Voting and Learning Denied. Education and Entitlement

©copyright 2013. Betsy L. Angert BeThink



Is it fear of the darkness that dims our mind or is it the dim of our mind that is dark and damning?  No one can be sure; however we can see what occurs and ask why.  Why might Americans systematically deny rights to people of color? Why might the young, the most vulnerable among us, be victims of prey?  Indeed, why do we prejudge people at all and why is it that even the elderly cannot escape our diabolical doings?  The theories abound; answers escape us.  Nevertheless, the veracity is our truth. The right to learn and the right to vote are denied.

We close their schools, deny them an equal and equitable education, and in 2013 we may ultimately rescind the voting rights of the few.  In January of this year, the Journey For Justice 2 Alliance met with officials in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss the topic, education policies that discriminate.  Today, on February 27, 2013, just down the lane from the Department of Education hearing, another inquiry was held.  The Supreme Court heard the case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  On the face of it, the argument may seem separate from the subject of school closures.  However, considering the consequences of what might be after a day of testimony,  Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices, there is reason for concern.  Will the cycle of recrimination continue? Will we curse the darkness that is our own?  

Perhaps, we might seek the light? We saw it once and embraced it.  It exists and can again, if we just walk through the window of time.  Luminosity can be our guide. Let us consider a vital voice from the past, President, Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke in defense of the Voting Rights Act. He said…

The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination.

“Discrimination.”  It touches more than one race, color, or creed.  Age too in 2012 limited or eliminated the right to vote.  96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License. Va. senior citizens denied no-excuse absentee voting. Where you lived, whether you attended school far from home, or if you merely left whatever document requested at home, you could not cast a ballot.  The excuses used to negate voting rights are as they were in the 1960s, endless. Yet, Supreme Court Jurists affirm, “Justice is blind.”

From the bench we were provided with a rare view, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia cannot see. Roberts reeled off statistics that suggested the provisions are no longer made sense. Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now is but a “perpetuation of racial entitlement. “Entitlement? Might we tell the parents of children who are today, denied access to equal and equitable education the time has past? Their offspring no longer have the rights afforded to the many, mostly white Americans?  Was learning given a limited contract? Is it now considered a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Voting and learning. Education and entitlement. Let us look at the evidence.  Complaint says Omaha voters denied ballots. Rick Scott Defends Voter Purge As Necessary ‘To Have Fair Elections’.   Republican Voter Suppression Campaign Rolls Back Early Voting.  The beat goes on.  

Please ponder the veracity that not only are our Black and Brown children affected by punitive polices that allow for “phase-outs,” “collocations,” “turnaround,” and again, the devastating “school closures,” others too are impacted.  Consider the white suburban Mom and her children, School turnarounds prompt community backlash. Again ask yourself; do we fear the darkness or does the darkness, lack of knowledge with us, dim the mind.

Do we deny light to those who wish to learn and live?  What have we denied ourselves or within us?  Let us, one and all learn!  Let us seek the light.  Today, let us consider what could occur if access to an education and, or the right to vote are denied. Might a child less prepared, less learned, due to the discriminatory actions in education policy be unable to prove he can read and write? Currently, literacy in America is in crisis. 11 Facts about Literacy in America

  • An estimated 30 million Americans over 16 years old cannot perform simple and everyday literacy activities.
  • 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school.
  • Only an estimated 13% of adult Americans can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.

Consider today and what occurred decades ago. Please ask yourself, do we deny access to education and to voting rights. If we do, what will become of our children and our country?

President Lyndon B. Johnson – We Shall Overcome



I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man–a man of God–was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government–the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country–to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans–not as Democrats or Republicans; we’re met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: “All men are created equal.” “Government by consent of the governed.” “Give me liberty or give me death.” And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.

To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy. This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason, which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.

Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books, and I have helped to put three of them there, can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views and to visit with my former colleagues.

I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow, but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss the main proposals of this legislation. This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections, federal, state and local, which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.

This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government, if the state officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote. Finally, this legislation will insure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting. I will welcome the suggestions from all the members of Congress–I have no doubt that I will get some–on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective.

But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution. To those who seek to avoid action by their national government in their home communities, who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple: open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong–deadly wrong–to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

There is no issue of state’s rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer. But the last time a President sent a civil rights bill to the Congress it contained a provision to protect voting rights in Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.

And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me in working long hours and nights and weekends, if necessary, to pass this bill. And I don’t make that request lightly, for, from the window where I sit, with the problems of our country, I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed–more than 100 years–since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln–a great President of another party–signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed–more than 100 years–since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all–all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

And these enemies too–poverty, disease and ignorance–we shall overcome.

Now let none of us in any section look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section or the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.

This is one nation. What happens in Selma and Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists. As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.

Men from every region fought for us across the world 20 years ago. And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices, the South made its contribution of honor and gallantry no less than any other region in the great republic.

And in some instances, a great many of them, more. And I have not the slightest doubt that good men from everywhere in this country, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all Americans. For all of us owe this duty and I believe that all of us will respond to it.

Your president makes that request of every American.

The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right–not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

There have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days come and go. But I pledge to you tonight that we intend to fight this battle where it should be fought–in the courts, and in the Congress, and the hearts of men. We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free speech does not carry with it–as has been said–the right to holler fire in a crowded theatre.

We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.

We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek–progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest–for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.

In Selma tonight–and we had a good day there–as in every city we are working for a just and peaceful settlement. We must all remember after this speech I’m making tonight, after the police and the F.B.I. and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation must still live and work together.

And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community. This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence as the history of the South itself shows. It is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibility in recent days–last Tuesday and again today.

The bill I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races, because all Americans just must have the right to vote, and we are going to give them that right.

All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race, and they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.

But I would like to caution you and remind you that to exercise these privileges takes much more than just legal rights. It requires a trained mind and a healthy body. It requires a decent home and the chance to find a job and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty.

Of course people cannot contribute to the nation if they are never taught to read or write; if their bodies are stunted from hunger; if their sickness goes untended; if their life is spent in hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.

So we want to open the gates to opportunity. But we’re also going to give all our people, black and white, the help that they need to walk through those gates. My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn’t speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.

I often walked home late in the afternoon after the classes were finished wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that I might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance.

And I’ll let you in on a secret–I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker and the Senator from Montana, the Majority Leader, the Senator from Illinois, the Minority Leader, Mr. McCullock and other members of both parties, I came here tonight, not as President Roosevelt came down one time in person to veto a bonus bill; not as President Truman came down one time to urge passage of a railroad bill, but I came down here to ask you to share this task with me. And to share it with the people that we both work for.

I want this to be the Congress–Republicans and Democrats alike–which did all these things for all these people. Beyond this great chamber–out yonder–in fifty states are the people that we serve. Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen? We all can guess, from our own lives, how difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness, how many problems each little family has. They look most of all to themselves for their future, but I think that they also look to each of us.

Above the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States it says in latin, “God has favored our undertaking.” God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will. But I cannot help but believe that He truly understands and that He really favors the undertaking that we begin here tonight.

President Lyndon B. Johnson – March 15, 1965

References and Resources…

Tea Parties; Taxes and Torture Served

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I am a discontent and distressed taxpayer!  “Disgruntled” is a word that might describe my deep dissatisfaction with how my tax dollars are spent.  Yet, on April 15, 2009, typically thought of as “Tax Day,” I felt no need to join my fellow citizens in protest.  I did not attend a “Tea Party”.  I too believe, in this country, “taxation without representation” is a problem.  One only need ponder the profits of lobbyists to understand the premise.  Corporate supplicants amass a 22,000 percent rate of return on their investments.  The average American is happy to realize a two-digit increase.  Nonetheless, as much as I too may argue the point, assessments are paid without accountability, what concerns me more is my duty dollars did not support what I think ethical projects.

My cash funded the unconscionable and the President stated “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”  

Had outrage for criminal intent and actions been voiced, I too might have rallied round bays and buildings with buckets of brewed leaves in hand.  Yet, it seemed amongst the tea teetotalers, no one was incensed by the illegal, and what I believe to be immoral practices.

Tea Tossed

The “Teatime” participants I heard did not mention the myriad of misery Americans inflicted on adversaries.  Fury for the previous Administration’s torturous policies did not appear in the papers, or, at least, I did not read these statements.  Talk of the recently released memorandums (pdf) did not evoke much discussion.  The current crop of “grassroots” demonstrators spoke of how the Obama budget might burden their personal lives.  Angry activists vocalized a preference not to pay levees.  Few, if any, reflected on the benefits received.  

While our grievances may differ, we share a conviction.  I too am troubled by what the Obama Administration, which I helped to elect, thinks correct.

Taxes Paid

However, unlike the anxious Americans who voiced their dissent for levees paid, I am happy to give my tax dollars to the government.  For me, funds that help supply public services are vital.  I welcome the opportunity to better ensure there will be police, firemen, and women. I take comfort in the knowledge children and adults may use libraries to peruse quality books. I embrace legislation intended to better instruction.  In my life the importance of education cannot be understated.  Bridges built and maintained, roads paved, traffic signs and signals, functional sanitary sewer systems, and diseases controlled and prevented . . . As a concerned citizen, I am glad I can contribute to these ventures.

I object to what I think unlawful and debauched.  I cannot condone interrogations authorized and acted upon, in my name.  My angst is exacerbated by the current Administration assertion; these crimes are not punishable by law.  Those who tortured only did as was commanded.  At the time, the Department of Justice declares, “superiors” stated such harsh techniques were legal.

Torture Tolerated

What I would call cruel and unusual punishment, the prior President, his Vice, and Cabinet thought proper.  Each Executive stated these torturous measures were necessary to protect Americans.  The people heard proclamations that what “we” did was justified.  It was effective.  Only months ago, Vice President Dick Cheney explained; “The professionals involved in that [so-called torture] program were very, very cautious, very careful — wouldn’t do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal. . .  (I)t’s been a remarkably successful effort. . . .  I think those who allege that we’ve been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don’t know what they’re talking about.”  (Memos aside.  Please peruse Torture Memorandums. )

Dick Cheney and his compatriots seem to distinguish between citizens of this country and those who might be identified as “foreigners.”  To further elucidate the spokesperson for the Bush White House stated; “These are not American citizens.  They are not subject, nor do they have the same rights that an American citizen does vis-à-vis the government.”

The newer Administration may concur; civil rights afforded to our countrymen may not be offered to individuals classified as combatants.  While I disagree with that contention, I do believe as the Obama White House  does.  International Law states, all living creatures have an inalienable right to be treated humanely.  

Thankfully, President Obama and his Cabinet condemn tortuous practices.  Yet, the current Administration announced there is no need to prosecute.  Mister Obama affirmed, “(A)t a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

I must ask; does this declaration ensure history will be repeated?  Individuals such as I accept that tribunals will not transform what was.  Punishment may not convince those who engaged in criminal behaviors to change.  I seek no retribution.  Yet, I do think there is a need to prosecute the culpable.  Humanitarian principles lead taxpayers such as I to declare, torture, by any definition cannot be tolerated.  As a society, we have seen how people are easily numbed by what peers think, say, and do.  Studies show the prevalence of video violence has an influence on what we later think is acceptable.  

In America, ideally, not ideologically, we understand profound principles unite us.  The greater good, the commonweal, take precedence over individualism.  As is inscribed in the Preamble of the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish” in this country, we care.  Our fellow citizens, and future generations matter to us.  

Perhaps this profundity explains why concerned citizens, those who happily contribute to tolls are distressed by the Obama Administration’s declaration, there will be no prosecution.

Persons such as I, who are troubled by torture, understand the past permeates the present and will be the future, if what is worrisome is avoided, accepted, or is left unattended.  We, the peaceful people who are proud to pay levees of love, are not comforted by an act of contrition.  Nor does the knowledge that President Obama released the memorandums as required by law reassure us.

If intentionally inflicted physical and psychological harm can be characterized as just, and some Conservatives, such as the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, thinks it does, then it makes sense to tax payers who supported the previous President to sanction the acts outlined in recently released memorandums as sound.

Many Conservatives share this sentiment, although not all.  Lest we forget former Presidential candidate John McCain’s succinct statement on one the techniques the Bush Administration authorized.  “They should know what it [waterboarding] is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.” A  man who lives with the memory of being a Prisoner of War, the Arizona Senator emphatically stated, torture is ineffective.  That is until Presidential politics altered his position.

Could it be that candidate McCain did as the current President has done, bow to a constituency that does not demand prosecution for what the United States has defined as criminal since its inception.

Opposition to torture was verbalized before the United States became a nation.  The Declaration of Independence reminds residents of this territory, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In 1863, in the midst of the brutalities of the Civil War, President Lincoln forbade his forces from acts of cruelty, including torture.  After the barbarities of World War II, America led an emergent community of United Nations to adopt in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its provision that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (Art.  5).”

In 1975, the United States aided in the United Nations adoption of a separate Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.  In 1988 President Reagan signed and in 1994 the United States ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the most comprehensive legally binding international treaty prohibiting the use of torture.  The U.N. Convention’s prohibition against torture is absolute, without exceptions.

It was only during the 2006 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (pdf) that the United States turned a blind eye on its history.  Perchance the topic of terror, or the threat envisioned as the Twin Towers fell turned Americans against principled actions.  

Tax and Terror Codes; Reviled, Renewed, or Rejected?

No one can know with certainty what caused a country or countless within the continent to reject the prescribed canon that is the United States Constitution.  Nonetheless, it is clear, the American people do not insist political power be checked.  Collectively, cynicism was and is adopted.  With that acquisition, the country accepted deplorable directives.  The American populace chose to forego authentic representation.  Hence, the electorate allowed for the more heinous atrocities that followed.  Today, only personal financial concerns bring people to their feet and out onto the streets.

The transition was subtle.  Distrustful of government, the public grew to expect the worse.  Now we receive it.  We pay for torture and are pleased  when a President proclaims of “a dark and painful chapter in our history,” this too shall pass.  Personally, I fear it will not.  My fellow citizens did not address my angst when they dumped dried evergreen shrubs on lawns or in a bay.  The President’s decision to disregard what he too called interrogation techniques outlined in the official communication that “undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer” does not bring me joy.

While I did gladly pay my financial assessments, and I did not voice my dissent for torture with tea, I remain a discontent and distressed taxpayer.

References for a dire reality . . .

Moneybag Democracy


To view the original art, please travel to “Moneybag Democracy” [Archive No. 9703]

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“Now, that doesn’t mean that questions of Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, the whole range of challenges that we often engage on with the Chinese, are not part of the agenda. But we pretty much know what they are going to say. We have to continue to press them but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crises.

~ Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (February 20, 2009)

The news appeared in cyberspace on Friday, February 20, 2009.  As Yogi Berra once elucidated, it was as déjà vu, all over again. International and domestic activists have come to realize, once again, America is a democracy dependent on dollars.  Amnesty International advocates shook their heads, wondered, and worried of what might be.  Students for a Free Tibet collectively shrugged their shoulders and expressed a shared distress.  Citizens at home, in America, barely blinked.  An avid Obama supporter, was resigned to realities that, only weeks ago, she might not have thought she would willingly accept.  Moneybag democracy lives.  Hillary Clinton serves the President, the precedent past, present, and perhaps, future.

Days ago, with Secretary of State Clinton abroad in China, the world was given an opportunity to witness America’s new direction.  Most anticipated dollars would no longer have a greater influence on United States policy than humanitarian concerns did.  Globally, people waited to cheer for the change that had certainly come.  Then, Secretary Clinton, pleaded with Beijing to buy United States bonds.  Contrary to her pointed comments on human rights, made during her presidential campaign, as a representative of the Obama Administration, Secretary Clinton spoke as though she no longer believes as she had, Chinese ownership of US government debt had become a threat to national security.  

Perhaps, Hillary Clinton, and her President, surmised Capitalism, or a democracy devoted to dollars must survive at all cost.  Certainly her husband, and his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright had reached this conclusion near a decade earlier.

Like Secretary Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, chose to sell America’s soul. When the first woman Head of State spoke of her decision, few United States citizens said a word.  In the 1990s, then Head of State, Albright, in a 60 Minutes interview, discussed the American policy decisions that caused the deaths of more than half-million Arab children in Iraq.  She said without hesitation, the loss of young lives were the price the Clinton Administration thought wise to pay.   Madeline Albright mused; the sacrifice of little ones was “worth it.”

Hardships on fellow humans are the cost citizens in a comfortable and “civilized” society must pay for democracy.  Apparently, Americans, even the most Progressive amongst us, seem to agree.  Then, as now, few if any said a word.

Today when news came over the wires, Secretary Clinton stood firm in favor of economic relations with China, regardless of human rights violations, only a few countrymen responded.  Activists were ‘shocked’ when they heard the American Ambassador, Clinton, take such a stance.  Representatives from Amnesty International and Students for a Free Tibet spoke out.

T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by Secretary Clinton’s comment.  The advocate for honorable and equitable civil liberties may have trusted that at least where China was concerned, the Clinton’s had a record, or at any rate, had offered respectable rhetoric.

James Mann, a Johns Hopkins scholar who wrote a history of U.S.-China relations, also recalled.  When asked of Secretary Clinton’s most recent comment, Professor Mann stated he was struck by the contrast.  Bill Clinton, he said, as president more than eight years earlier gave strong speeches on behalf of political freedom in the People’s Republic.  “Bill Clinton told the leader of China he was on ‘the wrong side of history,'” Mann recollected.  “Now, Hillary seems to be giving them the reverse message: that China is on the right side of history.”

However, historians might consider the statement that President Bill Clinton is better known for was his truer agenda.  “It is the economy stu***!”  In March of 1997, writer for China Daily, Ren Yanshi avowed the Chinese government certainly perceived the United States had a record of human rights violations, during the Clinton years.  In a “Moneybag Democracy,” the United States of America caters only to the rich.  In the States, a consumer culture allows the prosperous to profit further.  The people, the poor suffer greatly.

In recent years, as the rich got much richer, this truth was revealed in radical ways.  The word “Katrina” evokes much empathy.  “Bank bailouts elicit more emotions within the ranks of what once was the Middle Class.   Some might say, these truths are the reason that change has finally come to America.  Until today, the thought was coins and currency would no longer guide an Administration or US policy.  Barack Obama brought hope to the world.

Students for a Free Tibet embraced the new Administration.  They believed the current White House could and would make a difference in the lives of all people.  Surely, a President Obama would not serve only the affluent.

As a Senator, Barack Obama was among the sponsors of the act, which bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on the Dalai Lama.  Senator Obama urged Chinese president Hu Jintao to “meaningfully address the Tibet issue.”  After the election, Tibetans were encouraged.  They sent President Obama letters of Congratulations.  Thus, it was an unexpected and an unwanted surprise to hear Secretary Clinton cavort, cajole, and say as she did.  The proponents of social justice stated, Clinton’s remarks “sent the wrong signal to China at a sensitive time.”

“The US government cannot afford to let Beijing set the agenda,” said Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of the New York-based advocacy group.

Long-time activists, domestic supporters of Barack Obama, persons such as Jessica, see Secretary Clinton’s statement differently.  This woman who energetically endorsed Barack Obama from the moment he announced his campaign would have welcomed a more mindful position.  She yearns for United States policy to be benevolent as she believes Barack Obama, the man, is.  Jessica, who organized her community to come out and work for what she craved, an Obama White House, now thinks America cannot “afford” to do other than cater to the wishes of the Chinese government.

A jubilant Jessica has been joyful since her presidential candidate was chosen to serve. She avows; “Unfortunately, due to our greed, China owns us.  If they pulled their money, this country would die.  Sad fact but true.”  

American lives would be lost if foreign affairs focus on humanitarian concerns in China.  There can be nothing worse.  Who would buy the wares that please the people in the States, or Jessica might say, in her own defense, furnish jobs for those born in the Far Eastern nation.  The argument could be made; and certainly, descendants of Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, would be the first to offer it.  US dollars support a much-improved Chinese culture.

George W. Bush might have mused the latter claim an important one.  Perchance, that is why the former President chose to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics.  United States indebtedness served to justify relations with China, a country well-known for human rights violations.  The desire to feed a Capitalist market, the need to assuage the hunger of citizens who habitually consume on credit, and a country famished for cash, will do all that they can to appease those who beat and brutalize Chinese citizens.

The people of China, many Americans cried at the time, cannot be punished because they live under totalitarian rule.  Nor can US athletes be penalized.  Cruel and inhumane treatment is not acceptable, or at least it would not have been months ago, to Jessica who did all she could to help place the now President, Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

In primary season, Jessica stood staunchly against what she then thought were Hillary Clinton’s hawkish views.  She, might have agreed with essayist Stephen Zunes when he wrote for the Foreign Policy in Focus on December 11, 2007, “(F)ront-runner for the Democratic nomination for president shares much of President Bush’s dangerous attitudes toward international law and human rights.”  

Nonetheless, today, Jessica, the proud Progressive, a self-identified peace lover offers, “If there is no money, people will die.  Fact.  I hate it (almost) as much [as an idealist would.]  I also agree we are a soul-less country.”

Then, she quickly deferred to her disgust for the George W. Bush years.  She stated the crimes committed by the former Administration were deplorable.  Jessica concludes, “(W)e have to hold the previous administration accountable for their crimes.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose position on censure has wavered would concur with Jessica, today. If the subject were an investigation or possible prosecution of the Bush White House, Nancy Pelosi would be on-board.  However, Speaker Pelosi may, or may not, think the United States can ignore human rights violations on the part of China.  One never knows.  History and statements made in the past, are often inconsistent.

Almost a year to the day, on February 21, 2008, Secretary Clinton’s good friend, the esteemed Representative from San Francisco, Pelosi, spoke eloquently of what she did not publicly discuss with fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton, now in 2009.

“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” House Speaker Pelosi told reporters during a visit with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala, India.

Indeed, America, the Moneybag Democracy has forfeited ethical influence.  Economics has replaced principled certitude as US policy.  The press understands the priority.  The commercial media knows dollars deliver.  Damn the lives and liberties of our brethren abroad.  In the United States there is but one mission, moneybag democracy.

Perchance this truth explains why coverage on the decision to forego human rights concerns is limited.  An article appeared here, or there.  Yet, few commentaries focused on the human rights aspect of the Secretary Clinton’s travel.  The Los Angeles Times reported, Clinton added environmental and security issues to economic talks in China.  Most say Secretary of State Clinton has sealed the deal.  She has merged the past with the present. Former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton has performed laudably for her President, Clinton, Bush, Obama, or for the precedent moneybag democracy.

References for varied reality . . .

The Faith; Legal Torture Need Not Be “Reasonable”



The Word – Honest Belief

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Of this, I believe.  I believe in honesty and empathy.  I trust in reports that reveal in 2002, the Department of Justice assured the Central Intelligence Agency interrogators who violated anti-torture laws they would be safe from prosecution. Emissaries only need a sincere “faith they caused no “prolonged mental harm.”  I believe that neither branch of government cares for what I hold dear.

I trust that official organizations, allow for what are so innocently referred to as “Enhanced Techniques.”  Reasons for my view was revealed very recently.  On July 24, 2008, Americans were presented with papers that affirm suspected terrorists are treated with disdain.  Methods for inquisition are less than humane.  Now, with certainty, I avow a belief, that for the United states government torture need not be “reasonable” to be ratified.  Indeed, documentation verifies what I think to be true.  

An inquisitionist cannot be charged with a crime if  he, or she, is confident that they did not intentionally inflict pain on a detainee.  Convinced that waterboarding is righteous, a representative of the Government can employ such a ‘superior  standard’ to obtain information from alleged radical activists.

In an eighteen (18)-page document, ten pages of which are redacted, American Civil Liberties lawyers learned that American Intelligence agents were authorized to torment prisoners in custody.  The August 1, 2002 memorandum just as the other papers delivered under duress to the American Civil Liberties Union, revealed “The Justice Department twisted the law, and in some cases ignored it altogether, in order to permit interrogators to use barbaric methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project.  

The 2002 communiqué, written by then Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee offers some insight into the “principles” that guided the Intelligence Agency.

Bybee outlined the definition of torture in Section 2340A of the United States code, focusing in part on its caveat that an act be “specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”  Elaborating on his definition of the “specific intent” provision, Bybee narrows the definition to the point where it become functionally meaningless.

All that is required to avoid prosecution is a CIA agent’s “good faith belief” that his actions will not cause torturous pain and suffering.  Such a belief “need not be reasonable,” Bybee writes.

Other files may offer greater perspective.  A specific discussion of waterboarding was perhaps, scrubbed from the 2002 correspondence.  Clues are void.  On most every page, paragraphs appear as opaque black boxes.  Nonetheless, a hint of light affirms a long held belief.  Torture was not only to be tolerated amongst agents.  The authorities endorsed it.  Through the Freedom of Information Act the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was able to acquire a 2004 memo from the CIA.  This more recent record refers to  . . .

The “classified August 2002 Department of Justice (DoJ) opinion stating that [redacted] interrogation techniques including the waterboard, do not violate the Torture Statute.”

Oh joy, oh bliss; my beliefs are verified.  Inhumane violence of any sort is sanctioned by government agencies meant to represent me.  Of this, I believe.  There is no Justice in the Justice Department and no Intelligence in the Central Intelligence agency.  I have faith that fairness and astuteness are reflected in honesty and empathy.

Much to my sorrow, my country, presumed candid and compassionate, cares not for the rules of the Geneva Convention.  Contrary to my most basic beliefs, cruelty is condoned in a country that prides itself on the principle that “all men are created equal,” that is of course unless the man, woman, or child can be classified as an enemy combatant.  Of this, I believe.  There is reason for greater concern.  

In another file, a 2003 communication  from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the Justice Department, offers further clarification.  In this letter, my conviction is yet again confirmed.  “Enhanced Techniques” are acceptable according to CIA headquarters.  The memorandum speaks to the possibility of “even more coercive techniques.” Apparently, less “timid” methods for torment could be “approved by Headquarters.”  While nigh on, all of the four-page dispatch is redacted, a reader can discover a touch of concern, although not for the detainee left to languish at the hands of an overly avid and aggressive interrogator.  The angst expressed is for documentation.  Regulations require that when Enhanced Techniques are employed . . .

“a contemporaneous record shall be created setting forth the nature and duration of each technique employed.”

Although the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), all but a year earlier, destroyed at least two videotapes of enhanced interrogations the Justice Department has begun to take measures.  An investigation, a criminal inquiry into the destruction of informative audiovisual accounts is underway.  Yet, my belief in the depth and sincerity of the probe is tested.  As I ponder the past and acknowledge, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) first requested the papers released on Thursday, July 24, 2008 in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in 2004 my belief in the system wanes.

While the documents provide some more evidence of torture during George W. Bush’s presidency, the ACLU says his administration continues to do all it can to avoid full scrutiny.

“While the documents released today do provide more information about the development and implementation of the Bush administration’s torture policies, even a cursory glance at the documents shows that the administration continues to use ‘national security’ as a shield to protect government officials from embarrassment, criticism and possible criminal prosecution,” Jaffer (Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project) said. “Far too much information is still being withheld.”

Of this, I believe.  Honesty and a love for humanity are not evident in the documentation the Central Intelligence Agency provided.  Nor are compassionate qualities realized in Enhanced Techniques.  The country, whose Constitution claims to honor the construct of equality exemplifies the contrary.  ,I believe  truthfulness and empathy must be embraced in more than papers if mankind is ever to achieve peace.  

As I assess the recent disclosures, my faith in a shared desire for global tranquility becomes more fragile.  Belief becomes hope.  I hope that in a supposed inclusive society, Americans will not accept a belief in brutality.  I yearn for a day when I can again state, “I believe in honesty and empathy,” and trust that my government does too.

Torturous Terms  . . .

“American Values”




To view the original art, please travel to “American Values”

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective

A new toon, a new outlet and a limited-edition portfolio

Three bits of business to take care of this week:

1. This week’s new toon, “American Values,” brings attention to our national shame at Guantánamo Bay. It’s back in the news this week, and I still find it shocking and sad that Americans have largely turned a blind eye to this human-rights blemish, year after year.

2. I’ve started posting my work on toonpool.com, a European-based social-networking site for cartoonists. One of my toons, “Checking the Gauge,” was selected as their “Cartoon of the Day” earlier this week. There’s some pretty cool stuff over there, so check it out.

3. My second semester of grad school is just around the corner and I’ve decided to put out a limited-edition portfolio to help raise money for my books. The portfolio features reproductions of five of my recent favorites – Archives Nos. 0530, 0536, 0617, 0718 and 0725 – professionally printed on 8×10 photo stock with a lustre finish, suitable for framing. In addition, each portfolio will include an ORIGINAL pen sketch of one of my favorite foils, George W. Bush, drawn on 60 lb. card stock. This portfolio will be strictly limited to 20 sets. If interested, you can pick one up now on eBay, or save $2 in shipping by buying directly from the OtWP Store.

Please Peruse the Full Portfolio Below . . .




To view the original art, please travel to “I Woke Up in a Crusade …” [Archive No. 0530]




To view the original art, please travel to “See the Problem?” [Archive No. 0536]”




To view the original art, please travel to “Checking the Gauge” [Archive No. 0617]




To view the original art, please travel to “Help Me, I’m Dying” (color version) [Archive No. 0718]




To view the original art, please travel to “Culture of Fear” [Archive No. 0725]

Back in seven . . .

Andrew

toon@offthewahl.com

How Low We Have Fallen

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

In a recent report from the AP, we learn America is now listed with many other countries including

Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.

Administration spokespersons were quick to deny any allegations that the US engages in torture and to protest the inclusion of the US on the list.

At the same time other reports tell the tale of Tom Ridge, first administrator of the Department of Homeland Security as he characterizes waterboarding as torture saying

And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is – and will always be – torture. That’s a simple statement.

 

From that same Ridge article comes the following quote.

Waterboarding is a harsh interrogation tactic that was used by CIA officers in 2002 and 2003 on three alleged al-Qaida terrorists. The tactic gives the subject the sensation of drowning.

The evidence of CIA use of strong interrogation measures that amount to torture by most reasonable definitions is clear.  A series of memos demonstrate the government position on treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.  The Geneva Conventions were ruled not to apply.  Prisoners are held in places like Guantanamo Bay where legal rules of the Constitution are not enforced.

ManilaRyce, Flickr, Creative Commons

How much longer will Americans tolerate this standard to which we have fallen?  Can America survive as a nation let alone a world leader so long as we continue to allow the mistreatment of persons under our control?

The time has come to end this fall from grace.  We, the American people must stand up and speak out and return our country to the Constitutional government of our Founders.  We each and every one deserve to live in a nation bounded by liberty and justice for all.  Nothing less will do.

Peace.

Taxi To The Dark Side; Tales of Psychological and Physical Torture



“Taxi To The Dark Side” – Trailer

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Americans each have taxied to the dark side in recent years.  Vice President Cheney, with the blessings of George W. Bush, was our guide.  We were the followers.  Citizens of the United States claim to care.  Yet, collectively, we allow an Administration to torture detainees in Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib prison.  Our fellow countrymen once honored the Rules of the Geneva Convention.  This standards are now thought quaint.  Americans no longer subscribe to the theory that intentional physical and psychological torment is a abhorrent.  Violations of human dignity are accepted, even endorsed.  

Post-September 11, 2001, after the Twin Towers fell, so too did our moral compass.  Americans do not believe that Human Rights must be honored.  That is unless, the person in question is a United States citizen.

On the afternoon of 9/11 Americans embraced any policy they thought would keep them safe.  Congress signed the Patriot Act into law.  From then on, people who disagreed with the Bush Administration were watched.  Those that had no quarrel with White House policies were jailed.  A dark skinned person with an accent unlike the one commonly accepted as native, was thought to be a terrorist.  Telephone and wiretaps were considered necessary.  Individuals willingly removed their shoes and permitted them selves to be the subject of body searches.  Fear flourished and remains intact.  For Americans, some shadowy authority will take control and keep us safe.  Hope does not remain eternal.  It no longer exists.

Citizens in this country cannot see the light.  They have slipped into the deepest crevices of cruelty.  Even when Americans know they are about to commit a crime against humanity, they do not stop themselves.  When in dire straits people perform as directed.

Filmmaker Alex Gibney, whose father, Frank Gibney, an interrogator of Japanese prisoners in World War II helped his son to feel the pain of a person ordered to torture another living being.  As the Director’s dying-Dad, who asked to be unhooked from his oxygen machine so that he might speak out against the Bush Administration’s policies said so forcefully, “It’s got to stop!”

The words of an adamant father barely able to breathe, helped to inspire his son’s endeavor.  As film reviewer, Kenneth Turan, of the Los Angeles Times writes, “[This] significant film shows why he [Alex Gibney] cares so passionately and why we should as well.”

I invite you, dear reader to reflect on the situation and read this dynamic review of the movie . . .

‘Taxi to the Dark Side’

The new documentary looks at torture’s effects on victims and perpetrators.

By Kenneth Turan

Los Angeles Times

January 18, 2008

GIVEN its subject matter, and its title, you’d expect Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side” to be profoundly disturbing and shocking, and it is.  But not always in the ways you’d expect.

A meticulous examination of the Bush administration’s embracing of torture as a weapon of choice in the war against terrorism by the director of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Taxi” is impressive enough to have taken the best documentary prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and to be a likely finalist for the documentary Oscar when the contenders are announced next week.

Because torture is its raison d’être, it’s a given that “Taxi” is difficult to take at times.  There are pictures from Abu Ghraib too appalling for family newspapers, upsetting videos, and unblinking photographs of men who died in U.S. custody.

Yet, what is most distressing about “Taxi” is not physical acts but psychological ones.  What is really appalling is how readily torture was embraced by officials as an absolute necessity and how easy it was for soldiers to, in the words of one, “lose your moral bearings” and become a party to atrocity.

For though the official line out of Washington is still “we do not torture,” it’s impossible to watch this film — and hear testimony not just from soldiers but also veteran FBI men and former Bush administration officials — without coming to understand that torture is exactly what we are engaged in.

“Taxi to the Dark Side’s” title has concrete origins.  Writer-director Gibney has loosely structured his film around the suspicious death of an Afghani taxi driver named Dilawar.  This young man took three passengers on a trip on Dec. 1, 2002, and never returned.

Dilawar ended up at Bagram, a former Soviet air base turned interrogation site for suspected Taliban.  Five days after he arrived, he was dead.  The press release said it was due to natural causes, but a pair of New York Times reporters, Tim Golden and Carlotta Gall, decided to investigate.  What they found out is that the official U.S. death certificate, delivered to Dilawar’s parents along with the body, listed the cause of death as “homicide” traceable to beatings he received while in captivity.

Filmmaker Gibney not only talked to the two reporters and Dilawar’s family, he also interviewed five clearly haunted soldiers who were put on trial in military court for the man’s death.  We hear firsthand exactly what they did as well as the circumstances that put unprepared men in interrogation situations with the pressure to produce results but without the written guidelines as to permissible behavior they desperately requested.

Gibney’s film is at pains to show where the impetus for this kind of savage behavior began.

Please also ponder a Public Broadcasting Services, Frontline program, The Dark Side.  Draw your own conclusions.  Consider how humans respond when under stress.  Also, contemplate the idea of power, and how, when bestowed upon one titled President or Vice can destroy absolutely.



Cheney’s Law – Public Broadcasting Services, Frontline

Search for the Light, Sources . . .

Rumsfeld and Mukasey, Tortured Times and Trials


Mukasey: Waterboarding is Torture if It’s Torture

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Youth For Human Rights – We Are All Born Free & Equal

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert.

    This tiny introductory treatise is written as an apology.  Belatedly, I was informed that, unintentionally, and might I add unknowingly, I penned a persuasive piece that advances the cause of an “applied religious philosophy.”  After viewing the most glorious video presentation, I inscribed what was thought to be a global truth; “We all have rights, equally.”  I still endorse that message; however, I do not embrace the practices or philosophies of an organization that on occasions is divisive.  Sadly, I experience most assemblages are.

    I am a very spiritual soul.  I trust that man is basically good.  For me, there is no sin, only a slow evolution.  As we walk on our life path we error, repeatedly, and frequently.  However, humans have the capacity to learn.  That is our blessing.  As we travel the planet and experience a physical existence, we realize there is more.  Earth is as a school.  We are here to study.  We reflect.  We ask ourselves, what have we done.  What will our actions cause?  Ultimately, we understand that we can change what comes and what will be.  Free will follows us and leads us on this journey.

    As a pious person, I am overwhelmed by the duplicity of organized religion.  People of one religious faith or another war and have for centuries.  I do not understand this.  Rigid religious affiliations are not mine.

    After ample research, I have come to believe that all religions value similar “truths.”  Honor, love, respect, peace among men is the foundation of every faith.  Yet, nevertheless, people battle.  They have for centuries.  It seems few if any flock is exempt.

    Some conflicts ignite solely on the basis of religious differences.  Much of what we witness in parts of the Middle East can be correlated to differences among congregations.  One faction or another will fight to the death for their idea of the ideal, G-d.  People pose as though they are holier than thou.

    My belief is religious “realities” are neither right, nor reasonable; these traditions rely on our ability to suspend belief.  Blind faith in an external force determines what congregations think.

    Alas, religion is not the only source of derision.  Race, ethnicity, creed, hair color, age, body type, even food choices divide us.  I am often slammed and damned for I do not eat meat.

    Nonetheless, I submit to you the essay that prompted a sorrowful reflection.  My intent to was not promote a way of life or advance a particular “applied religious philosophy.”  I genuinely hoped to further the assurance “All men are created equal.”  My desire continues.  Perhaps we can communicate a message of love without religious convictions. 

    Please ponder; reflect upon the paradox.  As humans, we agree; we are born free and equal.  We each have rights.  Love, peace, parity among [wo]men is vital.  Yet, we argue.  We are split.  We divide. 

    May we contemplate the concept and honor as we claim to believe.  I present the original observation . . .

    At times, verbiage enhances the visual.  A photograph may fill the screen and our hearts; however, the words whispered as an accompaniment makes the message more meaningful.  I believe the essence of a communication can be captivating.  It can cause us to cry.  It may touch our soul.  Perhaps it will help us to think more deeply.  When the verbal expressions advance the beauty of a presentation, that is glorious. 

    Consider the times you saw an individual.  You observed the image he or she presented.  Then they spoke seriously.  This being shared his or her soul, their life story.  Their words wowed you.  They warmed your heart.  The spoken language clarified, it corrected a misimpression.  Your heart and mind opened.  What you thought you knew was not as it appeared to be.

    In this production, the gentle language helps us to remember the innate longing for equality.  The reflective nature encourages conscious thought.  We cannot avoid what we know. Throughout the globe, we witness injustice, and there is no reason for such divisiveness.

    We are born innocent, without hatred or bigotry.  However, we learn.

    As our faces age and harden, so too do our hearts.  Naiveté is fleeting.  Purity fades too fast.  Goodness does not leave our body; the flood of hurts cause great harm.  We forget.  Virtue is still within.  Might we discover it again through empathy.

    We are all born free, equal among men, women, and children.  Each of us has rights, for we exist.  Dignity is due to us all.

    Please embrace the avowal and the endeavors of Youth For Human Rights International.  My hope is their mission will be ours.  Worldwide and individually, we will actively acknowledge the value of every entity.

    Do you know what Human Rights are?

    Every person is entitled to certain rights – simply by the fact that they are a human being.  They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do, or to have.  These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you.  They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

    Many people know something about their rights.  They know they have a right to be paid for the work they do and they have a right to vote.  But there exist many other rights.

    When human rights are not well known by people, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression, and slavery can arise.

    Born out of the atrocities and enormous loss of life during World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by the United Nations to provide a common understanding of what everyone’s rights are.  It forms the basis for a world built on freedom, justice, and peace.

    In my family voices were not raised loudly.  Slight tonal changes spoke volumes.  A look could cut through the skin.  When my Mom felt hurt, she made this known.  She voiced the statement, “I have rights.”  We all do.  Yet, at times these are denied us. 

    Another righteous soul might react in a manner that suggests they are superior.  Their behaviors seem sanctimonious.  Often, this smug attitude is a reflection of fear; nevertheless, such an approach creates havoc.  People are hurt.  Relationships are harmed.  Often, these do not recover.

    When we witness contempt, or recognize that we are engaging in a way that disrespects another, we must recall, “What we do unto others will be done unto us.” 

    Human rights, civil rights must be granted to us all if we are to live in peace and harmony.  Wars do not just happen people start them.  If I aggress against my brethren, I can expect he will attack me.

    Poverty is not a given; it is a man-made construct.  Man learns to set limits. If I hoard, I ignore the needs of my fellow man.  If I hold on too tightly to all that is mine, I can gather no more.  My hands are full; I do not have the capacity to grasp what is beyond.

    Discrimination is deliberate.  I choose to determine whether race, sex, religion, or status matters.

    Please be aware of what you, he, she, I, or we cause.  Consider what you, he, she, I, or we create when we do not honor every human being equally.  Look upon your brother and your sister as a child would before they learn to hate.  They have a right to be, just as you, I, or we do.

    The “Four Freedoms.” From Franklin, Eleanor, and for Everyone ©

    After reading Utopia. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Lives and Dies ©, aphra behn, of Never In Our Names fame shared a glorious thought and an exceptional film with me.  I offer each of these to you. S/he referred to The “Four Freedoms,”  Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision for the future.  In the Presidents address to Congress on January 6, 1941, he shared what he wanted for each of us worldwide.  Roosevelt’s message was intended for citizens then and now.  Please view this presentation What leaders used to want for us.  Read the words of Franklin Roosevelt of Eleanor and of aphra behn.  Reflect and share your thoughts.  I thank you.

    aphra behn asserts, “Sometimes I think that our ignorance of history will be our undoing.  In 1948, the abuses of the Fascists were so fresh, and the threat of human rights slipping away under Stalin’s satellite regimes was so pressing.  We don’t know how good we have it now, and so we don’t know what to treasure.”

    You, dear reader, may recall Eleanor Roosevelt was the most influential member of the United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights.  She thought working on this panel was one of her greatest achievements.  Mrs. Roosevelt did not consider herself a scholar or an authority on international law.  However, she was an expert in empathy.  She was able to understand what few did or do today.  Human beings must work as one for they are part of a whole; we all share this Earth together.  We will grow greater if we unite and perish if we punish our neighbor.

    Eleanor Roosevelt was enthusiastic and energetic.  Mrs. Roosevelt had an unwavering “faith in human dignity and worth.”  While the First Lady wondered whether she was suited for this committee, her fellow academics and jurists trusted she was their intellectual equal.  The compassion Mrs. Roosevelt  felt for her fellow man made her more than qualified to speak and write of Human Rights.

    The wife of Franklin often mused, she was a commoner.  She said, “I used to tell my husband that, if he could make me understand something, it would be clear to all other people in the country, and perhaps that will be my real value on this drafting commission!”  She understood the words of her spouse and helped each of us to appreciate the value of his avowed philosophies.

    The “Four Freedoms”

    In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

    The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

    The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

    The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings, which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

    The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.

    That is no vision of a distant millennium.  It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.  That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny, which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

    To that new order, we oppose the greater conception — the moral order.  A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

    Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change — in a perpetual peaceful revolution — a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions — without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch.  The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

    This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.

    Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.  Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them.  Our strength is our unity of purpose.

    To that high concept, there can be no end save victory.

    From Congressional Record, 1941, Vol. 87, Pt. I.
    Resource: World Civilizations.  Copyright (c) 1997.  W. W. Norton Publishing

    What are we doing now to provide for our citizens?  Do we allow for “free speech and freedom of expression” or do we demand that English Only be spoken on our streets. 

    As the holidays approach, do Americans honor those that say “Happy Holidays” in the same way they acknowledge those that invite us to have a “Merry Christmas?”  Will individuals from the “right” return to the department stores that express a concern for all festivals or will they again protest and boycott these proprietors.

    Economically are we all equal.  Might we speak of “death taxes,” wages, corporate compensations, health insurance, and care.  Perhaps we will not.  America has an image to sustain.

    Dare we discuss fear as our own leader tells us we must.  Our current President promotes the prospect and reminds us at every opportunity that since September 11, 2001, we must bee anxious and apprehensive.  George W. Bush claims that we are on the hunt for the terrorists that pursue us.  Citizens are now told to “Be Afraid; Be Very, Very Afraid,” and I Am.  I fear for the Four Freedoms lost.

    I thank you Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt.  I thank am grateful for aphra behn.  You all have advanced my awareness.  I am a better person because of your sharing.  I hope together we will touch the citizens of this country and the world.  Perhaps, your prophecies will come to pass.  My hope is that everyone will choose to give peace a chance.

    Eleanor Roosevelt regarded the Universal Declaration as her greatest accomplishment.

    Freedoms won and lost listed . . .

  • What leaders used to want. YouTube
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • The “Four Freedoms,” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Address to Congress World Civilizations
  • Utopia. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Lives and Dies ©, Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
  • Never in our Names.
  • Philly officials warn eatery for English-only sign. The Associated Press. MSNBC. June 12, 2006
  • Christians protest actions that play down Christmas’ religious nature, By Richard Willing, USA Today. December 21, 2004
  • Death Tax Keeps The Wealthy Rich. With Increased Wages, Poor Lose ©, Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
  • The Politics of Being Afraid, By Robert Kolker. New York Magazine August 16, 2004
  • Paul Krugman: Wages, Wealth and Politics. By Mark Thoma. Economist’s View. August 18, 2006
  • Executive Paywatch. AFL-CIO.
  • House GOP leaders say vote on minimum wage now likely, By Rick Klein. Boston Globe. July 4, 2006
  • New data shows private health insurance inequity, By Gregor Macfie, ACOSS Policy Officer ACOSS Info 364 – September 2004
  • Uninsured in America Kaiser Family Foundation/Lehrer Survey About the Uninsured. March 2000
  • “Be Afraid; Be Very, Very Afraid, I Am ©” Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org