The State of US Media Today

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

For some time now the internet has been a source of news that our major media fails to report or keeps on the back pages far too long.  The local paper, The Wilmington News Journal, has more than once been guilty of publishing stories with inaccurate or very misleading statements taken from the administration.  At least one explanation for this behavior in the media came in a recent interview with Dr. Peter Phillips, current head of Project Censored.  Under Dr. Phillips leadership Project Censored follows the news of the year and compiles a listing of overlooked or underreported stories during the course of the year.  

In 2007 the number one issue lacking real reporting was the loss of habeus corpus for everyone.  One provision of the Military Commissions Act is broad enough in its wording to include any person of interest to the government.

Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States … shall be punished as a military commission … may direct.

Though the act was intended to allow easier trials for terror suspects, any person in the nation might fall under a broad interpretation “allegiance to the United States.”

And why one may wonder did the media fail to cover this story to the degree such an important step deserves?  The answer may come from Dr. Phillips.

…an organizational tendency is to comply with the general corporate culture, and career-minded journalists and editors sharing this common corporate culture will create what direct censorship cannot: a general compliance with the attitudes, wishes, and expectations of the media elite and, in turn, corporate America.

And so Dr. Phillips put into words what seems most obvious to most analytical readers of the news today.  American media is controlled by a small number of corporations many of which (like GE for instance) have close ties to the military industrial complex and therefore have a vested interest in the continuation of militarism in this country.  In addition according to some reports GE has very close ties to the government.  

This is not the only example.  GE is only one of many examples which may be found.  The American public is being given an increasingly smaller number of media resources from which to garner news and those sources are becoming more controlled by smaller number of corporate offices.  How then is the American public to make an informed decision about matters of importance?  Can we find a way out of this failing system?  Or are we too far gone to expect a real return to sanity and freedom of information?

Pondering Patriotism

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

Patriotism is defined as

love for or devotion to one’s country.

 If that be the case then I count myself a true patriot.  I love our nation or at least the nation we once were and the nation we may be once again.  I am devoted to the cause of restoring our nation to the benefit of all the people once and for all.

On the other hand, Julius Caesar was right when he said:

Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor. For patriotism is indeed a double- edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and patriotism, will offer up all of their rights to the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Julius Caesar.

Any spirit of patriotism may be misused as we in America have seen in the aftermath of 9/11.

And in Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell found a different idea of where patriotism may lead in time:

The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering – a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons – a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting – three hundred million people all with the same face.

Real danger lurks in the wrong that blind patriotism may bring upon the people.

We need a return to basic ideas of right and wrong in this nation today.  We who love the country stand for its principles of liberty and justice for all.  We stand for ALL the people, not just the privileged and powerful few.  America is a nation filled with promise and built on a long history of both right and wrong.  It behooves us today to review our past and learn the lessons contained within.  Together we can build a nation which deserves patriotic fervor and which responds to that feeling with the reward of living in the greatest country in the world.

To bring about the changes we need today we must all stand together for what is right and good in life.  Law and government should be held to standards of right and for a level playing field in which any person may find real success based upon hard work.  The people of this great nation, no matter their skin color or sexual preference, no matter their religious leanings, no matter their  physical accumulations, all deserve a nation of which they can be proud.  We all need a country about which we can say we love that nation as only a true patriot can love.

Can we find that nation in America?  I believe the foundation was laid in the Constitution.  There are no more powerful words to my mind than the opening of the preamble:

We the People…

 We who live in America today hold the reins of government by right of law.  The question is, can we take back that right and move our nation in the ways needed for the good of ALL the people?

I Am One, Many, More Than Enough One-By-One

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

They tell me to vote, to speak, to write, to shout, to act.  However, I am but a grain of sand, a wave in the vast blue-green of the ocean.  I have no power over those that hold greater might.  I have no weaponry, no wealth, and no strength to wield.  I am but a cog in a giant machine.  I am a drone, a worker, a peon, and a pupil.  I learn only what I am taught.  Those who instruct me, invest in me, also intentionally inhibit me.  I am a slave, enslaved.  As industrialists capitalize on me, the commodity of a free enterprise system, I waver at  their whim.

I cannot be bothered to express myself, to march, to protest, to join hands with my fellow American.  I cannot care for those that live on the other side of the planet.  Nor do I have reason to think about them, the impoverished or ill miles away. I live in fear as I attempt to control the chaos that is my life.  

I make decisions so that I might survive.  No one takes care of me.  I take no handouts, not that they are offered.  If they were, I would stand proud; say no.  I must remain strong or appear to be.  However, I do understand my life lies in the balance.  All is tenuous.  In a moment I might be stricken with a terminal infirmity, one that I can ill afford financially or emotionally.  Intellectually, I accept,  I toil as I must.  Security is a hope and excellence is but a dream.  A turn in the wind might cause my demise.  My existence is sustained from paycheck to paycheck.  Thus, I must remain vigilant.  “Self” is my primary interest.

Organizations ask for charity.  Associations demand that I give.  I have no allegiance, other than to myself.  I cannot extend to those who do not provide for my needs.  Family may free me to serve beyond my reach.  Yet, they also hinder my truer success.  They are a burden, the beauty.  My loved ones give me reason to live.  Hence, I spill blood; I sweat and I tear to secure the sanity of self.

Give, grant you my time, bequeath my voice with vigor, why?  I forget what I never knew or had reason to understand.  I am not one.  I am not alone.  It is not I against them.  My will is as potent as theirs.

My family and I are more than a fraction.  I am, we, are part of a whole.  Without us, there is no strength, for  potency is a joint venture.

No power, no millionaires, billionaires, and no business prosper without us, the little ones who support them through either our apathy or our actions.  We are the people!  If we remain silent we are puppets and pawns.  

I am more than a buyer, more than an employee.  I am one with the ability to articulate.  I have a mind, a heart, and a soul.  I can speak, think, and do.  I choose to allow what is, or to advance the change I wish to see.  I am more than me.  I am part of this planet, the universe.  When I share, I have influence.  I am more than one.

When I reach out and share my sorrow  the world may only whisper in acknowledgement.  However, the story I tell travels through the universe.  One person tells another.  The next narrates the yarn ever so well.  He mouths the missive.  She states the obvious.  They hear the hidden.  Together we become the strength, we always were; yet never accepted.  

When I serve my fellow man to the extent I might, I bestow a sense of benevolence that moves like a wave.  There is energy is each small gesture. The momentum builds.  Please let us each lend a hand, write a letter, share a moment, and give voice to what ails our brethren and us.  Let us begin to heal a nation, a world that wails out in pain.  Goodness and growth begin with you and me together.

“I heard a nice little story the other day,” Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.

“Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air — until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.”

“‘My God, this is terrible,’ the wave says ‘Look what’s going to happen to me!'”

“Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, ‘Why do you look so sad?'”

“The first wave says, ‘You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?'”

“The second wave says, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.'”

I smile. Morrie closes his eyes again.

“Part of the ocean,” he says. “Part of the ocean.” I watch him breathe, in and out, in and out.

– Tuesdays with Morrie, page 179

I am one.  We are many.  As a whole, we are more than enough.  

America The Beautiful?

copyright © Judith Moriarty

America the beautiful?  If you listen to the constant barrage of PR on TV,  we’re the Superpower of the world!  That may be, if it applies to our major industry today,  the exporting of war and weapons?  We have a Defense budget of some $648 BILLION.  This does not include the ‘supplemental’ billions that are being asked for every few months!  

‘Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain’.  

America the beautiful?  What is not being reported by the media; is the poisoning of our rivers, land, and air.  The frogs are deformed, we are warned not to eat the fish, the honeybees are disappearing, birds are dropping dead,  and the deer and moose have wasting disease.  

America the beautiful?  I’m perplexed.  With all this talk about the environment, carbon footprints, and growing corn (please) for fuel, we don’t see the media reporting on the destruction of Appalachia.  Where’s Al?  Why aren’t those running for office holding debates on the raped mountains in West Virginia?  The corporate coal vultures have found that it’s cheaper to tear down the mountains and dump the sludge into valleys.  This EPA approved destruction is destroying small towns, rivers, and streams!  These folks aren’t worrying about glacial ice melting!  Their lives are being destroyed – legally!

America the beautiful?  The ‘levees’ meant to protect tens of thousands of lives in New Orleans, resembled fencing around a Little League park!  The local, state, and federal authorities, knew for years that the destruction of the barrier islands, marshlands, and dredging for oil/gas was creating a catastrophe and did nothing.  They also knew that the poorly built levees, would never protect against a category 4-5 hurricane.  

There are levees that protect citizens – in the Netherlands!  When greed, corruption, and politics, do the building – people die.

America the beautiful?  Katrina showed that we have no disaster policy .  It’s pretty sad, when Cuba has a perfectly organized plan; with inland shelters and buses, ready to evacuate those in shoreline villages.  No person is left stranded for days on rooftops, or on strips of highway, in 100-degree heat!  Katrina saw gentrification by disaster.  As legislators met in emergency session, to relocate casinos onshore, the victims were shipped out of the area to distant states, put in tents, or FEMA trailers, which sickened them , with the formaldehyde fumes!  But then, most countries don’t have a man running their disaster plan, whose last job was running an Arabian horse organization!

America the beautiful?  Hundreds of thousands are homeless.  Many of these are mentally ill and veterans.  When the institutions closed in the 80s-90s, crisis centers were supposed to open in every state.  This never happened.  The mentally ill are on the street or in jail!  Numerous families are homeless, with public housing being torn down, and nothing being built to replace it.  Many of the homeless work but cannot afford the high rents.  It took Congress ten years to raise the minimum wage.  Gentrification has destroyed affordable housing in numerous cities.  Many communities, from Washington State, to Florida, are opening ‘tent’ shelters!

America the beautiful?  We spend billions upon billions for war.  Billions more are squandered or lost?  Nobody seems to care?  Nobody’s going to jail for this theft!  Those who return (after three or four tours) are scarred for life (physically and mentally).  All these billions, haven’t supplied our troops, with the most basic means of protection (i.e.  armored vehicles, body armor, etc).  A supposed ‘humanitarian’ effort in Somalia, had our soldiers dragged through the street!  Meantime, when the politicians are out and about, they are supplied with guards, snipers on rooftops, and limousines that are fully armored.  Veterans, including the Marine above, terribly burned, have to FIGHT for their benefits!  Politicians don’t have to FIGHT for their lucrative pensions.  They have managed, in the few days a week that they do work, to ensure that they get, not only their yearly (thousands) raises, but yearly cost of living increases in their pensions.  What’s wrong with this picture?

America the beautiful?  Besides the military, our fastest growing businesses are – private prisons, casinos, garbage, and Wal-Mart (our nation’s largest employer).  None of these produce anything except profits for the corporate hucksters.  We have the largest prison population in the world (mostly non-violent drug offenses/probation violations).  We build more prisons than schools.  

America the beautiful?  Per chance you should not be part of ‘group-think’.  and protest against our nation being emptied of livable wage jobs (due to trade agreements voted by Congress), you will be beaten down, or caged in ‘free-speech’ zones.  The police in Miami were given $8 million (meant for our troops) to outfit them in Ninja attire.  This armor was needed to protect them, not from an invasion, but from students – housewives – environmentalists – and workers protesting the FTAA (Free Trade of America’s Agreement), which was exporting more jobs to third world countries.

America the beautiful?  Our steel mills, textile plants, and manufacturing industries, are shuttered and rusting away.  They are, like old man in a nursing home, none of them wanting to be there, each with his own story to tell.  These were the places that employed hundreds of thousands.  The hundreds of thousands who worked in these places, built our nation’s bridges, skyscrapers, railroads, and great Navy ships.  Without them, (Rosie the Riveter) WWII would have been lost!

America the beautiful?  Our nation’s infrastructure is falling down.  Foreign investors are buying up our thruways (paid for by tax dollars).  China (to bypass American ports) is building Mexican ports.  A NAFTA highway will snake though the country, delivering goods to all points, including Canada.  The bridge in Minnesota, which collapsed, is now be expanded to ten lane,  to accommodate future truck traffic.  

America the beautiful?  Our energy policy appears to be keeping the coffers of the OIL & GAS industries filled!  The latest ‘energy bill’ (hardly a whisper in the media) was passed, once the White House was assured, that billions in subsidies would continue to go to the oil companies.  War has been very – very good for these vultures.  They’ve realized multi-billions in profits, since this ‘war for democracy – liberation – and freedom’ for the Iraqi people.  As America rusts away, the oil profits are being used to construct futuristic cities, and indoor ski resorts in Dubai etc.  

America the beautiful?  Many areas of our country are in distress, with high unemployment rates.  Detroit, once the headquarters of the auto industry, employing tens of thousands, is now a wasteland.  It’s downtown streets, hotels, auto plants, etc, are all shuttered.  

America the beautiful?  Due to GREED, and little to no regulatory oversight (Congress – ha – is now going to hold hearings), millions of citizens across the land are losing their homes.  A bank doesn’t care (even with their 30 yr obscene interest rates) if multitudes are put out in the cold.  They’ll not be out in the cold and that’s what counts.  They’re in the money-making business.  Bankers, along with transnational corporations, are without souls or conscience.  They are loyal only to profits – percentages – hedge funds – and interest rates.  

America the beautiful?  Meantime don’t worry.  The talking heads and ‘experts’ (hirelings) in the media assure us that all is calm.  TV was our teacher far into the night – it taught us to think, that things were alright?

America the beautiful?  Meantime the ‘sheeple’ line up at the unemployment offices.  They fill out applications for those jobs at Home Depot, Wal-Mart, as blackjack dealers, or prison guards.  They obediently allow themselves to be scanned, groped, and searched at airports.  They line up for the newest vaccines, buy the newest high tech gadgets, and believe that a new Republican or Democrat ‘overseer’,  will deliver them from their despair and FEAR.  As for war – they watch from a distance.  They don’t connect the loss of local services, to the fact, that war costs money, and programs need to be cut (housing, homeless, food stamps, medical, fuel assistance, education, infrastructure, etc).  All of this money for war (projected to be $1-2 trillion) is borrowed.  Money today; is invested destructive bombs, called ‘Daisey Cutters’ (which rupture organs – eyeballs), missiles, stun guns, melting death rays , planes, tanks, guns, Ninja attire, depleted uranium weapons (cuts through steel like butter), mercenary troops, bunker busters,  and other exotic madness.  The more deadly our weapons are – the more our fears leave us numb.  

America the beautiful?  In various hamlets and towns across the nation, a lone voice warns.  Of course, he/she is called unpatriotic, mad, a trouble- maker, and nut case.  Throughout the ages, war has always proved profitable for the select few.  They sit back and send the poor to war.  Marine General (34 years) Smedley Butler summed it up, “War is a racket.”

America the beautiful?  Meantime Alice cries, “But I don’t want to go among mad people”.  “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat, “We’re all mad here.”  Alice in Wonderland


Clinton, Obama, Edwards; The Three Are One

Des Moines Register Debate: Advisors (full)

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The Des Moines Register Democratic Debate was an event like no other.  Gaffes, gossip, gushing, and gabble were all present and accounted for.  Former Senator Mike Gravel was not.  Nor was Congressman, and potential President, Dennis Kucinich.  Each of these aspirants would have been happy to meet and speak with the people of Iowa, just as they have for months.  However, they were intentionally excluded in this more formal forum.  

Excuses were made, and easily  countered.  Nevertheless, evidence to the  contrary mattered not to the Des Moines Register.  The Editors had spoken and so too would their ultimate first choice for the office of President of the United States speak.  Hillary Clinton clones, and future Cabinet appointees would have an opportunity to commune with the local and television audience.  America had all it needed on the platform, powerbrokers and their pawns, those the wealthy tell us are prepared to be President.

The Register believes “preparedness” must be the primary consideration.  Thus, they were ready to dispute any claims that they may be less than equitable.  Interestingly, among the arguments, explanations, and assessments the Carolyn Washburn, debate moderator and Editor of the Des Moines Register offers an odd evaluation of the event.  The prideful host reflects . . .

I’m pleased to say reaction has not been all one-sided.  I’ve received a slew of e-mails from people thanking us for a civil discussion that gave the candidates equal time, on important issues, with smart questions.

Each person permitted to stand on the stage may have spoken for the same number of minutes.  Nevertheless, The Register in its infinite wisdom did not give Presidential hopefuls identical access to the television audience.  No one cannot deny that even among those who publish in the Register there is some question as to whether all the aspirants were treated alike.  Kevin M. Cashman, Grinnell  also wonders whether Leaving candidates out of debate compromises democracy  Principles our founders established centuries ago may be of no consequence to the Des Mines Register.  Electability may be the one subject of import.  Perhaps a presumed winner is the only issue of worth.  Moderator, Carolyn Washburn made her stance known early on.  The Editor explained the rules and the audience gasped.

“We won’t talk a lot about issues like Iraq.”

~ Carolyn Washburn, moderating the presidential debates in Iowa

To not speak of the war that dominates American policy seemed unthinkable.  However, this restriction was only one of many constraints.  There was much deemed unmentionable in this televised discussion.  The names Kucinich and Gravel would not mouthed.  Although that, for the candidates on stage, was great.  The Big Three had long hoped to narrow the field.  For months, each said to the other, I need more time and attention.  At this assembly, more than the two men excluded from the debate were labeled  taboo topics.

Washburn, the earnest and schoolmarmish editor of the Des Moines Register, stunned the political world when she announced, at the beginning of the Republican debate on Wednesday, that she did not want to talk about Iraq and immigration, at least not in any “concentrated” way.  She continued that policy Thursday with the Democrats, asking not a single question about Iraq.  The words “terrorist,” “Iran,” “Pakistan” and “al-Qaeda” didn’t get even a single mention.

What did viewers get instead?

“Tell us your New Year’s resolution for 2008,” Washburn proposed.  Groans emanated from the media room down the hall.  Hillary Clinton said she would exercise more.  Barack Obama said he would be a better father.  Richardson pledged to lose weight.

Weight was lost.  Little of substance was discussed in this silly “debate.”  What was touched on; yet never fully explored was the inevitable .  Clinton would control the White House, regardless of whether the publication ultimately endorsed Hillary, Barack, or John.  Former Governor Bill Richardson, Senators Joseph Biden, and Chris Dodd were never a consideration for more than Cabinet positions.  With the latter three on stage the Register could offer a façade of fairness.  

Richardson, a former Clinton appointee would walk in lockstep.  Dodd also accepts much of the status quo; he is agreeable when Hillary craves a defense.  Dodd and Joe Biden are formidable legislatures.  They are certainly not Presidential material.  They are not cut from the charismatic Clintonian cloth.  These gentlemen are well versed in how to closet what is.  Neither, in debate, or in deliverance of policy will be the voice of change that must be muffled.

For thirty-five years, or so we are told again and again, Hillary Clinton has trained for this coronation.  As critical as the New York Senator might have been of the young Baracks’s youthful essay in which he declared his desire to be President of the United States, the former First Lady always knew, even if Obama had an edge, if Obama were to win, she would still be in the White House.  This was confirmed at the Des Moines Register Debate.  

While individuals in the media and even some of the candidates complained, the Register Debate offered no revelations, there was at least one  enlightening moment.  America now knows, there is no reason to quarrel over whether Hillary or Barack ultimately become Commander-In-Chief.  Either way Clinton will be in the White House.

[R]eporters  . . .  sensed a major story when Clinton interrupted one of Obama’s answers with a burst of laughter.  When Obama was asked how he would “rely on” so many of former president Bill Clinton’s advisers, his wife cackled, then blurted out, “I want to hear that!”

“Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well,” Obama replied, and Clinton laughed again.

The question was asked.  The quip of an answer was widely appreciated, and reported on the national news.  Had Americans reacted with more than quick laughter, they might have cried with disgust.  Perhaps, upon hearing the banter, a thoughtful public would have pondered, and then exclaimed, “The more things “change,” the more they stay the same.”  We learned regardless of which of the top tier candidates Americans choose, change will only be a word, never said above a whisper.  There is little difference.  The Clinton experience will cloud the Oval Office if either of these marvelously manipulative candidates is Americas choice.

Years ago, the Former First Lady roamed from room to room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  As she strolled the hallways, she encountered those who advised her husband and now counsel her opponent, Barack Obama.  

Barack Obama does not hide his list of advisers, or at least not completely.  A short trek to his website, and Americans can look into the future Obama Oval Office.

For Obama’s presidential bid, Senate staffer Mark Lippert is the critical link between the campaign, the Senate staff and the senator.  Lippert has accompanied Obama on the three international trips Obama has taken while in office.  Lippert, who has a master’s from Stanford in international policy, has had a hand in every major Obama speech and statement on international affairs and deals with the senator daily.

Lippert, a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy Reserve, came to Obama after working on the Senate Appropriations Committee Foreign Operations Subcommittee for five years and has handled foreign policy and defense issues for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Besides Lippert, the core Obama group consists of three people who worked in President Bill Clinton’s administration: former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and former senior State Department officials Susan Rice and Gregory Craig.  They meet regularly in Washington.  Lake was the NSA adviser during Clinton’s first term.  Rice was the senior adviser on national security affairs for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004, an assistant secretary of state for African affairs and a special assistant to the president at the National Security Council at the Clinton White House.

Craig — quarterback of Clinton’s impeachment defense team — was director of policy and planning at the State Department under former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  In 2000, Craig was at the center of the fight over Elian Gonzalez, representing the Cuban youth’s father in his custody fight.  Craig met Obama in 2003 at a fund-raiser for his Senate bid at the home of Washington powerbroker Vernon Jordan.

The Obama circle widens, depending on the need for expertise.

During the Clinton administration, Jeh Charles Johnson was general counsel for the Department of the Air Force. . .

The Obama foreign policy team deals with counterterrorism, democracy development and the inter-related matters of energy and the environment, global health, homeland security and nuclear nonproliferation, among other issues.  There’s also a cadre of former Clinton officials who are very involved with the Obama campaign who for now want to stay below the radar screen.

Interestingly, Barack Obama could have obscured this substantial connection to the Clinton White House, for originally, this report was published in the Chicago Sun Times.  Prominent Journalist Lynn Sweet offered this glimpse into the crystal ball months ago.  However, rather than hide the snapshot into another Clintonian strategy, Barack Obama proudly beams.  The Clinton advisory staff is on his side.  Now, we know Hillary will be among them if perchance she is not the President.

When Barack Obama offered Hillary Clinton what some thought a slight, many took delight.  Absorbed in laughter, few pondered the profundity.  A vote for the lead gal or the guy is one in the same.  The truth is, if the Senator from Illinois becomes President of the United States, we may still have the two Clintons in the White House Along with all their counsel.

Numerous Progressives tout, John Edwards is different and he is, in that he is not a woman, nor is he an African American.  A white American male is certainly a novel concept, or so the former Senator Edwards wishes it was.  Beyond this classic characteristic, well . . .

I shouldn’t have to say this – what matters is what the candidates stand for and to whom they’ll be beholden if elected.  My problem is the three don’t look so far apart to me – certainly not enough to justify demonizing one and canonizing another, as my left-wing correspondent does.

The differences seem more like branding: the strong, experienced woman; the black (but not too black) inspirer of hope; the hands-on economic populist crusader.  Or if you prefer, the evil pro-corporate phony and everyone else.  No sooner had Clinton announced her health care plan, for example, than my colleague John Nichols denounced it as a gift to the insurance industry.  Fair enough, but this is the same health care plan that Elizabeth Edwards said with some annoyance was copied from the one her husband – the man who cares about poor people – had put forward months before.

Obama’s plan is similar.  Likewise, on the same day that my colleague Laura Flanders wrote that an Obama campaign rally in New York City was buzzing with progressive energy, I read in The New York Times about his attempt to woo McCain voters in New Hampshire.  Both these things can be true – but isn’t being all things to all people a bit, well, Clintonian?

How real are the differences among the top three?  Let’s take a look.  All three candidates want to disengage troops from Iraq while maintaining some kind of military handle on the place.  If getting all the troops out ASAP is your top priority, vote for Richardson, Kucinich or Gravel.  All of the top three are largely uncritical of Israel (Clinton, in fact, voiced support for a Palestinian state in 1998 and was creamed for it).  Clinton probably is a shade more hawkish than the others, but all three buy the trope of the “war on terror” – in August, Obama even said he would strike Pakistan if that’s what it took to capture Osama bin Laden.  Maybe that was a slip or a mini-pander to 9/11 voters (well, not so mini if you’re a Pakistani).  He has since made more peaceful noises and followed Edwards in supporting the global abolition of nuclear weapons (a position originally put forward by Ronald Reagan, and now by Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and George Shultz, so let’s not get carried away).

On domestic policy, the three have similar boilerplatish positions on education and immigration; all three are pro-choice without qualifications.  Hurray!  But, although nearly three in ten Americans are poor or near-poor, only Edwards has made a campaign issue out of social and economic inequality.  Only Edwards seems to grasp the significance of our widening class divisions.  Obama, indeed, has suggested he’ll reduce taxes on “the middle class,” which may be code for “expect no big government initiatives.”

How tied in are the top three with corporations and Wall Street?  Hillary Clinton is notoriously unapologetic about receiving large donations from wealthy interests.  But Obama has received a lot of corporate and Wall Street money too – in fact, he’s received more money from hedge funds than Clinton.  Edwards has refused to accept donations from lobbyists (Obama soon followed his example), but this could be merely a nice piece of branding: there are plenty of ways for the interest groups’ lobbyists to put favors in the favor bank besides writing a check to the candidate.  

As we scan a list of the top contributors to John Edwards campaign, we understand the significance of this statement.  Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Incorporated, Deutsche Bank, appear prominently among a list of law firms.  Of course, we might say this is the nature of politics.  If candidate is to be effective, he, or she must communicate their message broadly.  Commercials and print correspondence are costly.  A treasure chest filled with riches is required.  Cash might be nice; it is more difficult to trace.  Paper trails give evidence to what any Presidential aspirant may wish to avoid, the truth.

Vowing not to accept contributions from lobbyists isn’t a foolproof plan for Edwards or Obama.  Both still accept money from state and local lobbyists, employees at law firms that offer lobbying services, family members of lobbyists and former lobbyists.  Contributions from Washington lobbyists have still managed to seep into both Democrats’ coffers.

At the end of the 3rd Quarter, the Edwards campaign listed $4,500 in contributions from seven registered lobbyists, according to Federal Election Commission reports.  The campaign returned one of these contributions in early November, a spokeswoman said, and the refund will be reflected in year-end filings.  When Capital Eye alerted the campaign to the other donations that would appear to violate Edwards’s policy, the representative said the campaign had missed those contributions and would return them promptly.

The Obama campaign had collected nearly $34,500 from 29 registered lobbyists by the end of the campaign’s first nine months of fundraising, according to FEC reports.  The Obama campaign did not respond to several requests to review those records.

Obama and Edwards also refuse money from political action committees controlled by corporations and other interests, but they and every other presidential candidate accept money from employees of corporations and other interests that employ lobbyists.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 14 of Obama’s top 20 contributors employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $16.2 million to influence the federal government in the first six months of 2007.

Of Edwards’s top 20 contributors, only seven have employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $6.3 million.  But the plaintiff attorneys who dominate the list of Edwards’s top donors are well represented in Washington by the influential American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America), which has spent at least $3 million on lobbying this year alone.  As for Clinton, all but four of her top 20 contributors have employed lobbyists this year.

Hence, it is easy to understand why the Des Moines Register acted as they did.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel would offer unwelcome nuance to a stage full of affluent agents for the status quo.  Those that think policy as usual is preferable have no reason to rattle the profiteers that sponsor the standards.  Perchance, the periodical’s own endorsement, offered shortly after the Iowa Debate explains what we all knew.

The job requires a president who not only understands the [insert . . . minimal and on paper only] changes needed to move the country forward but also possesses the discipline and skill to navigate the reality of the resistant Washington power structure to get things done.

That candidate is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Indeed, for the staff of this Iowa periodical Clinton is the perfect Presidential hopeful.  She speaks eloquently of transformation and has already altered the face of Clinton.  Bill becomes Hill.  More importantly, Hillary Clinton, the first presumed electable, formidable female aspirant, is deftly able to follow the map laid out before her.  After all, she is, and has long been a audacious part of the White House landscape.  With Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, we will have Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards, all rolled into one.  

Question: What could be more glorious?  Answer:  For me, sheer bliss would be Dennis Kucinich, as President of the United States of America.  I am not alone in my belief.  One need only acknowledge that in numerous polls the truest candidate of change leads all others Democrats.  Dennis Kucinich is the people’s pick for President.  The aspirant is the one person funded and followed by common folk.  Imagine; if the periodicals, pundits, and the politicos who grab the floor would give the people a choice.  I do dream; I trust the thought is not absurd.  Achieving a Kucinich Presidency is possible.

“Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”

 ~ Miguel de Unamuno [Spanish Philosopher and Writer]

Sources, Sponsors, Secrets, and Special Interests . . .

Steel Mills To Slot Machine Nation

copyright © Judith Moriarty

Few realize that America, the America of old, is rusting away, and being sold off to transnational companies/ speculators.  These mutants are loyal to no land and no people.  Their sole reason for existence is profits and power.  Isolated as we are, one from another, the folks in the Florida Keys for example; have no knowledge of the paper mills in northern NH closing down putting hundreds out of work or of the numerous foreclosures in Michigan and Ohio.  Who has paid the slightest bit of attention.  as the steel mills, textile, mills, ship yards, and manufacturing jobs disappeared?  

Nightly a small blurb on the ‘news’ announces that another several thousand are gone!  Yawn!  The major part of America’s news broadcasts are spent on the latest tabloid gossip.  While these plant closures may be headline news in local towns, the majority of the nation is oblivious.  Those running for office (with all their lofty promises) certainly aren’t holding their so- called debates at the empty Maytag plant, in desolate Detroit, or in an abandoned mill!  

Meantime, the joke of job retraining is touted, as the answer to men, who’ve spent their entire lives forging steel, cutting logs, or on an assembly line.  A few weeks at some computer course, is supposed to have these scarred men, able to compete with hundreds of thousands of college graduates looking for jobs!  Please.  Meantime, even this ridiculous program is being cut.  President Bush needs the money to build dozens of bases in Iraq, and keep the 2 billion+ a week cost of the war funded.  Hundreds of thousands of unemployed men and women are the last thing on Washington’s mind!

Those in office are all set with their lucrative salaries, medical care, and lobbying jobs for family members and yearly cost of living raises.  We pay their wages (raises) when it took them TEN years to raise the minimum wage a measly pittance!  As for medical care, we’re told we can go to the ER!  Meantime, the people are buying the usual hogwash that this time around (elections), a secular savior will restore and rebuild America.  Tell that to the folks (an example of America) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  

Bethlehem Steel, was once the largest steel maker in our nation.  At one time hundreds of thousands of men were employed in her numerous mills.  A man could make a decent living without his wife having to leave the kids for that Wal-Mart job to help make ends meet.  When my dad worked at the steel mills, we had full medical coverage.  This was after the Unions came into play, protecting the rights of workers, and insisting on a livable wage.  But then doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and medical care, weren’t run by the HMOs, Insurance Companies, and Pharmaceuticals! Today we have what’s known as ‘right to work for less’.  People are hired on as ‘contractors’ (no benefits, raises, job security) or part time.  A family needs two and three jobs to keep up with the daily cost of living increases . . .

Bethlehem Steel (Bethlehem, Pa) once employed 25,000 – 30,000 men.  American steel (not the inferior stuff imported now) built the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, restored the White House.  Our steel supplied armies, built cities, and employed a generation.  Now steel for our nation’s projects, has to be imported from China, Korea, Japan, etc.  Bethlehem Steel saw the great hulls of our Naval ships built in her bowels . . .

Ironically, the building that once housed the employment offices at Bethlehem Steel, now has homeless people living in its abandoned rooms . . .

Life in a mill town revolved around the mill.  People lived, attended church, and were buried in its shadow.  There were no 500 TV channels, no computer video games, no designer clothes, cell phones, corporate agri-farms, homeless people laying in the streets, veterans living under bridges, malls, breast implants, Viagra, drugs for stress, depression, anxiety, etc.  Education was important.  Teaching went on instead of today’s social engineering.  Discipline was not a problem . . .

People enjoyed the simple things.  The yearly carnival that came to town, bingo games, rides in the country, the swimming hole, baseball (without steroids) church picnics, and shopping downtown on payday . . .

With the demise of the industrial age in entered the developers and speculators.  Americans were told to educate their children for the computer age.  We were to become a high- tech society.  Instead those jobs were outsourced to foreign lands or American citizens saw themselves replaced (voted by Congress) with ‘guest workers’.  Rusted mill towns saw snake oil salesmen (corporate vultures) taking advantage of impoverished regions.  They brought in their incinerators, tons of garbage, malls, condos, convention centers, fast food generic restaurants, and giant box stores filled with foreign junk . . .

And Bethlehem?  New York developers bought the land for a song.  The plans are to open a giant casino, a mall, restaurants, and condos.  The jobs?  Blackjack dealers, security guards, janitors, waitresses, maids, cooks, retail clerks, doormen, cab drivers etc.  What will they produce?  Profits for the developers and investors.  And Bethlehem?  Why it’ll go the way of most casino towns – with its accompanying problems of crime, prostitution, and sleazy characters.  Today we see prisons, garbage, malls, casinos, and the military, as our major industries.  I’m not sure where all these gamblers are coming from in a land that is fast losing its jobs?  It’s not only the blue-collar worker but the Wall Street brokers and top management personnel.  But then I’m not a gambler.  I can’t imagine that I would risk one dollar of my money to enrich corporate vultures!

Few realize it but a country cannot long survive when it no longer produces or manufactures the things needed to build a nation and feed its people.  When a nation is dependent on all of its goods (including food) being imported, and it has to borrow billions per day.  to support global war – the music has died.  The only songs in today’s land are the sound of lonely taps on a distant mountain cemetery.


America; The Land of Amnesia and Apathy Forgets Why We Fight

Why We Fight.  Part I

Please view the series in it entirety.  Parts II, III, and IV are presented below.

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

“Speak to the past, and the past shall teach thee.”

~ Inscription on the Caspersen Wing of the John Carter Brown Library

Americans, her allies, and those we have yet to formally declare an adversary awaken each day to a world of glory.  In the dawn, we hear only the gentle sound of songbirds.  The rustling of leaves also hums in our ears.  A silence fills the morning air.  It is the tune of tranquility.  We open our eyes and see beauty, most everywhere.  Although we are awake and alert, Americans have amnesia.  We do not recall why we fight, why we fear, and why we are forever at war.

Citizens in calm and clean countries, those not engaged in combat with the United States, and particularly individuals in affluent America, rub their eyes, look at the clock, confirm the time, and enter the “restroom.”  Repeatedly, as an automaton, people follow their routines.  They do not recall that we are at war.  Nor do “civilized” souls summon up the lessons of the past.  During the course of a busy day, few Americans ponder, why we fight abroad or what is it that we truly fear.

One after another, in most every abode, an American touches a toggle switch. Without a word from the Almighty, there is light.  A slight stroke on a polished handle and water flows freely.  A shower, perhaps a shave, followed by breakfast cooked on a stove and we are off.  We have hardly a care in the world.  There is no reason to ruminate.  Why do we fight?  Why is there war, and why do we engage in battle?

Although the periodicals are filled with death, the airwaves broadcast military bereavements, in America, and in other prosperous providences, war is but a blur.  People have more serious matters or burdens for the minds of many.   A glass of chilled juice might be nice.  Scan the newspapers for the best sales.  Watch a little television.  Open the garage door, enter the car, and drive off to work or play.  Life is good in the United States.  This is why we fight, and fight, and fight again.   We want to preserve our right to be free.

Admittedly, there are the few forgotten ones, even in this wealthy nation.  Some people are too poor to enjoy as most of us do.  These impoverished individuals barely survive.  That is what happens when there is a battle waged.  No one has yet to win the “war on poverty.”  Therefore, we cannot expect the underprivileged to indulge as the rest of us do.  These forgotten souls as are all victims of hostilities, out of sight and out of mind.  The pitiable fight to stay alive.  Might they wonder why the privileged fight?

In a nation afflicted with amnesia, we know not of what is or why.  We merely go about our day.  For the most part Americans and her allies immerse themselves in opulence, or more “correctly” the necessary creature comforts.  For those secure in their political association with America, daily chores can be conveniently completed.  Elsewhere, in official war zones, citizens do not have this luxury.  On battlefields, people do not have the luxury of memory loss.  Perchance , each day those entrenched in combat ask, why do Americans wrestle against us.

Bombs blast overhead.  Bullets soar just above the ground.  Dust fills the skies.  Debris is deposited on every street corner.  Homes are hovels for they have been reduced to rubble.  Electrical power is not generated with regularity.  Water, when found is frequently contaminated.  We understand in Iraq, there is a Green Zone.  However, even in this supposed sanctuary, the weapons of war whiz by.  Arsenals are the only commodities in abundance.  Guns and ammunition are consumer goods in a nation rife with war!  In a war-torn nation, residents understand  why they brawl.  It is a matter of life and death.

In America however, the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” we believe battles preserve our rights.  Our young men and women march off to war, no matter the generation to protect and serve the citizens of this sovereign nation.  Countrymen understand a system that ensures liberty, justice, and freedom for all must be maintained.  We must fight to sustain our serenity.  Certainly, global harmony will come, eventually, if we maim, murder, and massacre all potential and probable enemies.  However, war does not wield as we wish it would.  It never has.  So, we might ask, why do we fight.

Every generation of Americans in this century has fought a major war.  We joined World War I, we were told, “to make the world safe for democracy.” In World War II, we were attacked and fought to save the world from tyranny. In Korea and Vietnam, the grip of ideology led us to fight communism. In Iraq, we fought for oil.  All in all, during the half-century of the Cold War, we used military force abroad on over 50 occasions. In fact, America has made a habit of war.

Today’s world is loaded with opportunities to go to war again.  Yet, we view ourselves as a peace-loving nation without any hostile designs on the world.  Will the real America please stand up?

Stand we do.  Americans stand solid in support of the troops.  We rise above the fray of diplomacy.  We dictate; all other Federations must embrace the democratic process, and if they do not, we will impose our principles, if not in practice, in force.  United States Armed Services cannot extend themselves too thin or too far, or so citizens of this country believe.  It is our quest to spread democracy, even if by military might.  In this nation, we forget the warnings of George Washington.  Apathetic and arrogant, Americans enjoy a perpetual state of amnesia.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. . . . Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it?

. . . The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.  So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

. . . If we remain one people under an efficient government the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation?  Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.  I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense.  But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies. . . . Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest .

George Washington understood that it is possible to intermingle; yet, remain independent.  The General reveled in the quiet of peace.  The first President of the United States appreciated the stillness that settles in when we, the people are benevolent.  Concord for him was not a colonial city.  The elder statesman explained as a father might, be kind, be careful, do not seek to consume beyond your means or conquer those in your path.

Yet, colonists in this New World, just as children with a new toy, or the teen who experiences a novel sense of freedom, were not satisfied with the sublime.  Pioneers were bored with presumed borders.  The early settlers wanted to explore, as a young person or nation does.  The need to expand, extend beyond all barriers, to invent, and invade uncharted frontiers was great.  

“Americans” advocated a maverick approach. We advanced forward, contrary to the cautions of our forefather.  The people of this new territory deemed themselves the future.  They, we sought to  forego the lessons history might teach us.  John L. O’Sullivan, Editor, and Journalist wrote of this popular sentiment in 1839.  We hold these truths to be self-evident.  America had and has a Manifest Destiny.  Decidedly, intentionally we deny our history.

The American people having derived their origin from many other nations, and the Declaration of National Independence being entirely based on the great principle of human equality, these facts demonstrate at once our disconnected position as regards any other nation; that we have, in reality, but little connection with the past history of any of them, and still less with all antiquity, its glories, or its crimes. On the contrary, our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only; and so far as regards the entire development of the natural rights of man, in moral, political, and national life, we may confidently assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity.

The people, and the government, those that title themselves Americans, grabbed land.  We subjugated native people.  Then we dominated others.  Citizens, in a land where all men are created equal, violated their own Constitution and desecrated humanitarian principles.  Our countrymen enslaved.  As the neophytes we are, or were, we coveted our neighbor’s goods, then, seized these.  Although we have grown physically, the habits acquired in this nation’s youth remain strong.  We feel most steady when we do as we have done.

Just as any adolescent would, when Americans [or her allies] speak of our past, we claim, ”that was then.”  This is now.  Times, they are a changing.  We need not correlate what was with what is.  We cannot live in the past.  We do not dwell on what was.  In an Technological Age we are all connected. We cannot be isolationist.  Citizens of the United States negate the wisdom and words of Washington.  We refuse to see that he never suggested that we be separate or secluded.  President George Washington stressed that we must work well with all the world’s inhabitants.  In his farewell address he proclaimed that we be the image of peace and the embodiment of domestic tranquility.  Americans must extend the same sense of serenity to its neighbors in every nation.

The former leader of this great land reminded us, invasion is not a wish among the inhabitants of any nation.  Undue influence beckons no man, woman or child.  Yet, in our irrational exuberance, we forgot.  Americans, adolescents that we are, wish to expand our horizons, to grow, to progress.  We have yet to realize this philosophy causes us to regress.  Citizens of the USA are as aggressive children, always searching for the next nation or notion to defeat.  Thus, we war.  We have done so for centuries.  We did not heed the warning of George Washington.  As youngsters, we knew better.  We still do, or so we believe.  As adolescents, we are certain we do not have amnesia.  We have no history to recollect.

Americans live in the present.  They do not realize that fight after fight has not brought us true freedom.  For our countrymen, each battle is unique, a new beginning and an end to all war.

Citizens of the United states do not consider that bigotry bounds our citizen and has for centuries.  We do not realize or accept, Americans are limited by what we hold dear.  Dependency on petroleum, possessions, and property control us.  US residents have no choice but to war for what they want and want, and want more of.  

If freedom is defined in respect to neoconservative values, those established in reaction to the idea of social equality, then in a reactionary manner, we are liberated.  We have the freedom to follow selected leaders and teachers, preachers who profess righteous realities.

Americans do not bestow benevolence upon others unless it serves their purpose.  Arrogance and amnesia work well for us.  When they do not, war is always an option, or is it.

As I speak to history, I hear the voices of those that died a brutal death, at the hands of an American.  In the name of peace, US born brigades battled and shed the blood of our brethren on foreign shores.  We were fortunate, for a time we avoided severe clashes within our country.  However, just as our forefather prophesized, those that do not act in peace will be victim to violence.  Citizens of the United States are casualties of the combat we engage in.  We behave as savages and reap the rewards of what we sow.  Yet, we claim not to understand why anyone would aggress against us.

Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War.

He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind.

He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out

. . . and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.

And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for “the universal brotherhood of man”–with his mouth.

~ Mark Twain [What Is Man?]

On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked.  Millions wondered why.  Our leaders told us that those in other lands hate us.  They are jealous.  I think not.  I believe citizens in many countries abroad  are beleaguered.  People in distant nations want citizens of the United States  to attend to American affairs, and allow those elsewhere to care for their country alone.  Those we label “stranger,” a danger, may actually think their way of life is better for them than ours would be.

However, citizens of the United States and those “wise” enough to be on our side desire to control what comes.  We want those quiet mornings, with cool breezes driven by electric powered fans.  We have learned to always want more.  In the USA, we crave indoor plumbing, and automobiles that run on foreign fuel.  Toil as we might, citizens of the once New World came to realize that here, in this land we did not have all of the resources to support the lifestyle we covet.  Americans have allowed themselves to become dependent, while retaining an independent attitude.

Wild Westerners helped the United States to grow.  We grabbed all we could; we still do.  We fight for what we want.

As infants are, we were imaginative, inventive, inspired, and innovative.  Americans learned to build better guns and bombs.  We manufacture unmanned planes so that we might drop arsenals on foreign regions without putting ourselves in harms way.  One of our lives is far more precious than any foreign beings might be.  Military might helped us gain power.  Yet, our dominance remains dependent on the tentative goodwill of others.  In truth, the oppressed and abused in nations afar fear us.  They begrudge us not for our wealth but for our ways.  The others are not envious; they are indignant.  

We might consider what those elsewhere realize.  We, the world’s superpower, do not understand definitive diplomacy.  We understand war.  Thus, we easily engage in combat.  Perchance, to be heard, people in foreign lands work to speak the only language we seem to comprehend, brutality.

Oh, Americans may sit at a table and talk; however, rarely do we listen.  We are as a two-year old toddler or rebellious adolescents often are.  Americans, even when engaged in negotiations are irascible, confrontational, inflexible, and obstinate.  Witness the woes other nations express when we dictate what we want, and then label our demands diplomatic.

People in lands abroad do not wish to adopt American values; nor do they wish to have these standards imposed on them.  They wish only to peacefully coexist.  Those in every nation wish to be politically independent.  No one negates that all countries are, by the very nature of this planet, inexorably intertwined.  However, that does not mean they are one.  As a mother is to a child, the two are connected; yet separate.  Characteristically, the young learn from the older.  History and experience teaches or tries to.

Our nation’s father, George Washington worked to bestow wisdom.  Later, General Smedley Darlington Butler endeavored to enlighten.  However, the rebellious renegades commonly called Americans refused to believe the warnings of a warrior that understood, “War is a racket!”

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.  It is the only one international in scope.  It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people.  Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.  Out of war, a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I], a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict.  At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns.  How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle?  How many of them dug a trench?  How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out?  How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets?  How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy?  How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war, nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it.  This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting.  Newly placed gravestones.  Mangled bodies. Shattered minds.  Broken hearts and homes.  Economic instability.  Depression and all its attendant miseries.  Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it.  Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

These are the words of a United States General, an officer, a man who twice won the Medal of Honor.  General Smedley Darlington Butler was, at the time of his passing, in 1940, the most decorated Marine in United states history.  A man of maturity, a military modern, a General that saw and led soldiers into combat, concluded, “To hell with war!”

The General realized as many historians have for centuries; war is an economic endeavor.  Hence, the reason Americans excel.  Just as a young child, intent on getting what they want, will manipulate a message, so too will American powerbrokers and their political pawns.  As a lad, or lass, might convince a friend or a familiar to do as they desire for the good of the gang, the influential in America tell the common folk that if we war, life will be good globally.  The prominent people tell the poor innocents they need to fight this battle for altruistic reasons.  

We must engage in combat to free the oppressed, ensure freedom for our citizens, to defeat communism, to eliminate terrorism, to make more millionaires, to build the portfolios of billionaires, fight to ensure the financial stability of the few.

General Butler understood as we must if war is to ever end, those in foreign nations want as we long for, to be free, free to decide for themselves what is best, and right for them.  Smedley Darlington Butler also through the wisdom of ages, experience, and empathy realized the truer question.

[W]hat business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists?  Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.

Why do we brawl?  When we fight for the freedom of others, or to maintain the fallacy that we are unimpeded by a lifestyle that binds us, then we deny history.  We dishonor the memories of those that fought and died for this country.  We ignore the wisdom of General Washington, Butler, and Eisenhower.  Again, in a Farewell Speech to the nation and the world, one more military leader and another President of the United States warned us.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience.  The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.  Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Were we to honor the words of Generals George Washington, Smedley Darlington Butler, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, perhaps, we the people would rise up above the maverick mentality that hinders us.  Citizens of the United States might realize we need not come to blows when in crisis.  If the people of this nation did not follow the multi-millionaire moguls, otherwise known as Commander-In-Chief, down a path of destruction, then, perchance we could live in peace worldwide.  The rote reply to why we fight need not be answered, if there is no reason for the question.

President Washington appreciated, if we did not interact in harmony, those elsewhere would seek to destroy us.  As Washington understood, violence begets violence, and so it has. The cycle will continue if we choose not to comprehend what we create.

As the deaths tolls rise in each and every territory at war, we can no longer believe as we do, or have.  Americans must begin to honor history and not see themselves as separate or as futurist with a manifest destiny to pursue,  The people of the United States must accept military industrial complex will not save us from perceived monsters.  Only we can save ourselves.  Fear is frivolous.  Apprehension is born of ignorance.  If Americans allow themselves to grow beyond, if we abandon the individualistic, immature outlook, which inhibits our belief in our fellow man, if we acknowledge what we know, all will be well.

In 2007, we are again at a crossroads.  The recent protracted battle has heightened our awareness.  As our children passed in combat and continue to meet an awful fate, we grow a bit.  Slowly, some came, and more will come to realize intelligence, as it relates to war is frequently false.  The information the public receives serves the powerbrokers, not the people.  As Smedley Darlington Butler mused, we might say now.

Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a “war to make the world safe for democracy” and a “war to end all wars.”

Do we wish to have a need to state this again?  I think not.  As the Presidential elections approach, we have an opportunity to choose anew.  In each political Party, candidates remind us we must fear those that want nothing more than we do.  Millionaires, near billionaires and their pals proclaim we can only achieve peace through strength.  Please, let us finally accept a truism passed down through time.  War need not be an option.  We can achieve the absurd. Strength comes through peace.

Citizens in every region want to be free.  Our neighbor’s abroad wish to wake up each morning after a restful sleep and welcome a quiet day.  They yearn to see the sun shine,  clear skies, and a calm community.  Those in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf, in Korea, Iran, Vietnam, China, India, Russia, and every where else on the globe want nothing more than work, food, shelter, safety, and a sense of sanity.  Serenity is the comfort that brings delight.  We need not clash  Let us learn to give as we wish to receive.  Perhaps, if we study the past, rather than recreate it we will no longer need to ask, “Why do we fight.”

Please enjoy the works of Eugene Jarecki, and his production.  The filmmaker offers his thoughts on Why We Fight.

Why We Fight. Part II

Why We Fight. Part III

Why We Fight. Part IV

Why We Fight. The Good, Bad, and Ugly Realities . . .

National Public Radio Lowers the Volume [Boom] On Dennis Kucinich

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Dear National Public Radio . . .

Well over a week ago, I was elated when I first heard broadcasters on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition state they would host a Democratic Debate. I thought; finally, Presidential hopeful, and an authentic Progressive, Dennis Kucinich would actually have a chance to speak.  People would hear the words of the most mainstream candidate for more than a minute.  Congressman Kucinich could truly discuss the issues in some depth and possibly detail.  Perhaps, a publicly supported media service would at least grant Dennis Kucinich equal time.

The announcer encouraged audience members, nationwide, to submit questions.  I raced to my computer and eagerly typed my query.  As I clicked the button to post, I realized I neglected to do as the instructions advised.  I did not include my hometown.  Troubled by my error, I telephoned the main National Public Radio switchboard.  I was transferred to the person in-the-know.  The producer and I discussed what I had done, how I could correct my mistake, and my excitement for the upcoming debate.  I was told to resubmit my question and I did as directed.

Expectant as I pondered the possibilities, I wondered.  Might this be the debate of my dreams?  I hoped this panel discussion would be as the Heartland Presidential Forum.  During that event, citizens of the region had an opportunity to hear from each candidate.  With the exclusion of one unscripted, unforeseen technical glitch, that allowed Hillary Clinton to speak for moments more, every Presidential hopeful had equal time to address what matters to the common man.  Aspirants stood unaccompanied by adversaries.  Face-to-face with real people, contenders for the Office of the President heard the tales folks told and answered their questions.  It was a beautiful assembly to behold.

Then, on December 3, the day prior to the National Public Radio Democratic Debate, my dreams were shattered.  I listen to a lengthy program, where the journalist discussed their plans.  My heart sank.  As the correspondents described the format, I was certain, this get-together would be as all those seen or heard on “popular” media, slanted towards the supposed front-runners.

I chatted with a friend that was also looking forward to the transmission.  We shared our sorrow; yet, we hoped we would be wrong.  Indeed, my interpretation for what was to come was accurate.

On December 4, 2007, I scheduled my life around the National Public Radio debate.  As I listened, again my heart sank.  The speakers were as they have been in each mainstream program.  Hillary, Obama, and John were the focus and featured prominently.  The powerful three are so well known, Americans recognize and address them by their first names.  Joseph Biden was the sometimes foil.  Mike Gravel was the candidate not-to-be-taken-seriously, and Dennis Kucinich was to-be avoided-at-any-cost.  If the Congressman were allowed to speak, he might connect with the listeners in an authentic manner.  Then, what would this nation’s powerbrokers do?

What, a listener might say, National Public Radio is pure.  It is the people’s choice.  Are there not studies or polls that state this is the least biased broadcast service.  Perhaps there were or are; however, we must consider an image built in the past may linger.

[L]ittle evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources-including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants-Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition , 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR ‘s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

Might we consider another  account; NPR Touts Pro-Nuke ‘Environmentalists’ Network’s own nuclear links undisclosed.  In August 2007, a likely too scant readership learned of what some sharp listeners surmise.

One factor that is relevant to NPR’s cheerleading for nuclear power is its own financial links to the industry.  According to NPR’s website, between 1993 and 2005, the public radio service received between $250,000 and $500,000 from Constellation Energy, which belongs to Nustart Energy, a 10-company consortium pushing for new nuclear power plant construction.  During the same period, another nuclear operator, Sempra Energy, donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to NPR.  This potential conflict of interest was not disclosed in the August 15 segment, or in any other of NPR’s recent largely industry-friendly reports.  (NPR has, in the past, insisted that the corporate “underwriting” money it receives has no bearing on its coverage–a defense that would seem to undercut the rationale for NPR’s existence as a noncommercial broadcaster.)

To think, no one, no organization is influenced by those who allow them to survive is an interesting notion, although common sense would tell us this is quite a stretch.  Without money to endure, there is no National Public Radio.  Do listeners not hear that claim during each fund drive.?

National Public Radio may hope we will believe that the evidence is only circumstantial; however, there is ample reason to believe “Public” radio leans towards monied moguls. Curious souls who search, further discover there is much to call into question.  Why might the once six-year Wal-Mart Board member,, Hillary Clinton be allotted so much more time to speak than a less well-connected candidate?  Perchance it is because National Public Radio receives major, as in Million Dollars Plus, donations from this corporation.  Wal-Mart, a company that more than profits from the National Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], obviously would not wish for Congressman Dennis Kucinich to speak.

The people’s candidate, Dennis Kucinich advocates an end to the “free” trade agreement, just as the American workers do.  Representative Kucinich understands the harm this contract caused and the hazards that will befall laborers in this country if the policy continues.  However, Dennis, a lifetime Union member was not given an opportunity to speak on the topic, although he tried to.

Inskeep:  Candidates, we’ve just been doing some reporting in the last few days from Marshalltown, Iowa, a city that I know many of you have visited. This is a city with a lot of immigrants, a number of illegal immigrants. There have been immigration raids there. And that raises questions about citizens in places like that all over America.

Some citizens in Marshalltown turn in illegal immigrants, some take them in. There’s actually a person who’s been indicted for sheltering immigrants, which raises a question that I’d like to put to you: What obligations do American citizens have when it comes to illegal immigrants?

And let’s start with Senator Obama. Would you expect Americans, if you’re president – January 2009, immigration reform, whatever you want hasn’t happened yet. Would you expect Americans to turn in illegal immigrants when they come across them?

Of course, let us begin with Barack Obama.  He is in the same league with National Public Radio backers [bankers].  Time Warner is among the corporations that fund the broadcasters and Barack.  The Illinois Senator loves their financial support [contributions or backing], as does NPR.  Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase & Company, and Morgan Stanley, who contribute to the Obama campaign, certainly, these institutions are sensitive to the immigration situation.  Barack Obama takes the expected strong stance against immigration, and then reminds the business brass they need not fear a loss of laborers.  The individuals already in the States will realize a pathway towards citizenship.  

Corporations are consoled and the candidate confident all will be well.  As long as we do what has been done there will be no change, and after all, is that not the truest issue.  Profiteers do not wish to relinquish power.

Mister Inskeep understands this idea.  What is ideal for the powerbrokers is perfect for his employer.  Thus, in the spirit of judicious journalism the moderator moves on to an aspirant not thought a likely nominee; however, Christopher Dodd is not a threat to the system or the status quo.  Inskeep inquired.

Inskeep:  You interview a number of applicants. They all seem very nice. They seem like they would take care of the kids, but it would appear that their documents may not be in order. What would you want an American to do?

Senator Dodd responded.  As he spoke, he dared to include the unthinkable issue.  He referred to trade agreements and how as a nation we must consider what we do on both sides of the border.   Christopher Dodd offered . . .

Instead of improving the quality of working conditions that would give people in these countries a chance to stay in their own nations, which most of them would prefer to do, we’re encouraging people to come here by not having trading agreements that don’t insist upon –

Corporate sponsors may not wish to discuss that topic.  Low wages, high profits, that seems sensible to those that benefit from such inequitable practices.  Aware of the delicate balance between big business interests and that of the immigrant and American worker, moderator Steve Inskeep redirected the discussion.

Inskeep:  We’re going to talk more about that, those issues, as we go along here.

Unexpectedly, the host dared to turn to Dennis Kucinich; however, he carefully crafted his approach.  National Public Radio must broach the discussion of trade with caution, if at all.  Inskeep, as he posed his inquiry, reminded Congressman Kucinich of the limits.  He was kind enough to acknowledge that Dennis might know of real people.

Inskeep:  But sticking with real people, Congressman Kucinich, the real person in that situation, what should they do?

Representative Kucinich: Rely on the Constitution.  You know, we don’t encourage vigilantism in this country.  We have a Constitution, we have due process, we have equal protection, we have habeas corpus.  This administration, as – like – you know, would like to shred the Constitution and deny people all those rights.  But when we get into that, what we do, we take the path of denying constitutional rights, and we’re back to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and all those other violations of rights that we’re ashamed of now.  And I’m saying that we have to realize that these are economic refugees from NAFTA.

You know, I’ve said it over and over.  Cancel NAFTA.  Negotiate a new trade agreement with Mexico based on workers rights, human rights, [and] environmental quality principles.  Give a path to legalization for the people who have been here.  You can’t send them home willy-nilly.  You have to have a way in which our immigration policy resonates with the deeper principles of inclusiveness in America, as symbolized by our Statue of Liberty.

Inskeep: We may get to NAFTA as well, time permitting.

However, astute listeners grasp there are only moments enough for what works well for the corporate sponsors and contributors that offer enough cash to shape the agenda.  Perceptive persons acknowledge time is a fascinating construct.  Man makes time for what he or she thinks a priority and has not a second for what might cause great concern.  Correspondents understand conflicts of interest are ill-advised.  Sponsors would not wish to air dirty laundry.  Hence, if National Public Radio broadcasters are to direct a question to the one Presidential aspirant that could provide the people with a voice, they must remember, Dennis Kucinich must be silenced swiftly.

Norris: Representative Kucinich, very quickly.

Dennis responds speedily.  He reminds the audience that he was not late to realize we are a global community.  Every nation is connected to the other.  We must understand the effect of every given decision.  Our actions cause reactions.  Dennis Kucinich helps us understand that we can no longer react belatedly.  We must do more than read briefs.  Before a President devises a plan, he or she must look at the broader picture.

Representative Kucinich: Yes.  And I may be the only one up here who actually voted against China trade because of the concerns I had that the U.S. was not going to be able to maintain its manufacturing base, which is central to maintaining a middle class.  What we’ve seen is that without solid trade policies, we’re undermined.  Without a strength-through-peace doctrine of rejecting war as an instrument of policy, we’re going to keep borrowing money from China.  Let us not forget we’re borrowing money from China to finance the war in Iraq.  And in addition to that, the speculation on Wall Street has weakened our economy.

We need a policy of constructive engagement with China, stop the arms race with them, work to make sure we have a global climate change treaty with China, get them to transition out of nuclear and coal and oil.  You know, I’m talking about a whole new direction that’s based on a doctrine of strength through peace, and I have a voting record up here to back it up, unlike some of my esteemed colleagues.

The hosts listened without much enthusiasm or interest.  Each knows which side of the bread holds the butter.  Without any caution or concern for the minutes the Senator from New York might need to make her point, moderator Michele Norris offered Hillary Clinton more than enough moments to explore as she might.

Norris: Senator Clinton, do we need them more than they need us?

Apparently, in the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of National Public Radio and its corporate sponsors, America needs the Former First Lady Clinton more than we need, [or want] Dennis Kucinich.  Regardless of The Nation Magazine Poll, the Democracy for America (DFA) survey, or the Progressive Democrats of America sample each of which places Dennis Kucinich as America’s first choice among those that gather information from more than mainstream sources, citizens of this country are told Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards are the only candidates of note.

Indeed, Dennis Kucinich is not a recognized name.  Many Americans ask, “Who?”  We need not wonder why.  When the media does mention Presidential hopeful Kucinich, they frequently misrepresent the Congressman.  Rarely, was our possible President, Dennis Kucinich, given an opportunity to speak during this skewed NPR Democratic Debate.  In truth, there were very few occasions in which Presidential hopeful, Kucinich, was granted a chance to speak.  Once more, we might muse, do the Journalists at National Public Radio think America might wish to hear from Congressman Kucinich, or will these broadcasters tell us what the Representative believes, that is, if they have the time.  Perchance, the former Senator Edwards will articulate for Dennis Kucinich, or ensure that the Congressman cannot express himself.

Mister Edwards: Well, everyone – everyone at the table would acknowledge that Iran represents a serious issue for the Middle East and for us –

Representative Kucinich: No, I do not acknowledge –

Inskeep: Congressman Kucinich does not, but –

Mister Edwards: Let me finish, if I can.

Representative Kucinich: Let me characterize my own remarks.

Mister Edwards: If I can just finish, Dennis, for just a second . . .

Siegel: And I’m Robert Siegel. We’re discussing Iran, the lessons learned from the war in Iraq.

A moment ago when Congressman Kucinich objected to or interrupted the statement from Senator Edwards that everybody agrees Iran is a threat, you say, Congressman Kucinich, I misinterpreted your earlier remarks that Iran is not a threat.

Representative Kucinich: All I did was raise my hand.  I wanted a chance to respond.

Siegel: Yes.

Representative Kucinich: Thank you.

The point that Senator Clinton made was a valid point with respect to the comments of Senator Obama and also the comments of Senator Edwards at the Herzliya conference. See, when people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric.  And what I’m saying is that I’m the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mind-set that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.

Siegel: OK. Cleared up.

Representative Kucinich: I’m the only one who can make that claim.

Siegel: Clarified . . .

What is clear to me is Americans are not able to hear an open, honest discussion between the candidates, not even on National Public Radio.  If the people are to truly know of the one and only candidate for change, they will have to find a source of information that is truly fair and accurate, one that is not sponsored by corporate bigwigs [Archer Daniels Midland Company, Wal-Mart, AT&T], insurers [Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America Allstate Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company], financial institutions [Prudential Financial, T. Rowe Price, The Hartford Financial Services Group], energy companies [Sempra, Constellation Energy], car manufacturers [Acura, Honda, Ford Motor Company, Saturn Corporation], petroleum interests [ConocoPhillips Company] all of which have an interest to serve, other than the American people.

Oh dear, National Public Radio I had such hopes.  I still do, although I realize the media giants and the conglomerates that give them life have substantial clout.  

Nevertheless, I continue to believe as Dennis Kucinich espouses when he quotes Spanish Philosopher and Writer, Miguel de Unamuno  . . .

“Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.”

Thankfully, Progressives such as I, and Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich will continue to create opportunities.  We will challenge conventions and accomplish what many think not viable.   National Public Radio  perchance, we might meet again at the Kucinich inauguration.  I look forward to your interview with President Dennis Kucinich.  I will tune in on January 20, 2009.  My hope is then, you will have the time to speak with the people’s President.

References and Reasons for this Reaction . . .

It is Happy Surge Day!

To view the sketch in greater glory, travel to a Town Called Dobson.

Every so often, as appropriate, we list the recent fallen American soldiers that have died in Bush’s war. From the list, we can see the surge didn’t work.

The names of just a few of the troops, recently fallen are honored in this memorial missive . . .

Sgt. 1st Class John J. Tobiason, 42, of Bloomington, Minn., died Nov. 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from an incident that is currently under investigation. He was assigned to the 847th Adjutant General Battalion, 89th Regional Readiness Command, Wichita, Kan.

Cpl. Allen C. Roberts, 21, of Arcola, Ill., died Nov. 28 from a vehicle accident near Al Asad, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 214, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

Pvt. Isaac T. Cortes, 26, of Bronx, N.Y. died Nov. 27 in Amerli, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Spc. Benjamin J. Garrison, 25, of Houston, Texas. died Nov. 27 in Amerli, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.

Staff Sgt. Jonathon L. Martin, 33, of Bellevue, Ohio, died Nov. 22 in Regensburg, Germany, of wounds suffered on Nov. 9 in Jisr Naft, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Spc. Melvin L. Henley Jr., 26, of Jackson, Miss., died at Camp Striker in Baghdad on Nov. 21 of injuries suffered from non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Sgt. Alfred G. Paredez Jr., 32, of Las Vegas, Nev., died Nov. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Pfc. Marius L. Ferrero, 23, of Miami, Fla. died Nov. 18 when an improvised explosive device detonated during a mounted patrol in Baquabah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Cpl. Jason T. Lee, 26, of Fruitport, Mich. died Nov. 18 when an improvised explosive device detonated during a mounted patrol in Baquabah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Cpl. Christopher J. Nelson, 22, Rochester, Wash. died Nov. 18 when an improvised explosive device detonated during a mounted patrol in Baquabah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Sweet Soldiers, May You Rest In Peace.

Let The People Awaken

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

Copyright 2007, Paul Kane.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

For the past few years the Bush administration in concert with Congress has led America down a path based on fear backed with little in terms of real facts.  As the truth begins to be seen over time we find much of what we were assured was factual in nature was in honest truth distorted or fabricated in many instances.  We, the people, were misled into a war of aggression in Iraq.  Today we find our military stretched to the limits as the situation collapses before our eyes.  Violence within the country continues with attacks against civilian populations on a near daily basis.  American deaths are increasing and now exceed 3800.  Death of and injury to military contractors are increasing in numbers, too, even though those numbers are not in the news these days.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans more than 2 years ago.  At the time the administration promised real and rapid restoration of the city.  Instead today we hear tales of displaced persons not allowed any return to their homes and communities while developers salivate at the prospect of new properties to build for profit.  Much of New Orleans city once was occupied by low income housing in which there was a sense of real community.  Today those doors are padlocked, the residents not allowed to return, and are being displaced from the FEMA trailers given as temporary housing.  The plan is to build condiminiums that may sell for as much as $400,000 and up.

Park land and open federal lands are being sold to the highest bidder around the country.  Once again we see new housing and commercial development taking the place of once reserved open lands.

The president’s most recent budget requires the US Forest Service to sell 300,000 acres and the Bureau of Land Management to raise $350 million from auctioning some of its holdings.

The Veterans’ Administration is struggling with the healthcare needs of veterans returning in increasing numbers from Iraq with both mental and physical needs.  All we hear from the administration is about how well we support our troops.  The news tells a different story in many instances as our veterans sent to war by Uncle Sam are finding Uncle Scrooge to be their new host.

America must awaken from its slumber.  The strength of America is in its people.  We have shown our resilience and strength over the years as a variety of foes were presented.  Today the real foe is in our own government.  The administration is failing to offer real leadership and real solutions to national problems while continuing to promote the occupation of Iraq.  We can no longer afford to continue this course.  The costs in both manpower and dollars exceed our ability to pay.

Polls demonstrate an increasing disconnect between the desires of the voting public and the actions of elected officials.  Who are those officials representing these days?  Many are working to see themselves continue a career in office.  To that end support goes to the highest bidders from the corporate world or the military industrial complex.  Others may only hear from the loudest voices.  In either case the public is not being well served.

For the people of America it is important to take on our responsibility as citizens.  We must accept our part in the actions of our nation.  We as voters and as citizens are the first line of any political action in our country.  We must take action and take action today.  We cannot be sure what our actions will bring as a result.  Uncertainty and doubt will always be part of any decision making process.  We must not allow these feelings to reign.  But we CAN be sure that if we

do not take responsibility for the future of our Nation, others will.   If we do not lead, we will be led.

Political leaders all across the landscape today talk to us, the voting public of the country, as though we cannot understand the issues of the day, as if we are not able to grasp complex ideas and formulate solutions.  Instead of real leadership we are treated to a pep rally rather than national conversation.

We are strong in our inner beings.  The time has come to shed our sheep skin use our strength to benefit the nation.  We can no longer sit quietly by and allow ourselves to be led like sheep (sheeple, really) to the slaughter.  We are better than that.

I urge each and ever one to stand up today, right now, and take action.  Fear, uncertainty, doubt, and hesitation will take your life away if you allow that to happen.  Let these feelings prod you to seek greater knowledge and involvement and always remember action is the antidote to all our woes.  Action will change the world IF we get moving.  

Let the world see real Citizens in action.  Let the world once again see real leadership as we begin to move the globe to a new status of security and economic development.  We can shed our sheep’s clothing and lose our fears along the way.  Together we can move the world once we get up and get ourselves moving.