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.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Time Will Tell

Democratic Senator Jeff Bingham of New Mexico claims: “In this time of war, it is imperative that our country fully address the unique health care needs of the brave men and women returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  At the same time, we must provide for the needs of our older veterans who have long relied on the Veterans Affairs system for their health care. 

“In May, Congress passed an emergency spending bill which contains funding on top of what was already appropriated this year for our troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That bill sets aside $3 billion for the Defense Health Program, which addresses the healthcare needs associated with combat– needs ranging from treatment of and research into brain trauma injuries to rehabilitation for amputees.  

“Traumatic brain injury, particularly in combination with post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems, is among the conditions that require extensive treatment.  Severely injured veterans may require extensive periods of rehabilitation to successfully integrate back into the community. 

“Also last month, the Senate passed a budget blueprint which set the recommended funding level at $43 billion for veterans’ services and benefits, which is $3.5 billion more than was set aside this year.  As we in Congress write the spending bill that funds the VA, it’s my hope that at the very least, we mirror that figure. Doing so would allow us to improve mental health services, enhance inpatient and outpatient care for veterans, and also allow the VA to better address its backlog of pending benefits claims.
 
“We should not be cutting corners at the VA. That is why I am cosponsoring the ‘Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act of 2007’. The bill directs the Department of Defense to make it easier for recovering service members and families to access services by outlining requirements for physical disability evaluation system changes and providing caseworker support.

“It’s important to recognize that health care isn’t the only way we should support America’s veterans.  To that end, I strongly back a bill called the “Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2007”, which would overturn a century-old prohibition on military retirees receiving both disability compensation and retirement pay.   

“Americans are grateful for the service of men and women in uniform.  We must use every opportunity to repay the debt we owe to them, no matter when or where they served, and to honor the commitment we made to them when they joined.  We can do this by providing them accessible and affordable health care and ensuring the full payment of their hard-earned benefits.”

Sounds good,but the trillions dollars wasted in Iraq, has already requiring drastic cuts in important programs and historically veterans benefits end up being cut. Time will tell.

By the way, another 100 Americans will not be requiring health care, because they were killed in Iraq last month.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Vice President

Effective oversight and transparency of our country’s most important documents are essential to accountability and respect for the rule of law. Executive Order 12958 states that information must be properly maintained “to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, and our participation within the community of nations.” Bush amended and endorsed this order, and Cheney’s office complied with it until 2003. Since 2003, Cheney has refused to comply with Executive Order 12958, which “prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information.”

The Vice President claims he’s exempt from presidential executive orders because, as President of the Senate, he is “attached” to the legislative branch. However, the Senate has even more stringent regulations on the handling of classified material, which the Cheney hasn't followed. The White House will only say that this is an “interesting constitutional question that people can debate.”

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states: “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected ...”

The Bush regime refuses to hold itself accountable for the protection of our national security, and Cheney is a key part of the problem. It was his office that leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent to the media. He’s part of a regime under investigation for using email accounts of the Republican National Committee to conduct official government business.

According to the Washington Post: “The vice president’s office goes to unusual lengths to avoid transparency. Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs.

In the usual business of interagency consultation, proposals and information flow into the vice president’s office from around the government, but high-ranking White House officials said in interviews that almost nothing flows out. Close aides to Cheney describe a similar one-way valve inside the office, with information flowing up to the vice president but little or no reaction flowing down.

Under Cheney’s watch, some of our country’s most disgraceful moments have happened from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib. He has provide the Bush regime a convenient cover to do great damage to our Constitution and the American people. Bush must be held accountable for Cheney’s actions.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Character

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

Regarding Bush’s “Character” Iacocca writes: “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.”

Nothing can be done to salvage Iraq. Serious flaws in Bush’s character won’t allow him to recognize that the Iraqis will decide their own fate and that our troops are merely sitting ducks caught in civil war, which can’t be won militarily. Bush’s identification with this war is absolute and he will not relent. In my opinion, his ability to reason clearly has been poisoned by his blind hatred of anyone that would oppose him.

Unfortunately, the typical American acts as if having been born in the United States bestows upon them the right of a person of privileged. Worse than their ethnocentrism is the narrow-mindedness, which leads to an arrogance of ignorance. Most Americans consider Christianity as the only road to salvation, which suggests that every other faith leads to the fires of hell. Usually, they consider capitalism as being a system of doing business which has received the blessing of God.

Some Americans believe that if you criticize the current leadership or the narrow-minded citizens, who support Bush, you must hate this nation or that you are siding with Muslim fanatics, but just the opposite is true.

Many people of compassionate character are committed to taking back our nation, from the military-industrial complex and Christian fascists.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Consequences of Losing

American policymakers and intelligence analysts are considering the potential repercussions of failure in Iraq. Over forty years ago, policymakers were thinking about the implications of defeat in Vietnam.

In 1965, Under Secretary of State George Ball recommended that we cut our losses in Vietnam. He had recognized the quagmire, but LBJ was looking to bring our troops home with honor and save his legacy. While, LBJ was trying to save his legacy and additional fifty-five thousand Americans died.

In 1967, CIA Director Richard Helms asked for a review of strategic consequences of an American failure in Vietnam. A classified memorandum entitled “Implications of an Unfavorable Outcome in Vietnam”, detailed a list of worrisome prospects.

Shortly thereafter, the Tet Offensive, by North Vietnamese soldiers and Vietcong guerrillas, caught U.S. forces and the American public by surprise. Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, was replaced and our strategy shifted from conventional operations to counterinsurgency. However, the shift in strategy came too late to alter the outcome of the war. From 1967 to 1975, when the withdrawal was completed thirty thousand additional Americans were killed in Vietnam.

Please, consider these excerpts from the document “Implications of an Unfavorable Outcome in Vietnam”, but with the word Iraq replacing the word Vietnam:

1. At some stage in most debates about the Iraq war, questions like the following emerge: What would it actually mean for the US if it failed to achieve its stated objectives in Iraq? Are our vital interests in fact involved? Would abandonment of the effort really generate other serious dangers?

2. What we are attempting in this paper is to provide some greater precision about the probable costs, for American policy and interests as a whole, of an unfavorable outcome Iraq. It is not assumed in this inquiry that such an outcome is now likely; it has been demonstrated, in fact, that the insurgents cannot win if the US is determined to prevent it. But the question of what it would mean for the US if its own objectives are not achieved is relevant and fair. The debate itself shows the need for a sounder basis by which to measure the costs of an unfavorable outcome against the exertions which would presumably still be required to achieve a favorable one.

Unfavorable outcomes were very apparent in 1965 and 1967, but young Americans continued to die by the ten’s of thousands, while a foolish debate dragged on. Obviously, politicians don't have a sense of urgency, when it comes to the lives of our troops.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Profound Misunderstanding

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and has written another significant article, which I’m compelled to share. It’s entitled: “Candidates who call for beefing up our armed forces to deter terrorism show a profound misunderstanding of the Mideast.”

“Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama all promise, if elected, to expand our land forces. Clinton has declared it "past time to increase the end-strength of the Army and Marines." Edwards calls for a "substantial increase." Obama offers hard numbers: His program specifies the addition of 92,000 soldiers.

“Leading Republicans concur. John McCain has long advocated a bigger Army. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are now chiming in. Giuliani wants to expand the Army with an additional 10 combat brigades. Romney says that "at least 100,000" more troops are needed.

“This bipartisan consensus — which even includes Bush, who recently unveiled his own five-year plan to enlarge the Army and Marine Corps — illustrates the inability or refusal of the political class to grasp the true nature of our post-9/11 foreign policy crisis. Any politician who thinks that the chief lesson to be drawn from the last five years is that we need more Americans toting rifles and carrying rucksacks has learned nothing.

“In fact, this enthusiasm for putting more Americans in uniform (and for increasing overall military spending) reflects the persistence of a second consensus to which leading Democrats and Republicans alike stubbornly subscribe.

“This second consensus consists of two elements. According to the first element, the only way to win the so-called global war on terrorism, thereby precluding another 9/11, is to "fix" whatever ails the Islamic world. According to the second element, the United States possesses the wherewithal to effect just such a transformation. In essence, by employing American power, beginning with military power, to ameliorate the ills afflicting Islam, we will ensure our own safety.

“This is sheer twaddle, as events in Iraq have manifestly shown. Yet even today, among mainstream Republicans and Democrats, expectations persist that the United States can somehow reform and therefore pacify the Muslim world.

“In fact, the great lesson of Iraq (further affirmed in Afghanistan) is that the umma — the Arabic name for the entire Muslim community — is all but impervious to change imposed from the outside. If anything, our ham-handed efforts to inculcate freedom and democracy, even if well-intentioned, have played into the hands of violent Islamic radicals. The Bush administration's strategy has exacerbated the problem it was designed to solve, while squandering American lives, treasure, moral standing and political influence to little avail.

“Given the mess in which we currently find ourselves, increasing the number of men and women under arms makes about as much sense as drinking bourbon to treat depression. In the short term, the antidote might make you feel better, but at a cost of masking the underlying problem and allowing it to fester.

“The underlying problem is that the basic orientation of U.S. policy since 9/11 has been flat wrong. Bush's conception of waging an open-ended global "war" to eliminate terrorism has failed, disastrously and irredeemably. Simply trying harder — no matter how many more soldiers we recruit and no matter how many more Muslim countries we invade and "liberate" — will not reverse that failure. More meddling will evoke more hatred.

“The challenge confronting those aspiring to the presidency, therefore, is to devise an alternative to Bush's failed strategy. To pass muster, any such strategy will have to recognize the limits of American power, military and otherwise. It must acknowledge that because the United States cannot change Islam, we have no alternative but to coexist with it.

“Yet coexistence should not imply appeasement or passivity. Any plausible strategy will prescribe concrete and sustainable policies designed to contain the virulent strain of radicalism currently flourishing in parts of the Islamic world. The alternative to transformation is not surrender but quarantine.

“Over time, of course, Islam will become something other than what it is today. But as with our own post-Christian West, that evolution will be determined primarily by forces within. Our interest lies in nudging that evolution along a path that alleviates rather than perpetuates conflict between Islam and the West. In that regard, the requirement is not for a bigger Army but for fresh ideas, informed by modesty and a sense of realism.

“The candidate who can articulate such ideas might well merit respect and popular support. Those who in the absence of serious strategic analysis reflexively posture about the need for more troops deserve only contempt.”

Andrew J. Bacevich’s son, 1st Lt. Andrew John Bacevich, died on May 13, in Iraq at the age of 27 after a suicide bomb explosion. Posts on mindanddestiny.com of May 28 and 29, 2007 give insight into this father’s reaction to his son’s death.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Nuclear Power

John Basil of Stillwater is a retired plant manager for the Indian Point nuclear power facility. On Sunday, June 24, 2007, his letter to the editor of the Albany Times Union was published. I found some John Basil’s facts very interesting and expect that you will, too.

“Your June 11 editorial, ‘Power politics’ is right in pointing out that New York should encourage the development of clean and innovative fuel sources. Nuclear power, particularly given new innovations in reactor and plant design, should be part of the solution.

“Because New York obtains 27 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and 18 percent from hydroelectric sources, it has the country’s fifth lowest per capita amount of carbon dioxide emissions.

“New York’s six nuclear plants curtail the production of tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide that fossil fuel plants would otherwise produce. With global warming and air quality concerns paramount, New York should be open to ways to increase its nuclear power portfolio.

“From a price, supply, and competitive standpoint, it is important that New York encourage a wide variety of fuel sources. Renewed Article X language that would not prescribe or limit the types of fuels that could come to the market in the future would send a powerful message that New York is open for business.”

Yesterday’s post about the Senate energy legislation makes no mention of electricity from nuclear power. Is this because most politicians are pandering to coal, oil and natural gas lobbyist?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Big Business Wins

In the last six months, we have seen the price of gasoline go up 75 cents to a dollar in many states. Ironically during the summer months, we have come to expect oil refineries to shut down for anticipated and unexpected problems with maintenance. Thereby, refining capacity shrinks as demands of summer travel increases.

Over the last 25 years, commute times have increased and working people are driving 40 percent farther. With gasoline consumption increasing and the price of gas likely to go over $4 a gallon, every driver will be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 a year.

Recently, the Senate passed energy legislation, which included an increase in automobile fuel economy requirements to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg by 2020 from the current requirements of 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and small trucks. This would be the first increase in vehicle fuel efficiency since 1989. Senate Democrats had hoped to increase fuel efficiency standards to 40 miles a gallon. That type of fuel efficiency would allow America not to import oil from the Middle East and gas prices would go down. 

Furthermore, the bill requires that half of the new cars manufactured by 2015 be capable of running on 85 percent ethanol or biodiesel fuels. It requires that, by 2022, we to produce 36 billion gallons a year of ethanol. As a substitute for gasoline, ethanol would be made from corn and cellulosic sources such as prairie grass and wood chips.

The energy bill included a price gouging provisions that make it unlawful to charge an "unconscionably excessive" price for oil products including gasoline and give the federal government new authority to investigate oil industry market manipulation.

There is a new appliance and lighting efficiency standards and a requirement that the federal government accelerate use of more efficient lighting in public buildings.

Our government would offer grants, loan guarantees and other assistance to promote research into fuel efficient vehicles, including hybrids, advanced diesel and battery technologies. Also, there is a provision to support large-scale demonstrations that capture carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants and inject it into the ground.

Senate Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to pass a $32 billion package of tax incentives for renewable energy and clean fuels, by objecting to increasing taxes on oil companies by $29 billion over 10 years to pay for it. Democrats also were unable to include in the bill a requirement for electric utilities to produce at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable fuels such as wind and biomass, because Republicans refused to let the measure come up for a vote.

The Congress supposedly represents the interests of the American people, but once again big business won out. Campaign contributions are apparently more important than the American people. The oil and gas industry has given members of Congress millions of dollars in campaign contributions. We have seen that campaign contributions have something to do with the subsides for big oil and the energy independence legislation.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Talk is Cheap

Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted that there would be “a drastic reduction in troops in Iraq by the middle of 2008.” Democrats failed to force Bush to agree to a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops, but Pelosi has the audacity to claim they have backed the president into a corner. Pelosi claims that Bush has yielded to pressure from members of his own party in accepting benchmarks of progress, which encourages the Iraqi government to meet if they expect to keep U.S. support. --- A unitary executive doesn’t yield to anyone.

Accepting benchmarks, which “encourage” is meaningless blather. The benchmarks in the emergency appropriations bill, Bush signed last month was pushed by Sen. John Warner of Virginia. According to Pelosi, Warner is a highly respected Republican expert on defense. She insists: “the president does have to answer to the benchmarks in the bill that passed”. ---Unfortunately, Bush and Warner the so called “expert on defense” will never have to answer for the tragic consequences of what has occurred in Iraq.

Pelosi expects a “drastic reduction in troops” in Iraq by the summer of next year, leaving “only those needed to fight terrorism, to train Iraqis and to protect our diplomats and our troops that are there.”---Big deal it’s just in time for Warner and other Republicans, who are coming up for reelection to have some cover with their constituents.

Congressional Democrats will push to withdraw U.S. troops in future military appropriations and simultaneously “support the troops and end the war.” ---How many more Americans will die, while Democrats try to pull this off. They can only support the troops and end the war, by not funding the war.

Pelosi says that there is going to be legislation that provides funds, which will be used to redeploy the troops out of Iraq and adds that such a measure could take the form of a bill to repeal the authority of the president to go to war in the first place. ---Democrats are six months late with this legislation.

Speaker Pelosi thinks we’re on a path to ending the war and says: “How much longer can this continue?” The answer to this rhetorical question is: ---When members of Congress recognize they have a Constitutional responsibility to restore a balance of power to our government, by asserting their of power of the purse.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Human Rights First

Please consider joining with "Human Rights First", by sending the following letter to your senators:

“As a constituent concerned about the growing Iraqi refugee crisis, I urge you to cosponsor the bipartisan legislation S.1651 "The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act." This bill extends a lifeline to some of Iraq's most vulnerable refugees and provides critical assistance to countries that are already sheltering so many Iraqis in the region. There is no better way to honor World Refugee Day this week.

“The United States has led the world in past efforts to protect and resettle vulnerable refugees. Between 1948 and 1952 the U.S. admitted 200,000 displaced Europeans, including 90,000 Jewish refugees. In the 1950's and '60's the U.S. resettled some 200,000 refugees from the Soviet Union and 200,000 from Cuba. Since 1975 the U.S. has admitted more than 2.6 million refugees, including 900,000 from Vietnam, 600,000 from the former Soviet Union, and 143,000 from Bosnia. Our country has been a leader with a proud tradition of giving refuge to the persecuted and assistance to victims of war. And yet we have essentially closed our doors to Iraqi refugees, resettling less than 700 since April 2003, and only 36 this year.

“The United States must do more. Since 2003, more than 2.2 million Iraqis have fled violence and persecution in their homeland. Tens of thousands have been targeted for their work with the United States or with U.S. organizations. Many more have been killed because of their ethnicity or religion. Those who have fled to Jordan and Syria live in dire conditions, at risk of exploitation and deportation back to danger. Many lack access to medical treatment, education for their children, and a means of supporting their families. As this crisis grows, the protection of refugees, the stability of the region, and the moral credibility of the United States are all at risk.

“The "Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act" will lay the groundwork to help the United States develop a comprehensive solution to this crisis. It allows persecuted Iraqis who have close ties to the United States - either through work or through family - to apply directly to our refugee program. The bill also creates 5,000 special visas for Iraqis who worked directly with the United States, and asks that we protect those who are in imminent danger of death. Finally, it asks the Secretary of State to work with countries in the region hosting large number of Iraqis to develop long-term solutions and aid packages to help the vast majority of the refugees who will remain in the region.

“It is past time for the United States to lead the international community to address this crisis in a comprehensive manner. Our country has a moral obligation to provide a meaningful solution to the Iraqi refugee crisis. This bill is a vital step towards fulfilling that obligation. Thank you in advance for your leadership on this issue.”

http://action.humanrightsfirst.org

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We are Fools

Iraq is worse than Vietnam, because it came about as a war of choice and the deception and incompetence of our leadership has been much greater. 

The only reason the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror is because we created more terrorists, when we invaded Iraq. The central part of the war on terror is in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan or going after al Qaeda in some 60 countries.

According to the Bush regime the mission in Iraq is preventing chaos and allowing the political fiction of an Iraqi government to survive. Actually, we have created and will continue to create the very chaos our military is expected to prevent.  For five years, the Bush regime has been dead wrong. Increasing the numbers of troops is not going to work, because a political solution, not a military solution is required.

Very few people in the military or in politics have been held accountable for what has gone wrong in Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld was replaced after the American people spoke in the last election, but up and down the chain of command, few people have been held accountable.  They weren’t held accountable for Abu Ghraib nor Guantanamo, because the Bush regime fundamentally snubs its nose at accountability.  They just ignore it and the media backs off and moves on to the next story, whether it’s the death of Anna Nicole Smith or Paris Hilton going to jail. The public allows itself to constantly be distracted by something that is obviously of far less consequence.

American troop should not be killed or maimed in Iraq because of the procrastination on the part of Iraqi politicians to compromise. In Baghdad, President Maliki and the Iraqi parliament are playing the United States of America for a bunch of fools. Congress must give Maliki a public ultimatum that he either demonstrate leadership within a specific limit of time or the United States is not going to continue to support his government. We must make it clear that either Maliki fires the people, who are unwilling to be part of the reconciliation and put in people who will compromise, or we are going to abandon Iraq. All of the talk about benchmarks is silly nonsense and a tactic to delay withdrawal of our troops by the Bush regime.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Capitulation is Unacceptable

Any compromise that funds the war through the end of the fiscal year is not a compromise at all. It’s a capitulation. Recently, majority of congressional Democrats caved and sent Bush another blank check to continue the war in Iraq.

The troops in the field, who continue there noble sacrifice and their families waiting at home lost more than anyone by the continued funding of the war. The rest of us that are against the continued occupation of Iraq don’t have the luxury of getting discouraged. The battle is not over it has only begun.

It is clear that no one is going to end this war for us, because Bush will not listen and many in Congress want to avoid a fight. Under the Constitution, it’s up to “we the people”, to be the ultimate deciders and bring our troops home.

Democrats in Congress blinked on the issue of a troop withdrawal and claim they simply don’t have the votes to override a presidential veto. In fact, this is a dereliction of duty by members of the House. Members of the House took an oath of office to protect the Constitution, but instead they have allowed the executive branch of government to take absolute control of the situation in Iraq. A vote in the Senate is not necessary, because all funding must originate in the House of Representatives and if House leadership doesn’t send up another bill to fund the war, it’s Bush who is deciding not to fund the troops.

Their cynical game is to continue to submit funding bills for the war, with a timetable for withdrawal, which Bush will continue to veto. Thereby, our representatives in the House leave it up to the Senate to secure enough votes to override Bush’s veto. In September the number of Republican votes in the Senate to over ride Bush’s veto will again fall short.

This is not about politics. It’s about life and death and the American people want a different course in Iraq, which they made clear in the last election. The Democrats in Congress must stand their ground. All the candidates that are running for office in 2008, especially those in the House must be held accountable, for the positions they’ve taken.

Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Congressman Kucinich must continue to support bills that have a timetable for withdrawal, because that’s what a majority of the American people want.

It’s clear that Bush is not going to compromise or negotiate about withdrawal of our troops, because he does not think he’s capable of doing anything wrong. The House of Representatives has the constitutional power to fund or not fund the war and needs to use that power to force Bush to change course.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

War and Energy

Michael Klare, professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, is the author of “Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum.” He has provided information regarding the huge amount of oil that it takes for the Pentagon to operate its war machinery in the Middle East.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz pointed out in 2003 that Iraq "floats on a sea of oil" and told a congressional panel, "The oil revenue of could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

Today, Iraq is pumping only 1.6 million barrels of oil a day, which is almost a million barrels below the worst days of the sanctions strapped regime of Saddam Hussein. The average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes sixteen gallons of oil every day, either through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters or by calling in air strikes. Include the surrounding region and sailors aboard our warships in the Persian Gulf and the daily consumption of petroleum for combat operations in the war zone it reaches approximately 3.5 million gallons a day.

Furthermore, for every soldier stationed in theater, there are two more in transit or training for eventual deployment to the war zone. They also consume enormous amounts of oil. To sustain our troops located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, which consumes additional petroleum.

However, foreign wars account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption. America has the world's largest fleet of modern aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles, and support systems. In fact the Department of Defense is the world's leading consumer of petroleum. In April 2007, defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting, reported that the Pentagon might consume as much as 14 million gallons of oil every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.

American makes up only five percent of the world’s population, but consumes 25% of its oil. Apparently, the Pentagon’s addiction to oil is a major reason we need to invade oil rich nations. Is our imperialistic involvement in the Middle East in our strategic national interest or in the interest of the Pentagon, which needs to justify a bloated budget?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gov. Richardson

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico appears to have the best resume of any of the presidential candidates. As governor, Richardson has balanced five budgets and his resume includes United Nations ambassador, energy secretary, and member of Congress.

Richardson considers the best way towards reconciliation in Iraq is for a complete withdrawal of American forces to take place and to use the leverage of withdrawal to promote a reconciliation conference. He points out that 61 percent of the Iraqi people have said it's OK to shoot at an American soldier, and close to 70 percent want us out. Richardson is concerned that our troops have become targets and he would withdraw all of them within six months. His position of not leaving any residual forces is in stark contrast with the other candidates.

Richardson believes that only after we start withdrawing our troops can the real diplomatic efforts begin to reconcile the hatred between three sectarian groups in Iraq. He would seek some kind of Dayton-type accord, a division of three sectarian groups, sharing of oil revenue, a strong federal government, and then an all-Muslim peacekeeping force, which would include Iran and Syria. Saudi Arabia, Iran and the surrounding Sunni countries don’t wants an outright civil war on their borders. Furthermore, Richardson would convene a donor conference to rebuild Iraq.

The policy of continuing this conflict with more troops, is going to leave us more vulnerable to al Qaeda. Our obsession with Iraq has caused us to lose focus in the fight against international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, a loose nuclear weapon, and other challenges, like global climate change, and the Israeli - Palestinian conflict that affect our national security in the region.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, but it has become less safe with the policies of the Bush regime. Richardson would bring in a Middle East peace envoy to try to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together.

Gov. Richardson insists we don't have an international coalition today, because we've blown all of our credibility on Bush’s failed policy on Iraq. He would build an international coalition, which would include the Security Council and Russia, that would push for economic sanctions on Iran.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Responsibility

Those that consider themselves to be a responsible citizen should read this post twice and then share it with someone they consider to be an irresponsible citizen.

The following is entitled: “We’re all responsible for Iraq” by critically acclaimed writer and historian James Reston Jr.

“It’s not enough to merely criticize the president or say you voted for another candidate. Every American citizen has a political and moral duty to do what’s right for our troops, and for our country.

“Between those who manage the war in Washington and those who fight it in Iraq, the American people enjoy a safe middle ground. The country is both at war and not at war. The war machine in Washington hums along as it did in other great international conflicts. U.S. troops fight as vicious a war abroad as they have ever fought. But at home, there is no sacrifice, no serious deprivations, no mobilization of youth. Life goes on pretty much as normal.

“The philosophers tell us that there are four types of responsibility for which an individual and a society can be held to account for aggressive or unprovoked war. Criminal guilt applies to the power structure that drags a country into an abyss against its will or upon false pretenses, or the individuals who engage in crime on the battlefield. After Iraq, there will be no grandiose trials in which our leaders are asked to account for their deeds. There will be only a few military trials for low-level criminal soldiers. Criminal responsibility for decision-makers will be left to the opprobrium of history and to Nixonian exile.

“There will, however, be a long period of collective introspection after the war. It will, hopefully, be a period of reconciliation and regeneration. The central task of the president we elect in 2008 will be to bind up the nation's wounds and to rediscover the country's fundamental bearings. Recognizing the breath of responsibility for the Iraq disaster, down to the level of the individual citizen, must be part of that process.

“Metaphysical guilt means that every human being is responsible for injustices committed anywhere in the world, but especially crimes that are committed in our presence and with our knowledge. Does this apply to us? The legitimization of torture is one instance that seems to fit. It has been done in our presence, with our knowledge. Or the scrapping of the Geneva Conventions. When both a nation and an American citizen acquiesce in the dissolution of accepted moral norms, metaphysical guilt applies.

“The two other categories, moral and political guilt, are most pointedly relevant at this stage of the Iraq conflict. It is not enough to complain about President Bush, or to mock him. To mock the president does not relieve one from responsibility for the war being fought in the name of every American. Bush's disaster has become the country's disaster. Every American is now connected to it politically and morally. We cannot be indifferent to the scorn for all things American that characterizes the worldview of us. We must pay attention. It should move us.

“In our safe zone, the hypocrisy toward our troops is another instance of moral and political guilt. When a person flaunts his patriotism and then tolerates the exploitation of soldiers, then that citizen is morally culpable for that outrage and a participant in it. Even during the Vietnam War, when I was a soldier for three years, no soldier was sent back to the jungle against his will for second and third tours.

“There existed then, in that ‘immoral war,’ a solemn pact between the soldier and his country that was honored by the military and accepted by the soldier, even as the war was winding down toward humiliation. That pact was especially important in the years of 1969-75, when it was clear that the Vietnam War was lost, and that young men were being asked to die simply to extricate politicians from their blunders.

“And so it is now. No one talks of a noble cause any longer, especially our troops. Young men are recruited merely with appeals to their testosterone. When the highest military officers now warn that this conflict is breaking the military system, it is because this honorable bond between the country and the soldier at risk is being broken. The general populace, despite the horrifying spectacle of severed limbs and wasted minds, seems indifferent. Didn't these boys and girls sign up for this? Such a question conveniently separates the citizen from the soldier.

“As for political guilt, all citizens bear the responsibility for the way their country is governed. They are, therefore, liable collectively for the political decisions of those leaders they have elected, regardless of whether one voted for the winner. In the elections of 2002 and 2004, the Democrats might have halted the rush to war, but they deliberately avoided the subject. This lack of resistance permitted this war to be fought and funded as it was. The Democrats of 2002 and 2004 must share in the political and moral guilt for the calamity.

“The 2006 elections was the first time the political and moral aspect of the Iraq debacle was joined. In the next election, that connection will be even more pivotal. If there is no collective grief about what has happened in Iraq, and no collective determination to change course, if the hollow drumbeat for victory and continuing war wins out over withdrawal, then that, at the very least, will define what and who we have become, as a nation, as a people, and as individuals.”

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rep. Gillibrand

The last letter the Albany Times Union published from this writer was last Nov. It read as follows:

“By winning a seat in the House of Representatives, Kirsten Gillibrand made our family very happy. We moved from the Capital Region more than 40 years ago, and this is the first time a Democrat has represented us in the House.

“Congressional Republicans do not stand alone in their opposition to troop redeployment. Some congressional Democrats believe it's politically wise to resist Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha, who are calling for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

“Strategically, it would be politically advantageous, because the Republican Party might claim that a withdrawal from Iraq was a defeat engineered by Democrats. Some Democratic strategists insist that we must not give Republican propagandists an opening to claim it was the Democrats who lost Iraq.

“Young Americans continue to die, because cynical politicians are only thinking about their own careers.

“Those of us who participate in weekly peace vigils in Delaware County will be very disappointed if Gillibrand turns out to be a cynical politician.”

The following letter by Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa was published in the Albany Times Union on 6/11/07. His letter expresses a concern many Democrats have about Rep. Gillibrand’s vote to continue funding military operations in Iraq.
 
“Thanks to Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand for calling for a balanced budget amendment in her June 4 Times Union opinion piece. Our $9 trillion national debt is obscene. However, the elephant in the room she did not mention is that the Iraq war and occupation could cost U.S. taxpayers more than $2 trillion, according to Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz.

“As well as a being a horrific crime against the hundreds of thousands killed and millions whose lives have turned into nightmares, this war is an incredible rip-off of American taxpayers. Rep. Gillibrand’s recent vote for another $100 billion in funding for military operations in Iraq was totally inconsistent with fiscal conservatism, and quite disappointing.

“Next time, Rep. Gillibrand, we are counting on you to show some backbone on Iraq. The occupation of Iraq is only helping the oil companies and war profiteers. It is killing our soldiers and exploding national debt.”

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Greater Good

Bush says that the American people need to be convinced that his comprehensive immigration reform bill must be passed. Bush has no credibility, because he’s trying to sell Americans a bill of goods, but this time their not buying it. Most Americans want our government to prove that our ports and the northern and southern border can be reasonable secured. Once that happens a discussion of the legitimate needs of industry and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants could begin.

The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t produced a fact-finding report on the fiscal and societal impact of the legislation. Illegal immigrants would be given legal status just one day after their application is filed even if a background check is not completed. The Heritage Foundation estimates it will require over two and a half trillion dollars to cover the retirement benefits of 12 million illegal immigrants if this amnesty bill becomes law. However, by some estimates there are 30 million illegal immigrants.

Forcing contractors to increase wages would be good for the middle class, but instead the bill would produce a class of indentured workers, which would result in lowed wages. Supporters of the bill admit it’s flawed, but would be better than nothing. The bill they’ve proposed serves to undermine human rights and workers’ rights for citizens and illegal immigrants alike.

Multinational corporations got Bush to cut taxes and provide them with cheap labor, thereby lowering wages for the working class in this country. This has been a full frontal assault on the the middle class and American sovereignty. If a nation doesn't have sovereignty, human rights don’t exist.

Nations have immigration policy for the benefit of it’s citizens, not illegal immigrant or multinational corporations. Nations have policies on who they let in, for the benefit of the greater good of their society. The debate about the greater good is just beginning. We need to have one class of workers who are equal in their protection under the law and are treated as equal citizens by corporate employers. That’s a conversation America had about civil rights and we must have that kind of conversation again.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maverick

Ron Paul is running for president to promote the cause of individual liberty and limited government. Dr. Paul voted against going to war in Iraq in 2002, and strongly opposes any military action against Iran. His number one issue is the war in Iraq, because it gives him an opportunity to talk about a noninterventionist foreign policy, which he has written about and talked about for many years.

The internet has been overwhelmingly favorable to his campaign. Paul’s support is coming from Independents who are frustrated with the war, Republicans who have left that party and Democrats who are angry that congressional Democrats have not cut off funding for the war.

The Republican debates were very helpful, because it drew attention to Rep. Paul’s argument, that you can be a conservative and still be opposed to the war.

Paul is a strict constitutionalist, who says that we shouldn’t go to war under a UN resolutions, unless there’s a declaration of war by Congress. On the Democratic side Congressman Dennis Kucinich is the most vocal antiwar critic in the Democratic debates. Paul considers Kucinich a close friends and they end up voting together on war issues.

These mavericks have found that if you challenge the status quo on foreign policy, the establishment will twist it around and attempt to paint you as being un-American.

The Michigan GOP started a petition to kick Paul out of the Republican Party, but within 48 hours they back away. They tried to silence him for pointing out that the Republican Party is not as conservative as it claims.

Paul insists that the primary system in America is stacked to support the establishment candidates in both parties, so there can’t really be a groundswell of support for a maverick. They’re bunching up the primaries so people with big money have the advantage. It’s impossible for third party candidate to succeed, because the two established parties make it so difficult to even get on the ballot. Dr. Paul finds it ironic that we go around the world using force to spread democracy, while stifling the democratic process at home. Today, we have become less democratic, while allegedly fighting overseas to promote democracy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Armed Insurrection

Congressman Ron Paul has reminded his party and the country what the Republican Party stood for. It isn’t easy standing alone as one of the last true small government conservatives in today’s Republican Party. In the debates, Dr. Paul went after frontrunner Rudy Giuliani on his lack of foreign policy experience and gave the former mayor a homework assignment on what the CIA see as the true causes of terrorism and hatred toward America. 

Rep. Paul says the Republican party in D.C. is corrupt and that they have been corrupted by power. He votes for the least amount of spending and taxes in the entire Congress. Paul doesn’t fit in and has been asked to leave the Republican Party. The other candidates in the Republican presidential debate won’t admit that Bush’s foreign policy is flawed and that the war is the real issue.

Paul doesn’t see the Republican Party coming up with an electable candidate.  He doesn’t believe the Republican Party can be salvaged, unless they pick an anti-war candidate, who will curtail spending on foreign aid, foreign military intervention and deficit spending. 

Irate blogger Curt Maynard has written: “It is my opinion that Ron Paul is the only real choice we have in 2008 – anyone else is a vote wasted, they are either completely compromised and/or corrupt already or can be when deemed necessary. It’s my feeling that the American people, especially our youth are inherently aware of this to a certain extent and that, along with the uncensored power of the Internet, is why we are seeing such a groundswell of support for the Congressman from Texas. If by some miracle the election is not stolen and Paul is elected President in 2008 and does nothing but continue to treasonously support the status quo, I’m afraid an armed insurrection will be the only way that the American people will be able to remove the Zionist’s from power; unfortunately, based upon the recent behavior of the American people, in respect to accepting the governments lies about Iraq and Iran and their embrasure of the erroneously named Patriot Act, they don’t appear to be up to the task.”

Wow! I hope Democrats are up to the task and will consider undertaking the reforms Chalmers Johnson suggests in “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” ( see post made on May 27, 2007)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The C.I.A.

For more than fifty years the C.I.A. has operated with almost no congressional oversight.

Bush signed a secret executive order authorizing a policy of "extraordinary rendition," in which the C.I.A. is allowed to kidnap terrorist suspects and transfer them to prisons in countries like Egypt, Syria, or Uzbekistan, where torture is practiced, or to secret C.I.A. prisons outside the U.S. where Agency operatives themselves do the torturing.

Michael Scheuer author of “Imperial Hubris” and the former head of the bin Laden unit set up the extraordinary rendition program for the Clinton regime. However, Clinton didn’t allow the C.I.A. to torture the suspects, it was out sourced to the Egyptians, thereby technically not violating the Geneva Convention.

Chalmers Johnson, the author of “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic”, insists that we need to rewrite the National Security Act of 1947, taking away all functions from the C.I.A. that involve sabotage, torture, subversion, overseas election rigging, rendition, and other forms of clandestine activity. A president should be deprived of the power to order these types of operations except with the explicit advice and consent of the Senate. The C.I.A. should devote itself to the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence. We should eliminate as much secrecy as possible so that neither the C.I.A., nor any other comparable organization ever becomes the president's private army.

Paul Pillar is the first high level C.I.A. insider to speak out on the use of prewar intelligence. After 28 years with the C.I.A., Pillar retired in 2005, as senior intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005. He charges the Bush administration with the selective use of intelligence about Iraq's unconventional weapons and of ignoring predictions of postwar chaos in Iraq.

Pillar has proposed the creation of an independent office, modeled on the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office, to assess the use of intelligence at the request of members of Congress. He suggested that the root of the problem might be that top intelligence officials serve at the pleasure of the president.

 

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sins of the Fathers

As a matter of self preservation, we must examine our actions in the Middle East, which could very well come back to destroy us.

An excellent account of this dilemma is revealed in Stephen Kinzer's alarming book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq". Kinzer writes that more than 50 years ago, Iran was establishing a government close to a democracy. Mohammad Mossadegh a benevolent and incorruptible hero of Iranian history was unhappy that the profit from the country’s primary resource oil was not staying in the country.

The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which is now known as British Petroleum was getting 93 percent of the profits and Mossadegh wanted a 50-50 split. The British government didn’t want to use force to protect its business interests, but America willingly took on the task of undermining Mossadegh’s tenure as president. Steven Kinzer writes that after numerous attempts to disrupted the nation, a coup was financed and led by President Dwight Eisenhower’s CIA, and the Shah of Iran was installed as the leader. We trained the Shah’s goon squads, thus angering generations of Iranians for meddling in that nation’s affairs.

Many Americans appear to be too self centered to recognize that when we benefit, someone else may suffer. They remain ignorant of how our imperialistic occupation of Iraq for its oil has rekindled resentment and anger in the Muslim world, which will fester as long as our imperialistic meddling continues.

This is in no way is an effort to provide a moral justification for what the terrorists did on September 11, but we should at least attempt to understand the source of their anger. Furthermore, there is no moral justification to explain the killings of more than 650,000 Iraqis as a result of our occupation. There are many arrogant imperialists that defend our efforts to overthrow other governments whose actions we perceived as jeopardizing American business interests.

At some point, we’ll have to accept that acting as a bully by wrongly asserting our military superiority will eventually have serious repercussions. Americans alive today may not feel the negative effects of our foreign policy, but their innocent children will.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blowback

Chalmers Johnson’s prophetic book “Blowback” links the CIA’s clandestine activities abroad to terrorism at home.

Congressman Ron Paul, the controversial candidate for the Republican nomination for president said: “I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran and installed the Shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists.”

The CIA’s term “blowback” is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of it’s activities, which are kept secret from the American people. In 1953, the CIA feared there would be blowback from its reprehensible interference in the affairs of Iran. By installing the Shah to power, the CIA brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression upon the Iranian people, which concluded with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. The staff of the American embassy were held hostage for more than a year and that covert operation helped convince many people throughout the Islamic world that America was its mortal enemy.

The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, didn’t attack America, as our political leaders and the news media insist; they attacked our foreign policy. They utilized the strategy of the weak by killing innocent bystanders. Terrorist strike at the innocent in order to draw attention to the wrongdoing of our invincible leadership. Usually, those that seek revenge against America don’t have a chance of success. However, on those rare occasions that the strategy of terrorism does succeed, such as on September 11th., it renders our overwhelming military force worthless.

Bush told the American people that we were attacked because we are “a beacon for freedom” and because the attackers were “evil” and “this is civilization's fight.” The abstract values such as a “clash of civilizations” is a way of evading responsibility for the blowback that America’s imperialism has generated.

Eventually, a mushroom cloud will appear over a major city in America and it will be known as “payback” throughout the Islamic world.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Promoting Lies

The occupation of Iraq is the issue that has convinced a large majority of Americans that the country is headed in the wrong direction. The war is the results of an imperial presidency and the failure of Congress to perform its Constitutional duty of oversight. The Democratic majority remains reluctant to use its power of the purse to cut off funding for the war, which would end the occupation and begin to curtail the ever increasing power of the military-industrial complex.

One major problem of the American social and political system is the failure of the press, especially television news, to inform the public about the magnitude of the unconstitutional activities of the executive branch. Frederick A. O. Schwarz and Aziz Z. Huq, the authors of “Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror” observe: “For the public to play its proper checking role at the ballot box, citizens must know what is done by the government in their names.”

Chalmers Johnson the author of “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic”, examines the media’s role in promoting lies and demoting democracy. He claims that instead of uncovering administration lies and manipulations, the media actively promoted them. The first amendment to the Constitution protects the press precisely so it can penetrate the secrecy that is government's most powerful, self-protective weapon. As a result of the media’s failure, oversight of the government by an informed citizenry did not occur. The people became mere spectators as ideological extremists, vested interests, foreign operatives, the Israeli lobby, the petroleum industry, warmongers, profiteers allied with the military-industrial complex, and the entrenched interests of the professional military establishment hijacked our government.

Seymour Hersh, who for forty years has been one of America's leading investigative reporters, put the matter this way: “All of the institutions we thought would protect us particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress have failed. All the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn't. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that's the most glaring. What can be done to fix the situation? You'd have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives.”

Friday, June 08, 2007

Voting and Vidal

“Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.” - Gore Vidal

America has one of the worst voting records in the free world. In the last presidential election, about 45 percent of those eligible to cast a vote did so. Compare that to recent free elections in Australia 96%, Indonesia 93% and Belgium 91%.

Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey, is a co-sponsor H.R. 811: Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007.

It will be voted upon in the House of Representatives in June and deserves every voter's attention. This bill would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified paper ballot.

Last year the Brennan Center For Justice at NYU School of Law, found that “most of the electronic voting machines used in the U.S. are unreliable, subject to error and so vulnerable to attack that a single person could use corrupt software to swing enough votes to change the outcome of a Senate race without detection.”

The Brennan Center For Justice recommendations are reflected in the Holt-Davis bill. Among other things H.R. 811 would:

* Ban paperless electronic voting systems

* Ban most wireless components in voting systems that could make them vulnerable to a hacking attack

* Let the Election Assistance Commission select testing labs at random to certify voting machines, ending the practice of vendors paying and choosing their own.

* Ensure that the voting process allows for access to those with disabilities.

* Prohibit connection of any voting equipment component to the Internet at any time.

* Prohibits turning away voters at a polling station because of “problems with or shortages of equipment, ballots, or supplies.”

* Requires independent auditing of votes for federal races.

The Senate is expected to include similar language in its bill S.559, and the hope is that this legislation would be in effect by the presidential election in 2008.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Pressure Builds

Democratic Senator Joe Biden is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. He is one of the most strident voices against the war in Congress, but voted in favor of funding the war for another four months.

The other Democratic senators who are running for president, Clinton, Obama, and Dodd voted against the war funding bill. Sen. Biden says: “cutting the funding is not going to end the war, because it’s not going to change the president’s mind. Bush may be willing to use them as pawns, but I’m not willing to do that. He insists that we need to protect those we put in the field and take care of those we bring home.”

Senator Clinton explained: “I’ve been in favor of redeploying our troops out of Iraq for more than two years. I’ve been trying to get the administration to change course and engage in what I believe would be more effective actions in Iraq and they haven’t done it. You know, at some point, you don’t want to keep going on with it.”

Senator Barack Obama said: “We must fund our troops, but we owe them something more. We owe them a clear, prudent plan to relieve them of the burden of policing someone else’s civil war.”

Former Senator John Edwards believes: “This president’s not going to negotiate about this. How clear could anything be? He will not negotiate. He will not compromise. He does not think he’s capable of doing anything wrong. He has to be stopped. And the power that the Congress has is its constitutional power to fund. And they need to use that power to force this president down a different course. It’s that simple.”

The Biden-Gelb plan is considered by most experts to be the only way out of Iraq. It calls for taking our troop out of harm’s way, by not having them policing the streets of Baghdad or being involved in the civil war. Our troops would be limited to training Iraqi forces.

Biden anticipates that 17 Republican Senators are going to change their mind as pressure builds on them. He insists that ending the war requires a specific proposal, a plan whereby a political solution is implemented, while drawing down American forces. However, 67 votes in the Senate are required to get that done.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ashamed to be an American

Doug Soderstrom has written an article entitled: “Why I am Ashamed to be an American”

Doug grew up in a small town in Central Kansas and like most of us was taught to believe that the United States of America, was committed to justice and peace. We felt that our nation could be count on to do the right thing. Soderstrom realized that “there is nothing wrong with feeling ashamed for having done something wrong, that such a response is a rather natural consequence of having violated one’s conscience, a voice from deep within that is no doubt a reliable guide for how a man (or woman) of true integrity ought to live his (or her) life.”

He soon recognized that there were some, who seem to lack the capacity to feel ashamed, and wondered what must be wrong with them.

Soderstrom discovered that “there was an ever, ongoing flow of hints, subtle suggestions that things were not as I had been told.” It wasn’t until our country vented its awful wrath upon a post 9-11 world that he began to realize that he had been misled and took a long, hard look at the history of our country, a thorough examination of what turned out to be a past drenched in the blood of our foes, foreign lands raped of their natural resources, democratically elected governments overthrown, an outrageous succession of egregious arrangements with tyrants and dictators from around the world, along with the fact that our nation is the only developed country in the world that utilizes the death penalty to kill its own people, and that we imprison more of our own people than any other nation in the world” Thus, he was “enabled to gain a better understanding of why there are so many folks around the world who have become upset by our nation’s apparent willingness to abuse and exploit our fellow man.”

Dr. Soderstrom concluded that “the vast majority of the American public is out of touch with reality, that such folks have unwittingly allowed themselves to have become mercilessly entangled in a world of fabrication and make-believe, a nation dominated by sheepish yes-men unwilling to face the fact that we, as a nation, are, and for some time have been, caught in a downward spiral of moral decline.”

Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D. is a psychologist and can be reached at dougsoderstrom@sbcglobal.net

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Our Military is Unraveling

In “Nemesis”, author Chalmers Johnson commented on the American made human catastrophe in Iraq.

He states that our military exhibits a striking resemblance to the failures of the Vietnam era, thirty years ago. Apparently, the Pentagon hasn’t learned any lessons from the defeat of 1975. Our military went to war on the basis of its own propaganda of being the “lone superpower power the likes of which the world had never seen”. In Iraq that has turned out to be nothing but arrogant nonsense.

Instead of behaving in a professional manner, our military invaded Iraq with far too small a force; failed to respond adequately when parts of the Iraqi Army went underground; tolerated an orgy of looting throughout the country; ignored international obligations of an occupying power to protect the national treasures of an occupied country and fanned the flames of an insurgency, by committing numerous atrocities against unarmed Iraqi civilians.

Our former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas W. Freeman, says of Bush's recent “surge” strategy in Baghdad and al-Anbar Province: “The reinforcement of failure is a poor substitute for its correction.”

Retired General Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th Infantry Division in the first Iraq war and a consistent cheerleader for Bush strategies in the second, recently radically changed his tune. He now says, “No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi, without heavily armed protection....The U.S. Army is rapidly unraveling.”

Chalmers Johnson expresses grave concern that military failure in Iraq is still being spun into an endless web of lies and distortions by the White House, the Pentagon, military pundits, and reporting of propagandists disguised as journalists. Chalmers uses the example, in the first months of 2007, rising car-bomb attacks in Baghdad were making a mockery of Bush regimes claims that the U.S. troop escalation in the capital had brought about “a dramatic drop in sectarian violence.” The official response to this problem was for the Pentagon to simply stop including deaths from car bombings in its count of sectarian casualties. The Pentagon has never attempted to report civilian casualties publicly or accurately. Since August 2003, there have been over 1,050 car bombings in Iraq. One study estimates that through June 2006 the death toll from car bombings alone has been a staggering 78,000 Iraqis.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tough Luck

James Reston Jr. is a critically acclaimed writer and historian whose books include: “Warriors of God” and “The Last Apocalypse”. Reston points out: “When the highest military officers now warn that this conflict is breaking the military system, it is because this honorable bond between the country and the soldier at risk is being broken. The general populace, despite the horrifying spectacle of severed limbs and wasted minds, seems indifferent. Didn't these boys and girls sign up for this? Such a question conveniently separates the citizen from the soldier.”

A letter to the editor of the Binghamton Press and Sun - Bulletin stated: “Our government did not draft these young men and women. These young people took themselves right down to the recruiting office and signed on the dotted line.

“You will have to agree that when the U.S. is in a peaceful situation everything is hunky-dory and the service is wonderful, educating our young boys and girls, giving them gainful employment, health insurance and all the other goodies. But now we are in a war and our government is no good? Excuse me, what happened to for better or worse?”

Basically, that callous attitude is saying: “you volunteered - tough luck”.

Bush has used patriotism to silence critics of this war and cover up the devastating cost of the war for future generations. Our troops have served bravely and sacrificed without hesitation. Today, they are paying the price for Bush's stubborn pursuit of a failed imperialistic strategy in Iraq.

It’s possible to stop a president who believes he can do no wrong, but it just takes people with the courage to do what's right. Patriots must assume the responsibility that comes with citizenship and push our representatives in Congress to support our troops by ending this premeditated avarice war. More importantly, our representatives must never allow our young men and women to be used as gangsters for capitalism again.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Assault on Reason

“So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.” - Bertrand Russell

Since 2001, the Bush regime has demonstrated that it’s less interested in openness and truth than any previous administration.

During the Republican presidential debate the candidates were asked if they believed in evolution. Evolution is not a matter of belief. It’s a matter of scientific theory.

On the other hand, religious dogma excludes skepticism and critical thinking. By using critical thinking, one either understands a scientific theory as a reasonable explanation of observations, or one disputes the theory on the basis of conflicting observations. Asking a candidates for president, if they believe in evolution is an assault on reason. It’s another example of Bush’s new political environment, which is dangerously hostile to reason, knowledge and facts.

Choosing the data, which supports a predetermined belief, while ignoring the existing data, which doesn’t support a desired outcome is called cherry-picking. It was cherry-picking of select information, which led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq and serves to underscore the importance of critical thinking.

When Bush launched his preemptive war in Iraq, more than 70% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorists who caused 9-11. Unfortunately, many still have “faith” in Bush and ignore the facts.

In the long-term, this poses a threat to the very basis of American democracy. The ability of a well-informed citizenry to use critical thinking to hold our government accountable is the cornerstone of the democratic process.

We have little time to waste, because we are facing many challenges, from the climate crisis and war in Iraq to health care and social welfare. To solve these problems and move forward we need to reverse the damage done by the enemies of reason to our democracy.

We must explore why our public forum seems to welcome the enemies of reason. More importantly, we must focus on what can be done individually and collectively, to restore the rule of critical thinking to our democracy.

Robert Reich, secretary of labor in the Clinton administration wrote: "the greatest conflict of the 21st century is between; those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture and religious dogma."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Murder and Mayhem

“Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” by Chalmers Johnson examines the coverup of the murder and mayhem, which our invasion unleashed in Iraq.

Chalmers Johnson points out, that it has proven unimaginably lethal for unarmed civilians, but the role America has played in the carnage has been virtually taboo in the U.S. media. As late as October 2006, the journal of the British Medical Association, The Lancet, published a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad estimating that, since March 2003, there were some 601,027 more Iraqi deaths from violence than would have been expected without a war. The British and American governments at first dismissed the findings, claiming the research was based on faulty statistical methods and the American media ignored the study, played down its importance, or dismissed its figures.

On March 27, 2007, the chief scientific adviser to the British Ministry of Defense, Roy Anderson revealed an estimated 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the occupation of Iraq began. Another British official described the methods used in the study as "a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones." Over 650,000 violent deaths in a population estimated in 2006 at 26.8 million breaks down to one in every 45 Iraqi civilians killed.

One subject our government, military, and news media tries to avoid like the plague is the racist and murderous culture of rank-and-file American troops when operating abroad. This is partly a result of the background racism that is embedded in their mental make-up and the propaganda of American imperialism that is drummed into recruits during military training. Consequently, they do not see assaults on unarmed "rag heads" or "hajis" as murder. In Vietnam, the victims of My Lai atrocity were just “gooks”. Therefore, American soldiers followed orders and herded 347 old man, women, children and even babies into a ditch and shot them."

The cult of silence on killing unarmed civilians began to slip in May 2007 when a report prepared by the Army's Mental Health Advisory Team was leaked to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Based on anonymous surveys and focus groups involving 1,320 soldiers and 447 Marines, the study revealed that only 56% of soldiers would report a unit member for injuring or killing an innocent noncombatant, while a mere 40% of Marines would do so. Some militarists will reply that such inhumanity to the defenseless is inculcated into the properly trained soldier. If so, then the answer to this problem is to ensure that, in the future, there are fewer imperialist wars of choice sponsored by American taxpayers.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Blood For Oil

More than 3,475 troops have already died in Iraq to enrich six international oil companies. Bush claimed that one of the benchmarks the Iraqi Government must meet is a deal to share the oil revenues.  According to Dennis Kucinich a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination for president the Iraqis will not have that much oil revenues left to share. 

Kucinich has reported that international oil companies stand to take about 21 trillion dollars from the Iraqi people. To put that in perspective it figured out to be about $70,000 for every American currently alive. It will all go to six international oil companies, four of whom are American. It appears that most members of Congress have been bought off. However, some may feel they need to hold out for a larger share of the looting of the American and Iraqi people.

These are the same oil conglomerates that currently command over $3.25 for a gallon for gas. Don’t expect the price of a gallon of gas to go down once they corner the oil market.  How many more brave young American will be send to their death so that these international oil companies can continue to reap unconscionable profits?  For every American soldier and Iraqi citizen that has been killed so far in the Iraqi enterprise, the oil companies stand to rake in about $21,000,000. The profiteers allied with the military-industrial-congressional complex, and the entrenched interests of the professional military establishment have already made off with upwards of a trillion dollars. War is a profitable business for the few, but for common folk it's deadly.

Rep. Kucinich reports that according to the oil deal, Bush insists must be signed, these six international oil companies get control of over 80% of the Iraqi Oil fields.  The CEO's of those companies have complete control over every aspect of the oil for 35 years into the future.  Iraq gets to keep 17 oil fields, but even for these fields, operational control is in the hands of the international oil companies.

Kucinich points out that this plan was formulated well before the invasion. Nevertheless, many politicians continue to claim that we invaded Iraq to get rid of the WMD or cling to the “democracy fantasy” after bringing about a regime change. The media continues to do the bidding of the Bush regime and ignore what Dennis Kucinich has reported.