Saturday, December 03, 2005

GARY HART'S CLEAR MESSAGE TO US ALL


Gary Hart, from the December 3, 2005 Rocky Mountain News:

Gary Hart: Strong leader would be accountable for dire errors and miscalculations

By Gary Hart
December 3, 2005

Democracy does not work without accountability. On 9/11, 3,000 Americans lost their lives, yet no one in national authority lost his or her job. Despite warnings from both inside and outside the George W. Bush administration, no one was held accountable. This is one of the most astounding, and least discussed, aspects of the worst domestic attack in American history.

President Bush is characterized by his supporters as a "strong leader." But truly strong leaders accept responsibility. Most notably, for example, immediately following the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, President John Kennedy appeared on national television to accept personal responsibility, even for an invasion he inherited from the previous administration. That is strong leadership, leadership that accepts responsibility for its actions and holds itself accountable for its failures.

At no point has any member of the current administration accepted responsibility for 9/11 or been called to account by the press for totally ignoring the warnings issued eight months before 9/11 by the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, the most comprehensive review of national security since 1947. This lack of accountability has, predictably, carried over to the invasion of Iraq. Everyone is now aware that none of the justifications for that unprecedented invasion has proved factual or true.

Yet, once again, no one has been held accountable for inaccurate intelligence, misleading readings of that intelligence, or selective interpretation ("cherry picking") of that intelligence. Can you imagine Harry Truman's reaction to this situation? There would have been wholesale firings of, not medal ceremonies for, those responsible. That is strong leadership. Only two possibilities exist: either George Bush was misled, in which case he should have fired those who misled him many months ago, or George Bush has misled us. There are no other alternatives.

As with Vietnam and the Pentagon papers, Watergate, and other major malfunctions of government, the truth will ultimately be revealed, particularly if the free press once again resumes its constitutional responsibilities under the First Amendment. What George W. Bush knew and when he knew it, and even what he chose not to know, will become part of the historical record, even if not during his administration.

The fact that all those dominating the television shows in the fall of 2002 and spring of 2003 - Cheney, Wolfo- witz, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld - have gone silent and invisible is powerful evidence in and of itself.

We are now nearing our third year of occupation of Iraq with about 25,000 American casualties, an experience familiar only to imperial powers of the past - France in Indochina and Algeria and the British in, yes, Iraq. There is still no strategy that any leader is willing or able to state or defend. The best military in the world is being unnecessarily exhausted. The National Guard, key to homeland security, is in Iraq, not at home, and recruitment among regulars and reserves has suffered.

Since the Gulf War, neo-conservatives had a notion of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, creating a permanent U.S. military base in Iraq, using that base to pacify the entire Middle East, and of course protecting international oil supplies. This is a plausible, if not also an imperial, foreign policy. The problem is, it was never explained as such to the American people. The reasons are clear. Like John Quincy Adams in 1823, we believe that it is not America's role "to go abroad seeking demons to destroy."

President Bush calls all those attacking us in Iraq "terrorists." In fact, experts estimate that more than 90 percent of the insurgents are nationalists, those who simply want us out of their country, and fewer than 10 percent of the estimated 20,000 to 40,000 insurgents are foreign jihadists. An accountable Iraqi policy now would trade U.S. troop withdrawal for Iraqi nationalist cooperation in driving the jihadists out of the Iraq training ground we have created for them.

Any thought that the international conflict with radical Islamic jihadism, wrongly called a war on terrorism, will be won in Iraq is folly. The neo-conservative dream has become America's nightmare. Strong leaders not only accept responsibility, they also acknowledge failed policies and offer new ones. A truly strong president would now go to Dover Air Force Base to honor the dead still coming home and to Walter Reed Army Hospital to honor the thousands of casualties. That would be a beginning.

Gary Hart was co-chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century and is a former United States senator from Colorado. He lives in Kittredge.

Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.







Friday, December 02, 2005

LINCOLN GROUP

Just in case you haven't found the web site for Lincoln Group.

"Pentagon documents indicate the Lincoln Group ... received a $100 million contract to help produce favorable articles, translate the articles into Arabic, get them placed in Iraqi newspapers and not reveal the Pentagon's role," according to (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10285246/) MSNBC's December 1, 2005, Hardball. Additionally, the Chicago Tribune reported that "Lincolns' PR workers in Iraq included three Republican operatives who helped run the Bush campaign in Illinois and had no apparent experience in Iraq."

Regarding the news reports about the military planting news stories, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2005/57483.htm) in his November 30, 2005, daily press briefing that his "colleagues over at the Pentagon" were "looking in[to]" and were "probably in the best position to address those news reports." A reporter then commented: "Why would they have to look into the news reports if it's -- if it's happening, wouldn't they know they did it."






BUSH EMPLOYMENT LIES


Fuhrer Bush and his speech writers and policymakers have no grasp of economic reality in America. This is no more apparent than by reading his comments after this morning's November jobs numbers, in which he touted a gain of 215,000 jobs.

President Bush hailed new employment figures on Friday showing that the hurricane-stunted U.S. jobs market has rebounded. “This economy is in good shape,” he declared.

“Our economy continues to gain strength and momentum,” the president said.

“We have every reason to be optimistic about our economic future,” Bush said.

“When you think about the news that’s come in, the jobs report, the recent report on strong economic growth, low inflation, strong productivity, lower gasoline prices, a strong housing market, increases in consumer confidence and business investment. Our economic horizon is as bright as its been in a long time,” he added.

“I’ll continue to push for pro-growth economic policy, all aimed at making sure every American can realize the American dream,” he said.

BUT WAIT! Take a look at some of the jobs data as reported at the U.S. Department of Labor's own web site.

  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of civilian employed has increased by only 145,000 since August, and actually declined by 52,000 from October. The employment-population ratio actually declined from 62.9% in both August and October to 62.8% in November.
  • Not seasonally adjusted, the number of civilian employed has actually decreased by 174,000 since August, and by 372,000 since October. The employment-population ratio actually declined from 63.2% in both August and October to 62.9% in November.
  • The President and his minions (or shall I say minnows) tout the stable unemployment rate. Look closely, friends. While the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent in November from October, it's up from 4.9 percent in August. AND, on a seasonally adjusted basis, 191,000 more of our friends and neighbors are unemployed since August, 149,000 since October, alone.
  • The NOT seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained rose to 4.8 percent in November from October, it's up from 4.6 percent in August. AND, on a NOT seasonally adjusted basis, 56,000 more of our friends and neighbors are unemployed since August and, frighteningly, 307,000 more of our friends and neighbors are unemployed just since October.
  • Since July of this year, on a NOT seasonally adjusted basis, the number of Americans that have left the labor force has increased by more than 1.9 million people, the highest recorded since April. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of has increased by 448,000, the highest level since March.
So NOW where are all the smiles and smirks, eh? The U.S. economy is “as bright as it’s been for some time,” Bush said.

As a former portfolio manager, securities analyst, trained in economics and accounting, I find the blatant manipulation of economic data to be repugnant. Americans just love our low fidelity, iPod, sound-bite culture. How many of us take the time to fact check this stuff? Well it took me about one minute. And it and more are all available at Bush's own agency web sites.

It is clear, from Bush's inability to speak in proper English that would be becoming of a "real" president of the United States - despite being a Yale graduate, to his Administration's truly uncanny ability to lie to America and the world with straight face and without apology, that we must do our own homework. He surely didn't.








Thursday, December 01, 2005

THE PLAN FOR VICTORY




Come one now, Fuhrer Bush announced his new exit strategy on November 30:

1. "Defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency" - hmmm, about 20 years by historical standards.

2. "Transition Iraq to security self-reliance" - 5 - 10 years.

3. "Help Iraqis forge a national compact for democratic government" - Sorry, nope, never happen. Democratic thought has become alien to the modern Muslim mind thanks to the radicalism of their so-called spiritual leadership.

4. "Help Iraq build government capacity and provide essential services" - well when pigs fly! Can't do that until you defeat the insurgency? Hello?

5. "Help Iraq strengthen its economy" - goes back to that inurgency thing, hello!

6. "Help Iraq strengthen the rule of law, promote civil rights" - the rule of what law? Shari'a law? Civil rights? Hello! Nope, sorry, never happen, at least not based on any Republican conservative measure of law and civil rights. I take that back.

7. "Increase international support for Iraq" - well we all know that the international community won't exactly rush in until - until - until the United States exits.

8. "Strengthen public understanding of coalition efforts and public isolation of the insurgents" - which "public?" Iraq's or America's? - nope, sorry, neither one will happen, too late, sorry.

So there you have it, Bush's exit strategy, aka "Plan For Victory." When will we exit Iraq? Based on THAT plan, NEVER NEVER NEVER. Can you spell V-I-E-T-N-A-M?







BUSH'S NEW FOREIGN POLICY: "All who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

Recently, Unelected Fuhrer George W. Bush, appointed Paul Bonicelli to be deputy director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is in charge of all programs to promote democracy and good governance overseas.

As earlier reported in the Daily Star and at TomPaine.com, Bonicelli "has little experience in the field he has been tapped to supervise. The closest he comes to democracy promotion or good governance is having worked as a staffer for the Republican Party in the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives."

Bonicelli's other recent experience was as dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College (phc.edu) in Purcellville, Virginia. Patrick Henry is a small college, with a student body of some 300.
Young America's Foundation (YAF), a nationwide campus outreach organization dedicated to the promotion of conservative values, has named Patrick Henry College as one of the nation's top ten conservative colleges. The list highlights ten institutions that proclaim, through their mission and programs, a dedication to discovering, maintaining and strengthening the conservative values of their students, and allowing and encouraging them to fully explore conservative ideas and authors. YAF's motto, by the way, is "The Conservative Movement Starts Here." Chuckle chuckle chuckle...I can't make this stuff up, folks.

Patrick Henry's motto - the college wannabe, not the American folk patriot - is "For Christ and Liberty." Each of its students are required to sign a "statement of faith" that, in part says, "Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God come in the flesh;" that "Jesus Christ literally rose bodily from the dead;" and that hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

I SAID that I cannot make these things up, as much as I'd like to.

As it states on its web site,
"Through its economic assistance programs, USAID plays an active and critical role in the promotion of U.S. foreign policy interests. The investment this agency makes in developing countries has long-term benefits for America and the American people. Development now takes its place alongside defense and diplomacy as the three essential components of American foreign policy."

Countries in which USAID is active include, Egypt, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Jordan, West Bank/Gaza, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Yemen. Hmmm. A whole bunch of Muslim countries!

So this philosophy of
"all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity." Mr. President, so how does that play in those Muslim countries?












NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

How sorrowful do we feel when we observe yet more American children passed on, year after year, in school after school - including college - without having mastered the educational pathway? Children such as these are destined to fail in life's challenges. Sooner or later, the failures of their schools and teachers are going to brim over and have disastrous consequences.

They may fail at their jobs. Their friends may actually turn away from them. Most certainly, people may take advantage of them, understanding that they may not be able to discern truth from fabrication, and may not really care.

The failure of our education system, being addressed by the President's "No Child Left Behind" initiative, is no more evident than by reading the following actual quotations of people that are the product of our failed education system. Well, OK, not "people," just one person.

"As a matter of fact, I know relations between our governments is good."

"I think it's important to bring somebody from outside the system, the judicial system, somebody that hasn't been on the bench and, therefore, there's not a lot of opinions for people to look at."

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you."

"So please give cash money to organizations that are directly involved in helping save lives — save the life who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina."

"I can't wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs."

"My thoughts are, we're going to get somebody who knows what they're talking about when it comes to rebuilding cities."

"The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it."

"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

"I think younger workers — first of all, younger workers have been promised benefits the government — promises that have been promised, benefits that we can't keep. That's just the way it is."

"It means your own money would grow better than that which the government can make it grow. And that's important."

"I can only speak to myself."

The aforesaid are quotes from Unelected President George W. Bush during 2005. An accounting of comparable quotes from Bush's entire public life are simply too voluminous to compile here. I wonder of the United States deserves to have a president that is actually literate, a statesman/woman perhaps. Or perhaps we just need to have a president that represents all of those millions of people that are the product of our so-called failed education system - including Yale University.



Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BUSH GOVERNMENT MERGES WITH AL-JAZEERA

Figuring that if you couldn't bomb them out of existence, you might as well emulate them by slanting the news in your own direction, it was disclosed that Unelected President George W. Bush had directed the U.S. military to plant phoney news stories for payment in Iraqi newspapers. The stories, written by American troops - known as "information operations" troops (not your typical boots-on-the-ground grunts, but clearly the ones that REALLY know what's happenin') of course, sound the gospel of how hard U.S. and Iraqi troops are working to rebuild the country and make life generally better for the average Iraqi taxpayer and school child. The stories denounce those evil insurgents who allege they are fighting the evil western invaders.

In announcing the good news, President Bush was reported to say, "As a good Christian, I just couldn't justify bombing all of Al-Jazeera's offices. Well, OK, access for my good friends to Arab oil might have had something to do with our decision. But I just reckoned that if them towelheads could have such success in slanting the news for their own viewers, well maybe we could learn a thing or two from them. So combining forces and covering both sides of the war just seemed, well, capitalistically right. Kinda like my buddies at Time Warner and Clear Channel controlling every media outlet in town, you know? The American Way."

But not everyone is in agreement with Der Fuhrer. "Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. ... And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it," said a senior Pentagon official.

Clearly that unnamed Pentagon official is out of touch with U.S. policy and corporate media standards of truth and practice. Just because the military's planted "independent" stories don't tell all sides of events doesn't mean that they are untruthful or in any way slanted.

Responded another unnamed Pentagon official from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, "Hooha! If you really want the other side of a story, well like our boys blowin' the shit out of a hospital or mosque in Falujah, you only have to turn to our sister media, Al-Jazeera for that malarkey. And just because them Iraqi insurgents blow up a water project right after we spend a billion dollars puttin' it up, doesn't mean we have to write about that part. Besides, them towelheads probably don't much cotton to readin' anyways. Hell, who can read them Arabic cat-scrawls anyway?"

When questioned for feedback on the story, which the Los Angeles Times broke to American readers that might even give a shit, a leading unnamed Democratic Senator said, "This is just another in a long line of Administration policies that endanger the credibility of America in the tearful and needy eyes of the rest of the world. I suppose that we could try to do something about it, maybe speak out on the floor of the Senate or something. But first of all, it's pretty much the holiday season, and no one would give a rat's ass, seein' how it's almost THE holiday and my fellow Americans are all busy reading the sales ads and shopping for iPods and DVDs of Jarhead. But, as I was saying, it's important for the American people to know that we are deeply, deeply concerned about these policies. Someday we might even do something in protest, like stop reading the Arabic Iraqi media. That'll hurt."


Who does give a rat's ass, anyway?




Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ALL-INCLUSIVE, LOVING CHURCH

The Vatican on Tuesday published its long-awaited document on gays in the priesthood, saying that men with “deep-seated” gay tendencies shouldn'’t be ordained but that those with “transitory” tendencies could be if they had overcome them for three years.

So where is the church of Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church? I know it's there, I am certain of it. The church was built on the rock of Jesus' teachings, was it not?

"You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy."
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

"
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

"
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

"
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

I have studied Jesus' teachings up and down, right and left, for decades. Nowhere can I find edicts even suggesting that gays should be discriminated against or ostracized. Even the one reference in the Hebrew Bible that is commonly made by anti-gay folks is suspect, depending on translation and interpretation.

Catholic parishioners should search their own souls, contemplate on Jesus' direct teachings consider the conflict in the Vatican's policies. Surely many people believe that the Vatican's anti-gay policy is designed to root out pedophiles. But I think we are all familiar with the almost countless studies that conclude that pedophiles are usually not gay.

So why the gay fear within Catholic leadership? Why the exclusionary practices that are in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus? Why? Why? Why? It is not the first time in Roman Catholic Church history that certain classes of people have been used as scapegoats for society's ills. Consider the many centuries persecution of Jews. Consider the executions and excommunications of people that saw church teachings just a wee bit different than leadership at certain times. Consider crusades to the Holy Land resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousands on innocent Muslims and Jews. Consider the native populations of South and Central America. Consider the countless women that were branded witches, many of whom met their deaths at the hands of church fathers.

Consider the millions that have perished in war after war, without the church standing up for peace.

The Roman Catholic Church, founded on the loving teachings of Jesus, has always had a great deal to offer the world. But, sadly it will never be fully effective in spreading His message of love if it does not practice that message itself. Thankfully the world is full of spiritual branches of the Tree of Love, the Roman Catholic Church just being one of them. They all lead from and to the same "trunk."

So to all those gay parishioners, gay priests, and gay wannabe priests, look around. Open your eyes and see the wonder of spiritual choices.

And to all parishioners, work to make the Roman Catholic Church a place of celebration that honors and follows the message of Jesus and not the message of a few men.










Monday, November 28, 2005

WHEN IS A HUMAN A HUMAN?

So when does human life begin? Inquiring minds want to know...before any more so-called Christians blow up more abortion or Planned Parenthood clinics. And perhaps even before a Supreme Court outlaws abortion under federal law.

Plato believed that the human soul does not enter the body until birth. Hmm, sounds good.

The Stoics held that a fetus was no more than a part of a woman's body during the entire duration of pregnancy and was ensouled only at birth by a cooling by the air, which transformed a lump of flesh into a living and sentient being. OK, that sounds reasonable, too.

Hippocrates believed that the human soul was created at the time of conception and this is reflected in the Hippocratic oath. Well, he's entitled to his opinion, I suppose.

Aristotle believed that the state should fix the number of children a married couple could have, and while Aristotle held the common Greek view that deformed children ought not to be reared, he objected to the exposure of healthy infants merely as a method of population control. In his view, the size of the family should be determined by the state, and if children were conceived in excess of the permitted number, an abortion should be procured at an early stage of pregnancy "before sensation and life develop in the embryo." The Catholic Church also held to this belief. Well, I'm not sure about all of that. Sounds a bit medeival.

Aristotle did outline the concept of the "animation" of the fetus, and associated individuality, life, and form as those features for which the "soul" was responsible at a certain point in gestation. Aristotle asserted that when soul was added to the matter in the womb, a living individuated creature was created, which had the form and rational power of a man. According to Aristotle, this all took place on the 40th day after conception in the case of a male child and on the 19th day after conception for a female child. Seems pretty far-fetched for my tastes.

The Catholic Church, including both Thomas Acquinas and Augustine of Hippo, held the view that fetuses were animated (i.e., ensouled) around day 40. Oh the magic of the number 40, I suppose.

The killing of an unborn child is not even considered murder punishable by death in Jewish law. Well perhaps that's why Christians call it the "OLD" Testament.

The Jewish Talmudic Law assumes that the full title to life arises only at birth. Now we're getting somewhere? At least you can measure that!

Rabbinical writings have established that viability of a child is not fully established until it has passed the 13th day of its life. Extending from this idea is that if two lives are at stake, the one that is certain and established, the mother, overrides the infant's life, which is still in some doubt. Doesn't have anything to do with the "unlucky 13," does it? Oh no, that's all about the mass slaughter of the Knights Templar by Church sanction on...the 13th!

The Catholic Church has demonstrated frequent alternative views on the beginning of human life. While for most of its history, it viewed immediate animation/ensoulment as impossible, under traditional Catholic doctrine, a male fetus became animated—infused with a soul at 40 days after conception, and the female fetus became animated at 80 days after conception. But what if you don't know if it's male or female?

In 1588, Pope Sixtus V handed down the "male" edict that the penalty for abortion (or contraception) was excommunication from the Church. But when WAS it abortion?

Pope Gregory IX, Sixtus' successor, returned the Church to the view that abortion of an unformed embryo was not homicide. This was largely the view until 1869. Here we go again!

At that point, Pope Pius IX again declared that the punishment for abortion was excommunication. But when?

The "modern" Catholic Church maintains the belief that immediate animation, the instant at which the zygote is endowed with life including a soul from God, is concurrent with the moment of fertilization. All the better argument for effective contraception, I suppose. No changing your mind there.

Islamic law regards the fetus as a possible heir that can have his own heirs, but abortion is only punishable when it is done without the fathers consent. Hmmm. Sounds somewhat enslaving to women if you ask me.

English common law located the beginning of a human soul at "quickening," believed to be the stage when the soul enters the body and the embryo could be felt moving within the uterus, which occurs at about four months. Sounds pretty good, but I'd think that some women may have a better "feel" for that than others.

So where does all of this leave us? I am still wondering. But I can't help but chuckle over the veracity of so many religious zealots in light of the fact that their own religious guides - hmmm all of them men - seem to change their minds about this burning issue time and again.

So one day an abortion is "legal," and the next day it isn't and the next day it is. Well, we're really not talking days here. But religious zealots, most of whom never have to worry about being pregnant (like the majority of Supreme Court justices), simply and conveniently ignore and negate this multi-millenia history of debate over abortion and the beginning of human life. Why it's as if there has never really been any debate, scientifically, scholarly, philosophically, or religiously. But HISTORY seems to say otherwise.

More and more, it sounds to me like the current debate over the War in Iraq. You know, who knew what and when, was it a lie or an untruth, who cares, that was then and this is now, etc. It's all the same. Selective, self-serving memory.

But you know, until more thoughtful people wake up and rise to action based on their beliefs, we'lll remain on this treadmill of historic distortion. Just pick your issue - war, peace, land, abortion, life, poverty, whatever.

Truth is not difficult to find, my friends. But speaking it or accepting it apparently is.