Monday, February 25, 2008


For months now, local republican officials, helped at first by Karl Rove, have been taking fascism for a test drive in Alabama. The state has seen outrageous political prosecutions, some politically inspired violence, and even a news blackout in Northern Alabama, that only this Sunday interrupted a CBS 60 Minutes Report, while it was being aired. A republican, Jill Simpson, familiar with republican Governor Riley's organization, blew the whistle on the conspiracy to frame former governor Don Siegelman, a democrat, for bribery. In the midst of these political upheavals, Jill Simpson's car was run off the road and totaled, and her house "caught on fire". Simpson had gone to nearby Georgia to file an affidavit, because she felt that was an appropriate precaution. This criminal conspiracy against Siegelman occured because he had cried foul over voting irregularities in the 2002 election that ousted him from office, and because he was starting to make another run, in 2005, for the office of Governor of Alabama.
In May 2007, one month before Don Siegelman was sentenced to an extended prison term, an Alabama Republican attorney, Jill Simpson, issued an affidavit claiming political interference in the outcome of the 2002 Alabama governor's race and naming Karl Rove as having taken an interest in the matter.

Because this accusation came out at the same time that the US Attorneys scandal was breaking, and because Siegelman had been prosecuted by two Bush-appointed attorneys, there was immediate speculation that the prosecution might have been the product of a politicized Justice Department.

(Muriel Kane and Larisa Alexandrovna, Raw Story, November 26, 2007)
With offices of Attorney General at federal and state levels in their hands, and the connivance of willing prosecutors and judges and election officials, this method of going after political opponents has become the essence of what Bush administration operatives call "lawfare": republican political war using all available jurisprudence.
WHNT in Huntsville Alabama was purchased by Oak Hill Capital Partners from the New York Times Company early last year. Oak Hill is owned by the Bass brothers, Bush fundraisers at the "Pioneer" level – raising over $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in both 2000 and 2004. Lee Bass is perhaps the best known member of the Bass family for his role in George W. Bush’s failed energy venture called Spectrum 7 and later for his bailing out of Harken Energy. (Alexandrovna)
Aside from WHNT, no other CBS affiliate reported any blackout of the 60 Minutes segment on Siegelman. That's odd, isn't it?

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Looks like Nader's getting ready to piss all over this election. Well, okay. Maybe it'll finally force Obama to stand up and say something real. I don't know about Hillary. She's so stuck on the tape-loop in her head that she may not be capable of an original thought at this point. The presence of a true progressive standing alongside her is liable to cause her to break out in hives. For Obama, maybe it'll serve as a wake-up call.

So, c'mon in, Ralph, what the hell. But brace up, my friend. You're going to be villified for this.

I just hope he can get in and debate the other two stick figures. Then we'll see something worth looking at. I've heard he's got lawyers willing to work cheap to sue the networks to make it happen. But hey, I guess this s.o.b. is really serious about getting this bunged out democracy back on her feet. It'll take some doing. She's full of spiders and black mold, but there may be some life in her, yet. I say: Let 'er rip!

Friday, February 22, 2008

EIGHTH ADDRESS TO CITY COUNCIL (Regarding A Resolution To Impeach), February 19th

Diane spoke this time, then me. The Mayor responded at the end, for the first time, saying, as usual, that the City Council had no expressed interest in impeaching the President. Then he added that an election was just "around the corner," that we should all vote responsibly, and that change would come about through the "normal" process.

My speech went as follows:

Mayor, Council members, I appear for the eighth time asking you to pass a resolution to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States.

I would like to point something out about the war in Iraq, which I think most Americans tend to forget or may not be aware of. Iraq had a combined total of zero attacks against Americans in all the decades of Saddam, except when Bush invaded their country.

War plans with Iraq were drawn up in the first month of the Bush Administration, and so was the illegal wiretapping of Americans--7 to eight months before 9-11.

Since we invaded, we have systematically bombed that country, turning Iraq's cities and towns into free-fire zones. We've leveled entire neighborhoods. We've killed women, children, families, by the hundreds of thousands.

We've raped, pillaged, and tortured. Mercenaries payed for with our tax dollars indiscriminately gun people down in the streets.

We've used white phosphorous and cluster bombs, both banned by the U.N., on civilians. White phosphorous, by the way, spreads on the skin and catches fire. It cannot be extinguished or washed off with water, so the flesh is simply burned down to the bone.

I could bring pictures in here and show you what that looks like, and I think everyone in here certainly ought to know what it looks like. All I can say is it's gruesome to look at.

The systematic extinction of the Iraqi people is without any apparent motive; it is simply violence for the sake of violence.

In fact, the invasion and occupation of Iraq now rivals the great crimes of the last century. The human toll--2.1 million, by the latest estimate--exceeds the number killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. And is approaching the number who died in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970's.

Your silence and your expressed disinterest regarding these and other crimes that are done in your name and mine, speak volumes. If you know your history, you'll find that all criminal regimes rely heavily on the silence and tacit approval of their citizens.

By failing to act now to bring these men to account, we lay the groundwork for future presidents, Democrats or Republicans, to do the same or worse. If impeachment is not an option now, I doubt it ever will be again.

Some things transcend politics. Do we not owe an example to our children, at least, to speak up when wrong occurs? I appeal to you--to your "better angels"--to do the right and decent thing, and pass this resolution.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SEVENTH ADDRESS TO CITY COUNCIL (Regarding A Resolution To Impeach) February 12th Meeting

Not much to report this time. Those who had planned to show up and speak did not make it till the meeting adjourned. It ran short this time, only an hour and a half. That was a disappointment. I barely made it in there myself in time to speak. Only about ten minutes to spare. Ben made it in.

When the Mayor called me up, he said his little piece again, but with a little more humor this time: "Mr. Harper, we're still not interested." I just chuckled by way of reply. Then I said my piece. Ben noted that everyone seemed to listen attentively.

"Mayor, Councilmembers, I appear for the seventh time asking you to pass a resolution to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States.

Last week, Attorney General Mukasey stated that he will not enforce a contempt of Congress citation against Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten for refusing to testify before Congress.

As you recall, Miers and Bolten ignored subpoenas to appear before a Congressional committee to answer legitimate questions about the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys.

In response, the House Committee approved contempt citations against Bolten and Miers.

Now when asked if he will enforce those citations, the Attorney General says no. When asked if he was under instructions by the President of the United States not to enforce Congressional citations, Mukasey refused to give a direct answer.

This Attorney General has already tried to block a Congressional investigation into missing CIA torture tapes.

Then, when asked last week by John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, if he intended to open a criminal investigation into the CIA's admitted use of waterboarding, Mukasey said no he would not.

The power of the subpoena--to call officials before us--is one of the most fundamental safeguards in our system of government. If Congress' right to require testimony is effectively thrown out, then our country's leaders--Democrat, Republican, or Independent--will be immune from accountability from now on.

With no one to rein them in, the President and Vice President continue on their way. On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement saying it may approve the use of waterboarding again--"depending on circumstances."

On Thursday, Cheney defended the CIA's interrogation practices and claimed that the U.S. doesn't torture.

He went on to say that the President's decisions have always reflected the values of the American people.

Are these your values? A President who ignores Congressional subpoenas and contempt citations. Torture. Invasion of other countries based on lies. The existence of places like Guantanamo, condemned by every human rights group in the world. An attorney general who apparently has no use for the rule of law.

The Vice President says these are your values. Is that true?

Your silence seems to say. . .yes.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


1923: From The Timely Death of President Harding
by Samuel Hopkins Adams
Independently Charles R. Forbes was carrying on a highly profitable line of graft. He was another personal appointment, Harding having met him while on a Senatorial junket and been charmed with his bonhomie. Chiefly because he wanted his jovial playmate at hand, the President offered him several appointments, which he declined. There was nothing in them but the salary. Salaries did not interest the ambitious applicant; he was out for bigger money. He tried for the Shipping Board and settled for the Veterans Bureau. Nearly half a billion dollars a year was alloted to this agency. He got to work upon it. He chose as counsel for the Bureau Charles F. Cramer, a California lawyer.


The first intimation of a break in the program came by letter from Europe. Colonel Charles R. Forbes, travelling for his health, resigned. It was an ominous note. Harding failed to recognize its import. He urged his old crony to reconsider; but Forbes knew now that he could never stand up to the threatened Senatorial investigation.

Resignations may be interpreted one way or the other. A bullet is definitive. At dead of night in the house which he had bought from the President, Forbes' right-hand man, Cramer, shot himself. A Department of Justice agent was early on the spot. He hurried to the White House and got Harding out of bed.

"Mr. President: I have a letter for you."

"Who's it from?"

Charles F. Cramer. Mr. Cramer is dead."

"Yes, I know." (How he knew is a matter for surmise. Cramer was alone in the house when he killed himself. Had he perhaps called up the President and given notice of his intention?)

"Here is the letter, sir. It was found in his room."

"Take it away. I don't want it."

The message was destroyed, unread, by Harry Daugherty, to whom the F.B.I. man delivered it.

Shortly after the tragedy Forbes returned from Europe. A chance visitor, misdirected in the White House, was horrified at breaking in upon a scene of violence. The President of the United States had a man by the throat, shaking him and gasping out:

"You yellow rat! You double-crossing bastard!"

The victim was Charley Forbes.

It was the President's first positive disillusionment. Always a self-persuasive optimist, Harding might have been able to convince himself that Forbes' disloyalty was a sporadic instance, not symptomatic of a general condition of rottenness. But now disturbing reports that struck nearer to home reached his ears, matters about which informed circles had been gossiping for months. Like the proverbial injured husband, the President of the United States is always the last to hear news affecting the honor of his house. Too many people are interested in keeping information from him.

Harding sent for Jess Smith

Poor Jess was in eclipse. He had been evicted from his sanctum of power in the Department of Justice and banished to his native Ohio by Harry Daugherty, presumably because his loose-tongued bragging of easy money had become dangerous. Wretched in exile, he crept back to Washington. Possibly the first inkling of his error was when he was summoned to the White House.

The President had chosen his subject shrewdly, Under inquisition the pulpy grafter broke down and, in his slobbering, sputtery speech, told Harding what Washington's political underworld had successfully concealed from him for nearly two years. There is reason to believe that his revelations did not include his boss, Harry Daugherty, who was spending that very night under the White House roof.

"Go home," the President bade his visitor. "Tomorrow you will be arrested."

Jess returned to the hotel apartment that he shared with Daugherty and blew his brains out. Either before or, more probably, after the act, all his papers were conveniently burned."
(The Aspirin Age, pp 92-7)

"Like the proverbial injured husband, the President of the United States is always the last to hear news affecting the honor of his house. Too many people are interested in keeping information from him." (my emphasis)

In this respect, at least, Harding seems innocent compared to today's Top Gun. It used to be lonely at the top, before torture was patented in the Justice Department. This was before the White House became an octopus of crime. This was before the crime against peace, the highest crime forbidden in the United Nations Charter, became no obstacle to an American president. Harding's were heady days when shame, disgrace, and humiliation were potent shadows that could cause a person possessed of some conscience to collapse, physically and mentally. Poor Harding suffered a nervous breakdown and coronary thrombosis that sent a blood clot to his brain when he discovered that his poker playing buddies, whom he appointed to government office, were all crooks.

Of Harding, Samuel Hopkins Adams writes:
Maneuvered by the politicians, the American people selected to represent them one whom they considered an average man. But the job they assigned him is not an average job. When he proved incapable of meeting its requirements, they blamed him and not themselves.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

SIXTH ADDRESS TO THE CITY COUNCIL (Regarding A Resolution To Impeach), February 5th.

Well, tough going this time around. Can't say what went wrong exactly. But it was back to the old animosity. The black councilmember, Hicks, was up to her old antics, making moon faces at the crowd, covering her mouth with her hand, as if to keep from bursting out laughing as I spoke. Yes, it's true. This is a city council member in a medium big city, behaving like a buffoon! Having absolutely no regard for decorum or tolerance for speech beyond that which she's apparently grown accustomed to. It's hard to believe.

There were more people in the room this time, and the whole place felt chilly as I made my little speech. The Mayor didn't say anything to me, but for some reason, the surreal atmosphere combined with the sense of derision bubbling under the surface, got to me a little, I guess.

Ben was there. Man, I was glad to see him after it was over--one friendly face in the crowd! As we stood outside, I saw Hicks walking out of the chambers, chatting with her buddies. I almost said something to her. I wanted to ask her why she behaves so childishly when I get up to speak, but I held back. Maybe I'll speak to her next time if she pulls that stunt.

If there is a next time. Yeah, I thought about not going back. Had a sleepless night thinking about it, wondering what the point of the whole thing is. But I knew a time would come when I would surely get demoralized. Well, that time is already here! After just six times! Christ, what a wimp! I knew when I started this so-called project, it was not going to be easy. I guess I held out some hope that more people would eventually join the effort. I mean, it would just be so much easier to do this if there was a crowd of people involved! Well, that's a fantasy. Nobody's got the stomach for this sort of thing. Not in cowtown. It's so much easier and jazzier to stand in a crowd, holding a sign, singing Pete Seeger songs.

But it doesn't seem right to quit after just six times. If I quit now, it's out of fear. I can't give them the satisfaction of running me off. No, I can only quit when it's really time to quit.

So, here's the 6th speech:

Mayor, Councilmembers, I come before you for the sixth time to ask you to consider a resolution to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States.

I guess the question is whether we wish to live in a country as good as its promise. And what is that promise? The promise of our country is inscribed in the Constitution, which our leaders, our lawmakers, not just the ones in Washington, but in every city and town, have taken an oath to defend.

Yes, even mayors and city councilmembers take this oath, the first thing they do when they assume office. They don't take an oath to repair roads or drill gas wells or even build schools. No, the first thing they do is take an oath to defend the law.

So what does it mean, this oath? Is it merely symbolic, devoid of any real meaning? Like the phrase, "Support Our Troops" that so many throw around, then look the other way when our young people are forced to return again and again to the killing ground, and even when army suicides are at an all-time high?

My dictionary says an oath is "a solemn promise." And it lists the word "covenant" as "a solemn agreement."

So it seems this oath that you took, to protect and defend the Constitution, is equal to a covenant. That seems pretty serious, does it not?

I understand your hesitancy to act in this matter. When all around us are in agreement that it's okay to drill gas wells all over our city, though it threatens our water and the safety of our citizens, then pretty soon, gas drilling becomes normal.

And when all around us appear to agree that it's okay to invade other countries or create gulags like Guantanamo, or torture people, then pretty soon, that, too, becomes normal.

And after awhile, the voice of conscience is a fragile echo.

Listening to Attorney General Mukasey dodge and equivocate and then literally shrug at the question of whether waterboarding amounts to torture, I had to wonder what on earth any oath or covenant was worth to this man. Let along the Constitution.

And looking at all the offenses of Bush and Cheney, it seems the oath they took is equally worthless.

And if that's true, then where does that leave the promise of our country? It seems that it leaves it in our hands.

The failure to speak up is the worst crime of all, isn't it?

Thank you.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


By the end of this 2008 election cycle, Americans could feel like they've gone through some kind of hallucinatory experience. Having recently read Dr. William Sargant's book, Battle for the Mind, I've turned my thoughts to his concerns about prolonged periods of focused anxiety, that can lead even whole populations toward an emotional breaking point, compromising people's normal faculties of judgment, leaving them vulnerable, and open to the masterstroke of what is called, in psychological terms, a "conversion experience".

Dr. Sargant was an English psychiatrist who was treating shell shocked soldiers and severely traumatized air raid personnel during the heavy Blitz of London in World War II. One of the most intense periods for casualties from combat exhaustion was during June 1944, at the time of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
Some of these showed all the usual symptoms of anxiety and depression observed in the peacetime psychiatric practice. Others were in a state of simple but profound exhaustion, generally accompanied by a very marked loss of weight. Still others made gross and unco-ordinated, yet regular, jerking and writhing movements, which were accompanied by a temporary loss of speech or a stammer, or perhaps an explosive form of talking. One group of patients had reached various degrees of collapse and stupor. It was in these acute cases that Pavlov's Conditioned Reflexes and Psychiatry, which we were studying for the first time, proved most enlightening: parallels between their behavior and that of Pavlov's dogs when subjected to experimental stresses leaped to the eye. (William Sargant, Battle for the Mind, p. 48)
Pavlov's experiments on dogs demonstrated that fundamental changes would begin to occur in the animal's brain function, as a series of increasing demands placed on a dog by the lab assistants began to break down the animal's ability to cope, and pushed it over the threshold of nervous collapse. The point of breakdown could be reached sooner and more predictably, when any kind of physical debilitation was added to the dog's ordeal: starvation and weight loss, also exhaustion, the excitation of loud noises, discomfort and duress, and sleep deprivation.

This mounting stress and anxiety, which anticipates a nervous collapse, is described by Pavlov as "inhibitory"--meaning that it is interfering with normal brain function. It is also described as a protective function of the test animal's brain. And once this stage of collapse is reached, the dog is wide open to re-conditioning, because a heightened suggestibility exists in this condition.

Sargant and his colleagues found a way of helping their shell shocked patient by using ether and other drugs to loosen inhibition, and guiding him through therapy sessions, where it was suggested to the soldier that he was presently experiencing a battlefield trauma much like the one he had actually experienced. One patient was told that he was trapped in a burning tank and had to make his way out. This procedure that drew insights from Pavlov's work, required the doctor to agitate the patient to the point of emotional collapse. But the catharsis seemed a great relief to each patient. The therapy succeeded by making the patient re-experience the strong emotions that were associated with the trauma. This was how Dr. Sargant explained it. This cleansing of the wound--so to speak--was the exact requirement to lift away obsessive thoughts and depression. Physical symptoms of combat exhaustion, like partial paralysis and speech disruption, were also relieved.

What Pavlov described as "a rupture in higher nervous activity", can be brought about in stages, leading to a point where habitual responses are no longer possible for the brain. Where human beings are concerned, brainwashing can be made permanent by systematic follow-up and reinforcement. Repetitious messages and rituals can wear down the mind; but Dr. Sargant warns us that the most radical break from habitual response is a potent process, whose aim is the sudden, fundamental conversion of belief. Whether in the milder form that can be witnessed under a revival tent, or in the most ruthless example under Stalin, whose proof was seen in "show trials",--where defendants were converted to the belief that they really were "enemies of the state",--the key to the conversion is still what Pavlov described.

In Battle for the Mind, Sargant recognized that the religious conversions by 18th Century "fire and brimstone" preachers like John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards relied, as well, on the excitation and ultimate inhibition of brain function, and the ratcheting-up of anxiety to a point of exhaustion. While on a break from his wartime duties, he had picked up a copy of Wesley's Journal of 1739-40.

Wesley placed real stress on his congregation during the sermons. The preacher would build it up to a fearsome climax, warning the agitated, and sometimes angered sinners before him, of impending damnation and eternal hellfire. He would prompt them to make the immediate decision for repentance and salvation. It was put as an inescapable choice between one thing or the other: either salvation or damnation. The argument was structured as a decision requiring action "right now". Many hearing these words were physically worn down victims of the Industrial Revolution, severely stressed men with their wives. Those who faced this oratory were warned that they dare not leave their seats or go outside the church, without making the necessary decision.

Dr. Sargant was intrigued when he read reports about "holy rollers" in the United States, concerning religious rituals of "sudden conversion", when people would fall to the floor, or sometimes drift off into semi-hypnotic states before collapsing or shaking. After the war, he decided to travel to the American South to see for himself.
Wesley appreciated the danger of stirring up crowds, reducing them to penitence, and then leaving others to do the work of re-conditioning. While touring the Irish Catholic countryside in 1750, he was asked to preach at Mullingar, but refused because:

I had little hope of doing good in a place where I could preach but once, and where none but me could be suffered to preach at all.

In 1763, similarly, he wrote from Haverfordwest:

I was more convinced than ever that preaching like an apostle, without joining together those that are awakened and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer [the devil].

When investigating a North Carolina religious snake-handling cult in 1947, it was easy for me to see what Wesley had meant. The descent of the Holy Ghost on these meetings, which were reserved for whites, was supposedly proved by the occurrence of wild excitement, bodily jerkings, and the final exhaustion and collapse in the more suggestible participants. Such hysterical states were induced by means of rhythmic singing and hand clapping, and the handling of genuinely poisonous snakes [which] brought several visitors unexpectedly to the point of sudden collapse and conversion. But a young male visitor--the "murderer" [devil] incarnate--was attending these meetings with the deliberate object of seducing girls who had just been "saved". The fact is that when protective inhibition causes a breakdown and leaves the mind highly suggestible to new behavior patterns, the conversion is non-specific. If the preacher arrives in time to preach chastity and sobriety, well and good; but the "murderer" had learned that on the night that followed a sudden emotional disruption, a sanctified girl might be as easily persuaded to erotic abandon as to the acceptance of the Gospel message."..."Two very opposite types of belief could, in fact, be implanted at the close of the revivalist meeting: by the preacher or by the "murderer". (Ibid pp 221-2)
Dr. Sargant writes that humor has some power to fend off this kind of assault against our faculty of judgment; but that our strong and primal emotions--fear, guilt, and especially anger--are dangerous to us as we face these techniques of political or religious conversion.

After the Towers came down in New York, didn't we become subject to the idea of terror? American brains were converted to the belief that Iraq and its leader were behind the attack, a belief founded on nothing that was real. As time passed you could ask most anyone in the U.S. what the impact would be on our liberties, in the event of another major attack on our soil. You would be told that democracy and the Bill of Rights would be downgraded; and one of our own generals said as much, publicly. And fundamental rights were downgraded, even in the absence of such an attack. In 2001, in the first weeks after the Towers in New York were pulverized, there began a widespread falling off of brain function.

It occurs to me that the unsolved case of the anthrax letters, biological agents sent to some Members of Congress, started as much panic in Washington as the 9/11 attack did. Congress then passed the Patriot Act, on faith alone, without reading it. And what unfathomable power has been connected to our al-Qaeda enemy, since that time? From all accounts it adds up to this: some money provided by individuals in Saudi Arabia, logistical assistance from some adjunct of Pakistan's security apparatus, and most fearsome of all, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. And roughly a dozen men with box-cutters.

There may be little to distinguish the New Leader from the old one, at the point where everything turns on abstraction, where history and true conditions are kept from the public, where primal emotions are inflamed, where logic is poisoned, and law and decency are perverted. There is a reflection of this in George Orwell's 1984, in which those techniques are adapted to the masses in a mass-marketed way, toward the manipulation of public opinion--not merely by falsification and propaganda--but by engineering on a psychological level, that constantly increases the stress it has put on its citizens.

It occurs to me that the whole process of choosing American presidents has, in effect, become a kind of emotional and psychological simplification. It comes down not so much to a public capacity to decide which of two evils is the less evil, but to an engineered result, that has steered the harried voters to a president they cannot help but select. If we are lucky we may be able to preserve the thinking part of our brains, and our heads will not be turned, while the seducer walks casually among us.

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...