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.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


"The degree to which this President continues to take steps to go to war against Iran without consulting with the full Congress is the degree to which he is increasingly putting himself in jeopardy of an impeachment proceeding."

"The President is mischaracterizing U.S. action vis à vis Iran. In fact, the U.S. is already engaged in offensive and provocative acts against Iran."

"The President's strategy, by portraying our involvement as only being on the defensive, is laying out the groundwork for him to attack Iran and bypass authorization by Congress." --Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Rawstory
I saw a movie yesterday, "Pan's Labyrinth", set in General Franco's Spain (circa 1944) which was suffused with the dark energy of civil brutality, the outcome of a fascist ascendancy, filled with torture and extra-judicial murder that had become casual. The world is still under the thumb of people who bow to authority without questioning its orders or motives.

Our President who spoke so brazenly in pursuit of his lawless wiretapping a year ago is exactly the same man he was then, although now he dons another mask for his latest State of the Union speech, and his temporary lack of swagger becomes a useful tactic, as he methodically rolls out the war machine and sets his sights on Iran. The aggression is unthinkable. It is incalculable. It proceeds with malice aforethought. It is all cold-blooded murder, all meticulous and monstrous treason; and it would be the legacy Mr. Bush seems to covet, a set piece among the greatest crimes of history.

President Bush has expanded the Occupation of Iraq and his war in ways which are not immediately apparent. The writer, Jeremy Scahill, explained in a Democracy Now interview that Bush has widened the war with Blackwater fighters and other mercenary soldiers in Iraq. The deaths of these hired soldiers are not in the more accessible public records.
"...we should be counting the deaths of Blackwater soldiers in the total troop count."..."one of the ways we have found to discover the deaths of the number of contractors that have been killed is actually through the Department of Labor, because the government has a federal insurance scheme that's been set up"..."and it's insurance provided to contractors who service the US military abroad. And so, as of late last year, more than 600 families of contractors in Iraq had filed for those benefits."

"--and these are just US contractors that have rights to federal benefits inside of the United States. Remember it's not just Americans that make up the majority of these [100,000 contractors] that are operating in Iraq right now, 48,000 of whom are mercenaries, according to the GAO. So I don't think it's possible to put a fine point on the number of troops killed, because the Bush administration has found a backdoor way to engage in an undeclared expansion of the occupation by deploying these private armies."
State terror and violence are being placed in tandem with mercenary terror and violence. An ever-widening sphere of destruction and carnage is being allowed. The provocations against Iran have already been initiated. The war against Iran is already in motion. Like the Schlieffen Plan that took years of German preparation before World War I, this present war was well prepared in advance. And what we see is an agenda, a momentum toward a set of objectives.

Seymour Hersh and other investigative reporters have warned us of the relentless war aims of this administration. We can expect a ramped up series of skirmishes accompanied by bellicose statements from Bush's White House, increasing in frequency as the date set for the attack on Iran approaches. So many of us wonder whether the showdown with Congress that seems inevitable, will fall apart as a capitulation to Bush/Cheney's sadistic progress of brutality and ambition--or if on the other hand--courage might prevail in Congress. Bush will try to present his expanded war as part of his idealism, and as an inevitability; but Pelosi and the Democrats (and some Republicans) are not so stupid or naive as to fall for it, or allow it to stand.

Congress must come to see that "unitary executive" powers and Bush's War represent a concerted assault on America's democratic institutions, harming our law and reason and decency, in ways that a foreign enemy could not.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The Continuing Saga of a Homeless Man and his Dog
by Jack Rafter

Home For The Holidays

About a year after I lost my job, Lena, my wife, and I split the sheets. We had already begun to go sour on each other, especially once she turned Republican. She and her mother, Mary-Louise, actually worked in Tom Delay's campaign for awhile. Even after he got indicted, they were still working for him. I asked her if she didn't think working for a criminal asshole might be setting a bad example for our daughters, Winnie and Ophelia, aged eight and nine years. She insisted he was not a criminal. “He's a great American,” she said, “who's just being targeted by liberals.”

Now, I see by the papers that he's going around preaching sermons to audiences of Christian fundamentalists, about the last group left in America, I suppose—or in the world, for that matter—that still supports Bush; people who it seems base all their decisions and their lives almost exclusively on delusions.

After the divorce, Lena took our daughters and moved in with her mother. We had an arrangement whereby I could see the girls every other weekend, and it worked out pretty good. Mary Louise never cared for me much. She's Presbyterian. She has her own accounting firm, with three other accountants working for her. She's rather large in the girth, about an ax-handle wide, near as I can estimate, though it's not all fat. She and Lena work out every other day at the Ladies Only Health Spa. Lena's nice and trim, as a result, while Mary Louise just seems to get more and more stout. She dyes her hair a whitish blond and combs it back from her face. She looks like a Swedish weight-lifter.

Mary Louise likes to challenge men to arm-wrestling matches. She's won quite a few bets that way, apparently. She asks me to arm-wrestle every time I go over there, but I always refuse. I imagine she could take me easily. I'm certain she would like nothing better than to break my arm, if only I would give her half a chance. “C'mon, Jack, what are you afraid of?” she says. I always smile and say, “No, thanks, Mary Louise. I don't want to embarrass you.”

* * *

After losing my job, I went off my rocker for awhile. I guess you call it depression. After that, I lost my house. That seemed to bring about a change in Lena. Almost like she was looking at me through a different lens. Repulsion—I think that's what it's called. After that, she started making little threatening remarks. “I don't know if I want my children to see you since you're crazy,” she'd say. Or “I'm thinking about getting an injunction against you.” Things like that.

So far, it's been mostly words. I try not to pay too much attention to her. And I just keep on coming over to the house to see my little girls whenever I can, even though there are times when I can't seem to distinguish reality from the real thing, if you know what I mean; sometimes I'm not sure whether I'm walking or riding horseback.

As for the girls, they hit it off with Vincent right away. Which really irked Lena. She thinks Vincent's nothing but a flea-bit mongrel. I'm pretty sure she looks at me that way, too. But I think I do a pretty fair job keeping the bugs off of us. Maintaining a certain level of hygiene isn't so easy to achieve living out by the train yards, but you do what you can. I don't have much money, so about all the girls and I can do is go for little walks here and there, maybe to a movie, if they pay for it—and they usually can--or to the zoo with the Mexicans on the freebie day. Now and then on warm days, we set out for the duck pond with a loaf of Sunbeam and feed the ducks. (Have to tie Vincent to a tree when we do that, otherwise, he wants to chase the birds back in the water.)

Lena told me not to show up on Christmas Day this year. She said they were having guests over that day—some rich clients of Mary Louise—and she didn't want them to see me. She said they would treat me to lunch and assured me there would be plenty of leftover turkey and other good things if I didn't mind waiting a few days. I said, “Sure, what the hell.” I thought about showing up unannounced on Christmas day, but decided against it, thinking about that injunction Lena might try to serve me with.

* * *

Well, Christmas Day was so infernal cold, there were only a couple of us in the hobo camp. The rest had gone to the shelters. Vincent and I hoofed it over to Johnny Blair's Bizzy Bee Cafe. He was opened for breakfast, but planned on closing the rest of the day. He fed me breakfast and gave me a little work washing dishes and helping him clean up the place for the holidays. He also gave me a nice Christmas gift—all wrapped and everything. It was a book of poetry—Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor—you know, the guy that does the radio show. I couldn't believe it. My eyes just about misted over. Well, that's Johnny Blair for you. Real prince of a gentleman. He said I could come home and have turkey with him and his wife, if I wanted to, but I declined. I figured he should be alone with his sweetheart for Christmas.

That night, the temperature dropped below thirty. The shelter was full up, so I went down to the emergency room of the hospital and blended in with all the sick people, while Vincent hid out in the parking garage. I stayed in there all night. Didn't sleep a wink, but at least I kept warm. The walls were lined with miserable wretches all spewing and fizzling like leaky faucets. But luckily, I didn't catch anything from them.

The next day, two more guys showed up at the hobo camp. The sun came out, but it was still bitter cold. We built up the fire, pooled our money, and sent a couple of fellas off to buy a chicken. They came back with a bird, some canned blackeyed peas and a bottle of wine. Napa Valley, no less. We threw the bird on the fire and made busy with the wine. Charlie Apthekir, had gone off on a foray in a swank neighborhood and came trudging back into camp with a tow-sack full of stuff he'd rummaged from the mountains of boxes and glitz and shiny trash thrown out on the curbs.

Among all his boodle, were a pair of pingpong paddles and a tube full of white plastic balls. Brand new, they were. Charlie says the gifting in some of those houses is so extravagant that quite often brand new stuff gets thrown out with the trash. Especially toys. “Those rich kids can't keep track of all their swag,” Charlie said with a gap-toothed grin, “so they don't even notice when they've thrown something out.”

His plunder included a few items that hadn't even been opened. And others where the wrappings had been removed, but the items were still in the box. We ended up with three men's ties, four pair of socks, a sweater, a bag of t-shirts, another bag of underdrawers, a shoe-box containing one woman's black high-heel shoe (the other one missing), some nice lingerie, six packages of pantyhose, three bottles of men's cologne, by Brut, a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume, a jar of orange marmalade, a big bag of walnuts, and a Black and Decker drill with a complete set of drill bits. There was a thing that looked like a fancy sling shot that had us all stumped for awhile, till someone guessed it was a woman's thong. We had a lot of fun thinking about that.

We divided up the booty among those present. We all agreed Charlie should keep the drill since he did all the work. The next day he went straight to the nearest pawnshop. He asked me if I thought my girls might like to play ping-pong. I said I didn't know, I'd give it a try. So he gave me the paddles and the balls.

Three days after Christmas, I showed up at Mary Louise's house. Lena looked me over real close before letting me in, just to make sure I was presentable. I was way ahead of her. That morning, I'd taken Vincent and gone to the Y for a shower. I slipped the dog in through a basement window and gave him a good scrubbing, as well. I also had on a nice clean pair of Dickies work pants and a flannel shirt, purchased for five dollars at the Goodwill Store. My hair was slicked down and my beard trimmed. I wore my old tweed coat—purchased twenty years ago for a slap hundred dollars. Now, it's threadbare and drafty, but I had hung it in the wind all night to get the campfire smell out, so I made a fair appearance.

Mary Louise's house was all festooned with Martha Stewart cut-outs and decorations. She had an eight-foot tall tree and a nice fire in the fireplace. We made a meal of the leftovers, just as promised, and the conversation was civil enough, I guess. Afterwards, the girls and I took to the street for a little ping-pong. We didn't have a net, but we had a helluva party for awhile. Yes, I played, too—found a piece of board in Mary Louise's garage and used it for a paddle, and man, we bat those balls all over the place. The girls were giggling like hyenas, diving under cars and into trash piles to retrieve the balls, and so on. At one point, I noticed Lena and Mary Louise peering at us from the livingroom window. They didn't look too happy. I knew the two of them were finding it somewhat trying to see their squeaky clean little girls reduced to playing ping-pong with discarded paddles out in the street with their bum father. But to Lena's credit, they left us alone.

Some of the other brats on the street stood around watching us with pinched faces as if we were out of our minds. I guess they thought it wasn't ping-pong if you don't have a nice table and a net. Fortunately, Winnie and Ophelia don't have too high expectations of me. They just seem to take everything in stride and have a jolly old time no matter what we do. I don't understand it, but somehow they didn't get spoiled. They just get a kick out of life. I hope they continue to feel that way awhile longer, but I suspect these times of innocence will pass into memory one of these days.

* * *

We played as long as we could, but at last Lena called the girls in, and I realized it was time to leave. I was surprised when she told me it was almost seven o'clock. I wanted badly to stay, to sit by Mary Louise's big fireplace and read a story to my children. I started to ask Lena if I could, but she had that clipped tone in her voice, and I figured it was a no sale. The girls came for goodbyes. I got down and hugged them both. Damn near misted up again. Then, I looked at Lena, and we just nodded at each other. Half an hour later, I was on the bus riding across town with Vincent.

We both crawled in the tent that night there in the woods, by the freight yard. In a little while, it started to snow. I turned the flashlight on and found my gift from Johnny Blair, the book of poems, in my tweed coat pocket. I'd been carrying it all day. I opened it and read aloud the first poem my eyes landed on, a poem called “Let Evening Come,” by Jane Kenyon.
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the crickets take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go back inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


“[Rome] creates a desert”...

“But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.”--Tacitus
The precise problem which faces us is which road the United States will take. Chalmers Johnson, writing in the January 2007 issue of Harper's Magazine, leaves no doubt that the choice is stark. In one part of his article, Republic or Empire, he contrasts the fate of Imperial Rome with that of Great Britain. The Romans, as Johnson says, were ultimately unwilling to part with the Empire, and this in itself, was the undoing of democracy. But in the aftermath of World War II, the British were ready to let go of imperial power, and this was a decision in favor of their democracy.

Americans have not awakened to this moment of truth, or even come to recognize the problem as a distinct political issue, owing to what Albert Einstein once said: "Problems cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them." The problem is only in part the present political crisis; that is to say the power struggle of a rogue President against our courageous representatives in the House and Senate. Rather, we as Americans have largely failed to confront the level of thinking, not to mention the associated problems, brought about by a National Security State and a Military Industrial Complex. A shift of consciousness is required of Americans, and a willingness to take collective responsibility for what our country has become.

There are no ruthless means that an empire will not resort to; if the leaders feel that the nation's prerogatives and base of power are threatened. Why are those things which get done in our national interest, the same things the historian Tacitus describes? Robbery, slaughter, plunder?
“[America's] imperial project is expensive. The flow of the nation's wealth—from taxpayers and (increasingly) foreign lenders through the government to military contractors and (decreasingly) back to the taxpayers—has created a form of “military Keynesianism,” in which the domestic economy requires sustained military ambition in order to avoid recession or collapse.” (Johnson)
During the Great depression of the 1930s the theories of British economist, John Maynard Keynes, were being put to the test by President Franklin Roosevelt. Putting unemployed men to work in newly created public works projects was one way of dealing with the economic disaster at hand.
"To prevent the economy from contracting, a development typically accompanied by social unrest, Keynes thought the government should take on debt in order to put people back to work. Some of these deficit financed government jobs might be socially useful, but Keynes was not averse to creating make-work tasks if necessary. During periods of prosperity, the government would cut spending and rebuild the treasury." (ibid)
Military Keynesianism, as described by Chalmers Johnson, seems to be the weapon of choice in the hands of a rogue administration. Any fantasy of violence and domination, from scorched earth to rape, from torture to the death squads, from bribery to larceny to embezzlement has been possible, once the nation became, first and foremost, since 2001, a military state. And the the money has gone here, there, and back again, with the shoddiest kind of accounting practices. And it is no accident.
"In 2005, the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress that “neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing” or “details on the appropriated money is being spent.” Indeed, the GAO found that , lacking a reliable method for tracking military costs, the Army had taken to simply inserting into its accounts figures that matched the available budget. Such actions seem absurd in terms of military logic. But they are perfectly logical responses to the requirements of military Keynesianism, which places its emphasis not on the demand for defense but rather on the available supply of money.”

“This creates a feedback loop: American presidents know that military Keynesianism tends to concentrate power in the executive branch, and so president's who seek greater power have a natural inducement to encourage growth of the military-industrial complex. As the phenomena feed on each other, the usual outcome is real war, based not on the needs of national defense but rather on the domestic political logic of military Keynesianism. As US Senator Robert La Follette Sr. observed, “In times of peace, the war party insists on making preparations for war. As soon as prepared for war, it insists on making war.””(ibid)(my emphasis)
And the fantasy world will be the last thing to end, as the President's Press Secretary proved just a few days ago:

"Also, I want to address kind of a rumor, an urban legend that's going around--and it comes from the language in the President's Wednesday night address to the nation, that in talking about Iran and Syria, that he was trying to prepare the way for war with either country and that there are war preparations underway: There are not."
Someone should tell Tony that his "urban legend" has been upgraded with those US nuclear subs lying off the coast of Iran, not to mention the two carrier battle groups gathering in the region, the Patriot Missile Batteries headed for the Gulf States, in addition to the 20,000 GIs the President is trying to get funded for some disagreeable duty. And Tony says there are no preparations for war.

Speaking for myself, I'd be pleased to embrace some new level of thinking and share what I could with my fellow Americans and everyone. Some help seems to be available; and if we do as Albert Einstein recommended with a thought experiment of our own, we might be able to find some renewal in Eastern thought.Here are the words of a man Mahatma Gandhi called "The Great Sentinel":
"We never can have a true view of man unless we have a love for him. Civilization must be judged and prized, not by the amount of power it has developed, but by how much it has evolved and given expression to, by its laws and institutions, the love of humanity. The first question and the last which it has to answer is, Whether and how far it recognizes man more as a spirit than a machine? Whenever some ancient civilization fell into decay and died, it was owing to causes which produced callousness of heart and led to the cheapening of man's worth; when either the state or some powerful group of men began to look upon the people as a mere instrument of their power; when, by compelling weaker races to slavery and trying to keep them down by every means, man struck at the foundation of his greatness, his own love of freedom and fair-play. Civilization can never sustain itself upon cannibalism of any form. For that by which alone man is true can only be nourished by love and justice."
--Rabindranath Tagore, The Realization of Life, 1916

Friday, January 05, 2007


Nixon Nixon I keep cutting back to your face as if
it's all we've got to go on Mon General once said
in a Kennedy he saw the smiling mask of America but
in Colonel Cornpone Johnson he saw the raw face
of America itself

--Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tyrannus Nix

Early yesterday NBC News reported that John Negroponte had agreed to become the Deputy Secretary of State, second in command under Condoleezza Rice, quitting his present office, as Director of National Intelligence.

Negroponte is being raised a notch, and I believe he could be in line to become Secretary of State. His thuggery is rising; and before we can catch our breath, we may wake up to find that he has become the diplomatic face of the United States. Meditate on that for a moment.

There are no demotions contemplated for him; from the Reagan years, romancing the death squads, as ambassador to Honduras, he went on for a stint in Mexico City. He was lifted from those second tier ambassadorships by the GW Bush administration. After 9/11 he was raised high in political visibility, and was made America's representative at the UN. Certain Hondurans of the goon class were hastily deported, so as to remove any chance that they might testify to any of the paramilitary unpleasantness, that occured during Negroponte's tenure in Honduras. But oddly enough there was no one willing to shake the rancor tree, so soon after the Towers fell, and the Senate didn't delve into all that Iran-Contra scandal. It was old news, you see.

But that was nothing. From there Negroponte went up like a skyrocket, to the Mega Embassy in Baghdad, Fortress USA in the Green Zone. It must have been like Honduras to the 10th power, riding with the bad boys again.

You would think that no more unchecked power could be granted to a small fry, career diplomat, but you would be wrong. The Bushies brought him back to Washington and hooked him up like a sixteen-tentacled octopus to sixteen intelligence agencies, where he would become America's Super-Hoover.

It's very bad when criminality arrives at too high a concentration at the top. Maybe you think I'm being too melodramatic about this. On the other hand, John "Death Squad" Negroponte, Secretary of State: just think about it.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Saddam Hussein was just the kind of brutal despot who is often promoted and protected (and sometimes installed) with the help of US foreign policy planning. Our leaders are still captives of Cold War mentality, a cynical policy that will not die, long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Power for power's sake and resource wars recommend the occasional disposal of men as wicked as Saddam, if it ensures that the winnings taken by the Pentagon, the contractors and the looting class, can proceed undisturbed.

The Hideous Lie is the mother of ten thousand lies. The lie was sold to America, that a superpower is using a war of occupation to defeat terrorism in Iraq; here was Bush's fraud, as to who attacked America, a wild goose chase for WMDs, and with every prior excuse exhausted, a pious crusade for democracy. Yet Americans have learned the hard way about mass murder and the pornography of torture; they can see now the mortal enemies of US democracy, which at the highest levels are dereliction of duty, lawlessness in public office, and war-profiteering.

Bush and Cheney have conducted their war of horror, just as Cheney said they would, "on the dark side". They have built upon deception, secrecy, and fear, roughing up our already damaged political system, adding obsessive secrecy and surveillance, and fanning the flames of institutional corruption.

In 1984, the handshake caught in a photo, showing Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein, was not merely cordial or formal; it was a handshake of empowerment. When the Iran-Iraq war was raging, a war that would claim 1.7 million dead, it was Saddam Hussein who was killing his own Kurdish as well as Iranians with poison gas, and there was a disinformation campaign of epic proportion being orchestrated by the US State Department and White House. Hussein was not held to be responsible for his evident crimes against humanity, even though the hue and cry of human rights organizations was being heard everywhere. Those international groups were clearly fingering the Iraqi dictator. US officials were saying it wasn't clear who was using the forbidden weapon. For all they knew, it might be the Iranians.

The US Army of Occupation is still in Iraq, three years after the invasion, and 2006 is over. Saddam Hussein's services are no longer required. Iraq is in civil war. And it was only a few days ago that I saw on TV a scene from Baghdad: fire, rolling clouds of black smoke, pools of blood congealed on the ground beside the shredded debris of cars. And filling the screen there was one face still in shock, an Iraqi man whose words were translated on the spot: he was saying that the people of his neighborhood were being killed "like chickens in a slaughterhouse".

From Baghdad Burning, Riverbend, in her own words:
"The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there."

"That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional."

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...