Friday, May 30, 2003

WHO CARES ABOUT THE BIG LIES?

Raven is eating a grubby little muffin that’s called a “manteca” (lard) here. It’s the only bread we have left in the house, and I don’t blame him for feeling a little down in the beak about having to eat it.

I’m sorry, guy. Tomorrow I will try to go to Pochutla for food. I have two weeks of dirty laundry to wash in the kitchen sink, so we might be eating very late in the day.

“Want me to do a rain dance so that you won’t have to wash the clothes?” Raven looks at me slyly.

The problem with that is people are not going to want to see me running around naked. They seem to have developed an aversion to the truth lately. I am reading an article from The Independent about Wolfowitz admitting that “WMDs were just a convenient excuse for war.”

“Did he just say that today?” Raven sweeps the shreds of the muffin into the garbage with his right wing.

No, Rave, he didn’t. Apparently he said it to an interviewer from Vanity Fair for the July issue.

“For a fluff piece?” Raven is clearly not impressed.

These folks, besides being liars, are not exactly rocket scientists. He tries to obfuscate the issue by talking about another issue:

“That was the prospect of the United States being able to withdraw all of its forces from Saudi Arabia once the threat of Saddam had been removed. Since the taking of Baghdad, Washington has said that it is taking its troops out of the kingdom. "Just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to the door" towards making progress elsewhere in achieving Middle East peace, Mr Wolfowitz said. The presence of the US military in Saudi Arabia has been one of the main grievances of al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups. For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine.”

“I see”, Raven nods, “they invaded Iraq for ‘bureaucratic reasons’. Great motivation for bombing the crap out of a country, killing its people, and a big list of destructive etceteras.”

The article goes on to say:

“The comments suggest that, even for the US administration, the logic that was presented for going to war may have been an empty shell. They come to light, moreover, just two days after Mr Wolfowitz's immediate boss, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary, conceded for the first time that the arms might never be found.

The failure to find a single example of the weapons that London and Washington said were inside Iraq only makes the embarrassment more acute. Voices are increasingly being raised in the US and Britain demanding an explanation for why nothing has been found.

Most striking is the fact that these latest remarks come from Mr Wolfowitz, recognized widely as the leader of the hawks' camp in Washington most responsible for urging President George Bush to use military might in Iraq. The magazine article reveals that Mr Wolfowitz was even pushing Mr Bush to attack Iraq immediately after the 11 September attacks in the US, instead of invading Afghanistan.

There have long been suspicions that Mr Wolfowitz has essentially been running a shadow administration out of his Pentagon office, ensuring that the right-wing views of himself and his followers find their way into the practice of American foreign policy. He is best known as the author of the policy of first-strike pre-emption in world affairs that was adopted by Mr Bush shortly after the al-Qa'ida attacks.”

“What’s this, another Prince of Darkness scenario? Everybody who has read The Plan knows that he was just one of its authors.”

Anyway, the author of the article says:

“Critics of the administration and of the war will now want to know how convinced the Americans really were that the weapons existed in Iraq to the extent that was publicly stated. Questions are also multiplying as to the quality of the intelligence provided to the White House. Was it simply faulty given that nothing has been found in Iraq or was it influenced by the White House's fixation on the weapons issue? Or were the intelligence agencies telling the White House what it wanted to hear?”

“I can’t believe that anyone really thought the weapons existed! Any idiot would conclude that if they had existed they would have been used when the US began the invasion.”

People want to believe stuff like that, Rave. They feel kind of creepy thinking that people who are running their governments just invent reasons to invade other countries. Even though it has been done over and over again.

“These are folks with no historical consciousness. And what about this silliness of biological weapons being produced in milk trucks?”

They do mention that, Rave. Here it says:

“As skepticism grows over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, London and Washington are attempting to turn the focus of attention to Iraq's alleged possession of mobile weapons labs.

A joint CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency report released this week claimed that two trucks found in northern Iraq last month were mobile labs used to develop biological weapons. The trucks were fitted with hi-tech laboratory equipment and the report said the discovery represented the "strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biowarfare program".

The design of the vehicles made them "an ingeniously simple self-contained bioprocessing system". The report said no other purpose, for example water purification, medical laboratory or vaccine production, would justify such effort and expense.

But critics are not convinced. No biological agents were found on the trucks and experts point out that, unlike the trucks described by Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, in a speech to the UN Security Council, they were open sided and would therefore have left a trace easy for weapons inspectors to detect. One former UN inspector said that the trucks would have been a very inefficient way to produce anthrax.”

“That’s an understatement, " Raven cackles. "Open sided. I still think they are milk trucks. Made obsolete by the elimination of Iraqui children….”




Thursday, May 29, 2003

SOMETIMES A GREAT YEARNING....

Today we have the barometric blahs—leaden skies droop over the bay, our eyelids are drooping, our spirits are heading feetward. Only righteous anger can save this day. Maybe.

Raven wrenches himself away from the screen, shuffles stuff on the table with his wings.

What are you looking for, Rave?

“Hoping for mezcal. Expecting the worst. Waiting for a bullet in the brain pan. Listen to the latest from the black hole of Ari Fleisher’s mouth”:

Just a minute. I thought he resigned.

“Yeah, well, he’s not gone yet. Let me read you this, okay?

‘Ari Fleischer, Bush’s press secretary, said during his daily press briefing Tuesday that Iran hasn’t taken the appropriate steps to round up al Qaeda terrorists allegedly hiding out within its borders. Moreover, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons puts the U.S. in grave danger. Therefore, regime change is in order.’”

What is this, Rave, an exercise in logical fallacies?

“There’s more:

“The future of Iran will be determined by the Iranian people, and I think the Iranian people have a great yearning for government that is representative of their concerns,” Fleischer said.’”

Is he crazy? Er—forget I asked that. What an empathetic guy he is! Only with certain population groups, though. He can see right into the hearts and minds of Iranians—with whom he does not share a common culture or language—and feel their great yearnings. Wow! But I have just one question: if he’s so empathetic, why is he not able to look into the hearts and minds of the majority of US citizens and see that THEY are the folks with a great yearning for a government that is representative of their concerns?”

“Good point”, Raven nods. Especially since he goes on to talk about having second sight into what the people of Iran are going to do, too:

‘Fleischer also said Iran's claim that its nuclear program is designed to produce fuel for civilian nuclear reactors is a "cover story."
“Our strong position is that Iran is preparing instead to produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons,” Fleischer said. “That is what we see.”’ I guess he also has a crystal ball?”

Rave, don’t tempt me. You’re talking about crystal, and Ari Fleisher, and balls—all in the same sentence….? And who is this WE?

“Don’t ask me. I am not an empathetic guy. I can’t see into the mind and heart of Ari Fleisher. Nor into his nether regions organs.” Rave pours a shot of mezcal for himself. “Maybe the other guy in the WE is that dummy—what’s his name—Charley McCarthy?”

Joe, Rave. His name was Joe.



Wednesday, May 28, 2003

TEHRAN IN THE FRYING PAN?

The Bush Gang is flying high on testosterone from bombing Iraq into the abyss of no electricity, no water, no telephones, no museums, no hospitals, no archaelogical sites—in fact no anything except intact oil refineries. No matter that Afghanistan is a shambles, too, and that its people are crawling around with concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes in their blood stream 400 times higher than in the Gulf veterans. Now The Bushies are circling like buzzards, looking for another country to destroy—harping that Iran is producing nuclear weapons and sheltering terrorists, they are gearing up to bomb the bowels out of their latest target.

Does anyone see something wrong with this picture—or are we so used to the view from the wrong end of the telescope that we have lost all perspective on reality?

Raven sees something wrong with it:

“Hey, folks—there is one country producing nuclear weapons and charging ahead to produce yet another generation of them: The United States of America.”

Right, Rave. And the shelter for the most dangerous terrorists on the planet is: The White House.

“The really scary thing about these terrorists is that they kill and destroy without even believing that they can go directly to paradise in the event of being “martyrs to the cause”. Or do they think they are going to take all the planet’s oil and all their ill-gotten money with them? What’s out there: a paradise of greenback mansions with petroleum swimming pools?”

The minority poor people are the martyrs to this cause, Rave. And it’s not their cause. They aren’t bringing back fat oil industry contracts for their families. They are coming back in body bags, trussed up in the US flag like Thanksgiving turkeys.

“Bon appetit, Bushies.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

B’WANA—HE NO HOME

(This is for all of us who would rather not be part of what is happening in the world right now, and whose strongest impulse is to isolate ourselves from the pain of living this nightmare.)



I want you to speak the English right,
I want you to smile and be polite,
Say “B’wana—he no home”….
Michael Franks


Despite our best intentions to connect with others,
there are mornings when we don’t feel like opening the door to the world.
Isn’t it enough to ratchet the ceiling fan up to its highest speed—
slicing the air into the lisping of the waves in the bay below
and the fluid screed of Carlos Santana’s guitar?

Why swing the hinge and invite the tenants of Pandora’s Box inside?
Shrieking harpy gangs of petrocriminals are roaming the planet,
their mouths like nozzles of gasoline pumps guzzling the resources
of other countries and belching out hunger, violence and
“endemic diseases, such as death” (Hugo Ch├ívez dixit).

Satellites rise with the sun in the east and watch us
make our first trip of the day to the bathroom;
agents with the souls of proctologists sniff through our e-mails,
probe our recorded telephone calls,
and examine our credit card transactions for purchases from terrorists—

thinking of ways to strip us of our citizenship.
Maybe in their very perversity they have hit upon
the right idea: instead of suffering the outrage
of marginality, let all of us pariahs and potential
terrorists become citizens of the earth!

As citizens of the earth we will have the responsibility
to go where our skills are most needed;
we will assume the mandate to root out plots
disguised as regime changes, and liquidate them;
we will need to tear down the barriers separating countries—

not by invading them, but by honoring their common
humanity—so that people can join in peaceful conjugation;
we will have to work tirelessly to heal the planet
so that it provides nurturance for all of us,
instead of being victimized by a few for their own gain.


Those are just a few of the tasks that we should have
been doing all along—before we became too repulsed
by the savagery of our species to open our front doors
and proclaim, as Fidel Castro did yesterday in Buenos Aires:
“What a lot of light there is here!”

Raven has had his beak out of joint because I was gone for three days to Oaxaca. One of my professors reported that Raven flew into his kitchen and stole topping items from the pizzas he was making to sell on the weekend. When I arrived home Sunday evening I found one of his feathers prominently displayed on the dining room table, and he was slinging a string of complaints at me from the roof. By tomorrow I hope he will have forgiven my absence—or the absence of his chief cook and bottle washer—and will be ready to talk to me about being a citizen of the earth….