Monday, December 22, 2008


Woman in front of Greek Parliament, in protest, shouts at riot police.
The killing of a 15 year old boy, Andreas Alexis Grigoropolous, by an auxiliary policeman, put the match to a fire of uprising that has spread all across Greece. We don't know whether these unleashed furies will lead to a full insurrection that changes the political landscape fundamentally, or if there will be a repressive backlash, or if the right-center government of Prime Minister Karamanlis will fall, or resign, prompting new elections. But a poll taken in the shadow of this violence shows that the vast majority of Greeks believe this revolt has broad support and is not merely a rebellion of a fringe element. There is a long standing animosity not only against police brutality, but against the collusion of the two major political parties, where crimes committed by those in uniform ultimately go unpunished.

The revolt also seems to address the ruinous impact of privatization upon education, and a dearth of employment for 25% of young people, after they leave school and try to find jobs in their own country. There is also the situation, familiar to us in America, of a government whose agencies have so withered from corruption, that there is little evidence of governing at all, while the enrichment of the rich drives the middle class to a state of desperation. The ravages of class war can no longer be ignored as these kids watch the lives of their parents reduced by debts and overwork. "Graft, of course, goes hand in hand with incompetence," as Maria Margaronis writes, in The Guardian. The uprising has been identified as a burden carried mostly by the very young, who have occupied hundreds of schools in protest throughout the country, and come out bravely into the streets.
It is a revolt of schoolchildren and students, most on the street for the first time. There are reports of children as young as 12 battling riot police, shouting "Cops! Pigs! Murderers!"

The teenagers and twenty-somethings who have come close to toppling the Greek government are not the marginalized; this is no replay of the riots that convulsed Paris in 2005. Many are the sons and daughters of the middle classes, shocked at the killing of one of their own, disgusted with the government's incompetence and corruption, enraged by the broken promises of the education system, scared at the prospect of having to work harder than their exhausted parents. [...]

Police violence is not new, it is just that previous victims have been immigrants or Roma and so do not make the media. As usual when there is social dislocation, the far right has gained strength: the populist Orthodox Rally won 10 seats in parliament for the first time last year, and the neo-fascist Golden Dawn organization is known to have supporters inside the police. Now that the lid has blown off the pressure cooker, repression may take more blatant and more violent forms.

Andreas Alexis Grigoropoulos, 15 years old.

On the walls in front of the Greek Parliament, there is graffiti that reads "Alexis, these nights are for you." Throughout the country there is a revolt against the very alienation that the corruption of government has made possible. There is revulsion not merely at police excesses, but at the toleration of those excesses, that reach the highest offices. What the world witnesses in Greece is cause for wonderment, just as Greeks have been a cause of wonderment in times past; and today the coming together of people in the streets, both young and old, reveals much about human solidarity, and a democracy that is still capable of vitality and honesty at the grassroots. People from all walks of life are willing to meet face to face, students and teachers, trade unionists and ordinary laborers, professionals, artisans, and even some from the privileged class. And like Greeks from all times, they have a built-in suspicion of authority.

For example, Indymedia has reported a statement of protesting citizens, who briefly took control at a TV station:
Our action is a response to the accumulated pressures that ravage our lives, and not simply an emotional outburst in the wake of the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the Greek police.

We are yet another spontaneous collective that forms part of the social uprising in progress.

In a symbolic move to prevent the media from subduing us, citizens & civilians, we interrupt the newscast of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (NET). We believe that the media systematically cultivates a climate of fear, promoting misinformation as information, and portraying a multi-faceted uprising as an outburst of reckless violence.

The explosion of civil unrest is explained in criminal rather than political terms. Crucial events are selectively brushed under the carpet. The uprising is served up as entertainment, something to watch until the next soap opera comes on. The media are being used as a means of suppressing free and original thought on a daily basis.

Let us organise ourselves. No authority can provide solutions to our problems. We must rally together and turn our public spaces – streets, squares, parks, and schools – into areas of unhindered expression and communication. Let us come together, face to face, side by side, to formulate our cause and our course of action as one.

Let us overcome the fear, switch off our television sets, come out of our houses, continue to assert our rights, and take our lives into our own hands.

We condemn police violence and call for the immediate release of all protesters held in custody.

We stand for emancipation, human dignity, and freedom.

Monday, December 08, 2008


by Barron Harper

When I was growing up in Odessa, Texas in the 1950s, I remember with no particular fondness the considerable oil and gas drilling going on in the Permian Basin. Big oil literally transformed the economies and populations of my town and neighboring Midland 20 miles to the east. Business catered to it. Drillers and suppliers reeked of the smell of it. And the locals tolerated the changes it produced.

But some of us remember that where oil was being drilled gas was being burned off. For years in fact gas burning in West Texas sent up pinnacles of smoke and fire that nightly lit up the landscape of those high plains. Seen from long distances, onlookers over time grew somewhat accustomed to these fiery spectacles among scores of unsightly wells. But to astute observers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, closer inspections of these towering infernos would have portended catastrophic reckonings for peoples caught up in the explosive growth of intractable global societies.

Some 30 years later in the heart of Guadalajara, Mexico’s downtown district, ten massive gas explosions occurred over a two hour period due to gas leaking in the sewer system. Measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, the explosive quakes damaged and destroyed over 1,000 buildings and created an enormous nine mile ditch down the middle of a major thoroughfare that measured 80 feet wide and 25 feet deep. The blast killed 200 people, injured 2,000 local inhabitants and left 20,000 homeless. Buildings suffered over $300 million in damages. The suffering of the people could not be measured.

Gas is volatile, inflammable, explosive. The production, transport and storage of this diminishing resource in spite of due diligence destroy property and lives due to inevitable accidents. In the drilling process, hazardous chemicals are injected into the ground. Radioactive materials, arsenic and hydrogen sulfide in the ground are disturbed. These and other toxic substances contaminate the ground and the air, gradually poisoning the environment and the people. But should any gaseous substances be ignited as demonstrated in Guadalajara, the consequences will be felt in less than a heartbeat.

While my childhood was giving way to adolescence in West Texas, my grandparents, Joe and Mary Clarke, were leading lives as prominent citizens in Fort Worth. He was the executive vice-president of the Fort Worth National Bank and she was a noted historian and author. The two of them cared about the welfare of the city, belonged to influential organizations, received favorable publicity, and in general supported causes that were fair and open-handed. They resided near Texas Christian University in an unpretentious home made beautiful by their patient and loving care.

Joe and Mary possessed an integrity that tolerated no deception or manipulation. Generous with their time and resources, they were blessed by their inherent goodness. Rather than being somehow compromised for their generosity, they prospered. They appeared to understand that deprivation in the end is the consequence of coveting.

Exceptionally well-liked and respected in the community, they would have been horrified to learn that gas drilling was being contemplated in some 15 neighborhoods in their beloved city. They would have unhesitatingly considered the consequences to public health and safety as eclipsing any benefits to the city from the discovery of gas or the enrichment of coffers. So like me they would never have compromised human security for a fickle prosperity.

-Barron Harper is a U.S. international tax advisor residing in France.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

copeland morris NEW LIGHT

The roof and wall subsided with storm
For a miracle in your grasp, still being alive.
Prepare then a way for me by cloud
And by rain. The new light. It enters
The broken half of a house. You won't
Give up on me too soon, I hope,
By way of Jordan, pale jasmine.

This is how you enter a sacred place
On brittle stalks, the soothsayer's white
Miniatures. This is how you have prolonged
Your embrace, beckoning to me: absorbed
In the perfumed letter that took so long
To catch my attention. The crease in the envelope
Turning my eye to the long curve of your fingers.

Artwork by anna missed, New Light (oil on wood)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


It should not be forgotten that the US has elected the first African-American to be president. Virginia voted for Obama, the flagship state of the Old Confederacy. The new electorate could be seen dancing and getting rowdy on Pennsylvania Avenue. The million American faces who were cheering in Grant Park in Chicago must indeed offer a new testimony about the core character of our nation.

It was transcendent to hear Obama evoke the words of Lincoln.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
My friends and I felt the inspiration of election night. There were tears around the television. Grayson Harper, my friend of some twenty years, exclaimed "Now we won't have to flee [the country]".

We are not the same nation we were. Democracy is not static, as President-Elect Obama said in his acceptance speech. It's no mystery to me why he stood alone on that stage to give that speech, or why Jesse Jackson was weeping. It would not occur to me that these last years of national humiliation and crime in high places would not in some crucial sense transform the way Americans think.

We are walking on Cloud Nine right now, and understand that the world as it would have been under McCain & Palin's control has passed away. Our friends across the world should be encouraged that a more responsible, and civic-minded administration is coming to Washington.

The nightmare world is crumbling. Bush and Cheney will soon be out of office.

We have won a victory over a certain kind of tribalism, and a we have seen the groundswell of democracy. This democracy is about accepting American life with all its diversity. And our newly elected president made a point of touching on that , as he acknowledged the will of the people.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I watched the presidential debate last night with dear friends; and in no time we were screaming at the television. The debate was a great outing for many of the nation's delusions, and its twisted priorities, in the never-ending war, to which the leaders in both parties sadly subscribe. We felt at times enraged by the agreed upon myths, with which both candidates bind us to the weapons makers, the imperial plunderers, and the whole sick notion of the Pentagon's Long War. For this reason the debate around foreign policy was difficult to listen to.

A few days before the debate, McCain announced that he was "suspending his campaign", and flying off to Washington to fight a rear-guard action against the Wall Street bailout. In the newsrooms there began some speculation about him fleeing the scene of the debate, pundits wondered if he was goofing about, or showboating, pulling some stunt; and drama was built up around the idea that McCain's behavior was unsteady. Obama might be expected to show up in Mississippi, and perhaps John McCain would be AWOL.

This was a set-up; and the McCain who has been consistently ridiculed for his senior moments, and the gaffes that have undeniably marred his campaign, showed up in full possession of his faculties. And while Obama handled him with kid gloves, McCain smirked throughout his opponent's comments, and almost continuously avoided looking at Obama.

McCain was well coached, it seems to me, and had made intensive preparation for the debate; while a diversion was presented to the Democratic side of an old man who was coming unglued and would arrive, less than prepared, to meet a statesmanlike Obama.

But this was not the worst of the debacle. Obama studiously avoided challenging the emotional appeals to those popular US myths surrounding our supposed enemies and the widening of the war. Our myth that portrays Iran as an existential threat was touched upon: this narrative that is agreed to by leaders of both parties. The lies about Iran. And the lie about the Russian-Georgian war,--just who the aggressor was,--got tossed like a softball by Obama, and McCain hit it out of the park.

McCain took over where Obama left off, and commanded the debate with a politically resonant (if wrongheaded) appeal to American fears about big, bad, resurgent Russia. McCain did more than appeal to the gut; he smirked dismissively at Obama, dissed him smartly, treated him like some pathetic well-meaning novice, untested by life, and too green to be president.

And it's true that Obama, like McCain, also lures us into the dangerous misconception that Georgia's president, the war criminal, Saakashvili, is a great guy and a paragon of the West's democratic values. So it goes that the republican lion shall lie down with the democratic lamb, declaring that Iran, a nation whose GDP is equivalent to Finland, is an existential threat to Europe, the United States, and nuclear-armed Israel.

There were news reports yesterday that the regular Pakistan army and American forces had exchanged small arms fire, along Pakistan's border.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Been having some dark thoughts, lately, which is generally the kind I tend to have when I allow my mind to wander at will. I see no reason not to share them and spread a little cheer.

The attack of 9/11 struck me at the time as the logical result of a whole series of hubristic behaviors of the U.S. around the world. A week before the attack--I swear this is true--I was having a discussion with a guy in which I argued that it would not surprise me if we found ourselves attacked within our borders at some point. He dismissed the idea almost laughingly, saying our air and naval security were far too sophisticated and strong for that to happen. I said the attack would not be by traditional means, that it would be easy as pie for someone to simply slip into the country and blow up one of our cities with a nuclear device or sabotage a nuclear facility or a train hauling toxic chemicals--that we were vulnerable to a thousand different scenarios. Thus, a week later, when I was watching the events in New York in real time, I was sweating bullets because I was certain that the two planes flying into the Trade Center were just diversionary attacks in advance of the real thing.

I agree with Scott Ritter that If we continue our present course--and I see little reason to think that we won't--that we can expect to lose a city. The Bush Doctrine (that Sarah Palin blanked on in her interview with Charles Gibson) has opened the door for the same to be done to us. Thus, the day McCain takes office, Putin, Iran, others, will have this to think about: that the U.S. is no longer playing by the old rules, that they (Russia, Iran, whoever) are subject to attack by us in advance of any perceived threat. I'm sure they've already considered it, given that Bush and Cheney are still running loose, but once McCain and Palin--two certified lunatics--are installed, the countries we have been threatening so recklessly will have to carefully weigh how long they think they can afford to wait to hit us before we hit them.

Can Obama win? Somehow, I think not. The day before Sarah Palin appeared on the scene, everyone was holding their nose at John McCain. The day after, when I saw the mob's eyes roll back in their heads and foam issue from their mouths, I remembered again what country I'm living in, a country so simple minded and childish that it will get in the car with almost any strange man (or woman) offering goodies with a winning smile. And I find little comfort in the fact that the very things that are drawing so many to Sarah Palin are not all that different from the ones that have been drawing those on our side to Barack Obama--i.e., less issues than charisma and magical thinking. Even now, I know that Americans, having grown weary of the current war (but not tired of war), would gleefully march off to another one on the mere suggestion of a McCain, an Obama, a Hillary, or a gun-toting Sarah Palin. Makes no difference. Hell, we're already in Pakistan and nobody's squawking.

In other words, something is fundamentally broken here--always has been--and I doubt seriously that it can be repaired. One way or another the Neocons are going to win the election. If they don't win it outright, they'll steal it; the voting machines are still broken and easily hacked into. Or they'll kill our candidate. They'll do whatever they have to do.

By the end of McCain's first term in office, the U.S. will have completed its fascist mission and we will be living in a police state. The terrorist watch list--already bloated with over a million names--will have swelled to several million, and by then, no doubt, some mechanism will have been triggered allowing for more aggressive action against all those perceived enemies beyond merely detaining them at airports or relieving them of their laptops and cell phones. For a list of possibilities, I refer you to the Pinochet regime.

Am I discouraged? You're damn right I am. I hope I'm wrong. I hope, come November, I will be looking back on what I've written here and I'll be laughing. I sure as hell hope so.

But in the meantime, anyone who is still somewhat enamored of the idea of democracy might want to get their passports in order.

Friday, September 05, 2008


The Republicans in Minneapolis were sending up a shout of "George Won!...George Won!" to greet the most craven president to ever hold office in this country; and this was only the beginning. The characters seen at the 2008 GOP convention hark back to those who nominated Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon. The same breed cheered, this week, for the fascist tour de force that was Mitt Romney's speech. They knew what was really important: that feeling of safety which trumps having legal rights. Mitt wasn't worried about habeas corpus or how prisoners in custody are treated.

Republicans are tragically inattentive when it comes to history; and they take this tragic incomprehension as far as it can go, obliterating events that took place a few months, or a few weeks ago. The party's base has put its distaste for John McCain aside, as a man who was not considered one of them; and now they embrace him like a long-lost father. And it's a legitimate concern that Sarah Palin, as McCain's Vice President, might be a projection of the power of this base, the religious right. She might consider it her duty to make us see our War on Terror as a War for Christianity.

It looks like Election 2000 was too long ago, and people can't remember that presidential candidate McCain staunchly spoke out against the class of religious extremists that would include Rev. Dobson. He counts on the support of this base now; and the profoundly crazy Rev. Dobson, who looked upon McCain with a jaundiced eye a few weeks ago, is now one-hundred-percent behind him. And the criteria of McCain's success is that culture warrior, that "pistol-packing" Hockey Mom, Sarah Palin.

The biggest cheers were saved for McCain, as he accepted the nomination for president. But he went too far after accusing opponent, Barack Obama, of seeking the high office as a narcissistic "journey of personal discovery". McCain used the emotional appeal himself, to argue through humility that he, and not Obama, was the selfless public servant that the nation ought to have. In a figurative way, McCain showed us his wounds. But we have to put aside the idea that he was shot down as he was bombing Vietnamese civilians. We have to forget the immoral and unjust reality of the US war against Vietnam, in order to consider him a hero within the narrow framework he provides. McCain's journey of personal discovery, as a POW, as touching as may be, could have been told by a veteran of almost any army in history.

"I Once Had A Comrade", goes the lyric of a poignant German war tune.

Republican delegates were, as always, an ugly and brainwashed collective, shouting "USA...USA...USA" to blot out brief moments of protest, and crying "Drill, Baby, Drill" on cue, whenever their Real Overlords pulled their chain. They are ready of course for the militarist agenda. They have forgotten the million Iraqis killed outright or purged by ethnic cleansing. They have performed their own absolution, disconnecting their personalities from the unjust, criminal pursuit of world hegemony and absolute power. They don't care if they tend to be corrupted or not, or if it is revealed that the greatest corruption is to raise a cheer when someone has humiliated the helpless or plotted a crime against peace.

Responding to America's televised 2008 Republicans, my friend r'giap writes:
it was & remains so macabre. so macabre that it gives you chills with all the old lines returning out of the mouths of madmen & madwomen. you know they have no connection to reality nor want one. i work here with asylums - & there is a kind of patient who prefers the irreality of the institution. healing is beside the point for these people because in a way they cultivate madness as a metier but it is a madness not borne of suffering nor is it ecstatic. it is if you will a mediocre madness

& what i witnessed at the conventions is a microcosm of that mediocre madness - where other people have to suffer because these people are unable to change, to take risks or even to be responsible
From this vantage point, the whole Palin fiasco is like some bizarre work of science fiction, that incorporates speaking in tongues, Pentecostal glossolalia, safaris to shoot wolves from helicopters, lending pristine wilderness to oil men, all personified by an annoying, almost intolerable speaking voice. The republicans themselves are caught playing with the Book of Revelation, like strung-out meth heads cooking up more product in a trailer in back of the RNC:

Robocops. Teen pregnancy and fundie hypocrisy. Fascism with undercurrents of oddball religion. Historical amnesia slouching toward Bethlehem, and the New American Century inventing Big Brother anew, probably as a hybrid of Elmer Gantry and Augusto Pinochet.

We would have to be a mad country, slipping into some narrative introduced by Rod Serling; but maybe this strategy (so damaging to our inner defenses) will yet unravel before the horrified eyes of the nation, and all this will backfire on the authoritarians, and send McCain and his handlers down to defeat.

Monday, September 01, 2008


It has already started, the expected repression at demonstrations around the Republican Convention. Amy Goodman and her two colleagues, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, were taken into custody while the police deployed excessive measures against demonstrators.
Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained...

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul. [...]

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

--Democracy Now!
Even before the first demonstrations got underway, police in St. Paul have been conducting pre-emptive raids and making arrests at houses where those planning marches or civil disobedience were discussing details of the protests and assembling leaflets and signs.

Democracy Now! is asking people to call the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0), and Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman’s office at 651-266-8535. Let them know that Goodman, Kouddous, and Salazar were acting in their capacity as journalists, and should be released immediately.

UPDATE: Raw Story reports the release of Amy Goodman and her two colleagues. Goodman was released after a charge of "obstruction" was filed against her. Kouddous and Salazar may face "felony riot charges", but they have also been released, while charges are pending.

EXTRA: Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! Producers talk about their arrest.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


A deep chasm now separates what happens in this world and what gets transmitted to the public by major US news media. The drones apparently pass along as gospel whatever is received from government sources, with little or no challenge. So corporate management advises individual reporters, through the affiliates, as to how information is to be edited or blacked out altogether. Street protest and the behavior of police is invisible; it is not happening on television.

There is then, a sinister cone of silence that has been drawn over the superficiality of our political language; a blindfold is fitted over our collective eyes, while the cancer of paramilitary operations moves freely in our streets. News like this is not pursued as an object of curiosity or concern.

It's a world of weird parallel realities; and at the recent Olympics the Chinese authorities were seen as horrible, in the eyes of indignant Americans watching TV. Look at those Chinese cops tearing down placards and banners, almost as soon as they get raised! Look at them arresting the demonstrators and leading them off! What kind of respect for human rights do you call this?

Earlier this month, the Georgians made war on civilians and killed those who were asleep in their beds, in a sneak attack on South Ossetia. Georgian peacekeepers working side by side with Russian colleagues, turned their guns on them and killed the unsuspecting men. "You shot your Russian brothers and finished them off with the bayonet."

Americans largely believe the black-is-white story of Russian aggression because they live in a protective bubble of disinformation and lies. And the lies are still being pushed by our corporate press.

Protesters in Denver have been sitting down passively in front of a sea of stormtroopers' uniforms, under the blows of truncheons and volley of pepper spray. "Look who is being violent", protesters chant. But what good does it do, considering what little gets out in the alternative press?

Even an ABC producer has been roughed up and arrested, for trying to get video of the wining and dining of Senators, at a posh hotel, by those who might be influencing them. Is anyone told about this on the floor of the Convention? No. Of course not.

Most of the rest of the world is watching our pols invent wonderfulness on a stage at the Denver Convention. And the same will hold true at the Republican Confab, to be held next week. But the bubble being created around the two parties and their ceremonies is intended to block any intrusion of harsh or disconcerting realities.

In the September/08 issue of Harper's Magazine, Lewis H.Lapham writes:
On television the voices of dissent can't be counted upon to match the studio drapes or serve as tasteful lead-ins to advertisements for Pantene Pro-V and the U.S. Marine Corps. What we now know as the "news media" serve at the pleasure of the corporate sponsor, their purpose not to tell truth to the powerful but to transmit lies to the powerless.
Imagine the whole world watching our pols inventing wonderful magic onstage at the Denver Convention. And the powerful, though stranger passions of the Republican congregation, will be on view the following week in Minneapolis. A bubble of unreality can be lethal to democracy and we will be damned lucky if we can break free from it.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Those red devils that whipped
at Little Bighorn
rode into battle spangled and costumed;
or stripped naked, painted in wild primary colors
red, yellow, charcoal black the color of death
some decorated their faces with dragonflies,
they put handprints on their horses' flanks
drew rings around their horses' eyes,
dangled human scalps from spears.
They were terrorists. They flew
screaming through the blue coat troops
unhinging them so they could scarce think
how to work their carbines
scared so bad they shit themselves;
then shooting, stabbing,
bashing out their brains with stone clubs.
So there's nothing new about our folk
feeling entitled to invade and murder
darker skinned foreigners in their homes
or slaughter their women and children
while they sleep in their beds, only these
particular foreigners apparently weren't
interested in our brand of Democracy
and instead decided
maybe they would give the stupid
fuckers something to think about.


Friday, August 15, 2008


Americans may be losing any chance of learning the truth from their mass media. Huge portions of national television and print news are apparently corrupt and lying about what has occurred in the Georgian-Russian war. The damned lie is the lie of omitting that Georgian leader Saakashvili ordered a sneak attack, that slammed down with a massed artillery and rocket barrage, on civilians late at night, as they slept. The opening salvo fell on people whom the legal Russian peacekeeping force had an obligation to protect, there at Tskhinvali, the provincial town in sparsely populated South Ossetia.

The region's Russian majority leans toward a separation from Georgia; but final decisions about the political status of South Ossetia have been sent haywire by an aggression that may have been orchestrated by the Bush administration.

Many hundreds of South Ossetians were killed and injured; and an estimated 30,000 fled in confusion and panic, as the explosions and fires began, shortly after midnight. Those who could get out made their way north, through the Roki Tunnel into Russia. Some estimates of the dead at Tskhinvali run to 1500 and more.

The fact that this surprise attack took place, that it was a war crime against a civilian population, simply cannot be disputed. And the fact that American print and television media are hiding the fact with every propaganda trick and diversion in the book, is quite impossible to excuse. After repulsing the attack over a few days in August, the Russians have now halted their mechanized units, after crossing some miles into Georgia proper. They have captured the Port of Poti, where Georgia's shoreline is, on the eastern end of the Black Sea. They are disposing of stores of Georgian weapons and ammo. One senior Russian officer, a general, described his army's capability and readiness, "If the Americans can go to Baghdad; we can go to Tblisi". But despite the boast, this officer's units are halted as he awaits orders and defends South Ossetia from any advance by the now scattered, demoralized Georgian army.

The Russian government has declared an end of hostilities.

Russia will not advance to the capital of Tblisi (unless unforeseen provocation comes from a foreign power), nor will they roam or control large swaths of Georgia. They earn some respect for their restraint as they await a diplomatic settlement of the crisis. The Russians have said they prefer not to have to deal with Saakashvili, but are not intending strong arm tactics to change the regime there.

Don't reporters with integrity do more for democracy than elected officials? But if you're an American, it only renews your sense of shame to see the willful, and at times treacherous efforts in the US Press Corps: the troubling example of their duplicity, their dishonesty and obscuring of fact. Here again in a time of government secrecy and domestic spying, and police power in secretive agencies, a concerted effort is underway to bury the truth and pull the wool over people's eyes. In the sad style of a totalitarian news organ, CNN was exposed as it tried to manipulate images, using the scene of devastation in Tskhinvali, while labeling it as the work of the Russian army in Georgia.

This dispersal of government propaganda with its willing servants in the US media is disgusting beyond words. How is it possible to forgive the fakery and immoral subservience to liars that has risen in the United States of America? This is our country after all. And we must hang our heads.

I could have made the lede to this story announce that we live under the rule of outright criminals; but this is quite an old story now. American news media no longer shows us the world as it is. That is the tragic story. You had better look to the BBC, for one, or to trusted blogs. The increasing recklessness of the White House and its willingness to make up any claims, no matter how outlandish, has now come to a truly dangerous extreme. Bush and his team can stand the truth on its head; and the lies get repeated on cable news, and across the networks and newspapers with but a few exceptions.

ADDENDUM: (Click on #28 comment at Moon of Alabama that reads warpics) album of photos taken as the Russian army makes its way through the scene of devastation that was caused by the Georgian attack. Remember that images show what Bush Family ally, Saakashvili, has brought about. These are photos taken around Tskhinvali, in South Ossetia, not from any further advance into Georgian territory. Some images are horrible; so be advised that these are hard to look at.

EXTRA: A transcript from Larry King Live. (broadcast August 14th)

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev replies to Saakashvili's version of events.
KING: [...]

The president of Georgia told CNN yesterday that we've been witnessing the past few days "the brutal, calculated, cold-blooded, premeditated murder by Russia of a small democracy."

How do you respond?

GORBACHEV (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, this is all lies from beginning to end. And I am -- really, I really think this is really beyond comprehension. I have heard the opinion of Eduard Shevardnadze. He knows what the situation is on their side.

So it was all at night, a little past midnight, when the city was asleep. Then from all sides, it was shelled with shells of enormous power. They used artillery. They used aircraft. They used all weapons of killing. And this is really amazing.

Tskhinvali, in fact, was devastated by fire from multiple rocket launchers against people, against housing, against hospitals, against water and sanitation, against the energy and communication infrastructure. All of that was destroyed. The old monuments were destroyed. And they were among the oldest in the Caucasus. The ancestral graves were ruined -- were then trampled by tanks.

KING: Mr. President, excuse me, you are saying that Georgia started this?

GORBACHEV (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yes, indeed. There is no doubt about it.

What is more, the response required the movement of additional forces into South Ossetia because Tskhinvali was attacked by a powerful force, by an armada. And I remember the Second World War. I remember the front. I remember the occupation. I saw terrible weapons used. But this was the use of sophisticated weapons against a small town, against sleeping people. This was a barbaric assault.

KING: One of our candidates, John McCain, the senator, I'm sure you know, he calls this regime change. He said Russia's true objective is to change regimes.

How do you respond to that charge?

GORBACHEV (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): No. Russia was responding to what happened in Tskhinvali. Russia needed to address this. Russia could not avoid addressing this assault and this devastation and the killings of people, the devastation of the city. The peacekeepers had been there for some time. There were all kinds of things happening. But there were still possibilities for dialogue. And there was some dialogue going on and they were considering certain options and possibilities.

So Russia was ready to continue to fulfill its functions. There is just no doubt about it. And I don't know why it's happened that it has been presented that Russia invaded Georgia. This is really disinformation. This is all lies. It means that this plan -- there was a plan to attack Ossetia...and also to misinform people. It's a kind of information war. I think now that they are showing the city, it is becoming clearer what happened.

A Video that addresses US Media's propaganda.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

24th ADDRESS TO CITY COUNCIL (Re: A Resolution To Impeach)

August 5th

Mayor, Council members, good evening. I am appearing again in behalf of a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the United States.

Well, last week I was surprised to learn that speaking up in defense of the Constitution is a partisan enterprise. This contradicts what I learned in my high school civics class as well as the political science course I took as a freshman in college.

As we have said many times, this impeachment resolution is not partisan. The next president, who could easily be a Democrat, will inherit all the expanded powers of the current regime: the right to invade other countries at his whim; the right to arrest anyone—citizen or non-citizen—merely by calling them “enemy combatants”; the right to hold them indefinitely without trial and the right to torture them; the right to listen in on our phone conversations and read our emails.

He will also inherit something even more profound and dangerous: the knowledge that he can tell any lie or commit virtually any act without fear of accountability to Congress, to the law, or the Constitution.

Again, Barack Obama would inherit these broad new powers, as would John McCain. The Constitution and the rule of law, are not partisan principles. Speaking up in their defense is not a partisan act.

It is merely an act of conscience, an act of principle, an act of patriotism, pure and simple.

I would be the first to agree that City Councils should be non-partisan. Again, I see nothing partisan in your oath of office, which obligates you to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.

But you continue to insist that our assessment of the current crisis is strictly a matter of opinion, therefore, no call for action. Well, what can I say? At this point, arguing that the overwhelming body of evidence of wrong doing by the Bush Administration is little more than someone's opinion is right up there with attempts by magical thinkers to discredit the science of evolution along with the almost universally accepted belief that the grass is green and the sky is blue.

But if you really do think that there have been no lies told, no breaches of law or the Constitution by the Bush Administration, if you really think detaining people for years without trials has a place in a free democracy, if you really believe torture is consistent with the Geneva Conventions and with the flag of our fathers, then these truly are your beliefs, and I won't try to refute them.

But I do think some people know what is true. The real problem, as I see it, is finding the courage to speak out and risk being out of step with the crowd. It's a risk that must have been well understood by Voltaire, who said, “Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”

Thank you.

Friday, August 08, 2008


[T]he danger of violence, even if it moves consciously within a nonextremist framework of short-term goals, will always be that the means overwhelm the end. If goals are not achieved rapidly, the result will be not merely defeat but the introduction of the practice of violence into the whole body politic. Action is irreversible, and a return to the status quo in case of defeat is always unlikely. The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is to a more violent world.

--Hannah Arendt
The White House was not happy with the direction that FBI investigators were pursuing after the Anthrax Letters attack of 2001. FBI Director Mueller was harshly reprimanded in private for not finding a connection to Iraq or al-Qaeda operatives, that would solve the case of the biological attack that had struck such panic into official Washington. But the DNA markers on the strain of anthrax which was recovered could only have come from a source in an American military laboratory. The results were conclusive.

But in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, the lie, and the opposing truth of what happened during the anthrax panic, began to wage a desperate contest for the minds of Americans and their Representatives. There was certainly a climate of fear and enough political leverage to compel Congress to pass the Patriot Act.

Almost seven years later we look back to that panic of October, 2001. It was like a cry of FIRE in a crowded theater; and after the false information was given out, a scramble toward war ensued, a veritable stampede for the exits. And we are still living the tragedy of the Big Lie and the Bigger Cover-up, because the antidote to truth was passed along to ABC news reporter, Brian Ross, and others in his department, who put out the awe inspiring story that tests at the Army's Fort Detrick lab, in Maryland, had found traces of bentonite, a clay-derived additive ( used as a binder in some toothpaste and processed food) which they said was a component unique to the production of Iraq's biological weapons. Respected journalist, Glenn Greenwald, reports that there was never any such test at Fort Detrick or anywhere else. And the strain of anthrax used in the attacks, a modified virus, was absolutely identified as the product of American ingenuity, and traced back to the Fort Detrick facility.
“It's extremely possible--one could say highly likely--that the same people responsible for perpetrating the attacks were the ones who fed the false reports to the public, through ABC News, that Saddam was behind them. What we know for certain--as a result of the letters accompanying the anthrax--is that whoever perpetrated the attacks wanted the public to believe they were sent by foreign Muslims.

Seven years later, it's difficult for many people to recall, but, as I've amply documented, those ABC News reports linking Saddam and anthrax penetrated very deeply--by design--into our public discourse and into the public consciousness. Those reports were absolutely vital in creating the impression during that very volatile time that Islamic terrorists generally, and Iraq and Saddam Hussein specifically, were grave, existential threats to this country.”
And ABC News, under persistent pressure from Greenwald, admitted only last year that no bentonite was ever detected in anthrax which was mailed to the victims in 2001. The “four well-placed and separate sources” the news organ cited in its report are at present a closely held secret. ABC refuses to give up the identity of its sources, even though this could be evidence in criminal proceedings against those who are most likely accomplices in murder. The same people who submitted the false story to ABC News also made an abridgment of our basic liberties possible, and led the nation to a completely needless war that has killed thousands of our soldiers and well over a million Iraqis.

Dr. Bruce E. Ivins, a microbiologist and specialist in vaccines, had worked 36 years, the greater part of his adult life, at the Army's Fort Detrick lab in Maryland. The FBI had harassed and tailed him, even harassing his grownup step-children in the the course of an 18 month investigation. Attention focused on Ivins after the FBI dropped its fruitless investigation of Steven Hatfill. They quickly forgot Hatfill, who had turned the tables on them and won a lawsuit; and the Bureau then consolidated its efforts. And with another mass of circumstantial evidence it moved against Ivins. The government case seemed to hinge on Ivins' increasingly erratic behavior, which could be seen as the result of stepped-up pressure that they were placing on a nervous, and somewhat vulnerable man.
Dr. Byrne [a former colleague] said he believed Dr. Ivins was singled out partly because of his personal weaknesses. “They figured he was the weakest link,” Dr. Byrne said. “If they had real evidence on him, why did they not just arrest him?”

Another former co-worker, Dr. Kenneth W. Hedlund, who collaborated on anthrax research with Dr. Ivins in the 1980s, had a similar theory.

“The investigators looked around, they decided they had to find somebody. They went after all of them but he looked the most susceptible to pressure,” Dr. Hedlund said. “It is like prisoners of war: if they are harassed enough, they will be driven to do anything. But I don’t believe he would have done what they say he did.” --Scott Shane and Nicholas Wade
The last month of Bruce Ivins' life was misery; he was lashing out and making threats; he was committed to the hospital for depression. He was 62. But Bruce Ivin's suicide put an end to the FBI's process of intimidation and may have had the effect of curtailing what we can learn.

Dr. Meryl Nass, another scientist in this field, who met Ivins at a University of Maryland biowarfare conference in 1991, was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman, and made this comment:
...There has been a tremendous amount of innuendo and information put forward that has never been backed up and never been attributed to anybody.

And I fear that because a variety of the information that may be used to convict Bruce Ivins after his death is going to be classified, or perhaps we will be given false information, that it will become impossible to defend him and impossible to really make sense of the entire letters case...
The forensic part of the government's case leads to the Fort Detrick lab, but it can't conclusively point to any one person. Scientists working there, as well as occasional visitors, would have access to the area to which the anthrax was traced.

Even though most people who knew Ivins saw him as a rather selfless fellow, the government seriously intends to portray him as a man who had some rational, selfish motives, in that he desired to stimulate production of vaccine he developed, in order to profit from it. The FBI is here accusing a man of notable scientific accomplishment. Dr. Ivins had received official recognition for his prominent role in developing the anthrax vaccine that was later given to US troops on their way to Iraq. It is suggested that he hoped to profit, as the letters of deadly anthrax would certainly have caused government contracts to be awarded, and would have spurred the production of Ivin's vaccine.

But Dr. Nass counters that argument this way:
Bruce wasn't the anthrax perpetrator. First off, he had no motive. He didn't need to direct money toward the bioterrorism effort, or increase interest in it. He had a very solid job, since he was the army's top expert on anthrax vaccines. He didn't move on to a better job in industry, unlike many of his colleagues at Fort Detrick, after the anthrax letters made bioterrorism a profitable industry.
The sad thing is, we won't know whether Ivins was the loner, according to the government's scenario, who acted without help and put together the anthrax attacks--or if on the other hand--he was only another in the long line of American patsies and sacrificial goats.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

23rd SPEECH TO CITY COUNCIL (Re: A Resolution To Impeach)

July 29

Mayor, Council members, good morning. I am here speaking again for a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the United States.

Mayor, if the City Council disagrees with us on this issue, then why not put it on the agenda and vote on it? Why not take a position one way or the other? Show us who is for it and who is against it. Come out from behind a bush—so to speak—and show us where you stand.

Who here is for the rule of law? Who here is for the Constitution?

There must be someone on this council willing to go out on a limb and put this very important resolution on the agenda. I'm told that all I need is two people. Just two willing to say “I not only swear to protect and defend the Constitution and the rule of law, but I will do so, now, even if it means going against the crowd.”

Two people willing to stand on principle. Just two.

I believe we are at a cross-roads where we are going to have to decide whether we will continue, in the words of John Adams, as “a Republic, not of men, but of laws”; whether we will continue as a living, viable democracy with all ten amendments of the Bill of Rights firmly intact; or if we will simply shred that document and with it the true meaning of our beloved flag. At which point, I suppose we will be living a lie.

Already in the eyes of much of the rest of the world, our country of virtuous heroes is beginning to wither. When they see us killing over a million Iraqi men, women and children, in order to bring them the “gift” of democracy; when they see the oil companies lining up to take control of the Iraqi oil fields, then the rest of the world can clearly see, even if we can't, that we are living a lie.

So much of this is not really the fault of a few hollow men acting as our leaders, but it's largely due to what our Congress and the rest of us have failed to do.

It's the failure of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to rein in an out of control president and vice president. And it's the failure of the rest of us, especially those in positions of legal authority who could speak out against what is clearly wrong, but have chosen instead to look the other way.

This resolution may seem like nothing, so why vote on it? But an expression of no interest is still a decision that will hide itself quite comfortably among the crowd who have decided to throw out the Constitution and join hands with those who advocate the savagery of torture and wars of plunder.

Admittedly, there's no profit in this resolution. Voting for it I'm afraid would not be quite the same as voting to drill another hole in the ground in order to suck out more gold and silver. But this tarnished little resolution may hold more value than all the profit the gas drillers can pull up.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

21st & 22nd SPEECHES TO CITY COUNCIL (Re: A Resolution To Impeach)

Well, I fell behind posting my speeches for the last two weeks, so here they are.

For July 15th:

Mayor, council members, good evening. I am here speaking in behalf of a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the U.S.

Well, last week, we learned that members of the Vice President's staff censored congressional testimony by top federal officials about health threats posed by global warming.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove continues to ignore Congressional subpoenas compelling him to testify about partisan interference at the Department of Justice.

On Thursday, we saw John Yoo and David Addington testify before a House Sub- committee. Yoo is a former deputy assistant attorney-general. Addington is Cheney's Chief of Staff. The two men are said to be instrumental in developing the administration's torture policy.

It was clear that both men are experts at how to answer questions without answering them at all. It was also clear how little regard either of them seemed to have not just for the House members themselves, but even for the right of the members to question them.

Addington, especially appeared at times almost to seethe with contempt for the whole process.

During the questioning, Representative John Conyers asked John Yoo about a statement Yoo had made in which he seemed to suggest that it was okay for the President to order the torture of a suspect's child “in gruesome fashion.”

Yoo never gave Conyers a direct answer. Later, asked if he thought it was okay for the President to order a suspect buried alive, Yoo again would not give a direct answer. Conyers finally gave up in frustration.

That such men have been allowed anywhere near our government, that those who lead us have granted them access to their offices and allowed them to speak into their ears, I should think, ought to be an affront to plain decent people.

Honorable Mayor, I can only think it must be at least a tad difficult for law-makers to continue to ignore the illegalities and usurpations of the Bush regime that are surfacing almost weekly, if not daily.

For those who sit on city councils, who swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the rule of law; for them, it must be especially awkward to simply look on and do nothing while laws are broken, the Constitution violated and shamed.

Thus far, 93 cities and towns could not do it. They could not justify looking the other way. They simply could not ignore their oath of office. Neither could the legislatures of ten states, who have found the courage to pass similar resolutions.

Sometimes moral questions arise that are so important as to transcend the daily operations of a town. At such times, we are forced to rise above our differences, above partisanship, above our own ambitions, to examine what we really believe in our hearts.

I think everyone in this room knows what is right and true.

Thank you.

For June 22nd:

Mayor, council members, good morning. I am here speaking again for a resolution calling for the impeachment of the President and Vice President of the United States.

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that President Bush can order the indefinite jailing of civilians in the U.S.

The ruling came in the case of the only person still held as an enemy combatant on U.S. Soil. Ali al-Marri was arrested 6 years ago at his home in Peoria, Illinois, where he lived with his wife and children. He was initially charged with credit card fraud and lying to federal agents.

In June, 2003, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and ordered him into military custody. He has spent the last 4 years in solitary confinement at a Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

Al-Marri's attorney said, “This decision means the President can pick up any person in the country—citizen or non-citizen—and lock them up for years without the most basic safeguard in the Constitution—the right to a criminal trial.”

With the failure of Congress to act to restrain an out-of-control administration, along with the failure of good people—here and around the country—to rise in vocal defense of the rule of law—and, in essence, defend their own democracy—we're now witnessing the results in bold relief.

We have administration officials defying Congressional subpoenas. We have literally thousands of detainees held in secret sites around the world for no more reason than being labeled by somebody as “enemy combatants.” Many have been tortured or driven insane. At least twenty-five that we know of have been murdered by military guards.

We have Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo resigning his position because his former boss, DOD General Council, Jim Haynes,told him: “We can't have acquittals. We've been holding these guys for years. How are we going to explain that? We've got to have convictions.”

We have two of the architects of torture, David Addington and John Yoo, arrogantly snubbing the questions of John Conyers and others of the House subcommittee.

And how do those in positions of power in a democracy come by such arrogance? Perhaps from the cynical belief that the people have become so lemming-like that they will silently accept anything, now, any imaginable cruelty, for the sake of their own comfort and safety, however deluded that may be.

And it is an illusion. As one Marine sergeant at Forwarding Base Mercury in Iraq said, “. . .half of these guys get released because they didn't do nothing. But if he's a good guy. . . now he's a bad guy because of the way we treated him.”

The evidence is clear. As good people remain silent, our democracy becomes more imperiled.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


While John McCain drones on about our noble Surge of occupying force in Iraq; it appears at the same time that Obama, his opponent, has all but won the beauty contest, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. McCain looks more and more like a political hack, as he accuses Obama of being responsible for the high gas prices, and accuses the senator of being willing to "lose a war in order to win an election", which is possibly the lamest and most unsubstantiated charge McCain could make. McCain barks his accusations as he stands in front of what looks like the rump stage in a high school cafeteria.

At the same time, in Germany, Obama is being called Der Schwarze JFK...The Black JFK. But while McCain spit shines the War Machine and praises military solutions and our national staying power, Obama rises eloquently to convince Europeans (and many Americans) that he brings an inspiring age of renewal. Yet the problem today is that we have two candidates who are clearly militant when it comes to pursuing war as the chief instrument of the presidency.

If McCain is hopeless as a status quo figure, if he appears rhetorically limited and bumbles through his stump speeches, it's not your imagination. He is remarkably unqualified to be president. He displays a hot button personality; and even the casual observer can see the volatility that lies not far beneath his surface. McCain's got the kind of uptightness that doesn't wash out.

Barak Obama, on the other hand, is what Marshall McLuhan would have described as a "cool medium".

But don't be surprised if America's 160,000 kids in combat can be jacked up to 365,000 by the end of his first term in office. We will vote for Obama in November because we can't think or wiggle our way out of this dilemma. It's the chaos of muddle with the McCain empire, or the better managed empire of the handsome Barak Obama. Which would you choose?

A Republic of Diminishing Returns? Why do I think that? Because I believe the outward show of democracy will take precedent over the repair of democracy. There are disturbing signals being sent by Obama's team and the Democrats. The first was the surrender on the FISA bill. The Surveillance State will remain just as it is, thank you. The military position in Iraq will be consolidated in the first 16 months of the Obama presidency. Combat forces are to be reduced in Iraq and increased in Afghanistan. It's a shell game. The war goes on. The new killing fields are adjusted around new policy. Pakistan and Iran are next.

Both republicans and democrats are determined that the empire will not die on their watch.

But a compelling clue that President Obama intends a seamless transition into the resource wars, comes with the disclosure from one of his campaign advisers, from a story in The Nation by Ari Melber. He quotes Cass Sunstein, Obama's adviser:
Prosecuting government officials risks a "cycle" of criminalizing public service, [Sunstein] argued, and Democrats should avoid replicating retributive efforts like the impeachment of President Clinton--or even the "slight appearance" of it.
Whenever the phrase, "criminalizing public service", is used to describe the political hazard of bringing US war criminals to justice, be aware that what you're hearing is debased authoritarian language. The criminals who have savaged humanity, broken laws and undermined our Constitution should not have their unspeakable acts of barbarity and crime described as "public service".

Why would the new president let the Bush criminals off the hook? For a smooth transition, he will tell you. To turn the page and never dwell on partisan battles; you get the picture. But mostly because he will have to work with the very SOBs in Congress who have blood on their hands.

Monday, July 14, 2008


July 8th, 2008

Mayor, council members, good evening. Here's a quote from a CIA report to Congress in January, 2003: “The Intelligence Community has no credible information that Baghdad had foreknowledge of the 11 September attacks or any other al-Qaeda strike.”

Here's former CIA Director George Tenet responding to a question on 60 Minutes: “We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.”

Here's former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan: “I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq War is largely about oil.”

And here's Vice President Cheney responding to White House correspondent Martha Raddatz: when she pointed out to him that two-thirds of Americans no longer believe the Iraq War is worth fighting, Cheney's response was, “So?”

Meanwhile, largely on account of the war, the cost of a barrel of oil has gone from $25 in 2003 to its current price of around $146.

Question: Are you comfortable sending Fort Worth's sons and daughters to fight and die for oil? Are you comfortable sending them to fight for Dick Cheney whose response to the idea of some 4,000 Americans dying for nothing would seem to be a bland, “So?”

Meanwhile, it appears that Bush and Cheney are determined to invade another country—Iran. They've certainly been talking it up in much the same way they did before we invaded Iraq.

As Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh recently reported in The New Yorker, our submarines are there, they have their targets, our destroyers are there, the cruise missiles are loaded on them. Our air force and navy and ground troops are in place. This has been practiced and exercised.

Admiral Fallon was against bombing Iran and he's been forced out. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has stated his opposition along with at least ten junior members. As it did with Iraq, our intelligence has informed Bush and Cheney that there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran. They don't care.

The fact that Iran has not attacked anyone outside their borders for some 280 years doesn't seem to matter in the least.

As Hersh pointed out, this is the most radical president our country has ever seen and he's completely ineducable. “I don't know about you,” Hersh said, “but that scares me to death.”

I've already pointed out that Fort Worth's share of money spent on Iraq is approaching a billion dollars. Any idea what it will be if we tack on Iran? With our economy already plummeting, I daresay cities and towns across this country will be turning out their pockets just to keep up with decaying roads and schools, let alone have anything left for such pie-in-the sky items as homelessness initiatives.

Too late to call for impeachment? Maybe. But surely it is not too late for good people to remember the oath they swore to defend the Constitution and the rule of law.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


The other day, I was reading online at Raw Story the account of the $100 million that Congress has allocated to the two political parties for security at their conventions, and about stories being circulated of new "science fiction weapons" that Denver and Minneapolis might be tempted to use against hapless protesters, foreshadowing an American police state. It is becoming a deplorable American tradition to humiliate, cage, injure and sometimes kill street protesters, in those cities that host presidential conventions.

Just who is the enemy now in the hurly-burly of American politics? As one commenter observed, "The candidates are the science fiction." There is a kind of risky business in these grim post-9/11 festivals because the mask of civility may drop to reveal a nation under military occupation.
The ACLU is suing both cities to disclose how security money is being spent, with hopes as to determine what specific weapons may be deployed against Americans. However, officials say it is important they be secretive about the technologies employed by their security forces, lest the crowds which will inevitably surround the conventions gain the upper hand.
(David Edwards/Stephen C. Webster)
Can Americans be fearmongered to the point where they welcome the totalitarian hand? Shall our children receive institutions which are worse than those we inherited? Is the America we are willing to settle for, a nation that will turn to paramilitary death squads and mercenary cadres?--or accept the shell game for oil that covers up genocide? Wouldn't we feel contempt for a society where the walls have ears?--where we can imagine the whole planet shrunk until it seems that the cries of the tortured are coming from the next room?

"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it," said George Carlin.

For close to 8 years we haven't really been mesmerized with the oratory of a Pericles, who advised the citizens of Athens not to throw away their Empire, "which some say we ought not to have sought, or desire at all."

No, in our case, the country was fed the most stupid, vapid, degenerate rhetoric ever heard on these shores. And the object was war and mind control; and these are indeed the dark days of this struggle.

"Problems cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them," said Einstein. And it's clear that we need some kind of renewal and revelation in our thinking process. We don't need hero worship or the idolatry of the Leader; we don't need that infantilism that is the product of corporate media; and we don't need self-indulgent self-pity.

I suspect that we need to find a central, still point, in our national character, the self respect that will make it possible to stand before the world on our own merits, without the resort to violence to steal from weaker countries and exploit the poor.

Friday, July 04, 2008


This seems especially appropriate to our current situation.

". . .I don't believe sins can be washed away by anything, not by the Blood of the Lamb, not by Christ on or off the Cross, not by love of God or God's love, not by a billion Hail Marys or a Milky Way of candles or a thousand ages of penance or a million miles of contrition on broken glass and burning coals and leprous bodies.

In fact, I indignantly reject, with horror and with loathing, the dark, ancient, vile and filthy lie that another man or God-Man can redeem us of our sins by his own suffering, or that we can purify ourselves and start over again by compounding our sins with more suffering, more ugliness, more filth and gibbering faith.

What an utterly horrible doctrine! What a contemptible and nightmarish horror-story to preach to grave, thoughtful children. It's time we stood up like men and faced our responsibilities, admitted and lived with our past sins, and cleared our hearts, in so far as we can, not by atonement or by condemning someone else to die for us, but by refusing to cooperate with evil and insisting upon doing good."

--from: Confessions Of A Barbarian by Edward Abbey

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


June 17th.

Mayor, council members, good morning.

Here's some information you might not hear from the mainstream media:

More Americans have died in Iraq than in all US conflicts put together since Vietnam.

Following a long tradition in America's wars, most of those who have given their lives came from poor, rural areas.

More than 15,500 US Soldiers have been wounded.

The number of Iraq Veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is 300,000. Many veterans complaining of battlefield stress are now being given antidepressants, such as prosac and zoloft by army doctors and thrown back to the battlefield.

The number of troops stop-lossed: 58,000.

The number of troops deployed after being declared medically unfit: 43,000.

The Iraq War is costing about $4,500 per second. Per second.

The direct cost of US military operations, not including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans, already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

The projected total bill for the Iraq war is estimated at 3 trillion dollars. This is just the cost for the US. It does not include the cost to Iraq or the rest of the world. This figure comes from Joseph Stiglitz, the chief economist at the World Bank, winner of the Nobel Prize for economics.

Of the total Iraq War spending approved to date, our share, Fort Worth's share, is about 1 billion dollars. For that amount of money we could have built 12,210 affordable housing units.

So as we think about helping the homeless in this community, perhaps we should consider the fortune we've thrown away on a war based on lies. And how much more we stand to lose every day, every second, that it continues.

The percentage of U.S. Combat troops who are Latino: 17.5.

The percentage of the US population that is Latino: 14.8.

The pay per day for a US Army sergeant in Iraq: $71.53.

The pay per day for General Petraeus: $493.15.

The pay per day for a Blackwater “Protective security specialist”: $1,221.62. Taxpayer's money for mercenaries.

As of January 1, of this year, George W. Bush, during a time of war, spent all or part of 908 days—36% of his time—on vacation or at retreat places. That's two-and-a-half years of his presidency spent kicking back.

Can anyone imagine Franklin Roosevelt spending two-and-a-half years of his presidency vacationing during World War II?

The question is why is it so unthinkable to send a simple request to Congress asking for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney?

Thank you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Notwithstanding a news blackout by corporate media, the House voted to send the impeachment document on to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, June 11th. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who read out the Articles before the House on Tuesday, pledged that he would not let the issue rest, and would continue to press forward, and would soon meet with Judiciary Chairman, John Conyers.
Kucinich continued in the statement. “President Bush was principally responsible for directing the United States Armed Forces to attack Iraq.

“I believe that there is sufficient evidence in the articles to support the charge that President Bush allowed, authorized and sanctioned the manipulation of intelligence by those acting under his direction and control, misleading Congress to approve a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

“As a result over 4,000 United States soldiers have died in combat in Iraq, with tens of thousands injured, many of them permanently impaired,” explained Kucinich. “Over a million innocent Iraqis have perished in a war which was based on lies, a war which will cost the American taxpayers as much as three trillion dollars.

The Ohio lawmaker said that it is now “incumbent” for the Judiciary Committee to review evidence he presented. He promised that if the committee failed to hold any hearings on the resolution within thirty days, he would repeat his efforts. He told one reporter Wednesday, “Leadership wants to bury it, but this is one resolution that will be coming back from the dead. … I will be bringing the resolution up again, and I won’t be the only one reading it.”
(Mike Sheehan/Raw Story)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


June 10th.

Mayor, council members, good evening.

We have a major insider, now, Scott McClellan, revealing what he knew and witnessed first-hand as the President's press secretary.

Most of what he has to say in his new book basically confirms what we already know—that there was a “political propaganda machine” that misled the public on the reasons for war with Iraq.

On the outing of a CIA agent, he reveals that not only did Bush and Cheney know that Rove and Libby were involved in the scheme, but they were actively engaged in preventing the truth from coming out. Acts which are themselves felonies.

Of course, the smear machine is now turned up high in an attempt to discredit McClellan and drown out what he's trying to say. So far, the attacks are mostly personal; hardly anyone disputes him on the facts.

So we continue to bring before you what we know, still hoping to persuade you to pass this impeachment resolution. Hoping that you will finally allow Congress to hear our city's voice alongside 96 other cities and towns who have courageously lifted their voices in defense of the rule of law and the Constitution.

By asking you to pass this resolution, we're not asking you to attack the President and Vice President. We're asking you to condemn illegal wiretapping; to condemn the use of lies and propaganda to launch wars that cause the needless destruction of human life. We're asking you to uphold the U.N. Charter that makes it a war crime to launch unprovoked attacks on other countries.

We're asking you to stand by the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Army Field Manual that brands the use of torture as illegal and immoral.

We're asking you to stand for the law that makes the casual exposure of our government agents an act of treason.

We're asking you to stand for the time-honored right of due-process, the principle that no one should be locked up for years without legal council, or a fair trial in a court of law.

We simply ask you to make a principled stand for the traditions and values of our

In recent news, we learn that the Pentagon urged interrogators at Guantanamo to destroy handwritten notes in case they were called to testify about potentially harsh treatment of detainees.

We further learn that the U.S. deliberately thwarted evidence that could help terror suspects defend themselves at trial.

So? I hear you say. Why should we care what happens to them? Because we're better than that, aren't we? Because we believe in the rule of law which says that a person is innocent until proven guilty?

And if we don't believe in that. . . if—as the President says—the Constitution does not apply at Guantanamo, then what have we become?

Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Dennis Kucinich submitted 35 Articles of Impeachment on the floor of the House last night. A news blackout among corporate media has kept this off major news outlets, so far. Standing for almost five hours, Kucinich read out the detailed charges, which refer back, again and again, to the President's failure to follow his oath of office, as well as his failure to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.
"Resolved," Kucinich then began, "that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate. ...

"In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and to the best of his ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the following abuses of power..." (Raw Story, which links to CSPAN video)

Raw Story also reports that Florida's Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler has become the first to co-sponsor the Articles. Wexler offered these comments:
"President Bush deliberately created a massive propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq to the American people and the charges detailed in this impeachment resolution indicate an unprecedented abuse of executive power," Wexler said in a news release. "A decision by Congress to pursue impeachment is not an option, it is a sworn duty. It is time for Congress to stand up and defend the Constitution against the blatant violations and illegalities of this Administration. Our Founding Fathers bestowed upon Congress the power of impeachment, and it is now time that we use it to defend the rule of law from this corrupt Administration."
Here in Fort Worth, our friend Grayson Harper has been speaking regularly before the City Council and urging them to adopt a resolution for Impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, a resolution that has passed in several cities and towns across this country. "Thinking globally and acting locally," our friend Grayson offers this poster for a peaceful, July 8th assembly of concerned citizens in this city.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


That morning they lifted above their heads
what appeared to be a doll in a christening gown
and we stood in the blasted haze waiting for long white
plumes to stanch the fires quickening through
carpets and bedclothes, a tea service, a tender curtain,
and we did not turn away, nor did we photograph the child,
—except at the moment of its being raised—
but later we walked to the Place des Martyrs
where a stillness had been created entirely
by small arms-fire that had blistered walls, blackened shops
and taken from the movie-house all but its blank screen,
where once all manner of figures had shone,
wavering, composed of light through what was
now nothing: a country. Or such was the hope.

American poet, Carolyn Forché

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


June 3.

Diane and I spoke, without incident. The Mayor basically ignored us and blathered most of the time with his cohorts.

Mayor, council members, good evening. This is my seventeenth appearance here in behalf of this resolution.

There are those who try to portray what we say here as mostly opinions, rather than matters of fact. I can only respond by saying that simply isn't true.

I will tell you that if I can write one of these little talks in under three hours, I've done amazingly well. One reason for that is due to the time I take reading and researching the facts. I've always believed that facts would hold more sway here than mere opinions.

So, it is not simply my opinion that the Bush Administration lied to get us into a war. That is a fact.

Nor is it my opinion that then Secretary of State Colin Powell presented an array of lies to the U.N. to justify the invasion, complete with fraudulently interpreted satellite photos. That, too, is a fact.

It is not mere opinion that we invaded a sovereign country. Nor that under the U.N. and the Nuremburg Charters, such an invasion constitutes a war of aggression and is therefore defined as a war crime.

Nor is it my opinion, but a fact, that these charters are treaties to which our country is a signatory, and that according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, all treaties made by us “shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”

That the U.S. has suspended the law of habeas corpus, that it has held people captive for years without due process, that people held by us have been brutalized, driven insane, and even murdered by the use of torture—these are facts, not my opinion.

It is not my opinion that in a memo of March 14, 2003, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo dismissed the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments, and the federal statutes against war crimes and torture. That is a fact.

The Bush Administration has flatly said that at Guantanamo, the Constitution does not apply. That, too, is a fact. And now, here comes an opinion, or maybe just a question.

If the Constitution does not apply at Guantanamo, then why on earth is our flag still flying over that place? If the Constitution has been effectively shredded and neutralized, what possible meaning could still exist in the flag of our country?

Just wondering.

It was opinions that put thirty-three innocent men behind bars in Texas. It was facts that recently got them out. And it was opinions that got us into war in Iraq rather than the intelligence, which was ignored.

I understand the need some people have to portray what we say here as mere opinions. It's so much easier to say, “We don't share your opinion,” than it is to say, “We disagree with the facts.”

If all we have here is a difference of opinion, then it becomes easy for those in positions of power to ignore the elephant in the room and do nothing.

Thank you.

Friday, May 30, 2008


May 27, 08.

At this meeting, at the conclusion of remarks by Diane and myself, one of the council members gave us a little speech explaining why the council has not responded to our request and why they've shown no interest. The main reason, he said, was because "we've heard it all before and most of what you've said has just been your opinions and not facts, and frankly, I don't share your opinion."

Given that we are very careful to present the facts and to base our opinions on the facts, this seemed like an outrageous insult, which I will be addressing in my next talk.

Meanwhile, here is the most recent:

Mayor, Council members, some of you may recall that Ulysses Grant faithfully served as a captain in the Mexican War about the middle of the nineteenth century. Later, writing in his memoirs, Grant said he regarded that war as “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”

Something about that sounds eerily familiar. Could it be that our colossal mistakes in Vietnam and now Iraq are little more than history repeating itself?

Grant went on to say that “nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.” No, he wasn't talking about religious concerns. He was far too practical minded for that. He was talking about blow-back.

He believed the American Civil War was the logical outgrowth of the Mexican War that preceded it. That was our punishment for unnecessarily invading and occupying a sovereign country.

Now it seems logical to ask what is apt to be the blow-back of our Iraq debacle. Well, we know we have created far more enemies than we started out with before Bush launched this war based on lies.

What about the blow-back to our soldiers? Besides the killed and wounded, over 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are currently suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, or major depression—that's one out of every five soldiers who have served there.

In a recent email that just came to light, Dr. Ira Katz, a top official at the VA, reported over 1,000 suicide attempts per month among returning veterans. Then he went on to discuss how this alarming news might be covered up.

The highest number of suicides seems to be among those forced to do multiple tours of duty by this administration. More than half are aged 20 to 29. Three-quarters used a firearm to take their lives, such as Joshua Omvig, an Iowa reservist who shot himself in front of his mother in December, 2005, after an eleven month tour in Iraq.

In 1942 on the eve of War, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “This will require, of course, the abandonment not only of luxuries, but of many other creature comforts.”

Nowadays, President Bush encourages Americans to go shopping and spend those stimulus checks. Carry on as if nothing has happened or is happening.

And so another Memorial Day has come and gone. But this year, concerned citizens come before this law-making body asking for something more than prayers.

We come saying we are tired of prayers for soldiers killed, wounded, traumatized, by needless war. We say we are tired of lies. We believe those who told the lies that got our soldiers in this predicament should be answerable to the people, and brought to justice.

Thus, do we ask you again to stand for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


May 20, 2008

My goal in this speech was to respond to the Mayor who had cut me off last week, admonishing me about attacking any members of the council. I felt certain that he was going to be "on point" this time, looking for an excuse to cut me off again.

Sure enough, Ben and I noticed that he switched my card with Diane's (though I knew I had signed up to speak before her) thus putting me last, which would make it easier to cut me short and end the session. We also noticed him conferring with the retired Air Force officer on the council prior to my going up, as if they were hatching some plan. Also, the bailiff who almost always sits down low on the first row in the chamber nearest the council members' dais moved to stand just behind me and Ben where we sat on the top row. Never seen him do that before.

I turned to Ben and said, "I think he's laying for me." Ben nodded: "I think you're right."

When the Mayor called my name, when I got to the lecturn, he started right in: "Now, Mr. Harper, remember what happened the last time you spoke. I will not tolerate attacks on this council--I don't want to hear how we're not following our oath of office, you understand? Nothing about that."

"May I respond?" I asked him. He nodded. I reminded him that the previous week I was responding to remarks by the retired Air Force council member, just as I had responded to remarks of the Mayor in other speeches. "So I don't know when it's okay to respond and when it's not."

"Well, I'm talking to you in advance of your speech and I'm warning you that if you say anything about our not following our oath of office, I will cut you off. Do you understand?"

I said I understood, but continued to insist that I had not been insulting to anyone.

The tension in the room was pretty thick as I read my speech, certain as I read every line that he was going to cut me off. In my remarks, I went over the freedom of speech clause in both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, looking the mayor in the eye as I did so. He did not look happy.

Meanwhile, council member Hicks kept looking over at the mayor expectantly, as if she, too, were certain that he was going to pull the trigger at any moment. He never did. I think he was quite frustrated, actually. My speech was so carefully worded that he simply could not find a way to stop me; yet, I was able to get my points across.

Score one for me on this round. It will be interesting to see what happens next week. Diane says she's going to go after the mayor for conflicts of interest--his voting on gas drilling issues while invested in the gas industry.

Mayor, council members, good morning. I appear again to ask you to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of the Pres. & V. P. of the United States.

People ask me why are you doing this? What do you hope to achieve? Often, I notice people in this chamber seem to look at me with expressions of disdain or even ridicule.

For me, the basis for this project has always been the Constitution, which, along with freedom of speech, gives citizens the right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. In fact, the first Amendment states that such rights cannot even be abridged. I take that to mean that, in the context of civil, reasoned discourse, these rights cannot be thwarted or silenced by anyone—certainly not by any elected official of this state or of this nation.

The Texas Constitution is, if anything, more blunt.

Section 8 of Article 1 of the Texas Bill of Rights says that “Every person shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject. . .and no law shall ever be passed curtailing the liberty of speech or of the press.”

So it was my thinking, however misguided, to come to this place, being the seat of law and government of this town, consisting of a mayor and council members who have sworn an oath to protect and defend this Constitution and laws.

I came because I saw there were members here who seem to think of the rules and the law as of paramount importance. Members like my own representative, Mr. Silcox, who I've seen time and again stand up for the rules, on such issues as the rule governing leaf blowers. Which I strongly agree with, by the way. I still rake and sweep up my grass just like I did before there were all these noisy polluting contraptions.

And Mr. Silcox has also stood for the rules on gas drilling. As Mr. Burns and Ms. Hicks have done—always considerate of the environment in which we must all live. The Mayor himself--Mr. Moncrief--has been a heroic advocate of the homeless.

So I came here believing that surely some members of this body would be in favor of standing up for the rules when they seem threatened by the national government.

Surely, I thought, someone here would be outraged that the rules had been broken by the needless invasion of another country; by those who have taken away the right of habeas corpus, who would actually legislate the torture of human beings.

I thought perhaps the outrage over homelessness might somehow translate to similar outrage over the fact that some 4 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes since we invaded their country. Or that increasing numbers of our veterans are homeless.

In closing, let me remind you that some sixty years ago, our boys in uniform defeated the Germans and the Japanese and were back home going to college on the G.I. Bill in less time than we have now spent in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's idea of honoring our soldiers killed in this war that he started was to give up playing golf.

Do you really believe that this man and his cohorts deserve a free pass?

Thank you.

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...