Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The City Council met again this morning, and I decided to take another run at them. What the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I figure, at the least, it's worth something as a consciousness-raising exercise, not just for the mayor and council members, but for the citizens gathered in the room. I'd say the chamber was about half full this morning, not a bad crowd.

As for the council members, I have no idea what to make of their response, or lack of one. I tried to make eye-contact with them, as much as possible, but it's kind of hard to read their faces. I would say the majority of expressions ranged from boredom to pity to something that caused me to believe that in the minds of a few, I was almost certainly considered a nuisance. I'm sure one or two would have liked to see me thrown out, but forced to listen by the constraints of decorum and good conduct. Even if they think what I have to say are the ravings of a lunatic or a "radical," I don't present myself as such, so there's not much they can do, but wait it out.

I'm sure it would be better if I could speak without a script, but at this point, I'm too chicken-shit for that. Well, you do what you can, I suppose. Here's the speech:

Mr. Mayor, council members, I return to ask you again to consider a resolution to impeach the President and Vice President.

Thus far, 88 towns and cities have passed bills of impeachment, from California to Maine, from Vermont to New Hampshire. . .New York, Ohio, North Carolina. All across the country the call for accountability is being received by hundreds of thousands of people with welcome relief.

People who identify themselves as Republicans, evangelicals, veterans, and many elder Americans have signed petitions. And they've done so right here in my town, Fort Worth, Texas.

I know this is a "red state." I know we're all "Conservatives" here. Conservative used to mean being fiscally conservative, I think. You can't say that anymore, can you? Not when you have a war that to date has cost us about 480billion dollars. For Fort Worth taxpayers, that works out to about 890 million dollars for year 2007 alone. Boom. Down the drain.

I think at one time, Conservatism meant conserving the Constitution and being aggressive on law and order. But you can't say that anymore, either, can you? Not when you have a president and vice president who have told so many lies and broken so many laws, and no one seems willing to bring them to account.

So I don't know what "Conservative" means anymore. Unless maybe it means there's laws for regular people, but the rich and powerful are somehow exempt.

This impeachment request is not a radical idea. It was conceived of by men like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin. Real conservatives. It was just simply a way to rein in a president or vice president who, somewhere down the line, might assume too much power and authority, who might cease to listen to the voice of the people.

I know perhaps some of you are thinking that I shouldn't be here. "Surely, this fool should be talking to his congressman." But if we should lose our democracy, here, if we lose our country, it won't just be because of the failure of my congressman or -woman to act. It will be because of the failure of ordinary people, like you and me, and the people in this room, and people in towns and cities across this country, in red states and blue states. . .who were too busy, perhaps, or too indifferent. People who said, "It's not up to me. It's someone else's job."

Or because the people became so blindly patriotic that they could no longer see how corrupt their leaders had become. So they did nothing. "My country right or wrong" is a formula for losing your country.

Okay, so the rest of the state, with the possible exception of Austin--bless their hearts--has chosen to do nothing. I like to believe this city--my city of Fort Worth--is better than that. I like to think they still have some of that pioneering spirit of independence, the spirit of a people who could think for themselves when trouble came, instead of just following the herd. Surely, we could be an example to the rest.

If Cheney's planned attack on Iran goes through, there might come a time when you good people and others might look back on this time and wish you had spoken out for the Constitution and the rule of law, as each of you swore to do when you took your oath of office.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Well a small group of the usual suspects have been trying to get our City Council to pass a resolution to impeach the Prez & Vice Prez. When I say a "small group," I'm talking about five people showing up at the last meeting. We did manage to get 368 people to sign our petition, not bad for Fort Worth, Texas. It would have been nice if some of them had actually showed up for the meeting, but I guess the TV fare that night was just too good to pass up. Of course, the City always pushes us to the end of the night's agenda--just to test our endurance, I suppose, but we waited it out. Then, three of us addressed the council.

Here's my little spiel. Cheers.

Mr. Mayor, council members, we have a president and a vice president who lied to Congress and to the American people to get us into a war, and they're still lying about the reasons for it to this day.

The invasion itself was an unprovoked, premeditated attack against a defenseless sovereign country, in direct violation of the U.N. and the Nuremburg Charters; and a violation of every principle this country stands for.

This unjust war has now killed over three thousand Americans and approximately 1.2 million Iraqis--men, women and children. 4.5 million human beings have been driven from their homes since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Meanwhile, at Guantanamo, many of the 385 inmates have been held for five years or more, unable to mount a legal challenge to their detention.

Statements by the Bush Administration that these men are "enemy combatants," "terrorists," or "very bad people," do not justify the complete lack of due process rights.

Some 300 detainees are now held at a new facility that, according to Amnesty International, creates "even harsher and more permanent conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation."

According to Human Rights Watch, each day brings more information about the appalling abuses inflicted on men and women held by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.

U.S. Forces have used interrogation techniques including hooding, stripping detainees naked, subjecting them to extremes of heat, cold, noise and light, and depriving them of sleep, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment.

And there are many cases of vicious beatings, sexual degradation, sodomy, near drowning and near asphyxiation.

Our last Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, was a straight ahead advocate of torture, including the use of waterboarding, which was first employed to great effect during the Spanish Inquisition.

And now, we have replaced him with a new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, who refuses to say whether waterboarding amounts to torture.

The President can now declare anyone he wants an "enemy combatant," and thereby detain them indefinitely.

That means anyone in this room could be detained without the right of habeas corpus, the fundamental right to a lawyer or a fair trial. Anyone in this room could be picked up, carried away somewhere, interrogated, and even tortured.

The President acknowledges giving explicit and secret authorization for warrantless electronic eavesdropping and physical searches by the NSA.

There is proof that the Pentagon is illegally gathering and sharing private and protected information on American citizens.

The actions of this president, his administration, and these agencies are part of a broad pattern of disregard for the rule of law in the name of national security.

Mr. Mayor, council members, each of you took an oath of office in which you swore "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and of this state," so help you, God.

The question is whether you will now do what you have sworn to do. Will you defend the Constitution? Will you stand for the rule of law?

Thank you.

Monday, November 26, 2007

copeland morris RUMMAGING

You will find evicted children in the almost
December; their past has been pushed out
The front door. The rain is in-between
Freezing and melting. What better time
Is there for rummaging? The shoppers collide
Like people intoxicated, in slow motion
In the cause of thrift. Their fingers crash
Like winter thunder among wire hangers,
Unphased by cold or wet, or the world,
Weighted down with its losses. By chance
They will tease out treasures, try out
Their luck with an old fedora, or tug
At the tongues of dead men's shoes.
It's no cinch to beat melancholy, except
As you wonder at the whereabouts
Of a robin red-breast and his place
Of dignity on the bough, and his brisk,
Sweet whistling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Guest Comment: The Horrors Of War

A comment by my old friend, DocRod, was so good I thought I should give it front page. Thanks Doc.

I think of how pathetic our situation has become since embarking on this greed inspired war:

4,568 dead from combat and non-combat action
28,500 wounded
250,000+ with serious psychological issues from combat
5000+ suicides by returning troops

I remember how desperate the situation became after Desert Storm ended. The psychiatric hospital I was working at was inundated with returning vets, and most of them had not even seen the front lines. War does unspeakable damage to the human soul, not only to the unfortunate few who are actually are forced to kill their fellow man, but to the support troops who bring up the rear to supply those combat groups also. They witness firsthand, the aftermath of battle by having to return their dead, dying, and broken comrades to this country. Now these brave souls are coming home and this administration is adamant about eliminating funding for mental health services to help them readjust to life in this country.

I am completely disgusted with every one of those treasonous SOB's in the White House and on Capital Hill. I listen while the Democrats give lip service to ending the war and the Republicans maintain our need to continue the war, simply because they haven’t stolen all of the money left in this world… YET! The worst offender in this mire is the Fascist Christian Nazi Right who continues to back the war because they long to experience Armageddon first hand. Well, I sincerely hope that these pseudo hand-waving Christian lunatics get their wish at the expense of their own children's lives. Their mock brand of religion disgusts me even more than those amoral greedy pit-vipers in Washington.

I don't have a clue which direction that this country will choose to go in the near future, I just hope that "We the People" wake up recognize reality in time to do the right thing. If memory serves me old friend, it was never quite this convoluted or morally corrupt during the Vietnam War. Our objectives seemed much clearer and well defined, or maybe I was simply too young and delusional to recognize it any differently back then. I fear the most for our children and grandchildren. We lost this war the day it began, and yet it seems to drag on and on into perpetuity.

Thanks for giving me a place to rant, Copeland. It is greatly appreciated!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

siegfried sassoon SURVIVORS

No doubt they'll soon get well; the shock and strain
Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk.
Of course they're 'longing to go out again,'--
These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk.
They'll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed
Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died,--
Their dreams that drip with murder; and they'll be
Of glorious war that shatter'd all their pride...
Men who went out to battle, grim and glad;
Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.

Craiglockart. October, 1917.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


History, with its terrible crimes, prods us into an awareness of responsibility. Looking at current events, some pundits think that our attention is diverted from contemporary war crimes, if Congress acknowledges an Armenian Genocide that took place in Turkey, beginning in April of 1915. Comedian, Jon Stewart, gets big laughs at the expense of spineless democratic leaders in the US House and their “stern rebuke to the Ottoman Empire.” And it is really funny because these same leaders genuflect in the direction of our nation's crazy autocrat, republican President/Decider George Bush.

But whatever else is at stake, there are reasons to think about the 1915 genocide. It's important to acknowledge extreme crime when it is written so large in history. Realistic estimates put the Armenian dead at 1.5 million.

The clockwork agenda behind the war and occupation of Iraq really exploits public hysteria and superstition. How else does one explain the hands-off policy of the so-called congressional opposition? They are really afraid of the White House, fearful of the most impeachable administration that ever was. But they are also beholden to the imposition of fear that churns around them, that has been built up after 2001, from the ashes of the Twin Towers and the guile of Bush and Cheney.

The despotic unitary executive, the blueprint for domestic surveillance, the aspiration for total state secrecy, and Vice President Cheney's co-executive powers,-- all these things were in place-- before the disaster on September 11th. Over a million Iraqis have been killed in the last four-and-a-half years; four million have sought shelter in other countries or live on the run. Iraq's professional classes have fled; and a humiliated people have watched helplessly while their country's cultural artifacts were looted. And right now, mercenary soldiers of the Blackwater Company run amok in the country, getting drunk and crawling around the streets of Baghdad after dark, dressed in camouflage gear and lugging their weapons, after a hard day of shooting civilians who get jammed up with them in traffic.

Turkey's eccentric governments have fallen to the occasional military coup in the period after World War II; and US presidents have looked the other way as their Turkish ally cracked down on dissent and stifled democracy. I seem to remember that the last time a resolution about the Armenian Genocide had a chance of passing in Congress, it was scuttled at the eleventh hour by President Clinton. It's no surprise that President Bush holds the same convictions, the same institutional attitude. Past experience shows that where administration policy is concerned, “now” will never be a good time to ruffle the sensitivities of the Turks.

It is a scandal that Turkey cannot face its own history. The country has persecuted its own writers for “insulting Turkishness”--even when those artists try to deal with this history in works of fiction.

Armenians served in the Ottoman Army, loyal to the Empire, when it was an ally of Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany in World War I; but there was an outbreak of Turkish hysteria which played into the hands of the Young Turk regime, the architects of the genocide. There was a blood red moon, which thousands of Turks took as an omen to unleash hell on earth upon next-door neighbors. The ensuing hysteria fanned the flames of the genocide. Armenian families were slaughtered, root and branch. Entire families were killed and beheaded, and the severed heads were pinned up on clotheslines as a public display. Then, the Armenian population that survived the initial slaughter was driven across the Turkish border into an inhospitable desert, without provisions, where they stood little or no chance of survival.

There is some duty we bear as we claim this kind of memory. And Armenian suffering is held cheap if we don't publicly accept their history as victims of genocide. We ought to reflect as well on the fact that American troops occupy a foreign country against the wishes of its people. Soon the grim side of our own history will pursue us through the years.

Our nation's salvation is linked to breaking the power of popular superstitions, like "the clash of civilizations." America's civilization is real; but it belongs to a world community of laws, treaties, and norms of behavior. On the other hand, the American leaders who most desperately deserve impeachment, go on about their business, as they feed the dogs of war and make methodical preparations to hand us over to the Furies.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An Impromptu Debate By Email With Benny The Firecracker Salesman

Well, here is a discussion on religion which broke out between me and my pal, Benny, via e-mail. Benny is in his mid-sixties and operates a jim-dandy fire-cracker stand right square in the middle of redneck country, west of Fort Worth, open New Years and 4th of July. He has a somewhat checkered past, which I won't go into here, but suffice to say he has been down the road way too many times to remember and has somehow come back alive every time, though bruised and bloodied on a few occasions. Nowadays, he's taking life a little slower. He's a back-sliding Unitarian and a far left Democrat who thinks the time to adopt some of Thomas Jefferson's more radical theories may be at hand.

Our conversation began with him asking me if I planned to attend a meeting between local citizens and the gas drilling companies who want to poke holes all over our city to retrieve the natural gas. It's an issue that has sparked some controversy. But somehow this fairly innocuous exchange lead to a big “debate” over religion. After reading over our exchanges, I thought it might be worth replaying here.

Benny knows I have some trouble accepting the notion of a benevolent “Creator.” For my part, I tend to overplay my agnosticism in order to draw him out. Here's what resulted:

I intend to try and be there. (Referring to the gas well drillers meeting.) Let me know.
Ben H.

It would be my intention, as well. Course, I think that's what that so-called road is paved with, if I remember rightly.

Well, being as you have absolutely zero items on your "TO DO" list, I thought it safe to delegate this chore and only naturally assumed you'd be delighted to discover one measly responsibility to grasp and discharge. You're pathetic, boy. Anyway, I have no concern a'tall because if I simply let go and let God, EVERYTHING WILL TURN OUT JUST AS IT'S SUPPOSED TO. NOTHING WILL BE MY FAULT. All I can reasonably do is lead you to the water. "Thy will, not mine, be done. Amen."
Ben H.

My cousin, Jasper, who is a Bahai, and therefore far wiser in these matters than I, maintains that everything--EVERYTHING--all good, all evil--is the work of God; therefore, there's absolutely nothing you can do about anything, and therefore, there's no use to lift a finger; might as well sit home and pray over it with Oprah. I believe you'll find that our Democrats in Congress have all universally embraced this strategy, from Nancy Pelosi on down. And if it's good enough for them, by God, it's good enough for me.

He's half right. Everything that exists, has existed, and potentially begins to exist, is God. You need to find some way to learn about Masonic and other fraternal philosophy. Our nation was begun in the Enlightenment based on these principles. If it pans out, the Universe is a smidgen different. If it doesn't, maybe France can carry on without us. They had the insight and got along just fine prior to our existence. Jefferson and those guys, G. Washington and the bigger of the big shots, were Deists and many were Masons. Their religious beliefs are compatible. The catch word is WORK as in "work of''. Freud and Jung's insight is not incompatible with Jefferson's Unitarianism. There is only 1 GOD, and it is everything that is, was, and will be. "Let go and let God." Calvinists believe in predestination (whether you're going to Heaven or Hell is pre-determined before your birth, you can't change it). As you know, mostly what you can change is yourself. You know that. If you change yourself for the right and the kind and the good, well then, you've changed the Universe. And what you've done changing yourself has changed many others who will, in turn, change still others. If you live your life helping instead of hurting, one spoonful at a time, you and your Brothers and Sisters will get the mountains moved. God is time and always was and always will be. It looks a little like he's in no hurry. However, by striving for a loving and forgiving soul, you will absolutely live a happier life. And I love Bahais, but your cousin is a slacker. Those Unity people are wonderful too. Just a bit childish, but compared to what? Both good and evil are as real as laying on a nude beach at Cancun, sipping on Old Grandad and listening to Willie Nelson sing Red-Headed Stranger on the radio, or sitting home Sunday morning with those miserable Baptists down on Seminary Drive figuring out how to smite some more gays or Democrats. Anyone devoted to dogma has to close their mind. They just think they will be happier sitting on their closed-minded dead ass. Live and let live, sport. I won't charge you anything for today's sharing. Thank you, Jesus. Amen. . . .
Ben H.

Look, you talk about "getting the mountains moved," and so on. I hear the Repugs have been successfully getting entire mountains moved in West Virginia every other day! And they don't even have to pray over it to get it done. I believe it's clear which side God is on. I don't see how it could be any clearer. A blind man can see it. God is kicking some ass every single day, and if you'll look real close, I think you'll see the asses he's been kicking do not belong to the Repugs. In fact, go back into your history as far as you want, God has consistently favored the rich and powerful. The day he invented money, he jumped up in the air, clicked his heels together, and said, "Hot damn! Now, I know whose side I'm on!"

See, in His wisdom, he didn't make stuff easy. Easy is for individuals with little heart and less cohones. Piss-ants. Nit-wits. Walk into First Jefferson Unitarian Church any Sunday morning and look around. You will see a handful of world class heroes and extraordinary human beings. Living Saints for real. But most of the people there are showing up to relieve their selfish non fulfillment. They are hoping for some magic. Maybe some decency and self respect will ease into their lotion soaked bodies by osmosis. But it just doesn't work like that. There ain't no free lunch. "Love is the doctrine of this church". . .that's the real deal. "Service is our prayer." When I read that on the front of !st Jefferson the evening I found the place, I'd never heard anything that made so much sense. But the Service that changes people is not easy. It's something that costs you something. Check out Linda Foley and Cindy Sheehan and that sweet Saint that slept in front of the Carswell Gate, and Father Daniel Berrigan and Molly Ivins. They are living examples (except Molly, who just passed on), who have lived a life of prayer; and of necessity, evil and pain and despair had to have the upper hand in this world or they could not have obtained the quiet peace of heart that they posses. The reason those people do the things they do is for what they get out of it. And they work with what life and God (same thing) deals them, while the rich get richer and Limbaugh's cyst gets bigger. And that is just the way things is. See?
Ben H.

"In his wisdom," it seems to me this "benevolent" Old Man knew from the get-go that the arrogant assholes would win out over the rest. Some wisdom. If you're a rational being and you're going to go on the evidence rather than your emotional bullshit, then clearly it would appear that the God we're dealing with has totally fucked up this human project of his, almost from the beginning, and maybe even did it in full knowledge and awareness that he was doing it; so it seems to me the only rational way to look at this is to conclude that the few who happen to have a little more sense than the vast majority are put here to struggle and fight and do their damnedest against impossible odds to clean up the mess that God made, but that, in all likelihood, what they're mostly going to get for their efforts is a kick in the head or merely vilified and spit on by the O'Reillys and Limbaughs, and the rest of the subhuman ignorant masses. So keep on praying, but if you're expecting some kind of fixit from the old reprobate in the attic, then, by all means, hop in line. But you best take plenty to read while you're waiting.

Clearly, the universe that created that infant with it's twin sister's head growing out its abdomen pictured on for almost a week created you. Therefore, you and I and the majority of people have much to be thankful for. Luck is the deal. What everyone needs is luck. It's better to be lucky than smart. You get more mileage hitting the Lotto than working like a goddam burro your whole life. I am uncertain that my prayers are heard by anything outside myself, but I do know that I can't trick or bullshit whatever is hearing them. My intuition or something in my psyche or 'soul' hears my prayers and judges my behavior. Conscience is a part of it and some people's conscience doesn't work right or was shot to start with. For myself, I think there's only one Diety, and it remains pretty mysterious to me. Prayer helps me stay in reality, keeping my priorities straight. I get way too big for my britches when left to my own devices. Peace,
Ben H.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Deja Vu

"There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn't it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty, we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do a bandit's work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and ninety percent of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty state legislatures, are members not only of the church, but also of the Blessings- of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice, cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right."

--To The Person Sitting In Darkness, by Mark Twain.
New York: Anti-Imperialist League of New York, 1901.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

copeland morris POEM FOR STARS

Examine a rift in the darkness. Question the opposites;
For instance, the stars, and the dark night in which they dwell.
The tree that cradled the house could not protect it;

And the night is embracing the rafters and smoothing the stones.
The naked face is almost speckled with starlight
And meteors and shooting stars are the last enchantments,

The frenzy of desire alongside the irrelevance of it
Spinning and spinning and spinning the constellations.
Intelligence, emotion swept clean with a broom:

A ride in the car at night, the smell of alfalfa,
The rain-drenched aroma, the song of a meadowlark
Shot down by a boy with a pellet gun, as it sang

To its mate from a mulberry tree, and the tree cut down.
How late it becomes. The stars can vibrate and twinkle.
And the boy can remember the words on his father's lips

And see but darkly a tilted head against the night.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

copeland morris DOVE SEASON

Between shadow and my twelfth year
The boys are face down in the grass,
September's pint-sized insurgents
Under dove season's gray sky.
Dying instead of shooting.
A report of their amusement
Is breaking: "Let's play like
We're shot by a firing squad
Back there in Benny's yard."
This game is not exactly ended
When grandma ladles out doves
And the supper table grows so solemn
And the boys are beset with warnings
To watch out for buckshot.

Friday, August 10, 2007

copeland morris RAIN

Distance is not endearing; but aren't the voices
Sublime, a violin her uncle played on the porch?
The rain begins with tenderness. Huge drops pause
And rush together with brief disquiet, sighing;
Green and delicate catkins of old pecan trees
Drifting like caterpillars down to the ground.
She picks her mottled skin, picks up a catkin.
How daunting, dear hand, a touch so exquisite
Cool to the touch, discreet and quick, and wise.

No other clemency or verdict is certain: only
That rain adorns her and she remembers rain,
The blink of summer lightning, the pale new moon,
The strength of the dead, the sky with its turmoil,
The desperate stillness of air so near to storm.

Monday, August 06, 2007


"I do not blame those determined to control, but those so eager to submit" --Thucydides
George Orwell's novel, 1984, describes a world run by an elite who dominates the hubs of information and keeps the population under total surveillance. Authority consolidates its control by weakening the citizen's sense of stability, and more, by demanding submission to a world that is not real.

Hannah Arendt, in The Origins of Totalitarianism, addresses not only public acceptance of Nazi authority in her native Germany, but more generally, the acceptance of unreality by ordinary people under totalitarian systems. The public is worn down by psychological war, a perpetual war waged against them; they become aware of those ever-present "minders", and all of that watching seems like nothing out of the ordinary.
totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations.
Members of Congress are aware now of long-standing domestic surveillance programs. The Bush/Cheney executive has been running illegal operations that bypass the FISA courts, finding ways to elude both judicial and legislative oversight. Both the president and vice president have broken laws by evading statutory restraints.

Crimes like these, spanning six years of the Bush administration, have led to an enormous collapse of public support. Nonetheless, in this summer of 2007, Congress was ready to answer Bush's urgent demands for more surveillance powers.

But again we are left with the bitter reality of Democrats caving in, the majority party, bearing the sacrifice of their avowed principles the minute Republicans start talking the scary talk about terrorists.

What happened to this opposition party?--to their passionate intention to curb a criminal White House? They have poured more fuel on a wildfire; and what they have agreed to, in reality, is unrestrained data mining for six months. Oversight is abandoned while this surveillance machinery operates in secret.

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post calls the Democratic failure of nerve a Warrantless Surrender:
This is as reckless as it was unnecessary. Democrats had presented a compromise plan that would have permitted surveillance to proceed, but with court review and an audit by the Justice Department's inspector general, to be provided to Congress, about how many Americans had been surveilled. Democrats could have stuck to their guns and insisted on their version. Instead, nervous about being blamed for any terrorist attack and eager to get out of town, they accepted the unacceptable. Most Democrats opposed the measure, but enough (16 in the Senate, 41 in the House) went with Republicans to allow it to pass, and the leadership enabled that result.
Republicans are opening a franchise for Moloch, the Beast . They are the party of fear and coercion, a party that lives and dies on cruelty, mafia-like loyalty; and they stink of creeping fascism.

Law professor Jack M. Balkin offers a frightening glimpse of our future:
...the new bill shows that the Republican Party can get the Democrats to surrender almost any civil liberty-- indeed, to give the President just as much unchecked power as he might obtain under a Republican controlled Congress-- simply by playing the fear card repeatedly and without shame...

...we are slowly inching, through each act of fear mongering and fecklessness, pandering and political compromise, toward a world in which Americans have increasingly little say over how they are actually governed, and increasingly little control over how the government collects information on them to regulate and control them. Slowly, secretly and imperceptibly, the mechanisms of government surveillance are being freed from methods of political control and accountability...
We need to pull our camera back. We need the wide angle lens. Our country is slipping away. We have lost a war. We are living in a Surveillance State. We have used up our credit. We are governed at the highest level by criminals. We live with the open secret of torture. Our Treasury has been looted by corporations, helped along by their stooges and well-paid confidence men. Wikipedia reports that we have 2.2 million people behind bars; and since 1980, US prison population has quadrupled. "The United States has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated population."

It's time for a dose of reality now, before we wake up in a make believe world, where we are in a never-ending war on terror, surrounded by a teeming mass of enemies.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


For the moment, I think I am in a poetry paradise. The party is only beginning.

And then a swarm of police wearing bulletproof vests with badges on ropes around their necks like characters from The Shield illegally storm into this private art gallery. Without so much as a search warrant or even an explanation, five of them surround the DJ and demand he turn off Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack." Issuing uncompromising threats, they force the DJ to announce over the microphone that without so much as a discussion EVERYONE MUST LEAVE THE PREMISES.

Like a scene out of Robocop, a small army, in ominous black jumpsuits with CHICAGO POLICE in big white letters across their chests, arm the exits as hundreds of literate citizens file out into the night. --CJ Laity,
A local publisher organizes to host Chicago poets at a privately owned gallery; and out of nowhere a mass of police enter, rudely shouting and intimidating those who were about to enjoy some music and a free meal.

Laity goes on to add, "This is America, not Afghanistan; and your taxes shouldn't fund the Taliban tactics that succeed in censoring the culture in this city. I wish I had my camera so that I could show you just how knuckle-headed these armed thugs looked barking threats at the peaceful publishers of Chicago literature."

In one of our famous, cultured cities, cops are roundly driving poets and publishers out the exits of an art gallery.

Can you believe it?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

copeland morris THE CANTOS OF WAR

"We used to wonder where war lived; is in this terrible loneliness of the combatants and the noncombatants, in this humiliated despair which we all feel, in the baseness that we feel growing in our faces as the days go by. The reign of beasts has begun." --Albert Camus


A curbside bomb. Your very own Book of the Junta.
You were fourteen, then nineteen, in someone's
Recollection, before lakes of crude oil had burst
Into scarlet and magenta. With her little jots
Of music at night, the mockingbird comforts me
With her twittering. I still remember the Picture
Book of War: Collier's Photographic History.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


The public pressure for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney has increased, and is focused at present, on ways in which these leaders operate as a law unto themselves. By throwing caution aside, these men have abandoned normal restraint, through criminality, stealth and deception, brutality and violence. More than anything else, the public seems to have grasped the administration's contempt for justice. A White House without any sense of shame, run with irresponsible authority, is something most Americans had never dreamed was possible. The Constitution provides for Congress to enact the laws and for a President to faithfully execute the laws of the land. But when any president or vice president acts upon their belief that they can break laws, pass along illegal orders to their subordinates, and perpetuate criminality through their chain of command, they must be impeached.

By the terms of our Constitution no one is above the law. Justice is necessary; we cannot aspire to be "a nation of laws, not men" unless we begin impeachment. We cannot explain these times outside of justice and the need to establish justice. The Republic will die if our representatives ask us to go on living without justice, just clinging, hanging on as prisoners in isolation do, counting up our days by making scratch marks on the wall. Just waiting out Bush and Cheney until their terms of office expire will not do.

They have to go.

If we fail to respect our Constitution; our own liberties may fail, like those of the Roman Republic. There is no justice without full disclosure, not after these last six years of crimes in high office. Treason moves like a shadow behind a curtain of silence and secrecy; and we have seen with our own eyes how Mr. Libby has had his silence purchased by the President's commutation of his sentence.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have spoken endlessly of freedom; but they meant, to be sure, a freedom to take advantage of the guileless, the poor, and the unprepared. They quickly discarded people who acted in good faith, or any others who ever believed in their lies. It's been a real bash for their bagmen, henchmen, mercenaries and war profiteers, for the assorted torturers, wiretappers, kidnappers, freebooting lobbyists and murderers. It's a pity we can't impeach them all and point out their contemptible mugs on TV.

Bush and Cheney have now instructed their employees and former employees to ignore congressional subpoenas and invest themselves in contempt of Congress. The two Mr. Bigs should be made to answer articles of impeachment; and if they are obstinate, they can prepare for their trial in the Senate. To have the option of resigning is a much better thing than either of them deserves. But let them resign if they want to
be saved the embarrassment.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
Remember us.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say;
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

else lasker-schüler MY BLUE PIANO

At home I have a blue piano.
But I can't play a note.

It's been in the shadow of the cellar door
Ever since the world went rotten.

Four starry hands play harmonies.
The Woman in the Moon sang in her boat.
Now only rats dance to the clanks.

The keyboard is in bits.
I weep for what is blue. Is dead.

Sweet angels, I have eaten
Such bitter bread. Push open
The door of heaven. For me, for now--

Although I am still alive--
Although it is not allowed.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Artwork by Fernando Botero
In the twentieth century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister and author of an important work of philosophy raised again Aristotle's question of a disposition toward evil. It was not so much a single evil act that concerned Bonhoeffer, a German, as it was the disposition toward evil. His concern led him to leave a safe position in the United States and return to Germany to oppose Hitler. He was implicated in the plot to kill the Fuhrer, and Bonhoeffer was sent to prison and then to Flossenburg concentration camp. Shortly before the liberation of the camp he was stripped, marched through the corridors to the gallows, and hanged. His legacy is that an ordinary man, not a hero, may raise the hero's question about a government. Do the actions of the Bush Administration and its supporters in the Congress result from a disposition toward evil? And if that is not the disposition of all of them, it cannot be denied in the case of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Wolfowitz, and even Bush himself.

--Earl Shorris, "The National Character", Harper's Magazine, June 2007
Historians are bound to look on early 21st Century America with a harsh eye.

Even Andrew Sullivan, a noted conservative writer and former supporter of the Bush/Cheney policies, is now disturbed that the administration has recycled many of the same techniques, and similar language used by the Nazis. Sullivan does not equate 1937 Germany with 2007 America, but does warn his readers of the administration's fondness for Gestapo technique.
The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court.

Also: the use of hypothermia, authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld, was initially forbidden. 'Waterboarding" was forbidden too, unlike that authorized by Bush. As time went on, historians have found that all the bureaucratic restrictions were eventually broken or abridged. Once you start torturing, it has a life of its own.

What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable.
The Republic that generations have passed down to us is in real danger; and what is required is for the new majority in Congress to do what voters have entrusted them to do. The public wants American troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. But Congress instead capitulated to the president; and the majority democrats removed the timelines for troop withdrawal, which they had previously touted and included in a bill they had presented a few weeks before.

On Memorial Day, Cindy Sheehan announced that she was physically, emotionally, and financially exhausted, and said that she had finished with the Camp Casey campaign and was returning home.
I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."
What was heartbreaking in her statement was her conclusion that her son Casey had died for nothing, and also her belief that she had failed him by her inability to carry on as she has.

The democrats in Congress cannot be forgiven for what they did, as they enabled the president's endless war. It doesn't matter whether you call them cowards or not. The so-called opposition party can no longer excuse themselves with promises to do the right thing next time. They have made that excuse one too many times.

Of what use are democrats in Congress if they won't stand their ground against an out-of-control president? One of the most banal excuses floated about, is the idea that these democrats were thrown into panic by the approach of the Memorial Day holiday. It is presumed that their guts surged with fright as they watched the latest glamor-packed Army recruitment ad on television, or when they heard the patriotic humming of Lockeed and Boeing commercials.

We should mark this down as complicity; and perhaps the democrats are not so much afraid as they are bound, deep down, to many of the same illusions and false duties that compel the republicans.

The disposition toward evil can express itself in the doing of evil, or in the enabling of those who do evil. This disposition can also manifest in the national myth, the collective illusions, the false mirror in which a nation sees itself.

Consider these cautionary words, written by Simone Weil during the Second World War:

That which is essentially different from evil is virtue accompanied by a clear perception of the possibility of evil, and of evil appearing as something good. The presence of illusions which we have abandoned, but which are still present in the mind, is perhaps the criterion of truth.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


An Associated Press article quotes former president, Jimmy Carter, who has broken from the tradition of ex-presidents withholding criticism of a sitting president. Carter, who aimed his harshest words at Bush's Iraq war policy, also condemned Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a BBC radio interview, Carter described "the almost undeviating support" of the President's British ally as "a major tragedy for the world". The former president had strong words to describe Blair's support of Bush: "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient".

Carter emphasized that a break of political continuity basically separates the Current Occupant of the White House from past administrations:
The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.

We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that sometime in the future our security might be endangered...But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies.
The AP article continued:
Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, criticized Bush for having "zero peace talks" in Israel. Carter also said the administration "abandoned or directly refuted" every negotiated nuclear arms agreement, as well as environmental efforts by other presidents.

Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helped religious charities receive $2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone.

"The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion," Carter said. "As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that promise when I was president, and so have other presidents, I might say, except this one."
Though Jimmy Carter's declaration comes belatedly against the White House and its Current Occupant, it does dramatize the building political crisis. This decision can be seen as requiring courage, and has already put former President Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter at the receiving end of threats, coming from American right-wing extremists.

UPDATE: Monday, May 21, 2007

Jimmy Carter today chose to modify his previous commentary that appeared in an Arkansas newspaper. Carter did not retract any of his sharp attack on Prime Minister Blair, but revised his remarks with respect to Bush, saying he intended no personal sort of criticism of the president.
Following a White House denunciation of Carter's original remarks, the Democratic former leader said he had intended to describe Bush as the worst president since scandal-plagued Richard Nixon.

"My remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted. But I wasn't comparing the overall administration and certainly not talking personally about any president," Carter told NBC.

"I have been very careful and still am not to criticize any president personally," he said, while restating his opposition to Bush's policies on Iraq and the Middle East.

In a weekend commentary published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Carter had written: "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."
--David Edwards, Raw Story

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Jason, who is still alive, is vomited up by the dragon that protects the Golden Fleece. Nearby stands Athena, poised to rescue the hero.
"Homer meant by Athena mind and intelligence. And the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her, and indeed calls her by a still higher title, divine intelligence, as though he would say, This is she who had the mind of God." --Plato, Cratylus, p. 147
Let us imagine American life before and after the Revolution, or life before and after Harper's Ferry, or again, before and after Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Selma, Alabama. The nation has survived bloody internal convulsions, as well as foreign wars; and up to this point we have survived to contemplate the "before and after". Nonetheless, our birthday today at Tholos seems to be the most solemn one so far; and we have to wonder whether "mind and intelligence" or some other aspect of God will light our way beyond the present chapter of history.

As citizens of an American nation (or as citizens of any nation) we recognize that--like the naked man in the mouth of a dragon--we are not in the usual kind of trouble.

Christian and Islamic absolutists are convinced they won't die themselves, as they bring the "before and after" to a crashing end.

How shall we frame the end of history? Clearly a species that will continue to slow cook its habitat rather than change lifestyles is not in line for "natural selection". Creationists can't figure out how mass extinction takes place. It won't be so biblical when no one's around to enjoy the end of history, and witness the harsh judgment of those they always hated, feeling liberated enough to clap and cheer and howl, as folks do at a football game. We give God more credit than that; we think God is more subtle.

Most people don't know that God was put on trial at Auschwitz by a small group of learned Jewish men who were imprisoned there. Elie Wiesel had lost his mother and little sister in the camp by that time, and it broke his heart to witness that trial. He was only a boy himself; but he understood the finding that God was wrong.

There was a "before Auschwitz" and an "after Auschwitz" and it is our responsibility to remember what happened. Keeping the "before and after" is a sacred obligation. And Elie Wiesel has said that "the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference". Believing what he said, we cannot be indifferent to Israelis bottling up Palestinians in a ghetto. We cannot be indifferent to an American-led jihad for oil. We cannot be indifferent to Sunni and Shia pinning notes on the bodies of each other's Iraqi relatives, which read "this is what happens to unbelievers".
"There is so much to be done, there is so much that can be done. One person--a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, a Martin Luther King Jr.--one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs."
--Elie Wiesel, Night, p. 120
Look at the Golden Fleece! How beautiful! How near at hand and elusively out of reach! It is the venerated object that bestows blessings and healing upon the community that possesses it. Now is the moment when it should belong to the whole world.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

wislawa szymborska TORTURES

Nothing has changed.
The body is a reservoir of pain;
it has to eat and breathe the air, and sleep;
it has thin skin and the blood is just beneath it;
it has a good supply of teeth and fingernails;
its bones can be broken; its joints can be stretched.
In tortures all of this is considered.

Nothing has changed.
The body still trembles as it trembled
before Rome was founded and after,
in the twentieth century before and after Christ.
Tortures are just what they were, only the earth has shrunk
and whatever goes on sounds as if it's just a room away.

Nothing has changed.
Except there are more people,
and new offenses have sprung up beside the old ones--
real, make-believe, short-lived, and non-existent.
But the cry with which the body answers for them
was, is, and will be a cry of innocence
in keeping with the age-old scale and pitch.

Nothing has changed.
Except perhaps the manners, ceremonies, dances.
The gesture of the hands shielding the head
has nonetheless remained the same.
The body writhes, jerks, tugs,
falls to the ground when shoved, pulls up its knees,
bruises, swells, drools, and bleeds.

Nothing has changed.
Except the run of rivers,
the shapes of forests, shores, deserts, and glaciers.
The little soul roams among those landscapes,
disappears, returns, draws near, moves away,
evasive and a stranger to itself,
now sure, now uncertain of its own existence,
whereas the body is and is and is
and has nowhere to go.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


"Many years ago I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and responsible America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas."

--Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country, p. 71-2

"Where are Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln now when we need them? They were country boys from Middle America, and both of them made the American people laugh at themselves and appreciate really important, really moral jokes. Imagine what they would have to say today.

One of the most humiliated and heartbroken pieces Mark Twain ever wrote was about the slaughter of six hundred Moro men, women, and children by our soldiers during our liberation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Our brave commander was Leonard Wood, who now has a fort named after him. Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

What did Abraham Lincoln have to say about America's imperialist wars, the ones that, on one noble pretext or another, aim to increase the natural resources and pools of tame labor available to the richest Americans who have the best political connections?

It is almost always a mistake to mention Abraham Lincoln. He always steals the show. I am about to quote him again.

More than a decade before his Gettysburg Address, back in 1848, when Lincoln was only a Congressman, he was heartbroken and humiliated by our war on Mexico, which had never attacked us. James Polk was the person Representative Lincoln had in mind when he said what he said. Abraham Lincoln said of Polk, his president, his armed forces' commander-in-chief:
Trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory--that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood--that serpent's eye, that charms to destroy--he plunged into war.
Holy shit! And I thought I was a writer!

Do you know we actually captured Mexico City during the Mexican War? Why isn't that a national holiday? And why isn't the face of James Polk, then our president, up on Mount Rushmore along with Ronald Reagan's? What made Mexico so evil back in the 1840s, well before our Civil War, is that slavery was illegal there. Remember the Alamo? With that war we were making California our own, and a lot of other people and properties, and doing it as though butchering Mexican soldiers who were only defending their homeland against invaders wasn't murder. What other stuff besides California? Well, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Speaking of plunging into war, do you know why I think George W. Bush is so pissed off at Arabs? They brought us algebra. Also the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which Europeans had never used before. You think Arabs are dumb? Try doing long division with Roman Numerals."

--ibid, pp. 75-7
AP Photo/Buzz Orr

Thursday, April 05, 2007

jean chilner morris: PIECES OF CHESS

The cruelty of men
(Disguised as gallantry)
Pushes to the precipice
This dazed, beleaguered
Who leans staring
Into space or death.

Men have hurled you
Into the abyss;
They seek themselves,
And leave you staring
Back in horror, pity.

Possessed by feeling...
You are alone...alone
Beyond the shallow
Rim of the unfeeling.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


The innovative artist, Cosimo Cavallaro should have known that a six foot, genital inclusive, standing sculpture of Christ, made of 200 lbs. of dark chocolate, would land him in a world of trouble. And I guess it didn't help that he entitled the exhibit My Sweet Lord.
The religious right moved with dispatch, when it was announced that a mid-town Manhattan exhibition of the huge confection was in the planning stages. The ultra-conservative Catholic League was quickly on the case and Guardian reporter, Ed Pilkington, describes a campaign in which “the league sent emails to 500 other religious groups—including Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist with a combined reach of millions—calling on them to boycott the Roger Smith hotel in which the gallery, The Lab, is based.”

Pilkington writes that “Within 24 hours the hotel was so inundated with calls and visiting protesters that it pulled the exhibit.”

As Catholic League president and right-wing mouth-organ, Bill Donahue, put it...”All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don't react the way extremist Muslims do when they're offended.”

A counter-demonstration of sorts, roughly a dozen local anarchists, were gathered outside the lobby of the hotel, chanting “Eat the Chocolate Christ.”

The 45 year old sculptor, Cavallaro, explained that he just liked to do art with foodstuffs. One of his most famous projects involved the 1999 interior decoration of a house in Wyoming with ten thousand pounds of spray-on cheese.

President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are informed of the existence of a Chocolate Christ

Thursday, March 22, 2007


From my friend, Benny, the firecracker salesman. By the way, this is what a real live progressive Democrat sounds like--or SHOULD sound like at this particular moment, if he is the real thing. Born in deep East Texas, but he crawled out of that red dirt loblolly wilderness, shed the alligator suit and learned how to think for himself. This is the real McCoy--no compromise with the truth, no pusillanimous half-measures. The code he lives by: "The only thing you find in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

So, here's the note I just received from him in my e-mail box:
Did you get a thing from Camp Casey Easter meet-up and act-up? I don't think I'm up to it. What is going on in our Congress is simply that the half-way Blue Dog Democrats won't sign onto anything unless it is deeply compromised, watered-down, and ineffective. They represent districts that contain voters that resent being forced to elect Democrats in the first place and think that the oceans rising to cover Hillsboro and Texarkana is not nearly so scary as taking the Confederate flag down from the Georgia statehouse. There are a few good progressives left, but before they can vote for anything that makes a nickel's worth of difference, they have to be elected to office, and have you looked lately at the American citizen who does the deciding of whom to elect? Parts of Massachusetts and California and Oregon is all that remains of the nation inspired and devoted to the Enlightenment. The best and brightest were sitting at University Christian Church when you were the only speaker in the entire lousy temple with a shred of ordinary human decency, and not a one of them gave a flying fuck for any principle or any virtue, or for anyone but their own goddamn self. And one is branded a bomb-throwing red if you're not sitting in the Amen section of the First Baptist Church every Sunday morning listening to the most puerile, hateful, clap-trap you can possibly imagine in your sweatiest, bourbon-soaked dream. If Pelosi had an ounce less grit or single-minded devotion to working her ass off for a country that doesn't feel a dime's worth of gratitude for her leadership or for her diamond-hard devotion to doing the best job possible for this ungrateful, self-absorbed nation, which hasn't even a willingness to become informed of what is happening in the world besides a big-breasted blond bimbo over-dosing and killing her stinking, trifling ass with grossly over-priced pills from Rexall drugstore or the Dallas goddamn Cowboys beating Washington in a football game on television, she would go back to San Francisco and leave the malignant greed-heads to do whatever they wanted without anyone to interfere or do one fucking thing to impede their rule, just like before she was chosen to serve as Speaker. It is, I am accepting a bit more every day, a rare privilege to be acquainted with even a handful of friends and family that remain kind and steadfast and thoughtful. I can't imagine Ms. Pelosi or any other intelligent member of Congress maintaining a willingness to give a shit, or certainly not to beat their head against a brick wall day after day for a nation of selfish, rich, stupid, and mean citizens. If I continue to look honestly at my country, or even at humanity its own self for more than a few quick minutes, a craving for whiskey becomes pretty bothersome. Reality has been difficult for me for some reason since I was a kid. I'm really glad I'm not trying to fix this unworthy country like those losers in our Congress. --Ben H.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

wislawa szymborska DINOSAUR SKELETON

Beloved Brethren,
we have before us an example of incorrect proportions.
Behold! the dinosaur's skeleton looms above--

Dear Friends,
on the left we see the tail trailing into one infinity,
on the right, the neck juts into another--

Esteemed Comrades,
in between, four legs that finally mired in the slime
beneath this hillock of a trunk--

Gentle Citizens,
nature does not err, but it loves its little joke:
please note the laughably small head--

Ladies, Gentlemen,
a head this size does not have room for foresight,
and that is why its owner is extinct--

Honored Dignitaries,
a mind too small, an appetite too large,
more senseless sleep than prudent apprehension--

Distinguished Guests,
we're in far better shape in this regard,
life is beautiful and the world is ours--

Venerated Delegation,
the starry sky above the thinking reed
and moral law within it--

Most Reverend Deputation,
such success does not come twice
and perhaps beneath this single sun alone--

Inestimable Council,
how deft the hands,
how eloquent the lips,
what a head on these shoulders--

Supremest of Courts,
so much responsibility in place of a vanished tail--

Monday, March 12, 2007


From Democracy Now, This excerpt from Hugo Chavez's speech in Buenos Aires:

"The imperial little gentleman that's visiting Latin America today said about seventy-two or forty-eight hours ago in one of his speeches, when he was announcing that he was leaving for Latin America, he compared Simon Bolivar to George Washington. In fact, he even said the ridiculous thing -- and I can't say it's hypocrisy, because it is simply ridiculous, the most ridiculous thing he could say. He said, today we are all children of Washington and Bolivar. That is, he thinks that he is a son of Bolivar. What he is is a son of a -- but I can't say that word here.

So he has said -- he has said -- and you should listen to what he said here -- he said that now is the time to finish the revolution that Washington and Bolivar commenced . How's that for heresy? That is heresy and ignorance, because we have to remember -- and I say this with all due respect to George Washington, who is historically one of the founding fathers of that country -- but we must also remember the differences and how different George Washington and Simon Bolivar were, are and will always be.

George Washington won a war to gain the independence of the North American economic elite from the English empire, and when Washington died, or, rather, after his independence and after having been the president of the United States, after ordering the massacre of the indigenous peoples of North America, after defending slavery, he ended up being a very rich owner of slaves and of a plantation. He was a great landowner. That was George Washington.

Simon Bolivar, however, was born with a silver spoon, and at eight years old his parents died and he inherited a large fortune, together with his brothers, and he inherited haciendas and slaves. Simon Bolivar, when history led him -- and as Karl Marx said, men can make history, but only as far as history allows us to do so -- when history took Bolivar and made him the leader of the independence process in Venezuela, he made that process revolutionary. Simon Bolivar turned over all of his land. He freed all of his slaves, and he turned them into soldiers, and he brought them here. He brought them to Peru and Carabobo, and he worked together with the troops of San Martin to liberate this continent. That is Simon Bolivar.

And Simon Bolivar, having been born with that silver spoon in his mouth, when he died on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, when he died on December 17 in 1830, he was dressed with a shirt of someone else, because he had no clothes. Simon Bolivar is the leader of the revolution of this land. He is the leader of the social revolution, the people's revolution, the historical revolution. George Washington has nothing -- nothing -- to do with this history."


"It would appear that [Bush] doesn't even dare mention my name, because he was asked in Brasilia today in a press conference -- I saw it, I watched it at the hotel -- and the journalist asked him, “It is said that you are here to stop Chavez's movement in South America.” And it looked like he almost had a heart attack when he heard "Chavez," because he actually stuttered a couple of times, and he actually changed the subject. He didn't answer the question. He didn't answer the question at all. So he doesn't even dare."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Vice President Dick Cheney has a blood clot in his leg, tests revealed on Monday. Cheney went to the doctor's office in Washington D.C. complaining of a “mild calf discomfort,” following a nine day trip to Asia and the Middle East that ended last week.

Ultrasound revealed a deep venous thrombosis or blood clot in his left lower leg. Blood clots of this type are normally considered dangerous, since they can move to the heart and cause heart attack or stroke. But this particular blood clot is actually quite old, and has apparently been inside the Vice President for most of his life.

“In fact, I would say this clot has been in Dick Cheney's brain since he was about twelve years old,” says Dr. Sam Cleavern, Chief Surgeon at Jacob And Wilhelm Grimm Memorial Hospital, and Cheney's personal physician. “You might say, it's more like an entity than a common blood clot,” Cleavern added.

When pressed further for a description, Cleavern hesitated, then said, “Well, you might say it's something like a troll or a homunculus.” Apparently, it's been feeding off Cheney's brain, sucking it out in minute degrees till now there's virtually nothing left. It appears the homunculus has literally taken the place of the Vice President's brain.

Dr. Hans Bordeleou of New York University says that when a blood clot occurs in the leg, there can be pain or swelling. If the condition worsens, some people suffer shortness of breath or may even cough blood. He disputes the notion of a homunculus at large in the Vice President's body, calling the theory absurd.

Nevertheless, when Cheney addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting at a Washington hotel on Monday morning, several witnesses reported seeing his eyes bulge, become reddened, and blood shoot from his mouth over the podium. However, the Vice President continued his speech as if nothing unusual had happened.

Rumors of Cheney's odd behavior have been flying around the blogosphere for several years, none of which have been confirmed. A nurse at the hospital that treated 79-year-old Harry Whittington, whom Cheney shot in the face with a 28-guage shotgun in February, 2006, said the Austin lawyer had confided to her that just before Cheney squeezed the trigger, Whittington thought he saw the Vice President's eyes bulge and blood spray from his mouth. Reached for comment, Whittington would neither confirm nor deny the story.

During his recent trip to the Middle East to talk about the “surge” in Iraq and possible war with Iran, several witnesses reported seeing the Vice President's eyes bulge as he spoke. At least two high ranking military commanders described the Vice President's expression as "pop-eyed," and said that blood either "spurted" or "dripped" from his mouth.

Another officer, Major General William Fefferman, noticed blood spray on his uniform after speaking with the Vice President face to face. He said he saw the flecks of blood in a mirror a few minutes after speaking with Cheney about attacking Iran. He recalled the air between them appeared to turn pale red as Cheney spoke of “annihilating America's enemies.”

Said General Fefferman, “If you want to know what I really think, I believe it was God talking to me. God is now speaking through Dick Cheney. I love God and I love Dick Cheney, and whatever God or Dick wants me to do, I will do it, no questions asked.”

Dr. Cleavern believes the homunculus is now acting on its own, traveling freely throughout Cheney's body. “Currently, it's in his left leg. Tomorrow, it could be in his right leg. Or it may travel elsewhere,” Dr. Cleavern said. “It may even decide to return to the Vice President's head. We just don't know what it's next move is going to be. It's subject to change at a moment's notice.”

Currently, the medical staff at the D.C. hospital is uncertain how to treat the condition.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


by Harold Pinter.

Harold Pinter was recently award the Nobel Prize in literature. In 1995, he won the David Cohen British Literature Prize, awarded for a lifetime's achievement in literature. In 1996 he was given the Laurence Olivier Award for a lifetime's achievement in theater. In 2002 he was made a Companion of Honour for services to literature.

There's an old story about Oliver Cromwell. After he had taken the town of Drogheda, the citizens were brought to the main square. Cromwell announced to his lieutenants, "Right! Kill all the women and rape all the men." One of his aides said, "Excuse me, General. Isn't it the other way around?" A voice from the crowd called out, "Mr. Cromwell knows what he's doing!" That voice is the voice of Tony Blair. "Mr. Bush knows what he's doing!"

But the fact is that Mr. Bush and his gang do know what they're doing and Blair, unless he really is the deluded idiot he often appears to be, also knows what they're doing. They are determined, quite simply, to control the world and the world's resources. And they don't give a damn how many people they murder on the way. And Blair goes along with it.

He hasn't the support of the Labour Party, he hasn't the support of the country or of the celebrated "international community." How can he justify taking this country into a war nobody wants? He can't. He can only resort to rhetoric, cliche, and propaganda. Little did we think when we voted Blair into power that we would come to despise him. The idea that he has influence over Bush is laughable. His supine acceptance of American bullying is pathetic.

Bullying is of course a time-honored American tradition. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson said to the Greek Ambassador to the United States, "Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fellows continue itching the elephant they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good."

He meant what he said. Shortly afterward the Colonels, supported by the United States, took over, and the Greek people spent seven years in hell.

As for the American elephant, it has grown to be a monster of grotesque and obscene proportions.

The "special relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom has, in the last twelve years, brought about the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Serbia. All this in pursuit of the American and British "moral crusade" to bring "peace and stability to the world."

The use of depleted uranium in the Gulf War has been particularly effective. Radiation levels in Iraq are appallingly high. Babies are born with no brain, no eyes, no genitals. Where they do have ears, mouths, or rectums, all that issues from these orifices is blood.

Blair and Bush are of course totally indifferent to such facts, not forgetting the charming, grinning, beguiling Bill Clinton, who was apparently given a standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference. For what, killing Iraqi children? Or Serbian children?

Bush has said, "We will not allow the world's worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world's worst leaders." Quite right. Look in the mirror, chum. That's you.

The United States is at this moment developing advanced systems of "weapons of mass destruction" and is prepared to use them where it sees fit. It has walked away from international agreements on biological and chemical weapons, refusing to allow any inspection of its own factories.

It is holding hundreds of Afghans prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, allowing them no legal redress although they are charged with nothing, holding them captive virtually forever.

It is insisting on immunity from the international criminal court, a stance which beggars belief but which is now supported by Great Britain.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Tony Blair's contemptible subservience to this criminal American regime demeans and dishonors this country.
October 15, 2002

Friday, February 23, 2007


Honey bees are disappearing. Nobody seems to know why. Perhaps another casualty of pollution and global warming. With the latest gloomy report of environmental scientists, it appears we humans are short-listed for extinction on our doomed planet along with polar bears, whales and the already vanquished do-do bird.

No doubt the first to go will be those who will be unable to afford to get to higher ground or pay what is certain to be a very high premium to live there. In other words, they will look a lot like the thousands left behind after Hurricane Katrina. Only, this time, they will number in the millions.

Already we're finding out who can or cannot afford the basic necessities, not just food and running water, but heat in winter. Forget health care. Here in Texas, the rich oil man, T. Boone Pickens, is buying up acreage overlying the Ogallala aquifer. Basically, he plans to drain the aquifer needed by West Texas farmers and sell off the water at colossal profits. This will be the sunset of our brief sojourn here. The rich will continue to plunder and profiteer off the rest of us right up to the end—at which point, I suppose, there will be nobody left but them, clutching their purses as they breathe their last in a world that will barely sustain them or their spoiled offspring.

For the present, we are locked in mortal combat over the earth's dwindling oil reserves, all under the guise of making the world “safe for Democracy.” And millionaires. The proposed new oil law cooked up between the U.S. and the Iraqi government leaves no doubt what the real objective was for the Iraq War. Under the new law, Iraq's oil will be handed over to foreign oil corporations, such as Exxon-Mobil, Shell and British Petroleum.

Well, if you can't win the war on the ground, at least you can win it on paper. The new definition of Democracy.

Not all that new, I suppose. From the Mexican War to the present day, Americans have always had a soft spot for bringing freedom and religion to backward people neatly packaged in the latest generation of exploding devices.

And make no mistake. Merely because folks are momentarily disheartened by the present disaster in Iraq should in no way be interpreted to mean they are tired of war, only that they are tired of losing. Give them a new one, such as Iran—looking more imminent by the hour—and once again their optimism will soar.

You would think the announcement of the world's leading scientists that global warming is well-nigh irreversible would render absurd all wars or even the thought of war. Yet, the best thinking of our leaders is not to halt the one in Iraq, but to expand it. And to move aircraft carriers into the Persian Gulf, poised to heap destruction on Iran.

And while bullying other countries (puny enough to be bullied) to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons, we are working night and day on a whole new generation of WMDs for ourselves. To what end? To gain dominion over a world that may not be able to support human life another hundred years? To hand the spoils over to the likes of Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and WalMart?

The sad history of our last stand on the planet will not be any noble effort to join hands with our brothers and sisters around the globe to try to halt what is happening to our beleaguered planet, but instead to bring more destruction, more bloodshed, more misery, as we continue our campaign to grab all that remains of the oil, the gas, the gold, the precious minerals, the jewels, the dinars, the shekels, and finally, inevitably, the water, for ourselves.

Our end, I imagine, will not be unlike the end of that great book by William Golding that I read long ago as a freshman in college, Lord Of The Flies. The adults finally arrive to rescue the children who have been stranded on an island after a plane crash, only to find a rabble of half-naked and painted savages, stalking each other with sharpened sticks. In a final touch of irony, the adult leading the rescue party is decked out in a crisp white naval uniform with brass buttons and epaulets. Now, the question is who will rescue him?

As for those honey bees, once they're gone, I reckon we'll have no more flowers. Which suggests a new line for Pete Seeger's famous song. Well, you'll still be able to get plastic ones—all you want. We'll need oil to make them with, of course. Ah, thus may our wars acquire a whole new relevance—not only to quench the voracious thirst of our cars, but also to maintain a steady crop of flowers—albeit plastic ones—for soldiers' graves.

--Published in the current online issue (Feb. 26) of The Lonestar Iconoclast.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


"...generally accepted in Christianity [is that] all mankind is tainted by the sin of Adam...and in all of us there is a disposition to the evil character responsible for that terrible deed. But in all of us, besides the inclination to revolt against the something of that exaggerated pride and hypertrophic vanity that makes us think of ourselves as godlike."

"Brushing away all religious veneer and looking at the question from the viewpoint of sober scientific research, is there, in reality, in all human beings a kind of innate overconfidence in their own powers?"

"It is very likely, however, that the assumption of such a general disposition does not regard actions, but rather activity in thoughts: in other words, overevaluation of mental activities, fantasies, wishes."

"Psychoanalysis asserts that children have really a grandiose concept of the power of their own thoughts and learn only late to acknowledge the limitations set to their daydreams and wishes. A small boy or a small girl will at first believe that he or she can grasp the moon looking into the nursery. Such extraordinary belief in one's own mental processes is often unconsciously maintained and kept in spite of opposite rational views."

"In psychoanalysis of neurotic patients, especially in obsessive cases, we regularly encounter manifestations of that old belief in the omnipotence of their thoughts." --Theodor Reik, MYTH AND GUILT, p. 413-14
On the other hand, as Dr. Reik points out, the neurotic who successfully resists temptation is still quite harsh on himself, because the moderator of conscience (his superego) "treats certain wishes as though they were real transgressions." Neurosis is a common enough feature, and the conclusion about guilt. that Reik arrives at, is that it is grounded in aggression, often aimed at a loved one, which conscience forbids the person to even think about. This inner conflict cannot be expressly resolved.
"The tension between the strict superego and the subordinate ego is called "sense of guilt"...and it manifests itself as a need for punishment".

This goes back to the most fundamental moral affect, which we encounter as children. And Dr. Reik identifies the genesis of guilt as directly connected to the dread of losing love. "A bad deed precipitates discovery of the misdeed which precipitates loss of love (and protection) for the child."
We have to be worried about our President, George W. Bush, because he shows very little sign of this moral grounding. "The guilt feelings of mankind have their root in aggression and violence"; but there is extreme danger arising in the rare man who operates without any sense of guilt. Will America lead the world toward total war, at the bidding of such a man? This curious President who has so often clowned and mugged for the cameras, is one who has always been more dangerous than he appears to be on the surface.

H.L. Mencken's admonishment that "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking" does not seem to be working in the case of President Bush. The whole world is looking at the President's prevarications as he makes his preparations for an attack on Iran.

Our desperate hope is that Congress will act in time to prevent the escalation against Iran that Bush seems determined to mount. As US Occupation forces pass through Iraq's shattered communities, this war may spread further, with apocalyptic violence, as it swirls on, and burns through Iran and Afghanistan.

President Bush seems to think that America should sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. He may think he has been given the access code to the nation's messianic buttons. He may think that God has chosen him to activate the Book of Revelations. But the President can no longer coax the public into seeing him as some poor neurotic (like them), obsessed with his past failures, and driven to prove himself as his father's equal. The reality is much more sinister. There is no moral agent in this man, no conscience, nothing to curb ambition or deter omnipotent moods.

Chris Hedges has warned us about the Christian Right and its seductive vision of absolutism and apocalyptic violence, in his new book called American Fascists.
"The ecstatic belief in the cleansing power of apocalyptic violence does not recognize the right of the victims to self-preservation or self-defense. It does not admit them into a moral universe where they can have a criminal's right to be punished and rehabilitated. They are seen instead through this poisonous lens as pollutants, viruses, mutations that must be eradicated to halt further infection and degeneration within society and usher in utopia. This sacred violence--whether it arises from the Bible, Serbian nationalism, the dream of a classless society, or the goal of a world where all "subhumans" are eradicated--allows its perpetrators and henchmen to avoid moral responsibility for their crimes. The brutality they carry out is sanctified, an expression of not human volition but divine wrath. The victims, in a final irony, are considered responsible for their suffering and destruction."

"Societies that embrace apocalyptic visions and seek through sacred violence to implement them commit collective suicide."

The endgame is already set in motion.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Wisdom and humor were combined in such a delightful way, in the essays of Molly Ivins. And she deserves the laurel wreath that is given to the brave, having spent many years in a fight with recurrent cancer. Molly was a Texas original, an irrepressible spirit and an influential figure, whose political commentary was often hilarious and touching as well. She was supremely gifted in the art of lampooning the tragic and often ridiculous figures who haunt our political life. There was such a blessing in Molly's humor, and something deeply instructive.

I found myself laughing as I considered her persona, which always produced such satires and other fun in her artistic life, and there was the striking humanity in all her written words. After all, most talented humorists are admired for their wit; but only a select few, like Molly Ivins, have been so widely loved. There is either the pang of grief, or a sweet kind of laughter that arises when the memory of her life's work stands revealed. I wanted to find a poem to honor her; and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran came to mind, immediately this passage:
Then a woman said, speak to us of Joy
and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your
laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your
being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very
cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your
spirit, the very wood that was hollowed
with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only that
which has given you sorrow that is giving
you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been
your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than
sorrow,"and others say, "Nay, sorrow is
the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits
alone with you at your board, remember
that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales be-
tween your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at
standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to
weigh his gold and his silver, needs must
your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

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...