Archive for April, 2007


Thursday, April 19th, 2007

msnbc April 18, 2007

watch the commentators
dance around the hidden fears:
he was a psychotic psychopath
listen to him—
but don’t listen to him he was crazy
he was unhappy
so we shouldn’t listen
“Hardball goes inside the mind of the guy,
the man who…” not the boy
don’t say the boy
not our boy, not one of us
call him Ishmail
outcast in the desert
the gunman
talking like a prophet
“you have poured trash down my throat,
you have crucified me
…with your gold necklaces
your Mercedes
your vodka and cognac
your debauchery…”
think of a boy, a strange vigilant boy
alone among strangers, coming up alone
“…laced with comments about the rich
…truly creepy, beyond sad…
this statement from the grave…”
his parents can’t help him
for they are strangers too
so he moves through the strange land
alone. our children,
our children are empty
rich poor black white brown
“…imminent danger to self and others…”
the weakest fall first
the weakest fall and some take others
when they go
for those moments maybe he was not alone
“…weakness in our laws
and the treatment of the mentally ill…”
don’t listen to him
don’t listen
250 died hideously in Iraq today
men weeping in fury
at the blood-soaked streets
littered with grotesque hulks of burnt cars
broken corpses
how many would have died in Iraq today
without invaders? without us? without our kids?
these kids of ours back from boot camp tell me
they are killers now
we train them and we train them another way too
there is something here
something that leaves too many children
empty and flat-faced
something what is it? it is the nothing
the nothing you are left with
when things are all you worship
trash poured down their throats
the boy with dead eyes so many boys
dead in the eyes
“…now you have blood on your hands
that will never wash off…”

“Who’s he talking to?” brays the neighing buffoon
“Who’s ‘you’?”
you, fool, it’s you he’s talking to and
and me too

“…When the time came
I did it.
I had to.
…for my children
my brothers and sisters that you fuck.
I did it for them.”

“..someone who doesn’t think
like you and I do…truly the face of evil…
this animal…” I was waiting for that.

“…You have vandalized my life
…do you know what it feels like
you have crucified me like Jesus
your trust funds were not enough
your Mercedes were not enough
your gold chains were not enough…”
a reverse sermon on the mount
cursed are the rich
cursed the debauched

“…too much to bear…”

“You can’t force someone
to take medication, not
in this country…”
said regretfully
this our discourse, our self-talk
medicate the deviant against the horror
of feeling the emptiness that is this is us
banality of evil that sanctions slaughter
and makes it to the church on time
and leave the children to their solitary revelation
of every hypocrisy
and wonder when they break
guns don’t kill people.
and this is still
the greatest country in the world.
this canary in the coal mine
choking on the poison fumes
bought an AK
and blew himself and a bunch of other canaries

“How do you tell the difference
between a homicidal killer
and a budding Stephen King?”
horror is after all an American genre
the beast that stalks our dreams
the fear we will not will not name
“…a kind of narcissism
that pervades all of this…”
yes one that renders impossible
the obvious connections
the necessary reflection
the seemly silence
the mea culpa

“Gun Culture”

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

The most self-critical the U.S. ever gets is in instances like the Virginia Tech massacre, when certain people (liberal) reflect that the wide availability of guns might be at least in part responsible. Of course the NRA (National Rifle Asssociation) is immediately asked to weigh in, and does its usual prattle about how it’s not the guns, but the bad guys who use them. This is patently ridiculous, because in countries where guns are not easily available, people don’t kill each other with them. Duh.

But what is always missing from these so-called moments of reflection is any consideration of the bigger picture: the United States is the world’s premier weapons-merchant. The United States is presently conducting two major wars and Lord knows how many covert ones…In short, the United States is the most violent nation on the face of the earth, and instead of inviting people to reflect on that, information junkies are fed psychological profiles of ‘the killer’, emotional stories about prayer vigils and what-not, and other rubbish. The point is to keep people from considering the big picture.

Our vaunted ‘individualism’ comes in handy at times like these: we are encouraged to take a prurient interest in the particular oddities of a particular killer’s personality. The seemingly endless fascination with Hitler is the classic case: there is the greatest resistance to looking at the Nazis in any sort of historical context. When you do, the Nazis are sadly predictable, alas.

Rather than considering the domestic rot that inevitably develops in any rabidly militaristic state, we lurch from heinous act to heinous act in a sort of panic. In the case of a school shooting psychologists are asked, “What’s wrong with these kids?” Instead we should be asking, “What do incidents like these say about us?” Could it be that the violent acts of the weakest and most confused among us somehow bear witness to a society spinning out of control?

Imus and the Duke Lacrosse team

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Don Imus got toppled off his throne for making a comment which has been typical of him for years. Why now? Maybe because he’s also calling Cheney a war criminal these days? Or suggesting that he might up the ante on his criticism of Bush and start talking on his show about 9-11? Another of his shock-jock comrades called Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney a “ghetto slut” and referred to her “nappy” head a few months back and nobody pulled his license to spew.

Whatever those white boys did NOT do to that black girl on that fated evening, rest assured that they called her things that leave Don Imus’s remarks in the shade. And not from miles away either. And nobody but nobody is talking about that this week. The Duke kids are being painted as innocent martyrs victimized by a self-seeking prosecutor. Yeah right. No matter how self-seeking, no prosecutor in his right mind would pursue a case with no merit at all. I also think of what it would be if I were the mother of one of those lacrosse players, how horrified and ashamed I would be of the behavior which no one disputes.

In the Imus case, immediately, the finger gets pointed at black rappers, even by black ‘pundits’ who feel that Imus was merely reflecting what has become acceptable discourse about black females, only offensive because it’s a white saying the ugly things. I have no intention of wading into that swamp of history and internalized oppression. As a white I in fact feel that I have no right at all to talk about it.

The events of this week have simply served to highlight the vicious stupidity of the discourse on race in this country. Yet again, whites have written a script that exonerates them from complicity, and paints certain of them as martyrs and corporations as anti-racist heroes.

Surprise surprise.

Divide and Rule –America’s plan for Baghdad

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

By Robert Fisk

04/11/07 “The Independent” — — Faced with an ever-more ruthless insurgency in Baghdad – despite President George Bush’s “surge” in troops – US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.

The campaign of “gated communities” – whose genesis was in the Vietnam War – will involve up to 30 of the city’s 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

The system has been used – and has spectacularly failed – in the past, and its inauguration in Iraq is as much a sign of American desperation at the country’s continued descent into civil conflict as it is of US determination to “win” the war against an Iraqi insurgency that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops. The system of “gating” areas under foreign occupation failed during the French war against FLN insurgents in Algeria and again during the American war in Vietnam. Israel has employed similar practices during its occupation of Palestinian territory – again, with little success.

But the campaign has far wider military ambitions than the pacification of Baghdad. It now appears that the US military intends to place as many as five mechanised brigades – comprising about 40,000 men – south and east of Baghdad, at least three of them positioned between the capital and the Iranian border. This would present Iran with a powerful – and potentially aggressive – American military force close to its border in the event of a US or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities later this year.

Iraq conflict ‘must not deter UK’

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

The UK must not shy away from trying to resolve international crises despite the “terrible misadventure” in Iraq, a report from charity Oxfam argues.

It warns that it would be disastrous if the country was put off sending troops to future humanitarian crises like those seen in Sierra Leone and Kosovo.

Really. Lord forbid the world should be spared further acts of British ‘charity.’

Professor who criticized Bush told added to terrorist ‘no-fly’ list

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

A top Constitutional scholar from Princeton who gave a televised speech that slammed President George W. Bush’s executive overreach was recently told that he had been added to the Transportation Security Administration’s terrorist watch list. He shared his experience this weekend at the law blog Balkinization.

Walter F. Murphy, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Emeritus, at Princeton University, attempted to check his luggage at the curbside in Albuquerque before boarding a plane to Newark, New Jersey. Murphy was told he could not use the service.

“I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list,” he said.

When inquiring with a clerk why he was on the list, Murphy was asked if he had participated in any peace marches.

“We ban a lot of people from flying because of that,” a clerk said.

Murphy then explained that he had not marched, but had “in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution.”

The clerk responded, “That’ll do it.”

Military spending to retain troops skyrockets

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

WASHINGTON – The struggle to entice Army soldiers and Marines to stay in the military, after four years of war in Iraq, has ballooned into a $1 billion campaign, with bonuses soaring nearly sixfold since 2003.

The size and number of bonuses have grown as officials scrambled to meet the steady demand for troops on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and reverse sporadic shortfalls in the number of National Guard and Reserve soldiers willing to sign on for multiple tours.

Besides underscoring the extraordinary steps the Pentagon must take to maintain fighting forces, the rise in costs for re-enlistment incentives is putting strains on the defense budget, already strapped by the massive costs of waging war and equipping and caring for a modern military.

Between Good and Evil

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

…I wonder how the majority of British people would feel about a bunch of Iranian naval commandos operating in the English Channel, stopping every Western vessel and searching its belly for some potential military goods. I wonder as well how most Brits would feel about the democratically elected Iranian government interfering with the British Parliament’s recent decision to spend dozens of billions of Sterling on a new Trident, a weapon designed for the indiscriminate killing of millions of people. Obviously there is no need to elaborate on these rhetorical questions, the answers are clear. The vast majority of Brits wouldn’t accept anyone interfering either with British politics or with the Kingdom’s territorial waters. Yet, for the majority of Westerners, constant intimidation and destruction of Muslim or Arab States seems to be nothing other than business as usual.

Somalia: Let’s hear it for the war on terror

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

…Meanwhile, back in Somalia, turns out that, after the initial euphoria, the regime installed by the Ethiopians and -one presumes-their American advisors, has been incapable of bringing together the major clans. Large numbers of African peacekeepers who were supposed to take over from the Ethiopians have, for more the most part, yet to show up. Meanwhile, as the interim government, which was supposed to be a transition on the road to democracy, has become ever more authoritarian and isolated, a new insurgency has grown. It began with some clans linked to the Islamists, but has now greatly expanded.

The past weeks have seen increasingly bloody battles in Mogadishu. Government troops often refused to take action , while the Ethiopians, feeling no such restraint, have reportedly been launching devastating and indsicriminate barrages into heavily populated urban areas. Mogadishu is once again filled with death and destruction. Over a hundred thousand Somalis have fled.

Impressive, while we’ve been obsessed with Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran, the progress being made elsewhere in the War Against Terror.

Conservatives for the Constitution

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Just imagine if one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination endorsed this radical agenda:

End the use of military commissions to prosecute crimes.

Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture.

Prohibit the detention of American citizens as enemy combatants without proof.

Restore habeas corpus for alleged alien combatants.

End National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping.

Empower Congress to challenge presidential signing statements.

Bar executive use of the state secret privilege to deny justice.

Prohibit the President from collaborating with foreign governments to kidnap, detain of torture persons abroad.

Amend the Espionage Act to permit journalists to report on classified national security matters without threat of persecution.

Prohibit of the labeling of groups or individuals in the U.S. as global terrorists based on secret evidence.

Of course, it is difficult to conceive of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or even the somewhat more Constitutionally-courageous John Edwards going to such extremes.

They are, above all, cautious candidates. They don’t want to be accused of getting too serious about maintaining the basic underpinnings of the Republic.

Only the nuttiest of radicals who ask that candidates for president would ask that candidates for nation’s top job to start talking about the notion that the lawless presidency of George W. Bush has created a Constitutional crisis.

So what left-wing cabal is promoting the above assault on the executives excesses of the Bush administration?

The group that’s advancing this so-called “American Freedom Agenda” is chaired by Bruce Fein, a former Nixon administration aide who served as deputy attorney general under President Reagan and who helped to formulate some of the serious — pre-blue dress — arguments for impeaching Bill Clinton. Fein is joined by former Georgia Republican Congressman Bob Barr, veteran conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie and David Keene, the former aide to Bob Dole who for many years has served as chairman of the American Conservative Union.

What gives? How come conservatives are taking the lead in the fight to restore basic Constitutional protections?
the nation