Part of the methodology of shock and awe is the use of nukes. (See above sources for confirmation.) The correct military phrase given to shock and awe translates into: the ends justifies the means. As this war starts to drag on and casualties pile up (and it is already happening--the US has invaded a swamp and is outnumbered despite superior firepower and technology), the nuke option becomes a reality. Yep, that's right. Nuke Baghdad or Basra. Establishment of credibility. The use of weapons of mass destruction in order to stop them. Heh. And they'll do it unless we get these morons out of there, because they won't withdraw the troops, the US army can't tell Iraqi soldiers apart from civilians, and they won't accept defeat. This requires genocidal tactics, and the mildest (!) form would be to simply evaporate a city.
A story from the Guardian:
One man has been watching the fearsome bombardment of Baghdad more closely than most - Harlan Ullman, the former US navy pilot who convinced Washington to embrace his 'shock and awe' tactic. He tells Oliver Burkeman why the strategy is working
Tuesday March 25, 2003
Shock and awe are not among the words first called to mind by the opening sentences of the final report of the Rapid Dominance Study Group, an informal affiliation of seven men, mainly ex-military, who spent the "mid-1990s meeting to talk defence in the verdant suburbs of Washington. "The purpose of this paper," they began soporifically, "is to explore alternative concepts for structuring mission capability packages around which future US military forces might be configured." One member of the Study Group had co-written a novel with Tom Clancy, as it happened - but they weren't concentrating on the mass market at the time. The paper "was only really meant to be used inside the Pentagon," says its lead author, a 62-year-old, amiable retired navy pilot called Harlan Ullman. But any chance of that had long evaporated by the end of last month, by which time shock and awe, the phrase denoting the military theory that Ullman largely invented, could not be avoided in news coverage of the coming war. On Friday, in Ba"The phrase, as used by the Pentagon now, has not been helpful," Ullman concedes, racing between appointments in Virginia, outside Washington. "It has created a Doomsday approach - the idea of terrorising everybody. In fact, that's not the approach. The British have a much better phrase for it: effects-based operations."
But it is shock and awe that television and newspaper coverage of the war has adopted unanimously to describe the unprecedentedly heavy aerial bombardment unleashed on Baghdad, and other cities in northern Baghdad, from Friday and intermittently over the weekend. And it is shock and awe that has also rapidly come to epitomise, among opponents of the conflict, all the indiscriminate, terror-inducing destructiveness they perceive in the coalition military machine.
Which is, Ullman insists today, "entirely wrong. The notion is to do minimum damage, minimum casualties, using minimum force - even though that may be a lot. It's been taken out of context." At least in the rarefied corridors of the National War College, where Ullman taught, shock and awe was never supposed to be about obliteration but about will power: stunning one's opponent into realising that your might was so enormous, so unbeatable, that the fight was as good as over. "The question is: how do you influence the will and perception of the enemy, to get them to behave how you want them to? So you focus on things that collapse their ability to resist."
This need not necessarily involve massive bombing. On Wednesday night, after US commanders ordered a smaller strike of Tomahawk missiles at targets they believed included Saddam Hussein, CNN, for one, began running an on-screen alert reading "Shock and Awe postponed". But "that was classic shock and awe," says Ullman, who is now strategic associate at the centre for strategic and international studies in Washington. "If you kill the emperor, the empire's up for grabs. And had we killed him, it would have been a classic application [of the theory]: $50m of ordnance, and we won the war."
After this, the argument begins to get a little circular: the postponement of shock and awe "was shock and awe, too," Ullman says, because "we were threatening shock and awe". But the reason for the emergence of the theory at this point in time is clear: it is the philosophical companion to America's staggering technological superiority in warfare. Trying to shock your enemy is not new - "but what was new was the combination of technology and philosophy," Ullman says. "And before Rumsfeld, before 9/11, the Pentagon rejected it, you know. They said: 'We don't understand it.'" They preferred the Powell doctrine - swift overwhelming force to eliminate the enemy, but at potentially huge cost, human and otherwise, on both sides.
Despite Ullman's insistence that the theory is designed to win conflicts with minimum casualties, shock and awe has won him few friends in the anti-war movement, where it has been almost universally interpreted as a recipe for wreaking huge destruction. Some of this is to do with how the Pentagon has presented it: one official told the CBS TV network recently that, "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad... The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before." And much of it has to do with a distinguishing trait of "defence intellectuals": a certain distancing from the grim daily news emerging from real-life battlefronts, and, in Ullman's case, a preference for legendary tales like the one he enjoys recounting about Sun Tzu, the warrior-philosopher of ancient China.
"Sun Tzu was hired by the Emperor as a general, and instead of an interview, the Emperor told him to teach his concubines to march. Because if he could do that, he could do anything. So Sun Tzu said: 'Do I have complete control?' The emperor said yes. So he told them to march, and the concubines just laughed. Then he summoned the head concubine and cut off her head. Then they marched."
For many, though, by far the hardest thing to stomach about Ullman is the historical example he gives of shock and awe working as it should: the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is hard to argue with his opinion that this was "the maximum case of changing behaviour". It is easier to argue with his conclusion that it saved countless lives.
"But take a look at the Japanese during the second world war!" he exclaims. "Large numbers of civilians were committing suicide, and we were bombarding the islands with firebomb raids that would incinerate, in a night, 100,000 Japanese - burn them in the night. This was unbelievable horror. We were starving the Japanese, because we'd blockaded them. General George Marshall projected that invasion would impose about a million American casualties, and we could have de-peopled Japan: no more Japanese. We dropped two nuclear weapons, and they quit.
"They were suicidal in the extreme. And they could comprehend 1,000 bombers, 100,000 dead Japanese, but they couldn't understand one plane, one bomb, one city gone. Those people who say it was inhuman - it wasn't inhuman to drop the atom bomb if you believe in saving lives in the long run. Now, can you do that with a minimum amount of force today? We think you can."
Coalition progress in the current war has been "remarkable", Ullman maintains. "People don't realise. The war just began on Wednesday. It's like saying to Eisenhower, four days after D-Day - why the hell haven't you got to Berlin yet?" In a week, or maybe 10 days, he says, we "will know whether shock and awe has worked" - although it is not clear precisely what will constitute "working".
All of which is not to say that Ullman supports the war. Surprisingly, perhaps, he doesn't. "Where we are is where we are, and this is not a criticism and don't write it as such, but if it had been up to me I would have waited months, perhaps, to get a second resolution, when it would have been clear that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," he says. "I don't agree with the administration view that Iraq is a clear and present danger, an imminent threat. But as we say in aviation, the three most useless things to a pilot are airspace above you, runway behind you and fuel you no longer have left in the tank."
You're aiding the enemy in killing our boys!
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!
ICH LIEBE MEIN VATER!
ICH LIEBE MEINE MUTTER!
ICH LIEBE MEIN HOMELAND!
Totung! Totung! Totung!
Toten sie alle!
Mannschaft USA uber alles!
Mannschaft USA Mannschaft USA Mannschaft USA
(Seig! Ja? Nein? Nein? Warum? Findest du es nicht so gern was ich mag
oder was ich mochte zu tun? Ach, sagst du, daB ich muB nicht so vielen
menschen morden? Entschuldigung Sie bitte--meine Deutsch is doch nicht so
home from supporting the war while building morale of the opposition to a
slight degree. During Gulf War I the media was addressed and ahandled by
the military as a "problem": their reporting was pushed to the margins, and
the cooperation of the military with the press in terms of direct
interaction was minimal. As a result very little direct evidence of just
about anything was nearly impossible to find. Pretty much all we saw were
pictures of flak over the Baghdad night sky.
Now, during Gulf War II, US war journalism has turned around 180 degrees
from the days of Vietnam, 90 degrees from Gulf War I: the embedding of
journalists in the battle zone allows the military to utilize the coverage
as a psyop tool to frighten the "enemy" and inspire "our boys." The
parameters of journalism are being set not by the conditions of war but
instead by the military, and the journalists are "freely" agreeing to go
along with it.
The 180 degree turn can be understood in terms of who journalists are
working for: as the war in Vietnam "progressed", to a large extent they
became the eyes and ears and voice of the US people; in gulf War II they are
the broadcast and bullhorn of the US military.
The lesson may be that we have to depend on the foreign press to get any
coverage that has any real truth-value. Of course this gives us a whole new
set of biases to examine.
This Russian story is explaining something I've suspected: that the
US/British forces simply do not have the numbers to take either Basra or
Baghdad. Typically it takes a ratio of anywhere from 3:1 to 9:1 to overtake
a resolute force nested inside a city. I think the number of US troops
actually on Iraqi soil right now stands at about 125,000 soldiers; the Iraqi
force, condensed over the last decade, stands at about 375,000.
The "best" US strategy at this point is to "cut off" Basra from Baghdad by
controlling the east-west corridor between Baghdad and Basra and then
suffocate both cities by cutting off various infrastructural needs of city
inhabitants, like water, food, etc. & bomb them in order to terrorize them
, break their will, and reduce their numbers (re: slaughter them wholesale
via air bombing campaigns). Engaging in urban warfare at the current US
strength would spell disaster for the US forces.
If these reported losses are indeed true, you should expect to see reports
of heavy losses from "friendly fire" or by various aircraft accidents away
from the battle zone. The US Military for years has been laundering bodies
through faked aircraft accidents as a means of keeping certain potentially
detrimental pieces of information from the civilian population. Typically
some covert operation might take place here or there, and the US reports no
losses. The next day you'll see a report of a crashed transport vehicle
somewhere where soldiers have died. This is a standard black ops procedure
that has become de rigeur throughout the US Military.
be devastating to the US economy. It would foil some of the economic
motivations behind the invasion, and flush America along with it.
The actions of OPEC are far more devastating to superpowers than Afghanistan
invasions. A fact of history perhaps without much supporting logic, but
there it is. Contrary to the popularly-held myth that the USSR's invasion
of Afghanistan led to that superpower's demise, it was OPEC's decision to
triple production overnight that immediately forced the Soviet Union into a
tailspin. Within a very short span of time thereafter, the USSR had moved
into Glasnost. Reforms became the USSR's cover/public disinfo model for
Why the collapse resulted was simple: Russia has and still does produce as
much oil as Saudi Arabia. However the USSR neither had the reserves nor the
quality of oil to compete if OPEC were to go nuts and wage economic war,
which they did. Most importantly Russia was operating at full capacity
production; the Soviet Union was not able to increase production at all to
stem the economic impact of the increase in production. Since the Soviet
Union made its money largely on oil, and since it was suddenly losing more
than gaining through oil production and sales, it ceased to be able to
provide the basic necessities of life. Food lines were soon to follow and
so too was "reform."
As I understand it, keeping OPEC on the dollar has a transitive but
cumulative effect of foisting off huge amounts of debts onto the OPEC member
nations. It is a form of protection money as I understand it. It is highly
dubious that before the war on Iraq there was any such threat of OPEC
switching from $ to E. Any such action would result in the immediate
collapse of the Saudi royal family overnight. As I said, it seems to be a form of
where scientists sew the eyelids of rabbits open
lest they blink in the scorch of a nuclear drop
and elsewhere dolphins are being taught to defuse
bombs in the mockup of a harbor and monkeys
learn to perform the simple tasks of draftees.
It is done with electric shocks. Some mice
who have failed their time tests in the maze
now go to the wire unbidden for their jolts.
Implanting electrodes yields rich results:
alley cats turn from predators into prey.
Show them a sparrow and they cower
while the whitewall labs fill up with the feces of fear
where calves whose hearts have been done away
with walk and bleat on plastic pumps.
And what is any of this to the godhead,
these squeals, whines, writhings, unexpected jumps,
whose children burn alive, booby-trap the dead,
lops ears and testicles, core and disembowel?
It all ends at the hole. No words may enter
the house of excrement. We will meet there
as the sphincter of the good Lord opens wide
and He takes us all inside.
-- Maxine Kumin
The the council and the people central to making decisions about American
Establishment of the National Security Council
The National Security Council was established by the National Security Act
of 1947 (PL 235 - 61 Stat. 496; U.S.C. 402), amended by the National
Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.). Later
in 1949, as part of the Reorganization Plan, the Council was placed in the
Executive Office of the President.
Membership of the National Security Council
The National Security Council is chaired by the President. Its regular
attendees (both statutory and non-statutory) are the Vice President, the
Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense,
and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the statutory military advisor to
the Council, and the Director of Central Intelligence is the intelligence
advisor. The Chief of Staff to the President, Counsel to the President, and
the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy are invited to attend any
NSC meeting. The Attorney General and the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget are invited to attend meetings pertaining to their
responsibilities. The heads of other executive departments and agencies, as
well as other senior officials, are invited to attend meetings of the NSC
National Security Council's Function
The National Security Council is the President's principal forum for
considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior
national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under
President Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist
the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also
serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies
among various government agencies.
CIA as extension of NSC Will....
Section 403, paragraph d of the National Security Act of 1947, which defined
the powers and duties of the CIA:
Section 403. Central Intelligence Agency
(d) Powers and Duties
For the purpose of coordinating the intelligence activities of the
several Government departments and agencies in the interest of national
security, it shall be the duty of the Agency, under the direction of the
National Security Council --
1. to advise the National Security Council in matters concerning such
intelligence activities of the Government departments and agencies as relate
to national security;
2. to make recommendations to the National Security Council for the
coordination of such intelligence activities of the departments and agencies
of the Government as relate to the national security;
3. to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national
security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence
within the Government using where appropriate existing agencies and
facilities: provided, that the Agency shall have no police, subpoena,
law-enforcement powers, or internal-security functions: provided further,
that the departments and other agencies of the Government shall continue to
collect, evaluate, correlate, and disseminate departmental intelligence: and
provided further, that the Director of Central Intelligence shall be
responsible for protecting intelligence sources and methods from
4. to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies,
such additional services of common concern as the National Security Council
determines can be more efficiently accomplished centrally;
5. to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence
affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from
time to time direct.
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice (Stanford, Hoover, Schwab, Chevron, JPMorgan, Hewlett Foundation)
President George Bush (Carlyle, Pennzoil/Texaco, Arbusto-bin Laden-BCCI, Harken-Harvard)
Vice President Dick Cheney (Halliburton/Brown & Root, Union Pacific)
Secretary of State Colin Powell (AOL/TimeWarner, Bilderberg, former National Security Advisor)
Secretary of the Treasury John Snow (CSX)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Searle, Hoover Institution, ABB*, Bilderberg)
*under Rumsfeld's tenure as board member of ABB (Asea Brown Boveri) during the year 2000, ABB sold two nuclear power plants to North Korea.
The Annual General Meeting of ABB Ltd 2000
ABB Ltd held March 16, 2000, its first annual general meeting of shareholders since the creation of the single-class ABB Ltd share.
Shareholders approved the proposal of the Board of Directors to increase the dividend per share to Sfr. 3.00 from Sfr. 2.47 the year before, payable as of March 23, 2000. Re-elected to the Board were Percy Barnevik, Gerhard Cromme, Jürgen Dormann, Martin Ebner, Robert Jeker, Göran Lindahl, Agostino Rocca, Donald Rumsfeld, Edwin Somm, Peter Sutherland and Jacob Wallenberg. The Board intends to re-elect Barnevik as Chairman and Jeker as Vice Chairman.
* * *
ABB to deliver systems, equipment to North Korean nuclear plants (LINK)
US$ 200 million in orders awarded under multi-government framework agreement
Zurich, Switzerland, January 20, 2000 –
ABB, the global technology group, said today it has signed contracts to deliver equipment and services for two nuclear power stations at Kumho, on the east coast of North Korea. The contracts, with a value of US$ 200 million, were awarded by HANJUNG (Korea Heavy Industries and Construction Co. Ltd.) and KOPEC (Korea Power Engineering Corp.).
Familiar, Haunting Words
March 20, 2003
At 8 o'clock last night, the Sikh in a blue turban in the subway change
booth at 42nd Street gave me a little wave and I waved back. Suddenly, he
was a front-line soldier in a war. I designate the subway at Times Square as
a prime target in America in the war with Iraq.
I had just been at the public library, where I discovered the speech that
started World War II. I print much of it here. It is darkly familiar to what
we have been hearing here, when for the first time in American history we
became all the things we ever hated and invaded another country. Herewith
Address by Adolf Hitler to the Reichstag, Sept. 1, 1939.
For months we have suffered under the torture of a problem which the
Versailles Diktat created - a problem that has deteriorated until it becomes
intolerable for us ...
As always, I attempted to bring about, by the peaceful method of making
proposals for revision, an alteration of this intolerable position. It is a
lie when the outside world says that we only tried to carry our revisions
through by pressure. Fifteen years before the National Socialist Party came
to power there was the opportunity of carrying out these revisions by
peaceful settlements and understanding. On my own initiative I have, not
once but several times, made proposals for the revision of intolerable
conditions. All these proposals, as you know, have been rejected - proposals
for the limitation of armaments and, even if necessary, disarmament,
proposals for the limitation of warmaking, proposals for the elimination of
certain methods of modern warfare ... You know the endless attempts I made
for peaceful clarification and understanding of the problem of Austria, and
later of the problem of the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia. It was all in
It is impossible to demand that an impossible position should be cleared up
by peaceful revision, and at the same time constantly reject peaceful
revision. It is also impossible to say that he who undertakes to carry out
the revisions for himself transgresses a law, since the Versailles Diktat is
not law to us.
In the same way, I have tried to solve the problems of Danzig, the Corridor,
etc., by proposing a peaceful discussion. That the problems had to be solved
was clear. It is quite understandable to us that the time when the problem
was to be solved had little interest for the Western Powers. But time is not
a matter of indifference to us ...
For four months I have calmly watched developments, although I never ceased
to give warnings. In the last few days I have increased these warnings ...
I made one more final effort to accept a proposal for mediation on the part
of the British government. They proposed, not that they themselves should
carry out the negotiations, but rather that Poland and Germany should come
into direct contact and once more pursue negotiations.
I must declare that I accepted this proposal and worked out a basis for
these negotiations which are known to you. For two whole days I sat in my
government and waited to see whether it was convenient for the Polish
government to send a plenipotentiary or not. Last night they did not send us
a plenipotentiary, but instead informed us through their ambassador that
they were still considering whether and to what extent they were in a
position to go into the British proposals. The Polish government also said
they would inform Britain of their decision.
Deputies, if the German government and its leader patiently endured such
treatment Germany would deserve only to disappear from the political stage.
But I am wrongly judged if my love of peace and my patience are mistaken for
weakness or even cowardice. I, therefore, decided last night and informed
the British government that in these circumstances I can no longer find any
willingness on the part of the Polish government to conduct serious
negotiations with us.
The other European states understand in part our attitude. I should like all
to thank Italy, which throughout has supported us, but you will understand
for the carrying on of this struggle ... we will carry out this task
This night for the first time, Polish regular soldiers fired on our
territory. Since 5:45 a.m. we have been returning the fire and from now on
bombs will be met with bombs. Whoever fights with poison gas will be fought
with poison gas. Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only
expect that we shall do the same ... until the safety, security of the Reich
and its rights are secured.
On that night, Hitler used this dry, unimaginative language to start a world
war that was to kill 60 million, and they stopped counting.
Last night, George Bush, after speech after speech of this same dry, flat,
banal language, started a war for his country, and we can only beg the skies
to keep it from spreading into another world war.
Story: FORMER CIA OFFICIALS CALL FOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS TO LEAK DOCUMENTS
THAT CHALLENGE BUSH ADMINISTRATION PROPAGANDA
Last week the Los Angeles Times reported on a stunning classified document
from the State Department. It was titled "Iraq, the Middle East, and Change:
No Dominoes." It debunked the Bush Administration's claim that a U.S. attack
and occupation of Iraq would lead to a democratic Iraq, and then help bring
democracy to much of the Middle East. The report was top secret and was
never supposed to be seen by the public. The Bush administration obviously
had little incentive to leak the report - which challenged one of the stated
goals of the war. And today the world would not know about the report if
officials had not secretly leaked the document to reporters.
If a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has its way,
more officials within the Intelligence community will soon begin leaking
documents that shows the Bush administration is slanting intelligence to
support its case for war with Iraq.
The group was formed two months ago by five CIA veterans. Currently the
group consists of 25 members from the entire defense community (including
the DIA, CIA, Army Intelligence, and the State Department Intelligence
Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who briefed top Reagan administration
security officials before retiring in 1990. He is one of the founders of
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Daniel Ellsberg, calling in from a protest in Washington, D.C. Ellsberg is
the former Pentagon official who leaked a 7,000-page top secret study of US
decision-making in Vietnam, which later became known as the Pentagon Papers.
He is author of Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.
Story: U.S. ATTACK PLANS FOR IRAQ ARE MODELED ON HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI: A
DISCUSSION OF "SHOCK AND AWE"
Shock and Awe. These are the words the Pentagon is using to describe its
planned air campaign in Iraq.
Though the invasion has started and bombs are raining down on Baghdad, it
appears the shock and awe part of the campaign hasn't gotten underway.
The idea of "Shock and Awe" is to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and
psychologically" by raining down on its people at least 300 missiles a day.
That would mean that each day, Baghdad would be bombarded by more missiles
than were launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.
In January, when the plan was first leaked, a Pentagon official told the CBS
News: "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad."
The plan was born several years ago, when seven former cold war warriors
gathered to rethink US war strategy. The group was co-chaired by Harlan
Ullman, a retired navy destroyer commander. In 1996, the group published its
findings in a book called "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance."
Chapter one of the document reads: "Shutting the country down would entail
both the physical destruction of appropriate infrastructure and the shutdown
and control of the flow of all vital information and associated commerce so
rapidly as to achieve a level of national shock akin to the effect that
dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the Japanese."
Yesterday's Christian Science Monitor reports author and co-chair Harlan
Ullman is holding up the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a
model. He said: "a society that was prepared to die was turned around."
Independent journalist Russell Mokhiber questions Ari Fleischer in a White
House press briefing on Feb. 19th, 2003. He asks how it is possible to
protect civilians under the "Shock and Awe" battle plan.
Jaime Havenar, independent researcher who wrote the first study of "Shock
and Awe." The report is published on the Not In Our Name website.
friends and investors have bailed him out to keep him from going bankrupt.
But in this year, the same year his father becomes President, some Saudis
buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never worked outside
of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and
starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that
even the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it "raises the question of ...
an effort to cozy up to a presidential son." Two major investors into Bush's
company during this time are Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's father, and
Khaled bin Mahfouz. [Salon, 11/19/01, Intelligence Newsletter, 3/2/00]
Khaled bin Mahfouz is a Saudi banker with a 20% stake in BCCI, a bank that
will go bankrupt a few years later in the biggest corruption scandal in
banking history (see July 5, 1991). In 1999 Mahfouz will be placed under
house arrest in Saudi Arabia for contributions he gave to welfare
organizations closely linked to bin Laden. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01] The
sister of Mahfouz is married to Osama bin Laden. [Washington Post, 2/17/02]
June 4, 1992: It is reported that the FBI is investigating the connections
between James Bath and George Bush Jr. Bath is Salem bin Laden's official
representative in the US. "Documents indicate that the Saudis were using
Bath and their huge financial resources to influence US policy," since Bush
Jr.'s father is president. Bush denies any connections to Saudi money. What
became of this investigation is unclear. [Houston Chronicle, 6/4/92]
April, 1999: A Saudi government audit shows that five of Saudi Arabia's
billionaires have been giving tens of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda. The
audit shows that these businessmen transferred money from the National
Commercial Bank to accounts of Islamic charities in London and New York
banks that serve as fronts for bin Laden. $3 million was diverted from a
Saudi pension fund. The only action taken is that Khalid bin Mahfouz,
founder of National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia's biggest bank, is placed
under house arrest. Bin Mahfouz had invested in George Bush Jr.'s businesses
starting in 1989. The US has not frozen the accounts of bin Mahfouz, and he
continues to engage in major oil deals with US corporations. [USA Today,
10/29/99, Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President,
replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is
CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of
Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on a few more months, until June
2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration are directly connected to
the oil industry. Over 50 of Bush's new staff are later shown to have worked
for Enron. [Salon, 11/30/01]
bin Mafouz denies virtually every claim made about him, and does so on his
own web site, with a special FAQ page. However, given his diminished
credibility ( two big factorsL 1) his association with BCCI and 2) his
desperate need as a businessman to restore confidence) I wouldn't believe a
word he says.
Osama bin Laden's older brother, Salem bin Laden, heir to the Binladen
Group, and his father, Muhammed, both died in suspicious small craft plane
accidents over Texas. Muhammad in 1968, over Prez Bush I's oil fields, and
Salem, 20 years later, in Texas as well, taking off from a Bush-owned
TV very much and still do not. I went quite a few years without
watching. In the aftermath of 9/11 I began watching again, but with the
inquisitve attitude of an anthropologist. What fascinates me most are the
talk shows like Maury and the court shows and the reality shows and of
course the 30 minute infomercials. But what also fascinates me of course is
the propaganda aspect: how the networks are trying to rewrite everyone's
hard drive, so-to-speak, while rewriting history and reality itself (what
And what's particularly ironic is that brain-dead Americans are drawing (get this) a parallel between reality TV and war coverage. Uh, excuse me? That has to be one of the most absurdly STUPID things I've heard as of late. And I've heard quite a bit of stupidity lately.
At first I too was disgusted by the swarm of propaganda and its rat-faced lies. I still am, but the shock of it all has worn
off for me. Rationally I knew it was indeed the case, but still to see it
in action is definitely repulsive. But instead of being repulsed I have
tried to accept it as some sort of mirror: it has made me want to come
half-way in my own art and writing, knowing that so much of the audience,
after years of watching this brain-eraser stuff, has nothing left between
their two ears except a basic receptivity to shock.
To be honest, this particular flavor of pro-Military/anti-Terror propaganda been happening for almost 25 years. It started happening
right at the beginning of the Reagan era, when the mass media launched a
campaign to make war acceptable to the masses again. The media did so by
trying to explain to america that "we should never let another Vietnam
happen again." But what THEY meant was not that we should have no more wars
or Americanled atrocities. Oh no. They meant that 1) America needs more
wars & 2) America shouldn't LOSE wars and 3) America lost because America
wasn't tough enough, America was too liberal, America was smoking too much
pot, etc. So it began a campaign that dwelled on suppositions about how
horrible anti-war protesters were to Vietnam vets (which is where the whole
"support your troops" rhetoric began--and it's blisteringly stupid). And that begat people like Rush
Limbaugh in the late 80s as the campaign spread to AM radio.
In viewing American propaganda you are bearing witness to the produce of 22 years of hard labor. You must understand,
foremost, how deeply the American media is penetrated by the CIA and other
spooky interests. And how long such penetration has been in place. And how
much it's grown since the masses of America wanted to shut down the CIA
after the Vietnam War (remember Gary Hart? his fame rests in his anti-CIA
interests from the mid 70s).
Stories For Boys
Geo Bush I inherited the CIA and addressed this "perception problem" with a
three-fold approach: 1) make "plausible deniability" the mantra of every
operation 2) re-establish COINTELPRO-style operations, but more covertly,
more "grass-roots", and of course within the CIA as opposed to the FBI and
3) reinvigorate media penetration passively and actively: journalists,
anchors, producers, editors. CIA domestic activity exploded with Bush's
attempts to rescue the CIA from demise. But Carter nearly fucked all that
up when Stansfield Turner just about fired all the old boys. Fortunately,
the Glory that Was The CIA was restored and amplified once ReaganBush
occupied the White House. Well, then Bush tried to put a bullet in Reagan,
but that didn't work, and he realized he'd have to wait his turn. Which
worked out better for that child-molesting Nazi in the long run.
It could be reasonably argued that the American media was always this way, and that the
period between 1967 and 1977 was an aberration, an aberration in the direction of liberalism,
for the American media. It goes without saying (but I just have to say it, how STUPID people sound when they talk about the "liberal" media. Such a statement shows the speaker has no grasp of the meaning of hir own vocabulary.
A Letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush on the Eve of War
George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Dear Governor Bush:
So today is what you call "the moment of truth," the day that "France and
the rest of world have to show their cards on the table." I'm glad to hear
that this day has finally arrived. Because, I gotta tell ya, having survived
440 days of your lying and conniving, I wasn't sure if I could take much
more. So I'm glad to hear that today is Truth Day, 'cause I got a few truths
I would like to share with you:
1. There is virtually NO ONE in America (talk radio nutters and Fox News
aside) who is gung-ho to go to war. Trust me on this one. Walk out of the
White House and on to any street in America and try to find five people who
are PASSIONATE about wanting to kill Iraqis. YOU WON'T FIND THEM! Why?
'Cause NO Iraqis have ever come here and killed any of us! No Iraqi has even
threatened to do that. You see, this is how we average Americans think: If a
certain so-and-so is not perceived as a threat to our lives, then, believe
it or not, we don't want to kill him! Funny how that works!
2. The majority of Americans -- the ones who never elected you -- are not
fooled by your weapons of mass distraction. We know what the real issues are
that affect our daily lives -- and none of them begin with I or end in Q.
Here's what threatens us: two and a half million jobs lost since you took
office, the stock market having become a cruel joke, no one knowing if their
retirement funds are going to be there, gas now costs almost two dollars --
the list goes on and on. Bombing Iraq will not make any of this go away.
Only you need to go away for things to improve.
3. As Bill Maher said last week, how bad do you have to suck to lose a
popularity contest with Saddam Hussein? The whole world is against you, Mr.
Bush. Count your fellow Americans among them.
4. The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN. The Pope! But even
worse, the Dixie Chicks have now come out against you! How bad does it have
to get before you realize that you are an army of one on this war? Of
course, this is a war you personally won't have to fight. Just like when you
went AWOL while the poor were shipped to Vietnam in your place.
5. Of the 535 members of Congress, only ONE (Sen. Johnson of South Dakota)
has an enlisted son or daughter in the armed forces! If you really want to
stand up for America, please send your twin daughters over to Kuwait right
now and let them don their chemical warfare suits. And let's see every
member of Congress with a child of military age also sacrifice their kids
for this war effort. What's that you say? You don't THINK so? Well, hey,
guess what -- we don't think so either!
6. Finally, we love France. Yes, they have pulled some royal screw-ups. Yes,
some of them can be pretty damn annoying. But have you forgotten we wouldn't
even have this country known as America if it weren't for the French? That
it was their help in the Revolutionary War that won it for us? That our
greatest thinkers and founding fathers -- Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin,
etc. -- spent many years in Paris where they refined the concepts that lead
to our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution? That it was France
who gave us our Statue of Liberty, a Frenchman who built the Chevrolet, and
a pair of French brothers who invented the movies? And now they are doing
what only a good friend can do -- tell you the truth about yourself,
straight, no b.s. Quit pissing on the French and thank them for getting it
right for once. You know, you really should have traveled more (like once)
before you took over. Your ignorance of the world has not only made you look
stupid, it has painted you into a corner you can't get out of.
Well, cheer up -- there IS good news. If you do go through with this war,
more than likely it will be over soon because I'm guessing there aren't a
lot of Iraqis willing to lay down their lives to protect Saddam Hussein.
After you "win" the war, you will enjoy a huge bump in the popularity polls
as everyone loves a winner -- and who doesn't like to see a good
ass-whoopin' every now and then (especially when it 's some third world
ass!). So try your best to ride this victory all the way to next year's
election. Of course, that's still a long ways away, so we'll all get to have
a good hardy-har-har while we watch the economy sink even further down the
But, hey, who knows -- maybe you'll find Osama a few days before the
election! See, start thinking like THAT! Keep hope alive! Kill Iraqis --
they got our oil!!
is a very sad day.
we unleash the horror.
This terror of knowing.
Where are we going?
The bombing, the bombing.
Falling buildings grow earnings.
This arc of my homeland,
this arc of your homeland.
Fallen buildings grew earnings.
The bombed, the bombed.
Where have you gone?
This terror forgotten.
You unleashed the horror
Was a very sad day
right in his
all i can say
not a big fool
not the biggest
that much wiser
not an argument
truly a wise man
better than to be
walking in the way
not a complete fool
for the very reason a
not such a great fool
for that very reason wise
left to the viewer's discretion
for that very reason a wise man
when he does something foolish
a very simplistic way of looking at
that he has rejected a universe full
despised only because he is a lawyer
he drank before he reached the age of 50
an understatement and those who follow him are just like him
already wise; the fool who thinks he is wise is definitely a fool
a fool who wants to know who wants to fucking know if you have any sense
not the biggest fool; he who knows he is confused is not in the worst confusion
for that very reason a wise man; the fool who thinks he is wise is called a fool indeed
a direct result of the extent to which he tries to live without acquiring knowledge or developing his mind
that he did not realise that a fool has to demonstrate that cognitive failure could result in a catastrophic bang
America: Did Jesus Appoint Us God's Rightful Business Manager of the Free World?
For Elvis, our third world corporate manager & engineer of the giddy sneer bottom line.
Fuck you O Elvis O Rockabilly Savior Of the Thirdworld Mulitnational Management Exploration Company.
Fuck you O Elvis O gold-sequined executor of the global will of brown people rotund and square.
Fuck you O Elvis of the elevated prehensile anus flap and pelvis redneck roll get your ass out of my pocket.
Fuck you O Elvis of the gastrointestinal sublimation of Seconal and Quaalude heehaw rocketry luminescence.
Fuck you O Elvis of the eyelid stupor and glazed ham couture.
Fuck You O Elvis your colonial coerscion smells and your fecal bombs dispel.
Fuck you O Elvis you cannot compel me with your foetid spongiform cranial cruising glare.
Fuck you O Elvis your cloudy pool is airless; the fish float on the surface with marble grin rotated sideways.
Fuck you O Elvis your rotted Picasso-sloughed corpse you had no taste for voluminous fervor you absented toiling clam sham and skinny tie flim-flam spam man don't pardon me mam.
Fuck you O Elvis you are the icon of my gilded excoriation.
Fuck you O Elvis fuck you I'll take John Lennon any day.
US Arms transport stopped by protestors in late February.
Thanks to Linh Dinh for the photos/links.
Check out the new Issue 8, "O I L W A R / E M P I R E" . . .
Here's a sample, from Kasey Mohammad:
Peace through Superior Firepower
... did not seem unusual given the context
... peace is good for business
... my cousin "practicing" on kittens at home
... is that what sex is like
... an ear, three boys, seven kittens, twelve roses
... -ance, -ence, -ity
... act as a noun or a verb
... starts piece h- prison based sooner crack driver
... refrigerator Taurus lemon categories
... doll caged relaxation Christians
... yep, I nearly had kittens
Accused of Beating Kittens
... no language on Earth has ever produced
... a joke which can't be taken out of context
... I murder kittens and smear their blood over the walls
... snap their necks in one fluid movement
... greet the day with a mouthful of dead kittens
... eating kittens is just plain
... heartless, mean-spirited
... shame about the live kittens in microwave ovens
... how many kittens must die
... I said I was drowning kittens
... I was just messin' with you snow kittens
... you've twisted the events all out of context
... my "eating kittens" quote
... persecution of Jews in any form
... they aren't funny out of context
... here's a random picture of the kittens
... the kittens that were protected in the blazing oven
... sleeping in heaven, surrounded by song
I Want Kittens
... the NATO-led Kosovo peace-keeping force
... prefers a good hoax to world peace
... I threw Tony the peace sign and went to sit down
... a pregnant cat jumped in and had kittens
... had wild shoats and hogs
... twisted the events all out of context
... in annulo four pairs of kittens couchant respectant
... reborn into an era of peace
... it's usually in a Bill and Bonnie context
... "oh no, not a neutron beer!"
... Abba Airplane Albion
... you know from the context totally usually toward
... strong English range various living believe density
... contour kissing kneecap control kinsman
... roach coach genteel canteen settles Betty's battery
... eternal free kittens strange world nice girl
... who loves kittens and flowers
... smell the roses and pet the kittens
... described thusly: "raindrops on roses,
... and whiskers on kittens"
I Love Quoting Things out of Context
... mini-bubbles full of stray kittens
... catch the bubbles, thus leaving the parents in peace
... I got back on the floor with the kittens
... "peace," said Park Ranger Smith
... well said Dad, I love you
... muting in between the measure who you are exposed
... wires culled alert showering
... in a Guns 'N Roses T-shirt
... so you don't even have context
Going to War with Iraq
... hard for kittens
... if we could just get everyone to close their eyes
... and visualize world peace for an hour
... imagine "Free Kittens"
... make it look like a peace sign
... I could see us taking our kittens
... their threat to peace, stability, and the state
... find the right moment to leave the kittens behind
... kittens rustle in false peace in the form of a fragment
... "they're Klingons, not kittens"
... there was no context
... just killing time between wars
... the code phrase is "extra biscuits"
... we're safe as kittens
There's a wonderfully unpredictable piece in there from Jane Sprague as well. And kari edwards has nothing nice to say, thankfully.
(Setting: The Yellow House Briefing Room. The room is a mix of a stately
Federalist-style reception hall and television talk show studio. The
President of the Free World, the dominant country on Earth, is about to make
a special announcement to his constituents across the globe. A group of
about 30 journalists are assembled there to witness the President's speech,
along with some television cameras.)
Announcer: Ladies and gentleman, The President of the Free World. Please
(Enter, stage right, the President of the Free World. He looks past the
small crowd of journalists present in the briefing room and waves as if
greeting a much larger crowd behind them, a crowd that we can see is that
simply isn't there. He then sits down at a desk that faces the crowd. He
gently indicates to the crowd, both real and imaginary, to sit down as well
through small reassuring hand gestures. A large television camera is rolled
into position directly in front of the President, blocking the view of most
of the people assembled in the room. He picks up some blank sheets of paper
before him and then begins reading from a teleprompter located behind the
camera. The President begins to speak, slowly, carefully while wearing a
slight grin--"a twinkle in his eye.")
Mr. President: Good evening, people of the Free World. I come to you today
to sit down and speak with you about the importance of a resource so
precious, so sacred, we all must do our part to ensure people everywhere are
able to enjoy that resource.
As the leader of the free world, I have decided that from this day forward,
every day is your birthday. That's right--every day is your birthday.
Every day is my birthday. Every day is our birthday, and every day will
remain our birthday so as long as we remain free.
I promise to make each new day a birthday for all freedom-loving people of
the The Free World. Every day will be an opportunity for rebirth, for
spiritual renewal, for love and joy and singing happy birthday and bringing
that wonderful melody to all the people of the world who are not so
fortunate as to be allowed to make every day their birthday.
(reassuringly) So today is your birthday. Every day is your birthday.
Today is my birthday. Every day is my birthday. Happy Birthday to
everyone. Happy birthday to the Free World.
I want to wish happy birthday today to Elmira Campbell of Lexington,
Kentucky. Happy birthday to Carlito Guenaras of Conception, Paraguay.
Happy birthday to Albrecht Pfeifer of Obertraun, Austria. Happy birthday to
Hatta Sudiro of Salatiga, Indonesia. Happy birthday to Joabim Mercado of
Sao Paolo, Brazil. Happy birthday to Ntele Shimango of Benin, Nigeria. To
Isaac Schomberg of Jenin, Israel. To Patrick MacPherson of Glasgow,
Scotland. Yes, happy birthday to all of us. I wish each and every one of
us all a happy birthday.
(indignence) For some, however, each day means bearing the heavy burden of
not having the freedom to make every day their birthday. For Zeng Xiaodao of
Shanghai, it is not his birthday today. He is 64 years and 231 days today.
Neither is it the birthday of Tariq el-Aziz of Basra, Iraq. He is 32 years,
21 days old today. And then there's little Juanita Santiago of Buenovanita,
Colombia, who will go to bed never never having the freedom today to hear
the sweet tones of the "Happy Birthday" song. Juanita is 9 years, 137 days
It will be our mission, then, as a free people, as citizens of the Free
World, to bring freedom and birthdays to every man woman and child on this
God-given great Earth. After all, who could possibly say no to birthdays?
What sort of evil hate-filled soul could dare spoil the wonder of
celebrating a birthday? Let us not kid ourselves. Such people are among
us, lurking in the shadows of the Free World, doing everything in their
power to prevent all human being from celebrating their birthdays every day.
We as a free people at this moment resolve to make sure that everyone has
the right to be free to celebrate his birthday every day. We must rise from
the ashes of yesterday's tragedies and stand poised on the brink of a
glorious new day for the whole world. We must be ready to face the
challenge of bringing birthdays to all nations and all peoples, of every
creed, color, and tongue--even those who have never experienced the joys of
tearing open brightly colored gift paper, of extinguishing the fires of
gently burning birthday candles, of slicing open a birthday cake still warm
from the oven, of taking that first moist bite, of hearing even the first
notes of the greatest song of freedom: Happy Birthday. We must ask
ourselves, then, not whether the Free World can sing happy birthday to us,
but whether we can sing the Free World happy birthday.
(The president then stands, loosens his tie and begins to sing and dance,
So happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to me and you.
Happy birthday to us.
We are glad to be free.
It's a birthday for me.
It's the birthday of humanity.
It's our birthday, can't you see?
Why do so many people fuss?
Why do so many spit and cuss?
Why not hop on the birthday bus?
Happy birthday to us.
When the morning brings the sun,
Its warm ra-di-a-tion,
Birthdays free or by a gentle gun.
Your birthday freedom is hard-won.
So it's a great day to be free.
Let's hang evil from a tree.
Birthdays set the whole world free.
So happy birthday from me.
So happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to me and you.
Happy birthday to us.
(Sits down again, straightens his tie, and returns to his speech-making
Thank you, God bless, and happy birthday.
Author: "Patrick Herron"
Subject: The Blood-Spatter'd Banner
Oh, say can't you see, by the bare dangled light,
What so loudly we nailed with our nighttime's armed reaming?
Whose blood stripes and barbed stars, through the one-sided fight,
O'er the ghettoes we watched, were so violently screaming?
Does the vanquished's dead stare, uranium bursting in air,
Give proof to our night that our flag is still there?
O say, can that blood-spattered banner yet wave
O'er land ruled by blind decree, in a world we enslave?
"As poets, we need to pursue our own forms of ethical and aesthetic response rather than engage in the sort of pronouncement by fiat and moral presumption of President Bush and his partisans." - Charles Bernstein, "ENOUGH," NYC, 09 March 2003
Who wants to engage in pronouncement by fiat and presumption? Not me. But then. Maybe I do. That is to say, as the Right Wing establishment in America marches onward, meeting with success after success via the use of effrontery, why don't I take back that ability to be offensive? Why don't I co-opt what the Right has co-opted from artists: the right to be offensive. Charles Bernstein's apparent position in "ENOUGH" seems to completely marginalize anti-establishment invective while being an accurate reflection of the unwillingness of the left to put its own moral egoes on the line in exchange for a more positive outcome. Satire itself becomes an impossibility under such a linguistic regime as the one apparently purported and advocated by Bernstein in this quote.
Fortunately invective is not only possible but one of our only efficacious means to derail the horrific radicalist right government in the US. Invective is doubly efficacious in that not only is such vituperative language innately disarming, but it also packs a direct wallop against the careful ultra-stultifying pseudo-moralistic politesse of the American right wing ruling elite. Such invective is surely a product of victimization; our poetics are indeed becoming "compromised" by the radicalism of the current US government, but then, why should poets try to float god-like above the current state of the world when we are wholly in it?
For example, how can one NOT resort to calling the Bush administration and the Republican-dominated Senate "a pack of motherfuckers" after passing the partial birth abortion bill? They are, after all, the worst sort of cretinous low-brow kiddie pornographers ever assembled into one ruling body.
Just yesterday, I saw what seemed to be John Ashcroft in an alley way in the West Village, beating a brown child with the spine of a Bible. The child's clothing was torn to shreds; the man who looked like Ashcroft had his pants down and was singing some song about "Where Eagles Dare to Fly." I showed him a photograph of a vagina and lit an American flag on fire while singing Marilyn Manson, and this guy who looked like Ashcroft looked like Dracula in the sunlight. Out came this horrific flatulent noise and he just vanished. I guess he vanished into the noxious void from where he came.
There is simply no incentive for those wanting to derail the current draconian right wing movement in America to use courteous formality. None. Being nice won't work; look at America's Democrats...John Kerrey, Tom Daschle, or John Edwards? People are listening to them? No. They have nothing critical to say, at least not in any way that allows us to recognize that they are stemming the tide of Neanderthal USA. Edwards did not vote on the Partial Birth Abortion Bill; he wanted to remain above it. Far be it from Edwards to show any consideration for a woman to have a choice of who goes and who stays during a pregnancy-induced medical crisis; far be it from Edwards to show his opinion as to whether a woman has a choice when her life and the life of her baby are both on the line, far be it from her to be able to weigh the calculable and distinct risks to mother and child and make a rational choice. Besides, these people like George Bush or John Edwards have simply not earned my courtesy; rather, they have earned my recurring urge to show them my dick and piss on them. Fortunately I don't have a dick. I rather consider this rude urge of mine to be rational and wholly unconfined by some artificial bifurcation of means and ends (re: process and results). It is perhaps the ONLY efficacious recourse to dissuade supporters of this din of piggies, these monied vermin rutting around in their starched white shirts, memorized Biblical citations, and offshore bank accounts. Presenting more polite critical approaches to our current regime only leads to dismissal.
And how are we to reverse the effects of the hijacking of political language in America by the FUX network, the Bill O'Reilleys, the Rush Limbaughs? They have won the battle for the minds of America by changing the word "conservative" to represent not "someone resistant to change" but "right wing radical cretinous fuck." And in the process, they made it reasonable for the average American to support right wing regressivist radical positions. What's worse is that they invoke the necessity for politesse whenever it is to their advantage.
How else can we as artists counter this horrific trend? How else can we reverse the tide of blind hatred, dismissal, and its ultimate product, mass murder? What can we do to make a change NOW? Even if vituperation is a morally questionable approach to addressing "the issues of the human condition," it still ain't nothing but a thing compared to lobbing 2000 pound bombs on the heads of children.
We are wholly IN this world, OF this world, COMPLICATED by this world, and SUFFERING FROM this world.
Fundamentally, I do not write out of personal concern or of some economic precondition that necessitiates regular poetic production. I wait for something to come to me, or rather, something comes to me, I disappear, and the next thing you know, it is written. That is to say, my writing follows a course of inspiration (whether or not that inspiration is facile is a wholly separate, though relevant, issue). I cannot decide in advance whether writing something like "Blood Spatter'd Banner" is acceptable in advance. It was written, and I distribute too quickly to have the opportunity to become all ego-centric and retract it. Such a retraction would be an egotistical response and in this case, decidedly amoral. OK, the language is overblown, ridiculous, violent, reductionist even, but it needs to be out there regardless of what people think of me, Lester Oracle. It is politesse that is the function of radical self-regard; it is politesse that helps people protect their own self-images at the price of art and humanity. It was Judas who so loved the world he betrayed Jesus in trade not for a few bucks but for his eternal damnation; in doing so Judas fulfilled the prophecy. Perhaps the ultimate apocryphal selfless act.
This age-old argument of "means to an end" underlying Bernstein's appraisal of political poetics is an unresolvable and stultifyingly abstracted one. The bifurcation contained therein is an exaggerated point of view wholly remote from the world. On the one end we have the Germanic rationalist abstractions of someone like Kant, someone trapped in an infinite universe of moral considerations, paralyzed by deliberation, weighing an endless series of moral considerations, and ultimately unable to act. On the other, we have the radical pragmatism of Generals devising strategies for war, who must implement policies of "shoot first, ask later," people who must get results at all costs, even the cost of millions of lives. In between these two travesties of rationalism and pragmatism are the conditions of life, the very context of people who have been damned to live on planet earth and weigh on a daily basis a myriad of conditions, who must make complex decisions quickly and regularly pursue theoretically contradictory courses of action. Invective is one such conflict-ridden approach, but it is an approach that engages in and indulges in the realities of life *not* experienced by someone like either an Immanuel Kant or a General Sherman.
The world and its biological participants is decidedly not like a chess game, with black and white pieces, with rules that are clearly defined, with actions that add up to victory or defeat. Life is more like a good poem; it neither resolves neatly nor fractures completely; it is tenuously held together by things that only when expressed in language begin to contradict themselves. Life is a Zen koan and more; it explodes its own explanation, and any poem inevitably deals with that inherent problem. Life may have within it chess games and theoretical discourse and "pragmatic" ends-justify-the-means people like the current US Administration, but life has so much more that spills out of these abstractions and floods them. Confounding the dangerous (ridiculous?) paired abstractions of Kantian ethics and results-driven military-industrial strategy, the abstractions that dissolve proximity to the flesh and breath of real human beings, is a mission *essential* to poetry, a means wholly inclusive of invective, insults, derision and all other forms of criticism of America's current government.
We live neither in a kingdom of ends nor a world of means and ends. We live in both, and we live in something more than, means and ends, more than process and results.
Art may surely be for art's sake. The Victorianesque art-moralism lightly suggested by Bernstein's argument is a wholly acceptable means for artistic production. But similarly permissable is the position that art may engage in a sequence of "compromises" that depart from theoretical (re: aesthetic) concerns, and achieve proximity to the human condition (whatever that is) and all of its labyrinthine contradictions. Either path is ultimately an aesthetic path: any reasonable discussion of aesthetics is conducted not from a normative position but from a descriptive one. And Bernstein's position of circumscription is equally contradictory--what distinguishes it from the more apparently compromised path of political engagement in poetics is that it contains quite an immense load of self-delusion and other puritanical & reductionist impulses. To say that politically-engaged poetry departs from aesthetic concerns is to twist aesthetics into a prescriptive and proscriptive pursuit. We can only pull away from "our poetics" if our poetics are proscribed, if our aesthetics are normative. Maybe Bernstein's are, maybe yours are, but mine are not. They cannot be. I barely exist enough to even dictate what my next poem should be, let alone prefigure my own artistic production into some theoretical template. Let the poetry come, I say, and if it has to take a path such that its end justifies its means (not as a rule, but merely to some degree) then so be it, then let it be.
I have little doubt that Bernstein and I agree that the current Rulers of America are assholes, but Charlie, why shouldn't a poet SAY that? How is that a compromising of aesthetics, which are not forward-looking but hindsight-driven? Why can't we engage in the consideration of results as something at least relevant to poems? Why can't we say, "Bush, you're an asshole" in a poem if we simply say it to achieve results? What if the results imply not destruction of human lives but the prevention of such destruction?
NYC 13 March 2003
Bernstein's "Enough!" by Kent Johnson
In his statement for the "Enough!" reading* held on March 9 at The Bowery Club, in celebration of O Books's anthology of the same title, Charles Bernstein proclaims the following:
As poets, we need to pursue our own forms of ethical and aesthetic response rather than engage in the sort of pronouncement by fiat and moral presumption of President Bush and his partisans.
At first blush, any poet alarmed by the imperial policies of the new national security state could hardly disagree: Of course poets should honestly follow the paths of their own forms of ethical and aesthetic response… Poets of all different stripes are doing so, in response to the coming war, in inspiringly multifarious ways… And truly, yes, it is harmful to dismiss discourses other than your own through presumptuous decree…
But it soon becomes clear that the real, unnamed target of Bernstein's cry of "Enough!" is not the moral arrogance of the Bush administration, but the "righteous monologue" and "digestible messages," as he puts it, of the thousands of poems appearing at Sam Hamill's amazingly popular Poets Against the War site. And when one realizes this and pauses to reflect on Bernstein’s brief manifesto, one wants to ask: Has there ever been, in the young history of 21st century American poetry, a moral decree more astonishingly blind to the ironies of its own arrogance? The moral righteousness is so obvious, in fact, that one wonders if Bernstein is not perhaps pulling a trademark funny one on his audience.
Alas, he’s quite serious. Quoting Bush that America's purpose is to achieve "results," Bernstein retorts that such authoritative decree "alone provides sufficient evidence to oppose his policies. What our America stands on, its foundation, is a commitment to process over results, to finding by doing, to thinking by responding. Solutions made outside of an open-ended process compound whatever problems we face."
Yes, indeed. But there's no room for "an open-ended process," it appears, when it comes to discovering the different kinds of poetry that might be fit and effective for the times—fit and effective for those different reading communities of citizens that make up our nation, not all of whom share Bernstein’s aesthetic tastes: For Bernstein, in fact, any poetic discourse against the impending war, if it is to be of value—or, even, if it is not to be complicit with the powers that be—must eschew the "language of social and linguistic norms" and demonstrate, instead, measures of "ambiguity," "complexity," and "skepticism" capable of exploring the ways such norms "are used to discipline and contain dissent"—as if these last three qualities were the exclusive domain of a particular literary current.
Those who have been following the discussion in "innovative" poetic circles about poetry's role in the current period should be able to see that Bernstein intends his statement, in part, as a response to Eliot Weinberger's talk of a few weeks back at the Poetry Project. In characteristically clear and pointed address, Weinberger reminded his listeners, not all of whom were happy to hear it, that nearly all great and lasting anti-war poetry (that of the Vietnam war, for recent and stirring example) is overtly political and written in language that approximates the "norm" (again, Bernstein's accusatory term)—a poetry, that is, that lends itself to ways of reading that are closer to the "norm" than those demanded by a poetics of abstract surface and self-reflexive speculation.
That this is so is quite simply a matter of history, and it's clear that this touches a nerve for Bernstein, since it runs directly counter to the claims of radical relevance that Language poetry has made for itself since Robert Grenier wrote "I HATE SPEECH". Indeed, the relative silence from old-guard Language poets in the present crisis (the younger "post-avants" they have often scolded for not being "political" enough are the ones now engaged in forging a poetics of activism) begins to suggest that their "ambiguous," "complex," "skeptical" and, increasingly, academically-contextualized poetics really has little to currently offer beyond prescriptive pronouncements like Bernstein's—pronouncements that fundamentally conflate ethics and aesthetics, and which, in so doing, preempt any idea of democratic dialogue and political unity within the multifarious poetic community. Thus does Bernstein, in his statement, show himself to be exclusivist and fundamentalist in his poetics, and—in his superior ideological dispensations—an ironic after-echo of the intolerant rulers he would oppose.
Times of quickening crisis famously clarify things previously obscured by cultural inertia. In this particular time, an "avant-garde" circle, long insistent of the vanguard nature of its theory and practice, is being shown to be more or less pulling up the cultural rear. And its members’ patronizing snipes against poets speaking out with courage and force are starting to sound like sour-grape complaints about being left behind.
To them, a simple suggestion: Enough.
Reply-To: UB Poetics discussion group
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From: Charles Bernstein
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(Presented at the _enough_ reading and launch at the Bowery Poetry Club on
March 9, 2003. *** _enough_: an anthology of poetry and writings against
the war, ed. Rick London and Leslie Scalapino [Oakland: O Books, 2003])
In these difficult times, let us not draw away from our poetics in an
attempt to redress the ominous possibilities of future U.S. government
policies or the onerous effects of current government policies. As poets,
we need to pursue our own forms of ethical and aesthetic response rather
than engage in the sort of pronouncement by fiat and moral presumption of
President Bush and his partisans.
In his "State of the Union" message on January 28, 2002, Mr. Bush said,
"America's purpose is more than to follow a process; it is to achieve a
result." This statement alone provides sufficient evidence to oppose his
policies. What our America stands on, its foundation, is a commitment to
process over results, to finding by doing, to thinking by responding.
Solutions made outside of an open-ended process compound whatever problems
If this statement does not seem forceful enough, if it appears too
uncertain or insufficiently categorically, so be it. If we are to talk of
"poets" against the war, then what is it in our poems -- as opposed to our
positions as citizens -- that does the opposing? Perhaps it might be an
approach to politics, as much as to poetry, that doesn't feel compelled to
repress ambiguity or complexity nor to substitute the righteous monologue
for a skeptic's dialogue.
At these trying time we keep being hectored toward moral discourse, toward
turning our work into digestible messages. This too is a casualty of the
war machine, the undermining of the value of the projects of art, of the
Art is never secondary to moral discourse but its teacher.
Art, unregulated by a predetermined message, is all the more urgent in a
time of crisis. Indeed, it is a necessary response to crisis, exploring the
deeper roots of our alienation and offering alternative ways not only to
think, but also to imagine and indeed to resist.
A decade ago, just after the previous Persian War, Leslie Scalapino, the
convener of today's session, sent _Dead Souls_, a series of searing
indictments of that war, to a number of newspapers, who declined to
publish, as editorial matter, a kind of writing they found inaccessible.
But the task for poetry is not to translate itself into the language of
social and linguistic norms but to question those norms and, indeed, to
explore the ways they are used to discipline and contain dissent.
Poetry offers not a moral compass but an aesthetic probe. And it can
provide a radical alternative to the outcome-driven thinking that has made
the Official Morality of the State a mockery of ethical thinking and of
international democratic values.
We all saw the effect of outcome-driven thinking in Florida during the
Fall of 2000, when the Republican National Committee launched a unilateral,
anti-democratic campaign, capturing the state power of the executive branch
from the winner of the popular vote for President. To achieve their goal,
Mr. Bush and his partisans had to turn against their own espoused belief in
states' rights. In the course of their righteous zeal to win at any cost,
the Bush faction turned against the will both of the Supreme Court and the
electorate of the State of Florida. The prestige and integrity of the
United State Supreme Court was collateral damage to Mr. Bush's determined
insistence that ends justify means. The Supreme Court, which we once
thought of as a guarantor or liberty, was exposed as a tool of the
ultra-right wing agenda of the Republican National Committee. This past
week, we have seen this same Supreme Court rule that 50 years of
incarceration is not cruel and unusual punishment for a string of three
petty crimes. Once again, we see the contempt the Chief Justice, Mr.
Rehnquist, and his Star Chamber cohorts, Justices Scalia and Thomas, have
for the shared meaning of our common language, shared meanings that are the
foundation for the system of laws to which we have given consent through
the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
"Unilateralism" is not just the course the Executive Branch is pursuing,
with disastrous consequence, in foreign policy, but also the policy it
pursues domestically, in its assault on our liberties, on the poor, and
indeed on our aspirations for a democratic society.
So I come here this afternoon, to the Bowery Poetry Club, to say, with all
of you, ENOUGH!
Bake better brothers?
In my own mind, I come back to the critics. A post-modernist avant
la lettre, Ashbery foreshadowed, and later profited by, a style of thinking
which refuses to privilege meaning and structure, rejects hierarchies of
importance, saturates itself in culture and traditions but rejects the
values the traditions uphold. Hence, I think, the excitement his work held
for many people in the 1960s and early l970s. It seemed progressive, it
seemed to cast off the 'shackles' of comprehensible meaning, it conveyed
emotion without making clear what the emotion was or what it was about. It
had the air of culture, but required no work, neither thinking nor feeling,
of the reader. It was like the sort of political convictions that used to be
called radical chic: making various sorts of pretension, but having no goal,
finally, but to charm.
- DM Black, from Issue 32 of Poetry London
The above quote is actually a less forgiving piece of an otherwise very kind
critique of Ashbery's Wakefulness. I wonder whether we can say that
meaning and narrative are the same thing...Ashbery to me seems to throw off
the shackles of narrative in a way by using pieces of different narratives.
As it appears we shift from one narrative to another in his work we are
struck by a continuity of feeling but shifting subjects and objects. Is it
fair to say then that Ashbery refuses to privilege meaning, or is it merely
that he refuses to privilege narrative that is coherent only in terms of its
subjects and objects and settings?
From Girls on the Run (part III):
But the wounded cow knew otherwise.
She was at least sixty,
had many skins covering her own, regal one. So then they all cry,
at sea. The lawnmower is emitting sparks again,
one doesn't know how many, or how much faster it will have to go
to meet us at the Denizen's by six o'clock. We'd have been better
off letting the prisoners stage their own war. Now I don't know
so much, and with Aunt Jennie at my side we could release
a few more bombs and not know it.
Everywhere in the tangled schist
someone was living, it seemed to say, this is my doing:
whoever shall come afterward is a delusion. And I went round
the corner to say, Well, it sure looks like an improvement--hey,
why don't you tie your shoes, and then your bonnet will be picture-perfect?
For me the narrative in this passage has the coherence of dreams: constantly
shifting and always radically emotive. This is actually a quite meaningful
passage but one that eludes meaning in the "story/linear" sense of meaning.
We shift from land to sea and back to land, and our subject is a cow, then
ambiguous, then the lawnmower, then someone obviously familiar named Aunt
Jennie. There is the implication of struggle, exhaustion, confusion,
imagination, and doubt everywhere in this passage. And I think that's the
meaning that Ashbery as poet is trying to impart: that what Ashbery saw in
Darger's work was in a way representative of all of the struggles,
confusions, ambiguities and doubts in a life as a homosexual male before and
after it was life-threatening to be openly gay (in many ways of course it
still is dangerous, but perhaps nowhere as near as dangerous as, say, in the
1940s), recollecting his survival of the seeming holocaust of homosexuals (AIDS),
recalling his ways as a poet to speak of his ways in code, and the struggle
to open up with his way of writing. In this book the narrator seems also an
old man looking back at his own life, a remembrance provoked by witnessing
Darger's illustrations of little girls with penises (re: sexually ambiguity,
clearly not fitting into any oppressive male/female binary category, etc.)
run away from people bombing them, the girls retaining some innocence.
Perhaps the narrator sees all of this complexity bundled up into the work of
Henry Darger, a man who was nothing but an artist. Nothing but an artist in
the sense that Darger produced 25,000 pages of writing and illustrations and
otherwise was a recluse, living only for his art and for his daily trips to
church. The ambiguous sexuality, the suffering, the proliferation of one
man's work, the lifetime choices of the artist, and the anticipation of
death is all present in Girls on the Run. Obviously Ashbery was staggered
by Darger's work in a number of ways, as in it perhaps he saw his own doubt,
his own struggles, and his own end all right there, before him. And so
perhaps Ashbery uses Darger's own language, pieces of his narrative, in
order to convey his own broken difficult narrative and the jagged nature of
its recollection. Is this an avoidance of meaning or just another way to
deliver meaning other than storytelling?
Everywhere in the tangled schist
someone was living, it seemed to say, this is my doing:
whoever shall come afterward is a delusion.
It's as if this is the author himself now speaking, admitting he is witness
to a convoluted and layered life that reveals much about the present, while
other things are in doubt. Perhaps this is the experience of sensing one's
own forgetting in reflecting on the loss of past friends (much alluded to in
the book), and that the people that come after those fading memories,
including one's own present self, are as delusional as anyone's imagination.
But we pop back in and out of Darger's text here, and I dare say this is
rather typical of much of Ashbery's poetry.
I see Ashbery's greatness (capital G) in this work, because he is able to
employ divergent pieces of narrative in order to explain a set of complex
and difficult emotions and experiences that are only as coherent as a human
being can be. He pushes the boundaries of language through stretching and
weaving the tethers of narrative, and through that stretching and weaving we
are given a new universe, a new language.
Is innovation enough for greatness (provided this is an innovation on
Ashbery's part)? Or is it the seemingly flawless execution of such an idea?
Or is this really just meaninglessness?
Girls on the Run closes with the following words that might again fit my
discussion in a number of ways:
Does this clinch anything? We were cautioned once, told not to venture
yet I'd offer this much, this leaf, to thee.
Somewhere, darkness churns and answers are riveting,
taking on a fresh look, a twist. A carousel is burning.
The wide avenue smiles.
Indeed we are cautioned many times not to talk of greatness. We are perhaps
similarly warned not to try and nail down (even if we admit our
subjectivity, which is certainly wise) what we imagine Ashbery's poems to be
sharing with us. But here is life, the end of life, the dynamic in-between,
the witness of destruction of innocence, and the openings of opportunities
everywhere. But everywhere at least in Girls on the Run, there's more
than charm, there's the emotional oscillation of lives spiraling. That is
for me certainly greater than a great cup of coffee.
Merwin on Political Poetry
It is possible for a poet to assume his gift of articulation as a
responsibility not only to the fates but to his neighbors, and to feel
himself obligated to try to speak for those who are in circumstances
resembling his own, but who are less capable of bearing witness to them.
There are many kinds of dangers involved in any such view of what he owes
himself and his voice. There is, for instance, the danger that his gift
itself, necessarily one of the genuinely private and integral things he
lives for, may be deformed into a mere loudspeaker, losing the singularity
which made it irreplaceable, the candor which made it unreachable and
unpredictable. Most poets whom I have in mind would have considered this the
prime danger. But the other risks have all claimed their victims. Where
injustice prevails (and where does it not?) a poet endowed with the form of
conscience I am speaking about has no choice but to name the wrong as
truthfully as he can, and to try to indicate the claims of justice in terms
of the victims he lives among. The better he does these things the more he
may have to pay for doing them. He may lose his financial security, if he
has any. Or his health, his comfort, the presence of those he loves, his
liberty. Or his life, of course. Worst, he may lose, in the process, the
faith which led him to the decision, and then have to suffer for the
decision just the same.
Put at its simplest, and with its implications laid out all plain and neat,
the decision to speak as clearly and truthfully and fully as possible for
the other human beings a poet finds himself among is a challenge to
obscurantism, silence, and extinction. And the author of such a decision, I
imagine, accepts the inevitability of failure as he accepts the
inevitability of death. He finds a sufficient triumph in the decision
itself, in its deliberate defiance, in the effort which it makes possible,
the risks it impels him to run, and in any clarity which it helps him to
create out of the murk and chaos of experience. In the long run his
testimony will be partial at best. But its limits will have been those of
his condition itself, rooted, as that is, in death; he will have recognized
the enemy. He will not have been another priest of ornaments. He will have
been contending against that which restricted his use and his virtue.
"The Name the Wrong." Excerpted from Nation, Feb. 24, 1962.
Regions of Memory: Uncollected Prose, 1949-1982. Ed. Cary Nelson and Ed
Folsome. Copyright © 1987 by W.S. Merwin.
It has come to my attention that you like to use a blog just so you can talk
to yourself in public. Maybe you consider your writing more authentic if
you respond to people who see you as irrelevant or worse.
Far be it from you to be discouraged by your absenting from discourse. Oh
no. You feel it is your need to make sociopathy appear to be an occasion
for conical birthday hats or prone canines juggling howler monkeys. You can
defend the overposted, the ignored, and the belligerent all you want. You
can post poems that operate with rules that are neither quite organic nor
algorithmic. Those are much less than boring. You can post political
journalism but you forget you are simply being negative or that 10,000
Francophiles can quote pseudophilosophical crap establishing the utter
hopelessness about change. Ah, "change," a cute concept for the desperately
naive! You can insist that proper names are an occasion for becoming
properly pissed. You can design websites but no one knows what the fuck you
are talking about. It is painfully clear that you are not talking about
anything relevant. Pink web pages, pal? Somebody back me up here!
You can attend readings, performances and publish in journals. Be rest
assured that no one listens, no one reads. You can write books, but clearly
they are unfocused, disparate, unworthy of white whale status. That one
time we bothered to glance at you, you were not there. Let's be honest.
You will never be. We see right through you. Your art stinks.
Writing is no mirror; it is not sufficient for reflection. Neither are you
sufficient. Though, of course, I'd like to have sex with you. But only
when you are dead and your bone is ash. You are a vapid fraud formed from
vapor. Ah, to heckle the dead and buried! It is your most worthy remark. A
mirror is not when dark.
What's worse, you write letters to yourself on this blog, wasting bandwidth
and people's time in an apparent attempt to draw even more attention to
yourself, to maybe sucker some people into delivering some pity to you.
Ranting on and on with self-abuse and disregard. As if pity is a worthy
remedy for a lack of attention. Forget it. Push your shopping cart out of
here. Or stay here. Cheap tricks. I do not care. Even in your
ephemerality you are frightfully pathetic. Your mirrors consume themselves
into wisps of nothing.
PS: You might help your reality if you attend graduate school. Especially
if it gives you the opportunity to spend 20-30K a year reading the horrible
doctoral dissertations your professors excused into book form and sloughed
off as serious criticism. It will make you someone, maybe even a published
PSS: Don't tell anyone that I wrote you. Thanks.