Portrait of a Chicago Newspoet

An Election Day Newsplay

William Gillespie


Scene 1: 3 October 2004

[seen: chicago apartment, L train thundering by outside. a window shows a brick wall a foot away. other walls have bookshelves or have newspaper front pages taped to them, notated with red circles, arrows, and highlighting, with lines drawn on the wall connecting various articles in a web of reference. on stage right is a podium overlooking the audience with a video camera on tripod in front of it to film the speaker. a pa if possible will subtly amplify whoever speaks at the podium. the newspoems throughout this play may be read by the newspoet or supporting performers at the podium at the director's discretion. the apartment is stuffed with a meticulous clutter of shortwave radios, power strips, wires, computers, printer, newspapers, books, phonograph records, all surrounding newspoet's desk center stage facing audience, with typewriter, laptop, ashtray. newspoet wears rumpled suit and fedora, types while reading the following newspoem into a telephone receiver cocked beneath ear]

Newspoem 4 January 1999 Portrait of a Chicago Newspoet

NewsPoet: Yeah hello you still there? Whattaya think run it tomorrow? Same to you pal. Yeah. Hack. Yeah. Bastid. See you this afternoon. [he hangs up the phone it rings he answers] Whattayafizzle... [begins angry but loses interest immediately]

Voice On Phone: Tell me about how it all started for you.

NP: It started innocently enough, a poem about the wind.

Newspoem 12-5-1995
It was a cold night. Why do I do it?

VOP: Why do you do it?

NP: I would put them in newspaper machines. Y' know, pretend to buy a newspaper, and instead stick poems into the Trib. But I think they'll be putting me in their papers themselves before this whole song and dance is done.

VOP: What?

NP: What do you want, I'm supposed to sit there and eat what they print? The passive voice has the final word, and leads me over a field of type? A polished copywriter with a silver slipper manicuring captions, widows and orphans? I'm going to write out of this quagmire. Someone has to. I've had it with trite partisanism. The first site of political struggle in America today is the language. English? No: American. It's our native tongue, work it. Hell yeah, I speak American, I write in it, I even think. We need to rescue it from the marketing guys, limber it up, make it articulate. It's either the smoke that suffocates us or the oxygen that leaves them winded.

They've got a plan to roll back language. And I'm lying in that bulldozer's path.

VOP: Are you desperate?

NP: No. I'm not lonely anymore. I'm not alienated, disaffected, none of that. Sure I got some problems but. I'm on the front lines of democratic reform in this country.

VOP: What else?

NP: Marginalized? Hell yes. I live in the margins. I'm a newspoet.

I'm currently unemployed, but never mind that. No. When they fired me from that proofreading job I told them that they were all that stood between the mountaintop and the avalanche that buries everything for thousands of years beneath a layer of frozen white, paper with no writing, a blank history. In the end I may not amount to more than a breeze. A current of air. If I make the right people shiver, just for a second, that'll be enough.

VOP: How did you get started?

NP: The story always starts here, today. October 1st, 2004. The story always starts now. The story starts, the story starts, the story starts. The public has a short memory you see, the news has trained them that war is like weather: it doesn't end.

These war stories are really good but they don't know how to write an ending. Now, nowadays, the way so many stories seem to start is in place of the ending of a previous story. World War II never properly ended, it just became the Cold War, for example... The Cold War? Remember how the world was sick for nearly half a century? And then suddenly it was healed. But the symptoms continued, breaking out in Iraq? Well...

The curtain story rises, revealing the action behind, itself projected on another curtain that rises. When you start to pay attention, you get involved, and the lack of closure comes as a blow, so you learn not to pay attention. Their writers are clearly promising something they don't intend to deliver, again and again.

All this struggling toward a healthy & peaceful world, calm; an end to weather.

VOP: How did your childhood influence who you instead became?

NP: Understand that I grew up with the promise of a peaceful world. That promise has been stolen.

Every morning mom would force a comb through my hair.
And feed me a glass of orange juice
Every Sunday I was required to eat an egg
And brussels sprouts were mandatory
At school I learned multiplication tables
To write there they're their it's its hear here
To write a page on Rhode Island, another on Thailand
And to hide beneath my desk from bombs
I fell for the cold war, i thought that shit was for real
I totally fell for the red square red scare, nuclear missiles were no
Joke! I fell for the Cold War, and so too did the Soviet Union

When the Berlin Wall fell I would have danced in the street
if I could dance. Now war was over, we could get on with the real business
of peace: solving world hunger, making better music. There's a new war.
Who knew. You can keep your Marx on the coffee table, but hide your Koran.
I fell for the Cold War, I thought wow if they're so huge
once we buy them onto our side we'll have no trouble at all.

All the actual wars—Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Vietnam—were presented as skirmishes at the base of the gigantic unfought war, the central war, its uneasy peace against which these small wars were forgivable. Was the Cold War, then, a war? It was a metawar underlying many literal wars. Then came the war on drugs, which was not a war, just a futile ongoing militarization of rhetoric culminating in a militarization of public health policy—prisons instead of clinics. And now we have the war on terrorism—again, not a real war—real wars are fought only against nations, not nouns—a metaphor war as a cover for various literal wars against nations, not terrorism, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. So, since WWII, “war” has come to mean many things, among them war, substitution of enforcement and prisons for health policy, ideological difference, and defending one’s self against individual criminals or small organizations.

This year started last December with the capture of the Evil Dictator, in a continuation of the war that had ended in May. Remember how the mass of our quivering, shimmering military might was poised to invade a broken nation crippled by years of devastating economic sanctions? Remember how that war was built up to, fought, declared over, then it ended, and now it continues? Wait, okay here it is.

[takes file folder from file cabinet]

"Friday May 02, 2003. FOX NEWS. Bush says major combat in Iraq over. WASHINGTON - hours after making an historic landing aboard a moving aircraft carrier, President Bush told sailors manning the USS Abraham Lincoln Thursday that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

At that point, 150 American troops had died. By now, a year and a half later, we have passed 1000. The war gets further from its end each day. When the president made his historic landing, a certain idea of the war had ended. The sales pitch for the war was brought to a close. The administration completed the purchase of the war by the American people. Although the administration made it seem like the war was over and done with, they knew in the back of their mind that the war would start to smoke and sputter as soon as the customer tried to drive it off the showroom floor, but the papers were signed. Their saying the war was over was their way of saying that we are stuck with it. The beginning of the war was safely over, the endless future of war is now beginning.

The war we thought would be short and clean was over. The war we could have ended was over.

Then, half a year later another idea of the war ended, an idea that had been forgotten. I am referring here to the capture of the Evil Dictator. Remember the man who threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction, such as aluminum tubes? Many months after we had expected to have him, as well as the still uncaptured terrorist, villain of the previous war, delivered to us? The Evil Dictator was pulled out of a hole in the ground. Next to a hut. An old man with a beard. Living in a hole in the ground who surrendered peacefully, bedraggled and filthy.

How did I respond? I responded the way any American citizen has a right to—by intervening directly in the language used to conceal the digestion of its own atrocities—I wrote a newspoem. I inverted the noise-to-signal ratio on this one. That's newspoetry. [hangs up]

Newspoem 16 December 2003 In the Streets, a Shadow Lifts

So the story of this year began last year when the Evil Dictator was captured. This would have been the ending of one of the ideas for the war, but that idea had already forgotten itself. The capture of the dictator, the people of Iraq liberated from their oppressor, ding dong the witch is dead, an end to combat, and finally, a historic landing on Abraham Lincoln's aircraft carrier, where three speechwriters, with the able abetment of the speechgiver, failed to pull off what Abraham Lincoln pulled off on the back of a train in a graveyard a century earlier—a train, incidentally, that Lincoln did not claim to have flown. Remember: American Presidents used to write.

So the story of the war didn't have an ending. Instead it has been absorbed into the next story—the election. America needs better writers in or the language could unravel altogether. The story starts, the story starts, the story starts.

Newspoem 24 September 2004 Philly Kerry Rally

[enter the new york times, an impeccable gentleman in a suit, stands in the corner and daintily picks a stray thread off his sleeve]

NP: What are you doing?

New York Times: This is an important day in our nation's history.

NP: Don't fuck with me.

NYT: [chuckles] Fortunately, I have more important things to do than not to fuck with you. I am the newspaper of record. You are barely a comma.

NP: You're a mouthpiece.

NYT: Hm.

NP: A hairpiece.

NYT: Tsk.

NP: If the pentagon were a big fat ass, you'd be flatulence.

NYT: I don't appreciate that. Now read me.

NP: "It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably everyday / for lack / of what is found there"

NYT: William Carlos Williams. An important day, today, in our nation's history.

NP: Why? What's today?

NYT: Sunday.

NP: [heaves a sigh, stands up] Christ. How much?

NYT: Four dollars.

NP: [getting crumpled bills and change from jeans pocket] Jeez. You made more off one paper than I did off all my poetry last year.

NYT: Hm. [straightens bills, sorts change into various suit pockets, hands Newspoet a paper, whistling a swung "America the Beautiful."]

NP: The New York Times.

Why are we so easily seduced, floored, by its particular typography, its scent, the bold layout and the grid of authority and reason it suggests? How many thousands of words are pummeled into our hearts by its photographs, their helicopters, the serious expressions, the ashes and ruins? These photos that seem to offer a frank view of anything in the world except their photographers. The complete and refreshing failure to be self-critical, the omniscient observer everywhere in the world at once without being connected to anything, fearless, able to dictate the truth without consequence to self, a fanatical scrupulousness with regard to writing things exactly as they are, earnestly accurate and truthful. All the news that's fit to print. But what news fits? Why are some stories larger than others, on the front page but broken in half? What news does not fit? Why doesn't it fit? We know from science that the observer affects the observed. The Times is a business reporting on business, but it is not the business of business to report on business, that is just an angle, it is the business of business to profit. This would be the nature of business but business is unnatural. This means the Times writes history out of reverence for its competitors, the other papers.

Ah, but don't listen to me. I'm from Chicago. Chicagoans are driven mad by this rivalry with NEw York City, a rivalry New York City doesn't even know about because they're won on every count. Better at everything, except blasting Canadian winds.

NYT: Actually, New York City boasts some of the coldest winters on record.

NP: Shaddup, you.

[Tribune enters, wearing stocking cap, scarf, flannel, cheeks red as if from a cold wind.]

Tribune Hey you wanna buy a copy here or what?

NP: Yeah, yeah, sorry. [walks across the room and buys a paper]

NYT: You don't even read them.

NP: [stiffens] What?

NYT: The paper. You don't read the paper.

NP: You mean-

NYT: Read it.

NP: [opens NYT:, immediately gets delighted, tears to page A8, finishes article, stands up]

That is great.

NYT: I know. So. Do I?

NP: You still got it.

NYT [bows, exits]

NP: Oh my goodness, this is so wonderful. It covers so many pages. Whole spreads in which the story is laid out uninterrupted with carefully deployed, relevant photos. Look at the excellent infographic showing the relative circumferences of aluminum tubes! It's an article the size of a pamphlet. How can it ever be condensed into a poem, especially given that [phone rings] Hello?

VOP: You were saying?

NP: Especially given that the upshot of this article, as with that article in the Globe on September 11th 2004

Newspoem 11 September 2004 Double Negative Positive Standard

is that something we already knew may be truer than we thought, or if not more true, at least more spectacularly corroborated. The article culminates with a speech given by Colin Powell to the UN Security Council that I wrote a poem about because I saw it on TV because I was in a waiting room at a hospital where I had taken my friend to have her wisdom teeth removed. By coincidence I saw a historic speech I thought was bullshit we now know was bullshit. [hangs up. dials a number.]

VOP: Yes?

NP: Hey I got an old newspoem here that just became relevant again. I think you should print it. Got a pen? Ready?

Newspoem 5 February 2003 I am sitting in the waiting room

[hangs up.] How am I going to write this? How much time do I have left?

Act 2: 19 October 2004

NP: Well the upshot of the story was that the aluminum tubes sent to Iraq, considered evidence of nuclear research, were probably (probably as in almost certainly) meant for normal artillery rockets, which even Iraq is permitted to have. The intelligence community had been divided, with those who believed the tubes were meant for normal weapons having on their side an appraisal of the best available facts, and those who believed the tubes were meant for nuclear weapons having on their side the CIA.

And over the course of the story what we see is the Bush administration manufacturing a pretext for preemptive war. Fact abuse. The aluminum tubes were a fact, but what conclusion they supported was, apparently, controversial, or made controversial. This is a very serious crime against language. Not to mention America, Iraq, the international community, and, basically, everybody outside Halliburton and the oil industry. The big picture is that the administration came into office with plans to invade Iraq already drawn up, as corroborated in the book the Price of Loyalty, as corroborated by an article in the London Independent yesterday. Also drawn up were plans to change the government. September 11th provided the shock necessary to get America to accept these changes. As to whether September 11th was known about beforehand by the administration, I won't even get into that, because, luckily, we have Michael Moore making a majestic temple of his first amendment rights. A year later, the news became filled with insinuations we now know are false: that Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda and was harboring and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. Six months after that, the war began. The first war. Or second. The one that didn't end when Bush made his historic landing on the aircraft carrier, or end when the Evil Dictator was captured. The war, all the wars, I would vote against, if this election offered an anti-war candidate.

Distorting the facts
made more pliable
by playing to fear
playing to hatred.

In this week's news, the New York Times continues what seems to be an attack on the president. Could it be that they want him out of office? Is it a power struggle? A division in the bourgeoisie? Liberal elements at the helm of the newspaper of record? Thousands of tons of explosives are missing from a cache in Iraq. They secured the ministry of oil, but there were a few loose ends. A few loose fuses. A few thousands of tons of them.

This is important. I can tell this, because the name of the looted fortress is Al Qaqaa. A beautiful word. A word with two Qs and no Us.

"President Bush's aides told reporters that because the soldiers had found no trace of the missing explosives on April 10, they could have been removed before the invasion. They based their assertions on a report broadcast by NBC News on Monday night that showed video images of the 101st arriving at Al Qaqaa.

By yesterday afternoon Mr. Bush's aides had moderated their view, saying it was a "mystery" when the explosives disappeared and that Mr. Bush did not want to comment on the matter until the facts were known."

So they denied it, then undenied it. Lied, in other words, to cover up a mistake, and got caught.

It makes the administration look bad, it does, all this information about how due process was circumvented, about how the war was poorly executed, about its planning excluding America. Could it be that the Times has come to its senses? Has woken up and smelled the burning constitution? Will it help?

NYT: On October 17, the New York Times published its endorsement of Democrat John Kerry for president.

NP: Is it unusual for a newspaper to endorse a candidate?

NYT: [laughs] No. In fact it is routine. All told, Kerry leads Bush 142 to 123 in endorsements, and when measured by circulation, 17.5 million to 11.5 million, Editor & Publisher says. The Massachusetts senator has won the backing of the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Detroit Free Press, the Miami Herald, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Des Moines Register and both Seattle newspapers. The president has the support of the Chicago Tribune...

NP: No!

NYT: ...the New York Post, the Arizona Republic, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Columbus Dispatch, the Dallas Morning News, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Washington Times and both Cincinnati newspapers.

NP: Kerry's accusations of incompetence ring across the headlines, no rejoinder. Could the administration be turning belly-up? And if so, then. Then we can all cheer ourselves. We can cheer the devastated tax base, the military quagmire, the violence in our culture and its newly again legal assault rifles. We can cheer a drift to the right that may never be undone.
Our fear, our shame.
As Robert Creeley put it, when I asked him if America had gotten worse: yes, no sense of imagination for a common good.

NYT: And the New Yorker has endorsed a candidate for the first time in 80 years.

NP: Was it Robert Coover who, when asked why he wrote strange and unrealistic fiction, replied "to tell the truth?" My hero, Phil Ochs, was a journalism major who traded his typewriter for a guitar. Actually he won the guitar on a bet that John Kennedy would be elected president. And it was confiscated at the Democratic National Convention in 68, used as evidence in a trial against him. His songs, especially the early songs, are filled with facts. His first album, All The News That Fits To Sing, is a history textbook set to music. The melody, rhyme, meter, make his conclusions into forceful arguments.

With the new illogic eroding the conventions of critical thought, poetry is truth's sharpening stone. We are language workers, us newspoets, exploring that critical boundary between the world and the words used used to construct it. Truth is a system. My poetry is true, if riddled with factual errors. Because I am rigorous and can not be bought.

[phone rings. Newspoet answers}

VOP: How much do you want?

NP: 40 K plus expenses

[VOP laughs, hangs up]

NP: Two weeks until the election. What will happen? As with the Y2K scare, there is this ominous sense that something will happen, even something as insignificant as the election of John Kerry.

Newspoem 7 September 2004 Election Day Forecast

When I was growing up, you know, during the Cold War, my parents and every adult, it seemed, could remember where they were when they heard Kennedy was assassinated. My generation had no such shock. I mean, where were you when Reagan was (almost) assassinated? I was probably high on pop rocks and sprite.

Want to know where I was on September 11th, 2001? Of course not, you want to tell me where you were. I was stuck in a weekly comic strip with five panels, an unchanging line drawing always sitting before a computer, reacting without reacting to the overwhelming event. But I told my boss: "I'm going to have trouble thinking about our website today." And to her credit she responded: "what website?"

Speaking of Reagan, when he died, you'd think from the obituary he had been Lincoln. How many members of his administration were convicted of federal crimes? And more frightening, how few degrees of separation between his administration and the one we hope to vote out of office? In two weeks. Ditto Nixon, when he died you would have thought he was someone we wanted to remember fondly, instead of as a grave warning. Reading this, I thought, well perhaps an obituary is a place to be respectful. But last week, when Derrida died, the Times called him "abstruse." The Wall Street Journal was even snottier.

Could it be that the ideas of Derrida, who postulated that language is not a window held up to the world, but a mirror; not a string of vessels whose contents are earth, air, fire, and water, but had a structure all its own, and ways of referencing itself that did not point to the world, the way a dictionary contains every noun but for more detail, all you can do is look up other words, or perhaps a line drawing, but it never says, in the dictionary definition for sky: "go outside and look up." Language is a dictionary. Could it be that Derrida's ideas undermine the very project of the New York Times?

What's crazier, a poet writing journalism or a journalist writing poetry? I mean which is a worse idea heh heh. But newspoetry haunts me. It's a barb in my brain. I'm suffocating beneath white skies of newsprint, newspoetry lets me punch through that sheet and get at the air, just for a moment.

language is a system, a living system,
and it too can get sick. the symptoms are all over.

Newspoem 6 February 2004 War Comes Under Attack

Misinformation is seldom a simple matter of presenting incorrect facts. Misinformation can be, rather than a faulty element, an entire faulty system, or a system of reasoning counter to classical reasoning, the science upon which our judicial system, our educational system, our journalism is based.

For one thing, reasoning must include its own critique, a frank appraisal of its own fringes of ignorance, an awareness of and reasoned defense against dissenting opinion.

Facts are stars, but an argument, even the truth, is a constellation, an irrefutable configuration that, once seen, cannot be unseen, even when you blink.

This music has defused me, now I am open to beauty.

Reasoning must involve a consistent sense of proportion:

Is the taking of the life of an unborn human more grievous than the taking of the life a born Iraqi child?

Are 1000 dead American troops more grievous than 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians?

Reasoning must involve internal consistency but also self-awareness.

Is it worse to be accused of flip-flopping or sticking to a bad decision?

Reasoning must be built on shared values and assumptions.

A passive populace will let implied fundamental assumptions be imposed on their ignorance or apathy. Most Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Quaeda and weapons of mass destruction. No accumulated failure to find the facts to support that conclusion, itself used to support the conclusion of preemptive war, has undermined the war.


How do they circumnavigate logic?

Spotlighting certain facts so other facts may be in their shadow. Some shadows can be huge.

Large conclusions are drawn from smaller facts.

It is a fact that Iraq bought aluminum tubes,
whether they were going to use them for nuclear centrifuges was a matter of speculation.

It was a fact that the Space Shuttle Columbia was hit by debris,
but a matter of speculation as to whether that damage could cause problems on reentry.

The attack on the World Trade Center was a fact,
the loudest crispest cleanest photographed fact,
a fact that demands analysis,
but what conclusions you draw are your own science.

Once a fact is considered true it is difficult if not impossible to prove it false. It lends veracity to conclusions drawn from it.

Sometimes larger conclusions are true even if one of their supporting facts is wrong.

It is true that President Bush shirked his military duty,
which is inconsistent with his posture of sending American kids to war.


An overprivileged "draft-dodging weasel" in point of fact.

But it is not known whether one of the many documents attesting to this is a forgery.

With or without the axiom of the document the weasel theorem is inevitable unless you suspend your normal sense of scale and sensitivity to hypocrisy.

It is true that his opponent in the election Senator Kerry fought in and was awarded medals in the same war that President Bush dodged. Though some soldiers' memories of sequences of battles that happened more than three decades ago may understandably differ somewhat.

With an eye to consistency, Kerry is the pro-war candidate with integrity,
Bush the hypocritical, lying, irresponsible pro-war candidate.

And yet is precisely Kerry's hypocrisy—his "flip-flopping"—that Bush wishes to campaign against.

This is a distortion of proportion, the fact of Kerry's voting record (no more inconsistent than that of most senators) is smaller than the fact of his having served in Vietnam.

Earlier this month, the political director at ABC News inadvertently set off a firestorm of criticism by seeming to argue that all distortions of truth are not equal.

The informal and somewhat ungrammatical memo reads, in part: "Kerry distorts, takes out of context and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his effort to win." The Bush campaign, he wrote, hopes "to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions."

In such an environment, he wrote, the typical journalistic attempt to be fair to both sides by finding equal fault could lead to an unfair result. "We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest," he wrote, "but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable when the facts don't warrant that."

The dots are not beyond dispute
and how you connect them
the graph you draw
the plot is up to you.

The trouble with writing newspoetry about language is that things can get very cerebral, and it becomes possible to forget the world.

That is, that it is not misuse or distortion of language that is a problem, but the murder, rape, torture, violence, deprivation, which the language circumarticulates, are the problem.

In standardized newspeak
tautologies, paradoxes
command reverence.

They hate our freedom fries

War on Terrorism.

Inconsistent reasoning trumpets itself
emblazoned on the pliable mind
the fact unfolds into simulations
in nonhierarchical networks of reference
the real war in Iraq is a reference
to the metaphor war on terrorism.

Newspoem 5 April 2004 The Metaphor War And The Literal War

[stands at podium, spotlight] Thank you yes now as to your question, I ordered the military invasion of truth, where ever truth hangs its hat. we are fulfilling that agenda unquestionably, and we are going to smoke out, eradicate, decimate, the last bit of truth.

Is language a site of violence? Not in my life, truthfully. Final notice prior to disconnect is about as bad as it gets for me these days. Like I said, I’m marginalized but the rent is low.

aAs long as they don’t shut off my electricity or my internet, I can burn old poems all winter, and I wouldn’t mind if the phone stopped ringing.

[phone rings]

NP: Yeah?

VOP: What is at stake with this election?

NP: Maybe nothing. But I'll tell you this. Today the Wall Street Journal. What I see is soldiers refusing orders in Iraq, and a poll taken last spring shows morale might have been slipping even then, among the 38% of soldiers who responded to the internal survey. I also see another scandal involving Boeing company getting inflated Pentagon cake.

Act II

Scene: 19 October 2004

Chicago Tribune: Macbeth?

NP: Fuck no

CT: Shakespeare was-

NP: Shut up

CT: Sha-

NP: Shut up. Look at this. [box, hold it open to CT: ]

CT: Oh my God is that-

NP: It's real

CT: I've never seen one of those. Can I-

NP: No, it's dangerous. You could kill someone

[enter Chicago Reader]

CR: What's up?

NP: September 11th

CR: [clears throat and gives a speech to the audience] On September 11th, 2001, almost 3000 Americans were murdered in one morning when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon with hijacked passenger planes. This was the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Everything changed forever on that day, not just in America, but around the world.


Get over it already. It's October.

CT: Where were you when it happened?

CR: Watching TV. Where were you?

CT: Watching TV. And listening to the radio.

NP: Look, there's things about September 11th we aren't being told. Like who did it and why. Things have gotten out of hand. This is no longer a democracy.

CT: Huh? Sure it is. I voted. I voted for Nader. I lost, fair and square.

NP: Fair? Why didn't they let Nader participate in the debates?

CT: I don't know

NP: Why didn't they even let Nader into the audience to watch the debates?

CR: You cost us the election. Everything Bush does is your fault. If it weren't for you Nader voters, Gore would have won.

CT: What? What makes you think I owe you my vote?

CR: You should have voted against Bush!

CT: I did!

CR: If you would have voted for Gore, Gore would have won!

NP: Gore did win.

CR: Well, he may have won the popular election, but he lost the Supreme Court decision.

NP: So what is Bush? President of America, or President of the Supreme Court?

CT: &CR: [together] That's the procedure in Florida. We have to work within the system to change the system.

CT: Campaign finance reform!

CR: Electoral college reform!

NP: You cannot work from within the system to change the system.

CR: How do you know?

NP: They tried that in Chile.

CT: What else can we do?

NP: What did they do in France? What did they do in Russia? What did they do in Cuba? What did they do in Nicaragua?

CT: &CR: [look at each other helplessly]

NP: What did they do in Vietnam?

CR: They lost the war

NP: Actually, they won the war.

CT: I thought it was a stalemate

CR: You're crazy. You shouldn't talk about losing wars. Right now, after September 11th, we need to be strong and united

CT: We need to stand behind our president, even if we disagree with his policies

CR: Even if we disagree with his grammar

NP: No. The president should be standing behind us. As a democratic leader, as our elected representative, he is our employee.

CT: I thought you said he wasn't elected

CT:&CR: Exactly!

NP: What we need to figure out is who we are, because we aren't the president. We aren't making these decisions the world will hold us, as Americans, responsible for

CT: [sighs] Why do they hate us?

NP: They are us.

In America, the idea of an armed uprising against the government is not a new one. In fact, that is how this country started with an armed uprising against British rule. The idea of an armed uprising is old, but by no means forgotten. In rural America, and most of America is rural, the militia movement has been preparing for such a thing since changes in the economy in the 1980s forced many farmers to lose land that their families had held for generations. But we are a civilized country, we are not like some banana republic. In fact, the opposite applies those banana republics are like us. Time and again, the bloodiest events in Latin American history with US knowledge, support, backing and planning. The bloodiest events were sponsored by the US, but not all of the bloody events. And this is my point.

In the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s, as in the Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979, a less violent social system was instituted by violent force. Following Castro's seizure of power, there were mass executions. The society is still considered a dictatorship, despite having an education and a health care system superior to those in the supposedly democratic United States (where we have plenty of executions). At the same time, US-backed attempts to overthrow Castro through violence are well documented, from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1963, through numerous assassination attempts on Castro, to say nothing of innumerable petty terrorist attacks and a devastating economic embargo. This suggests that if Cuba were any less totalitarian, the Castro government would have been ousted long ago, and the island nation would have reverted to its status as an American colony, sugar plantation, casino, and brothel.

Social change happens through violence. Without the will of then people behind it, such social change is a mere coup in which the violent are supplanted by the more violent.

In Chile, a democratically elected president named Salvador Allende attempted to institute a socialist society working within the constitution and government of his country. In 1973, a US-backed military coup seized power and executed him, in the beginning of one of the most horrifically violent periods in Latin American history.

There's your working within the system to change the system. It can't happen.

CR: [from offstage] That's why we've got to get a Democrat in the White House!

In order to have a revolution, it is necessary to execute the killers. Trouble is, who is qualified to judge?


Scene 4: 22 October 2004

[NYT at podium finishing speaking then waits as if for camera operator to stop rolling.]

NYT: you see, the administration did not forsee a second war.

NP: Isn't this a third war? For this administration.

NYT:I should have said a second Iraq war. Thank you. Look, that article is already two days old. Take today's. I thought you'd appreciate that caption there.

NP: Hunting for Votes, Hunting for Votes. Right below a photo of Bush campaigning joined to a photo of Kerry hunting. The caption not only makes no bones about the fact that Kerry has no business hunting in, or even setting foot in, Ohio other than to sway voters, but has a nice parallel structure. In the first case—Bush's—"hunting for" is a metaphor and a transitive verb; in the second case—Kerry's—"hunting" is literal, intransitive, and "for votes" is a prepositional phrase.

There's John Kerry in camo with a gorgeous and photogenic hunting dog. It pisses me off that they don't give the name of the dog, who is the only one who looks straight into the camera and appears willing to, at a second's notice, race up to the American people and start licking their face. Not so the shorn secret service in their hunting costumes. Nor Kerry who glances cameraward but appears lost in his photo op fantasy, the fantasy of being one of them. I am not rich, he thinks, I am not Ivy League. Just a good old boy, nothing wrong with that. My statements in the early 70s against the war in Vietnam only meant that I don't think rich people like myself should have to serve, and I wish those liberals would understand that. The purpose of war is profit and our best accountants need to remain stateside and be paid comfortably because if we mismanage the profits the war will be a catastrophic failure, and eventually we have to acknowledge the casualties, those on your sides, the future accountants and planners or laborers. My statements against the first Gulf War, just like my statements not against the second Gulf War, merely expressed the intentions of my party. Too much has been made of my flip-flopping. I have not struggled even that much. If I flip-flopped it is because I was flip-flopped by the politics of the moment. If only I had had the spine to flip-flop.

I feel one or two rural Americans almost stirred by this manufactured image. Why are the three hunters wearing camo? Shouldn't they be wearing orange so that other hunters don't mistake them for deer? Or perhaps whether you wear green or orange depends on your quarry and their ability to perceive colors. Why Ohio? Kerry doesn't hunt in Ohio, if he ever hunts, but it is a swing state and the Springfield Township will pay the tab for the police who worked overtime clearing the forest of any and all other possible geese hunters. Thus wearing camo. There is no danger of some Libertarian redneck taking a potshot at the candidate by accident, mistaking him for a goose, because even if said redneck and his hound had somehow managed to get their truck near the site by now they would be face down in the mud being frisked by authorities, probably the local constabulary working overtime, costing Springfield the money it needed to build a new school next year, for which the Kerry campaign will not reimburse them.

Newspoem 7 October 2004 Swing States Pay The Price

So instead of orange hunting gear (I believe someone thought this through very carefully and never mind whether geese can see orange) he wears camouflage because this gives his hunting entourage a military look, thereby soothing his true contingents, the war profiteerers, demonstrating that he is willing to disgust his liberal and environmentalist contingent for a slice of the war-profiteer vote.

Dick Cheney called this camo an "October Disguise."

Newspoem September 1998: The Ventriloquists Administration

Here we have a distortion of scale. Cheney is comparing the October Surprise—illegal arms sales to Iran to delay, yes delay, the release of the American hostages—to Kerry's silly hunting outing. There is no comparison. This is like comparing Bush's dereliction of duty in the Texas Air National Guard to disagreements about what actually happened when John Kerry was under fire in Vietnam. The scale is not comparable. The October Surprise was a grotesque criminal enterprise. Kerry's hunting photo op involved the loss of life of perhaps not even one goose (because there were no witnesses), much less cavorting and wheeling and dealing with enemies of the state. And the typography used on a document that confirms Bush's dereliction of duty is not comparable to a disagreement about what happened in a particular battle in Vietnam. Either way, Kerry served and Bush did not. And either way, the Republican precursor to the administration now seeking reelection committed egregious crimes against America, while Kerry went Duck Hunting.

I have just discovered that Kerry emerged from the underbrush with four dead geese, claiming each member of the party shot one, his hand stained with blood, though he was the only member of his party not carrying a carcass.

1100 identified dead Americans in Iraq since the start of the Iraq war—which one?

NYT: Shut up.

NP: —today. With the death of Andrew C Ehrlich, 21, Specialist, Army; Mesa, Ariz., First Infantry Division.


Scene 5: 27 October 2004

[this scene takes place nearly in darkness. wsws remains in shadow, a band of light falling across his face]

NP: what purpose this write
just to sharpen my knives
my friend
just to sharpen my knives
we can’t wait until the election is over so we can get back to more important work

But wait, here's a headline that might save me: Crocodile Husbandry is Really Hard, China Finds
Cambodia's New King Dances Into a Land of the Absurd
a sleepy filling overtakes me
trying to read the newspaper choking on frozen vomit.
now wondering because he's left and my lungs ache and the day is mercilessly cold and without sun and the lies get thicker and thicker in the newspaper

The story starts, the story starts, the story starts, the motifs enter the symphony. war on drugs, war on terrorism, the melodies intertwine.

What business do I have taking on the New York Times in a poetry duel? That's a huge organization. A juggernaut. I'm just some guy.

WSWS: He needs you.

NP:That's a laugh. Needs me. Ha... Really?

WSWS: Oh you bet. You're one of them.

NP: I'm not.

WSWS: You are. An educated reader. A tough crowd. You're almost good enough to read between the lies. But you, like America, have a short memory.

NP: Huh?

WSWS: You are right that it is an aircraft carrier, and you are a paper airplane. But it needs you. You are the last person left to fool. When it finally fools you, then it has America sewn up.

NP:Not gonna happen.

WSWS: Has happened. Is happening. Will continue to happen.

NP: Fool me? Did you read this story? Have you ever seen a more stable edifice of fact?

WSWS: Do you remember what you were saying about America having a short memory?

NP: I don't.

WSWS: Do you remember how, December 13, 2000, one day after the supreme court ruling establishing Bush as president, the Times urged the American people to "respect the authority and legitimacy of the new president?"

NP: That sounds like the Times I remember.

WSWS: Or how about October 12, 2001? It described Bush, in the wake of the invasion of Afghanistan—the first first war, as "confident," "determined," "sure," "firm."

NP: Oh yeah. Ew.

WSWS: Or July 17, 2004?

NP: No.

WSWS: In an editorial, the Times dismissed the administration's frightening "contingency plans" to cancel the presidential election in the event of a terrorist attack. That creep William Safire wrote a glib editorial New Years Eve predicting orecisely such an attack.

Or Monday, April 21, 2003?

NP: I forget.

WSWS: Front page article, written by Judith Miller, asserting that "Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began." Trouble is, this article had no evidence whatsoever, only a conversation with an unnamed Iraqi. Thereby paving the way for the invasion, providing much-needed credibility to the administration's claim that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction, the very claim debunked by last Sunday's article.

NP: Why has the newspaper turned against Bush?

WSWS: I don't know. But when it tells the truth, remember that it has a false reason for doing so. In the editorial endorsing Kerry on the 17th, it claimed that the Bush administration was undemocratically appointed by the Supreme Court.

NP: It was.

WSWS: But why has the Times remained silent on this important point for four years?

NP: I see what you're saying. Thomas Pynchon writes that "we are often unaware of the scope and structure of our ignorance." How can we read the newspaper noticing only that which is not there? Reading the whitespaces through its record, a layered patchwork of different reporters, different years. Did September 11th scare them that badly?

WSWS: It has to do with profit. Follow the money.

NP: Wait, why are you telling me this?

WSWS: Political reasons.

NP: Who are you?

WSWS: Just a Trotskyite website.

NP: Oh, so you're biased.

WSWS: Yes, straightforwardly and consistently. This election signifies a fissure in the bourgeoisie. I gotta go, the papers are just starting to come out in New Zealand. There's a strike on.


Act V

Scene 6: 28 October 2004

I can't write nature poetry, no matter how beautiful the leaves turning to flame. "What kind of times are these / when to write about trees is almost a crime / because it implies silence about so many horrors?" — Bertholt Brecht

There are certain quotes that guide me. For example:

"Art means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner-table of power which holds it hostage." — Adrienne Rich

I hate William Safire. Today he is gloating about how we've helped Afghanistan become democratic, and elect its own U.S.-installed leader in an election marred by as many allegations of fraud as the democratic election in this country four years ago.

Right now the moon is turning red with indignation. Or it is a lunar eclipse? Robert Creeley had to drive to Canada to get flu shots. Ashlee Simpson was caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live. And the remains of a one-meter high person, who lived 12,000 years ago, was discovered on an island off of Indonesia. Living with tiny elephants, they were killed off by a volcano arouind the time human beings crossed into North America over a land bridge.

Eminem has released a video on the internet showing hooded rappers storming the capitol in order to vote. A new study suggests that there have been more than 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties since the beginning of the war. Iraqis have been 2.5 times more likely to die since the Evil Dictator was removed. The former leading cause of death—disease—has been far outpaced by violent death, usually women and children, usually through US airstrikes. The Bush campaign has publicly retracted a doctored campaign photo that shows a digitally enlarged crowd of soldiers listening to Bush speak. This is at least the third such allegation since Bush took office. Remember the staged photo of Iraqi civilians tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein? Remember that when Bush made his historic landing on Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the aircraft carrier had positioned itself so the nearby San Diego coastline was not visible, creating the impression that Bush had landed at sea. Is the lying of this administration not sufficiently documented? To give yet another example, today's front page features a story that a Minneapolis TV crew filmed explosives at Al Qaqaa on a day when the Bush administration claimed they were none there, having been removed by the Evil Dictator. The military broke into warehouses using bolt cutters, leaving them open. Kerry's trumpeted claims that the Bush invasion let tons of military-grade explosives slip into the hands of looters are truer than ever, Bush's repeated denials and evasions thinner than ever. The story is even careful to point out that, though HMX can be used in developing nuclear explosives, there was no evidence that Iraq any longer had plans to do so. It's safe to say that some very dangerous, very useful explosives have fallen into the wrong hands. Nobody is any safer as a result of the occupation.

Meanwhile, today Vice President Cheney was quoted as saying the war in Iraq was a "remarkable success story."


New York Times, I'd like to ask you a few questions if I may.

NYT: Of course.

NP: No matter who wins this election, European-American relations will not be the winner. It is too late for Iraq to be the winner. According to a cusory reading of your business section, the oil industry shows little sign of being the winner. Let's hope America will win something like the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918. I hope this year will bring a double victory for Massachusetts. Newspoetry is pulling for you, M.A. But which newspaper will come out ahead?

NYT: If Kerry wins, it will be me. My status of newspaper of record will be reinforced.

NP: Well, then, I'm voting for you, New York Times.
i am so going to vote
i am way voting
i will vote fast and furious, early and often
i'm gonna cast like a motha
like you never seen


Scene 1 November 2004


by now even the repressed schoolteachers of belarus, those whose family have been killed in china in an ethnic clash escalating from the death of a young girl hit by a taxicab, william safire the pompous prick who farts in the metros, the late lewis carroll, the tiny skulls found in the indonesian archipelago, the cracked and gnarled surface of titan, the lunar eclipse, bruce springsteen, aishah rahman, me, you, the newspoetry email list, more than 100,000 iraqi citizens and more than 1100 american troops, and jacques derrida, must be sick of anticipating this election.

the ailing fidel castro, the ailing yasser arafat, the ailing chief justice rehnquist, are literally sick of this election.

WSWS: Remember what I said?

NP: Follow the money?

WSWS: Right!

NP: But you weren’t originally the one who said that.

WSWS: Got a pen?

NP: [poised above laptop] Right here.


On the eve of the 2004 presidential election, allegations about the corrupt relationship between the Bush administration and Halliburton Corp., the company formerly run by Vice President Richard Cheney, have taken center stage once again. Press reports Friday said that the FBI has expanded an ongoing investigation into contracts obtained by Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), in Iraq and Kuwait.

The FBI sought an interview with Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, a senior Army civil servant who objected to the KBR no-bid contract and complained that it represented preferential treatment. The Army gave KBR a secret $7 billion contract to restore Iraq’s oil fields just before Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Greenhouse is the chief contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers. In a letter to acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee on October 21, she said that Army officials had not justified the no-bid award by satisfying procedural requirements such as showing that KBR had “unique attributes” that no other contractor could match. She also charged that her repeated complaints were ignored, and that the Army allowed KBR officials to sit in on Pentagon meetings at which the awarding of contracts was discussed.

The letter charges that “employees of the U.S. government have taken improper action that favored KBR’s interests,” according to citations published in the press. Greenhouse said she “experienced repeated interference with her role” as chief monitor of Corps of Engineers contracts.

Greenhouse’s lawyer said that his client, who still works at the Pentagon, was seeking the protection of whistleblower provisions to block retaliatory actions such as demotion or firing. Greenhouse was threatened with demotion earlier this month.

Tensions within the Army Corps of Engineers apparently reached the breaking point on October 8, when the Corps gave Halliburton a one-year $165 million extension on a contract to provide food, fuel and other supplies for US forces stationed in the Balkans. According to an account in the Los Angeles Times, which obtained a copy of the contract document, Greenhouse wrote on the proposal, “I cannot approve this,” and made other written comments protesting the award. Greenhouse did not sign the final approval of the extension, as required. Instead, her assistant, Lt. Col. Norbert Doyle, signed it.

Greenhouse apparently felt that with so many investigations underway into KBR overcharging the US military or engaging in bribery and other corrupt practices, the Corps should not simply rubber-stamp an extension of the KBR contract in the Balkans, first awarded during the 1999 US assault on Serbia. The contract is being expanded to cover the entire continent of Europe, including newly established US bases in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

The Halliburton subsidiary has been hit with a series of complaints of overcharging and otherwise mishandling its contracts as the principal supplier of food, fuel and other materiel to the US invasion and occupation force in Iraq. It also faces investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission over potentially illegal and corrupt dealings in Nigeria and Iran.

This is not the first time that top Pentagon officials appointed by George W. Bush have overruled career civil service professionals to award contracts to Vice President Cheney’s old firm. In the fall of 2002, an Army lawyer objected to the initial Iraq-related contract for KBR, $1.9 million to draw up a plan for operating the country’s oil infrastructure after a war. While tiny in relation to the huge oil field recovery and military supply contracts doled out later, this award was critical because it gave KBR an edge over any potential competitor. The Government Accountability Office later determined that the Army lawyer had been right.

Greenhouse herself objected at several points in the subsequent contracting process: when KBR placed a bid for the oil-field recovery contract whose specifications it had drawn up in the pre-war planning process; when the Army Corps of Engineers invited KBR officials to meetings where they were discussing the contract awards; and when the Pentagon proposed to make the “sole-source” no-bid contract for five years, longer than she believed necessary. Each time she was overruled.

Last December, after the first press reports about overcharging on KBR contracts to supply fuel to the military in Iraq, Army Corps contracting officer Mary Robertson found two alternative fuel suppliers who would offer a better price, but Halliburton refused to buy from them, insisting on continuing its exclusive relationship with the Kuwaiti-owned Altanmia. In a letter to KBR, Robertson protested, “Since the U.S. government is paying for these services, I will not succumb to the political pressure from the [Kuwaiti government] or the U.S. Embassy to go against my integrity and pay a higher price for fuel than necessary.”

A pattern of corruption and cover-up

Over the past year, one revelation after another has ensued, demonstrating not only that Halliburton/KBR has enjoyed privileged access to Pentagon contracts, but that the Bush administration has done everything in its power to block any review of this corrupt relationship with Cheney’s former company.

* In December 2003, Pentagon auditors uncovered a overcharge of $61 million by KBR on a contract to supply fuel for the military in Iraq. Halliburton was also suspected of overcharging by $67 million on food for military mess halls in Kuwait and Iraq.

* In January 2004, Halliburton repaid $6.3 million in overcharges and kickbacks for fuel contracts in Kuwait.

* In February 2004, the Pentagon announced that Halliburton would repay it for $27 million in KBR overbilling for meals served to troops at five military bases in Kuwait and Iraq. The meals were never delivered.

* In March 2004, the Pentagon requested the Justice Department join the probe of overbilling, a strong indication that potential criminal fraud charges were at issue.

* In June 2004, Time magazine obtained and made public an internal Army Corps of Engineers e-mail from March 2003, reporting that the initial contract award to Halliburton had been “coordinated” with the office of Vice President Cheney.

* Later in June, press reports confirmed that a Bush political appointee, Michael Mobbs, was the Pentagon official who decided to award the initial planning job to KBR which facilitated its selection for the subsequent $7 billion implementation contract.

* In July 2004, a federal grand jury subpoenaed records of Halliburton’s subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, as part of an investigation into illicit dealings with Iran.

* In August 2004, a Pentagon audit found that $1.8 billion by KBR for work in Iraq was inadequately documented and potentially unjustified. The Pentagon initially said it would withhold 15 percent of scheduled payments to KBR pending the result of an investigation—the usual procedure in such cases—but reversed the decision two days later.

* In September 2004, a federal judge in Dallas rejected a proposed $6 million settlement of a lawsuit by Halliburton stockholders charging the company with accounting fraud, suggesting that the penalty was far too small.

The month of October has seen one report after another about dubious or plainly corrupt ties between Halliburton and various federal agencies, some of them directly mediated by Vice President Cheney’s staff. These revelations underscore one reason for the ferocity of the Bush campaign in the November 2 election. Should Bush and Cheney fail to retain the White House—and thus lose the power to block and suppress the myriad investigations into corrupt contracting—dozens of individuals, right up to the topmost levels of the administration, will face trial, conviction and imprisonment.

On October 13, the Los Angeles Times ran a detailed analysis of the Nigeria bribery scandal, which could lead to criminal charges against Cheney from his tenure as Halliburton CEO from 1995 to 2000. Halliburton became part of the four-company consortium building a huge natural gas complex in Nigeria when it acquired Dresser Corp. in 1998, merging Dresser’s construction subsidiary M.W. Kellogg with its own construction arm Brown & Root, to form Kellogg Brown & Root.

Kellogg’s boss, Jack Stanley, was a key figure in the alleged scheme to funnel $180 million in bribes to Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha, routed through a complex series of shell corporations in Gibraltar and Switzerland, to gain the lucrative contract, ultimately worth more than $5.2 billion. Cheney installed Stanley as the head of the merged KBR. US authorities are now investigating whether Halliburton violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Cheney would be legally liable if he knew that illegal payments were being made in 1998 and 1999, while he was CEO.

On October 14, the Times followed up with a report on apparent Bush administration favoritism towards Halliburton in the regulatory field, through a series of actions that boosted a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, devised by Halliburton, despite environmental concerns. The technique involves the injection of liquid chemicals, including gasoline, napalm, crude oil and other toxic substances, into oil wells, to force out greater quantities of petroleum than can be recovered by ordinary drilling.

The Bush administration has intervened to oppose efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act, authorizing an EPA study declaring that the technique poses no threat to drinking water. At least one EPA career civil servant has sought whistleblower protection and filed a complaint with the agency’s inspector general and Congress over that decision. Weston Wilson, an environmental engineer with 30 years experience, charged that the finding was not supported by science and that a current Halliburton employee sat in on the review panel that approved it.

A lawsuit brought by a group of Alabama residents living near a Halliburton well challenged hydraulic fracturing and won a 1997 Appeals Court decision ordering the EPA to regulate the practice under the drinking water law. Action on this decision has been repeatedly stalled, and the issue was ultimately referred to the Bush administration’s energy task force—headed by former Halliburton CEO Cheney. Not surprisingly, the panel sided with the energy industry and overruled the EPA. The US Department of Energy issued a statement declaring hydraulic fracturing vital to the US economy and proposing its exemption from regulation. Language to that effect was inserted in the Bush administration’s energy legislation, which failed to pass Congress last year.

Halliburton and Whitewater

The decision of a high-ranking civil servant to publicly challenge the Halliburton-Cheney connection demonstrates the shattering impact of the crisis in the US occupation of Iraq on the entire Pentagon apparatus. Questions have been raised about Halliburton’s sweetheart deals in Iraq for nearly two years, both by the media and by congressional Democrats, but only sporadically and ineffectively. The investigation has remained bottled up in the Pentagon inspector general’s office. Greenhouse’s October 21 letter has likewise been referred to this office, headed by Republican lawyer Joseph Schmitz.

The chief of staff in Schmitz’s office is L. Jean Lewis, a right-wing Republican Party loyalist who first came to public notice—and notoriety—as an anti-Clinton activist in the Whitewater investigation more than a decade ago. Lewis was named to the $118,000-a-year job in 2002, as a reward for her role in instigating the charges linking Bill and Hillary Clinton to the failed Madison Guaranty, an Arkansas S&L she was responsible for investigating as an employee of the Resolution Trust Corporation.

Lewis filed a criminal referral in September 1992, trying unsuccessfully to provoke an RTC and FBI investigation of the Clintons on the eve of the 1992 presidential election. The Little Rock FBI office concluded there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and said that Lewis’s efforts to initiate such a probe were a blatant effort to influence the outcome of the vote. More than a year later, Lewis’s charges were taken up again by congressional Republicans and became the initial pretext for the series of investigations that led to Clinton’s impeachment.

There is a clear and obvious difference in the way that the American political establishment has handled the Halliburton and Whitewater affairs. In the first instance, the Clintons’ loss of money on a small, failed real estate venture more than a decade old was leveraged into a massive scandal warranting a probe costing $50 million, culminating in impeachment. In the second case, a real, ongoing corrupt relationship, involving influence peddling worth billions of dollars—perhaps the most blatant corruption in the long history of political corruption in the United States—has been largely downplayed. Certainly, there have been no suggestions that Cheney warrants impeachment, or that his long-running effort to block disclosure of the proceedings of his energy task force constitutes a cover-up.

NP: Got it. Great poem, by the way. Just needs some line breaks.

WSWS: Part of what I’m trying to help you do is improve your memory.

NP: [not listening] hm?

WSWS: Now try to remember your own poetry.

NP: Fondly.

WSWS: Think back to a year ago, when you produced a little pamphlet.

Newspoem 4 October 2003 The Way the World Works
NP: I wonder what newbridgestrategies has been up to.

[looks at latop, clicking, etc]

Here we are... let’s click on news... Aha and glory be.


MCT Corp. Announces Bid for Iraq Mobile Telecom Networks

MCT Corp., an Alexandria, Virginia based company announces the submission of its bid for a license to operate a GSM cellular telephone network in Iraq. MCT is leading an American/Iraq consortium in its bid for this license to develop advanced communications solutions that meet the needs of the Iraqi people as rapidly as possible.

Do you realize what this means? The last and only news item is from a year ago, two weeks after I wrote that poem. I killed them off. That’s one point for our side.

Scene: 2 November 2004.

Tuesday November 2, 2004

Waning moon in Cancer. Nurturing comes easily to some, but beware of too much protectiveness from Libra. It gets only more difficult on Thursday.

The moon signs in the Providence Phoenix speak of a Kerry victory.

The Democrats are metaphorically construed as nurturing mothers, with social spending seen as motherly nurturing.

While the Republicans, the elephant sign, are seen as punishing fathers

Even after the debacle of 00, throughout the nation, voters still rely on many arguably antiquated polling methods. Throughout the hotly contested state of Ohio, voters will use a mixture of electronic voting, ink pen, and the punch machines associated with the now-famous dimpled and hanging chads. In Rhode Island, the state sticks to the stone tablet method, in which citizens cast their vote with chisels. In Florida, ballots are made of smoke. In parts of underwater michigan, algae ballots undulate in the cold currents. In Nevada, voters use an awl to stitch their vote into big and tall men's westernwear. In Alaska, voters must leap out of airplanes and parachute into the oval corresponding to the candidate of choice. In Maine the gender of deer you shoot determines your vote, and fishing poles are used in spring and summer months. In the Dakotas, voters choose which of two sticks to hit the drum with. In the more modern California everything is done telepathically.
On the other hand, analysts think, if the electoral college were abolished, campaigns would be run differently. Candidates would strive to be as likeable as possible and by the largest number of people, instead of romancing dairy farmers in isolated provinces of Wisconsin. In some cases, candidates might choose to speak persuasively in American English, and in others they might cultivate earnest charisma.

If Nader wins, wont you be embarrased? I will.

I am casting my ballot in the river.

We're down to the wire. These days elections either go to the left, as in Brazil and Uruguay, or there are allegations of fraud, as in Afghanistan.

NYT: We're hoping for a Kerry victory. We endorse him because we think he's better for America, and if he loses we're losing our seat at White House banquets.

[Newspoet takes the thing from the box and shows it to the New York Times. The New York Times cowers. Cringes. Is utterly undiginified in a pleading legalistic way.]

NYT: Put that away. Christ. You don't know how to use that.

NP: That's what makes it so dangerous.

NYT: why don't you just give me that. Im afraid you'll blow somebody's brai-

NP: -Give it to you? You could get your own, you know, maybe you should. Instead of cowardly defering to your "experts" and "analysts" to back up what you know is true, instead of putting everything on the line and standing up, using your own name, for something you believe in. On Tuesday alone you defered to 33 anonymous sources. {analysts say experts are hazardous to your health. NYT section 4 page 2 2004-11-01}

NYT: Newspoet, listen, I can get you some ink. I can swing it. How about a square inch a day.

NP: [three second silence as newspoet puts box carefully on desk] Where?

NYT: Not the front page obviously. A square inch. A day. For your poetry.

NP: [scoffs] A square inch. How much poetry can fit in a square inch?

NYT: You'd be surprised.

NP: I need white space.

NYT: [identical scoff] Nobody gets white space. We don't publish silence, only noise and signal.

NP: But line breaks, I-

NYT: Use slashes. You've tried to write a poem a day. In 96 and 99. You know how hard it is. The poet laureate can't do that. Even David Lehman gets edited. Charles Schulz was like Hercules. Think of the athletic rigor that went even into such fluff as Hagar the Horrible. A day. At our normal rate.

NP: What, I have to pay for the space?

NYT: [laughs] No. We pay you. For your writing. Which becomes our property of course.

[glum five second silence] How much?

NYT: One hundred dollars. A day.

[six second silence. they stare at each other. both suddenly widen eyes and the NYT shouts no! as np lunges for box, then blackout]


[Newspoet's apartment is totally trashed. Newspoet is seen under newspapers looking for bottles of water, hurriedly packing.

New York Times, wearing a red beret, stands at the podium reciting this newspoem]

Newspoem 15 November 2000 for the next four more

Newspoetry by William at Spineless Books