Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Best Money Can Buy?

Some claim that, both the Republican and Democratic parties are bought and paid for by corporate America and special interests. By claiming that neither party gives a damn about the middle class, these skeptics ferment distrust of all politicians. This results in many voters staying at home on election day or voting for a third party candidate. In national elections third party candidates are seldom elected and if elected usually end up being ineffectual.

In 2004, Kerry and Edwards campaigned on the slogan; “Help is on the way for the middle class”. Democrats led by Ted Kennedy were able to get a majority in both the Senate and House to vote in favor of an increase in the minimum wage. Republican leadership never let the minimum wage bill come to a vote, because they packaged it to the repeal of the inheritance tax, thereby forcing Democrats to either vote against increasing the minimum wage, or give a tax cut to 7,500 very rich people at a cost of $753 billion dollars. (see post of 8/7/06)

If voters don’t make wise choices on election day the middle class may not survive the policies, which the Republican party has unleashed against it.

Congressional Republicans can’t argue that lobbyists are bad for America, because they need money to get their last ditch propaganda across to the voters. If viscous propaganda, two week before the election permit you to make up your mind as to who to vote for, you’re part of the problem.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, from 1998 through 2004, lobbyists spent nearly $12 billion to influence legislation, and in many cases to write the language of the laws and regulations. Drug companies and energy lobbyist push through tax cuts and tax credits worth billions for the wealthy corporate elite. The IRS estimates that offshore subsidiaries and tax havens cost our treasury $70 billion a year.

A record $2.14 billion was spent on lobbying members of Congress and 220 federal agencies in 2004, which is nearly $6 million a day spent to influence our leaders. We really do have the best government money can buy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Arrogant Stupidity

Yesterday, I posted a letter written by Alan D. Kirby of Delhi. His subject today is “Cut and Run”. Mr. Kirby writes: “Custer didn't cut and run. On that day, we lost one egomaniac and over two hundred and fifty brave troopers under his arrogant stupid leadership. Does it ring a bell?

Folks we're losing brave young Americans every day. Just what are we cutting from and what are we running from? Our brave young servicemen have more then met their obligation to their commander in chief. It is now the responsibility of this administration to justify to the American people their agenda in Iraq.

It is our duty to stop our complacency and stand united against this war and the administration that perpetuated it. It's time to lock arms and say no to this arrogant stupidity.”

Ironically, in his book, "Sleeping with Custer and the 7th. Calvary", Walter Rodgers wrote: "You can't just graft democracy as if it were a peach tree branch onto a pine tree. Democracy is a cultural thing."

Rogers quotes an Iraqi Muslim as saying: "We don't want your democracy. We have a perfect law as it is, the Sharia, Muslim law. We don't need Western cultural arrogance imposed on us."

Alan Kirby and Walter Rogers agree with Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha’s solution to the war in Iraq. Nearly a year ago Murtha insisted: “The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq. It's time for a change in direction."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shared Hope

On Oct. 21st. it was my privilege to post a letter by disabled Vietnam Veteran Alan D. Kirby of Delhi. He’s able to provide a unique insight into the failed policies of the Bush regime from a very personal perspective. His son-in-law is a Marine serving in Iraq, and we both share a hope that by writing letters to newspapers, our voices will be heard and his son-in-law will soon return home to Mr. Kirby’s daughter and grand daughter.

It’s my privilege to continue to have him use this website to increase the chances of his message being heard. Mr. Kirby suggests that we think about the following:

“In our quest for freedom we set our own benchmarks early in the American Revolution. After George Washington was bounced out of New York by the British, he could have called it quits. He and his army could have dissolved into history as a failed attempt. Our history could be quite different today. He didn't quit nor did he ask our adversaries for more time to strengthen our resolve. We had voted to move toward freedom from King George. We without any lack of resolve, or any lack of sacrifice accepted our responsibility.

Mr. Bush puts forth the argument that 12 million Iraqis voted for democracy, ok they voted that option, but did they accept the responsibility that comes with that vote?

I'm sure George Washington would have appreciated overwhelming military power, but would that make or strengthen our forefathers resolve. We really need that oil don't we?”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Corporate Profits

The greatest deficiency of the NAFTA Treaty, is that is there is no protection for labor or the environment. Consequently, we and the citizens of Mexico are paying a great price.

Free trade, is anything but free, because America has suffered 30 years of consecutive trade deficits. We should insist that our country follow the same trade practices as our principle trading partners, that is mutual, reciprocal trade as the foundation of any trade partnership. The $5 trillion in trade debt we’ve run up in the past six years is unsustainable. That's money that's not being invested in this economy, in our youth, and in our future.

We don't have free trade with China. Last year we had a $202 billion trade deficit with China. Trade treaties ought to require other countries to make their minimum wage half the median wage, so that as those countries prosper because of trade, that prosperity goes to a larger number of people. This is the way to build a up middle classes abroad.

Business people and economists say those lower prices are important for our consumers, but our inflation rate in this country is approaching five percent. Those Nike shoes that cost $110 in this country, but are produced overseas, have a very high mark up, because the average worker overseas is being paid a slave wage.

Corporate America was thriving with corporate tax rates above 50 percent and suddenly there is the great myth that those tax rates are much too high at 35 percent. Corporate executives claim that if we raise corporate taxes, they’ll just pass it on to the consumer. Furthermore, corporate executives claim that if they raise wages, it will shut down the business.

The fact is that the economy continues to grow and we've had a lot of growth in the economy, but median wages are stuck in the mud. Eighty percent of our workforce are blue collar workers, who work for an hourly wage. Adjusted for inflation their wages have actually been going downhill.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Culture of Corruption

Shortly after a House Republican comes to Washington, their leadership talks to them about, "How much money did you raise this week?"

Texas Republican Tom DeLay constantly hammered Republican members of the House to raise more money. Their leadership auctioned off committee assignments and chairmanships to those who raised the most money for the party.

A tremendous amount of money flows from the lobbying industry on K Street. There are over 30,000 lobbyists in Washington, a number that's ballooned since the 1980s. That's 66 lobbyists for every congressman. Lobbyists fuel a permanent campaign mode, by pumping money into the coffers of lawmakers under constant pressure to raise more cash.

California Republican Duke Cunningham secured 16 million in government contracts in exchange for a $140,000 boat. Other, lawmakers traded influence for cash, trips, and other luxuries, all offered by lobbyists, like Jack Abramoff.

Speaker of the House, Hastert vowed to tighten the rules in response to these scandals, but this Republican controlled Congress hasn’t done a thing to clean up the system. The Republican revolutionaries of 1994 have been sucked into the very culture of corruption they had promised to clean up.

Congressional leaders pushed through the Bush's plan to create a sprawling Department of Homeland Security. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was made part of this huge bureaucracy. Bush’s budget cuts sapped FEMA's long-term ability to cushion the blow of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

FEMA was deliberately downsized as part of a conservative agenda to reduce the role of government. The mitigation budgets for New Orleans were slashed even though it was known to be one of the top three catastrophic disasters facing this country.

The Army Corps of Engineers requested $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans, but the White House carved it to $40 million. At the same time, congressional Republicans agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill which included a $231 million bridge to a small, uninhabited Alaskan island, for Senator Ted Stevens.

Senator Trent Lott admitted: “Congress, abdicated our responsibility, in certain respects. It's not that the executive branches have necessarily taken it. We just left the field.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Dead Branch

Today, most lawmakers can't seem to get out of town fast enough. This year, they’ll work less than any time since 1948, when Harry Truman famously blasted a do-nothing, good-for-nothing Congress.

The ugly little secret is that today's Congress is no longer in the business of governing. It may shock you to learn that Congress only works about two days a week and it's never been worse than it is right now.

Congress has become the Tuesday through Thursday club, with lawmakers enjoying a work schedule most Americans can only dream of, pulling in $165,000 for what has become a part-time job.

A recent "New York Times" poll found most Americans can't name a single major piece of legislation that made its way through this Congress. Social Security reform, tougher immigration laws, and tighter ethics standards didn’t happen.

In the 1960s and '70s, Congress met an average of 161 days a year. In the '80s and '90s, that number dropped to 139 days. This year, Congress will probably end up working just about 100 days.

Jim Cooper, a Democrat, grew up in the world of political campaigns. His father, was governor of Tennessee. In 1982, Jim ran for office and won a seat in Congress. There was partisanship during the day, but according to Cooper at night, you’d go have a beer or dinner with a person on the other side of the aisle.

In 1994, the year of the Gingrich revolution, Jim Cooper put his House seat on the line to run for the Senate. He lost, and went back home to Tennessee. In 2002, Cooper ran for the House again and returned to a very different Congress. Today, there are very few real hearings and very few debates. The atmosphere had become raw and angry.

In 2001, for the first time in nearly 50 years, Republicans controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress. Bush runs the show and congressional Republicans see themselves as lieutenants in Bush's army. Congressional Republicans have given the president a free hand and an open checkbook to launch the war in Iraq.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Shadow of Death

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

In the early 1960's, John F. Kennedy tried to convey the menace posed to mankind by nuclear weapons. He warned: "Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us."

I’ve lived under the sword of Damocles for over 50 years and have accepted it as a way of life. Today, the Bush regime tells us to be afraid, be very afraid. However, I’m not afraid of the terrorists as much as I’m afraid of Bush’s incompetence and the congressional Republican's rubber stamp approach to protecting us. Bush’s cowboy bravado does not comfort many of us.

David Broder, the country’s premier political reporter said: “He started a war he could not finish, drove the government into debt, and repeatedly defied the Constitution.”

The eventual cost of the war in Iraq will be more than a trillion dollars. Nevertheless, this year House Republicans slipped in 13,012 pork earmarks worth $67 billion. That's a tripling of the pork trough, since the Republicans won control of the House in 1994.

Congress passed a law making it a crime to burn an American flag. It would make more sense to pass a law that says you can't burn a facsimile of the Constitution. We should be fearing the desecration of our Constitution, which John Sweeney and his rumdum friends in Congress have allowed to take place, under the pretext of making us safe.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Military Commissions Act

According to Jonathan Turley a Georgetown University law professor the Military Commissions Act of 2006, essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.

The act’s definition of an unlawful enemy combatant is: “a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of this act has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a combatant status review tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or secretary of defense.” Bush and Rumsfeld have demonstrated their incompetence for years, but this rubber stamp Congress has handed them the authority to determine the makeup of a “competent” tribunal. On their say so alone any innocent citizen in this country can end up being designated an unlawful enemy combatant.

The fact that a tribunal is appointed is meaningless. A tribunal would most likely be screened by Attorney General, Alberto Gonsales, who signed an opinion memo saying that you could torture and harm people to a point of organ failure or death.

The framers of our democracy created a system where we didn’t have to rely on the president’s integrity or sanity. Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn‘t rely on their good motivations. Congress gave Bush despotic powers, and people don’t realize what a fundamental change has occurred and we’re not going to change back anytime soon.

Bush has already ordered torture, which could cause injury up to organ failure or death. We prosecuted people after World War II for waterboarding prisoners.  We treated it as a war crime, and we’re now embracing the very thing that we once prosecuted people for.

This is going to go down in American history as one of our greatest self-inflicted wounds. History will ask, Where were you?  What did you do when this thing was signed into law?  During WW II, there were people that protested the Japanese concentration camps, but today we stand strangely silent as our inalienable rights evaporate.

"Those who would surrender liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." - Ben Franklin.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"Think About This"

Yesterday, Alan Kirby of Delhi had a letter to the editor published in the County Shopper entitled “Think about this”. As a peace vigil participant, I’m pleased that our efforts inspired him to write such a remarkably spontaneous and meaningful letter. Mr. Kirby wrote:

“A couple of Saturdays ago, I was driving through Delhi and passed a small group of people on the square. They were demonstrating against the war in Iraq. Quite frankly I was moved by their effort. Moved to dismay because this group was much too small. I flashed my lights, hit the horn a couple times, gave them a big thumbs up, then went on my way. That’s what we do isn’t it? Just go on our way and let a few dedicated people voice our despair. Every day we’re losing young Americans, their lives cut short for what and why? Are we really guiding Iraq on a quest to democracy? Think about this, I mean really think about this.

When this great country made the move toward freedom from King George Rex, it was the unwavering will of the people that eventually prevailed to lay the ground work of this great country. We are a united people of different races, religious beliefs, and social status.

I’ve not seen any movement by the Iraqi people to bring about the fundamentals of democracy. Instead we have a group of entities who have for countless centuries acted with barbarous hostility and contempt towards each other. They are quite content to be ruled by despots and mullahs. For these people it is a normal state of affairs.

Ok, we disposed a despot, cruel he was, but not more cruel than those who came before. Now we have a loose group of individuals paying lip service to this government until the time is right. You will see in the future another fundamentalist Islamic state. You can rest assured this will come to pass. I’ve not seen any indications that the Iraqis have the will to move in any other direction.

Our new King George Rex is trying to impose a “democracy” from the top down. History has proven democracies evolve from the bottom up. In our case much of our encouragement towards freedom came from the local pulpit. What do the majority of Islamic clerics in that part of the world have to say about us?

Folks, we are there to secure government interests. Have we created stability in the area? No, we’ve created a very unstable area. Are we bringing the murderous bleeping coward Osama Bin Laden to justice? No quite to the contrary, he’s sitting on the Pakistani border laughing at our sheer stupidity.

Oil, Texas tea. We have a Texas oilman in office. What motives would this cowboy have to avenge a threat to his father and ensure the oil resources. He has none of the altruism of Gene Autry or Hopalong Cassidy. We have a dedicated servant to business at the expense of young American lives.

This cowboy made a pledge on 9/11 to get those who perpetrated this heinous crime, has he kept this pledge? No no no instead he has opened a ripe breeding ground for every Islamic terrorist to capitalize on. “Stay the course George”!

If I’ve insulted a president, I cannot and will not apologize. I am a disabled Vietnam veteran. I have a son-in-law serving as a Marine in Iraq. I love this young man and would trade places with him in a nono second if it would bring him home to my daughter and granddaughter.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

Public Education

Ninety percent of the fastest growing jobs in this country will require some kind of post secondary education.

The crisis in education in this country is hurting us all, some more than others. Amongst developed nations, our 15 year-olds are showing themselves to be 24th in math ability, and 15th in reading ability. This means, that we are less prepared to compete aggressively in the global economy.

Every year more than one million students drop out of high school without a diploma. Our nation's graduation rates among minority students are especially dismal. Only 52 percent of Hispanics, 56 percent of African-Americans, 57 percent of Native-American students graduate on time, as compared to 78 percent of white students.

We have erroneously assumed that if we take care of the early grades the students could finish building on a strong educational foundation. We must concentrate on high schools, because 70 percent of our eighth graders read below grade level, and nearly 30 percent read several grades below grade level.

If we don't deal with this dropout crisis, we will end up with only 40 percent of the school drop outs working. Seventy-five percent of our prison population are high school dropouts, and we’ll be paying increased social welfare costs, because some of our citizens won't able to move ahead.

Improving our education system is the best way accomplish significant growth in our economy. We need a nation of consumers who are able to drive this economy, by making good wages. If we can get the graduation rates of minority students up to their white counterparts, by 2020 we'll have $310 billion more of wages coming into the economy, and seven million more high school graduates who are likely to be taxpayers.

It’s the right of every child born in this country to get the best education possible. The problem with charter schools, and vouchers is that an exceptional education is provided for a few. Public education in this country belongs in our neighborhood and we should be providing only one choice, which is to provide the highest excellence in education for each and every young person.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Purged with Blood

On the day John Brown was hung, he wrote: "I am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done."

During our Civil War, France and England considered entering the war on the side of the Confederacy, because their textile mills needed cotton. Wisely, they stayed out of our struggle.

We invaded Iraq for oil, and we’ve become trapped in a quagmire, which has cost over 3,100 American lives and a trillion dollars.

A thousand Iraqis are being slaughter ever month in a civil war. Both sides are responsible for the tortured and beheaded bodies that are being found in Baghdad. Some Iraqi security forces are participating in the death squads.

Bush refuses to acknowledge that the sectarian violence in Iraq is a civil war, because he’s playing politics and has no intention of getting us out. There hasn’t been a single thing about Iraq that Bush has been right about. 

Iraqis are going to continue killing each other regardless of what our military does. It’s not just a small percentage of al Qaeda doing the killing. Shia are killing Sunnis, and the Sunnis are killing Shia and Kurds. Our troops remain sitting ducks on a pond as they continue to be used as gangsters for capitalism.

We will not see the Iraqis stand together, while our troops are in Iraq. We have arm and trained 400,000 Iraqis, who are not about to stand up, so our troops can stand down.

We vainly flattered ourselves that our military can bring peace. It would be wise to begin redeploying our troops out of Iraq immediately and allow them to purge their land with Iraqi blood.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sinclair Lewis

“When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” ---Sinclair Lewis.

Fascism has been defined as a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.

Eisenhower warned: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

In “War is a Racket”, legendary Marine Corps officer Major General Smedley Butler quotes Benito Mussolini as saying: “And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.”

Butler's central thesis in “War is a Racket” is that regardless of the patriotic rhetoric or fear mongering that accompanies war, it’s waged almost exclusively for profit and enables a few people to make huge fortunes. Butler considers war the most vicious and profitable racket. It’s the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

The war in Iraq benefits the military-industrial complex, especially oil conglomerates, which have made outrageous profits, since the invasion.

Last year, Exxon Mobil made the largest corporate profit in history, while we paid record prices at the pumps. Furthermore, the Bush regime gave oil companies huge subsidies to help them record these record profits.

Now let’s consider those fascists, that come “wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

Wrapped in the Flag

In “Superpatriotism”, Michael Parenti points out: “If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling in lockstep behind the leader, whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship not democracy.”

Superpatriots wrap themselves in the flag and seek to defame dissenters for not loving their country. They follow a president without question, especially if it involves the use of military force. They fanatically cry out: “America love it or leave it.” By making our nation the issue, they’re able to shift the blame for what is being perpetuated by the current leadership.

Those critical of Bush are accused of not caring about the troops. Superpatriots seem not to care that Theodore Roosevelt said: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Carrying the Cross.

In "American Theocracy", Kevin Phillips recognizes that his Republican party has been hijacked by people who are unwilling to recognize the perils of religious fundamentalism. He believes that government should function within it's financial means, and stay out of our private lives. Phillips claims that some fundamentalist have stopped worrying about the economy because they're waiting for the second coming.

Phillips expresses grave concern about the dangerous influence of people who favor religion defining government. A survey found that 44 percent of Christians believed in Armageddon and thought the Antichrist was already on Earth.

For many, “God Bless America” has become a self-righteous phrase, indicating that, although they claim that they wish to do God’s will, what they really expect is for God to do theirs.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Immigration Reform

CNN’s Lou Dobbs debated immigration reform with New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson, on the Larry King Show. Surprisingly, they ended up agreeing on nearly every issue.

Prior to the midterm election, Congress funded $1.2 billion for 320 miles of a border fence. According to Lou Dobbs: “that fence doesn't get completed as it's presently laid out and legislated. That's a sham. This government continues to play games with the American people. We're more than five years after September 11th and we're sitting here talking about whether or not we need to secure our borders and our ports. This is hypocrisy and a sham and we've got to deal honestly with it.” Governor Richardson of New Mexico agreed: “Lou, you're right. It's a sham. It was a political vote so that Republicans could go home and say, we did something about border enforcement.”

Governor Richardson insisted that we must enforce the law, which says that those who knowingly hire illegal worker will be punished. Dobbs added: “one of the most important deterrents is to shut down employers of illegal aliens. Because of what they're doing to this economy, they've created a trillion dollar underground economy in this nation. I think that we need to come down with heavy, heavy fines, $50,000 to $100,000 with the first time it occurs. The second time it happens, we should be talking about executives going to jail.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Outsourcing

CNN’s Lou Dobbs debated outsourcing and education with Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, on the Larry King Show. It turned into a mutual admiration fellowship, with them agreeing that the middle class is getting shafted and that most of the benefits of economic growth are going to the very top.

The corporate share of national income has risen to a record level since World War II, but American workers are not benefitting from this rise in our national income. Wages in this country have been stagnant for 35 years, and if we don't start protecting our middle class, we're not going to have many left.

Outsourcing has led to the loss of four million manufacturing jobs over the past six years in this country. Those jobs are replaced with employment that on average provide salaries that are 20 to 30 percent less than the jobs, which were lost to overseas outsourcing. At risk are 15 million jobs in the next nine years that will go overseas. We are losing manufacturing jobs, to outsourcing, but we're also losing them because of technology.

U.S. multi-nationals corporations are off-shoring production, closing plants with good jobs, and moving them offshore to take advantage of cheaper labor, and then reintroducing the products and services created overseas back into our $12 trillion consumer economy.

Reich insists that making sure young people get the skills they need is presently much more important than the issue of outsourcing. The loss of good middle class jobs, is of great concern, but education is the key to holding onto many of of these jobs.

College graduate are doing fairly well, but those that are dropping out of high school or don't have any education beyond high school are being paid almost nothing. Reich said: “If we don't improve our educational system, particularly primary and secondary education, it will be a big problem.” The unemployment rate for recent high school dropouts was 15 percent for men and 21 percent for women in 2005.

“No Child Left Behind” with it’s unfunded mandates seems to have made the situation worse.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Unilateral Executive

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that 20 million public employees do not have free speech protection if they blow the whistle on official misconduct. This is another victory for the White House.

The Bush regime seeks to convince us that our Constitution intended the executive branch to have an excessive concentration of authority during a time of war. This unitary executive theory threatens to expand the president’s powers until the co-equal branches of government the framers of the Constitution intended are obliterated. Under this theory, Bush’s authority cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or challenged by Congress.

The “war on terror” promises to be a perpetual state of war. The implications of this theory extend far into the future. The Bush regime has revamped our carefully balanced constitutional design into a framework ruled by a powerful executive branch with a subservient Congress. A majority of the Supreme Court justices and congressional Republicans foolishly trust Bush to protect us. Absolute power has already corrupted absolutely.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hatred Fostered

It’s unreasonable to conclude that al Qaeda would be able to invade this country and defeat the most powerful military on earth. It’s much more likely that our Constitutional rights will be gradually eroded from within, by the executive branch of government.

Counter terrorism expert Richard Clark served under four presidents and on 9/11, he was the nations crisis manager in the White House situation room. Clark wrote that when we invaded an oil rich Arab country that posed no threat to us, we delivered to al Qaeda the greatest recruitment propaganda imaginable. Furthermore the invasion of Iraq provided those responsible for 9/11, with an opportunity to regroup, foster more hatred, and encouraged more terrorist and insurgents to kill Americans.

The Bush regime has encouraged terrorism and fostered a culture of fear. Fear suppresses reason and enables the executive branch to disregard the Constitution.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nuclear Club

North Korea, is the first member of the Axis of Evil to gain membership in the nuclear club. It’s first nuclear test, came six years after Bush decided to drop the Clinton administration policy of engagement with Kim Jong-il. In the past six years Bush has refused to engage directly with North Korea, but instead trusted communist China to safeguard America’s vital interests. China has failed to dampen the nuclear ambitions of the North Korean dictator. Bush can’t admit that his policy of alienating and antagonizing North Korea has failed to produced settlement. 

The Clinton administration used Wendy Sherman as a special policy adviser on North Korea from 1997 until the end of Clinton’s term. Ambassador Sherman states that when Bush took office, America was involved in negotiation to stop the development of missiles, which might deliver nuclear weapons. Although, Colin Powell thought continued negotiations were a good idea, he was overruled by Bush. As a result, we have a 400 percent increase in the amount of plutonium North Korea possesses.

In Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial,” candidate Bush is quoted as asking the Arabian Prince Bandar in June of 2000, “Why should I care about North Korea?” Today, North Korea has nuclear weapons, which might start a nuclear arms race. Both, South Korea and Japan may decide they need nuclear weapons to deter an attack. North Korea might decide to sell fissionable material for nuclear weapons to terrorists. Nothing is more terrifying to Americans than terrorists with their hands on nuclear weapons. 

A blockade is not going to stop North Korea from transferring nuclear weapons.  Plutonium can be a size of an orange, you can put it in a suitcase and take it across a border, you don’t need a ship coming out of a port to do that.  Although, “The Proliferation Security Initiative” is a useful technique, it’s not likely to stop North Korea from having its nuclear weapons or transferring some of that technology. 

I’m reminded of the words:
Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late- Eagles

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Holy Grail

Free trade agreements are said to be the holy grail of the Republican Party. Our trade deficit increases by $2 billion a day, and our total deficit is $1.2 trillion a year. In addition to the staggering deficit, these agreements raise constitutional concerns, because they establish courts outside of our judicial system which supersede our laws. The agreements are done under fast track authority, inasmuch as Congress has surrendered it’s constitutional authority to the Bush regime.

Free trade agreements have resulted in the loss of millions of American jobs and a growing record trade deficit and record trade debt. Many of these agreements violate Article I Section 8 of our Constitution, which declares that the Congress of the United States has the authority to regulate all trade and commerce between ourselves and other countries.

These agreements grant foreign companies rights and privileges that are denied American companies. Foreign companies can sue state and federal governments for compensation claiming that we have cause them financial harm. These trade agreements make the U.S. Constitution and our judicial system subservient to foreign courts.

Once a free trade agreement is approved there is little recourse, because under the terms of the agreement our Congress cannot restrict any agreed upon commercial activity. If our government places any restrictions on those foreign companies, they can sue the United States of America, drag it before an international tribunal, and demand payment from U.S. taxpayers for being denied their commercial rights.

The Bush regime fiercely pursue these free trade policies, and congressional Republicans continue to invalidate their constitutional responsibilities through fast track authority.

Ohio Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown and the Conference of State Supreme Court Chief Justices, have repeatedly expressed their concerns, but have been ignored by our trade negotiators, and congressional Republicans.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Silly Nonsense

House Speaker Dennis Hastert told "The Chicago Tribune", while talking about the Mark Foley sex scandal: "The people that want to see this thing blow up are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives." Obviously, Hastert would have prefer that Mark Foley still be in Congress and sending sexually explicit messages to pages.

On “The Russ Limbaugh Show”, Limbaugh said that Democrats are cooperation with the media to suppress conservative turnout by making it look like congressional Republicans knew this all along, and that because they're more interested in holding onto the House, they’ve covered it up rather than protect children.

Conservatives are complaining about the "suspicious" timing of this news, coming a month before the mid-term election. Democrats responded that congressional Republicans could have broken the news much earlier, but covered up for the former Republican Congressman hoping it wouldn't come to light until after the election.

The damage control on Sunday morning talk show consisted of political spin by Hastert and his Republican colleagues charging Democrats knew about Foley's explicit e-mails and leaked them to the media to make a big splash close to Election Day.

North Carolina Republican McHenry repeatedly told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the Democrats should be investigated. Blitzer said: “you've been doing this for the last few days saying the Democrats are behind the timing of the release of this information. Is that your accusation?” Rep. McHenry replied: “all the fact lead to one question: Did Rahm Emanuel or Nancy Pelosi have any involvement on the strategic or tactical level? McHenry never did come up with any facts.

Democratic Congressman Emanuel said he didn't see the Foley e-mails until they were in the press, and accused Republicans of taking their dirty laundry and throwing it over the fence.

Assuming that Democrats were behind the release of the sexually explicit instant messages. Shouldn’t Republicans be appreciative that Foley is no longer trolling the halls of Congress soliciting 16 year old Republican pages?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Get the Hell Out!

Our failure to declare a timetable and Bush’s plans for long-term military bases in Iraq feed the insurgency and results in more young Americans being killed.

A poll conducted last month found that 61 percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on Americans, which is up from 47 percent in January. Iraqi Sunnis have always favored blowing up Americans. Now members of the Shiite majority are 50 percent more likely to support violent attacks against Americans than they did in January.

The poll, by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 78 percent of Iraqis believe the presence of our military is “provoking more conflict than it is preventing.”

Iraqis have the most at stake and they overwhelmingly believe they will be better off if our forces leave according to a timetable. Only 9 percent of Iraqis favor Bush’s policy of staying the coarse, while 71 percent favor a withdrawal within one year.

The survey found: “There is evidence that if the United States were to make a commitment to withdraw according to a timetable, support for attacks would diminish.” Seventy-seven percent of Iraqis believe that we plan to establish permanent bases in Iraq. If Bush unequivocally renounces permanent bases, that would reduce popular support for attacks and save American lives.

Iraq may fall apart no matter what we do. However, the evidence is strong that the suspicions that we plan to stay forever is doing great harm. A poll conducted by our own State Department found that nearly three-quarters of Baghdad residents said they would feel safer if U.S. forces left Iraq.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that a letter seized by our military suggests that Al Qaeda itself is rooting for the our military to “stay the course” rather than withdraw. “Prolonging the war is in our interest,” the Qaeda letter says, presumably as a tool for propaganda and recruitment.

Senior member of the intelligence community, Michael Scheuer wrote "Imperial Hubris", which explores why terrorist hate us and why Bush’s actions are bin Laden's only indispensable allies.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Song and Dance

On Veterans Day 2004, the casualty count was 1,124 killed; Bush declared; “They are making us proud. They are winning.”

In a speech made to an American Legion convention in June 2005, Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said: “I think if we can hold things together for the next six months, then we've got a chance of coming out of this. Staying the course is not a policy. Just to hang on and hang on, that goes right back to Vietnam. We need to find a way out of this.”

With an election weeks away, Virginia Republican Senator John Warner the Armed Services Committee Chairman appears to be breaking ranks with the White House over Iraq. Warner's remarks came as the casualty count reached more than 2,740 killed and after the deaths of 24 of our troops in the past week.

Warner said: “I assure you, in a two or three months if this thing hasn't come to fruition, and if this level of violence is not under control, I think it's a responsibility of our government to determine a change of course. The U.S. strategy of standing down as Iraqi stand up, is failing.”

Warner makes the assumption that our withdrawal would simply turn the Iraqi oil fields into a treasury for the world terrorists movement. He questions whether Iraqi forces can ever do the job, but insists that we've got to give our military the time needed to succeed.

This is the same song and dance we’ve heard for several years. If the Iraqi government can’t stand up and the terrorists might gain control of the Iraqi oil fields, his only option appears to be the occupation of Iraq for decades. Perhaps, Republicans are ready to drop the charade of bringing democracy to Iraq and take full control of their government. The plan from the very beginning was not to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, but to enlist support from Americans that can’t accept that this war has always been a premeditated, avarice, imperialistic attempt to gain control of Iraqi oil.

Congressional Republicans are shrewd politicians, who are trying to cover their backside prior to the election, get re-elected and continue to be Bush’s rubberstamp.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mindless Conformity

There is nothing like a war to reduce citizens to mindless conformity, ready to play follow the leader.

Many believe that because Bush is our president, we should support his decisions, especially in times of war. Michael Parent's "Superpatriotism" points out: "We are told that during times of crisis we must trust the president. Democracy is not about trust; it's about distrust, accountability, public exposure and responsible government. We must impress on our fellow Americans to trust Congress less and themselves more."

Bush supporters claim that citizens don’t have access to the amount of factual intelligence available to our elected officials. According to Paul Pillar factual intelligence doesn’t matter to this regime. After 28 years, senior CIA officer Paul Pillar retired last October as our national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia. He charges this administration used selective intelligence about Iraq's unconventional weapons and of ignoring the prediction of postwar chaos in Iraq.

Pillar reports that intelligence was misused to justify the decision to topple Saddam. A decision, which former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill insist was made, before 9/11. Pillar claims the Pentagon repeatedly asked the same questions, and when intelligence analysts resisted giving them the answers they wanted, Pillar and others were accused of "trying to sabotage the president's policies."

The politics of fear requires that we accept that Islamic radicalism will not go away; and will lunge at us for decades to come. Consequently, we must stand up for our values and beliefs.

Senior member of the U. S. intelligence community, Michael Scheuer wrote "Imperial Hubris" while with the CIA. He warns: "One of the greatest dangers for Americans in deciding how to confront the threat from al Qaeda lies in continuing to believe: “Muslims hate us for what we think, rather than for what we do. We repeatedly hear: ‘because they hate freedom’ from senior U.S. leaders. Such a conclusion is potentially fatal nonsense”.

"Imperial Hubris" explores why they hate us and why Bush’s actions are bin Laden's only indispensable allies. Scheuer emphasizes that we must recognize that our invasion of Iraq was an avarice, premeditated war, which offered economic advantages.

Friday, October 06, 2006

American Imperialist

According to Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial", the situation in Iraq was labeled a debacle a year ago by supreme NATO commander James Jones.

As of this date two thousand seven hundred thirty-five of our troops have been killed in Iraq. Of the 20,687 that have been wounded; 9,352 were severely wounded. In Baghdad, Major General William Caldwell admitted that roadside bomb attacks are at an all-time high and American casualties are increasing rapidly.

American casualties are on a pace to make October even worse than September, which was the second deadliest month this year. In just the first, four days, of October, 19 Americans died. If that rate continued, it would result in 147 deaths in October, which would surpass the previous monthly death toll, of 137 in November 2004.

Iraqis continue to die at the rate, of more than 1,000 a month, mostly from grisly murders and executions in which the victims are often tortured. A brigade of Baghdad police have been pulled off the street on suspicion of involvement in these kidnappings and murders. The police of the 8th Brigade will get new criminal background checks and face lie detectors tests in an effort to weed out militia killers. They've been pulled off-line and will go through retraining before they'll be recertified and allowed to again conduct activities as police forces for the government of Iraq.

The dissolution of the 8th Iraqi Police Brigade, and the arrest of its commander on suspicion of involvement with death squads, is providing a partial answer as to why with a total of 300,000 Iraqi security forces in place, the U.S. military can't begin to stand down.

Anthony Cordesman a former intelligence analyst with the State and Defense Department, who specialized in Middle East issues wrote "Inexcusable Failure". Three years ago, he predicted that Bush would refuse to give up on his effort to turn Iraq into a docile client state. Cordesman cautioned: "all the training in the world will be for naught, if the Iraqi National Guard and Police are corrupt, or view their government as a puppet regime of American imperialist ".

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hopelessly Divided

Many believe that we are a nation hopelessly divided between righteous fundamentalist and secularists. Some think America has strayed too far from God, while others fear that religious zealots in the White House, Congress and on school boards are waging holy war on our liberty.

Rabbi Michael Lerner’s grandparents came to America because they thought they were going to be protected from having a religion imposed on them. In “The Left Hand Of God”, Rabbi Lerner writes: “unfortunately, the political and religious right has blamed selfishness and materialism on liberals of our society." In Europe, the political right used to blame selfishness and materialism on the Jews. In America, they now blame gays and lesbians, feminists and secular liberals. Rabbi Lerner believes selfishness and materialism are deeply rooted in the ethic of capitalism, and all religious and spiritual traditions have a common wisdom that love, caring, kindness and generosity can counter selfishness and materialism.

In “Our Endangered Values”, President Carter draws upon his life experience as president and as a Nobel Peace Prize winner to reflect on what's gone wrong over the past six years. Carter believes that the Bush administration has made a radical break from the basic values of equality, opportunity and justice, which past presidents embraced as core governing principles. These core governing principles have been replaced with rigid fundamentalism, which disregards the truth, demonstrates contempt for people that disagree, and repudiates basic human rights.

The political right has succeeded in convincing people that religion only means right-wing politics. They focus on divisive wedge issue, like abortion, stem cell research, and homosexuality, and forget that the Bible calls for a redistribution of wealth to the people in the society.

Sister Joan Chittister author of “Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir”; asks: “Do we want the religion of the Crusades and the Inquisition and the witch burnings and segregation and slavery, the oppression of women and Puritanism? Sister Chittister points out that the religious right deletes some of the commandments, while accepting corporate and political greed. They sit by and say nothing about a doctrine of preemptive war. Either the religious right considers life is of value or it’s not of value.

This is my response to a character’s comment.

An Oneonta N.Y. resident calling himself Roger O. Thornhill made the following comments regarding the above entry: “Your unbridled hate speech and verbal assault on Christianity does not go unchallenged, Mr. O'Leary (if in fact that is what your name is). I rip your site to shreds on my site. An apology to all Christians from you is required. Are you man enough to make it?”

Roger O. Thornhill is the name of Cary Grant’s character in “North By Northwest”. I use my real name and don’t understand why I owe all Christians an apology.

An apology, which is required or demanded will most likely be insincere and therefore meaningless. I’m prepared to make a spontaneous, sincere apology for factual errors on this website. I would consider an apology, if Thornhill would provide a specific explanation as to why my comments deserve the characterization of hate speech or an assault on Christianity.

After visiting his website, I’ve concluded that this website doesn’t come close to being unbridled hate speech. Thornhill demonstrates contempt for people that disagree with him, while I prefer to focus on concepts and not the person with whom I disagree. I have described my articles as Harry Truman editorials, because; “I don't give 'em Hell, I just tell the truth and they think it's Hell.”

In fact, I appreciate Thornhill’s disparaging remarks because they have inspired me to prepare many more letters dealing with religion. In the months after the election, Thornhill and the readers of the Oneonta Daily Star will be able to read numerous letters to the editor, which Thornhill will consider an “assault on Christianity.”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Intrusion of Religion

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are Gods.”

The First Amendment of our Constitution declares that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Internal Revenue Service has sent out a warning letters to more than 15,000 churches throughout the country. These lettered serve notice that politicking could endanger their tax-exempt status.

The IRS discovered that 60 churches and charities violated laws against political activities, and presently there are 40 active investigations into the political activities of these churches. Many argue that the outcome of the 2004 presidential election was determined by Catholic voters who were encourage from the pulpit not to vote for John Kerry in order to re-elect born-again George W. Bush, by a margin of 52% to 47%. This occurred in at least one Catholic Church in Delaware County the Sunday before the 2004 election.

Reportedly, 250 million Americans are Christian and 70 million of them describe themselves as evangelicals. Christian Americans now dominate our political system, not unlike the Shiite majority in Iraq's struggling democracy.

Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says there are definite limits on: “What houses of worship cannot do, under federal law, is to endorse or oppose candidates for public office. They may not use their resources to intervene in a partisan race. Houses of worship cannot become cogs in anyone's political machine.”

Michael Parenti states: “Religion in America resembles capitalism in the way it attaches itself to potent symbols beyond its own sphere. U.S. leaders repeatedly weave piety with patriotism.”

We preserve our constitutional guarantee that government will not interfere with religion by keeping politicians out of religion, and religion out of politics.

John Ryan wrote: “There must be a change or God Bless America will be but an empty and self-righteous phrase, indicating that, although we say that we wish to do God’s will, what we really want is for God to do ours.”

Next time you hear a politician say God Bless America, Boo!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shattered Unity

Richard Clarke the author of “Against All Enemies” has recently expressed views, which hopefully will restore national unity. He points out that the 9/11 attacks united America as a nation, but the unity has gradually eroded. To reclaim that national unity, he believes we need to understand why the erosion occurred.

Clarke believes the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq was the single most important event, which eroded our national unity. The deceitful attempts to link Iraq with the al Qaeda attacks destroyed the Bush regime’s credibility. That trust was undermined again, when the National Intelligence Estimate confirmed that the sacrifices our military has made did not weakened the terrorist movement, but instead made it stronger.

A broad consensus in America on Iraq appears to be impossible. Clarke suggests that Bush should admitted there is a serious problem with the current strategy and take advice of respected experts and concentrates on protecting our national interests by preventing Iraq from continuing to be a failed state where terrorists can train.

The phrase “national interests” is an interesting choice of words by Clarke. I’m concerned that it’s real meaning is control of Iraqi oil. If our troops remain in Iraq we will continue to trade blood for oil by providing terrorist with on the job training.

Clarke submits that the Bush regime continues to used 9/11 as an excuse to strengthen presidential power and erode fundamental civil liberties. The most obvious violations are the National Security Agency’s illegal wiretapping of phones in the United States without a warrant, and the abandoning of our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions by engaging in “alternative interrogation techniques” at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons.

Clarke insists a system can be devised, which permits needed surveillance of the vast traffic in voice and e-mail messages, but also requires judicial involvement before information is disseminated and periodic congressional oversight to prevent abuse.

If we are going to defeat the enemy, we must learn to discuss our differences about Iraq and terrorism in civil and analytical terms, and reject the use of fear and terrorism to divide America for political advantage.

Monday, October 02, 2006

One Party Rule

This year's scandal outbreak arises from prolonged one-party rule, which gives politicians a sense of being beyond the law, since they have the power to dole out favors to lobbyists for money.

Recently, ABC News released sexually explicit e-mail messages sent by Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley to a 16 year old male congressional page. Foley, who served six terms in Congress and chaired the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus abruptly resigned.

California Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham has plead guilty in a defense-contractor bribery case.

Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney became the first elected official to plead guilty and cooperate with a probe of the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay faces money-laundering charges and is a subject of the Abramoff probe. Messrs. Ney and DeLay have dropped their re-election bids.

According to the Congressional Quarterly, N.Y. Republican Rep. John Sweeney voted with Tom DeLay 92 percent of the time. An independent watchdog group “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington” released their annual report listing John Sweeney among the top 20 most corrupt members of Congress. Sweeney has had to defend his participation in two trips to Park City, Utah and Lake Placid, N.Y. with lobbyists who later donated to his campaign.
 
At this point it doesn’t matter how bad Saddam was. What matters is the absolute incompetence and unwillingness to change direction that has brought us to the point where our nation is less secure and financially solvent than it was before 9/11.

Republicans running for Congress would like to be judged only on local issues and not on the foreign and economic mess they have helped create. If congressional Republicans are re-elected this futile and counterproductive war will continue to it’s inevitable disaster. The same people who mismanaged Katrina and the Iraq war will continue to increase deficits and pass the cost of their incompetence on to our children and grandchildren. Congressional Republicans individually and collectively created and continue the military disaster and fiscal mess we are in today.

 

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Exit Strategy

The violence sweeping the Middle East make clear that the region is farther from peace than ever, and that real dangers continue to grow. The longer the Bush regime fails to lead, the more dangerous the world becomes.

Bush refuses to lay out a timetable as to how long our troops will be tied down in his misguided war in Iraq. American troops in Iraq are trapped in an increasingly bloody civil war between Sunni and Shiite sectarian groups, with no end in sight. As the massacres increase in ferocity, the Bush regime and congressional Republicans continue to ignore the needless danger our troops face every day.

The only timetable the Bush regime and his rubber-stamp Republican Congress care about is the November election. It's time for Bush to face up to his failed policy and explain his plan for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. The situation in Iraq demands an exit strategy, and it's essential for the Bush to explain to the nation what his exit strategy is.

Disengagement is not defeat, but part of the solution in Iraq. Our military presence and our open-ended military commitment are part of the problem. We are seen as an occupying army. This fuels the insurgency, offer a false crutch for the Iraqi government, undermine our respect in the world, and make the war on terrorism harder to win.

Critics don't want our troops bogged down endlessly in Iraq, defending the same failed strategy. The Iraqi people have elected a democratic government, and it's time for American troops to begin to come home.

This Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress can't be trusted to keep us safe. We need to refocus our priorities on the real threats to America. If the Republican leadership won't hold the White House accountable for its failed leadership, the voters must hold the Republican Party accountable in November.

The best hope for the success of the new Iraqi government is for us to begin disengaging from Iraq. The Iraqi government must begin to make its own decisions, make the necessary compromises to avoid full-scale civil war, and take responsibility for its own future.