Sunday, August 28, 2005


Camp Casey II, Crawford, Texas
Saturday, August 27, 2005

The summer day was almost too hot to bear. Its August sun bore down on the huge tent at Camp Casey II, where people gathered in heat that was 100 degrees, and perhaps more. Cindy Sheehan's supporters arrived by chartered bus from Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin; and as they stepped down from the bus, they were given a hand of applause by many who stood in the midday sun to greet them. Others flew into Texas from distant parts of the nation or drove long distances to be in Crawford. One protest group from Ithaca, New York, had raised $10,000 and sent 31 members to be present at Camp Casey.

On the 27th, it was an honor to witness more history being made, just down the road from President Bush's ranch. Cindy Sheehan was there, in person, surrounded by what this writer would estimate to be 1,200 supporters. Cindy has kept faith with her son, Casey, who was killed in Baghdad, 15 months ago; and it's only been a matter of three weeks, since she rallied a protest movement that clearly defines Bush's war as immoral, and calls for a halt to pointless deaths.

Saturday's event attracted veterans' organizations, as well as many of Cindy's Gold Star parents who set up their tents at the original Camp Casey. Gathering at the larger camp were clergy, lots of fine musicians, bloggers and other writers, camera people, and many volunteers who maintained supplies of water, ice, and seemed to prepare food around the clock. The dedicated time, effort, and donations of many responsible people were in evidence everywhere.

Though exhausted by the heat, Saturday's crowd could not forget the memorial of white crosses and empty boots that were always part of this event. And when Cindy Sheehan stood on the stage, flanked by other grieving mothers and fathers, and also by Joan Baez and her guitar, the audience was completely absorbed in the moment. Their music continued to swell and surge, through the chorus of an old tune, associated with America's Civil Rights movement. This tune "We Shall Overcome" was one that Cindy Sheehan sang with passion, and the crowd might as well have been in church. "We... shall overcome,.. today " those onstage sang, and the crowd sang along, tenderly. The old lyric was "We shall overcome...someday"; but changing it to "We shall" seemed to fit the occasion.

Cindy's speech followed a short time later; and she told her audience that the pointless deaths of American soldiers must end. The President would still not meet with this grieving mother; and with sadness, she explained that having spilled the blood of young American troops in Iraq, the President felt empowered to spill even more blood. She acknowledged that August 31st marked the end of the President's "vacation", and that she would feel some loss in leaving Texas behind. She wanted Americans to know that her time spent in Crawford is only the beginning; and it's important to take this protest to Washington DC next; and she believes Camp Casey and the meaning of Camp Casey will come with her.

A few hours later, the sun was starting to edge toward the horizon, and a dark squall line began to bear down on the camp. Very quickly the temperature dropped, and wind began to whip across the flat pasture in a menacing way. This unanswerable, raw power of nature sometimes proves more frightening than anything we can imagine. Someone took the microphone and advised the crowd to avoid the place where they were standing, under the steel masts of the pavilion tent, while lightning began to rapidly approach. Here, beneath the suddenly uncertain sky, was the tangled net of so many of our human choices, a breathtaking proof of our human frailty, and the temporary, provisional space we occupy.

Rabindranath Tagore has said "Where danger is near, so also is salvation."

In this way, conscience also ebbs and rises on the tides of American history. But the sonority and wholeness of that conscience has rarely been so beautiful or as necessary to us, as it has proved to be at Camp Casey.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Camp Casey II, Crawford Texas
Saturday, August 20, 2005

The crowd drifted slowly out as evening fell, emerging from under the huge pavilion tent, and its steep. canvas spires. The dark indigo of night seemed to flatten down strands of pink against the horizon. The playing of taps had been announced, and the crowd anticipating it was quiet. Through the afternoon, others had been bending down, fitting white crosses, 200 of which filled an apron of pasture between the tent and the road.

The people, the whole congregation standing there, would not have been waiting as they were, without the initiative of one woman, Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, 15 months ago. This mother touched the conscience of the nation, starting a couple of weeks ago, as she reminded Americans of the lies told by President Bush, which led to war. She began by camping out along the edge of a narrow road, near the President's ranch. But Cindy's cause is the cause of many mothers who are camped out there.--even if Cindy herself has had to abandon her spot temporarily, owing to the serious illness of her mother.

But as night gathered at Camp Casey II, what was best expressed, was the solidarity of people's eyes, as they searched around the margin of those white crosses, for the trumpeter who would sound taps--a man whose silence lingered, as his name was called. The man paused to hear the notes sound in his head, waiting for the music to come into him. The spirit that Cindy Sheehan had personified was something real to those who patiently stood there. Gold Star mothers were present, whose sons or daughters had been killed in Bush's war.

A 71 year old black woman from New York heard the echo of taps fade; and she received encouragement from a kind hand on her shoulder. She struggled with the words of a hymn, but began to sing; and it must have been that she was weeping over a grandchild. Faltering for a moment, she finished the last refrain; and at the end her voice was strong, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me".

The crowd returned to the tent for music and supportive speeches; but that timeless moment, under the relentless indigo of dusk would persist inside them. Speakers would remind them that this anti-war movement has truly begun. But reflecting on what they had just witnessed, they seemed to know already that this is its real beginning.

Friday, August 19, 2005


On Monday night, a vandal in a pickup truck ran over
hundreds of small white crosses that had been installed in
Crawford, Texas as a simple memorial to the Troops killed in
Iraq. The vandal, who police say is Waco resident Larry
Northern, was soon arrested, and OpTruth's Perry Jefferies
managed to find his e-mail address. Here's what he had to

Mr. Northern:

I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th
Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package

While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher
Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad.
He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID.Once he had
declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to
him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended.
He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night,
August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him
by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a
hard time because he always wore all of his protective
equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He
did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned
home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to
make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army
salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where
the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent,
sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed
him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial
cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest
men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over
forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that
because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for his
wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape
for her. He was like a father to many young men in his
section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles
with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs
that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor
advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his
son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well
raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with
the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year. Henry stopped
to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to
be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling - he was
headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he stopped. He
could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the
ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday
night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the
country, where a peaceful group was exercising their
constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down
the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law
by Arlington West.

Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that
she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring
harm to no one. I know little about you except that you
found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with
chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole
purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and
lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation
when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men
like these have died so that people like you can threaten a
mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you
are ashamed of yourself.

Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Photo: Nathan Diebenow, The Lone Star Iconoclast
"Why do the right wing media so assiduously scrutinize the words of a grief filled mother and ignore the words of a lying president?" --Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed five days after arriving in Baghdad in April 2004. She was later invited to Washington for a private meeting with the President, in the company of other bereaved families. But George W's attitude and tone shocked her."Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent" said: "Who we'all honorin' today?"
"[Bush's] mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it." (LewisNews)
It's one year later; and although the war news is worse, the President is taking an extended vacation in Texas.

Bush and his best minds pondered whether to arrest Cindy, as she camped out near his Crawford ranch this week, still adamant about seeing George. Empty suits were toying with the idea of locking her up as a "national security threat". Instead, the President was pointed toward the microphones, so he could respectfully disagree with her criticism, and politely wash his hands of the protesting mother.

The Bush propaganda war is in place all the time. His talk about the "nobility" of the cause, contains no clue as to what that might mean. The republican creed of party above country, the blundering, the profiteering, the lies: these are all the contributing factors that have led to the violent death of thousands, and among them, 24 year old Casey Sheehan.

One group of day-tripping right-wingers arrived recently at Sheehan's Crawford encampment with the moronic chant of "We don't care. We don't care".

This message comes to us today from Cindy Sheehan at Crawford, Texas, courtesy of Peace in Pink Shoes:
"I am a continued thorn in the side to the right-wing bloggers and right wing-nut "journalists." One man, Phil Hendry called me an "ignorant cow." But you know what, the people who have come out from all over the country to give me a hug and take a picture with me and to support the cause of peace, overwhelms me so much, I don't have time to worry about the negativity and the hatred. The people who are slamming me have no idea about what it feels like to unjustly have a child killed in an insane war. Plus, they have no truth to fight truth with, so they fight truth with more lies and hate."

"Three active duty soldiers from Ft. Hood came to visit me and tell me that they really appreciated what I was doing and that if they were killed in the war, their moms would be doing the same thing. That made me feel so good after all of the negativity I had been hearing from the righties. I also got to hold a couple of toddlers on my lap while their mom or dad took pictures of us. I am honored that people have resonated with the action that I took to make our mission of ending the war a reality."
Cindy Sheehan's contest with Bush and his hollow men, somehow brings to mind what Norman Mailer said, during an interview last summer. He commented on the corrupt nature of corporate power and those who accommodate that power in America. Our corporations "tend to flatten everything" he said, "They are the Big Empty".
"You could see [in contrast to authentic people] all the faces of the present administration, those empty faces, those handmaidens and bodyguards of the Big Empty." --Norman Mailer

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


(Further Adventures Of A Homeless Man and His Dog)


By Jack Rafter

Dear Mr. Mogli,
Since the warm weather came in, Vincent and I have been staying in the tent in our little strip of woods near the freight yards. For some reason, the tramps down there have taken to calling it “Sherwood Forest,” though it’s just a ribbon of scrub oak and brush caught between the bike path on one side and the track line on the other. Beyond the freight yards is a two-lane black top. I haven’t seen any Robin Hoods or “Merry Men” running around in those woods. No Maid Marions, either. Folks down there are pretty shabby looking, for the most part, including. . .yours, truly.

Still, it’s a thriving little community we have here, though we’re all but invisible to the Outsiders. (And I use the term "thriving" somewhat loosely, of course.) Outsiders, by the way, are people who still live in houses and have jobs and cars and TV’s and cell phones, and so on. I used to have all those things. I was once an Outsider. Then, my job got moved out of the country. Now, a Chinaman does my job for about a tenth of the pay. In the language of NAFTA, this is progress. Three cheers for progress!

Early in the morning and late in the evening, the joggers and the bikers streak by on the bike path. We can see them through the trees as they flash by in a blur, a swish of white Nike running shoe, a blinding beam from a red or blue bike helmet. But they do not see us. We are just shadows in the trees, sparrows rooting around in the leaves. And on the other side of Sherwood Forest, the trains rumble by all day.

Lately, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of people trying to move into the “forest.” None of us who live here are surprised at the increase. Sure, some of us are crazy, I guess, but a lot of us are perfectly sane and aware of what’s going on. We read the papers. We keep up with current events. We hold meetings in our woods. We have little “round table” discussions in our campsites, like the knights of old.

Yes, we're a tattered tribe of knights. But we can still see and hear and think. We read how all the jobs are leaving the country, how the government and the corporations are one and the same. We notice that more and more people can’t afford to run air conditioners in the summer or gas heaters in the winter, they can’t pay their utility bills or their childrens’ dental bills, they let their house insurance lapse, they miss a mortgage payment, they fail to pay their property tax; and finally, the banks gobble up their homes. That, in brief, is what happened to me.

There are some in Sherwood Forest who believe that virtually everyone in America, except the rich, will be homeless one day. Sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true, they really believe it. The question then will be whether or not the poor will still be blamed for being poor.

Of course, for years, it has been the middle class, as much as the rich, who has blamed them. They spent years buying into the false morality that Welfare or anything that remotely smacked of “Socialism” was somehow evil. Even to the point where many of them would actually support a president who would disgorge all the money from their Social Security retirement plans and hand it over to Wall Street brokers.

They were a people who didn’t read, who had no awareness of history. In that way, their president was just like them. He was them. He could tell them anything and they would believe it. It was like spoon-feeding little children. They didn’t know that Social Security was a visionary program brought into being long ago by a president named Roosevelt.

Franklin Roosevelt was a man who thought that everyone— especially the poor—should have some form of income when they reached old age. Franklin Roosevelt thought that “promoting the general welfare”—or “well-being”--of the citizenry, was a perfectly sound, honorable, thing to do.

That is in stark contrast to those who are in power today. Now—perhaps too late—the Middle Class is just beginning to learn what this could mean—that increasingly, they. . .are. . .Them—the Poor. The Shit Upon.

What will they have to say about that, I wonder? Who is left to blame?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


What if the eye that Americans look up to, the eye that is lodged at the top of the pyramid, is a lizard's eye? The lust of the eye constitutes whatever reason a reptile has to exist. There is only the eye that moves and the objects which it makes subordinate to itself. Being history's actor, it will simply react to an opportunity or withdraw in fear. It is only concerned about itself.

The last act of republican credulity will likely come during a great public health crisis, while an enraged public is demanding justice; and it will be a bitter outcry, since the lizard and his accomplices have done nothing but reject accountability, from first to last.

Compared to that edifice of republicanism, Calvin Coolidge, George W. Bush is a modern GOP activist. Writer Irving Stone described Coolidge as the absolute minimalist of all presidents, who put in four hour days in the Oval Office, and spent most afternoons asleep with his feet up on the desk.
"On the afternoon of the day that Treasury Department officials laid on Calvin Coolidge's desk the documented case for immediate and drastic control of the investment market, and he turned them away, defeated by his icy silence, he went down to the basement of the White House to count the number of apples in a barrel sent to him by a friend from Vermont."
"While Rome burned, Nero at least made music. But President Coolidge counted apples."
President Coolidge famously said "The business of America is business." And for him laissez faire was a guiding light; change was a repellent concept. Borrowing money to risk in the stock market was actually good for business, he thought. And a great many ordinary Americans were doing just that. From 1927 until the market crash of 1929 (the year after Coolidge left office), a devastating "domino effect" was in process of playing out.
"Family savings were being poured into local banks. Local banks poured their funds into Wall Street"..."The savings of the nation having been absorbed by Wall Street, the people were persuaded to borrow money on their farms, factories, homes, machinery, and every other tangible asset, that they might earn high interest rates and take big profits out of the rise in the stock market. When Wall Street's huge foreign loans and dubious domestic loans were not repaid, America lost not only the cash of its savings but its collateral as well."
Reporter Bob Woodward got a candid answer out of our current president, when he asked him how history would judge his war in Iraq. "History, we don't know. We'll all be dead." We hope he didn't mean "We'll all be dead, and soon." The words can also be interpreted to mean that the President is too busy making history to worry about his legacy.

David Brown, writing for the Washington Post, provides these unsettling facts:
"Ironically, for the current H5N1 strain of avian flu to gain "pandemic potential" it will have to become less deadly. Declining lethality is a key sign that the microbe is adapting to human hosts. That is one reason the 34 percent mortality observed in the most recent outbreak--a cluster of cases in northern Vietnam--has scientists worried."..."Such strains are rare. They arise from the chance scrambling of an animal flu virus with a human one."
Brown reminds us that the 1918/1919 outbreak was one of the most lethal of these rare strains.
"At least 50 million people, and possibly as many as 100 million, died when the world's population was 1.9 billion, one-third of its current size." (Brown, Washington Post, 7/31/05)
It's too bad that we live in a country where the reptilian mindset, known as the "bottom line", takes precedence over the more evolved construct of civic responsibility. Our tears are wasted; but let's belabor the obvious for a moment. We don't have a liberal government that would simply give the pharmaceutical companies their marching orders, and support the effort with subsidies..

No, the soul of republicanism is attached to the idea of waiting. The "market forces" must be in the right alignment. The drug companies will need to see a market incentive, before they can think about cranking up vaccine production or doing a jump-start on research. "The business of America is business."
"...the end of this world-wide vaudeville act, shall be a fool's prat-fall" or so my friend Earl Lewis once wrote, in the jacket of a book he gave me.
All this seems to be coming true in the hands of the government that rules us now.

But even at this deplorable junction of history, it can't be right to give up on popular government. Perhaps if we keep shouting in unison, one or several of the engineers will pull the brakes on this runaway train. None of us alive now, wants to be twitching out of the depths of the reptilian brain, or blinking out of the lizard's eye. Over millions of years there have been some improvements; and now we share the same customs, laws and medicine,--and breathe the same contagious air--if it should come to that. Before we condemn another generation to years of suspicion, aggression, and selfishness, we need to see if we can revive public service and conserve something more important than profit.

Government has yet to counsel the public on this issue. And if the right questions haven't been posed, now would be a good time to ask.

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...