Friday, May 30, 2008


The excitement for the week at our house was, of course, the great drug raid I wrote about yesterday. Not willing to just let it go without finding out why we were targeted, I spent part of my day tracking it down. All I really had to go on was the last name of one of the raiders – an odd name that my wife remembered.

Ultimately I wound up at the highway patrol headquarters where the name rang a bell. The desk staff was very cooperative and tried to track the trooper down, but was only able to leave a message for him to call me. This morning he did.

It turns out that they raided us because the DEA had given them our address and my name as a purchaser of something from a website called Discount Garden Their success rate in following up on purchases from that site is 90%, so they came to our door sure that they would find something.

This did not occur, by the way, just because I visited the site. It came because I purchased something; probably a little bottle of fertilizer I used on my tomatoes for the last couple of years.

The trooper I talked to assured me that, having visited our home and found it clean, they have taken our name off the list.

So the upshot of it all is that our homegrown drug bust was the product of good and careful law enforcement.

Of course, I think spending our law enforcement dollars on trying to catch people growing marijuana in their basements is a complete waste of time, money and effort, but at least there was nothing sinister in this attempt. We just got Barney Fifed, that’s all.

Now if we could just get all the efforts concentrated on real evils like crack, crank and meth instead of the truly harmless MJ, it would make some sense.

Next week maybe we can get back to some more serious business. There has been plenty of it lately what with the past presidential press secretary opening up and a few subpoenas flying around the hill with names on them like Rove and other administration insiders. It’s about time. Soon we’ll see if it’s serious or just more posturing.

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, May 29, 2008


Yesterday was one of the strangest on record for the Ranney household. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon. I was in the back bedroom quietly practicing guitar in a attempt to avoid bothering my wife as she took an afternoon nap, so I missed the whole thing, but she told me how she answered a knock on the door to find a small herd of DEA agents at our door.

It wasn’t hard for her to identify them. They wore black T-shirts with big letters across the front – Drug Force or Drug Enforcement, she’s not sure. At moments like that one tends to lose a little focus. Badges hung from lanyards around their necks and guns bulged at their hips. At the door were a man and a woman. Two men stood in the driveway.

They said they would like to ask her a few questions. They knew our names and asked for me, but she thought I must have left so she said she thought I was gone fishing.

They said that they had some information that we might be growing marijuana. She laughed, then asked them in and invited them to look through the house and around the yard where, of course, they found nothing more than flowers, berries and some river cane that grows along our south fence that they thought was corn.

Spotting the minnow seines I have laid over my strawberries to keep the birds out, the man suggested that maybe I had bought them over the internet and that might have triggered their raid. Minnow seines trigger a drug raid!?!?

They left satisfied that the whole thing was a mistake, and my wife was satisfied that it was just a freak incident that was more funny than sinister. They were very polite through the whole incident, and she feels that they realized they had made a mistake the instant they entered the house. I agree that it is laughable – a bit of Barney Fife law enforcement on the home front – but at the same time it disturbs me that the police would take such a strong action based on what had to be scanty information at best.

And what would have happened if, as I have been thinking about doing, I had decided at that moment to clean my old shotgun? What would they have done with those guns on their hips if long haired old me had walked through the bedroom door with a gun in my hand after my wife had told them I was gone?

We have a young relative who has gone so wrong that she stole a significant amount of money from her grandmother who rightly filed a complaint that generated an arrest warrant. That was nearly a year ago. The girl still roams the streets of Springfield taking what she wants from anyone she gets near. The police don’t have the time to bust her, but they are running around trying to crack the whip on people with no past record and no present criminal activity. On what grounds?

That’s the question that sticks in my head. On what grounds do they assume there is cause to come knocking on our door as though we are common criminals? On what grounds do they think they have the right to assume guilt before having any evidence at all? On what grounds do the police take this kind of action with no prior investigation?

Did my hair, the peace pole in my front yard or the articles I have published in the newspaper lead some neighbor to conclude that I must be a drugged out radical and so call the police? Did the police, assuming that the caller was a fine upstanding citizen and we were scum, decide to make a quick bust and clear out the riff-raff without first finding out who we were and what kind of people we are?

I keep going back to the officer’s comment about the nets on my strawberries. Could all this have come about because of some website one of us accidentally visited, but which is a place the police monitor to identify potential drug pushers? Can I not visit any website I want without fear that the police will knock down my door? Don’t the police need more information than that a person might have visited a certain website before they invade their privacy?

How closely does our friendly police department monitor our actions? Who is looking over our shoulders and from where and why?

I’ve asked Claire McCaskill’s office to investigate this incident and try to find out why this happened, but I don’t have much faith in that either. As her representative told me, it is likely that the only answer they’ll get about it is, “Sorry, but we can’t divulge that information.” Of course, if that is their answer, I’d like to know why not. But I don’t think I’ll ever get an answer to that either.

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, May 28, 2008

A Sustainable Future?!?!

The entire world – at least those of us who make less than a few million a year – is teetering on the brink of economic disaster.

Housing costs are out of control and at the same time home prices are falling so that in many countries – most notably ours – those who already own a home are pinched by the fact that their investment is now worth up to 25% less than it was when they bought it. It’s a buyer’s market, but only the rich can afford to buy.

The price of gasoline has risen so high that mass transit use has risen dramatically, SUVs and pickups are flooding the car lots, and shipping costs for all kinds of goods are putting them beyond the reach of us average Joes. Every day more reports come in from around the world of masses of people who cannot afford to buy food.

To me the most amazing thing about all this is the reaction of our economists. They all point to the high cost of crude oil as a base cause, but ignore the long existent elephant in the room.

For centuries a system based on unbridled use of resources has been the driving force of the world economy. Those with the most power took raw resources from the powerless, forged them into products using labor purchased as cheaply as possible then sold them back to the powerless at great profit. As a basis for sustainability, that model leaks like a sieve, and it has been modified by the U.S. into an even more lethal combination by the introduction of genetically modified and patented grains and other artificially “enhanced” means of production that ultimately limit the ability of people living off the earth to continue living on it.

We humans have been exploiting this little globe so systematically for so long that we have nearly depleted its useful resources. We have also sought so strenuously to separate ourselves from nature through technology that many of us in the developed countries have forgotten that we have any connection with it.

For our economic system to be viable for the long term, it is essential that we structure it not only to take our connection to nature into account, but to build in methods of rebuilding soils and other natural resources we have unnecessarily but almost totally depleted. It is also essential that the “upper echelons” of the system (i.e. the upper 1% of earners) recognize that their excess income is too big a drain on their fellow citizens. (Isn’t that a likely one?!?!) At the same time and in the same way, it will be essential for world “powers” like the U.S., Great Britain, Russia and China to recognize that their role as citizens of the planet cannot continue to be as exploiters, but rather must cohabit rather than exploit; must replenish rather than destroy; must recognize each other’s similarities rather than declare war over perceived differences.

Of course we all know these things aren’t going to happen, so we obviously need alternatives. The great American solution is to develop ways for human kind (i.e. wealthy human kind) to escape the globe and learn to live on some other planet. This plan seems as likely to me as the possibility that some big guy with a long white beard is keeping accounts on everybody so he can decide whether or not they can come to live with him when he finally decides to destroy the earth.

We humans are truly amazing creatures, aren’t we?! To paraphrase Mark Twain, man is the only animal that can rationalize – or needs to.

We have two cars in the garage, a good roof, an insurance policy, a television set and a refrigerator full of beer, so all is well --- NOT!

Maybe the time is fast approaching when we each should have a plan for survival and to hell with the rest of them, or maybe . . . Oh hell, just pass the arsenic, will you?!

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, May 27, 2008

A Perfect Ending

This Memorial Day week-end was one I'll not soon forget.

I've written before about Kyle Kosovich and the boat we built over the past winter. This week-end, we took the boat down one of the Ozarks' excellent streams for its inaugural camp float. Loaded down with a four man tent, sleeping pads, a large cooler, an equally large cook-box and all the other paraphernalia (of course including a guitar) it takes to support a couple of fishermen for two days, we cruised easily down the small stream in our twenty footer.

I could go on to describe the day and night we had on the gravel bar fishing, relaxing, running limb lines through the night, etc., but suffice it to say that we had twenty four hours of paradise without a thought to the worries of the world.

But this isn't about that trip. This is a fish story that didn't take place until the next day when we went to visit Kyle's wife's folks. While Bethany was busy connecting with her family, Kyle and I stole down to the falls below the house, and therein lies the tale --

The sun had just emerged from the dripping clouds that had kept it hidden all morning. Kyle was hot to hit the water, but I was ready for a sit-down, so I took my guitar and found a comfortable seat on the rocks next to the roaring white rapids. Kyle sampled the waters on the home side of the river, but it wasn't long before he waded the swift water above the falls to work the further reaches.

As soon as he was safely across, I relaxed into my music, and left him to his fishing. I had just finished the first verse of Diving Duck - "The wind from the river's gonna blow my troubles away." when I heard him yell.

"Bob!" The rapids was so loud that I wasn't sure I'd heard anything, but I looked up to see Kyle's rod bent double. The fish turned and ran downstream, and even across the hundred yards between us I could see that line was stripping off Kyle's reel like lighting. The fish was already 30 feet or so downstream of where she'd been hooked.

I checked my watch; 11:25 am. It ought to be a rainbow at this time of day, I thought, but I was betting on a brown.

Kyle turned to face straight downstream then leapt off the falls into the pool below, running as fast as he could in thigh deep, rock bottomed swift water. Finally he regained enough line to turn the trout so she'd face back into the current. Then it was the fish's turn to leap.

She came straight up out of that blue-green water to dance in the sunlight on the tip of her tail and shake her golden head at whatever gods had done this to her. It's a picture stored in my memory for the rest of my life. Kyle was waist deep in the river, and from my angle I could see that the trout's nose was even with the top of his hat. I knew then that I had never before seen anyone hook a trout that big.

The fish fought hard and long, but finally succumbed to Kyle's skill and glided into the shallows at his feet -- 33 inches of German Brown Trout. Another glance at my wrist and I knew that he had fought the fish for twelve minutes.

Just another fish story? The picture provides the proof, and the tale will be told over many a campfire for years to come. Depending on who's telling it, it could be called Kyle's big brown, but if I'm doing the telling, it might be the day I sang up a big one.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is Action Less than Treason Impeachable?

A friend whose intelligence and taste I respect told me not long ago that he really enjoys the television show Boston Legal. His description of the wit and wiles the writers and actors use drew me to watch this week's episode. It turned out to be the season finale, and it lived up to his description in every way.

The premise was that the town of Concord, Massachusetts, represented by Anthony Heald, wanted to secede from the union because the city was completely fed up with the policies of the Bush Administration. The principle partners in the series' law firm - William Shatner and James Spader - represented the opposing parties. In the course of the case, the arguments presented on both sides were cogent, sensible and sensitive with Spader and Heald voicing many of the objections to BushCo's approach to governance that I have spoken to in this blog over the past two years.

Shatner, on the other hand, pointed out that -while he too found BushCo reprehensible - this administration has not done anything that has not been common practice during other administrations, both Democrat and Republican, throughout our nation's history. He pointed to Clinton's use of extraordinary rendition and FDR's interment of American citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. He didn't bother with the faked Maine incident, the Bay of Pigs, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, our hand in the South and Central American death squads, the way we stole Hawaii for Dole Fruit Company, or My Lai.(sp?)

Both sides argued well, but Shatner won the case. The judge, Arte Johnson, summed up his decision by declaring that while he found all the complaints the plaintiff had brought to be true, they did not rise to the level of treason, so he could not allow their secession demand to go any further.

This gave rise to a discussion in our living room on the question of whether or not it is necessary for BushCo's actions to rise to the level of treason before it would be reasonable for our legislature to act against them through impeachment or war criminal charges - both of which I have long believed should have been filed long ago.

My first reaction was to agree with the judge and soften my feelings toward the administration. Further reflection though led me to conclude that a public office holder's actions do not have to rise to the highest crime in order to be impeachable. History shows that Congress can and has impeached prior presidents whose offenses were far less serious than treason.

I think the point the show was trying to make was that as Americans, we should all pull together in a time of war, but that's just another point with which I disagree, as did Spader in his arguments when he said that a time of war was a time when it was especially important for the citizens to be vigilant to ensure that the lives of their children were not jeopardized for the wrong reasons. That, in point of fact, is exactly what BushCo has done and it is, I believe, the most egregious of their offenses because they have chosen - for purely political reasons unrelated to the security of the nation - to risk the lives of the very people they have sworn an oath to protect.

That is the act of an amoral administration that does not deserve to continue in office, and the refusal of Congress to be the agent for their removal makes them complicit.
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, May 21, 2008

Who’s a Terrorist?

On Thursday, May 8. 2008 Eric McDavid stood before a judge in a courtroom in Sacramento, California to hear the sentence the judge would give him. Although he knew that the court was not friendly to him in any way – a lesson that had been driven home many times over the many months of and leading up to his trial – Eric’s knees must have wanted to buckle when the judge read his pronouncement – 19 years and 7 months in federal prison to be followed by parole that includes mandatory psychiatric treatment. No, not to help resolve any psychological issues Eric may face. The declared purpose is “to determine the source of his anti-government beliefs”.

And what was Eric’s crime? Conspiracy to commit arson. He did not commit arson. He did not even hatch a plot to commit arson. The person who did that was the same person who made the plans for fire starting bombs available to Eric and his disgruntled friends. The person who supplied them with operating funds and transportation. The person who turned out to be an FBI paid and funded spy whose methods and testimony would lead anyone who read about the whole incident to question whether any sentence at all should have been passed with the possible exception of one related to entrapment. (See:

This kind of thing is far too common in our “justice system”; take the case of “The Cuban Five”.

They: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González were accused of committing “espionage conspiracy against the United States” back in June of 2001. So what triggered this charge against them?

In their defense arguments, the men insisted that they were Cubans engaged in monitoring the actions of Miami based terrorist groups in order to try and stop terroristic attacks on Cuba. The government of the U.S. admitted that the men were not armed and that they did not plan or carry out any terrorist actions in or on the United States.

They were agents of the Cuban government, but their mission was not to attack the U.S. in any way, it was to learn about imminent attacks on Cuba and then inform the Cubans so they could be ready to repel those attacks.

So the FBI arrested the five and imprisoned them in 1998, holding them for 17 months before bringing them to trial in 2001. The result -- four life sentences and one for 75 years. In realistic terms that’s five life sentences for preventing terrorism.

What was the U.S. doing in the meantime about terrorism related to Cuba? Why, funding it, of course. And that effort not only continues, but grows:

Just this past Monday, the Cuban government revealed that the Bush administration's ambassador to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Michael Parmly, handled cash transfers from convicted terrorist Santiago Alvarez to Martha Beatriz Roque and other individuals on the island who have been championed by Bush in their effort to overthrow the Cuban government and the Cuban Revolution.

The U.S. has long refuse extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, who is known to have longstanding connections to the CIA and is accused of planting a bomb on a Cuban civilian airliner, which took the lives of 73 people, and the bombing attacks against Cuban tourist hotels in the late 1990s.

Of course, Cuba has long been declared an enemy by the U.S., though Cuba has not given itself that designation, and the Amerikan frame of mind endorses terrorism as long as it is in support of Amerika and in opposition to Amerika’s declared enemies.

If you want to read more about the on-going legal battle in this case, here’s a reference that discusses the points of law under consideration and the defense’s approach to them:

We are also back in the business of supporting the bin Ladens of the world in our efforts to support Israeli foreign policy through clandestine actions in Iran. (See:

All in all, the U.S. just keeps on churning out reasons for the rest of the world to detest us. And here at home, we sit complacently in front of our TVs sipping beer and watching the Cubs try once again to hold onto the number one slot past June.

Eric McDavid’s greatest friend put it beautifully in her last message:

“Any other species would fight back tooth and nail. But we just watch.
Because this machine eats those who fight back. As they’re trying to eat eric. because this machine is so all encompassing and because the masses have bought into it, which gives it it’s power in the first place. But it’s the very thing that’s destroying them.

. . . And of course, this conversation could be expanded. Because this is what people do on a daily basis – we sit and watch as everything is taken from us. Clean air and water, ancient trees and forests, the creatures we share this earth with, our human rights, our freedom to live and love as we please. Everything is being taken from us. And people barely bat an eye, let alone lift a finger. And always the fear...”

And that, my friends, pretty much says it all. Without our complacent compliance, these deeply harmful lies could not be perpetrated upon the world, and people like the cretin that now represents our county could not be elected dog catcher in Crawford, Texas.

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, May 20, 2008


I’m having a very hard time these days finding anything I want to write about. I pretty much missed last week for other reasons – our neighbors house taking a direct lightning hit that stopped our telephone and web service being the primary one – but truth be known, I would have had a hard time coming up with anything more than I did.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty going on that turns my stomach, and those are admittedly my favorite kinds of subjects. For instance, the CIA death squads operating in Afghanistan as reported by Philip Alston, a New York University professor serving as the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, or the New York Times report on May 17 about how, “The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to build a new, 40-acre detention complex on the main American military base in Afghanistan,” officials said, “in a stark acknowledgment that the United States is likely to continue to hold prisoners overseas for years to come.”, but I have written about this stuff ad infinitum.

The bottom line for me is the encroaching belief that it is too late; that we as a nation have come too far down the path of ignorant apathetic follower-ship to turn things around and become the nation we never really were, but always should have been.

There is, in the interplay between nations, always competition, and that always leads to some level of enmity, but this nation – Amerika – has moved beyond that into the realm previously occupied by the Ghengis Khans and Hitlers of the world. Our arrogance and the power we wield in complete ignorance of the rest of the world’s needs combine to make us a scourge instead of a boon, and it makes me heartsick on a daily basis.

I believe that the government for which I once wore a uniform has metamorphosed into a very sick and gluttonous beast fed by the unbridled quest for wealth and power that runs rampant in our nation’s capital, and it makes me want to weep.

I look at the blatantly criminal activities of our president and vice-president, then turn in outrage to a citizenry that doesn’t know enough to give a damn, and my psyche tells me to curl up into a little ball and let the fools prate their way onward and downward without worrying about it any more. (My wife counsels that it would be wise.)

I remember the kind of officers I met in my two years of ROTC and while I was in the military and the kind of officers I read about in the papers who resisted the inappropriate use of our military power many times over the years. I think of my old friend and mentor, Ray Rosenbaum, who retired from the Air Force as a Colonel after a distinguished career that included flying a bomber during World War II, and how he was so repulsed by the actions of BushCo after 9-11 that he talked of it even on his deathbed.
And I think, too, of the fools who would have labeled Ray’s opposition to Bush as unpatriotic when I knew him to be a patriot’s patriot.

It’s those goose-stepping military policy toadies who drag me down the most. The local folks who think their opinions are fact just because they are the ones who dreamed them up; those who think questioning the Amerikan government’s policies is treason. If it was just these locals that eat at me, I could laugh them off, but it is not.

These days it is also the highest commanders in the military. It seems like all those who understood that the value of American integrity was much greater than that of Amerikan power have died or retired. Time and time again, I read of another staff officer who retires and then speaks out against the Pentagon’s current course. Why weren’t they gutsy enough to risk their pension by standing up and speaking out in January, 2002 when Bush gave his outrageously distorted State of the Union speech?

I remember that speech vividly because it was delivered on the same night I took part in a locally televised debate on the efficacy of going to war in Iraq. Channel 10, who hosted the debate, had set up a wide screen TV on the stage of Clara Thompson Hall on the Drury campus. After the debate many of the audience stayed to watch the speech. A group of us PNO members was sitting behind a couple who were obvious Bush supporters. I recall their being amazed when, after several incidents of our hissing and booing as Bush went through his litany of lies to lead the country into war, we applauded his reference to hydrogen powered cars.

They turned around and looked at us in amazement. They couldn’t believe that we could both detest this man and his military policies and support him when he talked about a policy we liked. And there, in a nutshell, is the source of my discouragement.

Every time I have ever tried – and believe me it’s been plenty of times – to talk about national policy with Bush supporters, I have been blocked by their belief that I am as ideoillogical as they are. They cannot seem to understand that what I have been trying to do all these years is NOT to argue the leftist cause, but to argue for sensible, fact-based leadership.

There will be a great many things with which I disagree no matter which of our parties is in control. It happens that there are always more of those things when the Republicans are in control, but that doesn’t make me a Democratic ideologue.

A good American citizen is one who constantly questions his government’s motives and holds her representatives’ feet to the fire. That citizen has become so much in the minority as to be perceived as unpatriotic, and that fact alone is enough to make me want to crawl into a cave and blow the whole thing off.

So bear with me, dear readers, as I vacillate between hope - as I watch a new generation of voters register in record numbers to vote for a presidential candidate who excites them - and despair as I watch the campaigners voice platitudes and generalities in the face of the most serious need for meaningful leadership our nation has ever faced.

FDR where are you? Come back, JFK, come back.

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, May 16, 2008

Iraqi Freedom or Amerikan Prison?

As we’ve watched the American approach to creating government in Iraq, it has been hard to miss the fact that what is being created there for Iraqi citizens is in some ways superior to the Amerikan system. The most notable difference is that one of the goals BushCo has established for Iraq is the implementation of a national health care system.

Today, however, another change emerged in, amazingly enough, the prison system. It started off in typical Amerikan fashion – just arrest anybody who looks like trouble. The twist in the early days was tougher on detainees in that no system existed for their release. Anyone caught up in an Amerikan dragnet that identified him as a terrorist could forget freedom. He was basically given a life sentence just for being arrested – no bail, no trial, no sentencing, no parole, and no release were available. Most likely it also included some punishments beyond just being locked up, but sans pictures like those from Abu Ghraib who’s to know!??

But now comes word that an officer in command of an Amerikan prison has actually taken an analytic view of the situation and concluded that as many as two thirds of the imprisoned population at Amerika’s Camp Cropper are not true terrorists, but rather young people whose economic position (created by the war) made it impossible for them to survive without accepting the pay that insurgents or Al Qaida in Iraq offered. Major General Doug Stone who was in charge of both Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca, detention centers which he realized had become insurgent training grounds.

What would you expect? Let’s see, take young men suspected of links with terrorist organizations off the streets where their poverty has forced them into those associations, mix them with an imprisoned population of more insurgents, lock them up and throw away the key until some unknown future day on which they are supposed to emerge as friendly citizens of the state. It’s the same formula for imprisonment that we use in Amerika – take young people off the streets where they have no apparent way to earn a decent living other than drug pushing, lock them up and throw away the key and expect that when we finally open the door and throw them back on the streets, they will have been reformed and will be sterling citizens from that day forward.

Well, Major General Stone was able to see the flaws in this approach. Just as we lock up the kids who have enough brains and incentives to be successful in their drug business instead of giving them other outlets for their brainpower here in Amerika,, the military was locking up Iraqis with enough moxie to find a way to make a living in a country that offered no good avenues.

He also realized that those who called his prison (oops – detention) camps “Al Qaida University” were right. (Would that our state and federal governments would recognize that the same is true of Amerikan prisons here at home.)

Using a level of common sense not found in most Amerikan officials, General Stone acted to correct the situation because he realized that just warehousing people led nowhere but into a downward spiral where hard-line prisoners ended up with all the power inside the prison (Which is what has happened within our prison system.), and that eventually there would be 50,000 angry warehoused prisoners with no future other than bomb building.

Stone’s response was to create a system of parole. In his words, he saw that if moderate people were detained indefinitely they would come to the conclusion that, “You’re not here to better the population, you’re here to conquer us, and you’re taking me hostage.”

So he separated the hard-liners from the moderates then set up classes in civics and the Koran, welding and woodworking. He also set up a three member parole panel to hear the case of each detainee and determine whether or not he posed a serious threat to security. “It’s judgement that got them into detention,” he says, “and it’s judgement that has to get them out.”

Is that a 180 degree turn from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay or what?

Stone has not had an easy row to hoe with this approach. Just like legislators and citizens here in Amerika - his fellow officers have been very reluctant to accept his ideas, but the proof is in the pudding, and the young people his centers release are going back home and participating in the rebuilding of their country rather than contributing to its destruction.

It is the application of the milk of human kindness in combination with some common sense but it ain’t the Amerikan way. Will General Stone win out or will Rumsfeldian rule take the day? For more information to help you form you own opinion, go to and hear the whole story.

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, May 15, 2008


I want to begin this morning with an apology to those of you who check on this blog every day. I have been absent all week because we have been without internet access – not to mention telephone and satellite television services. Our neighbor’s house was struck by lightning last Saturday, and our connections to the world went up with the smoke that brought all the neighbors out to grab garden hoses and try to douse the flames shooting out of the upstairs window while the fire department drove by a few times in a futile attempt to find the address two blocks from their station! But that’s another story.

I will say, though, that our neighbors had an exceptionally bad week-end. They were on a mini-vacation gambling in a casino in Seneca, KS when the call came over the loudspeaker for everyone to move to a west wall because a tornado was approaching the casino. As they started to do that his cell phone rang. It was one of the neighbors calling to tell him his house was on fire. While he was on the phone, his wife’s phone rang. It was her brother-in-law calling to tell her that her mother-in-law who lived on the farm where her husband was raised had just survived the destruction of her home and all the outbuildings when the tornado struck the farm.

So if you think you’ve got it bad right now, just give a moment’s thought to my neighbors and be thankful you're you. If, on the other hand, you can say that your week has been worse, I’ll just have to be thankful that I’m me!

One of the posters I remember from the protests of the sixties had a red background that included the spelling AMERIKA along with a vague picture of jackbooted, goose-stepping Nazi troops and prominent swastikas. In my mind, that spelling of America has become synonymous with the loss of personal freedom and the ascent of political/governmental power in the hands of tyrants interested only in power and money.

Last night I watched Amy Goodman interview Gore Vidal on her show, “Democracy Now!” I was pleased to learn that Mr. Vidal and I would find little about politics upon which to disagree. To get a good look at his opinion of BushCo, you’d have to dig down at least six feet and lift the coffin of some serial killer. I mean it just couldn’t be any lower.

He was very clear about how he thinks the Bushies twisted 9-11 into an occasion for carrying out their wacko plans for Amerikan hegemony through control of the oil in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. At one point he commented on dick Cheney’s statement back in 2002 that Iraq’s oil would pay for the war. “For that remark alone,” Vidal said, “he ought to be dragged into the street and shot.”

The line of thought he followed was, I thought, clear and clean, and his indictment of this administration was right on the money. There is no doubt about the fact that BushCo did everything they could to push this nation into a war that should never have happened, but which has enriched them and their friends beyond measure. There is no doubt that they have put the lives of American soldiers and 100 times as many Iraqi citizens on the line for their own personal view of politics and with no regard whatsoever for the “little people” they have destroyed along the way.

There is also no doubt, as Vidal asserted, that this administration has capped the procession of America into the dark depths of Amerika; that the dumbing down of America has paid off in the creation of Amerika; that the enforced ignorance of the American people has enabled BushCo to strip the American system of government into an Amerikan system of oppression and denial of constitutional rights.

But it isn’t just BushCo. The road to this crossroads has been a long and slippery one that has so cleverly misled the citizenry that they willingly back the theft of their own freedom and even do it in the name of freedom.

Vidal’s vituperative attack on George W. Bush and his henchmen was right on the money, but it led me to think about the genesis of the mindset that enabled them to not only take over the Whitehouse – as Vidal and I agree they did through a coup that included the Supreme Court back in 2000 – but also to mutate the workings of our government to the point that the balance of powers has lost its teeth, the constitution is ignored, and the president is deemed to have the right to ignore every law that Congress passes.

The roots of this evil tree were planted long before George W Bush ever took office. In fact, some began even before he was born. As Vidal pointed out during the interview last night, Benjamin Franklin had his doubts about the viability of the constitution on the day he signed it.

The problem as Franklin saw it was that a constitutional republic like ours leaves too much responsibility in the hands of the people. It’s not that the people are collectively incapable of handling the responsibility in an ideal world. It’s that we don’t live in an ideal world.

Franklin’s greatest fear has come to pass, and that is that we no longer have a press that keeps people informed at the level that is necessary for them to be able to capably handle their responsibility. To top that off, as Vidal also pointed out, our public school system has failed miserably in its charge to educate the public in such a way that they will be capable citizens.

Stop a few folks on the streets and ask them what the term balance of powers means. If they have any idea at all, ask them how it works. If they can answer that one, give them a gold star and get them to run for office because I don’t believe there are more than six Congressmen who could answer that one to my satisfaction.

After the civil war the country sank into some really sorry times because a president wanted to punish the South instead of help it fit back into the Union. He made his friends a lot of money and caused a lot of grief to the little people, too, but America did not become Amerika.

In the 1920s the president refused to help the little people of the nation while his friends were doing fine in the umbrella formed by his refusal to regulate business. The nation and nearly the entire world with it crashed with the stock market, but America did not become Amerika. Instead, the country united under the apt leadership of Franklin and – in no small part – Eleanor Roosevelt pulled itself up by the bootstraps thanks to what the Republicans constantly tell us can’t work – government programs.

The country remained united in its efforts to fight and win World War II shortly thereafter, too, and that – in an odd way – wound up contributing to the frame of mind that has brought America down to being Amerika.

America emerged from World War II as a strong world power. At that point it stood at a crossroads. For a while – the administration of the Marshall Plan as the prime example – it appeared that it would use its power as a means for positive development throughout the world. At some point, though, those in power began to see that there was advantage to be gained if they could tip the scales more toward Amerika than America.

Vidal points to Harry Truman as the instigator of The Cold War.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower pointed to the military/industrial complex as the villain that would lead us astray.

Perhaps both are right. I think we are where we find ourselves because of two primary factors. One is fear and the other is arrogance. The Cold War instilled a national consciousness of fear that has never left us. I didn’t have to go through the “duck-and-cover” exercises most school kids apparently had to endure in the fifties and sixties, but that kind of collective exercise goes along way toward establishing as sense of vulnerability. Top it off with the McCarthy hearings and popular entertainment like “I Led Three Lives”, the TV show of purportedly true stories about how undercover FBI agent Kim Philby (?) fought to save us from the scourge of Communism, and you end up with a population whose fear makes them vulnerable to manipulation.

BushCo certainly didn’t miss the lesson in all that. The fear-mongering they have done has this society about as paranoid as a culture can be before it goes completely bananas. (Actually, I think it’s done that already.) Just the name “Office of Homeland Security” strikes fear in my heart, although not the kind of fear the office was created to peddle.

At the same time, we had the “virtue” of “patriotism” pounded into our heads to the tune of movie after movie about American heroism in WWII to the point where I couldn’t see a flag rise up a pole without feeling goosebumps rise along my spine. In 1965, I was ready to go to Vietnam and “nuke ‘em” without asking why. It was my patriotic duty. It was putting your life on the line “for your country”. It was just what any red blooded Amerikan boy was expected to do without hesitation. It was total bullshit.

Those who saw the light clearly enough to show up in Chicago in 1968 to protest the Democratic Convention were the ones who really understood. Robert Heinlein and George Orwell really understood.

The rest of us were like the sheep of today who bow toward George W. Bush and honor him as their president. We weren’t savvy enough to know that the call to unquestioning “patriotism” is a call to join in the Amerikan quest for dominance and power. We were arrogant enough in our belief in America to miss the fact that it was already transforming itself into Amerika.

The transformation was capped off with the take-over of censorship of school books for the nation in Texas in the sixties. It was capped off with the ascension of Newt Gingrich in the House of Representatives and his “Contract with America” that was really the manifesto for Republican Party domination of government and the destruction of the balance of powers that enabled the Karl Roves and dick Cheney’s of the world to link up with a dufous like George W. Bush in order to push the citizens of the country past any sense of moral turpitude into a false patriotic fervor that would unquestioningly allow the executive branch to do anything it wanted to in the name of keeping America safe.

Instead it has made Amerika weak and vulnerable and unwelcome all around the globe.

Now we are faced with a new presidential election that will decide whether we continue to follow the Amerikan course through the “leadership” of John McCain or whether we (might possibly) change course and return to some modicum of the true American spirit with Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton at the helm.

Of course, it is quite possible that none of these people have the ability or maybe even the interest in change to turn us back into the America that could have been and maybe still could be. Both parties are so corrupt and the country is so divided that it might be impossible, but we can still dream. Can’t we? Please, can’t we??

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, May 9, 2008

The 935 Lies That Took Us To War

The 935 Lies That Took Us To War

Have you ever wished you had a record of all the things BushCo did to mislead the country into war in Iraq? Well here is a reference that lists the 935 lies that did the job: . Just reading the changing headline quotes at the top of the page is worth the time to follow the link.

Read it and weep then jump for joy because you have in one document a strong argument for the impeachment and indictment of the criminals that got us where we are today.

I’d be jumping for joy, too, if I thought there was a chance that those in power will ever do anything about it. In the meantime, I’m content just having it all compiled for easy reference.

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, May 8, 2008


It gets harder and harder to think that this Congress is ever going to take any definitive action about all the inappropriate actions taken by BushCo, but there is some activity going on in the Congress that gives me hope.

The House Judiciary Committee has, for some time now, been wrestling with dick Cheney over whether or not his staff should or could be required to testify in a hearing on the process of authorizing torture – oh, excuse me – that’s “harsh interrogation methods” for use on prisoners of war – oops again – terrorists in captivity.

dick Cheney, of course, has been solid all along – as befits a good conservative - in his position that his office is not answerable for anything. It has taken months towheedle, whittle and wear away the resistance, but it appears now that the committee has at last decided to issue a subpoena for the appearances of David Addington before the House Judiciary Committee. John Yoo has agreed to appear without being forced to do so by subpoena.

It’s hard telling what, if anything, of value will come of all this, though. Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal counsel, is famous among his peers, though not the general public because he tends to duck publicity, for being the driving force behind the idea that a president during war time is not bound by the limitations of the constitution. By virtue of that alone, he is a treasured member of dick C’s staff, and also it is not likely that he considers the Congressional subpoena to be binding on him in any way. According to Colon (Sp. Intended) Powell, Addington “doesn’t care about the constitution”. Any government official who disdains the constitution: (1) shouldn’t be a government official in any capacity, and (2) can’t be expected to hold Congress in high esteem or (3) isn’t likely to think that any oath they require him to take would bind him to tell the truth.

Yoo, on the other hand, is so steeped in his belief that this righteous nation of ours can do no wrong that he can lie through his teeth in the full certainty that he’s telling the truth. His rationalizations for American misconduct are too unbelievable in their very essence for anyone with any respect for anyone else to fall for. He will provide very little in the way of concrete revelations of fact and a great deal of rationalizations for whatever actions were taken. One hopeful point, though, is that he does like to talk, so maybe he’ll wind up talking a little too much.

All in all, this is going to be a process worth watching, though one from which I expect very little in the way of concrete results. We’ll be lucky if we get more out of it than a perjury charge months later, but if I’m surprised by some unexpected revelations damaging to BushCo I sure won’t be disappointed.

Hmmm, maybe the committee ought to confine the boys to a 3x6 cell for a few years and then waterboard them. That way they could get them to confess to anything just as though they were prisoners of war – oops, I keep forgetting – it’s as if they were terrorists.

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, May 7, 2008


Not since Jerry Falwell coined the term and formed the group, The Moral Majority, has the lack of morality in government been more blatantly obvious than right now. In fact, it is doubtful that any group in U.S. history has ever held itself up to the public as more righteous while committing so many heinous acts in the name of morality.

Due to the influence of the religious right, the Grand Old Party has come to see itself as the party of God; the torch bearer for morality; the one and only purveyor of truth in the political arena. They keep clamoring for the right to put their God before all others (supporting posting the ten commandments in schools and other biblical imprecations in courtrooms while condemning the Koran, for instance), but the longer they hold power, the more clear it becomes that their God is not the indefinable omnipotent being behind creationism, but rather a combination of raw power and the Almighty Dollar.

One doesn’t have to dig very deep to find clear examples of abuse. It’s easy to see the pillaging Halliburton and its subsidiaries like Kellogg, Brown and Root have committed in Iraq and elsewhere – thanks to there ex-CEO and now the nation’s VP dick Cheney. It doesn’t take a hard driving investigative reporter – though I sure wish one would show up – to reveal the behind the scenes skullduggery that created the false intelligence for Shrub and Colon Powell to use in speeches to mislead the country into war in Iraq. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how the Department of Justice was twisted into a power brokering agency designed to stifle political opposition while rewarding toadies, either.

Today’s news from Justice, then, should come as no surprise. The surprise would be if the nation responded by shouting, “Enough is enough” and throwing the SOBs out of office on their kiesters.

Today’s story – not covered in our local paper, of course – was the FBI investigation of Scott Bloch, Chief of the Office of Special Counsel in Silver Springs, Maryland. That Department of Justice office was created after the Nixon Watergate scandal as a protective agency for whistleblowers. In a complete perversion of that purpose, Bloch, among other things, has refused to offer any services to gay whistleblowers and is now charged with actually retaliating against whistleblowers. He’s also accused of politicizing his office, surprise-surprise.

In typical fashion, this extension of the righteous right into every nook and cranny of our government has resulted in the attitude within those offices that whatever any official deems to be in the best interest of his bosses is also in the best interest of the country.

I was raised to believe that the moral thing to do in every instance is to act in such a way as to benefit – not the powers that be – but your fellow man; to take action that would be damaging to yourself if it was in the better interests of society. To me that is morality, and all the talk of Godly righteousness in the face of societally harmful actions is immorality of a most egregious kind. Sadly, it seems also to be terribly common.

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, May 5, 2008


For a while there it seemed as if the surge might be working. For my part, I had initially predicted it to be a dark farce then ate crow when it appeared that the Patraeus strategy of buying the sheiks’ loyalty was working. At this point, though, I think it is abundantly clear that the strategy has done nothing more than to prolong the time before one of two things happens. Either the Iraq civil war will break out uncontrollably and engulf our troops in the inevitable fight for political dominance within that country, or internal negotiations between the new governing bodies and the rival factions will succeed in settling ethnic scores to the point that Iraqis can work together to solve the tremendous problems our meddling has created for them.

Only last week we passed the anniversary of W’s triumphant strut across the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring victory in Iraq. BushCo can try all they want to say that the “Mission Accomplished” banner meant something different than that portrayed in the press at the time, but the picture Shrub gave us all by strutting across that deck in a flight suit belies any such attempt.

The surge is just one more example of the decision-making quality of our present “leaders”. There are darn few, if any, good outcomes anyone can point to in the legacy of this administration, and the surge is proving to be just another blunder. The green zone, supposedly Iraq’s safe area, tells the story. No other area of the country is considered to be as safe and yet rockets and mortar rounds have been landing there with alacrity. The wife of the president was fired upon on her way to the theater this week-end, and five more American soldiers gave their lives this week-end.

Just as a rough rule of thumb, by the way, you can figure that about 100 Iraqis die for every American soldier killed, so it is unlikely that the rest of the country – about which we generally hear nothing from our press unless a major battle takes place – had a very nice week-end either.

Now BushCo wants to up the ante in Afghanistan, too. They want American troops to be given command of the southern part of that country in the area where the Taliban has most effectively taken root again.

I supported our initial invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban was definitely a plague on the country, and their support of Al Qaida prior to and after 9-11 gave us additional cause to drive them out of power. We immediately dropped the ball there, however, when BushCo pushed the neo-con call for invading Iraq into the forefront and we lost the focus of the fight against Al Qaida, so it seems possible that re-exerting ourselves in that country might be the right thing to do. It’s a remote possibility, though, as there is very little chance that we could turn it into a rout of Al Qaida and the Taliban, but rather would just prolong the agony of war there, too.

There has to be a better way, but the chances of finding it under BushCo are zero to none.

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, May 2, 2008


An article on page 5 of the local/state section in today’s paper touts a prisoner release program that “gets inmates ready to live in the outside world”. The program, established in 2002, links “state agencies, employers, nonprofit groups and drug and mental health counselors” in an effort to keep ex-cons from returning to prison. (i.e. reduce recidivism). Today’s usual recidivism rate is 50%, but this program has succeeded in reducing it to 33%. Seems like a fine accomplishment, doesn’t it?

In 1972, I served as counselor here in Springfield on a group known as Team 6. Under a Department of Labor grant to the Concentrated Employment Program, we worked with the MO Division of Employment Security and a wide range of local businesses. Also on the team were an ex-felon first contact person, a job developer and a secretary.

At that time, the usual recidivism rate was 33%. Team 6 reduced that rate to just under 9%. The program was only good for a couple of years, though. At that point, the DOL quit funding it on the grounds that although it had proven to be effective, it was not a program they could sustain. The group that ought to pick it up, they said, was the Department of Corrections, but they never even considered it. Why not? Because they saw their role as providing cells.

In the ensuing thirty years, we’ve seen the expansion of prison space, increased emphasis on heavy handed sentencing like the three strikes laws, and a societal bent toward punishment rather than rehabilitation. The recidivism rate has risen to 50%, and little has been done to figure out how to help released prisoners to avoid re-incarceration.
Now this program comes along, but is it too little too late?

Knowing what good a program like this can do, it has been frustrating for me to watch our society jail more and more people while doing less and less to help them overcome the obstacles that landed them in jail in the first place. Treat people like the potentially valuable people are and they often turn out to be. Hopefully Corrections will come to understand that, but it has been a painfully long journey to get to that point.

Only recently I learned that the state of Colorado has implemented several programs that provide intervention and training for young families in hopes of avoiding future incidents like the Columbine School massacre. Their efforts might be seen by many as “big brother” sticking its nose in where it doesn’t belong, but Colorado has seen a reduction in violent crime along with a return on investment of $10 to $1.

By expanding programs like this, Missouri could see the same. Encourage it. We could really benefit from some intervention programs to curb child abuse. Though it seems improbable, even our state legislators are capable of learning, so let’s lean on them 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 -

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Israeli Insanity

Is it just me that’s facing the wrong way, or the world is generally insane? I think the old movie title had it right – “The Gods Must Be Crazy”.

In typically idiotic style, Israel has announced it is working with Palestinian President Abbas in an effort to shut down charities run by Hamas. Yes, Hamas is a sworn enemy of Israel. Yes, Hamas members keep lobbing missiles over the wall into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Yes, Hamas funds and trains people to fight against what they see as Israeli occupation of Arab land. Yes, Hamas would like to control the West Bank.

But also yes, Hamas has effectively won the hearts of the down-trodden citizens of Gaza and the West Bank, too, by providing housing, health care, food assistance and jobs. And also yes, Hamas leaders have been brought to office in democratic elections.

And also yes, though they consider him to be the face of Palestinian moderation, West Bank President Abbas has not always been Israel’s best friend, but he will accept their help to keep Hamas from unseating him. He fears that Hamas will attack his position and take over the West Bank as violently as they did the Gaza Strip.

But from my perspective, the bottom line is that Hamas has done more for the people of Palestine than the PLO (where Abbas’ political roots are) ever did or Israel has ever done. Hamas has been smart enough to recognize that you can win more popular support with butter than with guns, and it may be that they have also recognized that they can’t usually get the butter to the people without taking the guns to those who are standing in the way.

If Israel had half of Hamas’s savvy, they would not storm in and shut down the charities, they would walk in and top Hamas’s offer. Make the people an offer they can’t refuse – give them humane treatment. Give them work. Give them back their homes. Give them health care. Give them food or make it possible for them to buy their own.

THEN AND ONLY THEN will the missiles stop flying. Israel could be perceived as a beneficial presence and eventually the hostilities would cease even with the proviso that they maintain control of the most of lands they seized in 1967. Any concession now would be seen as magnanimous. They have so much to gain and so little to loose by beginning to treat their neighbors – albeit their conquered neighbors – with dignity.

The U.S proved the effectiveness of this position after WWII with the Marshall Plan. A great many Americans thought Truman was nuts for committing so much to the rebuilding of Germany and the rest of Europe and Japan, but every dollar invested came back tenfold, and the U.S. gained the admiration of nearly every nation on earth for a good fifty years until we began to sound more like pre-war Germany than post-war America.

Now, both the U.S. and Israel are stuck in the mind-set that they can somehow bomb others into submissive agreement with their goals. It is an age-old and insane proposition that we once overcame, and we need to do it again.

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 -