Saturday, July 09, 2005


We are in Iraq as occupiers and it is going badly; but for George W. Bush, what matters is to dazzle the public with wishful thinking. The war is going grandly, according to him. Democracy is on the march; but really, it isn't.

While fewer Americans are tuning into his speeches, many more have stopped listening to their president. People are coming around to the conclusion that Bush's daydream of Iraq bears no resemblance to the real and tragic country itself. Suspicious cash transfers were described in an article for Reuters by Sue Pleming. Americans should be aware that $8.8 billion appropriated for Iraq is simply missing; and no one is being held accountable. Pallets of cash, billions, have been loaded on ships in New York, and handed out to corporate contractors in Iraq in duffel bags. The ground there runs red with Iraqi blood; three American soldiers are killed there every day. In Bush's fixer-upper Iraq, coalition partners don't cut their losses and withdraw their brigades. Raw sewage doesn't run in the streets in his fantasy; there is electricity and water service in the President's Iraq. The occupation isn't pushing the country toward civil war.

Sixty years ago, on "the hotttest of August nights", Albert Camus was watching Paris shoot off all its guns to celebrate liberation. He observed then that greatness doesn't come with conquest; he was sure that it only begins when people themselves resolve to be just. So it must be said that the President's audacity is no example of leadership. He never has inspired us to overcome our unjust condition, which would require that we ourselves be just.

Bush handles applause at fake Town Hall meetings, where born-again republicans are picked-over to assure their partisan purity; but he seems most comfortable speaking at military bases, from Alaska to North Carolina. The President is unchanged, even if his audience has grown more solemn. None of the old confidence has left his voice. He is still the salesman, making a pitch to secure the sacrifices of the soldiers.

This is the President who used the trauma of 9/11, the destruction and death at the World Trade Center, to run his agenda roughshod, over the law, over the truth, and over the bodies of Iraqis; having less body armor for the troops, but with no apparent shortage of happy talk. The President's disinformation machine keeps churning out the same meticulous lies, strung-together phrases, extracted by Bush's marketing experts from focus group experiments.
"The terrorists who attacked us and the terrorists we face"..."The same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York"...

"Defeat them abroad before they attack us at home"..."Iraq is the central front"..."The only way our enemies [in Iraq] can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11."
David Nyhan covered the December 1999 New Hampshire primaries for the Boston Globe. "It was a gaffe-free evening" for the "rookie front-runner"..."till he was asked about Saddam's weapons stash." 'I'd take 'em out,' [Bush] grinned cavalierly, 'take out the weapons of mass destruction--I'm surprised he's still there.'

This superficiality in the face of life and death is an unchanging trait. The cavalier would-be president was head-hunting even then; and Saddam was already in his sights.

Bush brought up New York no less than five times during his speech last June, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The soldiers were given the cue for one lonely ripple of applause, while their president failed to answer the nation's concerns. Over and over again, Bush put together the same confounded story, as he linked Iraq and Saddam Hussein with September 11. As he was about to wind it up, with one final reference to September 11, the President couldn't resist a plea for new recruits. Awkward and a bit pathetic, the remark could be easily confused with some kind of grim, gallows humor, a parody of his performance.
"And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces."
Our grandchildren will find out our secrets. They will see whether we became corrupt--or whether we grew just--once we decided to be stronger than our condition. Those who come after us will know if our souls rest easily. This would be because "we did what was necessary," as Camus says, "without any spirit of revenge or spite"..."as victory returns."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Final installment of my interview with Jubal Durfee, whom I met at the gunshow recently. For more background on Jubal, see previous chapters below. Here we are in the midst of a big discussion on religion:

THOLOS: You say the Grand Canyon arrived “intact.” What about Adam and Eve?

JUBAL: What about ‘em?

THOLOS: Did they also arrive “intact”?

JUBAL: Well, that’s what the Bible says, ain’t it?

THOLOS: Were they the first two people?

JUBAL: Well, hell, yes.

THOLOS: You know that, for sure?

JUBAL: Of course I do.

THOLOS: Are you familiar with the Scopes trial?

JUBAL: The what?

THOLOS: The trial of John T. Scopes. The “Monkey Trial”?

JUBAL: Oh, I think I heard of that.

THOLOS: It was back in the twenties, a little town called Dayton, Tennessee. Scopes was a biology teacher who tried to teach evolution in his classroom. The town had an ordinance against teaching evolution--

JUBAL: Good for them!

THOLOS: So they put him on trial. Clarence Darrow defended him. And William Jennings Bryan defended the Bible as the only necessary authority in the classroom, when it came to the origins of life.

JUBAL: Well, I agree with him, by God.

THOLOS: I’d like to ask you a question that Clarence Darrow put to Mr. Bryan. Do you mind if I do that?

JUBAL: Go right ahead, bud.

THOLOS: There’s a passage in Genesis that goes: “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, in the East of Eden. And Cain knew his wife.” What do you make of her?


THOLOS: Cain’s wife? Mrs. Cain? If Adam and Eve were the first two and they begat Cain and Abel, then where’d this extra woman spring from?

JUBAL: I dunno. I guess God musta fixed him up. (He laughs.)

THOLOS: But seriously. Where do you think she came from? Was there another creation somewhere-—over in the next county, perhaps?

JUBAL: Sure. Why not?

THOLOS: Yes, why not. Only, it’s not mentioned in the Bible, is it?

JUBAL: No, I don’t think it is.

THOLOS: But you’d think it would be, since it’s such an important story, and, as you say, everything in the Bible is the literal truth. Yet, there’s no explanation provided for the presence of this extra woman. For instance, there’s no mention of Mrs. Cain’s parents. Don’t you think that’s kind of odd?

JUBAL: Well, I’ll tell you, bud, I don’t spend a lot of time questioning the ways of God. I think if you get yourself saved, you’ll have all the answers you need, partner.

THOLOS: Okay. You mentioned gay people earlier.

JUBAL: Queers, yeah.

THOLOS: Do you think they’re not entitled to the same rights as other people?

JUBAL: Well, I don’t know about that. I do know what the Bible says about ‘em, though.

THOLOS: What’s that?

JUBAL: Says kill ‘em.

THOLOS: Really?

JUBAL: Yep. You oughta read it sometime. It says it in Leviticus.

THOLOS: It says kill them in Leviticus?

JUBAL: Yep. Chapter 20, verse 13. It’s right there in black and white.

THOLOS: It also says adulterers should be put to death, as well, doesn’t it?

JUBAL: Adulterers? Yeah, I guess it does. I wouldn’t be surprised.

THOLOS: And you go along with that?

JUBAL: Well, it’s in the Bible. I have to go along with it.

THOLOS: If you took all the adulterers in the country, let alone the whole world, and put them to death today, that would be a considerable amount of killing in one day, wouldn’t it?

JUBAL: I don’t know. I don’t know how many people commit adultery every day.

THOLOS: If I remember rightly, that same chapter you quoted from also says that anyone who curses his father or mother should be put to death. I would imagine there must be literally scores of teenagers, who at one time or another, in a fit of anger, may have cursed their father or mother. Many of them probably regretted it later, and some may not have. We know there are literally thousands of children who every year suffer at the hands of abusive or violent parents. Nevertheless, the Holy Scripture says they should all be put to death if they ever cursed their parents. Do you agree with that?

JUBAL: All I know is, it ain’t my place to question the Bible.

THOLOS: So you would kill all those children?

JUBAL: I don’t say I would. But I think God would deal with them, one way or another.

THOLOS: I see. So, this is the God we’re dealing with!

JUBAL: I didn’t say that.

THOLOS: If either of your sons ever, in a fit of anger, cursed you or their mother, would you agree with Leviticus that that boy should be put to death? And would you be willing to do that yourself, or would you try to get someone else to do it?

JUBAL: Well, that ain’t exactly a fair question. My kids never cursed me or their mother. They was raised better than that.

THOLOS: We’re just talking “what if”, here, that’s all. We’ve all known kids who were rebellious at times. What if one of yours cursed you? What would you do?

JUBAL (Slight laugh.) I know what you’re tryin’ to do. You’re tryin’ to trap me into sayin’ somethin’, and I ain’t gonna say it. I just don’t question God’s law. That’s all you need to know, bud.


(At this point, his eyes were starting to glow like hot embers, so I changed the subject.)

THOLOS: You’re a big fan of Grover Norquist, aren’t you?

JUBAL: Oh, sure, you bet, he’s my man. Him and Karl Rove. Those are the two greatest men in this country right now, I believe.

THOLOS: Greater than Rumsfeld? Or Gonzales?

JUBAL: Are you kidding me? Man, those two are just lap-dogs. Rove and Norquist are the real action heroes in my comic book. Big guns. I’ve written letters to Grover thanking him for all his good work in behalf of us decent Americans. And you know what? He wrote me back, thanking me for all my work in Arkansas! And it wasn’t a form letter, either. It was a personal letter signed by Grover Norquist! I know, because he talked about Bee Keeper and how much he loved the Ozarks and mentioned that he had friends in Little Rock, and so on. So, that’s the kind of person he is. A genuine American through and through.

THOLOS: Norquist said that having moderates in the Republican Party was like drinking “rat-head cola.”

JUBAL (Laughing.) That sounds like somethin’ Grover would say, all right.

THOLOS: I guess it means if you found a rat head floating in your soda, you’d never buy that brand again.

JUBAL: That sounds about right. You get an A-plus! I think these moderates are doing a lot of harm, and we need to get rid of ‘em. We need to purify the party.

THOLOS: Purify it?

JUBAL: Yeah. You wouldn’t want to drink tainted water, would you? You want your water nice and clean. No impurities.

THOLOS: I see. I thought liberals were the big enemy of the Republicans. Now, it seems to be moderates.

JUBAL (Laughing.) Are you shittin’ me? No offense, buddy, but you liberals are a bunch of limp dicks. You can’t figure out your heads from your assholes. John Kerry! Hah! C’mon! On any given day, he does more for us than he does for you guys. All we have to do is wind him up, sit back, and watch him go. Like the Eveready rabbit. But they’re all like that, all those Democrats. Look, we even got Barbara Boxer, your best Liberal—shoutin’ hooray on the filibuster compromise. We got that new guy, that Nigra—what’s his name? Brock O--?

THOLOS: Barak Obama?

JUBAL: Yeah, him. S’posed to be some big liberal—out of Chicago. Made his big starry-eyed speech at the convention. First thing he did when he got here was vote with us on the bankruptsy bill. He couldn’t wait to play on our team! Yeah, we caught on to the “liberals” real fast. Norquist knew about ‘em from the beginning, knew how easy they were to domesticate. I didn’t believe it at first, but I’m startin’ to, now. Yep, they’re just like a herd of cows, standing in the shade, chewin’ their cuds. All you have to do is whistle or show ‘em a little sweet alfalfa, and they all come runnin’. Liberals! I wonder if they’re as pussy-whipped around their women as they are around Bill Frist or Tom Delay. Or even Kay Hutchison. Good ol’ Kay Bailey. God, I love that ol’ girl. Now, there’s a real lady, if there ever was one. Never voted the wrong way in her life. There ain’t a fighter jet or weapons system she ain’t head over heels in love with, including missile defense. And she’s a good Christian, too. I’d love to see her in a cat-fight with Hillary. I bet I know who the winner would be. Shoot, all Kay would have to do is say, “C’mon, Hillary, honey, let’s you and me compromise.” And that Clinton girl would go down like a cheap hooker. After all, she voted with us on the war. Yeah, all those Democrats are easy. We’ve moved on, now. We’re after bigger prey, now.

THOLOS: Thanks for talking to me, Jubal.

JUBAL: Sure thing.


Reading a book lately called The Bush Survival Bible, by Gene Stone. He has a chapter in there called, 1 Way to Tell If Bush Is Lying."

"Nick Morgan, Ph.D., one of the nation's foremost speech coaches, is an expert on body language; his most recent book is Working The Room (Harvard Business School Press, 2002)."

Morgan says it's easier, of course, to tell when someone you know is lying. The hard way is to watch for very small changes in facial expressions of people you don't know. "if you watch these people closely, you will notice split-second changes in expression take place as they lie."
Morgan has studied Bush since watching him give the State of the Union address before the Iraq war. He says that when Bush lies, his eyes dart quickly from side to side. 'The moment I saw this was when he said that he wanted peace with Iraq and that he would seek out every possible avenue for peace. I knew then that the war was a done deal.

'Watch Bush's eyes dart, and you will be able to see him lie.'

. . .Morgan says that Condoleeza Rice is a terrible liar. 'It's written all over her face. When she lies, her face goes rigid--she tries to conceal the fact that she is lying by freezing. It's so obvious that anyone could make a lot of money playing in a high-stakes poker game with her.'

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...