Monday, November 05, 2007

Capricorn One Comes To Pakistan

With the current chaos in Pakistan the world is in an uproar and rightly so. Aid is considered to be cut off in official press releases while you can imagine phone tag s being played and jokes are being made,

Bush Administration official: “Oh yea, aid is being cut off, we’ll rip off real quick so it’ll only hurt for a minute and then give you another one. (laughs) Hey, by the way, next time you bomb Bhutto, try putting it inside the damn bus will ya?”

CNN ran a slightly offensive infomercial this evening with the same revolving 15 second bit of footage playing over and over with talking heads going on and on… What it all boils down to is the Bush administration, like that of Nixon in the 1960’s will support and aid any acts of dirty pool or assassination, period. Take that to the bank, Karl Rove or not.
Official press core were present to capture the arrests and beatings of protestors, well dressed protestors and in a country where the phone lines were reportedly down, Internet reports are still getting out along with video and still photography. All that is missing is is an official Fox News banner flying over the crowd and war torn, grizzled Fox security in their khaki vests keeping the truth victimized for us across the border.

- Chris Mansel

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Observation from poet/activist Jake Berry

It is worth remembering that although the Greeks invented democracy. They couldn't hold on to it. It kept sliding into tyranny. It had the effect of turning Plato against it. The Romans made it work for a while, but that was before they became an empire. Empires are wealthy but unwieldy. Difficult to control. So many people scattered across so much space. It's impossible to know what is happening, especially with a democratic form of government. The drift is toward greater centralization of power. China is discovering that along with greater autonomy comes broader, and more clandestine, forms of corruption. They have tried dictatorship and now free markets. Either way the country is too big to manage very efficiently. During Mao's campaigns of terror and during the Bush regime's crackdown on civil rights post 9/11 there were brief periods where the oppositions were silenced. Very quickly, however, the voice of dissent begins to rise again.

In a small state, a city state say, the voice of dissent can be expressed directly in the form of town meetings. The debate is open and free. As long as there is no shortage of essential resources all is well, but when shortages come, and they always will, people abandon equanimity. Wealth concentrates. Under a series of administrations where false shortages generated by large scale capitalism have not been called to task a sense of desperation permeates the entire culture. A philosophy of immediate consumption becomes the driving ethic of the entire society. Grab what you can now because tomorrow it will all be gone. Becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or the secret fear that it will do so fans the flames of desperation. Under these circumstances it is easy to convince the populace that wars must be fought, resources must be secured at any cost. Empire. In the end the people wish they'd left the whole thing alone. The earth is plentiful, but can not bear the imposition of global empires and those that lie outside the empire will strike out against it. We may protest from inside, but it will do no good until the protest reaches all levels of society, even those with enormous wealth. There is a bit of protest on that level, a shadow of it in that Obama has been able to raise so much money, but even if he had a chance to win he's already made so many compromises that he'd would walk into the job as empire maintenance and nothing more.

- Jake Berry

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Attacked with a knife, stripped and hustled away. No, this isn't a crime in Central Park, it's the U.S. governement in action. Trail by jury? Jury of your peers? Wiretapping? Defending the right to torture? Those weren't campaign promises, they were carried out after taking office. So who on the campaign trail will take the law into their hands the worst in your opinion?

- Chris Mansel

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Plague: Democracy?

It happens all over the world, a relief worker will work tirelessly, to the point of exhaustion and those they are helping will become so concerned with the health of the relief worker and forget about their own suffering and offer their water or food. It is in moments like this that the true beauty of existence shines through. I have read tireless of aid workers in impossible situations, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Darfur and it never ceases to amaze me just how much suffering mankind can inflict upon itself. It is almost like Osiris hisself has crawled out of the book of life, the lone child of the book of Revelation and from the ribs of the beast spread suffering so thick in the form of a plague called democracy.

- Chris Mansel

Monday, October 15, 2007

For He So Loved The World

How broad a chapter is written when considering the suffering of the Iraqi civilians? Troops returning from iraq complain that too little is being reported of the good they are doing in Iraq. The personal contact they are affecting is lost in the horriffic savagery of the war it is true but the same was true in the Vietnam War. We need to do more to aid these returning veterans as they spend there small amount of time home before retunring again and again to the war zone.

- Chris Mansel

"Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
Pity me?"

- Robert Browning, Epilogue To Asolando

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This Poison Sun

a rural baptism, in a war zone
an I.V. of clear liquid will do
quarantining in a Sunni neighborhood
an Iraqi who is HIV positive
hooded and detained, white blood cells
retracting like concertina wire
the Marine charged to watch over the detainees
sits with a pistol in his mouth
repeatedly trying to kick off his boot
under a poison sun

- Chris Mansel

Friday, October 12, 2007


That one unadulterated singular voice this country needs in political office is not out there and it is certainly not running for presidential office. It takes more than speaking truth to power. It takes more than standing up for what you believe in. Who among us believes there is one politician who thinks beyond the passing of the resolution or law about the body count that will later ensue a month down the road, a year? Who in office speaks of change and follows it, pursues it? A sound bite does not a well thought out conversation make.

We need a President who believes in peace for the Palestinian people and who believes that the Israelis do engage in acts of terror. We need a President who believes in peace for the people of Tibet and a return of His Holiness the Dalia lama to his homeland instead of his stay in exile. We need a President who will finally pardon Leonard Peltier. I don't see anyone on the campaign trail offering anything close to this.

- Chris Mansel

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


There are hammers in the wheel well this evening and as the road passing by underneath at a high rate of speed the swinging goes on. You don't have to be on the road to the airport in Baghdad to know that the situation is out of control. These days the gangs of america run through the day lit streets of another country heavily armed and funded by the occupying force shooting indiscrimately.
My short story J. R. and I in Iraq (posted on this blog as well as tells the story of two correspondents gettng caught in the middle of a wave of gunfire on unarmed civilians by a private armed security force who might as well be named Blackwater. I wrote this story in December of 2006 and currently there is strong debate over just such an event having taken place. Who will handle the out of control gunmen of Blackwater? Who will sop the U.S. government who obviously has no problem with their tactics? The My Lai massacre didn't stop the Vietnam War, and niether will the secret bombing of Iran/Cambodia.

- Chris Mansel

"...all the rockers on the roads and all the boots in the streets.

- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

"Olympus is but the outside of the earth everywhere."

- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Monday, October 08, 2007

End of the Bush Years

The expiration date for the cold hard truth of the Bush administration will be in the form of a small bag of mushrooms that descend from a cloud of well wishers in the press room. Whoever is the Press spokesman at the time will peel off their clothes and start ramming their hips into the C-SPAN cameras, champagne will flow into the hoof-like boots custom made in Germany for the more elite of the conservatives who wore through the Reagan years, their true blue blood still intact as well their bigotry not dismayed with the previous years of breakthroughs in the democratic racial divide.

Yes, the end of the Bush years will come suddenly and with great flourish as some will be sacrificed as the Bush library will be constructed no doubt somewhere in Dallas, Texas since the president plans to move there after he leaves office so he can guard his official papers with a team of lawyers not seen before since Ed Meese protected his collection of pornography in Circuit Court.

- Chris Mansel

Friday, October 05, 2007

Flashing The Hash At The Watergate Parts 1-6

Part One:

Television news crews surround the steps of the courthouse as Scooter Libby begins a slow walk to his car after another day of testimony. Down the street looking like a moth eaten turtle in a helmet of burnt hair sits Karl Rove slipping rounds into an eighteen shot clip. Cursing quietly under his breath Rove ponders erratically the choice of taking out the cause of the spotlight on him or empty the clip into his face.

Jack Random and I were strolling by having recently relocated to Virginia to research a book on terror warnings, bank defaults and their ties to the white supremacist movement. I noticed Rove slamming his weapon into the dash of the car and just as I leveled the camera lens Rove hit the accelerator and sped down the street in reverse. The press up the street hardly took notice having heard the sounds of violence in the streets of Washington before.

Scooter Libby made his way out of the courthouse to his car. The press following and asking questions but not expecting any response. Like prison guards watching the monotony of inmates coming and going they hardly notice when a guard is attacked and the alarm doesn’t sound but the alarm will sound for Rove soon enough.

We tracked him to the Watergate Hotel and down the stairs into a conference room. Jack stood by the door with a high-powered microphone to eavesdrop on whatever was going on. I questioned the hotel staff tipping those on the lowest rungs of the pay scale and threatening with expulsion those who never got their hands dirty. Jack captured the goods and came back out to the car to play back the tape and as he hit rewind secret service agents surrounded the car. We showed our hands and they drew their weapons. Exiting the vehicle we were asked for identification. Some time ago we had made two press I.D.’s that showed we worked for the Washington Times that is owned by the Rev. Sun Yung Moon, a name that would open any door in the city of Washington, certainly the beltway. As we were held against the car we noticed Libby driving by in a taxi and exiting into the Watergate.

Part two

Fear looks like hope in the tall grass and that’s where we were, two inches of steel surrounded by a hard durable casing, the smell of cordite, and the kind of smell you recognize that the weapon has been recently fired. Secret Service agents who when they surround someone begin chattering on their communication devices and slamming themselves in place. They took a few minutes to analyze the fake identifications we showed them and slowly there was a look of recognition in the lead agents face. If I didn’t know better I thought the c*cksucker was going to drop to the street and begin his prostrations. I noticed a scar behind his right ear and Jack saw it too. It was the mark of a true believer, a West Pointer. Somewhere along the line he had been burned by something, he had known the smell of human flesh being singed into an emblem.

A huge crowd had gathered around us, a crowd of civilians. The agents knew he had to save face so he immediately started ordering his agents to make way for us and reducing the citizenry to a mass of insecurities. Their violent wand of intimidation about no cameras or questions led those around us to believe we were important. I could sense the onlookers squinting their eyes and trying to remember what we looked like so as to be able to identify us if we ever showed up on the news.

After the melee Jack retrieved the recorder from the car and we quickly made our way into the Watergate. Slamming into a booth in the bar we began to listen back to the tape.

We knew we had to try and hunt up Libby but first we wanted to hear what we had managed to capture on tape. The following is what we were able to transcribe.

Two or three agents will be enough.
The word is out on the limos and Duke (Cunningham) has f*cked that for us.
Hell we could get some pickup for that matter. If anyone can operate a shifter on the column it’s a hooker.
How much you think it would take to get the old Arab to squat over Durbin and piss?

Part three

In the bar we met up with a photographer who had been staying at the Watergate at the behest of the manager of the hotel in order to photograph the renovation. He was paid a flat fee and given a room at the end of a hallway on the first floor. He explained to us that more than once he had been accosted by the Secret Service for what they describe as “loitering with intent.” He explained that he had overheard some of the recording and with a smile added that maybe we might be interested in some of the photographs he had taken around the hotel. Something in the way he said this made us believe that there was something more to these photos. He opened the satchel in front of him and we joined him in his booth.

The photographs were amazing. Some were of the hospital staff in compromising situations, photos of the restoration included the construction workers smoking pot and generally laying around on the job out of sight of the hotel surveillance system. As we looked Jack asked if he had anything more official, and with that question he lit up and turned towards the back of the collection to reveal covert photos of the Secret Service removing stuff from hotel rooms. In one of the photos a Secret Service agent carries a life-size sex doll made into an exact replica of G. Gordon Liddy. In another, an agent was holding a drunken Scooter Libby against the wall while he awaited the elevator.

Jack leapt to his feet and stormed over to the bar and grabbed at the phone to make a call. The bartender came down the bar and said something to Jack that I didn’t hear and Jack screamed, “If you’re mother was in this kind of situation you’d be on this side of the bar asshole!” The bartender who had seen many crazed looks like the one in Jack’s eyes (many from politicians) sulked back down to his newspaper.

“News desk! Hey. Mike! What would you do for a photograph of Scooter Libby being sodomized by an agent?”

The photographer looked at Jack and back down at the photograph and then to me.

“Well, you know the darkroom can do many things but these days a fraud can be spotted right away.”

I told him that it didn’t matter if the story was true or the photograph genuine. As long as it existed and was leaked in the right way it would show up on the news and get picked up by the wires.

I added, “If bullshit was the ration card of power the entirety of Washington would be bent over backwards digging corn.”

Part four

As we left the bar we saw a group of Secret Service agents running to the salon located in the Watergate. We followed behind them to see a drunken Scooter Libby rubbing mud on his face and screaming about a free facial. Karl Rove was standing across the room talking into his cell phone. The Secret Service stormed into the room and Libby twirled the chair around at them and grabbing the terrified makeup attendant he started spitting on her neck and rubbing it in and screaming in a voice reminiscent of Truman Capote, “Isn’t it pretty, isn’t it pretty!”

The agents tackled the lady and Libby and began kicking them both. Rove sat down at the front desk and began flipping through the call caddy and copying down the names. One agent turned to secure the area and noticed us photographing the scene. The agent grimaced and started toward us but he slipped in the blood pouring from the woman’s forehead.

We ran down the hallway and were almost out of the hotel when Jack suggested we head for the conference room Rove had just left. We ran across the lobby and through the door. Down the stairs we met by a cleaning crew. We flashed our I.D.’s and took the garbage bag from them for inspection. They could have cared less why we needed it or for our identifications.

Back in the car I eased into traffic as Jack fished through the bag. He began laughing hysterically when he found a list of congressmen who had participated in the Duke Cunningham hooker scandal. Rove had the names circled and beside several of the names were amounts of money and personal phone numbers. One name in particular hit us more than others: Matt Drudge.

Part five:

Any member of the press core will tell you that if you shove the head of a baby into an airsickness bag and pop the bag immediately you will completely unsettle anyone near you. The mother will confess immediately every cock she had ever sucked and whether or not she saw what she had seen and testified what she had testified to in a case against a politician. This has been done in the case against the Bush administration. We saw the tale and we were there to report it.

Jack Random and I armed with cameras, starkly open and brutal honesty, we traveled to the tomb of the unknown soldier where we had been told Karl Rove held private conversations as tourists watched two guys in dress uniform flip around rifles in peace time and during war. Rove would appear we had learned with a hat pulled down over his misshapen ears. So there we sat waiting for Rove to appear when we noticed a representative from the Fox network we had photographed once on the balcony of a hotel in Maryland. He watched as he exposed him self to a group of Catholic priests. The Priests stood motionless in the tourist bus windows.

Waiting for Karl Rove had gotten to be a favorite pastime for Jack and I. We would sometimes pay someone to tip off the Secret Service that he had seen a photograph of one of them transporting illegal aliens into the streets of San Antonio and watch as the agent shoved the tipster against the wall. We didn?t do it too often as it usually cost us a couple thousand dollars and once it took the promise of an introduction to a certain celebrity who enjoyed urine in more than a relieving manner.

As Jack listened again to the tape from the hotel I saw a couple of tourists taking a few steps backwards. I watched closely as two agents opened one of the men’s shirts to reveal a listening device. I grabbed the camera from around Jack’s neck as he cussed me loudly. The agent took notice of Rove arriving in a sedan flanked by two women.

The man with the listening device made an attempt to punch the agent in the face and the agent was beating him senseless immediately. Every tourist eyes went right away to the noise. Rove and the two women made their way past the tomb to section thirteen of Arlington National Cemetery. As they walked we strolled quietly by the violent outburst of several agents now subduing the individual. By the time we were in the wet grass of the cemetery they had the man down to his underwear.

Part six:

Once Karl Rove had hit a stopping point in his mind he shoved the two women into the wet grass and began taking photographs of them. As they writhed in some kind of illicit blessing of Ronald Reagan, Rove began kicking at them in his sock feet. Agents had circled the area and had re-directed tourists away. As we tried to inch closer and closer we noticed a startled Juan Williams, the regular Fox news contributor getting out of a SUV. One thing was unusual however: the SUV had diplomatic plates.

Jack and I at seeing Juan Williams stood up and walked gingerly towards the scene. We had had several conversations in secret with Williams and whenever he saw us around town he would begin trembling, as he had been a bit too honest for his parties good. He had detailed one night how the party had during the 2000 election attempted to impregnate several Gore staffers by force.

We knew that if we could get a photo of Williams alongside Karl Rove kicking two half undressed women in Arlington National Cemetery we could get Williams to open up about the tree house in the White House as he has been long rumored to be the one with the apple in his mouth.

Rove was in ecstasy. He didn't get the warning that Williams was approaching as agents had told him. As the women were beginning to scream now, the agents didn't notice us either. As we got closer we could hear Rove's ranting, "We'll call this HR 666! Yea, take that Bay Buchanan betrayer of the chair!" The harder Rove kicked the women the louder they would chant, "Four more years, four more years."

- Chris Mansel

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

J.R. and I in Iraq (parts 1 thru 10)

This piece was originally published on Jack Random's blog

Part one

Jack Random and I burst into Iraq like a widow at a train station all out of quarters for the condom machine for that last ride to New Jersey for the High school reunion. The White House press office kept offering us our own poppy fields in the hills of Afghanistan if we just wouldn't go to Iraq. After breaking the story of Karl Rove and the Washington sex trade they would do anything to keep us away from the story. We were determined and even thought to go thru the wilds of Pakistan but why muddle in with the retreat of the Taliban, we end up in their clutches soon enough we were wagering.

Anyway, we hit the Iraq oil fields to the sight of an American truck broke down. Roadside bombs it was said weren't going off near the oil fields anymore since it was common knowledge the Americans would be out of the country in force by the end of 2007. The George Baker plan had just hit and all of Beirut we had read over the wires had ordered a copy and soon all of Iraq would be reading it through the black market. Once again Ed Meese would be popular among those who killed for pleasure.

The drivers of the two trucks both U.S. military soldiers were cursing at the four Iraqi members of the police who had driven by earlier and had took off quickly and laughed at the two of them stranded. One of the soldiers wanted to go off and shoot the Iraqi police and the other had for weeks left on the most recent one year tour in country. When we asked them about the term "boots on the ground" they responded with as much hate and vigor as they had when we asked about the Iraqi police.

"Boots on the ground, goddamn! I tell you what the boots on the ground think about this f-cking war, there's too much blood, too much Iraqi blood and too much American blood, and not enough old blue blood from any red states!" The soldier kicked the front of the truck violently and looked back at us quickly, "Just why are you here anyway? I don't see no boots on the ground here between you two."

We reassured the two soldiers that we wanted to report an honest portrayal of what was going on in Iraq. The other soldier who had remained quiet for most of the time spoke up, "Let me tell you something. We were on a patrol about a month ago maybe two. A roadside bomb goes off and these Iraqi troops start firing at one another, ripping each other apart and we have to mop it up. How long have we been here and we are getting killed every day. Sometimes I just want to start shooting and I don't honestly give a shit what I hit."

Part two

How many screams did you hear until you knew they were coming from someone you could identify as someone other than yourself? That's a question you need to ask yourself when you have spent any time in a war zone.

Here we were in a war zone and as soon as we arrived we noticed that the poppy had followed here from the shores of America, from the rocky cliffs of Afghanistan. We investigated the cities amidst the sound of automatic gunfire and saw parents in the desert grip of drug addiction dealing with the unthinkable loss of three children in one day. We saw one child get his legs torn apart as visiting dignitaries bid farewell to the high security fences of Halliburton's white table cloths on CNN and its high rise bleachers. The grimace of Donald Rumsfeld quoting the words real or imagined from a wounded soldier at Walter Reed hospital.

In the days of slavery the crowd were treated to question and answer sessions between the seller and the slave. The slave was usually being judged by the crowd as to their build or visual strength so the Q&A were usually for the delight of the crowd and so in Iraq are the questions to Iraqi civilians as weapons are put in their faces by privately hired security, militia anywhere else in the world, or if you like insurgents in Iraq if it were not for the tax form they can produce given six months notice. We ran into these thugs several times and had our lives threatened until we lied and said we were with some government agency we made up on the spot. This never ceased to amazed us as it always pumped them up more in their blood lust and obscene patriotism for the red in the flag.

On American television the obsession is with crime scene investigation and forensics. There are no investigations to speak of in a war zone, especially not in Iraq. For instance, if you wanted to dig a mass grave and hide it with any education it wouldn't be too difficult, after all it is a desert region. This can work to the benefit of both sides in any war. Body counts make for headlines a soldier said once, just draw a line straight to the head, and you'll usually find more than one.

Part three

Dodge City, that's what the Marine's called the area we were in. One marine, so young he shaved once or at least twice a week whether he needed it or not had already killed three people. When I asked whether or not they were insurgents or civilians he just answered, "Well, one was shooting back and the others weren't, but screw'em man. I say arm yourself, shit we're MWA bitch, Marines with attitude!" Raised on MTV this white marine was born in Tennessee and had served a tour in the KKK while still in high school he told me before I even asked where he was from. When I asked him how he liked serving alongside other Marines he laughed and spit at the burning sand.

"You want to know what I think about all these highly esteemed people of color? They're all marines ain't they?" Then he laughed and patted his weapon and slapped it down to his side and saluted me and added, "You think nobody fragged anybody since Vietnam?"

How bad an epidemic racial strife between soldiers serving in Iraq was we might never know. Jack had secured an interview with a Major and was coming back across the camp and looked worried. As he walked he looked around, his head looking this way and that the way someone does before they tell you a secret or avoid someone they do not want to see. In the soundtrack in my head I instantly heard "Peace Frog" by the Doors. I don't know why these things always occur to me but they do. I remember a time in Chicago when I was covering a story on the heated talks betwen labor and management and War's "Spill That Wine" hit me all of a sudden and within minutes violence broke out and I spent the night in a jail cell fighting for my life.

Jack got over to me and his voice was quiet which was unlike him in so many ways. "This Major I went to talk to just got a call about an ambush of civilians. They were targeted by security forces." I looked around now because I wanted to be the first to get there and because the security forces always have friends serving in just about every platoon in Iraq and many after their tour is up will join private security to cash in.

I asked Jack, "How do we get there?"

Jack replied, "That's just it, the guy that called him while I was sitting there is his brother, and his nephew was in charge of the group that opened fire. I just got out of the office before the crazy bastard could call a corporal to detain me."

I looked around and as far as I could see were Marines with weapons at the ready, well trained and loyal to their commanding officer, the chain of command. I stood to scout a method of transportation, a friendly ride to anywhere other than where we were and saw the Marine from Tennessee. I turned to Jack and looked back at the racist marine and I thought I might have a plan. Shit it worked in Hollywood.


Author's Note: (Before beginning to write this next installment I see this excerpt from the New York Times, and I am constantly reminded that the ugliest of man often occurs to me and as I see through their eyes it makes me want to close mine. I had no idea of this report before I wrote about the racist Marine but I am not surprised as human nature often tends to lean toward that line from Apocalypse Now that quotes Abraham Lincoln, you know the one, "Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature and good does not always triumph." I don't see any good in this, after all where can there be good in starting out to shoot someone because of thier skin color?)

"Lance Corporal Woods is black. He smoked in the darkness and said it has been a topic of conversation in his unit, Mobile Assault Platoon Five. "Valdez and me talked about that," he said. "He's Hispanic. He said, 'Man, I'm going to paint my skin darker, man.' That's what he said. And the next day he got shot."

"I hate this place," he said..."Out here, it really makes you love your country. I love my country, man. I love my country. I didn't hate my country before, man. But I had some problems with it."

"The United States of America," he said. "That sounds like heaven right now."

C.J. Chivers, "Marine Unit and Iraqis Fend Off Attacks and Boredom," NY Times, 7 December 2006.

Part Four

Jack and I came up with a plan. Racists are notoriously patriotic, reference most of America's history, governmental and citizenry for evidence of this, and certianly ignorant, so Jack approached the marine from Tennessee playing the role of a C.I.A. agent.

Jack approached the racist marine who was kicking at the sand and aiming his weapon at the horizon.

"Hey, you hear about that American got shot in Fallujah yesterday?"

The marine looked around and then looked Jack up and down. He didn't take but a second or two to size up Jack. "Yeah, terrible shot that guy, took'em two."

Jack laughed, "Yeah well, what are you gonna do, poor training."

They both laughed and Jack shot me a worried and disgusted look.

Jack went on, "Say, John Russell, C.I.A., in country to take care of some loose ends. Not saying we need some help but always looking for some willing participants, those who can be covert and keep their goddamn mouth shut. It's below the radar of course." Then Jack snatched the weapon from the racist marine's hands so fast he told me later it scared even him, "So, you got the balls to pull the trigger without caring where the rounds land or are you just another weekend faggot here till your wife fucks the whole town back home?"

The racist Marine stood up and drew a knife and said, "I'm an American, ever since 9/11 I wanted to do what was necessary for my country to fight terrorism!"

Jack didn't break a sweat and went back after him, throwing the weapon to the ground, "Since 9/11? What were you doing before that? Working in a conveinence store and cheating on your mother? Real American? Shit!"

The racist Marine was livid now and was ready to open fire on anyone. Jack knew he was ready and in less than five minutes.

Jack said, "Ok,you're what we need. What we need right now is a humvee. Think you can get one here and I mean now Marine?"

The Marine flashed a shit-eating grin, "Before you know it!."

Part five

Driving through the wasteland that has become Iraq you pray you'll run into an arms dealer and you'll also pray he'll have some legs and a few hands, some teeth and eyes. You hope he'll start the bidding with a request for just a drop of water to pour atop the loaves and fishes he has brought to feed the warring tribes as they sit down and start to calmly discuss the atrocity that is unfolding on american television that has been unbelieved so far on Al Jezerra. Maybe you'll cringe when he says offhandly that he was kept out of Rwanda because the prosthetics he had brought along couldn't make it through customs years before the tightened security of 9/11. But then again in Iraq as in many other war zones in modern times the dust will get in your eyes and you'll be able to blame the blurred lines of aggression, of morality, on the weather and the politics of plurality, the obscenity of greater good, on something in your eye. but to the racist marine Jack was dealing with it was something eaten away at his soul a long time ago. Not a speck of dust introduced at the factory but a giant ball of hatred either beaten or lovingly enthralled upon a young boy who before he knew hot to hate was taught that one man was better simply by the color of his skin and it was unfortunate for his fellow Marines and the citizens of Iraq that this individual was not weeded out and was armed and set loose in a war zone. A casualty is a number in any year whether it contains an election or not, and in Iraq as well in America the news was not good.

Then almost as if on cue came the Marine from Tennessee behind the wheel of a Humvee. In the distance came a mortar attack, it's the sound you'll never forget if you ever hear it once. The entire camp reacted at once. The Major that Jack had interviewed came out of his command post and was scanning the desert for the action. Marines were running for their companies and there was hollering all around us. The Marine from Tennessee seemed unfazed. In Jack he saw a direct line to the killing and he was not about to be tied down to waiting for orders and seeing whether or not he would see action that day.

The Humvee came to a sudden stop in front of Jack as he tried not to jump out of his skin. The Marine jumped out and started counting the clips for his M16. "Gotta go get some, just a mortar, maybe just a few of'em!"

Jack was still keeping an eye out for the Major who hadn't discovered us just yet. But we had a problem. Jack was on one side of the camp and I was on the other and in the middle was the Major and a camp in a frenzy stocked full of Marines with posters of Osama Bin Laden with supermodels taking a dump on his face and handdrawn pictures of Bin Laden on diaylsis being tied down to an electric chair repeatedly.

Just as Jack and I were about to lock eyes across the camp and exchange a voiceless means of communication we had managed to develop in some of the world's worst hot spots, an incendiary device went off inside of the camp and the mess tent went up in flames. The explosion was minimal but sent a surge further into the camp as another mortar landed about a hundred yards away from the camp.

Jack grabbed the Marine from Tennessee and screamed, "What are you boy a Dixie Chick or Daniel Boone? Get in there and get some!" Pointing at the spot whers the mortars landed he got the Marine's attention and he raced off to where Jack had pointed. Jack seized the moment and jumped behind the wheel of the Humvee. Dodging troops who were running for the mess hall more from curiousity than anything, Jack skirted the perimeter and made his way to me and I jumped in the open driver's side and we were off. Speeding down the only road out of the camp that wasn't being hit by mortars we were on our way to the site of an ambush knowing all along that a marine Colonel knew who we were and that we knew that he was related in more than one way to the incident.

The words of the racist marine rung in my ears, "You think no one has fragged anybody since Vietnam?"

Part six

Moving around in Iraq you can be reminded of the image of James Cagney's famous line, "Top of the world ma!" But only if you look at it from the ant's point of view. Imagine the ant as an insurgent. Yeah, top of the world but the top has a hole in it and it goes all the way to the bottom. The bottom branches out and comes up to a point and resembles a volcano. But rather than resemble the fiery furnance of the first Gulf War, (the image of the Iraqi oil fields graced all manner of media around the world) but now the volcano is purging blood, oozing limbs and the mangled childhoods of burnt and homeless Iraqi children.

How do you approach a crime scene in a war zone? How do you make your way through a maze of distraught family members who are rushing around helpless to the carnage of their family members having been shot by officially licensed gunmen by the government who has invaded their country. If you are a reporter you make it clear to all those who are around that you are a reporter, a correspondent, and are not armed. If the privately armed security force is still present you make it damn clear that you are american, but you also make it clear that you are someone more important than you are. You impress upon them that it wouldn't be so good to open up on you and you pray like a virgin on her wedding night that their cell phone batteries have gone dead and haven't gotten a call from a particular Marine major.

As we sped away we could see in the distance black smoke billowing out of a building in the distance. Ahead of us in a pickup two Iraqis were shifting around nervously in the seat and as we came alongside them they shot a nervous glance at us until they realized we were not U.S. soldiers but they could not know if we were not private sercurity forces, who in some circles have been called cowboys. There was even a rumor in command circles of a Taliban website that referred to the "cowboys" being displaced in Iran, not unlike the way american forces were moving across the Cambodian border in Vietnam. As we rode alongside the truck for what seemed like two minutes the Iraqi in the passenger seat raised a pistol up to eye level and aimed at my head. I yelled for Jack to speed up and Jack hit the gas and we sped along as four shots bounced off of our Humvee.

I yelled over to Jack, "I hate to ask a stupid question but how much gas do we have?"

Jack answered, "As far as I know we've got enough to get to the site of the ambush but what do you think about ditching this Humvee?"

I thought for a minute and asked, "I don't know, something bothers me about that shit back at the camp. How the hell do you lob mortars at a camp and miss by a hundred yards and manage to hit with a fragmentation grenade? How the fuck do you explain the physics of that one?"

Now Jack looked worried, "You think the frag was a cover to get at me?"

"Well Jack, you did hear the phone call..."

Part seven

As we approached the scene of the ambush the humvee took fire. Families were gathered over the wreckage of what were once bodies. If you have ever seen footage on television of men and women in some third world backwater holding one another and crying uncontrollably and waving their arms at the cameras and pointing at the bodies then you didn't smell the bodies burning. You didn't see the casual way the network cameraman replaced the film in his camera and began taking photos again like the carnage was just another stop on the way to the Pulitzer. He knows that he will be back in another watering hole soon enough.

In Iraq it's not like in Vietnam. You didn't just hop aboard a C-140 and then grab a Huey out to a shithole to scrap about to the shit. In Iraq the shit was the day of Tet, every single day. Thanks to a foreign policy of "Bring 'em on." One thing Jack and I could never figure out was why they called the area where the american troops where located the Green Zone. The only thing we came up with was when we interviewed the civilians in Iraq and they all responded with the same word, "Halliburton."

Halliburton had funded this attack. Private security forces had opened fire on innocent men, women, and children.

We turned around and around, Jack turning the humvee against the shooting and slammed the front across the curb of the highway. Both sliding out of the driver's side, we were still taking fire.

Jack screamed out, "You see where it's coming from?"

I was caught, frozen in the moment. I was watching a woman as she caressed the head of a boy. As she lifted his head up to her lips I could see that half of his head had been shot away. Blood had caked around his nostrils and from there, there was nothing. Somewhere on the bloody street his bloody mouth had been torn violently from him. As rounds exploded all around her she wept uncontrollably. While others ran for cover and Jack and I tried to save our lives she was shot through the heart while mourning the loss of this child.

Jack gripped my shoulder, "You see where it's coming from?"

I was shocked back into consciousness when a shot knicked my wrist and sent blood shooting across my hand. Before I had a chance to cuss or holler I looked up and noticed an Iraqi man wearing a black handkerchief aiming at my head from across the street. I jumped up instantly and grabbed Jack and jumped into the pool of blood in the grass by the front wheel.

The Iraqi man fired just as I jumped and just missed me. Jack cussed as I crushed all of my body weight on top of him, sending him face first into the bloody grass. We rolled and came up for air just as a car bomb exploded up the street.

The news cameraman crawled over to us, "Either one of you journalists?"

Jack and I looked at each other, I responded, "Now just what in the hell does that matter now?"

The cameraman didn't bat an eye, "I thought you might get my film to the network office, my cell is fubar."

I stared at the cameraman a moment and said, "Oh sure, yeah, we'll get it there, no problem."

He answered, "Great, tell'em about ten or twelve dead maybe more, I'm going after the car bomb."

The cameraman made his way crawling on his belly through the bloody grass in the direction of the explosion.

Jack smiled as he watched me open the film canister and expose the yellow film to the flames not three feet away from us. I handed the film to Jack and he tossed it in. We weren't going after the car bomb, we were going after the truth and fame and glory didn't have any role in this tragedy.

Part eight

The only human right you have in Iraq these days outside the idling engine of a military transport plane is just that, you are a human at that moment. But step out of the plane into the dusty air and you are the margin for victory, a landslide on the abacus. Translate that into political capitol and you are the means to an end, the straw on the camel's back that like a dowser's wand leads the way to the oil, damn the body count, this is war. Damn men, stiff upper lip and all, this is economics.

It's hard to keep a global ledger in mind when you are bleeding on an Iraqi street. It's even more difficult when you are in the grass which is much cooler but is covered not only in your blood but the blood of children and the twisted metal of automobiles and weapons. Any weapons in a firefight can be a weapon of mass destruction when paint is tearing and flicking away into your eyes, remember that if you ever find yourself hunted by the military of your own country in a foreign land.

The car bomb exploded again as best we could figure as there was another explosion almost right away. One thing you will never understand if you are ever in Iraq is the term, Improvised Explosive Device. That description alone brings to mind Timothy McVeigh going into a Wal-Mart and buying a few items and coming out with two shopping bags and some d cell batteries. There is nothing improvised about any of these devices, nothing thrown together on a whim. It's not like the Vietcong rushed down from the jungles of North Vietnam with just some nails and fertilizer and had to first find a rental truck or take flying lessons. Read back through the reports from Iraq when Saddam was in power and there weren't any I.E.D.'s being exploded. Create the demand and journalists will recoil only slightly before rushing in and that was where we were, rushing in on our bellies.
I looked up and noticed the Iraqi man with the black handkerchief had taken off his disguise and had exposed his american features. I grabbed my camera and shot a few stills of him reloading. Using the second explosion as cover the famalies who had been caught out in the open ran to cover as shots sprayed the streets like vipers snipping at their heels. I grabbed Jack and pulled his face over to mine, his look of confusion moved to anger as he noticed the american.

Jack whispered to me, "Dirty son of a bitch!"

Looking around us we noticed the famalies had made it to cover and one man was waving us over to the door of a storefront.

I grabbed Jack by the shoulder and notioned to him, "We got to make it, the bastard knows we're here."

As soon as I seriously allowed myself to consider running across a street being riddled with gunfire I instantly thought to myself, "You're a journalist and this asshole is trying to make you a soldier!"

I choked back fear and crippling anxiety and slinging blood from my hand onto the street I darted across the street with Jack alongside me. We made it just as the entire front of the building erupted in flames and smoke as a grenade was shot into the street in front of the wall. Once inside the man and his family motioned for us to follow them. As we made our way through the store the man stooped for a moment and stopped to pick up the body of a woman who had been shot. The bullet had gone clear through her skull and glass had sprayed her face, scarring it horribly. Jack and I each grabbed a leg and with the man we made our way to a vehicle outside.

We searched the roofs for private security forces but saw none, evidently they hadn't planned ahead and this gave us pause. We were at least 45 minutes late to the scene and this was as far as they had gotten. What had stopped them? What had we missed? Somehow we had to find out if they had suffered any casualities and we had to ask our saviors here what had happened but first we had to reach a safe distance.

Part nine

If you took the weight of the ocean that erupts in pain at the slightest breeze from across the world and threw it at a child and then took notes on the impact you'd see before your very eyes what war can do. Those notes would be the propaganda you could use to turn the tide on the floor of the U.S. congress and that propaganda could sustain any rationale of turmoil or loss or life. Sound irrational? In the young year of 2007 the political landscape of the world has become the wall that mankind has been backing up towards since the beginning of time. The spear flies through the eye of the storm, through its splendour and blue skies, through the calm and bereft moment of wreckage only to land as the clouds begin to darken and the rains re-approach from the east.

There is no soundtrack on the ground, "boots on the ground" as they say. No combat photographer in khaki has a camera crew following him or her around making sure they are captured in the right light as they help the wounded child to safety or as they seduce the Catholic missionary in the dimming light of the battlefield. War is ugly, it is obscene and the sounds you hear are the screams and the sounds of gunfire, the recoil. If you listen close enough you can hear the gunman next to you change his field of vision, not because you have spent so much time together in a war zone or in that distinct battle but for the fact that your senses are so heightened that your fears are leaping so far from your skin they erupt like the ocean with the slightest breeze from the gunman's movement from across the room.

Jack and I had been in many situations before where our lives were in danger and we had been in situations where we were so compelled into an idea that as we moved along with the story we ached for adventure or excitement.

On the campaign trail, following presidential candidates we would often sneak away from the subject and do what the industry calls a "human interest" story. You've read that line before and wondered what that means. It's not slice of life or inspirational as you might think. A hardened newspaper or wire service editor will call it a story about a nobody, a worthless sidebar or whatever he can come up with at the moment until it gets picked up or noticed. Then you are gold.

For instance we did a story once on a midnight shooting about a woman who was shot two blocks away from a hotel where a candidate was staying. It was a parallel piece. We mirrored their movements. As the candidate was taking the stage and fluffing out his speech she was being struck by the first shot. As the candidate told the first of many jokes in his speech the cartilage in her leg exploded and severed the nerve in her leg and she began to bleed uncontrollably.

When the story was presented the next day we were attacked from one end of the country to the next for sensationilizing the candidates visit to that dear city. We were told directly not to come back. This was the way we felt as we raced ahead of a grenade in Iraq in the back of a car with a family who's only thought earlier that day was survival.

As we each grabbed a leg and the man cradled her head we hurried as best we could out the back of the house. The noise was unbelievable. We could hear the private security forces shouting in english behind us. I was bleeding and all I could think about was their safety and Jack's and going back out the front of the house and somehow returning fire with whatever I could find. I had been shot at before by americans in my own country but not in Iraq. These were criminals, government sponsored thugs who were sure to get away with murder if we didn't do our job.

As we got outside the man's family was cowering in the front of the car mindful that we had to get the now deceased matron of the family into the backseat. I've never helped to put a dead body into a small car, especially one that I had to ride in also. I looked up and Jack's expression was of hurt and anger. He was quiet which was unlike him in a situation of stress but I was aware that he was focused.

As we got her into the car the man noticed that my hand was bleeding. In poor english he took me by the bicep and said, "Wait, here."

He reached into the backseat and tore a piece from the old woman's dress and wrapped it around my hand and tied it there. I couldn't move I was so struck by what he had done. Tears sudenly and immediately streamed down my face. The man padded me on the arm and shook Jack's hand and motioned us into the backseat of the car.

I looked at Jack and he looked at me. I couldn't do it and neither could he. There was no way we could crawl inside on top of the woman even if it meant that we would be shot at any minute. That was the difference between people like this man and his family, people like Jack and myself and the people who were terrorizing this country from both sides. We were good at heart and could not and would not break the simple and fundamental means of life that make us who we are.

We motioned for him to get in the car and go. He tried and tried to get us to get in but we said no.

Jack stammered, "No, take your family and go! Go! Go!"

As we watched the man drive away his son turned around in the front seat and watched us with no expression. I don't think he had any idea what was taking place but it saddened me to know that this boy would remember it all some day. War is no place for a child.

Part ten

In the final stage of the Gulf War, American troops engaged in a ground assault on Iraq, which like the air war, encountered virtually no resistance. With victory certain and the Iraqi army in full flight, U.S. planes kept bombing the retreating soldiers who clogged the highway out of Kuwait City. A reporter called the scene "a blazing hell...a gruesome testament....To the east and west across the sand lay the bodies of those fleeing."

- Howard Zinn, Introduction to the book, "Target Iraq: What The News Media Didn't Tell You" by Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich.

To date almost 35,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq.* You can't stand them end to end as the old saying goes because a good number of them are not all there anymore. Have you seen what these so-called improvised explosive devices do to the legs of a child? You wouldn't see it on American television because it just isn't shown. If you have a sateilite you might catch a glimpse of it on Al Jazeera but that has been dismissed as propaganda so you would just flip away to something else.

As Jack and I watched the man and his family drive away from his home, the dead woman's body in the backseat, we had a pretty good idea what a roadside bomb could do to a body. We had a damn good idea what an american grenade could do to an Iraqi woman of about 70 to 75 years of age. In the front of the house we could hear the radio traffic, it was american military signal. The nearby camp, the one we had just left, was mopping up a recent attack.

It was just a year before that I had seen a reporter from The Sunday Times get decapitated in Jerusalem in an attack that didn't officially happen during an official visit by the British government while he was riding in a car that I was almost riding in. Every time I watched a car drive away without me in it I had horrible feelings, like a waking nightmare where the monster crawls up from under the bed and begins assembling the ropes strand by strand and explaining why he is here to kill me.

My worst fears were soon upon me as Jack and I searched intensely for an escape route out of the situation we had volunteered for. It was a small stretch of houses and there was not a lot of room to hide if the security forces came looking for us which they were sure to do. They had "skin in the game" to quote a terribly inept phrase of the last century. As the car made its dusty way along the cratered field it came under fire. Jack saw a hole under the house two doors down we could escape through and was pulling me in that direction but just like when I watched the lady gripping the body of the boy in the street before I was frozen in horror. Jack slapped me twice and kicked me in the leg, shouting, "They're coming through the house, damn it come on!"

As we shriveled our way under the house and into a pathway that led up and into the next house over (a pathway which must have been created to escape what I don't know but it was convenient to us), the security forces came through to where we had been standing and on their radios directed the fire on the car the man and his family were trying to escape in.

Up and into the next house which had been abandoned due to the shelling and bombing, Jack and I ran to the front window and saw American military racing to the front of the house. It would be a few moments before they would organize and attempt to secure the area. It was now or never.

We bolted out of the door and ran into the street and turning the corner we ran into a pack of Iraqi civilians who were just as shocked to see us as we were to see them. A man who must have owned the house we came out of screamed at us in English for leaving the door open, "They will tear the place apart, asshole!"

We had to reach a vantage point to keep in view of what was going on but not so close as to remain in the line of fire or identification. In the streets of Iraq this is almost as impossible as in the jungles of Thailand or Laos when you are two American journalists sprayed with blood and shaking in fear.

- Chris Mansel

Castigation Repetition

At a Denny's just outside of Pittsburgh, Pa. the now retired Donald Rumsfeld sits scowling in his small glass of ice water and carving a swastika into the table top with a large bowie knife. His security personnel, now trained and used to dealing with such circumstances peel off three one hundred dollar bills and push them into the hand of the dumbfounded manager. Repeatidly cussing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Law and the media attacks on Blackwater, a company that Rumsfeld supposedily owns a great deal of interest. After all, someone like Rumsfeld would be well aware that death pays.

- Chris Mansel

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Watching a report tonight on FrontLine's website, courtesy of PBS on Burma:State of Fear was deeply troubling. A Father who lives deep in the jungle talks of government troops coming to burn his village and in the fire he sees a hand and realizes the hand belongs to his son. He says, "I realize that my son has left me his palm." The palm of his son's hand is all he has amid the terrible destruction. He recounts his story for the camera and you get a deep gnawing in your stomach that says I wish I could help.

Sanctions are the usual tactic used by governments and it is widely known that these sort of plans usually end up hurting those they should help. Forces that seek to hurt the innocent are hardly ever living in bleak conditions when they carry out acts of genocide.

Pursue organizations like Human Rights Watch and write letters and give if you can. Keep them in your prayers and thoughts. SHort of going to Burma you can go in your heart.

- Chris Mansel

Thursday, September 20, 2007

J.D. Salinger on the Campaign Trail

In a garden, somewhere in America, perhaps taking a break from a private drive cross-country J. D. Salinger could accidentally pass by camers covering a political campaign and as the cameras turn to catch workers leaving a plant to shake hands with a politican, they will miss the solemn man in the passenger seat.

Imagine the fury of the television reporters who can actually remember Catcher In The Rye, or the ones who read about the shooting. Quick calls to confirm, but is it bigger than the O.J. story? Who will play Salinger as he flees the camera crews and the helicopters? Is Jason Robards still alive?

- Chris Mansel

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

National No Hire List

As we all know there is a No Fly List and a Terror Watch List, but is there an Unofficial National No Hire List? Corporations who give to largely Conservative causes could very well orchestrate such a list. A quick Internet search of a listing made available by the same government who illegally monitored phone calls of americans could very easily make this information available. Sound extreme, not possible? When was the last time you dreamed up something that would never happen and then saw it come true with amazing accuracy?
Here is a simple theory of how it could work. The key corporations that have not been caught red-handed by the Justice department for corruption, the multi-National, Billion dollar conglomerates make a call and ask for a better way to screen who they hire and just happen to mention that their contributions could go the other way. Right away someone in the Bush administration quickly decides to make that personal information available without said company having to pay for background checks. Sound like the kind of thing that would never happen? Think again.

- Chris Mansel

Personal and Political

The personal and the political, up to a few years ago I thought they were seperate but I see that now they are both as constant as life itself. One chance at life? Well, one chance politically sure but for reincarnation the textbooks change all the time.

The personal, your own space is invaded not only by terrorism and your safety but by the necessary means of survival and if you don't think that political is the load bearing wall of that despair then the house you live in, your own skin is not your own.

The political is the air you breathe and the air you are breathing, like the chemicals inside the body can kill. Not slowly over time but on contact and in the cruelest of ways. Elections are to the working man what the Atlantic voyage used to be to the wealthly. You set out with the best hopes and intentions and half-way into it you realize that something is terribly wrong and you never had any control in the process to be begin with. The sharks will come calling in both instances.

- Chris Mansel

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Libby Sanction - Part Three

James Baker, a man even who if he was on a witness list wouldn't have to appear, strolled into the White House through that mysterious exit we all have heard of but have never seen and up an elevator to karl Rove's office and sat down in an overstuffed chair and waited for Rove to finish a call to I. Scoter Libby in Havana.

Rove: Scooter, I am telling you food rations cans washing up on the beach don't interest me. What I want to know about is the job you were sent down there to do.

Libby: (Whose voice appears over the speaker phone) I have a couple of guys here who say they can do the job but they want more money and a few eccentric demands that will need attention.

Rove: How eccentric?

Libby: They say if Cuba is to be a walled off compound for detainees they would like the right to arrest and torture the citizens of Cuba as they see fit.

Rove: I don't see a problem with that.

Libby: Also, they would like the residents of Miami who continue to stir up trouble against Cuba in the american media to be deported back to Cuba, especially the singer from the Miami Sound Machine.

Rove: That is no problem either, she has strong Hollywood connections. I think she can supported the Gonzalez kid to stay here so we can get Fox on that angle. Good work, I'll call you back in a little bit.

Rove hangs up the phone and looks across his desk to Baker who is smiling broadly. Rove smiles, "Don't say it James, just another chance to get back at Hollywood, why not. You'd do it if you weren't such a chicken shit."

Baker slaps his leg and returns back at Rove, "Well you know Karl, chickens lay and shit and provide substance and all they require is a little scratch, we negioators have to settle for the spoils of the soil."

- Chris Mansel

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chewing A Dull Blade or Ed Meese Advancing In Tripoli

Back in the 1980's when Ed Meese was put in charge of investigating pornography and ended up escaping to the Virgin Islands with two yachts of papers and reel to reel tapes to transfer to videotape,a cache he still owns and controls but has since moved to his compound for Better Boys in South Carolina. It's fruitless to mention that Meese would show up at the office at odd hours and kick open a container at random and get undressed and start hollering at the cleaning staff to wash him. There have been rumors through the beltway that say that Meese has in his possession footage of every major porn star that has committed suicide since the late seventies. So it's no shock to find out that on occasion that Meese will send packages off to those countries considered in the Axis of Evil to earn some extra cash.

Like the ibogaine incident of the 1972 campaign, there is a rumor that Meese will contribute in a rough way to the downfall of Mitt Romney. The drug, Dioscorea which Romney has been abusing for some years now has become well known through the inner world of Conservative movers and shakers and to a degenerate like Meese it is too good to be true. Meese in his drugged out mind has become convinced that in the holiest of holy in the state of Utah the Mormon Church has the completely mummified body of Margaret Mead and he wants it.

Romney who began using Dioscorea to bulk up for his political life and to sexualize his libido has become addicted. The problem is drug use is frowned on by the Mormon Church and if he is found out the religion he is supporting in a run for the White House will out him and his political life will be over.

Meese who comes from a family that owned a surprising amount of stock in Syntex a German pharmaceutical company during World War II, and who secretly was an active particpant in the research of Masters and Johnson, along with other Congressional celebs, keeps a leather bound copy of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 with him at all times. Referring to it at campaign stops during his political tenure he would amuse himself at the punishment listed for abuse of the Act while he flaunted every known narcotics law he could.

- Chris Mansel

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Former State Official And a Priest Arrested Over Genocide

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi) NEWS

24 July 2007 Posted to the web 24 July 2007

A former government administrator and a Catholic priest sought for their alleged roles in the 1994 genocide were arrested Friday in France.

The prefect of Gikongoro in southern Rwanda in 1994, Laurent Bucyibaruta, is accused of massacres of Tutsis in his prefecture. He lived in Aube in North-Eastern France.

Fr Wenceslas Munyeshyaka was, for his part, priest at the Sainte-Famille Parish in Kigali. The prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, Tanzania, alleges that he took part in the massacres of refugees in his parish and also committed rape. He has been residing in northern France.

According to Hirondelle News Agency, the two men were indicted by the ICTR in 2005 but it was only last month that their indictments were revealed.

The ICTR Prosecutor would like them to be tried in France. The ICTR president, Dennis Byron, recently designated a chamber to examine this motion filed by the prosecutor.

But the Rwandan government and associations of survivors have declared that they will not cooperate with French courts if the two men are tried in France.

Kigali accuses Paris of having played a part in the genocide of Tutsis by politically and militarily supporting the former Hutu regime. Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties with France in November 2006 after a French investigating judge issued arrest warrants against persons close to current President Paul Kagame.

The Rwandese Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said "the best solution for us would be to see him sent back to Rwanda to serve his sentence", referring to Fr Munyeshyaka.

According to the Catholic missionary news agency MISNA, the justice minister stressed that Fr Munyeshyaka had been sentenced to a life jail term in absentia by a Rwandese court last year. The minister defined the arrest of the priest "as a step we appreciate, though too late".

Copyright © 2007 Catholic Information Service for Africa. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blood on the Canvas

Joseph Mallord William Turner. Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps. 1810-1812. Oil on canvas, 4 feet, 9 1/2 inches x 7 feet, 9 1/2 inches.
There was a great documentary tonight on Public Television on the works of J. M. W. Turner's work. I hadn't thought about his work for a long time and I was reminded of its intensity and sheer brillance. Looking at this painting depicting Hannibal's Armies I can easily draw a line between our troops and the coming storm, the symbolic black cloud to come. Forced against a cliff with the blackness drawing ever near where are they to turn but to a campaign voiced by the voiceless. But what of the victims and innocent bystanders in the way?
- Chris Mansel

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Campaign 2008, AIDS IN AFRICA

When Africa has been removed from every campaign speech and the statistics that were favored in front of the cameras, and a few million more have died while a few thousand more have been fed and transported to applaud and pat ballons around the room at two major party conventions maybe a new photo-op will arise and a new round of commercials with squinting eye celebs, ministers, and politicans will grace our televisions. When?
The numbers roll off the tongue like the bodies reduce to dust into the ground. It's easy to write that sentence and hit the space bar and go on but the horror in which it fills me with, the same strangeness that escaped the American media recently when the nation of Rwanda did away with the DEATH PENALTY and it got no mention even in any of the so-called LIBERAL blogs who care oh so much with their advertising rates in place next to their hearts and souls. The bodies aren't placed in the ground along party lines.

- Chris Mansel

Trade Winds

it is opening like a cavern erecting in a mist
like a missile that was programmed to just miss
where the tribes of david were abraham's
on the road to damascus to bethlehem

election year in the midwest see the signs
see the faded ribbon under the tailgates shine
where are the flags stuck pinted upside down
when was the last shot fired without a sound

there's a coat hanger under the wheel
keys stuck down into the driver's side glass still
this car it still won't roll without the oil
you can't steal the driver without his soul


the only incentive I need to burn
the only reason I need to turn
is shipped home uncovered on the trade winds
no sanctions can ever overcome

- Chris Mansel

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tribal Sufferings on American Highways

Bleak understandings as the country spirals off camera. The sermon hasn'tbeen heard and the traffic camera that caught the beheading transferred the image to the hovering news helicopter by mistake and the family of the victim is now doing public service two mile markers down for smashing the front door of the station. They found out by changing the channel moments after the news crew burst into their small apartment. Strange enough to be true, horrifiic. Campaign donors disguised as pederasts are moving through the lobbies of the some of the finest hotels in our country. Their influence can be utilized by both parties and the controling interest is transferred through newsprint and passable spanish.

The kitchen staff of any Hilton Hotel on the east coast of america in the sixties and seventies could name for you any underage starlet who moved through the steam of vegetables and noodles to the arms of donors and politicians. It would always be on a reserved floor, the button you couldn't push because the elevator operator, a tired and jaded African-American who had seen it and heard it wouldn't allow you to under threat of subpoena or violence.

The largest expose of our times has still not been written. The dark paths cut across the streets, highways and yards of New Hampshire for the last fifty years in this time of information. One can imagine databases on every resident of New Hampshire auctioned off every four years for the price of first born. Places like Sugar Grove in West Virginia who listen to every phone call in America and every email and blog entry like this one house individuals that if they were to ever truly speak on the record would certianly be admitting to highs crimes against humanity.

The watch fiends of this new century are spoiled like jackels at a Revelation book signing in the Cambodian jungle. Fear emanates from these narrow passages and our childrens children will lie across the ditches of hell to keep the peace while the jackels nip at their heels. Our only hope is to move to the country and give them the cities.

- Chris Mansel

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Terror In The Campaign's Heartland

Louder than the explosion in New York today from a steam pipe bursting was the constant thungdering of hooves, once described as the hungry feet of th emedia thrusting themselves headlong into vast jars of hair jel and full length mirrors. It could be terrorism they all excitedily murmured, it could be, it could be! You could almost hear them cry out in ecstasy, "This is how Paula Zahn got her start at CNN!"

Wolf Blitzer on CNN stumbled over the words in his ear piece more than usual as information zoomed into the Situation Room at a snails pace as he quickened our pulse with a glorious wave of the papers in his hand not yet before seen since Edward R. Murrow removed his cigarette from his mouth at the beginning of each broadcast, and you just knew that somewhere a comatose Larry King would have to be shook awake and informed of his whereabouts and informed that no, Regis was not harmed and yes, he would have to peer endlessly into the camera and yes, Anderson Cooper would ask better questions.

But the only question anyone wanted to ask at Fox News was did the Clintons cause this? Somewhere over Newport, Rhode Island Joe Biden was informed and demanded the plane crash land near a television studio. Mitt Romney clutched his wife and begged her not to expose his early experiences with those zany Mormon hijinks and exploding toilets. Obama knew that this could be tied to his admitted drug abuse by the Fox Network and John Edwards wife refused to halt and interview where she was bashing Hillary Clinton when informed that people were in peril, but hey, it's a campaign and we should all play along, after all, we're only voters and only so many of us can live in New Hampshire and matter. So shut up and vote then get out of the way, I think I saw that on a bumper sticker next to Nixon's name once.

- Chris Mansel

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dinner at the White House

Dinner at the White House is the usual fair these days, Tex-Mex per the President's instructions instead when ti comes to the Vice President's plate. No, it's not a special diet for his bad heart. No you are way off base. He feeds like a mongrel dog. He has ben known to get up on the table and kick over rare bottles of wine and urinate on Kings and Queens, once biting the tear stricken face of a White House photographer for snapping a quick snapshot of his slurping.

Hide the ring in the cake and whoever gets the ring has good luck? Not at the White House. At the White House you hid a small bit of microfilm that when held up to the light reveals the body of Bill Clinton being burned alive in the killing fields of Cambodia. Six times this year alone Vice President Dick Cheney has gotten it and six times there have been large bombings in Iraq.

Last year on Vice president Cheney's birthday the entire menu came from the first Nordic cookbook printed in 1616. It has been said that the first time the President ate a meal prepared from this cookbook was at his grandfather Prescott's house. After dinner everyone retired to the White House screening room to watch The Boys From Brazil starring Gregory Peck.

- Chris Mansel

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gun Control, Campaign 2008

Have you heard anyone on the campaign trail say anything about Gun Control? No, I am not talking about whether or not you can control a gun long enough to kill someone so we are shipping you off to Iraq and oh by the way, your wife who is pregnant we're going to cut her benefits and call her a whore if she doesn't do everything we say in front of the Fox cameras if they come calling. No, I mean controlling the ownership and sale of dangerous guns. No?

Ok, just checking.

- Chris Mansel

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The John McCain Straight Talk Winnebago Express

Due to a constant lack of funds the Straight Talk Express has been reduced to the Straight Talk Winnebago. John McCain can be seen kicking the totally modern sofa attached to the completely life-like modern kitchen at all hours of the night and going on and on about the Trilateral Commission and why New Hampshire shouldn't be first on the ballot in Atlanta and taking yet another whiff of a bottle he keeps in his jacket pocket.

Staffers have taken to ducking their heads and looking out the smal but cramped opening used to drive the Straight Talk Express Winnebago and sighing quietly and gazing on sunny days as John Edwards staff drives by and moons them. Only last week Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul armed with two 24 count roll packages of toilet paper each were seen headed towards the Straight Talk Express Winnebago and chuckling madly.

These are the times that try loyality and cramped bathroom conditions.

- Chris Mansel

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Libby Sanction - Part Two

I. Scooter Libby turns around in his room and stops in front of his window overlooking the two streets below. He strolled four steps ahead to the window and looking down he noticed the three security guards positioned on the corners in plain sight as to notify those who would pass that an important man was top be protected. Later in the day he would start interviewing men who would be involved in the possible assassination of Castro. He dialed his satelite phone and reached the answering service for Karl Rove. he had been instructed to check in several times a day. The voice that answered instructed Libby to hold a few moments. he turned back around and watched as one of the young maids was bent over the toilet and as she cleaned it Libby kicked at her heels and laughed to hisself. He felt like a tyrant, a drug lord secure in a mountiantop resort in a foreign land. Rove came on the line.

Rove: Scooter?

Libby: First day and I'll meet with the first group later on this afternoon.

Rove: Don't give any pertinent information away. Remember the plan.

Libby: What is this I see in the press online, I am still the goddamn focus of the Democrats! Just how many car bombs does it take to get attention away from this trial?

Rove: I don't think you understand your role in this Scooter. You slid out under the door and like a rat you left the ship and you'll stay gone until you're needed back.

Libby: So now I'm a rat? I could have been a rat you know?

Rove: Think about where you are Scooter, remember Fredo? The Madam phone numbers came out today and Flynt is kicking at the door so soon enough the shit will be flying in all directions. It'll be quiet soon enough, now shut up and do your job.

With that the line went dead and Libby lowered the phone down to his side. Suddenly the heat of Havana didn't seem so hellish but did seem claustrophobic.

- Chris Mansel

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Libby Sanction

Scooter landed in Havana and was driven quickly to the Hotel Plaza where a room goes for seventy dollars a night. The front of the Hotel comes to a point and overlooks neptuno and Zulueta streets, a good place to take a shot at someone and that is why Libby is in Havana. No Libby hasn't got the balls to take the shot but he has the authority to speak on behalf of Vice President Dick Cheney. The plan is simple. Find a witting accomplice to assassinate Castro and cooperate with the incoming president Fred Dalton Thompson to open trade and lift the embargo to Cuba and use the sudden influx of cash to fund the new far right-wing agenda and use the country as a storage depot for detainees.

Scooter immediately after arriving in his room summoned his security team to find him as many young maids to service what will soon become White House South as he sets up shop. Over the bathtub he hangs a photo of Vince Foster to remind himself that like the Roman legend tells us, "All glory is fleeting."

- Chris Mansel

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Exhumation of John Steinbeck

last night John Steinbeck told me in a dream
he would have made a movie of The Grapes of Wrath himself
if only he could have found a way to made blood
look gray in black and white

We talked about war and how it left the young
at the mercy of the old and how after a while
those that were younger couldn't tell the difference
between the two, then he talked about how his son
had covered the war in Vietnam

then I realized we were talking about all wars
and that blood is not in black and white

- Chris Mansel

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Computers hum and charts that were once three dimensional are printed onto large graph paper and delivered to the office of the Vice President. These charts bypass the office of the Secretary of Defense and contain information about the movements of Bin Laden and his body guards as they move across the border of Pakistan and travel under the protection of private security forces to the shores of Europe. A special meeting arranged to be spearheaded by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will discuss possible organized attacks of american soil in the next year to spark voter turnout in the U.S. presidential election.

An independent force to be reckoned with, the office of the Vice President has become the underlying exhausting line of demarcation in all things military. The wars fought in this century aren't fought on a standard front nor or they waged in a conventional way. The myth of a situation room in the White House where a President waltzs in and makes a decision and everyone snaps to are gone. War is not conventional of course, and no longer shall the government be allowed to rule outside the arm of corporations who can and do negoiatiate their punishment when breaking the law so blanantly it shames even their future generations.

Nigeria, the front of a war that officially doesn't exist like Afghanistan has taken victims like a thunderstorm reaching down to the ground with no notice. The winds pick up and debris is thrown around and the rain is sudedenly horizontal. Victims, people who will soon be victims run for shelter and some do not run soon enough. In a war they are called collateral damage but in a freak weather incident they are categorized as victims. Ecology mixed with Meterology and you have the narrow margin to understand and evaluate the losses. In a war, the type of war that goes under the radar, you must first understand the singular force of voilence and its seducing fear and power and in those three vices is the world of politics.

- Chris Mansel

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Burn The Carcass At Half-Mast

As I. Scooter Libby's plane dips its wing in triumpant as it leaves american waters and heads into the darkness towards Havana, the nation can rest well and awake to celebrate its nation's holiday this fourth of July and know that the stable environment once enjoyed in the nations capitol has been wretched onto the floor of a DC-10 as storm clouds gather at 5,000 feet.

Personal power unchecked in the Nixon administration and fueled by the confusion and wrath of a bitter jungle battle in Vietnam sent plumbers to jail and testimony to the floor of the house. Once determined and clear headed journalists to the parking garages of the collected unconscious of american public that now shriek at staffers for more oily residue over thier person as they await not a better tee time but a better table at the hanging.

Libby now downing a few drinks and stroking the side of his laptop and composing emails to the editor of the Washington Times shrugs off a call from Fred Dalton Thompson who wants him to consult on his campaign of dirty tricks before it has officially kicked in. Thompson said, "Surely, Scooter, surely you gotta know a few Puerto Ricans who slobbered over Bill in a steak house john somewhere in Virginia." Scruples run deep for Scooter who enjoys connections straight up the biker chain to Dick Cheney and down to Rupert Murdoch.

- Chris Mansel

Saturday, June 30, 2007

American I.E.D.'s

Burn the wheel and roll it over the graves, exhaust the I.E.D.'s but wait is this american soil? How far into the future can this be? How far off? Would the N.R.A. arm themselves against their own? Would they seek the resources of Mexico in a state of crisis? What brought terror to our shores in 2001? As Noam Chomsky says, read the public record. The public record is scary enough, like any theory built on video evidence the rest isn't too difficult to amass. Sure you'll be called a bunch of scary names and maybe even drived off to an abandoned warehosue and shot full of something you couldn't even pronounce even if you were a registered Republican (but wait some of them don't believe the cover story) but it's ok, really it is, you're not alone.

But like I asked at the beginning how far off are I.E.D.'s from the american shores? When was the last time you read your Civil Rights history? Seriously, know your history. IT MIGHT DO YOU SOME GOOD.

- Chris Mansel

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Obituaries In The Passing Lane

How long have I been dead? You could theorize that I was never born. I was born after the Tet offensive in Vietnam, during the protests against the war in Vietnam, in a time of assainations, and in during this time we were supplying weapons and training the very countries we would fight later in the so-called global war on terror. Has my generation had a chance to grow in a time of peace? If you think there has been any extended time of peace at all during the time of the late sixties till present day war in Iraq then you are sadly naive and it is that kind of naive voter who throws america into the line of fire.

Turn your back on Afghanistan and you process the executions of american soldiers in iraq at an alarming rate. To try and out last, to try and kill off an idea, an idea based on religion has never worked nor will it ever work. To surround yourself with the same kind of fervor you are fighting against sends the signal of immenient disaster.

- Chris Mansel

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Don't You Ever Get Downtown

A sad day at the Gtes of Hell as Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger have died on the same day. The devil addresses the two men and tells them the sad news. He only has enough space that day for one more soul to torment. If they go up to heaven they will have to share a bed with Bill Clinton and have breakfest served to them in bed each morning for eternty by a scantily clad Gloria Steinman.

So it is left to Kissinger and Cheney to prove which of them is the worst person. They are allowed to use props and if they are drawn into a corner they can use the call a friend feature. In the end Cheney's pictures of Iraqi children being burned alive are no match for the twenty seven dump trucks of documents Kissinger has driven in and the witness testimonies. He even offers to call several now deceased dictators and one in particular, a small man named Uncle Ho standing next to the gate with his arms folded against his chest who works in the kitchen.

Cheney must return to earth for another life as Ann Coulter BDSM partner without the use of his arms and legs and a liberal streak a country mile wide.

- Chris Mansel

Monday, June 25, 2007

U.S. to Sign Investment Treaty (with Rwanda)

East African Business Week (Kampala) NEWS
25 June 2007
Posted to the web 25 June 2007

By Daniel Karibwije Kigali

The office of the U.S. trade representative and the U.S. department of state announced recently that the United States and Rwanda have begun formal negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

A statement from from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Office based in Washington DC, said this will strengthen investor protection and encourage the continuation of market-oriented reforms in Rwanda.

The statement added that Rwanda will become more competitive in trade with the inflow of the much needed investment finance.

"Foreign direct investment can be a powerful tool to stimulate economic development, even in the least developed economies, where government is committed to protect and encourage such investment," said deputy U.S. Trade Representative Mr. Karan Bhatia.

"The Rwandan government has opened its economy, improved the business climate, and is capturing the attention of a growing number of U.S. companies. We believe that a U.S -Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty can help to enhance the confidence of current and prospective U.S. investors in Rwanda and, ultimately, help promote the new investment that is essential to Rwanda's future."

US-Rwanda trade was valued at US$21 million in 2006, up 22% over 2005.

U.S. imports from Rwanda were valued at $8.9 million in 2006, up 41% from 2005, and consisted mainly of coffee and tungsten ores.

Rwanda has shown a growing interest in using its eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act to increase and diversify exports to the United States.

In the past few years, Rwandan firms, with assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have undertaken partnerships with U.S. retailers Macy's and Starbucks for trade in fine basketwork and specialty coffee, respectively. U.S. exports to Rwanda totaled $12 million in 2006, up 11% from 2005.

The assistant secretary of state for economic, energy, and business affairs Mr. Daniel S. Sullivan said, "An investment treaty would complement the progress Rwanda has already made on economic reform. It would demonstrate Rwanda's commitment to an open investment policy and deepen our economic relationship. A high quality investment treaty would also set a very positive example for others in the region."

Mr. Bhatia and assistant secretary Sullivan were speaking at an event at USTR to mark the start of the BIT negotiations. Rwandan Ambassador Mr. James Kimonyo also spoke at the event. Representatives of USTR's Trade Advisory Committee on Africa and several leading U.S. companies that are involved in Rwanda, or considering work there, also attended the event.

The negotiations with Rwanda are the first bilateral investment treaty talks with a sub-Saharan African country in nearly a decade.

The prospective treaty would help to improve the environment for U.S. investment in Rwanda, thereby supporting the Central African country's efforts to attract the capital it needs to accelerate economic development and tackle poverty.

Bilateral investment treaties are one of many tools that the Administration is using to help reform-minded African countries. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, and U.S. trade capacity building assistance are also helping African countries to grow their economies through increased trade.

The BIT negotiations will continue over the coming weeks. USTR and the State Department co-lead U.S. bilateral investment treaty negotiations.

Bilateral investment treaties are legally binding treaties that provide significant legal protections for investors and investments in BIT partner countries.

The U.S. BIT program encourages the adoption of market-oriented domestic policies that treat private investment in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way.

These protections have special importance in developing countries, where BITs help to increase investor confidence and thereby facilitate foreign investment and enhance economic growth.

Copyright © 2007 East African Business Week. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Friday, June 22, 2007

Gumen Occupy Nigerian Oil Installation

AFX News Limited 6/18/2007

Unidentified gunmen have occupied an oil pipeline switching center in Nigeria and are preventing local workers and security forces from leaving, company officials said Monday.

Some two dozen Nigerian workers and soldiers are being held after the attack Sunday on a flow station in southern Bayelsa state, Italian energy giant Eni Spa said in a statement. No injuries were reported, it said.

The company statement didn't say if crude output had been curtailed and a spokesman in Nigeria had no information on the attack. Government officials weren't immediately available for comment. Eni operates in Nigeria through its Agip subsidiary.

The grievances of the gunmen weren't known. Troops clashed last week with gunmen in the area, leaving several fighters dead.

Nearly two years of spiraling violence in the oil-producing southern Niger Delta have cut Nigeria's crude output by about one quarter, sending oil prices higher in overseas markets.

New President Umaru Yar'Adua has said the crisis is one of the most-pressing matters he faces and a top militant leader was released on bail last week, marking a breakthrough in the conflict pitting militants against security forces.

The militants are pressing for more government-controlled oil-industry funds for their region, which remains desperately poor despite its vast natural bounty.

But their stepped-up attacks have helped degrade overall security conditions in the vast region of creeks and swamps and criminal gangs who kidnap foreigners now operate with apparent impunity. Some 200 foreign workers in the region have been kidnapped since December 2005, including more than 100 this year alone.

In addition, tension over local grievances -- such as a community accusing an oil company of failing to make good on promises of financial help -- sometimes results in attacks or kidnappings.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer and one of the top overseas suppliers to the United States.

Copyright 2007 AFX News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Account Of

Translate the Constitution into any language on earth and I am sure more than a few laws would have to be re-written. Imagine the section on liberty being translated into some of the little known langusages of the amazon and suddenly life inside our borders change dramatically. Imagine the right to free speech being changed into the right to listen. Imagine having to try and explain why you need amendments in the first place.

- Chris Mansel

Listening Posts

Iraq, the grim reminder of foreign policy based upon a racist ideal. When in history has hate ever ended without overwhelming bloodshed of innocent lives? The war in Iraq is based upon more than oil, more than greed, read through the rhethoric and you'll find a despair. There is no Lombardiesque speech underlying the message. When you see an interview with those in the Bush administration, the true believers that are still in the emploiy, you can sense that even in their cultish period of determination there is a craziness bleeding through, an ominous aftermath you can see in the eyes of the true believer. You can almost see how they will fall. You can almost hear the screams at the Fox Network, "W is Great, W is Great!" The voices echoing down into the street just before they dispense another report of misinformation.

- Chris Mansel

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Kick out the jams Kissinger Baby!" - George W. Bush

President appears to be boarding Air Force One until you realize the blip reflecting against the metal building across the tarmac. Could it be a GOP reunion of the Capricorn One landing or Weapons of Mass Destruction anniversary of some sorts? No, its just another beer run to the Crawfrd, Texas ranch and isn't it time for it? I mean seriously citizens of the United STates the man lost his watch that was given to his grandfather by the great Karl Rove idol Nazi propaganda Minister Himmler. So cut the guy a little slack.

So he is flying coach to Crawford, Texas and tasting those wonderful nuts we all love on the great airline that is Southwest. He'll land in Houston and have to take a range rover from there but it'll be stocked with beer and the interior is done up in one of those pants suits Condi wears so just draw your own mental picture ok?

Enough said.

- Chris Mansel

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Private Airfield Request Denied Blackwater Pilot Wanted Moyock Field

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Blackwater USA pilot's plans to build a private airfield was grounded this week after his neighbors complained about the proposal.
During their meeting Tuesday, the Currituck Planning Board unanimously rejected Phill Bragg's proposed airstrip on Summit Farm Trails in Moyock. The airfield would have been within sight of property owned by Blackwater USA, Bragg's employer.
Bragg also is apparently involved with PigMasters, a North Carolina-based barbecue firm. On its Web site, Bragg's vintage biplane is jokingly referred to as PigMasters' "corporate jet."
Currituck Chief Planner David Webb had recommended approval of Bragg's request for a special use permit for a 1,400-foot-long grass airstrip with two hangars. But only on the condition that the airfield would not be used for commercial activities.
Bragg, who currently lives in Shawboro, said he intended to build a home on the lot and to live there.
"The lot is a 16-acre lot and it's on the end," he said. "There won't be any overflight of residences," he said, pointing out that his airplane would be flying over Blackwater's property.
"This is a very small grassroots-type operation with little or no impact. It's not a noisy endeavor," he said.
Bragg said his antique biplane is a hobby.
"It's like having a sailboat tied up on your dock if you live on the water," he said. "If you're a pilot, it's nice to walk out into your backyard and have a grass strip."
But half-a-dozen residents who showed up at the Planning Board meeting weren't satisfied with Bragg's assurances.
While conceding he wouldn't be conducting business, they pointed to his involvement with PigMasters, a company that organizes private functions. Residents said Bragg might use the airstrip to fly in guests for parties.
"My concern is that this gentleman is in a club, something like flying pigs," said Warren Wilgus, who lives on Oxford Road.
"They go out and they have barbecue roasts. This house here could be one of the main meeting places for them landing. There's no restrictions on the number of aircraft. They could be having a big old party."
Neighbors were also suspicious of why Bragg had applied for a permit for two hangars, if he only owns one aircraft.
Mike Colter of Summit Farms Trail, said he was concerned about fuel storage on the site.
"A special use permit for a privately owned airstrip will open (things) up for more general aviation owners," he said.
Colter also wasn't satisfied with Bragg's pledge to restrict his flight pattern.
"Years from now as the area gets developed he'll be flying over more people," he said.
Drew McIntyre, who is building a home nearby on Oxford Road, said his reason for coming to the subdivision was "for peace and quiet."
"An airplane is an airplane. I cannot imagine getting up in the morning and listening to an aircraft taking off and landing in this nice area," he said.
Sherry Motes, of Summit Farm Trails, questioned why Bragg couldn't instead fly from Currituck Regional Airport, about eight miles away in Maple.
After the hearing, Bragg said he was taken aback by the level of opposition. He said didn't want to do anything to offend his neighbors.
The Planning Board then voted to reject Bragg's request for a special use permit.
The board also agreed to revisit the county's limited rules on private airfields.

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