Monday, April 30, 2007

Where Is The Press?

Today’s news is loaded with stories of another D.C. madam poised to name names. Reporters excitedly say that hundred’s of Washington bigwigs may be unseated.

In other- not so prominent – news:
George Tenet says the administration failed to adequately weigh questions as to whether or not to invade Iraq, but also that his agency (CIA) provided and believed the information that Secretary of State Colin Powell used in his instrumental speech to the UN.

Douglas Feith denies manipulating intelligence Instead, Feith personally wrote to NPR to make the point that the official report Steven Colbert was referring to when he used the word manipulation actually said that his “. . . office promoted alternative intelligence reports that were inappropriate”. Gee thanks, Doug, that really clarifies things. Everything’s it OK now.

The Army reports that Iraqi sheikhs are now cooperating with them in hunting down Al Qaida members. I recently read Rory Stewart’s “The Prince of the Marshes”, a book about his gubernatorial responsibilities in Iraq that exposed, more than anything else, the difficulties faced by anyone who tries to bring cohesion to the interests and efforts of the Iraqi sheikhs. His biggest problem in trying to govern was that every sheikh has his own agenda based on the economic turf each maintains. So why are they now cooperating? Because Al Qaida is cutting into their oil smuggling business. The question is what does the U.S. do if they succeed in freeing the sheikhs of Al Qaida’s infringement on that trade? Do they continue to ignore the smuggling? (The answer, of course, is yes.)

Our local peace group, PNO, has a flap going with the local newspaper on the same basis. We had a visit last week from Cindy Sheehan, so PNO showed up to distribute leaflets in an attempt to draw new members. Instead of publishing any of those talking points, the press published a picture of one of PNO‘s leaders in tears with a caption naming her as having an emotional moment while talking to me. I had done my best to block the cameraman from even taking the picture, so his decision to publish it and the wording of the caption showed that the paper had no interest in relaying information, only in trying to capture some sort of “sensational” moment. (BTW, the tears were brought on by our discussion of the callousness of an editorial featuring the PNO leader and one of her most odious detractors in that morning’s paper.)

So where am I going with all this? To just one simple point - the generally useless focus of most of the “news” reportage to which we are subjected.

Who really cares about all the madams in our nation’s capital?! If you think you are going to have a chance to elect to national office more than one person in a hundred who is not a hedonistic borderline sociopath capable of calling someone in for paid sex, you are living in a rose colored bubble. But the press is focusing on that story as though it was meaningful.

It seems to me that any good reporter could easily delve into the questions Mr. Tenet raised in his diatribe against BushCo and his statement that the CIA believed in the Iraqi WMD. The International Atomic Energy Agency made it clear that the aluminum tubes Colin Powell referred to were not for bomb development. They also made it clear that the launching pad Powell said could only be used for launching illegally long range missiles was within the scope of treaty requirements. They also said, before Powell spoke or the President gave his fateful State of the Union address, that Saddam had no facilities capable of developing nuclear weapons. The Nigerian uranium story was also blown out of the water before Bush used it in his State of the Union address. The “mobile labs” he touted turned out to be nothing more that firefighting equipment. So, why did no popular press forcibly bring those issues to the attention of the American people then or at least go after them now?

Douglas Feith has now been censured for his manipulation (or whatever he wants to call it) of intelligence, but anyone who was watching closely knew at the time that the Office of Special Plans, under the direction of Cheney and Feith, was promoting sleight of hand intelligence every day in the run-up to Iraq. Where was the press then? Where are they on this story now?

Where is the press now, while the U.S. touts its warming relationship to the sheikhs? Out snapping pictures of gentle elderly women in tears?

What chance does the average American have of understanding central issues when the press on whom we rely for information about the world is busy ignoring anything meaningful while publishing stories about Anna Nicole Smith’s baby and the infamous blue dress?

Come back Edward R. Murrow. Come back.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Yours in Peace - BR

Friday, April 27, 2007


Yesterday I attended a program hosted by a local university under the rubric “Democracy and Dissent”. Speakers included Rick Maxson, PhD, Associate Professor of Communications at Drury University in Springfield, MO, Col. Michael Meese, Head of the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Cindy Sheehan, Activist and Founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

A major point that Ms. Sheehan made was that the responsibility of a voter in a democracy does not end with selecting a candidate in the ballot booth, but is more vitally fulfilled by tracking the performance of that candidate and maintaining contact with him/her to protest or support actions between elections.

That led me to rummage through my old articles and come up with this one, written in December, 2005.


Those of us who have protested the Iraq war are often told that we do not understand that “freedom is not free”, but that’s not correct. We do know that the freedoms enjoyed by Americans were won at great cost. In fact, we feel that we are paying part of that price by waving a sign out there on the street corner.

Those who raise this issue should ask themselves exactly how those freedoms were won. It was not by marching lockstep with to the beat of a repressive government. It was through the refusal of citizens to accept the dictates of their government without question. The colonists rebelled against taxation without representation. I rebel against preemptive war without honest consideration of available intelligence. I rebel against a government that lies to its people in order to achieve its preconceived but unrevealed goals.

The price of freedom is not just the deaths of soldiers on foreign battlefields. It is the eternal attendance of the nation’s citizens to the affairs of their own government. The vigilance of the press used to be a great tool, but too much print and airtime are now given to the regurgitation of government issued press releases and photo-ops.

To preserve freedom, citizens must spend time and energy seeking to understand what’s behind political action. The true price of freedom is the effort it takes to learn enough to understand the motivation of leaders of either party whose true agenda is rarely shared with the people. A public aware enough to know that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was bogus would not have followed the Democrats into Viet Nam. A public aware enough to know that Iraq had no WMDs and was not involved in 9-11 would not have supported the invasion of that country, either.

I hear from more people afraid of gun control than from those afraid of the unauthorized wiretapping and the undocumented arrests allowed by the Patriot Act.

Take the time to separate the real threats from the boogiemen and we might find ourselves protecting America’s freedoms by refusing to follow flag waving, fear mongering, Bible thumping politicians to the polling place.

The true price of freedom is the effort it takes to be more informed than today’s press or politicians will make us. Now that more information is coming forth about the ways we have been misled and how our laws have been ignored by those leaders, we must take the time to consider that citizenship means more than selecting a party and supporting it no matter what. We must be vigilant, objective, and ruthless in running politicians with hidden agendas out of office. Without that vigilance our freedoms will surely be lost.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

Yours in Peace -- BR

Thursday, April 26, 2007


This is a reprint of an article I wrote in September, 2004, and it is a theme that has been repeated in this blog since. I reprint it here because I still consider its message to be meaningful and even necessary for our country to consider carefully. I DON'T like the direction my country has taken. I don't think it is good for us, and I don't think it is good for the rest of the world, either. What we must guard against most of all are: leaders whose true agenda is so contrary to the will of the people that they can't tell us what they are really doing, and; being so unaware of what our leaders are doing that we support them without evaluation. Right now, I believe we are in great danger from both.

America today is at much greater risk than it was on 9-11, but not from terrorists.
In deciding to go to Iraq we helped Osama bin Laden find new recruits, but the real risk we face is internal. Walt Kelly’s Pogo said it most succinctly, “We have met the enemy and they is us.” Republican president Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, but we didn’t listen. Now we are governed by a group of neo-conservatives including many members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose stated objectives include the replacement of diplomacy with warfare as foreign policy. No one seems to care that this group, who now compose most of the president’s advisory staff and cabinet undersecretaries, is accomplishing its stated objectives which include a military presence in the Middle East, establishment of a “Pax Americana” (American controlled ‘peace’ through domination), military control of outer space and cyberspace, expanded nuclear weapons capability and even genetically targeted weaponry. (See and read the paper titled Rebuilding America’s Defenses.)

The economic policy this group espouses sounds great in sound bites – smaller government and less taxes in a safe society – but in actual practice results in high deficit spending, accumulation of wealth among only the top earning 1% (and, by default, reduced earnings among the lower 20-50%), reduction in domestic spending (justified by the deficit), hugely increased military spending (justified by fear and adding to the deficit), and American domination of the world economy through force if necessary.

War in Iraq was one of the goals PNAC published for the Bush campaign in September, 2000. What they said then was, “While the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” (ibid. p.14) My heart weeps for the America that was the true champion of freedom and the savior of the world from Nazi and Japanese domination; the America for whom I wore an Army uniform. I mourn our transformation into a nation that thinks pre-emptive war resulting in American domination of the world is the right way to go. The neo-cons’ Pax Americana is just pox to the rest of the world.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. -- Jimi Hendrix

Yours in Peace - BR

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Does the Truth Lie?

The paper carried a wire story this morning headed “British authorities arrest six on terrorism charges”. The kind of story that makes you think about how pervasive Islamic terrorism must be; how it does appear that two of the major religions of the world are squaring off once again just as in the old Crusades, even though you’d rather it wasn’t that way.

But is this really true? Some people say that stories like this are propaganda designed to maintain support for “the war on terrorism”. An article sent to me off the web yesterday sheds some light on the subject. Titled The Islamic Threat to Europe: By the Numbers it was written by Kristoffer Larsson and is about a study published by Europol – short for European Police Office. If you want to review the entire report, check it out at Europol's website.

The report says 498 terrorist attacks took place in EU countries last year. So how many were carried out by Islamists? One. That’s right, one. In the U.S., we have suffered three major attacks within our borders. Two on the twin towers and one in Oklahoma City. The two in New York apparently were carried out by people of the Islamic faith. The one in Oklahoma was domestic.

So what does Larsson contend is reason for all the stories we read about Islamic terrorism? – To keep the Military Industrial Complex running smoothly, we always need an enemy. My view of the word Islamic is that it is used to define an “enemy” and that some of our Christian fundamentalists are just as rabid as the Islamic fundamentalists, but that this conflict is not over religion. It is over economic and physical oppression represented internationally by the dominant western governments, America and Britain.

So where does the truth lie? The truths lie to us all the time. The spin our pols apply to nearly everything they say leaves us all responsible to interpret everything we read and not just accept it on face value. In this case, I lean more toward Mr. Larsson’s interpretation than Mr. Bush’s.

Yes, the "terrorists" come from the Islamic world, but is their religion the major reason they are fighting against us? There is no doubt that there are people in the Islamic world who would like to eliminate us. They believe that Islam is under attack, but, as my blog yesterday emphasized, they are striking back at our political approach – not our religion even though their recruitment spiel is that Islam is under attack. The public rhetoric that emphasizes the religions involved in this scrap comes from our side. The statements I have read from Islamic "terrorists" talk about American hegemony, not about Christianity. So is this really a face-off between Islamists and Christians? Is the basis for this conflict a difference between religions or is it between people who see America and Britain as imperialistic oppressors on one side and the American and British governments on the other?

For my money, regardless of the etiology of all this death, I would very much appreciate the press backing away from characterizing the conflict as a religious one. If the “terrorists” were not labeled Islamic, wouldn’t we have a different view of the reasons for all the furor? Even the term terrorist carries some spin. That’s why I often put it in quotation marks. Fighters who do not have a government are always labeled terrorists or insurrectionists or some such designation other than the name they choose to call themselves. The name terrorist automatically makes them outlaws, so we feel we don’t need to give their cause any credence.

We’ve all come to expect our politicians to lie to us at all times, but if the press would speak in such a way that the truth didn’t lie, we would all understand our world much more clearly.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi.

Yours in Peace -- BR

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Letter for All Our Pols

This morning’s news rings with the escalation of Washington rhetoric about the war between Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the prez. “No more will Congress turn a blind eye to the Bush administration’s incompetence and dishonesty,” says Reid. The newspaper was kind in changing Mr. Bush’s misused “a” to “an” in quoting him as saying “I will strongly reject an artificial timetable for withdrawal . . .”

I wish I could stand and cheer the Democrats’ attacks on BushCo and to a certain extent I can, but the bottom line is that both of they and Bush are just lying and grandstanding. If the Democrats really wanted to shine light on BushCo’s incompetence and dishonesty they could easily do it. After all the administration’s duplicity and incompetence are lying there in plain view, but the truth is that both sides are more concerned about maintaining American business as usual than about shining the light of truth and humane improvement on the dark, dingy secrets of American policy motivations.

In contrast, please take a moment to read the letter reprinted below. Written in 2001, it clearly states the real problems we and the world face. (To read it in song lyrics, check the archives for my blog titled “Bob Dylan Didn’t Show” published in December, 2006.

Dr. Robert M. Bowman, a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the USA Air Force, in an open letter to the USA President, George W Bush (2001):

"We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom, and human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in third world countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. And that hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism..."

"We are the target of terrorists because we stand for dictatorship, bondage, and human exploitation in the world. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our government has done hateful things. In how many countries have we deposed popularly elected leaders and replaced them with puppet military dictators who were willing to sell out their own people to American multinational corporations?"

"We did it in Iran when we deposed Mossadegh because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry. We replaced him with the Shah, and trained, armed, and paid his hated Savak national guard, which enslaved and brutalized the people of Iran. All to protect the financial interests of our oil companies. Is it any wonder there are people in Iran who hate us?"

"We did it in Chile when we deposed Allende, democratically elected by the people to introduce socialism. We replaced him with the brutal right-wing military dictator, General Pinochet. Chile has still not recovered."

"We did it in Vietnam when we thwarted democratic elections in the South which would have united the country under Ho Chi Minh. We replaced him with a series of ineffectual puppet crooks who invited us to come in and slaughter their people, and we did. (I flew 101 combat missions in that war....)"

"We did it in Iraq, where we killed a quarter of a million civilians in a failed attempt to topple Saddam Hussein, and where we have killed a million since then with our sanctions. About half of these innocent victims have been children under the age of five."

"And, of course, how many times have we done it in Nicaragua and all the other banana republics of Latin America? Time after time we have ousted popular leaders who wanted the riches of the land to be shared by the people who worked it. We replaced them with murderous tyrants who would sell out and control their own people so that the wealth of the land could be taken out by Domino Sugar, the United Fruit Company, Folgers, and Chiquita Banana."

"In country after country, our government has thwarted democracy, stifled freedom, and trampled human rights. That's why we are hated around the world. And that's why we are the target of terrorists."

"People in Canada enjoy better democracy, more freedom, and greater human rights than we do. So do the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being bombed? Or Norwegian embassies? Or Swedish embassies. No. We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom, and human rights."

"Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so the oil companies can sell the oil under their sand, we must send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children. Instead of continuing to kill thousands of Iraqi children every day with our sanctions, we must help them rebuild their electric power plants, their water treatment facilities, their hospitals; all the things we destroyed in our war against them and prevented them from rebuilding with our sanctions."

"Instead of seeking to be king of the hill, we must become a responsible member of the family of nations. Instead of stationing hundreds of thousands of troops around the world to protect the financial interests of our multinational corporations, we must bring them home and expand the Peace Corps. Instead of training terrorists and death squads in the techniques of torture and assassination, we must close the School of the Americas (no matter what name they use). Instead of supporting military dictatorships, we must support true democracy; the right of the people to choose their own leaders. Instead of supporting insurrection, destabilization, assassination, and terror around the world, we must abolish the CIA and give the money to relief agencies."

"In short, we do good instead of evil. We become the good guys, once again."

"The threat of terrorism would vanish. That is what the American people need to hear. We are good people. We only need to be told the truth and given the vision. You can do it, Mr. President. Stop the killing. Stop the justifying. Stop the retaliating. Put people first. Tell them the truth."


Thank you Dr. Bowman for telling it just like it is. Why can’t our politicians admit it and lead us to change our ways?

And finally, here is a quote that makes ultimate sense. We should all do what we can to help those around us understand what we are doing in Iraq every day so that they too can help stop it. The comparison below is so apt:

I keep hearing from US politicians and the US mass media that the "situation is improving" in Iraq. The profound sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech should give us a baseline for what the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Juan Cole

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

Yours in Peace - BR

Monday, April 23, 2007

Apologies and Homilies

My apologies for failing to publish last Friday. I have pledged to do this daily, but that day I had to leave about 7:00 am to get to my post as an umpire for the Great Lakes Valley Conference tennis championships. It was Division II tennis, but very good. Great to be involved in, too, as all of the coaches and most of the players behaved in a mature and sportsmanlike manner. That is a refreshing experience compared to most of the Division I duals I umpire. There I characterize many of the coaches as 35 going on 10. Far too many of the players seem stuck at about 13, so the tempers fly and every judgement is met with anger and mock disbelief. Cheating on line calls is too often de rigueur because the attitude is either that if I can get away with it, it’s okay or my opponent is going to cheat me, so I ought to beat him to the punch. Winning is everything. Nothing else matters.

I deeply appreciated seeing that my readership did not diminish in the face of my absence of the two prior weeks, too. That absence was because I had agreed last fall to be in Florida during that time. It was another pair of tournaments that took me there. The first was the Florida International Wheelchair Open. The second was the Girl’s 12s National Championships. The conclusion I reached from all this was that the latter should be required to attend the former before being allowed to play.

It’s not that all the girls were misbehaved. In fact, most were quite well behaved, but still, I think, could benefit from watching the behaviors of those who’ve had to climb a few rocky hills to get where they are.

The wheelchair event was in two parts: professional and amateur. The pros were largely matter-of-fact about their abilities and joyful in their play even though the money was significant (It was a $15,000 tournament.) and the difficulties some had to overcome just to hold a racket were apparent. Yes, there were some few who were a little hard to handle, and one who notably complained about every umpire assigned to his matches, by and large the feeling at the tournament was of friendly competition. Line calls were always generous’ and conflicts quickly and comfortably solved. In a very tight and hotly contested semi-final doubles match, I had to call a code violation for racket abuse, but no comment was made, no argument, no anger, just pick up the racket and resume play. The losers left the court without talking to anyone, but later were back to their amiable selves; joking with me about their relationship.

The best match for me, though, was between two pairs of amateurs. One team consisted of a one-legged giant and a tiny man forced to live his always smiling life in a twisted little body that left him less mobile than many other players. They were from Puerto Rico. The other team was a pair of diminutive Chileans. Neither team was very savvy about the rules so I had to correct several behaviors, and I think they tested each other with questionable line calls from time to time, but the general feeling was constant elation as they fought their way through a match that was 3 hours and 45 minutes long. Every one of my corrections was met with immediate positive response, though I must admit that I got several looks of incomprehension that may have been due to our language barrier, but I think more likely were license to misbehave again. All such behavior, though, was in the good spirit of fun. They laughed their way through that grueling match and when it was over hugged each other across the net at great length before demanding that I join them at the net while the numerous fans snapped photos of us all.

At the girl’s 12s, the quality of play was generally high, but the general feeling was a bit more grim. Winning was everything for most contenders, and some things that went on were downright repulsive. Umpires had to keep their eyes peeled for cheating – not only line calls by the players, but illegal coaching from parents. Can you, as a parent, imagine taking your child to any kind of tournament where you would train your child to cheat? It was easy to detect. The kids would make eye contact with their parents after every point, obviously looking for input. Dad would then give a signal; maybe rubbing the back of his hand to indicate that she should serve to her opponent’s backhand. There were many variations, but in all such cases the fact was that they were training their daughters in illegal behavior.

Many girls were just having a good time, but these were deadly serious. The saddest part to me was with the younger girls. You could always tell which girls were receiving undue pressure to win from the parents. They were the ones who sniveled, cried or had some kind of fit after every lost point. They obviously found no joy even in points won; just an intense focus on winning the next with an equally obvious fear that they might lose it instead. Their tension was palpable; their fear clearly visible, and their pleasure in the game completely absent. Maybe if they had to attend the wheelchair tournament first, they would come to understand that their situation is not so dire. They might even come to appreciate the quality their lives offer them. They might come to understand that winning the game is not as important as the ability to walk onto a court and play it without having to overcome tremendous personal challenges.

Maybe those cheating parents would even come to realize that their dream of becoming rich by driving their daughters to become number one or two in the world is imposing a form of paralysis on their little girls that is more limiting than the loss of limbs and the ability to walk and run. Maybe they could become thankful for what they have every day rather than so greedy for more that they would sacrifice the mental health of their own offspring to chase an impossible dream they were incapable of achieving in their own time on the courts.

Maybe we should all have to spend some time watching those courageous and joyful folks in their wheelchairs so we could all reflect on the bounty we enjoy every day just by having to deal with so few barriers to whatever it is we want to do. Those weren’t superhumans out there on the courts wheeling their way after little yellow balls. They had their problems dealing with the intensity of the competition, too. But what their humanity had within it a general air of humility; of thankfulness for being able to take part in such an event.

The final match of the tournament was between the top four wheelchair tennis players in the world. The quality of the tennis was so superb that it was reason enough for anyone to want to watch it. Those guys could run down a drop shot with the best of them and hit a winner in response. The best part, though, was the pure, true joy that would burst forth on the court when that winner flew past the defenders – and it wasn’t just the winner of the point that was happy. The smiles were on both ends of the court, and the joy was shared by everybody there.

May your day hold even an iota of that kind of joie de vive.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

Yours in Peace - BR

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Military Industrial Complex

I received a very interesting comment to Tuesday's blog. It is from a veteran in Minnesota who has a blog my readers would undoubtedly benefit from, and his comment was meaningful. Check out his blog at and be sure to read the article from Vanity Fair at

The only thing in his comment with which I disagreed was his conclusion that politicians don't matter. He is right in that the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) really calls the shots, but to me the politicians are the tip of the iceberg and as such are the only visible target that you and I can influence in any way.

Granted after years of Sisyphean experiences trying to get politicians to listen to and apply sensible means of reducing MIC influence it is tempting to just back off and say that it's impossible. I have done it several times myself. Still, to me the common people of the world really have only one great hope for a sane future and that lies in the Constitution of the United States and any other similar documents that may exist which grant inalienable legal rights to citizens.

That's why I rail so against the current administration. I see them as being horribly guilty of doing their best to erode the strength of the Constitution as a bulwark against our loss of rights and freedom. Even politicians who are so enmeshed in the MIC as to be unable to see how damaging it is are capable of understanding this concept. Still, the only means I see for ensuring that they don't act to enlarge this erosion is for the common folk to be so active in their support of the Constitution as to be an clearly perceived threat to the jobs those politicians hold.

So, although it almost always seems futile, I continue to advocate here and everywhere else anyone will let me that more of us need to be making it clear to our politicians in any way we can that when they back things like the Military Commissions Act, many sections of the Patriot Act, and "special renditions" they are acting against the interests of the American people and against the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Politicians, like it or not, are the guardians of those documents and their power to continue to protect us. That's why I like Dennis Kucinich so much and so deeply appreciated Robert Byrd's comments when we were poised to invade Iraq. Those two, and not many others, were willing to stand up and try to counter the MIC's intentions.

I've been reading the Federalist Papers again, so am planning a series of essays on the subject for future articles. Please stay tuned, please keep leaning on your least favorite politicians, and please continue to comment when something in this column moves you to do so. Those comments are any blogger's life blood. Thanks for being there.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The Republican Party has been hijacked. I was raised a Republican during the Eisenhower administration. It was Ike who warned us to beware of the “military industrial complex.” He was just one word short. He should have warned us about the religious military industrial complex.

The Republican Party I believed in was dedicated to small government, balanced or surplus budgets, protecting the Constitution of the United States and strengthening the middle class. The Republican Party today has abdicated all of those positions, and no abdication has been as devastating as that of handing over political power to the religious right.

It’s history now, but Mr. Bush declared the sanctity of life and called for court intervention after championing a law in Texas that would have put the courts in charge of the Schiavo decision because of the family’s conflict. What about the sanctity of over 1500 young Americans and countless Iraqis who at that time had lost their lives in a war waged on false premises? (Well over 3000 now.) Tom DeLay preached to us about the sanctity of life after having decided to pull the plug on his father and needing to deflect attention from his own ethical deficiencies. Both men plus most of their party members in Congress forced the Schiavo case into federal court in contradiction to constitutional law and then complained that the courts are corrupt because they did not find in their favor. Such hypocrisy.

And the most egregious act of all – the doctrine of pre-emptive warfare – a concept which, by the way, goes against our agreement with the United Nations and thus is illegal according to our own statutes. While shrilly proclaiming the U.S. to be a Christian nation, the Bush neo-cons have moved us from the long held position that we would go to war only as a last resort – we were slow even to enter World War II – to being rushed into a war that is now justified, not by any of the reasons originally given, but only by the fact that it succeeded in deposing a vile dictator who was no real threat. Would Christ have approved this war? Would Mohammed? Would the Buddha? Would you?

Time and time again, this neo-conservative, Christian Right, pseudo-Republican administration proves that it will tell us anything and do whatever it pleases. The Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower and the party for which I used to vote would never have led us into this war, taken us from huge surpluses to bigger deficits, championed worldwide corporate rule, and sought to upset the Constitutional balance of power as this administration has done.

Sadly, the Democratic Party’s main strategy seems to be to imitate the Republicans. Both parties need to go back to their true roots, and someone must stand up for the common man. We, the people, need to follow the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and rebel against political power being wielded for personal gain. We have become a nation of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Only the wealthy can run for national office for either party. The level of corruption and the lack of understanding or concern for the needs of the common man now endemic in Washington, D.C. are unacceptable to anyone who can see beyond the thirty second television sound bite. Demand government of the people, by the people and for the people from both parties. Take back our hijacked political system, and for God sake get us out of the infighting in Iraq.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – M.K. Gandhi
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

Friday, April 13, 2007

Blood for Oil

All along we knew that the invasion of Iraq had more to do with oil than democracy and military bases than freedom. All along we've also known that BushCo is the sneakiest bunch of blackguards ever to grace the Whitehouse, but until now, I had never quite put all the pieces together to see how cynically evil this bunch truly is. It took a hard core analysis of the latest Congressional budget bill to reveal the nuts and bolts behind our invasion of Iraq, and understanding it generates a nearly unbearable level of revulsion for the willingness of BushCo to shed the blood of young Americans and countless Iraqis of all ages. Read on and weep with me at the loss of all hope for America's soul.

At the end of last month, Richard Behan made it all crystal clear in his article
George Bush’s Land Mine: If the Iraqi People Get Revenue Sharing, They Lose Their Oil to Exxon
You can read it at:

If you've read it, you too now know about how the scheme to steal Iraq's wealth stands to reveal the war as the death of America's claim to any moral standing. If ever there was an administration worthy of impeachment, this is it. Not only have they deliberately distorted intelligence to get us to follow them into a war they came into office to declare, destroyed the balance of powers guaranteed by the Constitution, and stolen the peoples' rights and liberties, they have now robbed Iraq in broad daylight.

The only prayer America has of regaining any positive status in the eyes of the world is to oust this Administration, treat them as the criminals they are and apologize for our previous blindness.

Every Congressperson should have access to this article before allowing this distribution formula for Iraq's oil to become part of the laws of this land. Please send a reference to this article or the article itself to all of your representatives. Will Bush veto the bill as passed? Let's hope so, and if he does, let's all work to make sure that this theft provision is not in any future version.

Call that humiliation?

This article was too good not to pass on. Wish I had Jones' penchant for satire. Hope you enjoy and concur. - BR

No hoods. No electric shocks. No beatings. These Iranians clearly are a very uncivilised bunch

By Terry Jones

03/31/07 "The Guardian" -- -- I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated.
And what's all this about allowing the captives to write letters home saying they are all right? It's time the Iranians fell into line with the rest of the civilised world: they should allow their captives the privacy of solitary confinement. That's one of the many privileges the US grants to its captives in Guantánamo Bay.

The true mark of a civilised country is that it doesn't rush into charging people whom it has arbitrarily arrested in places it's just invaded. The inmates of Guantánamo, for example, have been enjoying all the privacy they want for almost five years, and the first inmate has only just been charged. What a contrast to the disgraceful Iranian rush to parade their captives before the cameras!

What's more, it is clear that the Iranians are not giving their British prisoners any decent physical exercise. The US military make sure that their Iraqi captives enjoy PT. This takes the form of exciting "stress positions", which the captives are expected to hold for hours on end so as to improve their stomach and calf muscles. A common exercise is where they are made to stand on the balls of their feet and then squat so that their thighs are parallel to the ground. This creates intense pain and, finally, muscle failure. It's all good healthy fun and has the bonus that the captives will confess to anything to get out of it.

And this brings me to my final point. It is clear from her TV appearance that servicewoman Turney has been put under pressure. The newspapers have persuaded behavioural psychologists to examine the footage and they all conclude that she is "unhappy and stressed".

What is so appalling is the underhand way in which the Iranians have got her "unhappy and stressed". She shows no signs of electrocution or burn marks and there are no signs of beating on her face. This is unacceptable. If captives are to be put under duress, such as by forcing them into compromising sexual positions, or having electric shocks to their genitals, they should be photographed, as they were in Abu Ghraib. The photographs should then be circulated around the civilised world so that everyone can see exactly what has been going on.

As Stephen Glover pointed out in the Daily Mail, perhaps it would not be right to bomb Iran in retaliation for the humiliation of our servicemen, but clearly the Iranian people must be made to suffer - whether by beefing up sanctions, as the Mail suggests, or simply by getting President Bush to hurry up and invade, as he intends to anyway, and bring democracy and western values to the country, as he has in Iraq.

· Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python -

In my opinion, America has sunk to lows that no one I ever met along the ways my life has led me would have thought we would ever see. A lot went on behind the scenes to which we were not privy, but at least at the surface America was held forth as a nation that was above torturing people. We were taught a moral code that precluded the kind of behavior that our leaders now condone while touting their Christianity.

The nations of the world have responded by according the U.S. a very low status as a nation of hypocrits who point at and blame others for breaches of human rights while practicing institutionalized racism at home; not to mention torture and pre-emptive war abroad.

America needs to show a better face to the world - not only in what we say, but in what we do. We could start by showing them that we no longer accept leadership that curbs our liberties at home while wreaking havoc around the world in the name of preserving American market share and energy consumption.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. -- Jimi Hendrix