Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trojans

Some random thoughts about the Trojan War, based on my reading of the Iliad and the movie Troy (starring Sean Bean, Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Peter O'Toole, and Brad Pitt's abs). Presented for your contempt, we have some feeble wit, a couple of would-be aphorisms, and a bit of sarcasm masquerading as literary criticism.


:clears throat:

AHEM!

RULE ONE. IF SHE'S MARRIED, HANDS OFF.

Thank you.


Helen's face launched a thousand ships, but she also got some ridiculous number of men killed, including Paris, the turdball with whom she ran off (he survived in the movie), and the city of Troy destroyed. How beautiful was she after Troy fell and the Greeks dragged her back to Sparta in chains? Or was the sack of Troy just included in the ship-launching metaphor?


Women who act like princesses are nothing but trouble. This is a universal constant, not limited to the archaic eastern Mediterranean.


Ambitious alpha-male men who think with their dicks are nothing but trouble. This is a universal constant, not limited to the archaic eastern Mediterranean.


Really, all the Trojan War boils down to is a series of fights over whose Tab A is in whose Slot B. Menelaus, Helen, and Paris. Achilles, Briseis, and Agamemnon. Ye gods, imagine the lives that would have been spared if these people had discovered the threeway, the open marriage, swinging, or friends-with-benefits. "Such, my children, is the role of sex in history….."


Ah, Mycenae.... an empire founded on trade, military might, and man-on-man buggery. It was nice to see how the downgraded Patroclus from Achilles squire and probable significant other to 'cousin.' Then again, in the original, Achilles was being punished for murdering Troilus, a boy who turned him down… and in that case his big booboo was that he killed the dude in a friggin' temple and annoyed the resident deity. Blood's hell on carpets, don't you know?


Then again, most gods never seem to know when to leave well enough alone…….


The Trojan horse has become proverbial, but it's not even IN the Iliad….it's mentioned in passing in the Odyssey, but the usual account of the horse and the fall of Troy is actually from the Aeneid, which was written sometime in the reign of Augustus Caesar.


A beach is a really shitty place to make a military camp. No shelter, you're on the lowest ground around (if it was higher it wouldn't BE a beach), and where are you going to get drinking water and dig latrines? Now imagine farting around there for TEN YEARS. No wonder Odysseus had had enough!


Peter O'Toole delivered a line as the Trojan King Priam: "No father ever had a better son." What about Richard, Geoffrey, and John? It just struck me how this line echoed the excellent movie Pete did back in the 60s named The Lion In Winter (Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Anthony Hopkins as Richard the Lionheart, and Timothy Dalton as the king of France, with Pete as Henry II of England), where the whole movie revolved around Henry's problems with his sons, a situation which led into the whole Good King Richard/Wicked Prince John/Robin Hood thing.


I know the book starts with "Sing, Muse, the wrath of Achilles the son of Peleus, the destructive wrath, that brought a thousand griefs upon the Achaeans," but it seems to me that it's more about everyone's hubris, not just Achilles'. Some people really need to rethink themselves and open up to the possibility that as much as you want something, it might inconvenience a LOT of people if you raise enough hell to get it. That's as true for Paris, Menelaus, and Achilles as it is for George W. Bush and Hilary Clinton.

I never liked Achilles, I always felt sorry for Hector, and my hero used to be Ajax. For many years I used the screen name Ajax1453 for everything…. I had a real thing for last-ditch do-or-die stands when I thought THAT one up (1453 was the year Constantinople fell to the Ottomans). Nowadays, though, I think Odysseus is the real hero on the Greek side of the story, and the only guy I really admire anymore because he actually stops to think, and comes up with the Trojan Horse and the ruse that ultimately wins them the war. Granted, he was also the one who had the sense to try to get out of going to the war in the first place, by pretending to be insane when the summons from Agamemnon came.


Is Achilles a hero or a psychotic asshole? Are those two terms synonymous? I used to wonder how much of Achilles' lethality and daring was because he didn't have to worry about dying…. But then I did some checking and lo, the whole invulnerability thing only cropped up in the Roman era, when the 'Achilles' heel' thing appeared. His mother supposedly dunked him in the Styx River in order to make him invulnerable, but missed one heel. Hello, moot point…. I guess it really was all about choosing a short glorious life over a long quiet one.


Eh, so much for glory anyhow. Achilles was never defeated in man-to-man fighting, but then again it was hardly a fair contest because he was only half-human to begin with (his mother was a sea nymph). He was the finest warrior on either side, and what happens? Paris shoots him through the ankle.


What is it with Orlando bloom and longbows, anyhow?

For a story so full of heroes, in my opinion, the bravest thing in the whole saga was old King Priam sneaking into the Greek camp in disguise so that he could beg Achilles to give back his son Hector's mutilated body so that Hector could have a proper burial.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ten Years Gone....

Ten years ago—January 26, 1998—a group of conservative political scientists and sulking, out-of-power Reaganites signed an open letter to President Clinton which explicitly called Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq a threat to national security, and called for the US to invade, 'liberate,' and effectively colonize Iraq, creating a bastion of truth, justice, and the American way in the Middle East. This benevolent imperialism, they argued, would be a win-win situation for everyone in the long run—the threat to the US would be removed, we would have access to the region's resources, and the poor benighted Ay-rabs would reap all the benefits of the West's liberal, capitalist democracy.

The name of the organization these chaps had put together gives you some idea of what their objective was—the Project for the New American Century. It was another of the conservative think-tanks which, well-manured with corporate donations funneled through Tom Delay's K Street lobbying project and fertilized by resentment at the Democrat occupying the Oval Office that was rightfully theirs, proliferated like toadstools during Bill Clinton's presidency. The PNAC's Statement of Principles was signed by, in addition to those listed below, Governor Jeb Bush, former Vice-President Dan Quayle, Norman Podhoretz, future scapegoat I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Gary Bauer, Frank Gaffney and future Dark Lord Dick Cheney.

The drum on which this particular group beat was the prospect of a post-Cold War Pax Americana, when a new golden age was there for the taking, if only the United States would exert itself, take advantage of it's status as the last superpower, and mold the world into its own image. William Kristol and Robert Kagan actually described it as "neo-Reaganite" and a "benevolent global hegemony" in their July-August 1996 article in Foreign Affairs.

I'm no fan of Robert Burns—anyone who writes an ode to a haggis has got to be mentally suspect, if not bloody barking mad—but he has one bit of wisdom that has become proverbial. "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley."

The letter's text (the whole thing is here at the PNAC's website) concluded with the following four paragraphs:


Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.




Translation: The oil's in danger. Iraq delenda est. Screw the UN. You're chicken if you do anything else.

The letter's signers were:

Elliott Abrams, who during the Reagan administration was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra arms deal. He later served as President W's Special Assistant for Near East and North African Affairs and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy. He allegedly approved, if not directly managed, the failed 2002 coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, as well as meddling extensively in Israeli/Palestinian affairs.

Richard L. Armitage, a former foreign policy advisor to President Reagan, as well as an Assistant Secretary of Defense who specialized in Mideast security issues. He was Deputy Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. Pakistan's military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharaff, later claimed that Armitage threatened to "bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age" if Musharaff did not cooperate in hunting down Al Quaeda. Armitage left public office in 2005, and is currently chairman of the board of ConocoPhillips, one of the world's largest oil and energy companies. In September 2006, Armitage also admitted to leaking CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, which had the effect of eviscerating a years-long covert operation aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

William J. Bennett, formerly Reagan's Secretary of Education and Bush 41's drug czar. A noted conservative writer and pundit, he is conspicuous for his writings espousing a conservative view of what public morality should be, as well as his role in the so-called 'culture wars' against gay rights, gangsta rap, public schools, and other supposed affronts to public decency and the traditional American family, including expressing support for the beheading of drug dealers. His habit of high-stakes gambling, which included losing millions of dollars at Las Vegas casinos, became public knowledge in 2003.

Jeffrey Bergner, an academic (Ph. D in economics and adjunct professor at Georgetown), Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, and longtime lobbyist on behalf of foreign interests, including Chinese and Taiwanese industries.

John Bolton, a one-time Young Republican (Goldwater campaign, '64) held several positions in the Justice Department and State Department during the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations, including Assistant Attorney General and several jobs with the Agency for International Development (USAID). His time in the Justice Department saw him involved with Iran-Contra and matters of executive privilege, which he defended rigorously even under dubious circumstances. He spent most of the Clinton years working at think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and PNAC, and was named Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security in 2001. For a diplomat, he is conspicuously undiplomatic, and is given to throwing the US's weight around and misrepresenting intelligence information even when dealing with allies (q.v the 4/12/05 Senate testimony by Carl W. Ford, Jr.). W nominated him to be Ambassador to the UN in March 2005, which has been reviled due to Bolton's open contempt for the UN. Bolton was never confirmed as ambassador due to strong opposition from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and spent over a year and a half in an 'acting' capacity before being replaced by Zalmay Khalilzad (see below). Bush then made an end-run of very questionable legality around the confirmation process by nominating Bolton as Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Paula Dobriansky, a conservative intellectual, academic, and pundit who has served Reagan, Bush 41, and W as, among other things, Associate Director for Policy and Programs at the United States Information Agency, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, and Under-Secretary of State for Democracy & Global Affairs, which is her current capacity, in addition to serving as special envoys to a number of places. For you conspiracy theory fans, an actual living, breathing member of the Trilateral Commission. She is probably most conspicuous for her tenacious defense of the United States against the Kyoto agreement.

Francis Fukuyama, an academic specializing in foreign policy and political philosophy, a disciple of Samuel Huntington (of "Clash of Civilizations" infamy). Fukuyama's most famous book is decidedly whiggish The End of History and the Last Man, (1992) in which he argues that the whole of world history is an evolutionary struggle between political ideologies, and that this historical process effectively 'ended' when the West emerged victorious from the Cold War, leaving liberal capitalist democracy as the sum total of humanity's social evolution. Although he was initially a fierce supporter of the invasion of Iraq, he has since repudiated the Iraq War, called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, and criticized the current administration for grievously 'misunderestimating' the Iraq debacle.

Robert Kagan, one of the PNAC's first organizers, worked at the State Department's Bureau of Inter-American Affairs and was a speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz. He has written extensively for The New Republic, Washington Post, and Weekly Standard. He is currently married to the US ambassador to NATO and lives in Brussels, Belgium.

Zalmay Khalilzad, born in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, immigrated to the US as a high school exchange student. From 1979 to 1989, he was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affair, as well as being an advisor to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter Administration's architect of the policy supporting the Afghan Mujahadeen. From 1985 to 1989, he was a State Department advisor on Afghan affairs, and then Deputy Undersecretary for Policy Planning under Bush 41. He spent the Clinton years working at the RAND corporation before being picked by W for a series of jobs in the Defense and State departments, including the position of Ambassador at Large for Free Iraqis, which he was given in 2002, with the task of coordinating "preparations for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq." From the fall of 2001 until the summer of 2005 he was first Special Envoy and then Ambassador to Afghanistan, in which capacity he ran several significant parts of the Afghan government, including drafting the constitution and overseeing elections. He served as ambassador to Iraq from June 2005 until March 2007, when he was appointed and confirmed as ambassador to the United Nations, much to the relief of people who were sick of Bolton.

William Kristol, an academic and pundit with a background in political philosophy, and both a social and economic conservative. He served as Bill Bennett's chief of staff as Secretary of Education during the Reagan era, and later as chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle during the Bush 41 administration, earning the nickname "Quayle's Brain." He was a very influential Republican strategist during the Clinton years, including developing much of the Contract with America and coordinating the strategy to defeat the Clinton health-care reform through the simple expedient of getting Republican leaders such as Bob Dole to flatly deny that a health care crisis even existed. He founded the Weekly Standard in 1994, with lavish funding from conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and frequently straddles the line between government and media, such as when he wrote W's second inaugural speech and then published articles praising it. He continues to support the Iraq war, and publicly advocates a unilateral attack on Iran.

Richard Perle, who worked for the Reagan administration as an assistant Secretary of Defense and worked on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004. He opposed the Carter-era arms reduction agreements with the Soviets. He was one of the first public figures to credit Osama Bin Laden with the September 11 attacks, even before the US intelligence community had conclusive proof. Perle was one of the Bush administration's principal architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and had actually advocated invading Iraq with only 40,000 troops, objecting to Gen. Eric Shinseki's estimate that 660,000 troops would be needed. He is also the principal architect of the 'Bush doctrine' of preemptive strikes. Perle has also been accused repeatedly of profiting from conflicts of interest while working in the Reagan and W administrations, by accepting bribes or working as a consultant on behalf of companies selling military equipment to the Defense Department in which he was a senior official. He remains in government service, although his actual position is not clear.

Peter W. Rodman, a political scientist and longtime government official, he served as Director of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and NSC Counselor during the Reagan and Bush 41 years. From 1990 to 1999 he was a senior editor at The National Review. He served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from July 2001 until March 2007, when he left to become a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution. Rodman is a perennial Reagan hagiographer, praising US intervention and meddling in Afghanistan, Grenada, and Angola.

Donald Flippin' Rumsfeld………… do you even have to ask? He was Reagan's official envoy to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and oversaw the sale of lots of weapons to Iraq.

William Schneider Jr., who served as an Undersecretary of State during the Reagan administration. During the late 1990s he formed a political action group that sponsored the idea that Iraq was working on ballistic missiles that could hit the US. He currently chairs the Defense Science Board and is one of the chief advocates of using nuclear weapons in preemptive first-strike attacks.

John Vincent Weber, a former newspaper publisher and Congressional PR flack who served as a Representative from Minnesota's 6th and 2nd District from 1981–1993. He spent the 1990s as a Republican strategist and lobbyist, in which capacity he remains. His clients include a large number of major defense contractors. He is also chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, a private, nonprofit organization. He frequently works for election campaigns, including the 2004 Bush/Cheney reelection and the current Romney campaign.

Paul Wolfowitz, who has been working in government since the Nixon administration, when he was a young analyst involved in the first set of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I). During the Carter administration he worked for the Defense Department on developing 'limited contingency' operations in the Third World. The Reagan administration appointed him Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, with a staff that included Lewis Libby, Francis Fukuyama, Dennis Ross, Alan Keyes, Zalmay Khalilzad, Stephen Sestanovich and James Roche, a group that would be responsible for defining the administration's long-term foreign policy goals, which meant blunt confrontationalism with the Soviets, lavish defense spending, and global interventionism, both overt and covert. Wolfowitz was shuttled over to the State Department in 1982, eventually serving as ambassador to Indonesia from 1985 to 1989. Under Bush 41, he served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, under Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, in which capacity he oversaw much of the diplomacy and logistics that went into the Gulf War. He and his assistant, Scooter Libby, then wrote the Defense Planning Guidance, a planning rubric emphasizing preemptive and unilateral military actions, and intended to "set the nation's direction for the next century." This document was generally interpreted in military and diplomatic circles as a blueprint for U.S. hegemony. During the Clinton years he taught at Johns Hopkins University, as well as serving as a policy advisor to a number of Republican figures such as Bob Dole and a lobbyist and consultant for the defense contractor Northrop Grumman. He also wrote most of the 1998 PNAC letter, and a 90-page report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, advocating the redeployment of U.S. troops in permanent bases in strategic locations throughout the world where they can be ready to act to protect U.S. interests abroad. The election of W brought him back into government as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005, overseeing much of the War on Terror, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. Like Rumsfeld and Perle, he effectively overruled and forced into retirement General Shinseki, who publicly disagreed with them on the number of troops necessary to overthrow Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq. Wolfowitz was nominated as to be head of the World Bank in the spring of 2005, and was accepted in that role after much diplomatic arm-twisting. He resigned from the World Bank in July 2007, and was replaced by Robert Zoellick.

R. James Woolsey, a former military staff officer who served as an advisor on the U.S. Delegation to the SALT 1 talks in 1969 and 1970, General Counsel to the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1970-1973, Under Secretary of the Navy under Carter, Delegate at Large to the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Nuclear and Space Arms Talks in1983-1986, Ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, 1989-1991. He served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995, during which time he had a famously strained relationship with President Clinton. He is currently in the private sector, working for the management and policy consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, whose clients include government and defense contractors and who are a frequent first stop for military officers looking to break into the private sector. Woolsey is noted for asserting that the US is currently engaged in "World War IV" during speaking engagements.

Robert B. Zoellick, who started out as a lawyer before entering government service, working mostly in the Treasury Department from 1985 until 1992, and running the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) from 1992 until 1997. As the U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005, he helped ram the Central American Free Trade Agreement into effect over the objections of, well, everyone except Washington and big business. He replaced Richard Armitage as Deputy Secretary of State from 2005 until 2007, following which he replaced Paul Wolfowitz as the head of the World Bank. He has also been, in a private capacity, a consultant, president of Goldman-Sachs, and a board member of Enron. He is a devout believer in free trade as a general good to the extent that it coincides with the interests of the United States.

When you see who signed off on this letter and who's in charge now, is it any surprise that we've gotten to where we are now?

Just as a footnote to the above, a number of these people, including Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, George H.W. Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld, were involved with an internal review program in the intelligence community during the Ford and Carter administrations that known as "Team B," which routinely second-guessed and overruled intelligence professionals. Team B claimed, sometimes without any evidence, that the Soviet Union posed a more significant threat than the information supported, and vigorously opposed any sort of negotiations, international mediation, or d├ętente. Sound familiar?

It really is kind of amusing how so many of these people have similar stories—came in with Reagan, ruled the world for twelve years under Reagan and Bush 41, but then Clinton somehow won and they found themselves basically exiled just when the Soviets had collapsed and the brass ring was in sight. Then when W gets elected, for our sins, they're all coming in from the cold and trying to pretend Clinton never happened.

Does it worry you that so many of these people are just floating along under the radar, with one foot in the government and the other in private ideological think tanks? It's still an open question to me whether the US government's heavy dependence on appointed officials in the State, Defense, and Justice departments is a strength or a weakness. We also have proof that they deliberately and knowingly misled our actual elected representatives on a slew of issues, most notably Iraq and the WMD issue. How much accountability is there for people like Richard Perle, when most of the country's citizenry don't even know he exists, even when he's basically making decisions that guide national policy and, not to put too fine a point on it, deciding who lives and who dies?

There's been a great deal said about a group called "the Vulcans," who were W's foreign policy advisor group (i.e. the smart kids from whom he snuck the answers) during the 2000 election. The group included Condoleezza Rice, Richard Armitage, Robert Blackwill, Stephen Hadley (now National Security Advisor), Richard Perle, Dov S. Zakheim (now Comptroller of the Pentagon), Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz, with Dick Cheney, George P. Shultz, and Colin Powell floating around the fringers. After the election, all the members of the Vulcans received key positions in the new Bush administration. James Mann wrote a book in 2004, titled Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, in which he argues that the roots of the Iraq war and the War on Terror, as well as the rest of Bush's disastrously unilateral and abrasive foreign policy can be attributed to the people who surrounded him. He misses one point, though—although the group did refer to themselves as the Vulcans, Vulcan was not the Roman god of war, but the crippled god of smiths and craftsmen.

Mars was the god of war, so if you want to be precise, these people aren't Vulcans, they're Martians.

And to think they laugh at David Icke for claiming we're ruled by a secret cabal of 12-foot-tall alien lizards. Just for shits and giggles, yes, most of the people listed here really are members of the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

I'd pick the lizards over the Martians. That is, unless they're the red men of Barsoom…..

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Barack and Roll

Happy Democratic Primary in South Carolina Day...... or...um, something.

The latest word is that Barack Obama pretty much crushed Hilary by about 55% to 27%. Yes, folks, that's a two to one margin, when polls had them either statistically tied or with Clinton winning during the last few days, after Idaho and New Hampshire (where she won by skin-of-the-teeth margins). Edwards, who has been so thoroughly blacklisted by the national media that CNN doesn't even mention him in articles about debates, had about 18%.

The other amazing thing is there was a total voter turnout of more than twice that of 2004. As someone who thinks everyone who can vote should vote, that makes me very happy.

The big bit of irony is that what seems to be playing out is that the voters are recognizing the truth of something Bill said in 1992-- that you can have "the right kind of experience and the wrong kind of experience." The overall issue of this election is change, and how we cannot keep doing things the way we have done them before. People are finally realizing the truth in that, and when they look at Barack or Edwards or Kucinich they see change. When they look at Hilary, they see a carpetbagging senator, an ex-first lady, and a Washington insider-- none of these are things to incur any belief in that person's ability or willingness to change the system of which they are part. Running on a bogus claim of experience-- and it IS bogus-- makes you an insider, and that's a losing proposition this year.

Hilary is running an ad here in which she tries to cast herself as a populist, blasting the oil companies, drug companies, the insurance industry, and so on. I would like to point out that Hilary has had major ties to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries since Bill put her in charge of his healthcare policy in the early 90s, and they pretty much paid for her election to the Senate as a representative of a state where she hadn't lived in over twenty years. Is she really going to bite the hand that feeds her?

Check Opensecrets.org for some campaign finance info, since we might as well know who's paying for what these days....

I think Hilary is in serious trouble; she mobilized Bill to do most of the heavy campaigning for her, and the overall tone of most of her message has gotten a bit sharp-edged. Her campaign has been fighting dirty for months now-- dredging up Obama's past drug use, etc., making use of it, and then firing the staff who made the noise while claiming Hilary knew nothing about it. She's either lying or she can't even control her own campaign. Neither of those is at all a good thing. We have had so much of behavior like this from Bush and his people in the last ten years that I just cannot stomach it anymore.

So, the bottom line is that I am firmly convinced that this country needs major change in its leadership. It is my opinion the Barack Obama would be a good candidate in any election, but that in this particular year, he is the best of those on the Democratic side. I like John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich too; I have great respect for both of them, their messages, and their ideals, and were they in Barack's place I'd just as gladly support them.

For those about to Barack.... we salute you.




Oh, by the way-- no I do not work for or otherwise have anything to do with anyone's campaign. This message was not approved by anyone other than myself. I'm just an opinionated bastard who likes making up his mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Required Reading

Everyone should read the following article..... which hasn't been reproduced in the US media, probably for obvious reasons....you can't make stuff like this up, but it's true. Ms. Edmonds has, incidentally, been trying to go public with her story in the US for over a year and a half now, but government pressure has resulted in no public Congressional hearings and no major media exposure..... so she had to go overseas, to the Sunday Times of London, to get her story out.

(maximum sarcasm) I love having such a fanatically liberal left-wing media, don't you? (/maximum sarcasm) Now playing: NIN: Happiness is Slavery, and Pink Floyd: Mother (AKA the "Mother should I trust the government" song)

US Nuclear Secrets Coverup


Excerpt:


From
January 6, 2008

For sale: West's deadly nuclear secrets


A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.

Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency's Washington field office.

She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers while he was in Turkey.

Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.

The name of the official – who has held a series of top government posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.

However, Edmonds said: "He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives."

She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents.

"If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials," she said.

Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology.

The wider nuclear network has been monitored for many years by a joint Anglo-American intelligence effort. But rather than shut it down, investigations by law enforcement bodies such as the FBI and Britain's Revenue & Customs have been aborted to preserve diplomatic relations.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cursing

Imagine my shock—SHOCK!!!—when I found out this morning that my boss had decided to take an unscheduled vacation to Florida or somewhere. Now granted, I was out sick at the end of last week and wasn't there to be told myself, but he apparently only told one person, and that was on Friday at closing time. About all I can say is that it's totally in keeping with his usual degree of foresight and consideration (which is to say, virtually none at all).


Oh, it made me want to cuss. Now, keep in mind that I'm at home with most profanity—the F-bomb doesn't even make me blush, most of the time, and I'm more likely to bellow "pull the stick shift out of your ass, you bald-headed little chickenfucker" at someone whose driving offends me. There is, however, a distinct difference between profanity and cursing. Profanity is the act of turning the air blue to assuage one's own internal torments, be they physical or spiritual. American profanity is poor stuff, as is the case with most of what's made in the US these days (Miller 'beer,' for example)—monotonous, weak, and composed mostly of a few basic elements. We use the F-word in the same way that most of our food is made out of high-fructose corn syrup. Read some food labels—that stuff is in EVERYTHING.


It's good to get some variety into things—Arabic is a great language for profanity, especially since there's so many parts of a sick camel to which someone can be compared. French isn't bad either, although for some strange reason they have a practice of taking holy items in vain—if you ever hear a Quebecois bellowing "tabernac!," rest assured that it is NOT a pleasant thing that has happened to him. Possibly the all-time winner for French profanity comes from General Ducrot during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War—when the good general realized that the army he was with was stuck in a valley with the Kaiser's pointy-helmeted legions on all the surrounding hills, he uttered the famous line "Nous sommes dans un pot de chambre et nous y serons emmerdes!" (Roughly—"We are in a chamber pot and we are about to be shit upon.")


Cursing is different—it's when you actively express the hope that something bad will happen to someone, and who knows? They may even deserve it.


When it comes to cursing, I must bow to one of the all-time masters. Gavin Dunbar sat as Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland, from 1524 to 1547, (and was also Chancellor of Scotland from 1528-1543). His March 31, 1524 'Monition of Cursing,' sometimes also (wrongly) referred to as the Curse of Carlisle, is the longest and most detailed blast of invective of which I am aware. George MacDonald Fraser described him as 'among the great cursers of all time.' I see no reason to disagree with Mr. Fraser.


Archbishop Dunbar was most emphatically not a nice man, and we should not be surprised—after all, he was appointed by the second Pope Clement VII (long story), one of the Medici popes, and the pope who later made his own son Alessandro de Medici Duke of Tuscany. Keep in mind too that the good archbishop and his flock dwelt in 16th-century Scotland, the country where the word for 'fun' --"creac"-- also meant 'heavily-armed cattle-stealing expedition.' For his own part, the Archbishop bludgeoned a rival cleric (David Cardinal Beacon, Archbishop of St. Andrew's) into the hospital on at least one occasion. He also spent a great deal of time persecuting Protestants—burning seven of them at the stake in 1539 alone, including a Franciscan friar-- and one botched burning in 1528 that, due to wet firewood, took six hours to make the end of Patrick Hamilton. Incidentally, the Scottish Church split with the Papacy in 1560 and quickly evolved into a Protestant establishment in its own right.


The subjects of the great spleen-venting of 1524 were the 'Border Reivers,' who were a loose array of 200 or so clans who lived in a roughly 40-mile deep swath along either side of the old Anglo-Scottish border (running roughly from Berwick to Carlisle). From about 1450 to about 1610, the rugged and thinly-populated border country was basically a no-man's-land between the more civilized areas of northern England and Lowland Scotland. If you lived within twenty miles of the border and wanted to wake up alive in the morning, you had best live in a tower house, a sort of dwelling that was really a two-story miniature fortress with no openings on the ground floor, and a narrow stairway or ladder to get in through the door on the second floor. Even then, you would have wanted to sleep with a sharp sword near to hand, and somebody on watch. By comparison, this is when most of the rest of Europe's country folk had given up on living in castles.


These 'borderers' were a poor, violent and frequently treacherous lot who made a living mostly through stealing things from each other, or from anyone else who happened across their path. They were also very fond of feuds, arson, kidnapping, extortion (coining the term 'blackmail') and preemptive revenge (where you kill the other guy first, just in case he might think about killing you someday). In short, reiving; 'reive" is a Scots word for stealing, sometimes anglicized as 'reaver', meaning a thief, thug, or criminal.


In short, the Borderers were rather like the Scottish Highlanders, but without as much of the Victorian-era historical romanticization. Sir Walter Scott's 19th-century portrayal of the Highlander cattle-rustler Rob Roy MacGregor took root in the popular mind and eventually saw a movie made about him starring Liam Neeson, but Walter "Auld Wat" Scott of Harden, one of the nastiest of the border chieftains, never attracted the same attention.

Map of the Border Country, from www.theborderers.org

"Auld Wat of Harden," by Tom Scott, RSA


National loyalties were a minor thing for most Borderers, though—they were English when it was convenient, and Scottish when that was convenient, and if things got too hot for them in one kingdom they stayed with their kinfolk on the other side of the border until it was safe to go home. Since most of the March Wardens appointed by the English and Scottish kings were drawn from the Borderer families, and they in turn used their own clansmen as law-enforcement muscle, you can imagine just how seriously law and order was taken.

A note for any amateur genealogists out there—if your family is Scottish or English and includes names such as Armstrong, Bell, Cecil, Crozier, Douglas, Elliott, Fenwick, Buckley (also Buccleuch), Forster, Home, Howard, Irvine, Johnstone, Kerr, Maxwell, Nixon, Robson, Scott, Storey, Tait, Hume, Shaftoe, Heron, Watson or Graham, you may have some Reiver ancestors. Please note—these weren't just common bandits. The Howards, Douglases, Grahams, Homes/Humes, and some others were major aristocratic families with branches on either side of the border. The Homes and Howards did a thorough—but not too thorough-- job of beating each others' heads in at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, even though (or perhaps because) there were some of each family on each side.


The thumbnail history of the Monition is this—the years leading up to 1524 had been pretty violent ones on the border, even by Border standards. The machinations of Henry VIII and several years of open warfare between England and Scotland certainly didn't help matters. Reiver bands numbering up to a thousand men were ranging as far north as Edinburgh and Glasgow and as far south as York, burning, looting, and killing, and running off all the livestock they could find, including loot from Church property. Nobody was safe- in one infamous incident, a gang of borderers stole the Bishop of Carlisle's pet fish and held it for ransom—and then killed it after the bishop paid. The new Archbishop of Glasgow, whose archdiocese included most of the Border country, had grown up with the ceaseless border-skirmishing and decided to put the fear of God—or at least the fear of the Archbishop of Glasgow—into the Borderers, or at least those Borderers who were not too busy ransoming fish or murdering each other to listen. Archbishop Dunbar wrote up an absolutely epic monition—a formal order or warning by a bishop or archbishop to refrain from doing something—in the form of a curse, which he then commanded all the clerics under his remit to read from the pulpit and in other public places. The curse is generally thought to have applied particularly to 77 Border clans, but the exact source of that idea is unclear.


Did it work? It's hard to say. In any case, the Borderers kept going for another ninety-odd years or so, until James the First and Sixth became king of both England and Scotland (1602) and decided to stamp out the giant running sore in the middle of his domains. Many of them were rounded up and shipped to Northern Ireland, which through most of the 17th Century served as Britain's dumping-ground for surplus people with short tempers and long swords.


It's worth pointing out that some of the particulars of Archbishop Dunbar's curse—the denial of the Holy Sacraments (except for baptism of infants), the voiding of all obligations by innocent people to Borderers, and the ban on good Christians from having business with Borderers, were both legitimate aspects of medieval and Renaissance-era canon law and church practice, commonly referred to as the Interdict. The Interdict was similar to excommunication, effectively a cutting-off of service by the Church in a specified area or with regards to a specific cleric or layman, analogous to the electrical company turning out the lights for nonpayment of bills; no Masses celebrated, no confessions or penance, no Eucharist, no weddings, no shriving of the dying, none of the essential 'smells and bells' that made late-medieval, pre-Reformation life navigable. All of this happened, of course, at the peril of the offender's soul, since to be denied the sacraments essentially meant a short trip to hell, so it was a very blunt way of saying 'behave or else.' Pope Innocent III once kept the entire Kingdom of England under the Interdict for eight years (1208-1215), due to a fight with King John (of Robin Hood fame) over who should be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, and only eased off when he started worrying that the English would give up on Christianity altogether if they went too long without being exposed to it. From the churchman's perspective, this monition was very serious business indeed.


The Monition went down as one of those odd little footnotes to history that I love so much, and it's recently become something of a pop-culture curiosity in Scotland and northern England. The term "The Curse of Carlisle" came about in large part because the city council of Carlisle decided that for the millennium celebrations, it was worth making a nod to this interesting bit of the region's history. The city then commissioned a local artist to carve the text of the curse –- all 1,000-plus words—into a spherical granite boulder which would be displayed as a monument. Christian groups objected, particularly after it became known that the artist had elected to carve the stone so that you have to walk widdershins (counterclockwise) around the stone in order to read it—Church groups claimed that it was a pagan stunt, as well as objecting because the curse's text supposedly included Biblical references (allegedly
Philippians, Chapter 4 Verse 6) in a context which certain parties viewed as blasphemous. Here's a novel thought-- if you want to read English from left to right on a round thing, you'd have to walk counterclockwise around it anyways. Human nature being what it is, the 'cursing stone' was subsequently blamed for bringing bad luck to the city, including an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease, a flood, various crimes, rising unemployment, a major fire, and worst of all, the local football team, Carlisle United, being dropped down a league.


Anyways, on to the Monition itself! The original text is directly below, in 16th-century Scots and obtained from G. M. Fraser's history of the border country, titled The Steel Bonnets, and my own transliteration is below that. I don't want to hear any whining from people at work about how easy it is to do history—just you try and make sense of this! The past was a different country, and languages were different then too. For one thing, spelling and punctuation were definitely optional, and you don't even want to know about penmanship.


Original 1524 version:


"Gude folks, heir at my Archibischop of Glasgwis letters under his round sele, direct to me or any uther chapellane, makand mensioun, with greit regrait, how hevy he beris the pietous, lamentabill, and dolorous complaint that pass our all realme and commis to his eris, be oppin voce and fame, how our souverane lordis trew liegis, men, wiffis and barnys, bocht and redeimit be the precious blude of our Salviour Jhesu Crist, and levand in his lawis, are saikleslie part murdrist, part slayne, brynt, heryit, spulziet and reft, oppinly on day licht and under silens of the nicht, and thair takis and landis laid waist, and thair self banyst therfra, als wele kirklandis as utheris, be commoun tratouris, ravaris, theiffis, dulleand in the south part of this realme, sic as Tevidale, Esdale, Liddisdale, Ewisdale, Nedisdale, and Annandereaill; quhilis hes bene diverse ways persewit and punist be the temperale swerd and our Soverane Lordis auctorite, and dredis nocht the samyn.

And thairfoir my said Lord Archbischop of Glasgw hes thocht expedient to strike thame with the terribill swerd of halykirk, quhilk thai may nocht lang endur and resist; and has chargeit me, or any uther chapellane, to denounce, declair and proclame thaim oppinly and generalie cursit, at this market-croce, and all utheris public places.

Hairfor throw the auctorite of Almichty God, the Fader of hevin, his Son, our Saviour, Jhesu Crist, and of the Halygaist; throw the auctorite of the Blissit Virgin Sanct Mary, Sanct Michael, Sanct Gabriell, and all the angellis; Sanct John the Baptist, and all the haly patriarkis and prophets; Sanct Peter, Sanct Paull, Sanct Andro, and all haly appostillis; Sanct Stephin, Sanct Laurence, and all haly mertheris; Sanct Gile, Sanct Martyn, and all haly confessouris; Sanct Anne, Sanct Katherin, and all haly virginis and matronis; and of all the sanctis and haly company of hevin; be the auctorite of our Haly Fader the Paip and his cardinalis, aned of my said Lord Archibischop of Glasgw, be the avise and assistance of my lordis, archibischop, bischopis, abbotis, priouris, and utheris prelatis and minesteris of halykirk.

I denounce, proclamis, and declaris all and sindry the committaris of the said saikles murthris, slauchteris, brinying, heirchippes, reiffis, thiftis and spulezeis, oppinly apon day licht and under silence ofnicht, alswele within temporale landis as kirklandis; togither with thair partakeris, assitaris, supplearis, wittandlie resettaris of thair personis, the gudes reft and stollen be thaim, art or part thereof, and their counsalouris and defendouris, of thair evil dedis generalie CURSIT, waryit, aggregeite, and reaggregeite, with the GREIT CURSING.

I curse their heid and all the haris of thair heid; I curse thair face, thair ene, thair mouth, thair neise, thair tongue, thair teeth, thair crag, thair shoulderis, thair breist, thair hert, thair stomok, thair bak, thair wame, thair armes, thais leggis, thair handis, thair feit, and everilk part of thair body, frae the top of their heid to the soill of thair feet, befoir and behind, within and without.

I curse thaim gangand, and I curse them rydand; I curse thaim standand, and I curse thaim sittand; I curse thaim etand, I curse thaim drinkand; I curse thaim walkand, I curse thaim sleepand; I curse thaim risand, I curse thaim lyand; I curse thaim at hame, I curse thaim fra hame; I curse thaim within the house, I curse thaim without the house; I curse thair wiffis, thair barnis, and thair servandis participand with thaim in their deides. I way thair cornys, thair catales, thair woll, thair scheip, thjair horse, thair swyne, thair geise, thair hennes, and all thair quyk gude. I wary their hallis, thair chalmeris, thair kechingis, thair stanillis, thair barnys, thair biris, thair bernyardis, thair cailyardis thair plewis, thair harrowis, and the gudis and housis that is necessair for their sustentatioun and weilfair.

All the malesouns and waresouns that ever gat warldlie creatur sen the begynnyng of the world to this hour mot licht on thaim. The maledictioun of God, that lichtit apon Lucifer and all his fallowis, that strak thaim frae the hie hevin to the deip hell, mot licht apon thaimr. The fire and the swerd that stoppit Adam far the yettis of Paradise, mot stop thaim frae the gloire of Hevin. quhill thai forbere and mak amendis. The malesound that lichtit on cursit Cayein, quhen his slew his bruther just Abell saiklessly, mot licth on thaim for the saikles slauchter that thai commit dailie. The maledictioun that lichtit apon all the warlde, man and beist, and all that ever tuk life, quhen all was drownit be the flude of Noye, except Noye and his ark, mot licht apon thame and drouned thame, man and beist, and mak this realm cummirless of thame for thair wicked synnyes. The thunnour and fireflauchtis that set doun as rane apon the cities of Zodoma and Gomora, with all the landis about, and brynt thame for thair vile sunnys, mot rane apon thame, and birne thaim for oppin synnis. Tha malesoun and confusion that lichtit on the Gigantis for thair oppressioun and pride, biggand the tour of Bablloun, mot confound thaim and all thair werkis, for thair opppin reiffs and oppressioun. All the plagis that fell apon Pharao and his pepill of Egipt, thair landis, cornse, and cataill, mot fall apon thaim, thair takkis, rowmys and stedingis, cornys and beistis. The watter of Tweid and utheris watteris quhair thair ride mot droun thaim, as the Reid Say drownit King Pharoao and his pepil of Egipt, sersewing Godis pepill of Israell. The erd mot oppin, riffe and cleiff, and swelly thaim quyk to hell, as it swellyt cursit Dathan and Abiron, that genestude Moeses and the command of God. The wyld fyre that byrnt Thore and his fallowis to the nowmer of twa hundredth and fyty, and utheris 14000 and 7000 at anys, usurpand aganis Moyses and Aaron, servandis of God, not suddanely birne and consume thaim dailie genestandand the commandis of God and halykirk. The malediction that lichtit suddanely upon fair Absalon, rydant contrair his fader, King David, servand of God, throw the wod, quhen the branchis of ane tre fred him of his horse and hangit him be the hair, mot lie apon thaain trew Scottis men, and hang thaim siclike tha all the warld may se. The Maledictioun that lichtit apon Olifernus, lieutenant to Nabogodonooser, makand weair and heirchippis apon trew cristin men, the maledictioun that lichtit apon Judas, Pylot, Herod and the Jowis that chucifyit Our Lord, and all the plagis and trublis that lichtit on the citte of Jherusalme thairfor, and upon Simon Magus for his symony, bludy Nero, cusit Ditius Makcensisu, Olibruis, Julianus Apostita and the laiff of the cruell tirrannis that slew and murthirit Crits haly servandis, mot licth apon thame for thair cruel tiranny and murthirdome of cristin pepill.

And all the vengeance that evir was takin sen the warlde began for oppin synnys, and all the plagis and pestilence that ever fell on man or beist, mot fall on thaim for thair oppin reiff, saiklesse slauchter and schedding of innocent blude. I disserver and pairtis thaim fra the kirk of God, and deliveris thaim quyk to the devill of hell, as the Apostill Sanct Paull deliverit Corinthion. I interdite the places thay cum in fra divine service, minitracioun of the sacramentis of halykirk, except the sacrament of baptissing allenerlie; and forbiddis all kirkmen to schriffe or absolbe thim of theire synnys, quhill they be firs abolyeit of this cursing.

I forbid all cristin man or woman till have ony company with thaime, etand, drynkand, spekand, prayand, lyand, gangand, standand, or in any uther deid doand, under the paine of deidly syn. I discharge all bandis, actis, contractis, athis and obligatiounis made to them by ony persounis, outher of lawte, kyndenes or manrent, salang as thai susteined this cursing, sub that na man be bundin to thaim, and that this be bundin till all men. I tak fra thame and cryis douned all the gude dedis that ever thai did or sall do, quhill thai rise froae this cursing. I declare thaim partles of of all matynys, messis, evinsangis, dirigeis or utheris prayeris, on buke or beid; of all pilgrimagis and almouse deids done or to be done in halykirk or be cristin pepill, enduring this cursing.

And, finally, I condemn thaim perpetualie to the deip pit of hell, the remain with Lucifer and all his fallowis, and thair bodeis to the gallows of the Burrow Mure, first to be hangit, syne revin and ruggit with doggis, swyne, and utheris wyld beists, abhominable to all the warld. And their candillis gangis frae your sicht, ast mot their saulis gang fra the visage of God, and thair gude faim fra the warld, quhill thai forbeir thair oppin synnys foirsaidis and ryse frae this terribill cursing, and mak satisfaction and pennance."



Lurkers' Version:


"Good folks, here are my Archbishop of Glasgow's letters under his round seal, [which] direct me or any other chaplain to make mention, with great regret, how heavy he bears the piteous, lamentable, and dolorous complaint that pass our all realm and comes to his ears, be open voice and fame, how our sovereign lord's [meaning the King of Scotland] true subjects, men, wives and children, bought and redeemed be the precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, and living by his laws, are pointlessly murdered, slain, burnt, hurt, despoiled and robbed, openly by daylight and under silence of the night, and their belongings and lands laid waste, and their selves driven there from, on church lands as well as others, by common traitors, reavers, and thieves dwelling in the south part of this realm, such as Teviotdale, Eskdale, Liddsdale, Ewisdale, Nithsdale, and Annanderdale; who have been in diverse ways pursued and punished by the temporal [worldly] sword and our Sovereign Lord's authority, and dread not the same.

And therefore my said Lord Archbishop of Glasgow has thought it expedient to strike them with the terrible sword of Holy Church, which they may not long endure and resist; and has charged me, or any other chaplain, to denounce, declare and proclaim them openly and generally cursed, at this market-cross, and all other public places.

Therefore, through the authority of Almighty God, the Father of Heaven, his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost; through the authority of the of the Blessed Virgin Saint Mary, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and all the angels; Saint John the Baptist and all the holy patriarchs and prophets; Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Andrew [the patron saint of Scotland], and all holy apostles; Saint Stephen, Saint Lawrence, and all holy martyrs; Saint Giles, Saint Martin, and all holy confessors; Saint Anne, Saint Katherine, and all holy virgins and matrons; and of all the saintly and holy company of Heaven; by the authority of our Holy Father the Pope and his cardinals, and of my said Lord Archbishop of Glasgow, with the advice and assistance of my lords, archbishop, bishops, abbots, priors, and other prelates and ministers of the Holy Church:

I denounce, proclaim, and declare all and sundry the committers of the said pointless murders, slaughters, burnings, cattle-stealings, reavings, thefts and despoliations, openly by daylight and under silence of night, as well within temporal lands as on Church lands; together with their partakers, assistors, suppliers, knowing receivers of their persons, the goods reaved and stolen by them, art or part thereof, and their counselors and defenders, of their evil deeds generally CURSED, separately, aggregate, and reaggragate, with the GREAT CURSING.


"I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their mind, their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their legs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without."


"I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home, I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house. I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I curse their grain, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I curse their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare."


"May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, from the beginning of the world to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them."


"May the fire and the sword that barred Adam from the gates of Paradise stop them from the glory of Heaven until they forebear and make amends."


"May the evil that fell upon cursed Cain, when he slew his brother Abel without cause, fall on them for the needless slaughter that they commit daily."


"May the malediction that fell upon all the world, man and beast, and all that ever took life, when all were drowned by the flood of Noah, except Noah and his ark, fall upon them and drown them, man and beast, and make this realm free of them, for their wicked sins."


"May the thunder and lightning which rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah and all the lands surrounding them, and burned them for their vile sins, rain down upon them and burn them for their open sins. May the evil and confusion that fell on the Giants for their oppression and pride in building the Tower of Babylon, confound them and all their works, for their open callous disregard and oppression."


"May all the plagues that fell upon Pharaoh and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and cattle, fall upon them, their equipment, their places, their lands, their crops and livestock."


"May the waters of the Tweed and other waters which they use drown them as the Red Sea drowned King Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, preserving God's people of Israel."

"May the earth open, split and cleave, and swallow them straight to hell, as it swallowed cursed Dathan and Abiron, who disobeyed Moses and the command of God."


"May the wild fire that reduced Thore (?) and his followers to two hundred and fifty in number, and others from 14,000 to 7,000 for usurping against Moses and Aaron, the servants of God, suddenly burn and consume them daily, for opposing the commands of God and Holy Church."


"May the malediction that suddenly fell upon fair Absalom, riding through the wood against his father, King David, when the branches of a tree knocked him from his horse and hanged him by the hair, fall upon these untrue Scotsmen and hang them the same way, that all the world may see."


"May the malediction that fell upon Nebuchadnezzar's lieutenant, Holofernes, making war and savagery upon true Christian men; the malediction that fell upon Judas, Pilate, Herod, and the Jews that crucified Our Lord; and all the plagues and troubles that fell on the city of Jerusalem therefore, and upon Simon Magus for his treachery, bloody Nero, Ditius Magcensius, Olibrius, Julian the Apostate, and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ's holy servants, fall upon them for their cruel tyranny and murder of Christian people."


"And may all the vengeance that ever was taken since the world began, for open sins, and all the plagues and pestilence that ever fell on man or beast, fall on them for their openly evil ways, senseless slaughter and shedding of innocent blood."


"I sever and part them from the church of God, and deliver them immediately to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Paul delivered Corinth. I bar the entrance of all places they come to, for divine service and ministration of the sacraments of holy church, except the sacrament of infant baptism only; and I forbid all churchmen to hear their confession or to absolve them of their sins, until they are first humbled by this curse."


"I forbid all Christian men or women to have any company with them, eating, drinking, speaking, praying, lying, going, standing, or in any other deed-doing, under the pain of deadly sin."


"I discharge all bonds, acts, contracts, oaths, made to them by any persons, out of loyalty, kindness, or personal duty, so long as they sustain this cursing, by which no man will be bound to them, and this will be binding on all men."


"I take from them and cast down all the good deeds that ever they did, or shall do, until they rise from this cursing."


"I declare them excluded from all matins, masses, evening prayers, funerals or other prayers, on book or bead (rosary); of all pilgrimages and alms deeds done, or to be done in holy church or be Christian people, while this curse is in effect."


"And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, there to remain with Lucifer and all his fellows, and their bodies to the gallows of Borough moor [the place of execution], first to be hanged, then ripped and torn by dogs, swine, and other wild beasts, abominable to all the world. And their candle [light of their life, a euphemism for soul] goes from your sight, so may their souls go from the face of God, and their good reputation from the world, until they forebear their open sins, aforesaid, and rise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance."

***************************************************************************************************

*Whew.*


About all I can say is that it's good to hear the church really speaking out on the social issues that matter to the common man.


Yes, I'm cribbing from Blackadder again. I admit it. Ironically enough, one of Archbishop Dunbar's predecessors was named Robert Blackadder. The following exchange is from Blackadder II, Money, between Edmund Blackadder and the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells, who could have been Archbishop Dunbar's drinking buddy:


Edmund: You enjoy your work, don't you?


Bishop: Bits of it, yeah.


Edmund: The violent bits.


Bishop: Yes. (begins massaging Edmund's shoulders) You see, I am a colossal pervert. No form of sexual depravity is too low for me. Animal, vegetable or mineral -- I'll do anything to anything.


Edmund: Fine words for a Bishop. It's nice to hear the Church speaking out for a change on social issues.


Bishop: Have you got the money?

Edmund: Nope.


Bishop: Good. I hate it when people pay up. Say your prayers, Blackadder. (holds out the red-hot poker) IT'S POKER TIME!!!


Edmund: Fine. (closes the book and sets it down, then stands) Are you ever concerned that people might find you out?


Bishop: No. No, no, I kill, I maim, I fornicate, but as far as my flock is concerned my only vice is a little tipple before Evensong. (Baldrick hands him a drink) Oh, thank you.

(drinks) BEND OVER, BLACKADDER!


[Edmund complies]


Bishop: THIS IS WHERE YOU GET-- (staggers backward, choking) DRUGGED, BY GOD!


Edmund: No, by Baldrick, actually… but the effect is much the same.