Monday, March 31, 2008


My cousin, Jasper, is always sending me these diatribes based on religion. I won't say what his religion is; it's more or less liberal, I guess, but trying to have a normal discussion with him is like pulling teeth. As far as I can tell, he virtually has no opinions of his own. No kidding. He truly doesn't appear to know what to think about anything. He won't vote or participate in politics in any way. His religion forbids it, he says. It's almost like his beliefs and delusions have so clouded his mind over the years that he's finally turned into a zombie.

And this has happened to literally millions of people around the world. Millions of people, it seems, have had their brains snatched out of their noggins by the hocus-pocus of religion.

As I see it, the idea of Jesus being martyred on a cross so the rest of us can be “forgiven our sins” is simply ridiculous. Of what possible use is that to anyone? What is the point of a religion that doesn't move one to try to make the world a better place? I think of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose religion caused him to be an activist for civil rights; and the actor Martin Sheen's Catholicism, which compels him to work for peace.

I saw Sheen at a peace conference in Crawford, Texas awhile back. When he was introduced, he stood up and said, “You all know what I do for a living. This is what I do to live.” Then, he and Cindy Sheehan proceeded to hold a requiem mass for the dead in Iraq--the first real religious moment I've experienced in a long time.

Weren't the disciples proactive in trying to make things better? Wasn't their leader an activist, himself? So much is made of Jesus' birth and death, yet nobody talks much about what he did between the time he was a helpless baby and when he became helpless again as a condemned criminal on the cross. But didn't he, in fact, spend the best part of his short life advocating for the poor, the downtrodden, the hungry, for those in prison? Didn't he plea for peace instead of war in the Sermon On The Mount? And wasn't he finally put to death for challenging the ethics of the state? Isn't that the real message of his life? What other lesson is relevant for us, if not that one?


Jasper recently dropped me a line citing, in his opinion, a certain discrepancy concerning Easter. Some 2,000 years ago, according to my cousin, the day began at sunset rather than midnight. “So if Christ was crucified on Friday evening,” he asked, “how could he have arisen on the third day?”

“Beats me,” I replied.

Curious, I did a little research and found that there is rather an intricate method for “calculating” the exact day when Jesus rose from the dead. It goes like this. First you determine when the Vernal Equinox occurs, or the first day of Spring (Between March 21st and 22nd). Then look for the next full moon. Resurrection Sunday falls on the following Sunday. Simple.

The writer on this site happily notes that this was rather inconvenient for merchants doing their annual planning for sales. But, as he says, the resurrection is one thing not determined by commerce, but by the movements of the sun and moon. So it agrees with the “divinely ordained purpose of heavenly lights as markers for times and seasons.”

Well, that sounds pretty good, but somehow, I have a feeling the merchants are doing just fine on Easter.

To me, the notion of dryly debating on which day somebody “rose from the dead” in the same way that historians might argue over, say, a timetable for the life of Shakespeare, or the last words of Robert E. Lee, seems completely removed from reality. If we accept as fact (beyond what is proven historical record) some particular detail of the Biblical epic, then, it seems to me we are in the impossible position (in which so many evangelicals and the like have placed themselves) of accepting as literal truth all the phantasmagoria, the allegories and myths of the Bible, or whatever “holy” book or prophet's version of things you've settled on as your basis.

And if we are to believe the Bible is the literal “word of God,” then surely we must accept that God really is the deranged, homicidal maniac presented to us in countless passages, from Genesis to the book of Revelations. This is a God whose ego-driven flights of anger could spell the doom of men, women, children, newborn babies, birds, cattle, koala bears, you name it. This God would put witches and homosexuals to death, approves of slavery, made a willing accomplice of Abraham in the murder of his son. He kills with plagues, boils, disease, hailstones, fire, drowning, turns people to salt—in short, uses every means at his disposal. Might as well say you believe the coldly psychotic fiend going around punching out people's brains with a pneumatic cow killer in the film No Country For Old Men is none other than God himself.


I recall my own father debating the Jehovah's Witnesses who came to his door, happily in his element, I imagine. He, too, fancied himself something of a Bible scholar, and I suppose he was. And that's good. I think it's a fine thing to know the Bible, undoubtedly a majestic and poetic book. But I don't think one should necessarily know it any more than one should perhaps know the Quran or the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita . In fact, I would hope one would be just as familiar, if not more so, with such books as All Quiet On The Western Front, Slaughterhouse Five and A People's History Of The United States. Surely, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn qualifies as one of the most religious books I've ever read.

I think my old Dad, bless his soul, was as “right”--and as mistaken--as the humble Jehovah's Witnesses at the door. What we have is simply millions upon millions of magical thinkers all equally convinced that they are right. . .pitted against each other. My father, getting himself up in the armor of his voodoo to do battle with the charlatans on the porch, clutching their magical book and their leaflets—what do they call them? “Tracts.” Periodically, the disagreements and bickering between this group of magical thinkers and that one breaks out into real actual war that destroys cities and maims and kills hundreds of thousands of people.

And that's what we have now in the Middle East. We have the Christian magical thinkers making war on all the Muslim magical thinkers. So, too, with Israel's nonstop aggression and slaughter of Palestinians—the basis for which may well be that passage in the “Good Book” where God hands over the land of Canaan forever to Abraham and his descendants.

And, as it happens, we just posted our four-thousandth American death in Iraq. On Easter Sunday! Imagine that. The Iraqis have lost over a million, the highest percentage of which happen to be women and children. I wonder how many of the survivors woke up Easter morning wondering which day precisely Jesus popped up out of his tomb and walked around. . . .

Happy Easter, all you Iraqi children!


Speaking of Jehovah's Witnesses, I always enjoy talking to them, myself, as a matter of fact. I tend to get the same two black ladies appearing at my door--about three times a year. I think I've become their special project. I like them not so much for the foolishness they've stoked away in their heads, but mainly because they're so sweetly well-intentioned about the make-believe they're so determined to perform. Never intrusive, always acting with the utmost decorum and kindness. And always dressed in their Sunday best—which, for most of the people on my street would be sad weeds, indeed. And I love them for that, too.

And it's rather comforting, I must say, to have a couple of grandmothers showing up at my door who so ardently yearn to save me, even though I'm quite sure in the end, it would have to be on their terms rather than mine. And if saving me meant counting on either of them for a blood transfusion, say, then I imagine the odds of my survival in that moment would go right in the crapper.

But they're so childlike, they can't help it, I guess. It's what often happens to people who completely surrender to their delusions. They're just not as deceitful or as cunning as the rightwing Evangelicals.

Another reason I like them is because I happen to know a little about their history. The Witnesses historically have suffered terrible abuse at the hands of mainstream religions in this country, including mob violence and lynchings. So I can't help having a special sympathy for them, as I tend to have for the underdogs.

Thus, have they come by their belief in church/state separation by hard experience, which deserves high praise in this day when it seems like all the religious nuts are doing their best to infiltrate our schools and our government. Just recently, we were treated to the spectacle of a presidential candidate suggesting we should change the Constitution to bring it more into line with “God's standards.”

God's standards. . . .

* * *

I always smile brightly at the two ladies and welcome them to my door. I usually offer tea. I reflect back to them all the love they seem to be beaming at me. And they always look a little sheepish when I smilingly remind them how important it is to get out and vote in the next election, and that I still believe in science and Darwin's Theory, rather than the goofy pseudo-science of “Creationism.”

Only, I leave that last phrase unstated, of course.

Monday, March 24, 2008


It would be more tolerable for the rest of us on the left, if playwright David Mamet had snarled like Christopher Hitchens, when the moment came to defect to the right wing. But we only feel a light breeze of urbanity and complacency. The high emotion of an apostate would still be jarring, but not as unsettling as this.

But Mamet reckons that the facts have changed--and he feels that he is one to change with the times--and what is untoward now is being a "brain-dead liberal". And no, he hasn't passed liberalism and gone further to the left, like Harold Pinter, one of his colleagues in the theatre.

For Mamet, the society we live in is just fine, on balance; and the liberal mind exaggerates the corruption prevalent in government, and the so-called evils the nation has committed, and the exploitative habits of business, which are blown out of proportion by a liberal's faith. He is comforted himself by the idea that the liberal nonsense about people being generally good at heart is well and truly nonsense.

Mamet has learned that it's good to be successful; and it's no skin off his nose that the haves are better off than the have-nots.

What is so disillusioning about the defection of this man who wrote Glengarry Glen Ross, is what my friend r'giap writes:
a living art is about remembering so deeply you cannot forget the present & understand all the implications of the future

so when a david mamet turns--he has only to turn his vest as the french would say. a real playwright worthy of that name--harold pinter, the scenarist, dennis potter & the writer john le carre & the great edward bond have moved so far to the left that they make me look like a liberal.
What so astonishes about Mamet's essay "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal" is the lightness of the tone, the glibness in parts of it, with its aftertaste of complacency.

Here is the language the playwright uses to describe his epiphany:
These cherished [liberal] precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been--rather charmingly, I thought--referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.


I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that all the faults of this president--whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster--were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole an election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.
I have to stop and take a breath here, at the place where Mamet so glibly makes an equivalence between JFK and George W. Bush. What first comes to mind is a famous line by the poet William Blake:
A fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees.
But in this case it is worse. The fool covers his eyes and cannot claim to see the tree at all.

I don't know if Sorenson wrote the damn book or not; but I do know that Mamet's comparison of Kennedy and Bush is trite, and obscene right down to the roots. Bush was strung out, while in the Air National Guard; it wasn't JFK who got so coked up that he couldn't pass his physical or perform his military duties. JFK had roughly a thousand days in office and sent a relatively small number of troops into Vietnam. George Bush has sent a huge force, 130,000+ into Iraq, completely destroying that country, and has thus far, killed about a million people. The phrase "Bush was in bed with the Saudis" functions as a figure of speech; and unfortunately Kennedy was literally in bed--not with the Mafia--but with women who were, in point of fact, in bed with Mafia dons. The Kennedys were the enemies of the Mafia. The big military escalation in Vietnam didn't come until after President Kennedy was assassinated. What have I left out? The ballot boxes Mayor Daley controlled in Chicago? A little amateurish compared to Jeb Bush's fix at the state level in Florida, and a conspiracy wired all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Mamet has rationalized the truth away; and the worst, most insidious falsification, is to equate the outing of CIA agent Plame to the Bay of Pigs. The outing of Valerie Plame--let us remember--functioned as a pre-meditated obstruction of justice; and its object was to derail any investigation of George W. Bush's major crime against peace, which,--until a greater horror comes along,--is America's biggest contribution to the Crimes of the Century. And insofar as the Bay of Pigs is concerned, history records that the CIA criminally misinformed the President about "the facts on the ground" in Cuba. And then, when things went wrong on the beaches,--something the Agency had discounted,--those Agency spooks tried to strongarm the President into making a commitment that amounted to a really dangerous and costly escalation of war. The CIA was acting like a rogue then, trying to finesse its own agenda over the better judgment of the President.

In a hostile world where the privileged class feels especially threatened, Mamet admires those marvelous young men and women who protect the privileged. Imagine yourself having a conversion experience like his, after which your hatred of corporations will turn into pure love.
And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"--the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which I could not live.

"Aha" you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than the idealistic vision I called liberalism.
And thus it was that Mamet saw God. And the man became as a prophet. And Mamet saw a Wheel away in the middle of the air. A Wheel within a Wheel. And the Little Wheel runs on faith. And the Big Wheel runs like the Chicago School of Economics.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


"If Barak was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
--Geraldine Ferraro

An exchange of emails between me and Benny the firecracker salesman regarding Geraldine Ferraro's comment that blew up in the press, causing her to resign from the Clinton campaign.

Hey, Benny,

What's up? I thought about what you said at the bookstore last night about Geraldine's stupid comment. I still tend to think she's being racist, here. She went on FOX News the next day to defend her remarks and made them again--this time, I suspect, to a more receptive audience. She made exactly the same statement in 1988 about Jesse Jackson in his run for President. So Geri's been down this road before. There's a sort of pointlessness to it which characterizes all racist language and behavior, because it focuses on just this one aspect of the person (in this case, skin color), to the exclusion of all their other traits. So if she's not being racist, why can she only think of that one thing to say about the person running for high office? And why does it come out sounding so critical? In this day and age it's about as relevant as saying that John McCain is in this race because he's white. The correct response is "So what?" Ferraro thinks of herself as a nice modern liberal woman, but underneath, there's a little dark stain of bigotry that she just can't wash out no matter how she tries to spin it.


Benny's Response:

I tend to avoid self-satisfied, overbearing Yankee ladies. Neither Ms. Ferraro nor Hillary would be impressed with me. I'm proud of that. Ferraro's comment has the ring of factual commentary, however. The thing is that it was thoughtless to spout to the media because the aftermath was inevitable. The response is the same as when she commented on Jesse Jackson and it will be the same if the old bag lives long enough to utter it concerning another black presidential candidate. She did not say he was in because he was black. She said he was lucky. She said the country, the kids, the college students, the activists, were enthralled by a black that talked, behaved, and had everything in common with a Sierra Club-Oprah Winfrey-style male person. We like our own selves for finding a black person we can back for President of the United States. We're ok. We're decent liberal people and here's the proof that we're alright. We're endorsing and voting for a Negro for President. It's new, it's kind of a cult, and we love it. You saw it at the Fort Worth Convention Center. That's why new voters are joining in like never in history. And I goddamn well hope we can elect the Jaycee-acting rock-star bastard because it appears we're just too fucking stupid to do any better. Additionally, if he were to suggest a real black leader, like Cynthia McKinney (who does her Presidential campaigning at the Spiral goddamn Diner) as his Vice-Presidential nominee, his race for the Presidency would end before nightfall. So, yeah, he is, in fact, lucky to be where he is. Being smart won't get you there. Remember Kucinich, and Gravel, and Richardson, and Edwards? Pray for peace.


To Benny:

Well, maybe so. What's funny--if you go back and look close at what Geri actually said, she said: "If Barak was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. . . ." Hm. Hillary Clinton is a woman (I think), and, uh, she's in this position. So why isn't Ms. Ferraro making the same statement about Hillary that she made about Barak, only perhaps with some slight variations?--i.e.--"If Hillary was a man, she would not be in this position. If she was a black woman, she would not be in this position. If she was a black man (blacker than Barak), she would not be in this position. If she was a man and her first name was Bill, she would not be in this position." And so on. I'm sure there's even more possibilities for John McCain, such as, "If John McCain wasn't a decrepit old white man, he would not be in this position. If John McCain hadn't sung, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, he would not be in this position." And so on. Make up your own.


Friday, March 07, 2008


Waking up to Hillary Clinton winning Texas and Ohio last Wednesday wasn't the greatest way to start my day. Roughly akin to the effects of a slightly bad hangover.

Okay, it's not that Barak isn't any less fraudulent than Ms. Clinton on certain key issues, like fixing health care or his promise to end the war.

Quick--what's the current euphemism for leaving in place the mammoth Green Zone, the airbase, the colossal embassy project, upwards of sixty-thousand troops and an equal or even greater number of private contractors, including Blackwater? Bet you thought the proper term for that was "occupation," didn't you? Well, you'd be wrong. No, apparently, we Democrats don't care for that term anymore. Barak likes to call it a "phased withdrawal;" Hillary prefers "orderly withdrawal."

But "withdrawal" from what? From Iraq? Dream on. We will be there indefinitely. Count on it. From the addiction to war, then? Not likely. About the only way to accomplish that is to lock the candidates (not just McCain, but Clinton and Obama) in a room where they can't get their hands on the money or the weapons or our troops' lives; yep, it's cold turkey or nothing.

Still, I'm inclined to think that between the two, Barak is our best hope for positive change. He brings none of the old baggage that Hillary brings, one of which is, well. . .Bill.

I think Barak will be more successful at uniting all the disparate factions of the party as well as the Congress. Hillary simply doesn't have that skill.

Moreover, Barak's resume as it stands at this point in his young life is still relatively unsullied by a lot of aberrant, stinky behavior. On that, at least, Hillary is right--her resume by comparison is much more complete.


Speaking of which, there's something about Clinton's campaign that's got me kind of stumped. It's her support by so many women calling themselves "feminists," beginning with the endorsement by the National Organization For Women (N.O.W.), who on their website, offer the same tired excuse for her voting to authorize the war that Hillary her own self keeps throwing out, the one that goes, "If I'd only known then what I know now," blah, blah, blah.

I wonder how Dennis Kucinich knew, and Russ Feingold, Robert Byrd, Paul Wellstone, Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, and Barbara Lee, and. . .Oh, yes, Barak Obama--who spoke out against it while he was still a Senator in Illinois.

In fact, in the months leading up to her vote, Hillary was briefed by former arms inspectors, strategic analysts and others who told her that Bush's claims of WMD in Iraq were hogwash. So her insistence that she lacked sufficient intelligence and therefore voted in ignorance is simply not supported by the facts. And what does it say about a candidate for President who, by her own admission, doesn't know all the facts before she throws down the gauntlet for war?


But forget the intelligence or alleged lack thereof. I'd just like to know what gives us the right to go mucking around in other people's caves? Jesus, man, we got nukes by the tens of thousands buried in caves right here in our own country. Something tells me this obscene collection of "End Times" hardware poses a slightly greater threat to world peace than the minuscule stockpile of some pissant dictator.

By the way, has anyone noticed where all the threats to use nuclear weapons have been coming from lately? Has it been Iraq? Certainly not. What about Iran? Nope. North Korea? Honk. Try again.

Hint: check out Bush's "Nuclear Posture Preview" that targets China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria for a potential first strike. And how about John McCain singing "Bomb bomb bomb Iran"? Oh yes, and then we have Mrs. Clinton saying that where Iran is concerned, she thinks nukes ought to be "on the table."

Now that's one helluva "feminist" position, if I ever saw one.


The real question is when did it become acceptable to invade other countries when they not only haven't attacked us, but never posed a threat to us? The vote to authorize the war in Iraq assumed that, from now on, preemptively invading countries will be considered a perfectly reasonable thing for us to do--anytime we decide it's reasonable.

And this is the real meaning of Hillary's vote and the votes of all those who authorized this illegal war. Her vote showed a total disregard for the U.N. Charter, and for long established principles of international law; and it should call into question her fitness for the job of President.

And it's just one reason I find her a strange choice for women calling
themselves "feminists." N.O.W.--an organization that I highly respect, and to whom I've actually given money--ought to know better.


Shall I go into her tenure as a corporation lawyer on the board of WalMart? She doesn't like to talk about it, much, but it's been thoroughly hashed out, if anyone cares to read the record. The board she sat on was rabidly anti-union. The Walton family got rich off the backs of slave laborers. Their long list of abuses includes widespread discrimination against women. Somehow, I had the idea that might be of some concern to feminists. Well, what do I know? I'm just a guy.

How about the safety and well-being of children? Isn't that also rather high on the list of feminist concerns? I always thought so.

Yet, Hillary looked the other way while her husband kept tightening the screws on the sanctions in Iraq, the result of which was some 5,000 children dying per month. Despite the horrors the sanctions caused among the civilian population, both the U.S. and U.K. governments continued to block efforts to get them lifted. In ten years, roughly a million people died, including many elderly who perished from malnutrition and the sick, from lack of medicine.

When Madeleine Albright was asked on 60 Minutes if she thought half a million children dying as a result of the sanctions was worth it, she famously replied that it was. Now, there's a good feminist for you.

And it's widely believed that some of the old baggage that Hillary is likely to bring with her as President will be--Madeleine Albright.


By now, we're all familiar with the famous Hillary ad that shows a little girl asleep and seems to imply that Barak Obama could be responsible for the deaths of millions of American children asleep at that hour. Apparently, Hillary's vast experience, compared with Obama's, better qualifies her to answer phones in the middle of the night.

Marc Cooper, writing in the Huffington Post, reminds us of the "calculated indifference of the Clinton Administration" during the Rwandan genocide, when some 800,000 people were being systematically slaughtered.

The phone, Cooper writes, was ringing off the hook at the White House, but nobody answered it.

"I don't know where Hillary was then, but her husband and his entire experienced foreign policy team, from the brass in the Pentagon to the congenitally feckless Secretary of State Warren Christopher--just let it ring."

This is all well documented in Samantha Power's Pulitzer prize winning book, A Problem From Hell.


Lately, Hillary has taken to saying that not only is she better qualified than Barak Obama to be Commander-In-Chief, but so is the Republican candidate, John McCain!

Well, this is almost more than I can stomach. You know, I just can't seem to recall another instance of a candidate of one party recommending the nominee of the other party, for President. Now, that's a new one right there, boy.

So Hillary thinks McCain would make a better president than someone else running in our own party. Specifically, he would make a better Commander-In-Chief. Well, okay, let's look at that a minute.

First of all, McCain's entire foreign policy position is basically the same as the current resident of the White House, George W. Bush. McCain's entire war policy position is identical to Bush's. Quick show of hands. How many think George W. Bush has made an outstanding Commander-In-Chief? Well, gee, I don't see too many hands out there, other than pure nitwits.

McCain says the "surge" is working. McCain says we could be in Iraq for a hundred years. Well, Jeez, that's something, isn't it.

Now, John McCain is cozying up to Pastor John Hagee, and he has this man's enthusiastic support for President. Pastor Hagee heads the Cornerstone Mega-church in San Antonio, Texas, with around 19,000 members.

Hagee thinks Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment of the entire city of New Orleans for gay sin. He calls the Catholic religion "a great whore" and links the Church to Hitler and the Nazi movement.

Hagee is the founder of Christians United For Israel. They believe Islam and all those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews. The gentle pastor also thinks God will send a blood bath to America for its support of a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine.

He also thinks it would be a good idea to just go ahead and launch a preemptive attack on Iran and help bring on Armageddon.

McCain says he's proud of Rev. Hagee and the pastor's positions on Israel.

And other than herself, John McCain is Hillary Clinton's recommendation for the position of Commander-In-Chief of our country.


Gloria Steinem, perhaps the most famous feminist in America, who supports Clinton for President, says of her favorite candidate that she "actually enjoys conflict." I think Gloria may be onto something, there.

"I am so grateful," Steinem continues, "that (Hillary) hasn't been trained to kill anybody. And she probably didn't even play war games as a kid."

Perhaps Ms. Steinem has forgotten the words of Charles Edward Montague, of which I'm certain the two Clintons are familiar: "War hath no fury like a noncombatant."

Open your eyes, Gloria: Hillary and Bill have been playing at war games with quite fatal consequences for at least twenty years that I know of. She parroted the Bush Administration's lies about WMD in Iraq in 2002, and did the same last year with Iran, even though reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the latest National Intelligence Estimate both said there was no truth in the claim.

In March, 2008, referring to Iraq, Hillary Clinton, the feminists' candidate for President of the United States, told an audience in Austin, Texas, "We have given them the gift of freedom, the greatest gift you can give someone. Now, it is really up to them to determine whether they will take that gift."

To date, our "gift" to the Iraqis has claimed close to 2.1 million lives.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

NINTH ADDRESS TO CITY COUNCIL (Regarding A Resolution To Impeach) February 26, 2008

I spoke, followed by Diane. With this one, I finally managed to prick the ire of the Mayor, who took umbrage with my assertion that their silence on this matter seemed to imply that he and the Council felt no "moral obligation" to the Constitution.

He said, "You're entitled to your opinion, Mr. Harper, but, I can assure you, we take our oath of office very seriously here." I put up my hand and said, "Can I respond?" To which he said, "No, sir, you can wait till next week." Which I thought was kind of amusing, in that now he apparently takes for granted that I will be returning yet again.

Diane got up then and did some nice cleanup for me, telling the Mayor that she was certain that "Mr. Harper meant no offense toward you or this council." Her speech was really quite good. She's much better at speaking extempore than I am. I'd be lost without something written out in advance.

My next speech will be a response to his angry remarks. Meanwhile, here's the one that inspired them:

Good morning. I appear for the ninth time asking the Council to pass a resolution to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States.

Last week, after reminding us again that the Council still had no interest in passing this simple resolution, the Mayor added that an election was "around the corner," thereby suggesting that everyone simply overlook the crimes and corruption of the Bush administration and move on.

Frankly, I find this attitude so paradoxical as to defy understanding.

One can only imagine the public outcry if this apparent low regard for the rule of law translated into similar tolerance for crack dealers and prostitutes roaming Hemphill Street.

But when it comes to an equally stalwart defense of law and order as it applies to those in positions of power, apparently even the best among us are impotent.

Such an attitude lead one of the judges in the Nuremburg Trials to conclude that indeed there were enormous crimes, but there were no criminals. Why? Because so few people were willing to stand up and say, "No."

So the question is--how do we reach men like these, who never get blood on their hands, but who lay plans that result in the shedding of blood?

How do I convince you that by looking the other way, as you ask all of us to do, you are signing your approval of a system in which the law applies to some, but not to others? Petty thieves and prostitutes go directly to jail. The rich and powerful who advocate torture, who lie and cause the deaths of thousands, apparently get a free pass.

Plato said, "what is valued is practiced, what is not valued is not practiced."

I am just a commoner of the town. My voice doesn't hold nearly the sway with this Council that the gas drillers' voices do. But you. You are the keepers of the law. You are the law.

You can say all you want that you have no interest to speak out in its defense. By your silence, you can imply that you have no moral obligation to the Constitution. But I believe in doing so, you harm not only the citizens and this town, but you harm yourselves, as well. You don't know that, now. But you might one day.

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...