Still Tentative Support; Photographs Of The Fallen ©

Early in April 2005, I wrote of how we tentatively support our troops.  I shared the odd ways in which we honor those that we love.  I questioned Department of Defense policies.  The Pentagon does not accurately report the actual number of war casualties.  “Casualties” are considered persons that are “hurt directly by the bullets and the bombs of the enemy.”  If an ally wounds a soldier, if a soldier is injured in an accident, or if a serviceperson hurts him/herself, s/he is not “counted’ as a casualty!

I wrote of how the government fears losing support for the war effort.  They do not wish to expose the truth of our conflicts.  They fear the “Dover test.”  When our war wounded and fallen soldiers are flown back into the States, they arrive at Air Force Bases, such as, Dover.  When citizens see images of these, when they are forced to face the reality of war, they often withdraw their support.  It is difficult to tolerate the loss of young lives.  Equally troublesome is the loss of an eye or a limb; the cruelty of war-imposed pain is not a welcome sight.  Therefore, our government has chosen to screen what we see; they want us to feel good about our wars.

However, on April 2004 photographs of flag-draped American coffins were taken.  These were acquired illegally and yet they found their way into the public forum.  The Whitehouse was livid.  Nonetheless, the images survived.  In my earlier discussion of the Dover test, I did post these ill-gotten photographs.

Now, on April 28, 2005, I discover others questioning and actively conquering military conventions, and more pictures.  After an extensive legal battle, the Pentagon was forced to reveal 360 photographs of United States soldiers killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts.

National Public Radio offers audio coverage of the story and a Gallery of photographs for viewing.
“Photos of Caskets Bearing War Dead Released”, April 29, 2005.

Delawareonline.com also bestows complete coverage, photographs, an article, and video.

Those that advocate an open government requested these images under the Freedom of Information Act.  Professor Ralph Begleiter, former CNN correspondent, and now faculty lecturer in the Communications Department at the University of Delaware, led the call.  Ultimately, under great pressure, the Defense Department made these images available.

These newly released photographs were acquired legally; military photographers took them.  However, these images were not meant for public viewing.  They were taken to document the historic return of our troops.

As of this week, citizens will be able to view hundreds of legal photographs that represent the effects of war.  All of these photographs show the flag-draped caskets of American troops.  In some images, soldiers are carrying coffins, in others saluting the caskets of our fallen.  A few show soldiers putting coffins onto military cargo aircraft, and then there were those that show them taking them off.  The Dover test is in progress.  Will Americans still support the war after seeing image upon image of their fallen youth?

Though the images were made public, the Department of Defense chose to place black markings on the faces of the fallen.  They decided that showing the faces of our troops was not warranted.  They considered the blackening of soldiers’ faces “a show of honor.”  However, I wonder.  Again, I am prompted to ask, “Is this the way we honor our troops?”

When will we pay tribute to our wounded soldiers?  At what point will we acknowledge their presence and their plight?  Will we ever bring them back during the light of day and let the nation see their faces?  What will have to transpire before we count our casualties in full?  When will the Pentagon stop “playing” with the numbers, playing with war?  War is not a game!

Please visit my earlier writing and consider the ways in which we do not honor the troops that we say we support.
Support Our Troops Tentatively! ©

As mentioned in my previous post Operation Truth helps to honor what is.  This organization actively supports our troops.  You may wish to visit them.

Logic of Bush Belies. Oil, Bush The Big Push! ©

In the heat of the night, when gasoline is selling at and all time high and home heating bills are more burdensome than ever before, President Bush decided to speak to the nation. In a rare prime-time press conference, he publicly addressed the concerns of the American citizenry.

Mr. Bush knows that his approval ratings are low and falling. He fears that his capital is spent. He realizes that he must reach out. He must appease the people; his legacy is at stake. Therefore, on Thursday evening, April 28, 2005, our President appeared, he presented his priorities.

Mr. Bush bemoaned America’s reliance on foreign energy. He proposed an aggressive expansion of domestic oil production. He said, "It’s time for America to start building again." He wants to build refineries, to do more drilling in the States. He wants to destroy the pristine environment of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge [ANWR], Alaska.

President Bush asserted, “We must address the root causes that are driving up gas prices. In the past decade, America’s energy consumption has been growing about 40 times faster than our energy production. That means we’re relying more on energy produced abroad.”

Yes Mr. President, we are, and how could we not?

The United States is the world’s largest consumer of oil. Citizens of this country comprise six percent of the global population and yet, they, we, use 25 percent of the Earth’s oil. In other words, little more than 5 percent of the people worldwide use one quarter of all the petroleum resources. The European Union follows; they consume 18 percent of the global oil supply.

As of 2002, 65.4 percent of the proven overall reserves were located in the Middle East. In the same year, it was determined that Central and South America held 9 percent. What is now Russia, formerly the Soviet Union held 7 percent, and lagging far behind was the United States. America was able to boast a whooping 2.9 percent of proven reserves.

In 2002, the Middle East produced 28.5 percent of world’s oil. The Middle East had and has the capacity and the capability to produce petroleum. The United States does not; we may have capability, however, we do not have capacity! If we were to improve our technology, our capability, as the President proposes, this would not change our capacity. We cannot to fulfill our own demands. Supply is not the only dilemma, nor is demand. Physically, the United States does not have the resources to allow for oil independence.

It will not matter how well we use technology, how many refineries we build, or how much drilling we do. Geologically speaking, we will never produce enough oil to provide independence. The Bush logic belies.

The United Sates will always be dependent on others for oil. I believe that oil production is not the solution. Anwar is not the answer. Drilling in the United States will not drown our sorrows or produce an ample supply of petroleum. To continue in this vein only delays the inevitable. The President’s argument may temporarily appease Sports Utility Vehicle drivers; it may lessen the woes of those living in oil-heated homes; however, it does nothing to resolve our dilemma.

I propose that we invest in research and development. Rather than rant and rage of the expense, we must consider the cost of casting money to the wind. Let us consider “progress.” Progress is not paying for more oil production; progress is producing alternative energy sources.

Curious as to the thoughts of others speaking out on “oil,” I discover . . .
The Left Coaster, “Peak Oil" And The Bush Energy Policy”
On May 23, 2005, there is good news.  There is a possibility and hope, even in the era of King George II.
Please read Apollo in Action by Jay Inslee, Grist Magazine, Alternet.

Condoleezza Rice Closes Door on Terrorism ©

No this title does not tell the tale that you might suppose; we have not closed the door on international terrorism, only the reporting of it.  We have not conquered the problem; we have only restricted information concerning it.

The State Department, under the auspices of Condoleezza Rice has abruptly decided not to release its annual report on international terrorist incidents.  In the past twenty years, two volumes were routinely published.  One was for public review, and another for classified personnel only.  Now, there will only be one report available and it will not be widely released.

Why might this be?  Some State Department officials say that the job is no longer theirs.  The National Counter-Terrorism Center, an organization created by Congress, on the recommendation of the independent 9/11 Commission, now calculates these numbers. Therefore, the State Department argues that the job is no longer theirs and they need not be involved.

However, according to several Intelligence community sources, this is not the true reason or rationale for the decision.  They say that this move is political.  The Secretary and her Department do not wish to be embarrassed by their own statistics.  They do not have a palatable way to explain recent reports.  In 2004, there were 625 attacks; while in 2003, there were only 175.  How would the Secretary defend this?  After all, the President claims that we are making progress in our War-on-Terrorism.

How would she justify this twenty-year high!  What would Miss Rice say when asked why this number does not include insurgent attacks in Iraq?  It may be argued that the methodology differs from year to year; however, it has not changed in the past two decades.  Suggestions for change were proposed, but not adopted.  In each year, the same sound techniques were used.

It seems, just as access to all information from this Whitehouse does.  The doors are closed, reports are sealed, secrecy is the mantra, and the message is missing.

It is official, Knight-Ridder Newspapers quotes from this post,GOODBYE PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM? (updated 4/16) by Larry C. Johnson

The story, On the Media, Sunday April 24, 2005, See No Terror, Hear No Terror

More on the story, Condi kills 19-year annual U.S. terrorism report by by SusanHu, DailyKos
The story behind the story, General Accounting Office statistic on Terrorism.

The story resulting from the story, The Mercury News, Representative Waxman demands probe of State Department terrorism reports, by Barry Schweid

As days go by, the story evolves.
MaxSpeaks, You Listen! takes us to The Independent Institute
“Evidence that the U.S. May Be Losing the Global War on Terror” By Ivan Eland

The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy? ©

Only the right, those that prefer to paint the world either black or white could create such an oxymoron! Only the party that plays with propaganda, that does “doublespeak,” that coined the terms “collateral damage” and “compassionate conservative” could or would conceive of such an impossibility. Progressives, liberals, the “left” by definition are open, open-minded, freethinking, and speak freely. They could not possibly conspire against anyone. To conspire is to plot, to scheme, to connive, and to be sneaky. Each of these requires secrecy. One cannot simultaneously be open and free, and still be secretive. An individual or a group must be closed if they are to be successful conspirators.

Reflecting further on this concept I am reminded of that famous Will Rogers quote, “I am not a member of an organized political party; I am a Democrat!”

  • “Collateral damage” [Bush forty-one]
  • “Compassionate conservative” [Bush forty-three]

    This post was inspired by a question posed on MaxSpeak, You Listen!

  • Support Our Troops, Tentatively ©

    We, Americans, speak of loving our troops, supporting our soldiers and yet we demonstrate this in the oddest of ways. Recently, on April 1, 2005, I was listening to what I wish were an April “Fool’s Day” ruse. Sadly, it was not. I was tuned into On the Media, a National Public Radio program. The topic was “Wounded in Abstraction.” Radio host Brook Gladstone was interviewing Salon correspondent, Mark Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin has been covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has followed the injured soldiers, listened to their stories, and observed their stresses.

    He has written much on the subject. During this discourse, he spoke of the Pentagon, its practices, policies, and the manner in which it calculates war casualties. He offered that the numbers are “deceptively low” and he explained why this is.

    Reporter Benjamin shared that the Pentagon selectively defines the term “casualties.” Casualties are only persons that are “hurt directly by the bullets and the bombs of the enemy.” If an ally wounds a soldier, if s/he is injured in an automobile accident, if a combatant commits suicide, or is s/he is impaired accidentally, then s/he is not considered a casualty of war.

    In “The Invisible Wounded,” a Salon.com piece published on March 8, 2005, journalist Benjamin wrote of a January 2000 warning. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Henry Shelton, while speaking to a Harvard audience, cautioned politicians. He offered that they “must weigh military actions,” and be certain that the public is “prepared for the sight of our most precious resource coming home in flag-draped caskets.” The General spoke of the "Dover test.”

    You may recall that recently, in April 2004, there was a scandal; photographs of our fallen soldiers were released. Images of flag-draped caskets were revealed publicly; they were captured “illegally.” People were astonished and alarmed to see these coffins. There were so many, so many young soldiers whose lives were lost. How could this be? A year earlier, on May 1, 2003, President Bush told us that the war had ended; yet, American soldiers are arriving home in coffins.

    Possibly, you know that our fallen American soldiers are regularly flown into Air Force bases such as Dover. They arrive in coffins covered with the American flag. Whether the American public can tolerate seeing this practice is the test, the Dover Test.

    The Whitehouse has long known that support for Operation Enduring Freedom was fragile and the Administration feared lessening the little support that they had. Therefore, they banned the photographing of soldiers’ caskets. They feared that the American people would not support the war effort if the stark reality of our young soldiers’ deaths were so publicly displayed. The Administration has reason to believe that informed citizens protest and revolt against war. Vietnam is the evidence.

    The Pentagon and persons in the Executive Office knew that if the public were to continually see photographs of what is war, if they were to witness the daily devastation, if they saw young soldier losing limbs and eyes, if they saw the badly burned bodies of their sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, then support would wane. It is for this reason that the Bush Whitehouse chose to impose the same strategy for the injured as they had for the fallen.

    It is for this reason that wounded soldiers are flown in during the dark of night. Capturing these images is forbidden. In his recent writing, Mark Benjamin notes, “Since 9/11, the Pentagon’s Transportation Command has medevaced 24,772 patients from battlefields, mostly from Iraq.” However, this is not the number released to the public. We, the people, are told that there are far less. Only half of these numbers are widely reported. Now, more than two years after the invasion of Iraq, we know little of the wounded, and thus Mr. Benjamin chose to share their story.

    There are other stories as well. There are the tales of suicide. In October 2003, Gregg Zoroya, of USA TODAY wrote, “Army probes soldier suicides.” At the time, the Army arranged for a team of doctors to investigate the cause; the Navy also expressed alarm; it seems that the rate of soldier suicides in Iraq is greater than that of past wars. Why might our troops take their own lives? Might the long deployments cause depression? Might the stop-loss orders bring troops a sense of hopelessness? Could the stress of combat cause soldiers to consider suicide? Might it be all of these reasons and more? There is much concern, though little reporting. When talk of suicide does surface, it is quickly swept aside.

    At times, we hear talk of recruiting. The numbers of recruits are steadily falling in everybranch of the service. During the recent Presidential campaign there was some discussion of stop loss orders, and a possible renewal of the draft; however, this too was soon quelled. This issue could also threaten the security of the war effort, and we do want to support our troops. Nonetheless, issues such as these cause anxiety; our soldiers and those that love them are concerned.

    Fortunately, there are those that do wish to discuss these topics. Operation Truth is cognizant of the “Issues Facing Our Troops.” They site the plight of the National Guard and Reserve units. They state that these servicemen and women have long been considered mediocre at best. They are not trained as well as their counterparts, nor are they equally equipped. Yet, though the estimates vary, a large percentage of our active troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait are National Guardsmen and Reservists. According to the Center for American Progress there are 55,000 deployed in the Persian Gulf region, 10,000 of these have been affected by the Stop Loss policies.

    Jonathon Turly of USA Today, CBS News, Military.com, and other sources refer to the lack of armor for man and machine; body shields are scarce and metal coverings for Humvees are scant. Radios and bullets are in short supply.

    The tension of war, its affect on our soldiers and their families, is great. Sadly, the Pentagon does not the focus on counseling. On February 17, 2005, National Public Broadcasting presented, “Criticism on Postwar Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder [PTSD.]” This piece presented interesting information; Congressional investigators observe that the combat veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan may not be receiving adequate care and counseling for PTSD. The General Office of Accounting notes that the Department of Veterans Affairs does not actively consider this a priority. Many more troops are facing the plight of PTSD than ever before. Although a special panel of advisors was established to study this problem, their recommendations are being ignored.

    When a soldier does admit to psychological problems and asks for assistance s/he is often shunned. While the military claims to be making “great strides in improving mental health care and lessening [the] stigma for those seeking help for combat stress” often, this is not the case. On March 31, 2005, Eric Westervelt of All Things Considered aired this story, “Soldier Says Army Ignored His Mental Health Concerns.” A soldier willing to risk the ridicule that he might receive from his fellow comrades spoke of his stress, asked for help, and then, after a short time was returned to the frontlines. His wife, “Dawn Marie Beals says her husband, Army Specialist David Beals, was sent back to Iraq before he was mentally ready.”

    Our troops face much; yet, we do not speak of it. We do not see it; we rarely read of it. We say that we support our soldiers, and yet our support seems so tentative.

    Post Script . . . Posthumously we praise; on April 4, 2005, President Bush awards a fallen soldier is the Medal of Honor.  Sergeant first Class Paul Smith receives a formal tribute from his nation.  While this occurs two years after his passing and he was no longer alive to realize his reward, this soldier was given the nation’s highest military award.  He did as many servicemen and women have done, he helped his fellow troops to evacuate, and fend off an attack.  In doing so, he was mortally wounded.  Now, he is acknowledged in an open forum held at the Whitehouse.  Photographs are taken.  All of the media is encouraged to air this story, however, sadly, the badge of courage and the coverage come only long after the fact.

    Ode To The Troops That We Love, Honor, and Support ©

    How do we love you?
    Let me count the ways.
    We give you “life,” love, liberty, and help you to learn.
    We tell you of love, of our love for you.
    We show our love, showering you with all that we are able.
    We speak of loving all, equally.
    We teach you to love your neighbor, love your country, and to never covet.
    We edify honor, a reverence for life.
    Then we train you to eradicate, eliminate, and to execute the enemy, our enemy, and those we say are yours.
    If you are hurt, we do not honor you sufficiently.
    We do not speak of your wounds.
    We do not adequately treat your injuries.
    Possibly, we will not even count you as a casualty.
    After all, you and your hurts are only “collateral damage.”
    We will not reward you well for your services.
    We may not grant you leave.
    We might not effectively provide for your survivors.
    However, we support you, for you are our troops.
    You deliver our triumph and we commend you,
    At least through our words.
    Our deeds? These may be our undoing.
    Therefore, we do these in the dark.

    Please consider Casualties in Iraq, The Human Cost of Occupation

    Time marches on and soldiers continue to fall silently.  On June 7, 2005, paradox offered a post that is beyond brilliant.  Please visit This is Our Country

    Bolton, Bolt-Him, Her, Them, And Now Me? ©

    I believe in Karma; or in the axiom “What you do unto others will be done unto you.”

    John Bolton righteously chose and chooses to continually demean, dismiss, and diminish others publicly.  He did the same towards symbols, such as the United Nations, a symbol of global peace and unity.  He is on record as saying, “The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories.  If you lost 10 stories, today it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”  Nonetheless, President George W. Bush nominated Mr. Bolton to serve as our Ambassador to the United Nations.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strongly supports this choice; each speaks of his glorious qualifications.  Bolton, himself, says that he is looking forward to the job.

    Now, we await his approval.  Some thought him a shoe-in.  Yet, as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee assesses the man, they discover there is more to consider than the certificates that Mr. Bolton has earned.

    Many of the man’s associates have voluntarily come forward to oppose this appointment.  Numerous Bolton contacts have expressed, under oath, that they have witnessed Mr. Bolton’s abrasive demeanor.  They have often observed or experienced this first hand.

    Apparently, Bolton is well known for wishing to remove persons from their posts if they dare disagree with him.  He has wanted to and worked to “bolt” many colleagues and subordinates from important positions, from their professions, and from his presence.  Now, the tide has turned.  The time is his!  Now, there is talk of “bolting” him.  Several members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are seriously considering voting against his appointment.

    Those questioning the wisdom of this appointment are not only Democrats; some are Republicans.  Members from each party have asked for a delay in the vote.  According to The New York Times Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich stated, “I don’t feel comfortable voting today.”  His offered that concerns were not political; he did not necessarily object to the opinionated philosophies of John R. Bolton.  Voinovich expressed his concern for the “temperament” of the man.

    Fellow Republican Senators Chafee and Hagel of Nebraska also voiced their reservations.  Hagel was cautious.  He offered his reluctance, stating that he may not support Bolton’s nomination if it moves to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

    May I remind Bolton, that what we do unto others will ultimately be done unto us.  Every moment is important, as is every entity.  When you choose to be cruel to others, others will bring what may feel as cruelty into your own life.

    Increase Wealth, Increase The Deficit ©

    In the year 2000, President Select, George W. Bush, [anointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist,] inherits a budget surplus.  Feeling empowered by his office and wanting to please his constituency, he convinces Congress to cut taxes.  This action increases wealth for the already wealthy and provides a pittance for the others.  The surplus slide is set in motion and the drain begins.

    On September 14, 2001 President Bush travels to Ground Zero.  He wishes to calm the country.  As he starts to speak, a voice in the crowd calls to him.  The caller shouts, that he can barely hear the President’s words.  In response, Bush proudly proclaims, “I can hear you!  I can hear you!  The rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”  King George Bush II declares war on terrorism.  To this end, he elects to attack Afghanistan and Iraq unilaterally.  This decision increases assets for the affluent.  Businesses build; defensive spending is on the rise.  However, financing these conflicts is costly.  Budget shortfalls be damned; we are at war!

    Now, four years later, our current President is actively pushing a program that he and his fellow financiers have wanted for decades.  He is asking the public to privatize Social Security.  He states that if taxes are no longer taken from pay checks and the funds are instead invested in the market, think of how great the capital gains might be; at least for those that have much to invest.  With individual accounts, those that already invest wisely will be able compound their gains.  George and his gang are among those that do invest well; they are practiced and possibly, probably, with privatization, they will increase their gains.  Therefore, he and his benefactors are proposing an ownership society.

    Bush and his band admit that privatization will not bring solvency to the Social Security system, however, they will be happy.  He and his heretics concede that this plan will not create a more secure system.  Nonetheless, Bush, billionaires, his buds, and his base want this plan!  Initially, this program will cost two trillion dollars to implement, and it will increase the deficit further.

    According to the history of similar structures in places such as Chile, individual retirement accounts lack security; the poor become poorer.  The disabled, children, survivors, and the elderly will not have the security that this fund currently provides and what of our budget?  Presently, numbers are adjusted; we borrow from the Social Security surplus so that our budget will appear more in balance.  In actuality, our shortfalls are even larger than reported!  If the true figures were released, we would know that our deficit is much greater than the Administration claims!

    However, Bush tells us not to worry.  He reminds us of the glory of the Bill, Bill Clinton that is.  President Bush 43 conveniently proves that a deficit can be turned into a surplus; after all Clinton did it.  Therefore, there is no need to worry.  We can continue cutting taxes, increase the wealth of the wealthy, and add to the deficit.  All will be fine or will it?

    Our debt and deficits affects us all.  More Americans are declaring bankruptcy than ever before.  Medical bills, low wages, those that do not keep up with inflation, downsizing, and divorce cause fiscal devastation.  The average person is buying on credit, they are not spending frivolously; they are fighting to survive. Bills mount and people pay, as they are able.  However, billionaires and big businesses want more; the bankruptcy of others brings them less.  Consequently, they lobby.  Weeks ago Congress proposed and passed the Bankruptcy Bill.  The benefit of this bill is that the rich will get richer and the poor, well, they suffer, sadly, and too often in silence.  They do this in the ghettos and enclaves that the affluent never visit.  They are out of sight, and out of mind.  Their debt is societies deficit and it increases!

    This past week is as all weeks during the Bush presidency; the beat goes on.  George W., with the help of the “Billionaires Boys and Girls Club,” otherwise known as the United States Congress, chooses to permanently repeal the Estate and Gift Tax.  They have been working to do this for years.  At the start, they realized that that if they called it the “Death” tax people would wish to avoid it.  In actuality, those that die do not pay; those that inherit do.  Even at that, only the smallest percent of the population inherit enough to be affected.  Nonetheless, this small number is among the Bush base; they are the affluent.  Therefore, with silver spoon in his mouth, the President pushed for this passing. George W. Bush and his fellow prosperous pals gain again, and the deficit will grow.  What is it that they say?  The rich get richer, and the poor?  Well, they just fade away or do they too grow in numbers?  If we grow the deficit, they likely will.

    Some economists believe that it is necessary to have underprivileged.  There are experts that think the wealthy need the less fortunate in order to prosper.  Many feel that the deprived further facilitate the rich getting richer and after all, we all wish to be rich.  Therefore, we need to cultivate a lower class.  Others trust in the trickle-down theory.  However, I think that there are other possibilities.  I observe nature and urge us to consider the nature of nature.

    In nature, there is infinite abundance!  All is growing; all is replenishing eternally.  If we take a pail full of water from the ocean, the ocean is not less a container full of water; it renews itself.  If we remove sand or soil, nature will create more.  If we spray insects in our attempt to lessen the population, we will discover that the insect population does not die.  Globally it continually increases, as it has done for centuries.  Nature is abundance.

    If we emulate nature, we can increase the wealth without increasing the deficit, and it is true, Clinton did it.  The rich did get richer; the deficit was diminished and ultimately eliminated.  A surplus was created and the poor prospered commensurately.

    I propose prosperity for all.  Seek abundance, not for a few or for friends and family.  Seek abundance for all, everywhere.  Please President Bush, increase wealth without increasing the deficit!  It is possible, probable; it is the nature of nature!

    The introduction to MaxSpeak seems most suitable here.  Max Sawicky offers the words of a political economist and philosopher, Adam Smith [1723 – 1790.]

    The disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

    Please take a moment to listen to Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich speak on the Social Security Surplus!

    Please consider The Brookings Institute, Economic Papers. Gale and Slemrod write on “We Tax Dead People

    You may wish to read MaxSpeak, “Eat the Rich”.  Max, discusses the Esate and Gift Tax.

    Today Is The Date [Chapter Three]

    I awoke this morning and thought of you.  I am writing this on April 15th, the year is unimportant, for every year, since we first met, on April 15th, I think of you.  Do you remember me, us, our meeting on this date?  Do you recall that just after 6:00 PM, on April 15th you first introduced yourself to me?

    Possibly, you remember the conversation; it was hot, healthy, and even heated as we discussed family, feelings, philosophies, and politics.  After almost four hours of fun, we struggled to part ways.  You called immediately upon arriving home; you left a message.  Without delay, I returned your call.

    We arranged to meet again on the evening of April 17th. You arrived at my home, with a book in hand.  It was Rush Limbaugh’s first release, titled, “The Way Things Ought to Be.”In truth, I had forgotten the title of this book.  I had to look it up.  Now, I laugh; the title seems a precursor to so much of what was.  While I knew then and now that the thoughts of Rush represent your political beliefs, the title of this book says more than I knew at that time.  I smile while reflecting.  I learned so much, not only from reading the book; I learned from relating to and with you!

    [Chapter Three in a series]

    Honoring A Humanitarian ©

    The passing of the Pope has become a world event. People from all walks of life are converging to extend their condolences. Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Protestants, and even atheists are uniting; they are coming together in Rome to honor the passing of a great man and humanitarian. All are welcome; none are excluded from this experience, or are they?

    A man also known for his humanity and strong faith, former President Jimmy Carter, will not visit Rome. Initially, President Carter did wish to pay his respects personally; he stated his desire aloud. However, he was informed by the current administration that he could not attend, or at least he could not be part of the official delegation. Our current President chose to limit the number of American “dignitaries” to five. I do not wonder why; I am only sad for the state of our affairs.

    CBS News touches on the tale.
    NBC Nightly News did an exposé.
    The Today Show also discussed this dilemma, reminding us that Jimmy Carter was the first American President to welcome a Pope, this Pope, the people’s Pope, to the Whitehouse. Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Carter frequently worked with Pope John Paul II; both were interested in pursuing world peace. Please view the video.
    The Manila Bulletin offers this report.

    Farming Is Falling, Effecting Our Food and Families ©

    This morning I was surfing the Internet; I read "MaxSpeak, You Listen!"and was startled to read a piece that did not speak of the papacy, the Pope, and his passing. Max was writing of “Republican Welfare in America”; actually, he was writing of the “tragic destruction of family and the work ethic.” He linked to a piece called “The Lowest Deep” posted by Adam O’Neill. The topic, “Are Small Farms OK, Or Just Tax Sheltered ©.” O’Neill was reflecting on a New York Times Op-ED article by Bruce Gardner, one in which the author expresses his concern for the “Little Guy,” and for “the increasing size and industrialization of American farms.” This discussion stimulates my own thoughts and I share these with you.

    The issue of farming is an interesting one. It brings up many questions?

    Farming for profit, for sustenance is barely possible today.

    Farming, now, cannot support a family.

    It must be done for fun or with much assistance.

    When we discuss small farms today are we truly discussing bureaucracies, the influence of big government and corporations?

    Are small farms small or are they largely subsidized?
    What are they being paid not to farm and who pays them? Consider the “Family Farms of America”

    What are farmers farming and why?
    How will the produce be used?
    What foods are farmers supplying and to whom?
    You might consider the history of “corn” and the “refining of corn,” The History of Corn Refining in the United States

    Are farmers concerned with our health?
    Are they growing healthy crops or are they growing their own wealth?
    Are farmers now serfs to the corporate suppliers? MSNBC offers, “ADM settles corn syrup case

    What of those that buy, what do they buy and why? You may wish to consider the business practices of Archer Daniels Midland. Please read, AgriBusiness Center “Judge Gives Final OK to ADM . . .”

    Have you been to the “grocery” store recently?
    Though they were once considered the source of food, now they are the source of “corn syrup.” Currently, the majority of foods are processed; they are filled with sweetness, the sweetness of corn syrup. You may wish to read Washington Post piece, “Sweet, and So Not Innocent.”

    Produce and production are not merely for oral consumption.
    Consider ethanol. Ethanol is derived from corn, grain, and other plants.
    Its production pollutes the air with volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide.
    As a gasoline additive, it is dangerous.
    MSN Groups reports, Lead from this blend leaches into the ground water supply.
    However, sources say that it is a cleaner burning fuel.
    Fuel enriched with ethanol burns more completely.
    It does diminish fuel efficiency.
    Nonetheless, the Federal Government offers financial assistance for the use of ethanol in gasoline.
    Many states receive tax credits for using this mix.
    These states contribute less to the Highway Trust Fund.
    Ethanol has an effect on the environment and on economics!
    These affect us all, farmers and families.
    It has benefits and it belies.
    Ethanol is as corn syrup; it is as farming, “sweet, and not so innocent!”

    Please peruse Our Junk Food Nation By Juliet B. Schor and Gary Ruskin, AlterNet.  This writing is quite revealing.  It helps to explain why we believe that what we eat is all there is to choose from.