Saturday, April 29, 2006

Nuestro Himno

So finally, Bush, an issue of burning importance on which you can re-establish your dwindling credentials with your base. The national anthem translated into Spanish! What a threat to our American identity! The talk show yahoos are, it seems, up in arms--and you have the gift of another heaven-sent distraction. Who would have guessed it? Will they forgive you even your support for "guest workers" if you get behind them on this issue? Who knows? But once again we're treated to evidence of the remarkable power of a symbol, and the ability of your people to exploit it.

I have a confession for you, Bush. You probably won't like me for it but I'm going to risk it anyway: I have never sung our national anthem. Well, I've hummed along a bit once in a while, inspired by an untypical fit of patriotism--or shamed by my pitiful lack of it. But I never learned the words much beyond the bit about "so proudly we wave." As for that other thing about holding your hand over your heart, it has always seemed to me sanctimonious to the point of sheer silliness.

Okay, so I'm an immigrant. Legal, of course. Back when I was officially sanctioned as a bona fide American, I was surprised to virtually have to lie in order to receive the blessing of officialdom. Among the things I had to aver on penalty of perjury was that I had never broken the law. Well, this was in the early seventies, Bush. In the sixties, I confess that I smoked dope once in a while, along with all my fellow graduate students. But it would have been absurd to cop to this heinous crime on my citizenship application, so I lied. I'm sorry to say that I also had to lie on the part about never having committed adultery. And confirmed my perjuries with my signature on the dotted line. Send me back, if you will, to where I came from, but the truth is finally out.

One thing I plead in my defense: I never much liked "God Save the Queen" either. Nor, for that matter, as a child, "God Save the King." As a little kid, I found it infinitely amusing to add an "h" to the "save." God shave the king, get it? Bottom line, as I think I've told you before, I'm no respecter of patriotism. It has probably killed as many people as religion in the course of history, and I find it frankly a particularly odious sentiment in this new century of ours, the twenty-first, with the globe so small and vulnerable to toxins of all kinds, including ideologies.

All in all, then, I find it perfectly harmless and in fact quite touching that the national anthem should now be available in a Spanish-language version. I was talking to a good friend about this very subject only this morning, Bush, and he had an interesting point: if this is a text so sacred in its original English that it's an insulting sacrilege to sing it in another language, should those good Christians lining up to cast the first stone on the subject not be required to study their own sacred text--the Bible--in its original languages?

I imagine, though, that this is just too tempting an opportunity for your folks to make some political summer hay in what must seem like a very wintery season for you, Bush. At least it takes the collective mind off matters of lesser importance--like war, and pestilence, and world hunger, and environmental disaster... not to mention a well-documented genocide, still in progress. A propos of which, I hear there's to be a march in Washington tomorrow, begging for some action to prevent the continuing wholesale slaughter in Darfur. Will you be listening, Bush? I hope so. That would be something of which our nation could be proud.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Thanks--But No Thanks

Whoopee, Bush! A $100 check from the federal government to compensate for the pain at the gas pump! I imagine the vast majority of Americans will hardly be able to contain their joy at the prospect of this part of the Republican proposal to address the gas price crisis. Along with ANWAR drilling--despoiling a natural treasure for the sake of a pathetic few barrels of oil--hybrid incentives, and the promise of "investigations" of price gouging, this is what your Frist calls "a bold agenda." Well, bully for him.

Bold, indeed! Come on, Bush, you can prevail upon your Republicans to do better than this. Here's an unpopular view: aside from the vexing question of obscene oil company profits--Exxon Mobil added its $8.4 billion to the shameful list yesterday!--the problem is not that gas prices are too high, but rather that for decades they have been too low. The result has been to encourage the automobile industry to manufacture and market vehicles whose gas consumption has been unconscionably disproportionate to this country's share in the world's oil resources; and, along with ridiculously inappropriate tax breaks for SUV purchasers, to encourage American drivers to buy these selfsame products that they now rely on.

If your political friends were serious about addressing the issue of dwindling oil resources and escalating demand--and the increasing cost of gasoline that results from these twin problems--they might be looking for other than politically-popular solutions. I myself can think of a few, Bush. How about new, stringent, no-nonsense gas efficiency standards for all new motor vehicles? A windfall profit tax for the oil idustry? A gas tax (Tom Friedman of the New York Times has sensibly proposed this several times in his columns on the op-ed page) whose proceeds would be applied to research and devopment of alternative energy soures? And how about asking the American people to sacrifice just a bit by accepting a 55 mph speed limit, which would save a huge amount of gas and probably offset the cost of that per gallon tax I just proposed?

What I'm suggesting, Bush, is that you forget about looking good and winning votes. They can't matter more to you now than your reputation, surely, and your legacy. I'm suggesting that you require of the American people that they bear some burden, accept some sacrifice, as Jack Kennedy asked them all those years ago--and memorably inspired them with his words. Tell the truth for a change, Bush, for God's sake. Lose that silly smirk and the ridiculous macho swagger and level with us about the real and challenging problems that threaten not only our own little futures, but the future of generations yet to come, the future of the very planet on which we all must live.

Unless, of course, you're thinking that your Moon-to-Mars venture will provide us with a viable alternative. Or unless--all joking frightenly aside--you really believe that the end of the world is coming, along with all those Armageddon nuts. Tell me it isn't so.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Grey Day

It's a grey day in Hollywood, California, Bush. Looking down from our perch on a hill to the east of the city, the city itself and the hills beyond are shrouded in a light drizzle--what we used to call, in England, a "Scotch mist." Not what you'd expect on a spring day hereabouts. It has been a strange winter altogether, the storms arriving later than usual and lingering longer. From our personal, admittedly anecdotal point of view, it seems to have been considerably colder, too. Poor us, shivering in our boots with the overnight lows plummeting down into the low fifties, sometimes even the forties! We're not used to this severity of climate, Bush. And of course, as with all bad things, we're happy to lay the blame right where it belongs: at your doorstep.

No, all joking aside, I read in the paper this morning that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has determined that your FEMA is still far from being prepared for the next disaster and ought to be scrapped in favor of some more effective agency. With hurricane season a month away and Saharan Africa cooking up the climatic ingredients for our next series of storms, it seems a bit late to be arriving at that stunning conclusion. It's one that most of us suspected anyway, without an eight-month investigation.

So, Bush, I'm wondering what plans you have in place in preparation for the disaster that might hit us prior to the next election? You must have something up your sleeve, I suppose. If all else fails, at least you have a genial new spokesman in Fox news man Tony Snow, to put a good face on things for those of us who sit here on the sidelines and gape at the mess this country's in. With bad news in the polls again today, you're going to need whatever you can scrape together by way of help in buffing up that poor old image, Bush. Let's hope your new man is up to the task.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


As I've said before, Bush, I have enough European blood left in my veins to have a slightly different take on the rising cost of gas than most of my American friends. I note from this morning's news that the French, the Italians, the Germans and the Brits--and probably most others on that continent--are paying $5 or $6 or more for a gallon, nearly twice as much as we do over here. I would have little sympathy for the whine, then, were it not for the unconscionable, shameless profits posted by the oil companies even as the prices escalate.

That said, there's a wider perspective here that needs to be taken into consideration. First, there's the record of fifty years or more since geologists and others started warning anyone who would listen about the depletion of the world's oil resources. No one listened. We were all too busy focusing on "growth" and "progress." You'd think there might be some small sign of an adult sense of responsibility, but no, we all acted like a bunch of unruly children without a thought as to the consequences of our actions. The conservative approach, particularly, with its blind faith in market forces and supply side economics, remained obstinately opposed to conservation, and you and your friends in the oil industry were having too much fun raking in the profits of today to worry at all about tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow's here. It's time, as they like to say, to pay the piper. Our own growing demand for gas and other oil products here in the United States is compounded immensely by the growing needs of rapidly developing countries, and the limits to the earth's resources have become painfully clear. The lack of any significant preparation for this moment, despite those early warnings, has left us with little more than the almost pointless, almost negligeable steps that you proposed yesterday. Even then, I suspect you proposed them more out of political necessity, with an eye to the November elections and what seems like the only remaining Republican principle: hold on to power at all costs. I assume you're hoping that a quick band-aid will distract the attention of the electorate for long enough to assure another victory for your party.

I say the party's over. I say the issue can no longer be glossed over with quick fixes and vague promises. I say your still rather puny steps toward conservation and the development of alternative energy sources are nowhere near what's called for in this current global crisis. I've said this before, too: if you want to rescue what's left of your presidency from the stinking sewer pipes of history, you'll pull your head out of the oil well right now, you'll remove your hand from the pocket of the industry and denounce the thoughtlessness and greed that have brought us to this pitch. You'll bring together the brightest minds in the world to develop an energy policy that's grand enough in scope to address the future of the planet, not just the interests of the industry or this country. You'll devise a sensible system of tax incentives--and, yes, penalties--and divert some of the good money that goes down the military drain (think Star Wars!) to pay the tab. You'll reorient your "War on Terrorism" to fit appropriately into the larger scheme of which it is already no more than a part. And you'll speak loud and clear to the world about America's intention to be part of the solution.

If you fail to do this, Bush, I very much fear for the future of our world. I foresee more resource wars--isn't that what Iraq is about? Be honest--as the needs of countries like India and China exceed their ability to provide. You still have a very great opportunity to do good things in the world now, Bush, if you can only change your mind. The whole world begs you not to blow it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

People Power

I don't know if you've been following the television news reports on recent events in Nepal, Bush. I have. And I've been thinking about our own country in the nineteen sixties and early seventies, when "people power" put an end to the lies and deceptions of a certain predecessor of yours in the Oval Office and to the war he perpetuated.

Is that what you think about when you rattle on about democracy? The people taking power into their own hands? I don't wish to make light of the complex problems of the people of Nepal, with their 200-year old, now decrepit monarchy, their Maoist terrorists, their non-functional parliamentary system. But I admired the bravery of those people who took to the streets in Kathmandu, risking their own lives to break the grip of a king whose rule had turned to tyranny. For nineteen days they did not give up. They showed up, day after day, with increasing anger and increasing obstinacy. And they finally won. Their parliament is back in session, with the promise of elections. The future of the monarchy is uncertain at best. People power worked its magic once again--as it did here in the United States, in Poland before the demise of communism there, in Berlin when the wall was finally torn down. As it has done, eventually, in the face of tyranny throughout history. Sic semper tyrannis, Bush. Remember?

My vision is for a return of people power to this country--though preferably without the violence and the death. We have been obediant children for too long, while your arch conservative predecessors and your own supporters have seized hold of a few perfectly respectable principles and distorted them beyond recognition--and certainly beyond the approval of the vast majority of Americans. You and your powerful corporate friends have hijacked both the government and the constitution and used them to further causes that are, in my view, profoundly undemocratic and alien to the interests of our country. You have transformed its worldwide image from benevolence to arrogance and bellicosity. You have given new meaning and realism to the unhappy myth of the "ugly American."

How would it be, then, if all those who express their discomfort with the direction of the country in the polls, and their distrust of you personally and those you appoint to high administrative positions, how would it be if all those people left the comfort of their homes and offices and took to the streets? How would it be if all of them--not just a handful, and not just on specific issues like immigration, but all of them, in their hundreds of thousands, in their millions, in their tens of millions--not only talked the talk but walked the walk? How would it be if all of them left their towns and their cities and made the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., to give public voice to their disapproval? If they overflowed the streets of the capital and came marching to the gates of the White House, if their collective weight brought down the gates and railings and gave them access to the lawn? If they all roared their disapproval simultaneously, as one? Would you be able to hear them then, Bush? Might you then think of listening to what they had to say?

Quite a vision, no? All those tens of millions? People power? But then, I admit it, Bush, I always was a bit of a romantic. On the other hand, I catch the whiff of real revolution, small signs of stirrings other than at the fringes of our political life. Two state legislatures--in Illionois and California--have now introduced bills calling for your impeachment. California's has even taken the precaution of including your Cheney, for fear that this man might inherit the mantle of the presidency. An interesting development, I think you'll agree. So maybe my vision is not such a wild dream after all.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Belated...

...welcome to California, Bush. A good Monday morning to you, and apologies for my negligence these past couple of days. I have just finished checking through the final proofs of "The Real Bush Diaries" and decided I deserved a couple of days off. I've been thinking, too, that you probably get tired of hearing this single voice in our ongoing conversation, and thought you might like to hear another. What follows is the text of an email from a friend who lives in Northern California, not far from where you landed at the end of last week--an artist of subtle intelligence and skill, whose lyrical vision never fails to sing. I have her permission to use her words, of course, but after some thought decided not to reveal her identity: I have enough experience with hostile unsolicited responses to want to assure that her privacy is respected. Anyway, Bush, she witnessed your departure from the Napa Valley, which she describes as follows:

Dear friends, near and far,

In honor of all the people on this planet who are suffering due to Bush
and "our" administration's disgraceful behavior, I walked from my house
an hour ago and stood alone in a cow pasture alongside the runway at
the tiny Angwin airport and gave the appropriate, double-handed gesture
to the two Sikorsky and two presidential USA helicopters that whisked
George away from his Friday night stay in the Napa Valley. There were
at least two sets of binoculars staring me down, but neither did they,
nor the more than 30 California Highway Patrol cars, 5 fire trucks, 12
van loads of SWAT teams, hazardous incident caravan, and indefinite but
large contingent of black-clad and undercover secret service agents
forming Bush's entourage keep me from being there to bid adieu to this
shameful President.

The moment was empowering because last night I joined probably 2000
protesters who had gathered outside the nearby resort where Bush was
staying. We waited for hours to "greet" him. It was very peaceful, but
people were fired up. All we wanted was to have a presence, maybe offer
Bush a glimpse of what the sentiment is on our particular streets. Of
course, he was finally led into the resort via the one-lane back road
from Angwin, conveniently shielded from demonstrators and signage. I
suppose this practice of avoiding the sight of any opposition has
become normal for this president, but it can do a lot to anger a crowd
who simply requests that their voice not fall on deaf ears. Yet, we
rallied, and it felt like the right thing to do. Bush missed it all.

The Sikorskys and President's helicopters are awfully intimidating
when they hover over your head. They are loud, too. But maybe, just
maybe, someone inside saw my two fists beat the air almost as fiercely
as the copters blades chopped the wind.

Within three minutes of his departure, the sun popped out of the gloomy
gray skies - whew, he's gone.

Stay active, folks - every small gesture matters.

Happy Earth Day

I think it's important that you realize, Bush, just how badly your protection from dissenting voices serves you. Here's one woman who, like Cindy Sheehan, only wanted to be heard.

Oh, and speaking of subtle lyrical vision, here's a quote I've been meaning to pass on to you for quite some time. I found it in a painting by the artist Squeak Carnwarth, which usually include her off-beat ruminations on the state of things. This one is worth a chuckle: "Freud sez", she wrote, "When you think of me, think of Rembrandt: a little light and a lot of darkness." Nicely put. It also works for most of the rest of us, Bush. No?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Faux Pas

Hmmm. A couple of faux pas at the White House ceremonial greeting for the Chinese president, Bush. And in case you folks from Texas are not familiar with the term faux pas, let me explain with the story--from my Anglican youth--of the vicar who was breaking in a newly-arrived young curate in his parish. The young man was very nervous about his first sermon, and asked the vicar afterwards for feedback. "Well," says the vicar, "you did fine, except for a couple of small faux pas." The curate gives a puzzled look. "Faux pas?" he asks blankly. "What's that?"

The vicar puts a paternal arm around the curate's shoulder. "Remember," he says, "when the bishop came for the confirmation service?" The young man nods. "And afterwards, in the rose garden, when the bishop pricked his finger on a thorn?" "I remember that," the young man agrees. "And later," the vicar continues, "at tea, when my wife asks,'How's your prick?' and he says, 'Still throbbing,' and I say, 'Christ!' and you drop the teapot? THAT was a faux pas."

Well, Bush, a bit silly. Apologies. I couldn't resist. It does seem odd to me, though, that we have only two words in English that catch the meaning of the peculiarly embarrassing moment and both are French: there's faux pas, and there's gaffe. "Misstep" doesn't quite do it, does it? Let me know if you can think of a better equivalent. I'd like to hear about it.

Anyway, back to our sheep, as the French also like to say. A double gaffe at the greeting ceremony. First--reported on the BBC World News but nowhere, so far as I can tell, in the American media--your master of ceremones announces the national anthem of the "Republic of China." Which must have pleased President Hu a great deal, of course, since Taiwan, thus named, is such a thorn in the side of the People's Republic. A casual slip of the tongue, perhaps, but kind of insulting to the guest.

And then there was the shrieker. It might have been more embarrassing still had she been a streaker, but the shriek was loud and aggressive enough to shock and awe the assembled company, including the august visitor to whom it was addressed. A Falun Gong devotee, it seems, protesting the lack of religious freedom in President Hu's country. It was a point you also made, Bush, though a tad more tactfully, in your remarks--and by all means a legitimate one. Still, not a good thing to happen at an official diplomatic ceremony on the White House lawn.

I sometimes wonder how it must feel, Bush, to be in your shoes. It seems that nothing can go right for you these days, from the biggest international challenges like Iraq and Iran to the smallest details such as this one. I mean, this latest episode can't help but remind us of your Dad's diplomatic adventure in Japan, throwing up in the lap of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Remember that? But that was a single incident. You, Bush... Don't you begin to feel jinxed? And how about that Higher Authority to whom you're known to defer? Don't you get just a wee bit mad at him for allowing these things to happen on your watch?

I hear you're headed our way today, for talks with our Governor in San Jose. Good luck with that. And don't try arm-wrestling with Arnie. He might well win.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hu's in Washington

Short shrift again today, Bush. I'm busy working on the final proofs of "The Real Bush Diaries" and I've made myself a promise to get the job done by the end of this week. I've had a front cover specially designed: I think you'll be pleased. A kind of updated Warhol panel of images of your good self. I also have a back cover specialist (did you know there was such a person? News to me!) working on the blurb. All in all, we should have a good, professional job. It weighs in at 533 pages, and should be available in a month or so. Quite a tome! I'll keep you posted. By the way, you might be wondering where the "Real" came from. Some one came out of left field a few months ago with a book usurping the title we've been using from the start, in November 2004. To avoid the confusion and other potential unpleasantness, we added the "Real" to make it clear whose the real Bush Diaries were.

Anyway, listen, enough of this nonsense. For today, just a few words to note that your Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao, had his priorities straight in paying his first respects to President Bill Gates before heading off to Washington (D.C., that is) to visit you. It does seem to me a bit of an irony--all the pomp and circumstance for the man who presides over a country that rides roughshod over human rights, jails journalists and critics with little semblance of a trial, supports such regimes as the North Korean dictatorship with military technology, and makes a mockery of international copyright laws. It also owns a huge chunk of our future in the form of massive loans--now amounting to $2 billion a week, as I read in the Los Angeles Times. Ah, well, I guess that's realpolitik for you. Got to make nice with the guy who lends you so much money. Not much leverage there to take the moral high ground, Bush. Have a good meeting, though.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Decider

So, Bush, it seems that you're now "the decider." I heard you make this claim in the Rose Garden yesterday. Well, I was acutally watching TV and you were in the Rose Garden speaking to the television cameras. Nice word, anyway. But every time you make an assertion of this kind--remember "I'm a war president"--it sounds to me more like the high-pitched protest of a weak man. The words have, frankly, a pathetic ring to them, and suggest the opposite of what they want to say. In this case, the "decider" was defending your embattled Rumsfeld and I predict that this blind loyalty in the face of so much evidence and so much opposition will backfire on you. Either the pressure mounts on your Secretary of Defense and he has to go, and you'll look even weaker for having to surrender. Or he'll stay despite all good counsel to the contrary and the disaster in Iraq will continue--or escalate--and you'll look increasingly like a pretty damn poor decider.

One thing you did apparently decide was to dump your Scott McClellan, whose resignation was all over the morning's news. I have to say I never much admired or trusted him, but that was perhaps less to do with the man than with the position he was in. There has to be a certain exhuastion factor in putting a good face on the lies and distortions you're required to feed to a well-informed press corps--no matter how compliant they may have been in the first years of McClellan's tenure of the press secretary's job. And then, daily, to have to defend a dismal history of incompetence and mismanagement. Not a job I'd envy. A good trooper for you personally, though, Bush. “I have given it my all, sir," he said, like a true gentleman, on leaving: "and I have given you my all, sir, and I will continue to do so as we transition to a new press secretary.” What a guy!

And the big shakeup continues! Your Rove, it seems, is to be relieved of a part of his job--the part you gave him last year in annointing him as your chief policy advisor--so that he can return to what he's really good at: nasty politics. Republicans everywhere will be rejoicing that he's back on the team for the fall elections--and the Democrats I'm sure will be quaking in their boots. And checking out the skeletons in their closets. I'd like to believe that Rove will have his work cut out, though: I don't foresee any great improvement in your performance between now and then. But who knows what the war president might dream up in the coming weeks and months to reverse his slide in the polls? And who knows what might yet be achieved by the grandmaster of spin?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Blood--and Oil

I realized this morning, Bush, that I spend entirely too much of my time talking about death, and the realization pains me. Yesterday's evening news headlines--at least on the BBC World News--reported on the latest suicide bombing in Israel. Nine people dead in front of a fast food restaurant in Tel Aviv. Apparently without shame or sorrow, Islamic Jihad took credit for the deaths; and I recalled the piece on last Sunday's Sixty Minutes program where the jihadists interviewed in Israeli jails regretted only that they had not succeeded in killing more. Hamas, now holding the seat of Palestinian government by popular vote, continues to call for the destruction of Israel as its central policy, and to characterize the actions of those who kill--and those who organize the killings--as resistance.

So where is the Ghandi or the Dr. Martin Luther King who could lead the Palestinians down a different path of resistance, to achieve those of their goals that are legitimate? Who will teach them the simple lesson, taught so often over the centuries by the blood of innocent human beings, that violence breeds only more violence? Under constant attack by rockets and suicide bombers such as ths one, the Israelis are constrained to defend themselves, and I see no way for them to do it other than target those who fire the rockets and make the bombs. Otherwise, what... they sit around and wait for the rockets to fall on their towns, and for the suicide bombers to arrive in their cities?

It's a tragic situation, made worse by political intransigence, racial hatred, and religious intolerance. Perhaps we, the last remaining "superpower," would have had some wise intermediary role between these two bitter enemies had we not blown any chance of being perceived as fair in the Arab world. Thanks to our aggression and our failure to read the trends of history and culture in the region, we have lost the ground on which we might have stood.

And meantime, here's the kicker: in today's Los Angeles Times headline, oil passes $70 a barrel. That's what it's all about, Bush, isn't it? In all honesty? Your grand statements to the contrary, this whole thing is not about peace, or freedom, or democracy, it's about the oil. You too could have led us down a different path, toward careful husbandry of the world's resources and toward new, renewable energy sources. But no. You're an oilman, from an oilman family. Your powerful friends are oilmen. I hate to say it, Bush, but if you were to bleed, Bush, it would likely be oil that oozes from your arteries. It's others who are left to shed the blood.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Monday

I'm wondering this morning, Bush, what my father's Easter Sunday sermon might have been, had he survived into this twenty-first century of ours. The Good Friday sermon would have been the one about how Christ died for our sins--a story I don't much believe in any more. I tend to see "sin" more in terms of harming oneself and others than offending some god's arbitrary laws.

The Easter Sunday message, though, would have been one of hope. A man of serious social and political responsibility, my father would surely have looked at the world around him to tried to discern where hope might lie in the almighty mess we have managed to make of it: a world where war and civil strife, and genocide, famine and disease, and corporate and personal greed, and violence, and religious intolerance, and mistrust of other peoples have become the norm, and acts of genuine selflessness and love seem desperately few and far between.

I think my father might have talked about those acts in his Easter Sunday sermon, Bush. He might have talked about the actions of organizations like Doctors Without Borders, for example, who bring the blessings of medicine to places ravaged by disease; about those who take seriously Christ's injunction to feed the hungry and put their own well-being and their lives on the line to bring food to the neediest of this planet. I think he might have talked about those who work so hard, against the heavy odds of corporate power, to preserve the health of the planet itself, and to assure the future of our species.

Above all, I like to think he would be reminding his parishoners that this Jesus who was crucified by the Romans was not about the power of money and control, but rather about the power of love. I wish I could believe that more of today's self-professed Christians had learned this lesson from the example of the man with whom they claim a privileged personal relationship. Unhappily, I don't. From what I hear, what the resurrection means to them is the promise of Armageddon at the second coming, along with their miraculous personal salvation and the vengeful destruction of all those who fail to share their religiosity.

Perhaps my father, in his charity, would have simply recalled the words of Jesus as he died: Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. And perhaps those words about the meek who shall inherit the earth will prove prophetic in unexpected ways. If we manage to create the Armageddon we seem bound for in our international greed for resources and our lust for power, the survivors might just be the poorest of the poor, who live in ignorance of our excesses in the remotest corners of the world, and ask so little of its resources. Wouldn't that be something?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

These words are written
for a yong man, one
Fernando Magana, whom
I never met. Eighteen
years old, the high school
student of our friend, Mary,
who was leaving on this day,
Easter Sunday, for his funeral.
Of Fernando I know only
that he died this past week
of a bullet on the front porch
of his home, returning
from the mall. Perhaps there
he had said something
or done something in breach
of the arcane laws of gangbangers:
it seems a carload of them chose
to follow him home and put
a bullet in him for his offense.
We saw the picture of a sweet-
looking young man with shaven
head and sad, sleepy eyes, and
grieved with our friend Mary,
who had nutured him, despite
his learning disability, through
high school years. His was a life
too brief, and brutally cut short
by the kind of senseless act
of violence that young males
of our human species all too often
resort to in their terrible
confusion as to who they are
and what the purpose of their life
might be. I pity Fernando
and his family. I pity
those young men who learn nothing
but territory, and wounded vanity,
and rage, and vengeance. I pity
all of us, who raise them
in our midst, through ignorance
and neglect, and through our
inability to care for those
who need it most. No war hero,
he, Fernando, died no less in war.
I confess I do not myself believe
in resurrection, and cannot
visualize a heaven, as the Catholics
do. I do, though, wish one
for Fernando.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The "Art Scene"

I know,I know. There's generals to talk about this morning. And your Rumsfeld, Bush. And Iraq and Iran. And the Enron trial. Along with all kinds of other weighty matters. But today my attention was grabbed by a front page article in the New York Times about the art scene--a subject near and dear to my heart--so I thought I might as well take the opportunity to throw in my two cents' worth. (It's some time, too, since I promised a response to a question from a reader who asked what kind of art I like. I've been mulling that question at odd moments for a while now, but I don't yet have an answer. Sorry.)

Anyway, the article I refer to was not about art but about the art scene--in particular the relatively new phenomenon of dealers and collectors rushing off to art schools to see if they can spot the latest blossoming superstar amongst the graduate students. As a result, the galleries hereabouts (and I believe also in New York) are flooded with the latest and the newest and the hippest, with prices that escalate by the month from the absurd to the obscene.

There was a time--not more than thirty or so years ago, when my wife Ellie was opening up a gallery for new young artists--when it was considered decent to give the artist at least a couple of years past graduate school to mature enough to risk a solo show. Even then, though, it was clear that the commercial machinery of the contemporary art world had brought about some baleful effects in the career path of artists: they were peaking early, and fading quickly into obscurity. Dealers, museum curators, collectors and yes, even art writers, would swarm around to hatch usually premature reputations which immature arists simply could not sustain. The quaint old notion of an artist maturing slowly through the thirties and forties and achieving a kind of mastery only after long years of dedication--that was thrown out the window in favor of instant fame and commercial success, and slow descent into disappointment and often bitterness as the vultures moved on to swoop down on fresher meat.

I hate to mention this, but as we cleared out the art storage racks in preparing for our move last year, Ellie and I turned up work by a dozen artists who were "hot" for a couple of years around the early seventies--one even a museum award-winner, and two or three who had been included in the prestigious Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York--whose names would be unrecognizable today. We could not even give the work away. One art school teacher consulted for this morning's New York Times article has her students read reviews of the 1993 Biennial, then asks them how many of the artists they have heard of. "It's quite sobering," she says.

I guess it's the same phenomenon today only more so, as the metabolism of the art market's consumption has accelerated to indecent speed. The schools have certainly played their part in it--and not, in my mind, to their credit. Hot schools like UCLA, here on the West Coast, have acquired reputations as baking ovens for the future superstars, and attract the regular attention of dealers and a new generation of collectors who like to match wits with them. It seems to me that the concept is still king in the art schools, thirty years after the demise of "conceptualism," and that students are trained in the belief that the better they can theorize about their work, the better it will sell. Go to a studio these days to learn more about an artist's work, and they'll talk your ear off. Go to a gallery, and you'll be greeted by an elaborate "artist's statement" that explains the work to you. It's all about strategy and placement.

Listen, if I were an artist I hope I would be strong enough to buck this deplorable trend and have the gumption to let my work go through the slow maturation process that could give it depth and dimension. One young woman quoted in the New York Times piece said this: "I don't want to be discovered and then canned in five years. I'm in this for the long haul." Good for her. May she find out a whole lot more about the depth of her humanity before she puts it out on the open market.

Friday, April 14, 2006


A scare this morning, Bush, when I turned on the seven o'clock news and found it headlined by news of a tornado ripping through Iowa City. That's where my younger son lives, and his mother. My older son and his wife and children stopped there for a week's stay before flying on to California just last week. I googled for more news and got to a page from the Iowa City Press-Citizen, reporting that one of the hardest hit areas was Governor Street, where we lived when the boys were toddlers--and all too close to where my former wife now lives. A couple of phone calls later I was reassured that everyone was unharmed, but the news was a sobering reminder of the capriciousness of nature and our vulnerability to its whims.

All of which leads me nicely to the subject of hubris. Can we blame you, Bush, for the entire mess in the Middle East? I suppose not. There were--and are--many things beyond your control. There were many obvious pitfalls, though, to which your overweening hubris blinded you. You seem to have imagined that we could walk in there and wave the magic wand of freedom and democracy, and the region would be miraculously changed. You failed to account for a century--well, centuries, really--of past history, for ancient sectarian emnities, for traditions of governing and of being governed that resist the kind of overnight change you had envisioned. You believed in an image of yourself as the right hand of God, authorized by Him to smite down what you saw to be evil in the world.

The same goes for your advisors, of course, in particular your Cheney and his covey of fanatical neocons, and your blowhard Rumsfeld who is now finally under attack from several of the generals who followed his leadership despite their reservations, and who describe him as abusive and impervious to advice contrary to his arrogantly held opinions. These generals say what many of us have been saying for months and some for years: that he should step down. As one general clearly said in a television interview this morning: we need accountability before we can move forward. And this is a man who supports your notion that failure is not an option in Iraq.

The real problem, though, is that your hubris has rendered this country powerless. Look where we stand now in relation to a real potential threat to world stability, Iran. The taunts of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--a Hitler clone if every I saw one--are ample evidence of the bind in which we find ourselves. Your swaggering, ill-prepared invasion of Iraq and the subsequent chaos there have left us without the credibility and the backup muscle we'd need to respond to Iran's threats, and without any serious options to counter them. Your inordinate pride in your own strength has served only to expose your weakness. In the eyes of the world, you now look like the empty shell of a president, a man destroyed by his blind faith in his own unimpeachable power.

Speaking of which... Hmmm. The I-word. Has a ring to it, no? Watch out for the next tornado, Bush. Metaphorically, that is. It could be headed your way.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Noble Silence

For today, Bush, noble silence. Which means speaking only when I have something absolutely essential to say. So, from me, silence. Enjoy. And, as we say in California, have a good one...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Big D

Okay, upfront a confession, Bush: I have never liked Disney. I cried when I saw "Bambi." When I was eleven years old, I was made to sing the lead role in my boarding school production of "Snow White," with seven of the litle junior boys roped in to play the dwarfs. I can't begin to tell you how humiliating this was for an eleven-year old, and reason enough in itself to despise Disney for the rest of my life.

What I find truly unforgivable, though, is the Disney cute-ification of some of the great works of children's fiction--"Winnie the Pooh," "The Jungle Books," "The Just-So Stories." And of course the great fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are stories that were read to me as a child and which I read to my children, and they do not--repeat, do NOT--need the help of Disney to make them cute and palatable to the tastes of over-protective parents who seem to fear that their children will grow up to be axe murderers if they hear the real adventures of "Red Riding Hood." Disney, to my mind, is responsible for much of this pernicious adulteration of the sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible experience of childhood, whose traumas none of us escaped.

Oh, and I could go on and be a real grouch about the money factory that is Disneyland, where the first building you encounter on entering the happiest place on earth is a bank! And where the ubiquitous gift shops do a brisk trade on the innocent acquisitive nature of the very young. I could tell you about the atrocious food, Bush, and the outrageous prices. I could tell you about the hour-long lines for two-minute rides.

But--and this is a big but--that would be to neglect the very real joy of watching the rapt faces of my grandchildren on the "Small World" ride, the giggles and wiggles as they charged around Toon Town, the look of wonder when they ran into Goofy and Pluto in person. They'll remember their day in Disneyland long after the tears of frustration have been forgotten, long after the stifling boredom of waiting in line has receded to a big blank in their memories. So I don't regret our visit there one bit, even if it did put me in mind of my old prejudices.

And of course, Bush, as we have mentioned many times in these pages, there is always something interesting and profitable to be learned from the prejudices themselves.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bring Back the Lions

So "religion is under attack in this country" say 80 percent of evangelical Christians, and 64 percent of American adults in a recent survey by the Anti Defamation League agree. Pity those poor Christians, Bush, who are deploring the loss of their God-given right to cast the first stone. Their ire, according to yesterday's Los Angeles Times report, is aroused especially by legal impediments to their right to publicly express their intolerance of homosexuality. "Think how marginalized racists are," exclaims one outraged Christian, Gregory S. Baylor, director of the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse."

Not content with the damage they are doing world-wide, Bush, through their baleful influence on your policies on birth control and abortion, these "Christians" now seek to assure themselves the legal right to hate, broadcast their hatred, and to ride roughshod over the rights of others who do not happen to share their hatred. And to complain in the same breath that they are under attack. The sheer audacity is breathtaking.

You, Bush, often and loudly lay claim to powers of leadership. Is it not time for you to exercise those powers amongst those who apparently share your religious views? If you wish to demonstrate true leadership, talk to your followers. Here's a real chance to stand up and say, Enough! Persecution? I say, bring back the lions.

Anyway, today is the big D-Day, Bush. My persuasive powers and my arguments about the intolerable crowds at Easter week proved fruitless in the face of the much-hyped appeal of Disneyland. See you later...

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Magic

I've not been around little children for quite some time now, Bush, and you tend to forget how it is. There's a kind of magic that keeps happening, because magic for them is still possible. Watching those grandchildren of mine at play down at the beach, on the swings and slides, at home on the floor of our little cottage here, I realize to what extent they have the gift of being fully present to whatever it is they do--a gift we somehow lose on the way to adulthood, with all our guilt and shame and anger and second-guessing about the past, and all our worries and fears about the future. We forget that joy is all about the simple ability to be present.

You see it in their faces, Bush. In their eyes. There's a kind of total, unquestioning engagement in whatever is to hand. Nothing else matters but the moment. That's the magic. It's the same magic that we feel when making love. For a writer like myself, it's the magic that happens when the writing flows; for an artist, maybe, when the paint goes on the canvas. For a golfer or a tennis player, I presume, it's when they're "in the zone."

Every minute of that time is the experience of presence. Time passes, and you're not aware of its having passed. Hours later, perhaps, you return to common time, to the harriedness of life and all those things that need to be done. And you marvel at the magic that has happened.

Nothing equals this experience, Bush. You have to envy those wonderful kids for spending so much time there, because that's where creation happens, where invention happens. It's no coincidence that a man like Albert Einstein could be so child-like. Or the Dalai Lama. This kind of presence is also what the Buddha taught, and it's where the Dalai Lama teaches us to go to find the happiness he speaks so much about. Jesus, too, as I remember, was getting at something very similiar in his talk about the lilies of the field, "who toil not, neither do they spin."

Ah, well. It's a wonderful reminder, having those children here to teach me. I just wish I were as good a learner as they are teachers, Bush. Wouldn't that be something?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

And Meanwhile...

... another 71 Iraqi civilians die in the misbegotten war your lies created, Bush. While you struggle to retain the tatters of your imperial new clothes to preserve your reputation, and while our Congress continues to mire down in petty partisan bickering over meager political stakes, and while America whines about the price of the gas we'll be continuing to guzzle profligately over the Easter vacation, another 71 Iraqi civilians die in your misbegotten war--which I'm now convinced of what I failed at first to see: that it was after all a war about oil, and this country's insatiable need for that resource.

Incidentally, Bush, a friend reminded me, after one of my not infrequent spasms about American complaints about prices at the pump--I'm a European by origin, and prices there have been three times ours for decades--that the complainers have some right on their side when you consider the obscene profits of the oil companies. Agreed. That's galling--although I suppose it must provide some satisfaction to oilmen like yourself and your Cheney. Even so, I persist in thinking that this is only a part of the much bigger, global problem of resource availability.

Anyway, listen, I'm taking off early today. The grandchildren await! They arrived yesterday afternoon and survived another hour and a half of travel in our rented van with remarkably good humor before getting to their hotel down by the beach. A delightful bunch, Bush. They have grown up a lot in the more than a year since we last saw them: the twins are actually walking and talking! And Alice a proper little English girl, with her English accent! Ellie and I walked them down to the beach for just a few minutes while their parents were unpacking, and they had such a great time, dodging the incoming waves as children love to do. A joy to watch them. Last night we made hamburgers and feasted on them. Looking forward to seeing them all again this morning.

Have a great weekend, Bush. Take a deep breath. You still have a wonderful opportunity to do good in this world, if you'd only lead us toward the conservation, not the rape of resources. That door is open...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Fair Warning

Well, Bush, all hell breaks loose today. I'm speaking of us, down here in our little cottage in Laguna Beach, not of you across the country in the Washington maelstrom. A nice kind of hell for us, though. My son arrives this afternoon with his wife and three little children from London (via Iowa, where they visited his mother.) There's one little girl of seven, Alice; and twins of four, Joseph and Georgia Grace. Not much room, then, for the kind of tranquillity it takes for me to get my thoughts down. So this is fair warning that I may be somewhat more irregular than usual in the coming week. I'll be busy being Grandpa.

A somewhat different hell for you, I imagine, Bush. I believe and hope that Senators and members of Congress--not to mention the press corps--will be up in arms about the revelation that you yourself, Mr. Tight Lips in person, authorized leaks of highly classified information from the National Intelligence Estimate, presumably in support of your war effort and to blunt the cautionary criticism of Ambassador Joe Wilson and others. I very clearly remember on at least one occasion, Bush, how you waxed all high and mighty and self righteous on this very subject.

Now your people are out there saying that the President has every right to declassify any information that he chooses to. What a crock! To most of us, there's a big difference between declassification and this surreptious, back-door leaking ofsecret information to the press. In this case, I understand that it was New York Times reporter Judith Miller at the receiving end, and that the leak came shortly after the publication of Wilson's op-ed piece in that same newspaper, disputing your administration's story about Iraq's purchase of yellowcake uranium from Niger for the purpose of making nuclear weapons.

Problem is, this was the centerpiece of your argument persuading America that it was necessary to go to war, and the authorization of the leak suggests quite strongly, Bush, that you knew this argument to be false--or at least that you had good reason to question it. The obvious conclusion is that you were so blindly determined to go to war that the truth had to be discredited with lies.

Not a pretty picture, Bush. But you've gotten away with so much already, it would not surprise me if you managed to get away with this one, too. I suppose it boils down to the fact that you can rely a certain number of people to put their trust in you, no matter what. More's the pity, and shame on all of us if we allow this to happen. My hope is, frankly, that all hell does finally break loose for you back there in Washington, and that it's nowhere near as nice as the hell breaking loose here at home. It's past time that someone held you to account. Fair warning.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fish or Foul?

So what's it to be today, Bush? Fish or foul? By foul I'm referring, of course, to the current pedophilia alarm, the congressional hearings, and the arrest of your homeland security guy. To hear your Frist talk about it on the television this morning, we need to round them all up, pack them off to jail, and throw away the key. All well and good. But this is a sickness, Bush, not unlike your alcoholism, and what your Doctor (as he reminds us on ever possible occasion) Frist in his self-righteousness fails to understand is that punitive measures seldom work against sickness. I also believe that men (and women, quite possibly) have lusted for centuries in their hearts about wicked things like this, but that today they have much more opportunity to realize their nasty fantasies. That said, we do need to do what can be done to protect the young from predators.

Ah, and the fish... the great news for the day, the revelation of the discovery of that 375 million year-old fossil up in Canada. What a lark! A fish with legs--or a near equivalent to legs--capable of moving up out of the water and living on the land. A "missing link" between those original water dwellers and ourselves. Another nail in the coffin of creationism, Bush. It must be increasingly hard to continue to maintain that the world is six thousand years old, at least without flying in the face of growing evidence to support the gradual evolution of today's creatures from those ancient forms of life.

Anyway, listen, Bush, my time has been curtailed today. I spent the early hours with another visit to the doctor, trying to get to the bottom of the extreme fatigue and dizziness that has been plaguing me since that bout of the flu in Mexico City last month. He looked me over and ordered blood tests. More later. For now, watch out for those investigations, Bush. I hear how Scooter Libby has nailed you for authorizing the leaking of sensitive intelligence information on Iraq to the press! Not good, Bush. I'll be looking forward to watching you worm your way out of this one.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I've been hearing a bit about that other immigration problem, Bush--the one involving Africans making their risky bid to get to Europe to find work. About a thousand of them have already died this year, apparently one in five who are foolhardly or desperate enough to make the attempt. There was a report on their horrific journey last night on the BBC World News. Theirs is a truly sorry plight. The people coming north from Mexico have miles of desert to cross, and it has been widely reported that many die a miserable death along the way. The Africans in question make an equally perilous crossing, six hundred miles of often treacherous Atlantic ocean from the west coast of the continent to the Canary Islands--their gateway to Europe.

This side of the Atlantic, we tend to see our problems in the perspective of our geographical isolation from the other continents. But I have been arguing for some time, Bush, as you'll remember, that the "illegal immigrant" crisis in this country is only a part of a world-wide crisis. It's hardly suprising that those who are suffering from hunger, disease and deprivation in their native lands--and who see prosperity elsewhere in the world around them--would tend to move to where there is at least a slim prospect of work and money to send home to the family.

My argument for some years now has been that the world's population growth must be managed with the whole earth in mind, and with the whole arsenal of weaponry at our disposal including, importantly, sex education and birth control. (Apologies for the military metaphors, Bush, but this if anything should be one of those political "wars on..."--fill in the blank--that you presidents like so much.) The concept of nations, I predict, will soon have to be modified or sacrificed in the light of the new reality of shifting populations, shifting climatic patterns, disease, and other global changes. People will not only vote with their feet, they'll change the face of the earth with their stampedes, and there's nothing that restrictive immigration laws and border controls will be able to do to stop them. We have sufficient evidence of this already.

I read somewhere recently that this is not a socio-economic problem but an evolutionary one. I know that you personally have a bit of a problem with evolution, Bush, but you'll surely agree that we humans have a powerful survival instinct. We will do whatever is necessary to protect our lives and those of our children even if, in today's world, that means leaving them behnd and wiring money from a distant land to meet their basic needs.

Rules, regulations, laws--no matter how stringent or draconian--will prove eventually powerless against this most basic of human instincts without taking it into account. This, I believe, is what needs to happen. Our understanding and compassion for the whole of our species has to grow, and our boundaries and the laws that govern them must change to reflect that growth. Nothing else will work. Unless, of course, you happen to believe with your evangelicals that it's all a part of the endgame God is playing with His prime creation.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


So here's the burning question for the day, Bush: is there actually more stuff to be done each day as one gets older? Or is it just me, in my dotage, taking longer to get it done? Or is there some law of nature that says time actually goes faster in proportion to your age? I mean, this is ridiculous. Have you noticed? The days speed past and there's never enough time to get the day's jobs done. Perhaps it's just the pace of life in the twenty-first century, with our high-speed Internet access, our Blackberries, our telephones, our cars...

I sometimes wonder how it would have been to have lived in pre-modern times, when it took half a day to walk to the next village and a few hours to write a letter with your goose-feather quill. Today, let's see, there's the blog to finish, there's a man coming to collect money for the work he did for us last week, there's a half hour stop at the gym to do my circuit training, a visit to the pet store for dog food, the cleaner's, to have a new pair of pants shortened, and the grocery store for odds and ends for the pantry. Then there are pictures to hang--I've been promising my wife to get this done for weeks, the business mail to take care of, bills to pay... There's the final editing job on the book version of "The Real Bush Diaries" (I had to add the "real", Bush, because someone stole our title a couple of months ago. Very galling.) And telephone calls to return. Oh, and I did want to take a nap. This evening there's a group of artists coming by for a discussion session. And today might be the day my new computer gets delivered; it will need to be set up. Even then, I'm sure there's a lot that I've forgotten.

It's too much, no, for a single human being? Neither our heads nor our bodies were designed to take this kind of a workload. One of the contemporary catch-phrases I've come to hate, along with 24/7, is "multi-tasking." Very un-Buddhist, Bush. Speaking of which, my thanks to Fred for reminding me of the need to "get that old detachment mojo working"--see the "Comments" posted yesterday. He had been reading my piece on "Trouble" and must have sensed the anger in it. The fact of the matter is that I was angry when I wrote it, and anger certainly has its place in what we're doing here. Attachment to the anger, though, is neither healthy nor wise, so it's a good thing to be reminded now and then to let it go.

Detachment, as I understand it, is not about not caring. It's about not getting hung up on the caring. It's about keeping the mind focused on the present. It's about not fixating on what happened in the past or what might happen in the future, but simply resting the attention in the only place that really counts: the here and now.

Good for a meditator, you might say, Bush, but hard to practice for a politician like yourself. Detachment from the past is one thing. It's always possible to be fully aware of historical precedent--what worked, what didn't--without getting hung up on it. I wonder, though, about the future, because it's the politician's business, after all, to be making plans, determining directions, charting the course on behalf of those who voted him into office. The future has to be the politician's stock-in-trade.

So I guess the teaching here would have to do with learning how to make those plans in full consciousness of the fact that the consequences of any present actions might turn out to be very different from the intended ones. Your actions might, in fact, very easily prove counter-productive, useless, even dangerous in the face of ever changing realities. I suspect this is something that must resonate for you in the light of your experience in Iraq. Were you, Bush, just a little more Buddhist in approaching your job, you might be able to let go of your attachment to particular outcomes and work a little more lightly on your feet, like a martial arts expert, turning adversity to your advantage. It seems to me that the wise ruler would have the ability to step back ("detach," then) from the fray and review the result of each and every action in the light of the present moment, that is current reality, reality as modified by that action, before making his next move.

Sounds like it's time for me to check back into Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," Bush. Have you read it?

Monday, April 03, 2006


My mind was unusually busy with dream images and stories last night, Bush. And on into my half-hour meditation. No idea what sparked this sudden profusion, but the images just kept coming despite my efforts--during meditation--to keep them at bay as I usually try to do, by focusing on the breath. A rich but vaguely troubling experience of a mind on high speed production, but completely uncontrolled.

Anyway, here's the point. In one of those dreams my dog and I got stuck up in a tree. I was searching seriously--ridiculously, as one does in dreams--for the right words to call for help. I considered a simple "Help!" or even a good, old-fashioned "S.O.S!" but neither alternative seemed to be quite what was needed in the circumstance. Instead, I settled on "WE ARE IN TROUBLE!"--not an easy thing to shout and a strangely cumbersome construction to use in so dire a situation. But I started to call it out, or rather to try to call it out because, as is frequently the case in dreams, the mouth made the shape of the words but no sound came out. And of course nobody came to help.

It was only when I woke up that I realized what the dream was about, and it was that strange construction of words in my appeal for help that cued me in. Because of course we ARE in trouble. All of us. In this contry. In the world. Yesterday, Sunday, I had finally begun to read the scary new Kevin Phillips book, "American Theocracy: The Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century," in which the author is at pains to describe just how much trouble we're in.

We're in trouble with our energy needs amd the dwindling supplies of oil in the world's reserve. We're in trouble in the Middle East, with your war, with the rise of Muslim radicalism, with Iran and its increasingly threatening military activities (a new torpedo yesterday, Bush! A new radar-proof missile the day before!) We're in trouble with the unending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and their neighbors. We're in trouble with the global economy and the accompanying mass migration of people in search of jobs, a better life, security... We're in trouble in Africa and other parts of the world with drought, disease and starvation. We're in trouble with our global climate and our delicate ecology, our pollution of the Earth we're given to live on.

And especially we're in trouble because you, Bush, our president, are not on the side of the angels in all this mess. You're on the side of the demons--the polluters, the war mongers, the greedy, the power hungry (in both senses of that word.) My dream was literally true: WE ARE IN TROUBLE, and you, Bush, are not hearing the signals or the cries for help. You continue blindly on your destructive path--you "stay the course," no matter what. You turn a deaf ear and a blind eye. You are impervious to the great needs and the great agonies of the people of this ailing planet.

I repeat, Bush, WE ARE IN TROUBLE. I'm shouting it, stuck here ridiculously in my tree with my little dog, George. I'm trying the best I can to make myself heard and it feels like nobody is listening. The man who calls himself my president grins, and winks, and nods like a living doll. But he doesn't know what the fuck is going on, and he doesn't want to hear. It's a bad, bad dream, and it's time we all woke up.