Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Live from Baghdad

They don't come much closer to the bone than Riverbend, live from Iraq. Check this out:

"American Heroes...
I'm feeling sick- literally. I can't get the video Al-Jazeera played out of my head:

The mosque strewn with bodies of Iraqis- not still with prayer or meditation, but prostrate with death- Some seemingly bloated… an old man with a younger one leaning upon him… legs, feet, hands, blood everywhere… The dusty sun filtering in through the windows… the stillness of the horrid place. Then the stillness is broken- in walk some marines, guns pointed at the bodies... the mosque resonates with harsh American voices arguing over a body- was he dead, was he alive? I watched, tense, wondering what they would do- I expected the usual Marines treatment- that a heavy, booted foot would kick the man perhaps to see if he groaned. But it didn't work that way- the crack of gunfire suddenly explodes in the mosque as the Marine fires at the seemingly dead man and then come the words, "He's dead now."

"He's dead now." He said it calmly, matter-of-factly, in a sort of sing-song voice that made my blood run cold… and the Marines around him didn't care. They just roamed around the mosque and began to drag around the corpses because, apparently, this was nothing to them. This was probably a commonplace incident.

We sat, horrified, stunned with the horror of the scene that unfolded in front of our eyes. It's the third day of Eid and we were finally able to gather as a family- a cousin, his wife and their two daughters, two aunts, and an elderly uncle. E. and my cousin had been standing in line for two days to get fuel so we could go visit the elderly uncle on the final day of a very desolate Eid. The room was silent at the end of the scene, with only the voice of the news anchor and the sobs of my aunt. My little cousin flinched and dropped her spoon, face frozen with shock, eyes wide with disbelief, glued to the television screen, "Is he dead? Did they kill him?" I swallowed hard, trying to gulp away the lump lodged in my throat and watched as my cousin buried his face in his hands, ashamed to look at his daughter.

"What was I supposed to tell them?" He asked, an hour later, after we had sent his two daughters to help their grandmother in the kitchen. "What am I supposed to tell them- 'Yes darling, they killed him- the Americans killed a wounded man; they are occupying our country, killing people and we are sitting here eating, drinking and watching tv'?" He shook his head, "How much more do they have to see? What is left for them to see?"

They killed a wounded man. It's hard to believe. They killed a man who was completely helpless- like he was some sort of diseased animal. I had read the articles and heard the stories of this happening before- wounded civilians being thrown on the side of the road or shot in cold blood- but to see it happening on television is something else- it makes me crazy with anger.

And what will happen now? A criminal investigation against a single Marine who did the shooting? Just like what happened with the Abu Ghraib atrocities? A couple of people will be blamed and the whole thing will be buried under the rubble of idiotic military psychologists, defense analysts, Pentagon officials and spokespeople and it will be forgotten. In the end, all anyone will remember is that a single Marine shot and killed a single Iraqi 'insurgent' and it won't matter anymore.

It's typical American technique- every single atrocity is lost and covered up by blaming a specific person and getting it over with. What people don't understand is that the whole military is infested with these psychopaths. In this last year we've seen murderers, torturers and xenophobes running around in tanks and guns. I don't care what does it: I don't care if it's the tension, the fear, the 'enemy'… it's murder. We are occupied by murderers. We're under the same pressure, as Iraqis, except that we weren't trained for this situation, and yet we're all expected to be benevolent and understanding and, above all, grateful. I'm feeling sick, depressed and frightened. I don't know what to say anymore… they aren't humans and they don't deserve any compassion.

So why is the world so obsessed with beheadings? How is this so very different? The difference is that the people who are doing the beheadings are extremists… the people slaughtering Iraqis- torturing in prisons and shooting wounded prisoners- are "American Heroes". Congratulations, you must be so proud of yourselves today. has pictures.

Excuse me please, I'm going to go be sick for a little while.

- posted by river @ 9:37 PM "

Right. We're not feeling so good over here in the belly of the beast either, river. We've marched in the streets, rallied in the parks, converged on Washington, wrote letters to the media and those freaks in Congress, all for naught. The Machine of empire is soooo hard to stop. Which is not to say we won't stop trying, only that the work seems endless, fruitless. You hang in there and we'll hang in here. Who knows what may come to pass?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Return to the Dark Ages

We have a situation here. Some very dangerous people have taken over the government of the United States of America. Many of them are religious zealots, fundamentalists who seem not all that different from the ones who fly fully loaded passenger planes into buildings full of innocent civilians. They have friends and supporters who hope to plunge the world back into the Dark Ages. Check this out:

"In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate.

....Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

....Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God."

That’s not a parody of some bible-banging nut-job. It IS the nut-job. The words are from James T. Dobson, radical cleric of Bob Jones University where they give new meaning to the term creationism. Dobson was congratulating King George for stealing yet another election and, obviously, imploring him to finish the job of turning the U.S. into a full-blown theocracy. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse.

There’s a bunch of fundamentalist far-right Christians in Washington who have no problem with courting that old-time Armageddon. The Rapture being what it is, their religious zealotry meshes nicely with the end of life as we know it here on planet Earth. In other words: George W. Bush, being among the ranks of the allegedly saved, may have no problem with starting a nuclear war.

Presumably, there are several ways to bring about such biblical prophesies, (you know, where those "true believers" ascend to heaven and all us heathens burn in hell), but nuclear holocaust probably fits the bill since there’s all that fire involved. Unfortunately, this is rather do-able since the present occupant in the Whitehouse considers himself in that exclusive club of the oh-so righteous and has been dropping a disturbing number of end-time biblical phrases in his speeches. Before the invasion of Iraq he proclaimed, "the Evil One is among us". People interpreted the comment as a scriptural reference to Satan walking the Earth in the "final days". There’s also legitimate concern that Bush’s "axis of evil" speech was more about holy war than about foreign policy.

Bush’s proximity to the nuclear "football" and the button, which would release the hounds of hell in the final battle, is truly a sobering thought. If either China or Russia, (both countries currently alienated from the U.S. by the invasion of Iraq and other geo-political issues, and both countries possessing large numbers of nuclear warheads), are dragged into a confrontation, we will all be more-or-less history. Granted, a Bush burning with religious fanaticism, ready to bring on prophesized biblical doom seems a stretch to most rational minds, but who ever said these bible-bangers are rational? Quite the opposite: being totally consumed by beliefs in things no one has ever actually seen puts them squarely in the irrational column. The present U.S. policy in the Mid-east is a fitting example. It does little but perpetuate the violence, but it IS in sync with biblical prophecy: getting the Arabs out of the Holy Land. And, need we be reminded, irrational people do irrational things like destroying humans and entire landscapes in order to "save" them.

U.S. Lieutenant General William Boykin, veteran of the Delta Force assigned to hunt down Osama bin Laden, seems to represent this mindset. Speaking in Oregon last year he stated: "We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this." Apparently, for some people, the Crusades never ended. One can only wonder how such a person rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the U.S Army when they could just as easily have been cast for the role in some dark Hollywood version of reality.

I don’t know about you, but I’m perfectly happy with planet Earth the way it was designed and with the gifts nature provides for us. Yes, the environment is a mess (much of the damage courtesy of corporate forces represented by the likes of the Bush regime), but I’d rather government go about making repairs than razing the entire house, if you catch my drift. That the Republican establishment itself and much of the brass at the Pentagon were publicly voicing trepidation about the Bush league’s adventure in Iraq prior to going in, should tell us something. Even those conservative stalwarts may fear the White house has fallen into extremist far-right hands with apocalyptic agendas. God help us!

But the lord works in mysterious ways, or so we’re told, and it seems entirely reasonable that people who may not be "saved" might be the ones to save us from the ones who allegedly are. It was the forces of rational thought, the Renaissance, which overcame the perverse realities of the Inquisition and the Dark Ages. During those medieval times the forces of darkness had insinuated themselves into the church and state and turned its doctrines to their nefarious ends, just as today’s far-right fundamentalists, Christian, Jew and Muslim alike, have equated death and violence with salvation. These are seriously disturbed people, but they can be overcome just as their predecessors were. However, fear and timidity must be overcome first; that and the store-bought blind allegiance of mainstream America where so much of the population falls in line lockstep behind the flag, leaving the thinking to the corporate media or other masters of the status quo. Quoting platitudes from Faux News or CNN pundits does not qualify as independent thinking. It’s more like quoting party line, chapter and verse. It’s one thing to believe in one’s nation and its constitutional government, but it’s quite another thing to allow just about anything to be done in its name. Ask most any elderly German about that.

So, in closing, I’d like to recommend a sort of 21st century Renaissance. We need to remove the forces of darkness from our midst. The "evil one" may indeed be among us, but it is perhaps more of a mindset than some sort of demonic individual. It feeds on the same sort of blind obedience that led good German people to do horrible things. It feeds on the religious fervor that led good churchmen in medieval Europe to do horrible things. It sheds the blood of innocents and the religious and political beliefs of the blood-letters will not shield them from their god-awful deeds. The “evil one” has a name and address: it is called religious fanaticism and presently it lives all around us. We cannot confront it by sitting at home and whining about another four years of neo-conservative extremism. We have to meet it in the streets and public places, and we have to do that now.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mandate my ass!

The other day on Air America’s "Unfiltered" the hosts came up with a resounding response to a post-election myth hatched by the reality-challenged Dick Cheney who alleged that the Bush regime now has a mandate to further advance their far-right agenda. Mandate my ass! As was pointed out on the radio show, no such mandate exists. The numbers are all about population growth and an increase in voter turnout, not about any sort of landslide for the present occupants of the White House down there in the rabbit hole where nothing appears as it truly is.

In addition, and more importantly, any "win" by rightwing extremists in last weeks election may well have been the result of a combination of voter suppression, fraud and error in electronic voting, and a whole host of Repugnican dirty tricks. This was barely mentioned on "Unfiltered" and is mentioned even less so by the mainstream media, once again in lockstep, embedded with the Bush regime at its war upon democracy.

Thankfully, longtime monitors of voting fraud like Greg Palast and Black Box Voting continue in their efforts at being guardians of democracy, even while most of the Democratic party and their followers cave-in to the illusion of unity. The infamous 15-second American attention span strikes again. We tried on that old brown shoe of unity the last time around when Al Gore and the U.S. Senate bailed on their public trust. The lie of "compassionate conservatism" was then summarily dropped on the threshold of the White House door as the extremists poured into the Oval Office trashing every social and environmental program in sight. As we speak, they continue hacking away at the very Constitution they and their friends in the Supreme Court claim to hold in such reverence.

Recall it was Palast and others back in the year 2000 that shined the light of day into the dark crypt of Repugnican politics. Be thankful these vampire hunters continue their gruesome work. The ghouls of the far right increase their ranks daily, praying on a pliant U.S. public that grasps for every straw even vaguely reminiscent of the fantasy of good old days, perceived morality, or the often fabricated security that comes from the end of a gun.

As for Repugnicans capturing the White House with an appeal cloaked in morality, the corporate media once again has turned its collective back on the real story: the Bush regime’s morality is snake oil, pure and simple. I probably don’t need to tell you that bearing false witness is immoral, nor that torturing prisoners (or condoning torture), targeting civilians in a war zone, and putting criminals to death while claiming to be "pro-life" is the height of hypocrisy. Yet all of these immoral acts and more, so many more, are stock and trade for the present occupants of the White House.

Red State voters appear to be focused solely on gay marriage and so-called family values at the same time arrogant oligarchs stalk the halls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, bibles in hand, making a mockery of the Ten Commandments. The mainstream media must shoulder the blame for not making these outrageous examples of duplicity the story of the day. The Bush administration makes the Nixon administration look like mere vandals. The Democrats didn’t lose the election, the corporate media did.