February 2007

The real scandal of the Bush administration

By Art Goodtimes

GOD BLESS US … The real scandal of the Bush administration won’t be cured by impeachment, though accountability is indeed called for. What I have trouble believing — as a man who spent several decades as an Old World Christian, who even went so far as to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood (1959-1965), graduating from jeans and tennies, to suit and tie, to cassock and biretta – what I have trouble believing is the Christian Right. How could televangelists and their crusading champions have failed so miserably in bringing this nation peace or justice? Just the opposite. The political leaders they support have given us war, torture, the loss of civil liberties — spilling over into partisanship in our most treasured national institutions, murders in our schools, and a fastincreasing gap between the red haves and the blue have-nots … Truth is, I have trouble believing that this administration has acted in anything resembling a Christian manner. And that’s a much deeper scandal in my mind … If our religious leaders are lying to us, whom can we trust?

WORLD’S OLDEST RITUAL … Our understanding of human history just changed with a startling archaeological discovery this past summer in an area of Botswana known as Ngamiland. According to the Research Council of Norway, Associate Professor Sheila Coulson, of the University of Oslo, uncovered a cave where Homo sapiens were performing advanced rituals 70,000 years ago – 30,000 years earlier than was thought to be the dates for the earliest manifestations of culture among our human ancestors … In searching for Middle Stone Age artifacts in the Tsodilo Hills of the Kalahari Desert (an area renowned for having the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world), Coulson found a cave sacred to the San people in which a rock sculpture of a python was clearly evident, along with workings and tools that established the site’s date. Combined with other cave features, the cave yielded some 13,000 artifacts, almost entirely spearheads that had been brought from some distance away … “Stone Age people took these colorful spearheads, brought them to this cave, and finished carving them there,” said Coulson. “Only the red spearheads were burned. It was a ritual destruction of artifacts. There was no sign of normal habitation. No ordinary tools were found at the site. Our find means that humans were more organized and had the capacity for abstract thinking at a much earlier point in history than we have previously assumed. All of the indications suggest that Tsodilo has been known to mankind for almost 100,000 years as a very special place in the pre-historic landscape.” … As the Research Council of Norway noted, “It was a major archaeological find five years ago that made it possible for Sheila Coulson to date the finds in this little cave in Botswana. Up until the turn of the century archaeologists believed that human civilizations developed in Europe after our ancestors migrated from Africa. This theory was crushed by archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood when he published his find of traces from a Middle Stone Age dwelling in the Blombos Cave in Southern Cape, South Africa.”

THE TALKING GOURD

BEAT POETS, T’ANG DYNASTY
Damn! Here, under the sky’s cliffs
these cold winds keep rising.
Tu Fu, you scribbling tramp,
are you still out there, tracking with me?

Send me a poem. Send it tonight.
Hell—send me a bridge!
These snow-filled rivers are
too swollen to cross.

Above me, the squawking arrows
of geese point to no answer.
We poets tell the virgin truth: our
souls and wallets never were lovers.

Only the drunkest spirits guard
our restless hearts. Well, so what
if people laugh—we are what
we are. Can they say that?

I’ll hoist this wine tonight,
toasting our wrinkled memories—
how we’d stick twigs into our campfire
poems, turning them into tiny sails,

then set them loose, and go
chasing after them half
the night, stumbling and
giggling down the starlit creeks.

A working from Kenneth Rexroth’s Tu Fu

Gabe Heilig, Maryland

COLO PROGRESSIVE COALITION I was honored when this statewide social-justice non-profit invited me to join their board, as a representative from the Western Slope. Recognized nationally for their work (USA Today, LA Times, and more), their accomplishments for 2006 include helping lead the campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage statewide, cleaning up the raw sewage dumped into Pueblo’s Fountain Creek, leading a health-justice project that helped pass a state prescription-drug affordability law and convinced Sen. Ken Salazar to help defeat a multi-billion dollar asbestoscorporation bailout bill, sponsoring Colorado Unity network and working to protect civil rights in the juvenile justice system and for immigrants, turning back a deficitbusting move to repeal the federal estate tax, seeing one of its own staffers (John Kefalas) win a Fort Collins representative seat in the state legislature, and hosting new grassroots leadership academies in Aurora and Pueblo … CPC does great work in this state. If you’re interested in social justice, consider joining. Go to the web site www. progressivecoalition. org.

FIRST TAKE … Got a couple interesting publications in the mail recently … Meena 2 is a bilingual Arabic/ English arts and literary journal out of New Orleans, published by friend Andy Young and her partner Khaled Hegazzi … Meena means “port” in Arabic and the mag seeks “to create more, and varied, dialogue as it is clear that we need ports-of-entry now more than ever.” Their second issue sports fine work by Charlie Simic and Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mafouz, who passed away this past summer. Go to their website to get a copy, www.meenamag. com … And another old friend, Padma Thornlyre, has come out with a marvelous little chapbook of poems by his young daughter, Circe Morganna, and himself, Sometimes, Grace Goes Cuckoo (Mad Blood Editions, Evergreen, 2006). Both of their poems resonate for me, the father of several children. This is the perfect book to give to someone starting a family. And it’s a very affordable $5 … For info, email tpadma@qwest.net

POT STOPS ALZHEIMER’S? … That’s the latest headline coming out of the science community. Of course, the report says it’s the chemicals they’re isolating, not the natural substance ingested, that gives the benefit. Of course, in a society where drug cartels are among the most profitable of corporations, and where most research money comes from these tainted sources, what else would you expect?

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.