Saturday, March 08, 2003


Raven has been feeling neglected. I have been too busy to blog with him since Wednesday, and he has gone from feeling at loose ends (sitting in the street on a rock in a pose vaguely reminiscent of The Thinker in the garden of the Rodin Museum in Paris) to having his beak out of joint and complaining. While I was hanging out my clothes I put out some semi-sweet rolls in the garden as a peace offering.

"Peace. It's on everybody's tongue. It dribbles out of lips in fifty languages. But who, these days, is peaceful?" Raven flutters down from the wall and pecks at one of the rolls.

Are we talking about individuals, or countries? How's the bread, Rave?

"You know that sesame seeds are not saints of my devotion." He spits out a seed, which bounces off the aluminum light post with a barely audible ping. "I was thinking more about individuals, actually. But I don't even know what's going on these days."

Rave, we read the news and blogged on Wednesday. What could have happened since then that we missed?

"I assume that is a deliberately ingenuous question. If you will remember, the US is trying to start its war. That is one thing that could have happened." Raven is scraping the sesame seeds off the top of a roll with his left claw.

We would have heard about it. We do have radio here on the coast.

"Yeah, right: the Voice of the South Pacific. I expect to hear Mary Martin washing that man right out of her hair every time you turn it on. But you don't even turn it on very often. We could be the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust and not even know it!"

Rave, you're overwrought. Wound too tight. Stressed out. If we were the survivors of a nuclear holocaust we wouldn't need news. We wouldn't need to blog, either.

"So just dribble a tiny piece of news my way, will you?"

Well, Robert Fisk says the US war plans are not helped by Blix.

"He's the Swedish guy, the UN inspector, right? What did he do?"

Fisk says: The famous aluminum tubes turned out--if one believes Mr Blix, and why not--to have nothing to do with nuclear weapons (goodbye, the British intelligence file). And--if you believe Mohamed al-Baradei, and again why not--quite a number of other US documents are lies. But the words from this most intransigent of Swedes to most enrage the warmongers were: "We intend to continue our inspection activities."

"And then what happened?" Rave is pecking determinedly at his now seedless roll.

He goes on to say: Colin Powell didn't seem quite ready for the report, though there was plenty of talk of "criminal evidence", of "lying and deceit", along with some new phrases: "cluster of questions" and "tens of thousands [sic] of delivery systems".
Yes, Mr Powell, who picked up the "toothpicks" metaphor, liked Iraq's co-operation--he could scarcely say otherwise--but added he was "sorry to learn that this is coming in a grudging manner".

"Grudging? What exactly did he expect? That Saddam Hussein would welcome the inspectors with belly dancers and a Dixieland band playing When the Saints Go Marching In?"

I wouldn't attempt to guess what his expectations were, Rave. I doubt that the UN resolution said anything about dancers and music being required. Or smiles, either.

"When birds go to prostitutes, they pay for the sex act. Do humans expect service with a smile?"

Probably not if it costs more. What's your point, Rave?

"I wasn't making a point. This is the mating season, and not all of us have mates. I was just curious...."

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003


Raven is helping to make posters for our Poets Against the War event this afternoon. He’s really more of a cheerleader in the poster process.

I, on the other hand, am scrolling dispiritedly through the news stories on the web. It is difficult to decide which is the most compelling to read about—Phase 2 of the Bush administration’s so- called Patriot Law, or the form in which administration spokespeople have refused to comment on the “dirty tricks” campaign against UN Security Council members, or the repositioning of US bombers near North Korea. A virtual embarrassment of—riches?

The second phase of the Bush administration’s (junta’s) domestic security laws is even scarier than the first; here are just a few of the tasty morsels it offers:

1. Any citizen—even those born in the US—who supports the activities of an organization which the administration views as “terrorist” may have his/her citizen annulled and may be deported.

“Deported to where?” Raven finds this latest wrinkle rather curious.

It doesn’t say, Rave. I have no idea how they expect to arbitrarily foist undesirable former citizens off on other countries. Let’s continue:

2. The Attorney General’s office will have the authority to boot out any non-citizen who is preceived to represent a threat to the “national defense, foreign policy or economic interests of the US.

“Economic interests? How?” Raven has given up on the posters and is reading over my shoulder.

You can see that here it does not specify anything either.

3. The law would also authorize secret arrests and would annul court orders which prohibit the use of espionage by police forces, and would allow for wire tapping and secret searches without court authorization.

“You’d better not even go to the States for a visit. They could toss you in jail and throw away the key just because you promoted a Poets Against the War event in Mexico.”

Raven might have a point there.

4. Now there are even two projects which could result in the prohibition of live music and dancing in public places.


I am just reading the article. Apparently the logic is that someone might use or sell drugs at a dance or a concert. Especially at, if you’ll pardon the vain use of your name, “rave” events.

“They could also prohibit people living in their homes. They might use drugs there. Are they going to put them in cattle cars and ship them to concentration camps in Nebraska? Or what?”

Rave, you’re getting pretty hot under the collar. Even though you don’t have one. Let’s look at another story. In response to the exposure of the “dirty tricks” campaign against UN Security Council members, all US spokespeople have refused to comment. The standard answer has been—get this:

I would not have any comment whatsoever on that kind of question or allegation because we never comment on intelligence matters, and I'm not going to do it now."

“Profoundly based on tautology as a rhetorical device, don’t you think?” Raven gives me the eye.

In the Nixon Era—about which you seem to feel nostalgic—it was called “Stonewalling”.

“Same thing.” Rave is not about to abandon his opinion. “And the bombers over North Korea?”

(AP) - The United States is basing more heavy bombers near North Korea and will formally protest the communist nation's "reckless actions" in using MiG fighters to intercept a U.S. surveillance plane, officials said. Shifting the military aircraft toward northeast Asia was described "as a prudent gesture to bolster our defense posture and as a deterrent" by Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis on Tuesday.

“I see. The North Koreans intercept a US spy plane and they are considered to be the reckless ones. Is this Doublespeak, or what?”

Raven is getting angry now. His feathers are ruffling.

It does fall a bit short on the scale of diplomatic language, doesn’t it? I suppose it’s how you turn an embarrassing incident to your own advantage.

Raven scratches his head.

“Who was that guy in the U-2 plane incident?”

Powers, Rave. Gary Powers.

“Unusual name. Prophetic. Or poetic?”

Rave returns to the poster project.

“Give me a ‘P’....”

(How about an ‘F’—for fascism?)

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


Raven is rolling on the floor laughing. I wonder why.

“Listen to this,” he screeches, wiping tears of hilarity from his eyes:

A Breakthrough in the War on Terror? I'll Believe it When We See Some Evidence
by Robert Fisk

In the theatre of the absurd into which America's hunt for al-Qa'ida so often descends, the "arrest" – the quotation marks are all too necessary – of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is nearer the Gilbert and Sullivan end of the repertory.First, Mr Mohammed was arrested in a joint raid by the CIA and Pakistani agents near Islamabad and spirited out of the country to an "undisclosed location". "The man who masterminded the September 11 attacks" was how the US billed this latest "victory" in the "war against terror" (again, quotation marks are obligatory). Then the Pakistanis announced that he hadn't been taken out of Pakistan at all. Then a Pakistani police official expressed his ignorance of any such arrest.And then, a Taliban "source" – this means the real Taliban but "source" is supposed to cover the fact that the old Afghan regime still exists – claimed that Mr Mohammed "is still with us and in our protection and we challenge the US to prove their claim". By this stage, it looked like a case of the "whoops" school of journalism; a good story that just might be untrue....

Yes, Rave. Clearly we have hijinks going on. It’s a shell game. With probably nobody hiding under the shells.

“Mastermind. Indeed. As if everybody didn’t already believe that the CIA did 9/11.”

Obviously not everybody believes it, or this would not have been a news story.

“Since when are the masters creating news stories for the slaves?” Raven looks singularly doubtful.

It’s called brainwashing. The people who read the news stories of elaborate captures of terrorist masterminds are the slaveminds.

“Sorry. As comedy, it won’t play in Peoria.” Raven is leaving.

And as tragedy, Rave?

Raven pauses, lifts his wings and sighs.

“Ask the real masterminds to tell you the next act.”

Monday, March 03, 2003


The 1998 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Portugese writer José Saramago has called upon the government of Chile not to cave in and support the US position in the UN Security Council, but to vote against the insistent drums of war.

Saramago recently criticized the US comment that their intervention in the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 (and their subsequent intransigent support of the dictatorship of Pinochet) was “nothing to be proud of”, dismissing it as merely an attempt at manipulation: “It´s shameful that the US has offered apologies; that country only ‘repents’ because it needs Chile’s vote. Thirty years after the military coup in Chile, the US wants to do the same thing in Iraq in another context.

And Rave, Bush sent that fascist Otto Reich to Santiago to pressure the Chileans.

“Right. And they reacted by taking off all their clothes and parading through the streets. I saw the photo.”

Raven has sworn off lean beef and is now bowling with one of the dumplings from his chicken and dumplings.

Not everybody was parading naked. Just some people.

“The ones with the best bodies, I think. Saramago is the guy you were reading last week, right? ‘El hombre duplicado’?”

Yes, he speaks his mind. He spoke out in no uncertain terms here in Mexico about the government’s counter-revolutionary tactics against Marcos and the EZLN. He’s 80 now, so has earned the right. Rave, you are making a mess on the table.

“Sorry. But these dumplings are nothing to be proud of either. All that’s missing from them is the Brunswick logo....”

Sunday, March 02, 2003


Raven is steadier today. While I was hanging my sheets on the line, he was putting away his french toasts before they got cold. And he has declared the saxaphone his instrument of choice--to sing along with. He blasted a duet with Gato Barbieri most of the morning, even turning lyrically melancholic with the Gato's version of Carlos Santana's "Europa". The Bird in Control of His Hormones?

He joined me for a few pecks at a piece of steak.

"This guy is on the plate is still breathing."

Raven exaggerates sometimes.

Put a little Worcestershire Sauce on it, Rave. And listen to this:

"Published on Sunday, March 2, 2003 by the Observer/UK
Revealed: US Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War
Secret document details American plan to bug phones and emails of key Security Council members

by Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy in New York and Peter Beaumont

The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favor of war against Iraq."

Raven upends the bottle of Worcestershire over his plate.

"I thought Nixon died."

He did, Rave. But he didn't invent Dirty Tricks. Nor were they retired when he retired himself from office.

"I kind of liked Nixon. Just the way he was. Like Mr. Rogers, who also died. And I am sure Checkers is chasing rabbits in Doggy Heaven, too."

Somehow I don't see Nixon and Mr. Rogers in Doggy Heaven with Checkers.

"Pedants are not saints of my devotion, you know." Raven narrows his eyes. "But tell me more of the Dirty Tricks story."

"The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organization and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input."

"Speaking of pedantry, isn't 'friendly foreign intelligence agency' an oxymoron?"

Probably. Or at least morons are involved.

"So who are the spy targets?"

"...The target of the heightened surveillance efforts are the delegations from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guinea and Pakistan at the UN headquarters in New York - the so-called 'Middle Six' delegations whose votes are being fought over by the pro-war party, led by the US and Britain, and the party arguing for more time for UN inspections, led by France, China and Russia."

"Aha. I thought Fox was changing his position on the war."

Rave, Fox doesn't have positions--plural--his only position is Patent Leather Boot in Mouth. But let's continue:

"Disclosure of the US operation comes in the week that Blix will make what many expect to be his final report to the Security Council. It also comes amid increasingly threatening noises from the US towards undecided countries on the Security Council who have been warned of the unpleasant economic consequences of standing up to the US."

"Right. Tony Garza told us to kiss an immigration agreement good-bye."

What's this US? I thought you were a Bird without Borders?

"I like to side with the victims. Eating this piece of meat, I am betraying my code of honor though."

Rave, be serious, will you? Here's the resignation letter of the Diplomat who Came in from the Cold. He says:

"It is inevitable that during twenty years with the State Department I would become more sophisticated and cynical about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer. "

"Good for him. I didn't think that Greece was cold, but...."

Rave, I think it's time for you to go back to the beach and chase some women.

"Thanks, but I'm too beat from chasing my meat around."

The Sunday hoo-hahs with the Bird with an Answer for Everything....