Saturday, March 01, 2003


Raven has been loafing most of the day. Being a beach bum. Chasing women. Snacking with a distracted air on the hotcakes I set out for him on the steps in the garden. Letting loose with delighted cackles and rattles in the bugambilia bushes--all inky motion against their superfluity of magenta riches.

So, Rave, we're not going to think about The World today?

"I am always thinking. Birds for All Seasons are also Birds of All Thoughts. Did you have something specific in mind?"

I was reading a Robert Fisk piece from The Independent, republished on

"Much of the Bush speech to the American Enterprise Institute was written in the language of Israel. 'If war is forced upon us by Iraq's refusal to disarm, we'll meet an enemy who hides his military forces behind civilians, who has terrible weapons, who's capable of any crime.' This is precisely the language of Ariel Sharon. The equation that other Arab states are expected to understand is contained in that ominous suggestion by Mr Bush that after the "passing" of Saddam Hussein's regime, 'other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated'. Primarily, this is a message for Syria, then for Iran and then for anyone else who has not knelt before the Americans."

"You know, there is a reason why I have been having a day off. Sometimes I tire of being the Bird of Reason, the Cassandra subspecies blasting my news from the bugambilia that the world is going to hell in the handbasket of Bush."

Sorry, Rave. I thought we had decided that you were not a subscriber to the Tragic Sense of Life.

"I´m not. But I peek at it from time to time."

Can you finish peeking at this article, just for the sake of the blog?

"But what was it President Bush told us? 'Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us,' he said. Since when? When Iraqi men and women were being raped in President Saddam's torture chambers in 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was in Baghdad asking the Iraqi leader if he could reopen the US embassy. Rebuilding Iraq will require "a sustained commitment from many nations" but "we will remain in Iraq as long as necessary and not a day more". How extraordinary. For these are precisely the same words used by Israel when it invaded Lebanon in 1982. It took Israel 22 years and hundreds of Israeli lives – and thousands of Arab lives – before that occupation ended. Ah, what it is to fight for "the liberty of an oppressed people" – this is Mr Bush on Iraq – provided, of course, they are not Palestinian."

Raven picks up a piece of hotcake.

"So the US justifies its planned occupation of Iraq because Israel has occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967 in defiance of the UN Resolutions?"

It seems that way to me.

Raven pecks at the piece of hotcake.

"These are cold." He sets it back on the plate and prepares to take off.

Rave, before you lift your landing gear....

"I know. A pronouncement. At the risk of a certain kind of bird-brained logic, I have to say that in the Holocaust of the Middle (Missile?) East, the Palestinians and the Iraquis have become the Jews for This Century."

Do you think there will be others?

"Holocausts, Jews or Centuries?"

Raven, with a sad sybiline smirk on his face, banks into the breeze over the Pacific....

Friday, February 28, 2003


Raven is masterminding our Poets Against the War event here on the campus of Universidad del Mar. Well, what he is really doing is finding the best anti-war poems of all time for us to read next Wednesday afternoon.

This means I have been squeezing the cells of the memory centers of my brain to call up the marches, the stench of tear gas, the barrels of National Guard M-1 rifles (later M-16s), the ashes of draft cards and flags on the steps of the Pentagon. And, because I am thinking about poems, I remember Robert Bly reading from THE LIGHT AROUND THE BODY in The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, 1967:

Counting Small-boned Bodies

Let's count the bodies over again.

If we could only make the bodies smaller
The size of skulls
We could make a whole plain white with skulls in the moonlight!

If we could only make the bodies smaller
Maybe we could get
A whole year's kill in front of us on a desk!

If we could only make the bodies smaller
We could fit
A body into a finger-ring for a keepsake forever.

Raven is pulling the best poems of the worst of times out of the unconscious of the Internet.

Let’s nourish our collective memories, make our Shadow conscious, swear that we will never, ever, need to write those poems again!

Wednesday, February 26, 2003


Raven is reading (and translating) a transcript of Fidel Castro’s speech from yesterday’s Non-Aligned (aka Anvil) Countries summit conference:

“We are living in difficult times. In recent months we have heard chilling words and concepts more than once. In a speech to cadets at West Point on June 1, 2002, the president of the United States declared: ‘Our security requires that we transform the military force that you will be leading into a military force that must be ready to attack immediately in any dark corner of the world’...That is what we are: ‘dark corners of the planet’. That’s how some people see the countries of the Third World. Never has anyone defined us better, nor with more disdain.”

“Dark corners of the planet, huh.” Raven is peering out the window at the sunlight bouncing off the waves of the Pacific .

Manicheism, Rave. Black or white. Good or evil. With us or against us.

“Who was Maniche?”

You’re thinking of Malinche. It’s Mani. He was born in what is now Iraq in the 3rd century of the Christian Era, and was called the Illuminator.

“Sounds like another Saddam Hussein best-seller in the making. Apparently this Mani was mixed up in Gnosticism. Didn’t the Catholic church condemn all that stuff as heresy and barbecue the followers?”

That was later. During the time of the Crusades there was a late minor crusade against Catharists in the south of France. It was minor because there were no spoils to be had, and nobody took it seriously. They built some bonfires, but they all died down pretty quickly.

“I see the connection. The Petroleum Crusade. Fidel says:

“After the last global massacre in the decade of the 1940s, we were promised a world of peace, the reduction of the distance between the rich and the poor and that the most developed countries would help the less developed countries. All of that turned out to be false. They imposed a world order on us that can neither be sustained nor tolerated. The world is being conducted to a dead end street. In only 150 years the gas and petroleum that it took the world 300 millions of years to accumulate will be exhausted.”

Well, yes. They´re starting the Crusades all over again, using dualist thinking as a justification.

“The Holy Grail is an oil barrel....”

Sadly, yes. And Rave, the tales of this crusade will be censured in such a way that any vestige of truth will be lost in the propaganda. Robert Fisk wrote yesterday in The Independent:

"In a further and even more sinister message dated 31 January this year, CNN staff are told that a new computerized system of script approval will allow "authorized script approvers to mark scripts (i.e. reports) in a clear and standard manner. Script EPs (executive producers) will click on the colored APPROVED button to turn it from red (unapproved) to green (approved). When someone makes a change in the script after approval, the button will turn yellow." Someone? Who is this someone? CNN's reporters aren't told. But when we recall that CNN revealed after the 1991 Gulf War that it had allowed Pentagon "trainees" into the CNN newsroom in Atlanta, I have my suspicions."

Raven seems to sniff the air. “Is that the scent of oil fields burning? Or napalm in the morning?"

Smells like the Reichstag Fire to me, Rave.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Yesterday the summit conference of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries began in Kuala Lumpur. In his inaugural address the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, denounced the West’s “primitve methods”: using the pretext of a war against terrorism to try to dominate the world.

“Those kamikaze terrorists are killed in every attack, while the great warriors who press buttons see nothing of the dismembered bodies,” he indicated.

The Malaysian leader accused the West of exercising an “ideological oppression” in favor of democracy against poor countries: “Democracy is arguably the best system of government, but it is difficult to see a democratic method in imposing sanctions, starving people to death, and prohibiting their access to medical care with the end of having them accept democracy.”

“Good point.” Raven is starting to get excited as he reads this news.

The Non-Aligned Countries (116 countries in total) expect to approve a declaration today condemning a unilateral intervention in Iraq on the part of the US, as well as the expression Axis of Evil used by Baby Bush to denote 3 non-aligned countries, Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

“The only thing I want to know is why they are still calling themselves Non-Aligned Countries. Since the disappearance of the Soviet Union they should be calling themselves something different.”

Did you have something in mind, Rave?

“Not really. Maybe Victim Countries? Or Anvil Countries?”


“You know—like in the dialectic of the Hammer and the Anvil, the countries that always get beaten on....”

Monday, February 24, 2003


Raven is back. His feathers are a little rumpled around the edges, I think. And his affect is a bit subdued. It isn’t easy for the Bird for All Seasons to admit to his animal inclinations. (It isn’t easy for me, either.)

In today’s La Jornada there is a piece by Carlos Fazio, “De canallas y amigos” (Of Rogues and Friends), which treats the rhetorical use of the label “Rogue State” by the US to justify its new “doctrine of preventive war”, whose most novel aspect is its so-called “anticipatory self-defense.” (Essentially, it means a non-declared war against international norms as well as the US Constitution.)

Fazio points out that “based on the frequency and durability of its unilateral acts of force on a global level, the most visible case of an interfering Rogue State in the 20th century was the United States. (Others, such as the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists had an ephemeral duration.”)

He gives several examples, including Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz’ comments when the Tribunal of La Hague was considering Nicaragua’s accusations regarding the mining of its harbor at Corinto--where he laughed at the people who advocated “utopian and legalist means such as external mediation, the United Nations and the International Tribunal of Justice, and did not take into account the ELEMENT OF POWER in the equation.” The Tribunal condemned the US for its illegal use of force against Nicaragua, and imposed the obligation to pay substantial damages. Washington never obeyed....

Typical bully on the corner behavior. Right, Rave?

“If you say so. If you are including my recent lapse from grace in that paradigm, please remember that I was protecting my own turf.”

Fascinating. I didn’t know that birds had turf, Rave.

“Don’t be ingenuous. Everybody has his own turf, his personal space.”

Fazio goes on to indicate that a “rogue superpower has to maintain its credibility, constructing its ideology with the active collaboration of universities, research institutes and the chains of mass media of communication (CNN, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, etc.)...this industry of ideological persuasion generates processes of suggestion and collective contagion: today’s panic in regard to the “devil” Hussein, yesterday’s in regard to the “evil” Bin Laden. To this end the CIA, the Pentagon, the FBI and the DEA use psychological warfare and covert activity, disseminating disinformation in order to influence public opinion and political leaders in both friendly nations and enemy nations.”

“Yeah. Every 15 minutes the FBI or one of those other groups is predicting another terrorist attack.”

State-sponsored terrorism, Rave. Scare the shit out of the citizenry.

A country that does not respect the rogue superpower can expect to pay the price. Mexico has been advised that it will pay a high price if it doesn’t support the US in the UN Security Council. Bush’s buddy Tony Garza, the US ambassador to Mexico, made it very clear in his speech in Puebla last week that all bets for an agreement regarding migrant workers would be off, as well as any possible NAFTA renegotiation, if Mexico didn´t vote to attack Iraq.

“This guy Fazio is right: it’s the dialectic of master and slave.” Raven is indignant.

You didn’t see the paper yesterday, Rave, but Oliver Stone said he was thinking of leaving the US because he can’t accept the government’s terrorist tactics.

“Wow! When Hollywood threatens to pack up and leave, you know the dream is over....”

Sunday, February 23, 2003


Raven was in the doghouse yesterday because of his regression to the mean of belligerent behavior.

Today he did not put in an appearance while I was in the garden until 5 p.m., when he took a dead leaf from the ground and pecked at it on the wall. I guess this was his version of going out to the garden to eat worms?

Rave, martyrdom doesn't become you.

It looked to me as if he shrugged his shoulders before he flew off with the leaf dribbling out of his beak.

I felt a little strange reading the Sunday supplements without Raven editorializing over my shoulder.

Especially since Raven is an ardent chavista, I would have liked to hear his comments on last week's turn of events in Venezuela. The government of Hugo Chavez and the "opposition" (whatever that means) signed an agreement last Wednesday to put an end to violence (apparently physical and/or verbal?) Early Thursday morning Carlos Fernandez, one of the leaders of the coup conspirators was arrested coming out of a restaurant in the eastern sector of Caracas. He has been charged with Treason, Civil Rebellion and Instigating Delinquency, among other crimes. When Chavez heard the news shortly after the arrest, he celebrated with a big glass of papaya juice and went to bed with a big smile on his face....It was about time.

Also in the supplement Masiosare, an elegy for Philip Berrigan, who died in December after 40 years of resistance against violence and war. A few quotes from his autobiography, Fighting the Lamb's War, published in 1997:

On Capitalism...
"We were taught to believe in the capitalist system without ever questioning how a system that poisons the environment, jails and executes the poor people, and prospers in war can be compatible with the teachings of Christ."

On the Catholic Church and the Vietnam War...
"In November of 1966 the bishops of the US declared that the Vietnam War complied with the criteria for a just war, but those men were not going to die in a rice paddy full of leeches. Cardinal Spellman wasn't going to be walking as a sentinel in the dense jungle waiting for a sniper that would blow his brains out or for a mine that would send him home in a box of chocolates."

On the H bomb...
"Nobody asked the American people if they wanted to build another apocalyptic bomb."

On Christ and war...
"Jesus was an activist. Not a monk. He lived among the poor. He threw the merchants out of the temple, criticized the rich and powerful, ridiculed the government's functionaries. He would not have stayed in a monastery while his government was slaughtering the Vietnamese."

Rest in peace, Philip Berrigan. You deserve that which was so elusive during your lifetime.

Last month Hugo Chavez talked about Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him the "martyr of us blacks":
"Martin Luther King spoke of Jesus, the King of the people, the Lord of Venezuela, Jesus, my comandante...Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus of the cross, Jesus resurrected, Jesus the redeemer...Every day I understand Christ more--his passion, his love. Christ is my Commander in Chief."

I put down the paper and walked back out to my garden. Raven was striking a pose on the wall, holding something green in his mouth that looked suspiciously like an olive branch....