Friday, November 30, 2007

How Much Blood and Treasure?

General David Patraeus, asked by Rep. Susan Collins in a Senate hearing recently what the appropriate U.S. response would be if the Iraqi government has not made significant progress within a year, he refused to prognosticate but did say that there would have to be consideration given to how much “blood and treasure” we could continue to commit to that situation.

Before we could possibly make that decision, we would have to know exactly what the goals are in that country and whether or not we collectively agreed that those goals were worth additional blood and treasure.

That is where those of us who have opposed this war from the time it was first discussed part ways with those who support it because they believe that America can do no wrong. The myth of “America the Beneficent” has been the pulse of BushCo’s ability to convince the nation that they should be supportive of this war. They accomplished it, though, by withholding their true goals from the American people while waving the flags of patriotism as though this we were going off to fight World War II.

From my perspective we have already expended far more blood and treasure than was called for by this so-called war on terror. Fighting terrorism takes quiet boots on the ground not the huge expense in blood and treasure of shock and awe bombing a people that neither attacked us nor had any intention of doing so. It takes recognition of the issues that give rise to the hatred that motivates suicide bombers and other terrorists and the resolve to address them. It takes international cooperation based, not on the desire to corner the market on scarce resources or conquer new territories, but the desire to honor the humanity in everyman and to build a future based on the well being of all of us – not just Americans and Brits.

How much more blood and treasure for this war? None.

How much more treasure for healing the wounds of this war and of terrorist activity as well? A great deal. Let’s get on with it.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bush Peace Efforts

Yesterday President Bush broke his seven year fast from attempting to enhance world peace by providing the keynote for the first effort at Middle-East peace since he took office.

He is to be commended for attempting this even if he is too late. Had he begun the effort seven years ago, though, he might have a chance of achieving something before leaving office. As it is, he has saddled himself with a timetable that makes his chances for success slim at best – not to mention that it is going to be hard for participants to offer concessions to the president who installed pre-emptive warfare as a national strategy and who has often confronted the world belligerently but never welcomed contrary views with open arms.

Probably the wisest thing he has done in this effort is to pass the central roles to the Department of State since, unlike Presidents Carter and Clinton before him, he lacks the ability to handle such delicate negotiations himself. That’s not entirely a condemnation of the man. After all, one of the marks of a good leader is the ability to recognize his shortcomings and assign tasks in those areas to competent aides. This exercise will stringently test the quality of Mr. Bush’s ability to choose competent aides more than his own diplomatic abilities, and the intensity of these negotiations will certainly test their competence to the max.

No matter what your political leanings are, though, you have to be rooting for a positive solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem. If Rice and Bush surprise us all by pulling it off, they will definitely deserve a standing O.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Declaration of Principles and the Realization of the Neo-Con’s Goals

Yesterday Mr. Bush pulled off a coup he and his cronies have been aiming at from the beginning –permanent bases for American troops in the Middle East. This move comes as no surprise to those who have done their research on the neo-con motives for the war in Iraq, but others will undoubtedly miss its import.

To really get the picture, you must be familiar with the seminal neo-con document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”. Long time readers can skip this paragraph. It’s old hat to you. But for those who still don’t know exactly why we invaded Iraq, here’s the reference that explains it all: Go there and open the paper, Rebuilding America’s Defenses. This is a report that was presented to George W. Bush’s campaign committee on international affairs in September, 2000 – a full year before 9-11.

Be sure to check out the list of contributors. You’ll find a lot of familiar BushCo names. You’ll want to read the whole thing, but initially you can save a little time by going right to page 14. There you can verify that I’m not misleading you when I say you’ll find the single line that entirely sums it up. In the middle of the right hand column it says, “While the unresolved conflict with 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.”

Now, after six years of fighting at the cost of billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and untold Iraqi property, Mr. Bush has signed a document binding his successors to either delivering or have to weasel out of one of the primary goals his backers sought from the outset of his bid for the presidency – that permanent American military presence in the Gulf.

Love it or hate it; like it or lump it; you and your grandchildren are now obligated to the continued drainage of your wealth down the sump that our rash action in invading the sovereign nation of Iraq has created.

If this “accomplishment” is your idea of a dream, I promise the day will come when you, too, will come to see it as a nightmare. I do not believe that America will enjoy a single day of total comfort with its presence in that country. I do not believe that the time will ever come when we can reasonably expect that no American will be in jeopardy for having been sent to that country. I do not believe that this will do anything to stem the tide of terrorism and anti-Americanism around the world, but rather will add fuel to the anti-American fires smoldering throughout the Arab world.

So congratulations W. You got your way, but once again, just like the day you strutted across the deck in your victory flight suit, you have proven that you have the anti-Midas touch. Everything you touch turns to lead, and our nation and the world suffer for it.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is Our Democracy Doomed?

We’ve all read the stories about the firings of U.S. Justice Department attorneys. The Attorney General lost his job and most of his credibility in the process. Why would he take such a risk? What was really at stake here? What would motivate BushCo to fire so many Justice Department attorneys and replace them with party faithful lawyers? What did they have to gain?

The answer, I believe, lies in the fact that 2008 is an election year. We all like to think of the U.S. as the world’s leader in the free election process. We believe that the people in countries like El Salvador, Haiti, and Russia are oppressed because the elections they participate in are likely to be rigged one way or another. There is really only one party fielding a candidate, or the ballot box is stuffed, or people are intimidated at the polls, or something happens somewhere along the way that predetermines the outcome of the election every time.

We tend to believe that we are above that. We think that we have a system that protects us from predetermined elections, but just look at the last two presidential elections. Eight years ago the entire process was warped and twisted to the point that the popular vote didn’t matter. The electoral college didn’t even matter. It all came down to a Supreme Court decision that was very quickly made and not at all hotly contested. Four years ago there were questions as to the legality of the voting process in Missouri, Ohio and, once again, Florida, not to mention the furor over how easily new electronic voting systems developed and operated by strong supporters of the Republican party could be manipulated.

Questionable practices weren’t limited to the Republican party, either. The Democrats were accused of some pretty shady stuff, themselves. After all, there is a great deal at stake in any election, and an American presidential election contests the most powerful position in the world.

So what does the firing of DOJ attorneys have to do with this? The answer is glaringly simple. Those attorneys are the people who will investigate and deal with contested election issues. They monitor the voting process in this country. They determine how and by whom election issues will be settled. So if they are professed supporters of a given political party, that party can be assured that the settlement will be in their favor. As Naomi Wolf pointed out in a recent article, Goebbels did this same thing in Germany in 1933.

The real upshot of the brouhaha over these attorneys, though, must be examined within the bigger picture. This process is just one aspect of a series of moves taken by the executive branch and through the Congress that perhaps are setting the stage for the complete loss of the freedoms guaranteed by our constitution.

Add it up:

• The firing of U.S. attorneys to make elections easily manipulable
• The right of the executive branch to identify enemies of the state and imprison them without the right of representation or appeal – The Patriot Act
• The suspension of habeas corpus and the empowerment of the executive branch to declare U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” – The Military Commissions Act
• Easing the way for the executive branch to declare martial law – The Defense Authorization Act of 2007
• The creation of prison camps by none other than Halliburton that is occurring in this country right now with no public disclosure
• Hundreds of presidential signing statements exempting the executive branch from laws passed by the Congress
• The rise of a movement for a “Christian” nation with only the extreme right wing allowed to define Christian
• The demise of small news media and their replacement by a small number of large media controlled by ideologues enabled by federal legislation and reduced regulation now being taken further by Kevin Martin, chairman of the FCC.

Once again, not all of this can be laid solely at the feet of the Republican party, though most of it is most definitely the handiwork of BushCo and most notably quiet little dick Cheney. Many Democrats have voted along the way in support of this process. The voting record of every office holder in the Congress should be examined and none who consistently voted to put this block of legislation and activities into place or failed to speak out against it should ever be re-elected.

In the best case scenario, this picture represents an abdication of responsibility by our Congress. In the worst case scenario, it is the outline of an under-the-table scheme to hijack the country and take away the freedom of every American who would dare to stand up for his/her rights by strongly protesting governmental actions. In that case, it is no less than a move toward fascism, and should not be tolerated for one minute by any thinking American citizens. Find middle ground here if you can, but even from that position, the nation cannot long survive if the trend is allowed to continue, so unbroken silence is not an acceptable approach to the problem. The solution lies in the will of the people.

For the last eight years I have held that the issues BushCo presents to our nation are not partisan. At this point, it should be clear to everyone that support of either party without regard to the ultimate effect of that party’s actions is a pledge of allegiance to a party and not to America. America needs informed action from its citizenry and allegiance only to the preservation of the constitution or it will cease to be the America we all love.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Friday, November 23, 2007

Who Should Get Your Vote?

Polls this week show W with an approval rating of 33%. At the same time the approval rating for the Democratic Congress is 29%. What does this mean when we are turning the corner into a presidential election year?

Who do you vote for when you don’t approve of anybody? If you haven’t been there before, welcome to my constant quandary. It’s been years since I voted for anyone other than the lesser of two evils, (I did vote eagerly for Bill Clinton, but he was the first I was in any way excited about since Bobby Kennedy. I was old enough, but not smart enough to vote for Jack!) but this year is a oner.

Talk about evils – I’ve been fed up with the Republican party since Richard Nixon headed up a band of burglars and Ronald Reagan raided Social Security to fund his illegal wars, but I never thought I would see true, deep-seated, no-holds-barred evil in the White House under any party until I saw what BushCo came in to do and did.

At this point the only thing I’m sure of is that the Republican party needs to be thrown out of the Whitehouse.

Well, not really. Here are a couple of other things I’m sure of:

1. Anybody who continues to support this war at this point ought to be thrown out of Washington, D.C. altogether.
2. No candidate who will not state that torture and extraordinary rendition have been occurring and must be stopped should receive a single vote from any American of conscience.
3. No candidate who holds that Iran could reasonably be attacked during his or her first term in office should be elected to any office.
4. No candidate who fails to express a desire to reinstate liberties through repeal or revision of the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, or any of the other freedom restrictive legislation passed during this administration should be elected.
5. It would be preferable for neither a party-bound Democrat nor a hard-line Republican to be elected to the presidency. (But they will.)
6. The best reasonably possible outcome for the next election would be for a Democrat to be elected president and a slight majority of Democrats to hold the Congress.

And finally, one last point that is absolutely true - No matter what we want from the next election, we won’t get it.

That is the way it always has been and always will be. There is no perfect form of government save a benevolent dictatorship under a Ghandi or Schweitzer, so no matter what the next election brings, we will have to do our best to get along with it. And I, no doubt, will still find plenty to gripe about!

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks Alot

Today is America’s great day of thanks. As children we are taught to be thankful for all that America stands for. I remember grade school lessons about the day when the pilgrims shared their bounty by getting together with the Indians in peace to share the year’s harvest in a feast of friendship. It’s only in adulthood that we come to realize that this lovely little scene is most likely the product of the victor’s revisionist history and that it was more like the Indians, feeling sorry for the poor wretches that were about to face the ravages of a New England winter and deciding to feed the fools.

Still, the idea of setting aside a day on which to be consciously thankful for the blessings life has bestowed upon us is a fine one. Those of us who have carved out a comfortable existence for ourselves in America do have a lot to be thankful for. We do not have to wonder whether there will be bread on the table today or tomorrow. We do not have to wonder whether we will be able to find shelter from the storms of the coming winter. We do not have to wonder whether our children will have the opportunity to go to school next week. We do not have to fear that some marauding policeman will kick down our door and attack our women for having shown an ankle in the marketplace. We do not have to hide in the bush because we were born into this tribe instead of that tribe – the one with the machetes and the centuries of hatred in their hearts. We do not have to hide in an attic for five years while the Nazis rage outside the door seeking to haul us away to the gas chambers. We do not have to run from our neighborhoods when we see Al Qaida members coming – not from fear of what they will do to us, but from fear of what the occupying army will do to us after Al Qaida blows things up and leaves so there is no one but us against whom to vent their anger.

We do have a system of justice that gives us the right to fair trial if we are wealthy enough to hire a good lawyer. We do have a police force that looks after our well-being and does not in any serious way seek to abuse their power. We do have a system of public schools that offers a free and adequate basic education to every child. We do have the security of knowing that the odds are very much in our favor when we go to bed tonight that we will sleep safely and awaken to the same level of safety we enjoyed yesterday. We do have the wherewithal to continue to overuse the resources available to us so that we will not have to endure one minute of discomfort throughout the day.

And we do have an election system which, provided we can safeguard it adequately against rigged ballot boxes, unfair election judges and bought supreme court justices, might allow us to vote into office a government that will have better priorities than the economic domination of the world.

Oh, but now I’ve gone too far again. Best to just be thankful for what we’ve got. Or not! – your choice.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BushCo’s Wasp Nest

When I was ten years old, we spent a summer in San Antonio, Texas while my dad, 38 at the time, went through boot camp after being drafted to serve in Korea. We rented a home in a pleasant neighborhood, and one of the new friends I made was Pepe, the gardener for the home across the street. Pepe didn’t speak much English, and I don’t think he was too bright either, because I clearly remember the day he tried to take out a hornets nest by spraying it with a hose. My brother and I thought it was funny, but then at the time we weren’t any brighter than Pepe.

It is really sad to say that I think our president is a whole lot like Pepe. Confronted with the problem of terrorism, he and his cronies have chosen to launch our tech laden military against it. Like Pepe they chose the wrong weapon, but they took it one giant step further and chose to fight their fight in a place that had no relation at all to terrorism.

And what’s been going on behind their backs while they flail away at the Iraqi air they said was filled with wasps? The LA Times has compiled a report card. By every measure, they have exposed the world and the U.S. to much greater danger than existed five years ago. To top it off, they have arrested and illegally dealt with thousands of prisoners who have never been found guilty of anything – more water on the Al Qaida nest.

And yet, some people find ways to support this negativity. The rest of us had better find a way to turn off BushCo’s water and start focusing on the real terrorists and targeted actions before the wasps take advantage of our holding the wrong weapons while looking the other way.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pakistan, Iran 0r De Ja Vu?

Martial law is declared and protestors are herded into jail. An autocratic leader declares that the future of the country depends upon his remaining in power. The United States government urges the leader to modify his approach to governance and move toward democracy. Today, this describes Pakistan, but the more I hear about what's going on in Pakistan, the more I think about the Iran I remember from my youth.

When I was a kid the man in the news was Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran. I have a vague memory of his early days in power - days when he was represented in the papers as a shining example of positive governance in the Middle East. He was Washington's darling.

In 1961 I started college at the University of Iowa where I made a new friend named Mahmoud Zokaie. Mahmoud was an Iranian in his forties and was in the U.S. to get a degree that would undoubtedly give him access to a fine job back home. Mahmoud would tell me about his home, and I would take him to mass with me on Sunday mornings. All was well between us and our countries. Less than 20 years later everything had changed. The Shah fled Iran, his autocracy fell to the religious dictatorship of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and the relationship between Iran and the U.S. went into the toilet it remains in today.

And today Pakistan has taken Iran's place in our history. Once again we are supporting an autocratic leader whose power is slipping away under the demands of an unwilling public. Once again, there is among those people a growing faction of religious fanaticism eagerly chomping at the bit in anticipation of charging onto that country's political scene to impose its particular brand of "holiness" on the inherently secular process of civic governance. This time, though, this faction is already well known to all of us – the Taliban in combination with Al Qaida.

Will our government once again hang onto its pact with the devil in the form of Musharraf or is there any chance that it will see the hand writing on the wall this time and do the hard work necessary to demonstrate to the people of Pakistan and the rest of the world that it truly is more interested in the establishment of democratic governments than in bolstering its own power through alliances with any strong man who will help them mow down our enemies? (Or even just pose as if that's what he's doing.)

Given the track record of BushCo and W's undying loyalty to any incompetent boob who'll bow to him first, (think, "Heckuva job, Brownie".) there is not much question in my mind which way we'll go. There's not much doubt as to the eventual outcome either. Once again, we will have taken official action seen by the administration as essential to our security, but ultimately acting to erode our security by handing control over to those who hate us most.

The key difference between Pakistan and Iran, though, is that 20 years after the debacle in Iran, we are worried that Iran might get the bomb. Thanks to us, Pakistan already has the bomb and has already begun to distribute it to rogue nations. (Check out what Adrian Levy says about W's complicity with Musharraf in slapping A. Q. Kahn's wrist for handing nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran.)

If we haven't managed to blow the world to smithereens by then, watch what's happening in Pakistan 20 years from now. If it isn't similar to today's Iran, I'll either be eating my hat or spinning in my grave.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored. But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Our Christian Soldiers

Today the newspaper tells us that the Senate Judiciary Committee is bamboozled by the question of whether or not to grant immunity to the telecommunications companies that aided BushCo in setting up a system of domestic surveillance. They just can't decide whether or not they might risk national security if they opened the companies up to legal action. Bush also asserts that in investigation might bankrupt the companies.

The only risk to the Senate in all this is that their bill might be vetoed if they don't exempt the companies from suit. This doesn't seem like much of a dilemma to me. If our Senators can't see that they need to have the right to investigate whether or not something already done was illegal, they can't see the nose on their own faces.

I don't see a national security risk here at all. The risk to BushCo is that someone might finally and legally call their hand on the invasion of citizen privacy by learning just how far they have overstepped their legal bounds. Not long ago I received a message that contained a story or a link to a story a telephone company executive about the huge effort that had gone into setting up the equipment and staffing necessary to operate the governmental spying program. I tried to find that reference for you this morning, but was unable to locate it. Sorry. All I can say is that this fellow was deeply upset by the size and nature of this program.

Henry Kissinger once said that it was a mistake to think that governments should be held to the same moral behavioral standards as individuals. He held that the business of government called for breaches of such standards for the well-being of the national community. I've never believed that at all. I think that kind of thinking is just a rationale that let him off the "guilty" hook his conscience would otherwise have imposed on him for all the murder and mayhem his policies caused.

Lawbreaking by governmental figures is often condoned under Dr. Kissinger's creed, though. His beliefs enable people like dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush to rationalize their actions under the old Al Capp saw of "What's good for General Bullmoose is good for the country."

The bottom line to me, though, is that leadership that operates outside the bounds of individual decency drags the nation it represents into the gutter with it. The gains from such behavior are always short term. In the long run we all suffer from the world's perception of us as a people who cannot be trusted, and even in the short run many individuals among us suffer because they live by a higher moral standard and refuse to participate in the resulting misdeeds. Many of those people end up in prison because of their resistance to the immorality of the state. Daniel Berrigan comes prominently to mind in that regard.

We should demand of our leaders that they live up to the high standards of the religions they so loudly claim to espouse. As part of that process, we should ask our Senators today to refuse to vote for immunity to telecom companies. Let suits go forward. Let an investigation begin and let the chips fall where they may. We would know then that we had done the right thing regardless of the outcome. Isn't that what our moral code asks of us?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

Friday's Reference

In Friday's blog, I made reference to an article I had seen about the NSA program of spying on the American people through AT&T. A kind reader sent me this reference to an interview from Frontline that is even more complete than the article I had in mind. I'm listing it here today because this story is so crucial to understanding how Orwellian big brother has become. If only the bulk of the American people could get the big picture and react against it.

Just in case the link fails you, here is the reference:

Thanks Kathy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Christian Terrorism

I read a nationally syndicated column today pondering the reasons behind Pat Robertson's support for Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid. The ultimate reason is Robertson's conviction that the problem of "Islamic terrorism" outweighs the other issues upon which the two disagree such as gay rights and abortion.

It is refreshing to hear that someone like Robertson understands that there are matters of much greater import than those two hot button issues, but the most troubling aspect of this alliance is the underlying theme that Giuliani hammered home during his visit to Mt. Vernon, MO yesterday. Calling for a massive buildup of American troops, Giuliani sounded the trumpets of war loud and clear, and Robertson, a major voice of the Christian right, has a long history of harmonizing with that tune. The two together would have us in Iran in a New York minute.

What most of us have long failed or chosen not to understand is that the war that is now raging in the Middle East is indeed, despite what W says, a holy war. Yes, the United States government saw Saddam Hussein as an uncontrollable and therefore expendable obstacle in the region and yes, the U.S. saw control of Iraq's oil reserves as a valuable prize and yes, the neo-cons and AIPAC saw the invasion of Iraq as an opportunity to enhance Israel's strength and security in the region, but behind it all lies the manipulation of U.S. policy by right wing religious groups bent on not only dominating Middle Eastern politics, but also cramming their brand of Christianity down America's throat.

In their zeal to make their rigid religion America's guiding light, these American Talibanic believers in Armageddon are perfectly willing to trigger it through wars in the "Holy Land". These right wingnuts know that growing the military under their careful tutelage would ultimately give them the weaponry to push their religion so powerfully upon the U.S. and the rest of the world alike that they could not be ignored.

Under the careful leadership of people like Robertson and D. James Kennedy, a neo John the Baptist who actually teaches seminars on how to convert people to Christianity (i.e. "Save" them) and ultimately to advocate for America to recognize itself as a Christian nation, this bunch resembles no other group on earth as much as they resemble the jihadist Muslims they point at and call terrorists. Their railing against "Islamic terrorists" is as if they stand before a mirror and point out their own viciousness.

The ultimate result of the election of a candidate like Giuliani with the strong backing of the Christian right would be an even more warlike America that truly could trigger what would look like Armageddon with the only difference being that those lying and dying among the ashes would include these crazies who think that when they trigger all this Jesus will leap off a cloud with his flaming sword in hand and lead his faithful followers off to paradise while the rest of us are left to the fires of hell. The only thing missing from these Christians' version of paradise is 72 virgins.

For God's sake (literally) let's get and keep these nuts out of power.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Extreme Patriotism

I'm feeling fairly well flag flogged this morning. It happens every Veteran's Day, but this morning's paper worked especially hard at driving the message home.

It always puts me on a narrow balance beam – recognizing the validity of giving thanks for those veterans who have put their lives on the line whether actually in defense of their country or only in the belief that there was good reason for them to risk their lives when it wasn't true as in the case of every war I can think of other than the World Wars I & II – and I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure about WWI.

During the time when we were working so hard to try and get folks to understand that going to Iraq was a gigantic misstep, I was amazed and appalled at how many folks on the other side of the issue were equating Bush's push to Iraq with WWII. It is even more amazing that this feeling persists to this day.

How anyone who takes a hard look at why we went to Iraq and the impacts that decision has had on our own well-being can still think there is any similarity between the two wars is totally beyond me.

We went to war with Japan because they attacked us. We went to war with Iraq after that country's enemy, Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida attacked us. We went to war with Germany because their totalitarian government wanted to take over the world and was willing to torture and exterminate people in the process. Now we are engaged in a war designed to heighten our control over the world and its resources and WE are willing to torture and kill innocent people in the process.

America – the world's liberator during WWII – has become the world's oppressor. At the time of WWII we hated the very thought of imprisoning people without just cause, detested any nation that would torture prisoners, and went to war only when the nation was attacked. Now we house thousands of uncharged prisoners whom we routinely torture and we espouse a doctrine of pre-emptive warfare. That has traonsformed us from the most admired nation on the globe to the most detested of the superpowers. The world has learned to fear us and hate us.

On the domestic front, legislation has been passed that puts the freedom of the American people at great risk and most citizens appear to be completely unaware of it.

President Bush has spoken over the past few days about his distaste Pakistan President Musharaf's declaration of martial law, but even that rings false. Many people I know fear that a body of legislation run through by the Bush Administration has been aimed at exactly that goal in this country. For a good, clear discussion of their reasoning, take about five minutes to read the two pages written by Frank Morales. (Sorry reference lost in translation from MySpace.)

We've looked at some extremes in this discussion this morning, but I wish that more people could discern that the kind of flag waving patriotism that glorifies the sacrifice people are willing to make for their country is also an extreme. It rightfully thanks those willing to wear the uniform and protect their fellow citizens, but it wrongfully glorifies doing so without first questioning whether or not the cause is worthy of that sacrifice.

I wore the uniform during Viet Nam. When I went in, I was willing to blindly follow and was an advocate of "just nuke 'em and get it over with". By the time I got out, I had learned that all of us in those uniforms were being asked to put our lives on the line for no good reason. Time has proven the latter to be correct.

Unless the citizens of America learn to discern between just causes and false patriotism, the kind of governance offered by the Bush Administration will eventually cost us our freedom. At that point, we will once again have something truly worth fighting for. Sadly, we will have realized far too late that we are our own worst enemy.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

Monday, November 12, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why The Left Fears the Right

Yesterday, I wrote about how the left has abandoned the people. In my twisted little way, that article was prompted by thinking about who on the left was stills standing up for populism. Largely because of the right's successful branding of populists as "humanists" (a super-dirty word to all the evangelical dominionists who form the far religious right) and "socialists" (anyone who thinks that government money should be used to further social programs) and the further branding of anyone who speaks for military reduction and true diplomacy instead of embargo or attack as a soft wimp.

Still, as I was thinking yesterday morning, there are a few lefties who still stand their ground. They are the ones the Democratic party should be listening to and following. They are the ones who are sometimes found standing alone in the empty chambers of the Congress reading their objections to our national neuroses into the Congressional Record. They are Dennis Kucinich, Robert Byrd, John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Patrick Leahy, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

As a great example of this, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) stood last month to object to yet another move by BushCo to enable easy declaration of martial law.

It is this area of law that most scares those of us on the left, and it is also in this area that the radical right most vehemently condemns anyone who speaks out against it. In the time that Bush has been in office, the right has passed and/or tacitly allowed so many infringements upon the rights of the people that this last act , Public Law 109-364 - the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 was seen by Leahy as actually encouraging the declaration of martial law.

Such a declaration is, to the left, the most disastrous possible way that an American government could act. Martial law is the complete antithesis of democracy and as such should only be possible under the most strident attempts by enemies of the state to take our nation down. The big threat arises now because enabling easy declaration of martial law is just the cap on a pillar of earlier legislation that step-by-step made it easier for the Executive branch to declare persons enemies of the state.

The risk of martial law is greatly enhanced when the president can declare individuals to be enemies of the state without due cause as enabled by the Patriot Act. That risk is also made more imminent when the president can authorize surveillance of individuals without judicial oversight. It is worsened when the courts can be sidestepped by virtue of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

And now, Leahy says, the last barriers to the use of the military to supplant civilian police officers are being removed by the Warner Defense Act.

Historically, the government has always been barred from using the military as domestic police. The Insurrection Act (10U.S.C.331-335) and the Posse Comitatus Act (18U.S.C.1385) have worked to prohibit such action. But the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, signed into law by President Bush on October 17, 2007 removes the bars. Acting in conjunction with the Military Commissions Act which allows torture and detention abroad, this law makes the same allowances at home.

Read more about this and the detentions centers in place to imprison declared enemies of the state in this article: Bush Moves Toward Martial Law and be prepared to shiver from the chills it will run up and down your spine.

Next week, more about our loss of freedoms and the motivations behind the far right movement to advance its interests by infringing upon yours. In the meantime -- thank any politician you know who stands up for your rights and thank your stars that they are there.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Left Has Left

The left wing of American politics has failed the people. Touting themselves as champions of citizens' rights, the left has, since the days of Thomas Jefferson who took over from John Adams and rid the country of The Sedition Act, held itself out to voters as their only hope against the greed of the right who hold that all regulation of trade and earning power is bad and that the proper role of government is not to maintain the well-being of the nation's people and resources, but rather their exploitation for the "greater good". (i.e. trickle down economics as pushed by Ronald Reagan)

It is only on rare occasions that the old line left shows itself these days. In their inability to launch a cohesive and coherent argument against the right's assertion that they hold the high moral ground, the left has become a pitiful bunch of wimps that most of America looks on with little or no respect. And yet, in my view of history the left has rescued America several times.

People in this area still rail against FDR for his agricultural programs, but the bottom line is that he led the country to recovery from the mess the robber barons of the right had taken the world into by the turn of the 20th century. His programs might have been draconian, but the situation was dire. A world mired in the depths of depression needed strong and innovative leadership to recover. That leadership, embodied in FDR, came from the left. As a result of that leadership we still have social security and a social welfare net designed to protect even our poorest citizens from total disaster.

Both social security and the welfare system are in tatters now as a result of some very poor regulations like the one that drove unemployed fathers out of homes by declaring those families ineligible for help if dad was living with them, by the characterization of the poor as free-loaders and through the paper shuffling raid Ronald Reagan made on social security funds in order to pay for his military sleights-of-hand in South America.

After that raid on our coffers, it took another left winger, Bill Clinton, to bring America back into the black so he could turn it over to another hard-line right winger, George W. Bush, with a budget surplus to work with. Bush worked with it all right. In just three years, he took us from a record budget surplus to a huge budget deficit. Now, just four years later, our national debt has hit the all time record high of over nine trillion dollars. If we don't have another huge world wide depression, it will be because we somehow manage to elect a left wing president and congress who will introduce measures that turn us around the way Clinton did.

One of the ways he did that, by the way, (and also the one thing for which the right attacked him the most once he was out of office) was by reducing military spending. We don't need and can't afford to cut our military off at the knees, but we also don't need and can't afford to continue to fund all the high-tech super weaponry they would like to have. The future will not call for the kind of weaponry that might win a massive war against another super power unless we force it to be that way by continuing to aggravate our potential enemies and go on developing WMDs for our own use,. If we work cooperatively with the other major powers, the future will call for the ability to spot and stop small groups of terrorists from carrying out multiple small attacks like 9-11. Even smuggling in a dirty suitcase bomb can't be stopped by a stealth bomber. That's going to take smart boots on the ground.

The only person seeking the presidency who has the administrative skills and the dedication of high moral purpose to lead this country in the right direction is Dennis Kucinich, and we all know that he doesn't have a prayer of being elected. Why not? He's just a mousy looking little guy with a bad haircut who everybody knows is a weakling because he keeps talking about a department of peace and cutting military spending. In a world where the citizens only believe in people with big hair and big teeth and who brag about their big . . . whatever, he might as well go home right now.

But he doesn't. And he won't. No one seems to recognize that it takes a very strong man to stand his ground against the current the way he does. He is a man who stands up for what he believes without claiming that anyone who believes otherwise is doomed and damned. To my mind, he represents all the best and finest of the left that has saved this country so many times. He's the only elected official with the guts to look dick Cheney in the eye and call a spade a spade. He won't be pushed around by small minded, big moneyed special interests, and, of course, he won't be around next November. Chances are we'll all pay for that.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Today's Featured Headline

Today's featured headline from the Nation/World page: MAN BURNED WITH HOT COOKIES. News that didn't make the paper - yesterday in the House chamber, Dennis Kucinich re-introduced articles of impeachment against dick Cheney. An attempt was made to table the issue, but that was defeated by a heavy REPUBLICAN vote, so it will go forward to a vote on whether to refer it to committee. Why the Republican support? They think the motion is so frivolous that it will be thrown out. Hard to disagree with that. I mean after all what's important about enforced torture, lying to take a country to war and then trying to repeat the process?

No real blog today. This is a full day of volunteer work, so must get rolling.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Who Has the Right?

For years I have wrestled with the questions of what justification BushCo and the religious right could possibly have for its assault on the rights of the American people and why it is that so many people seem to willing to follow them in their suicidal quest. Today I think I have an answer to the puzzle.

In reading a book by Chris Hedges titled "American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America", I came across a quote from another book written by Rousas John Rushdoony titled "The Institutes of Biblical Law". Published, surprise surprise, in Dallas, Texas in 1973. Rushdoony is the leading prophet of a movement known as dominionism which teaches that American Christians are charged by God with the responsibility of making America a Christian state. So when you see the letters to the editor or hear someone speaking about the need for America to recognize its Christian heritage and declare itself a Christian state, think about this quote from Rushdoony:

"If men have unrestricted free speech and free press, then there is no freedom for truth, in that no standard is permitted whereby the promulgation or publication of a lie can be judged and punished."

The first phrase dismisses the constitution's bill of rights which assigns the right of free speech and free press to each and every American citizen. The second phrase, though, is even more chilling for its implication that there must be a standard by which the powers that be can identify and PUNISH what it perceives to be a lie. What Rushdoony is trying to establish is a "Christian" government with the power to identify citizens whom that government identifies as "liars" (read heretics) and PUNISH them for their disbelief.

Rushdoony's government would be based on the ten commandments and not on the constitution of the United States.

George W. Bush loudly proclaims his Christianity. We all know W to be a man of small thoughts, narrow beliefs and huge ego. Accepting the notion that he is a follower of Rushdoony is not a difficult stretch. If that is the case then, I ask you, why should W be disturbed by the thought of eliminating the bill of rights when his goal is to be the prophet who planted the seeds so that some future "messiah" could supplant it with the higher words of the ten commandments? And how else, other than misguided religious fervor, could he continue to contend that his actions are the moral high ground?

Following the lead of good old friend who has for years kept his identity hidden within his home deep in the Ozark woods, I have long jokingly referred to the religious right as the American Taliban. Now I am seeing that Taliban stick its ugly head up in Washington, D. C. and am firmly convinced that there is a growing population of Americans who swallow the notion that what's wrong with this country is that it has drifted from the moral values embodied in the ten commandments. That's no joke.

Does it not follow as the night the day that such people would ultimately be willing to follow leaders who espouse the notion that this "wrong" is engendered by the fact that we follow the constitution and the bill of rights when we should be using the ten commandments as the basis for all law? (Back to the jokes: Here's an eerie indication of how deep this stuff goes. Try, as I have done in this article, typing the words "ten commandments" in your MS Word program. It will tell you that these words should be capitalized!! Not true, though, of the words constitution or bill of rights! Doo doo doo doo. Doo doo doo doo)

Of course another way that the dominionists argue their case is by insisting that our founding fathers were Christians, too, and so intended America to be a Christian nation. They don't bother to discuss why the founding fathers chose to establish a constitution and a bill of rights as the basis for law instead of just adopting the ten commandments as these "Christians" insist should have been and should now be done.

I do not know that W espouses the dominionist philosophy, nor whether he thinks, like our local chief fascist, Vince Jericho, that the Bible really revolves around the book of Revelations rather than the New Testament, but observing his reckless rushes into war and his disregard for the freedoms guaranteed by the bill of rights, I think I have every right to consider the possibility.

What I do believe is that knowing about the goals of the "Christian" right forces each of us who understand this to stand up and speak out whenever confronted by the demands that America should be recognized as a Christian nation. We cannot afford to allow this kind of thinking to grow under the tacitly approving courtesy of silent observation. In fact, we should not only be speaking out, we should be SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS that we will not accept a religious interpretation of right and wrong; That we can tell right from wrong intuitively and that dictating what others should believe is wrong; That we will not accept the ten commandments or any other religious basis for law in this country; That we will not accept Taliban rule in America.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls

Monday, November 5, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007