Why We Say Save Our Schools





copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

I am but one who will stand strong to ensure an equal education for all.  All who do or plan to, will express themselves in various ways.  Some will March. Others will Rally or gather in Conference.  Several have, do, or expect to act locally.  Countless change what they can for children within the dynamics that define their family.  Nationwide, innumerable Americans join hands and embrace a common cause. Let us Save Our Schools.

Jointly, we wear our hearts on our sleeves so that our children, our communities, this country can see we care.  As our forefathers did before us, Americans invest in a shared future.  We trust that learned little ones, as well as those denied an adequate education must have a solid foundation on which to build.  Our offspring and we will suffer if, indeed, we do not work for the good of our young.  It seems our many decades long shortsighted education “solutions” have already had an adverse affect.  People from every political Party and point of view proclaim the need to teach the children well.  

The Left, “Right,” and middle muse; our education system needs reform. We must Save Our Schools.  The questions are how, which schools; charter, private or public institutions and why?  These queries lead to further reflection.  What might be preserved, reserved, reformed or left for ruin?  Would it be better to transform an arrangement that many agree fails our young?  The answers spur people to act.  It seems with little forethought, the process has already begun.  Indeed, change commenced decades ago.  

Headlines herald the news. Jonathan Mahler wrote in The Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform. “The modern school-reform movement sprang to life in 1983, with the release of “A Nation at Risk,” an education report commissioned by the Reagan administration that boldly stated…that the United States had embarked upon a “unilateral educational disarmament…The Clinton administration’s emphasis on national standards… President George W. Bush’s declaiming of “the soft bigotry of low expectations”… ”

For some, the history is nothing in comparison to what we witness daily.  Children are being left behind.  The past was but prologue. It is now our present.  Education observer Mahler continues. “On to the current generation of reformers, with their embrace of charter schools and their attacks on the teachers union. The policies and rhetoric changed, often dramatically, but the underlying assumption remained the same: Our nation’s schools are in dire need of systemic reform.”  The debate as to how, why, when and where has become less about the little ones and more about rhetoric.  Messages are “framed” to ensure that a political agenda is maximized.

Today. Public Education has all but Perished.

The Frame; Change arrived in the form of “No Child Left Behind.” This law caused our children to languish further.  The One-Size-Fits-All tools adopted fit very few.  The state and the nation are pursuing policies that have not closed the achievement gap and have aggravated the situation for many students.  “Indeed, No Child Left Behind’s ‘get-tough’ approach to accountability has led to more students being left even further behind, thus feeding the dropout crisis and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” ~ Bob Valiant. Kennewick School District. Education Matters. March 19, 2011

Political postures are effective, that is, for all but the young and their Moms, Dads, Grandparents and Guardians. These elders see the pain on their little loved ones faces.

Students Struggle to Survive…

Curriculums have been cut to the core.  Classes canceled. Test scores and statistics govern what occurs. “Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.”  School Districts confronted with possible punishment, or the promise of financial rewards, dependent on student test scores, thought it wise to remove coursework that did not pertain to the subjects tested.  

Reading and math became the sole priorities. All other topics in a school’s curriculum, with the exception of Science, at minimum, were reduced in scope.  Some disciplines, such as the Arts, Social Science, and Literature were as the children, left further behind to the point of being lost.  For persons who care about our progeny, this point alone became the raison d’être for a Save Our Schools March, a Rally, a Conference, and a mass Movement.  The populace observed Students Stifled Will Not Sing or Soar. The pain became more and more palpable.

Students Stifled Will Not Sing or Soar.

Critical Thought, Creativity, and Curiosity are now null and void in our schools.  Public and private institutions wane.  Rather than a shared success among all students, today we have winners and losers.  Parents work to see that their children achieve.  The less financially fortunate will wait in enrollment lines for hours in hopes that by lottery, their young ones will triumph.  

Yet, few truly do.  In contrast to the much-touted claims, children who are accepted into these so-called “exceptional” charter schools are, in actuality, no better off than those who are rejected.  After a lengthy study, Senior Harvard University Lecturer Katherine K. Merseth observed, “No matter how they are measured, there are some amazing charter schools…At the same time, however, we know that there are many charters that are not successful. A further disappointment for me is that essentially given the freedom to create any form or structure of schooling, the vast majority of charter schools look just like the schools we’ve already got. ”

Religious schools fare no better.  Often seen as the savior for less than affluent parents, they also struggle with standards. Hard times push Catholic schools toward crisis.  Enrollment is down and the need to satisfy an insatiable American need for “accountability” is up.  Government sponsored voucher programs contributed to each of these truths.  Popular conventions are also the reason that Standardized Tests Taken by Nine Out of Ten Voucher Schools.

Even private schools have not fully escaped what often holds young learners back.  Standardization, in other words and ways, the testing craze is alive and well in exclusive schools.  These privileged institutions too have seen the errors of this way. Entrance exams are inaccurately evaluated. “Substantially equivalent” educations are as advertised.  Differences, in the end, are not realized,  Hence, as might be expected, most every curriculum in each locale has suffered, just as students have.  Again, as parents pour over test scores and the scours on little ones faces, in harmony, they chant “Please Save Our Schools!”

“Only two subjects [math and reading.] What a sadness,” said Thomas Sobol, an education professor at Columbia Teachers College and a former New York State education commissioner. “That’s like a violin student who’s only permitted to play scales, nothing else, day after day, scales, scales, scales. They’d lose their zest for music.”~ Sam Dillon The New York Times.  March 26, 2006

Students are at risk when punitive policies promote more scales, less music!

“Teach to the Tests.”

Proud Papa Barack Obama understands the problem and spoke to it in March 2011.  As the nation’s Chief Executive stood before students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network, at Bell Multicultural High School, in Washington, District of Columbia, the Professor turned President said, “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools.  Yet, Administrations Mandate More Standards, Scores, Statistics, and School Closures.  Today, Performance is Reviewed Rigorously. “Race To The Top Requirements” rule.  Please peruse Race to the Top Program Executive Summary.  Department of Education. November 2009

While intellectually, Mister Obama understands the myriad hazards associated with “common core standards,” he and his Administration adopted these.  “Standardized-test scores can provide useful information about how students are doing  But as soon as the scores are tied to firing staff, giving bonuses, and closing schools, the measures become the goal of education, rather than an indicator.  Race to the Top went even beyond NCLB in its reliance on test scores as the ultimate measure of educational quality.” ~ Diane Ravitch. Historian and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.  Newsweek. March 20, 2011

Race To The Top Myths.

  • Teachers are to blame for the education crisis.
  • Business practices build solidly performing students and schools.
  • Rigor is “right.”
  • Teaching is a task anyone can do.

Race To The Top Truths.

“Race to the Top? National standards for math, science, and other school subjects?  The high-powered push to put them in place makes it clear that the politicians, business leaders, and wealthy philanthropists who’ve run America’s education show for the last two decades are as clueless about educating as they’ve always been.” ~ Marion Brady. veteran Teacher, Administrator, Curriculum Designer and Author. Washington Post

Administration after Administration administers standardized exams.  The scores reveal one truth consistently; our children are not standard.  Each is a Whole being, a child who yearns to learn more than memorize.  Indeed, to commit a fact, figure, or formula is not learning at all. Rote and regurgitate; this rhythm does not resonate in a mind, heart, body or soul.  Adults will tell you, in retrospect such an education is not an education at all.

Still policymakers are intent. Reinstatement. Rewrite. When will Legislators learn? The Race Leaves Children Further Behind. Please Save Our Schools!

National Standards. Low Expectations.

Countless concur. Standards and standardization in our schools has not helped advance humanity.  These are the cause of the stagnation we see in our schools.  Indeed, with the restrictions imposed, more students and Teachers dropout of an already diminished system.

More than five years ago, it was calculated that “Every Nine Seconds in America a Student Becomes a Dropout. Then and now we pay the cost for inadequate education structures.  

The number of Teachers who dropout of our schools in the first five years of their careers is far greater than that of students.   Studies show the most qualified Educators leave first.  Little support, poor conditions, and poverty play roles in what occurs.  Innumerable acknowledge; scarcity and the problems this puzzle presents within our society, specifically for our schools, is intolerable.  

Writer Kozol perhaps, speaks for the American people when he says,  “Good God, with all these gifts, useful energy, innocence, curiosity, why don’t we give [our children] everything we have?

This question is one every individual has asked at some time in their lives.  Even the childless are troubled by perceived injustices.  Teachers are troubled.  Parents perturbed.  A Professor ponders and shares her exploration. University of Berkeley Social Scientist Dacher Keltner reminds us of our roots.  Innately, humans hold dear the notion “survival of the kindest.” This truth is our strongest instinct. “Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others,” said Keltner.

Dacher Keltner’s research reveals that Political divides and partisanship disappears when compassion, particularly for the children, is the issue.  Possibly, this is the essence that energizes the masses to Rally, to March and to build a Movement.  The people are compelled to call for action.

Finally, as education worsens Moms and Dads put their habits and hubris aside.  Many have decided dollars can no longer dictate deeds as have been true in the past.  Compassion for the children can and must be our guide.  

Perhaps, that is the real reason people from every political Party will join hands. In Washington District of Columbia, in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, California, in every State in the Union the public proclaims, we will not abandon our public schools.  This is why I will March, attend a Rally, Register for a Conference or two, and you? Will you?

References for Real and Rhetorical Education Reform . . .

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Condoleezza Rice avows; President is above law



Condi Rice Pulls a Nixon: If the President Orders Torture, It Must be Legal

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Students at Stanford stood still as they listened to former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice speak.  As the scholars pondered the words of the prominent woman who presented her case for waterboarding, many mused; “Is it Richard Nixon, or Condoleezza Rice?  Which person thinks a President is above the law?” One might wonder.  Those who viewed a video taped classroom conversation with Secretary Rice, today express astonishment as well.  In her defense for actions she took to advocate for this extreme interrogation techniques Condoleezza Rice both blamed her former boss, George W. Bush and justified his decision.

“The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

Pupils in the room with the Bush Executive Branch envoy and the broader cyberspace community  ponder this interpretation of law and recollect.  More than three decades ago, past President, Nixon said, “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal,” Americans rejected the notion   The United States Constitution was often cited.  Yet, today, Miss Rice remembers the reference differently.  Just as Richard M. Nixon was, once physically removed from the White House, citizen Rice has become the source of infinite fascination.

The erudite educator, former Secretary Rice may recall her history; nonetheless, her recollection is not as the recently released, exhaustive, Senate Intelligence Committee reports reveal.  As National Security Adviser to former President George W. Bush, in July 2002, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved a request from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to waterboard the alleged al-Qaida terrorist, Abu Zubaydah.

Philip Zelikow, the policy representative to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the National Securities Council (NSC) Deputies Committee, remembers as the Senate narrative study states.  Indeed, he expressed his concern for his role in intense “interrogation plans”  only days before the Secretary offered her perspective at Stanford.  In his tome, Mister Zelikow asserted the Administration, inclusive of Miss Rice, was well aware of the questionable legal parameters. The Bush Cabinet understood, how lives and limbs could be crushed.  His knowledge of the macabre methods haunted Mister Zelikow for all these many years.

Today, the former National Securities Council policy commissioner feels he has stayed silent for too long.  Now that light has begun to shine on the Bush Administration’s seek-to-destroy-detainees-will strategy the former dissenter from within the Bush White House believes he must speak of what he classifies as torture.  He states, as is substantiated in the infamous “memos.”

(T)he program developed “interrogation plans” to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion. Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc. Sleep deprivation is most important.

Mister Zelikow retraces as Miss Rice does not.  In 2006, the United States Human Rights First organization revealed, since August 2002 almost 100 Iraq and Afghanistan detainees died, while in the custody of Americans. Accounts affirm, at least 34 of the these fatalities were suspected or confirmed homicides.  Most attest, blood was spilled at the hands of the Bush Administration.  How quickly those who approved such torturous measures forget the methods or the madness that allowed for murder.

As an expert in International Affairs; however, the Professor is likely extremely familiar with history further removed from her own personal reality.  Condoleezza Rice could possibly recite the facts as they relate to the ratification of resolution 39/46 of 10, which was adopted and opened for signature on December 1984.  On June 26, 1987, the General Assembly  put into force what the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment advised.

The approved Articles clearly outline the definition of torture, regardless of country or who might reign.  A casual reader need only peruse the first writ to understand what constitutes extreme persecution or a serious crime against humanity.

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

The second statement explicates without exception who might have the power to ignore the initial premise.  In short, legally, the sanctioned rule, which the United States signed onto, states no man, women, child, Head of State, President, Premier, Prime Minister, or even autocrat can authorize the intentional infliction of agony.  Nor can a National Security Adviser advocate for what is essentially illegal and inhumane.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Yet, Secretary Rice avowed; her conveyance of a communiqué did not amount to a command for consent.  She, personally condoned nothing.  Condoleezza Rice, in her statement to Stanford students declared, “I didn’t authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department’s clearance. That’s what I did.”

With International Law in mind, and her own desire not to be implicated in a high crime or misdemeanor, the once top Diplomat, now Political Science Professor and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute proclaims.

“The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps, Condoleezza Rice feels a bit uncertain.  She might think there is need to justify her actions.  As the American people speak of a possible special prosecutor, Professor Rice may fear what the Obama Administration might do.  The current President has yet to issue a pardon to Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, former Commander-In-Chief Bush or any of their cohorts.   Miss Rice may hope her words will elicit the forgiveness Richard Milhous Nixon received from his successor, Gerald Ford.  

Likely, the former Secretary of State now wonders whether her word may be a greater source of “fascination” to someone such as Sir David Frost.  She has no desire to confronted or to accidentally confess to an anchor.  Contrite is not Condie’s style.  For now, she, as other American’s can only reflect on a transcript and wonder, “Is it Condoleezza Rice or Richard Nixon who better channels a uncertain confidence?

Please ponder the program that, were it not for the officially certified clemency, might have done another Administration in.

Frost: The wave of dissent, occasionally violent, which followed in the wake of the Cambodian incursion, prompted President Nixon to demand better intelligence about the people who were opposing him. To this end, the Deputy White House Counsel, Tom Huston, arranged a series of meetings with representatives of the CIA, the FBI, and other police and intelligence agencies.

These meetings produced a plan, the Huston Plan, which advocated the systematic use of wiretappings, burglaries, or so-called black bag jobs, mail openings and infiltration against antiwar groups and others. Some of these activities, as Huston emphasized to Nixon, were clearly illegal. Nevertheless, the president approved the plan. Five days later, after opposition from J. Edgar Hoover, the plan was withdrawn, but the president’s approval was later to be listed in the Articles of Impeachment as an alleged abuse of presidential power.

Frost: So what in a sense, you’re saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

Nixon: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

Frost: By definition.

Nixon: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they’re in an impossible position.

Frost: So, that in other words, really you were saying in that answer, really, between the burglary and murder, again, there’s no subtle way to say that there was murder of a dissenter in this country because I don’t know any evidence to that effect at all. But, the point is: just the dividing line, is that in fact, the dividing line is the president’s judgment?

Nixon: Yes, and the dividing line and, just so that one does not get the impression, that a president can run amok in this country and get away with it, we have to have in mind that a president has to come up before the electorate. We also have to have in mind, that a president has to get appropriations from the Congress. We have to have in mind, for example, that as far as the CIA’s covert operations are concerned, as far as the FBI’s covert operations are concerned, through the years, they have been disclosed on a very, very limited basis to trusted members of Congress. I don’t know whether it can be done today or not.

Frost: Pulling some of our discussions together, as it were; speaking of the Presidency and in an interrogatory filed with the Church Committee, you stated, quote, “It’s quite obvious that there are certain inherently government activities, which, if undertaken by the sovereign in protection of the interests of the nation’s security are lawful, but which if undertaken by private persons, are not.” What, at root, did you have in mind there?

Nixon: Well, what I, at root I had in mind I think was perhaps much better stated by Lincoln during the War between the States. Lincoln said, and I think I can remember the quote almost exactly, he said, “Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation.”

Now that’s the kind of action I’m referring to. Of course in Lincoln’s case it was the survival of the Union in wartime, it’s the defense of the nation and, who knows, perhaps the survival of the nation.

References for a “reasonable” Nixon/Rice reality . . .

Rethinking Afghanistan; The Terror Tax



Rethink Afghanistan (Part 3): Cost of War

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Tax time is reason enough to reflect on our budgets, personal and national.  How realistic are our expenditures?  Do we spend more than we earn?  Does our income allow for a few irrational indulgences?  Do discretionary dollars exist?  Might we consider our ample debt.  Does this represent a temporary deficit, easily resolved, or an obligation that cannot be paid promptly.  We may wish to rethink our reality.  At home, families have taken scissors to credit cards.  More than the minimum payment is made.  The intention is to lessen liabilities and increase savings.  In the month of April, after we pay Uncle Sam, most of us concluded, it is time to clean our own fiscal house.  Next, we move to the nation’s ledger.  

Expenses

The largest share of our moneys go to military operations.  The terror tax has become a tremendous burden of American household and communities.  Yet, few wish to rethink this “duty.”

Much to the chagrin of those who do not favor debt, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were paid for on credit.  Taxes were not increased to pay for the two wars.  Indeed, President Bush cut tariff obligations for the American people while he increased the number of dollars devoted to military operations.  

The cash spent on what most would agree were and are protracted conflicts was not placed on the official ledger.  Nor did it exist in American coffers.  What were classified as “emergency supplemental” expenses were made available on loan.  Other countries, rich in resources, furnished the dollars the United States desired.  The currency would need to be re-paid, with interest!  That concept alone could be considered a tax on terror, or an attack on Americans who disfavor debt.

The current Commander-In-Chief promised he would not engage in such tactics.  The Obama Administration would be transparent.  What would be spent on war would be visible in formal, administrative, concrete calculations.  To that end, in February 2009, perhaps before most Americans filed a return, President Obama submitted his budget.  Headlines screamed, Obama’s budget is the end of an era.

Cash and Change On Hand

Change had come.  Obama re-thought Bush policies.  More money would be officially allocated to military operations.  The Pentagon Does Well with Obama Budget. The financial planned commitment to the Pentagon is an abundant $533.7 billion.   This amount represents a 4 percent increase over the previous 2009 allocation. This total excludes money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The budget includes an additional $75 billion in 2009 for “overseas contingency operations,” a reference to the battles still ablaze in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locales.  Come 2010, $130 billion more will be available for combat.

Insufficient Funds

Cautions presented six months ago, on October 15, 2008, by the Congressional Research Service apparently were not heeded by the new Administration.  Citizens also did not realize, cash for these conflicts is not countless.  It never was.  Calculations were offered.  However, then, as now, the numbers were ignored.  Perhaps, all aspects of the ostensibly perpetual wars were not rethought.

Economic Cost of War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan has cost U.S. Tax payers $172 billion to date, with a request for roughly $13.4 billion to fund the war through the remainder of Fiscal year 2009 expected in March or April.  This brings the total cost through FY 2009 to $185.1 billion.

This figures reflect the budgetary cost alone.  Projected costs over the long term are likely to total more than half a trillion dollars when future occupation and veteran’s benefits are taken into account.  Interest payments could add another $200 billion to that figure. (1) All told, this is more than the size of the recent bailout of Wall Street, and rivals the historic economic stimulus bill just passed by Congress.

Countries outside the United States have spent additional billions on the War in Afghanistan, with the UK contributing roughly £4.5billion (2) and the cost to Canada totaling $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion in Canadian dollars through 2008. (3).

Thus far, you and I, the American taxpayer, borrowed one hundred and eighty five billion dollars, or more,  to fight a war thought futile in Afghanistan.  In Iraq the dollars devoted to deploy each troop, one individual, was $500,000.  That is five hundred thousand dollars!  The money spent on a single soldier sent to Afghanistan is expected to be eight-hundred thousand greenbacks.

Financial Future in Doubt

Many Progressives may wish to wail, “George W. Bush is to blame.”  However, people from the political Party that takes pride in the actions of this President might rethink that truth.  

Days before American tax payments were due, Mister Obama asked Congress for an additional eighty three and four tenths billion dollars ($83.4) to fund the war just through the end of the year!  After Mister Obama assured Americans supplemental expenditures to pay for wars would not be requested, the President rescinded the pledge.  Excuses were made.  Explanations given.  Citizens were told the additional allotment would be the first and the last made by President Obama.

It seems circumstances caused the Chief Executive to rethink his stance on spending and Afghanistan.  Perhaps, citizens will also rethink their position.  In truth, only the people have the power to insist, it is time to cut the funds for war.

Rethinking Afghanistan Realities . . .

Footnote References . . .

1.  The $3 Trillion War. By Linda Bilmes  and Joseph Stiglitz.  Vanity Fair. April 2008

2.  Cost of war in Afghanistan soars to £2.5bn, By Richard Norton-Taylor.  The Guardian. Friday 13, 2009

3.  Economic Cost of War in Afghanistan.

References  and Resources . . .

Infamous Anniversary of Attack



Global Greens 2008 – Bruce Gagnon (Maine, USA)

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

March 19, 2009, is a day that lives in infamy.  There were others in the past.  However, on this date six years ago, the United States launched what has come to be accepted as unwarranted attacks on Iraq.  Although, from the first, there were protests even in high places such as the Senate floor, unilaterally, Americans bombed an innocent people.  This time, for near two years prior, pretense was presented as truth.

The American people were told by their President how dangerous the Iraqi Al Qaida terrorists were.  George W. Bush assured anxious Americans, he would protect us.  Congress was warned of what would occur if the United States did not react to the Middle Eastern threat.  Commander Bush sent a letter on March 18, 2003.  Even as his eight-year term ended, he worked to establish in the minds of historians and the electorate who had experienced all that occurred, Mister Bush kept us safe.  

As recently as December 2008, the now former President proclaimed, a newly acquired nuance to the saga he has long recounted on the war in Iraq.  “It is true, as I have said many times, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to the 9/11 attacks.  But the decision to remove Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from 9/11.”  Yet, he retained and repeated his ever-strident commitment to the combat.  “It was clear to me, to members of both political parties, and to many leaders around the world that after 9/11, this was a risk we could not afford to take.”

Americans, many of whom are content the Bush era has passed, refer to the 9/11 Commission Report to invalidate the claims of a President who no longer resides in the White House.  Currently, countless citizens take comfort; Barack Obama presides over the Oval Office.  The just elected Commander-In-Chief has already begun to take steps to remove beleaguered troops from the embattled frontlines.  

Since Mister Obama took office, citizens are less concerned with the war in Iraq.  Many have faith the President will do what is best for military men and women.  Some are encouraged by reports that the Commander-In-Chief will send combat soldiers stationed in Iraq home safely, or perhaps, individuals are focused on more personal realities.  Anxiety over a potential, probable, or actual job loss consumes countless Americans, more so than combat abroad does.  A pension-plan gone bust, a lack of health care coverage, and a possible home foreclosure take precedence for millions more than war.  Few of the common folk feel as troubled by occurrences in the Middle East.  Most merely hope Mister Obama will do what is best.  

Occasional outspoken exception can be heard.  On March 12, 2009, former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleisher stated, “[A]fter September 11th, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again?  We got a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack the United States.”  Nonetheless, even Conservatives such as John McCain endorse President Obama’s plan for withdrawal.

Overall, opinions on Iraq, the war and the withdrawal are mixed, even among foreign policy experts.

Then there are the few who fear further folly in the Persian Gulf.  Progressives, be they political figures or peace activists amongst the public, think the Obama agenda to end the conflict in Iraq is too little and too late.  Official dissent is often stated diplomatically.  Personal pleas may be more moving.  

A week before the sixth anniversary of America’s Second Gulf War, regardless of the President’s intended withdrawal everyday people stood out in the streets, just as they had done throughout the war.  ‘Iraq is a symptom of a foreign policy and priorities” that the peaceful felt and feel they cannot sanction.

At local vigils nationwide attendees talked of their observation, verified in the news.  Americans support the President’s proposed Afghan buildup.   ”Enough!  Bring the Troops Home Now!” was the oft-heard cry from those who crave global harmony.  Most asked as they had during the fateful Bush years.  “What Do We Do Now?”

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons offers his perspective.  In an article published on June 14, 2007, the recipient of the Doctor Benjamin Spock’s Peacemaker Award presents his ten-point plan.


I often hear from people asking me, “What should we do about all this?  How can we stop Bush?”

I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush.  The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush.  Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire-building plan.  It is about corporate domination.  Bush is just the front man for the big money.

So to me that is step #1 .

Step #2  is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and we as citizens, benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire.  By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world’s resources.  We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base.  This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.

Step #3  is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence.  The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery.  A veteran of George Washington’s Army, in 1779, said, “I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere..  Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire.”  The soldier wrote this as Washington’s Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River.  The creation of the American empire was underway.

Our history since then has been endless war.  Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket.  Butler recalls in his book, “I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service….And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.  In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism….Thus I helped make Mexico and especially

Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.  I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.  I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street….I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.  I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.  I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903.  In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.”

Step # 4  We have to begin to change how we think about our country.  We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means.  I’ll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition – A government in which power is in the hands of a few.  When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do?  They must fight (non-violently) to take it back.  This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience.  Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women’s suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed.  Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today.  Are you in or out?

Step #5  Forget the “every man for himself” mythology.  We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story.  But movement for change can only happen in community – working with others.  So forget the egocentric notion that “one great man” is going to come save us.  It’s going to take a village – in fact all the villages.  Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can’t do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children’s future.

Step # 6  What about my job?  Another smothering myth in America is success.  Keep your nose clean and don’t rock the boat.  Don’t get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you’ve always dreamed of.  In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology.  We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination.  Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.

Step #7  Learn to work well with others.  Sure we all want to be stars.  But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes.  Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.

Step # 8  It’s the money.  How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage?  I’d like to help but I’ve got bills to pay!  Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time – which is protecting the future generations.  How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?

Step # 9  Learn to read again.  Many of us don’t read enough.  We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us.  We’ve got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves.  Reading and talking to others is a key.  Read more history.  All the answers and lessons can be found there.

Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun.  Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work.  Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.

Mister Gagnon professes wars will be forever perpetual if we the people continue to consider our brethren an enemy.  If dominion is our preference, diplomacy will never be more than a mere word.  The public cannot blame George W. Bush or Barack Obama for its addiction to might and material goods.  Nor can we, the people expect an oligarchy to have the best interests of common folks at heart.  If consumption and competition are the principles that guide our population, battles will endure.  If peace is to ever come, as citizens, as a country, on every continent, the people must act in accordance with the principles most claim they hold dear.  Consistency, in thought and deed, can eliminate combat.

“Love thy neighbor” cannot be said only on Sundays, on the Sabbath, or in houses of worship.  Indeed, Bruce Gagnon might avow, as other peaceful persons do, March 19, 2009 is not the sixth anniversary of a war.  It is another date that lives in infamy, as has been every day in centuries of battles fought.

References for the reality of war . . .  

Bush/Obama Administration?

Photobucket

copyright © 2009 Forgiven.  The Disputed Truth

The average American looks up, they distrust politicians in general and they don’t think they’ve been told the truth, and I think they got good reason. They’ve watched a Bush/Obama spending cycle that began with a stimulus package last year which failed at $180 billion, a housing package in August which fail–or July which failed at $345 billion, a Wall Street bailout at $700 billion, a Federal Reserve guarantee of $4 trillion; a stimulus package of $787 billion, which we’re now being told weeks later isn’t big enough, but which had to be passed so quickly no one could read it, because we had to get it out there immediately.

~ Newt Gingrich

I saw the new, old face of the Republican Party this weekend on a Sunday talk show and I was shocked at the new tact of the Republicans. According to Newt Gingrich the last eight years has been the Bush/Obama administration. Who knew? In an effort to once again fasten President Obama to the current economic meltdown the new strategy appears to be to unite him to the failed policies of the Bush administration. The once revered George W. has now been turned into a tax and spend liberal by the very same people who heralded his accent to power. These people have no shame. They are willing to throw Bush under the bus for the sake of some political advantage that doesn’t exist. Do they think that the public is so incompetent that they don’t know the difference between Bush and Obama for the last eight years? Here’s a hint Obama is the tall, dark one.

So are we to assume that the last eight years were not Republican run as we were led to believe by their policies and their utter failure? So Republicans were not the ones who put the economy and our nation on the road to a “China Syndrome”. You have to hand it to them though that is innovative. You attach the incoming administration not only from another Party but another galaxy to the previous failed administration which happened to have been from your Party. My guess is that the goal of this strategy is to try and reduce the amount of patience the American people will have with the new President since he has been in office for the past eight years and hasn’t done anything.

Now for those following at home here is the latest. Not only did President Obama not inherit this economy he actually caused the economy to crash as a member of the Bush administration. Theoretically he has not been in office for only two months after all so his policies don’t deserve anytime to work. After all they are the same big spending, big government policies of that other liberal stalwart George W. Bush. How Mr. Gingrich can expect any national political aspirations to be taken seriously following comments like these are beyond me. But considering no one on the panel gave them a second look maybe he knows something I don’t. The problem with Mr. Gingrich and all of his new and old GOP faces is not that they are new or old; it is that their ideas are old. The GOP continues to repackage their “new” faces with the same failed ideas. I mean to try and pretend that the Republicans outside of George Bush had nothing to do with what is happening in the country today is ludicrous.

Mr. Gingrich would rather join his other political cohorts and fiddle while the empire burns and continue to be apologists for the wealthy than pitch in and help. For anyone to say it is unfair for the taxes of the wealthy to be raised after decades of tax-breaks and inequitable distribution of wealth is completely out of step with the mood of the country. For anyone to argue against giving 95% of working Americans a tax-break they are out of step with the mood of the country and the polls attest to this fact. While Mr. Gingrich and the other ignore the polls munchkins continue to try and deny his popularity the President’s numbers continue to rise. Now the new line is that the President has popularity but doesn’t have credibility with the people. Let’s be clear it is not the President that doesn’t have credibility it is the bankers, politicians, and talking heads that have no credibility. The public is tired of hearing about bankers and wall-streeters who continue to take bail-out money and hoard it or continue to live in a culture of a by-gone era. The public is tired of politicians who refuse to understand that they are hurting and “Just say no” is not an option. The public is tired of media-types who live in a bubble telling them who is at fault and who to trust.

Mr. Gingrich there was no Bush/Obama White House and until the Republicans can acknowledge their role in this economic melt-down and begin to articulate a new strategy that addresses these problems they have no credibility with the public. The public is not willing to ignore the last eight years or pretend they never happened. Until the Republicans can acknowledge their failures they are doomed to repeat them, but not at the expense of this nation. You can’t start a fire and then charge the firefighters with arson. The best thing the Republicans can do to avoid another 50 years in the wilderness is to begin to help craft real legislation that will turn this economy around at least then the Democrats won’t be able to take full credit for the salvation of our country.

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

~ Albert Einstein

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 . . .

Karl Rove and Captain Ahab-Conyers



O’Reilly offers Rove place to hide from subpoena

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“The Architect,” has apparently turned author.  Americans learned of Karl Rove’s newest career on January 28, 2009.  During an interview with Fox News Broadcaster, Bill O’Reilly, the long-time Advisor to former President, George W. Bush, presented his novel manuscript to an expectant audience.  Most tuned in to hear whether he would honor a Congressional subpoena.  Few expected a reinterpretation of the epic fable, Moby Dick.  Yet, there it was, a drama delivered.

In this newer version, Congressman John Conyers is cast in the role of the antagonist.  The Chair of the Judiciary Committee plays the part of Captain Ahab.  Mister Rove sees himself as the lovable whale.  Moby-Karl seeks only to defend himself against obsessive attacks from the maniacal Ahab-Conyers.  Whilst the massive mammal quietly glides through calm seas, a fanatical Captain Ahab-Conyers follows.  Captain Ahab’s anger and aggressive temperament stirs the waters.  The Chair of the Judiciary Committee creates waves.  Moby-Karl merely moves along.  He bothers no one, and wishes to go about his business, nothing more.

Fascinated, Americans listen to Karl Rove spin his yarn.  The writer tells a tale of himself and his nemesis.  The two, Mister Rove explains, have been embroiled in a battle for years.

Sailor Ahab-Conyers, envisions Moby-Karl as a giant marine mammal, fierce, and bent on destruction.  He notes Moby-Karl had successfully designed another of his divisive campaigns.  

Captain Ahab-Conyers is certain, no one has been able to capture, let alone kill, the massive beast.  However, Skipper-Conyers hopes to change that truth.  He will slaughter the slippery creature.  He will do so legally, with a summons.  The sea Commander Ahab-Conyers, wishes to commence with a Congressional investigation.  It seems clear to him, Moby-Karl will use his political influence to alter the composition of the Justice Department.  

Moby-Karl observes the Congressman-Captain is obsessed.  The massive mammal knows not why.  Captain Ahab-Conyers’ only objective is vengeance.  Moby-Karl claims the sailor is determined to do the innocent Cetacea in.

As the dramatist explains, the two had a chance encounter long ago.  Then, the largest ocean creature, Moby-Karl, smashed Conyers-Ahab’s boat.  He was under attack.  Certainly, anyone would understand, he could do nothing but fight for his life.  The alleged “monster” bit the implacable Captain.  Conyers-Ahab lost his leg in the scuffle.  

It was all “innocent” Moby-Karl cries out.  What could he do when confronted with the delusional assailant, Conyers-Ahab?  The Cetacea was defenseless.  The sea Commander had an arsenal of weaponry and a crew.  Members of Congress offered manual assistance and moral support.  The playwright Rove poses; Moby-Karl only had his own inherent compass to guide him, at least that was how Author Herman Melville presented the story in his script.

In this newer version, Moby-Karl has a capable team too.  The whale has a wily swarm of legal eagles to assist him in any battle.  On the air, the mammoth marine mammal revealed the reality within the newer narrative.

Just four days before he left office, President Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration.

On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fielding sent a letter (.pdf) to Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin.  The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove “should not appear before Congress” or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House.  The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove-even after he leaves office.

The plot thickens.  In this story, the gentle giant Moby-Karl will not be the cause of Captain Ahab-Conyers demise.  Self-destructive tendencies will not determine the fate of a fixated Judicial Committee Chair.  If he fails in his quest, Chairman Ahab-Conyers will not have only himself to blame.  The onus will be one he shares with a slew of shrewd attorneys who found their way around earlier edicts such as the one offered In September 2008.

United States District Judge John Bates ruled, “The Executive cannot identify a single judicial opinion that recognizes absolute immunity for senior presidential advisors in this or any other context,” inscribed Bates, a Bush appointee. “In fact, there is Supreme Court authority that is all but conclusive on this question and that powerfully suggests that such advisors do not enjoy absolute immunity.”

Judge Bates, who may be cast as the Ishmael character in Rove’s yarn, rejected the notion President Bush put forward.  The arbitrator ruled blanket executive privileges are not possible.  Perhaps, Mister Rove, did not consider this character when he re-wrote Herman Melville’s work.  In the revised text, it seems “The Architect” omitted the Judge’s recent decision .  

In his manuscript, Romanticist Rove chose to reflect on rhetoric that is more hopeful.  He recalls the original plot.  The blameless Moby Dick survived.  No number of sailors, recruited to assist Captain Ahab, helped him bring down a beast who hurt others only in defense of himself.  Writer, Karl Rove draws on the analogy.  He muses Legislators who support Conyers will not be able to carry out the Chairman’s plan.  

This modern-day whale has defenders unlike any the Melville Cetacea could conceive of.  Moby-Karl Rove has a lawyer, Robert Luskin.  The legal representative has helped to expand the legend.  He was able to secure a stay of execution.   A letter penned by Lawyer Ruskin convinced Captain, Chairman Conyers to postpone a response to the subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee.

Thus, once more Captain Ahab-Conyers, and the American people are left to ask.  Is justice delayed also justice denied?

No one knows for sure.  The people cannot be sure at this point in the plot.  Did Karl Rove cast the curious character, Barack Obama?  Could the Author, Rove, the re-writer of history, make provisions for the majesty of a man not included in Melville’s narrative.  Will Moby Dick again live on?  Might Karl Rove continue to exist with Executive Privileges, or, this time, will the sea creature fall victim to circumstances unforeseen?  Stay tuned for the sequel to this epic melodrama bought to you by “The Architect!”

References for an neo-conservative Romanticism novel . . .

So? So what?



 

Cheney; So . . . Bush: So What?

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The Bush Cheney Administration rewrote history even as it occurred.  In the waning hours of their shared reign, a committee was formed to secure their legacy.  Technically, the work to revise the past began only weeks ago.  In truth, the men in the Executive Branch endeavored to deliver a message of accomplishment from the first.  

On every occasion, when asked of the public umbrage for the Iraq War, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney offered a similar answer.  “So.”  

Shocked by the cold-hearted reactions, Americans were moved to speak of the lack of care.  Yet, no one, at least not those in Congress who could challenge such a cavalier attitude, responded in a meaningful manner.  No matter the widespread antipathy for the Presidential pair, the American people settled into apathy.  Most did not think censure was wise.  Countless claimed impeachment was impossible.  A glimpse into the souls of two men who voluntarily chose to slaughter innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan did not move people to take action.

There was an air of acceptance in America.  The people felt they could do nothing.  Hence, they did not.  Citizens of this country listened.  They sigh.  A few chuckled.  Most just ignored what they characterized as classic arrogance.  Thus, the haughtiness grew.  In March 2008, the Vice President knew the public was indifferent.  He had reason to believe that the American people thought the dream of prosecution was impossible.

When asked how that assessment comports with recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it, Cheney replied, “So?”

“You don’t care what the American people think?” Raddatz asked the vice president.

“You can’t be blown off course by polls,” said Cheney, who is currently on a tour of the Middle East. “This president is very courageous and determined to go the course. There has been a huge fundamental change and transformation for the better. That’s a huge accomplishment.”

The Administration was steadfast, and said so frequently.  They would stay the course.  The mission was accomplished, although altered for the benefit of an audience.  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, always cognizant of how history might judge them practiced the proper posit.  Indeed, in the closing days the Administration may have perfected the posture.  On December 14, 2008, little more than a month before the President leaves office, he again spun an improved interpretation of his-story.

Bush:Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take  . . .

Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

Bush: Yeah, that’s right. So what?

So what?  What does it matter what the truth might be, or what the American people might think.  It is of little consequence that innocent Iraqis and Afghanis were killed needlessly.  For the two Executives, neither of whom ever fought on a frontline, a deception that led to the deaths of American soldiers was but a necessary deed, a patriotic pact. Certainly, there is no reason for criticism or a critique.  

“So?”  “So what?”  The antagonistic, supercilious actions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have caused so many sorrows for the common folk torn by combat.  Yet, the mantra of the men who supposedly serve a nation, who continue to occupy the Oval Office, is essentially, ‘Oh well.’  Were that it was “so”.  If only the world had not accepted such a self-serving stance from the Bush Administration, perhaps, all would have been and be well.

So? Sources . . .

Barbra and Bush; Oh My!



Raw Video: Bush, Streisand Share Awkward Smooch

It was an awards ceremony.  The location; the White House.  Before the one was to be honored at the Kennedy Center, the two were there together.  All eyes were upon them.  Few knew what to think.  Would there be tension, animosity, or anxiousness.  He spoke and then moved towards her. She stood.  Arch adversaries, one from the “Right.”  The other firmly situated on the “Left.”  A pair of political  opposites engaged cordially.  It was but pomp and circumstances.  Perhaps, this was a change or could be.  No one would have believed what was about to occur.  

None thought to call them a “Team of Rivals.”  Nor would anyone imagine the two might kiss.  Yet, it happened.  Barbra Streisand gracefully received an awkward embrace and a peck on the cheek from the President, George W. Bush.  The singer and vocal political challenger returned the  smooch.  Miss Streisand smiled. Mister Bush bowed ever so slightly.  The audience, while perhaps stunned, seemed to say nothing.  Hushed whispers might have been heard; however, the applause drowned out any murmurs.

Yet, hours later, the buzz was broadcast far and wide.  It is Barbra and Bush, oh my.

House Resolution 1531; Pardon Me?

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copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The people of this country might wish to consider House Resolution 1531, introduced by New York Representative, Jerrold Nadler.  This legislation is meant to prevent preemptive Presidential pardons, or at least try to restrain an a President whose power has gone unchecked.  

To understand the vital need for such a measure, we might only ponder the proclamation offered by the current President when his cohort, I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby was convicted.  The public was aware of the intent to commute the sentence; yet, they did as was customarily done.  Americans ignored many highly suspect practices within the Oval Office.  The word was it is not good to impeach a sitting President.  While the people posited apathy, Conservative Constitutional Lawyer Bruce Fein argued.  If investigations are delayed, and an objective to censure this Administration is obstructed, a terrible precedent would be set.  

Respondents proclaimed; once President Bush and Vice President Cheney are out of office, justice would be served.  The public would attend to the widespread abuse of power.  Now, it seems that possibility could be quashed.  The opportunities left to the man who still resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may not allow for such an action.  

By law, George W. Bush could pardon himself and the principal staffers who served at his pleasure.  (It might be noted, the White House, perchance nervous, felt a need to state it is not “inclined” to grant extensive, defensive, clemencies to prominent public servants.  The Chief Executive’s office claims there is no need for such an formal forgiveness.)

Nevertheless, as the presumption looms large, I believe the American people must stand up and attempt to reclaim the rights afforded them in the United States Constitution.  

Fellow citizens, I beseech you.  We have avoided the use of provisions our founders endowed us with.  It is time to embrace the document bequeathed to us, and do as our forefathers would have done in a similar situation.  

Please America remember; only the people can accept or end a cycle of high crimes and misdemeanors.  I invite you to tell your Congressman and woman of your concerns, sign the petition, and send a Letter to your local Editors.  Let us begin to be a government of, by, and for the people.  Please do what you can, speak out.  Silence only secures further exploitations as it has in the past, in the present, and likely will in the future.

References and Reasons for House Resolution 1531 . . .