Monday, March 31, 2008

Outfoxed in Basra

The fighting continues in Basra, though some progress has been made and it is quieter today. It has been quite a fiasco and, as predicted here, has offered a clear demonstration of the “progress” that has been made in the stabilization of Iraq.

The Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki, has been directly involved. The President of the U.S. (sad to say,) George W. Bush, has spoken of this as the defining moment for Iraq’s new government. But the primary character, at least the one who has most strikingly caught my eye, is Muqtada al Sadr, who has shown himself to be the better tactician of the three.

The entire scenario was forced by al Maliki. Just why he decided that the time was ripe for this military to clean up the Sadrists is unclear, though his sectarian oriented comments indicate his personal opposition to al Sadr’s sect. Al Sadr’s reaction was quite adept.

First he declared that the actions of his supporters were not taken at his command. That immediately gave him an out if the fray went badly for his forces.

Next, he stated that the resistance would continue unless the government ceased its campaign of raids and arrests. That established him as the one who understood the confict even though "he was not involved".

Next, he urged the resisters to continue their efforts. That told them that he was still in command and appreciated their efforts even though he denied involvement.

Then, as the U.S. began to move its troops into positions around Basra, he told the resisters to stop fighting, but retain their arms while he tried to negotiate a solution. That may have saved his forces from a defeat.

In the midst of all this, al Maliki was forced to flee the city, and it is now back in the hands of the Sadrist Mahdi army which remains loyal to Muqtada’s leadership. Al Sadr accomplished all this without taking responsibility for any of it. He had established an out in case his followers’ efforts failed, but maintained a position that will allow him to reap the rewards if it succeeds.

Al Maliki is back in the Green Zone – the only “safe” zone in the country – but even there, everybody is under a “duck and cover” order because incoming shelling is common. The myth of gathering peace in Iraq has been exploded and Muqtada al Sadr has emerged the victor.

If our president had half of this man’s wits, we would never have entered into this mess in the first place.

I think the end result of this past week’s experiences will be the escalation of al Sadr’s status as a religious and political leader within Iraq and heightened pressure from his faction to gather power for him. The more power he garners, the closer Iraq will move to a theocracy similar to Iran’s, so we may once again have proven that in the long run our greedy efforts to emplace U.S. friendly governments in the Middle East are stupidly futile.

Just for fun and for those of you who said you enjoyed the little article about the White River and the boat we were building, here is a picture of the boat during its maiden voyage and the young man who owns it, Kyle Kosovich.

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

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

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

Friday, March 28, 2008


Iraq is now undergoing the acid test. The central government, represented by Mr. al Maliki, is taking on the leading opposition Imam, Muqtada al Sadr, in what one reporter finally called the “entirely lawless” region that includes Basra (NPR, Morning Edition 3/20/08).

If we were getting regular reports that exposed what goes on around Iraq outside the Green Zone, perhaps the American people would have demanded withdrawal long ago, but at this point the clash between al Sadr and al Maliki is the tip of the iceberg that all can see. It is also the crucial flash point that could tell the tale of Iraq for years to come.

Word yesterday was that a lot of Iraqi government soldiers were doffing their uniforms and joining the ranks of the Mahdi army of al Sadr. This morning, however, there may be some indications that the government forces are gaining the upper hand. The BBC aired a live report in which gunfire was heard close at hand as the Mahdi army fought to hold its position in an elementary school. A citizen living near the school was interviewed and said that the fighting was worse than ever. The citizen supported the government, but expressed the wish that the British were still there and would take on the Mahdi army and “get rid of them once and for all”.

It is easy to identify with that wish, but UK forces are providing only air support. American troops also have yet to join in the fray. The British officer interviewed reported that al Maliki has extended the arms turnover until April 8, and that some Sheiks were turning in arms and hostile militiamen.

Iraqi troop reinforcements from across the country are being called into the Basra area, and at this point it looks as if the head-to-head showdown is going to be settled entirely by Iraqis. If the government troops begin to lose the battle, I expect the American troops will be called in to salvage the situation, but the hope is that the central Iraqi government will prevail and establish itself firmly as the unifying force.

Regardless of the outcome of this big fight, though, Iraq is not likely to become a safe and operational nation any time soon. I do not believe that terrorism and insurgency can be entirely quelled by force of arms. If the central government does prevail, the next test will be the approach they take to binding the wounds both sides have inflicted on the national psyche. If the Mahdi army prevails, the central government will be seen as useless, and al Sadr will be catapulted to power.

In that circumstance he would have to take on a more public persona as a national leader. Undoubtedly he would try to unify the nation, too, but more likely on the lines of the Khomeini revolution in Iran through a fundamentalist approach to governance than along the secular lines the present government supposedly represents.

In any case, religious division remains a volatile factor in the evolution of post-Saddam Iran, and no quick solutions to internal strife loom on the near horizon.

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

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

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

Thursday, March 27, 2008


This week I am hosting a discussion titled Conversation Café. The topic of discussion is: "How should we re-invent the political process so that people feel that they have a voice?" ( Join in if you’ve a mind to.) Peripheral questions include: When have you felt that your voice mattered in a political process? What contributed to that? Where do you want your voice to matter that it doesn’t, and how has that impacted your political participation? What re-inventions in the political process would inspire you to participate more than you do now? What one change would matter most?

Several interesting concepts have arisen including web voting, mixed member proportional voting, and political divisions based on watersheds. General consensus, of course, is that the people are underrepresented, feel isolated from the political process even if actively involved at the party level, and think that the nation-state system under which the world operates is obsolete.

We are having a hard time coming up with concrete things we can do to try and impact those problems, though. Little wonder. How can one little person like you or me expect to have much impact?

The answer, I think, is that if we have expectations of seeing the rottenness we all recognize crumble before our eyes and be replaced with the utopias that we wish for, we will be bitterly disappointed. However, I also believe that systemic change comes about through a collective thought process something like osmosis. I read once that societal assimilation of a great idea for change takes at least 50 years from inception to first appearance. After that first appearance the idea’s form will evolve over centuries.

Following that line of reasoning, I think there is value just in the fact that such ideas are being discussed.

If you would like to join the conversation, please do so, but if not I urge you to visit anyway. There is an introductory series of videos that are remarkable enough just in their construction to make them worth watching, but the concepts they put forth and the argument they make for a sort of NewThink is well put, interesting and maybe even vital for a sane future. Doesn’t a sane future sound great when compared to the totally insane past with which we are all too familiar?!

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Back in 2006 when I started writing this (almost) daily journal, I wrote in the subheading that it would sometimes be about boat building. Since writing that heading, precious little has been said here on the subject.

I wrote that heading because when I started this blog I was in the process of building my second watercraft, a sort of Midwestern drift boat for use on the White River system. The first was a cedar strip canoe, and yesterday working from about 1:00 in the afternoon until 10:30 last night, we came very close to putting the finishing touches on the third -- a 20 foot long john boat fashioned after the boats local fishing guides used to take clients on White River float trips in the first half of the last century.

In those days they didn’t talk about the White River “system” the way we have to today. That’s because it was still just a river, and I use the term “just” very lightly. The White was never “just” a river. In the days before the dams, it was a long, swift, and beautiful stretch of clear, clean flowing water that I deeply wish I had had the opportunity to see and float.

If you’d like to read a great description of the old river and this area before so many of us pink skinned fools messed it up, try Henry Schoolcraft’s journal of his 1817 walking trip from Potosi., MO down to the White River in Arkansas and then along the river’s course upstream to what he described as an excellent place to build a town – present day Springfield.

In the days the three plank john boat was in use, fishermen traveled from all over the country to experience a White River float trip. A fellow named Jack Owens had the best known guide service in the Ozarks based in the Branson area.

The boat we are building is modern-day plywood replica of the boats Owens used. You can see one of his old boats at the new Bass-Pro shop in Branson, but if you keep your eyes on the White, the North Fork of the White, the Eleven Point, the Current, or the James, you might see Kyle Kosovich at the helm of the one we will finish this week.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in coming to the end of weeks of effort to put a boat together. The smell of paint replaces the clogging scent of sawdust and the heady odor of epoxy. The oaken rub rails and gunnels gleam against the green of the paint for the first time. The cedar fore and aft decks go into place beneath the oak transom plates and suddenly the lump of lumber and glue you’ve been toiling over lo these many weeks becomes a boat you can imagine slipping agilely down a riffle into the next fish filled eddy.

This week-end, weather permitting, we will turn that imaginary trip into reality in the maiden voyage of the Amicus, as Kyle intends to name his boat. (As evidence of who this young man is, Amicus is Latin for friendly.) We will float the James in an attempt not only to learn the new craft’s foibles and decide what corrections we might need to make, but also to put the Ozark’s waters to the same test Jim Owens’ guides used to give them. We will look for white bass, walleye and crappie. We might even find some goggle-eye and a smallmouth or two, but the real joy of the trip will be the culmination and christening of our labor of love.

The process of building is always a pleasure for me, but this one was pure joy. We were building the boat so Kyle could try and revitalize the Ozark guided float business with a new twist. He is an ecologist studying fish and wildlife management at MSU. His dream is to use this boat to take people back to the old-time experience of floating down a beautiful stream to a gravel bar campsite complete with a crackling fire and a dutch oven dinner, but instead of catching a big stringer of fish to be killed, the fishing will be catch and release. Instead of taking outdoor souvenirs out of the Ozarks, the floaters will be taught how to find and identify the macrobiotic life that makes it all possible. Instead of destroying plants and animals in their days on the river, floaters will learn about the karst structure of the Ozarks and its impact on the resources available to the flora and fauna as well as the risks it poses for them.

Working on this boat with this fine young man has given me increased hope for the future of the Ozarks and more. For the Ozarks because I now have seen first hand that there are young people like Kyle who care deeply about the ecology of this region I have come to love and more because if there are many more like Kyle in our colleges and universities, there is some hope that the reckless destruction of our environment that my peers have wreaked on this planet might at least be slowed down if not halted altogether.

My reverence for nature which has been part of my psyche from my earliest memory has always made me aware of the degradation that was going on around me. I don’t think that was true for most people, but I think it may be true for more now.

Far too many of our children and grandchildren do live so completely separate from nature that they hardly know it exist and certainly don’t recognize their connection to it, but getting to know Kyle has restored my faith in the power of young people with his kind of dedication to have an impact that will benefit even those poor souls whose separation from nature so impoverishes their lives – however shiny and fun their Wiis and Ipods might be.

So if you see a shiny green, impossibly long john boat drifting down the river one of these days, slow down a bit and give Kyle a wave. A wave of encouragement and of recognition that you are witnessing the rebirth of an old Ozark way of life and the birth of a new approach to life in the Ozarks – one filled not only with the enjoyment of the outdoors offered by our streams and woods, but also with the reverence, awe and respect they deserve.

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


As though to underscore the theme of yesterday’s blog, the news from Iraq is unusually bleak this morning.

When the British pulled out of Basra last year saying that the local sheiks were now capable of maintaining control, I wrote that it would be worth watching the area as a test case as to whether or not Iraq would stabilize if all troops were withdrawn. Apparently the answer to that question is a resounding NO.

I’m sorry to hear that. I would have liked to have had evidence that we could withdraw our troops and leave behind a country that could pull itself together and be self governing. The fact that the Iraqis will be unable to avoid civil war, however, does not make a strong argument for U.S. troops to remain in that country, either.

The news this morning reported the explosions in Basra, but politically it was an implosion. The battle lines were joined today because the central government felt the need to jerk a knot in the tail of the Sadrist insurgents who have been steadily gaining the upper hand since the British pulled out of active governance. About 4,500 British troops remain in the area, but they weren’t asked to take part in today’s festivities. This is between the central government as established under the aegis of the U.S. government and the militia faithful to Muqtada al Sadr.

It was al Sadr who initially stood his ground against U.S. and British troops and raised such a ruckus that he had to be bought off. Al Sadr himself has been studying to elevate his position among Imams, but his troops have become more and more a thorn in the side of the central government. All told this is a clash among the Shiites as separate sects grab for a bigger share of power. In other words – CIVIL WAR.

The bribes General Patraeus authorized and paid to the fractious militias around Iraq at the beginning of the surge have run their course and civil unrest is growing in leaps and bounds.

My prediction is that the coming months will dramatically and tragically underscore the empty words of W’s speech of yesterday when he loudly proclaimed that those who gave their lives in Iraq will not have done so in vain. As that country sinks deeper and deeper into civil war and as neighboring countries like Turkey, Syria and Iran become more active in their attempts to protect their own futures, the vanity (and vanity IS the right word) of this entire enterprise will become more and more evident.

I say vanity because it was the vanity of Donald Rumsfeld and dick Cheney that got us into this. It was the angry vanity of the American people in their rush to show the terrorists that they couldn’t get away with the affront of 9-11 that allowed them to back this entirely vain war against a nation that, though led by a tyrant, did not support Al Qaida and did not pose any real threat to the United States. And it was the vanity of an empty headed president eager to strut across the deck of an aircraft carrier that spearheaded it all.

By going to Iraq, the entire focus of our military efforts after 9-11 was vainly diverted from any true effort to combat terrorism. The fact is, Mr. Bush, that all those young American lives and all those young and old and in-between Iraqi lives that were sacrificed in this war WERE lost in vain, and the responsibility for all those deaths falls right on your head. May it torment and torture you to the end of your days.

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

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

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

Monday, March 24, 2008


Today saw another Iraq milestone for Americans. The 4000th soldier died since our invasion on March 18, 2003. That brings our average to 800 dead young Americans per month since that infamous date.

In spite of all the pro-war talk about fighting for freedom, continuation of the war to avoid those deaths having been in vain, etc., etc., this nation ought to be on its knees begging the forgiveness of those families now having to go on without their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, or fathers and mothers.

We ought to be on our knees begging forgiveness from the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have lost their loved ones and the millions who must also add homelessness to the list of miseries they now suffer, too.

I know that many of those American families, especially those with a long history of military service, feel that the sacrifice is justified, and that is an honorable view fueled by devotion to country, but it is the product of emotion and not rational consideration. Such consideration is too painful when the lives of your loved ones are the price.

To Americans who continue to support this war, I ask in what way has all this bloodshed and pain protected our freedom? In the history of the world, no Iraqi has ever attacked America. In the history of the world, the only wars known to protect the freedom of a people have been their own revolutionary wars, and those few wars waged to contain a tyrant trying to take control of other nations through hostile force. We have now joined the ranks of those tyrants, and we will pay for it.

It is part of the equation that is bringing us to our economic knees. Maybe there is such a thing as divine retribution after all. If not, there ought to be. And we ought to be prepared to feel the brunt of it.

For a long time, I have deliberated over whether we should be pulling out of Iraq or whether we owe it a moral obligation of helping it rebuild because it was our actions that destroyed their infrastructure. As time goes on, though, and as the Iraqis continue their infighting, I become less and less supportive of the idea that we should offer any level of support through the presence of our troops.

For a great many Iraqis our troops are nothing more than a constant reminder of our occupation of that country. As long as they are there, they will be targets.

The administration has so successfully ballyhooed the effectiveness of the surge that the situation in Iraq doesn’t get much press any more. For a while it did seem as if it had worked, but the lull was due to many factors not the least of which was our bribing the local militias into siding with us to put the pressure on what we call Al Qaida in Iraq. They did that, and the terrorists retreated. Now the local militias are back at each others’ throats.

Yesterday saw not only the death of the 4000th American in Iraq, but also the shelling of the Green Zone, which is the only area of Iraq that has supposedly become a safe zone. According to an AP story, (Springfield News-Leader, March 24, p. 7A) that shelling was done by rival Shiite militias. Bombings were carried out in other parts of Baghdad by Sunni militias attacking Shiite targets. Obviously, even Baghdad is no longer protected by the surge.

In a nutshell that kind of sectarian infighting is the immediate future of Iraq, and as long as this kind of civil strife continues our presence there is only a thorn in the side of both factions – a thorn they see as preventing them from settling their internal scores. Those scores will have to be settled before any kind of wide-range democratic government will be effective, and there is no way for America to have a meaningful role in that settlement.

That is why I think we should pull out. Iraqis have themselves recently called for help from the United Nations, and that is where the responsibility for future peacekeeping should reside. We are only a catalyst for more violence. We can fulfill our debt to Iraq by helping them economically, and we could afford to be generous in that support because it will not cost as much as it does for us to maintain a military presence there.

It’s time to quit waving the flags and take responsibility for our actions through non-military means. It would mean that BushCo would not achieve their goal of dominance in the Middle East, but that would only help ease the world’s enmity toward us, and if justice exists BushCo ought to be suffering a lot more losses than that.

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

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

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

Friday, March 21, 2008


Today’s News

Barney Frank, D-MA, yesterday spoke on the Senate floor in favor of enacting regulations designed to rein in the kind of poor loan decisions that led to our present housing value collapse. He will get a lot of flak for having the gall to suggest that the nation’s lenders are in any way out of line, but he is right.

The way we got into this mess was through the removal of restrictions on lending in place since the great depression which allowed lenders to begin making loans to otherwise unqualified buyers. Why would anyone knowingly do this? The answer is simple. He would do it because he had no scruples that held him back from bundling those loans in a portfolio and selling them as investments. Now his group could pocket the gains and not have to bear the brunt of the inevitable failure of borrowers to repay the loan.

The way out of the mess is to go back to regulations that rein in that kind of greed. Frank knows this, but he probably also knows that his chances of getting anything meaningful passed are slim to none.

I’ll be rooting for him, though.
Everyday’s News

Through all of the horrible mess our country has become over these past few years, I have asked myself why we could do this to ourselves. The more I think about it, the more I see of it, and the more I have to listen to baseless, empty headed prating about how right we are to be at war in Iraq, the more convinced I become that the problem is that we hold the same arrogant attitude about our place in the world as nearly every other civilization has held.

From time immemorial, nearly every culture on earth has, at one time or another, held itself up as something special. We consider ourselves to have been derived from the “highest” of cultures – Western civilization, but even cultures that never held any worldwide power have considered themselves unique. Most Native American, African and Australian Aboriginal tribes each referred to themselves as “The Human Beings” while all other tribes were considered to be something less.

The western civilization we are so proud of became dominant because it spent the most effort of any people on earth in the development of weapons. That’s the baseline definition of the word civilized. Those with advanced weapons were considered civilized because they had worked out a border system that kept them from completely destroying one another with the terrible weapons they had developed. Those without borders and modern weapons were called savages.

Of course, our ancestors conveniently ignored the fact that the savages didn’t seem to need formal borders to keep from totally destroying one another. Even in the face of their continual bickering (They were human after all!), they did not usually seek to annihilate one another, but just to remind one another that they were still there and that they were still the best people on earth!

Today we have a great many people in this country willing to see us at war for no better reason (though they bloviate about the morality of their position constantly) than that they want us to win. That kind of support for savagery is nothing but the arrogance of thinking that we have the right to do as we will simply because we have the power to do what we will.

Couldn’t we find something better on which to base our belief in ourselves than the power of the weaponry we have the technology to develop? Yes, I know, we are doing it to spread democracy. We are doing it in the name of peace. We are doing it for to free oppressed peoples. We are doing it out of high moral principle so that the rest of the world can enjoy the freedoms we enjoy. We are doing it because we are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and we can do no wrong.

It would be nice if we could remember that every culture on the face of the earth has at one time or another considered itself superior to every other culture. They were not. We are not. We are all just people.

Just to poke a small hole in our patriotic fervor, let’s consider one line of the song that’s supposed to send shivers up and down our spines, The Star Spangled Banner , “The land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

Uniquely American, right? I thought so until I read an old history book last night and found this verse from a poem written about Ireland 1500 years before Christ in commemoration of the Milesian victories over the Tuatha de Dannon for the control of that island nation then known as Innisfail:

“And, lo, where afar o’er ocean shines
A sparkle of radiant green,
As though in that deep lay emerald mines,
Whose light through the wave was seen,
“Tis Innisfail – ‘tis Innisfail!
Rings o’er the echoing sea!
While, bending to heav’n, the warriors hail
That home of the brave and free.*

*The Story of Ireland by A. M. Sullivan, 1892

So maybe we aren’t so special after all. Maybe someone else also thinks they are brave and maybe they, too, are proud of their freedom. Maybe everybody has thought that way since the beginning of time and maybe it’s high time we thought something else.

We don’t need to bow in shame and tuck our flag between our legs, but we ought to get our heads out of that region and consider that we aren’t any better or more deserving of the world’s riches than anyone else on the planet.

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unhappy Anniversary

Today is the fifth anniversary of our invasion and occupation of Iraq. My heart is heavy with the pain of knowing that our nation has such a deeply embedded acceptance of war as a method of maintaining our way of life that arguments for peaceful interaction are met with hostility. The average American citizen is so filled with patriotic fervor that he or she can't even recognize the real threats to their freedom.

The local paper today was filled with stories of the devotion of our soldiers lauded as fighting for our freedom. Support for our military is a fine balancing act. I, too, applaud the willingness and abilities our young soldiers have shown in what they believe is the defense of their country, but at the same time I deplore their willingness (or gullibility) to be used as fodder for the political machinations of our "leaders".

I can understand their eagerness to serve, though. I was once in those same shoes myself. What I find much harder to understand is the way their elders march in lockstep with the Pentagon as though the propaganda that passes for leadership made real sense. How I wish we could break through the acceptance of blind followership in lieu of true citizenship and get people to evaluate what they are told.

All this was meant to be a brief introduction to the fact that I just couldn't work up the gumption to write a blog today, so instead am going to reprint the poem I wrote the morning the intention to invade was announced. That announcement was no surprise, but I was still frustrated that nothing we had said to argue against the invasion had been heard. Five years later I am even more frustrated. Now that all of our arguments against the invasion have been verified as true and accurate, we are still over there killing and dying, and there has been no progress whatsoever in the fight against terrorism. There must be a way out of this, but we are going to have to look somewhere besides the Pentagon to find it.


The darkest day in American history has dawned but there is no light.
For months the distant thunder has warned of coming storms,
Tense air trembled in anticipation,
Warm blood run cold with fear,
And tears shed swift and hot with grief for the looming loss of law and lives.

Now comes Apocalypse.
Now American missiles end the lives
Of innocents.
Now the death of innocence
And all a once proud country stood for.

Now the pestilence of power run amok,
As famine flagged Iraqi faces turn skyward
To see what horror might come next from tyrants of all stripes
And stars,
Obscured by smoke from flames burning honor’s last vestige
From a land led by mindless money-mongers
Eager to pound their might into the minds of a world aghast at their impunity.

All these months we’ve marched to quench these flames,
But tears are not enough.

Our weeping falls on deaf ears,
And honor flees before our reddened eyes.

Bob Ranney
March 18, 2003

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Teapot Dome Was Nothin’

Not since Teapot Dome has this country been in such a governmental mess. Even Richard Nixon couldn’t come close to the sewer slime we have in Washington these days. How have we managed to avoid this kind of slime for so many years? And why are we back in a similar situation?

The comparison to Teapot Dome isn’t accidental. There are more comparisons than just the fact that both administrations were Republican – though that is significant. This administration, like the Harding Administration, is staffed with people who have no compunctions at all against letting their high-rolling backers suck up loose federal bucks. On top of that, they took an axe to regulations so that the top one percent could take all they can grab from the lower classes in here at home. (That’s how we got into this home lending crisis that’s about to drag us under.)

In Teapot Dome it was leases of oil in federal reserves for backers in exchange for appointment to high office, prestige, and interest free loans.

In our day, it is unopposed contracts for various services in Iraq and other places (read Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater) in exchange for high office (Someday it is likely that the behind-the-scenes process by which the last two elections were rigged will be revealed.), prestige and, most likely, future rewards. Instead of oil leases, we have opportunities provided by war, which is to my mind a much more egregious offense than the Teapot Dome schemers could ever have imagined.

Ultimately, Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, was fined (a paltry $100,000 so he got to keep the other $300,000 involved.) and became the first presidential cabinet member ever sent to prison. Another significant outcome of Teapot Dome was a Supreme Court case which, for the first time, clearly established the Congressional right to subpoena witnesses and obtain their testimony.

Pray to whatever you believe in that this power gets exercised to the max one of these days and some more muckety-mucks get a free federal vacation, but you might hedge your bets by voting only for progressive candidates the next time we get a chance to rebuild Congress.

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

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

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

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who’s Leading?

For the second time in eight years, I have found common ground with W. He has taken a position on gun control in Washington, D.C. that seems sane and sensible to me. His position is that while a right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights that right can reasonably be subjected to regulation.

His position on the issue was aired because the Supreme Court is about to deliberate over the question raised by Washington, D.C.’s attempt to outlaw handguns. Mine has been developed through years of hunting and considering whether non-hunting arms have a place in private hands. I have a harder time with the wholesale banning of handguns than Mr. Bush apparently does, but I certainly support banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons originally designed for warfare. In my opinion, their allure to people who fantasize about swat-style attacks on people at school or on the streets is too strong and their power to create deadly mayhem is too real to allow uncontrolled private ownership.

The other occasion for our agreement was less public. W has not been a strong advocate for the invasion of Iran, and I am adamantly opposed. The hard driver behind that proposition is dick Cheney. Cheney also publicly opposes his president on the gun control question. I find this public difference of opinion on such contentious issues very interesting, and revealing.

It’s interesting because it highlights the dichotomy the country has suffered under since the election in 2000 was twisted into a Republican victory. That dichotomy being the difference between the man who is supposed be the most powerful person in America and the man who actually pulls most of the strings – the vice-president (in cahoots with presidential advisors like Karl Rove).

It’s revealing because no other president I have observed in my more than six decades would ever have stood quietly by while his vice-president publicly opposed his positions. It reveals W’s role as a figurehead posing as a tough leader while the truly tough guys (read ruthless Machiavellians) make the decisions and implement their nefarious plots from behind the scenes. The issue of gun control, though, while it is a hot-button issue, does not carry the kind of weight a decision to invade another country does. That’s why dick, knowing that W doesn’t really have any teeth, feels comfortable enough in his power to speak out in opposition to his commander-in-chief’s opinion. Harry Truman would have thrown him out of the Whitehouse on his ear.

All this illustrates one of the reasons why my independent vote has regularly gone to Democrats over the years. One of the differences between the two parties is that the Republicans have repeatedly and progressively nominated less intelligent and more manipulable candidates. The Democrats, on the other hand, tend to nominate more intelligent, independent minded candidates. Eisenhower and Nixon were the last two independent, intelligent Republican presidents. Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and W have progressively been less intelligent and, maybe as a result, more easily manipulated by their handlers.

The Democrats have routinely fielded intelligent men (sadly until recently not women or black men) from Adlai Stevenson through Jack Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. This year at long last they have fielded both an intelligent woman and an intelligent black man.

John McCain appears to be a more independent man than his recent predecessors, but I doubt that he could compete with his Democratic opponents on a Stanford-Binet. His independent appearance suffered a lot in my view this week, too, when I heard that he is now taking advice from Karl Rove and other neo-con headliners. I’ve always thought he was a loose cannon, but now I have to wonder who will be pulling the ropes that tie him down.

The Democrats have constantly amazed me with the number and level of campaign blunders their smart candidates can make, but at the end of each of their terms in office, they have consistently handed us a country in better shape than any of their Republican counterparts have given us.

I am really disappointed this week by Obama’s denunciation of the minister he has obviously held in high esteem for years. I would love to see one presidential candidate with the courage to speak to some of the true reasons for 9-11 and some of the realities of our national discriminatory habits. His minister perhaps spoke too directly and in too inflammatory a fashion about those issues, but Obama’s reaction was to reject him and everything he said. I though he had more guts than that.

Still, the political reality is undoubtedly that at this point he can’t afford to give the non-thinking average voter any reason to get angry with him as they certainly would if he were completely honest with them, so I have to swallow my bile and continue to stand behind him. He is, after all, probably the least manipulated, least subsidiary candidate in the field for either party.

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

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

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

Friday, March 14, 2008


I received an email this morning from the Mid-Missouri Peaceworks that expressed sentiments I have felt and written about for a long time. The concision of this little blurb makes it worth repeating here, so I decided to copy it then comment:

“. . . we need to do more than just get U.S. combat troops out of the "theater of operations." Rather, we need to challenge the fact that our nation, with 4.5% of the world's people spends fully half of the planet's annual military expenditures. We need to question the network of bases in 130 nations around the world.

We need to understand and communicate the motivations behind this vast expenditure. Geopolitical and economic imperatives of U.S. and western-based trans-national corporations play roles that are poorly understood by many of our fellow citizens, and, for some reason, these issues never seem to come up in the Presidential debates. Geopolitics and the control of resources, markets or cheap labor is rarely discussed. Likewise, the profits of military contractors.

We need at this point to build a strong, independent grassroots movement to challenge the largely bipartisan consensus that the U.S. should fill the role of dominant global power. We need to challenge the politicians of both major parties who want a larger, stronger U.S. military. We in the peace movement need to be advocating a major reappraisal of the role of our military. We need to speak truth to power. We need to utter what the liberals have allowed to be labeled "heresy." That is the notion that perhaps an 80% cut in the U.S. military budget is in order. We need to point out that if we were spending only 20% of our current military budget we would still have the most powerful, capable military establishment on the planet. And, we would have hundreds of billions to invest each year in sustainable development to create real security. We could even take the steps needed to end our oil addiction and address global climate change by investing in energy efficiency and renewables.”

America spends more on its so-called defense budget than all the rest of the top ten spenders combined. The assertion that we can’t afford a single payer national health care system is absurd except that the military/industrial complex won’t allow it. I refuse to accept the term ‘defense budget’ because it isn’t about defense at all. It is about dominance and offense.

There is no doubt that a reversal in our national spending priorities would create a temporarily chaotic economic situation, but the long term gains would so outweigh the short term losses as to make those losses laughable.

Our military budget could be much more wisely centered around the maintenance of highly trained personnel with small weaponry and equipment based on protection from and prevention of terrorism than the world-dominance oriented present system of tactical nuclear weaponry and large bases around the world. That old system is based on the threat of nation-states seeking to dominate the world. At this point we are the only nation showing interest in that concept. Withdrawal from the numerous bases we maintain as a means of exercising political control would cut our military costs considerably while freeing up personnel for assignment in hotspots like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Changing our national priorities from attempting to create and maintain American hegemony to ensuring that our citizens and those of the world are free from worry about health care, food and shelter would go a long way toward defusing the enmity our military stance creates daily. We are seen as a military power which is hungry for resources and economic control. We could be seen as a rich neighbor willing to apply its resources to assist in ensuring the well-being of the world’s peoples.

Our wealth is not a deterrent to friendship. Hoarding is. Our strength is not a generator of enmity, our misuse of it is. Our freedom is not a reason to attack us. Our enslavement of others is no matter whether it is accomplished with whips and chains or genetically engineered seed.

The money we spend on our paranoid attempts at world management through military adventures and economic control is a slap in the face of the people around the world who must scrape for every scrap they put on the table. The money we could spend on the development of sustainable sources of energy, on the health and well-being of the people of the world, on education, and on the growth, processing and delivery of affordable food to a hungry world would earn us not enmity but friendship and respect.

For years our nation has operated only on the principle that although we have plenty, we must have more. In fact, we must have it all.

It is time that we as a nation recognized that as citizens of the world, we cannot be allowed to have more than our share. It is also time that, as citizens of the planet, we recognize our responsibility to live in such a way that the planet can maintain its health and sustain our presence indefinitely.

In both cases, it is imperative that we reach these conclusions or inevitably the day will come when we will be forced from our position on the top of the chain and become instead the victims of first the world’s rejection of our position as a nation and finally the planet’s loss of the means for man’s survival.

We must think peaceably. We must think globally. We must think sensibly about our role in all aspects of the health of our world. Or . . . we must perish. It seems a simple choice to me.

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

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

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

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Last night Howard Metzenbaum, retired Senator from Ohio, died. Here’s what part of what Wikipedia has to say about him:

“While in the Senate, Metzenbaum was a powerful liberal. He was known as "Senator No" (a nickname shared by Republican Jesse Helms of North Carolina) because the Senate Democrats knew that almost nothing would get through if Metzenbaum opposed it even though he never held an official party leadership post or chaired a committee. Metzenbaum took a particular interest in antitrust and consumer protection issues, often threatening to repeal the exemption from antitrust laws given to Major League Baseball. Since his retirement, however, the issue has gone largely unaddressed. Metzenbaum became well-known for his service on the Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly because of his dedicated efforts to keep stringent antitrust laws and his pro-choice stance on abortion.

Metzenbaum devised a different method for filibustering in the Senate by offering scores of amendments to bills in place of talking one bill to death like his Southern colleagues did during the debate for Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s.
Metzenbaum was behind several important pieces of legislation, including the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which required warning periods for large factory closures; the Brady Law, which established a waiting period for handgun purchases;[5] and the Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA) (U.S. Public Law 103-82), which prohibits federally subsidized adoption agencies from delaying or denying child placement on grounds of race or ethnicity.”

In reporting on his death this morning, an NPR reporter on Morning Edition referred to Senator Metzenbaum as “an unapologetic liberal”. That got my goat.

What conservative has ever been called “an unapologetic conservative”? What does a liberal have to apologize for? Should we apologize because we think that government should be the servant of the little guy instead of the gluttonous corporations that bloat the coffers of the “conservative” party? Should we apologize because we think that it is better to work with people as they are than to find ways to punish them for not being what we want them to be? Should we apologize for wanting to apply tax dollars to social problems instead of to wars? Should we apologize for believing that amassing personal wealth at the expense of the rest of civilization is immoral? Should we apologize for believing that our government should not be a wholly owned subsidiary of the military/industrial complex? Should we apologize for being able to recognize when we are being had by a government bent on sacrificing the country’s future and the lives of our children and grandchildren in the name of amassing more wealth and power?

The right wing has done an excellent job of one thing - the attachment of a completely negative connotation to the tag “liberal”. If liberal politicians were as mean spirited as their opponents maybe they could by now have come up with some way to make people think politicians should have to apologize for being conservative. The fact is, though, that one of the differences between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives believe that it’s their way or the highway while liberals are still trying to be accepting of everyone including their blockheaded colleagues across the aisle.

I, for one, am sick of it. I far prefer being labeled a liberal with all the attempted negative tags the right wing has stuck on it to being called a conservative. The best definition I’ve ever run into for that side of the aisle is a person who can’t enjoy a good meal unless he knows someone else is going hungry.
I’d much rather be known as someone who is willing to do without a meal to feed a person in need.

Don’t you dare ask me to apologize for being a liberal, because I won’t and there is absolutely no reason why I should.

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Darth Vader Goes East

In an amazing little story this morning that has to be some kind of dark joke, the newspaper reported that dick Cheney has been sent to the Middle East to as an emissary of peace. They've got to be kidding. Are the Palestinians supposed to look at little dick and see a peace loving man? You could duct tape doves to Darth Vader’s shoulders, too, but nobody would mistake him for Mahatma Gandhi.

This has to qualify as the shortest blog I’ve ever written, but the truth is that I’m goin’ fishin’. I’ll be back Thursday and might even have a fish story or two to share!

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

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

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

Monday, March 10, 2008

The False Threat of Al Qaida

This morning’s NPR news show, Morning Edition, aired a rather lengthy story on the nature of today’s Al Qaida. Essentially what they ended up saying was that the Al Qaida of today is not the monolithic, top-down organization that our government keeps saying they are.

The picture NPR drew was much closer to what Greg Palast of the BBC has been saying for quite some time now than to what our Department of Homeland Security says. (I have never been able to say or write that name without hearing Fatherland Security. It is sooo Nazi Germany.)

Our Fodderland Security department gets more from keeping the populace on the edge of fear than it would from actually providing security, so it persists in holding up a picture of a monolithic terrorist group determined to send more airplanes into more American buildings.

The fact, as NPR reported it this morning, is that Al Qaida is more of a concept than a reality. It is a name for those opposed to Western style economic governance and willing to show that opposition through violence and civil unrest. When the press refers to an Al Qaida cell, the implication is that a cell is a small unit put in place by a central authority, when the truth is that such each cell is autonomous.

That is not to say that bin Laden’s Al Qaida doesn’t exist, but it is to say that the original Al Qaida is more of an inspiration to terrorist cells than a director of their actions. It may well be that bin Laden’s group continues to plan international terrorist acts akin to 9-11, but the fact is that they have not been able to pull one off since 2001, and another definite fact is that very few if any of the groups referred to in the press as Al Qaida cells have any relationship at all to the core bin Laden group.

As Greg Palast said in a recent interview with Amy Goodwin on Link TV’s Democracy Now!, an Al Qaida cell is to Al Qaida what an imitator band with a Mick Jagger look-alike lead singer is to the Rolling Stones.

Over the week-end W offered a list of terrible planned attacks that his eavesdropping program averted, making the Department of Fodderland Security sound effective. But then, W has a long and garish history as bald-faced liar that makes anything he says questionable at best and self-serving in all cases.

The American public needs to take anything the administration says with a block – not a grain – of salt and stop reacting to officially purported risks as though they were true accounts of imminent threat. The correct reaction to the Fodderland scare tactics is guarded skepticism.

We need to just tell the little boy in the Whitehouse to quit shouting big bad wolf and go on about our business as the most secure and powerful nation on earth as though we believed in ourselves; stop allowing the government to listen in on our conversations; tell the communications corporations that they will be prosecuted if they break the law; take an aggressive stance against U.S. authorized torture; and, ultimately, regain our place as a leader among the world’s nations -- a leader that can discern between real and supposed threats; between morality talk and moral action and so can be trusted to use its power only against true threats to its own security and that of the world.

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

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

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

Friday, March 7, 2008


The news media (AKA: the American government) is making lots of noise about a memo the Columbian government supposedly found in a laptop computer during a raid into Ecuadoran territory in pursuit of FARC guerillas. The memo purportedly talks about $300 million that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave to FARC to support its search for uranium to create an atomic weapon.

To begin at the beginning, the American people are almost entirely ignorant of the conflicts endemic to South America. As a student at Iowa State University in 1962-63, I ran with a group of friends from Colombia. Even then, they talked of the freedom fighters in the mountains. The same group continues to fight against the government. That government is the right wing and nearly aristocratic ally of the right in North America.

Across the borders of Ecuador and Venezuela are governments that strongly disagree with the “free market” (read top down wealth garnering) right wing government of Colombia. Those governments are commonly portrayed in our press as evil because they often act to block our control of their resources and markets. Those governments are certainly not perfect, but their leaders do take the well-being of their citizens seriously and seek to govern at least to some extent in such as way as to use and distribute the wealth of their nations on behalf of the people. Of course, that flies in the face of the right wing belief in keeping the wealth at the top of the pyramid.

So how does the memo fit into all of this? According to Greg Palast, a BBC reporter on a very long leash, it is a completely bogus, but largely successful attempt by the Bush administration to add fuel to the right wing legend of Hugo Chavez, falsely accused as a “dangerous terrorist supporter”.

Palast is one of the voices of world journalism whom I have come to trust. Time and again he has reported the truth of the situation in Iraq. His stories have proven to be accurate and his analyses right on the money time after time. In the lead story on his webpage today, Palast translates the message for us and shows that the reports of its revelation of Chavez’ support for terrorism is completely bogus. (See: $300 MILLION FROM CHAVEZ TO FARC A FAKE)

So what we have here is yet another cry of “Wolf” from the little boy in the Whitehouse. The sky is falling. There are WMDs under every bed. Send in the troops. Eradicate those horrible enemies, the governments of Venezuela and Guatemala.

Enough. Enough. I’ve had enough of our shallow press acting as shills for the killers we keep electing to lead our country, and I’ve sure had enough of those “leaders”. Show me the way out!!

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

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

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

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Afghan Solution

At last some of our military brass are beginning to sound more like peace network members than BushCo puppets. Sadly, though, it is still always the retired and not the active officers who speak out.

Still, it was encouraging to hear Retired Lieutenant General David Barno speaking out about the situation in Afghanistan this morning on Morning Edition. Since the beginning, my favorite question about our “war on terror” has been this: Who will be the next terrorist, the son whose father we kill or the father whose son we feed?

Here is some info on Gen. Barno from a report by Tom Brokaw: (
General David W. Barno is the former senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He was responsible for combating al-Qaida and members of the Taliban operating in the south and east of the country. Barno was also responsible for Coalition efforts in most of Pakistan as well as the southern parts of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In 2004, Barno fended off allegations of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan. He promised to tone down his troops' aggressive search for Taliban-led insurgents and vowed to work with villagers to foster goodwill. Also in 2004, Barno famously predicted Osama bin Laden would be apprehended by the end of that year, saying, "The sands in the hourglass of all of the al-Qaida senior leadership is running out."

Obviously he is not always right, but this morning, Barno was quoted on Morning Edition as saying that there is no military solution to the problems we face in Afghanistan, and I believe that to be 100% accurate. Instead of military action, he said, we need to put 80% of our efforts into political, social, economic and health issues.

The problems are exacerbated, though, by the fact that the Karzai government that BushCo brought in to replace the Taliban constantly impedes any forward progress. There has been no effort made to coordinate reconstruction efforts or to facilitate the delivery of relief efforts to those in need.

To their credit, the Bush administration has backed the U.S. and Nato’s recent attempt to put Paddy Ashdown in place as a “super envoy” in Afghanistan. According to an article in Britain’s leading newspaper, The Telegraph, “The new "super envoy" would have the same rank as the American and British ambassadors in Afghanistan. He would become the principal contact between President Hamid Karzai and both Nato and the UN.”

That sounds good, but Karzai has refused to cooperate. It seems that he is afraid that Ashdown will repeat what he did in the same role in Bosnia, which was to overrule the powers of the government. It is easy to understand why Karzai would be jealous of his power, but perhaps he needs to be reminded who obtained that power for him.

General Barno talks about his contact with local Afghani farmers and workers who have told him about the simple resources and training that they and their children need to be able to work their way back to a comfortable life.

Supporting those people is the kind of effort we need to make not only in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq and around the world. Wherever we encounter unrest, you can be sure that not far beneath the surface lies the inability to live comfortably in the face of political instability or tyranny. The problems underlying that situation are the key to the containment of terrorism. Those agitating for peace have always known that if we could first make the lives of the average citizen satisfactorily secure, we would face a greatly reduced amount of hostility around the world.

Barno has the right idea. If only the rest of the military would pay some attention. If only the rest of America would trade in John Wayne for Mother Teresa. And, if wishes were fishes . . .

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Local Event with International Impact

In a departure from my usual daily diatribe on national issues, I want to tell you about an event of great value that is happening in Springfield this Thursday.

We in Springfield are blessed with the presence of a fine young man in Patrick Mureithi. Patrick is a videographer, a musician/songwriter, and a man of peace who, though now an American citizen, has kept tabs on the pulse of Africa while attending school and working in this country. In the midst of the flood of violence sweeping Rwanda, Patrick spotted an island of calm in a program that brought people from the two rival tribes, Tootsie and Hutu, together in a structured program to talk about their feelings and to try and find some common ground.

He was so struck by the effectiveness of the process involved that he decided he wanted to do a documentary that could be used to spread the program around the country. Immediately, Patrick began work on his project. Patrick is not a wealthy man, and he recognized that the costs would be high. He did as much work on the project as he could here at home while also raising the funds needed to allow him to travel to Rwanda to capture the country and the efforts to reunite it on tape, then came back home to do the rock-hard editing necessary to mold his work into a finished product.

Just last week, he did it. The film is finished, and he will share it with Springfield on Thursday evening at 6:00 in Clara Thompson Hall in a free showing open to all.

Patrick has created a meaningful and valuable contribution to Rwanda’s efforts to heal from the horrible, self-inflicted wounds of its people. Please take the time to stop by Clara Thompson Hall Thursday evening and see this film. I guarantee that you will not only enjoy it, but learn from it and benefit by it. This is a special program presented by a very special young man who deserves our support.

Sad to say, while Patrick was working on his documentary the same kind of violence broke out in his homeland of Kenya. It is so similar to what we are seeing in the Sudan that it all becomes confused in minds so far removed from the actual events. There, two candidates for the presidency were from rival tribes, the Kikuyu and the Luo, and the intensity of their campaign sparked violence between members of those tribes on the streets of the nation. Hopefully his documentary can be seen not only in Rwanda, but in Kenya where Kofi Annan has recently been successful in beginning the healing process there. Perhaps the video will find fertile ground there and enable Patrick to have a strongly meaningful role in bringing peace to his own native land.

I am fortunate enough to be able to call Patrick a friend and so have also been fortunate enough to see some preliminary footage as he was putting this documentary together, so I can tell you honestly that it is stunningly spectacular as well as informative.

Please try to attend. You definitely will not regret having spent the time.

I hope to see you there.

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BushCo's Wasp Nest

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

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

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

And yet, some people find ways to support this negative nonsense. The rest of us had better find a way to turn off BushCo’s water and start focusing on the real terrorists and targeted actions before the wasps figure out that all our methods are useless against them.

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

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

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

Monday, March 3, 2008

Political Weather

So . . . we made it to March and February won’t go away. This weather just lingers on as though the border slipped and Canada is now in Missouri. It’s as though March can’t face the facts and own up to its responsibility to bring warmth and daffodils into our lives.

It reminds me of my Republican friends – able to keep hanging on to their belief in the righteousness of their party even in the face of mountains of evidence that they’ve been had.

Of course, most of us are in the same boat. Most people still think they are well informed and free, but the fact is that our press does little more than to delude us by not printing what is actually happening in the world while they do print all the newsertainment we don’t need to know at all. The end result is that we are easily manipulated by the people we elect to national office.

We cling to the hope-filled belief that our country stands for something nobler than the accumulation of material wealth, but we ignore every fact around us to do so. The tingles the Star Spangled Banner used to give us have long faded into the smog filled, ozone depleted air we breathe these days, but hope still remains.

We look at a youthful presidential hopeful with his March-like flashing eyes and huge smile and hope against hope that his hope is real; and we look at the outgoing president, whose history is as bleak and cold as the worst February, as we sigh thankfully that we will not much longer have to watch his manipulative machinations steal away the soul of our Constitution and our own hope rises in spite of the fact that we are well aware that the system has so long been irrevocably broken that these cold dreary February skies will hang over us forever.

We maintain our hope in spite of knowing that in our two party system you and I have no representation. We have two political parties and both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the top earning 1 to 2 percent. The remaining 98 -99 percent – that’s you and me – have no representation at all. And yet, we hopefully look to the ephemeral skies of March for relief.

I support Barack Obama for president, but only for two reasons. First because he is not a Republican and so is not as obviously a lackey for the super rich as every Republican president since Eisenhower, and second – and most people seem to think this is a liability – because he is apparently naïve enough to think that he can really accomplish the things he talks about.

It may be that he is just a good enough actor to fool me into believing his exuberance, but failing that I find his naivety to be evidence that he has not yet been co-opted. That puts him in the same class as Jimmy Carter, who came into the presidency with even less Washington D. C. baggage than Obama carries and was resultantly the most truly moral president we have ever had.

Republicans hold him in disdain, but the fact is that Carter brought with him many ideas of great value to America, and the Congress – shutting him out for his independence and lack of loyalty to big money – put the brakes on his every initiative. Ultimately he was undone by the hostage crisis when a sand screen failed on a helicopter and scotched his rescue attempt. At the same time, Reagan was negotiating to have the hostages held until he was elected. They were released the day after he took office and the news media failed to investigate the connection. They had already been co-opted you see, but that situation has greatly worsened over the past twenty years with deregulation that has allowed virtual news monopoly.

Should Obama win this election, I expect that he will meet with the same kind of fate. Even if we manage to bolster the Democrats’ majority in the Congress, he will be faced with overwhelming economic and foreign policy difficulties left him by the Bush administration. He will also most likely be saddled with a Congress that, just like Carter’s bunch, will not have the gumption and foresight to support his lead. The result will be that he will be left swinging in the breeze and vulnerable to a failed attempt at a second term just as Jimmy was.

That really scares me, but what scares me more is if I’m wrong. What if Obama wins the election then gets to work hand in hand with an aggressive, forward-thinking Congress? That would put his life in great jeopardy.

The real problem, you see, isn’t just that we have had to suffer through the BushCo years. The real problem is that BushCo is just the first grossly transparent product of the Orwellian mess this country is in. The real problem is that we are living Orwell’s 1984, and 90% of the population doesn’t even know it. The real problem is that our system is already so broken that even our Congress is either so out of touch with history as to fail to understand the Constitution or so corrupt by their power and the support of that top 1% that they don’t care that people like dick Cheney and Karl Rove and W can ride roughshod over the balance of powers and the rights of the people and get away with it.

In the last eight years we have witnessed the theft of two presidential elections, the bald-faced denial of the presidential responsibility to obey the laws of the land, the breakdown of the protections of the Constitution for the rights of the citizenry, the attack of another sovereign nation without cause, and the politicization of every bureaucracy within the federal government including the Justice Department and the Supreme Court.

And we voters think that we can elect an optimistic young black man then sit back and watch him turn all this around??!!

Given the chance, I will vote for Barack Obama. I will watch to see what he tries to do in his first six months in office. Then, if he really seems to be trying to make the changes he talks about, I will do everything I can to support him because I think that unless the citizens of this country get out on the streets and actively support him, we will be doomed to watch him fail (thanks to a fat cat Congress and a wholly owned media) or, worse yet, watch him be successful enough to end up being buried in yet another pompously crocodilian state funeral.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but in this kind of weather what’s the chance of that?!

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

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

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