ship?"..."Have ye shipped in her?" he repeated.

"You mean the ship Pequod, I suppose," said I, trying to gain a little more time for an uninterrupted look at him.

"Aye, the Pequod--that ship there," he said, drawing back his whole arm and then rapidly shoving it straight out from him, with the fixed bayonet of his pointed finger darted full at the object.

"Yes," said I, "we have just signed the articles."

"Anything down there about your souls?" (Ibid, p. 91)
The boats are cutting their way through the water now. And what thoughts are in the minds of this crew? Their backs are straining as they row; but in the privacy of each heart, there is an Ishmael, the lone survivor of Herman Melville's epic.

The ship and the scattered boats have been encircled by the majestic and enraged Moby Dick, the Leviathan; here it emerges again in American History, throwing the transgression and obsession back on its tormenters. And no one else has survived. One is adrift now with no company, except for conscience,--bobbing up and down beside the debris,--riding the blue and green swell of salt water. Any human being is tiny against the tapestry of the sea.

Commands no longer resonate from presidents or captains, neither those issued from great and troubled souls, or superficial and twisted ones.

Was it Elijah's voice?--was it him, "the beggar-like stranger" who sounded a warning?--or was it another voice, an injunction from the Book of Job? Was that voice mingled among shipmates? Did it rise up the gangplank in the beginning?--when they made their mark or signed their names?

Sunday, June 05, 2005


More on my visit to the local gun show (See below for Part I.)

Oh, Say, Can You See. . . ?

Did I mention flags? Good Lord, they were everywhere, hanging from every post and two-by-four. Patriotic songs blared from speakers located throughout the hall, everything from God Bless America to The Star Spangled Banner. There were plenty of country patriotic songs, as well, which are currently coming off the assembly line at about the same rate as car flags. Songs like Peace On Earth At Mama's House, and, G.W.'s personal favorite, We Are The U.S.A., which was written for the Rally For America. Readers may recall the RFA was a series of Nuremburg style rallies put on around the country by right-wing radio D.J. Glenn Beck. The rallies drew thousands of flag-wavers, just as they drew them in Hitler's day. Nowadays, it's a real testament to the power of advertising and the NRA that they’ve managed to make owning every kind of gun known to man synonymous with patriotism. I saw several vendors where all they had for sale was flags. Besides Old Glory, one booth had a substantial collection of Nazi memorabilia on hand. The guy running the booth, whose name was Derrick, sported a Nazi officer’s coat over a bright red T-shirt and faded Levis. I asked him what was printed on his T-shirt. With a toothy grin, he opened his coat and flashed the sign: “I (Heart) Halliburton.” A German infantry helmet crowned his head. He carried dozens of helmets, uniforms and medals and he had a glass case full of shoulder patches with storm-trooper insignia—the ones with little zigzag lightning bolts on them. I asked Derrick if he sold very many of those. He laughed and said, “Like hot cakes.” Apparently, it’s a favorite symbol of militia groups. He also had about a hundred Nazi flags lined up for sale right alongside the American ones. I think the irony of it was lost on him, though. Ahhh. . .who knows how far Hitler could have gone if he'd only had the NRA!

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wow, what a place. Just looking at everything and listening to all these people talk was wildly fascinating. In a way, it was as if I’d blundered into a Star Wars convention or a massed gathering of Trekkies. I felt like I’d crashed the gates of some outlandish club, where the members have all agreed to certain rules, done the secret handshake, and signed oaths in blood. They all know each other and speak their own language. For instance, most of them seem to know the language of guns and gun law. But they also have their own political language, in which truth and untruth have somehow become inextricably bound together. One strand is Bush’s lies about WMD’s and another is the tangling up of Al Qaeda and bin Laden with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. There are scores of other strands, such as Medicare reform, Social Security reform, Creationism, and “Let’s get government off our backs.” It’s a peculiar blend of reality and fantasy, of religion combined with the ravings of Fox News and right-wing radio jocks. The net result: legions of people whose heads are literally awash with a kind of latter-day folklore: a veritable stew of lies, superstition, paranoia, and wild imaginings having to do with the “end times,” the “Last Judgment,” and the “raptures.” Wherever I happened on any small group of people bunched together, all I had to do was pause and listen awhile. It was like entering another street in one of those strange lost towns in the Twilight Zone.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I'm sorry, folks, but I just have to run this and help spread it around a little. Like manure, you know what I mean? Dang, if it don't sound like a long lost piece of script from a Marx Brothers movie:

McClellan Spars With Press, Says No Need to Notify Bush

By Greg Mitchell

Published: May 12, 2005 5:25 PM ET

NEW YORK On the day after more than 30,000 people -- including the vice president, the first lady, and a former first lady -- were evacuated from their offices or homes in Washington, D.C., but the president, who was biking in Maryland was not notified until the threat passed, reporters grilled Press Secretary Scott McClellan at his daily briefing.

Q: Scott, yesterday the White House was on red alert, was evacuated. The first lady and Nancy Reagan were taken to a secure location. The Vice President was evacuated from the grounds. The Capitol building was evacuated. The continuity of government plan was initiated. And yet the president wasn't told of yesterday's events until after he finished his bike ride, about 36 minutes after the all-clear had been sent. Is he satisfied with the fact that he wasn't notified about this?

McCLELLAN: Yes. I think you just brought up a very good point -- the protocols that were in place after Sept. 11 were followed. The president was never considered to be in danger because he was at an off-site location. The president has a tremendous amount of trust in his Secret Service detail. . . .

Q: The fact that the president wasn't in danger is one aspect of this. But he's also the commander in chief. There was a military operation underway. Other people were in contact with the White House. Shouldn't the commander in chief have been notified of what was going on?

McCLELLAN: John, the protocols that we put in place after Sept. 11 were being followed. They did not require presidential authority for this situation. I think you have to look at each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation. And that's what officials here at the White House were doing. . . .

Q: Even on a personal level, did nobody here at the White House think that calling the president to say, by the way, your wife has been evacuated from the White House, we just want to let you know everything is OK?

McCLELLAN: Actually, all the protocols were followed and people were -- officials that you point out were taken to secure locations or evacuated, in some cases. I think, again, you have to look at the circumstances surrounding the situation, and it depends on the situation and the circumstance. . . .

Q: Nobody thought to say, by the way, this is going on, but it's all under control?

McCLELLAN: And I think it depends on each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation when you're making those decisions.

Q: Isn't there a bit of an appearance problem, notwithstanding the president's safety was not in question, protocols were followed, that today, looking at it, he was enjoying a bike ride, and that recreation time was not considered expendable to inform him of this.

McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, John mentioned 36 minutes after the all-clear. Remember, this was a matter of minutes when all this was happening. . . .

Q: But has the President even indicated that even if everything was followed that he would prefer to be notified, that if the choice is: tell the commander in chief or let him continue to exercise, that he would prefer to be informed?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, it depends on the situation and the circumstances. And you have to take all that into account, and I think that's what people were doing here at the White House, as well as those people that were with the president.

Q: I think there's a disconnect here because, I mean, yesterday you had more than 30,000 people who were evacuated, you had millions of people who were watching this on television, and there was a sense at some point -- it was a short window, a 15-minute window, but there was a sense of confusion among some on the streets. There was a sense of fear. And people are wondering was this not a moment for the president to exercise some leadership, some guidance during that period of time?

MR. McCLELLAN: The president did lead, and the president did that after September the 11th when we put the protocols in place to make sure that situations like this were addressed before it was too late. And that was the case -- that was the case in this situation. . . .

Q: I have one more question. When we walked out of this door yesterday, when those of us who heard that there was a situation, when we walked out of the door, we heard aircraft, jets overhead. There is a concern that that plane came closer to the White House than the White House said, more -- it came within the three-mile radius, it was closer than you --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said that it came within three miles.

Q: OK, but you said three miles. How close --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it came within three miles.

Q: How close was it? Because someone has taken a picture of a plane being escorted on K street. How close was the plane?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I mean, if the Department of Homeland Security or FAA has any additional information, I'm sure --

Q: Scott, how close was it?

McCLELLAN: April, it was within --

Q: You know how close it was. Please tell us.

McCLELLAN: Yes, within three miles. I don't know beyond that. Go ahead.

Q: Might there be something wrong with protocols that render the president unnecessary when the alarm is going off at his house?

McCLELLAN: That's not at all what occurred, Ken. And I would disagree strongly with the way you characterize it for the reasons I started earlier, and that I talked about. This was a situation where the president was in an off-site location. He was not in danger, a situation where protocols have been put in place to address the situation. The protocols were followed. . . .

Q: And those protocols are OK with the president despite the fact that his wife was in a situation where she might have been endangered?

McCLELLAN: She was taken to a secure location, as were some other officials.

Q: And wouldn't he want to know about that as it was happening?

McCLELLAN: He was briefed about the situation.

Q: After it happened.

McCLELLAN: He was briefed about the situation, Ken. And I think that he wants to make sure that the protocols that are in place are followed. The protocols that were in place were followed.

Q: Scott, to follow on the same line of questioning, if there is a possibility that a plane may have to be shot down over Washington, doesn't the President want to be involved in that type of decision?

McCLELLAN: Well, Keith, I think again, it depends on the circumstances in the situation. You have to look at each individual situation and the circumstances surrounding that situation. There are protocols --

Q: Doesn't the President want to be involved in what could be a decision to shoot down a plane over Washington?

McCLELLAN: To answer your question, I was just getting ready to address exactly what you're bringing up. The protocols that were put in place after Sept. 11 include protocols for that, as well. And there are protocols there. They're classified. But they do not require presidential authority. . . .

Q: They don't require presidential authority, but they don't obviate the need for presidential authority, do they? They don't say the president cannot be involved --

McCLELLAN: Like I said, that depends on --

Q: -- wouldn't he want to be involved --

McCLELLAN: It depends on the circumstances and it depends on the situation.

Q: And wasn't there a possibility that a plane headed for the White House, that this was the leading edge of some broader attack, isn't the president concerned that maybe he should have been alerted to the fact that this could have been the beginning of a general attack?

McCLELLAN: That was not the case, and I think the Department of Defense yesterday indicated that they didn't sense any hostile intent on the part of the plane, so again --

Q: How did they know -- how did they know this plane wasn't laden with WMD or some other type of weapons like that? Did they get reassurances from the pilot? Or how did they know that?

McCLELLAN: Well, again, if you want to give me a chance to respond, I'll be glad to. The protocols were followed. This situation, as you're well aware, turned out to be an accident. The Department of Defense pointed out yesterday that they didn't sense any hostile intent on the part of the plane. There were fighter jets scrambled. There was a Blackhawk helicopter scrambled, as well, to get in contact with the plane. . . .

Q: So if it was assessed that there was no hostile intent on the part of this aircraft, can you tell us why 30,000 people -- 35,000 people were told to run for their lives?

McCLELLAN: Because of the protocols that are in place, John. We want to make sure that the people in the area of the threat are protected. After --

Q: But what was the threat? You just said there was no threat.

McCLELLAN: John, after Sept. 11, we have to take into account the world that we live in. We live in a very different world than we did before Sept. 11. And the president is going to do everything in his power to make sure we are protecting the American people and to make sure that the people in areas that could be high-risk areas are protected, as well.

Q: Right, but there seems to be so many disconnects here. You've got a plane that was assessed as not being a threat, you've got 35,000 people evacuated, you've got a person who you claim is a hands-on commander in chief who is left to go ride his bicycle through the rural wildlands of Maryland while his wife is in some secure location somewhere, it's just not adding up.

McCLELLAN: Well, John, I disagree, and let me tell you why: You have highly skilled professionals who are involved in situations like this, in a variety of different fronts, from our Homeland Security officials to our National Security Council officials to our Secret Service officials and to others and to local officials, and they work very closely together. The protocols that were put in place were followed, and I think they were followed well.

Greg Mitchell ( is editor of E&P.

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...