My Disappointment of Hillary

To view the full pictorial image please click your heels on this path and journey inward.

© copyright 2007 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson

I do not get it.

Back during the first go-around with the Iraq war, it is clear Congress was lied to – we all were. They should have known better than to let Bush commit us to preemptive war, but they didn’t. So you would think when the drum beat starts up for Iran, Congress would be a lot wiser.

I thought they would be too until I saw the disappointing support of Kyl-Lieberman. Been there and done that but still Congress, a Democratically led Congress, can’t get enough war. And the worst part was Hillary Clinton’s support of it. What The ****?

For me, that was the last straw.

If we invade Iran, we will occupy a swath of Earth that ranges from Europe to China – from Saudi Arabia to the Former Soviet Union. That my friends is nation-building on a Roman scale. I have had enough of that.

Honestly.

Support for an Iranian war is beyond excusable, it should be seen as treasonous. I don’t want to get on that “Bill Clinton is a traitor” line  . . . left over from the 90’s, but a war with Iran is wrong on a multitude of fronts, firstly being it is un-American.

I’ll take UFO’s over war any day.

  • My Disappointment of Hillary
  • Power and the Presidency; The Cheney, Nixon, Bush Affair

    When the President Does it That Means That it is Not Illegal

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Today is as yesterday was.  Some of the players remain the same.  Vice President Dick Cheney helped to expand Presidential power three decades ago.  Today, he pushes the envelope further.  As Americans stand on the brink of self destruction, we might ponder the past.  Perhaps we can learn from it.  Bill Moyers, of Public Broadcasting Services offers a bit of perspective.  He asks us to  . . .

    Remember “The Lives of Others” – the movie that won this year’s Academy Award for best foreign language film . . . a story of life under East Germany’s secret police. The critic Roger Ebert said: “The movie is relevant today, as our government ignores habeas corpus, practices secret torture, and asks for the right to wiretap and eavesdrop on its citizens. Such tactics, he said, did not save East Germany; they destroyed it, by making it a country its most loyal citizens could no longer believe in.” You want to say it couldn’t happen here but we’ve been close before. During the cold war with the Soviet Union and then the hot war in Vietnam, a secret government mushroomed in this country.

    Please Review the transcript  . . .

  • The Path to Power. By Bill Moyers

    In a powerful program aired on October 26, 2007, Bill Moyers observes that the times are not a changin’.  He reminds us, on December 22, 1974 The New York Times published an exposé by Seymour Hersh, The  article  alarmed Americans.  The evidence revealed could not be ignored.  Americans were not safe.  Their own government threatened their security.

    A Senate Select Committee  headed by Senator Frank Church [Democrat, Idaho] was established.  The purpose was to investigate allegations; the Fed’s were spying, and plotting against citizens of this country.  As we review the findings, we understand.  What occurred thirty years ago is but background for the present.

    President Bush and Vice President Cheney espouse the theory of the unitary executive. That means the President’s orders can’t be reviewed, questioned, or altered by the other two branches of government. He alone can say what the law means, or whether or not it will be enforced or ignored. In effect, George W. Bush says his powers must be unilateral and unchecked.

    Critics claim the President has used the war on terror to put himself above the law and that he has created a secret presidency of classified decisions and orders, that approve extraordinary renditions, torture, illegal detentions, and wiretapping without warrants with the collaboration of big telecom companies. This boundless secrecy and surveillance evokes images counter to American values.

     
    In October 2007, Jim Hightower wrote,  Is a Presidential Coup Under Way?”  Perhaps it is.  Might we consider, when Richard M. Nixon was in office Dick Cheney was a fledging.  Cheney learned from the master and embraced his lessons.

    One of the people who argued most vociferously that a president could exceed the laws was a former White House Chief of Staff who had been elected to Congress. His name. Dick Cheney.

    Today, with the power of the Vice Presidency in hand, Cheney reiterates as he executes his convictions. 

    Once more we discover, the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], National Security Agency [NSA], Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] and other Federal Agencies were and are involved in numerous illegal affairs. 

    In the mid 1970s, plots to assassinate foreign leaders were real and realized.  Detention, confinement, or kidnapping of those the Administration thought to be a threat were condoned.  Warrantless entry into offices and homes was sanctioned by the White House.  Federal Intelligence Officers searched for files against their “enemies” and claimed it was their right to do so. 

    Chemicals intended for biological warfare were illicitly warehoused.  Mail, to and from Americas was opened. Wiretapping was common.  Intelligence was gathered without legal authority.  A minimum of nine thousand, nine hundred [9,900-plus] files were amassed.  Any American involved in the antiwar movement was likely under surveillance.  Internal Revenue files were reviewed without cause. The Executive Branch of the American government trusted no one. 

    Does all this sound familiar?

    Dear reader, I invite you to view the program, read the full transcript, or comment.  The parallels may pull you in; they may turn your stomach.  I think you may find the Power and the Presidency very interesting.

  • Live Free Or Die? How To Dupe An Uniformed Public/Officials

    copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

    Corporate water barons are having a field day in communities (states) begging for business, any business, in this day of outsourcing, echoing mills, and rusted plants with box stores filling the void!  Local folks are out maneuvered, in the jabberwocky language of global takings. Ripe for the taking! Too late, the people find themselves sold down the river (literally), with none the wiser as to the language of trade agreements etc, that have stolen their rights! Not even their elected officials whom they naively think are informed on such matters of importance are aware.

    Communities in this the 21st century must educate themselves to privatization – public private partnerships, and the language of International Trade Agreements, if they wish to protect their resources, zoning, environmental, employment and health polices – laws – regulations.

    Why is it imperative that these trade agreements be studied?  Ask Governor Lynch. Not reported in your local press and given barely any state coverage NH and the CAFTA agreement is one example.

    Buried deep in fine print – Annex 9.1.2(b)(i), to be specific of the recently ratified trade agreement among the United States, five countries in Central America and the Dominican Republic, are provisions that dictate how the state of NEW HAMPSHIRE (other states) will conduct business with firms that want contracts to sell us goods or services /locate business here etc. How our state found its way into an obscure provision of the international agreement known as CAFTA, and why it stayed there, despite Governor John Lynch’s request to remove us, are illustrative of the threat that agreements like CAFTA pose to our state’s sovereignty and to democracy itself.

    The text of CAFTA is 3,746 pages long! While you may be aware of the intimate details of a Brittany Spears, and her drunken escapades, or the score of the World Series, the media has not (or your U.S. Congressmen/Senators) informed you that CAFTA includes 22 chapters, three annexes, seven tariff schedules and 31 side letters. The provisions pertaining to how our state spends taxpayer dollars are described in the agreement’s Chapter 9, dealing with government procurement.

    CAFTA’s procurement rules limit the policies of that federal/state government can follow. For example, if our elected officials were to pass a law limiting the foreign ‘outsourcing’ of public – sector jobs, such as call service centers /state agencies etc, that law could be challenged as an unfair ‘barrier to trade”. Under NAFTA for example; a company withdrawing X tens of thousands of gallons of water for their business, could challenge any local ordinance or law that would hinder their profits (in an International Court – tribunal). For example, with a company from Canada or Mexico,  entering your community you would (seemingly?) want to study Chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement. Your well paid local consultants/ Economic Development personnel should be doing this!!

    But the rules go far beyond simply stating that New Hampshire (other states) cannot express preference for a local firm over one based in a foreign country. For example, a state law prohibiting the purchase of uniforms made in sweatshops could trigger a trade dispute even if the law applied equally to sweatshops from all countries. That is because CAFTA (Article 9.7.2) prohibits  the use of “technical specifications ” that deal with how goods are made or how a service is provided.

    Whether such procurement laws are good public policy is NOT the point! The point is whether it is our elected officials OR the members of international trade tribunals who should be able to decide!! It is supposed to be up to each state to decide whether to be governed by CAFTA’s procurement chapter. But it is not that simple.

    On Nov 18, 2003, Governor Benson (hardly headlines!) authorized (without informing state legislators/ no debate/no discussion) authorized the federal government’s trade negotiators to list New Hampshire among the states that agree to bring their purchasing policies in line with CAFTA’S specifications, which at the time were incomplete and secret, even from the governor.

    You can’t seem to awaken the people to the seriousness of such an authorization! He never READ what he bound us to!! As I recall there were only 5 legislators who were up to speed on this and alerted the new Governor – Gov.Lynch. It must also be understood that on the federal level none of these massive agreements are read or debated. There is only an up or down vote. If they had read NAFTA they would stop all the posturing and hair brained excuses they are giving  to an  uninformed public on just why there are millions of Mexicans streaming across our southern border. A reading of NAFTA explains it all!

    When Governor Lynch was elected, he sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative instructing him to take New Hampshire out of CAFTA. He reasoned that if Governor Benson could put the state into CAFTA, he could take us out. BUT the trade representative took NO action, instead claiming he would have to renegotiate the whole agreement. I found the notice of this, in an out of town newspaper,  in a small paragraph,  buried in the back pages! Nope no headline story this!!  In fact, all but a handful of states (unbeknown to local officials – state representatives – citizens) are bound by this agreement. Nobody was paying attention! They still aren’t.

    If you read  the official version of CAFTA  approved by Congress with the votes of our state’s senators and representatives, New Hampshire is still there. In other words, CAFTA’s provisions are like a lobster trap; once you get inside, it is impossible to get out again. The other CAFTA countries (like Canada and Mexico in NAFTA) can now bring  complaints to international tribunals if they believe NH decisions about how to spend our tax dollars deviates from CAFTA rules.

    WATER- (NAFTA) Investor- to-state: Hiding behind the ‘ambiguous and innocuous’ phrase dispute resolution allows this power tool to sue governments for compensation. If laws or regulations cause actual or anticipated loss of company profits! This provision is also in CAFTA and FTAA. This would allow subsidiaries of European corporations in any of these countries to sue, claiming that regulation of water resources or water/sewer services threatens  their PROFITS.

    Long before NAFTA there was GATT. Under GATT, once bulk water is exported as a commodity to another country, it is very difficult for governments to limit the quantity exported even when there is a critical water shortage. In California companies have proposed to sell bulk water from coastal rivers and even from an aquifer under the Mojave Desert.

    While there was zero news coverage locally (NH),  Save Our Groundwater was formed in 2001 after USA Springs Inc. applied to withdraw over 400,000 gallons of water a day from an aquifer in the rural communities of Nottingham and Barrington, NH.  USA Springs Inc, owns about 100 acres of land including the watershed of three rivers potentially impacted by this project: Oyster River, Lamprey River, a federally protected wild and scenic river, and Bellamy River. THOUSANDS of seacoast residents and local businesses in ten communities depend on the watersheds of these rivers for their freshwater supplies.

    Despite victories along the way (note how it is always the unpaid citizens who come forth to protect a state’s resources/ rally against toxic poisons etc) in a process that defies common sense, the NH DES accepted the application from USA Springs!  Olivia Zink a Save Our Groundwater member said “We are reminded of the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ where he keeps reliving one day over and over.” Alarm! If European investors are involved or if USA Springs is sold to a foreign corporation, international trade rules under WTO come into play.

    Resident concern about the possibility of foreign acquisition was heightened when Hampton Water Co, was bought by Aquarion, a subsidiary of the Kelda Group, a British firm, and Pennichuck Water Works in Nashua went up for sale with Vivendi as a possible buyer.  NOTE – In 2004, Aquairion  was chosen over an American company, by Claremont City Council. A FEW citizens tried, to no avail, to inform the council of UK Keldra and the implications of making such a deal. Though there has been ZERO announcements,  on the local level, an Australian investment bank bought out Aquarion in 2006! 

    If anyone thinks that their state Department of Environmental Services is looking out for their interests they are sadly mistaken!! For anybody (we with waste matters) who has been to Concord – its one big rush of lobbyists who rule the day/ and write the legislation!  Anything done for residents is by accident (my informed opinion).

    Cleverly water companies (bottled water – plastic) do an end run around select boards, (in various states)  councils, and citizens,  dealing with unelected economic development personnel, consultants, and volunteer boards (others not versed in water/trade agreements). Citizens find themselves sold out with never being informed by their elected officials or the media!!  Bottled water is the way companies are taking the human right to safe, affordable, accessible drinking water and turning it (tap water no less) into a commodity to be sold at market prices – 1,000 times the cost of tap water! 

    More than 10 billion plastic bottles end up as garbage (landfills – toxic incineration)  each year. Bottled water (of which local economic personnel – local officials etc, know  zero) introduces a new stream of toxic plastics, from the manufacturing of the plastic, to the punching out of the bottles putting plastic dust into the waste stream, to the leaching of hormone disruptor’s from plastics into the drinking water, etc. As to the amount of water that will end up being siphoned off – who knows? There’s no contract (per DPW director)  and representatives of Ice River (planning a bottling plant in Claremont) saw NO reason why a planning board should be  looking  to protect  the water.

    It is simply inconceivable that foreign companies & global corporate water interests  can enter into a state/various communities and write their own meal tickets. But then,  the waste companies have,  so why are we surprised?  These hucksters count on an uninformed  population – (unelected)  economic development councils,  usurping the democratic process ( business over resource/health protections) – and the usual legion of lobbyists in legislative sessions.

    Just as a waste company could care less about its toxic pollution/ millions of tons of garbage destroying a local community (Bethlehem, NH – once a health resort) they are not concerned about droughts, costs, or citizens complaints.  In this, the 21st century, the name of the GAME is plunder for profit – Rural folks, not familiar with the hijinks of global corporate hucksters – cannot imagine that they are dealing with high powered (carnivals of old) polished snake – oil – salesmen who would steal pennies off a dead man’s eyes if it would benefit the bottom line.  Interesting also, that this is election season, and the people are dutifully being distracted.  If I were coming to steal water – I’d pick this time!

    Bottled Water is NOT tested by the EPA.  It is regulated by the FDA which does NO testing.  The FDA can’t control lead drenched toys, and toxic drenched foodstuffs, from entering into our country.  God knows what people are drinking?

    Information from: Sierra Club – Save Our Groundwater, NH – Alliance for Democracy – Trade Agreements

    Impeachment; Not Impossible. Bush Cheney Censure Begins with You

    Rollins on impeachment

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    “I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.”
    ~ George W. Bush, June 18, 2002
    “War is Peace”
    ~ Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984

    Many believe impeachment is not likely.  Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi will not consider it.  Presidential candidate John Edwards thinks the process is a distraction.  Many Americans forget that until impeachment was proposed and investigations began, there was no evidence to convict Richard M. Nixon.  When asked to assess the past people only recall the spectacular.  Sex scandals are dicey! 

    Talk of intimate physical intercourse could stimulate a climatic end to the George W. Bush, Dick Cheney supremacy.  However, we do not see love scenes in the making of this President.  Under this Bush, it is dark, damp, and dank.  This Bush is all about war!  George W. Bush has raped the land and ripped the cloth known as the Constitution.  Many acknowledge his crimes and the corruption he and his mate Cheney propagate.  Yet, since these are not sexual in nature they evoke no censure. 

    Americans have resigned themselves to the notion Bush and Cheney will continue to reign.

    However, it need not be.  There is still reason for hope.  Don Quixote, otherwise known as Dennis Kucinich, is prepared to propose what others dare not do.  This Presidential aspirant tilts at windmills and moves us to act.  The Congressman from Ohio will do the absurd and create the impossible.  Dennis Kucinich understands, “Strength is peace!”

    “Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.
    ~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

    Our future President Dennis Kucinich will exhibit courage and call for censure.  Some may say Dennis did this before; Conyers did too.  However, neither thought to recruit you.  As Dennis Kucinich and Impeach for Peace sought solace in the constitution, found buried in the ashes of a Bush, they realized there is a way to impeach.  They were reminded of a principle lost; government is of, by, and for the people.  W, the people are the power.  The Administration can seek peace through military strength however . . .

    “We can bomb the world to pieces, but we cannot bomb the world to peace.”
    ~ Michael Franti [Songwriter, Poet]

    Perhaps world harmony will come.  Tranquility begins with you.  With your assistance . . .

    Kucinich to Force Impeachment Vote on the House Floor
    Source: Impeach for Peace
    By Jodin Morey
    September 27, 2007

    This bombshell [words that shake the world towards peace] just dropped by Rep. Dennis Kucinich on the Ed Schultz show.  Kucinich is considering forcing an impeachment vote on a “privileged resolution” on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Time to call your representative and let him/her know that you will not support any candidate who doesn’t support accountability and the rule of law.

    You can reach the Capitol switchboard toll-free at 1-800-426-8073.
    More details to follow on this post as this news develops?

    As a result of this article, Impeach for Peace has been asked this question: What is a “privileged resolution?”

    The following was found on InetResults.com:?1 High Constitutional Privilege.

    In order to qualify as a resolution or memorial of high constitutional privilege, the House member must contain a “direct” or “positive” proposal to impeach. A mere proposition to investigate conduct of a civil officer does not qualify as a high constitutional privilege even though impeachment may be contemplated as a possibility or even if the resolution or memorial is presented with “a view to impeachment.” See Impeachment: Selected Materials pp. 66-71 (Sections 2045-2052) and pp. 767-69 (Sections 468-69).

    A direct or positive proposal to impeach retains its high constitutional privilege even though the resolution or memorial proposing impeachment also contains a resolution that the impeachment matter be referred to an appropriate House Committee for inquiry or investigation.

    See Impeachment: Selected Materials pp. 67-69 (Sections 2046-48). At the same time, the resolution calling for an investigation or inquiry cannot also request an appropriation for funds to support the investigation or inquiry. Id. at pp. 767-68 (Section 468).

    A direct or positive proposal to impeach takes precedence over everything,” even over pending business before the House under a unanimous consent agreement. Id. at p. 770 (Section 469). Indeed, impeachment is a question of constitutional privilege which may be presented at any time irrespective of previous action of the House. Id. at 71 (Section 2053).

    Please help.  In truth we do nothing ourselves.  United we stand.  As Aesop expressed, “Union gives strength.  Together we can Do-It-Ourselves and Impeach for Peace.

    Please review the links below.  Print out the petitions.  Fill in the forms.  Sign the papers.  Send the pages and show your support.

    Download, fill in your relevant information in the blanks (name, State, notary is optional), and send in a letter today. We’re sending this wave in to House Rep. Dennis Kucinich who has recently spoken in favor of impeachment. There’s also extra credit for sending a DIY Impeachment to your own representative as well as representatives recommended by Keith Ellison of the House Judiciary.

    One of the copies will come to Impeach for Peace’s home office and we’ll hand deliver them to a House Rep. with cameras rolling.

    That’s right – to make a big impact, when we get enough, we’ll deliver them all on the same date (In previous waves, we’ve had over 500,000 download of the document representing over 1.7 million mailings). We hope to flood the congress with sacks of mail and cause a newsworthy event to further pressure them to act on the memorials. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that in the 1830 precedent, impeachment resulted as a result of a single memorial. Yours might be the one.

    You are the one.  Please do not forget, government is you.  The Constitution hoped to ensure authority would be of, by, and for the people.  Without your awareness and action, there is no democracy, no representation.  Please speak.  If we remain silent, we cannot be heard.

    Do It Yourself Impeachment.

    Impeachment is Not Impossible . . .

  • Kucinich to Force Impeachment Vote on the House Floor. Source: Impeach for Peace. By Jodin Morey. September 27, 2007
  • Do–It-Yourself Impeachment.
  • pdf Do–It-Yourself Impeachment.
  • Do It Yourself Impeachment.  Impeach For Peace.org
  • Help Kucinich Impeach Cheney!
  • pdf Help Kucinich Impeach Cheney!
  • Bomb the World, By Michael Franti
  • My Left Wing Talk Radio Airs Again Today

    By Maryscott O’Connor

    Feel free to use this discussion space as the live blogging area.

    In the future, I intend to bring on guests of all stripes, political and otherwise; we needn’t be all politics all the time, y’know. Personally, I’d like to get Arthur Gilroy on to talk about his jazz passion; considering all those legends with whom he’s played, AG ought to have more than a few fascinating anecdotes to share, don’t you think? (So, AG — what do you say? You wanna be a guest on a future MLW Talk Radio episode?)

    On today’s episode, which will be an hour long, as the show will be henceforth, I intend to talk about left wing/liberal values: what they are now as opposed to what they’ve historically been understood to be, how they compare to the so-called “values” of the right wing/”conservatives” of today — that sort of thing.

    Given the frenetic and nervous pace of last week’s show, I’m expecting to be a lot more relaxed this week; since we have a whole hour, there’ll be no need to rush things. And since we got the “bad dress rehearsal” out of the way, I’m expecting a pretty damned good show.

    But who knows — hey, it could be a disastrous bomb! THAT’LL give the PFFers some MORE about which to crow — I’m ALL about the generosity, man.


    Now if someone could just bring me a six pack of Diet Coke, we’re all set.


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    Communication; Alone in a Crowd

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The world is crowded.  Six billion, six hundred twenty seven million, three hundred and sixty six thousand, three hundred and fifty people populate this planet, or did a short time ago.  In this moment, there are more humans than there were seconds ago.  The number of inhabitants increases exponentially each day.  Everywhere we look, there is another person being born.  Yet, at least in America, people feel more isolated than they did in the past.

    Americans are more connected.  Cyberspace calls us and draws us in.  Electronic communiqués flood our online mailboxes.  Cell telephones ring.  It seems everyone has one and uses it to speak with someone, even when they are with another individual.  Conversation is ubiquitous.  However, when in a crowd, Americans feel more socially isolated.

    A horde of people feels hollow; a throng leaves us empty.  Conversations abound.  Yet, few communicate.

    Wherever we go we see smiles, hear laughter; and listen.  Frequently, we initiate or participate.  With all the chitter and chatter, certainly life must be a party.  Yet, while engaged in the festivities many feel so very alone.  People talk incessantly.  Individuals prattle.  Persons natter.  Discussions abound; yet, something is missing.  Small talk does not soothe the soul; it only fills the air. 

    Folks imply, infer, interpret, insinuate, and insult.  Humans coo and coddle.  A few chuckle and chat.  Still they do not dare speak of what concerns them.  True conversation can be dangerous, or at least difficult. 

    How often have we felt alone in a crowd even when we appear engaged?  As children, we “played” with our peers; yet, often we marveled at what seem to entertain them.  We went along to get along.  At a certain age, we were enrolled school.  Placed in a classroom with throngs of students we were one among many.  There were expectations that may not have seemed reasonable to us.  Yet, we learned it is best to remain silent and pretend to absorb the information.  Feeling alone, lost, confused, and perhaps in disagreement was better than being singled out and punished for “bad” behavior. 

    Now, in our personal and professional lives, we do as we learned best when we were little; we say little or nothing.  A parent may fear repercussions if they approach their child’s teacher with concerns.  A Mom or Dad may feel so forlorn.  Other youngsters understand the assignment, and their son is lost.  Dad devotes his evenings to his daughter.  He tutors her in Math.  He wonders, why she does not receive adequate instruction in school.  Mothers and fathers may wait to speak.  They do as they did when younger; parents hold back.  They do not say what is on their mind. 

    When frustrated beyond belief Mom or Pop may call the school and shout, “Why is my child singled out?”  The shrill approach to a perceived problem only exasperates a situation.

    Old, young, or contemplating the circumstance of those close to us, often we believe our situation is different.  People ponder if they speak, they will be labeled defiant.  Some satisfied with the description heatedly head into battle after battle.  Individuals take their convictions and mannerisms with them wherever they go.

    Professional mentors muse.  The goals outlined in the mandated curriculum conflict with the instructor’s sense of quality education.  Concern for the physical realities of survival may influence this academic. He may decide to do as he is told.  Paychecks are often a priority when making a decision.  Another educator might march into a superior’s office in a huff.  Crossly, she will stake out her claim.  While the approaches differ, neither communicates their message well.  It is difficult to hear what is not said.  When faced with verbal flames, people struggle to do more than defend themselves.

    An Administrator annoyed with Board dictums, does as she is told.  In industry, we observe people are well trained.  They too had years of schooling.  Society teaches us; only those in authority can voice their opinions.  Subordinates must suffer.  Common workers do not have the power to be players.  Some staffers do steam and scream; they express great angst.  However, they usually discover when they holler they loose credibility.  A lesson rarely taught in schools or at home is true communication only occurs when calm.

    No matter the vocation, indoctrination is sadly, similar.  Physicians and mechanics alike learn to diagnose; yet, not discuss.  Accountants calculate; however, careful conversation may not be in the equations.  Technicians understand how to tinker; they may not have acquired the skill necessary to talk and listen.  Chief Executive Officers may have assets; they can secure profits.  Nonetheless, many have not earned a degree in deep dialogue.

    In every profession and predicament, there are presumed elites.  They are knowledgeable in their area of expertise.  The mediocre fill room after room.  The mundane are abundant.  Status means nothing when we evaluate communication skills.  Nonetheless, the hierarchy affects what happens when people engage.

    Humans in every aspect of life do great harm to themselves and others when they do not express themselves for fear of their station.  When individuals yelp rather than ask for the help they actually want or need, much is lost.  Trust and tranquility are necessary if we are to truly communicate.

    When we remain silent, we appear to be in agreement with authorities, contemporaries, colleagues, and cohorts.  If we do not verbalize who we are, what we need, or our beliefs, we experience a greater sense of solitary confinement.  We may appear to be part of a team.  In truth, we further the distance between self and others.  Shouts do not secure closeness; nor do these facilitate communication and empathy.  Our reluctance to communicate or boisterous behavior causes a greater divide.

    Please ponder what occurs in your office, at a party, in professional careers and in personal relationships.  We can be physically connected and emotionally separate.  We converse and yet, we do not communicate.

    In a classroom, in a court house, a cafeteria, when on a conference-call, in neighborhood communities, and even at home people debase, condescend, patronize, roll their eyes when they think no one will notice, or show sycophantic respect.  They, we, humans are anything but authentic when we speak with others.  Then we wonder; why might we be less than effective communicators?

    When with a loved one, we might relax.  We feel we can be totally true to ourselves.  Thus, if we feel a need to express ourselves in a difficult situation, we may shout, scream, stomp, slam doors, and tell the other to “Shut up,” common vernacular for “Please, close your mouth.”

    Those calmer in nature, engage in deep and logical discussions.  We use “laser logic” to burn a hole in the heart, mind, and soul of a mate.  Words may not draw blood; nonetheless, the body is left limp, lame on the floor.  It is not a pretty site.

    Whether we are physically or verbally aggressive, intellectually assertive, or even silent in difficult times, ultimately we will realize communication is not easy.

    Most people realize that the lack of effective communication with others can lead to serious problems in a person’s life: 44% of Americans believe that it “very frequently” causes a marriage or a relationship to end, fewer (38%) say that money problems “very frequently” get in the way of a relationship, some name interference of relatives or in-laws (14%), others blame sexual problems (12%), previous relationships (9%), and children (7%).

    When asked to choose the most frequent cause among those they listed as “very frequent causes,” only two stand out: a majority (53%) say a lack of effective communication between partners is the most frequent cause, while fewer than three in ten (29%) say money problems are the most frequent cause.  All other causes are ranked first by fewer than one in ten people.

    Partnership has an emotional appeal.  Emotions can cause and have an effect on the quality of a conversation.  This is evident when we search the statistics.  It is interesting to note, people may be more cautious in their careers than they are at home.  Our need to survive, to provide food, shelter, and clothing can come between our mouth and our brain.  Physically, humans may be more dependent on dollars, than they are on their mate.

    A majority of Americans are satisfied with the comfort level of communication in the workplace, though they feel far more at ease talking to their coworkers than their boss.  Almost two-thirds of people who work are very comfortable communicating with their coworkers (69%) while only 3% feel uncomfortable.  Fewer people (no surprises here) feel very comfortable communicating with their boss (57%).  People feel they are less effective than comfortable communicating at work: more than half think they are “very effective” communicating with their colleagues (58%), and somewhat fewer (51%) feel very effective communicating with their supervisor.

    Older, more experienced people consider themselves more effective communicators than younger people who are just starting their careers and establishing their relationships in the workplace: half of those aged 45-54 (51%) consider themselves to be “very effective” in their communication with the boss, versus four in ten 18 to 24 year olds (39%).  Clearly, people become more comfortable and effective dealing with the boss as they get more experience.

    At times, age is not the determinant.  Experience does not make a difference.  Status counts more than seniority or knowledge.  Rank is frequently the reward of those considered more capable.  Confidence is often interpreted as competence.  Commonly, we calculate the worth of another by how well they communicate.  If a man or woman greets a crowd with a haughty hail, often they are thought to be strong.  A shy and quiet person, someone who is reserved and perhaps reflective may be viewed as less able.

    In the workplace, silence is a common solution when confronted with what might seem a crisis.  How often have any of us sat with a supervisor and said nothing substantial when asked for our opinion.  When on conference calls, or in a meeting with colleagues, we might notice the complaints we hear in the hallway when chatting one-on-one are never discussed.  Certified consultations are void of communication.  People, when placed in a professional situation do not exchange ideas freely, even when given the opportunity.

    Yes, associates chatter; they talk.  Statements are made.  Yet, ultimately, workers are complacent.  Everyone is eager to please the person in charge.  Silence may secure a professional paid position.  However, the lack of discussion may be perceived in ways the worker does not consider.  In the office,  at home, on the streets, silence is not always golden.

    10 Things to Know About Silence in Communication 
    By Susan Dunn?
    July 28, 2005

    One of the most important parts of any conversation is the silence.  Silence can serve many functions in a conversation and how you manage it, determines your level of sophistication.  Here are some points to keep in mind about silence in communication.

    1.  Allowing silence in a conversation puts pressure on the other person.  It’s conventional in the US not to allow any sort of extended silence in a conversation.  Therefore, to allow one puts pressure on the other person to “fill air time.”  Some interviewers, for instance, use this technique to see what will happen.  Often the person will “spill” – saying exactly the thing they didn’t want to say. 

    2.  Silence can indicate hostility.  Withdrawing, “stonewalling,” and pouting in silence are ways some people handle anger.  Such a silence can be pulsating with bad feelings, and elicit anger on the part of the other person.

    3.  Silence can indicate disagreement. 

    While it’s almost never an indication of indifference, silence can indicate that the other person is having negative emotions.  When we experience anger, fear, or embarrassment, our thinking brain shuts down.  We sit there fuming, unable to speak; enraged and unable to find words; afraid and scared speechless.  Some people are “flooded” with these emotions, and unable to respond.

    4.  Silence can indicate profoundness, such as awe or horror.  Sometimes when we’re listening to someone else, we hear something that leaves us speechless because it really goes beyond words.  Listening to someone talk about a dreadful trauma they’ve endured, or a beautiful, almost-sacred interaction with another human being, or a description of an awesome natural event such as a sunset or a volcano eruption are examples.  Somehow, when we listen to such things, the ordinary “Oh,” “Wow,” and “That’s awesome” don’t seem enough, and so we fall silent. 

    5.  Silence can indicate respect.  In some cultures more than others, silence indicates respect.  A young person may be expected to approach an older person or a person in authority and remain silent until recognized, acknowledged, and spoken to. 

    6.  Silence can indicate contemplation.  The more introverted your communication partner, the more likely they will think before they speak.  Extraverts discover what they’re thinking and how they feel by talking.  Introverts figure it all out inside their own head and heart before giving voice to it. 

    7.  Silence can be intentional rudeness.  Because of the nature of normal conversation in the US, allowing an extended silence can be perceived as rudeness.  It can also be meant that way.  Refusing to reply to the other person is a way of ignoring them. 

    8.  Silence can be the creation of a listening space.  When you are profoundly listening to someone, you create an open space for them to talk into that’s almost palpable.  Good listeners know how to do this, and it can be learned.  It’s an “openness” that you transmit through nonverbal means. 

    9.  Silence can be an indication of empathy.  When we’re really tuning in to how the other person feels, we’re listening more to the tone of their voice, cadence and speed rather than the actual words, so reply with words may not be the most appropriate response.  Sometimes sounds are more attuned  . . . a murmur, a sigh, sucking in the breath in shock, soothing sounds, clucking (tsk tsk), or shaking the head and going uh, uh, uh. 

    10.  How you manage silence in conversation is an important part of emotional intelligence.  Excellent communicators can allow silence when it’s effective or called for; can avoid being pressured into “spilling” when silence is used manipulatively; offer silence as a gift or sign of respect; interpret the silence of others appropriately; understand how other cultures use silence; mindfully regulate the use of silence; and are comfortable with silence and understand its many uses.

     
    When we do not speak; are we the diligent student, the deterred parent, the proper professor, or the distracted, protracted fuse about to bust into flames.  Might we be the bewildered Board member, the embattled employee, the disgruntled laborer looking for a way to distinguish ourselves, even if it means we must destroy our co-workers and perhaps ourselves?  An observer cannot be certain.

    The sounds of silence are significant.  They can confuse those that hear nothing.  We may intend to communicate we care, and they may interpret the lack of words as contemptuousness.  What we do not say speaks volumes, just as gestures do.  Does a pat on the bottom mean “Well done,” or does such a stroke signify, “I like your body.”  We can never be certain what another person intends with or without words.  Yet, ninety percent of what we communicate is said without oral language.

    Non-verbal communication is a system consisting of a range of features often used together to aid expression . . . The main components of the system are:

  • Kinesics (body language) Body motions such as shrugs, foot tapping, drumming fingers, eye movements such as winking, facial expressions, and gestures
  • Proxemics (proximity) Use of space to signal privacy or attraction
  • Haptics Touch
  • Oculesics Eye contact
  • Chronemics Use of time, waiting, pausing
  • Olfactics Smell
  • Vocalics Tone of voice, timbre, volume, speed
  • Sound symbols Grunting, mmm, er, ah, uh-huh, mumbling
  • Silence Pausing, waiting, secrecy
  • Posture Position of the body, stance
  • Adornment Clothing, jewellery, hairstyle
  • Locomotion Walking, running, staggering, limping

    Of the above, body language (particularly facial expressions and gestures), eye contact, proximity, and posture are probably those which learners most need to be aware of in terms of conveying meaning, avoiding misunderstandings and fitting in with the target culture.

    In terms of skills development, non-verbal clues should not be underestimated when developing both the listening and speaking skills.  Like grammatical structures, non-verbal communication has form, function and meaning, all of which may vary from language to language.

  • What does not differ, no matter the verbal or nonverbal language, is the perceived quality of the interaction.  When two people come together, even if they do not speak the same dialect, or hold positions outwardly considered equal, they have a sense of whether the interchange is effective and meaningful. 

    A student can work with a teacher as a colleague.  A mentor can learn from those that actively acquire knowledge.  A candid parent can approach a child with authentic empathy.  What mother or father was not once young?  Educators, Moms, and Dads can discuss their needs and deeds without defensiveness. 

    A Physician can seek the wisdom of their patient.  Indeed, only an individual can know what occurs within his or her body and how they feel.  A corporate President can engage a subordinate with authentic interest.  After all, if anyone understands how a company works, it is the peon, the secretary, and the janitor with the keys to every door.  Theses employees have been everywhere within the workplace.  Staffers know where the skeletons are hidden, what needs attention, and what functions well.

    If each person in every profession or circumstance cares to communicate, attempts to approach the other with empathy, and a desire to understand, any exchange can be fruitful and fulfilling.  Again, a conversation is more complex than oral statements. 

    We may be able to locate an interpreter if the spoken word is unfamiliar.  Nevertheless, if our message is not sent with an open heart and mind it will not be received well.  Advice from a master communicator and successful businessman may assist us if we are willing to look beyond the superficial. 

    Former General Electric Chief Executive Office, Jack Welch understands that communication is not a technical process.  Task analysis, and implementation of supposed “tried and true” techniques, will not create a great communicator or a leader.  Words will not woo a client or the person that you wish to court.

    Titles don’t matter . . . Passion, chemistry, and idea-flow from any level, at any place are what matters.

    Welch also says that passion is a must for any CEO or leader [or regular person that wishes to be an effective raconteur.]  “If there is one characteristic that all leaders [happy fulfilled persons] share, it’s that they care more than anyone else.  No detail is too small to sweat or too large to dream.”  . . .  Passion comes in all shapes and sizes and takes many different forms.  Ultimately, passion can come from only one place: “From deep inside,” as Welch put it.

      . . .  Passionate leaders [persons] get people to look inside themselves and give more, create more, and risk more.

    When asked of communication Jack Welsh muses, whenever he had an idea or message he could “never say it enough.”  Whether it be in the workplace, within the home, a community, or in the world at-large Jack Welch understands what we all might ponder.  People, more accurately, passion makes the difference.  Characterizations and classifications do not move mountains, make an industry, allow for intimacy, or inspire.  Indeed these designations may threaten us.  Welch, an accomplished entrepreneur, and former Chairman reminds us, an authoritarian approach to leadership or in language may deter supposed subordinates.

    My experience is that the foundations of leadership [effectiveness] begin in childhood and are reinforced through a series of experiences that build self-confidence.  There’s a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence.  Arrogance can be a killer.  The difference between self-confidence and arrogance is the courage to be open – to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.  Even with all the self-confidence in the world, the “essence” of leadership comes from inside . . . by maintaining integrity.  Establishing it and never wavering from it supported everything I did throughout good and bad times. 

    People may not have agreed with me on every issue – and I may not have always been right – but they always knew they were getting it straight and honest.  I never had two agendas.  There was only one way – the straight way . . .

    For me, intensity covers a lot of sins . . . When passion is combined with self-confidence, and integrity, it’s a winning combination no matter what you do or where you work.

    Welch understands and acts on ideas that I too grasp.  Authenticity matters!  What is not stated sincerely, with care cannot, and will not, be understood or acted upon.  What we say is not as important as how we say it.  We cannot state our desires or needs once and expect to be heard or understood.  We must reiterate, repeat, dare to be redundant, and then review the details again and again.  However, enthusiasm alone and repletion alone are not enough.  If we are to be effective in our communication, we must be approachable.

    Your nonverbal communication talks before you do.  Only seven percent of interpersonal communication is transmitted verbally-the remaining ninety-three percent speaks for itself. 

    And, because nonverbal communication is learned and practiced on an unconscious level, you won’t be aware that you silently scream, “Please don’t talk to me!” 

    When you enter a room full of [teachers, students, parents] employees, clients, or friends each of them intuitively asks one crucial question: are you approachable?  If the answer is yes, the conversations in which you engage will be initiated with ease and comfort.  You make new friends.  You create new contacts.  And you will not have to suffer through another meeting clamped to the snack table.  However, if the answer is no, there won’t be any conversations!  As a result, you miss opportunities to create connections and meet valuable people.

    If child, adult, professional, peon, or we are to achieve, we must conceive, and then believe that we have the power to make a difference.  Perhaps that is the greatest problem, the paradigm that hinders healthy communication.  Deep down, we do not accept as true that we can be, and do as we desire.  Marianne Williamson wrote of what might be the greatest barrier to communication, our fear. 

    Our deepest fear

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

    We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”  Actually, who are you not to be?

    You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

    We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

    I invite you dear reader to be as you fear.  Express what you think.  Share what you feel within.  Do so delicately, and repeatedly.  Dear readers consider the words of a Spanish Philosopher and Writer.

    “Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”
    ~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

    Trust in the impossible.  Have faith in you.  Be absurd.  You may discover you are not as alone.  Everyone in the crowd is as you are.  They too only wonder how they might best communicate.

    Sounds, Silence, Communication Barriers . . .

  • Nation’s Alienation Index Up Significantly as More Feel Powerless and Isolated.  The Harris Poll® #89. December 8, 2005
  • Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says, The Number of People Who Say They Have No One to Confide In Has Risen, By Shankar Vedantam.  Washington Post.  Friday, June 23, 2006; Page A03
  • pdf Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says, The Number of People Who Say They Have No One to Confide In Has Risen, By Shankar Vedantam.  Washington Post.  Friday, June 23, 2006; Page A03
  • Q & A With Jack Welch. Jack from the Gut.
  • Make the Connection: Improve your Communication At Work and Home, By Steve Adubato
  • Our deepest fear By Marianne Williamson
  • 10 Things to Know About Silence in Communication, By Susan Dunn.  July 28, 2005
  • Why Aren’t You Talking to Me?  By Scott Ginsberg.  The Effective Admin.
  • Rumsfeld and Mukasey, Tortured Times and Trials


    Mukasey: Waterboarding is Torture if It’s Torture

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    It has been tried before.  Efforts failed.  Nonetheless, I remain hopeful.  I have always believed, “Never, never give up!”  Thankfully, several Human Rights organizations in the United States and Europe trust in the same principle.  They persevere.  On Thursday, October 25, 2007, the International Federation for Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, filed a formal grievance in a Paris court.  The complaint stated former Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld authorized torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq,  The writ states, Rumsfeld violated the 1987 Convention Against Torture Act.

    While Rumsfeld wrestled with his past, on the floor of United States Senate Judge Michael B. Mukasey pondered his future.  This Bush appointee was asked if “enemy combatants” were tormented, would he, as the Attorney General deem himself accountable.  Senators questioned Michael B. Mukasey extensively, albeit civilly.  They inquired, if he were approved for the Attorney General position would he accept responsibility for reprehensible actions, or did he not think torture wrong.  The nominee hedged and hummed just as Rumsfeld had in the past.

    Mukasey blurred the lines that define the methods used to inflict physical pain on people.  In a trial of sorts, Judge Mukasey told the Senate he might be the mirror image of his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales.  Today, the times are tough for those that think detainees deserve to be subjected to waterboarding.

    We recall, the infamous former Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.  Gonzales was the man behind the Justice Department curtain.  He clarified the terms and authorized severe means for obtaining actionable intelligence from detainees.  Henchman for Vice President Dick Cheney, and of course, friend of the President, Attorney General Gonzales sanctioned measures that allow soldiers to ‘crush a captives will to resist.’

    Gonzales, who served as Counsel to the President, was part of a powerful team of lawyers.  Legal eagles for the Administration helped to redefine Executive Privilege.  White House Attorneys expanded Presidential powers.  Thus, cruel and unusual punishment for enemies of the State was made possible.  It is for this reason, today, Senators seek to understand Mukasey.  Those in Congress hope to avoid another debate over the legality, Constitutionality, of inhumane treatment inflicted on those suspected of being terrorist.  A bit of ancient history might help to explain the caution we witnessed this week.

    The vice president’s lawyer advocated what was considered the memo’s most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line into torture.  U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to “commit torture,” that passage stated, “do not apply” to the commander in chief, because Congress “may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”

    That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo [John Choon Yoo, best known for his work from 2001 to 2003 in the United States Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel] signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public.  According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA — including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901.  The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

    With the policy in place, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld did as he thought best.  He sanctioned cruelty against combatants.  Extracting information by any means, no matter how extreme seemed reasonable to those bent on battle.  Donald Rumsfeld, blessed by Bush and Cheney and their interpretation of the constitution enforced, endorsed, the use of methods such as waterboarding.  Then, he, and the White House claimed, “We do not torture.” 

    Concurrently, the man that now seeks to head the Justice Department, Michael B. Mukasey mulled over Presidential powers.  Mukasey questioned the punitive measures the Bush Administration adopted.  Then, Judge Mukasey, a Reagan appointee served as the Chief Judge for the Southern District of New York.  He presided over the José Padilla case.  Padilla was a prisoner held in Guantánamo Bay detainee camp in Cuba.

    After Padilla was first detained in April 2002 and declared an “enemy combatant,” he was held incommunicado, denied all access to the outside the world, including counsel, and the Bush administration refused to charge him with any crimes. A lawsuit was filed on Padilla’s behalf by a New York criminal defense lawyer, Donna Newman, demanding that Padilla be accorded the right to petition for habeas corpus and that, first, he be allowed access to a lawyer. That lawsuit was assigned to Judge Mukasey, which almost certainly made the Bush DOJ happy.

    But any such happiness proved to be unwarranted. Judge Mukasey repeatedly defied the demands of the Bush administration, ruled against them, excoriated them on multiple occasions for failing to comply with his legally issued orders, and ruled that Padilla was entitled to contest the factual claims of the government and to have access to lawyers. He issued these rulings in 2002 and 2003, when virtually nobody was defying the Bush administration on anything, let alone on assertions of executive power to combat the Terrorists. And he made these rulings in the face of what was became the standard Bush claim that unless there was complete acquiescence to all claimed powers by the President, a Terrorist attack would occur and the blood would be on the hands of those who impeded the President.

    Now, as we bathe in blood abroad, and fear the carnage will follow us home, we realize that Michael B. Mukasey was not as he initially appeared.  When pressed, nominee Mukasey does not condemn the Administration.  He does not argue with the White House on all counts, and perhaps, forcing those presumed to be enemies is apt.  Indeed, fair hearing for foes of the State are not necessary, or so says Judge  Michael B. Mukasey.

    [Mukasey] He argued that the prosecution of Jose Padilla -which Mukasey handled until his retirement from the bench last year-demonstrates that federal courts should not try terrorists. Never mind that after the government jerked Padilla in and out of the federal system and reportedly subjected him to serious abuse, he was convicted by a jury on charges that bore little relation to the allegations that former Attorney General John Ashcroft originally-and so publicly-made against him.

    According to Mukasey, Padilla’s case does not stand for the victory of security concerns over civil liberties in federal court, but rather shows why “current institutions and statutes are not well suited” to terrorism cases. The rules for ordinary criminal defendants-that is, regular old constitutional law-should not apply to bad guys “who have cosmic goals that they are intent on achieving by cataclysmic means.”

    Mukasey derides terrorism prosecutions in federal court for putting “our secrets at risk” and discouraging our allies from sharing information with us. He warns of dire results if the Supreme Court rules this upcoming term that Guantanamo detainees have a right to bring their claims in federal court. An alleged terrorist could insist to his interrogators that he wanted to see a lawyer, as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed supposedly did, and “this bold joke could become a reality.”

    Mukasey doesn’t offer his own fix but floats two proposals that have been offered by others: “[t]he creation of a separate national security court” with life-tenured judges and the use of civil commitment standards for the mentally ill for other “dangerous people.” Most surprisingly, Mukasey suggests that Congress might need “to modify the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction.”

    What is justice for those assumed innocent would not be applied to persons deemed guilty by the world’s superpower, the leaders of the United States.  In times of war, terrorists must be dealt with severely.  Yet, I wonder, how do we determine who the insurgents might be.  Who will define the line drawn between a person fighting for the sovereignty of their homeland, and one that transgresses against another nation.

    For me, war is an offense against mankind.  Those that command others to kill are criminals.  I understand that the vast majority of people think my belief is naïve.  I am dismissed as a peacenik.  Nonetheless, thankfully, worldwide, after centuries of strife, humans have come to question the sanity or humanity of torture.

    In the last few years, fear has flourished.  Talk of terrorism fueled much fire.  Guns blazed.  Bombs dropped.  Enemy combatants were gathered together.  Prisons were filled and the rights of people were ignored.  Geneva Conventional wisdom was weakened.  The Bush Administration concluded the rules were quaint.  Torture passed for justice and habeas corpus was no more.

    Perhaps, one day, justice for more than “just us, Americans” will again prevail.  That is the hope of Michael Ratner, the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights.  It is my wish as well.  I have faith that the families and friends of those that suffered, no matter their country of origin, also dream of better days.  For now, we only have the news and our dreams.

    Groups Tie Rumsfeld to Torture in Complaint
    By Doreen Carvajal
    The New York Times

    Paris, Oct. 26 – Several human rights organizations based in the United States and Europe have filed a complaint in a Paris court accusing former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of responsibility for torture.

    The group, which includes the International Federation for Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, made the complaint late Thursday and unsuccessfully sought to confront Mr. Rumsfeld as he left a breakfast meeting in central Paris on Friday.

    Jeanne Sulzer, one of the lawyers working on the issue for the human rights groups, said the complaint had been filed with a state prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, saying he would have the power to pursue the case because of Mr. Rumsfeld’s presence in France.

    Similar legal complaints against Mr. Rumsfeld have been filed in other countries, including Sweden and Argentina. German prosecutors dismissed a case in April, saying it was up to the United States to investigate the accusations.

    The French complaint accuses Mr. Rumsfeld of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and says it violated the Convention Against Torture, which came into force in 1987. . .

    Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement that the aim of this latest legal complaint was to demonstrate “that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide.”

    Rumsfeld may have thought he worked his way through the havoc he created.  The former Secretary of Defense may have believed retirement would free him from responsibility for woes and wars he helped to create.  However, perhaps, the adage is true.  We cannot hide from our history.

    Tides do turn.  This week the seas are turbulent.  Perchance, Rumsfeld can never fully resign.  Nor can he negate responsibility. Torture, may ultimately be seen as what it is, a serious transgression.  Those that support the premise, we must suppress the spirit of those that may possibly oppose us may realize their just reward.

    Michael B. Mukasey may not sail through his Senate hearings.  Waterboarding may be the wave that does this Jurist in.  Democrats may develop the gumption to ride the rippling effect of outrage.  They too may denounce the deplorable practices that mark Americans as arrogant.  As I read the reports, hope is high among peaceniks [humanists] such as I.

    Denounce Waterboarding, Democrats Tell Nominee
    By Philip Shenon
    The New York Times
    October 27, 2007

    Washington, Oct. 26 – The nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general encountered resistance on Friday, with Democratic senators suggesting for the first time that they might oppose Mr. Mukasey if he did not make clear that he opposed waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that have been used against terrorism suspects.

    The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, joined in the expressions of concern about Mr. Mukasey. Mr. Specter said in an interview Friday that the nomination could hinge on Mr. Mukasey’s written responses to questions posed to him this week about the Bush administration’s antiterrorism policies, including its use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and about his larger views on executive power.

    At his Senate confirmation hearings last week, Mr. Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, declined to say whether he agreed with many lawmakers and human rights groups that waterboarding is a form of torture and is unconstitutional. He said he did not know the details of how waterboarding, which has been used by the C.I.A. against senior leaders of Al Qaeda, was conducted. In waterboarding, interrogators pour water onto cloth or cellophane that has been placed over the face of a suspect, creating the sensation of drowning.

    In an initial letter to the Judiciary Committee that was dated Wednesday and made public Friday, Mr. Mukasey repeated the assertion he had made at his confirmation hearings that torture was unconstitutional and a violation of American obligations under international treaties. But once again, he did not address the question of whether waterboarding was torture. In the letter, he also repeated his suggestion that the administration’s program of eavesdropping without warrants was legal despite criticism by lawmakers that it violated terms of federal surveillance laws.

    Until this week, the nomination of Mr. Mukasey to replace Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general appeared to be a sure thing. Many Democratic lawmakers say privately that he is still likely to be confirmed, given the need for leadership in the Justice Department after months of turmoil. Apart from Mr. Specter, no Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have raised public doubts about the nomination.

    It is good to know that reservations are realized.  There is reason to dream.  Imagine, the impossible is achievable.  Naïve as I might be, the news of the day brings me joy.  It furthers my belief.  One day there will be peace planet wide.  Perhaps, world harmony will occur in my lifetime.

    Never, Never, Never Give Up.  Will Justice Prevail . . .

  • Groups Tie Rumsfeld to Torture in Complaint By Doreen Carvajal.  The New York Times. October 27, 2007
  • pdf Groups Tie Rumsfeld to Torture in Complaint By Doreen Carvajal.  The New York Times. October 27, 2007
  • Convention Against Torture  and Other Cruel, Inhuman?or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Office of the High Commissioner  for Human Rights.
  • U.S. Releases Human Rights Report Delayed After Abuse Scandal, By Glenn Kessler.  Washington Post.Tuesday, May 18, 2004; Page A15
  • pdf U.S. Releases Human Rights Report Delayed After Abuse Scandal, By Glenn Kessler.  Washington Post. Tuesday, May 18, 2004; Page A15
  • Denounce Waterboarding, Democrats Tell Nominee. By Philip Shenon. The New York Times. October 27, 2007
  • pdf Denounce Waterboarding, Democrats Tell Nominee. By Philip Shenon. The New York Times. October 27, 2007
  • Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power, By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker. Washington Post. Monday, June 25, 2007
  • pdf Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power, By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker. Washington Post. Monday, June 25, 2007
  • Michael Mukasey’s role in the Jose Padilla case, By Glenn Greenwald.  Salon. September 16, 2007
  • Measuring Mukasey, By Emily Bazelon.  Slate. September 17, 2007
  • I Am Ashamed For Our Country Today

    copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

    Today I am ashamed for our country.  I remain very proud of what America stands for in terms of founding principles and the freedom and liberty we once enjoyed as a nation, but I am ashamed for the actions being taken today in all our names.

    The giant telecoms are being forgiven for breaking the law repeatedly as they sought favor with the Bush administration.  The law requires a warrant before any personal information is released by a communications company to the government.  Yet the large companies offered that information freely without any legal basis whatsoever.  And now the Congress is asked to allow retroactive immunity from prosecution for the crimes.

    Guantanamo Bay exists to hold detainees in conditions far from humane.  Most of the persons held have not been charged or tried under any form of reasonable court.  The Military Commissions Act (PDF) insures the detainees have no right of habeus corpus under which to challenge their detention.


    Lorri37, Flickr, Creative  Commons



    Ryce, Flickr, Creative Commons


    Innumerable secret detention centers are rumored to exist around the world.  How many or who occupies those prisons may never be revealed, but America remains the jailer in charge.

    Outsourcing continues to be the rule of the day as jobs are sent overseas in search of a better bottom line for corporate America at the expense of the working citizens.

    The price of food is rising at a rate that increases hunger among our citizens.  Many who may not be “hungry” suffer less than adequate nutrition as the prices of fruits and fresh vegetables rise all to quickly.


    Andrew Coulter Enright, Flickr, Creative Commons


    California is burning while the local National Guard units serve in Iraq.  Equipment and personnel have been called from neighboring states, but the military is stretched far too thin to serve all its mandated purposes.


    Kevin Labianco, Flickr, Creative Commons

    The national debt is rising at a rate difficult to comprehend as we hear the costs of Iraq when totaled may exceed $1.4 trillion.  Generations to come will bear the monetary costs of this war.

    We are fighting a war with human costs on so many levels.  The initial invasion of Iraq was illegal.  The continued occupation is both illegal and immoral.


    US Government archive, public domain


    pingnews.com, Flickr, Creative Commons

    Where will this all end?  Can we return to the founding principles of justice and liberty for all? 
    Peace one and all.  I leave you with one final image of our country’s shameful proceedings.


    sillydog, Flickr, Creative Commons

    Crossposted from Never In Our Names.

    Good Enough Reasons

    copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

    Last week at a dinner I was privileged to hear several speakers who touched my inner being with their words.  One of the speakers was Ron Suskind, author and journalist from Washington, DC.  He talked about his first book, “A Hope in the Unseen, An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League,” as part of his presentation.  In the course of discussing the people with whom he talked in researching the book he found the expression, “good enough choices.” 

    Every person makes choices in life every day.  Some choose to be drug dealers while others pursue a college education.  Some choose to send troops into foreign countries while others choose to protest those actions.  In the end every person chooses his or her actions for reasons that are good enough for the moment or for the situation.

    I find a measure of real sadness in this reality.  To choose what is “good enough” and not to strive for what is best in all affairs is a tragedy.  If our nation were to take on the task of seeking the very best in all actions and in all states of being what a wonderful new world we would find on awakening every day.  If all of us work every day not for what is good enough, but instead aim for the stars and work to attain the highest levels and to hold others to those expectations we can begin to see the change in time.  Once again, the ripples become a tsunami in time. 

    So long as our world is built on good enough reasons we will always fall short of any greatness that may have been.  Did Alexander the Great settle for good enough?  Or what about Abraham Lincoln?  Suppose Lincoln had settled for good enough in his Gettysburg address.  Would those words then be burned into the memory of every American school student?  Would Lincoln even have made the address knowing other orators were to be present?  Would their presence be good enough reason for Lincoln to forego the trek?

    How do we go about making this change in our society?  What can we do to help people see the light and work for better lives and better circumstances for all?  What about education?  Can we begin by asking our children to be the best student possible for themselves?  Or will we settle for good enough and ask them to work to pass the test at the end of the year as the only reason for going to school?  Are we giving our world its due when we settle for good enough reasons in educating our future leaders?

    Today we have a Congress and an administration settling for what seems to me to be a great deal less than good enough reasons.  We must hold them to the task day by day and press for better on their parts.  And then we should press even harder to get things moving to the highest plane.  The same principle goes for our Dem Presidential candidates.  We can do no less that push for their best in all affairs if we are to gain more than good enough in the end.  I love my keyboard and my sofa, but if I fail to move onto the streets I am finding good enough reasons and that is not right. 

    I cannot speak for any one of you, but you may rest assured good enough reasons are not enough for me and mine today.  My household members are working every day to see our country change.  We will not settle for “good enough reasons” around here.  Only the very best will do in our lives.  We are making ripples but we alone cannot sustain a tsunami.  Every one of us needs to pull together to make sure we get the very best our country has to offer in all its affairs.  Together we are strong.  We can stand together or we will fall apart for “good enough reasons.”

    Enough Good

    copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

    In a recent diary of mine at the Big Orange a commenter used the phrase, “enough good.”  As the comment came across the screen I was reading an article in the local newspaper about hunger.  With the rising costs of food increasing numbers of people are finding themselves unable to feed not only themselves but their children, too.  In a nation rich as America this is beyond egregious.

    I have written about hunger in America as an effect of poverty in diary in the past.  Poverty is a serious issue in the world let alone in America today.  Food should be a basic human right in the world today.  No person should be forced to sleep hungry or suffer through a day without enough food.  Note, I did not say people should have all the food they may wish to consume, but that they deserve enough food to avoid hunger as a life issue.  I am guilty as anyone else of overeating sometimes but that is a privilege and not a human right.

    Enough good extends to every measure of our lives.  Each person we meet along life’s pathways deserves to be treated with the respect we wish for ourselves.  Each person we meet deserves the most good thoughts and good treatment we have to offer.  Maybe in time that will spread to become “enough good” around the country.

    Too many today are consumed by the material life.  I have no objection to having pretty things or fine things in life, but there should be some limit for everyone.  There comes a point when the accumulation becomes the goal and no real good is done.  What if people began to accumulate just enough for themselves and then let the rest go to help some less privileged person?  What a fine world we might find after a time.

    Enough good means giving our children the educational opportunity they deserve.  Enough good leaves no limits on that opportunity and puts no restrictions on the learning.  Teachers are allowed to teach to their best and to lead students to a lifetime of learning.

    Enough good means we look after our environment.  We begin to conserve our resources and to look to the health of our planet as conservators instead of users and consumers.  In the end we are led to a better world for all.

    Enough good means giving to all those of lesser means.  All of humankind must begin to recognize the basic rights of every being.  We cannot continue to allow the strong or the rich to take from others.  Enough good requires equal opportunity for one and all.

    Enough good enriches all the lives that are touched by the principle.  Like Gandhi once said, one must live the life he wishes to see in others.  Living “enough good” embodies that thought.  Now if we all take responsibility for our personal actions we can change the world. 

    As I have said so many times before, we can stand together or fall apart.  We have the choice before us today.  We can continue to accumulate or we can live for “enough good.”  The choice is ours to make every day of our lives.