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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blackwater USA

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.”

Blackwater USA, is a secret private military company based in North Carolina, which has close ties to the White House. This powerful private army has been quietly hired to operate in international war zones and on American soil. It’s run by Eric Prince a secretive, mega-millionaire Christian conservative and major bankroller of the president and his allies. Its contacts run deep inside the military and intelligence agencies and is considered the elite Praetorian Guard for the “global war on terror.” It has the largest private military base in the world, with a fleet of 20 aircraft and 20,000 soldiers at the ready. Its forces are capable of overthrowing governments, and yet most Americans have never heard of Blackwater.

In January, it was a Blackwater helicopter that was downed in Baghdad, killing five civilians, and back in 2004, four Blackwater employees were ambushed and hung from that bridge in Fallujah.

The Bush regime has used taxpayer money to employ a private army of tens of thousands of mercenaries in Iraq. They’re paid $1000 a day, without the knowledge of the American people.

This is one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex. Blackwater began in 1996, with the opening of a private military training camp to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing. The Bush regime hails Blackwater as a revolution in military affairs, but in fact it’s a dire threat to American democracy.

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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Puppets ?

General Casey said that if you put more troops in Iraq, this will increase the Iraqis’ dependence on us, and it will prevent them from making the painful political compromises necessary to create an Iraq that people are willing to fight and die for.  General Casey is correct, but the military, politicians and media continue to the possibility that the Iraqi troops are not likely to be willing to die for a puppet regime of American imperialist.

We sent nearly 20,000 more troops into Iraq last fall and our casualties went up.  We expected six Iraqi battalions to go into Baghdad, but only two showed up. They were trained, but they weren’t motivated to die for international oil conglomerates under our occupation. If we send in another 20,000 troops, our casualties will again go up, and we will be increasing the Iraqis’ dependence on us.

What happened to the political spin that Bush was listening to the generals on the ground. Apparently he listens to them, until the general happens to disagree with him, and then Bush decides to replace the general.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel opposes sending any more troops into Iraq, described the surge option as Alice in Wonderland. Hagel isn’t the only Republican Senator, who opposes the escalation. Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman said it makes no sense. Oregon Senator Gordon Smith said that the policy is not only wrong, but absurd and may even be criminal, what we‘re doing, allowing these young men and young women to be killed and wounded day after day, with no apparent long-term strategy.

We don’t need to train more Iraqis, because the basic problem is motivation.  Most of the Iraqi troops are not stupid enough to allow themselves to be use by American imperialists.

At this point the last line of Dalton Trumbo's timeless anti-war masterpiece “Johnny Got His Gun” seems appropriate. “You plan the wars you masters of men and point the way and we will point the gun.” THE END

Monday, February 26, 2007

“Declare Victory”

Lyndon Johnson didn’t listen to the suggestion of “Declare Victory, and get out”, when Vermont’s Republican Senator George Aiken told him what to do about the quagmire in Vietnam. 

In Basra, the British are pulling out 1,600 troops, the rest perhaps by the end of next year. Prime Minister Blair announced troop reductions and set a timetable for bringing home the rest. Vice President Cheney claimed that decision was an indication that the occupation was succeeding. However, the Pentagon’s most recent quarterly report to Congress named Basra as one of five cities in Iraq where violence is “still significant.”

The real reason for the British withdrawal is that its military is stretched to the breaking point. Blair’s decision was seen in Britain as an admission that their military could no longer sustain simultaneous action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Britain’s former defense chief, Charles Guthrie, warned that the British military is approaching “operational failure”. British bases in Basra were regularly coming under mortar fire, which necessitated the abandonment of the urban bases of operations and taking shelter at the airport.

Although, Basra had been relatively quiet for a long period of time, the violence is increasing, between Shia factions. There’s a lot of oil in Basra and it’s a main transshipment point for oil out of the country.

Pentagon officials have publicly stated that our Army and Marine Corps is broke and in need of more people and equipment. It’s going to be a rather violent spring in Afghanistan, because we don’t have enough troops in that country.

The Bush regime isn’t looking for a way out of Iraq. If he wanted a way out, they could have seized that opportunity, when Maliki said he wanted to take over security. Victory for the Bush regime has always been to ensure that the multinational oil companies are firmly in control of Iraqi oil.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Contemptible Treatment

“Washington Post” correspondent Dana Priest has reported on what she discovered at Walter Reed Hospital.

When, those that have been severely injured in Iraq get out of the hospital a lot of them are on pain medications.  It takes anywhere from 10 months to a year to get processed out. The unlucky ones live across the post in building 18, because the facility is overwhelmed.

Built before World Wars II, building 18 is infested with mice and some of the rooms have stained carpets and mold. Many people are upset about the condition of the rooms and soldiers have complained to their commanding officers. Mouse traps have been passed out and they’ve send over roach bombs to try to get rid of the cockroaches, but it’s been a chronic problem in Building 18. 

According to Dana Priest, Walter Reed Army Hospital has been very clever in the way it controls the media.  They cover up shoddy treatment and coverup the horror stories, because it’s their fault.  It’s a question of shuffling paper work, getting people trained to the level where they know what to do.

Imagine a 20 year old wife, whose 22 year old husband has lost a couple of limbs.  He’s in a wheelchair or trying to learn how to use his prosthetics.  She comes and gets a cheap apartment somewhere near Walter Reed and wants to help him get his care. 

She is supposed to get free lodging, but if she goes to get the money for that, the paper work may not be available.  Her husband either has to wheel himself all over the post which can be acres of up and down in all kinds of weather or wait for a shuttle bus which may never come.

Those that have lost eyes, ears, limbs and portions of their brains have to go through this kind of bureaucratic nightmare.  In many cases it sets back their treatment, because they withdraw and believe the system isn’t working for them. Some stop seeking the very care, they need to get better.

By sending more troops into Iraq and there is going to be more casualties. Major General Weightman the commander at Walter Reed admits they’re bracing for the impact of more casualties as the escalation gets underway.

Democratic Senators Barbara Mikulski and Patty Murray have called for a Pentagon investigation and Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama have written legislation to fix problems, and streamline the paperwork for the wounded.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our Worst Nightmare

Former head of the CIA‘s bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer insists that we‘ve always overestimated the damage we did to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We won the cities, but didn‘t close the borders and the Taliban and al Qaeda escaped. They have had the past five years to rebuilding and reequipping their forces.

Scheuer claims that the Bush regime really doesn‘t take the transnational terrorist threat seriously. The notion that we‘re going to do with 40,000 troops in Afghanistan what the Soviets couldn‘t do with 150,000 troops is madness.

The next attack that will occur in America, will be planned and orchestrated out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Scheuer insists that the Iranians are no threat to America unless we provoke them. Iran may be a threat to Israel, they‘re not a threat to the United States.

The threat to our homeland, comes from al Qaeda, who are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They’ve been there for the past 15 years and we arn‘t treating the Islamist enemy as seriously as we should. Arresting or killing them, one man at a time isn’t going to work. 

On 2/19/07, Michael Scheuer unequivocally predicted on “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann, that al Qaeda is “going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States and we’re going to have absolutely nothing to respond against. It will be a unique situation for a great power, and we’re going to have no one to blame but ourselves".

Scheuer is a former senior member of the U. S. intelligence community and has two decades of experience in national security issues. While with the CIA, he wrote "Imperial Hubris" under the pseudonym Anonymous.

Scheuer 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".

"The reality is that many of the worlds 1.3 billion Muslims hate us for our actions not our values. Bin Laden has been precise in telling Americans the reason he is waging war on us. He could not enjoy his increasing level of success if Muslims did not believe their faith; brethren; resources and land were under attack by the U.S."

While with the CIA, he was an authority on Afghanistan. In "Imperial Hubris", he wrote: “Unless U.S. led foreign forces are massively increased and are prepared to kill liberally and remain in Afghanistan permanently, the current Afghan regime cannot survive. In Afghanistan, above all other places, familiarity with foreigners breeds not just contempt, but war to the death. The reestablishment of an Islamic regime in Kabul is as close to an inevitability as exists. One hopes that Karzai and the rest of the westernized, secular, and followerless Afghan expatriates we installed in Kabul are able to get out with their lives.”

"Imperial Hubris" explores why they hate us and why our policies and actions are bin Laden's only indispensable allies. Scheuer emphasizes: "We must recognize that our invasion of Iraq was not preemptive; it was an avarice, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages." He wrote "Imperial Hubris" with certainty that: "Al Qaeda will attack the continental U. S. again, that its next strike will be more damaging than 9/11."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blood Money

Government auditors told Congress that a review of the $57 billion of Iraq contracts, they could get access to, they have found more than $10 billion in unaccounted spending.  That’s nearly one stolen dollar for ever six actually spent.  In addition there’s the $9 billion of Iraqi money that’s unaccounted for.

More than $2.7 billion of the unaccounted for money was paid to Halliburton.  Its CEO, David Lesar, took home more than $12 million in 2005, according to “Forbes” magazine.  Since the war began Lesar’s stock gained over $100 million, thanks to Halliburton’s previous CEO, Vice President Dick Cheney, the single greatest advocate of the Iraq war.

David Lesar is not only a Bush donor, but he sits on the board of the American Iranian Council, which identifies itself as “a catalyst for change through dialogue and understanding.”  He and the other contractor CEOs seek to get pro-war candidates elected to office.

The heads of these corporations are funding candidates who will give them business, and look the other way.  They expect no oversight, transparency, or checking on the contracts. Corporations want a blank check and to be able to fill in the zeros. We keep hearing about Halliburton because they have a lock on the government and the military. Interconnecting board of directors are composed of former generals, senators, congressmen and high elected officials.

Democrats are holding hearings to expose the problem and have introduced legislation to stiffen penalties for war profiteers. They want to make contracts more competitive and require qualifications for the some of the contracting oversight positions now held by Republican political appointees.

For every dollar Democrats spend in oversight, they get $106 dollars back for the taxpayer.  Nevertheless, there are elected officials, who are resisting any oversight of corporations and contractors.

Monday, February 19, 2007

America’s Future

Bush proclaimed: "I'm a compassionate conservative." He and congressional Republicans pass themselves off as moralistic, but in fact they are greedy and uncaring. They have looked out for the interests of multinational corporations, big oil, pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors with huge tax cuts. Corporations hide money overseas to avoid paying taxes and nothing has been done to end special tax giveaways to companies that out source jobs overseas.

Most families are working harder to stay afloat with fewer benefits, insufficient incomes, more stress and less job security. An unrestrained extreme form of capitalism has resulted in a diminishing middle class carrying the burden for our country. Congressional Republicans pandered to the wealthy elite without shame.

A United Nations report on the well-being of children in 21 rich nations found that America and Great Britain earned the bottom two spots, while the four Nordic countries were best overall.

Countries were ranked on "material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people's own subjective sense of well-being." America was last on the list of issues related to health. Our low ranking was driven by the incidence of low birth-weight babies as well as deaths of those under 19 from accidents or injuries per 100,000.

Mothers whose diets were poor in their teenage years and during pregnancy, or who smoke or drink alcohol in pregnancy, were significantly more likely to have low birth-weight babies. This suggests that the well-being of mothers is a critical factor for nearly all aspects of child’s well-being.

Poverty is a key factor in our low ranking. America’s children score lower than most for reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. It ranked second to last in the percent of 15 to 19 year-olds in full time or part time education.

A country cannot be considered doing the best it can for its children if other countries at a similar stage of economic development are doing much better. Although, most of our children live above world standards of poverty, data show a remarkable imbalance of distribution of wealth in America.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Looting of America

Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha is chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. He reminds us that after Bush ordered an additional 10,000 troops into Baghdad last year, we had an increase in violence, with more Iraqis and more Americans being killed.

Murtha points out that in 1983, President Reagan put our troops in Lebanon and the Marines got wiped out in their barrack, because they had no mission except to indicate our resolve. Bush’s so-called “surge” of troops in Iraq is another example of a symbolic gesture of resolve, because there he has no real strategy. 

The problem with Bush’s “surge” this time is that he won’t be able to send all 22,000 in at the same time.  He’ll have to extend troops, who are in Iraq and Afghanistan and send others back before they’ve completed their training cycle and a year at home with their families.

Presently, there’s no strategic reserve in the United States, because of the war in Iraq. If something happened in Iraq or North Korea, we don’t have the troops to deploy, nor would we be able to sustain a deployment.

In order to try to get Baghdad under control, we would have to use many more troops. Kosovo had two million people and we had 40,000 troops. In Iraq, there are 26 million people and we’ll have a mere 140,000 troops. We’re putting our military in harm’s way unnecessarily, because an extra three or four brigades are not going to make a difference.

Furthermore, billions are being wasted in Iraq by Halliburton and its offshoots KBR and Bechtel, which are Republican-run firms. These firms are regularly charged with cheating our government. The “War on Terror” should really be called the “Looting of America” by the Bush regime.

An end to the occupation of Iraq would allow our nation to focus on rebuilding our military and on problems such as corporate outsourcing of jobs, schools, the environment, the elderly and affordable quality health care for all.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

An Impeachable Offense

Bush has decided to subject his secret wiretapping program to review by FICA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It appeared to be a tactical retreat from the challenge of a Democratic Congress. Nevertheless, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez continues to argue that the president has a right to spy without warrant if he chooses.

Gonzalez agreed to turn over to congressional committees classified documents about the surveillance program. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said; "I look forward to reviewing the court's orders and deciding what further oversight or legislative action is necessary." In fact, Bush is merely trying to head off questions by members of Congress.

James Bamford specializes in national security affairs. He wrote that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provides that failure to obtain a warrant authorizing electronic spying was a felony, punishable by a fine of $10,000 and five years in prison. FISA was enacted in 1978 in response to previous intelligence abuses. Making violations of the law's provisions a felony is a sign that in 1978 Congress took the matter of illegal wiretaps very seriously.

Bamford points out that, although the Bush has been accused of ignoring the provisions of FISA, and appears to have committed a felony, there has been no FBI investigation and no special prosecutor appointed. Attorney General Gonzalez has been dedicated to the protection of the president more than to the prosecution of justice.

According to Bamford one of the charges in the articles of impeachment drawn up against President Nixon was "illegal wiretaps." Bush's legal protectors seem to have grown fearful that someone will conclude that a felonious offense is also an impeachable offense.

Bush's claims of executive power has earned him plenty of criticism, and in the wiretap case he is seeking to deflect criticism by agreeing to comply with the law. It’s important that Senator Leahy continue his pursuit of the truth concerning Bush's lawless behavior.

For now, congressional Democrats have stuck with a plan of rigid congressional oversight as opposed to the power of the purse or impeachment.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Emerald City

The author of “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”, Rajiv Chandrasekaran was in Baghdad for the 11 months Paul Bremer was in charge of Iraq. In his book, Chandrasekaran gives details of life in the heavily fortified green zone. He reports that Washington consistently selected people, who were unqualified for the job. They should have hired our best and brightest, but the Pentagon looked for loyalty to the Republican Party.

Arabic language skills, a background in the Middle East, and expertise in post war reconstruction were needed, but the Bush regime only wanted true believers, people who voted for Bush and supported their vision for Iraq. In pre-deployment interviews some were asked their views on Roe versus Wade and views on capital punishment.

Washington drafted the de-Baathification plan and Bremer issued the order to disband the Iraqi army. Bremer insisted, “We’re not going to use a lot of existing Iraqi institutions. We’re going to try to remake it from scratch in the best American way possible.” 

Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Reform Committee, is looking into the $8.8 billion that can’t be unaccounted for. Bremer has no receipts for 360 tons of our currency, he claims to have passed out in $100 bills to somehow buy loyalty. 

Some of the tension between Sunnis and the Shia arose from decisions made by Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority. He used a quota system, when hiring members for the governing council. Thus, sending a message to Iraqis that your religious affiliation and your ethnicity matters in terms of political representation. 

It wasn’t the unqualified staff that destroyed the enormous goodwill right after the liberation of Baghdad. It was Bremer’s decisions to disband the army and fire Baathists. Thus enshrining a formal occupation.  The manner in which he went about governing Iraq, turned Iraqi attitudes against the Americans. 
 
This mismanagement and outright corruption can be traced up the chain from Bremer to Rumsfeld to Cheney and to Bush. The mismanagement seems to have been calculated to ensure a power vacuum, which provides an excuse to keep our troops involved as “gangsters for capitalism.” What better way to expropriated the Iraqi economy than “to remake it from scratch?”

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lives Wasted

Some were offended by Barack Obama saying; “3,100 lives wasted”. It’s the truth, but it’s not the politically correct thing to say. Our finest and bravest young men and woman continue to die needlessly in Iraq and most Americans don’t want to accept that reality. It’s also politically correct to refer to the mission as being in our strategic national interest.

Lives are being wasted, because the mission was not a noble cause from the very beginning. The invasion of Iraq was an avarice, calculated, imperialistic plan to gain control of the world’s third largest oil reserve. Instead of making Americans safer it created more terrorist. There were no weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda.

Corporate racketeers have used our troops to steal oil from the Iraqi people, under the cover of bringing the Iraqi people freedom and democracy. Bush has commandeered our military to be gangsters for capitalism, and they’re being used as economic cannon fodder by the military industrial complex to ensure outrageous profits for multinational oil corporations.

A child or grandchild of those in a position of privilege will not come home in a flag draped coffin or be placed in harms way, because they’re part of the ruling nobility and such risks are unacceptable.

Troops are dying for what the ruling elite consider is a “God given right", to take whatever they want from the Middle East. The precious lives of our youth have been wasted, because politicians, many Americans, and the media can’t admit to sacrificing the blood of our men and women for oil.

Many years ago, the Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense. Since, we now have a Department of Homeland Security, our Department of Defense can be renamed the Department of Corporate Racketeering.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Morally Treasonable

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office e-mailed me an update on her first month in office, which provide an internet link to the Saratoga Springs Post Star. Their reporter, Charles Fiegl wrote that Gillibrand had held her first "Town Hall" public meeting and described what occurred. Excerpts from his article follow:

“Most in the audience agreed with her, but a few dissenters said being overly critical of the war does a disservice to troops.

First Lt. Matthew McLoughlin of Malta urged Gillibrand to vote against any resolution critical of the president's policy toward Iraq. McLoughlin served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 with the U.S. Army National Guard.

Gillibrand said she believes the president is not using his power or leverage effectively in the Middle East. She will vote against bills that would escalate the war, but she will vote for appropriations sending food and supplies soldiers need to fight in Iraq.

After the meeting, city resident David Bronner, a Republican, sought out Gillibrand. Bronner pointed his index finger at her face and told her to heed McLoughlin's advice. Bronner, a military veteran, told her she would be doing a great disservice to the country by voting for a resolution similar to the one in the Senate. Bronner turned to walk away, but Gillibrand reached out to him and insisted on shaking his hand. ‘I respect your opinion,’ she said. ‘You're in the big leagues now,’ Bronner said.”

I responded to the article with the following letter to the editor of the Post Star:

Regarding, Charles Fiegl’s report about the dissenters at Rep. Gillibrand’s first “Town Hall” public meeting. Those that consider Gillibrand to be overly critical of the war might consider the words of Major General Smedley Butler in a speech entitled,“War is a Racket”. Butler admitted most his thirty-three years on active duty with the Marine Corps was spent being “a gangster for capitalism.”

Perhaps, Mc Loughlin never heard of Smedley Butler, who was a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. First Lt. Mc Loughlin has been assigned to be “a gangster for capitalism”, which he doesn’t even realize.

David Bronner might consider the words of Theodore Roosevelt: "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.”

I’m confident that Rep. Gillibrand will not be intimidated by Bronner’s finger waving and will continue to speak out. Today, the message to our children and grandchildren is that it’s okay for corporate racketeers to steal oil from the Iraqi people, under the cover of bringing them democracy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Practical Plans

Former Senator George McGovern has written a book entitled “Out Of Iraq, A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now.”

The plan calls for setting a date six months from now and during that six months we would withdraw every single American out of Iraq.

I prefer McGovern’s H.R. 746 plan over Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s H.R. 508, because it includes the 100,000 government contractors and mercenaries, Bush and his political allies are using taxpayer dollars to employ. Blackwater USA is owned by Eric Prince a secretive, mega-millionaire conservative and major bankroller of the Bush regime.

Nevertheless, Rep. Lynn Woolsey offered a strong sensible alternative. "Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act of 2007," establishes a six-month time frame for withdrawal for all U.S. military forces from Iraq from the date of enactment.

Woolsey’s plan, prohibits any further funding to deploy troops in Iraq but it does allow for funding to ensure the safe withdrawal of all U.S. personnel, the training and equipping of Iraqi forces, and, if the Iraqi government requests it, support for an international stabilization force. Such a force would be funded for no longer than two years and would be combined with economic and humanitarian assistance.

H.R.508 would also provide for full health-care funding for veterans, rescind the congressional authorization for the war in Iraq, prohibit the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq and ensure that the U.S. has no long-term control over Iraqi oil.

Congress has already appropriated funding that will keep the occupation going for at least six months. This money could be diverted to finance Woolsey’s bill. What’s more, her plan, as she said, "with the exception of veterans’ benefits, will cost the American people pennies on the dollar as compared to continuing the occupation for two more years."

Urge your congressional representative to co-sponsor one of these plans or to just get our troops redeployed out of Iraq.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Questions for the House

I’ve asked the following questions of Delhi’s representative in the House of Representatives. Isn’t it time for you to ask questions of your representative?

Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s H.R. 508; “Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act of 2007”, establishes a six-month time frame for withdrawal for all U.S. military forces from Iraq from the date of enactment. Do you intend to vote for H.R. 508? If not, why not?

Would you agree that an end to the occupation of Iraq would allow the 8 billion dollars a month being spent in Iraq to be used to rebuild our military and on schools, the environment, the elderly and affordable quality health care?

The Bush regime is using taxpayer money to employ a private army of tens of thousands of mercenaries in Iraq, without the knowledge of the American people. Are you aware of this and do you approve of Blackwater USA’s private army?

A path to eventual citizenship could start with illegal immigrants volunteering for a special branch of our military, which would be stationed outside the contiguous United States. These illegal immigrants would earn citizenship after five years of honorable military service. Do you agree that a comprehensive immigration policy must first include securing our southern border?

Rural youth join the military at higher rates than those from metropolitan areas, because rural areas offer young people few alternatives to military service. The opportunity differential between rural and urban America is higher now than at any time in history. The situation is best describes as “economic conscription.” Are you aware that according to a study by demographer William O’Hare, the death rate for “rural soldiers is 60% higher than the death rate for those soldiers from cities and suburbs?

Obviously, Senate Republicans are committed to protecting Bush’s legacy and the interests of their corporate sponsors. They are playing hardball, but Democrats could give them enough rope on Iraq, to allow them to hang themselves in 2008. However, that strategy would ensure that many more of our troops will die. Those in Congress that consider the troops politically expendable could find themselves expendable on election day 2008. Will you be one of them?

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has challenge what he calls the "timidity" of Democratic leaders, by introducing legislation to cut off funding for the war. He’s disappointed that cutting off funds for the surge in Iraq or passing resolutions condemning the war, has become the position of Senate Democrats, who are fearful of being portrayed as unpatriotic and cowardly. Do you fear being portrayed as unpatriotic and cowardly?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Profits and Losses

"War is a Racket" by Major General D. Smedley Butler USMC was published shortly before World War II. He wrote “Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.”

Butler was a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. No one of his caliber was available to counter the arguments, when Bush’s right wing policy makers claimed that the tiny oil-rich nation of Iraq posed a direct military threat to our nation.

Instead, we had Bush directing a servile Colin Powell, to present to the UN the Bush regime’s "evidence" that Iraq was an imminent nuclear threat to America. After presenting the deceitful statement to the UN, Colin Powell told an aid that the so-called evidence was “bullshit”.

Butler insisted that historically war has been the most profitable racket, and the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. He wrote that war is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Last year, Exxon Mobil made the largest corporate profit in history. At the same time, the families of those serving in Iraq were paying record prices at the pumps, the Bush regime was giving oil companies huge subsidies to help them make these record profits. Recently, Lee Raymond, the retired CEO of Exxon Mobil was given a Golden Parachute exceeding four hundred million dollars.

Seventy years ago, General Butler reminded Americans that the price for war includes newly placed gravestones, mangled bodies, shattered minds, broken hearts and homes, economic instability, depression and all its attendant miseries and backbreaking taxation for generations.

Nothing has changed, because inattentive, fearful, and gullible voters elected a pair of cowardly corporate chickenhawks.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Competition for Jobs

The Pew Hispanic Center research shows Americans and legal immigrants hold the majority of jobs facing competition from illegal workers in agriculture, cleaning, construction and food preparation. The restaurant lobby complains about a worker shortage, but their wages have been falling. Simple economics dictate that if there is a true worker shortage, wages rise. Over the last five years, restaurant wages have been at best stagnant, and fast food wages have tumbled almost 4 percent.

Falling wages are a clear economic signal of too many workers, not too few. Legalizing illegal laborers will drive down wages even more. As immigration swelled the labor force the wages of Americans without a high school diploma falls twice as much. Research finds that a guest worker program for illegals will hurt legal immigrants and less educated American workers the most.

Bush and many in Congress don’t mention the falling real wages and economic costs of illegal immigration. Many politicians are representing the interests of illegal immigrants and business, but not their constituents.

The victims of illegal immigration are those Americans working at the lowest end of the wage scale, and middle class workers, who are providing, through their tax dollars, for the social services, health care, education, for illegal immigrants.

This has become a issue, because it divides the middle class against the lower middle class that are just trying to make it. We're seeing the demise of the middle class in America, which is unhealthy. Historically, it’s been the middle class, who put up the fight, which demanded health care, minimum wage, no child labor, the right to vote for women, and the abolishing of sharecropping.

A comprehensive immigration policy must start with securing our borders. However, a path to eventual citizenship could start with illegal immigrants volunteering for a special branch of our military, which would be stationed outside the contiguous United States. These illegal immigrants would earn citizenship after five years of honorable military service.

In 1954, I visited the Sidi-Bel-Abbes the home base of the French Foreign Legion, near Oran, Algeria. Many of the Legionaries were professional soldiers and former members of Hitler’s army. Most had recently seen combat in IndoChina, which was France’s Vietnam.

The Bush regime provides taxpayer money to employ Blackwater USA, a secretive private military of tens of thousands of mercenaries in Iraq. An illegal immigrant version of the Foreign Legion would help solve our immigration and recruitment problems and be much less expensive than Blackwater USA.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Redeployment

America has five percent of the world’s population, but consumes 25% of its oil. Most members of Congress never mention oil, because they’re pretending the occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with its oil reserves. The Bush regime would have little interest in the Iraqi people except for their oil, which politicians refer to as strategic national interests. Our addiction to oil is used to justify bombing and invading other nations and engaging in wars of aggression.

Imperialist capitalists considers the invasion of Iraq to be in our strategic national interest and it's okay with them that our occupation requires trading dead American, for future access to Iraqi oil reserves. It doesn’t matter that eighty percent of Iraqis resent the occupation of our military for delivering death, destruction and destitution upon their shattered nation and want our troops out.

Our intelligence community has pointed out that our military presence in Iraq is making terrorism worse. Consequently, we should be seeking a strategy to rapidly reduce our presence, which will help eliminate the recruitment of more terrorists.

To date over 3,114 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Bush claims that “he's” going to hang tough in Iraq, but he's asking our troops do the same. This war has become Bush’s legacy, and is no longer about our country’s best interests and our security. It's no longer about the global conflict of terrorism, or coming together in a united way to deal with the threat of terrorism.

We need to find a different path to fighting the war on terror, which is in Afghanistan and 65 other countries. However, Republicans will not allow a redeployment date to be set, even though it would give some clarity about when a change is going to take place. That is the only way to get Iraqi politicians to understand we’re not going to be there forever.

Senate Republicans are committed to protecting Bush’s legacy and the interests of their corporate sponsors. They’re playing hardball and Democrats could give them enough rope to allow them to hang themselves in 2008.

However, that strategy would ensure that many more of our troops will die in Iraq. Those that consider the troops politically expendable may find themselves expendable on election day 2008.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Trade Deficit

The U.S. trade deficit with communist China has hit a new all time high of more than $213 billion and the final numbers for this year aren't even in yet. China keeps its currency undervalued, which leads to the loss of American jobs .

China grew its global trade surplus by 74 percent last year, to a record high. It expects to achieve even more growth this year as it sells Americans an avalanche of cheap Chinese products. China is a trade cheat, because it keeps its currency artificially low to boost its products in foreign markets. Some in Congress want to put tariffs on Chinese products, until China makes a currency adjustment.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan insists: “Nobody wants to put tariffs on China, but we're to the point, where we really don't have many more options. We've heard lip service for years. They continue to manipulate their currency and so when push comes to shove, the United States of America is going to having to act in its own best interests and the best interests of a stable global economy.”

The head of the Chinese central bank paid lip service to the currency imbalance, saying, "I think the flexibility of the exchange rate will be increased." In July, China was under similar pressure to let its currency rise, but the adjustment was only 3.8 percent. China has let its currency rise, but nowhere near enough, because their currency is 40 to 50 percent undervalued and letting it rise three or even four percentage points a year won't do much good.

The American delegation led by Secretary of Treasury, Henry Paulson returned from talks in Beijing in December and our Treasury Department timidly reported that the Chinese currency reforms were considerably less than needed, but no action was taken.

An additional issue is that American companies have not been able to export enough goods and services to China, because their communist government will not permit the entry of most of those products and services.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Timidity

White House propagandists frequently accuse those who oppose its policies in Iraq as being against our troops and abettors of our enemies. They released a statement saying that those who want to prohibit the surge are sending "the wrong message to our troops, our enemies, and the Iraqi people."

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has challenge what he calls the "timidity" of Democratic leaders, by introducing legislation to cut off funding for the war. He’s disappointed that cutting off funds for the surge in Iraq or passing resolutions condemning the war, has become the position of Senate Democrats, who are fearful of being portrayed as unpatriotic and cowardly.

Under Feingold's plan, the Bush regime would have to safely redeploy troops from Iraq except for those needed to target counter-terrorism operations and provide security for American “infrastructure and civilian personnel” there, and a “limited number” to train Iraqi security services.

Cutting off funding six months after the law is enacted is constitutional and our troops will not be left in a lurch. The test is that if you’re really against this war now is the time to show it. Voters don't want the Senate to just talk about ending the escalation, because they think this whole war is wrong.

In November, voters said we need to redeploy the troops from Iraq, not just stop an escalation. The troops have to come out, because the war is hurting our national security and our military.

By cutting off the funding for the war, Bush will not be able to conduct the war. Most of the same Senators, who demonstrated poor judgment concerning the invasion of Iraq are now opposed to cutting off funding. Buying into the Bush regime’s arguments to invade Iraq was a foolish decision, because it didn't make sense. Today, it doesn’t make sense to continue to fund the war and in 2008, congressional Republicans and Democrats may pay the price for allowing Bush to continue this foolish war.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Foreign Energy

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz claimed that Iraq's oil revenue would cover the costs of the war: "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people. Those oil revenues could bring between $50 billion and $100 billion over the course of the next three years. We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

Nobel laureate economist and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University professor of public policy Linda Bilmes have offer a far more reasonable and likely estimate of more than $1 trillion for this war.

Bush has sought to rationalize the invasion of Iraq as a noble effort to democratize the Middle East, while our European allies and Russia based their regional policies on economic reality.

We import only about 22 percent of our crude oil from the Middle East, but the European Union imports 40 percent from the region. A European Commission green paper on the EU's energy supply says that in the next 25 years the EU could be importing 90 percent of all its crude oil. The EU also imports more crude oil and natural gas from Russia than from any other country.

The European Union has more to lose than does the United States from direct involvement in the Middle East. The economic realities that the United States has ignored, which our European allies can not, is that Russia and the Middle East could strangle the European Union's economy at will.

We have a small window of opportunity to invest in alternative energy sources that could relieve this country of the oil dependency that is driving our imperialistic Middle East policies.

The half-trillion dollars that we have spent to conduct the war could have funded a massive alternative energy development program in this country or paid for all of our oil imports for four years at current prices.

We hope America embarks on a course to free ourselves from dependency on foreign energy sources and returns to a rational policy of self-reliance.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rural Casualties

When it was pointed out to Bush that the only people actually sacrificing anything at this point are the Army and Marines and their families. Bush replied: “Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.”

According to a study by demographer William O’Hare, the death rate for “rural soldiers is 60% higher than the death rate for those soldiers from cities and suburbs.”

Rural youth join the military at higher rates than those from metropolitan areas, because rural areas offer young people few alternatives to military service. The opportunity differential between rural and urban America is higher now than at any time in history. The situation is best describes as “economic conscription.”

Rural school districts must spend more money to attract and retain quality teachers. Dalton Trumbo’s novel “Johnny Got His Gun” and "War is a Racket" by Major General Smedley Butler should be required reading.

State and federal government need to increase public funding for higher education rather than continue to shift the cost to students and their parents. Our public education system is no longer the great equalizer in our society.

It’s time to acknowledged that the current carnage in Iraq was unleashed by the poor judgment of voters in rural areas. Rural areas throughout this country have an inattentive electorate and Bush’s claim of a “fantastic economy” is untrue.

Morality demands that we protect our youth from being brainwashed, into becoming “a gangster for capitalism” and cannon fodder for corporate war profiteers.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Exceptionalism

The following are excerpts from an article, by Patrick M. Regan, who teaches political science at Binghamton University.

“Exceptionalism is the idea that superior military capability conveys rights and obligations commensurate with the ability to use overwhelming force. That might makes right, always and everywhere. The ideology of exceptionalism was borne of global political power, rooted in a paradigm of international politics, and engendered consequences on a global scale. That the United States is the world's most capable super power is not in dispute; that this condition demands of the U.S. a role of empire is.

The ideology of exceptionalism professed the right and obligation to prevent through force of arms, that which was deemed inappropriate by those in position to pass judgment. The alternative was to work with the world community through negotiation to achieve that which the majority deemed appropriate.

Regardless of U.S. military capability, without a shred of global credibility friend and foe alike will reject the idea of exceptionalism, and the U.S. will have little left with which to confront this challenge to its credibility. Impotence might be the gravest cost to the Bush administration's efforts toward empire built on this perverse ideology.

The far militarily superior Israelis cannot suppress Palestinian demands for justice; and the far militarily superior U.S. cannot subdue an Iraqi population that sees external occupation as the worst of all their short list of possible outcomes.

The question is no longer whether the ideology of exceptionalism has been discredited, but rather whether the Bush administration is aware enough to recognize what the rest of the world already knows, humble enough to admit it, and sufficiently capable to act on it.”

I am unfamiliar with the term exceptionalism, but upon reading the above the terms imperialism and messianic nationalism came to mind.

In 1966, Senator William Fulbright stated in "The Arrogance of Power”: "We are not God's chosen savior of mankind but only one of mankind's more successful and fortunate branches, endowed by our Creator with about the same capacity for good and evil, no more or less, than the rest of humanity."

In “Superpatriotism” Michael Parenti wrote : "Messianic nationalism is the path down which a nation can lose its soul. If doing whatever we judge fit to maintain our security necessitates wreaking death and destruction on other nations; this can have terrible repercussions for our own country.”

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Chaos

In his State of the Union address to Congress, Bush said: “Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America.”

It was Bush’s invasion of an oil rich nation, that created the chaos in Iraq, which our troops have been trying to quell. As far as “chaos being al Qaeda’s greatest ally”, Michael Scheuer disagrees. Scheuer is a former senior member of the U. S. intelligence community, who has two decades of experience in national security issues. While with the CIA, he wrote "Imperial Hubris", which explores why terrorists hate us and why Bush’s “policies and actions are bin Laden's only indispensable allies.”

From the moment our troops invaded Iraq, Bush ensured that the enemy would “emerge emboldened with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America.”

Bush did not talked to his earthly father about his decision to invade and occupy Iraq, nor did he seek the advise of his father’s trusted advisor Secretary of State James Baker, who opposed invasion. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War and many others of considerable experience in national security affairs. In order to win the support of Congress, the Bush regime pressured the CIA to falsely report, that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons.

Today, Bush’s saber rattling doesn't work for most Americans, who are outraged at the conduct of the war and oppose its escalation. Nevertheless, a segment of American evangelicals are increasingly united around this war. Bush continues to fired up the faithful with visionary nonsense of a final showdown by insisting: "The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time."

Friday, February 02, 2007

China

*American Capital Markets*

The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act forbids foreign companies that invest in Iran's energy sector from tapping American capital markets. The New York Stock Exchange lists 33 Chinese companies, many of which maintain ownership by or close ties with the communist government.

Our government bars American companies from doing business with Iran, but the Bush regime has recently opened American capital markets to foreign companies that do business with Iran. Even though, it violate American law

The United States has been trying to isolate Iran, but the Chinese are doing business with them. A state-owned Chinese oil company CNOOC has pledged $16 billion to develop Iranian natural gas fields, thereby disregarding American foreign policy and undermining our government's stated goal.

Congress’s goal was to cut off the extra flow of funds that were generated by the Iran oil and gas sector so that we could limit their ability to fund terrorism and to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The State Department says, "We think this is a particularly bad time to be initiating major new commercial deals with Iran. We have raised our concerns about this reported deal with the oil company and the Chinese authorities."

The New York Stock Exchange says since no action has been taken against CNOOC, "We don't comment on hypotheticals." But as the Treasury Department aggressively tries to isolate Iran, foreign companies using American capital markets are injecting funds into a country with a long list of dangerous ambitions.

By law, this proposed CNOOC deal requires Bush to launch an investigation to determine which sanctions apply here. Congress has begun looking into the matter, which is on the top of the agenda for the House Foreign Relations Committee.

*Technology to China*

Communist China's demonstrated ability to launch a satellite-killing missile has led to calls for tougher limits on the so-called dual-use technology that American companies have been selling to the Chinese for years.

This anti-satellite test is a textbook example of the dangers of American and Western technology leaking to China. The technology transfer has been more of a torrent than a leak, despite an arms embargo that's been in place since the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989. China has swiftly modernized its military with the American know-how and technology. Although, the Commerce Department wants to strengthen those export controls, business interests are resisting. They insist our allies will sell China high-technology, if we won't.

Over the objections of U.S. multinational corporations and the communist Chinese government, the U.S. Commerce Department has apparently decided to reverse its policy direction of recent years and is preparing to toughen export controls of U.S. technology to China.

We cannot unilaterally impose export controls on any country and expect them to work unless we have the support of our allies. In 2005, only six percent of American imports to China required special licenses, and a mere $12.5 million in exports were declined.

The Chinese leadership is quick to remind the U.S. that, in its judgment, the best way to rein in the staggering deficit is to sell more high technology to China. There hasn’t been an uproar in Congress, because too much technology has already passed and export controls have become a moot point.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

“I’m The Decider”

According to European newspapers, Bush is preparing to attack Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of April and the US Air Force's new bases in Bulgaria and Romania would be used as back-up in the onslaught, according to an official report from Sofia.

The Bulgarian news agency Novinite said: American forces could be using their two USAF bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania's Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April."

The American build-up along the Black Sea, coupled with the recent positioning of two US aircraft carrier battle groups off the Straits of Hormuz, appears to indicate Bush has run out of patience with Tehran's nuclear misrepresentation and non-compliance with the UN Security Council's resolution.

Whether the Bulgarian news report is a tactical feint or a strategic event is hard to gauge at this stage. But, in conjunction with the beefing up of America's Italian bases and the acquisition of anti-missile defense bases in the Czech Republic and Poland, the Balkan developments seem to indicate a new phase in Bush's global war on terror.

Sofia's news of advanced war preparations along the Black Sea is backed up by some chilling details. One is the setting up of new refueling places for Stealth bombers, which would spearhead an attack on Iran. Novinite named Colonel Sam Gardener, "a secret service officer stationed in Bulgaria", as the source of the revelation, that "The USAF's positioning of vital refueling facilities for its B-2 bombers in unusual places, including Bulgaria, falls within the perspective of such an attack."

Reportedly, before the end of March, 3000 military personnel are scheduled to arrive "on a rotating basis" at America's Bulgarian bases. Under the US-Bulgarian military cooperation accord, signed last April, an airbase at Bezmer, a second airfield at Graf Ignitievo and a shooting range at Novo Selo were leased to America. Significantly, last year's bases negotiations had at one point run into difficulties due to Sofia's demand "for advance warning if Washington intends to use Bulgarian soil for attacks against other nations, particularly Iran.”

Furthermore, Romania, the other Black Sea host to the our military, is enjoying a dollar bonanza as its Mihail Kogalniceanu base at Constanta is being transformed into an American "place d'arme". It is also vital to the Iran scenario.

Last week, the Bucharest daily Evenimentual Zilei revealed the USAF is to site several flights of F-15 and F-16 aircraft at the Kogalniceanu base. Admiral Gheorghe Marin, Romania's chief of staff, confirmed "up to 2000 American military personnel will be temporarily stationed in Romania".