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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Painful Truth

As a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, Congressman Ron Paul shocked the media by pointing out that terrorists were not merely freedom hating madmen, but had actual motivation for their crime on 9/11.

Ron Paul said: "I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if other foreign countries were doing that to us?"

Chalmers Johnson wrote a prophetic book entitled “Blowback” in which he links the CIA’s clandestine activities abroad to disasters at home. In “The Sorrows of Empire”, Johnson explores how the growth of militarism and the garrisoning of our troops around the world has jeopardized our safety at home. The final volume of what has become known as the “Blowback Trilogy” is “Nemesis: The Last Days of The American Republic.”

You don't have to be Muslim to understand the very human experience that if you’re bullied, coerced and your native land is occupied the people affected are going to get angry.

Unfortunately, most American’s don’t have a clue what has been happening for the last two decades. We tend to think of our country as peaceful, happy, hard working, and law abiding, and when you tell people that America is actually something completely different, they are shocked. In fact, during the 1990s, our government attempted to starve the population of Iraq, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The Islamic extremists we are now fighting are the very group that we supported and subsidized throughout the 1980s in the name of fighting Communism in Afghanistan.

Congressman Paul and others have been trying for many years to impress upon “we the people”, that our government is the enemy of American values. Our government is not peaceful, it is not friendly, it is not motivated by the Christian faith but rather power and imperial lust.

Those that are furious about terrorism and extremism abroad, need to take a good hard look in the mirror, because Congressman Ron Paul and author Chalmers Johnson have told the truth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

American Idol

Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became an anti-war leader after her son was killed in Iraq, declared she was walking away from the peace movement. Sheehan announced that her son "did indeed die for nothing."

Casey Sheehan, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an April 2004 battle in Baghdad. His death prompted his mother to found Gold Star Families for Peace.

Mrs. Sheehan wrote: “I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.

“It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years, and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.”

Cindy Sheehan warned that the United States was becoming “a fascist corporate wasteland,” and that onetime allies among Bush's Democratic opposition turned on her when she began trying to hold them accountable for bringing the 4-year-old war to a close.

In the meantime, she said her antiwar activism had cost her her marriage, that she had put the survivor's benefits paid for her son's death and all her speaking and book fees into the cause and that she now owed extensive medical bills.

“I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.

“I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.”

Casey Sheehan, Andrew Bacevich and and more than 3,465 others didn’t die in Iraq for nothing. They died so that the ideological extremist warmongers, vested interests, the petroleum industry, profiteers allied with the military-industrial complex, and the entrenched interests of the professional military establishment could hijack our government.

Our troops have been deceived into swearing allegiance to corporate racketeers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We Failed Him

Part 2 of : “I lost my son to a conflict I oppose. We were both doing our duty” by Andrew J. Bacevich

“Not for a second did I expect my own efforts to make a difference. But I did nurse the hope that my voice might combine with those of others - teachers, writers, activists and ordinary folks - to educate the public about the folly of the course on which the nation has embarked. I hoped that those efforts might produce a political climate conducive to change. I genuinely believed that if the people spoke, our leaders in Washington would listen and respond.
   
“This, I can now see, was an illusion. The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as ‘the will of the people.’
   
“To be fair, responsibility for the war's continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party. After my son's death, my state's senators, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, telephoned to express their condolences. Stephen Lynch, our congressman, attended my son's wake. Kerry was present for the funeral mass. My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures. But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war, I got the brushoff. More accurately, after ever so briefly pretending to listen, each treated me to a convoluted explanation that said in essence: Don't blame me.
   
“To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove - namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.
   
“Money buys access and influence. Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008. When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of big business, big oil, bellicose evangelicals and Middle East allies gain a hearing. By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought.
       
“Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels.... It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing.... It negates democracy, rendering free speech into little more than a means of recording dissent.
   
“This is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works. In joining the Army, my son was following in his father's footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time. Yet he was the better soldier - brave and steadfast and irrepressible.
   
“I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought that I was doing the same. In fact, while he was giving all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him.”
  
Andrew J. Bacevich teaches history and international relations at Boston University. On May 13th. his son 1st Lt. Andrew John Bacevich was killed by a suicide bomb explosion.

   

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Andrew J. Bacevich teaches history and international relations at Boston University. On May 13, his son, 1st Lt. Andrew John Bacevich, died in Iraq at the age of 27 after a suicide bomb explosion.

The following is part of an article he wrote entitled: “I lost my son to a conflict I oppose. We were both doing our duty”

“Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.
   
“This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging "the terrorists," opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops - today's civic equivalent of dereliction of duty.
   
“What exactly is a father's duty when his son is sent into harm's way?
Among the many ways to answer that question, mine was this one: As my son was doing his utmost to be a good soldier, I strove to be a good citizen.
   
“As a citizen, I have tried since Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a critical understanding of U.S. foreign policy. I know that even now, people of good will find much to admire in Bush's response to that awful day. They applaud his doctrine of preventive war. They endorse his crusade to spread democracy across the Muslim world and to eliminate tyranny from the face of the Earth. They insist not only that his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was correct but that the war there can still be won. Some - the members of the "the-surge-is-already-working" school of thought - even profess to see victory just over the horizon.
   
“I believe that such notions are dead wrong and doomed to fail. In books, articles and op-ed pieces, in talks to audiences large and small, I have said as much. "The long war is an unwinnable one," I wrote in an August 2005 opinion piece in The Washington Post. "The United States needs to liquidate its presence in Iraq, placing the onus on Iraqis to decide their fate and creating the space for other regional powers to assist in brokering a political settlement. We've done all that we can do."

Part 2 of Andrew J. Bacevich's article will be posted tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dragon Skin

Chalmers Johnson the author of “Nemesis”, writes that our Defense Department budget receives only superficial scrutiny because members of Congress, seeking lucrative defense contracts for their districts, have mutually beneficial relationships with defense contractors and the Pentagon.

An investigation raises questions about the Army’s claim that our troops have the best body armor in the world. Independent ballistics testing commissioned by NBC News place the Army’s body armor side by side with a body armor called Dragon Skin.

Some soldiers and their families have tried to buy Dragon Skin, believing it offers better protection, but the Army banned Dragon Skin last year, almost two months before they actually tested it. After the ban, however, select soldiers assigned to protect generals and VIPs in Iraq and Afghanistan wore Dragon Skin. 

Jim McGee, a retired Marine colonel designed the Army’s current body armor called Interceptor a decade ago. Colonel McGee, who has no financial stake in Dragon Skin insists:  “Dragon Skin is the best out there, hands down.  It’s better than the Interceptor. It is state of the art. In some cases, it’s two steps ahead of anything that I have ever have seen, because it has more stopping power and more coverage.” Dragon Skin’s disks that interconnect like medieval chain mail, can wrap most of a soldier’s torso, providing a greater area of maximum protection. 

At a renowned ballistics lab in Germany, engineers carefully calibrated their equipment for a side-by-side test, the Army’s body armor, Interceptor, against Dragon Skin, a flexible system of interconnected ceramic discs. Phil Coyle, a former chief weapons tester for the Pentagon, helped make sure the testing met Army ballistic standards.

Testers were very impressive that Dragon Skin repelled a total of six armor-piercing rounds with no catastrophic failure. Retired Four-Star Army General Wayne Downing observed the test and reported that Dragon Skin significantly outperformed the Army’s body armor by stopping more of the world’s most lethal bullets than Interceptor.

The former chief weapons testing official, Phil Coyle said Dragon Skin met and exceeded Army ballistic standards. Retired General Wayne Downing insisted: “Oh, it was totally fair.  The Interceptor body army did quite well, it’s just that Dragon Skin did better.  What I take away from this test is it deserves a full, unbiased test by a neutral party because I thought it was pretty doggone good.”

Three Democratic Senators have called for a full-scale, independent, side-by-side test to see which body armor is really the best.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Total Military Spending

In “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic”, author Chalmers Johnson reveal the scope of the military-industrial-congressional complex’s influence.

Imperialism and militarism are undermining America's Constitutional system. The privatization of military and intelligence functions are totally out of control and beyond Congressional oversight. It’s unbelievably lucrative for the owners of so-called private military companies. So-called, because the money to pay for their activities ultimately comes from taxpayers through government contracts. Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, estimates that there are 126,000 private military contractors in Iraq, more than enough to keep the war going, even if most official U.S. troops were withdrawn. Scahill writes: "From the beginning these contractors have been a major hidden story of the war, almost uncovered in the mainstream media and central to maintaining the U.S. occupation of Iraq."

America's ever increasing "military" budgets are beginning to threaten the America with bankruptcy, given that its trade and fiscal deficits already easily make it the world's largest net debtor nation. Spending on the military establishment has soared to the highest levels since World War II, exceeding the budgets of the Korean and Vietnam War eras as well as President Ronald Reagan's weapons buying binge in the 1980s. According to calculations by the National Priorities Project, a non-profit research organization, military spending today consumes 40% of every tax dollar.

Chalmers Johnson insists that it’s virtually impossible for a member of Congress or an ordinary citizen to obtain even a modest handle on the actual size of military spending or its impact on the functioning of our economic system. Some $30 billion of the official Defense Department appropriation in the current fiscal year is "black," meaning that it is allegedly going for highly classified projects. The unrestricted part of the Defense Department budget receives only superficial scrutiny because members of Congress, seeking lucrative defense contracts for their districts, have mutually beneficial relationships with defense contractors and the Pentagon. President Dwight D. Eisenhower identified this phenomenon, in draft version of his 1961 farewell address, as the "military-industrial-congressional complex." Forty-six years later, in a way even Eisenhower probably couldn't have imagined, the defense budget is beyond serious congressional oversight or control.

The Defense Department tries to minimize the size of its budget by representing it as a declining percentage of the gross national product. However, it never reveals is that total military spending is actually many times larger than the official appropriation for the Defense Department.

Friday, May 25, 2007

War and Money

Long ago, Plutarch (46 A.D.-127 A.D.) the historian for the Roman Republic warned: “The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

Seventy years ago, two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Major General Smedley Butler, USMC wrote “War is a Racket”. He predicted:

“I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.”

Butler pointed out that President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president on a platform that he had kept us out of war and implied a promise that he would keep us out of war. Five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

Wilson never asked the people, whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men, Wilson sent to war were never asked whether they wanted to go forth to kill and die. According to Butler, it was money that caused our government to change its mind.

According to former Chrysler CEO, Lee Iococca a document released in 2003, entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oil Field Contracts included a map of Iraqi oil fields, pipelines, refineries, and terminals. Thus, the oil men inside and outside the White House were already dreaming of a post Saddam oil bonanza in 2001.

Since the invasion of Iraq, Halliburton stock has tripled to $64 a share. Cheney's former company has captured a big hunk of the rise in oil prices by jacking up the charges for Halliburton drilling and piping equipment.

A plan entitled the “Options for a Sustainable Iraqi Oil Industry” was drafted before the war, by oil industry executives and consultants. The plan called for cutting Iraq's oil production and jacking up prices, by keeping Iraq an obedient member of the OPEC cartel and limiting oil-production. Thereby, boosting the price of oil. The war has gone as planned, Exxon-Mobil reported a record $10 billion profit last quarter, the largest of any corporation in history.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nemesis

Ronald Reagan coined the phrase "evil empire," when referring to the Soviet Union, which needed to be contained. Today, it is the U.S. that is widely perceived as an evil empire and world forces are gathering to stop us. The Bush regime insists that if we leave Iraq our enemies will "win" or "follow us home." However, by leaving Iraq, we can regain the moral high ground and disavow the need for a foreign policy based on preventive war.

In mythology, Nemesis is the goddess of divine retribution. Chalmers Johnson’s book “Nemesis”, is subtitled: “The Last Days of the American Republic.”

Failure to undertake the reforms Chalmers Johnson suggests in “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” would mean condemning America to the fate that befell the Roman Republic and all other empires since.

Congress must initiate a timetable for withdrawing our military forces from Iraq and turn over the military bases we have built. Domestically, we will have to reverse federal budget priorities.

Thereby, we would begin to reduce the detrimental influence of the military-industrial complex. We should close at least 700 of the 737 military bases we maintain in over 130 foreign countries. In order to avoid isolationism and maintain a capacity to assist the United Nations in global peacekeeping operations, we should retain 37 of them, mostly naval and air bases.

We should rewrite all our Status of Forces Agreements, which exempt our troops based in foreign countries from local criminal laws and taxes. As a matter of principle American forces stationed outside the U.S. must deal with their host nations on a basis of equality, not of extraterritorial privilege.

Chalmers Johnson insists that America needs to cease being the world's largest supplier of arms and munitions. We should encourage the UN to begin outlawing weapons like land mines, cluster bombs, and depleted-uranium ammunition. We should take steps to recognize Cuba and end our blockade. In the Middle East, we should work to equalize aid to Israel and Palestine, while attempting to broker a real solution to that disastrous situation. We should lead by example and sound arguments rather than resorting to unilateral armed interventions.

In order to halt our economic decline and lessen our dependence on our trading partners, the U.S. must cap its trade deficits through the perfectly legal use of tariffs in accordance with World Trade Organization rules, and it must begin to guide its domestic market in accordance with a national industrial policy, just as the leading economies of the world do as a matter of routine.

Unless we follow the path suggested by Chalmers Johnson, we will lose our democracy and in the words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

General Batiste

Bush makes a big deal about listening to the generals on the ground, unless the generals give him advice that goes against his inclination to stubbornly ignore Congress and the will of the people. 

Retired General John Batiste, who commanded troops in Iraq, has appeared in a series of scathing ads sponsored by VoteVets.org, that target specific politicians. The veterans group is alarmed at the effect Bush’s decisions are having on the military they love. In the ad, Batiste says: “Mr. President, you did not listen.  You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps.  I left the Army in protest in order to speak out.  Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril.  Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women. Senator McCain, protect America, not George Bush.” 

General Batiste describes himself as a diehard Republican, but resigned from the Army in order to speak out.  He insists that our only hope is that Congress will act to protect our fighting men and women.

There has never been so much public friction between the military and the civilian leaders.  Batiste insists: “I‘m a patriot, as are the rest of us in Vote Vets.  We are not an antiwar organization.  We’re focused on what’s best for this country. We’re focused on being successful and winning the effort against global terrorism.” 

Last year Batiste said, “You either salute and execute, or you make a decision to retire or resign, that’s the way it is.” He’s no longer wearing the uniform and has no ties to the defense industry.  He believes that he has a duty to speak out honestly:

“This is less about deadlines and timelines than it is about coming to grips with the fact that we went to war with a fatally flawed strategy, flawed in March of 2003 and still flawed more than four years later.  This is all about Bush relying solely on the military component of strategy to accomplish the mission in Iraq.

“We’re missing the diplomatic, political, and economic components that are required to be successful. The interagency process has been dysfunctional during this administration.  There’s no unity of effort between the agencies.

“The bottom line is a failed strategy and our president has not mobilized this great nation to accomplish the critical work to defeat global terrorism.  Until we get these two things right, we’re wasting our time. Bush’s strategy relies almost wholly on the military, and ignores the important diplomatic, political, and economic components. We’re going to break our Army and Marine Corps and at this point that’s the last thing we want to do.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Reducing Executive Prerogatives

In “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic”, author Chalmers Johnson seeks to answer the question: Can we end our evil empire before it ends us?

America suffers from a overabundance of public ills, which can be traced to militarism and imperialism. Our constitutional system of checks and balances has nearly collapsed, but none of the remedies proposed by politicians address the root causes of the problem.

Andrew Bacevich, author of “The New American Militarism” insists: “None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of check and balances.... The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them.”

Bush has flagrantly violated his oath of office, which requires him “to protect and defend the constitution”, but members of Congress have been reluctant to hold him accountable. Among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that, would constitute grounds for impeachment: Bush and Cheney pressured the Central Intelligence Agency to put together a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's nuclear weapons that both knew to be dishonest. They then used the dishonest NIE to justify a war of aggression. After the invasion of Iraq, the Bush regime reinterpreted international and domestic law to permit the torture of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at other secret locations around the world.

Nothing in the Constitution allows the president to commit felonies. However, within days after the 9/11 attacks, Bush had signed a secret executive order authorizing a new policy of "extraordinary rendition," in which the CIA is allowed to kidnap terrorist suspects and transfer them to prisons in countries like Egypt, Syria, or Uzbekistan, where torture is a normal practice, or to secret CIA prisons outside the U.S. where Agency operatives themselves do the torturing.

The Bush regime undertook extensive spying on American citizens without obtaining the necessary judicial warrants and without notifying Congress. These actions violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and Amendment IV of the Constitution.

These “high crimes and misdemeanors” constitute more than adequate grounds for impeachment, which House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has called “a waste of time.” Six months after the Democratic Party took control of both houses of Congress, the prison at Guantánamo Bay is conducting illegal courts martial of the prisoners; the CIA is still using “enhanced interrogation techniques” on prisoners in foreign jails; illegal intrusions into the privacy of American citizens continues; and more than fifty years after the CIA was founded, it continues to operate without the most perfunctory congressional oversight.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ain’t Cheap

In “Where Have All the Leaders Gone”, Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca proposes that if our goal is to spread democracy throughout the Middle East, we should call for a regime change in Saudi Arabia.

Iacocca writes: “Oil is behind the war in Iraq. Oil is the reason we give the fundamentalists, terrorist-breeding theocracy in Saudi Arabia a pass.... Almost every important administration official has a connection to the oil industry.”

I’ve been participating in anti-Iraqi war demonstrations with a sign that reads: “No More Blood For Oil.” I’ve been told: “When you grab that ‘no more blood for oil’ sign, and put it in your car to go to the next demonstration, give a thought to what would happen to the whole world and your own way of life without that oil supply. Sometimes we have to pay for what we get, and sometimes it ain’t cheap. Don't wave that sign unless you're ready to give up your own reliance on oil.”

We should be paying for what we get, because human life “ain’t cheap.” Our troops in Iraq have not only allowed Americans to continue to drive gas guzzling vehicles, but enabled billions of dollars to find its way into the pockets of private contractors such Halliburton and taxpayer funded private security companies like Blackwater USA. Reportedly, some Blackwater mercenaries are promised a $1,000 a day.

Our combat troops are the most underpaid service providers on the face of this earth. If they are going to be used as economic cannon fodder to ensure outrageous profits for multinational oil corporations. Let’s “pay for what we get.” The current reenlistment bonus of $40,000 is an insult. A million dollars for a six month tour of duty seems appropriate, because the lives of battle hardened American Marine shouldn’t be cheap.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Imperial Liquidation

In her book “ The Origins of Totolitarianism”, political philosopher Hannah Arendt offered the following summary of British imperialism:

"On the whole it was a failure because of the dichotomy between the nation-state's legal principles and the methods needed to oppress other people permanently. This failure was neither necessary nor due to ignorance or incompetence. British imperialists knew very well that 'administrative massacres' could keep India in bondage, but they also knew that public opinion at home would not stand for such measures. Imperialism could have been a success if the nation-state had been willing to pay the price, to commit suicide and transform itself into a tyranny. It is one of the glories of Europe, and especially of Great Britain, that she preferred to liquidate the empire."

Chalmers Johnson the author of “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” insists that we must begin a process of “Imperial Liquidation.”

According to the Pentagon's own 2005 inventory, we maintain a network of 737 American military bases around the world. Not including Iraq and Afghanistan, we station over half a million US troops, spies, contractors and dependents on military bases located in more than 130 countries.

Imperialism and militarism have begun to endanger both the financial and social well-being of America. We need a popular movement to subject a Constitutional government to the discipline of checks and balances. Replacing one political party for the other and implementing protectionist economic policies aimed at rescuing what's left of our manufacturing economy will not work, because these solutions fail to address the root cause of our national decline.

Chalmers Johnson believes that the solution to this crisis is for the American people to make the decision to dismantle our imperialistic empire, which has required a huge military establishment. The task is comparable to that undertaken by the British government after World War II, which liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force.

A decision to mount a campaign of imperial liquidation may already be too late, given the vast and deeply entrenched interests of the military-industrial complex. To succeed, such an endeavor will require a revolutionary mobilization of the people comparable to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

In the words of Noam Chomsky, a revered critic of American imperialism: "Where spending is rising, as in military supplemental bills to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would sharply decline. Where spending is steady or declining (health, education, job training, the promotion of energy conservation and renewable energy sources, veterans benefits, funding for the UN and UN peacekeeping operations, and so on), it would sharply increase. Bush's tax cuts for people with incomes over $200,000 a year would be immediately rescinded."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Senate Judiciary Committee

Senators Schumer, Feingold, Kennedy and Durbin recently wrote Alberto Gonzalez concerning his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.

“Dear Mr. Attorney General:

“In very dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified that in March 2004, when you served as White House Counsel, you were involved in “an effort to take advantage of a very sick man,” referring to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

“Specifically, Mr. Comey testified that you and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card went to Mr. Ashcroft’s bedside at George Washington Hospital, where he was in intensive care, in an effort to get him to agree to certify the legality of a classified program that he and Mr. Comey, who was serving as acting Attorney General at the time, had concluded should not be so certified. Mr. Comey stated that when the Administration decided to go forward with reauthorizing this classified program without that certification, he and several other Justice Department officials, including possibly Attorney General Ashcroft himself, were ready to tender their resignations.

“You testified last year before both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee about this incident. On February 6, 2006, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, you were asked whether Mr. Comey and others at the Justice Department had raised concerns about the NSA wiretapping program. You stated in response that the disagreement that occurred was not related to the wiretapping program confirmed by the President in December 2005, which was the topic of the hearing. The following is a transcript excerpt from that hearing:

“Senator Schumer. ‘Let me ask you about some specific reports. It has been reported by multiple news outlets that the former number two man in the Justice Department, the premier terrorism prosecutor, Jim Comey, expressed grave reservations about the NSA program and at least once refused to give it his blessing. Is that true?’

“Attorney General Gonzales. ‘Senator, here is a response that I feel that I can give with respect to recent speculation or stories about disagreements. There has not been any serious disagreement, including – and I think this is accurate – there has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the President has confirmed. There have been disagreements about other matters regarding operations, which I cannot get into. I will also say –’

“Senator Schumer. ‘But there was some – I am sorry to cut you off, but there was some dissent within the administration, and Jim Comey did express at some point – that is all I asked you – some reservations.’

“Attorney General Gonzales. ‘The point I want to make is that, to my knowledge, none of the reservations dealt with the program that we are talking about today. They dealt with operational capabilities that we are not talking about today.’

“Senator Schumer. ‘I want to ask you again about them, just we have limited time.’

“Attorney General Gonzales. ‘Yes, sir.’

“Senator Schumer. ‘It has also been reported that the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, respected lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School, expressed reservations about the program. Is that true?’

“Attorney General Gonzales. ‘Senator, rather than going individual by individual—’

“Senator Schumer. ‘No, I think we are – this is—’

“Attorney General Gonzales. ‘By individual, let me just say that I think the differing views that have been the subject of some of these stories does not – did not deal with the program that I am here testifying about today.’

“Senator Schumer. ‘But you are telling us that none of these people expressed any reservations about the ultimate program. Is that right?’

“Attorney General Gonzales. ‘Senator, I want to be very careful here. Because of course I am here only testifying about what the President has confirmed. And with respect to what the President has confirmed, I believe – I do not believe that these DOJ officials that you are identifying had concerns about this program.’

“In addition, on April 6, 2006, in answer to a question from then House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner about the hospital visit, which had been reported in the press, you responded: ‘Mr. Chairman, what I can say – and I'm sure this will not be acceptable, but let me say it anyway – is that I have testified before that the disagreement that existed does not relate to the program the President confirmed in December to the American people.’

“We ask for your prompt response to the following question: In light of Mr. Comey’s testimony yesterday, do you stand by your 2006 Senate and House testimony, or do you wish to revise it?

“Sincerely, Senators Schumer, Feingold, Kennedy and Durbin”

Friday, May 18, 2007

Republicans Debate

Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul distinguished himself at the Reagan Library GOP presidential debate by defending the Constitution and opposing the war in Iraq.

The moderator asked: “Congressman Paul, you voted against the war. Why are all your fellow Republicans up here wrong?”

Rep. Paul replied: “That's a very good question. And you might ask the question, why are 70 percent of the American people now wanting us out of there, and why did the Republicans do so poorly last year?

In both debates, Dr. Paul pointed out: "I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy. Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy –no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.

"So I would suggest that we should look at foreign policy. I'm suggesting very strongly that we should have a foreign policy of nonintervention, the traditional American foreign policy and the Republican foreign policy.

During the second debate, Rudy Giuliani angrily responded to a remark Rep. Paul made about 9/11. Giuliani claimed: “That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11th, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've ever heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th.”

Both the CIA and the 9/11 Commission reports agree with Rep. Paul, that the reason we were attacked on 9/11, had to do with our troops in Saudi Arabia, which is considered holy land, as well, as 10 years of bombing and sanctions. Sanctions, which resulted in shortages of medicine and food and hundreds of people dying. Ron Paul questions: “If somebody did that to us, would we be angry?”

Rep. Paul blames bad policy, by both Clinton and Bush for 9/11. He insists Americans have a right and an obligation to challenge and change detrimental policy. Obviously, Rudy Giuliani resent any dissent, discussion or arguments about our present stay the course policy. Paul wasn’t intimidated by suggestions, that he was blaming America and is therefore unpatriotic.

After the second debate Rep. Paul was asked: “What would you do about the al Qaeda threat to the United States?”

Paul responded: “We voted for the money and yet we ignored it. So this is my complaint, that we didn't do what we were supposed to do and we went and started a war that we shouldn't have.

“And we have Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. They have a nuclear weapon. They have a military dictatorship. They overthrew an elected government. And what do we do when they get nuclear weapons? We reward them. We give them money... So it's natural for the leadership in Iran to want to get a nuclear weapon, because we respect people that have power and we disrespect people that we think we can run over them and run roughshod over their countries, invade them preemptively and change their regimes.”

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Political Cover

The “USA Today” Gallup poll says that over sixty percent of Americans support a timetable to get out of Iraq and 36 percent favor keeping the troops in Iraq until the job is done.

These polls inspired eleven Republicans, who worry about getting reelected in 2008, to make a big deal about confronting Bush in a meeting. After the meeting, these politicians promptly told the media, that they had informed Bush, that he was hurting the Republican party. This was done to provide political cover with their constituents back home, who want a timeline for redeploying our troops out of Iraq. They’re concern was that their jobs were at risk, not that our troops were dying at the rate of a hundred a month.

The media speculated that Republicans were finally standing up to this president, but in the end all eleven vote to give Bush what he wanted.

Democrats may have to eventually compromise, because they don’t have the votes to override Bush’s veto. Nevertheless, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has established a benchmark for the end of July and may be prepared to call the Republicans’ bluff with a September deadline.

Predictably, attempts to negotiate with Bush failed to find a common ground, but a majority of Democrats in the House have stood their ground. They passed a plan that would withhold more than half of the $100 billion Bush wants to continue his surge. Their approach is to approve $43 billion through July. The rest of the money will be approved after the president gives Congress a detailed report on Iraq's military and political progress.

Oneonta area Democratic Representatives in Congress, Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Arcuri endorsed Speaker Pelosi’s challenge to Bush’s conduct of the war by voting to limit war funding request until the end of July.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Iraqi Parliament

The Iraqi parliament is talking about taking a two-month summer vacation. Our troops are dying in Iraq, and their parliament is going to go on vacation. They appear to be attempting to surpass Bush, who took a six week vacation in Crawford, Texas just before 9/11.

The Bush regime has been saying it’s up to the Iraqi people and we’ve got to support their government. With the parliament going on vacation, instead of making important political decisions like sharing oil revenues, it will be difficult to sustain that argument with the American public.

A majority of the Iraqi parliament is actually getting ready to call for timelines for withdrawal and a freeze on the number of U.S. troops.  We should hope that, the Iraqi parliament sets timelines, before they go on vacation. That would be more than congressional Republicans have allowed the Democratic majority to get done.

Bush became very angry with congressional Democrats, who tried to get something done by passing a timeline for withdrawal, which he promptly vetoed. He said “Democrats need to stop playing politics with the troops,”

By insisting that Democrats are putting our troops, in the middle of a political battle, he’s attempting to deny that everything that goes on in Washington is all about politics.  The idea that politics shouldn’t be played is like saying democracy shouldn’t work.  Politics is what democracy runs on, particularly in a very important national debate about war.

More troops are dying in Iraq, because we’ve taken the fight to the insurgents, thereby putting more of them in harm’s way. This is a cynical strategy, because there aren’t enough troops to make a permanent difference and the insurgents simply move to another neighborhood.

Bush doesn’t listen to his generals, he’s demonstrated a pattern of replacing generals when they’ve told him news he didn’t want to hear. Bush hasn’t listening to anyone. It’s not really that much of a surprise, since he has been totally arrogant from the very beginning. At some point, you would think he’d realize, that he had better look like he’s actually listening to somebody because nothing his regime has done has worked.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

September Song

Bush appears to be digging in with 28 percent of the American people on his side. Everybody else seems to be against his plan of fighting this war until the bitter end. Most Americans know, it’s time to bring the troops home, and most Republicans are not eager to go into the next election being tied to supporting the occupation of Iraq. 

Privately, Republican members of Congress and presidential candidates have complained about Bush’s war, accusing him of not handling it in a competent way.

Republican Senator Olympia Snow of Maine, became the latest senator to speak out publicly. She proposed benchmarks to measure the need for troop withdrawals from Iraq. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has promised to put into law the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which Bush has already contemptuously disregarded.

Most Republican Senators appear to be more concerned about their own members in Congress being sent home, rather than genuinely concerned about the troops coming home.

Republican Senators Susan Collins and Norm Coleman, who are up for reelection in 2008 are the most concerned. They sounded like they were ready to get tough with Bush several months ago, but they haven’t broken ranks. 

Senator Collins said: “There’s a sense that by September, you’ve got to see real action on the part of Iraqis. I think everybody knows that. I think a lot of us feel the same way.”

Republicans seem to have Bush on a four month deadline, and are telling him publicly what they’ve been telling him privately for a long time. Your time’s running out. We’re leaving you in September. You’ve got four months to clean it up.

Some suggest that Republicans should be given the benefit of the doubt and see what happens in September. My prediction is that nothing will happen in September, because congressional Republicans have been Bush’s lapdogs for six years and they don’t have the integrity or courage to change. By in large, they’ll continue to put party loyalty above the lives of our troops and the wishes of most Americans. 

Monday, May 14, 2007

No Common Ground

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “We had a responsibility to the American people to try to find our common ground. Where we didn't find our common ground, we would stand our ground.”

House Democrats have passed a plan that would withhold more than half of the $100 billion Bush wants. Their approach is to approve $43 billion through July. The rest of the money will be approved after Bush gives Congress a detailed report on Iraq's military and political progress.

Pelosi hopes that the reporting requirement will be enough to satisfy those furious about funding the war without a plan to bring troops home. House Democrats were hoping to get support from rank-and-file Republicans who believe that it's past time to pressure the Iraqi government, but Republican support never materialized.

Politically vulnerable Republicans like Congressman Jim Gerlach and Senator Susan Collins say September could be a turning point. That's when Iraq commanding general David Petraeus will report on whether the U.S. strategy is working. Senator Collins says her support for troops staying in Iraq hinges on that report.

Senator Susan Collins says: “It's evident that the new strategy is not successful and it's not going to succeed, that we do have to change course, and that means looking at all the options, including a plan for withdrawing.”

Rep. Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania admits that we need to put things out in front of the Iraqi government that makes them realize they have to do certain things to continue the support of the American people.

The immediate challenge still is, how to fund the war. The House pushed through, the short term funding plan, but it has not been popular among Senate Democrats. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid says he's leaving all options on the table, and is still trying to negotiate a deal with Bush.

The White House blasted the plan, because “it denies General David Petraeus the flexibility, the latitude and predictability he needs on the ground to try and succeed in Iraq.” In fact, General Petraeus himself has created September as a deadline, saying that's when he wants to find out whether or not there has been progress from this increase in U.S. troops.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Toxic Chemicals

The Food and Drug Administration has admitted that the same toxic chemical from communist China that may have killed thousands of pets in this country has entered our human food chain. The FDA says farmed fish were also fed food that contained the deadly chemical melamine and are scrambling to find out how many fish were fed the melamine-tainted food.

Asst. Commissioner for Food Protection, Dr. David Atchison reported, that a number of firms that received this fish meal are being investigated to determine exactly what has happened with the fish that were fed this fish meal. The fish meal was made with tainted Chinese wheat flour. Federal officials have found contaminated feed was given to millions of chickens and thousands of pigs in the United States.

The FDA and the USDA said in a joint risk assessment that the contamination in swine and poultry was "low risk to humans". These are the same overly optimistic bureaucrats, who said that there was no problem with our food chain less than two weeks ago.

Federal health officials, the FDA, USDA, and Customs and Border Protection, are testing large samples of any kind of gluten from China. Chinese exporters purposely contaminated the gluten used for the animal feed with melamine in an attempt to boost its protein content and raise its price.

Communist Chinese officials have been denying the problem for two months, before admitting the contamination after 100 brands of U.S. pet food tested positive for melamine, and the FDA received thousands of complaints of pets sickened or killed by the tainted food.

The leadership of the FDA food inspection needs to gain control of the situation, but haven’t received any help, from the Bush regime, which has cut back the on the number of food inspectors.

It shouldn’t be a surprised that toxic chemicals have contaminated our food supply, because last year almost nine million foreign food shipments arrived in the United States, but just over 20,000 were inspected by the FDA. That means that less than a quarter of one percent of the foreign food brought into the country gets inspected by the FDA.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Redefining Success

We have been led to believe that a key indicator of whether the military’s surge strategy is working is the reduction of killing in Baghdad. However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made an astonishing statement concerning what constitutes success in Iraq. Secretary Gates told Congress: “Success in Iraq does not require a significant reduction in insurgent attacks or violence.”

The new Baghdad security strategy has yet to produce any measurable decline in violence, despite the fact that four of five additional U.S. combat brigades are now in place. The Pentagon has begun lowering expectations for what will constitute progress when the strategy is reviewed at the end of the summer.

Gates continued: “The goal in September is not whether the violence has been significantly reduced, or stability has been brought, it seems to me, but rather whether it has been reduced to a level that the political reconciliation process is moving forward in some meaningful way.” With no requirement for stability or a significant reduction in violence, almost any trend could be seen as justification for keeping the 30,000 extra U.S. troops in Iraq.

Gates promised Congress an honest evaluation of the plan, which he says could set the stage for a U.S. troop reduction. At the same time, the number two U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, is quoted by "The Washington Post" as saying: "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure."

When questioned about the inconsistency between his statement and that of Secretary Gates, General Odierno insists he had been misquoted, that the latest rotation plan simply gives commanders the ability to maintain elevated troop levels through April, if that's the decision. And after signing deployment orders this week for 10 fresh brigades of 35,000 soldiers.

Gates says that, whatever happens in September, it won't lead to what he calls a precipitous decision. Whether or not the strategy is working, Gates says it will point to a new direction, but he's not giving a hint of what that new direction might be.”

Not a hint of a new direction, but instead an obscure, indistinct definition of success, which is obviously a refusal to commit to any rational benchmark for progress.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Military Leaders

After, Bush vetoed the US Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, former military leaders said the following:

“With this veto, the president has doomed us to repeating a terrible history. President Bush’s current position is hauntingly reminiscent of March 1968 in Vietnam. At that time, both the Secretary of Defense and the President had recognized that the war could not be won militarily - just as our military commanders in Iraq have acknowledged. But not wanting to be tainted with losing a war, President Johnson authorized a surge of 25,000 troops. At that point, there had been 24,000 U.S. troops killed in action. Five years later, when the withdrawal of U.S. troops was complete, we had suffered 34,000 additional combat deaths.” - Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, USA, Ret.

“By vetoing this bill and failing to initiate an immediate and phased withdrawal, the President has effectively gone AWOL, deserting his duty post, leaving American forces with an impossible mission, suffering wholly unnecessary casualties.” - Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, USA, Ret.

“The rhetoric of Congress not supporting our troops is pure ‘hogwash’. The real non support of our troops is the Presidential Veto. Vetoing this Bill sends a message to our troops, that the President will fund them to fight but is not concerned about returning them to their families.” - Maj. Gen. Mel Montano, USANG, Ret.

“The President vetoed our troops and the American people. His stubborn commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq is incomprehensible. He committed our great military to a failed strategy in violation of basic principles of war. His failure to mobilize the nation to defeat world wide Islamic extremism is tragic. We deserve more from our commander-in-chief and his administration.”
- Maj. Gen. John Batiste, USA, Ret.

“This administration and the previously Republican controlled legislature have been the most caustic agents against America’s Armed Forces in memory. Less than a year ago, the Republicans imposed great hardship on the Army and Marine Corps by their failure to pass a necessary funding language. This time, the President of the United States is holding our Soldiers hostage to his ego. More than ever apparent, only the Army and the Marine Corps are at war - alone, without their President’s support.” - Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, USA, Ret.

“Almost 5 years ago, Congress trusted the President enough to give him the power to transform Iraq. Bush violated that trust and deceived us with a misuse of force. Today, the President violated the trust of the American people, our troops, and their families by vetoing this bill and not choosing to do what is right. He has let us down.” - Brigadier General John Johns, USA, Ret.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cpl. Pat Tillman

A soldier who fought under Cpl. Pat Tillman was told by higher-ups not to report that the former NFL player died from friendly fire in Afghanistan. Spec. Bryan O'Neal was ordered not to tell Tillman's brother Kevin, who was serving in a nearby convoy, by Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey.

This dramatic testimony occurred before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Kevin Tillman accused the Bush regime of twisting the facts of his brother's death to distract public attention from prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

The Army fabricated a story of his brother's heroism in action, knowing he was killed by friendly fire. A story was constructed to authenticate a Silver Star medal and authorities lied about his medical care, saying Pat Tillman was transferred to a field hospital for continued medical care after the back of his head was blown off.

Kevin Tillman insists: "These are deliberate and calculated lies" and "a deliberate act of deceit.” He considers the official account of his brother's death was "utter fiction intended to deceive the family and, more importantly, the American people.” He said the incident that led to his brother's death was clearly fratricide, and that crucial evidence was destroyed, the autopsy was not done according to regulations and eyewitness testimony disappeared into thin air.

He believes the reason for the manipulation of the truth was to shifted the focus from the grotesque abuses at Abu Ghraib to a great American who died a hero's death.

Democratic chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, called for the hearing into Tillman's death, and pledged to pursue the investigation. Waxman said the administration's five investigations to date are not enough. Members of the the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee zeroed in on who in the military had ordered the friendly fire aspect of Tillman's death withheld from the public and the family for almost a month.

Pat's mother, Mary Tillman said she was appalled by comments from Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, an officer in Tillman's unit, suggesting that the family was not at peace with the death because they are atheists who believe their son is now "worm dirt."

Waxman suggested Kauzlarich's remarks should be punished as "conduct unbecoming an officer."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Totally Dishonest

Some believe it’s unfair to say that the erroneous intelligence that led Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq was George Tenet’s fault. They ask why none of the hundreds of people working at the CIA, who gather the intelligence never came forward to say anything in public.  

Former CIA analyst Ray Mc Govern says: “It saddens me greatly that no one quit.  The answer is found in the fact that Tenet was the beneficiary of a whole generation of the politicization, and corruption of intelligence analysis. It started with Bill Casey under Ronald Reagan and by the time Tenet took office, he inherits a whole clique of malleable managers, who in effect said: “Yes, sir.  If Dick Cheney says Iraq has nuclear capability, we can write that.” 

According to Mc Govern, Tenet came back from the White House and said: “We can’t avoid preparing a national intelligence estimate, because Congress won’t vote for this war until we do one. We have to do it to the terms of reference of Dick Cheney’s speech of August 26, 2002, where Cheney claimed Saddam Hussein could have a nuclear weapon in a year; he has got all kinds of chemicals; he has got all kinds of biological weapons.” Mc Govern says: “It was totally dishonest, but they did it.”  

Furthermore, Mc Govern points out that Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tried to investigate a forged memo, which was apparently from the Italian embassy. The memo suggested that Niger was supplying nuclear material to Iraq. The Republican Senate majority chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts decided that would be inappropriate. 

If you trace the memo back, and consider the characters that were involved, Mc Govern suspects that the memo would lead right to the doorstep of the vice president. He doesn’t claim it was forged by the vice president, but instead farmed out to a cottage industry of former intelligence agents, who did a rather amateurish job. 

Ray Mc Govern won’t be more specific, than to say the names have been in the public domain, and claims to have some evidence, but is not willing to share it at this time.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Puppy Dog Theory

We’ve repeatedly heard “We are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them in the streets of our own cities.” Richard Clarke author of "Against All Enemies" describes this as Bush’s puppy dog following us home theory of terrorism.

Career counterterrorism expert Clarke served four presidents and established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions. His career began as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan. On 9/11, Clarke was the nations crisis manager in Bush’s White House situation room.

We are expected to believe that terrorists have chosen to adhere to a rule of only one slaughter ground at a time. Nothing that is happening in Iraq prevents terrorist from attacking us on American soil. The evidence is that our presence in Iraq motivates people throughout the Arab world to become terrorists. According to our own State Department the number of terrorist attacks worldwide rose by 25 percent in 2006.

British government scientists estimate that 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the occupation of Iraq began. Those killed have relatives and fellow tribal clan members who have pledged revenge on America, no matter how long it takes.

By investing our resources on the occupation of Iraq, we have ignored the more urgent task of guarding our homeland against terrorism and missed an opportunity to systematically dismantle al Qaeda all over the world.

The invasion of Iraq diverted efforts to destroy al Qaeda and provided the movement with the best recruiting tool possible. Attacks on our soil are likely no matter what happens in Iraq, because of what Bush has already done. Whatever future course we choose in Iraq will not make any difference.

When the next attack is made on America, you can depend on Bush and his supporters to blame his successor, by claiming that if enough troops were left in the shooting gallery of Iraq the attack wouldn’t have happened.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Economic Disparities

We have much higher poverty rates than other advanced industrialized countries. At the same time, we have a much lower level of income support for poor families than Western European countries or Canada. Social policies in Europe, Canada and Japan do a lot more to reduce economic disparities created by the marketplace than our country.

Our tax structure should be modeled after the Swiss system, which is a fair system of progressive taxation. In the United States, the first $250,000 of wealth could be exempt from the tax, which would exclude 80 percent of all families. The tax would increase at increments, starting out at .2 percent from about $250,000 to $500,000. The rate would go up to .4 percent from $500,000 to $1 million, then increase to .6 percent from a $1 million to $5 million, and thereafter to .8 percent.

It would not be a burdensome tax, but it could raise about $60 billion annually. Eighty percent of families would pay nothing and 95 percent of families would pay less than $1,000. It would really only affect very rich families.

We could provide a much broader safety net in this country, by strengthen our income support system. The Earned Income Tax Credit is presently a fairly substantial aid to poor families. It should be improved and expanded.

The minimum wage has fallen by about 35 percent in real terms since its peak in 1968. Restoring the minimum wage to where it used to be, would help a lot of low income families.

Our unemployment insurance system is much less generous than other industrialized countries and can certainly be shored up. Unemployment insurance is in a mess, because only about one third of unemployed persons actually get unemployment benefits, because they either don't qualify or because they exhaust their benefits after six months. Typically the replacement rate is about 35 or 40 percent. In the Netherlands, the replacement rate is 80 percent.

Our welfare system provides very restrictive coverage and is in a state of disrepair. Real welfare payments declined by about 50 percent between 1975 and 1996.

The principle of less government is aimed at protecting people’s wealth rather than spreading it more equitably.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Reconstruction Projects

More than 200 Americans have died in Iraq working on reconstruction projects. Many of those projects are failures at a huge financial cost to American taxpayers. The special inspector general for Iraq blames the failures on poor construction, corruption and the ongoing violence.

The sewer system at the Irbil Maternity and Pediatric Hospital, doesn't work causing medical waste and contaminated water to back up into patients' rooms. Last year, our government insisted the hospital was providing first rate care, but now it's a $7 million example of a U.S. financed reconstruction effort gone wrong.

The special inspector general for reconstruction, found providing Iraqis with electricity, clean water and sewage treatment to be a continuing problem. He admitted: “We made bad choices in terms of the large projects, and then we put it all in a very fast timetable thinking that we could get the stuff done and get out of town.”

Congress budgeted some $20 billion to rebuild Iraq. More than 80 percent of that money has been spent, but most Iraqis don't feel it’s brought them a better life. The latest report looked at $150 million worth of projects. Most of the projects are no longer in working order.

At Baghdad International Airport, 17 power generators costing $12 million were delivered 16 months ago. Today, 10 are no longer working. A $5 million barracks at the airport for Iraqi special forces, doesn't have enough water to flush the toilets.

Iraqis see less than 30 cents on the dollar of reconstruction money turn into real improvements in their daily lives. The insurgency and government corruption in Iraq and poor U.S. management are to blame. The inspector general's work has already resulted in nearly half a dozen convictions, but there are another 79 cases pending of alleged wrongdoing. Twenty-eight of them awaiting Justice Department prosecution.

There are a number of contractors that have been disbarred from bidding on government contracts because of their wrongdoing in Iraq. The criminal cases are referred to the Justice Department, but names of the general contractors or government agencies responsible for the mismanagement of these projects are not available until there's a conviction.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rehabilitating a Reputation

Former CIA analyst, Ray Mc Govern describes George Tenet as follows: “He’s a rather pathetic figure. What he is trying to do is justify himself for unjustifiable activity.

Everyone thought he meant ‘slam dunk’ to mean, we have slam-dunk information, intelligence, that proves there are weapons of mass destruction there. Now, he is saying:  ‘No, I didn‘t mean that. I didn’t mean that at all.  What I meant was that, if you want to make a public case, Mr.  President, we can make a slam-dunk case out of this for you to present to the American people and the Congress.’ It’s ridiculous that Tenet thinks that’s a more acceptable explanation? 

It’s not the job of the director of central intelligence’s job to explain public relations to the president?  The director of central intelligence is supposed to tell it like it is. He is not supposed to help prepare the president to start an unnecessary war, a war of aggression in the Nuremberg tribunal terms. 

It doesn‘t get any worse than that.  That’s why he is trying to sort of make amends here and trying to rehabilitate his reputation. 

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. George Tenet has his own little set of facts.  He has been very disingenuous in how he has presented this.  For example, he claims that the intelligence was not really massaged or corrupted by him.  He claims that he really believed there were weapons of mass destruction. 

But, from documentary evidence, of his discussions with the British counterpart, Sir Richard Dearlove, on the 20th of July, 2002, eight months before the war, we know that he told Dearlove that the intelligence was being fixed around the policy. We have the minutes of the meeting. 

Four or five years ago, Tenet endorse the war, not knowing that the error would come to light and destroy his reputation?  At that time, it wasn’t clear the misleading information would destroy anybody’s reputation. 

He may have been convinced that Dick Cheney was right, that the people in Iraq would greet us with open arms and cut flowers. With American troops sitting on top of all that oil, in permanent military bases, making that part of the world more secure for Israel, who is going to come around and say, but you did it on the basis of convoluted evidence?”

Friday, May 04, 2007

Stop This Madness

“This administration governs badly because it doesn't care very much about governing”. - Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Bush’s approval rating has hit a new low of twenty-eight percent. Nevertheless, he wants a blank check to continue the war. Congress shouldn’t continue to give him a blank check, but congressional Republicans remain his lapdog.

Bush insists, that he doesn’t believe in timelines, and spoke out very forcefully against them. However, on June 5, 1999, Governor Bush of Texas said the following concerning Clinton’s war in Kosovo: “I think it's important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they would be withdrawn.”

Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of presidential candidate George W. Bush added: “If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy.”

No Americans were killed in Kosovo, but more than 3,355 young American men and women have died in Iraq.

Democrats put forth a thoughtful plan to get our troops out of Iraq and Bush rejected it. By vetoing the US Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, Bush ignored the majority of the American electorate, and the majority in Congress. He has told our troops in Iraq, that they must continue to pay the price for his blundering incompetence.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said: “The debate in Congress has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited. The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable has had a positive impact in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment.”

Bush's veto sends the opposite message by blatantly disregarding the need for a political solution. His approach is not a road to victory, but a road to nowhere.

Dwight Eisenhower said: “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mission Never-ending

Four years ago, Bush stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and declared “major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” He was very wrong.

Bush has compounded that monumental mistake by vetoing the US Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, because it called for a timetable to withdraw our forces from Iraq.

Bush had a choice: to protect the interests of the American people and the troops who risk their lives to defend us, or to maintain his current misguided policy. Rather than standing with our troops and taking the first steps to bring this disastrous war to an end, he allowed pride and partisan politics to endanger the lives of thousands of our troops.

Last November, the American people elected a new Democratic majority in both the Senate and the House. Unfortunately, there are not enough Democrats in Congress to override his veto. It's time for Democrats to start working to elect a President and a larger congressional majority in 2008.

In the four years since Bush falsely claimed victory on that aircraft carrier, the American people have been exceptionally patient. Every time Bush had an opportunity to put the interests of the American people first, he chose to let partisan politics dictate White House policy.

Polls show that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats know that this war has been an immense mistake. Bush was wrong to lead America into this war. He was wrong in his management of the war. He is wrong to ignore the strong views of the American people today. He is wrong to accuse Democrats of harming our troops by insisting on a change of course.

Until we make real progress to end the Iraq war, health care, education and other social programs that most Americans care about will suffer. Republicans understand that nothing important will be achieved until we have binding legislation that starts to bring an end to the war, but they seem to prefer it that way.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fear Mongering

Recently, Rudy Giuliani remarked: “If a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001... Never ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!”

Bush, not the Democratic Party, has failed our country by never capturing Osama bin Laden the true culprit of the 9/11 and creating many more terrorists by invading Iraq.

Giuliani has taken a page from Bush/Cheney's playbook by using fear mongering to gain support. A majority of voters didn't buy that proposition in the 2006 midterm elections, and they're not going to buy it in 2008.

Giuliani claims: “America will be safer with a Republican president.” and threatens the American people with “casualties” if a Democrat is elected president next November.

Giuliani’s record is nothing to boast about. He has no foreign policy experience whatsoever. On Sept. 11, 2001, his party held the presidency and he was the mayor of New York City. Giuliani was elected mayor eight months after the first attack on the World Trade Center, but did not emphasize counter-terror for the next eight years.

He and his party assured New Yorkers that the air quality was safe and the remains of the dead would be recovered, but that didn’t happen. His party rode roughshod over our civil liberties, while claiming it was protecting them. His party took our nation into the most counterproductive, ruinous war in our history.

Not only have the Republicans not lived up to their yammering on making America safe, but last fall the voters called them on it. Americans are sick of the terror-mongers trying to frighten us into surrendering of our rights, reason and into a betrayal of what this country has stood for.

The words Franklin Roosevelt spoke 74 years ago still ring true. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself ”. Republicans like Giuliani, have cynically exploited fear, for their own selfish, personal gain.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bush’s Leadership

In his book, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca talks about the Cs of leadership.

Curiosity — “George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. ‘I just scan the headlines,’ he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.’ Bush disagrees.”

Creative — “George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping. There’s a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty.”

Communicate — “The war in Iraq has been, among other things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who didn’t cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we’ve stopped listening to him.” During the month of April, 104 brave young Americans were killed in Iraq.

Character — “George Bush has a lot of power. What does it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops (not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to their deaths—for what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show his daddy he’s tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.”

Courage — “Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk…. Bush can’t even make a public appearance unless the audience has been has been handpicked and sanitized.”