Saturday, January 29, 2005

One that slipped through the cracks

Seattle Central Community College: A Crucible of Organic Intellectuals?

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Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Due, right, a U.S. Army recruiter, is surrounded by protesters at Seattle Central Community College, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, in Seattle. After about a 10-minute standoff during which protesters tore up U.S Army literature, the protesters were successful in getting Due and another recruiter to leave their table under escort by campus security officers. Several hundred students walked out of classes at several Seattle colleges and universities to protest the inauguration of President Bush. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

The blogger has an interesting take on the story and what it means in terms of political resistance.

Food for thought

Of Grassroots, Alternative Media and Progressive Visions

The World Social Forum opened on Wednesday in Porto Alegre, Brazil. While there's not been much coverage of this--the fifth WSF--in the mainstream media, there's also been very little mention of it here at dKos. Odd, given the claims we have here of supporting grassroots, progressive politics. The WSF is a venue where those folks actually doing grassroots, progressive, anti-corporate, anti-militarist, anti-imperialist politics in the day-to-day come together. It is also a display of the power of civil society-- a social sector progressive Democrats would do well to strike up a renewed acquaintance with.

There's also a clip of a story on the WSF:

"The so-called developed world," Lula told the crowd, need not have a domineering--or even any--role in their multilateral agreements.

This decentering of the United States and Europe is a major, if undeclared, achievement of the WSF. There's no way to determine how many of the more than 100,000 participants come from that "so-called developed world," but Portuguese and Spanish dominate the presentations. It's not that anyone regards the United States as irrelevant to the struggles described, debated and developed here--indeed, a prominent image in Wednesday evening's kick-off march was a picture of Bush with the caption "Number 1 Terrorist." But as this motley movement has self-consciously shifted from protesting problems to proposing solutions, it has shoved the United States upstage. Without issuing manifestos, developing a joint list of demands or even trying to create a consensus political program, the WSF serves as a laboratory for new approaches to entrenched problems, favoring bottom-up organizing to party politics, participatory democracy to old-style hierarchies.

The World Social Forum website is well worth a visit, as is the organization's Charter of Principles.

Of Birds Coming Home To Roost

Rocket hits U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, believed to cause casualties

A rocket hit the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad late Saturday, killing two Americans who worked there and wounding four others on the eve of Iraq's landmark elections, a U.S. Embassy official said.

The rocket fell into the Embassy's compound, near the building itself in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, according to the embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A civilian and a Navy sailor, both assigned to the embassy, were killed in the rocket attack, a military official said, also on condition of anonymity.

Of the four injured Americans, two were military, one was a civilian and the fourth was as yet underdetermined, the military official said.

High Anxiety

Despite a continuing increase in the already draconian security measures imposed across Iraq, the bombs keep coming.

Today in the al-Dora district of Baghdad a primary school which had been a designated polling station was struck by a car bomb. Four Iraqi Police (IP) were killed.

A GMC packed with explosives rammed a checkpoint at the al-Dora power plant, killing several people, and as far south as Basra a policeman died when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb.

With Baquba experiencing its daily car bombing, at least 18 Iraqis have been killed in attacks on polling stations in the last 24 hours alone.

Quick Update: MSNBC: 5-6 explosions in first 90 minutes of Iraq voting. Draw your own conclusions. My prayers for anyone caught in the middle of this Bu$hCo-created nightmare!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Something I feel like passing along:

Advice for the Democrats

First, your biggest problem is not that you will be labelled "obstructionist" (although you will) but that you will be crushed by a force that doesn't believe there should be any limits to its power. Thus, fighting back even when you're going to lose is important. Your fighting on Social Security has been a good thing and has already affected the Bush administration's expectations. I imagine that all but a few of you are far too gutless to fight back on the upcoming Iraq appropriations bill or to filibuster Gonzales, but find some things you'll go to the mat on even if you lose. Don't worry about getting a legislative agenda accomplished; the Bush administration never does as long as it can build the right wing.

Second, and most important, don't just play defense. It's important to go out and attack the Republicans. Again, I expect that most of you are too gutless and unprincipled to fight hard on substantive issues like withdrawal from Iraq or single-payer healthcare (even though it's something that most corporations would welcome). So, you should gun for a prominent Republican personally. It seems impossible in this climate to go after Bush or Cheney and pointless to go after an appointed member of the executive branch (except in cases, like Rumsfeld, where again it's impossible). So go after a prominent legislator on ethics charges -- maybe Tom Delay? Create a situation where the Republicans have to either openly sanction corruption or acquiesce in the elimination of one of their own. If this works, lather, rinse, repeat.

This isn't about social justice. Nobody expects much on that front any time soon -- nor have they expect much from you for some time now. It's just about your survival. Your current strategy of curling up in a ball and hoping the Republicans don't kick you just encourages them to kick you.

Any readers out there who have more contact with the Democrats than I do, please feel free to pass on this advice.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

60 Years Ago Today

The remaining survivors of Auschwitz were liberated. I wish I could say that we humans have learned the lesson "never again." Sadly, the evidence in the ensuing 60 years would suggest how easily we forget, and how willingly many of us will engage in or exuse or politely ignore egregious human rights abuses such as genocide. I wish somewhere I could find a message of hope in the fact that there are folks willing to commemorate this anniversary, but alas I continue to see a likely continuation of more of the same.

Update: For a European's update, read How many times do we say "never again"?

Wow. It really does look like the White House has a "No Pundit Left Behind" policy

Third Columnist on the take revealed

"One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed."

Who's next?

Hot, hot, hot

A few more climate change articles I've stumbled upon:

Antarctica, Warming, Looks Ever More Vulnerable

Global Warming Has Arrived: Arctic Study (from November of last year)

Global warming is 'twice as bad as previously thought'

Oil firms fund campaign to deny climate change

Global warming takes its toll on the world's highest mountain as Everest shrinks by 4ft

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Seymour Hersh: We've Been Taken Over By A Cult!

Read transcript here. Highlights:

There's a lot of anxiety inside the -- you know, our professional military and our intelligence people. Many of them respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as much as anybody here, and individual freedom. So, they do -- there's a tremendous sense of fear. These are punitive people. One of the ways -- one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is. You do have to wonder what a Democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way. What they have done is neutralize the C.I.A. because there were people there inside -- the real goal of what Goss has done was not attack the operational people, but the intelligence people. There were people -- serious senior analysts who disagree with the White House, with Cheney, basically, that's what I mean by White House, and Rumsfeld on a lot of issues, as somebody said, the goal in the last month has been to separate the apostates from the true believers. That's what's happening. The real target has been “diminish the agency.” I'm writing about all of this soon, so I don't want to overdo it, but there's been a tremendous sea change in the government. A concentration of power.

On the other hand, the facts -- there are some facts. We can’t win this war. We can do what he's doing. We can bomb them into the stone ages. Here's the other horrifying, sort of spectacular fact that we don't really appreciate. Since we installed our puppet government, this man, Allawi, who was a member of the Mukabarat, the secret police of Saddam, long before he became a critic, and is basically Saddam-lite. Before we installed him, since we have installed him on June 28, July, August, September, October, November, every month, one thing happened: the number of sorties, bombing raids by one plane, and the number of tonnage dropped has grown exponentially each month. We are systematically bombing that country. There are no embedded journalists at Doha, the Air Force base I think we’re operating out of. No embedded journalists at the aircraft carrier, Harry Truman. That's the aircraft carrier that I think is doing many of the operational fights. There’s no air defense, It's simply a turkey shoot. They come and hit what they want. We know nothing. We don't ask. We're not told. We know nothing about the extent of bombing. So if they're going to carry out an election and if they're going to succeed, bombing is going to be key to it, which means that what happened in Fallujah, essentially Iraq -- some of you remember Vietnam -- Iraq is being turn into a “free-fire zone” right in front of us. Hit everything, kill everything. I have a friend in the Air Force, a Colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner, planning urban bombing, to make urban bombing be as unobtrusive as possible. I think it was three weeks ago today, three weeks ago Sunday after Fallujah I called him at home. I'm one of the people -- I don't call people at work. I call them at home, and he has one of those caller I.D.’s, and he picked up the phone and he said, “Welcome to Stalingrad.” We know what we're doing. This is deliberate. It's being done. They're not telling us. They're not talking about it.

We have a President that -- and a Secretary of State that, when a trooper -- when a reporter or journalist asked -- actually a trooper, a soldier, asked about lack of equipment, stumbled through an answer and the President then gets up and says, “Yes, they should all have good equipment and we're going to do it,” as if somehow he wasn't involved in the process. Words mean nothing -- nothing to George Bush. They are just utterances. They have no meaning. Bush can say again and again, “well, we don't do torture.” We know what happened. We know about Abu Ghraib. We know, we see anecdotally. We all understand in some profound way because so much has come out in the last few weeks, the I.C.R.C. The ACLU put out more papers, this is not an isolated incident what’s happened with the seven kids and the horrible photographs, Lynndie England. That's into the not the issue is. They're fall guys. Of course, they did wrong. But you know, when we send kids to fight, one of the things that we do when we send our children to war is the officers become in loco parentis. That means their job in the military is to protect these kids, not only from getting bullets and being blown up, but also there is nothing as stupid as a 20 or 22-year-old kid with a weapon in a war zone. Protect them from themselves. The spectacle of these people doing those antics night after night, for three and a half months only stopped when one of their own soldiers turned them in tells you all you need to know, how many officers knew. I can just give you a timeline that will tell you all you need to know. Abu Ghraib was reported in January of 2004 this year. In May, I and CBS earlier also wrote an awful lot about what was going on there. At that point, between January and May, our government did nothing. Although Rumsfeld later acknowledged that he was briefed by the middle of January on it and told the President. In those three-and-a-half months before it became public, was there any systematic effort to do anything other than to prosecute seven “bad seeds”, enlisted kids, reservists from West Virginia and the unit they were in, by the way, Military Police. The answer is, Ha! They were basically a bunch of kids who were taught on traffic control, sent to Iraq, put in charge of a prison. They knew nothing. It doesn't excuse them from doing dumb things. But there is another framework. We're not seeing it. They’ve gotten away with it.


...I'm doing in The New Yorker, the Abu Ghraib stories. I think I did three in three weeks. If some of you know about The New Yorker, that's unbelievable. But in the middle of all of this, I get a call from a mother in the East coast, Northeast, working class, lower middle class, very religious, Catholic family. She said, I have to talk to you. I go see her. I drive somewhere, fly somewhere, and her story is simply this. She had a daughter that was in the military police unit that was at Abu Ghraib. And the whole unit had come back in March, of -- The sequence is: they get there in the fall of 2003. Their reported after doing their games in the January of 2004. In March she is sent home. Nothing is public yet. The daughter is sent home. The whole unit is sent home. She comes home a different person. She had been married. She was young. She went into the Reserves, I think it was the Army Reserves to get money, not for college or for -- you know, these -- some of these people worked as night clerks in pizza shops in West Virginia. This not -- this is not very sophisticated. She came back and she left her husband. She just had been married before. She left her husband, moved out of the house, moved out of the city, moved out to another home, another apartment in another city and began working a different job. And moved away from everybody. Then over -- as the spring went on, she would go every weekend, this daughter, and every weekend she would go to a tattoo shop and get large black tattoos put on her, over increasingly -- over her body, the back, the arms, the legs, and her mother was frantic. What's going on? Comes Abu Ghraib, and she reads the stories, and she sees it. And she says to her daughter, “Were you there?” She goes to the apartment. The daughter slams the door. The mother then goes -- the daughter had come home -- before she had gone to Iraq, the mother had given her a portable computer. One of the computers that had a DVD in it, with the idea being that when she was there, she could watch movies, you know, while she was overseas, sort of a -- I hadn't thought about it, a great idea. Turns out a lot of people do it. She had given her a portable computer, and when the kid came back she had returned it, one of the things, and the mother then said I went and looked at the computer. She knows -- she doesn't know about depression. She doesn’t know about Freud. She just said, I was just -- I was just going to clean it up, she said. I had decided to use it again. She wouldn't say anything more why she went to look at it after Abu Ghraib. She opened it up, and sure enough there was a file marked “Iraq”. She hit the button. Out came 100 photographs. They were photographs that became -- one of them was published. We published one, just one in The New Yorker. It was about an Arab. This is something no mother should see and daughter should see too. It was the Arab man leaning against bars, the prisoner naked, two dogs, two shepherds, remember, on each side of him. The New Yorker published it, a pretty large photograph. What we didn’t publish was the sequence showed the dogs did bite the man -- pretty hard. A lot of blood. So she saw that and she called me, and away we go. There's another story.

For me, it's just another story, but out of this comes a core of -- you know, we all deal in “macro” in Washington. On the macro, we're hopeless. We're nowhere. The press is nowhere. The congress is nowhere. The military is nowhere. Every four-star General I know is saying, “Who is going to tell them we have no clothes?” Nobody is going to do it. Everybody is afraid to tell Rumsfeld anything. That's just the way it is. It's a system built on fear. It's not lack of integrity, it's more profound than that. Because there is individual integrity. It's a system that's completely been taken over -- by cultists. Anyway, what's going to happen, I think, as the casualties mount and these stories get around, and the mothers see the cost and the fathers see the cost, as the kids come home. And the wounded ones come back, and there's wards that you will never hear about. That's wards -- you know about the terrible catastrophic injuries, but you don't know about the vegetables. There's ward after ward of vegetables because the brain injuries are so enormous. As you maybe read last week, there was a new study in one of the medical journals that the number of survivors are greater with catastrophic injuries because of their better medical treatment and the better armor they have. So you get more extreme injuries to extremities. We're going to learn more and I think you're going to see, it's going to -- it's -- I'm trying to be optimistic. We're going to see a bottom swelling from inside the ranks. You're beginning to see it. What happened with the soldiers asking those questions, you may see more of that. I'm not suggesting we're going to have mutinies, but I'm going to suggest you're going to see more dissatisfaction being expressed. Maybe that will do it. Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But he could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he’s going to do between then and now is enormous. We’re going to have some very bad months ahead.

Somewhat good news on a bad day

Reid Using Gonzales Vote to Fight Tyranny at Home. As we learned today, the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats showed some semblance of party unity in opposing Abu Gonzales' nomination to the full Senate. Yeah, since the Rethugs have the majority, and since all of the Rethugs on the committee appear to support torture, Gonzales' nomination advances any way. Still it does raise some interesting possibilities: will the Democrats try to mount a fillibuster? Can enough dirt be dug up on Gonzales to scuttle the nomination before it's too late? Are there any Republicans left in the Senate who actually do have enough of a conscience to oppose torture and oppose the nomination, and if so, do enough of them exist to kill the nomination once it does come down to a vote? I'm pretty sure I know the answer to the last question. Conservatives with a conscience do exist, but let's be real: most of them have long since fled the GOP in favor of the Libertarian Party. There might be a GOP defection or two in the present Senate, but I can't imagine more than that. So it comes down to the first two questions - do the Dems have a successful fillibuster attempt in them? I'm skeptical, but more hopeful than before. Or what else could be uncovered that would so embarrass the White House that Gonzales has to crawl back to his slime pit?

I guess I'm far from the only one who found Junior Caligula's innaugural speech to be creepy

In The Hidden Passages in Bush's Inaugural Address, Mark Rothchild highlights the subtext to Junior Caligula's speech. From Rothchild's concluding remarks:

In these passages, Bush may have been intent on reassuring his evangelical base that he is one of them.

But in the process, he was also doing something dangerous to our democracy.

Our First Amendment says that there shall be “no establishment of religion.” In his speech, Bush was clearly establishing religion. He was denying a place in the United States for those without faith. And while he waved at those of other faiths, his repeated allusions were mostly to the Christian Bible.

If you follow his metaphors and allusions to their logical ends, you realize that Bush was cloaking our secular values of freedom and liberty and justice in distinctly Christian garb.

“The Author of Liberty” is “The Author of Life,” and that author is Jesus.

The “ideals of justice and conduct” equate with Jesus, since both are “the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

Both freedom and Jesus satisfy the hunger and the longing of the soul.

For Bush, they are one and the same.

In his America, there is no distinction between our public, secular values and his private, religious faith.

For those who don’t share his faith—and for those who do but who also appreciate the need to separate church from state—America is becoming an increasingly inhospitable place.

See also Rothchild's interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now via a diary at Daily Kos, as well as Decoding Bush's God-Talk.

Conservatives such as Illana Mercer, Paul Craig Roberts (more from him here), and Bu$hCo apologist Peggy Noonan were also creeped out by various facets of his speech, especially all of the Messianic imagary.

Of course there's been talk for some time now as to whether or not Bush holds Messianic delusions, or if it's the case that he's simply playing the fundie part of his base like a fiddle. In terms of policy outcome I'm not sure it matters much - either way the course that this White House has set us on is one that is purely and simply perilous to the extreme. The world may indeed have a war on terror on its hands - the problem is, it's the White House that's harboring the terrorists.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Juxtaposing images

From this:

To this:

Just the other day I was wondering

when more right-wing columnists accepting payola from the White House would crawl out of the woodwork. Didn't have to wait too long - (National Review Columinst Was Paid to Promote Bush Agenda):

In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.

But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal, reveals Howard Kurtz in Wednesday runs of the WASHINGTON POST.

"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."

Gallagher explains to Kurtz: "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don't know. You tell me." She said she would have "been happy to tell anyone who called me" about the contract but that "frankly, it never occurred to me" to disclose it.

National Review Editor Rich Lowry said of the HHS contract: "We would have preferred that she told us, and we would have disclosed it in her bio."

Who's next?

No on Gonzales

At this point in time, it should go without saying that any Senator with anything even remotely resembling a conscience should vote no on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. The man has demonstrated that he is morally bankrupt and politically corrupt. Concerns about his role in crafting Bu$hCo's policy giving free reign to the torture of political prisoners is well known now, along with his apparent willingness to lie to cover up a George W. Bush DUI conviction. Gonzales, as was the case with the previous nominee for AG, simply has too much baggage coming into the job. An AG is expected to be able to demonstrate some semblance of independence from the president and to uphold the Constitution first and foremost. Given his past associations with George the Second and his role in the expanding torture scandal, his nomination is questionable at best. Reasonable Senators (regardless of party affiliation) will ask themselves if this is a man that can be trusted to safeguard our Constitutional rights and liberties, or if he will merely be another Bu$hCo crony who gives the White House a free pass while giving the Constitution the shaft. Reasonable Senators (regardless of party affiliation) will realize that the latter scenario is the more likely scenario and will vote no. Force the White House (kicking and screaming if need be) to come up with a suitable nominee for this important office.

We're Number One!

Well, not really.

Monday, January 24, 2005


via Billmon (I'm guessing he really is back to regular blogging): Hate Rally and When in Rome . . ..

Speaking of fascism

Don't forget to check out TomTech's This Week in Fascism 1-23-05

David Neiwert has a couple recent posts on the right-winger attacks on Seymour Hersh's latest article Talking Treason and the real subtext of Dobson's linking Spongebob to the so-called "gay agenda" in The meaning of SpongeBob. Forget all the surface-level talk, Dobson's actually targeting those who advocate secular tolerance; Neiwert also does a nice job of examining how tolerance and intolerance cannot really co-exist.

Know your fascist: Alberto Gonzales

Some more information to peruse:

Gonzales Watch: Women at Abu Ghraib, details some of the human consequences of the policies endorsed by Gonzales:

On October 7, 2003, American soldiers held a female detainee's hands behind her back, forced her to her knees, "kissed [her] on the mouth," and removed her blouse, according to a Commander's Report of Disciplinary or Administrative Action. Major General Antonio Taguba reported on the "videotaping and photographing [of] naked male and female detainees" in his May 2004 report on detainee abuse. In their August 25, 2004, report examining the role of military intelligence, Major General George R. Fay and Lieutenant General Anthony R. Jones describe "Incident No. 38," in which "a criminal detainee housed in the Hard Site was shown lifting her shirt with both her breasts exposed. There is no evidence to confirm if [this was] consensual or coerced; however in either case sexual exploitation of a person in U.S. custody constitutes abuse."

And an image shown to members of Congress on May 12, 2004, seems to depict a female detainee exposing her breasts, apparently against her will, according to a high-level Senate staffer. "She just looked like she'd died inside," the staffer says.


He said he saw a woman being raped: "She was on all fours in a hallway outside my cell, and a soldier was raping her. She was looking at me, and I couldn't do anything to help her. Her eyes looked dead."

Gonzales lies to keep quiet Bush's DUI

According to a Travis County Judge, Gonzales requested an in-chambers meeting to excuse Bush from serving on a DUI Jury, allegedly so that he wouldn't have to face questions about his own DUI. (Though this was not the reason given at the time). Now, Gonzales is lying about even requesting that meeting.

It seems that Gonzales has been caught in an outright lie about this episode...

And this is Bu$hCo's choice for Attorney General?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

As a long-time Monty Python fan,

this interview with Terry Jones, titled Python Swallows Bush! caught my attention. Well worth checking out. I've enjoyed Jones' wit in his regular op-ed pieces in The Guardian, and I think you'll find plenty of interest in the interview. Here's an excerpt that captures some of his thoughts on Chaucer, the subject of a recent book by Jones:

And now for something completely different, if I can borrow a phrase, there's your new book on Chaucer, "Was Chaucer Murdered?" But it's really not that different, in a way, because you depict Chaucer as a writer working in a fairly open society under Richard II. Then, when a new regime comes in, under the usurper Henry IV, it shuts down considerably. Eventually this great poet simply vanishes from the historical record.

That's it, actually. My work on Chaucer and the 14th century made me more politically aware about what's happening now. I was always very unpolitical when I was growing up, in my 20s. Reading about the 14th century, I was seeing the same things going on. The people who wanted to change the world and make it better for more people had different issues, but you still see it. And the people who want power and money are unfortunately more adept at wielding power than the people who want to make things better.

In Chaucer's day it was expressed in religious terms. That's where the power was. By the late 14th century, the church had become completely commercialized and was a huge money-making thing. You had some people in the church who were just using it for that and as a power base. Those people tending to wind up running the church. Then there were people within the church who didn't like this and wanted to take it back to its earlier simplicity and more of a religious footing. It took the church establishment quite a while to realize the threat in that. One of Richard's problems was that he didn't take that seriously or support the church establishment enough and in the end it was the church establishment who took him out of power and put Henry IV in.

It was the Archbishop of Arundel who was the real mastermind behind this, the Henry Kissinger of his day. He did exactly what is happening now. He put this illegitimate, illegal regime in power and he lied and cheated to get power himself. Then he neutralized the opposition by declaring a war on heresy. A war on heresy suited his purposes because it was open-ended, he could define heresy how he liked. And he defined it as "you're either with us or you're a heretic." If you criticized the church, you were criticizing the king. It was all the same thing. You saw people using the same mechanisms and tools of power in the 14th century that are used in the war on terror today.

Do you believe that Chaucer was murdered?

I think it's perfectly possible, but we don't really know at all. By asking the question we force people to look at the political reality, which has never been mentioned. I can't believe it. People just go along with the propaganda of Henry IV. Henry IV, because he was an illegitimate ruler, was widely despised during his own reign, even though previously he'd been a popular figure, a champion of chivalry. But once he betrayed his liege lord [Richard II] and usurped the throne he was widely despised. So he rolled in a propaganda machine to rewrite the record and erase any evidence of Richard's popularity and artistic achievements. It's the propaganda that people believe.