Friday, September 22, 2006

Dying Dreams; Shattered Hopes

Sometimes it makes more sense to say things with a poem … perhaps that is a symptom of something not being completely right, but at the same time, I can’t imagine relating to the world in any other way than through the manipulation of words to the point of the ridiculousness at times. That, it would seem, is the point: what more can be said to compare to the extremes spoken of by the great and wise wonders that are seemingly supposed to know what they are doing, and in so doing, are guiding our lives towards the “vision” that they have established as for what they believe the world should be like.

In a time of political turmoil, where an American President constantly defends the indefensible (with the tenacity of a pit bull having locked onto the tender ankle of a tiny child) by telling the electorate that “they shouldn’t think”, and other members of his cabinet still try to rescue the falsified intelligence that led them into the contrived, abominable excuse for a war, the rest of the world begins to respond.

Was anyone truly surprised when the President of Venezuela, a man who had never been known for his love of the American President, likened him to the devil? Of course not; the rhetoric is reminiscent of the language used by Iran during the Reagan era, when the president was regularly burned in effigy and “the Great Satan” was vilified to the nth degree, but did not President Chavez not have some cause for his outburst?

Did America, the bastion of democracy, stand up for the civilians of Lebanon while they were being murdered with bombs provided by the United States? Has America fought its “war on terrorism” with a realistic goal in mind, or are they merely fighting for the sake of fighting? Considering that more Americans have died since 9/11 in the war in Iraq – a war that has NOTHING to do with the terrorist attacks – the President is now responsible for sending thousands of innocent Americans to their deaths, all to fulfil his private agenda.

While this may not seem like an occasion for poetry, it seems like the only thing that makes sense at times. At the end of my poem is a video. Please take the time to watch this video. It is the work of a poet that I found at the following blog: A Poetic Justice. The name of the poet is Suheir Hammad. She is a Palestinian, and wow, does she have a message to be heard!

Dying Dreams; Shattered Hopes

Will you know by my words
the burden of my soul
the heaviness I feel
every time another falls
a child
whose name I do not know
their life
snuffed out before blooming
into the promise

a life destroyed
before hope could take root

the promise –
the promise that is the hope of so many
spoken of like a dream
with quiet reverence
even sung of by some
as the anthem
for a nation

this is a hope that lies
as empty shells on the side of the road
burned out houses unfit for human occupation
filled with families
with children … filthy with everything they
gather … the streets
their playgrounds and
corner stores
as they find the toys left by the latest conflicts

unexploded munitions
mistakenly taken into tiny hands
seeking with the curiosity that every child shares

another child declared a statistic

another piece of hope shattered

another mother devastated as she must do what
so many others have done what
no mother should ever do:
to bury a child that has committed no crime
cannot be reconciled through the
tears of a mother

a hope
invalid for so many
so many that have been made invalid
in their own land
judged unworthy
unworthy to share the dreams that others dream
unworthy to dare to hope the hope that
burns in the hearts of many

dreams to be a free nation
in a land of their own
without living in fear
without worrying every day …
will my children return from school
or will I bury them …
alongside their brothers
beside their sisters

Is this my Hope too?
to live free
to live in a free land
where every day the greatest hope –
the greatest hope of all
is that
no other

Ode lo avdah tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim:
L'hiyot am chofshi b'artzenu
Eretz Palestine v'Yerushalayim

[Our Hope is not lost,
our Hope of two thousand years,
to be a free nation in our land,
in the land of Palestine and

© 2006 by the CrazyComposer (aka Peter Amsel)

Suheir Hammad

(Update Sept. 24: Apologies to “A Poetic Justice”. I neglected to include the link to your site in the original post … that’s what happens when you write things while sleep deprived.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pope Innocent?

Once again we find that religion has threatened to turn our world on its ear due to the comments of a bigoted, ignorant individual, who fears the historical position of the organization that he is, by virtue of his role, the supreme leader. I am speaking of the comments made by “His Holiness”, Pope Benedict XVI, regarding the contributions of Islam. The contentious quotation that the Pope chose to use, for whatever reason, is a portion of text from the 14th century that detailed a dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel Paleologus II and an educated Persian (the representative of the Muslim perspective).

The text that the Pope quoted is quite telling, in fact, without intending to, he wrote the perfect epitaph for the Roman Church that would make his predecessors blush at its frankness, and truthfulness. The Pope, in his address to a group of scholars in Regensburg said, “The emperor comes to speak of jihad, holy war. He said, and I quote: ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’”

Indeed, in the 14th century, what was new that Islam had contributed to the world?

The idea of “Holy War” certainly cannot be claimed as an invention of Islam. The Lord God Almighty gave the armies of the Children of Israel specific instructions as to how to defeat a superior enemy on different occasions – Jericho being the most famous. But there are examples that some would rather not have us remember, for they are not found preserved within the pages of scripture as examples of God providing succour for His people … these are examples of the excesses of despotism, of how a leader can become so corrupted with the greed of their position that they will do anything to expand their sphere of influence in order to expand their personal wealth.

To speak of spreading the faith “by the sword” has to be one of the most inconceivably ridiculous comments ever to have been issued from the Holy See since its inception. In case the Pope has forgotten, we live in what has become known as the “information age”, a time where news (both relevant and not) travels at the speed of light around the globe. It is an age of easy access to that information as well, where children can just as easily look something up as their parents can, including the deeply sordid histories of various ecclesiastical organizations.

In an age when virtually the entire world is able to access a library or bookstore, or log onto the internet and look up the word ‘crusade’, it seems incongruous that the leader of the Roman Church would even consider making a comment about the type of violence that results from something that boils down to fundamentalism. The truth about fundamentalism is that it is not something exclusive to Islam. Any person of any faith can become a fundamentalist: the key being that true fundamentalism isolates those involved so that they are unable to see what is going on around them for themselves: everything they see and hear is filtered by the leaders who are creating new people in their own image. Of course, this sounds like a cult because it is a cult. It is the type of cult that uses religion to preach a specific doctrine of hatred, manipulating an attitude that ultimately manipulates those who are susceptible to such manipulations, and these individuals then become the willing, devoted pawns of those who would never consider immolation for themselves, but for the “cause”, well that’s another story altogether.

By the time that Emperor Manuel Paleologus II was having his dialogue with his Persian friend, the Roman Church had already conducted over nine crusades. Nine “Holy Wars” declared by the Pope, conducted by armies that were, in some cases led by the Pope, in order to convert and subjugate the heathen peoples that hadn’t accepted – or wouldn’t accept – the gift of salvation.

Now, I don’t want to sound contentious or anything, but as someone who has spent a fair bit of time studying this matter, and as someone who has spent the past seventeen years seriously immersed in this text, I can say with more than some degree of assurance that there is not one place in the New Testament, the location of the New Covenant upon which the principle of Salvation is based, that even alludes to the use of forceful proselytising.

The facts are quite contrary to the common vision we have of the “door to door” proselytiser that sticks their foot in your door and seems to not understand what the word “no” means when you say you aren’t interested in speaking with them about their “other” testament of Jesus Christ, or about the view from the watchtower. The Gospel of Mark gives true Christians explicit instructions as to what to do when they visit someone that doesn’t want to receive their message. They were not told to force their way into the homes and make them believe. That is ridiculous. On the contrary, they were specifically told, “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.” (Mark 6:11, NKJV)

What does this mean? It means, quite simply, people have a choice: you can hear about the message or not, it is up to you. A minister has a responsibility to preach the word, that is part of the Great Commission (something that all Christians share), but that responsibility does not extend to browbeating the person that has indicated that they are not interested in hearing (receiving) the message. To “shake off the dust” is a way of indicating, “I’ve done my bit”, or “I tried” – the message was offered, and rejected, it isn’t the fault of the person trying to deliver the message.

However, if a minister (or whomever) is hounding someone with the Gospel, all they are doing is making the message look like something that you wouldn’t want to be involved with, which takes me back to the early Roman Church and her predilection for spreading the faith with fear and by the edge of the sword. Not only with the edge of the sword, though, but with the red-hot branding irons and the flames of pyres that were used to burn people alive.

The Crusades were not the only way the Roman Church used its muscle to spread the message that the way to heaven was through Rome, and a pledge of fealty to His Holiness, the Bishop of Rome; the Pope. The other favoured technique in ferreting out heretics, purifying the “body of Christ”, as it were, was through the liberal use of the Holy Inquisition.

If given the choice between conversion to Catholicism or immediate death what do they choose? In many cases there were instances of conversions that were less than “genuine”, with the people then going back to their previous practices (albeit underground and with extreme caution) while outwardly they lived as Catholics. The most famous example of this comes from the same time period that produced the document that the Pope quoted, angering so many Muslims.

In Spain and Portugal during the 12th and 13th centuries it was decided that something should be done about all the Jews and Muslims living in these “Christian” nations. So, what went wrong? When the Muslims were “offered” the message of salvation through the atonement of Jesus (and I seriously doubt they were offered the Gospel in anything even remotely relating to a calm discussion of what a belief in this amounted to) many of them chose to live double lives. In order to remain in their homes, in the homes that they had known for generations, they became the “Morisco”, or “crypto-Muslims”: they lived outwardly as Christians, but secretly practiced their Islamic faith.

This was mirrored in the Jewish community by the term “Marrano”, or “crypto-Jews”, who did the very same thing. The term “marrano” literally means “pigs” in Spanish and Portuguese, and is derivative of an Arabic term which means “ritually forbidden” (muharram).

Regardless of the “conversions”, both groups faced another of the Roman Church’s great historical accomplishments: the Inquisition.

The crusaders often didn’t even give that option, opting instead to send the infidel directly to God’s judgement, and yet the Inquisitors seemed to kill with even more vigour. History’s most remembered of the Church’s henchmen must be Tomas de Torquemada who is credited with anywhere from 13,000 – 50,000 deaths. He particularly enjoyed persecuting the Jews and Muslims who had converted, testing their conversions … such tests usually resulting in death regardless of the outcome.

This is only a tiny portion of the history of the institution that claimed to be founded upon the man who is called “Love”. This is only a small part of the history of the abuse of power by the dominant power in the world. It is the precursor to the state-sponsored terrorism we see today when the United States manipulates the news in order to validate a war against a nation that had nothing to do with an attack against their land. By creating an atmosphere of fear and promoting an attitude of ignorance amongst the average individual the Church was enabled to carry on with their private agenda for over one thousand years with virtually no objections.

Ah yes, that epitaph I promised: Without conscience there can be no objection.

So how do the words of a Pope in 2006 have anything to do with the actions of some questionable individuals nearly one thousand years ago, and then those who took part in the inquisition? Quite simply because of what he demands through his position: as the Pope, Benedict XVI is the creator of Canon Law. He is the only person that is enabled to change “doctrine” in the Roman Church.

As an example I shall offer this: we know through various historical sources that the last of the New Testament texts was written within the generation after the death of Jesus. The entire texus receptus of the New Testament is available in manuscripts dating from 250 years after the date of its completion (compared to 1,000 years or more for copies of some great masterpieces of antiquity). In none of the copies of the New Testament that have been published has there ever been a verse stating that Mary, the mother of Jesus, did not die a physical death and was taken up into heaven corporally (as Elijah the prophet was, and Jesus, after the resurrection).

In 1950, after the Roman Church had been believing this non-scriptural abomination of twisting the Pagan Roman traditions involving the fertility goddess (which also brought us Christmas on December 25th, which has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus), Pope Pius XII declared:
“the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
This was published in the encyclical “Munificentissimus Deus” and carries a warning to those who may reject this non-scriptural declaration:

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare wilfully (sic) to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith. [46 snipped: not relevant]

47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

Christianity had survived without the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary since the death and resurrection of Jesus, the person that, theoretically, is the foundation of this faith. But with the act of the Pope, Mary has risen into heaven without having experienced a physical death … and yet there isn’t a single account of this in any book anywhere.

So, the Pope declares it, and it is so. This is called Papal infallibility, particularly in regards to issues regarding dogma. As the successor, through the precepts of the unbroken succession of the Papacy from Peter, the supposed first Pope, to Benedict XVI, there is the belief that the spiritual continuity of the position remains intact. In other words, since they believe that the Holy Spirit guides the College of Cardinals in their selection of the Holy Father, one must imagine that the Holy Spirit would also confer unto the new “Rock upon which I shall build my church” the complete essence that every pontiff represents.

Of course, Benedict XVI could just be a man, a former German priest, former member of the Hitler youth, former guardian of the Papal doctrine under John Paul II … former … guardian of doctrine? Oh yes, while John Paul II was Pope then Cardinal Ratzinger was the one charged with making sure nothing left the Papal offices that was in conflict with official church doctrine, serving as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was also one of the consulting theologians of the Second Vatican Council before he was appointed the Archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Does a man of such obvious learning make “simple” mistakes when it comes to a discussion about the thing that matters most to his life? I think not. There can be no doubt that the Pope clearly understood that his comments would serve to enrage those individuals that it was clearly aimed at, yet at the same time, it casts a dark shadow at the speaker and the organization he represents.

If we allow ourselves to doubt that Pope Benedict XVI misspoke or said something out of context we are fools. This is not a dowdy old man who is fumbling around for words while those around him smile politely while people make polite jokes about the “Holy Father needing a nap.” As the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith it was Cardinal Ratzinger’s job to keep the Roman Church on course when it came to theological issues. People wondered why the liberal-minded John Paul II didn’t ever take the step to allow women to be ordained? One word: Ratzinger.

Ratzinger … Benedict XVI writes his own speeches, and he is not likely to have mistaken the context of a discussion between a Christian Byzantine emperor and a Persian. At the same time, for one who should be as familiar with the Bible as he is, I am amazed that he would include that reference knowing the unfortunate history of the Church after one very prophetic comment by Jesus which was spoken when he was betrayed and the soldiers came to arrest him in the garden.

As they laid hand on Jesus to arrest him, Peter took out his sword and struck one of them. Jesus rebuked him and said, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, cf. Jn. 18:10, NKJV)

The only possible thing that Pope Benedict XVI could have wanted to accomplish with his comments is to once again prove that the Roman Church continues to live according to its primary foundation: avoid the love and light offered by Christ at every opportunity in favour of your own devices. Base your church on what you have conceived in your image, build it, and see that it is good, and it shall be, even if it is an abomination unto the Lord, for your ways and his ways are as different as the day is to night.

I am not going to answer the question, “what has Islam given us”, for I am not a Muslim, nor do I pretend to be an apologist for Islam. There are more than enough intelligent, articulate and well-informed individuals who are quite capable of doing this without my assistance (though I would invite them to post their comments here if they so desire).

As for Christianity, my position is simple: going to church doth not a Christian make. One is not “born” into the church. Christianity is NOT a religion. If any of that makes sense, and you are saying, “amen” to yourself, you know what I mean, and understand the idea of “relationship” and “fulfilment”. I do not post often about religion here, mostly because I am anti-religion – I believe religion interferes with our ability to have a relationship with God.

My beliefs are not compatible with those of certain faiths, but do not foist my beliefs upon those around me either. Another man I admire lived like that … his name was Yeshua (some would call him Jesus). Today he’d hang out in bars and coffee shops.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Seventieth Post

For the Seventieth post I wanted to do something different, so I thought I would dip into one of the growing traditions of the blogesphere and answer some of the questions that nobody has been asking. Now, for the record, I have encountered many blogs where there is a post and the writer literally answers 100 assorted questions … this is NOT what I’m going to do (well, at least, as I start writing this, that isn’t my intention … I have been known … am known … for divergent tangents that dramatically alter the outcome of my original course).

Bloggers regularly answer extended lists of seemingly random questions that reveal very little about their true selves (except, perhaps, for their lack of complexity as humans … but that is likely something to be addressed in a much later post). For that reason, and because I despise “filling in the blanks” I’ve decided to make up my own list of questions … and they are (for the most part) actually going to provide you, my dear reader, with a greater insight into the mind that is being used to create the “Inner Voice” … as for being the CrazyComposer, well, that’s just who I am, but knowing more about the Inner Voices may provide an opportunity to laugh, relate, give pause, and perhaps even cry: but it will not deceive.

The questions are in no random order (though I may re-order some of them after writing the entire post … just being honest, folks).

1) Name the five people from the Twentieth Century that you would like to have had an opportunity to meet or know (not including musicians). Why these people?

The first would have to be Dr Viktor Frankl, creator of Logotherapy. Frankl survived Auschwitz with a new outlook on life: those who were able to find a “why” to live amongst the horrors of war were able to preserve their will to live better than those who surrendered to the situation.

My second choice would be Albert Einstein: as a brilliant scientist and humanitarian from a humble background, Einstein epitomizes the “genius” without losing the humanity of the man. Einstein, I believe, would be a perfect compliment for my third choice: Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have a dream,” amongst his other impassioned speeches are merely the tip of the iceberg of an intellect that had far much more to contribute to the world before the world decided it didn’t want anything more to do with him.

My fourth choice also compliments my previous selections (I wonder if this could represent something), but could stand on his own quite easily, he is Mahatma Gandhi: the man who brought “turning the other cheek” from an idea in the New Testament to a practice that changed the world.

My final choice is a not a man at all, but a woman, one whom I have admired and respected since I first read her memoir and other books. Dr Kay Redfield Jamison is a brilliant psychologist who has greatly expanded the knowledge we have relating to bi-polar disorder and she has done groundbreaking research into the relationship between affect and creativity (as Dr Jamison is still, very much alive, I’m hoping that there may be a future meeting at some point … alas, for the others, this is not an option). Six ... Benjamin Amsel ... my grandfather who died the year before I was born.

2) Same question, but from “Ancient History”. Again, Why?

Jesus (Yeshua). Why? Well, considering my beliefs, I’m not overly concerned about the “end of the world” or any of the other things that the extreme fundamentalists (emphasis on “MENTAL”) are freaking about with the regularity of someone with dysentery. I would love to “meet the man” as he was.

My second choice would be Michelangelo. In my mind, this is the greatest of the Renaissance artists … sorry Leonardo. The perfection he achieved in sculpting and through his frescos cannot be matched.

My third choice is a man that history has largely ignored, though his bravery, intelligence and intense, uncompromising spirit, serve as a beacon for anyone with the bravery to explore his life: Frederick Douglass, born a slave, died a free man, Douglass may have served as a slave, but he was never enslaved.

My fourth choice would be … Moses. Well, if Jesus is there, we’ll have wine, but who knows, we may need something … parted. No, seriously, another time to see the “real” man, NOT the version that everyone remembers as portrayed by the NRA poster-boy.

My final choice, and this was an easy one, would be Lorenzo de’ Medici. There is a dark side to the Medici’s, relating to their manipulation of the Roman Catholic Church, but Lorenzo il Magnifico, as he was known, was one of the greatest patrons of the arts in all of history … which leads me to my next questions.

3) Name Five composers from the past (pre-1945) that you would like to meet or know. Why?

My first selection would have to be Johann Sebastian Bach. It seems so trite, but this is not “just” a composer: Bach is the apotheosis of Baroque music. His works are so far beyond his contemporaries, music historians should classify the period this way: Music by Bach; Music by other composers. When my mother was pregnant with me she used to listen to Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos” and some of Beethoven’s nine symphonies. I have no doubt that this in vitro exposure to musical masterpieces awoke and encouraged my musical abilities (this has been demonstrated in medical studies performed on others).

After Bach there are so many lined up that it is quite difficult to boil a list down to four (thus, the challenge), but I shall try. Mozart (if only to find out if he really did have a form of Tourette’s syndrome [supported by his obsession with certain things in his letters to his sister], as well as to be in the presence of one of the most brilliant minds.

Of course, how could I meet famous composers of the past and not include Ludwig. Ludwig van Beethoven, perhaps my favourite of all, the master of … well, everything he touched.

The fourth composer I would choose would be Robert Schumann, a kindred spirit in many ways because of what he lived with while he composed.

... which brings me to my final choice ... and the reason I worded my question the way I did.

Alban Berg was one of the “bad boys” of the Second Viennese School founded by Arnold Schoenberg and including Anton Webern. My reason for including Berg (who died in 1935) is not because of his larger chamber works, or his groundbreaking opera “Lulu”, but rather for his very first published work: his “Piano Sonata, Opus 1” is one of the most divinely perfect pieces of music that I have ever encountered in my life, I would love to have met the mind behind that music. Six … Mahler!

4) If money were no object, what would you do? After going to several music stores and finding a neck-through bass, with a decent combo amp, but wait … how much money? What a stupid question. I’ve promised several people that if I win the lottery I’d be paying their tuition … that would definitely be the first priority (though there is a store with that bass), there are several other things that I’d like to do, including the formation of an ensemble for the performance of new music (mine) in concert and on recordings … ah, to dream, perchance to win.

5) Who is the most dangerous person in the world, and why?

This one is easy: most people would expect the answer to be Osama bin Laden, but he doesn’t have command of the most technologically advanced military in the history of humanity. bin Laden may have money, but he doesn’t have access to a navy that includes the Nimitz-class supercarriers, which will be augmented in 2015 by the CVN-21 class carrier that is projected to cost $13 BILLION dollars.

The most dangerous person in the world is George W. Bush. Anyone who could turn a tragedy like 9/11 into a reason to attack, invade and occupy a nation that had absolutely nothing to do with the attack demonstrates that he is a despot just looking for action. Five years after the 9/11 attacks more Americans have died in the contrived wars that George Bush wanted from the day of his inauguration than were actually killed in the original attack. Does anyone see a problem with that? I didn’t think so.
George W. Bush: The Most Dangerous Man Alive.

Well … that’s five questions, but honest answers. I can only hope that the next seventy posts on this blog continue to be as honest as I try to be at all times. Thank you for returning to experience something of my “Inner Voice”, and exploring the world as I see it (or trip over it, whichever seems more realistic).

Monday, September 11, 2006


Five years after the fateful day and where are we? If one were to believe the reports on the American news channels this morning it would seem that the world was in the midst of a crisis larger than the First and Second World Wars … combined. We can be attacked at any moment, anyone of us, anywhere … oh, really?

But wait … just last week an announcement was made that throws the entire “Post 9/11 Way of Life” into question (announced at a very strategic time, late on a Friday afternoon, the time that the press likes to call the “who gives a damn” time: the markets are closed, business hours are over, and everyone [with money] is on their way away from their sphere of influence): we now know that the intelligence that directly led to the President’s decision to make war on Iraq was FALSE.

To put it another way, the President of the United States knowingly acted upon false, erroneous, incorrect and (quite possibly) falsified information to put him in the position to endanger the lives of thousands of American and coalition troops, and lead directly to the deaths of thousands of American troops. More Americans have now died SINCE 9/11 in a contrived, false war than were killed in the initial attack.

For this reason, it is my solemn duty as a Citizen of the World to bring charges against the following individuals for crimes against humanity and for knowingly prosecuting a war against a nation under false pretences:

George W. Bush, President of the United States
Dick Cheney, Vice President
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defence
Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State
Colin Powell, Secretary of State (2000-2004)
Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland Security
et al.

Please note that this list is far from conclusive: it does not include the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor the countless other advisors and counsel that the President relies upon for day-to-day activities, and the Chief of Staff. These are also included in the indictment under the heading “et al”.

The World Court must bring charges against the administration of this war-mongering president who has, from the beginning insisted that Iraq was supporting Al-Qaeda. This 2004 Washington Post report (from the 9/11 Commission) dismisses that claim. The report came out in June and ran on the front page … and the public still re-elected Bush in November, which only demonstrates that the majority of the public is either illiterate, unable to read at the level of a newspaper, or merely oblivious to things going on around them.

Either option is rather scary.

As a final note, you can call it … This Day in History:

September 11th is another important date to commemorate: This was the day, back in 1973, that the United States decided that a democratically elected leader in Chile shouldn’t have the opportunity to rule in his own country. This was the day that Salvador Allende was assassinated by an American-backed coup that installed one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century, Pinochet.

America asks the question, over and over again, “why does everyone hate us?” with the naiveté of a child looking for an apple in bowl of waxed fruit. It’s not that the world hates America, it’s that the world remembers what America has done, and then pretended was all just an innocent misunderstanding. America doesn’t always play nicely with its toys, or with its neighbours. She can be a bully, and that is not necessarily an endearing characteristic.

The victims of September 11th are far more than the “official” lists compiled by CNN and other organizations. They must include the thousands more that have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They must include the civilians killed in a war that the United States now declares had NOTHING to do with the attack that happened five years ago today.

When do we stop believing the words coming out of these people’s mouths and automatically assume that if they are talking they are lying? When do we learn? No WMDs. The intel on Iraq was right, then wrong, then questionable, well, actually it was always questionable, then it was wrong … which is when we went to war … then it was … no, then it stayed wrong.


33 Years ago today the United States MURDERED the President of Chile. The United States committed an act of International Terrorism against the democratically elected government of a sovereign nation. State Sponsored Terrorism. Wow … who would have imagined such a thing … oh, … they did.

Do we know who invented terrorism? This is not a question that can be answered at this point, but don’t be deceived by the fancy rhetoric, or the simple “plain talk” of the self-deprecating idiots. The “war on terrorism” is not as “simple” as it seems. Crimes are being committed, and we must not let the criminals get away without paying for what they have done.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

[Truth]Free Press

With images of the daily news
carefully spliced together for
audience approval –
the voices of the talking heads
guide us through the emotional tumult
the traumas of the day

they take our hands (our trustworthy
talking heads)
helping us to navigate
the landmines of horror
don’t watch too much of this story
(all knowing editors decree)
benevolence their guiding motives
of that we are sure
lest the news shock us with its
extreme nature

the guiding voices guide us through to
yet another story – cautioned so we
only see
mere seconds of a war that doesn’t seem to be
as under control
as some would
want us to believe

Yet we see the images
seemingly recycled on an endless loop
of smiling soccer-moms
waving flags and
the cheering
all the smiling “yes men” and women
falling over themselves to touch the shadow
of their messiah ….

… and the talking heads continue with their
obfuscations and cerebral dilations –
flushing every original idea – every
logical thought
from the mind

it is the abdicating of the power of reason
in favour of a short “one-on-one”
with the President himself

with dreams of Pulitzers and
future books
reporters sell their souls
becoming the mouthpieces of the government

feel no pity for these misguided
these miscreants who abandoned the
path of journalism
a noble craft with responsibilities to
the public
in favour of their god

these willing participants
the acolytes of Murdoch and his cronies
are always ready to spin their stories
just the way they should be spun
veering away from
anything resembling the truth
right off the edge of the table
… until the story collapses
before the day is done – but they have
planted their seeds

the truth
after all,
in the world of the Murdoch’s
has nothing to do with reality

the truth is what
spews out of the mouths
of the talking heads
as personable as they may be
with their practiced emotions (bottled and measured)
for every situation
they are our guides
… they wouldn’t lie to us …

would they?

It is not what these babbling heads
are spewing forth that is the problem
or the endless columns in the
printed realm of the other side of the
media machine
news papers around the world
taking dictation from
the Murdoch’s and his ilk

Once there was a paper
bold enough to proclaim
written on their pages one would find
“all the news that’s fit to print”

Today we find the opposite is true –
how hard to find a single piece worthy
of being read
to find true journalism–untainted by the
slant of Murdoch and his cronies
guiding our opinions before the news has
even been reported

We are given the entire story –
“Fair and balanced reporting” we are told
all the ‘truth’ we need …
all the ‘truth’ we deserve …
… can handle?
to form our opinions …
so long as those opinions are in line
with their opinions

so long as we share the same opinions and beliefs that
ooze out of
Foggy Bottom
infecting the entire hemisphere
stealing the lives of innocent Americans
dying “for their country”

… putting their lives on the line for a
Commander in Chief and his personal war –
the war he planned long before
Osama bin Laden received his
CIA training

Long after the favourite friends of the Bush family
were allowed to fly home
even though every plane around the nation was grounded
(it’s wasn’t as though people had been
flying them into buildings …
oh … that’s right … they had)
we still have no answers as to why –
why the family of an accused
mass murderer
could be allowed to leave
without even being questioned …

of course the Murdochites are hot on the story …

adhering to the precept that no stone shall be left unturned
no stone is touched
you wouldn’t want to start asking questions if
you were afraid of the answers …

Answers that might lead one to conclude
a war against Iraq had nothing to do
with the 9/11 attacks –
answers that might make one
question more things …
things that might not bear the
test of exposure to daylight

By hiding in the shadows
lurking in the dark places
the Murdoch’s of this world
hand in hand with the
ever-virtuous governments
they decide to support
… in the process
providing us
all the news we need to know –
with the caveat that
“everything you are about to hear is as
trustworthy as
Uncle Charlie’s Shark Repellent …”

Honestly, the stuff really works,
Charlie screams from his wheelchair as people pass him by
on their way to the beach
he lost his legs when the sharks
mistook his cologne and aftershave as a pheromone …
once they noticed the repellent in the water
the sharks stopped eating Uncle Charlie …

Thus the acolytes of the manipulators can barely
control their own spins anymore
their own extremists now attack one another
the scent of blood triggering the feeding frenzy
while we watch in shock and awe

Ann Coulter–the darling of the Right–was crucified
for work she didn’t do …
the writing she borrowed in her plagiarized drivel
isn’t accepted in the neo-Con community as the
art of rephrasing …
(in music it’s called a “remix”, or sometimes even
an “arrangement”)

Just as the real sharks
once these creatures sense weakness amongst their own
death is quick in coming …
after all …
nothing must distract from
the true agenda

The campaign never ends
so the lies can never stop
as the war remains their rallying cry

We must stop their madness
before more innocent lives
are lost.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Iraq v. Vietnam

Some have said Iraq has become America’s new Vietnam.
I disagree, if only for the simple fact
that swamps and forests do not compare to the
sand and stone
the caves
the heat
the dust that permeates

the open air oven that is the
cradle of civilization:
this is not a “new” Vietnam


Never forget

This is a war that deserves its own name

Just as we remember the innocent civilians slaughtered in Vietnam,
the images are seared into our collective consciousness
a man grimacing
knowing his life has ended
as he is about to be executed by a single shot

we are desensitised to the images of death
as the video games and movies we consume like crack
leads us through unspeakable horrors
at the speed of the “sound byte”

leading us on a progression of death and dismemberment
accompanied by the latest dance mix
all downloadable
to be enjoyed at your leisure
at the click of your mouse

the slaughter of a village
or the burning of a monk
are mere statistics today
nameless nobody’s
remembered by who?
mourned by … the world

Can we ever forget the viciousness of these crimes?

The moment they are forgotten
the lessons,
the atrocities,
the crimes against humanity,
are lost …

the instant we allow our memories to fail
we loose the ability to rise above our past behaviours

As much as we would like to think
these things are all behind us
one look at the work done in Abu Ghraib and …
the truth is obvious:
nothing has changed

The times are different
weapons are more advanced
but the methods have only been refined

This is the nation that needs democracy …
this is the nation that needs rescuing from America
America: the land of opportunity
America: the home of the brave
the free, the proud,
the blissfully ignorant
… it’s easy to be brave when your victims are tied up
when they can’t fight back

it’s easy to be the bully
when you carry the big stick
an M16A4 makes you
king of the hill in most sandboxes
when everyone knows you have
friends with more bombs to drop on their heads
only a phone call away
you seem to have more of everything …

except, it would seem, the sense to stop
to stop the killing when it isn’t accomplishing
when it isn’t fulfilling your goals …

goals that have now been abandoned
or ignored
by visionless individuals
trying to lead their blind leader
out of the desert

Vietnam was a walk in the park
(these blind prophets might find)
an enemy that was motivated by ideology

but what motivates those who oppose America today?
why do they hate us? the question is asked … could it have
anything to do with the
killing of children?
of those with nothing to do
with war, oil, or WMD’s?

a question with a thousand answers,
none of which would be wrong
… but none are really things to go to war over

That is the real lesson
one that America never seems to learn

every year when they say
“never again” on Memorial Day
remembering the battles past
honouring the heroes of the glorious wars,
the brave souls who died
preserving the freedoms we all enjoy today

they always say, “never again”
never again should we take up
arms against another …

it is said every year,
even as the bombs are falling

let the lessons be learned

We know Better

These hands
covered with the blood
of countless innocent lives
lives erased by political decisions
decisions made thousands of miles away

these hands
so out of touch with reality
with the real world
hands that write words unrecognisable to reasonable minds
repeating lies as though through the repeating
they become the truth …

if heard enough

But we know otherwise …

We see that blood
we see the blood on those hands
just as clearly as we see
the bloody corpses
the violated victims
brutalized and raped by those chosen to
bring the gift of democracy to their shattered land

(a land shattered by the bombs dropped by the orders
written by the bloody hands,
a democracy promulgated by the hands of the man
that knows not the meaning of the word democracy)

it is a gift with a price far too great to accept

We see the blood flowing from wounds
inflicted by bombs
bombs dropped on children, playing in the street,
bombs dropped on hospitals, mistaken for enemy strongholds,
bombs dropped on schools,
obvious sources of evil

But we know otherwise …

We have seen this all before,
exotic places with different names
in Southeast Asia,
My Lai, and others
where villages were destroyed
burned to the ground
children running through the jungle
flesh melting from bodies
as Napalm eats them alive

But we know otherwise …

we know this “war on terrorism” is only a ruse

an excuse to pursue the colonial ideals
the height of imperialistic greed and avarice
to the peoples of other lands
regardless of what they want

“This is democracy,” they cry from atop their soapboxes,
voices straining to be heard over the strains of
“America the Beautiful”
but we know better
when an Electoral College
with the powers to ignore
the voices of the people
disregards the votes cast …

Is this the Voice of Democracy?

we know better.

Friendly Fire and Stingrays

more friendly fire
Canadian soldiers look
just like Iraqis


croc hunter is dead
dispatched by a stingray barb
won’t do that again


here is a stingray
let’s play with it just a bit
oh damn, now we’re dead


My sincere condolences go to those who knew Steve Irwin, and especially to his widow, and partner in the Australia Zoo, Terri Irwin. The news of the passing of the “Crocodile Hunter” made for a couple of Haiku that just had to be shared. Irwin, best know for his antics with snakes, “oh, she’s a bit cranky right now,” he’d say as he held a poisonous serpent from the tail, dangling it between his legs. The news that the barb from a stingray pierced his chest came as no surprise, but does sadden me. At least this was a guy who did something to save the wildlife that he loved. I hope his work at the Australia Zoo continues.

… and now, back to the Haiku …

an A-10 Warthog
killing more Canadians
which side are we on


Join Our Alliance!
Fight Against the Terrorists!
our troops still kill you


Pen in hand Bush asked,
“you’re sure this law will save lives?”
Then Veto I Must


an idiot sees
only that which others see
pointing out highlights

Saturday, September 02, 2006

for your consideration

To change things up a bit, instead of an essay I present some poems for your enjoyment.

some haiku for your consideration …

with each passing day
more souls are ripped from this world
the president laughs

voices raised in vain
anguished pleas to save their lives
but the bombs still fell

empty promises
diplomats sent far too late
now the money flows

blood has feed the sand
the thirst is barely assuaged
the land thirsts for more

how well they must sleep
where they can’t be touched by bombs
safe in the white house

famous for their strength
the cedars of Lebanon
now reduced to ash

for something a little different … a free verse expression of a political sentiment (if only that the 5/7/5 constraints of the haiku is too restrictive for this material and the way i want to express it).

the desperate charge

he stood right there for all the world to see
saying the words that were as clearly heard
the first time
as when he repeated himself
clarifying what he meant to say …
“after all,” he said
people were taking what he said out of context
he wanted them to look at what he said
“look at the words,” he said,
“the words,” the words, mere words, or are they
words as weapons
to intimidate and control
to herd the population through the terror levels
even if there isn’t any threat of attack …

the words are critical, they set the stage
they allow the government to lead the way
to guide us down the path …
by keeping us in fear it is easier to control
but what they don’t realize is that some of us
have broken away …

we do not follow the rest of the herd
when we hear “the words” spoken by the puppets
standing in the colourful boxes
we actually hear
what is being said
we have the temerity to expect that when someone dares to suggest
that we are in a war against “Islamic fascism”
to suggest that opposing this “war” is tantamount to those who
appeased the nazis during the holocaust
can only suggest one thing
the president and his entourage should be
sent to hell

Copyright © 2006 by the CrazyComposer (aka Peter Amsel)