Elvis Costello


I am headed off to Denver world, where I will have the great honor of attending an Elvis Costello concert at the same place I saw the WHO and the Dead on the same bill, back in 1969. This time I am a lot older (HA) going to wheel in the place in my chair, and will remember the concert the next day!

Got free tickets and I swear, the only concert I would even deal with now is ELVIS. Can't believe I am going. I haven't been off the mountain in almost a year, and my hermitage will be shattered by going to this loud and horridly crowded event. Why why why. Cuz I love the guy's music, think he might be one of best of my generation (wait, he came from the generation after mine, oh well.....)

sorry no news today, as I just couldn't get it together. Been gabbing with friends and helping a lady who just had her only duck stolen by the fox last night. Sad stuff, but part of living.

love to all,

I will be online LATE tomorrow, sore tired and happy.

You can't have a mass grave with dogs eating the people in it'

‘They can't train you for the reality of Iraq.’

Two years after the war began, a growing number of US troops are refusing to return to Iraq

At the same time that Kevin Benderman's unit was called up for a second tour in Iraq with the Third Infantry Division, two soldiers tried to kill themselves and another had a relative shoot him in the leg. Seventeen went awol or ran off to Canada, and Sergeant Benderman, whose family has sent a son to every war since the American revolution, defied his genes and nine years of military training and followed his conscience.

As the division packed its gear to leave Fort Stewart, Sgt Benderman applied for a discharge as a conscientious objector - an act seen as a betrayal by many in a military unit considered the heart of the US army, the "Walking Pride of Uncle Sam".

Two years ago today, the columns of the Third ID roared up from the Kuwaiti desert for the push towards Baghdad. When the city fell, the Marines controlled the neighbourhoods on the east side of the Tigris and the Third ID had the west. It was, according to the army command, an occasion for pride.

Some of the men and women who were there remain unconvinced. Like Sgt Benderman, who served six months in Iraq at the start of the war, they were scarred by their experience, and angry at being called again to combat so soon.

They may not be part of any organised anti-war movement, but the conscientious objectors, runaways, and other irregular protesters suggest that, two years on, the war is taking a heavy toll. "They can't train you for the reality. You can't have a mass grave with dogs eating the people in it," Sgt Benderman told the Guardian. "It's not like practising for a football game, or cramming for a test in college. You can go out there and train, but until you actually experience war first hand you don't know what it's like."

A large man in his uniform, with blue eyes and a southern drawl, the 40-year-old is every inch the soldier. He has spent nearly 10 years in the army, signing up for a second stint in 2000 because he felt he had not done his duty to his country. The war did away with that feeling, with the sergeant horrified by Iraqi civilian deaths and the behaviour of the young menhe commanded, who he said treated war like bumping off targets in a video game.


"I didn't turn into the pope overnight. I am still Kevin Benderman, but I am trying to find a better way of living," he said.

Once such dissent would have been unthinkable - as would the growing disquiet within the ranks of the US army as its forces rotate into Iraq on second and even third tours. Open resistance remains relatively rare. Only a handful of troops have filed conscientious objector applications; Vietnam, which was fought by conscripts, produced 190,000 such petitions.

But the conscripts only had one tour. Soldiers' advocates and peace activists believe the first signs of opposition within the military could slowly grow - as it did for Vietnam - turning disgruntled soldiers and their families into powerful anti-war advocates. A number of Iraq veterans have begun to speak out. The root causes for more widespread dissent are there. Longer and repeat deployments have worn down regulars and reservists. So has the rising toll, with more than 1,500 US soldiers dead and 11,000 wounded. Recruitment and re-enlistment rates are down - especially for African-Americans, a 40% drop in the past five years - increasing the strain on the Pentagon.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 military personnel are in Iraq despite serious medical conditions that should have ruled them out of combat, according to the National Gulf War Resource Centre. The GI Rights Hotline, which counsels troops, says it fielded 32,000 calls last year from soldiers seeking an exit from the military, or suffering from post-combat stress.

Others vote with their feet. Last year the Pentagon admitted that 5,500 of its forces had gone awol, although it claims many returned to their units after resolving personal crises. Some abandoned the country altogether - like Chris Cornell, a Third ID private. At 24, he had been in the military for two years, joining up in search of a better life than in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas. Army life had begun to pall - "because of the crap that goes on" - when the division began to prepare for Iraq. He didn't want to go. "I didn't sign up to kill people. I couldn't live with myself," he told the Guardian. At first, he tried to get a medical discharge, deliberately failing dozens of physical training tests.

Then, weeks before his unit's January 10 departure, his sergeant called the troops in for a talk. "He got up there in front of the whole battery and he told us we were going to Iraq, whether we liked it or not."

Pte Cornell went home on leave and consulted the activists he calls his adopted family. They suggested Canada - terra incognita for a southerner like Pte Cornell - and he landed in Toronto, jobless, sleeping in someone else's flat, and seeking political asylum. He was the seventh US soldier to apply for refugee status in Canada, and a half dozen more with Canadian parents or spouses are claiming citizenship, according to Jeffrey House, a Toronto lawyer handling many of the claims. But there could be hundreds more who have gone to ground. "I believe there a number of people here illegally," he says. "No one would suspect them by their accent, and so they just disappear."

Among those who serve, resentment is high, fuelled by "stop loss" orders by which the Pentagon hangs on to troops past their release date, and shortages of armoured vehicles and other protective gear. Emails and blogs from Iraq regularly rail against their officers and the war.

The high command does not want to hear them, soldiers' advocates say, because it does not want to encourage dissent. When Sgt Benderman tried to file his papers as a conscientious objector in December, his commanding officer called him a coward. Last month he was ordered to face a court martial for desertion. He could face seven years in prison.

Now, away from his unit in the war zone, Sgt Benderman waits for the army to hear his case. Each morning he leaves his home in Hinesville, Georgia, to report for 6.30am drill. Others in his situation have gone underground, but Sgt Benderman views that option with distaste. So does his wife, Monica, who says: "If you really believe in what you are doing, then why run?"

Carl Webb, 39, a member of the Texas National Guard, claims he didn't have a choice. His protest is just as public as Sgt Benderman's - and even less conventional. He has been awol since last August but the military should not have any problems finding him. Mr Webb has posted his email address, phone number, and several photos of himself on a website setting out his opposition to the war

For years, the military had been his one constant in an otherwise anchorless life, and Mr Webb did stints in the regular army as well as various guard units. But by last July, when he was a month away from getting out, he got the call that he was being plucked from his unit to serve with a tank company near Baghdad.

"It was a total surprise. Even my command said this is some kind of a mistake, and I could file a hardship case," he told the Guardian. Mr Webb thought about filing a conscientious objector application, but decided he didn't fit the strict criteria. Now he is daring the Pentagon to try to get him because he figures that would encourage other opponents of the war.

"Most soldiers obey their orders because they are afraid of what could happen to them. They think, 'Oh, they are going to throw me in a dungeon, and put shackles on me, and I'll never see the light of day,' or they fear the isolation," he said.

"But just by being out there, I am going to give them ideas. I'm an example."

Suzanne Goldenberg in Fort Stewart, Georgia Saturday March 19, 2005 The Guardian

Iraq in figures: the toll of the conflict so far

1,512 US troops killed in Iraq
1,157 US troops killed in combat
355 US non-combat deaths
11,285 US troops wounded
86 UK troops killed in Iraq
35 UK troops killed in combat
91 troops from other states killed
17,053-19,422 estimated number of civilian casualties since the war started, according to Iraq Body Count
257 number of non-Iraqi civilians killed (30 of whom were British)
189 number of foreign nationals kidnapped since October 2003
47 number still captive
170,000 number of coalition troops in March 2003
175,000 number of coalition troops in Iraq in March 2005
45,000 number of British troops in March 2003
8,930 number of UK troops in Iraq in March 2005
30 number of countries identified as members of the coalition backing the war in March 2003
38 number of countries which have provided troops in Iraq at some point
24 number of states currently providing troops in Iraq
5 number of countries currently planning to withdraw troops from Iraq
18,000 latest estimate of strength of insurgency
1,000 estimated number of foreign fighters involved in the insurgency

Special reports
The anti-war movement
Iraq and the media
International aid and development
Politics and Iraq

The issue explained
27.01.2005: Iraq's elections
27.01.2005: The key parties

January 1 2005 - present
Feb 1 2004 - 31 Dec 2004
July 16 1979 - Jan 31 2004

Interactive guides
The siege of Falluja
More click-through graphics on Iraq

Key documents
Full text of speeches and documents

Audio reports
Audio reports on Iraq

Useful links
Provisional authority: rebuilding Iraq
Iraqi-American chamber of commerce

© Guardian

dao fear

Chinese for "fear"

sculpture of golden buddha, tibet

Trust the gods within,
Accept given boons.
Illusion is reality’s border:
Pierce fear to go beyond.

In your meditations, you will meet gods. These gods are nothing more than the holiest aspects of your own mind; they are not other beings. Your inner gods will grant gifts of knowledge and power. Accept what comes your way without doubts and without fear. You can trust your gods. They will never betray you, for you cannot betray yourself.

Such trust dissolves fear and regret. You will find a resolution to your inner conflicts. The gods will direct you forward to the very border of reality itself. On the other side is vast profundity, the ultimate nature of existence. But the border can be crossed only if you have resolved all fear and regret.

All fear comes from our sense of self. When we stand at the border of reality, we are afraid that we will lose our identities by plunging in. We are afraid of being destroyed. But we came from Tao in the first place. We are Tao. To return to Tao is not to be negated, but to become one with the entire universe. True, we will no longer be who we are now, but we will be one with Tao. In that state, there is no need for fear.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Kashmir, India c. 9th century
Copper alloy with silver h. 26 cm

This highly accomplished image represents the Buddha in the gesture of religious instruction (dharmacakra pravartana mudra). The Buddha is depicted according to established iconographic norms for the represention of enlightened beings, with webbed fingers, elongated earlobes, a mark between his brows (urna), a cranial protuberance (usnisa) and a coiffure which suggests hair that is arranged in tight curls. The urna and the eyes are inlaid with silver, and the pupils are further enhanced with a black, pitch-like substance. The image is rendered with exquisite subtlety, expressing a luminous presence with a powerful, inward focus.

The image invites comparison with a superb sculpture in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The Virginia Buddha, like this image, is presented on a lotus base consisting of two rows of downward pointing lotus petals, in turn supported by a simple, tiered platform.54 Both images emphasize the sensuous qualities of form, with the contours of the Buddha's body partly revealed through his beautifully draped robes. They also exhibit a minimal use of other, inlaid metals, in sharp contrast to two celebrated images of the Buddha, one in the Norton Simon Foundation, the other in the John D. Rockefeller III Collection, both heavily inlaid. A support located just below the back of the neck would once have attached the Nyingjei Lam sculpture to an aureole. There would have been another support now indicated by an aperture into which a brass plate has been inserted at the back of the head; the plate is decorated with rudimentary punch marks to suggest curls of hair. It is likely that this plate was added during the process of consecration, after the image reached Tibet.

Dated Kashmiri images are extremely rare and the chronology of this regional school is still somewhat tentative. A ninth-century date, based on a comparison with two dated Kashmiri works, is proposed for this image. The first dated image is a stone Buddha fragment in the National Museum, New Delhi, that dates to c. AD 739. The body type and facial features of the New Delhi Buddha are very similar to those of many of the renowned Kashmiri carved ivories and those of the acclaimed Buddha in the Norton Simon Foundation. The Nyingjei Lam image is more softly modelled than the dated stone fragment and the Norton Simon Buddha, closer to works normally attributed to the ninth century. The second dated image, a figure of Avalokitesvara dated AD 980-1003, now in the Sri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar, has the less satisfying proportions and the somewhat exaggerated facial features that reflect a later phase of the Kashmiri style; this work must predate it by a considerable margin.

images © Nyingjei Lam
text © D. Weldon, Jane C. Singer

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
f o r t y - s e v e n
Chinese characters for "daodejing verse forty-seven"

In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.

Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.

— translation by GIA-FU FENG

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can't be gained by interfering.

— translation by STEVEN MITCHELL

a reading list of books and interpretations of the Daodejing is available at
for a meditation sent to your email address each day, please write ’subscribe tao’ in the subject line and send to lisbeth at duckdaotsu


At least 108 have died in custody of U.S.

Iraq Notebook

At least 108 people have died in U.S. custody in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and roughly a quarter of the cases have been investigated as possible U.S. abuse, according to government data provided to The Associated Press.

Some 65,000 prisoners have been taken during the U.S.-led wars. Most have been freed.

Of the prisoner deaths:

• At least 26 have been investigated as criminal homicides involving possible abuse.

• At least 29 are attributed to suspected natural causes or accident.

• Twenty-two died during an insurgent mortar attack on April 6, 2004, on Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

• At least 21 are attributed to "justifiable homicide," when U.S. troops used deadly force against rioting, escaping or threatening prisoners, and investigations found the troops acted appropriately.

The 108 figure, based on information supplied by Army, Navy and other government officials, includes deaths attributed to natural causes. At least two prisoners died during interrogation, in incidents that raise the question of torture. Human-rights groups say there are others.

Bush denies that coalition is crumbling

President Bush acknowledged yesterday that U.S. allies are eager to get out of Iraq but firmly denied the coalition was crumbling.

A day after Italy announced it would begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq by September, Bush refused to discuss the timing of any U.S. pullout. "Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself," he said. The coalition of countries that provided troops has fallen from 38 nations to 24, and the United States continues to shoulder the bulk of the outside responsibility and suffer most of the non-Iraqi casualties.

"People want their troops home. But they don't want their troops home if it affects the mission," he said.

Asked if the coalition was crumbling, Bush said, "No, quite to the contrary. I think the coalition has been buoyed by the courage of the Iraqi people" in defying death threats to vote.

In Rome yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared to backtrack from his September date.

"There's never been a fixed date," Berlusconi said. "It was only my hope ... If it is not possible, it is not possible. The solution should be agreed with the allies."

Captain convicted of assault in small town

Army Capt. Shawn L. Martin was convicted yesterday of assaulting three Iraqis in a small Iraqi town he was accused of terrorizing. He is to be sentenced today.

Witnesses testified Martin kicked and screamed at Iraqi civilians, threatened to shoot detainees and pointed a gun at the head of one of his sergeants. Prosecutor Maj. Tiernen Dolan likened Martin to a small-town sheriff ruling the Iraqi town of Ar Rutbah with a baseball bat and a 9-mm pistol.


Insurgents who set up a checkpoint yesterday 23 miles south of Baghdad fired at three civilian cars, killing three people, including a woman.

A suicide car bomb exploded yesterday near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing four Iraqi soldiers and wounding 15.

© the Seattle Times

At least 108 have died in custody of U.S.

Iraq Notebook

At least 108 people have died in U.S. custody in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and roughly a quarter of the cases have been investigated as possible U.S. abuse, according to government data provided to The Associated Press.

Some 65,000 prisoners have been taken during the U.S.-led wars. Most have been freed.

Of the prisoner deaths:

• At least 26 have been investigated as criminal homicides involving possible abuse.

• At least 29 are attributed to suspected natural causes or accident.

• Twenty-two died during an insurgent mortar attack on April 6, 2004, on Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

• At least 21 are attributed to "justifiable homicide," when U.S. troops used deadly force against rioting, escaping or threatening prisoners, and investigations found the troops acted appropriately.

The 108 figure, based on information supplied by Army, Navy and other government officials, includes deaths attributed to natural causes. At least two prisoners died during interrogation, in incidents that raise the question of torture. Human-rights groups say there are others.

Bush denies that coalition is crumbling

President Bush acknowledged yesterday that U.S. allies are eager to get out of Iraq but firmly denied the coalition was crumbling.

A day after Italy announced it would begin withdrawing soldiers from Iraq by September, Bush refused to discuss the timing of any U.S. pullout. "Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself," he said. The coalition of countries that provided troops has fallen from 38 nations to 24, and the United States continues to shoulder the bulk of the outside responsibility and suffer most of the non-Iraqi casualties.

"People want their troops home. But they don't want their troops home if it affects the mission," he said.

Asked if the coalition was crumbling, Bush said, "No, quite to the contrary. I think the coalition has been buoyed by the courage of the Iraqi people" in defying death threats to vote.

In Rome yesterday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared to backtrack from his September date.

"There's never been a fixed date," Berlusconi said. "It was only my hope ... If it is not possible, it is not possible. The solution should be agreed with the allies."

Captain convicted of assault in small town

Army Capt. Shawn L. Martin was convicted yesterday of assaulting three Iraqis in a small Iraqi town he was accused of terrorizing. He is to be sentenced today.

Witnesses testified Martin kicked and screamed at Iraqi civilians, threatened to shoot detainees and pointed a gun at the head of one of his sergeants. Prosecutor Maj. Tiernen Dolan likened Martin to a small-town sheriff ruling the Iraqi town of Ar Rutbah with a baseball bat and a 9-mm pistol.


Insurgents who set up a checkpoint yesterday 23 miles south of Baghdad fired at three civilian cars, killing three people, including a woman.

A suicide car bomb exploded yesterday near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing four Iraqi soldiers and wounding 15.

© the Seattle Times

Your Guide to a Weekend of Resistance

On the second anniversary of ShockandAwe Death&Destruction, the anti-war movement wants you

This Saturday, March 19, anti-war activists across the country are mobilizing to mark the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Certainly there's more than enough reason for outrage. The House just approved another $76 billion to fund the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no exit plan in sight. If the budget measure passes the Senate, that would bring the total cost of the war in Iraq to more than $200 billion—with some 1,500 U.S. troops dead, more than 11,000 others seriously wounded, and perhaps tens of thousands of uncounted Iraqi casualties.

Meanwhile, as Bush sings the virtues of Iraq's budding "democracy," the Pentagon is reportedly constructing 14 "enduring" military bases there, along with the largest U.S. embassy in the world.

A majority of Americans now think the war wasn't worth the bloody price—and some 59 percent of those polled last month said most troops should come home within the next year.


12 p.m.
outside the United Nations (43rd Street and First Avenue). Chant the "Great Litany" a prayer for times of emergency with Rev. Earl Kooperkamp and members of Street Mary's Episcopal Church of Manhattanville. 212.864.4013.

6:30 p.m
NW corner of 8th Ave and 24th Street Sponsored by Chelsea Neighbors United To End The War. Members of the Chelsea community will walk through the local streets carrying candles, flashlights, bells and playing acoustic instruments as a reminder to all that this is the second year of war in Iraq. 212.726.1385.

6:30-9:30 p.m.
for Buses to Fayetteville, North Carolina—Union Square. Sponsored by United for Peace and Justice NY with speakers from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out, and music from the Clearwater Revival Chorus and Quasilulu, an Asian women's rock band.

7 p.m. to midnight
. Oberia Dempsey Center, 127 W. 127th Street between 7th Avenue and Lenox Avenue. Featuring Nana Soul, Head Roc, Afi, Komplex, Tylibah, Bomani, Verses, Hicoup and Hasaan, Movement in Motion. $10 suggested donation—all welcome! 212.633.6646 or e-mail


10:00 a.m.
Gather at Marcus Garvey Park, 124th Street and Fifth Avenue. March past the 125th Street Armed Forces Recruiting Station then south to Central Park’s East Meadow, near 97th Street and Fifth Avenue. Rally from noon to 3 p.m., when there will be a second march to Mayor Bloomberg's townhouse at 79th Street and 97th Street and 5th Avenu to demand "Fund Our Cities—Not War!"

10:30 a.m.
at Military Recruitment Centers. Sponsored by War Resisters League. To volunteer to carry a coffin or take part in the CD, e-mail or call 718.768.7306.

Manhattan: Gather at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47 Street between First & Second Aves.) at 10:30 a.m. and march with with coffins to Times Square recruiting station, 43rd Street & Broadway, for CD and leafletting at noon.

Brooklyn: Gather at Brooklyn Public Library (Flatbush Avenue near Grand Army Plaza) and Brooklyn Borough Hall for 10:45 a.m. rally. At 11:30 am. two solemn processions with coffins will begin—one along Flatbush Avenue from the library and the other through the Fulton Mall from Borough Hall. 12 noon—Leafletting and civil disobedience at the military recruiting offices, 41 Flatbush Avenue near Lafayette Avenue.

Bronx: 11:00 a.m. vigil at the recruiting center, Fordham Road and Grand Concourse.

10:30 a.m.
Brooklyn Promenade at Montague Street. Sponsored by Brooklyn Parents for Peace. March through Fulton Mall to reach the military recruiting station at Flatbush Avenue and Schermerhorm Street at 12:00 noon, where we'll read the names of those killed in this war, both Iraqis and Americans.

4-7 p.m.
Bay Street and School Road, Staten Island. Sponsored by Peace Action Staten Island. Join in mourning the loss of over 1500 American troops and thousands of Iraqi citizens. Signs will be visible to travelers of the Verrazano Bridge. E-mail


WHEN WE ALL GET TOGETHER An interfaith service of Remembrance, Resistance, and Reverence, Riverside Church, 120th Street and Riverside Drive. Sponsored by Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq. Jim Wallis, (author of God's Politics), Susannah Heschel, (Chair, Jewish Studies at Dartmouth University), Rev. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, (Resident Minster, New York Buddhist Church) and Rev. James Forbes, (Senior Minister, Riverside Church) will raise a moral critique of the war and U.S. foreign policy. The program will feature representatives of Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans against the War, and the YaYa Network, a youth organization working on counter-recruitment

Yet anti-war forces remain divided over just how to capitalize on the nation's growing discontent. The debate over jihadist and fundamentalist forces in Iraq is one that's roiling the peace movement as a whole as it grapples with just what exiting Iraq now might mean.

The split is reflected in the wide range of protests. This year, United for Peace and Justice the nation's largest anti-war coalition, opted not to host another protest parade through the streets of Manhattan and is promoting decentralized actions instead. "We wanted to surface the real breadth of the anti-war movement," says national coordinator Leslie Cagan.

That strategy appears to be paying off; there will be vigils and demonstrations in close to 600 cities this weekend—nearly double what took place last year. One of the most controversial protests will be led by military families and Iraq war veterans in Fayetteville, North Carolina—to Fort Bragg and the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces Command. UFPJ is sending buses there from New York and other cities, part of the peace movement's effort to build resistance to the war from within the military.

Here in New York, the War Resisters League has called for civil disobedience actions outside recruiting stations. More than 200 people are expected to take part in a funeral march on Saturday from Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza to Times Square bearing cardboard coffins to symbolize American and Iraqi dead. Once at Times Square, activists will link arms and symbolically block the recruiting station there. "We want to graphically demonstrate the costs of the war in real lives, and call attention to the lies and empty promises that military recruiters are using to lure young people," says organizer Frida Berrigan, daughter of famed anti-war activist Philip Berrigan.

The league has permits to rally, not to march, and Berrigan says the group plans to keep to the sidewalk. "We have an commitment from the police that as long as we don't impede other pedestrians, they won't arrest us along the way," she says, speaking to concerns that the NYPD will pounce on group members before they get anywhere, as cops did during the Republican National Convention last summer.

Activists also plan to block the recruiting office on Flatbush Avenue in downtown Brooklyn, and there will be vigils outside the Fordham Road recruiting center and Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.

But the largest protest this weekend in New York City will be a black-led march from Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park to Central Park organized by the newly formed Troops Out Now Coalition.

In contrast to the battle over gathering on the park's Great Lawn last summer, the Parks Department easily granted a permit for 25,000 to rally in the East Meadow from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Speakers include Congressman Charles Rangel, City Councilman Charles Barron, Lynne Stewart, Howard Zinn, Patti Smith, and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

The Troops Out Now leaders are still fighting for the right to march down Fifth Avenue for a post-rally demonstration outside Mayor Michael Bloomberg's townhouse on 79th Street.

Although the NYPD agreed to let the group within shouting distance of the mayor's residence, Fifth Avenue is off limits because of a 2001 City Council resolution that restricts it to 11 major cultural parades a year. At this point, organizers say they'll abide by the NYPD's approved route, which detours down Park Avenue. But they are still going to court over the Fifth Avenue rule, which they contend amounts to a defacto ban on political protest on New York's "most auspicious avenue."

"It's another blow to the First Amendment," says attorney Jeffrey Fogel of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is arguing the case.

Just why Troops Out Now is so adamant about going to Bloomberg's house is another matter altogether. Organizers say a key demand of the demonstration is "funds for cities, not war." While Bloomberg has been steadfastly neutral when it comes to the war, and his control over the federal purse strings is nil, organizers say his silence in the face of massive budget cuts to city services amounts to some element of complicity.

"He can't pull New York troops out of Iraq, but he could take a stand and demand more money from his party," says spokesperson Dustin Langley, who termed Bloomberg a "billionaire enforcer of Bush policies to silence dissent."

What remains significant is that this is the first major anti-war demonstration to emerge from Harlem—a neighborhood that organizers say is emblematic of the war's disproportionate impact on communities of color. While African Americans have overwhelmingly been against Bush's Iraqi conquest since its inception, their opposition hasn't always been as visible or heard.

"There's this idea that the anti-war movement is a white progressive movement, and it's not," notes Nana Soul, a singer with Artists and Activists United for Peace, the black-led alliance that organized an anti-Bush march through Harlem last September during the GOP convention. "People of color of all backgrounds are against this war, because we are the ones they aggressively try to recruit, and we are the ones most likely to die."

That's why organizers say they're angry that United for Peace and Justice has refused to endorse or send a speaker to their event. "This is a travesty, particularly from those who profess to support communities of color," contends Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council, who helped initiate the demonstration. "They have to be called on the carpet over this. These forces from the established anti-war movement cannot have their cake and eat it, too."

UFPJ's Cagan acknowledges the peace movement's "historic and current" racial divide but insists, "This was absolutely not about dissing those forces. The coalition did not have the breadth that it does seem to have now," she says. She points to the founding role played by the International Action Center—the same group of hard-left anti-imperialists who helped spawn the International ANSWER Coalition, and who have sparred with UFPJ organizers over past demonstrations.

In addition, Cagan said her group had problems with some of the early Troops Out Now literature, which called on the anti-war movement to "acknowledge the absolute and unconditional right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation of their country without passing judgment on their methods of resistance."

Given the often hideously brutal attacks on civilians by various elements of the Iraqi resistance, not to mention some of their fundamentalist positions on women, that's a stance that neither the local nor national UFPJ coalition has been willing to take. "There was a concern that this would develop into an actual demand or theme of the demonstration," says Cagan. "So we decided to let them do their demo, and more power to them."

But activists on all sides say it would be wrong to lose sight of this weekend's larger message. As Soul maintains, "We're saying the best way to support the troops is to bring them home from a war they never should have gone to fight in the first place."

© daVoice

Alternative media continues reports of killings in Falluja

Journalists tell of US Falluja killings

soldier patting down child for "weapons"

All is quiet in Falluja, or at least that is how it seems, given that the mainstream media has largely forgotten about the Iraqi city. But independent journalists are risking life and limb to bring out a very different story.

The picture they are painting is of US soldiers killing whole families, including children, attacks on hospitals and doctors, the use of napalm-like weapons and sections of the city destroyed.

One of the few reporters who has reached Falluja is American Dahr Jamail of the Inter Press Service. He interviewed a doctor who had filmed the testimony of a 16-year-old girl.

"She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters.

She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything. They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead," Jamail relates.

Disturbing reports

Another report comes from an aid convoy headed up by Dr Salem Ismael. He was in Falluja last month. As well as delivering aid he photographed the dead, including children, and interviewed remaining residents.

Again his story does not tally with the indifference shown by the main media networks.

"The accounts I heard ... will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Falluja, but the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined"

— Dr Salem Ismael,
aid convoy leader

"The accounts I heard ... will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Falluja, but the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined," he says.

He relates the story of Hudda Fawzi Salam Issawi from the Julan district of Falluja: "Five of us, including a 55-year-old neighbour, were trapped together in our house in Falluja when the siege began. On 9 November American marines came to our house.

'My father and the neighbour went to the door to meet them. We were not fighters. We thought we had nothing to fear. I ran into the kitchen to put on my veil, since men were going to enter our house and it would be wrong for them to see me with my hair uncovered.

"This saved my life. As my father and neighbour approached the door, the Americans opened fire on them. They died instantly.

"Me and my 13-year-old brother hid in the kitchen behind the fridge. The soldiers came into the house and caught my older sister. They beat her. Then they shot her. But they did not see me. Soon they left, but not before they had destroyed our furniture and stolen the money from my father's pocket."

Targeting media

Journalist and writer Naomi Klein has also come under attack for insisting that US forces are eliminating those who dare to count casualties.

No less than the US ambassador to the UK David Johnson wrote a letter to British newspaper The Guardian that published Klein's work, demanding evidence, which she then provided.

The first piece of evidence Klein sent to Johnson was that the hospital in Falluja was raided to stop any reporting of casualties, a tactic that was later repeated in Mosul.

"The first major operation by US marines and Iraqi soldiers was to storm Falluja general hospital, arresting doctors and placing the facility under military control.

man in grief holds dead child

"The New York Times reported that 'the hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumours about heavy casualties', noting that 'this time around, the American military intends to fight its own information war, countering or squelching what has been one of the insurgents' most potent weapons'.

The Los Angeles Times quoted a doctor as saying that the soldiers 'stole the mobile phones' at the hospital—preventing doctors from communicating with the outside world."

As Dahr Jamail reports from his online diary "doctors are now technically forbidden to talk to the media or allow them to take photos in Iraqi hospitals unless granted permission from the Ministry of Health and its US-adviser".

Napalm-like weapons

Allied to this are various reports of the US using napalm and napalm-like weaponry in Falluja.

hospital  in falluja Jamail recounts: "Last November, another Falluja refugee from the Julan area, Abu Sabah, told me: 'They (US military) used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud. Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.'

"He explained that pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burned peoples' skin even when water was dumped on their bodies, which is the effect of phosphorous weapons, as well as napalm."

The reports of the use of napalm in civilian areas are widespread, as are many other frightening allegations.

The attacks on the hospitals and medical facilities in Falluja are also in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions.

But as Richard Perle, a senior adviser to US President George Bush said at the start of the Iraq war: "The greatest triumph of the Iraq war is the destruction of the evil of international law."

Thursday 17 March 2005, 13:41 Makka Time, 10:41 GMT

© ALjazeera

dao fate

Chinese for "fate"

sculpture on person described below

Dispel time
And you will
Dispel fate.

Fate is the force that interferes with out lives, wrecking things at the worst moments. Yet what we call fate is nothing more than the consequence of our own actions. Each time we act, we generate a chain of events that is tied to us completely. The faster we run from these links, the faster they follow us. They cannot be severed; our every act binds us further.

The operative element here is time. The events of the past are the curse. Beginning followers of Tao learn to manipulate past, present, and future. They learn how circumstances operate and seek to take advantage of that. More advanced followers of Tao eschew this process of manipulation. They obliterate all regard to past, present, and future as definitions in order to negate the concept of fate.

In order to attain a state of being where there is no past to weigh upon the present and no future to be determined, followers of Tao must reach a profound merging with Tao. The follower then acts no differently than Tao would. There is no fate to oppose them, for they are existence, they are causality, they are Tao itself.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9
Swat Valley, Pakistan c. 7th century
Copper alloy with silver h. 12.9 cm

Avalolkitesvara adopts one of his most intriguing contemplative poses as he extends his right index finger towards his right temple. Pal has noted the popularity of such imagery in Kashmir during the seventh to the ninth centuries. Avalolkitesvara holds the stem of a lotus in his other hand and assumes a relaxed seated posture (lalitasana) on a raised platform; a lotus supports his left foot, His long hair is gathered into a fan shape at the top of his head, while thick tresses are arranged in a horizontal band along the forehead, a hairstyle particular to Swat Valley. Amitabha Buddha, his spiritual sire, is portrayed near the front of his coiffure, at the centre of a two-panelled diadem. Avalolkitesvara wears an enormous hoop earring in his left ear and a rosette in the right. A necklace of thick beads is fastened around his neck and a richly pleated dhoti, fastened below the navel, falls to his knees.

Magisterial in pose, this figure conveys strength and masculinity, qualities reminiscent of Gandharan (c. first to mid-fifth centuries) sculpture which could still be seen in late fifth-and sixth-century images from the Gandharan region. Like these 'post-Gandharan' figures, this bodhisattva assumes a pose that is very different from the more gracious one assumed by c. eighth-century works from the same region; this feature may indicate an earlier, c. seventh-century date for this work. The somewhat unusual pierced throne design can also be seen in fifth-and sixth-century works from the northwest region of India.

A Swat Valley provenance may be ascribed to this image; the ascription is based on its close parallels with other works attributed to Swat, notably a bodhisattva excavated along the Helmand River in Swat Valley. The Helmand River bodhisattva and this Avalokitesvara both have narrow, silver-inlaid eyes, long noses and thin lips, necklaces of large beads, armlets of similar design and tapered, muscular torsos, Many of the features, as well as the coiffure, lotus bud and thickly pleated dhoti of this image are similar to those of a c. seventh-century Padmapani attributed to Swat Valley and now in The Cleveland Museum of Art.

images © Nyingjei Lam
text © D. Weldon, Jane C. Singer

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
f o r t y - s i x
Chinese characters for "daodejing verse forty-six"

Without going outside, you may know the whole world.
Without looking through the window,
you may see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go, the less you know.

Thus the sage knows without traveling;
He sees without looking;
He works without doing.
— translation by GIA-FU FENG

Without opening your door,
you can open your heart to the world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the essence of the Tao.

The more you know,
the less you understand.

The Master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing.
— translation by STEVEN MITCHELL

The Tao may be known and observed
without the need of travel;
the way of the heavens might be well seen
without looking through a window.

The further one travels,
the less one knows.
So, without looking, the sage sees all,
and by working without self-advancing thought,
he discovers the wholeness of the Tao.
— translation by S. ROSENTHAL

One can know the world without leaving the house.
One can see Tao without looking out the window.

The more you study the less you know.

Thus the truly wise know without traveling,
perceive without seeing, achieve without doing.
— translation by C. GANSON

a reading list of books and interpretations of the
Daodejing is available at
for a meditation sent to your email address each day,
please write ’subscribe tao’
in the subject line and send to lisbeth at duckdaotsu


Nader on Congress and War

Time for Congress to Stop Copping Out

by Ralph Nader

ome of the comments in response to a recent essay I published shared our recognition that the promotion of peace in the United States needs to intensify. My response below provides an action for antiwar activists to consider as they gather to protest the occupation of Iraq this weekend on the two-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion.

The current level of intensity is not sufficient to stop the war and bring the troops home. Activists focus on their neighbors and friends, to be sure, but the goal is to get Congress and President Bush to feel the heat and light of the peace drives to end the war/occupation in Iraq. Right now, the biggest gap to fill is the Congressional cop-out gap.

Congress forsook its Constitutional authority to declare war by assigning it to President Bush in October 2002. Since then, many members of Congress have expressed private fury with Bush's warlordism, the fabrications, the cover-ups, the tens of thousands of horrific casualties, the vast waste of resources, and our loss of respect throughout the world, but they keep quiet or falsely garble their public comments with evasions.

A few – a very few – have said publicly what's on their mind. For the great majority in Congress – Democrats and Republicans – Bush has intimidated them because they signaled in various ways that they could be intimidated.

So let's start getting smart about holding our members of Congress accountable. Below is a penetrating letter you can modify for your member of Congress to let them know that you see ending the war as a high priority they must attend to. Let us know what you think. And if you take this approach, let us know how it turns out.

Dear Member of Congress,

According to a Harris poll last month, 59 percent of Americans want U.S. troops brought home within the next year. We are among them. You are not listening to us. Here is what we propose: To meet with you in a public auditorium with the media invited on [insert date], when you say you will back in your state [or district]. We wish to discuss specifically with you the following issues:

  1. Do you support continued funding of the Iraq War and occupation without a specific exit strategy and timetable?

  2. Will you announce an exit strategy for Iraq?

  3. Will you investigate contracting abuses found by DoD auditors regarding the reconstruction of Iraq?

  4. Will you investigate the $9 billion dollars unaccounted for in the Coalition Provisional Authority budget in Iraq?

  5. How will you hold President Bush accountable?

If we do not hear favorably from you within a week of your receipt of this e-mail [or letter or fax], we will double the number of signatures and renew the request.

If one week later we do not hear from you, we will again double the number of signatures and visit your local office so you and your staff can meet your constituents.

If a week later we do not hear from you, we will peacefully and diligently march in front of your local office to secure your attention.

You have often said how much you enjoy hearing from your constituents – well, here we are. Please do not take this as a hostile message; rather, it is an effort to indicate to you the urgency we place on ending the occupation of Iraq and bringing U.S. troops home as soon as possible. Civilians, children, and soldiers are dying or being seriously injured every day.

In the meantime, we would appreciate answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you have a summary of Paul Bremer's vast directives, which are still the governing authority of Iraq? These include extending Saddam's ban on trade-union organizing and allowing a U.S. takeover of Iraqi businesses.

  2. Have you protested to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld that they do not officially disclose the injuries, diseases, and severe mental trauma suffered by our troops when they do not occur in combat situations – even if the soldiers are evacuated from Iraq? If yes, send us a copy of your letter. If not, why not?

  3. Will you sign a simple pledge that henceforth you will vote against any attack on another nation unless Congress itself declares war as required by the U.S. Constitution? See: The United States Constitution's War Powers Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11.

  4. Finally, would you propose a very selective service draft just for the children of members of Congress? The purpose of this request is that such a draft will focus the attention of Congress on the realistic risks and consequences of initiating hostilities.


(signed by a group of constituents)

cc: members of the press and any other interested parties

Why don't you try this out today? The sooner we get serious about pressuring Congress, the sooner the occupation of Iraq will stop and our troops will come home.


Opponents of War
Kevin Benderman, Alvin York, and the Voice of Conscience

As the generals of Europe sent their youth to die in the gaping furnace-mouths of Verdun and the Somme, a young man named Alvin York roamed the hills of Tennessee unaware that his government was making plans to send him to those same muddy fields. When the U.S. military drafted York in 1917, he refused to go to war and filed for status as a Conscientious Objector (CO). His application was unsuccessful. Draft boards, like military recruiters today, had trouble meeting their quotas and found any excuse to send men to Europe; CO review boards helped make that effort easier. His application for CO status refused, despite his protestations, he went to fight in the First World War and returned home to a hero’s welcome. York’s commonly known exploits as a “reluctant hero” were eventually immortalized by Gary Cooper, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1941 box-office hit Sergeant York.

When put in its proper context, York’s life story helps shed light on the current Iraq War and the role that COs play in American society. If we learn about and demystify the dominant image of York, he can help us understand a man like Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman. In late 2004, Benderman applied for CO status and soon after refused to re-deploy with his unit to Iraq ( York’s story, like Benderman’s, communicates that a GI’s choice—and right—to seek the status of a CO needs to be understood, protected, and supported.

The comparisons between Benderman and York are appropriate. At the most basic level, York, like Benderman, eventually became an Army sergeant. Both are Southerners, raised in Tennessee. Both men received commendation for their military service. According to his diary, York began his life’s story when “I got my first notice in 1917.” Similarly, Benderman’s now public story begins shortly after he received his notice for re-deployment to Iraq.

Surprisingly, given the attention that Benderman’s struggle has received from the Associated Press, MSNBC, and CNN, among other major media outlets, no journalist has made comparisons between Benderman and the historical York. However, in an email post to the conservative website,, a U.S. Marine stated, “One conscientious objector of long ago Sgt. Alvin York of Pall Mall, Tennessee personally single handed, killed 25 Germans, six of them with his pistol and captured 132 Germans. He could have avoided the war in Europe but he chose to do his duty and was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. All the while with his strong belief in his GOD and his Country.” This soldier continued, “This johnny come lately [Benderman] c.o. is a coward and that sums it up! I wouldn’t want to have to depend on that man at my back in battle.” The Marine signed his email “Semper Fi.”

The difference between York and Benderman is that in the case of York, an elder in the fundamentalist Church of Christ in Christian Union, CO review boards refused to recognize his church as an official Christian sect. Therefore, they denied his CO application, on which he wrote “Dont [sic] want to fight,” at both the local and state level. If the review boards had accepted York, he most certainly would not have gone to Europe. He felt that as “long as the records remain I will be officially known as a conscientious objector. I was.” Furthermore, a local board could presumably not deny an application today for the same reasons. According to the U.S. Selective Service System, “Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don’t have to be.”

In Benderman’s case, he received firm opposition from within the military before his application came up for review. Benderman’s chaplain refused to meet with him to discuss his CO application and berated Benderman through email and again during hearings in early February. Given his difficulties finding help from within the military since December, it is unsurprising, perhaps, that a man of integrity such as Benderman would take the steps that he took by refusing to re-deploy. Because of his actions, Benderman went to a hearing in early February for two counts of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Specifically, he faces charges for desertion with the intent to avoid hazardous duty and missing movement by design. He could spend five years in prison if found guilty of the first charge and up to two years for the second charge. The U.S. Army has announced that Benderman’s court martial trial for desertion charges will begin May 11.

Benderman also had a hearing in early February regarding his application for CO status. His thoughts about his refusal to re-deploy and his efforts to obtain CO status, found in opinions titled “A Matter of Conscience,” “Right to Life,” and “Why I Refused a 2nd Deployment to Iraq,” can be located on the internet. He has come to realize that war is morally unacceptable. “It’s a waste of human energy; it’s a waste of human potential; it’s also a waste of natural resources,” he told the Minnesota Public Radio news program, “Weekend America.” “The larger and higher goal would be to figure out how to not have a war anymore,” noted Benderman.

That he thought a great deal about war before coming to his conclusion is without question; he has more than ten years of distinguished service in the military. Benderman is also married and has children. We can speculate that with a more service in the armed forces, additional education, and a family to support, York might have made the same decision as Benderman—resist, regardless of the repercussions. York would have joined more than 21,000 men during World War I who accepted “noncombatant service.” Nonetheless, it is more than likely that the military coerced, if not induced, York into going to war. As Meirion and Susie Harris tell us in The Last Days of Innocence: America at War, 1917-1918, “Throughout the summer of 1917, the draft boards worked hard to meet their quotas.”

According to Harris and Harris, “Large numbers of pacifists, from small, unrecognized sects (‘nut societies,’ in the phrase of one examiner) had their claims for exemption rejected.... Men who converted to a religion since the beginning of the war had difficulty convincing draft board of their sincerity. Some invariably failed, such as [York and] the members of the International Bible Students’ Association (later the Jehovah’s Witnesses), whose founder, Charles Taze Russell, was in jail for selling ‘miracle wheat’ with magical powers.”

We should consider that York never wanted to be memorialized for that day in 1918 when he and nine other soldiers helped to kill 25 German soldiers and capture 132. (By his count, York was responsible for killing nine of the 25 Germans.) The tragedy, however, is that York, despite his objections, actually went against the teachings of his church and that he was bullied into going to Europe. More troubling still is that the U.S. government and citizens since have used York’s life as propaganda, all the while falsely claiming that he single-handedly killed or captured such-and-such number of German soldiers. Meanwhile, only two U.S. soldiers who survived that day were ever acknowledged, and their recognition came nearly a decade later, in 1927, despite the fact that at seven other men in his platoon helped him that day to capture German soldiers and guard prisoners.

According to one biographer, York continued throughout his life to oppose war. “In 1935 York delivered a sermon entitled, ‘Christian Cure for Strife,’ which argued that the vigilant Christian should ignore current world events, because Europe stood poised on the brink of another war and Americans should avoid it at all costs. Recalling his career as a soldier, York renounced America’s involvement in World War I. In order to achieve world peace, Americans must first secure it at home beginning with their own families. The church and the home, therefore, represented the cornerstones of world peace.”

Although York stood for and believed in the U.S. and God, his country failed him. As noted by mainstream historians such as David McCullough—the U.S. took away York’s youthful innocence. The U.S. military also removed Benderman’s innocence by helping to lift the fog from his eyes. That Benderman would resist deployment after ten years of devoted military service, during a moment in U.S. history when we currently have a volunteer army, is rare. Nevertheless, Benderman is not the only soldier resisting. Hundreds of soldiers have refused to return for re-deployment, many of them after confronting unforgivable “stop-loss” measures. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Between 5,000 and 6,000 U.S. military personnel are listed as deserters by the armed services, typically meaning they have been absent without leave from their unit for more than 30 days.” Furthermore, military recruiters today are not meeting their quotas. As noted in the New York Times, five out of six units of the military reserve fell short of their recruiting goals for the first four months of this fiscal year. The Washington Post noted that fewer enlistees are in the pipeline and the Army is rushing incoming recruits into training as quickly as possible. Indeed, these are the stories that the media must tell.

It is important that the citizens of the U.S. know and understand that dissent inside and outside the military is real, it is growing—even among loyal Bush supporters—and it presumably will not stop as long as U.S. soldiers die in Iraq. The media is even making an allowance for dissenting voices. As a result, not only are big names such as Michael Moore appearing frequently on television, but individuals such as Benderman are also receiving attention.

The real lessons that Benderman and York tell us, however, are that history is always more complex and messy than we make it out to be. It is important that teachers and representatives of the media de-mystify the dominant representation of men like York and make their lives more complicated. Indeed, citizens who make history, like York and Benderman, and other soldiers such as Smedley Butler, are often more compelling than the stick figures and straw men we think they are. To be sure, they are heroes. However, they come to realize that war is wrong and that for too long they were pawns to corporate interests and governmental leaders.

U.S. soldiers themselves are now telling us the truth about war. Recently, Marine Staff Sgt. Russell Slay, just before he was killed in Iraq, wrote a letter to his five-year-old son, Walker. “Be studious, stay in school and stay away from the military,” he succinctly admonished. In addition, on February 15 the U.S. military released Camilo Mejia, the country’s first CO to the current Iraq war, after he served nine months in prison for his refusal to redeploy to Iraq while he was home on furlough in 2003. Mejia has finally regained his humanity. He joins a long and growing list of conscientious objectors to U.S.-led wars who have begun to fight for peace and justice. We should find hope in the stories and words of Alvin York, Kevin Benderman, Russell Slay, Camilo Mejia, and a rising number of Conscientious Objectors who oppose war. Indeed, they are the voice of conscience. Peace now!

Joel T. Helfrich is an activist, teacher, and a PhD candidate in history at the University of Minnesota. He can be reached at:

No Delay of Unending troubles for DeLay Inc

Despite calls from the right for "spiritual warfare" in defending the House majority leader against ethics charges, the fate of DeLay Inc. looks grim.

As "Still the One" boomed from the loudspeakers, shaking the silverware in the Washington Hilton ballroom Tuesday, the most powerful Republican in Congress, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, appeared on the stage before more than a thousand Republican faithful -- a martyr scourged and flayed by evildoers for his purity of heart. It was his enemies who had the dirty hands. The Democrats are "without power" and "have put style above substance, politics over people, and partisanship over everything." Immediately after being cheered, DeLay held a press conference to denounce the press as purveyors of "fiction and innuendo."

The uncertain fate of the majority leader, known as "The Hammer," and to the Republican members and lobbyists in Washington as "the concierge of Capitol Hill," threatens to undermine the Bush administration's agenda; the political machine DeLay has built by allying special interests, lobbyists and Republicans; and the Republican dominance of Congress. Conservative leader Paul Weyrich pronounced that defending DeLay is nothing less than a life-or-death matter -- "spiritual warfare."

Not once at this Republican conference on tax reform did DeLay mention that he had just minutes earlier escaped from another of his ethical travails. On a party-line vote, the House had just defeated a Democratic measure to create a bipartisan task force "to restore public confidence in the ethics process."

Three times last year DeLay was rebuked by the House ethics committee. But DeLay has more to worry about. Three of his closest aides in Texas are standing trial for criminal campaign-finance violations involving funneling $2.5 million in illegal corporate money from his political action committee to Republican candidates for the state Legislature. (Afterward, the Legislature redistricted congressional seats to eliminate Democrats and consolidate Republican control of the House.)

In response to the possibility that he may face trial himself, DeLay tried to force the House to abolish a GOP rule that requires leaders to step aside temporarily if indicted. But members faced an uproar in their districts and DeLay had to abandon his gambit. As the web of grand juries and trials entangling his closest political associates spreads, his self-protective tactics have become more frantic. Last month, he purged those Republicans from the House ethics committee who had any Hamlet-like hesitations about suppressing further investigations into his activities.

DeLay's troubles reveal the anatomy of his power, known from Texas to Washington as DeLay Inc. By controlling the majority in the House, DeLay has been able to enforce discipline on the vast army of lobbyists, law firms and trade associations in Washington. His K Street Project, named after the nondescript street where many of the lobbyists maintain their offices, attempts to ensure that Democrats will not be hired by lobbyists and law firms, which will kick in maximum campaign contributions or else let their clients suffer the consequences.

In 1999, DeLay received a "private rebuke" from the House ethics committee for punishing the Electronic Industries Alliance for hiring a Democrat to head its Washington office. DeLay sabotaged trade bills that would have benefited the EIA, and soon the group hired a former House Republican staffer, who arranged contributions to DeLay's political action committee. One prominent Republican lobbyist confided to me that DeLay personally upbraided him for hiring a Democrat in his firm. The Republican majority is thus financially supported through strong-arm tactics and quid pro quos, and pursues policies that always serve the demands of special interests -- from the pharmaceutical companies on Medicare, to credit card firms on bankruptcy, to oil, gas and coal companies on energy.

But DeLay's methods are being exposed to daylight. In a civil trial filed by defeated Democratic congressional candidates in Texas against DeLay's political action committee, new documents revealed last week proved he had created the PAC and was directly involved in raising corporate donations that are illegal under Texas law. At a recent press conference DeLay tried to brush aside the indictments of his aides by the Travis County prosecutor as "frivolous" and a "joke." But the prosecutor, when asked, has refused to rule out indicting DeLay.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has impaneled a federal grand jury to hear testimony into possible fraud and public corruption by one of the Washington lobbyists closest to DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and his business partner, public relations executive Michael Scanlon, DeLay's former press secretary. That investigation might yet encompass two other DeLay allies, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, another business partner of Abramoff's, and Grover Norquist, a lobbyist who organizes conservative groups behind DeLay's initiatives and who has also profited from his dealings with Abramoff. Stalled before the House ethics committee are investigations into trips DeLay took to South Korea and Britain, the latter financed by Abramoff. Both those investigations involve the central figure of DeLay's former chief of staff, now a lobbyist, Ed Buckham.

"I go about my job," DeLay told reporters, trying to distance himself. "Jack Abramoff has his own problems. Any other questions?" In an earlier statement, obviously crafted by his attorneys, DeLay said, "If anybody is trading on my name to get clients or to make money, that is wrong and they should stop it immediately." He's shocked, shocked!

DeLay's suggestion that Abramoff is his most casual acquaintance was belied by his fulsome tribute to him on the occasion of DeLay's trip in 1995 to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. protectorate in the Pacific, one of Abramoff's clients. Abramoff lobbied for garment factories there to be exempt from U.S. labor laws guaranteeing the federal minimum wage. After Abramoff provided an all-expenses-paid visit, DeLay led the successful charge making island sweatshops safe from wage, hour and immigration laws. DeLay wrote Abramoff's client: "When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C., invited me to the islands, I wanted to see firsthand the free-market success and the progress and reform you have made." Years later, an investigation by the Marianas public auditor discovered that Abramoff's law firm had operated "without a valid contract."

Abramoff's connection to DeLay was forged the instant Republicans won the Congress in 1994. DeLay declared he would run for party whip and Abramoff backed him. "He's someone on our side," said Buckham. "He has access to DeLay." And it was none other than Buckham who had brought in Abramoff.

In 2000, Abramoff paid for DeLay, his wife, Christine, and Buckham and his wife to visit London and stay at the Four Seasons Hotel. A year later, Buckham got the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council to pay for a trip to Seoul by DeLay and his wife. Buckham, in fact, was the founder of the council, whose address is the same as his lobbying firm, and is a registered foreign agent. It is illegal for House members to accept travel expenses from either registered foreign agents or lobbyists. Both these trips are awaiting investigation before the paralyzed House ethics committee.

Buckham is not only DeLay's former chief of staff but also his pastor. (Buckham, a nondenominational evangelical, doesn't preside at a church.) DeLay's wife was put on Buckham's lobbying firm's payroll from 1998 to 2002. And Buckham has also hired Tony Rudy, DeLay's former general counsel, and Karl Gallant, former executive director of DeLay's political action committee.

I first encountered Jack Abramoff in 1985 when I was a national staff reporter for the Washington Post. He was then the executive director of a conservative organization called Citizens for America, created by Lewis Lehrman, the drugstore mogul, who had been defeated running for governor of New York against Mario Cuomo in 1982. President Reagan's backers encouraged Lehrman to build a group that would campaign for his program. Using this vehicle, Lehrman believed he could become a Republican powerhouse. He hired the former leaders of the College Republicans to run it --Abramoff and his pal, Grover Norquist. But as I reported in the Washington Post, Lehrman belatedly discovered that he had been "boxed out of the bookkeeping." The $3 million budget had been "gutted," as one of the group's officers explained to me. Abramoff and Norquist had held "one big party" and "gone hog wild." They were fired and the group went under. It was the beginning of Abramoff's brilliant career.

A year later, in 1986, Abramoff emerged as chairman of the International Freedom Foundation, which was secretly financed with $1.5 million a year from the apartheid South African government. He also produced a pulp anticommunist action movie, "Red Scorpion." By 1994, with the Republicans triumphant in Congress, the law firm of Preston Gates announced Abramoff as a lobbyist who "maintains strong ties to Speaker Newt Gingrich, Majority Leader Dick Armey, Majority Whip Tom Delay and [House] Republican Policy Committee Chairman Chris Cox and their staffs." Thomas Edsall wrote in the Washington Post: "In less than a decade, Abramoff's ties to Republican congressional leaders and powerbrokers in the conservative movement catapulted him into the highest ranks of Washington lobbyists. By 2003, Abramoff's clients -- including the Business Roundtable, Atofina Chemicals, Humana, Primedia Inc. and tribal clients -- paid his law firm $11.57 million in fees, one of the highest such sums in Washington." Norquist and DeLay were among Abramoff's biggest promoters. "What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs," Norquist said in 1995. "Then this becomes a different town."

Teaming up with DeLay's former press secretary, Scanlon, Abramoff charged Indian tribes seeking help for their casinos a total of $66 million in fees. He directed them to funnel money to a variety of Republican groups, including Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and DeLay's political action committee. With Indian money flowing into Republican coffers, DeLay declared in 1995 that "people recognize that Jack Abramoff has been an important part of this transition." Abramoff also turned for help to another old College Republican friend, Ralph Reed, who was paid $4.2 million between 2001 and 2003 to organize through his consulting firm (Century Strategies) Christian constituencies against Indian gambling interests that competed with Abramoff's Indian clients. (Reed's front groups also received funds from Indians.)

One tribe, the Tigua in Texas, whose casino was under siege from Reed's lobbying, felt compelled to seek help from the main Republican lobbyist for Indian tribes, Abramoff. On Feb. 6, 2002, Abramoff e-mailed Scanlon under the subject line "I'm on the phone with Tigua": "Fire up the jet, baby, we're going to El Paso!" Scanlon replied: "I want all their MONEY!!!" Abramoff e-mailed Reed: "I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!!" When the El Paso Times ran the story "450 Casino Employees Officially Terminated," Scanlon e-mailed it to Abramoff: "This is the front page of today's paper while they will be voting on our plan!" Abramoff wrote back: "Is life great or what!!!!" (You can read all the e-mails here.) The Tigua paid $1.8 million in fees, but in the end Abramoff and Scanlon failed to get their casino reopened. "A rattlesnake will warn you before it strikes," said the Tigua leader. "They did everything behind our backs."

When the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs launched an investigation last year and Abramoff took the Fifth Amendment at its hearings, his law firm fired him. Still, Abramoff was honored by the Bush campaign as a "Pioneer" for raising more than $100,000 in 2004.

But the revelations continue. Last week Newsweek reported that the FBI is investigating $2.5 million that passed through a conservative think tank to the bank accounts of Abramoff and Scanlon. According to Newsweek, "The payments to the National Center for Public Policy Research were meant for a PR campaign promoting Indian gaming, center officials said." DeLay, who has signed fundraising letters for the center, was also the recipient of its largess -- two lavish foreign trips, one of them costing $70,000 to play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland. As it happens, he was accompanied on the trip by Abramoff, a member of the center's board.

The federal grand jury has been calling witnesses in the Tigua case for months. The FBI is looking into the curious case of the National Center for Public Policy Research. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee continues its inquiries. The civil case against DeLay's operation in Texas proceeds. The first of several criminal cases in Travis County focusing on his political action committee has begun. The House ethics committee has standing complaints before it on DeLay's foreign trips. Meanwhile, the corruption of public ethics is defied by sanctimonious appeals to the higher morality of "spiritual warfare."

About the writer
Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton and the author of "The Clinton Wars," is writing a column for Salon and the Guardian of London.

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