Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cheney's Immunity

Congress is once again facing off with BushCo with the usual results. This time it’s John Conyers’, on whom I think we can generally count to take a morally and legally sound stance, Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary who is seeking testimony from Whitehouse officials.

He has asked David Addington, dick Cheney’s chief of staff, to testify before his committee about the level of involvement of the vice-president’s office in decisions about interrogation methods at Guantanamo Bay.

For the full story, see: In the process, please note that we had to go to a paper from the United Kingdom in order to read about this. Sort of adds weight to yesterday’s blog doesn’t it!?

Of course, dick’s response is the same old chestnut that his entire office is immune to Congressional investigation on the grounds that being a hybrid between the executive branch and the legislative due to his responsibilities to the president and in the Senate, he has a privilege akin to the “executive privilege” enjoyed by the presidency.

It’s all so typical of slippery regimes and so reminiscent of the Nixon Administration that it makes the bile boil for any American capable of objective analysis. This Whitehouse has been the most secretive since Nixon, too, and to me secrecy in government is about as welcome as a dagger in the back, which is what the people get every time.

Where are all the Republicans who spent millions of our tax dollars trying to pin the tail on Bill Clinton’s donkey before he finally blew it – so to speak – with Monica Lewinsky while their “leaders” are putting it – not to an intern – but to the all of us? This administration is the most openly vile and criminally active bunch ever to infest the Whitehouse, and the country is so divided along partisan lines that the little dick can pull this kind of shenanigan without fear of being burned in effigy on the Capital steps.

It’s disgusting and gets more so every day this bunch continues to hold unquestioned sway over this country. If 70% of Americans are fed up with this administration, why do they look on so silently while BushCo continues to spit on the constitution?

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, April 29, 2008


“Most Top Papers Post Declines” reads a headline in today’s Business Section. It’s just a two paragraph story in a side bar, but I think it is one of the most significant stories in today’s paper.

I’m just old enough to remember when newspapers were the primary source of national and international information – a time before television became the primary pap merchant.. The paper’s arrival each morning brought a window to a world that was otherwise far too distant to be noticed. Even we kids eagerly tore into the paper every day seeking words of wisdom from the likes of Fletcher Knebel and Donald Kaul. But those days are long gone. Shoot, Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner” and Walt Kelly‘s “Pogo” brought us more biting analysis of the nature of politics than the editorial pages of today have to offer.

Today’s right or left wing diatribes don’t compare. Even Kaul has become more of a chronicler, albeit with a biting edge, than an analyst. Today’s columnists seem to me more inclined to foist (No, I don’t mean hoist. Think about it!) one or the other’s party line up the pole and ask us to salute than they are to question the veracity or value of those positions.

Today’s newspapers in general do not indulge in deep investigative reporting. The primary cause of this is that the number of significant owners has dropped from about 150 to five or six, and the tendency is for them to be supportive of one political party or the other and to follow the party line of that party rather than question its motives.

Newspapers have always been considered either leaning left or right, but today they are little more than mouthpieces for one or the other. Time was when mainstream newspapers saw it as their moral duty to investigate and report the facts behind the headlines, but today it seems as if their duty is seen to be maintaining civic calm by not looking very deeply into anything behind the scenes and spending most of their time asking why Britney is in the asylum again.

The only two papers the article says are holding their own are the Wall Street Journal and Today. It stands to reason.

After all, the journal is the primary source of the economic news that keeps our financial engine chugging. It has always been seen as right leaning, but now that it is under the control of Rupert Murdoch, may become known as just another propaganda peddling lightweight like FOX news. (Though I hope not.)

Today remains a best seller because it has sewn up the hotel market and is read by every business traveler too busy to bother with depth.

Americans by and large seem willing to accept opinion as fact, and newspapers by and large seem willing to print pap instead of investigating the motivations behind the headlines. We have seen the kind of rewards investigative reporting brings even here in Springfield when we watched Tony Messenger leave town after having forced the issue on the governor’s email mess. Whether or not it fits with the official line, Messenger had to leave because he became persona non grata for being the kind of person newspapers all over the country have come to fear – an investigative reporter.

Newspapers used to exist not only to bring us the news, but to rock the boat. Now the few surviving journalists must keep a low profile or be thrown overboard. Even when a story emerges that points out a flaw in the system – like the recent NY Times article on the high level authorization of torture – there doesn’t seem to be enough follow-up to force a change. It is a sad state of affairs and has a lot to do with why our nation is in an equally sad state from top to bottom.

Journalism has abdicated its responsibilities, and we all pay the price for it.

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

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

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

Monday, April 28, 2008

Use Your Voice

We have an ex-in-law/friend who wound up in prison. He reads my blog faithfully and this week-end sent me a paper he asked me to post for him. Here it is:


As I sat in my prison cell and read these articles (, I wanted to communicate my thoughts. I long to have a voice. See I am different than you. You have it and very few use it. Stand up and use your voice.

This country was founded on grit and determination. Criminals and ideigent scum were our forefathers; not all but a large part were. They stood and used their voices. I do not advocate militant means to an end, although if enough disgruntled Ameri”cans” came together things would change.

We have had so many con men and clowns running this “great” country that the masses are beat down and feel they cannot do anything to change what is happening. Satnd up and use yoru voice.

You hear that call to a “grass roots effort”. What does this really mean?

To me it means coming together with a like mind to challenge or to come together as a whole to change what is going on. Stand up and use your voice.

On any given day, turn your television on and you could find come famous person begging you to send money to another country to feed their starving children and families. What about this country? What bout our starving children and families?

If something does not change, what will your children or families have for their futures? Every day the powers-that-be grow stronger. “They” right now know that the Ameri-“cant’s” are locked in their self-made pens and are wearing their muzzles. Stand up and use your voice.

Corporate fat cats run this country. They pul the leversx of their puppets. Speak out! Stop buying their fuel. Learn the difference between what is needed and what is wanted. Buy only what is needed. You have all the control and are too blind to use it. Stand up and use your voice.

I am not an angry inmate with an ax to grind on our government. I am a failed armed robber and a recovering drug addict. I have done eighteen years in prison and have many more to do. But I am also a lover of the Ameri”can” way of life. I believe that no matter how ludicrous it seems, America can once again be a wonderful, beautiful place to live. Stand up and use your voice.

You cannot sit on the ocuch and complain if you are not willing to help effect change. It seems as though we have come to a point in history where people now want others to fight their battles for them.
Americans are going away to fight and coming home not as men but as boys with deep issues to resolve. They must learn to live with not only the terrible atrocities they witnessed, but the ones they created or participated in. They are being forced to beg for support once they are back on American soil. Support for limbs that were lost or mental issues that need to be dealt with. Stand up and use your voice.

Senior citizens who have worked their whole lives are forced to choose between life-saving medicines and basic necessities such as food and utilities. Stand up and use your voice.

These examples could go on and on. There are so many things that deserve our immediate attention. Vote people. Use your voice. There are many like-minded people out there. I swear, wouldn’t it be nice to say to yourself, “Hey, I helped make that happen?”

You can make it happen. You can make it real.

McCain? Obama? Clinton? Do you really want to face the next presidential term saying, “I didn’t vote.”? Personally, I would vote for Hillary. The good, the bad, the ugly? Make a choice and use your vote.

I had a sign up where I work as a prison staff barber. It said, “Clinton for President”. I wanted a voice. My boss ordered me to take it down. You see, I don’t have a voice, so please stand up and use yours. Help bring about a much needed change.

Minds are like parachutes. They only work when open. – Unknown Source
Perform random acts of kindness – Unknown Source


Jim doesn’t have the freedom you and I have to express ourselves. He made some choices early in his life that have cost him not only his liberty, but his right to make his views known. You and I do have those rights, and I know that you agree with him when he says that we are making a big mistake if we don’t exercise them.

I’m sure that those rights can only be truly appreciated when they are taken away, so I know that Jim deeply appreciates the extent of his loss. In my view, the present administration has done its all to imperil our rights, too, so I’ll add my urging to Jim’s prodding. Let us each use our voice to the maximum possible effect in reinstating and protecting those rights.

Yours in Peace – BR

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, April 25, 2008

Bush's Officers

From the American Progressive Action newsletter comes this report:

Yesterday, President Bush nominated Army General David Petraeus, commander of multinational forces in Iraq (MNF-I), to lead Central Command (Centcom), the post responsible for U.S. military operations stretching from Kazakhstan, through the Middle East, and to the Horn of Africa. Petraeus's number two in Iraq, Lt. Gen Ray Odierno, will take over command of MNF-I, thus elevating the status of the two men "most closely associated with President Bush's current strategy in Iraq." Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked yesterday if the promotions indicate that the United States will "stay the course" in Iraq. "Staying that course is not a bad idea," Gates said, citing "the security gains that had been achieved under General Petraeus's command." Petraeus replaces Adm. William Fallon, who resigned last month over disagreements with the Bush administration's Iraq-centric strategy for the region. But Petraeus's new position will force him to answer a question he has previously refused to address: Does fighting in Iraq make the United States safer? "The big question of this appointment, therefore, is whether Petraeus's views will change as a result of wider responsibilities."

News reports last night characterized Patraeus as the best choice as the position requires a well seasoned veteran, and he has more experience than anyone else in the military. They went further to say that the position was not suitable for anyone but a top General.

They failed, however, to mention that all the well seasoned Generals left long ago along with a lot of other fine officers of conscience.


Bunnatine ("Bunny") Greenhouse, the top official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of awarding government contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, was demoted. For years, Greenhouse received stellar evaluations from superiors -- until she raised objections about secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR)

Anthony Zinni: A soldier and diplomat for 40 years, Zinni served from 1997 to 2000 as commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command in the Middle East. The retired Marine Corps general was then called back to service by the Bush administration to assume one of the highest diplomatic posts, special envoy to the Middle East (from November 2002 to March 2003), but his disagreement with Bush's plans to go to war and public comments that foretold of a prolonged and problematical aftermath to such a war led to his ouster. "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption," said Zinni. Failed to be reappointed, March 2003.

Eric Shinseki: After General Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff, told Congress that the occupation of Iraq could require "several hundred thousand troops," he was derided by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Then, wrote the Houston Chronicle, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "took the unusual step of announcing that Gen. Eric Shinseki would be leaving when his term as Army chief of staff end[ed]." Retired, June 2003.
Karen Kwiatkowski: A Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force who served in the Department of Defense's Near East and South Asia (NESA) Bureau in the year before the invasion of Iraq, she wrote in her letter of resignation:
"…[W]hile working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made… What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of ‘intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense."
Retired, July 2003.

Charles "Jack" Pritchard: A retired U.S. Army colonel and a 28-year veteran of the military, the State Department, and the National Security Council, who served as the State Department's senior expert on North Korea and as the special envoy for negotiations with that country, resigned (according to the Los Angeles Times) because the "administration's refusal to engage directly with the country made it almost impossible to stop Pyongyang from going ahead with its plans to build, test and deploy nuclear weapons." Resigned, August 2003.

Major (then Captain) John Carr and Major Robert Preston: Air Force prosecutors, they quit their posts in 2004 rather than take part in trials under the military commission system President Bush created in 2001 which they considered "rigged against alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.

Captain Carrie Wolf: A U.S. Air Force officer, she also asked to leave the Office of Military Commissions due to concerns that the Bush-created commissions for trying prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were unjust. Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.

Colonel Douglas Macgregor: He retired from the U.S. Army and stated: "I love the army and I was sorry to leave it. But I saw no possibility of fundamentally positive reform and reorgani[z]ation of the force for the current strategic environment or the future… It's a very sycophantic culture. The biggest problem we have inside the… Department of Defense at the senior level, but also within the officer corps -- is that there are no arguments. Arguments are [seen as] a sign of dissent. Dissent equates to disloyalty." Retired, June 2004.

2006 (

The list is impressive. In a New York Times op-ed column, retired Major Gen. Paul Eaton, who helped revive the Iraqi army, described Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically" and called for his resignation. Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency and now a Yale professor, said in a speech covered by the Providence Journal that America's invasion of Iraq might be the worst strategic mistake in American history.

Publicizing his book, "The Battle for Peace," in a recent "Meet the Press" appearance, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a four-star former commander of the Central Command, describes administration behavior that ranged from "true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility" to "lying, incompetence and corruption." Another Marine, retired Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, has written in Time magazine that the Iraq war was unnecessary. Finally, Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor and Michael Gordon have written a history of the invasion of Iraq, Cobra II, which describes a willfully self-deluding planning process.

Now, on CNN, Maj. Gen. John Batiste also called for Rumsfeld's resignation; the Washington Post reported that Batiste, commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq during 2004-2005, turned down a third star and a tour in Iraq as the second-ranking U.S. military officer there. He retired rather than continue to work for Rumsfeld.

2007 (

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton: “The ethos is: Give your advice to those in a position to make changes, not the media,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. “But this administration is immune to good advice.”
Eaton has two sons serving in Afghanistan and Iraq; his father, an Air Force pilot, was shot down and killed over Laos in 1969. He said his frustration began festering in 2003, when he was assigned to build the Iraqi army from scratch. His internal requests for more equipment and properly trained instructors went unheeded, he said.
While on active duty, Eaton did not criticize his civilian bosses – almost to a man, the generals agree active-duty officers have no business doing that. But he was candid in media interviews. Building an Iraqi army, he warned, would take years, and the effort might never succeed.

(General Eaton was superior to General Patraeus in 2004 when Patraeus was assigned to replace him Undoubtedly his dissatisfaction was apparent to BushCo even though he was not speaking out publicly at the time because after that his rise through the ranks stopped. He retired in 2006.)

For retired Brig. Gen. John Johns, . . .who retired in 1978, agonized over whether to go public with a paper calling the impending (Iraq) war “one of the great blunders of history.”

He sent it to retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and to Pete McCloskey, the moderate-Republican former congressman from California who had opposed the Vietnam War. “At that time, they did not want to go public,” Johns said.

General John P. Abizaid retired from his position as head of the U.S. Central Command when he opposed the idea of bringing more troops to Iraq. He characterized the Iraq war as guerilla warfare and wanted to fight it accordingly. This didn’t fit with BushCo’s image of the war, so he had to go. He was succeeded by Admiral William Fallon, the first naval officer ever to serve in the position.

2008 (

Admiral William Fallon resigned after saying that no attack on Iran would happen on his watch, so now General Patraeus is being assigned ot fill his shoes. As a Bush yes-man, he will fit right in and ought to enjoy his power until a savvier president shoves him out.

So there you have it. The glorious record of our self-proclaimed “war president”. His proficiency as a military leader has matched everything else he has done from failing as an oil executive to leading the nation in executions as governor of Texas. Doesn’t it just make you want to stand up and salute?!

I don’t know what Roger Ebert would do, but I’ll give it one finger up.

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, April 24, 2008

The Lawyer is a Ass

I don’t ordinarily comment on state level matters, but today I reached my limit on the Jetton/Wood confrontation that is causing so much havoc. The juvenile attitude of Ron Jetton has filled my barf bag to overflowing.

(For those not from Missouri, a little background: About a year ago a law was passed to the effect that landowners could declare their area a village and so by-pass environmental and zoning laws enforced by the country where their land was located. Obviously, this was a piece of legislative idiocy, and the day after it passed a very wealthy landowner in the Ozark hills near Table Rock Lake declared his land a village. A State Representative from the area accused the Speaker of the House, Ron Jetton, of engineering the law and slipping it through at the last minute as an amendment to another law that was guaranteed passage.)

Back in the’70s when the Nixon Administration launched all kinds of regional planning efforts, this area went bonkers with protestations about land owner’s rights and big brother intervention, but the value of those planning and regulatory efforts has been well proven in the intervening 35 years.

When I read in this morning’s paper that a CAFO hog farmer is applying for village status so that he can duck state and county monitoring of his waste management – or more likely his failure to manage waste – I hit the ceiling. This is exactly the kind of outcome we all expected the first day we heard about the passage of the law to enable Robert Plaster to decide the environmental rules for his own little kingdom in Stone County.

This area is in need of far more regulation of environmental utilization not less. The Ozarks is one of the world’s most blessed regions of woods and waters. They are definitely our most precious shared resources, and any degradation or potential degradation of those resources should be of concern to each and every Ozarker.

Not only should every building in the region be subject to zoning regulations, but CAFO operations should be required to harvest waste rather than allow it to run off. They could be major contributors to regional methane production rather than major polluters. Not only should CAFO farmers be subject to restrictions on environmental degradation, but every farmer should be barred from allowing livestock to have direct access to flowing waterways. Not only should individual dwellings throughout our counties be subject to zoning restrictions regarding waste management, but our codes should require more effective management methods than traditional septic systems which collectively are one of the most powerful polluters of our waterways.

The fight between Jetton and Wood about who did what to whom is an eighth grade level spat that’s really just between Jetton and his ego. He has probably put together a smoke screen designed to block his actions from view, and he has enough confidence in it to stand his ground against Wood’s accusation that he ramrodded the act behind Congress’ back.

Even if Jetton didn’t do that, the upshot of all this is that more than a year from the passage of that heinous law nothing at all has been done to correct it, and the entire state is going to suffer while Jetton pouts. The only winner in all this is the CAFO farmer who has a state law to point at while he “legally” breaks a ton of other laws that would otherwise apply to his “village”.

In my opinion that “village” is nothing more than the same pile of pig**** that Jetton’s position amounts to, and both of them stink.

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, April 22, 2008


Today is Earthday. I don’t remember when that became a day of significance in this country, but it wasn’t all that long ago.

When a culture does its level best to sever any relationship at all to nature, it is very hard to get its people to do an about face. But the fact is that no matter how many glass faced buildings they build; no matter how few of its citizens realize that their food comes from the ground or the animals that live off the earth and its waters; no matter how well their conditioned air protects them from having to go outside, and; no matter how entertaining their little black boxes are the world still exists outside their little hermetically sealed sphere and they are under its power.

Western culture has done its best to “conquer” nature. The end result is that western culture has darn near conquered itself and the rest of the world with it. The small minded notion that we could dump our pollutants into the rivers and hence the sea was an “out of sight out of mind” construct.

If the universe operated justly and Dante’s system of direct punishment in accord with one’s actions, Americans would all be dying with gullets stuffed full of everything from hydrocarbons to raw sewage. Instead, we who have most heavily raped the planet are the most protected from the devastations of our actions.

It’s the third world who must live with raw sewers running through what should be their yards, while we pour our sewage into the oceans. It’s the Africans who must starve while we burn corn in our cars. It’s the Marshall Islanders who must drown as their homes disappear into the sea while we build another coal fired power plant in Springfield. It’s the Iraqis who must suffer while we play out our political games in Washington, D.C.

The western world, and particularly America, has long functioned with the wages of war as a central factor driving the economy. We have long been accustomed to being told who the enemy is and getting in line to sacrifice our lives to keep them from upsetting our economic applecart.

It is high time that we identified a new enemy; some enemy other than the citizens of another nations. Patriotism, after all, is nothing more than being convinced that ours is the best country on earth just because we were born there.

Mother Earth has a marvelous way of maintaining herself in spite of gargantuan efforts to destroy her. She has survived many bouts of global warming. Fifty five million years ago (Yes, Virginia, the earth is more than 6,000 years old.) 95% of all life forms on earth were destroyed by a massive series of volcanic eruptions in Siberia that covered an area the size of Texas more than one mile deep in viscous, molten lava. The upshot was that the earth was little more than one big desert with tropical zones at its poles. It was those temperate poles that saved life on the planet.

Given that it was able to survive that mess, I suppose it will survive us too, but unless we change our ways, chances are it will survive only by destroying us.

Hmmm. Do you suppose we ought to stop and think about that?

Maybe it is time that we recognized that everyone is a citizen of EARTH. Maybe it is time that we declared ourselves the enemy and seriously began to clean up our act.

What do you suppose that YOU could do about that?

I hope I’ll see you today at the Lake Springfield clean-up. Or maybe at Mama Jean’s Natural Food Store where I’ll be playing for an hour before going out to the lake. Or maybe on my way out there, I’ll see you on the corner protesting the new power plant. Or maybe some other time we’ll meet at a city council meeting where we’ll try and get them to pass an ordinance against the use of plastic bags in stores. Or maybe we’ll pass one another at the recycling center. Or maybe . . . .??

It’s up to us.

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

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

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

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Responsible Way Out of Iraq

It’s about time somebody up with a sensible and well constructed way for us to get out of Iraq. Using a quote from General Patraeus. “There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq.”, March, 2007 as a starting point, the following group of people has published a document titled, “A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.”

DARCY BURNER candidate for U.S. House, Washington
DONNA EDWARDS candidate for U.S. House, Maryland
ERIC MASSA candidate for U.S. House, New York
CHELLIE PINGREE candidate for U.S. House, Maine
TOM PERRIELLO candidate for U.S. House, Virginia
JARED POLIS candidate for U.S. House, Colorado
GEORGE FEARING candidate for U.S. House, Washington
LARRY BYRNES candidate for U.S. House, Florida
STEVE HARRISON candidate for U.S. House, New York
SAM BENNETT candidate for U.S. House, Pennsylvania

MAJOR GENERAL PAUL EATON (U.S. ARMY RET.) former Security Transition Commanding General, Iraq
DR. LAWRENCE KORB former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration
BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN JOHNS (U.S. ARMY RET.) specialist in counterinsurgency and nation-building
CAPT. LARRY SEAQUIST (U.S. NAVY RET.) former commander of the U.S.S. Iowa and former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
of Defense for Policy Planning

As I know all of my regular readers agree, the military option as exercised by BushCo has been a complete failure. Others (neocons) contend that the problem is simply that W has handled the war improperly. They continue to push their agenda of American hegemony in the Middle East and, by extension through control of oil supplies, throughout the rest of the world.

The big, bottom line problem with that bunch, W included, is their foundational assumption that the U.S. has the best answers to the issues that face the world in the future, and the nice thing about the reasonable approach taken in the Responsible Way paper is that they don’t make that same assumption. In fact, they call for deep involvement with the international community in working out diplomatic and rebuilding solutions to Iraq’s dilemma.

This paper is long on ideas for what should happen, and a bit short on implementation plans, but at least it is a compendium of thought that is going in the right direction. Sadly, it is written by a group of retired military officers and yet-to-be-elected candidates for public office. It should have been created and published by a group of sitting Senators and Representatives along with a cadre of active military brass, but, of course, those folks have to put their jobs before their country.

I am proud to say that this paper does reflect a great many of the ideas I put forth in many of my blogs and especially in one called
A Speech for Mr. Bush
that won a contest on Helium, a site where writers judge each others’ work. It is gratifying to see that there are people whose voices might count who are espousing the same kinds of ideas that you and I hold dear. I just hope they can get somewhere with it.

They go farther than just talking about how to approach troop withdrawal, too. Topics touched on include the restoration of constitutional checks and balances, restructuring the state department and rebuilding the military.

In the later area, I didn’t think their recommendations went quite far enough. They talk about how to strengthen the military within the current structure, but as long term readers know, I am a staunch advocate of an American draft. My draft would not be limited to military service, but would require draftees to choose the area of service they would donate two years to whether that be military or some form of civilian service like medical, senior care, school assistance, peace corps, civil conservation corps or roads and construction.

I think the value that would come from that kind of service would be immeasurable and would include a more informed and “plugged in” society, so I think the paper has missed a valuable step in its march toward sanity, but it is definitely going in the right direction. Please take a moment to look at it.

Here is a link to the entire paper:

If your time is limited, this link will get you to a nice executive summary of the paper:

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, April 17, 2008

The Old Cheney Charm

The Old Cheney Charm

Here is a link to check out just to give you something to think about today. Ignore the MoveOn plea for money and information if you like as this is an old reference, because I’ve been saving for a slow day.

What it will do for you is give you an absolutely 100% unshakably solid picture of the kind of slime we deal with when we elect politicians to office. It’ll only take about a minute of your time, but I guarantee that your understanding of two-faced behavior and your resolve to slap this administration upside the head with whatever’s handy will both be immeasurably deepened.

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

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, April 16, 2008

Our Economy Under BushCo

I first encountered Jim Hightower back in the mid-eighties when I was working for the National Rural Health Association and he spoke at the annual conference. He has a long and vocal career as a populist who is willing to speak truth to power. That’s undoubtedly why he has never been elected to high public office. He’s tried a few times, but the establishment just can’t afford to let loose cannons like him run around the hallowed halls of capital hill. (I know, it’s supposed to be Capitol Hill, but come on now, doesn’t capital really say it better?!)

At any rate, the April issue of his newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, is just loaded with facts everybody should know in order to assess the effect of the Bush Administration on America’s economy. Here is just a small sample comparing how the very wealthy have fared to how the rest of us are doing:
Categories: 2001 2008

Net worth of top 1% $186 billion 816 billion
Number of billionaires 186 415
Their combined wealth $816 billion $3.5 TRILLION
Average salary of the top
500 corp. CEOs in2007 $15.2 million
Tax cuts to top 1% 2001-2007 $546 billion

Median pre-tax household income:
Overall $49,158 $48,201
Income decrease for African-Americans $2,766
Income decrease for Asian Americans $1,381
Income decrease for Hispanics $1,043
Income decrease for white households $745
(So discrimination is a thing of the past, eh!?)
Americans living in poverty 31.6 million 36.5 million
Americans USDA says are going hungry 31 million 38.2 million

Here’s another interesting little fact that Hightower offers: “The top 1% (of earners) include many more Wall Street financiers than CEOs. The 25 highest paid hedge-fund managers are earning more than the CEOs of the largest 500 companies combined. Several of these fund managers are taking home more than a billion dollars a year. And guess what? Democratic party campaigns get twice as much in contributions from hedge-fund types as do Republicans.”

So if you think voting for the Democratic ticket is going to reverse all the trends, you have probably been smoking the wrong kind of weed. Still, the contrast between the two parties with regard to their concern for the working family is still strong enough to keep me voting to throw the GOP bums out. Hopefully, we won’t find as much reason to throw the other bums out come the next election.

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, April 15, 2008

Show Me The Money

The big political dust-up right now is over Barack Obama’s mentioning that he had talked to disgruntled blue collar workers and determined that they were bitter about their present circumstances. McCain called him elitist for it. Hillary labeled him insensitive. Both were implying that he was being unpatriotic by not recognizing the wonderful life this country has afforded us all.

What hooey. Everybody I know, whether from the left or the right, says that the government has been shortchanging the middle class. No politician who isn’t jumping up and down about that has a chance at my vote. I don’t find Obama’s remarks offensive at all, and I most certainly don’t find them elitist. Since when has pointing out the plight of a lower class become an elitist activity?

It strikes me that taking positions intended to extend the ability of the extremely wealthy to become more so at the expense of the working classes is a much more elitist position than Obama’s.

I’m not saying there’s nothing things about Obama that bother me. Here’s an excerpt from the latest fund raising message I received from his campaign:

“Barack Obama's own life and story are reflected in the character of this grassroots campaign. He was raised by a single mother with help from his grandparents. He has a family he loves, not long ago finished paying off his student loans, and he's doing what he can to help change this country.”

Tell me this. Where and how does a poor little boy raised by a single mother with the help of his grandparents come by $40,000,000? That’s what he reported as his net worth last month.

Let’s see. He went to college and then dedicated himself to social work in Chicago. I went to college and the worked as a juvenile officer in Kansas City. I went from that through several social work jobs until I finally started my own consulting firm and have been working at that for 20 years, but I worry about having enough to retire on.

Obama has been active in politics all along and has risen to the position of Senator, but even those kinds of positions don’t pay that kind of money. I can guess how he made it, but I sure can’t see it from looking at his work history and reported family history.

Like all politicians, Obama emerges from a cloud of smoke and a bank of mirrors, but given the system we have to deal with, he still looks like the best candidate to me. I just wish there was some way another honest man could show up and ask for my vote. In my estimation we’ve only had two or three of that kind of president in our history, so I guess I ought to give up pining for another. And the great consolation about the upcoming election is that no matter who gets elected it won’t be anyone named Bush.

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, April 14, 2008


For some time now, the debate has gone on about who authorized the kind of torture that has been routinely used at Guantanamo Bay and that so visciously surfaced at Aby Ghraib. A few addle brained guards are paying the price for the Ab Ghraib horror, but no one up the line has ever been fingered for the offenses committed there.

On April 9, ABC News blew the cover off with a story that names names. (See: It seems that many meetings were held under the chairmanship of Condasleeza Rice. Attendees included Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, Vice-President dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft – whose primary role was to assure the participants that their actions were legal - to decide in great detail just what forms of interrogation techniques American forces and CIA agents would be allowed to use in questioning senior al-Qaida officials.

The Attorney General of the U.S. might say their decisions were legal, but the rest of the world could and does reasonably disagree.

None of those gentle folks responded to ABC’s request for an interview on the subject. Isn’t that a surprise?!

I’m sure that they can each and all easily slip the yoke of any responsibility for what happened at Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib because the stated intent was to decide what to do with senior al-Qaida officials, so they can say that they never intended such techniques (They approved waterboarding for one thing.) to be used on anyone else.

That may be technically true, but the fact is that if such high level people authorize this kind of thing for any use, their underlings can rightfully judge that they will not be found at fault for using them as they see fit. In fact, there is some evidence that their behavior was openly condoned.

For instance, I have no doubt that Donald Rumsfeld approved of the general use of harsh techniques at Guantanamo Bay. There was a period of time, back when General Janet Karpinski was in charge of the physical facility of Abu Ghraib (before she was scapegoated out of the Army), when Mr. Rumsfeld expressed his displeasure with the lack of good intelligence that was being gathered by interrogators there. His solution was to call for the kind of results that he said were being attained at Guantanamo Bay. In an effort to duplicate those results, he transferred General Sanchez from his post as commander at Gitmo to Abu Ghraib.

Gen. Karpinksi reported that immediately after Sanchez’ arrival, non-military people (read CIA) began arriving and conducting interrogations in that prison. These people also gave orders to guards to “soften up” prisoners for interrogation. It was those “softening up” sessions that Lindy England and friends captured on film for the world to shudder at.

To me the bottom line is this: No government that believes there is any value in torturing anyone for any reason has any place in the capital of the United States of America.
Nor should any such government or any official of that government be immune from prosecution for the actions of those who follow their orders. It doesn’t matter to me that there is no evidence of a direct order from Donald Rumsfeld to Lindy England directing her to do the horrendous things she did to those prisoners at Abu Ghraib. What matters is that Mr. Rumsfeld and all his cronies could find it in their hearts to agree that there were circumstances under which such behavior is acceptable.

The Lindy Englands of the world are guilty of moral deficiency, but they are not nearly as guilty as those whose example they follow. The Lindy Englands of the world are just followers; sheep incapable of weighing and evaluating the morality of their culture and refusing to go along with immoral pressures; the kind of folks who made such excellent black shirts for the SS.

The real evil resides far above them. The real evil now resides in the White House and under the Capital Dome on the hill. This is one case where trickle down theory really works and Donald Rumsfeld knows it. He didn’t have to command anyone to do anything. He only had to let it be known that his office believed it was OK.

And of all of those awful people who gathered together to approve of this stuff, Colin Powell, a retired military many has the most to feel guilty about. He not only stood by and let it happen – he participated in decision-making that made every American soldier in uniform vulnerable to torture. Yes, people were tortured before. American soldiers were tortured in Vietnamese POW camps, but everyone knew that those administering the torture were criminals. Now America has no more moral leg to stand on than those North Vietnamese torturers. Now American soldiers no longer have the protection of the Geneva Convention because we have eschewed its restrictions.

Colin Powell should suffer every night for the role he played in this tragedy.

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, April 11, 2008

Wake Up America

Sadly, there is no big new news to comment on this morning. It’s just the same old same old: Bush remains committed to sustained troop levels in Iraq – instead of being committed to any of the several institutions for which he is an obvious candidate; Hillary remains committed to Hillary –instead of being committed to anything else, and; McCain, like Bush, remains committed to the war -- instead of just being committed. The candidates continue their close race – instead of actually dealing with race, and the Ozarks is drowning in water – instead of the drought conditions we’ll have again by July.

Saddest of all is that America remains committed to ignoring the crimes of its leaders even in the face of story after story revealing them.

Two stories have caught my attention in the last couple of days. Neither has (or will) draw much attention, but both speak loud volumes about our moral decline. One was actually printed in the local paper this morning (Springfield News-Leader). It was a two paragraph story in the Nation/World sidebar, of course, but at least it was there under the meaningless little headline, “Officials sign off on tactics”. Here is whole article:
“Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick (SIC:should be ‘dick’) Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.
The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.”

So why do I find this so sad? It could be because our culture has sunk so deep into its own inane mire that no one will pay any particular attention to it. Or maybe it’s that no one in the mainline press has taken the two minutes necessary to pick this story apart and point out that waterboarding has been considered a heinous act since it was created for the Spanish Inquisition. Or maybe it’s that regardless of whether such prisoners should be accorded the courtesies of the Geneva Convention, they ought to be treated humanely just because we are Americans. Or I might be saddened by the fact that it seems to be okay for an administration to enact policies it feels would be damaging to the president of our nation. (Else why would he need to be shielded?) Or it might be that the story implies that its subject is legitimate because it was passed through the Justice Department. Or could it be that the press didn’t care enough of to follow that detail through and point out that the person who approved the proposal was John Yoo?

The second story I found so sad also relates to John Yoo. Not surprisingly, that story didn’t make our local paper, but I find it of great significance. It was aired both yesterday afternoon and this morning in one liners during the NPR newscasts, and its upshot is that the Justice Department has now disowned another of John Yoo’s findings; this one to the effect that given the stress the nation is under as a result of the “war on terror”, the president could legitimately disregard any restrictions on the invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Well, why, in god’s name would the Justice Department ever have espoused or even entertained such a finding? Why in the name of all that’s holy or unholy would any governmental body in the United States have even considered such a notion, and why, in the name of anything you can think of, would any American citizen sit quietly by while his government put forward any such proposal?

The answer to all three questions, I think, is not only a failure of the press, but just general abysmal ignorance. The bottom line is that John Yoo would have gone far in the Hitler administration and that makes him a welcome addition to BushCo where the highest accolades go to those who get in line and don’t ask any questions. The fact that he is still employed as a professor of law at a supposedly highly respectable university is just another testimony to the moral and intellectual degradation under which our nation labors.

Please. Wake up America.

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

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

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

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Collateral Damage

Tuesday I attended a lecture at the Library Center presented by Mariel Caldwell who had recently returned from a trip to Jordan and Syria under the auspices of a group dedicated to facilitating dialogue between Americans and citizens of other nations. The need for that kind of activity is heightened dramatically by the lack of information obtained by most Americans about the state of the world around us.

Mariel’s tour included visits to United Nations offices, Imams and many citizens of those country’s and of Iraq. The emphasis was on the issue of refugees from the Iraq war. About one in seven Iraqi citizens has been displaced by our invasion of that country. Some because they helped American troops and so were in danger (Of these we have allowed under 10,000 into our country.); some because too many of their neighbors were of a different religious persuasion; and, some because their homes have been destroyed. None have employment because their host countries won’t allow them to compete with natives. None have enough income to last very long. None have American support in their difficulties.

Mariel also talked about the effects our depleted uranium weapons have wreaked upon the people of Iraq and showed pictures of children who have been horribly wounded by our bombing and, especially, cluster bombs. These are the ones our government considers “collateral damage” (i.e. the unavoidable side effect of war – a term made even more heinous by the fact that the war was entirely avoidable)

We are talking here about millions of people displaced from their homes.

One of the central issues is that our arrival in the country and the unrest it fomented has caused the sectarian divisions that so devastate Iraq. According to Mariel we have been fed a bill of goods about the history of those divisions in that country. I certainly fell for it, but her graphics clearly showed that the divisions were not in effect under Saddam Hussein. A map of Baghdad before and after our invasion clearly showed that the divisions were an effect of the war in that people of all faiths were widely mixed throughout the city prior to the war, but huddled in sectarian conclaves afterward.

It’s just one more example of the fact that our invasion has caused more problems than it has solved. In fact, it only solved one problem and that was the problem W’s cronies had with Saddam Hussein.

A statement I heard on NPR this morning hit me as the most ironic thing I’d heard in years in that regard. Speaking about Nouri al-Maliki’s rash action against al-Sadr’s militia last week, a past Deputy Secretary of State, who had served under Donald Rumsfeld said that al-Maliki’s action was a case of “. . . a man with an ego so big that he refused to listen to wise counsel.”

If there was ever an apt description of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and dick Cheney, that’s it. Who was it, besides W and Rumsfeld, that fired General Shinseki for his belief that the force W was sending to Iraq was inadequate? Who was it, besides W, that rejected George Tenet’s repeated statements about the lack of an Iraqi threat to the U.S.? Who was it (besides dick Cheney) who kept sifting through the intelligence reports until his toadies generated the ones he wanted to hear?

Less ego and more objectivity would do us all a great deal of good, but if we expect to find those qualities anywhere near Washington, D.C. we are living with our heads in the clouds (or somewhere else equally as vision-free)!

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, April 8, 2008

War v Diplomacy

My apologies for yesterday’s gaffe in calling Secretary of Defense Gates Ambassador Gates. The Ambassador I meant to refer to was Ryan Crocker, but I must have had a senior moment and switched their names. I didn’t miss the intent, though. Either will serve as an echo of Patraeus’ testimony.

It appears that testimony will begin today, and I’ll stand by yesterday’s predictions of content, too. There’s no way that Patraeus will testify to anything that would make his leadership look ineffective. Who would?

Unfortunately, there is also no doubt that his testimony will espouse the continuation of the war at high levels of American involvement – in other words at the continued price of about 40 young American lives a month.

I wouldn’t demean the value of Iraqi lives, either, but the fact is that whether or not American troops remain in Iraq, Iraqis will continue to fight their sectarian battles and kill one another in the process.

There is NO Al Qaida-in-Iraq effort to take over and operate the government of that country in a manner supportive of Osama bin Laden’s platform of world terrorism. There is no sign whatsoever that Iraq would pose any kind of threat to us even if we left it totally unstable. There is also no sign that the originally stated purpose for the surge – advancing the stability of the Iraqi government – has been met in any way.

On the other hand, the country that has the most influence over the future of Iraq is Iran. The Iraqi government has already met with the Iranians. Once left to its own devices Iraq doubtlessly would accept a lot of help from Iran in trying to make itself whole and adopt a great deal of Iran’s ideology. That alliance will deepen and would put most of the Middle East’s oil under the control of entities largely hostile to the U.S.

The big question is what the U.S. can do to stabilize the situation. i.e. Whether to open diplomatic relations with Iran or to continue to confront them about nuclear development in that country and possibly even invade in an attempt to unseat the present government.

Of the three, it will come as no surprise that I most abhor the last. We should all know by now that war is not a positively effective diplomatic option. Its ramifications outweigh any possible positive outcomes unless, as rarely happens, victory is complete and rebuilding is benign. Hostility begets hostility.

Continued confrontation about nuclear development doesn’t promise much either. Confrontation is an effective tool only when the confronter possesses sure proof of transgression on the part of the confronted party. We don’t have such proof, so the most probable outcome is continued escalation of anger as each side holds to its position.

The kind of open discussion made possible by diplomatic effort is much more likely to lead to an understanding of each side’s position, and such understanding is the only avenue to compromise and adjustments in position.

It seems like a no-brainer to me. Should we talk to them or shoot them? There is only one real choice there for anyone who isn’t paranoid. And what does that say about the American world view?

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, April 7, 2008

Patraeus II

This week our old friend – oops make that W’s old friend – General Patraeus returns to the halls of Congress. Not the one trick pony W is, this guy is brighter and has more angles to offer, but what he will tell the Congress this week will have one theme running through it – or is that running us through?! Ambassador Crocker will be there, too, but only as an echo.

More than anything else, Patraeus will press for maintaining as high a number of U.S. troops in Iraq. He will assert that the surge has worked; that Iraq has achieved new levels of security; that al Maliki’s fiasco in Basra was evidence – not of the inability of the Iraqi government to handle its own security – but of the need for continued American involvement.

Additionally, and most heinously, it is likely that he will do his best to paint Iran as the villain of Basra. He will hold that Iran’s assistance with intelligence and logistical support enabled the Sadrist militia to outmaneuver the Iraqi troops. The upshot will be an attempt to increase American feeling against Iran. Perhaps even to gain support for invading that country.

You can be sure that he will not speak, unless forced to do so, to the fact that the Green Zone – the only area of Iraq that has ever offered a sense of security since the invasion – is now under fire. He will not speak to the fact that a great part of the problem in Basra was that Iraqi troops and police shed their uniforms and took their weapons to join the Sadrists against their own “government”. He will not speak to the fact that the Iraqi security forces were proven in Basra to be monumentally incapable of defending their own government’s interests. He will not speak to the fact that the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki, has lost any semblance of the little respect and power he ever had with the Iraqi people. He will not speak of the fact that the sectarian hatred between Shi’ites and Sunnis is the driving force behind both the insurgency and the discriminatory practices of the Iraqi government. He will not speak to the fact that the U.S.’s slimy champion, Ahmed Chalibi, is still the apple of the neo-cons’ eye and still waits in the wings to take power in Iraq. He will not mention that the U.S. military is nearly at the breaking point from extended tours in Iraq, let alone the potential effects of expanded warfare.

In the background is the fact that Iran’s loose cannon, President Ahmedinejad, has committed the same sin as Saddam Hussein. He has called for valuing oil in a currency other than the U.S. dollar.

The more I see of this, the more convinced I become that what we are witnessing is the death throes of the U.S. empire. We have staked our future on the control of oil. The first step in that stake was the valuation of oil in U.S. dollars early in the history of petroleum’s economic dominance. The fight in Iraq is an attempt to stifle the voice for change. The death of that stake will come with the valuation of oil by any other means, therefore we must try again to stifle that dissenting voice.

We are fighting “Islamic terrorists” only because most of the world’s oil is located in the Middle East where Islam has taken hold. That’s why we are not really fighting Islamic terrorists at all. We are fighting oil rich terrorists.

The huge danger to the U.S. in all this is that a war with Iran would be a much bigger fiasco than the mess in Iraq. Iran is much more powerful. Its government is not strong, but it has much deeper pockets, a better military, and a much more loyal population than Hussein had in Iraq. It would stretch our military beyond its maximum capabilities and, I think, would ultimately destroy us. Our only chance to win would be to use our nuclear arsenal – a thought that brings shivers of revulsion and fear to my spine.

We are losing the long range fight because it exposes the hypocrisy of our standard positions around the world. Our “democratic” Iraqi government has now declared that Sadrists will be blocked from voting unless they disband their militia. Our unleashed ally, Israel, the political seat of our troubles in the Middle East, has condemned Switzerland for recently contracting to buy Iranian natural gas, but has also been exposed as having a long standing order with Iran for petroleum. Our own leaders continue to foment hatred against Muslims by subtle use of terms that demean Islam while protesting that they have no fight with Islam. We continuously say that we are trying to establish freedom and democracy around the world while everything we do seeks to protect our economic dominance around the world - democracy be damned.

Ultimately, the bellicosity of this administration will, if it remains unbridled, lead us to our own destruction. The current recession is only a shadow of the devastation that a war with Iran would bring on swiftly.

It is time, in our history, for the U.S. to recognize that it cannot continue to dominate the world with the gunboat diplomacy of the past. It is time, in our history, for us to recognize that possessing the world’s largest cache of nuclear weapons does not justify bullying behavior. It is time, in the world’s history, for the concept of nation-state dominance to give way to concepts more likely to result in the maintenance of growth in the wealth and well-being of nations. It is certainly high time, in this administration’s history, to pull back its fangs and seek the high ground of diplomacy in lieu of the flood of blood and violence that military adventurism has unleashed.

If only Congress had the strength of character to ask the right questions of people like Petraeus and Gates. If that doesn’t happen this week – and it won’t - we will continue our slippery slide into the foul muck in which we are already chin deep, and even a presidential election may come too late.

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, April 3, 2008

They Don't Hate Us For Our Freedom

Ever since W uttered his absurd, but famous speech about how the terrorists “hate us for our freedom”, I have sought a way to make my opposition to that sentiment clear even to those who continue insist that he was right.

I have written about it in this blog before. A couple of years ago, I even tried to get the point across in a song, “Bob Dylan Revisited” –

“They don’t hate us for our freedom, they’d just like to have their own.
They don’t hate us for our riches though they know we’re sonsabitches,
They just don’t want us stealing it from them.”

Then yesterday my friend Phil Carlson who lives in Minneapolis sent a lengthy email that included the art of Chris Jordan of Seattle, Washington. Jordan uses articles like soda cans to out together huge works of art depicting the magnitude of our wasteful ways from polluting the planet with plastic bags to murdering our own children through lax gun laws.

What I did for today’s blog was copy and insert the headings from all the pictures Phil sent me of Jordan’s work. The articles named are items Jordan used in the work the heading referred to. The explanatory line under each item tells how many of each article Jordan used to create the work and explains why Jordan finds this level of use objectionable.

I think this list states as clearly as anything else I could say why so many folks around the world are down on Americans. The final lines of my song said it, too –

“ ‘Cause we use it for our pleasure and don’t pay them in fair measure
And we sit and eat our popcorn while they starve.” –

but the compilation below and especially Jordan’s art (To see it go to (It is well worth the cybertrip.) say it starkly and graphically.

Handguns, 2007
29,569 handguns, equal to the number of gun-related deaths in the US in 2004.

Plastic Bags, 2007
60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds.

Office Paper, 2007
30,000 reams of office paper, or 15 million sheets, equal to the amount of office paper used in the US every five minutes.

Valve Caps, 2006
3.6 million tire valve caps, one for each new SUV sold in the US in 2004.

Ben Franklin, 2007
125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq.

Energizer, 2007
170,000 disposable Energizer batteries, equal to fifteen minutes of Energizer battery production.

Shipping Containers, 2007
38,000 shipping containers, the number of containers processed through American ports every twelve hours.

Pain Killers, 2007
213,000 Vicodin pills, equal to the number of emergency room visits yearly in the US related to misuse or abuse of prescription pain killers.

Denali Denial, 2006
24,000 logos from the GMC Yukon Denali, equal to six weeks of sales of that model SUV in 2004.

Building Blocks, 2007
Nine million wooden ABC blocks, equal to the number of American children with no health insurance coverage in 2007.

Cigarettes, 2007
65,000 cigarettes, equal to the number of American teenagers under age eighteen who become addicted to cigarettes every month.

Prison Uniforms, 2007
2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005.

Paper Cups, 2008
410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes.

Cans Seurat, 2007
106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.

Paper Bags, 2007
1.14 million brown paper supermarket bags, the number used in the US every hour.

Cell Phones, 2007
426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day.

Jet Trails, 2007
11,000 jet trails, equal to the number of commercial flights in the US every eight hours.

Toothpicks, 2007
8 million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees harvested in the US every month to make the paper for mail order catalogs.

Skull With Cigarette, 2007 [based on a painting by Van Gogh]
200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.

Plastic Cups, 2008
one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours.

I believe that each of us owes the world the courtesy of at least trying to cut down on our personal impact through more careful use, re-use and consumption of its resources. What do you believe? And, more importantly, what do you do about it?

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When, in the course of human events . . .

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one man to wade through political bull--- up to his eyeballs, it also becomes necessary for him to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle him and . . .

Go fishin’!

That’s where I’m going today, and no little notion like having to write a blog is going to keep me from it.

I hope that you can find a way to have as much fun with your day as I’m about to have with mine.

If you were in the mood for a hotly written diatribe on the evils of American politics, I’m afraid you’ll have to find it somewhere else this morning – and maybe even tomorrow – because chances are I’m going to extend my visit overnight. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, but some days we all have to live with a little disappointment. Just not me; not today!

“Gone fishin’ instead of just awishin’!”

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 -