Thursday, December 18, 2008

OpEdNews

I'm no longer blogging on MySpace, but have been granted Trusted Author status and Editor status with OpEdNews. If you'd like to read the first article of mine that they published, go to http://www.opednews.com/articles/Pivot-Point-by-Bob-Ranney-081215-841.html.

To see their website - where you could subscribe to the newsletter - go to: http://www.opednews.com

You'll see that they post a super-wide range of articles and other information every day. It's an amazing site.

Be well - Bob


P.S. If you go to the OEN site, you can check on my work anytime by entering my name in the search box.

Monday, October 20, 2008

FAREWELL – One Last Blog

Regular readers will know that I have been absent from this space for about two weeks. There have been many and varied reasons for that absence, but the latest was the best.

I just got back last night from a four day soul-feast on the autumnal beauty of our Ozark streams. It was a constant reverie; a spirit lifting sip of nature’s nectar; and an exercise in cooperative effort that was as beautiful to behold as the grandeur of the surroundings.

We were an unusual group in many ways – a core group of three who work together appended a fourth who volunteers at their workplace, and by a fifth, known to one of the core through his church. The six and seventh members of our group are related to one of the core by marriage. The point being that many of us were new to one another – not a guaranteed formula for serendipity.

Another unlikely piece of the formula was our ages. We ranged in age from 15 to 65 with the ages 19, 25, 27, 28 and 42 spanning the middle. We also varied widely in our religious preferences – from devout fundamentalist to dedicated agnostic. And yet the central focus of this story is the way we meshed rather than conflicted.

Those who have spent some time camping and floating will know that trips like this can be completely undone by conflicts – no matter the cause. But this group allowed no possibility of such a thing happening. The nineteen year old was there because his little brother really wanted to go, but was obligated to play through the semi-finals of a basketball tournament that didn’t end until late the first night of the trip. Instead of letting his brother miss the trip, Ben left college, then drove an hour to pick Tommy up and bring him to the campsite. They arrived around midnight, bringing with them the spirit of giving and sacrifice that characterized the trip.

It was two days of boys being men and the men being boys. It was caring spirits at play. When it came time to fish, those in their twenties were in the water first, fly-rods swinging in the rhythm of the stream, catching and always releasing the beautiful trout they landed one after another after another; shouting back in forth with gleeful voices filled with awe for the beauty and wonder of their natural surroundings.

The boys weren’t as well equipped for fishing, but there was no sullen pouting. They spent most of their time together exploring the caves, bluffs and gravel bars along the way. At one point I spotted Ben casting from their canoe enabled by Tommy sitting on a large rock holding the canoe’s painter so that the boat was in an ideal fishing position. Earlier, Mike and Kyle had collaborated on a method of teaching this old man a couple of new tricks on line control and before that I had spent a little time with Pete helping him to understand how current carries food and why trout lie where they do. Meanwhile, Matt was quietly observing and enjoying and doing many small things to support the pleasure and well-being of the entire group.

It was people – in love with their surroundings and ultimately with one another -- each making sure that all were comfortable, all were enjoying themselves and each received some recognition and thanks for his contribution. It was men – unafraid of showing caring feelings for nature and for each other. It was boys – no matter whether 15 or 65 years old – at play in the midst of nature’s abundance.

The camp chores were shared – not by dint of lists of who’s responsible for what – but by the fact that whenever a need for something became apparent someone – anyone – would step up and take care of it. The evening meal, for instance, was a fine repast featuring fried river-caught catfish, grilled burgers, hush puppies, and cinnamon rolls hot from the dutch oven all cooked over the coals of an open wood campfire. Afterward, when you’d expect to see a couple boys lolling around in a sated stupor, the first thing I noticed was a fifteen year old washing dishes. No one had told him to do it. No one had even asked who was going to do it. He just did it.

In the heat of the afternoon, when we took a break from fishing (Kyle had slipped down to the riffle below camp and caught 20 to 30 fish single-handedly!), we gathered on the gravel bar to sit in the shade, sip a cold drink, weave cordage from some dogbane Kyle had brought along, and tell fish stories. We had a few less chairs than people, but I noticed that no matter what the activity there always seemed to be a vacant chair so that the old man could have one whenever he wanted it. Again, nobody said anything, but it was apparent that this caring sharing was a part of the group’s unspoken protocol.

There were plenty of occasions to laugh. We laughed at each other’s gaffes. We poked fun at one another. We laughed at each other’s stories, and, most and best of all, we laughed together. We laughed mightily over my fall into the North Fork River two days before this trip began. When I lost my balance again over the campfire on the Eleven Point River gravel bar that was our final home on the journey, we laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks. The guy that laughed longest and most in concert with me that time was fifteen year old Tommy.

We laughed at one fellow’s flatulence; we laughed at another’s fastidiousness; and we laughed just with the joy of our surroundings and the pleasure of one another’s company.

We shared solemn moments, too – stories of past trips and old friends now gone. It was a group who listened raptly to quoted verses of song or poetry and nodded in serious contemplation in response to one another’s deeper thoughts. We shared songs. We shared stories. We shared a deep feeling of well-being, and we definitely shared a love and heart-felt respect for the woods, streams and wildlife which we had come to visit.

And, ultimately we shared individually in one-on-one moments and collectively as a group, a feeling that no matter what happened we could count on one another. That as long as everything was going well we could laugh, but that the moment a more serious need arose, someone would be there to meet it. We looked at one another across that campfire and bonded in the way, I suppose, that people have done since the first caveman figured out how to make a fire, and we realized that our fire was warming more than our bodies; that our hearts and spirits were being warmed, too, by the heat of the fire and by the warm glow of our companionship.

Ultimately, it led me to conclude that for the past few years, while I have been putting so much energy into my anti-war and anti-governmental degradation campaigns, I have been focused too strongly on negativity. And so I am writing this by way of notice that I am going to give myself over to more positive pursuits.

My career as a political blogger is over. I will no longer start my day – every day – finding something to write about in the political sphere. I will let those little people with their huge egos and their bulging bank accounts run this country into the ground as best they can without a comment, a whimper or an essay from this corner.

I will read the news and moan and groan and laugh with my dear Roberta every morning about it, but I will no longer spend an hour or so every day writing about it in this space.

So, my friends, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart if you have been following my thoughts here over the past couple of years and I want to reassure you that I will continue to care as deeply as I always have about your well-being and that of our society. But one of the great realizations I came to during the last four days was that experiences like that trip are of much greater importance to me than the bloviations of world “leaders” and that I, having so far used up more than six decades of my allotted years, would do better to seek out more of what last week-end’s respite from the world of politics offered than to delve into more what the "news" world offers.

I only have one more decade or at best two in which to enjoy the fruits of the natural world so in the future if you want my opinion on what the government is up to, you may have to come outdoors and find me. And whether I will have heard “the news” or not will be an iffy matter. But I’ll be able to tell you what the fish are biting on or, more likely, what they aren’t biting on, and whether or not we are able to solve any of the world’s problems, I guarantee we’ll have a good time, and when the sun goes down, we’ll be thankful.

May the rain fall soft upon your fields and the road rise to meet you and may your god hold you always in the palm of his (or her) hand.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Friday, October 3, 2008

WE NEED A "SAVE THE CITIZENS" BILL

We don't need to save Wall Street. We need to save the people of the United States from Wall Street's greed.

I hope you are doing your part to get that message across to Congress.

Immediately below, is the message I sent to Congressman Roy Blunt this morning.

We don't need a "Save Wall Street" bill. We need a "Save the Citizens" bill. Essential inclusions in a "save the citizens" bill are:
1. Initial rate mortgages available to families in trouble due to escalating interest rates.
2. No potential for brokerage executives to gain from bailout.
3. Possession of real assets (i.e. not CDSs or MBSs)in return for investment.
4. Timetable for or scheduled committee hearings for re-establishing appropriate regulatory controls over banks and brokerages.

There is also a petition available through which you can support a petition by Congressman DeFazio for a No Bailout Bill. You can sign it by going to: http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/better_bailout/?r=1698&id=1015-1178271-r5hsAEx

You can notify Roy Blunt of your position by going to: http://www.blunt.house.gov/Contact.aspx

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Thursday, October 2, 2008

MORE & MORE INSANITY

Last night the Senate passed its version of the bailout bill. This situation is so convoluted, that even those of us who are basically against the bailout must ultimately support it in order to avoid immediate self-destruction. Senator Claire McCaskill - D. MO said it best when she declared that she would hold her nose and vote for it.

I suppose that we all must hold our noses and try not to vomit as we watch the Congress do the same tomorrow. Ultimately, the only hope is that a new Congress and a new President will go to work immediately next year to install some regulatory control over the bandits that got us here.

Driving home from a tennis match last night I ran into another form of our national insanity while trying to find a radio station that was broadcasting the National League play-offs. In lieu of that I found a FOX radio station broadcasting Michael Savage’s talk show. This guy announced that within one year of Obama’s election to the presidency, the Democrats would take everyone’s guns away from them and within two years the United States of America would cease to exist. His solution to our current political mess is to throw all the Republicans out of office because there’s no way to control the Democrats anyway. Good god, what rock did this guy crawl out from under?

Then the news came on and I heard the last bit of lunacy for the day. The Senate dropped restrictions against selling nuclear materials to India so that BushCo can go ahead with its plan to supply the materials. Of course, India will not be required to sign the non-proliferation treaty. That way they can sell nuclear materials to anyone they like. Not only does this fly in the face of any hope for nuclear arms reduction, it fuels the race.

In a time when we are saber rattling at both Iran and Russia and our presidential and vice-presidential candidates are doing everything they can to anger Pakistan, our brilliant Senate joins BushCo in adding fuel to both fires. Do they think Pakistan will be mollified by our handing increased nuclear capability to its enemy neighbor? Do they think that India won’t be tempted to sell nuclear materials and capabilities to Iran? Or that someone within India won’t find a way to do it even if the government of India decides not to? Do they think that Iranians will decide that it’s quite all right for America to arm Israel and India and decide that they will deep six their nuclear program (if there is one) out of the gentle goodness of their hearts?

What chance do we have for stability on any front? If destroying our economy while increasing the chances for nuclear arms development and quietly doing our best to piss Russia off to the max isn’t setting America up for a downfall I don’t know what is. Maybe we should just turn it all over to Michael Savage, speed up the process, and get it over with.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

STOPPING THE RIP-OFF

Yesterday’s vote on the Paulson Bailout (Rescue my Ass) plan was a surprise that was both pleasing and disappointing. I’ve pondered the whys of the DemoRats supporting the administration’s plan as though it was the only possible option and lauded the Republicans who stuck to their conservative guns in refusing to support the use of tax payers’ equity to nationalize Wall Street’s risk.
My first reaction was to write up a list of reasons why anyone who voted for the proposal ought to get a swift kick in the britches, then ran into this blog by David Sirota. I think he did it so well that I’m just turning it over to him. The blog is a bit long, but well worth the read. (There are several great links that I didn't include here.) Here are some excerpts:
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In the face of this bipartisan opposition from objective experts, why should a lawmaker instead believe the same Bush officials who helped create this crisis with their deregulation, the same Bush officials who just months ago said everything was AOK? Shouldn't there be almost complete unanimity among both objective and partisan observers before spending 5 percent of our entire economy after just one harried week of White House demands? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It's time, as The Who said, that we "don't get fooled again."

The mantra throughout the week has been that America has "no choice" but to pass Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion giveaway - that, in effect, there are no alternatives. But that's an out-and-out lie - one with a motive: Making it seem as if the only thing we can do is hand the keys to the federal treasury over to both parties' corporate campaign contributors.

The truth is, there are a number of alternatives. Here are just a few:

In the Washington Post last week, Galbraith outlined a multi-pronged plan shoring up and expanding the FDIC, creating a Home Owners Loan Corporation, resurrecting Nixon's federal revenue sharing, and taxing stock transactions (a tax that would fall mostly on speculators) to finance the whole deal.

The Service Employees International Union has drafted a plan based around a massive investment in public services and national health care, and regulatory reforms preventing foreclosures and forcing banks to renegotiate the predatory terms of their bad mortgages.

For those in the mindless, zombie-ish "someone has to do something, so we have to do what the White House says!" camp, consider the possibility that you are under the spell of the same kind of White House fear that led us to invade Iraq because of Saddam's supposed WMD. Consider, perhaps, that there may not even be a compelling basis for doing anything just yet (or at least not anything nearly so huge), and that the whole reason there is this urgent push right now has nothing to do with the financial situation, and everything to do with creating the political dynamic to pass a wasteful giveaway - one that couldn't be passed otherwise without a sense of emergency. And ask yourself why you would listen to this White House instead of listening to those experts who have been predicting this crisis and are now advising against this bailout - experts like CEPR's Baker. In two separate posts (here and here), he says that letting the problem play out could be the best path, because Treasury and the Fed may already have the tools they need. Following this path, the worst thing that happens is "The Fed and Treasury will have to step in and take over the banks [which] is exactly what many economists argue should happen anyhow," Baker writes. "So the outcome of the worst case scenario is a really frightening day in which the whole world financial system is shaken to its core, followed by a government takeover of the banks. Eventually the government straightens out the books and sells them off again. But the real threat here is not to the economy, it is to the banks."

Then there is the idea of simply taking the $700 billion and simply give it to struggling homeowners to help them pay off part of their mortgages. This hasn't even been discussed but the thought experiment it involves is important to understanding why there is, indeed, an alternative to the Paulson plan. If the root of this problem is people not being able to pay off their mortgages, and those defaults then devaluing banks' mortgage-backed assets, then simply helping people pay their mortgages would preserve the value of the mortgage-backed assets and recharge the market with liquidity. That would be a bottom-up solution helping the mass public, rather than a top-down move helping only financial industry executives.

On this latter proposal, some may argue that giving any relief to homeowners is "unfair" in that those homeowners created their problems, so why should taxpayers have to help them? But then, is helping homeowners any less fair than simply giving all the money away to Wall Street, no strings attached? I'd say no - and helping homeowners also serves a second purpose: namely, keeping people in their homes, which not only helps them, but helps an entire neighborhood (as any homeowner knows, nearby properties can be devalued when foreclosures hit).

The amount of brazen corruption and conflicts of interest swirling around this deal is odious, even by Washington's standards - and polls suggest the public inherently understands that. Consider these choice nuggets:
Warren Buffett is simultaneously advising Obama to support the deal, while he himself is investing in the company that stands to make the most off the deal.
McCain's campaign is run by lobbyists from the companies that stand to make a killing off a no-strings government bailout.
The New York Times reports that the person advising Paulson and Bernanke on the AIG bailout was the CEO of Goldman Sachs - a company with a $20 billion stake in AIG.
The Obama campaign's top spokesman pushing this deal is none other than Roger Altman, who Bloomberg News reports is simultaneously "advising a group of investors who are trying to prevent their shares from being diluted in the U.S. takeover of American International Group Inc." - that is, who have a direct financial interest in the current iteration of the bailout.
Add to this the fact that the negotiations over this bill have been largely conducted in secret, and you have one of the most sleazy heists in American history.

If this bill passes, it will be a profound referendum on the dominance of money over democracy in America. That - and that alone - would be the only thing an objective observer could take away from the whole thing.

Money will have compelled politicians to not only vote for substantively dangerous policy, but vote for that policy even at their own clear electoral peril. Such a vote will confirm that the only people these politicians believe they are responsible for representing are the fat-cat recipients of the $700 billion - the same fat cats who underwrite their political campaigns, the same fat-cats who engineered this crisis, and want to keep profiteering off it. Any lawmaker who takes that position is selling out the country, as is any issue-based political non-profit group - liberal or conservative - that uses its resources to defend a "yes" vote rather than demand a "no" vote. This is a bill that forces taxpayers to absorb all of the pain, and Wall Street executives to reap all of the gain. It doesn't even force the corporate executives (much less the government leaders) culpable in this free fall to step down - it lets them stay fat and happy in their corner office suites in Manhattan.

Even if they believe that something must be done right now, lawmakers should still vote no on this specific bill, and force one of the very prudent alternatives to the forefront. They shouldn't just vote no on Paulson's proposal - they should vote hell no. Our economy's future depends on it.
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“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

POLITICAL GENETICS?

The turmoil over the Wall Street bailout goes on with some surprising lines drawn in the sand, but I’m going to let that one lie next to a few other sleeping dogs this morning. Instead, I’d like to call your attention to an interesting observation gleaned from a sort of sidebar article in this morning’s paper.

Reading the article on the civil war, WAR DIVIDED STATE, Springfield News-Leader, Tuesday, September 30, 2008, I remarked to my wife that the more things changed the more they remained the same.

Asked what prompted that remark, I told her that this article pointed out that during the Civil War Missouri was so divided that it sent representatives to both the Union and the Confederate legislatures and that the division was rural/urban with the country folk – including Springfield – in favor of secession and the city folk – Kansas City and St. Louis supporting abolition and the Union.

If you drew a map of Missouri in 1864 and colored the Secessionist sections red and the Union sections blue, how different would a map of Missouri in 2008 look if you colored the Republican sections red and the Democrat sections blue? The answer, of course, is that you couldn’t tell the difference.

So the question arises. Is politics genetic? Is voting behavior inherited or learned? It’s the basic question the study of psychology has long sought to answer, of course, the great question of nature versus nurture.

With regard to politics, it was answered long ago by our two political parties. They have long campaigned on the principle that it is not their party loyalists who decide the contest. It is the INDEPENDENTS.

It is those few folks who actually weigh the issues; who are capable of listening to more than sound bites; who ask themselves questions as the campaigns grind on and answer them before they enter the voting booth who ultimately decide the election. (Provided, of course, that the election isn’t rigged!)

The others, largely because of the family into which they were born, will always vote with the party of that family’s tradition. Those who switch do so because at some point they encountered someone or the writings of someone whose train of thought more closely matched theirs even though their political instincts did not -- a point that slants me toward nurture as the determinant of political leanings and apathy as the crucial issue in whether or not one’s initial leanings are ever questioned.

So, friends, the moral of the story is that if you want to influence someone’s vote, first determine whether they are asking questions or they are influenced by the sound bites. If the latter, save yourself some time, effort, and frustration by walking away and find someone who is honestly seeking information. And as to ourselves – if we can’t imagine that the other side has anything of value to contribute – maybe we just aren’t listening.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Monday, September 29, 2008

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN

The big news today is that our great leaders have at last created the final Wall Street bailout plan. Lo and behold, it is very nearly the same plan BushCo proposed in the first place.

“Oh no,” the administration says. “This plan includes Congressional oversight.”

“Oh, yes, it does.” I say, “But did you think we wouldn’t notice that it takes a veto-proof Congressional approval level of any oversight changes our representatives want to make in the executive branch approach? Or that Shrub routinely over-rides even veto proof legislation with signing statements he says give him the right to ignore any law Congress passes?”

Or maybe they think we won’t notice that the negotiations that produced this plan excluded any consideration of renegotiating mortgages to assure that homeowners can keep their homes? Or maybe they think that their ban on CEO bonuses until things settle down will mollify us.

Maybe they think that being told that we will regain at least some of our money when the assets are resold will calm us down, but why should it? When you buy something worthless, your hope of getting much back from future sales isn’t what I’d call a great prospect.

Basically, what this deal would do is throw Wall Street out of the frying pan into the lifeboat and the middle class out of the frying pan into the fire. Are we’re supposed to bend over and kiss the corporate bums on the way down?

If this deal goes through and no one follows it up with some hard slamming regulation of the loan and brokerage industry, it won’t be long before we’re faced with another big “crisis”. If the system doesn’t adjust to give Main Street a lift, we won’t even be able to see Wall Street from here, let alone participate in it.

I recently received an email titled “The Birk Solution”. Maybe you did, too. If not, you should know that it was written by a fellow named T. J. Birkenmeier. It was written to address the AIG bailout -- you remember that long ago time – about three weeks ago when we were told that the $85,000,000,000 bailout for them would solve our problems.

His suggestion was that instead of bailing out AIG, the government should send each of the country’s 200,000,000 adults $425,000. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I was certainly ready to jump on his bandwagon and demand that the government just send us each our share of the $700,000,000,000 bailout of Wall Street, but guess what? I did the math, and the bailout for AIG really amounted to $425 per each of 200,000,000 adults, and the Wall Street bailout would amount to $3,500 each. Not exactly a solution to the problem!!

The real bottom line for me, and the language that will go into today’s message for our friends in Congress, is that unless this bailout, rescue, loan or whatever they want to call it generates some real potential for return, reigns in the banking industry so it can’t continue to base its values on poor paper, and does something to keep the littlest guys from having to suffer the most, it isn’t worth any more than any of the rest of the paper that’s been created throughout this process.

Congress has to have some real power in the future, Wall Street has to have some real constraints in the future, and the country needs to base its value on real assets again instead of believing that piles of paper represent true wealth.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Friday, September 26, 2008

IT’S THE BAILOUT, STUPID

So yesterday the Repulsicans stomped out of a meeting called by their own president because they were angry at being asked to reinstall the banking regulatory process and ensure that homeowners caught in the housing mortgage crunch don’t get burned. They were mad because the Democrats were getting their way and Bush was going along with it. What a bunch of Holy High Rollers. Clinton/Bush deregulation is the seat of the problem, and they either don’t see it, don’t care or don’t get it – pick one. Doesn’t matter which one you pick, of course, the result is the same – blockheaded politics as usual.

The other side of the aisle isn’t much better of course. The Democrats did get stand up for the regulatory process, protections for the mortgage holder, and some handslapping for the CEOs, but also completely overlooked the fact that this whole deal has been engineered by the administration as a means of sheltering private profits while making the public eat the losses.

Anyone treating this situation as anything other than a power play designed to keep power and riches in the hands of those who took us down the garden path in the first place is missing the point and setting the citizens of the country up for another, bigger fall down the road.

When I heard that the meeting had blown up my first thought was that the Democrats must have denounced the whole proposal for the sham it is. When I heard that it was the Republicans and what their reasons were and that the Democrats were ready to accept Bush’s capitulations to their demands and vote the thing in, it was all I could do to just slump in my chair and sigh. If any of our politicians are puzzled about why the people think they are a bunch of worthless louts, they should be able to look at what’s going on with this mess and figure it out in a New York minute.

Bill Clinton said it long ago – It’s the economy, stupid. He didn’t say enough though. It’s the way the economic system shafts the middle class, stupid. It the way Washington high rollers forget who they represent, stupid. It’s that CEOs earn 300 to 400 times as much as the average worker, stupid. It’s that short term gains have taken precedence over long term thinking since 1980, stupid. It’s that Congressfolk and Senators don’t believe that the man on the street can think, stupid.

But then again, whose the more stupid – the “leaders” who keep garnering more money and power to themselves or the people who keep voting for those “leaders” while they keep losing money and power? It’s all just stupid, stupid.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR $700 BILLION?

Last night our fearless (sic should be feckless) leader talked to the nation for 12 minutes without answering the question I have had foremost in my mind since the bailout was proposed which is: exactly what is it that the bailout is buying?

Is it stock in the companies that are holding the debt? Is it the base mortgages that unqualified homeowners around the country are unable to pay? Is it the mortgage based securities that the banks created in the slack created by deregulation so they could hide the true value of their loans? Is it the credit default swaps that the insurance industry covered and that caused their demise?

I don't even know if it's possible, but if we could buy up the mortgages themselves and get people out from under the ballooning ARM rates that the slime-ball lenders stuck them with the deal might be worth doing. If we are being bum’s rushed into buying any of the other stuff, we ought to run like hell in the other direction so we can be as far from the dirt of Wall Street’s implosion as possible.

This morning, thanks to OMB Watch, I finally found an article that explains in spades what it is that BushCo is telling us we have to buy and buy RIGHT NOW. BushCo wants us to buy Mortgage Based Securities.

I say let Wall Street keep their securities. We ought to offer to buy up all the mortgages represented by the MBSs, but not the MBSs themselves. The upshot would be that the government – through FannieMae and FreddieMac, in both of which we now own significant stock – could refinance the mortgages at current market prices and reasonable rates while Congress works on legislation to restore regulatory control over the lending industry.

So what would happen to Wall Street? Those who engineered and made the disastrous deals could look for work. Maybe if they are lucky some of those homeowners would hire them to cut the grass.

Would the country take an economic hit? Yes, indeed. We would lose all the false value the Wall Street paper represents, but then it was all BS in the first place wasn’t it?! There was no real value there. It was all based on the deceptions of a deregulated industry whose only concern was inflating the value of underlying stock so its CEOs could take home hundreds of millions of dollars of easily earned cash. Of course, stock in those companies would go to zilch and we would all feel that.

Would it impact the Main Street, too? Yes it would. It would hit us all pretty darn hard, but I believe that the recovery would put us all in a better place. No lesson is well learned that doesn’t come through pain and sacrifice. This nation has a soft underbelly gained from years of unearned benefits. We need a complete shake-up that results in a re-evaluation of the short-term thinking that got us where we are today. We are a resilient nation that knows how to cope. Wall Street losses wouldn’t destroy us; they would ultimately strengthen us.

The bottom line here is that this bailout, as the OMB Watch article's title tells us, is the end of the free market. How can BushCo claim to preside over the America we had when they took office? Their deregulation has created a capitalism that they are proposing to underwrite with federal funds. No economist has ever defined capitalism in terms of government ownership, so this is another milestone for Shrub. He can now lay claim not only to being the "war president", but he also holds the title of "destroyer of the capitalistic system". Karl Marx would be so proud.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BAIL WHO OUT?

For several days now the proposed bailout of Wall Street has been rolling around in my head like a pea in a bottle. Admittedly it is a huge problem that needs to be dealt with by groups of people with a whole hell of a lot more education in economics than I have, but a few thoughts keep popping up in my mind like corks caught in an eddy.

The first is that, while I don’t consider myself a great thinker, I do believe that George W. Bush is even less of one, and he’s the guy who is proclaiming an immediate bailout to be essential. When George W. Bush says acting in a certain way to handle a situation he says is critical, my instinct is to holler “Stop!! I’m not following you over any more cliffs.”

The second is that we are being given no distinctions about whom we are bailing out and what their situation is. All we hear is it’s going to take $700 billion dollars to bail out Wall Street. What? Every investment broker on the street is broke? Is no firm on Wall Street in a good position? Or is it just that if the public tap is going to opened everybody on the street wants to be a recipient of the largesse?

The third is that what we are being asked to do is to throw more weak money after bad. The looming crash is looming because BushCo insisted on killing all the regulations and disarming the regulators. Now they want to inject the biggest sum of money ever promised (to be raised by selling weak securities backed by our tax pledges) into that same bloated, under-regulated mess. To top it off, Bush even refuses to take away the perks of the CEOs he himself defined as his base!!!

The fourth is that the bailout only serves to buoy up the jerks that set everybody up with mortgages they couldn’t possibly pay off in the first place. What about the poor saps like you and me who bought into the American dream and believed those great minds that kept acting as if housing markets always raise their values 10 to 20% a year? What happens to them? Why doesn’t the government want to refinance their mortgages at lower values, but reasonable rates that would allow current owners to keep their rental units or remain in their homes and, if they do so long enough, to regain the position they were in the day they got the original loan? To hell with promises that some day we might get our money back from our investment in Wall Street. We ought to know by now that a snowball in hell would have a better chance.

My ultimate conclusion is that W’s deal stinks. It does nothing for the little guy, but seeks to bail the high rollers out at the little guy’s expense. What should be done is to engineer a government bailout for the citizens who have already suffered from Wall Street’s greed. Devalue the assets and offer discounted mortgages to the homeowners and see how many take the deal. If it lets the Wall Street CEOs go under like the lead hearted sinkers they are, so much the better. Their successors might then understand why they will not be allowed to operate without regulatory oversight.

Maybe then American citizens could feel safe in their homes.

This blog is going to my representatives as a letter this morning. Please consider sending something similar to yours. Here's an easy way to do it: http://congressorg.capwiz.com/congressorg/mailapp/

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Monday, September 22, 2008

Amy Goodman Charges Dropped

I recently blogged about the arrest of Amy Goodman and her staff in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention. At that time, I signed on to a petition to the City of St. Paul asking that the charges be dropped.

Now they have been, and this morning I received a message from FreePress asking that signers make others aware of their efforts in an attempt to swell their ranks. As this is a group that is effectively fighting against the monopolization of news reporting, I am a supporter and decided to incluse the message below - which FreePress included in their mailing and asked signers to distribut - in the hope that you might consider joining them, too. At the very least, I hope you will take the time to follow the links below and read about the group.

Thanks, dear reader, for all you do to help maintain our freedom and our access to uncensored, undiluted, and unabridged information.

BR

Dear Friend,

Earlier this month, I -- along with 60,000 other members of Free Press
-- signed a letter calling on St. Paul City Hall to drop the charges
against Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and the other journalists who
were arrested during the Republican National Convention.

Today, we found out that in response to public pressure, all of the
charges were dropped!

I'm writing in hopes that you will join me and the growing media
reform movement by becoming a Free Press "e-activist". It is free,
and takes about 10 seconds:
http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=3xPb6rPvOXax-GBy_ZISxQ..

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan network of people like you and
me who care about the future of our media. It is crucial that we
increase our numbers in the fight for more hard hitting journalism,
and independent media.

Please go to http://free.convio.net/site/R?i=AqAuKBstaA7kN7gRTouy-g..

Note: Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to
reform the media. Free Press does not endorse or oppose any candidate
for public office.

Friday, September 19, 2008

RETURNING TO MILDER INSANITY?

Sufficient time has passed since the conventions for the “bubble” of emotional support to have passed with it. Polls yesterday showed the Obama has regained the lead in the presidential race, so Palin has paled and McLame is appropriately suffering from his own earlier statements about his incompetence in economic matters. So maybe the country is beginning to turn away from the radically rabid right approach to politics and getting back to asking what the country really needs. America has been a neurotic place for a long time, but for the last forty years it has been sliding into psychosis. Maybe the latest polls indicate a return to less dangerous frames of mind.

We all tire of the political mud slinging in today’s long campaigns, but one good aspect of that length is that there is time in a campaign to see and hear the candidates’ responses to tough situations that arise during the time span. Thanks to the incompetence of the current administration there have been plenty of issues for the candidates to address and plenty of opportunities for us to assess the quality of those responses.

McLame’s response to the tumbling walls of Wall Street was particularly revealing. He wants to fire the head of the Security Exchange Commission and create a new government agency for oversight. The party that always runs on “small government” and accuses the Democrats of favoring big government always grows government instead, and that is McLame’s first reaction.

Obama, on the other hand, advocates firing the whole bunch in charge through the upcoming election – that’s a good idea if I ever heard one – and instead of adding another layer of government, he wants to reinstate the regulations that used to prevent Wall Street’s free wheeling ways before BushCo (thanks to Phil Gramm) removed them immediately after taking office. When Republicans call for smaller government they always only mean less regulation, but regulation is definitely needed, and Obama has put his finger on the pulse of the problem.

You may have already seen the widely distributed email message titled “I’m a Little Confused”, but in case you haven’t I’m copying it here. I think it says about everything anybody needs to know to decide how to vote in November.


Subject: Fwd: I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

If you name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick. (Palin)

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges (Palin) before graduating, you're well grounded.

If you (Obama) spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people wh ile sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you (Obama) have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife (McCain) with a rich heiress (Cindy), and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor (Palin), you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife (Michelle) is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America 's.

If you're (Palin) husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA , your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now. Share the clarity...pass it on!


“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Do You Expect?

I read the article below in OpEdNews. It so closely paralleled my feelings at the moment that I decided to reproduce it here for you. I can't say I'm quite as optimistic as Obenzinger says he is, but you've got to hope that Obama really does represent the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did. If nothing else it is a good piece of writing.

Bob
***********************************************************************************

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/November-5th-2008-What-D-by-Hilton-Obenzinger-080911-402.html

September 13, 2008

November 5th, 2008: What Do You Expect?

By Hilton Obenzinger

Meditations in a Time of Delusions and Lies – 28

It's November 5th, 2008.

White people have been given the cue to reject a black man with code words like "hockey mom" and "pit bull with lipstick." Gender has been pitted against race to allow white people to talk about "working class" to mean white people got to keep what's theirs against the onslaught of effete wine-drinking law professor black men. Huh? Cavalcade of distractions, Swift Boats in all ports, blatant mendacious fabrications, and over-ripe baloney piled to even higher levels than the first 8 years of Rove.

New terms have been added to the twisted cynical fascist lexicon, "lipstick" joining "honor" and "service" and "homeland." Two colonial frontiers go head to head: Alaska of desperate last-chance white folks versus Hawaii of mellow mix-mix. America no mo' bettah mix-mix. Alaska crude wins.

What do you expect?

Bush has locked American logic into endless occupation of Iraq, which the Happy Fighter Pilot embraces with joy. The attack on Iran is now cleared for take-off. Pakistan is on the "to pulp" list. The solution to war is more war, wider war. The solution to occupation is more occupation, wider occupation. Israeli leaders can barely contain themselves; they decide to extend The Wall to Jupiter. America looks the other way.

Crazed victims of America get even crazier, and even more Americans still can't figure out why they hate us. Good people all over the world set up "Committees in Solidarity with the People of the United States" (CISPUS). In El Salvador and Germany and Vietnam they argue and agonize over what the true meaning of solidarity is all about – Sending money to besieged truth-tellers in New Jersey? Singing songs of the Spanish Civil War? Should they campaign for Boycott and Divestment? CISPUS reaches out to underground Americans waiting for the decades-long Alaska winter night to end, but they know that only the oppressed Americans are the ones who can defeat the Four Budweiser Delivery Trucks of the Apocalypse.

What do you expect?

Oh, I forgot. Russia now bad, them big bad Russians. Surround them with missiles, goad them with NATO, provoke them – and we can have a Cold War again. Good for arms business, happiness for missile guidance systems. The first Cold War turns out to have had little to do with ideology – something a lot of people suspected all along – so we can go back to square one – ah, containment and confrontation – all wrapped in the warm blanket of familiar fear, along with lust for oil. And then there's China . . .

What do you expect?

A thousand miles off the coast of San Francisco a mass of plastic bags two times the size of Texas floats in the Pacific – this is fact, check it out. Soon the continent of crap drifts toward the coast, and Americans strangle in their own garbage. Dead zones at the mouth of the Mississippi expand in all directions. Bees die off, fruit trees wither, frogs disappear – and perky Sarah hunts down polar bears from helicopters as they swim in Arctic Jacuzzis. Do you miss honey? Do you miss apples? Do you miss the North Pole?

What do you expect?

Americans are told they don't want a "Washington Bureaucrat" to make their health-care decisions. They are happy to have a bureaucrat in Connecticut or Wall Street to decide instead. Actually, once again Americans are left waiting in the Emergency Room – which is about to be shut down.

This is freedom of choice. Women have no choice, even if they die, to carry babies to the maws of death in Kabul or Baghdad or Texas Death Row, which is "pro life." Sex is bad, abstain from touching yourself in those goofy places, abstain from joy, avoid all candor, avoid all knowledge, keep your secret places to yourself – and, above all, do not touch anyone's private parts that look like your own.

Capitalism continues to eat its own. No regulation means constant regurgitation. Banks kill themselves off like bees. Putrid carcass free market burgers kill off entire cities like bees, no need for hurricanes. No one checks the meat, no one checks the drugs, no one checks the ads on TV to buy the drugs, no one checks the drug companies who are put in charge of saving the planet in sacred trust with oil companies. More poor, more pain, more jails, more crank, less school, no science, more God, less compassion, less jobs, more shopping days before Christmas, less reality, more reality TV, more stupidity, less art, more dead brain.

And what do I expect?

Actually, on November 5th, 2008, I expect joy. Joy for a government that, while no means perfect, hears people, that the people have not been fooled one more time, and that the ballot boxes have not been stuffed, and a black man leads the descendants of masters and slaves, immigrants and natives, the meager and the mighty, judged by his character and not by the color of his skin. For a government that acts without corporate veto, that harkens to an America of many-ness and ferment. That allows the community organizer to reach across the continent to gather the energies of multitudes to take up the task ourselves. That you are cared for when you are sick, that you are cared for in order not to get sick.

The People's Herald watches Great Greed, regulating, not allowing the thoughtless collapse of dreams and the careless injection of poison. That war is not the business of America, that problems are solved before countries and peoples are destroyed, that children will learn in schools that can teach, that people can work at jobs that pay and grow the spirit, that religion belongs to people and not politicians, that the people take the lead to save the planet, that that we grow prosperous through the exercise of new ideas, that bees will live, and songs and all the other expressions take us to the world, and the world brings us thanks, and that courage means living in that world, sharing problems and promises and power.

On November 5th, 2008, I expect it will be possible to imagine all of these things, and more.

Which America do you expect on November 5th, 2008? What will you do to make it happen?




Authors Website: www.obenzinger.com

Authors Bio: Hilton Obenzinger is the author of "American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania," among many other books of criticism, poetry and fiction, and the recipient of the American Book Award. He is a long-time Jewish American advocate of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Hilton Obenzinger teaches writing and American literature at Stanford University.

Back

ON THE BRINK OF DEPRESSION: Republican Socialism in Action

There is very little difference between the present economic situation and the mess the country faced in 1929. Jobs are disappearing. Banks are failing. Even insurance companies are going under, and the little guys like you and me are finding that the little money they have doesn’t buy very much any more and the home they live in isn’t worth the mortgage.

So how did we get here? By the exact same means that took us over the edge in the great depression – once again we are on the losing end of a long Republican reign – just as in 1929. Once again, our so-called conservative party has deregulated the financial markets so that the “free” market could wheel and deal with no one looking over their shoulders – just as in 1929.

The truth is that the market is not and has never been free. It costs us little folks dearly every time conservatism, whose definition of small government is not small government at all but only the removal of government’s regulatory function, takes us down this garden path. The only thing free about the marketplace is the freedom the traders gain from Republican administrations to make terrible investments without risk to themselves.

Why, you ask, do I say free of risk? Not because there is no risk for you and me, but because the traders have no risk. If they fail, you and I are asked by this conservative government to bail them out. If we don’t, we are told, and here the Republicans are finally telling the truth, we all go down together. What it boils down to is that the Republicans offer their big-time wheeler-dealer friends privatized profits and socialized losses.

The government (i.e. you and I) now own 79% of AIG’s value. In other words, AIG has been nationalized, but hide and watch. If the company recovers, it will refund its reserve then start paying its stockholders back as the company regains its footing after paying back the government loan. (At 11%!) If the company doesn’t recover, you and I will lose the $85,000,000,000 our government has invested in it.

That’s right. The Republicans, those right wingers who scream about socialism every time a Democrat wants to use government money to give the little guy a leg up actually practice socialism in the way they bail out their big money buddies. What is socialism, after all, if it is not the use of public moneys to create the means by which the society can function? Isn’t that what the Bush administration is doing right now?

And how did we get into this mess? Thanks in great measure to Phil Gramm, John Mclame’s chief economic advisor – I know, I know. They fired him. Well then why does he still appear at Mclame’s side at rallies? -- who as a Senator engineered the deregulation that allowed banks to make home loans to unqualified borrowers and then to “insure” that risk through “credit swaps” so that when housing prices fell the whole house of cards went down with it.

Now McLame is running for president saying he is the reform candidate!! He actually said today that there was a need for more regulation and he’s the man to do it. For god’s sake this guy has made his reputation by being against regulation and now he’s telling us that he is the best chance the country has to recover by installing regulations?!? If you believe that, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell you.

The bottom line is that if in November the voters fail to oust the Republicans, we will have to try and live through a depression that will make the thirties look like a picnic. Even Sarah Palin ought to look McLame in the eye and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

And you and I had better batten down our hatches. This may be the beginning of a very long and very dangerous economic storm.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Monday, September 15, 2008

NEWSPAPER SPAM

Listed as an advertising supplement to Sunday’s paper was a video disk labeled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”.

It was distributed by someone called the Clarion Group. Researching that name yielded very little information other than that it is a 501(c)3 corporation whose "mission is to educate Americans about issues of national security."

Reading the list of papers to which it was distributed reveals that it went to those states considered swing states in the upcoming national election.

The group’s spokesman, Gregory Ross, says the film was financed by “a concerned citizen” who has long been connected with the group, but offers no further explanation. The group’s website offers nothing related to its board of directors or financers, but I did find out that its founder is a Canadian-Israeli named Raphael Shore. Wikipedia described him as a pro-Israeli who claims the press is anti-Israeli.

The group hosts a website at www.radicalislam.org which recently posted an article in support of John McCain. The article was removed, however, because, according to Ross it had “crossed the line.” That is a reference to the fact that 501(c)3 corporations are barred by law from supporting political candidates. In spite of that, however, it is painfully clear that the DVD is intended to spread fear and foment continued war in the Middle-East as well as to generate votes for the McCain ticket whose support for continuing the war is well known.

It seems that the only place this group has stuck up its head was an interview Wayne Kopping, writer, director and editor of the film had with that famously fair and balanced comedian, Rush Limbaugh, who rabidly proclaims the value of this film while damning the efforts of Michael Moore and Al Gore as laughably biased.

This effort is clearly the kind of tactic for which Karl Rove and his ilk – read Swiftboaters – have become notorious, and it should be dismissed for what it is – a campaign designed to spread hate and fear and to keep the drums of war pounding. It’s depiction of Muslims as, by definition, dangerous is the kind of stuff Hitler’s Nazis used to spread about the Jews.

It is too bad that the owners of our local paper care more about making a little money than about the harm that can come from spreading this kind of hateful propaganda.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The State Department is Beginning to Make Sense

I heard an interview on the BBC this morning with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Affairs, James Glassman that gave me hope.

For years, the Peace Network has been saying that our government needs to listen to the people of other nations and to understand that we cannot use force alone to resolve the hostility others feel for us. My favorite sound bite line has always been – who will be the next terrorist, the father whose son we feed or the son whose father we kill – and Glassman sounds like he might understand what we have been talking about.

He spoke July 15 at a foreign press briefing about the new emphasis on the "war of ideas", and his position is much more in line with the thinking of PNO than anything else I have heard out of Washington since the days of JFK. It's all about laying some solid groundwork for the next administration.

You can read his speech at http://fpc.state.gov/107034.htm, but I also recommend that you Google the BBC and listen to this morning's broadcast of World Update. They interviewed Glassman, and what he said was much more direct that this speech and it gave me hope that he might actually bring a needed sensitivity to American foreign policy development. It’s not world-shaking at this point, but after eight years of listening to saber rattling as the only expression of American foreign policy, it is definitely a breath of needed fresh air.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

THE TWO FACES OF SARAH PALIN

When John McLame named his choice for Veep, I made a quiet little vow to myself that I would follow Obama’s dictate to keep personal issues out of the voting question. I still agree with that dictum, and will continue to do my best to abide by it.

The problem I have with Palin is not what she says or what she does. It is that the two are so often so far apart. It is also that she doesn’t seem to learn from the lessons life puts before her and adjust her approach accordingly.

For instance, I don’t care at whether her daughter has premarital sex. I don’t even care whether or not she gets pregnant as a result. What I care about is that Palin herself continues to insist that abstinence is the only viable method of preventing extramarital pregnancy. Studies show that not only does abstinence not work as a means of preventing extramarital pregnancy, but it increases the chances for the unhappy little accident because its practitioners are not prepared when the passion of the moment sweeps away their restraint.

Palin has a clear example of that right in her own family and refuses to recognize it for the sign and symptom it is of a problem that requires more than a single answer solution. Kind of reminds me of somebody else’s approach to everything – Stay the course, Sarah. What change is there in that?

Well, stay the course, that is, until the pressure builds up to the point where the course is no longer politically viable as in the case of the famous bridge to nowhere. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122090791901411709.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

While Palin claims she told Congress “Thanks, but no thanks”, everyone now knows that she first lobbied for the bridge then kept the money when Congress ultimately withdrew support for the project. They never built the bridge, but they are right now spending $27,000,000 building a gravel access road to the site where the bridge would have been.

Sounds to me kind of like claiming you don’t want a war while you are working your butt off behind the scenes to build a false case for starting one. What change is there in that?

McLame/Palin keep pounding the podium about how they will bring change to Washington, then espousing issues like drilling for more oil, continuing the war in Iraq, and making the Bush tax cuts permanent. That sounds about as much like change to me as the Republican records sounds like fiscal conservatism. Take a look at the difference in national debt levels between Republican and Democratic administrations:

National Debt:
Carter $85 Billion
Reagan $252 Billion
Bush1 $399 Billion
Clinton $18 Billion
Bush2 $596 Billion (not counting off books Iraq War debt in the trillions).
Source U.S. Treasury-Bureau of Public Debt.

The bottom line for me is that I am sick to death of double talking politicians. And, yes, I agree with those on the right who point to Democratic double-talk. I abhor it, too, but beneath that bottom line is the one underlined by that debt picture in the little table above. The ultimate bottom line is that the little guy does better when the Democrats are pulling their shenanigans than when the Republicans are pulling theirs, and, being a little guy myself, I am for him.

So when it comes to change in Washington, D.C. this year, I think anyone who advocates for any change other than a change of the party in control is acting the fool.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

HOW TO CONQUER TERRORISM

In today’s world of think tanks as front groups for political propaganda, the first thought that always comes to mind when faced with a paper touted as research into the effects of military action on terrorism is that it is probably packed with circumstantial arguments for a preconceived notion. At least that was my reaction when I began reading a paper titled, “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qaida”, and published by the Rand Corporation.

My first step was to take a look at the Rand website and find out who sits on the board of directors. As I suspected, it would be quite reasonable to assume from that list that the focus of the organization would be quite conservative. Sure their mission statement touts their interest in objective research, but FOX news says their reporting is fair and balanced, too!

On reading the paper, though, I was forced to conclude that this might well be an objective view. Of course, I may be prejudiced in that I liked the paper because it agreed with the opinions I held before it was written, but while that might make the paper suspect if I had written it, I assume that the researchers for Rand undertook the task from a different perspective. It was presented to Congress on July 29, and you can see the entire report at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/index1.html.

The paper, as its title explicitly states, asked what kinds of actions impacted terrorist groups most heavily with an eye toward developing effective responses that would reduce the danger we face from terrorism. At worst, just asking the question beat the hell out of trotting out the troops, planes and bombs to find out if they would do the job. Of course, we already knew that doesn’t work from our experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. (That is most of us knew. There still those incredibly hard heads who seem unable to accept it and would continue to keep our children at risk on nebulous front lines in those regions in spite of the myriad of facts that prove the notion that this somehow protects us to be nonsense.)

Well, maybe if those folks would read this paper, they would finally get it, too. The authors, Seth G. Jones and Maring C. Libicki had no political ax to grind. All they had was a question to answer: “How do terrorist groups end?” In seeking the answer, they examined 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006.

So what was the answer? The most common demise of these groups (43% of them) ended by being transition into legitimate political groups. They found that the narrower the group’s goals were, the more likely it was for them to achieve their goals without violence. That enables the government to negotiate a settlement of some sort.

If terrorist groups can’t accept non-violent solutions, police action is the most effective way to cope with them. That means intelligence, penetration and disruption. They also found that local police, rather than federal police, were the most effective.

About 10% of terrorist groups disbanded because they met their goals. So how does military action stack up? About 7% of terrorist groups were stopped by the military. The military, not surprisingly, works best against large, identifiable groups involved in insurgencies. The problem, also not surprisingly, is that military methods tend to kill a lot of innocent people, and that causes a backlash that creates more terrorism. Hmmm. Does that have a familiar ring to you? Takes me back to the question I asked before we invaded Iraq – Who will be the next terrorist, the father whose son we feed or the son whose father we kill?

Again not surprisingly, the hardest groups to destroy are those motivated by religion. Of the groups they studied, Jones and Libicki say that 62% have ended, but only 32% of those that were motivated by religion have ended. At the same time, the religious groups are the ones least likely to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, the most useful aspect of this study is its implications for our approach to dealing with Al Qaida. Their first point was that nothing we have done so far has been very effective. Here is a quote that I hope our Congressfolk picked up on and will give some serious thought to, “Al Qa’ida’s resurgence should trigger a fundamental rethinking of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.”

Here are their recommendations for action:
1. “Policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.”

2. “Military force, though not necessarily U.S. soldiers, may be a necessary instrument when al Qa’ida is involved in an insurgency. (Emphasis mine.)
This means a light U.S. military footprint or none at all . . . its presence is likely to increase terrorist recruitment.”

3. Replace the “war on terror” with “counterterrorism”. (The concept of war elevates the terrorists’ position.)

Their final conclusion, “Our analysis concludes that al Qa’ida’s probability of success in actually overthrowing any government is close to zero” should, though it certainly won’t, release the U.S. from the grip of its paranoia.

Once again FDR was right—We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

All the presidential candidates keep talking about change, but most of it is hot air. When will one of them talk about meaningful change in our approach to dealing with terrorism?

When I hear a politician striving to calm our fears instead of trying to stir them up, I’ll know that he/she is truly deserving of my vote.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Monday, September 8, 2008

CHALABI AGAIN?!

There are a few names that always trip my trigger when I see them in the news. Ahmad Chalabi is one of them.

He popped up this time because he was the object of a recent suicide attack. Why? Because he is as detested in his home country as he should be here. And why’s that? Because he provided a great deal of the disinformation BushCo needed to take us to Iraq. As a result, a great many Iraqis blame him for the mess their country is in now.

Spotting him as phony was easy back when he first appeared on the scene. He was paraded around Washington, D.C. as an exile from Saddam’s Iraq and the man with all the answers. He knew all about Saddam’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. He knew everybody in Iraq and could amass support for a new government there after Saddam’s removal. In short, he was BushCo’s darling. The horrible thing was that so few in our Congress seemed capable of seeing through him or the administration.

His image in D.C. only began to slip when it turned out that there were no WMDs. And then it turned out that the Iraqi people didn’t want him anywhere near their government. I don’t blame them. I don’t want him anywhere near my government, either, and the fact that he is no longer Washington’s darling doesn’t mean the neocons wouldn’t back him again if he could somehow gain control and keep things going their way. Nor does it change the fact that this administration pushed the words of Admad Chalabi ahead of the words of its own intelligence community in order to lead us into war with Iraq.

Reporters Ned Parker and Saif Hameed of the Los Angeles Times put it into one sentence that was reprinted in the News-Leader on September 6, “The politician, a longtime darling of Washington neoconservatives in and out of the Bush administration, provided much of the faulty intelligence that President Bush used to justify the invasion.”

The only thing they got wrong in that sentence was calling it faulty intelligence. It wasn’t faulty intelligence. It was false intelligence. In fact, the reliable American intelligence community never considered it intelligence at all. It was the fabrication of a man who would be king. Chalabi fancied himself as the right man to take Saddam’s place as the ruler of Iraq, and our neoconservatives, eyes filled the imagined glories of unseating Saddam and establishing a permanent American presence in Iraq through a near-puppet government under Chalabi, took the bait and ran with it.

The end result is the fiasco we are still living with today and will for some years to come. Suicide bombers are not often to be congratulated, but the one who tried to take out Chalabi, though his method was unforgivable, at least had a legitimate target for his disgust. What we need in this country are a few more legislators whose understanding of the dynamics of today’s international situation is as clear as that bomber’s was.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

THE AMERIKAN WAY

Amy Goodman is a name well known to those who seek independent news reporting but little known among those who think they get adequate information from network and cable news programs. While acting in her role as an independent television news journalist, she and two of her producers were been arrested yesterday in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Not so many years ago this would have brought every major news source in the country roaring into action to protest the silencing of the press. Today, with the news being controlled by the few remaining owners of the major press outlets and a government whose M.O is secrecy and manipulation, this arrest didn’t even make the standard news broadcasts.

I constantly read complaints in the local newspaper about the “liberal” press, but those complainers have obviously never encountered truly liberal press. Amy Goodman represents independent press and leans heavily toward what our local citizens would certainly classify as the liberal side. Her program “Democracy Now!” seen on Link TV, and the magazines the Utne Reader, Mother Jones, and The Nation” are about all that is left of the liberal press in this country.

As it turns out, the problem Goodman and her crew are facing in St. Paul is due to the fact that they refuse to be “embedded” in the police department. In the eyes of the police that puts them on the side of the protesters instead of the establishment, so they are considered legitimate targets for harassment. Here is a link that will provide you a short video clip of an interview in which Amy explains what happened: http://www.mediachannel.org/wordpress/2008/09/03/arrested-at-the-rnc/.

Embedding was the creation of the current Bush Administration for reporters on the war in Iraq. It consists of assigning reporters to military or police units to report what the unit does rather than giving them free rein to roam about and report on what they find for themselves. It was very touted as a means of getting reporters closer to the action, but has in fact accomplished its goal of controlling what is reported on. It further tends to soften reporters’ stories by virtue of the relationships they strike up with the troops with whom they are embedded.

Amy Goodman and other solid independent reporters have always refused to accept embedding and, instead, seek and report on the stories they believe are most important and insightful. For this, which was once the standard for American reporting and which was widely recognized as the most meaningful function of the Fourth Estate -- as the press was known when it actually functioned as a monitor on the balance of powers, Ms. Goodman and her crew are considered by the St. Paul police and Federal police to be criminals.

Thanks to the enforced blindness of today’s American press, most Americans are totally unaware that they are not getting unbiased news from any source. The omission of material like Goodman’s arrest, not to mention the constitutional implications of such arrests, leaves the American public without guidance as to the authoritarian oppressiveness of their government.

Arresting people for seeking to report all the news to the people was de rigueur for Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, but it has no place in America, and every citizen should be up in arms about it regardless of his or her political party affiliation.


“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

IT’S WHO’S BEHIND THAT COUNTS

Candidates pose and posture, strut and bellow, salute and sing the National Anthem, but looking at what’s behind them will tell us more about what to expect from them than the fronts they put up for us. If there is anything Americans should have learned from the last eight years it is that the face our political parties paint on their candidates is not what we should be looking at. We need to look behind them.

George W. Bush masqueraded behind a fa├žade called the war on terror while he danced to the tune called by his neocon backers and led us into a war that had nothing to do with the terrorism he decried and everything to do with seeking the goals the neocons wrote position papers on to sway the Bush camp, but kept from the American people because they knew we wouldn’t buy into it.

If you need proof of that assertion, think back to the crocodile tears Paul Wolfowitz shed in his 2003 speech about how no one wants war in Iraq, but Saddam Hussein’s actions have made it impossible to avoid. Then compare that to the statement that while Hussein’s presence in the middle-east provided the rationale for war in Iraq, the real reason was to establish a permanent American military presence in that country. The paper that appeared in was written in September, 2000 by the neoconservatives of which Wolfowitz was a prominent founding member. (www.newamericancentury.org: Rebuilding America’s Defenses p. 14)

John McCain purports to have been a “maverick” on the war due to his support for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld from the Defense Department, but his history as a supporter of the neocon movement and its war long precedes and further succeeds that moment. As far back as January of 1998, he joined the neocons in signing an open letter to then President Bill Clinton urging him to go to war with Iraq.

Even during this presidential campaign he announced his willingness to stay in Iraq for 100 years. The neoconservative movement is the single most influential body in taking us into the Iraq war, and John McCain has been an active proponent of their philosophy. It stands to reason that if he is elected to the presidency, we can expect him to further their clearly stated goal of American hegemony through military domination.

The conduct of the war in Iraq is, to me, the single most meaningful issue being put before the American people in November’s election, and it should settle the vote in favor of anyone willing to seek a reasonable exit. But the single most important issue is not being presented at all.

That issue is the nature of the people who stand behind the candidates and in that regard no one who stands with the neoconservatives has a right to a single vote for any office in the country. A vote for John McCain is a vote for the continued dominance of a group of money grubbing, power hungry people who believe that the continuation of America’s dominance of world economic policies and the distribution of wealth through American coffers is more important than the well-being of the earth and all its people. That is not a position that should be acceptable to anyone.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Friday, August 29, 2008

THE GREAT DIVIDE

I have blogged about the growing societal divide between the haves and the have nots many times, but just came across a paper that takes a current look. It’s called Executive Excess 2008 and can be found at eshttp://www.ips-dc.org/reports/#623. Here are some of the highlights from the summary:

CEO-WORKER DIVIDE: CEOs in the United States, despite our current hard
economic times, continue to pocket outlandishly large pay packages. S&P 500 CEOs
last year averaged $10.5 million, 344 times the pay of typical American workers.
Compensation levels for private investment fund managers soared even further out
into the pay stratosphere. Last year, the top 50 hedge and private equity fund managers averaged $588 million each, more than 19,000 times as much as typical U.S.
workers earned.

TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES FOR EXECUTIVE PAY: Average U.S. taxpayers subsidize
excessive executive compensation — by more than $20 billion per year — via a
variety of tax and accounting loopholes. That $20 billion for America’s most powerful is more than double what the federal government spent last year on educating America’s most vulnerable — children with disabilities.

INDIRECT TAXPAYER SUPPORT FOR RUNAWAY PAY: Many billions more
taxpayer dollars indirectly encourage excessive executive pay, through everything
from government contracts for goods and services to corporate bailouts. More than
85 percent of the public companies on the federal government’s top 100 contractors
list paid their CEOs over 100 times the pay of average U.S. workers.

REFORM ROADBLOCKS: Legislation that would plug executive-friendly tax
loopholes is already pending in Congress. But this legislation has stalled — and will likely remain stalled unless the November 2008 elections change current Congressional voting dynamics.

WHERE THE CANDIDATES STAND: Senator John McCain and Senator Barack
Obama differ significantly on the executive pay reforms now before Congress, but
neither candidate has yet endorsed all the major reforms needed to start addressing
— and ending — over-the-top executive compensation.

There is a piece of legislation on the table intended to address this situation. It is called the Employee Free Choice Act. Claire McCaskill is a co-sponsor, but neither Obama nor McCain is. Maybe we should be asking why.

Incidentally, several Missouri Congress people have co-sponsored it as well. They are Carnahan, Russ (D-MO-03), Clay, Wm. Lacy (D-MO-01), Cleaver, Emanuel (D-MO-05), and Skelton, Ike (D-MO-04). Please note that they are all Democrats and tack another sticky note to your brain about how the Republicans treat the common man.


“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

MUST SEE TV

Every day on the entertainment page of the local paper, they hype one show or another as must see TV. Usually it’s just another episode of “Win-a-Million” or “Rambo XVII”, but last night was and tonight the TV fare truly is a MUST SEE. The Democratic National Convention did indeed make history last night, and will do so again tonight.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, an Independent or an apolitical, burned out citizen. It seems to me that what matters is that what is happening in Denver this week is the culmination of the last sixty years of effort in the civil rights arena and more than 140 years of daily living since the Proclamation of Emancipation.

For most of my 65 year lifetime, the struggle to end American apartheid has dominated the civil rights forum in this country. I was born in 1943. In 1947 Harry Truman’s administration published “To Secure These Rights” a treatise designed to open up equal opportunity for federal employment to all races, and in 1948, aided by Hubert Humphrey’s fiery liberal oratory, Truman’s civil rights initiative was adopted into the platform at the Democratic Convention. Truman and Humphrey fought to outlaw lynching and were shouted down on the Senate floor, but ultimately won the argument and began to erode the Jim Crow laws that had legalized racial discrimination under the Plessy v Ferguson case of 1896. In 1950, that case was overturned by the Supreme Court, and the doctrine of “separate but equal” began to collapse.

In 1955, Martin Luther King, Jr. emerged as the primary American civil rights leader of the century by managing a year-long bus boycott which, in 1956, culminated in a Supreme Court finding that discrimination like that on bus lines was illegal. That opened the door for the great marching movement that led through Selma, Alabama to the 250,000 person march on Washington, D.C. where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and on to Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 where he was struck down by an assassin while supporting a strike by that city’s sanitation workers.

Four years before that, in 1964, Lyndon Johnson accomplished passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which enabled Dr. King to carry not only the moral righteousness but also the legal right to march in the face of this nation’s obstinate refusal to recognize the right of every American to equal treatment and equal opportunity.

The law alone cannot change the thinking of a nation, but years of enforcement of such laws can erode the bigotry they address to the point where, as is the case today, overt discrimination is looked upon as outrageous by the majority of the population.

I cannot say that in my lifetime I have seen racial discrimination eliminated, but I can proudly say the I have lived long enough to see it at least suppressed to the point where a man who would not, in the time of my childhood, have been allowed to rise to the level of alderman in his home town of Chicago, can now be and has now been nominated to the presidency of the United States by a major political party. (THE PARTY I would point out that has consistently led the nation in this direction in the face of direct opposition from the other major political party. The LIBERAL arm of which has led this country out of its darkness every time it has chanced to peek out of the cave of repression, suppression and illegitimate warfare.)

So I saw last night’s Democratic Convention as a historic occasion that should be celebrated by every American regardless of his or her political affiliations. Unless you are a member of the KKK or some other racial supremacist group, in which case you obviously have no understanding of the constitution, you have no reason not to rejoice in the great distance we have traveled in the course of one man’s lifetime, and THAT made last night’s convention MUST SEE TV.

Tonight will be another evening of MUST SEE TV when Barack Obama stands on the stage alongside Congressman John Lewis, who is the last living person who stood alongside Dr. King throughout his marches into history. John Lewis spoke from the same podium as Dr. King the day he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. Back then Congressman Lewis was a young man and chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. As such, he was labeled by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI as a dangerous subversive. Today he serves as Congressman for the 5th Congressional District in the State of (of all places) Georgia.

I hope he will speak again tonight because the occasion of tonight as the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s great speech and the achievement of Barack Obama is far too great a juxtaposition to ignore. And, certainly, no one is better qualified to speak to the meaning of that juxtaposition than John Lewis, who has seen it all.

I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Nor will I miss the opportunity to assist in Mr. Obama’s campaign as best I can. I hope you will do the same.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry


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


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 - http://www.myspace.com/paralegal_eagle

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