March 20, 2003 - December 18, 2011; the war in Iraq is allegedly over.
All U.S. combat troops out — 32,223 wounded over nearly 9 years.

Now, 2,399 U.S. soldiers have been killed, 20,000+ wounded in the Afghan war.
How close to the Iraq toll must it get before this waste ends?

In 2006, when the Democrat-majority, 110th Congress was sworn in, election-
mandated to end the Iraqi war, the toll of U.S. soldiers, killed, stood at 2,994.

Two years later, as Barack Obama took office, with a promise to bring an end to
Bush’s special-interest, Iraqi occupation in 16 months, the toll of  U.S.  soldiers
killed there, on the say of a minority of Republicans in Congress,  rose to 4,227.
As President Obama announced,  “end of combat,”  on August 31, 2010:  4,416.

What justification or accountability for
those children of  the soldier parents,
brothers and sisters of the 4,520 dead
for whom there’ll be no homecoming?

Each casket and funeral picture represents 100 soldiers who perished in Iraq, who were like the 100, still alive, above.

Here, for every 100 deaths Bush-Cheney have brought to the families of soldiers in Iraq, is a casket and a funeral.
Bush-Cheney failure to end Afghan war after quick victory makes them responsible for most deaths there as well.

Is it the price of freedom, visible here, or that of a Constitution, subordinated?

Direct responsibility is now shared by Republicans in Congress, without excuse or equivocation, for
more spilled blood and lives lost in an occupation harmful to the nation, unjustifiable, and unjust.

And a single image,  speaking for more
than 100,000 Iraqi collateral innocents.

Roses  by Kim Taylor

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A soldier, shot dead in a house used as an insurgent HQ in Falluja. — EPA Photo

The censorship of Iraq-war images by the Bush administration, beginning early on with bans against photography of flag-draped coffins, which continued until President Obama halted those restrictions, is still in practice to this day, as embedded reporters and photographers are kicked out of their units when pictures of casualties are published, and increasingly-impossible restrictions are placed upon the images that are approved for release.  The picture, above, taken by Stefan Zaklin, then with the European Pressphoto Agency, was widely published in Europe and was in a group of casualty photos subsequently, much later, published in a Web slide show by the New York Times.

Publishing of such photos is not motivated by any sort of sensationalism, but rather because there is nothing like such graphic images that can relate the bare truth, invoking thought of the consequences of war and an assessment of the worth of the costs, whatever the level of casualties, under whatever circumstances, surge or otherwise.  In Vietnam, where there were few restrictions on photographers, the graphic photos of casualties helped to arouse the massive, public outcries that eventually forced that illegitimate war to an end.

Is America, as Bush and his Republicans claimed, and as President Obama endorses, by retaining the troop presence in Iraq (the promised full pull-out remains to be seen) and adding to Afghanistan, really any more secure for the life this young soldier and his family had taken from them?  As victories in the Afghan and Pakistani provinces and on the streets of Europe and America are won by special operations, intelligence, and law enforcement, not troops who, in trying to fight a ghostly, population-embedded enemy, continue to kill civilians and grow that enemy, the answer, which daily unfolds to ring ever-more true, is... no!

Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968.

           From before language . . .
           From before the short-lived days of Plato and Aristotle,
           And the hopeful, professed, civil-enlightenment
           Conception of Thomas Jefferson and the Founders,
           Through the latest protestations of cloned diplomats,
           The search for peace on Earth has been expressed, spoken,
           Attached to every necessary and unnecessary conflict
           Like a torn, headless, rag doll, betrayed and dangled
           In the hand of an inimical, mischievous child.

           That search for “Peace on Earth,”
           Is there really any such prize?
           War and the greed that drives it
           Is a feted flatulence that will return, unrelenting, until,
           Following the spirit . . .  the body dies.
           The chance of finding extra-terrestrials is better,
           And that is nil, the likes of
           The late, Lord of Neverland notwithstanding.

           Peace on Earth exists only six feet beneath and
           Just beyond the dark, distant horizon of mankind’s history.
           That rotted deep and the future void,
           The only escape from war’s constant reign
           Over every averse generation, passed and present,
           Piled one atop the other, as the pale, withered corpses,
           Screaming silently a horrid holocaust in unanswered prayers.
           Or, an escape of blinding, insulating, self-induced apathy,
           Contributing as much to the blight as to any relief,
           Or more so.


Where within the Bush administration was there visible any scar of this enduring weight of loss and pain, so recklessly and casually wrought by Bush and Cheney upon a peaceful nation?   Where within Bush, as he strutted campaign stumps making jokes about West Wing movers, and drum-danced in the Rose Garden, could be found the shroud of these deaths, the kinds of which history has recorded so darkened the daily lives of Lincoln and Roosevelt?   Where, besides in legacy-clawing, hindsight-tainted memoirs, with Iraq, can Bush or Cheney claim an ounce of the justification those great presidents had to commit American troops to war and death?  Bush spokesmen, in late 2006, played down the postponement of the scheduled meeting between Iraqi P.M. Maliki and Bush by saying that the purpose of the meeting was mostly “social” in nature, and in so doing, Bush provided yet another example of the lackluster attitude he had toward ending the meaningless deaths of U.S. soldiers who propped up Maliki by acting as his police.  Just as is now true for President Obama, there was, for Bush, no higher priority for the nation or his administration than to stop the killing, and the pall of such on-going deaths provided no backdrop or justification whatsoever for a meeting between those two so-called leaders on a “social” basis, where the completion of such serious business was wanting.

Before Bush invaded Iraq, he said of Saddam, “I’m sick and tired of games and deception.”  And that’s all Bush has shoved down the throats of Americans and the rest of the world since before he began his premeditated, callous, thoughtless, criminal trek of misery and destruction in Iraq.  If his statement wasn’t just P.R.—a line for show and for the crowd, Americans would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he knows how it feels to be lied to and deceived.  The revelation by the New York Times, of the Bush administration’s Pentagon/media-propaganda program, established before the war, is further proof the invasion was preordained by the administration, and that it was, and remains, an illegal propagandizing of the American people and Congress to conceal and distort the truth in order to prosecute a hidden, special-interest agenda through a criminal abuse of U.S. resources and military lives and blood, for which the deserved impeachments, which never came, except in the judgement of history, can hardly begin to answer.

Trump’s no pig in a poke.

He was portrayed as “someone who blamed others for his constant failures, who thought that he was smarter than everyone else, who craved attention…” and it wasn’t Trump.  Circuit Court Judge Tim Duket, in the Marinette County, Wisconsin courtroom, said that of Scott Johnson when he sentenced him to three life terms without parole for the murder of three teenagers he shot to death at an idyllic swimming hole, attempted murder for shots fired at several more people, and sexual assault.  Johnson’s story reveals additional characteristics tied to sociopathic behavior, and the judge’s words could have been directed at Trump; it shows how dangerous a person with sociopathic traits can become if they don’t have other distractions and outlets and the means and circumstances to get away with abuse of others.

It is impossible to say if Trump, removed from his wealth and the varied opportunities it has provided him to vent his abuse on wives, children, prostitutes, employees, customers, reality-show and pageant contestants, would have snapped and turned to the ultimate abuse of murder, as Johnson did.  But it is hardly out of the question because he has already been accused of brutal rape by his former wife, Ivana, and murder has already crossed Trump’s mind, when before thousands of people and cameras at an Iowa campaign rally, he actually said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”  Why would such an example come to his mind if not for a severe psychopathy?

Trump’s ignorance and egomania prompted him, as a U.S. president, to compare himself, superlatively, to Abraham Lincoln, the president most revered for the unassailable moral integrity of his character.  But Trump had demonstrated many times (and continues to) through many aspects of his personal, business, and political lives that he is a man drenched of decidedly defective character, a man who has no qualms at all about fatherhood by proxy of money, none about sexually objectifying and publicly expressing lust for his daughter, or physically and verbally assaulting women, or insulting anyone, be they women, Gold Star families, POWs, the handicapped or leaders in government—ours or of any nation… except Russia.  Russia, proven beyond any doubt to have attacked America’s democratic system, and is continuing to do so; yet, Trump does nothing to uphold his oath and primary responsibility as president to defend the nation and its Constitution against all threats—an impeachable offense on its own.

But Republicans in Congress instead enable him.

His Boy Scout speech brought to mind Hitler youth.  He brags about ripping off financially struggling contractors because loophole laws paid for by and serving the wealthy made it “legal,” just as other useful loopholes allow him and others of extraordinary wealth to escape taxes, Trump claiming his accountant’s smarts as his own for avoiding the obligation (met by all those who are far removed from his financial level) over stretches of years.  He has defrauded students who sacrificed, expecting to be able to advance themselves, not Trump’s ill-gotten gains, and for use of his golf facilities, he overcharged charitable, fund-raising events for children with cancer.  He twice revealed classified information:  to Russia and the less-than-friendly, China-leaning president of the Philippines, and he abused the power of his office to attempt influencing an FBI investigation, and failing, fired the director.  He berates the judicial branch, the press and, by association, American democracy’s most important safeguards:  the Constitution’s checks and balances and First Amendment.  He exalts authoritarian despots while defiling America’s closest allies and mainstay alliances defending democracies.  The “great deal-maker/negotiator” again resorted to his principle tool, now for diplomacy:  bullying, turning a treaty obligation, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), into blackmail leverage against Canada and Mexico, there, insisting on payment for the wall, resulting in Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelling a planned White-House visit, Trump spokespersons calling it a “postponement.”  And both internationally and at home he displays undeniable religious discrimination and racism which has resulted in respective federal-court injunctions, state legal entanglements and settlements, and most recently, international outrage, as well as demoralization of the U.S. diplomatic corps and career-officer resignations.  He curses in public like a pimp and lies like the corrupt politician and con artist he is, taking it to never-before attained levels of incredulous blatancy.

Yet, Republicans in Congress still enable him.

Trump has consistently displayed all the traits of a narcissistic, egomaniacal, misogynistic, serial-liar authoritarian—all the makings of an irretrievable sociopath.  And everyone, including… no, especially his core supporters, as well as those who just hate Hillary and those who would not recognize the concept validity of “the lesser of two evils” and didn’t vote, all of them knew most of this about Trump before they voted for him, either via ballot or refrain.

So did Republicans in Congress, and with abominable selfishness and irretrievable hypocrisy they still enable him.

What does that say about them?  The Republicans?  The Trump voters?  About America?  It is safe to say that there are the “deplorables” Clinton itemized in her speech coining the term.  But the majority of those who made Trump head of state (NOT leader, that must be earned) did so out of sheer anger, frustration and/or desperation; so, Trump really represents all that is wrong with American government and society, all that has ravaged the middle class, transferring jobs and wealth to the third and developing worlds for the sake of greater corporate profits (corporations blaming globalism and illegal immigrants), leaving in the wake a despicable, obscene inequality of economics and opportunity for all except the wealthy and the powerful, to whom the Republican party bows allegiance, as a client, willingly seeding its agenda with depleted health-care plans, savagely reduced funds for health services, with resultant, increased sickness and death; lost meals for school kids and the elderly and in-suspense healthcare for all kids; cleaved public education, left bare of humanities and arts; and now, a reverse-Robin-Hood tax gift to the wealthy and corporations, with temporary appeasement scraps to what’s left of the middle class—all of it representing an interminable list of attacks against civilized attributes and ambitions across the national and international landscapes, while the wealthy get the fruits of that agenda:  hundreds of $billions in defense contracts and another steep tax break, with the cost of more than one $trillion added to the already crushing debt, dumped on future generations as Republicans try to sell the cruel, blatant lie of it “paying for itself” through the propaganda fantasy of trickle-down “growth,” the only real trickle-down being the metaphorical golden shower which Trump, McConnell, Ryan, Mnuchin and the rest of the GOP are spraying all over most Americans, including those not wealthy who voted for Trump!

The con was laid naked by Trump’s pathetic appointments to most of his cabinet seats and his total disregard of either qualifications or experience with nepotistic filling of top-level advisory posts, and his fancy executive orders and memo signings confirm it, while his social media and clumsily delivered teleprompter speeches and Boy Scout speech continue to spout the lies of his hijacked populist and democratic propaganda and his grandiose, fetid lies of feathered accomplishments.  The vice president’s most important job has become to inflate Trump’s ego by making lengthy, fluffed-praise introductions to the Rose Garden and White House ceremonial rooms, where President Obama and most others before him would just appear, or someone would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”  Now, it’s got to be a drawn-out “Hail Trump” prologue before the Orange will show to crow.

Trump also represents the “me first” and “I want it now” consumerism, so rampantly embedded in corporate advertising, which infects sociability, courtesy, generosity, all the things to which Trump is the antithesis and which he is now peddling in his con, which is sooo apparent, falling like dandruff from beneath his bulbous, red, “Make America Great Again” hat onto the broad foreboding of his shadow.  He has a carrot suspended in front of the donkey as it pulls his cart of pernicious political and civic sewage over a bridge that’s collapsed in the middle.

How could people, even desperate ones, expect that a man so deeply flawed as Trump, so obviously the liar and bearer of compassionless sociopathic traits that he is, would be capable of anything good or would be able to comprehend, let alone shoulder the weight of their hope?

Why do they and Republicans in Congress not recognize the absolute need for a president of this nation to be all the things Trump is not:  a person of morals, strength, honor, of social commitment, to be ethical, courteous, thoughtful, learned, cooperative and compassionate… a gentleman? Or lady?

They know that if you make a casserole with spoiled meat, rotten vegetables and moldy cheese that it will taste bad and sicken all who eat it.  They know that damaged or virus software wrecks the computer.  They’ve heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.”  With Trump, why on Earth would they expect lead to turn into gold?  Just because he plasters it on everything he owns?

Why enough people to prove the Electoral College is a dated artifact that must be abolished voted for Trump (but 3-million-plus fewer than voted for Hillary) is likely the question of our age, because in light of Trump’s profane character, and the embarrassingly narrow defeat (by only a slim 1.5 percent) of the equally distasteful Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate (who never would have been a candidate if not for Trump’s and the endorsing Republican party’s shattering of all standards of decency in politics) none of the answers that immediately come to mind are flattering for America or its people.  But Moore’s narrow loss, now followed by Democrat Conor Lamb’s narrow, congressional special-election victory in Pennsylvania’s nearly two-decade-long, Republican-safe 18th District (which Trump carried by 20 points), gives real hope that good people are beginning to understand the very real perils of non-participation in the political process, and that the mid-term election in November may take legislative government (and constitutional watchdog obligation) back from Republicans who have enabled the hateful travesty of Trump’s agenda, and remove the stain of his reprehensible character, and the Republican party’s complicity with it, restoring America’s image, world standing and leadership to solve the serious problems which can only be confronted through truth, international cooperation and commitment, not lies, antagonism, ridicule and uninformed impulsiveness.

It’s time to really drain the swamp!

One-third of the Senate’s seats are up for election in just nine months, along with all those of the House.  Democratic control of the Senate and House will allow:

• Replacing Republicans who put party over country by refusing to act when Trump fired the FBI director, admitting, as circumstances support, it was because of the Russia investigation, which Trump obstructed, and for which the director had just requested additional resources.

• Congressional authorization to be mandated (reinforcing constitutional requirement) for any military deployment or non-defense combat engagement, and blocking unauthorized military aggression.

• Block federal possession of voter records and any executive action affecting voting rights or procedures.

• Replace those in Congress, insensitive to the shooting deaths of 20 1st-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary (among many attacks) and ban assault weapons, bump stocks, extended clips, sales to no-fly listed, and require universal background checks.

• Passage of law requiring presidents to reveal their tax returns.

• Replace impotent nepotism rules with laws prohibiting nepotism without minimum qualifications, experience and independent oversight.

• Ensuring aggressive congressional investigations into Russian ties with Trump.

• Imposing limitations on costs for executive and family travel/protection between residences and other destinations.

• Impeachment of Trump, as evidence of crimes, treason or insanity/unstable psychology has appeared.

• Reversing Republican removal/reduction of health-care coverage and instead, improving it.

• Reversing Trump’s withdrawal from Paris accords and elimination/weakening of environmental protections.

• Reversing cuts to public education made by DeVos/Trump in favor of private and charter schools.

• Prevent possibility of cuts in funding to the arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

• Reverse Trump’s indiscriminate, family-separating, citizen-involved deportations, pass immigration reform.

• Reverse Trump’s elimination/weakening of financial consumer-protection regulations.

• Reverse Republican tax-reform changes benefitting the wealthy/corporations and increasing inequality.

• Pass law reversing Citizens United’s ruling bestowing voter status to corporations.

• Reverse DOJ actions impeding or reversing protections against vote suppression.

• Reverse DOJ actions impeding or reversing programs for police oversight.

• Reinstate participatory separation of church and state.

• Make permanent the ban against importing hunting trophies of endangered species.

• Much more…

Votes must come for change to follow.

Malcolm KantzlerDecember 15, 2017

Mitch McConnell, the next Senate Majority Leader, celebrates victory, promises to get things done.

The new GOP — a majority of the minority.

The Republicans’ responses to the election are as clouded with misconceptions as the campaign they mounted against Democrats.  Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said the election was “a mandate repudiating Obama policies,” and that “Republican principles were embraced,” themes being parroted across the Republican landscape.

Thom Tillis, who won a narrow 1.68-percent majority over his Democrat opponent for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat, went further, to promise “a kill bill on Obamacare [the Affordable Care Act],” and in anticipation of a presidential veto on that, promised obstruction in its implementation.  This was probably the most honest post-election reflection of true GOP intent for its new majority swing.

The least accurate view being touted by Republicans trying to build a perception of broad popular support was, “Voters had their voices heard.”

To the contrary, voter non-turnout in this 2014 mid-term electionelection, the lowest in more than 40 years, decidedly says the new GOP is really a majority of the minority, since most registered voters took a sleeping pill and voted with their backs.  Exit polling shows that most of the few who did turn out are sick and tired of government, inequality, and what they perceive as taking the brunt of the national-debt consequences.  They also rightly perceive that their household incomes have not begun to recover from the Great Recession, let alone profit from both the loss and the recovery as has been the case for the Republican core of wealthy and corporations.  The fact that increasing the minimum wage won in every state in which it was on the ballot is a more accurate reflection of what voters really think about Republican policies, while 48 percent think life will be worse for the next generation, in spite of the election if not as a result of it.

Considering that by taking the mid-term sleeping pills most registered-voter no-shows gave the Senate majority to Republicans who want, in turn, to give control of health care back to insurance companies and medical conglomerates, they empowered a corporate-money party that wants to turn the self-sustaining, treasured safety net of Social Security over to the profiteering hands of the very financiers who destroyed the economy with their arrogance, criminality and greed; they helped the party of science deniers who have stalled and blocked efforts to curb warming and make fracking dangers transparent, thereby endangering the future of subsequent generations for the sake of more profit for the privileged few today; they gave flight to GOP hawks wanting to fight the unrealistic, unwinnable, unending wars against evil around the world; and said “yes” to a self-serving party that wants, first and foremost, to benefit its benefactors by maintaining the inequality of economics and opportunity it has created, keeping students deep in debt as they study and try to build America’s future, and by suppressing the voting opportunities of the poor and middle-class.  Through denying and therefore empowering all of this, and more, the mass of apathetic, disgusted, turned-off and tuned-out voters have in fact not only turned their backs and gone to sleep on their own political survival, but they have created a nightmare, a very real kind of term suicide for most people of the nation over at least the next two years and far beyond in the cases of some appointments and legislation that, as a consequence, will and will not be passed in both state and national venues.

The truth is that the policy most damaging to the nation over the last six years has been the Republican policy which has been voiced many times by the next Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, dictating, “for the GOP to succeed, Obama must fail,” even at the cost of blocking recession recovery by hindering corrective regulatory efforts and needed, job-creating infrastructure funding, and creating government shut-downs and near credit defaults.  It has been an unrelenting policy of collateral national loss for the sake of striking at the other party’s president and the programs of the majority.

Is all of this really to change under the guise of a propagandized mandate and smoke-screened claim of a base of popular support for a party that turned to fearmongering to win votes as quickly as Ebola failed to spread like wildfire?  Look back to the victory statements of Thom Tillis and don’t bet against the GOP’s invigorated policy straying far from that obdurate one-sidedness over the next two years, from what it always has been, but now, wielding the clout that comes with the truth most voters seem incapable of learning:  that elections really do have consequences.

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Voter non-turnout in the 2014 mid-term election gives no mandate, rather it decidedly says the new GOP is really a majority of the minority.

Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.

November 5, 2014

A Japanese gas refinery and depot erupts in a spectacular
explosion after burning for hours in the quake’s aftermath.

Natural disaster, a never-ending fact of life — a future preview for American citizens.

When you do the simplest things, like turning on the tap to wash your face, or shower, or brush your teeth, or fill a coffee maker or a pan to boil an egg, don’t take it for granted.  Think of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands in Japan who have no tap... no nothing.

Then, think about the Americans who will join them, suffering as they do, losing their place and their loved ones, as they have, victims in future disasters, sure to come, soon, in the lifetimes of our generations, even more catastrophic than Japan’s Earth-jolting, Great Quake of March 11.  Think, also, how on the very week of this disaster, newly elected Republicans in Congress led the fight to remove tsunami-warning systems from the federal budget, in the name of their special brand of austerity, the paltry savings to be paid for with the equally paltrily-valued lives of many who would otherwise be saved.

Then, in that coming, American disaster, think of how many could have been saved, how the damages could have been reduced, the relief made more speedy and comprehensive if the money that could have accomplished all of that wasn’t squandered to line the pockets of government parasites, or thrown away by politicians, behind the facade of building the infrastructures of other nations as America’s go to waste, to instead fill the pockets of those corrupt, foreign governments and finance fighting their wars for them, as Republicans have started and then, throughout the decade, fought and blocked every effort to end or shorten their war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or cut the $trillions spent on the military by returning America’s sprawling, global, military footprint to a deployment reflecting a more truthful, peacetime reality.

Then, cherish that tap all the more, while you still have it, because there are a multitude of threats beyond these that, not confronted, will eventually slow its flow or completely dry it up.

The “tap,” representing one of the most elemental commodities in life is, of course, symbolic for all of those things that are necessary to live a long life, with dignity and opportunity.  Most of them, for most Americans, depend upon a viable democracy.  The ways in which America’s democracy is at serious risk of being surreptitiously swept away, with a duration of adverse affect upon most Americans that can extend beyond that of any earthquake, are all addressed somewhere below:

March 14, 2011

Image pending.

Lipstick on a pig?

On the question of the Justice-Department memo on administration authority to target a U.S. citizen for death, it is surprising that the incongruous nature of the situation for authorizing wire-taps is not mentioned, wherein, for the administration to spy on citizens, the review of a special judge, in place for that purpose, is required, while to kill a citizen, no judicial review is necessary.  It seems unlikely that there will ever be any detail in the DOJ memo which will paint the lipstick which transforms that pig.

Sen. Ron Weyden (D-OR), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who seeks release of the secret, Justice-Department memos that provide the legal reasoning supporting the president’s authority to target U.S. citizens for death, references the president’s title of “Commander in Chief,” and he alludes to a “great amount of power” the Constitution vests in the president through that title.  Sen. Weyden then claims the memos must be released to the Senate in order that constitutional checks and balances on that great power can be applied.

On the following week, February 10, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) argued, on Meet the Press, that the president’s executive power to kill, with remote-piloted vehicles, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, world-wide, has congressional authorization.  To make such an argument when the legal basis of that process has been kept from congress is hypocrisy in the extreme.  Constitutionally, it is for congress to define the basis for and limits of authorized military actions, not the president’s lawyers.

How can we ever hope to regain a constitutionally-aligned government when key senators, like Weyden, believe the title “Commander in Chief” grants the president great military powers to unilaterally initiate actions outside of the congress?  Where, under Weyden’s misconception, does the Constitution provide the oversight authority he claims is sidestepped by administration’s withholding of the DOJ memos?

Nowhere.  There is not any place within the Constitution stating that the Senate, or the House, or the collective bodies have any power to oversee military activities of agencies operating under the president.  Again, there is no power, within the Constitution’s Article I (or anywhere else), granting congress the right of military oversight.  So what is Sen. Weyden talking about when he refers to establishing constitutional checks and balances with respect, in this case, to CIA operations that kill U.S. citizens, among many foreign nationals, abroad, in places where the U.S. is not engaged in any war?

President-initiated military power being overseen by congress is a non-sequitur because, first, the title, “Commander in Chief,” conferred by the Constitution upon the president, has no powers attached to it.  It is just a title which designates the civilian official, president, as the top commander, so that when any of the powers relating to military activities, which are vested solely within Congress under Article I of the Constitution, are applied by congress and relayed to the president to carry out, that the military will be subordinate to the civilian president as “Commander in Chief,” in that he, under that title, is authorized to carry out the military actions authorized by congress.  Second, the oversight by congress comes in only through its right and responsibility to insure that the military powers and authorities and goals it passes to the president for execution, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution are adequately and correctly followed out.  Take away the constitutional authority of congress to determine and authorize military actions, then there is no vehicle for congress to have the authority to oversee—to “check” the use of such power.

Presidentialists, who contort the Constitution, and the title, “Commander in Chief,” beyond all recognition, and with great practical success, to attempt extending ever more and more power to the executive (the president), have no answer for this because there is none.  And one needs look no further than direct quotes of the Founders, including Madison and Jefferson, not to mention the suffering they saw inflicted by George III’s Redcoats upon their neighbors, to know why all military authorities are vested in Article I—in congress, and would never have been placed by the Founders within the authority of one person, the president, a position they feared for power abuse despite the checks and balances they built into the Constitution.

Many problems, from undeclared wars placating NATO allies, as with Libya, to the killing of U.S. citizens under the too conveniently vague circumstances of a war against terrorism, will never be resolved so long as congress is unwilling to assert its constitutional powers.  And being that congress is a body of little courage and much concern about elections, that will not happen until the underlying problem of the broken congress is addressed, including key members who do not recognize what powers constitutionally belong to them and are most properly and safely kept within their collective minds and hearts.

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Sen. Weyden’s (D-OR) attribution of war powers to the title, “Commander in Chief,” is wrong—congress has sole power to set war-power goals.

  Or this:
McCain wants U.S. to go to war for freedom of people around the world, after Nada Soltan murder in Iran, Libya, now Syria. When will it end?

Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.

February 7, 2013.  Updated February 10, 2013.

Romney makes many promises, provides few details, but is concise on expanded global presence of U.S. military power.

Romney mistakenly ties global respect and admiration to military force.

Re:  Mitt Romney casts Obama as weak on foreign policy, The Washington Post, September 13, 2012

Genghis Khan in Mongolia; Caesar, in Italy; Kim Jung-il and his son, in N. Korea, all thought that world leadership could be achieved at the point of a sword.  They were wrong.  Even the ancient powers which gained control over vast reaches of their worlds with military might could not sustain that power, and in the end, the sword brought them down.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad believe the future Islamic revelation and the ancient Persian glory of Iran can be realized through nuclear-tipped swords.  In America, Truman and Eisenhower, in Korea; Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, in Vietnam; Bush and Cheney, in Iraq, and Obama in Libya, all believed America’s leadership and objectives in those regions could be written with the point of a sword, and they were all wrong.

Now, Mitt Romney, if he is elected, envisions a military expansion that will bring “American leadership” to the Middle East and across the world.  Romney seeks to tighten the bonds of the Republican party with the military-industrial complex by expanding the already historic sprawl of American military presence and involvement around the world, and even if that is the right policy, pay for it, how?

“A strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military,” he said, today.  “We have to have a military second to none and that’s so strong no one would ever think of testing it.”  The Taliban in Afghanistan thought nothing of testing it.  The Viet Cong in Vietnam, the North Koreans, Chinese, Russians, and the Iranians, all have tested it, and in each of those eras, America viewed its might as intimidating, unconquerable.  And it is clear, from his statements, that Romney sees the military as the “sword of leadership,” that he will wield and place at foreign throats to invite challenge and conflict in place of peaceful alternatives, or alternatives for non-involvement, where American security is really not at risk.

Romney went on, “The world needs American leadership, the Middle East needs American leadership.  And I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”  How arrogant, and ignorant, and unmindful of history is that statement, linking American leadership, defined by him to be through the military, to global admiration?  How much of that admiration do Bush and Cheney, or the America of their administration enjoy?  When, ever, except at the end of WWII, and the “Desert Storm” ejection of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the brief, and timely ending Gulf War, was America really admired for flexing its military muscles?

America needs a president who respects history and the egregious harm a strong military has brought to America and can continue to bring to it with misguided leadership — the proof of that harm is repeated throughout America’s 20th and 21st-century history, and in our national debt and cemeteries, as well.  Mitt Romney cannot be that president, particularly not when Congress allows presidents to repeatedly usurp its constitutional authority as the branch of government having sole power to decide where, when, and for how long America goes to war.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu's criticism of Obama for not setting line to strike Iran misplaced. Congress has responsibility to set war-power goals.

  Or this:
OPSEC Group criticizing ops leaks is Republican arm of the Military-Industrial Complex and is more concerned about military draw-downs/cuts.

Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.

September 13, 2012

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)

The proof of Akin’s lie is in his words.

In his “apology,” Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) said, “The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

This is just another case of, not apology, but cover-up and cover-over the “mistake” he really made: revealing his true, extreme-infected self.  The truth is right there, in the words he first spoke and now tries to cover-up:

“It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare.  If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

You see, in that statement, Akin followed a basic tenant of debate and argument, being that, as in debate on fact, when a person holds an irrational belief, or tells an intentional lie, the very first thing they do is to try and give credence to the lie by claiming a qualified expert or professional endorsement, which, in supporting a lie, is often another lie or deception.  This is just what Akin did when he first made his comment, invoking “doctors,” claiming, “...from what I understand from doctors.”  Those words reveal the truth of his lie, because you can be positively assured that no medical doctor anywhere in the country, even among those whose licenses have been revoked, would have ever told him such an outrageous misstatement of medical and biological fact, unless maybe those “doctors” all got their degrees from the Medical School of Creationism, where man roamed the Earth with T-Rex and all of creation actually took just six days for God to accomplish, and probably, if such a place existed, the healing practice would be a chant.

So no, don’t believe the apology—it’s just as disingenuous as the lie he spoke to try and qualify his extreme doctrine.  Do forgive him if that is what moves you, not for the lie, but for being what he is.  But never make the mistake of voting for a Republican-extremist liar like him, or any extremist liar like him or his kind.

Unfortunately, Akin’s kind are the extremist, conservative Republicans who lead the Republican party, yet do not represent its platform in this age of never-say (except what your hired experts say will get you elected) politics.  As policy goes, and as far as what Romney and Ryan have done and how they have voted in the past, Akin does speak for them and for the party that can’t stand to hear the candor of its own aspirations, in terms of the insistent attempts by Republicans—whose rhetoric is less government intrusion into our lives—to insert government into the lives of women and their families when it comes to abortion and other issues.

When Republicans stop talking in contradiction to their actions, then they can distance themselves from the nut-jobs who want to use government power to rule over what should be private decisions on a family, health, and clerical issue, where government has no business telling responsible adults in those fields what they should collectively decide to do based on their own beliefs and circumstances.

Akin is but one example of Republican extremism on abortion that has been shown to be offensive, ignorant, and that clearly demonstrates you never really know what you’re getting when you elect someone, and that no one who gets elected really has the wisdom to presume they should make those kinds of decisions for other people, and that it’s dangerous to allow them to do so.  Republicans need to start doing as they say and stop trying to bring government control into the issues of people’s private lives.

“...out of wedlock.”

One week following Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidate, Tom Smith, another Republican, pushing back against the comment, compared a pregnancy caused by rape to “having a baby out of wedlock,” illustrating yet again that Republican viewpoints which are extreme and uncompromising can only be supported by arguments and metaphors which are equally outside the bounds of a balanced society.  What Akin, Smith, and other Republicans fail to understand, time and again, as with the policy positions of those like theirs, and Paul Ryan’s, is that when you have a diverse ethnic, racial, and religious population, as is the outstanding trait of America, and a supposedly democratic government, policies which lie beyond the bounds of compromise, balance, or tolerance cannot succeed unless portions of the population are minimized or brutalized, or democracy is supplanted.

Minimizing brutalized women and supplanting democracy are both the case today, and as with the views of these men, who are in or seeking positions of power, who consider the actions and outcomes of systems and policies only through their narrow and shallow focus, the human equation is missing, and in the government of the Founders, democracy represents the human factor which is intended to temper the pure, inhuman drive for profit and expansionism which is the hallmark of capitalism and the true deity of today’s Republicanism.

The revelations Republicans continuously make, of outrageous beliefs that drive extreme policies which they wish to impose on all, are not “mistakes,” or “poorly phrased statements,” or mere “lapses in judgment” which can be rationalized, redefined, or apologized away.  They are the truths which are coveted in that creeping darkness of the Republican establishment, truths which illustrate that “consideration for humanity” is the missing factor behind Akin’s false science and qualification for rape, Smith’s failure to separate the emotional, tactile difference between pregnancy out of rape vs. out of wedlock, Mitt Romney’s assertion that “Corporations are people,” and Ryan’s budget, which is not only lacking the consideration of humanity, but has also been clearly pointed out by Catholic bishops and nuns as not within the bounds of Christian teachings.

The rightly-respected columnist and political analyst, Mark Shields, credits Romney for his charitable works; yet, by Romney’s admission, his contributions total only about seven percent of his income, which on a reported $20 million, is only $1.4 million—a penance, hardly giving ‘till it hurts, not that he is expected to give that much.  Seven percent only becomes significant as incomes get much lower, to where a family struggling on $40,000 per year gives $2,800, or at $20,000 per year, where giving $1,400 really does hurt.  And the “subsidiarity” principle of Ryan’s budget will never work to provide the necessary relief for the needy if the voluntary charity, derived through the solidarity of community which that principle requires, is as minimalist at the upper levels as Romney’s seven percent.  The charity of Romney and other ultra-wealthy who cannot transcend love of family to exercise the scripture of humanity, “love of fellow man,” by stepping into the shoes of the other person, is for appearances sake (especially for those playing politics) and a tax-deduction—just the minimum cost of doing business.

Until Republicans can channel some part of the verve they have for control, and for power to shape the nation and the world (Iraq, military global expansionism) according to their coldly-chiseled policies, into a greater concern for humanistic value and outcomes, they will remain unfit to govern, and unless voters begin to see this and vote accordingly, the incessant focus and drive for power of Republican ambitions will take even greater hold on government, repressing further the people and their democracy.

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Ignorance drives much of the world’s extremism. Todd Akin has reaffirmed that, in conservative-Republican extremism, ignorance has run amok.

  Or this:
Todd Akin on no abortions: “The female body has ways to shut these things [contraception after rape] down.”—and he’s on a science committee?

Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.

August 21, 2012, “...out of wedlock” update, August 27, 2012

Punishing corporations as though they are people doesn’t work either.

In reply to Mark Scott’s article in the New York Times, “Iran Inquiry Is Abrupt Reversal for Standard Chartered,” Standard Chartered should not be fined or excluded from business activity in New York for money laundering Iranian funds; nor should Barclay’s have been forced to enter into a $450 million settlement for its part in altering the Libor for gain, just as Glaxo Smith Kline should not have been fined for misrepresenting the safety and approved uses of its drug, Avandia.  While these are just a few of the incidents of corporate criminal, and even treasonous activities (which almost never result in criminal prosecutions or fines against the corporate entities who facilitated and approved the illegal activities), all of the examples through the history of regulatory enforcement point to the failed concept of treating corporations as though they really are people when it comes to punishment.

Despite the Supreme Court majority’s violation of its oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States in the Citizens United case, also violating the constitution’s precepts derived from the Declaration of Independence, corporations are not people, and corporations do not commit crimes.  People do, and if people escape punishment, then the criminal behavior is not deterred.  Punishing corporations only hurts investors, employees, and the consumers of punished companies’ products and services, all of whom had nothing to do with the criminal behavior and are made into surrogates, taking the fall for the real culprits, a nullifying of accountability which is probably the real intent of corporate-controlled rule-making—another anti-democratic consequence of elections bought with campaign contributions.

Fines must be levied against the responsible individuals and tied to prohibitions against any corporate restitution.  And in cases where public lives and safety are compromised, as with Glaxo and Standard Chartered, where regulators cited “dealings that indisputably helped sustain a global threat to peace and stability,” which means many lives put at risk, jail time for the “people” who did and approved the crimes, even if through the top-floor consent of silence, must be the punishment that results if ever the criminal exercise of corporate greed is to be halted.

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Glaxo $3B fine is just 1yr profit from sale of drugs fraudulently mkted—paid by consumers & medicare! Why no executive jail for safety lies?

 Or this:
High Court’s campaign-finance ruling is an obscene constitutional distortion. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#mfo

Note on CCs:  Articles are no longer regularly being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.

August 8, 2012

Gov. Kasich’s declaration of Vietnam Veterans Day in Ohio lacks conviction of actions.

On Friday, Governor John Kasich signed a Republican-sponsored bill, declaring March 30 as Ohio’s Vietnam Veterans Day.  As a Vietnam-era veteran, it is difficult for me to see past the politics of the move, in light of the Governor’s role in leading the Ohio Republican party’s effort to destroy the elements of democracy for which hundreds of thousands of Vietnam vets served, and for which more than 58,000 died.

Gov. Kasich can best honor veterans by not trying to take away from any group the right to associate, which threatens the rights and freedom of all, and by not taking advantage of part of Ohio’s population by gerrymandering the states’s districts to achieve unfair political advantage for others, weakening the ties of representation for all, and he can honor veterans by not leading in Republican efforts to curb the voting rights of citizens who have the least flexibility in exercising those rights.

Veterans do not serve for parties and politics.  They serve for home town and apple pie and America, and ultimately, for each other, and when governors like Kasich and Wisconsin’s Walker try to tear down the democracy that was built by vets and other patriots, upon whose shoulders we all stand, they do a disservice to the democratic way, the American way, and to veterans of every war.

Note on CCs:  from this point on, letters are no longer being sent or copied to elected officials, since 99 percent of the time, it is a waste of time and money, with either no response being received, or canned responses which are out of context with what has been sent and which do not address the issues raised, in effect showing that letters are not read—another sign of a failed representative democracy.

March 31, 2012

Best part about being pres is the dignity and respect afforded the office.

Here, the money’s a lot greener.

The most destructive interest group?

If asked to name the interest groups that have done the most harm to America and to the preponderance of its citizens, most would say the financiers, who brought down the economy and profited with impunity as they did so, and after; some would say the corporations which place profit above community responsibility, above all else; some the oil companies, which fix prices and bleed citizens of spending power when they and the economy most need it, as they make record profits; some would say the health-insurance industry, which along with drug companies and providers are mostly Wall Street companies with the Wall-Street mandate to grow profits, not quality service at affordable, stable prices; and on and on, from the military-industrial complex, which promotes America’s chief export: war, to any number of lesser-impacting segments.

But, the truth is that the interest group which has done more to harm America and its citizens, more than all of the others combined, is the two-party system in America, an interest group of self-interest and accommodation to the wealthy and powerful few who provide the influencing tender which fuels the election machine that powers it all:  campaign contributions.  The two-party interest group, once an effective mechanism for placing the Peoples’ imprint upon their government, composed of legislators and party officials, has become a corrupted organism, traitorous to the body politic, which now, in its dark shadow, retains only the right to choose from candidates able to compete within the controlled election system that interest group created and jealously protects, providing little more than, effectively, a choice of the lesser of two evils.

All the other problems, blamed on all the other interest groups, are merely symptoms of the disease that is America’s corrupted two-party system.

Nothing that is done to attack the symptoms will cure the disease, which has remained below the radar, out of the sights of most protests, its legislators encouraging attacks against the various entities—divide and conquer—even willing to give up a few garnets to protect the diamond without which it cannot survive as an antithesis to Democracy:  the election industry and its lifeblood of campaign contributions.  To restore America’s lost Democracy, the disease must be attacked and eradicated, and to do so, its lifeblood must be dried up by instituting a complete ban on all contributions, of any kind, to any campaign for office or any issue.

The task, then, for all the splintered groups and third parties, is to first break down the walls of their own self-interests and ambitions which divide them and come together, with the sole purpose of ending the flow of dollars into the election industry, after which, some immediate gains for Democracy and the People will be realized, which will then facilitate achieving the goals of all the other issues, including the economy, tax code, infrastructure, healthcare, education, etc., etc.

The first step is to put the Democratic and Republican parties and the party officials, the unelected powers that work in the shadows, on notice, that the bullseye is not on the bankers, or the corporate CEO’s, or any of the other groups that have their fangs sunk into America’s government, but that the metaphorical bullseye is on them, on the forehead of each and every senator and representative who has stood by, aided and abetted the corruption of their offices and their constitutional oaths and obligations (almost all), placing party and contributor interests ahead of the nation and their constituents, eventually allowing a spate of disasters, one after another, to afflict the nation—putting them on notice that the harsh spotlight of public anger and disdain is focused upon them as the prime perpetrators of the political and economic decline now gripping and threatening most Americans!

Then, the pressure:  legislators must be convinced by the strength of the demonstrations and calls and letters that if they do not act to end campaign contributions—not control, not reform, no half-measures or corruptible remnants, but end—and immediately, that they will not get votes, that in this time of crisis, for our nation, for our democracy, and for our lives and our children’s lives, nothing is more important, and let them know we are watching them, and will be watching them, and they will be held accountable if they do not act with their advocacy and their votes to put an end to all campaign contributions in America’s federal elections.

The spotlight and pressure on legislators and candidates is important because legislation is the quickest path to ending campaign contributions and replacing the Plutocracy (which now defines America) with Democracy, and to restoring economic and political balance, and reversing the collapse of the Peoples’ prosperity and paths to opportunity.  Because if legislators won’t turn away from the corruption they have fostered, then constitutional amendment is the only other path, a far more difficult and lengthy solution.

Immediate gains?

When campaign contributions end:

  • the also-corrupted Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, giving to corporations the rights defined for citizens in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, will be made moot;
  • bribery will be removed from the election process;
  • the power of the political parties—the two-party system—to control districting, agendas, and elected legislators, to take priority for itself above the People, will be greatly reduced;
  • the election machine and the endless, time-and-money-consuming industry it supports will be cut down to size;
  • political gridlock will be gone;
  • public funding and reduced legislator, fund-based competition will force shortening of insane campaign terms;
  • campaigning upon one’s record will again be in vogue, ahead of party propaganda and lines.
  • the influence of lobbyists will be diluted;
  • and, very important, legislators’ time will be returned to the People...
...all of it, not a minute to be spent on anything related to fundraising, which is good, since even all of their time isn’t really enough for them to do the three jobs they each have (work related to passing or blocking legislation, committee responsibilities, and constituent relations) as well as they should be able to, as well as America needs them to, but nonetheless, America’s government will become immediately more effective and productive, to serve all the Peoples’ interests, and no interest group above them.

More must be done after this great, first step, or in conjunction with it, to make government more effective and turn the focus of government upon longer-term problems and solutions, of which there are many, and away from elections, and allow lawmakers to become more knowledgeable or even expert in the activities the committees on which they are seated are chartered to oversee, including extending the terms of office of House by one year and Senate legislators by two years, with local-district-recall provisions, if needed, for House representatives after two years.  And to return government to the level of responsiveness to the People intended by the Founding Fathers for the House of Representatives, the Founders’ error of not constitutionally mandating increasing House seats in proportion to population must be corrected.

With these measures in place, Democracy in America will be restored and assured to remain enduring for the generations to come, with government better able to meet the daunting challenges that America and the world will have no choice but to face together in this and the next century.

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Rules/systems designed to preserve and extend party power and influence at the expense of democracy and popular sovereignty must be removed.

 Or this:
Wall Street’s greed-driven profit motives guarantee that healthcare will NEVER be affordable or contained if providers are public companies.

cc (via web forms) November 10, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Problems posed by offensive-drone deployments have a constitutional answer.

One after another, issues arise for question and protest, seemingly unrelated; yet, there is a common thread:  the unraveling parchment of the Constitution.

Regarding this evening’s Newshour-show debate on the use of drone technology to wage war, the means to eliminate concerns about the “ease of waging war” factor and other concerns attendant with drone and other technologies, is to enforce the constitutional limitations on presidential war power and observe the Constitution’s absolute requirement that decisions on war policy, initiating and ending conflicts, rest with the combined minds and hearts of “the many,” that is, Congress, and never with one person, the president, where “Commander in Chief” is only a title, endowed upon the president for the purpose of acting as the civilian commander of the military, only after authorization for its use is provided by Congress!  The fact is that, absent an attack or other authorization from Congress, the only authority the president has to act as Comminder in Chief is to maintain the readiness of the armed forces, as they are deployed, according to the laws set by Congress.

The greatest problem created by ignoring the Constitution on war power (Congress silently ceding the power to the executive) is that the “ease of engaging in warfare” is greatly increased, and aside from the example suffered upon the Founders by England’s King George III, they knew, as expressed in their writings, that abuse is a reality that requires the constitutional limitation to assure the executive’s isolation from decisions on waging war.  The Founders fully intended, with the sole exception of responding to defend against attack, that the decision to wage war be difficult to achieve, through the deliberative consensus of the many in Congress, and that it remain out of the reach of the executive.  They employed the constitution’s separation of powers to do it, designating all war powers (except mounting a defense against an attack) to Congress within Article I, and there is no consultation involved, after the fact, or before, because the power is not the executive’s on the basis of “advise and consent” or any other basis outside of specified congressional authority.

The nation will be the better when the members of Congress grow a spine to uphold their individual oaths, to defend the Constitution and take back its war power, and when they have the courage (and the additional time banning campaign contributions would save from fundraising) to be responsible to make the decisions on war the Constitution requires of them, rather than take the easy way out (for them, hard for the nation) of deferring to the executive’s exercise of the power.  Abiding by the Constitution solves many problems, across the board.

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War Powers — In the promised, new Washington, crows still gather. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#tcg

 Or this:
Popular sovereignty, political liberty and political equality are the foundation of democracy—guaranteed by the Constitution, when followed.

cc (via web forms) October 10, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Steven Paul Jobs, CEO, Apple and Pixar Animation.
February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

“Occupy” protestors’ anger against financiers is off-target.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

— Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios
     June 12, 2005 Stanford commencement speech.

“...don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

For the 4,520 soldiers who have died in Iraq (32,223 wounded), and since 2001, the 2,399, and also still counting, who have perished in Afghanistan (with 17,674 wounded), the worst kind of waste has been realized:  losing arms and legs, and dying for someone else’s life, usually foreign and corrupt, for someone else’s voice, imposed with wealth and privilege to form slithering policies of wrongful entanglements that have brought death to the thousands of soldiers and their families, and in bits and pieces for the nation, as well, as all along, the defense industries of the military-industrial complex grow their profits and wealth in a bloody occupation where the defense obligation of 9-11 was actually won within the first 20 months, by 2003, with a far fewer 61 dead and 107 wounded U.S. soldiers.

President Obama, marking the 10th anniversary of the Afghan war, the longest in American history, said, “We are closer than ever to defeating al Qaeda and its murderous network.”  This, as Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, said bringing security to his people (read, his government) has been a failure of the U.S. and his (Karzai’s) administration.  Only months later, following incidents of shameful reflection (unfairly cast upon all occupation troops) of urination on the dead, burnings of the Koran, then the unconstitutional Blackwater army’s massacre of civilians (its name changed afterward to XE Services, and now is Academi LLC), and after these outrages, which were most recently compounded by the murder of 16 Afghan civilians, mostly children and women, at the hands of a single, maddened soldier, Karzai claims, “This is the end of the rope,” and orders all U.S. troops be removed from villages, killing the U.S. multi-year, dead-on-arrival plan of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, who are regularly “collateralized” by the U.S. as “damage,” mostly in ceaseless drone strikes of shadowed, questionable vetting.

Still, America’s military chiefs and politicians resist the withdrawal call, and despite the stains of America’s own, unintended, “murderous network,” like Nixon, and Johnson before him, the president looks to the future involvement in the Afghan despair based upon responsibly ending the war “from a position of strength... and stability.”  Fifty-eight thousand U.S. soldiers died in Vietnam as those presidents propped up another corrupt, ineffectual government, and prolonged the war that they could not win, should never have started, looking for the unattainable “position of strength” or “peace with honor,” before finally ending the conflict and the ever-mounting deaths, and with no promised cascading of the dominoes to follow.

This is the deadly “noise of others’ opinions” that repeats, today, as government “speak,” echoing the hollow, future promises of yesterday, where history holds no lessons for the arrogant and the proud, Republican presidential candidates, Rubio and Cruz, who exclaim they “won't look back,” those fearful of confronting mistakes and their consequences, as the bloodletting continues... to no worthwhile end.  At least, the stubborn stance of the Iraqi regime had forced the president to honor his promise for a near-complete pull-out of troops from that national killing ground, provided courtesy of the Bush/Cheney administration, the military-industrial complex, and a Republican party’s hawks and extremists who still propose spending blood for motives of capitalist expansionism and profit.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

That noise is also manifest in the voices Americans hear in their politics, and those they do not, the voices bought and paid for, imposed upon the nation in sound-bites, party lines, and propaganda, through unbalanced leverage of wealth and position, detached from any sense of community or social responsibility and spread through the biased, constraining control of vast media consolidations, to limit voices, to quell regulations, to narrow opportunities, to channel prosperity, ideas, to buy votes and perpetrate travesties like turning corporations into political entities, empowered to overcome the many voices of the individuals who are the solitary, collective “People” for whom the Declaration of Independence spoke and the Constitution, now so contorted by the Roberts Supreme Court, was penned to promote and protect.

Now it is time to focus, to put aside all the smaller issues that divide and distract from the singular issue which is at the hub of all others, because important as many are, nothing will change for the better, no measure taken will make a difference, unless first, above all else, the election machine that spits out a corrupt, insulated, bought-and-paid-for government is detached from the tender of greed and avarice that fuels it:  campaign contributions, and then, party control of the election process must be severed or restrained.

Protestors rant against multiple ills, all symptomatic of one abuse — campaign contributions poisoning democracy.

The Wall Street protestors are on the wrong track when they focus anger on bankers and the wealthy.  You don’t blame the bear for killing the man who gets too close to the cubs—you blame the man.  Those financial “takers” are being human, doing what opportunity allows and greed compels for them, doing what comes naturally, succumbing to human weakness and vice, the very characteristics of which the Founders so clearly recognized as unchangeable and dangerous, and against which they knew only a “democratic government,” with checks and balances, serving and responsive to the common good, could prevail.  What they could not foresee was a society so fraught with diversions aside from work:  TV, games, malls, clubs and other avenues for self-indulgence and distraction of citizens in matters of no consequence to the foundation of their lives.  The activities of citizens in the Founders’ time were centered upon occupation, neighbors, government and learning.  The protestors should be angry at themselves, for not paying attention to things that matter so much, for paying too much attention to trivia, for waiting so long to see and to object, for letting it go this far, get this bad.  And the protesters should be angry at their legislators, most for not having the intellect to see the problem and/or the strength of character and ethics to turn away from the abuses of the party system, or change it and uphold the ideals of the Declaration and the law of the Constitution, expressing their anger with their votes and all the votes they can raise to speak with them.

But the seemingly, awakening sight of the demonstrators on Wall Street, which grew to other cities, pointed out how all democratic governments are vulnerable, especially to apathy and ignorance, heightened when the unwritten branch of government, the “Fourth Estate” press, is swept from the streets and airways into a very few, towering centers of control, killing objectivity, repressing the reporting of independent investigation, limiting the inputs and outlets, channeling the rainbow of thought into extremes of black and white, substituting substance with trivia.  The Federal Communications Commission, politically staffed by Republican presidents, accomplished most of this reduction during the Reagan and Bush terms.  The tentacles of control writhed out from the few electronic-media conglomerates, spread with the growth of cable, the internet, and the means to access it, and are made all the more powerful as, at the same time, the market forces of media and technology change began to diminish and eventually strangle many of the independent providers of the airwaves and printed page.

Party control of the fund-raising and election process, from districting to post-election committee appointments, is separated from the view or control of the People, forming a government that is built in cloakrooms and behind closed doors, upon favors and the cash-and-carry success of legislators and their mini-machines, an industry that creates and reenforces extremism and gridlock while robbing the People of their representatives’ most important asset:  the time that is spent on fundraising, from strategy meetings to time spent with donors, pursuing donors, servicing the desires of donors and looking to the future, not to secure the long-term policies needed by the nation, but rather to acquire the campaign funds and promises that will assure the next election’s continuation of the entire, abortive process.

“I only have two years,” think the House representatives, “and I have to make sure I put in the time and effort required to win the next election, above all else.”  But that time and effort isn’t focused upon the three avenues all legislators must master for effective, responsive government; they are focused more on K Street and most upon the politics of electioneering.  This is the situation facing the People, and what chance is there for productive, constituent-responsive government to address complex, long-term problems when the highest priority is to do whatever, twist whatever, say whatever, half-truths or outright lies, in the rush to get re-elected, and to spend the working hours of at least six or eight or more months of the two-year term working solely toward that end?

When the Constitution was framed, the population and the challenges and diversity of America’s interests and needs were such that elections every two years for representatives was not a burden and was effective enough for government’s purposes.  But times have changed, and as the population has grown, the number of representatives has not increased in proportion, which contributes to the unresponsive government in two ways:  reducing constituent accountability through increased difficulty of access as the number of constituents for each representative increases, and increasing the power of representatives, through the increased number of constituents they represent and from whom they are inherently more insulated.  And since the Founders erred in not providing a Constitutional mandate for a per-capita increase in House seats, no member has incentive to initiate a change that will reduce his or her power by providing additional seats to make representative government as close and accessible and responsive to the People as the Founders intended it to be for the House.

Representation, the vital function of democratic process, has been under attack far longer than the generation which began with the Nixon administration.  In 1913, Congress raised the number of House seats to today’s 435.  But in 1921, the newly elected, Republican-majority Congress failed to reapportion the House membership after the census, as required by the United States Constitution, politically motivated, because the effect such a reapportionment would have on future Republican electoral prospects was feared.  Then, in 1929, Congress (with Republican control of both houses and the presidency) passed the Reapportionment Act of 1929, which capped the size of the House at 435, a step to control representation, and power, which has since become a bipartisan objective.

Districting is so important because it determines representation, and the lack of strong representation is a big part of the reason why government is unresponsive and unaccountable to citizens.  Gerrymandering, as Republicans did to the Ohio 1st District this year, among others, further damages representation, in Ohio-D1, giving Republicans a better-than 2:1 ratio of registered voters over Democrats.  Where is the political equality in that?  And any good government scholar will tell you, without political equality, which is one of three pillars supporting the foundation of democratic government, you have no viable democracy.  In that district, the whole of Butler and Warren counties were swapped, and a part of Hamilton County was cut out, immediately disenfranchising the voters in three counties, with voters, incumbents, and candidates suddenly unfamiliar with one another.  Districting should strengthen and broaden the ties of representation, not tear them apart to provide unfair political advantage, which is both un-American and undemocratic... and unneighborly.

Districting is also important as it affects apportionment of House seats.  On March 4, 1789, 226 years ago, the First Congress convened with about 65 House members, each representing about 75,000 of today’s-suffrage-adjusted voters. Now, with only 435 House members, the number in place for the most part since 1913, the representative for most districts will stand for more than 470,000 voters—more than 700,000 citizens, and that is far too many for effective representation in the House, and most significantly, with fewer representatives over which to gain control, they are made more susceptible and accessible to lobbying, the influence of wealthy and powerful special interests, including their political parties.

Career politicians have become complacent about what voters think and are happy with the system the way it is, keeping them wrapped in comfortable districts and in office, serving their interests before the People’s and the nation’s, and they won’t alter the system and reduce their power by voting to increase the number of House representatives and provide more responsive and accountable representation.  It does not require a constitutional amendment, so put the light on your representative to ask why he or she allows the dilution of representation (and the reduced government responsiveness and accountability that comes with it) by keeping the 435 cap?

And adding representatives will also result in an increased number of smaller districts, making it easier for states to provide equality with more contiguous district mapping, improving representative government.  A bonus is that no new office buildings would have to be built to house the new representatives, even if the number were doubled, because of the glut of empty federal buildings within a quarter-mile of the Capitol.  This is one of the fundamental changes that must happen if democracy is to be restored, government improved, and the gulf of disparities and unfair advantage raging within the nation narrowed.  The Founders put the House of Representatives first in the Constitution, in Article I, Section 2, (the Senate is Section 3; the president, Article II) because they knew that level of representation is the most important to a healthy democracy, being closest to the people, the most vital part of the government they intended for the United States, when properly apportioned.

But more than population has changed.  The complexity of life, and of all the attendant prerequisites of government responsibility to provide for public liberty, welfare, and safety have increased as well, and two years is no longer a sufficient period for representatives to become familiar with and effectively carry out their common avenues of responsibility:  committee assignments, let alone meet their legislative and constituent-relations responsibilities (fund-raising time is not included because it should and must be eliminated), or to be able to look ahead to the nation's future and develop policies meant to address problems and challenges extending beyond the next election, over the horizon.

Just think of committees.  They are created to divide the focus of the total membership of the House and Senate on individual problems and goals, to provide a means by which legislators can become expert in the industries and activities that fall within the scope of their committees’ charters and thereby guide their colleagues in passing useful legislation.  This is how a legislator’s committee-responsibility time is supposed to serve the People, by developing the expertise to provide effective legislation to provide for safety and promote prosperity—a balance in which safety must always carry the greatest weight, but often has not, as one tragedy after another in every decade of American modern history attests.  Often, legislators, especially in the House, have not become knowledgeable enough about the complexities that exist within the activities their committees are intended to oversee, and just as often they have only turned an ear to the interests of the lobbyists for those industries, always at their ears, and often on their staffs, sitting at their right shoulders in hearings.  This is how disasters, like Gulf oil spills, sub-prime-loan-deflation recessions, commuter-airline crashes, profit-motivated drug unavailabilities, drug and food illnesses and deaths, mining explosions, and Shuttle disasters, etc., etc., happen, and why government is mostly reactive to these disasters instead of proactive to prevent them.  This will improve, if and when legislators’ ears are ever freed of lobbyists and their time freed from fundraising, and the revolving door of legislators, turned by two-year elections, is slowed, a revolving door that is self-serving to the election machine, elected officials’ post-legislative careers, and special interests... not the nation and certainly not the People.

Today, policies are designed to meet the needs of what will get a representative re-elected 24 months after the oath of office is taken, or a president in four years, all eyes on the next election after three.  America’s future depends upon better governance than has been serving the privileged and wealthy in this generation, and legislators, even if free of fund-raising, need more time to master their responsibilities serving America, and everyone, except the media and bloated election industry, needs fewer elections.  A constitutional amendment extending the terms of office of the House of Representatives to four years, and to preserve the Founders’ intent for overlapping stability, the Senate to eight, must be accomplished along with the ban on campaign contributions.  And to insure that the behavior and performance of representatives is not separated from the People by the lengthened terms, or left to the unreliable, institution-biased, internal rules of the House, a district-level recall procedure must also be specified which provides the People of a representative’s district reasonable means by which to stage a recall election, if desired, at the mid-term.

These are the first changes upon which Americans must focus.  When accomplished, other necessary changes will far more easily follow, like ending the unfair, manipulative, onerous, April-killing income-tax code in favor of a value-added tax, with fixed exclusions for medical products and services, most food, education, and some non-food-derived fuels, and percentage levels within categories of goods to insure fair-share payments for all and loopholes for none; and unwinding the twisted knot of media consolidation that muffles voices, constrains thought and discourse, and constricts the oversight of investigative journalism; and also reining in the dangerous and unnecessary military expansionism and unconstitutional, presidential military authority that has been allowed by Congress to develop, and which has cost America so much in this generation and which is irrevocably bleeding into the next.

In that commencement address, Jobs also said:

“...you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Looking back, the connected dots form a clear enough picture of how government in America has changed for the worse.  The underlying causes are often less clear, hidden in things like secret, pre-war, vice-presidential “energy” meetings.  But Jobs wasn’t entirely correct when he said that the dots of our futures can only be derived through trust, at least, where our political futures may lead.  That’s because we have a precious gift to guide us, one that was fashioned by minds as great as any this nation has ever produced, men with sharp insights into the pitfalls of human nature and interaction, and who, through times of the greatest possible danger and uncertainty, and divisive discord, devised a system that would both protect against the worst abuses of man’s nature and preserve the greatest opportunity for realizing the hopes for the future and liberty and prosperity, for themselves, their children, and for the generations to follow.  That gift, at the foundation of the government Republicans so disdain, is the Constitution, defining a system of government, which nonetheless so reviled by the “dogma” of Republicans, is what the Founders crafted for the preservation of their heritage, and ours, if it is not spit upon, or relegated to be a relic, encased in gas and glass and displayed to tourists, as it has been with the power grabs of presidents, the failures of Congress to jealously guard its powers, and the axe-swings taken by the conservative-Republican majority on the Supreme Court, which have chopped two of democracy’s three foundations, popular sovereignty and political equality, into splinters, leaving political liberty tenuously strained within the rubble.

For this objective of following and connecting the dots to restore a bright future for America, all that need be done is to follow the Constitution, and the money, to purge it from all influence in government activity and purpose.

 Tweet this
If any leg breaks, democracy falls. Each leg has been under sustained Republican attack since before President Nixon—a generation of decay.

 Then this:
Why is democracy dying? Think of gov’t/conservative-court effect on its framework: popular sovereignty/political liberty/political equality.

Updated April 17, 2015; cc (via web forms) October 7, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

President Obama addressing the United Nations.

But, things are as they have been.

“Things are not as they have been,” proclaimed President Obama, today, at the United Nations; yet, in addressing the Middle-East rise against totalitarianism, the president’s policies of defending Bush-administration officials against prosecutions for crimes stand in stark contrast to his high-sounding words, muting them and making them meaningless—do as I say, not as I do.  When and if President Obama leads America into the new world of accountability for leaders, recognizing that they are just people who, when committing crimes, deserve no special immunity as a consequence of their office, but rather require harsher punitive measures because of the greater scope of affect inflicted by their crimes, then the president’s words will have meaning, and America will begin to step up to the line of advance that has been set by Egypt’s attempts and intent to prosecute, at the highest level, the criminal acts of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

In early August, 2011, a federal judge removed Donald Rumsfeld’s immunity
cloak, advancing a civil proceeding on his instituting state-sanctioned torture.

Today, in America, the only trials for crimes in execution of office faced by the highest public officials are held in the media, the verdicts determined by the propaganda and sound bytes the offenders create in the books they publish trying to salvage their legacies, the sentences being the revenues those books and their paid appearances produce.  Immunity of high officials from criminal or civil prosecution as a standard must end, and the end to special (no) justice for those with power and privilege in America should begin with the prosecution of those who initiated and advanced criminal and unconstitutional acts in the Bush administration, including George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington, and others who are tied to the path of immorality upon which America was set in the Bush era.

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Obama’s policies defending Bush-administration officials from prosecutions only extend the immoral image of America those officials created.

 Or this:
Leadership that is corrupt, criminal, and immoral deserves no protections, no immunity, no sympathy, no honor, and no entertainment outlets.

cc (via web forms) September 21, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Chabot, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Triple-down on Rick Perry’s ignorance.

 Tweet this:
Republican-dominated Texas is the union’s most politically rigged state—elect Gov. Perry at risk of U.S. soldiers, prosperity and integrity.

At the Republican debate, on September 7, 2011, Perry, when challenged on his snubbing of science and global warming, said, “The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense.  Just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said, ‘Here is the fact...’  Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”

That statement is a double-down on Perry’s ignorance, because Galileo wasn’t outvoted, and not by other scientists, he was repressed by the Catholic reining order at the dawn of the “Age of Enlightenment.”   And the contribution of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and the destruction of carbon-containment forests and jungles, and their affect to increase global warming, are not in dispute by science, only by scant men who were trained in science, not authorities or leaders, and who are paid by industries that want to avoid regulations to limit or end their industries’ contributions to the problem.

And make it triple-down on Perry, when you consider that science and technology are a large part of what made America an industrial leader in the world, a lead that has been slipping over the decades of Republican cost-cutting and program degradation in education and science research, and the strength of America in the future, its competitiveness, will depend on maintaining a high level of educational and scientific achievement and resources, which will not happen under the misguided leadership of someone as ignorant as Rick Perry.  And the argument that such programs, including health care, should be left to the states, in so geographically fluid a population, is equally ludicrous.

Ron Paul, in the debate, nailed the problem on the head when he said that government programs fail because of lobbyists’ influence.  But his solution, to abolish federal authority in favor of the states, is the wrong solution.  The solution is to end all campaign contributions, neutering the power of lobbyists to buy the votes of legislators and turn government regulation into a tool for industry instead of a safety mechanism for all the people.

Jon Huntsman and wife look on as President Obama announces China-ambassador appointment.

The fact is that, of all the candidates fielded in the debate, former diplomat and Utah governor, 51-year-old Jon Huntsman is the one who put in the appearance that was the most sane, the most like a Republican candidate of the pre-Nixon era, and the most palatable for the must-be-silent majority of sane Republicans, independents, and Democratic conservatives.  Fortunately, for the president and Democrats, the powers that be in the Republican party have no interest in anyone who’s off the fringe. Based only on that debate, the only Republican who could possibly be good for America is Huntsman, in a field where Rick Perry is undoubtedly among the most fringed, singed, and the most dangerous.

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Shame on those who say,“I'm not political,” because aside from one’s decisions, politics most directly affects the quality of all our lives.

 Or this:
The greatest threat to democracy has always been the danger posed by the double-edged sword of public ignorance and apathy.

Tweet these!

PopularSovranty.org’s Tweets for a Republican Hold-up.

The biggest problem America has is a government based in and prioritized upon the party and the dollar, decimating democracy’s foundations.

The biggest facilitator of America’s biggest problem is the bribery of election campaign contributions—the root of evil, bleeding democracy.

Rating firms (shown in recession to be bedded w/banks, investment firms) are working w/Republicans, shielding loopholes/rich from debt-cuts.

The Republican economic position of no revenue increase is unbalanced, like a world without spin—rich in the sun, everyone else in the dark.

As Republicans build an enduring history where “rich” and “corporation” are dirty words, the rich would be ashamed—if not for their wealth.

Dems saying Soc. Security/Medicare are untouchable is same as Reps saying any tax increase is dead water.  Obama’s age-67 deal is reasonable.

But, any cut to COLAs or decrease in benefits for either Social Security or Medicare would be burying the poor under the upper-class wealth.

Closing loopholes benefitting millionaires and billionaires, having them pay more, is still NOT approaching their fair share or a sacrifice.

True or reality TV brings trailer trash to Americans; Republicans, keen on manufacturing, seek to make most Americans into trailer trash.

America will suffer until the obstructionist, my-way-or-the-highway Republicans, whose idea of democracy is a dictatorship, are thrown out!

Republicans just took their knives from your throat and folded them into their well-to-do pockets.  Only cut voters can take the knives away.

August 2, 2011

Image pending

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp would be a disgrace to journalism—if it was in journalism.

Sent to Rachel Maddow:

Broadcast on your Thursday night, July 14, Rachel Maddow Show, the referral, and that of others in the media, to News Corp employees who participated in, or who knew and did nothing about News Corp’s illegal privacy violations, as “Journalists” is a mistake, bestowing upon them an honorable title to which they have, by their actions, no claim and do not deserve.

Journalists are first, ethical, and second, truthful and objective.  The News Corp employees who call themselves and are called journalists are particularly lacking in any ethical standard that is the framework within which honorable journalism operates.  They are sensationalists, akin to gossip hounds, but with criminal intent, and their parent company, News Corp, involved at the highest levels in the unethical and criminal activities of its employees, is no longer primarily a news organization, if it ever was.  News Corp and its employees should be distinguished to be apart from legitimate journalism, particularly by journalists who report on their transgressions.  Calling them “journalists” both ignores their transgressions and disgraces the profession, as well as those, past and present, who have created and contribute to its distinguished standing and heritage.

July 16, 2011

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates says his emotional goodbyes to troops in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Gates’ interview answers reveal fatal flaws in thinking.

In an interview with journalist Jim Lehrer, broadcast on the PBS Newshour, Sec. Robert Gates, “the Soldiers’ Secretary,” who was a breath of badly needed fresh air, replacing Donald Rumsfeld, and who has done a good job, overall, in the difficult four years of his term in office, nonetheless revealed fatal flaws in his thinking on two points:  first, when he said it is up to the president to determine the nation’s security needs, i.e., make decisions on troop deployments; and second, that the U.S. has an obligation to assist, with military assets, France and Italy, or any other nation, in pursuit of their national interests in Libya as payback for their assistance to the U.S. in Afghanistan.

First, the U.S. Constitution, as well as ancillary writings of the Founders, are clear in specifying that the power of warfare, its use and goals, rests exclusively within Congress, not the president.  The silent ceding of war powers, predominate since WWII, to the president must end because it has caused mistaken, costly involvements in conflict after conflict, the latest being the president’s unconstitutional, unilateral decision to deploy forces in the “matter of days” Libyan conflict.  Secretary of State Clinton’s defense of the president, today, addressing critics in Congress who wish to exert their authority over the president in the Libyan issue, that America is “on the right side” in helping to overthrow the Libyan regime, is beside the point and irrelevant to the issue, which is that the president had no legal authority to put the U.S. on any side, that he did usurp the constitutional power of Congress.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and  Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify before House Armed Services Committee.

This was not the first time Gates expressed this faulty belief.  In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, on hearings addressing the military action in Libya, on March 31, 2011, he said that the decision as to whether or not Congress should be included in decisions for military operations is “up to each president, depending upon the nature and scope of the operations.”  Obviously, a secretary of defense is not an authority of the Constitution, because within the Constitution there is not written any exclusion, at all, not on any basis, not scope, not nature, not anything, except to defend against actual attack.  The president is required to obtain congressional authorization in all cases of deployment of military forces, except that single, constitutionally-specified exception!  The opinion expressed by Secretary Gates reflects a creation out of thin air, an unconstitutional past-practice, an interpretation that, other than the wishful thinking of modern presidents and the military-industrial complex, has no basis in fact, or in the Constitution, or in the historical documents of the Founders that support the Constitution’s war-power designation to be, except in an ongoing-attack defense, entirely within Congress.

In that hearing, Gates also tried to justify attacking Libya based upon all the other authorizations obtained (U.N., Arab League), aside from Congress!  Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) took Gates to task on the exclusion of Congress in this justification, calling it a “brag” on the part of Sec. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, who also testified, when in fact, it was really a slap in the face of Congress, and a knife tip to the parchment of the Constitution, subordinating both to the will of those international organizations and the executive.

And on the second flaw, revealed in Sec. Gates’ answers to Lehrer’s questions, make no mistake, the U.S. should never employ military resources where national security is not directly affected, and the war (not in the sense of the post-invasion-victory occupation) against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and everywhere else, is necessary to protect all Western nations, particularly European nations, and particularly Great Britain, Spain, France and Italy, which are all targets for terrorism, easier targets than America, many of which have been attacked and targeted more than the U.S.  Those European/NATO nations are in Afghanistan to protect their own national security, and if their leaders think otherwise, someone should hit them up side the head with a flat hand and straighten their thinking, beyond the straight talk Sec. Gates delivered to them, and which they needed so badly to hear, regarding their slacking support of their own NATO obligations and missions.

Secretary Gates, in this interview, and other U.S. officials, as well, in other venues, when referring to the Afghan army and police that are being built up, have said it is their country for which they are fighting and dying, in greater numbers than Americans or the coalition.  But what is never said, never mentioned, swept under the carpet and perhaps forgotten by the American people, is that Afghanistan is also the country belonging to those many who oppose the U.S.-made establishment there, and that they are fighting, not for al Qaeda, but for their past, their culture, their heritage, and their vision of their future, against the American-seeded order that would sweep it away.  That fact lends a perspective to the waste and fruitlessness of this occupation and conflict that should not be ignored or so avoided, for the sake of lives and futures on both sides, but particularly American.  The failed Soviet occupation still stands, along with the last ten years, as a strong reminder of the hardened strength that lies within that unmentioned, also-Afghan faction of that land’s people, and the harsh reality of the limits of power to overcome their homeland-fired determination, particularly given the many inherent weaknesses of the externally introduced structures.  America can only begin to really win in Afghanistan by ending the occupation and the war that goes with it.

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The issue in Libya isn't being on the right side, as Sec Clinton argues against critics in Congress, it’s how Obama unilaterally led us in.

 Or this:
"Constitution" is not a dirty word, except to those who wish to avoid employing the wisdom and democratic necessity of its provisions w/war.

cc (via web forms) June 23, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

President Obama’s tactic to end the Afghan war is to fence-walk.

President Obama, with his announced plan to draw-down the troop presence in Afghanistan, with complete transition to “support,” of the Afghan forces by 2014, is walking the fence with the lives of American soldiers as his balancing pole.  It is a strategy that is failed in advance, because the Afghan army will never stand on its own within three years, and if the unstated-but-implied objective is for the Afghans to be able to govern securely on their own, America will be in Afghanistan for another ten years before finally withdrawing to see the same weeds grow then as would now.

The president said, “...the hard work of ending the war is just beginning,” and that America will build a “partnership with the Afghan people,” when in fact, America’s partnership with Afghan President Karzai has no hope of being anything other than like the Lone Ranger riding with Geronimo, and after ten “hard” years, and more than 1,600 lives, the end should be a priority above all others, not a promise for another three, or another ten, or an indefinite entanglement!  He also said, “We have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we’ve made.”  How wastefully impractical.  The Afghan war is a liquid, and “keeping the gains we’ve made” is like not allowing the swirl of the stirring to end.  House Speaker Boehner (R-OH), Sen. McCain (R-AZ), and other Republican hawks, including Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, also have no sense of reality, at all, when they criticize the president’s announced withdrawal (of just the surge) on the basis of statements like the one Boehner and the others made after the speech, warning that a close watch would be made to insure that “...the draw-down does not undermine the progress made thus far.”

Remaining in Afghanistan more than a year after the war was really won, after the Taliban government was toppled and al Qaeda was scattered to the borders, was a blunder, a faulty assumption of unattainable objective:  to nation-build—a mistake, except to the segment of the military-industrial complex and the corrupt Afghan regime and infrastructure/contracting bureaucracy which, as a result, has seen obscene profits at the expense of the U.S. soldier, taxpayer and the Afghan people.

Beyond the enriching of the Afghan corrupt and the American defense industry, there has been very little progress in Afghanistan to fear undermining, with the exception of building an armed, corrupt, Afghan ruling structure, which will never hold the nation against the radical political elements that comprise the Taliban unless they are supported by American lives and resources.  On the battlefront, the Taliban is like electricity, following the path of least resistance, attacking on their terms, fading away when the odds are against them, and they will outlast us, because the goals of eliminating a political order and culture, spanning generations, and making a quasi-democratic/quasi-dictatorial nation, the likes of which has never existed before, has never been an achievable goal, has been a completely unrealistic expectation.

America should only be concerned with its security, that whatever government rules Afghanistan does not shield terrorist organizations and their activities, removing that regime, again, quickly and easily enough if it does, not remaining to build, control or support the structure of the government that replaces it.  After the invasion and removal of the Taliban regime, America’s ongoing involvement should only have been, and should now only be in the intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations areas of Afghanistan’s scattered al Qaeda presence.

It is not possible to afford the lives and debt-cost of putting cherry-picked regimes into power.  That is why statements like, “preserving the gains,” or “responsible withdrawal,” are non-sequitur.  Extending the draw-down is only wasteful of more American lives and the $billions that will be lost every year that the occupation is extended for the sake of a gradual transition to mask a perception of loss.  America doesn’t lose by leaving.  It wins, by saving many lives and much money, and leaving now would be merely admitting that it stayed too long then, after the quick victory, with the hubris of a misguided, unobtainable, post-victory, Republican (Bush-Cheney, now Obama) political objective.

The president should get off the fence and quickly remove every boot, worn and tired, that marks the sands of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And if he does not, and if enough members of Congress are finally, clearly seeing the light the president describes as “distant,” they should remember the constitutional responsibility and power for calling the shots on military goals in Afghanistan, and everywhere else, still rests with them, not with the president!

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With a quick Afghan withdrawal, in late 2002, after quashing the Taliban, fatalities, now 1,633, would have been 61. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#owfoa

 Or this:
America’s partnership with Afghan President Karzai is like the Lone Ranger riding with Geronimo. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#owfoa

 Or this:
The Afghan war is a liquid, and “keeping the gains we’ve made” is like not allowing the swirl of the stirring to end. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#owfoa

cc (via web forms) June 22, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Paradise Island — Sri Lanka offers fabulous resorts and a frightening, recent history.

The shame of Sri Lanka

Called the pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka literally means “the island of delight,” an obscene notion, considering the ugliness that lies only skin deep, beneath the beauty of its many flowered jungles, seascapes and resorts, after more than 25 years of war and atrocity, never again to be called “unspoiled.”

This YouTube picture’s link and the link on this text are only two of dozens of extremely graphic
Tamil-victim images and videos  that undeniably refute any claims Rajapaksa can put forth to try
denying the holocaust of cruelty, rape, and murder  his regime inflicted upon his nation’s people.

A woman and her child, killed together.  While the Tamil holocaust of the first half, 2009, pales in scope to the sheer number, millions of Jews, who were murdered by the Nazis, the brutality and inhumanity brought upon the tens upon tens of thousands of Tamil people by Sri Lanka’s leaders was no less abhorrent and unjustifiable.

Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and some of his top
generals; his inner circle is referred to by many as “gangsters.”

Rajapaksa, from a family in the upper caste of the island society, after winning the election proceeded to end democracy in Sri Lanka and solidify his grip on power by jailing his opponent, a general who led the victory against the Tamil Tiger separatists, and then jailing the general’s campaign staff.  He then went on to get parliament to eliminate term limits for the president, and then the parliament was dissolved.

Rajapaksa has a leash on the press and resists independent inquiries into his regime’s atrocities, and for some un-Godly reason, is said to be immune from any prosecution for crimes committed against the Tamils, despite that initial evidence seems to point to his direct orders.  But his brother, who is alleged to have directly overseen the massacres, is vulnerable.

WWII Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.

The post-WWII Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals is obviously a history that was never in the schooling of the Rajapaksa brothers or others of the Sri Lankan leadership who perpetrated the Tamil holocaust.

Or, considering Nuremberg’s largely wrist-slap outcomes, perhaps it was...

Can the legal weight of world courts ever bear heavily enough to surmount politics and impose a certainty of accountability, for crimes against humanity, that will serve to protect the innocent, who otherwise, are like the lambs?

Running the regime is a family affair for President Rajapaksa, one of his brothers, Gotabaya Rajapaksa  (second row,
left, in the dark suit), who strategized the offensive against the Tamil separatists, is the defense secretary, while two
others and his son are seated in the new parliament, one brother, the speaker.  A cousin is also a parliament member.

A small, resort-island nation with so many generals, such a large military, is an atrocity in and of itself.  It always seems that, the more like peacocks the uniforms of the generals, the more atrocious their behavior and dissipated their morality, a trait Sri Lanka shares with Burma.

So, how does the always-compromising octopus of U.S. policy reach out a tentacle to affect the glittering bunch of prima donnas that runs this island’s bloody regime (the generals should go for more red and less gold on the uniforms) and the outrages they have visited upon their own people?  The U.S., during the Bush-McCarthy-like, rabid state of terrorism search-and-destroy, may have been too quick to label the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization, which provided Rajapaksa with all he needed to act harshly against them, in a manner of having left his humanity in the womb, at the conclusion of their long civil war.  And he now has the old “terrorism” excuse in his pocket to justify it all, as he is has been doing in trying to counter the growing evidence of the massacres, which is one factor, along with the regime’s human-rights record, that is straining relations with the U.S.  But, the verdict is still out on that... on the terror labeling, not on the missing humanity of the Rajapaksa brothers or the rest of their inner circle.

Sri Lanka’s Paradise Island resorts.

It might seem appropriate to recommend against vacationing at the once-popular, resort-island nation, its beautiful locations now available for fun, frolic, and romance, since its 25 years of ethnic warfare has ended.  But that would only hurt most the people who now find themselves face-down in the political and ethnic dirt, under Rajapaksa’s ruthless heel.  He and his cohorts in crime and mass-murder will remain an ugly stain upon the island’s beauty, a shadow of the dead men, women, and children—many dead and maimed children—darkening its sun-drenched resorts and blue waters for as long as they remain in power.

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The post-WWII Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals was history never schooled to the Sri Lankan leaders who perped the Tamil holocaust...

 And then this, to complete the two-part tweet and link this article:
Or, considering the largely wrist-slap outcomes at Nuremberg, perhaps it was... — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#slth

June 16, 2011

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)

Speaker Boehner cries for legality of war on the basis of an unconstitutional, 1973 resolution.

House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) has called on President Obama to provide the legal basis for operations he instituted in Libya.

Talk about stones and a glass House.  The Speaker should know that the 1973 congressional War Powers resolution, which effectively grants the executive a 90-day period to start and engage in offensive military operations before getting congressional approval, is unconstitutional.  The Constitution allows the executive absolutely no authority, during any period of time, to conduct military operations without first receiving or having the direction of congressional authority, except the single, specified exception of mounting a defense to confront an attack against America.  The only path to alter that requirement of congressional authority, that is, to shift war power from Congress to the executive, or, to reduce the branch separation of powers, is through the intentionally difficult, constitutionally specified, Article V process of amendment.  No law or resolution can stand to replace the amendment process or to make military actions initiated by the executive constitutional.


Until congressional authority is granted for the ongoing military operations in Libya, the U.S. involvement there stands not only as another mistaken, and in the case of Libya, hypocritical employment of America’s military power, it is a naked violation of the Constitution and a blatant usurping of the war powers of Congress.

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Past-practices, of “Presidentialists” to grab and Congress to cede power, do not “constitutionalize” unilateral, executive, military action!

 Or this, to link this article:
Speaker Boehner cries for war’s legality on the basis of an unconstitutional 1973 resolution — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#73wpau

cc (via web forms) June 15, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. John A. Boehner, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Politicians are digging the grave of America’s democracy and future.

For too many citizens, America has become a nation of freedom without opportunity, of liberty without voice, of justice without equality, of strength without reserve, of short-term goals prioritized to elections, of purpose without patience or foresight, of wealth without prosperity, and one that spends, spends, spends without building.

America is in decline, and it will fall further into the abyss of its self-destruction and despair until four changes are accomplished:

1) the election system is purged of influence and bribery through banning of all contributions and establishing a system of wholly public funding, and national redistricting is accomplished, according to statistical geo- and demographic data, separate from party affiliations, control, and influences (to dismantle the apparatus of party extremism and gridlock), and mandatory term limits must be placed upon campaign operations, not to exceed two months prior to the election date;

2) the tax code, that tool of exclusion for the wealthy and corporations, and a yoke of stress and inconvenience on all working Americans, is thrown out and replaced with a value-added tax that is scaled to weight on the high end, paid by everyone and every business, for everything, except to exclude, for all, the necessities of medical products and services, food and clothing items priced less than $25, regular-grade gasoline, diesel, and algae-based (not food-commodity) hybrid fuels, and educational expenses for trade and technical schools, junior colleges, and graduate programs in universities;

3) regulatory authorities are removed from the influence and interference of political appointments and elected officials, operations to be prescribed by law, shielded from executive order, oversight and enforcement to be by the Inspector General’s office and OMB, and leadership positions to be filled, not by the appointments of elected officials, but by professional panels composed of representatives of the insurance companies underwriting the regulated industries, appropriate scientists, and economists, appointments to be made on the basis of background, experience, and performance to fit the needs of the post, not to be subject to Senate confirmation until after the beginning of the third senatorial-election cycle following redistricting that was done apart from party involvements (Senate confirmations of regulatory heads to be reinstated 18 years after party-free redistricting is completed);

and 4) the constitutional authority of Congress over the executive in all matters of warfare, except immediate defensive response to an attack, must be reinstated, in practice, and a congressional rules/structure mechanism, a joint committee, be established with full authority of both houses to independently make swift initial decisions on matters of military deployments and withdrawals, and to approve, modify, or disapprove recommendations and requests for actionable military authorities by the executive, to include temporary, conditional treaty modifications or confirmations, all actions to be subsequently put before the appropriate full houses for approval, modification, or reversal, in a timely manner.  The committee should be constituted by the Senate majority and minority leaders, or their appointees, the Speaker of the House and the House minority leader, or their appointees, the chairpersons and minority leaders, or their appointees, of the appropriate standing committees on armed services, foreign relations, and intelligence (16 representatives and senators), and the non-voting but otherwise fully participatory, mandatory participation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, or their appointees, the committee to be chaired by the Vice President, who has no vote except in the case of a tie.

Politicians have effectively destroyed the government’s democratic mechanisms, have folded to the expansionism of the military-industrial complex, turning the United States’ military into a costly and multi-leveled industry of domestic and international operations, a tool of NATO, and a seed of complicit foreign corruption, and the politicians must be removed from influencing the mechanics of constituting the government and applying political influence to its operations until the process of elections has been purged of political manipulation and abuse.

If these changes are accomplished, Americans will have reclaimed their government and their basis of hope for a future prosperity for themselves and their children.

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Each day of violent death in Syria accents the wrong of President Obama’s unconstitutional rush to a war of European mollification in Libya.

cc (via web forms) June 10, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

No vets cheering for Sarah at Rolling Thunder

Sarah Palin crashes Rolling Thunder, exploiting POW/MIA for photo-op.

Thanks to a mainstream media that won’t ignore Sarah Palin, as she likes to have everyone believe she ignores them, or as much as we would like her to be ignored, her uninvited splash at the annual, Washington D.C. veterans’ memoriam, Rolling Thunder, for POW/MIA, was agog with reporters covering what was a vanity appearance, a distraction stealing the thunder from the cause.  Event leaders said she was not welcome to participate, other than to ride through, as anyone can.

This Newsblaze article, along with the open letter, below, which has been circulating on the internet since her appearance, sum up the sentiments, as do the pictures, where vets in the background are hardly cheering.

It is horrifying to think that any group, let alone any one, would want this thing in the Oval Office, the fate of us all in her flapping hands, selfish heart, and empty head.

On left, Palin, showing what it’s really all about; and on the right, “Sorry,” says security, “nix on any speech here.”


For some time now, you have been an amusing, albeit mostly incoherent annoyance.  But today you crossed a line.  With that high cut helmet, carefully designed to allow your professionally coiffed hair to flow freely, you have tried to hijack a moment that you can't even begin to understand.  You decided that an event that has for years been intended to call attention to our POW/MIAs would make a really cool photo-op, as well as a great kick-off for your next get-rich-quick scheme.

Well, Sarah, you picked my war this time.  I had several buddies, two of whom died within a couple of meters of me, and you zoomed right past their names on The Wall today; winking and smiling all the way.  You weren't invited, you weren't welcome, but when has that ever stopped you?

Did you make a few extra bucks for your PAC?  If so, I hope that helps you sleep tonight.  Because you see, Sarah, my buddies have been sleeping for 40 years; and if they knew that a two-bit grifter like you would one day be making money off of their sacrifice, they might not be resting as easily as I hope they are tonight.

I'm a Christian, Sarah, and I don't say this lightly... God damn you, Sarah Palin.

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Sarah Palin’s exploitation of a veterans’ event, honoring POW/MIA, for the sake of vain self-promotion, excludes her from any public office.

 Or this, to link this article:
Sarah Palin tarnishes POW/MIA vets’ event by grandstanding; she was the only real hog there — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#palinrt

June 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden in the Orion Helix

Death of Osama bin Laden proves Pakistan is no friend to U.S. or West.

A rocket-shot, aimed at the shrouded head of Osama bin Laden, is an actual nebulous object which resides in the Orion Helix, a small segment of a much larger image captured by Hubble, discovered by Malcolm Kantzler.  What message would this image relay on God’s view of radical Islam?  The “rocket shot” is, actually, material from a proto-star that is being blown off by the strong stellar wind of a young, nearby star that is out of the frame.

While Osama bin Laden’s fate, death to the head, was predicted in the stars, and his death will have little effect in reducing the threat of terror from al Qaeda, the circumstances surrounding bin Laden’s death:  the location, in a million-dollar, closed, high-walled compound, an hour from Pakistan’s capital and only thousands of yards from Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, prove that the regime in Pakistan is an enemy of the U.S. and the West, not only for sheltering him, but also for continuously shielding the tactical elements of the Taliban and al Qaeda along the Afghan border.  If the Pakistani regime didn’t hide and assist bin Laden, then they are of such astounding stupidity and incompetence that they should never be permitted control over nuclear weapons or materials—that is true in either case, collusion or stupidity.  The Pakistani regime, wanting to keep the $1.5 billion flow of U.S. aid it receives alive, can do nothing else but deny, deny, deny, try to spread the blame, and make out as though the result of the U.S. operation was a good thing.  Only fools will believe this, and unfortunately, it has been made clear over the years that Congress is full of fools, members who have responded by saying there must be more transparency with Pakistan, when the fact is, the success against bin Laden, planned and carried out entirely without Pakistani participation, shows no transparency with that corrupt regime is the only posture that insures success for U.S. operations against terrorism in its lands and along its border.

The “renewed resolve and doubling of efforts” against terrorism, of which Secretary Clinton spoke in response to bin Laden’s death, should be focused on law-enforcement and intelligence in infected regions, the military turned from Iraq and Afghanistan toward Pakistan’s regime, which should be removed, its nuclear capability destroyed, instead of wasting more lives, time, and money for no U.S. security gain in Afghanistan.  Instead, the snaring political games continue, Pakistan being called one of “America’s strongest allies”—public-relations talk—when the only reason it has any real relevance, whatsoever, is the fear of its nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, which is an ultimate assuredness, regardless of perceived “stability” of the regime.  It would hardly be surprising, given that it is obvious bin Laden had many supporters in the Pakistani military, if the key-note effect of his killing is that it incites one or more of the Pakistani-militant military or, as was the case in India, a physicist, with access to nuclear stores, to get a workable supply of it to a terrorist group.

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The Pakistani regime, with its militant-Islamic, military component and unsecured nuclear arsenal, is a clear and present danger to the U.S.

 Or this:
If Pakistan’s regime aided bin Laden, it is an enemy, if not, it is one of stupidity, and in either case should be stripped of nuclear arms.

cc (via web forms) May 2, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The Boys of Misurata
Libyan street fighters break down doors in Misurata... on our side?  Only when interests briefly coincide.

Obama falls into NATO’s trap as wars benefitting Islamic radicals expand.

If you were President Obama, you would have to be asking, “What to do, now?” as Syrian-regime massacres are poised to eclipse any Libya’s Gaddafi might have committed, emphasizing the folly of President Obama’s newly defined, unconstitutional, humanist military policy, or the spring-ice thinness of the humanist excuse.

Oh, what to do, now, as the CIA tries to figure out who and what the Libyan rebels are, as Libya was supposed to be a “matter of weeks” commitment?  Just over a month later, the CIA is still scratching its head and top U.S. military commanders say the struggle in Libya is now a stalemate and will become increasingly more difficult, mimicking what they’ve said about Afghanistan.

Oh, what to do, now?  Unconstitutional commitment of the military to action in Libya restrains the president’s hand for additional unconstitutional actions in Syria, where the mortal threat faced by the demonstrating population is far greater than any that was ever possible in Libya, and Syria, with its more advanced, economic culture, and its ties to Iran and Hamas, is far more relevant to America’s interests and the security of its most important Mid-East ally, Israel.  No doubt, had the president a choice to launch an unconstitutional military operation in either Libya or Syria, he would choose Syria, a difficult, if not impossible choice to make now that the trigger has already been pulled in Libya.  One mistake preventing a larger mistake?  In fact, the only way the president could dare to involve the U.S. in another military operation in the Mid-East, against Syria, would be to do it constitutionally, by making the case to Congress and allowing them to debate all the risks and possibilities of the proposed war, as the Founders intended, and then, with the influence of debate and home-district, constituent inputs, have a majority-vote either denying or granting authority for the president to act.  But then, maybe Obama’s mistake becomes two, big, shared mistakes?

But, oh, what to do?  If the president does take it to Congress, as the Constitution requires, then he will be setting precedent against the unconstitutional past practices that have abused separation of powers, and he will be neutralizing the claimed, inherent authority implied by his own humanist, policy-making reason for sending the U.S. into war in Libya; although, the same “European entanglements,” against which the Founders so strongly warned, played the greatest part, by far, in drawing America into the conflict in Libya, particularly Italy’s and France’s concerns for conflict-driven immigration and their own energy sources, not civilian safety, and not critical American interests, let alone defense.  So, he cannot ask Congress for the constitutional authority, and in so doing, dilute the power Congress has allowed presidents, including himself, to take and run with, to act like kings and dictators, who need no other authority beyond their own to bring their nations into wars.

Will there be another Arab states’ and UN call for NATO/U.S. military action to “protect civilians” in Syria, where at least 300 (more than 850 on May 13) have already been gunned down by dictator Bashar al-Assad’s military?  Not likely.  The member nations would look at the 1,000-plus deaths in Libya, so far, since the UN chose to support the rebels.  Russia is already making noises that demonstrate they regret voting for the UN resolution in Libya, ruling out any possibility they will give the mandatory vote required in the UN Security Council for a like abortion to be authorized in Syria, and the Arab states that matter are in turmoil and do not wish to see another regime toppled by popular revolt, or another Islamist nation engaged with Western power, and they might fear, this time, being asked to pay the costs for a change with their West-derived fortunes.

So, what to do...  as the toll of civilians murdered by al-Assad grows?

What to do as, absent further, direct military involvement by America, Israel ponders actions that could help to defeat a Syrian regime, threatening to their security, but which would inflame Arabs throughout the region, likely creating a new, violent front?  To stay any action, American diplomats can only offer Israel assurances, either to defend or take action in its stead if ultimately necessary.

And, oh, what to do about making a sound determination about the future of the Mid-East, and about what/who is driving the “Arab, or Mid-East Spring” of change that threatens regimes and stability across all of North Africa, and acts as a magnet for the U.S. military-industrial complex?

Is there a coordinated, underlying force behind the Arab Spring, in Egypt, in Libya, in Syria, in Qatar, and which has shown ripples in Saudi Arabia?  Is a “connected generation,” moving with the sway of dominoes too simplistic an explanation?  Aside from being Islamist, what do they have in common that might account for an answer?  That, within the lifetimes of their peoples’ elders, they were all colonial outposts, subject to all of the attendant class and race discrimination of that era of exploitation?  That since the end of colonialism they all have had totalitarian regimes propped-up by the West?  That they all have energy reserves and resources the West needs?  That they all have political systems being targeted and infiltrated by Islamist-radical influences, from al Qaeda to home-grown movements of the Shi’a- and Sunni-Muslim sects?

There were significant clues, in Egypt, revealing the Islamic militancy that was driving the leading demonstrators of the “Muslim Brotherhood,” evident enough in the organization’s history since its founding, in 1928, promoting traditional, Islamic, Sharia law, directing the confrontations during the demonstrations, coordinating affiliations with the Egyptian military, and taking marked actions to restrain their members from making statements or doing anything revealing radical or any other kind of Islamist background or motivation.  Surreptitious involvement of Islamist radicals within the Egyptian demonstrations was obvious enough that it should not have been missed by U.S. intelligence, and it should not be ignored as being a linked section of a movement that extends across the Islamist nations of North Africa, as well as the Caucasus, and South Asia.  This is the broad expanse awaiting the Arab Summer, and if the West continues to confront the changes with military power, the Arab Winter will be a long one, posing the prospect of an enduring, continental conflict against radical, Islamist revolutionaries, one which will be labeled by historians as the modern Crusades, by doomsday fanatics as the biblical Armageddon, but which, for the cost to economies and social structures, will be the Armageddon of the 21st Century.

From this perspective, it is clear that the West, particularly the U.S. and the NATO nations, by helping revolutionaries topple the regimes they once supported in their own self-interest, regardless of the regimes’ anti-democratic structures, plays into the hands of the Islamists and is a part of their plan for the spread and growth of their theology into political nationalism.  The bombs dropped today are not an investment to prevent that future.  They will either help to create it or extend the pain and loss that is endured before policies of social responsibility that can compete to defeat radicalism are finally supported by the West and made a reality to stand for the interests of people, not regimes, not ideologies, and not the capitalist profits of exploitation.

Finally, this latest, Libyan escapade forces the question, oh, what to do about NATO?

NATO, one of the crown jewels of the military-industrial complex, an organization designed to oppose the post-WWII Soviet Union, has become an expensive liability for the U.S. and a justification for all sorts of official, tax-paid, European vacations.  While NATO serves legitimate purposes for the European Union, to coordinate the operations of their separate armed forces and do the kinds of things they are doing now in Libya, for the U.S., NATO has served its purpose.  America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been theater operations, at one point, involving many nations beyond the NATO sphere, and the tactical NATO purpose has not been a part of those conflicts.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, so too fell the justification for America’s NATO involvement, and the Libyan involvement has made it necessary to re-examine the NATO purpose for the U.S. and probably end it, encouraging the Europeans to shoulder that greater part of their military costs.  If Russia appears as a credible threat to European peace, American forces can be quickly re-integrated to counter it.  But now, NATO has been used by European members as the tool by which America—President Obama—has been drawn-in to support, primarily, demographic and economic interests of European members, rather than to defend the existence of member nations and their democracies against what was once an Eastern-block, Communist threat, and America’s post-Cold-War involvement has had no relevance for American national defense.

President Obama has let himself be led into the trap, when instead, what he should have done was abide the strong advice of the Founders, by keeping as much distance as possible from European entanglements, global economy notwithstanding, because this is about war, and war should never again be about economics.  Further, the president should tell France and Italy that America’s military involvement in NATO is not to be construed as an instrument of sway in their domestic national affairs, and that U.S. military involvement remains only to counter military threats to their peace.  It is also very doubtful that when Congress ratified NATO treaties that they intended the U.S. military would become involved in operations related to the internal affairs of the member nations, and it should never be so, and to insure that it never again is, either a withdrawal should be mandated or, at least, some inviolate boundaries defined regarding the use of American forces in NATO which presidents can no longer misconstrue or abuse.

These are critical issues affecting national security, the nation’s future, and any hope for a period of sustained peace instead of more and more war, which should be addressed by Congress, but which are problems and questions not even realized by it, let alone addressed, as the politicians squabble among themselves, like children grabbing at each others’ desserts, when not taking trips like retired millionaires, as Republican conservatives, blinded to nearly all but the fiscal and religious interests of their elitist minorities, and their hatred of the president, keep the poison in the pot stirring as the nation crumbles into chaos around them all.  Congress is like a school in a hood of urban decline, each house an undisciplined classroom without a teacher, where futures are racing to go down the drain, and the only ones saved from the ultimate destruction will be those who are stabbed and shot to death with the knives and guns of the ones who go down fighting against themselves.


High-ranking officials begin to question America’s NATO and Afghan involvements.

On June 10, 2011, in a final address to NATO ambassadors, departing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed the concerns of the article, above, in terse language, warning that unless NATO countries shoulder a greater burden for their defense, that the alliance risks effective decapitation.  Gates stressed that the U.S. can no longer support the NATO countries (providing 74-percent of the resources) and that the need for America’s involvement is increasingly coming into question, given the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the economic burdens faced by the American taxpayers in times of record national debt.  Analysts have noted that the lucrative social benefits of the European nations have been possible largely because America has subsidized their defense needs in NATO since WWII.

At the same time, at Senate confirmation hearings for Gates’ replacement, Leon Panetta, the length and future of America’s war in Afghanistan was called into question, with legislators from both sides of the aisle noting a need to accelerate an end to the war, the cost, and the death of bin Laden cited as justifications for a change in perspectives and goals.  CIA Director, and Defense Secretary nominee Leon Panetta’s statement in testimony, that the decision on withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan rests with the top generals, Sec. Gates, and the president, is false.  The Constitution places the buck for that decision solely within Congress.  If Congress wants the troop withdrawals to be stepped up, they have full authority to direct the president to do it, and without any action on the funding.

It sounds like they’ve read the essays that have been posted here over the years, and it’s about time America’s further involvement with NATO and with a corrupt regime in Afghanistan were called into serious question.  And the senators should be ashamed for taking so long to only begin seeing the light, and for acting as though it’s up to the administration to make the calls, when the Constitution’s separation of powers clearly places decisions on national warfare in their laps.  Constitutionally, the blame for the lost lives and cost of an unjustified, eight-year-and-counting extension of the Afghan war, which has turned victory into defeat, and for military involvement in Libya, for the sake of European internal affairs (oil resource and immigration), rests with Congress, thanks to its cowardly, continual, unconstitutional, silent ceding of that power to the executive.

This NYT Op-Ed, A Rational Budget for the Pentagon, focuses on the bare, financial burden of America’s out-of-control, wasteful, military spending, mirroring unneeded weapons systems and deployments, some of which are harmful to the national interest, as well as unconstitutional.  The military obsession and propensity of the government, and the grip of the military-industrial complex on the nation’s foreign relations and treasury, not addressed, is nonetheless quite evident in the numbers, which begin with more than half of the nation’s discretionary spending being funneled into the Defense Department, on top of the cost of the three wars.

Freezing non-combat military pay for three years is suggested as one measure to cut excesses, based upon an evaluation that total military pay, with allowances and benefits, is $10,000 above comparable civilian levels.  Combat pay is an allowance, and it would be wrong to cut base increases, because every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine lives with the commitment to risk life and limb upon a given order, and take on responsibility for their comrades, regardless of their specialities, and there is no comparable civilian job for that, except maybe a cop on patrol, in a high-crime, drug-ridden, economically-depressed city, and even there, cops are rarely targeted to be ambushed with the objective to kill or be blown-up.  And soldiers don’t go through the risks and unknowns alone.  There’s no parallel for the weight of worry that attaches to every soldier who goes out of reach and out of touch from his or her loved ones, and those sacrifices are unpaid, and disgracefully underpaid when the soldier comes home under a flag.

If politicians are prepared to mire the nation in wrong-headed wars, mixed in with justified ones, of which, at this time there are none, they must be prepared to fully compensate those who are put at risk.  Military pay scales are top heavy, and there is only room to cut at the top, just as there is only room to raise taxes at the top of the country’s economic scale.  Look hard everywhere else before looking to cut into the lives of soldiers, non-commissioned, and junior officers.

The suggestion to increase health-care premiums for retired solders, under retirement age, is unreasonable.  Guaranteed access to health care for all veterans who need it, according to their ability to pay, or not, must not be disturbed.  Highly affordable or free health care, for vets below means, is an essential part of the contract that once rewarded draftees and draws volunteers, and it is an appropriate benefit to the approximately one percent of the population who risk all and serve honorably.  Best to look a lot deeper into taxing the upper crust of America’s economy much, much more fairly before even thinking about increasing health-care burdens for veterans!

Not mentioned is the serious level of double-dipping, and more, especially by high-ranking retirees who are receiving military retirements concurrently with high salaries in the defense industry, and those who are retired and draw generous retirement benefits and bonuses from post-service defense-contractor and consultant or GS government employment, and in many cases, Social Security as well as their military benefits—a great deal to cut into in this category, where retirees’ benefits exceed their salaries and benefits when last on active duty.

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Syrian-regime massacres can eclipse any Gaddafi might have committed, adding folly to unconstitutionality of Obama humanist military policy.

cc (via web forms) April 24, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Treat ‘em like dogs?

Sleep brings dreams, the only place where responsible, uncorrupted government exists.

The widespread occurrence of on-duty sleep by air-traffic controllers, across the country, and in both towers and en-route centers (ARTCCs), demonstrates that the problem is systemic, because many more controllers have dozed off than has been reported.  Meanwhile, the FAA management, as usual, reacts, and does so with meaningless rules reforms, and in a case where its own system is at fault, penalizes controllers who have no choice but to comply with human physiology and the shift requirements of their facilities, which are built around a shortage of controllers ever since the 1981 strike, when the only solution for Republican union busters was to fire them all instead of implementing changes that were demanded, changes that could have prevented the loss of $billions of dollars by the FAA in attempting to upgrade the system, where in ARTCC facilities, the same radars are still in use that existed in 1975, and where the cost of finally making the upgrades will be hundreds of $millions more than if they would have got it right the first time!

The attitude of the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, and the FAA’s administrator, Ranolph Babbitt, that to provide a 90-minute nap break, in cases of back-to-back rotating shifts, is an issue of moral hazard, is an obdurate, typical, FAA-management stance that flies in the face of proven, contrary, scientific evidence of human-rest requirements and nap benefits, and is attested to by the dismal record of their agency’s operations, where rest is a factor in a job demanding peak mental acuity.  LaHood, Babbitt, and the system, say it is expected, or okay for controllers and their families to be subjected to that abnormal, unnecessary abuse, week after week, year after year, through the decades of their careers...  no.  It’s not okay, and it should not be expected.  The deaths of innocent people have already attested to that.

God forbid that the unavoidable necessities of human physiology should be addressed to serve public safety with the result being that an employee sleeps for one hour on the clock, or that the answer to biology, triumphing over conscious desire to provide dedicated service (does anyone doubt that the desire and intent of the sleeping controllers was otherwise?), should be any less than suspension of the offending employees!  If that’s to be the tack, then what about the managers who failed to monitor the performance and safety-readiness of their areas?  It amounts to another case of prejudicial, punitive measures that are ineffective for resolution of the underlying problem, and which serve as a public deflection of the blame from its true source.

And the FAA’s lax regulation and enforcement of rest minimums also applies to the airline industry, where it failed completely to regulate the commuter industry, leaving it up to corporations (the large feeder airlines) to police themselves, which failed, as usual, most recently contributing to the crash and death of 50 people on a Continental commuter flight in Buffalo, or where in Lexington, pilot and controller fatigue/under-staffing contributed to a takeoff attempt on a wrong runway by a Comair flight, killing another 49.

Maybe knee-jerk, thoughtless critics, who blame the controllers and seem to have an antipathy for workers and the power and good of their collective voice, should wake up themselves and place the blame where it really belongs for a change.  Probably, not even Babbitt would drink to that [Babbit was forced to resign, December 6, 2011, after being charged with driving under the influence].

Malcolm L. Kantzler
Commercial Pilot, SMEL, Inst.
Former CFI-II
Former ARTCC Full-Performance Controller (with a stack of FAA commendations and superior ratings)

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FAA sleeps on the job w/lax management and regulation for scientifically proven, physiological rest needs, impairing safety, causing deaths.

cc (via web forms) April 17, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The political tug of war:  a lift to the future or pull-back to the past.

Republicans, wealthier than ever, riding the coattails of a brainwashed middle class and poor into the saddle of only one horse of the three, pulling a government they seem to hate, would turn it from one “of, by, and for the People,” into a callous servant of their own self-interest and greed.

Through their proposed budget, Republicans have shown that they will trample that beguiled source of their power, the People, who are not wealthy, not powerful, except through the democratic process that Republicans have begun to strip away, through politically-driven Supreme Court rulings of the conservative-Republican majority, to governors uprooting the rights of the very same collective voice they promote for their corporations, cutting off the People’s avenues to education, opportunity, and health care, depriving them of all hope for a better life for themselves or their children.  Republicans, who shield the wealthy and the corporations from their share of the yoke, those wealthy who have no concern for access to health care or education, or anything else, are intent to bleed the middle class and poor until they are finally left sick and dying, with drained vouchers, used up by profit-driven healthcare providers, leaving them with no other means of care or salvation—a revisiting of the class-cruel streets of waifs and beggars.

Without doubt, there is an unhealthy number of elitists in America’s upper class who wish the world would have been tilted back by the Great Quake to the time of Dickens, instead of the four inches it moved Japan, where, in that period of transition from the Victorian to Edwardian eras, they would be the pampered aristocrats, with their coaches and footmen, while all the rest would have their rags and swollen rats, and the privilege of begging, with lowered eyes, for whatever their “betters” might deign to throw at them.

In that coldly unjust era, the “haves,” in their fine silks and expensive, French scents, were on the morph from being called “Tories” to “Conservatives.”  In America, they’re Republicans, morphing into Tea Partiers, and they’re taking America as far in the direction of the Victorian-class divide as they possibly can:  first, through control of government to seize every economic advantage and remove the constraints of democratic regulation, growing the Great Economic Divide, monopolizing resources and separating them from the middle class and the poor; and second, through stripping-away of democratic mechanisms, such as unions, and diluting political equality by giving voice to their corporations, neutralizing the only means the People have to make their voices affect government to secure and preserve their rights.

Despite this despicable, oligarchical evolution of the Republican party, and its dictatorial trespass upon the traditional, vested, democratic values of America, there is no fear that the memory of those historic, American, Republican values will be compromised by the insane abortion of today’s Republican party, which was born of the Nixon administration, from which, key players continued to spread their stain through successive administrations to the George Bush presidency.  And there is no semblance, whatsoever, between the great Republican party of the past or its leaders and those who represent, or wish to represent the party today.  Today’s “Tories” should not ever be associated with those great patriots of the party’s better past, like Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, or even Colin Powell.  Those true patriots would all be ashamed of whatever it is that carries their party’s name today and, with the latter, have been shamed, and shammed, by the travesty the proud Republicanism they once built has become.

Thanks to Republicans, and contrary to all of their grandiose claims of “the great American this and that,” which they only invoke in order to a associate themselves with a falsely promised hope and brighter future, America is really no longer the best of anything in the world, except military power, and as a people, can really look forward to nothing better, and that is a sad state of affairs for all that gives a nation its social and civil conscience, from which true quality is derived.  The Republican agenda, still a trickle-down into the gutter of the great wealth divide, has decayed America’s society, and will continue to do so, dissolving America’s prerequisite moral authority for leadership into a more civilized and compassionate world.  Instead, Republicans are dragging America back into a dark and dismal past, where the spate of those who suffer will continue to grow, except within that insulated minority that holds monopoly on the wealth, resources, power, and the opportunity that can raise lives up from poverty and despair.

This is what an unenlightened electorate brings upon itself.

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The political tug of class war: a lift to the future or a Republican pull-back to the past. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#towfp

cc (via web forms) April 15, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren; Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Penalize banks by making them Fed clones.

Penalizing big banks with fines for wrong-doing that led to the financial melt-down seems the obvious countermeasure, but it is the wrong one.

Loan markets are still highly restrictive, holding drag against economic expansion, and instead of penalties, which would probably amount to a slap on the wrist, the banks should each be required to transfer a greater amount of assets into a special loan program, either separately administered or pooled, designated to provide loans to individuals, for mortgages, and small businesses, with fees and/or interest restricted to amounts only 0.25 percent above capital and administrative costs.

This measure would provide some commercial loan exposure and aid to the housing market where it is badly needed and also penalize the banks, through minor profit reduction, while still preserving their position for strengthening by preventing any loss beyond the loss-risks that may be realized by some portion of the loans they provide through the program.

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Penalize banks for wrong-doing/negligence, not by fine, but through capital assignment to at-cost small-biz and consumer home-loan programs.

cc (via web forms) April 14, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The income and corporate tax codes belong in the trash heap of history.

Arguing for corporations to pay their fair share in taxes is a waste of time.  Even if corporations are taxed, and taxed more heavily, that burden will only fall upon consumers.  When you talk about more heavily taxing the top two or five percent of wage earners, in many cases, the same thing applies, since they are in positions to preserve their income, to make up for it, effectively passing the increases down to the consumer or to employees under them who would see fewer and reduced salary increases or bonuses, or to shareholders, whose dividends would be frozen or reduced as more of the corporate profit goes into higher, tax-offset salaries and bonuses for top-tier earners.

The only way to get the fair share of every person with the ability to pay is through value-added (or sales) taxes, which should have a base, rent exclusion, and exclude food and clothing items below $25, as well as medical items and services, and which can be scaled upward for non-necessities and luxury items.  Corporations, as consumers, should also pay the tax for goods and services they purchase.  Everyone and every entity pays tax on purchases of non-excluded goods!  And no one pays on excluded items/services.

With value-added taxes replacing corporate and income taxes, the wealthy pay more as they buy more, and buy more-expensive items, as they should, to support the mechanics of the legal state that insures and protects their greater interests.  And the hateful, burdensome tax system, a double-edged sword against the People, created to endow government with economic leverage to exercise control where there is no political authority to do so directly, and to support the exclusions and loopholes for the wealthy, and which spawns an industry of tax-prep firms with increased consumer costs and rip-offs, can finally be put into the trash where it belongs and sent into history with other great mistakes, like prohibition and George Bush.

The wealthy and special interests strongly support the income tax and its ton of code books, which contain their golden linings.  Only a strong and continuous, populist demand can make an issue of this tool that reinforces and pushes the growing economic divide in America, to finally end the discriminatory tax system, begin to shrink the historically wide gap that separates the wealthy from the poor, and to finally bring a manipulation-proof, undeniable fairness and effectiveness to the funding of government.

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The tax code is a tool of interference for government, of wealth manipulation for the wealthy, and an “elephant” on the backs of the People.

cc (via web forms) April 8, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Whether by Nazis, as in 1933 (above), or by Christians, as in Florida, today, whatever the motives, book
burning incites an exchange of fear and hate, and is also always an undemocratic suppression of ideas.

Free speech is not absolute.  It is a contextual right.

The point pressed by burning Korans is valid:  that extreme Islam is a practice of little tolerance, much violence, and that any expression of free speech, that is not shouting “fire” in a theater, should not be repressed out of fear of that extremist violence and intolerance.

But, burning Korans is not the same as burning a flag, and no criticism of any sect or group should be made in a way that is disrespectful of its religious book, be it Koran, Bible, or Torah, because that book is not what is represented by the various interpretations that are applied to the acts or practices of all sects derived of its followers.  Choosing to burn a religion’s book is an extreme act, and one that is likely not to ever be constructive to the purpose intended.  But whether the burning of the book has the same constitutional protections as burning the flag is a question that can best be answered in view of the context.

It should be asked if obtaining an injunction against burning of Korans would really be a violation of the First Amendment in the context of the fire.  Shouting “fire” in a theater, when there is no fire, is not a form of protected speech because it can result in harm to others, and if the burning of a Koran has been demonstrated to cause harm to others, and threatens continued harm to others, and to those who might be called to intercede to end the violence stemming from the act, then it is rational to say that “fire” has been shouted when applied to the burning of the Korans, and in that circumstance, particularly knowing of the threat that is created by doing the act, that it is not a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, within the context of political realities of the time.

First Amendment protections are selective, and burning the book of a religion can be a protected form of speech in some situations, and not protected in others.  The context is everything, and the protections are never absolute.  The Department of Justice should seek an injunction against the burning of Korans by the Florida pastor on the basis of the violence and harm that it poses in the context of the politics and reality of the here and now, which is not to say that the threats of extremists curtail free speech in America.  It only states that no one has the right to incite violence when the circumstances have been judicially reviewed against the harm threatened (caused in this case) and the democratic loss that might be suffered by the prohibition of the “speech,” which, in the context of the Florida preacher, is not sufficient to justify the harm it has created and continues to pose.

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Free speech is not absolute.  It is a contextual right, not applicable to burning Korans. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#bkgp

cc (via web forms) April 4, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

In Congress, the passion’s in the paycheck.

On April Fools Day, the House of Representatives argued passionately on bills and amendments related to funding the government.  One would prevent members of Congress and the president from being paid in cases when the government is no longer funded.

If only those members of the House of Representatives who argued the constitutionality of, and voted successfully against this bill, were as vehement in defending the constitutionality of the president going to war without seeking congressional authorization;  if only, then Americans could be more assured that the future of the nation is in the hands of those who prioritize that future above their own self-interest.

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The Roman destiny of American decline is assured so long as parties and politicians act to define patriotism w/self-interest and the dollar.

cc (via web forms) April 1, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The CNBC “Trust” Poll.

On Friday, April 1, 2011, the CNBC financial network’s poll for the morning programs asked, “Should the individual investor trust the financial system?”

The result:  84 percent, No; 16 percent, Yes, out of 1,243 respondents, is quite a kick in the stomach for the market and the investment industry, and implied, against the motives and truth of many who appear on CNBC programming, since all the poll respondents are viewers, which should give pause in that media quarter for some self-assessment.

The poll question, poorly constructed as often is the case, is indicated, through the term “investor,” to refer to the investment banking/trading system, not the usual banking operations of commercial banks or savings institutions, and the result indicates that is how most respondents took it, though not all, according to comments.

Though not a scientific poll, one has to wonder why those who watch CNBC programming, who one would think are also market investors, take risk in a market they distrust, until you realize that greed trumps caution, and most anything else, which is why it must be leashed by regulation.

One thing is certain:  the percentage of those responding negatively who do not watch CNBC or trade would be higher, and those unpolled are not in the market—just desserts for the industry’s failure to regulate itself under the system of Greenspan and his Republicans.  So why is Greenspan still payed so much attention?  He was wrong, his system was wrong, for decades, pushing aside those who saw the fire in the basement, and he no longer has any validation for credibility, except with die-hard, conservative Republicans who insist upon deregulation, regardless of the destruction that comes with it.  They always think they can “fix it” themselves, and history always shows that when the People are ignorant enough (by voting Republican extremists into office) to give them back the reins, they can’t.  They always fall back on their greed.

The outcome of the recession can be measured in one way by the number of white-collar jail terms that have been imposed, which is none.  Madoff stands apart, behind bars, because he stole from so many who were rich and powerful, not because of any direct criminal or negligent contribution to the economic fall through a position of trust and responsibility within the banking or investment system, which also should have included prosecutions of some so-called regulators.

This outcome, along with continued “glitches” in the system, from the unlikely-above-board, insider-stock buy of Berkshire Hathaway’s David Sokol, to market mechanics, and the refusal of regulators or the market (to regulate itself) to investigate or always remove those components of trading that provide advantage to segments over the whole, such as computerized flash trading and after-market trading, contributes to the entrenchment of distrust on the street.  And it also reflects upon how tilted the balance between capitalism and democracy remains, which is mirrored by the historically-wide divide between the wealthy and the middle class and poor.

America will not really recover from the recession, or have learned from it, until the greed of capitalism is brought back into balance with the regulation of democracy.

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Progressive action means Democratic regulations to curb the greed-driven extremes of capitalism and prioritize the interests of the People.

cc (via web forms) April 1, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Response to:

Discriminatory mortgage program benefits few, excludes far larger population, dangling in the wind.

Sent to: New York Times reporter Michael Powell
Foreclosure Aid Fell Short, and is Fading, New York Times, March 29, 2011
By Michael Powell and Andrew Martin

Unless I missed it in my read, your article misses on one very large point.  But everyone else who addresses mortgage relief also misses the point, that it is a highly discriminatory program.

Homeowners and the recently unemployed have been showered with attention and relief, with initiatives from repeated unemployment extensions and the mortgage-relief program, but the long-term unemployed, renters, and the homeless have received nothing, unless they qualified for the single, measly (by comparison) $250 Social Security payment.

Why on Earth should the recently unemployed, many with banked assets, and those who have at least had a span of the rewards and benefits of home ownership be the only ones to be recipient of so much assistance and concern, to have their economic foundations preserved?

An aside, has anyone ever considered what it would have been like if, instead of a banking-bail solution to the recession, a democratic-bail would instead have been instituted?  What if, instead of the $billions in TARP to the incompetent, greedy, and criminal who brought down the system, that amount would have been equally divided among all citizens, 18 and older, with a Social Security account, with income below, say, $350,000, assets below $500,000?  What, some $180,000 - $200,000 per person?  To spend as they wish, with the exceptions that between 15 and 20 percent go to some sort of savings device, besides U.S. bonds, and that none could be spent on foreign investment or transportation (cars, boats, planes) manufactured overseas?

Even in this case, the banks are singled out as beneficiaries, but that money would have repaired and financed add-ons to homes, bought and paid-off homes, and made a wide range of investments in future monetary and economic growth, sent people to schools and colleges, bought the aforementioned transportation, as well as the vast range of goods and services in America’s economic landscape, from luxuries to necessities.  How would the effect of that kind of spending program turned out to be better or worse than the Bank-bail TARP program, other than that the worst banks, not receiving sufficient savings and home-mortgage payoffs, would have failed, as they should have?  That certainly would have been a solution based in democracy, for the People.

Meanwhile, a highly prejudicial and discriminatory mortgage program is still causing such a stir and appeal for its slice of beneficiaries, as a far larger profile of the population dangles in the wind.

At least, for them, the silver lining is that they’re not in the Sendai region of northeastern Japan.

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The American dream, consequent of manipulative economic and political control by the wealthy, is now mostly success of the American scheme.

cc (via web forms) March 30, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Spills, great and small, urge response.

Obama took the “we” out of Libya when “he” unconstitutionally made war “his” one-man decision.

Tomorrow, President Obama will address the nation and spill his justifications for going to war in Libya, though he will not call it a war.  He will make all the arguments he should have made to Congress in seeking its constitutional authority.  Had he, tomorrow’s speech, where he will say there is a responsibility and obligation to prevent atrocities, would not be necessary.  He will tell the nation that, with international accord, the responsibility he has to prevent atrocities supercedes the Constitution’s requirement that he have congressional authority, though he may not even give that such authority is required, as he once did, before he was president, jealous of his power, coveting that of Congress.  More likely, he will try to re-write the Constitution, applying his own words and interpretation to its starkly plain, historically supported, black and white, English script.

President Obama, aside from unilaterally directing troops without constitutionally required authorization from Congress, will be attempting to define a new and untenable standard for the use of U.S. armed forces, to prevent atrocities, which he and Secretary Clinton say negates the Constitution’s requirement for authority from Congress, as well as voiding their previous affirmation of that constitutional obligation, when, instead, deployment is in the context of an authorization by international consensus.  This appalling and dangerous statement of Libyan-applied, and future-intended military policy practically guarantees a future of continual conflict for America, and it is an attempt to write an illegal amendment to the war powers authority, specified in the Constitution to rest within Congress.  This “policy” also says, in effect, that foreign states have the power to declare participation of the U.S. military in conflicts they sanction, because the president has already stated, and will repeat, that such international consensus imposes an “obligation and responsibility” upon the U.S. to act, without congressional authority.

This is a profane abuse of power and trampling upon a Constitution already laying shredded by the heels of George Bush, and to lesser extent, presidents before him, since after WWII.  It is an abomination of invited, international interference in the right of the American people to exercise self-determination through their elected representatives, trumping that right and ceding America’s constitutional process to international will... and the agreement of one man, with not even a bow to the more minimalist constitutional requirements of treaty ratification!

This new, unconstitutional military policy the president will define attempts to globalize America’s military might in the same way that the nation’s manufacturing power has been ceded away in the name of global free trade.  It is a policy that, even if legitimate, can never be applied universally, and which, if allowed to stand, would place great power within the office of the president, and it would put the use of military force at the discretion of the whims and prejudices of whomever holds the office.

American families would see the lives of their sons and daughters put at risk in war for the priorities of the wealthy and powerful who control the military-industrial complex in the U.S., in accord with those who hold the same reins of control in the other nations of the world, which also maintain significant defense-production bases and a global military presence.

The Constitution, which has been in a decades-long state of war with the wealthy, and the influence peddlers, and the officials, elected, appointed, and career, who have been attacking its democratic mechanisms and foundation, is all that stands to prevent the nation’s structural processes—the legal system, tax system, police, military, all that protects the system of which the wealthy and powerful minority have such a stake—from protecting those few alone, instead of guaranteeing the “liberty” of all.

Think about it.  The transgressions are many, but was the Republican-majority Supreme Court’s decision in “Citizens United” really one about the people’s “liberty” and “freedom,” or was it all about control and grip upon government by those wealthy and powerful who own those corporations, and who now can add the voice and vast resources of those institutions, paid for with the $3.75 you pay for a tube of toothpaste, to their own individual voices, turning elections their way?

Were the decisions made by the Federal Communication Commission over the decades of Republican appointees, from Bush to Reagan, that consolidated all media, contributing to cause the death of so many newspapers, that shrunk the once-wide base of outlets for opinion, expression of ideas, and investigation, to fall into the hands of so few, wealthy conglomerates, an exercise in expanding freedom and opportunity, protecting the government’s unspoken branch of oversight, democracy’s protectorate, the Fourth Estate?  Or were the decisions deliberate efforts at tearing it down, minimizing oversight journalism, concentrating the control of the “thought” infrastructure for, again, the few wealthy and powerful who control it?

Can anyone ever believe that more than two decades of trickle-down was meant to do anything except raise the fortunes of the wealthy further up?

Have the actions of the new wave of extremist-Republican governors and legislatures in Wisconsin and Ohio, to strip democratic voice from a class of workers, been an exercise in Democracy, or one of economics, to cut government costs and services so that taxes and regulation can be reduced for, yes, the wealthy and powerful?

And in the federal government, is the imposition of cuts that take away health care, education, and opportunity from the poor and middle class, drying-up research and tax-money from necessary, developmental technologies, done in the name of austerity for Americans, or those few, most wealthy and powerful, who pay ever less for the structure of law and enforcement, represented by the industries of the courts, police, and the military, that protect their assets and their wealth-founded opportunities, from sea to shining sea and beyond?

If this outrageous act of President Obama is not met with the power of Congress to defeat it, and reassert itself, how many times in the next decades will America go to wars where political instability threatens atrocities, and oil wells, or rubber plantations, or rare-earth mines, navigational passages, or whatever is at risk that could affect the trade and pockets of the wealthy, who are either the beneficiaries or purveyors of whatever war, and who are guaranteed to profit, win or not, and as long as the money flows, the more drawn-out the better, like Afghanistan?

If the worst Gaddafi could have likely done to the rebel cities was done, it would not hold a candle to the massacres in Rwanda, or any of the worst mass-killings in just the 20th century, including more than a million lives in N. Korea, near two million in Cambodia, more than a half million in Yugoslavia, 400,000 in Angola, 300,000 in Uganda, and the many, many more destinations of death and despair, not to mention the near 100 million lives lost, attributed to China, the USSR, and Germany, under Ze-Dong, Stalin, and Hitler.  If this policy of Obama’s is let stand, and applied with any semblance of equality, America will have a full-time career of war in Africa alone, and the only involvement of the American people will be the blood spilled in their families and the unrelenting higher share of the cost burdens they will pay, through their taxes and the cost of the goods and services they need, that are always inflated to maintain the gap for the high end.

The ball is in the court of Congress.  But will Congress honor the Constitution and its obligation to it, and to the People?  President Obama will not honor the Constitution, as he and his Secretary of State both wrote, very precisely, that it should be honored and followed, back when they were senators.  And the Bush majority on the Supreme Court, representatives of conservative Republicans, who are representatives of the military-industrial complex, and the Presidentialists, will never rule in support of the Constitution it has already betrayed, not when halting the profits and opportunities served by continued usurping of war power by the executive is at stake.

Only the impeachment power of Congress, or the threat of it, can finally prevail to restore the Constitution and the voices of Americans to weigh on their nation’s use of deadly force.  Are not the risks, costs, consequences, and unknowns of a king or dictator policy for military force so high that it is more than worth it to stand-up for the separation of powers in the Constitution that dictate and require that such grave decisions should be made by the People’s representatives, not just by their president?  What in America ever sanctioned that such power, to spill the blood of Americans and collateral foreign nationals, as is always the case, to include women and children, should rest in the hands of any one person, let along the resolutions of other nations?

The president will say speed was important, to save lives, despite that no critical national interest was to be served, and despite that the Founders deliberately intended that the decision, by Congress, on use of force not be made too quickly.  But he could have had a decision to authorize the action in time, if he had the case to make and was seeking authority of Congress at the same time he began the planning for the international negotiations and subsequent military operations.  Then, the authorization might have been predicated upon specifying such things as the objectives and exit strategy that must be attained, all the question marks the president is now scrambling after the fact to answer in his address, when there is really only one word he can truthfully say about his constitutional trespass:  “guilty.”

The president’s speech and post-speech explaining and justifications he has been making since he sent America into its third Mid-East war should have been made to Congress and the People before Congress voted to, or not to give him the authority to do so, and then had they, there would be no need for post-attack explanations and justifications, and it would be valid to say that “we” cannot allow... or “we” have an obligation... etc.  There is no “we” in this war.  It is all President Obama, and it is all about a Congress both ignorant and spineless to stand up for its constitutional powers and responsibilities, as it has continually been since WWII.

Congress has been busy investigating and supporting prosecutions against athletes for lying about drug use.  What’s more important?  That Congress initiate prosecution of Gary Bonds for lying about sports-related activities, or that it prevent presidents from violating the Constitution by going to war on their own initiative alone?  The point is not whether or not America should have intervened with military force to prevent the deaths of demonstrators, or should use it to remove Gaddafi.  The point is that it is unconstitutional for the president to do it without congressional authority, and by doing so, Obama made himself a king or dictator, and took away the voice of Americans, expressed through the debate and vote that should have happened in Congress, the branch of government that is closest to the People.

If impeachment of the president must be inaugurated to enforce the Constitution, to prevent all of the horrid consequences that come so much more quickly and easily if the decision of just one man (or other nations), apart from Congress and the Constitution, is all that it takes in a so-called democracy to spill blood, then doesn’t the worth of that blood, of all the lives, lost and mangled, hold considerably more justification for Congress to act, than did Bonds lying about taking steroids, or the spills that once stained a blue dress?  The events subsequent to the NATO hand-over in Libya, where civilian deaths have continued to mount in a bloody stalemate, tempting even greater involvement, and the mass murders now ongoing in Syria, where the president’s new policy of self-proclaimed initiative to prevent such atrocities mandates that another war be started, say it is not, and that this trespass was another great mistake that will turn out to be both costly and unjustified.

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The military-industrial complex militarists are toasting their 18-year-old Scotches as constitutional war powers are buried in Libyan sands.

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King/Dictator Obama took the "we" out of Libya when "he" unconstitutionally made war "his" one-man decision by excluding Congress—our voice.

cc (via web forms) March 27, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...


President Obama’s address expands unconstitutional war-power shift away from Congress.

President Obama’s address offered no surprises, apologies or regrets.  He made all the justifications expected in his address on his decision to use American military force in Libya.  All of the justifications he enumerated and explained are valid, and he is also correct that the limited action he decided for America’s military were actions that should have been taken by America in support of its allies and, with proper evidence of genocide, as a defender of human rights.

He cited the change of command to NATO, which is a smoke screen, having little consequence to any change in American involvement, since the U.S. is the largest part of the command structure in NATO and is never out of the process when American troops are involved.  Most significant to continued, unilateral decisions on military action, he also defined his military policy as a shared, international participation “to protect interests and values that, while not critical, may be threatened” across the globe, from preventing genocide, keeping the peace, providing or insuring justice, to safeguarding the flow of commerce.

The Constitution and the war-powers authority of Congress were given not a single word, and that is where the underlying problem, which the president’s address did not alter, remains.

In America, if it is a nation of laws, the Constitution is supreme, not presidential policies or doctrines, and not international accords.  No matter how the need might be justified, no matter how right the right, or how wrong the wrong, the core principle that America relies upon, and must demand of its leaders, is the integrity and respect of the Constitution, that its requirements will be respected and met.

The president did not do so when he ordered an air invasion of Libya to set up a no-fly zone and attack Libyan military facilities and armor, and he has not acknowledged any problem in having done so, and in fact, in defining his policy, he provided assurance that the Constitution’s requirement for congressional authorization would continue to be ignored, even though, in cases such as the current circumstance in Libya, authorization would, far more likely than not, be forthcoming.  The point of this is that the president does not want to accept that constitutional obligation upon his office.  No president has, since Eisenhower, and unless this stance is forced to change by Congress, America will continue to face military involvements that are disastrous, unexplained, not understood, and not justified, as well as those that are proper in motive and context for America, and would likely be properly authorized.

The president must get authorization from Congress to set America’s military might into motion, in all cases not involving direct or imminent threat of attack.  Nothing, not since the Constitution was ratified by the Continental Congress has changed that, except the past-practices born of the bold and arrogant defiance of a handful of presidents.

The Constitution also has provided Congress and the American people an instrument of protection against the misconduct or abuse of power of the president:  impeachment.  It is a serious step, one that was abused by a Republican majority in Congress, as a political tool, the last time it was invoked for the lies behind the blue dress.  Abuse of war power, where the democratically derived office of the president is distorted into the throne room of a king or the closed, authoritarian hall of a dictator, causing the spilling of blood, rightly and not, is the most serious instance of abuse where impeachment is justified to end it.  If the president will not relent, and the Supreme Court will not intervene, there is no other way.

Unfortunately, despite all of the qualities that give President Obama the potential to be a great patriot in American history, serving the office with distinction in most ways, this abuse of war power has proven to be a vehicle of such harm and cost to the nation in other hands that it must be ended when he provides the opportunity to do so by deliberately abusing it with his own hand.  The evil genie must be put back into the bottle, or in the case of the president, the bottle, spilling congressional power into his hands, must be plugged to insure that no future abuse can be contrived and repeated.

The American people want the decision for war to be debated openly by their elected officials, as the Constitution requires, before the nation is committed to violence.  And, judging by the statements of congressional members, since the president launched the nation into another conflict, so do they; although, in most cases, they seem not to know the Constitution and that they alone have the collective power to make that decision, whether they want it or not.

The trespass against the Constitution continues, and the ball remains in the court of Congress, as a more peaceful, prosperous future for America weighs in the balance.

March 28, 2011; cc as indicated above.

Response to:

Columnist Nicholas Kristof tries to justify trespass across Constitution’s separation of powers.

Sent to:  New York Times reporter, Nicholas Kristof, in response to his article, Hugs From Libyans
March 23, 2011

Mr Kristof, your assertion that “a couple of days of dutiful consultation” would have fatally delayed intervention in Libya is invalid on two points.  First, there is no “dutiful consultation,” on using military force.  There is only constitutionally dutiful seeking and obtaining of authorization from Congress.  And, second, if the administration had begun informing Congress of its facts, projections, and fears, which were buzzing around behind closed White-House doors for weeks before the forces were ordered in, authorization could have been obtained, even well ahead of time to act if certain “worst-case” scenarios materialized, and even if UN and Arab League authorizations didn’t come through in time.  And if not, well, sell harder or find another way, like let the French and British do it all, for once.  It is their oil source, as you wrote, and oil was the bottom line; otherwise, why no intervention in places like Rwanda?

There is no excuse for unconstitutional, unilateral decisions on war by presidents.  Administrations always know well ahead of the fact when they are planning to deploy troops.  Congress needs to begin being put in the front of that planning, on the basis that a war plan without constitutional authorization is counter to extending the popular sovereignty of a democracy with use of force, and it is worthless, except to a king or a dictator.

And more important, ignoring Congress when starting/ending wars has severely harmed the nation.  It is a proven, past-practice of disaster, and it does no good to search for excuses to overlook or minimize or try to justify the trespass of presidents with respect to the Constitution, whether it’s war powers or First-Amendment rights.

Every end-run around the Constitution’s congressional war powers, or any other trespass across the separation of powers, or the First Amendment, by any well-intentioned president, enables the abuse of future presidents, and many among them will do, and have done great national and global harm through that enablement.

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Every end-run around the Constitution’s congressional war powers, by any well-intentioned president, enables the abuse of future presidents.

cc (via web forms) March 20, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

To usurp congressional war power is an impeachable offense.

Sent to Rep. Dennis Kucinich
March 20, 2011

It was reported on CNN (loose nature of its reporting considered) that you said, “the president should have consulted with Congress” before he pulled the trigger on Libya?  Consulted?!  You know he’s constitutionally obligated to get authorization from Congress, or you should, and you should be taking him to task for it, loudly, and with no quarter given on the emphatic nature of your claim for the powers that belong with your vote, not any president’s unilateral initiative!  I like President Obama, but presidents going to war without congressional authority to do it is a continuing, dangerous practice that has to end, and it is an impeachable offense!

Grow a spine and stand up for yourselves!  Be jealous of your powers as the Founders counted on you to be!  Make a damn, loud noise about it and don’t let-up until a “Resolution of Trespass” is debated and voted on by Congress and, if passed, delivered to the president’s desk, condemning his violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers.  Add to that (if more likely to get a trespass resolution passed) or send along with it, an ex-post-facto resolution restating Congress’s war power (and not just the purse) and granting the president authority to act according to the UN resolutions, with the exception of no manned attack aircraft (fighters, bombers, fighter-bombers) on offensive missions, only in defensive support of command-and-control, communications, refueling, and transport aircraft, no ground troops, a hard, one-year time limit, and a warning that the next time he or any president usurps Congressional war power that articles of impeachment will be brought up!

The Founders put war power within Congress for a lot of good and necessary reasons, all of which remain valid today, and the nation is far worse off because of Congress making a practice of allowing presidents to usurp its decisions on when to start and/or end military conflicts.  And Congress, for allowing it, is just as responsible for the damage as the presidents who overstepped their authorities, even though responsibility is what congressional members have been trying to avoid, to their detriment and the nations’.

This is supposed to be a democracy, not the kingdom or dictatorship Congress and presidents are trying to turn it into with the unconstitutional, “one-man concept” of war power!

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The Founders did not intend and the Constitution does not allow any one man to decide on matters of war—that power resides only in Congress!

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Why do “analysts” and politicians keep saying “we” picked sides in Libya, “we” went in not knowing... anything.  There’s no “we,” just Obama!

cc (via web forms) March 20, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

This caricature of Obama, as the “Commander in Chief,” while not
representing the man, represents the Office of President,  as it is
transformed by excluding the Congress from decisions, exercising
military power constitutionally expressed to be in Congress alone.

In the promised, new Washington, crows still gather.

Making a decision of support for a policy or conflict in a poll is one thing.  Making a decision that actually pulls the trigger on war, that comes down to the common denominator of America’s sons and daughters ending the lives of those in another nation, always including innocent ones, and of having their lives end or bodies torn is quite something else.

A week after Japan’s Great Quake combined with a movement of self-determination in the Mid-East that marks this as a historic time for the world, President Obama, a constitutional scholar, the candidate who promised a different way for Washington to work, came up against his very first opportunity to make his own Great Quake in the modern history of America’s government when he was handed a U.N. Security Council resolution and the resolution of the Arab League, authorizing the use of force against the dictatorial Libyan regime.  Acting on authority within those resolutions, he decided to send America’s soldiers into harm’s way, and not to take the path of change and revolution that would reverse past abuse and strengthen America’s democracy.  He chose the old path, the transgressing path that leads to stepping on the Constitution by taking the decision on war and making it his own.

Despite the Constitution’s clear, unmistakable language, the supporting documents of the Founders, and the historical circumstances surrounding their evolution as builders of a new kind of government, declaring that it should never be the decision of the president to send America into war, President Obama decided to be another selfish president, another greedy president who, like a robber in the light, would take what power he could unto himself, another president that would just go ahead and take what Congress silently ceded and a lower-court judge once wrongly let the presidents before him take.  He decided to be a president more jealous of the power he would be let wield than respectful of the instrument that he claims to so honor: the Constitution that defines the government he leads and the democracy that, through combined abuses, is slipping away from its people.

Neither dictator nor king be I?

The Founders were well aware of the danger of too much power being vested in the executive branch of government, and so openly fearful of it that they wrote articles about it and took the power of war and placed it across the divide from the executive, into Article I of the Constitution, where through rule of law it is separated from the president and expressed as a power reserved only for Congress.  The case for his unilateral action in Libya, which the president is repeatedly making and expanding upon in his public speeches now, is what he and his appointees and staff should have been presenting to Congress and its members’ staffs before he acted, to marshal their consent, to have passed a resolution authorizing him to carry out the military action called for in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League.

Why does the president say it is mandatory to have UN and Arab-League authorizations to constitutionally go to war, and not have the authorization of Congress?  Where is the logic in that?  In effect, with or without Congress in the equation, it says that if the president believes it is necessary to use military force to defend America’s vital interests, that he would be prevented from doing so unless he had authorization from the U.N. Security Council and whatever regional, international, subset organizations exist.

That’ll be the day!

The fact is, the president is playing war-power two ways, seeking authorizations where it is convenient and ignoring them where it is constricting.  Yet, the president tells America and the world that Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy to lead.  Though that is true, and even though he lost it long ago, how can the president avoid the hypocritical label that falls upon him in the eyes of those in America and abroad who know the Constitution and know America’s military has been illegitimately deployed without the authorization of Congress, in some sense, moving America closer to that which defines a military dictatorship, or an absolute Kingdom, where in either case, the dictator or king sends forth his armies as he sees fit?

That’ll be the day?  You say?

The Founders envisioned a nation of peace, to be separated by oceans from the politics and the entanglements of the nations of Europe that caused war to so frequently hobble the advance of their societies, just as America’s “president-decided” wars, sometimes decided when to start, to end, or both, have hobbled America.  They knew that placing the power of war with Congress served more than the purpose of preventing the abuse of that power by one man alone, as King George III had abused it against them and their neighbors, and that it would require an unlikely conspiracy among a majority of those in Congress if the power of war were ever to be “abused,” and that the majority required to give specified authority to the president to execute its decisions on war would validate, for the people and to other nations, the projecting of that deadly power by the nation unto others, which they considered to be a nation’s most terrible instrument for imposing harm, domestic or abroad.  President Obama validated his self-ordained decision by, in effect, performing quality control upon himself, saying that he recognizes the heavy responsibility of making decisions to go to war as “Commander in Chief,” which is quite the opposite of what either the Constitution requires of that decision, or what the Founders intended as the inherent justification of a openly debated and agreed-upon act by the peoples’ elected representatives.

The title President Obama invoked in his justification has no authority to decide on going to war attached to it.  “Presidentialists,” those who advocate that it does, because they believe the president, not Congress, should have the sole power to decide whether to or not to use military force, include the likes of John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and all the supporters of the military-industrial complex, or “militarists,” which President Eisenhower, the WWII allied commander who preferred to be called “General” after he retired, labeled as “dangerous.”  The Presidentialists and military-industrial-complex militarists, from those in the ranks, to the industry contractors, to those in the think tanks, are toasting with their 18-year-old Scotches as a new front opened up for them in Libya today, and the constitutional war powers that limit their ambitions were buried more deeply, this time in Libyan sands.  Still, with more than 100 cruise missiles launched on the first day of hostilities, defense contractors gain more than $60 million, just the opening payment, borne at the expense of the national-debt burden facing America’s children.  Presidentialists/militarists also include most conservative Republicans, the same ones who strip workers of their collective voices, and who sanctioned crimes, including torture, kidnapping, and illegal domestic spying, and it includes most who have become president, since Eisenhower, regardless of party (President Carter might be the only exception), because presidents are stricken by human nature and tend to covet and seek to expand their power.

Militarists argue, ignoring all historical context and supporting documents, that the title “Commander in Chief” has the authority implied.  But the Constitution is also very clear and specific that all powers not expressed fall to the states, not the president.  The much-abused title is actually worn by the president as he facilitates the implementation of the will of Congress in commanding the military to attain of the goals and objectives specified in the authorization.  There is no other way to constitutionally interpret it.  Any other interpretation is tainted by politics or ill-purpose.

Or the militarists will argue that the president is not restricted if war is not “declared,” because the Constitution, in the terminology and according to the practice of the day stated “declare war,” instead of “deploy military forces,” or some similar but identical phrase.  The Constitution only mentions sea and land forces, as well, but these militarists won’t argue that the Air Force is exempt from all constitutional constraints imposed upon the other military branches because it is not mentioned, since, of course, there were no airplanes or air force when the nation was founded.  As in so many conservative arguments, they try to twist words and concepts to have it both ways.

The Founders recognized the nature of man would be realized in most presidents by coveting and seeking to expand the power of the office, and they recognized that in the government they devised, the People would be closer to the Congress than to the president, less isolated from their state- and district-elected officials, and that was a secondary reason for the power of war to be vested there.  They also recognized that with the power to decide to engage in armed conflict, with military force, originating in Congress, that the decision would be arrived at through open debate and a vote that would be far more subject to the influence of the people upon their representatives, making the decision to go to war an extension of the nation’s democracy, of its popular sovereignty, not one made behind closed doors, without debate, as the plans to enter other wars, like Iraq, were derived, without public influence any more meaningful than an after-the-fact poll.

This intent by the Founders for war to be decided by Congress, with the transparency of its closer touch with people, and its debate, is expressed by the Founders in writings, as when the nation’s Founder and third president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote, “As the executive cannot decide the question of war on the affirmative side, neither ought it to do so on the negative side, by preventing the competent body [Congress] from deliberating on the question,” which is exactly what President Obama just did when he declared an ultimatum, backed by the use of military force, without the authority of Congress, without the transparency of its process of decision, without the compounded plurality of its place, closer to the electorate, from among whom the soldiers come, and most important, without the considered decision, made from within the collective hearts and minds of that “competent body [of Congress, not the president].”  Instead, the president consulted only with what he considered to be (as George Bush did) “appropriate personnel,” as President Obama put it, when asked, before taking a step so dangerous, bringing war to the nation, before spilling the blood of its people, and in the name of ideals he set as justification for that great expense and its inherent, long-term risks.

How bold, how arrogant, for just one man to take unto himself all of that, in the name of all of us, and in stark, naked defiance of Congress and of all that stands in the archives of history and the Constitution to prevent it!  It matters not if President Obama’s heart is in the right place or that his decision is right, or that it is the decision at which Congress would have arrived.  Lyndon Johnson’s heart was in the right place, but his decisions prolonging the Vietnam war were deadly wrong and costly to the extreme.  The decisions of the president’s predecessor, George Bush, were both deadly wrong and from a heart not in the right place, meaning that interests other than the national defense were being serviced.  And therein is the great danger that the president keeps alive and invites successors to take unto themselves, with results that cannot be counted upon to be any better than those which have kept America hobbled in conflict for generations since the end of World War II.

If the president is bold and arrogant for his ex parte decision to take up the nation’s sword by his own volition, then Congress is just as apathetic, and weak, and cowardly for allowing him to do it.  At the very least, it should pass a resolution to provide a defacto, ex-post-facto authorization, to at least preserve a semblance of constitutionality, a hint that its elected members acknowledge the power is theirs, not his, that they are giving-away—ceding the voice of their constituents to the president because they lack the courage to act on matters of such grave import themselves, or to confront the president when it is stolen from them, to at least leave a dropping of the authority that is theirs in the process they have allowed to wallow in the murky, swirling waters of the toilet that, because of this and other transgressions in governance and the courts, is about to further weaken America, more darkly shade its future, and swallow-up its democracy.

The polls that ask if America should use force in Libya are asking the wrong question.  Instead they should ask of Americans if they believe they want their neighbors, friends, and family sent to war on the decision of just one man, or the decision of a majority in their Congress.  If the results are the same, then Congress or the states should act immediately to amend the Constitution to move war powers across the great separation the Founders (who were far wiser and more intelligent than the collective populace and members of Congress today) created between the president and Congress.  And then they should hope or pray that the power they formally, legally conferred on the office of president doesn’t loosen whatever constraints acting without that authority have provided, to bring upon them and their descendants the horrors of even more of the likes of Vietnam and Iraq, and all the collateral death and consequences that arose, because they will have sanctioned a great, new danger, the very one of which the Founders were most afraid.

And then, when this is done, be very afraid.  Because the Founders also knew that bad, evil men, or gullible men, swayed by the deceptive evil around them, would eventually be elected or succeed to the office of the President.  And, again, they were right.  It has happened, and it will happen again.  Hitler came to power because other powers were ceded to him out of ignorance, apathy, or fear.  America is not invulnerable to so drastic a change of coat, particularly as the protections of its democratic freedoms and the foundations of its democracy are nipped apart by the agile, hungry, black crows that flap about, singularly, less significant, but of which there are always, like locusts, enough to strip bare those fields left unprotected or surrendered.

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Why does the president say it’s mandatory to have UN and Arab League authorization to go to war, constitutionally, and not that of Congress?

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Why does every new president start a new U.S. war? At the same time, to justify it, everything/anything is called critical to U.S. security.

cc (via web forms) March 19, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Another president puts the muzzle on Congress in deciding war.

On the basis of stopping violence against civilians, preserving the security of the U.S. and its allies, and upholding the word of international bodies, President Obama laid down an ultimatum for Libya’s Gaddafi, much as George Bush did to Saddam Hussain, to cease fire, pull back from the rebel areas it has retaken, and reestablish utility services.

The president assured that there would not be any deployment of ground troops, and that no further objectives beyond preventing violence against civilians would be pursued.

The president invoked the title of “Commander-in-Chief,” saying that as such, sending the military into conflict is one of the most difficult decisions he has.

Point is, HE DOESN’T HAVE IT!  The title “Commander in Chief,” ascribed to the president in the Constitution, carries with it NO authority to make any decision to send soldiers into conflict situations... none!

Further, Gaddafi fighting against armed rebels is NOT fighting civilians, an important distinction that it seems will be completely ignored in another rush to involve the U.S. in yet another conflict, even pushing the situation, perhaps for the president to show strength, because hours before he made his announcement, Gaddafi announced a complete cease fire being immediately put into effect, showing that he still has the backbone flexibility to back down, as he did with WMD after the invasion of Iraq.

And the U.S. has no obligation, and the president no authority to give weight to the words of international organizations with the blood of its soldiers, one of the justifications the president cited for taking military action if Gaddafi doesn’t abide by the conditions of the ultimatum.

It appears that the only way this continued abuse of power will ever end is when either a member of Congress takes an injunction against the president to the Supreme Court, which is a step either side is reluctant to take, because the current majority on the Court has already demonstrated that its politics are more important than the Constitution, and they would be more likely to affirm the stripping of constitutional war power from the Congress.  Another way would be if any member of the military refused to follow orders to participate in actions against Libya without congressional authorization, in which case, the process would begin with a lower court, and if ruled against the president, the case would still eventually wind up in the hands of George Bush’s Supreme Court majority.

It is inconceivable to see in what way the abused war-power authority is viewed as ever having been beneficial to the United States.  Sadly, it seems there is no interest in restoring the Constitution’s separation of powers, not from Congress, from which the power is being abducted, and not the people, from whom the decision to commit the country to violence is farther removed when snatched from their elected representatives, and certainly not from the founders, who were specific enough about it in the Constitution, and also in their “side-bar” statements on power.

“Listen” to the words of Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” and think of how they apply to today’s evolution of his government.  He begins with multiple expressions regarding the abuse of power, and then goes on to address the careless relinquishing of power in trying times, an issue hotly alive with the concerns of the Patriot Act, the continuing attempts by presidents to grab power with legislative sign-offs, particularly pronounced with George Bush, the use of fear to gain support for accumulating ever greater and farther-reaching powers, as with the Patriot Act, and attacks against the judiciary, supported by George Bush and Republicans during his administration, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who, along with John Boehner and Steve Chabot, have been Pavlov-reflexed to salivate the Bush line on Iraq and carry it into this century, ignorantly claiming enthusiastic support for all the harm that war has imposed and will impose, and also continuing to claim that the war there has prevented attacks in the U.S., when, in fact, it has not.

The president stated that, somehow, Gaddafi, a mouse in a desert region of ally cats, threatens the security of the U.S. and its allies, an obligatory statement, not a truth, for presidents to invoke as they step beyond the power of their office to commit the nation to conflict.

Madison mistrusted so much power in the hands of a single man, and rightly so, writing:

“All men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

By “tyranny,” Madison refers to the more subtle abuse of the minority by the majority—not so much a Nazi or Genghis Kahn or al-Assad type of violent repression and control, though that would be the possible result of an excess allowed to go too far.  Today, it’s tyranny in reverse, with the minority abusing the majority through internal voting rules that establish unconstitutional majority-vote requirements affecting passage of legislation (the Senate’s 60-vote rule to cut-off filibuster).  Nip it in the bud would be Madison’s strong warning.  Nip it in the bud would be Madison’s strong warning.  He goes on:

“The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.”

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

These quotes of Madison are a stern warning and a justification for the separating of war powers from the office of the president, except in cases where immediate defense against attack must be mounted, and all have bearing upon today’s choices for citizens, Congress, the courts, and the unfounded claims of presidents that the power to decide on war in their hands will keep America safe, or in any particular case, keep fighting away from U.S. streets.

On war power, specifically, and the intent to keep it far from the president, as written in the Constitution, the Founders were clear and direct:

Madison:  “The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

Thomas Jefferson, the third president, before Madison, wrote to reaffirm this undeniable intent:  “As the executive cannot decide the question of war on the affirmative side, neither ought it to do so on the negative side, by preventing the competent body [Congress] from deliberating on the question.”

Founder Alexander Hamilton wrote to say how the other side of the coin also stays the president’s hand with respect to war power: “[It is] the duty of the Executive to preserve peace till war is declared.”

The Constitution’s Articles cannot be altered or sidestepped with legislation or by presidential directives.  They can only be changed or removed by the purposefully difficult process of amendment. The War Powers Act is unconstitutional, and the cost of allowing presidential discretion with war powers beyond constitutional limits has cost Americans dearly, most recently, the cost of more than 4,400 lives in Iraq; it has set back American foreign policy, has created more hatred and more opportunity for enemies to gather the forces to be launched against America that will cause irrevokable harm to American society and the American way of life.  The harm it has done could fill an encyclopedia.

It is time for Congress to put presidents on actionable notice that when they make decisions about sending military forces into conflict that they have overstepped their authority.  The time for political games and adventures must be ended, because the allowances they assume have for too long strayed to quash the guidelines and restraints which constitute America’s heritage, contained within the Constitution and its associated wealth of documents and written history.  It has already been proven it is foolhardy to continue to ignore them.

America stands on the precipice of another exclusion of Congress from debating and deciding upon an issue that invokes their most significant responsibility and authority, its muzzling hastened by another president insistent on expanding the power of his office across the boundary set for it in the Constitution.

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If one man decides on use of military force, it cannot be an extension of power representing the popular sovereignty of a democratic nation.

cc (via web forms) March 18, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

End America’s age of perpetual war by resting a decision to begin another in proper hands.

The vote of the U.N. Security Council, within the last few hours, to authorize all action necessary to prevent the slaughter of civilians in Libya does not authorize the president to bring U.S. military force to bear there because:

1.  There is no evidence of genocide or the slaughter of civilians by the Gaddafi regime.  The regime is fighting armed rebels.

2.  The president knows and Secretary of State Clinton has already said that the U.S. has insufficient knowledge to know who the factions are, and if they defeated the regime with outside help, if they would be another case of Palestine, where Hamas won elections, or Iraq, where al-Maliki is showing strong anti-democratic intentions, or worse, if Islamic radicals akin to Taliban might take control.  The U.S. just does not know.

3.  The repercussions of U.S. military involvement are unknowable, as are how or when the military might be disengaged.

4.  The U.S. is involved in two active military adventures and doesn’t need another.  Defense Secretary Gates has advised against use of force there primarily because of an overstretched military, and the budget is also overstretched.

5.  There is NO THREAT to U.S. security posed by either the victory or overthrow of Gaddafi, or by the fighting.  Committing troops and risking their lives would NOT be in defense of the United States.

6.  The only beneficiary of any military action in Libya would be the components of the military-industrial complex, where the borrowed tax dollars to buy arms and equipment and fuel, and to hire private contractors would have to be borrowed as a burden upon the next generation, with the lives lost there a burden now.

7.  There would be lives lost, mostly civilians... there always are, and civilians of all ages and sex always carry the greatest burden of casualties.

8.  Engaging with Libya is not the way to begin disengaging the perpetual state of U.S. conflict that has been engineered by the military-industrial complex and the radical Republican party, of which the former Republican President and WWII Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower specifically, and with the strongest possible words, warned.  His warning has been ignored, to the detriment of America’s present and future.  It is time to end foolishness and any sense of modern-world superiority, and begin heeding the warnings of America’s greatest leaders and following the structural dictates of one of the world’s greatest documents, describing a government of free men and women, forged through conflict, controversy and compromise on a foundation of democracy by America’s greatest patriots.

9.  Democracy is a harsh taskmaster.  It didn’t come easily to the colonists and it still hasn’t come to Iraq or Egypt.  If enough of the people do not want it badly enough to fight for it and take it, it will not succeed by intrusion of external forces.  A new regime will be created that either acts in its own interests, as Gaddafi does now, or as a corrupt partner with external powers that funnel vast sums of money to support it, as is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The people of Libya have shown neither the intensity of resolve or design of structure necessary to bring about the birth of a democracy.  More of them have shown an inclination to hide, switch sides, and immigrate than stand up for themselves with the rebels, and American soldiers cannot be ordered to stand up for them, risking their lives to force the creation of democratic environments anywhere.  That’s the mission of the military-industrial complex, not the American people, and not the Constitution.

10.  CONGRESS HAS PROVIDED NO AUTHORIZATION FOR MILITARY ACTION AND ANY TAKEN WITHOUT IT WOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, even with a U.N. Security Council resolution to use force.  To allow a foreign body to dictate the deployment of U.S. forces would be UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and it cannot be done through treaty or any other means, except to amend the Constitution so that it no longer vests/expresses the sole authority for use of force to be within Congress.  Congress must pass a resolution to authorize the president to execute military action authorized by the U.N. Security Council.  President Obama cannot act on the U.N. resolution alone.  If any conflict is truly vital to America, a majority of its peoples’ representatives in Congress will see it, or can be made to see it, but it is their explicit right to agree in majority to or not to authorize the president to unleash that force.

President Obama has been absolutely correct to refrain from military action in Libya, to ignore the war-calls of the militarists, like Sen. McCain and presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani. Secretary Clinton explained the reasons why not very well, and the president has only failed in specifying a recognition that he needs more than just the U.N. Security Council resolution and the approval of the African Union.  He has not said that he knows he must get authority from Congress.  As a student of the Constitution, he surely knows this.  As a president, he may be tempted to forget it and extend past-practice of silent ceding and taking of power.  As a Presidentialist, who creates interpretations and authorities that are not written and do not exist (therefore would defer to the states), that are not expressed, he would ignore the Constitution’s Article-I requirement that the collective minds and hearts of the people’s representatives make the decision, after debate, on when to deploy deadly military force, putting the lives of their soldier-citizens at risk, never any one man, never the executive; otherwise the decision to use military force becomes corrupt and cannot be an extension of power representing the popular sovereignty of a democratic nation.

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The President, as Commander in Chief, is the facilitator of the will of Congress in matters of war, and is subordinate to that body.

cc (via web forms) March 17, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Does CNBC’s Larry Kudlow have the heart of extreme Republicanism?

Always knew cold-heartedness was true, but never thought it would be so plainly revealed.

The capitalist-extremists at CNBC never showed their naked callousness as well as “The Call’s” co-anchor, Larry Kudlow, when he delivered his situation summary on the markets’ mid-day upturn at the close of the show, saying of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, “The human toll seems to be a lot worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”

His words, falling like cubes from the tray, were unchallenged by his two co-hosts, and one can only guess that all the capitalists puritans who work at and watch CNBC, and who tie their de-regulatory hopes (to shed costly rules protecting public safety from reckless, corporate profiteering) to the Republican party, that they are thankful one of their kind, a caring guy like Larry, is there at CNBC to make sure they have their moral compasses pointed in the right direction (Hades) and their humanity locked away there in the basement safe.  That’s what Mr. Kudlow showed to be the really true intent, no slip of the tongue, and how effortlessly it was delivered, from just under the skin.

The world according to Kudlow, without apology:  Better that people suffer a hit than investors take a loss.

The death toll from the tsunami, climbing all morning, had reached at least 300 before Kudlow cut loose with his black-hearted [1,500 the 3rd day after], but truly Republican (as the party has devolved since Eisenhower) sentiment, the goal of which is burned into their platform, to strip regulatory funding and enforcement (reduce the size of government) in every industry.  And if you don’t care about the people, regulation (democracy) is just an annoyance that gets in the way of more profit, ergo, the market/corporate/personal profit is what comes first, a point many co-anchors at CNBC reveal in their banter, though never with quite the blatant, casual stab to the heart with which their peer delivered it in this day of tragedy upon tragedies.


On Monday, March 14, during a late-morning ad-spot for his evening, CNBC-show interview with House Speaker Boehner, Mr. Kudlow, the above-referenced co-host for CNBC’s The Call, apologized for what he described as his “slip... out of context,” and went on to offer obligatory sentiments about the loss of life in Japan that should have been spoken when he originally said that it was gratifying the human toll of the quake and tsunami was a lot greater than the economic one.  His quote (above) certainly was not taken out of context, as Kudlow didn’t quite say, but implied while including the word “context” in his apology, and there was no stutter, or hint, or pause (except the dead silence that followed his remark) to indicate it was a slip on his part.  And if you didn’t see it, you can’t decide for yourself either, because Kudlow’s closing remark is—shades of Nixon—cut-out from the stream of the show segment that’s posted on The Call’s web page.

Maybe it was a slip.  Maybe that can be the Squawk’s next poll.  But, sometimes people in the public eye just let the truth pop out there to lay naked on the stage; think Mel Gibson, Michael Richards (Kramer), and Kudlow, their true priorities, feelings, or lack thereof showing, apart from what is widely acceptable, like Gov. Walker, but without the fake Koch brother on the phone, and then, when called on it, unless they’re Charlie Sheen, they apologize, offering excuses, like it was a slip, or heard or said out of context, or that they were misunderstood, or they didn’t understand what was said that preceded the remark, therefore the remark is invalid, or it didn’t come out the way it was intended, etc., etc., and then they say all the things they know to be the right things to say, even if they can’t really feel them.  This not only seems to be the case with respect to Kudlow’s original remarks, but it also seems to fit in with the air that hovers above his social indications, which can be inferred from some of the comments that accrue to form the image of the man, and that seemed to be so well reinforced by what he now calls his “slip.”  The fact he also says his remark was not in context, which it most definitely was, and that he chose to offer the apology on a call-out segment, during a commercial break where it is less likely to be heard, yet, nonetheless said, rather than during the show he co-hosts, where the comment was made, makes his apology seem all the more disingenuous.

But whether Kudlow’s apology is really genuine or is provided as a job-keeper can only be known by Kreskin and those who really know Kudlow.  Regardless, he is now more suspect than ever, as wearing the same shoes as the 1800’s industrialist who drank rare Scotch paid for with the labor of the sweat shops he owned, holding the noses of children to the grindstone, letting women go up in his burning factories, most of which abuses came to an end as the result of the unions and democratic reforms of which he and so many at CNBC seem so often to refer to with such disdain, as must be expected, it seems, from those who serve the “capitalist” investment community.  And it is the investment community that is served by Kudlow and CNBC, because most everyone else is working (and not in banks or investment firms) and not watching or listening to the occasional inhumanities that spring forth, floating through the airwaves on that particular, soiled feather of the peacock’s once proud and more brightly-colored tail.

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Was CNBC co-anchor, Larry Kudlow’s apology, for remarks about Japanese lives lost genuine? — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#cnbclk

cc (via web forms) March 14, 2011:  House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Senator Jim Webb

War-power constraints gassed and glassed.

Sent to:  Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
Chairman, Personnel Subcommittee, Senate Committee on Armed Services
March 11, 2011

Senator Webb, you replied to my letter about military involvement in Libya by writing:  “I have strongly cautioned against unilateral U.S. military action in Libya.”

Your reply was a form letter, and I doubt any letters are read by you, because whether your sentence, above, means unilateral, executive, military action or unilateral, national, military action, the entire point of my letter, which was unmistakable, was that you should know the president cannot constitutionally do anything militarily in Libya without congressional authorization.  So why are Senators McCain and Kerry urging him to take such actions, when they should be talking to their peers to get a majority vote on a resolution to direct the president to act, if that’s what they want.  Apparently, because they are “Presidentialists.” Again, you say, “strongly cautioned against,” as though you believe the president can unilaterally go ahead and deploy troops or other military assets without a majority of senators’ approval, and that you must plead for him to abstain!

I am not aware of any treaties or resolutions of Congress, or law that provides prior authorization for the president to deploy military assets, which would be an unconstitutional device, significantly changing the Constitution without amendment process.  And even with a U.N. Security Council resolution in his hand to, say, establish a no-fly zone, the president would still be required to at least get the Senate to ratify it before troops could be sent in.  Otherwise, the Congress would be placing the authority to put U.S. lives at risk, to deploy deadly force against another people, in the hands of the president alone or foreign nationals! Either circumstance would be blatantly against the intent of the Founders, as written in the Constitution, and by several of the most influential of them, including Madison, in other letters and publications, all of which you should be aware, as should every senator and representative.

None of the statements made by Secretary Clinton or the president over the last several weeks allude to the congressional-authorization requirement, and I am sure they, as all modern presidents, wish it to be otherwise, but it is not. Military force should only be decided upon by the collective minds and hearts of elected members of Congress, never by any one man, as was the case when the Founders and their neighbors were the subjects of abuses and imprisonment and death at the hands of King George III’s troops.  Collective agreement is the Founders’ intent, and that is how they wrote the war powers into Article I, reserving ONLY the power of the president to respond to a precipitously imminent or on-going attack on his own, in Article II. All other powers relating to the military are vested in Congress, in Article I.

The designation of “Commander-in-Chief” is just a title, overused in inappropriate venues, worn by the president as a facilitator for achieving the goals and objectives specified and authorized by Congress, not an empowerment for any authority to initiate military actions of any kind, except the aforementioned defense against attack.  Failure to abide by this restriction of exclusion costs lives, imposes great costs, and hastens a darkened future for us all.  It is a failed policy, to silently cede military power to the executive.  I hope you will begin to assert the will of the Founders in your responsibilities as a U.S. Senator.

I don’t believe President Obama would ever use military power unwisely or brashly.  But the Founders specified military power to be projected from within Congress because, besides their personal experience at the end of the sword of a military ordered upon them from afar by one man, they recognized a bad president could be elected, and they intended that separation of military power from the executive would protect the nation from a power-drunk, or otherwise deviant president, like George Bush.  If the protections the Founders built into the Constitution are going to be effective, then they must be universally respected and uniformly followed.  Otherwise there will be more unnecessary, criminal, or misguided abuses of military power that leave our budgets depleted, our global perception stained, and our men and women and many more innocent foreign nationals maimed and dead, as has always been the case.

The Constitution is not a relic to be encased in gas and glass and displayed to tourists.  It is the framework of American government and law, and it cannot be permitted to be contorted, distorted, mal-interpreted, propagandized, or ignored any longer.  This past practice of the “Presidentialists” to grab congressional power in military matters, and the tendency of the Congress not to jealously guard its expressed powers, as the Founders counted upon, as a trait of human nature to preserve the separation of powers and limit the power of the executive, must end.  And with your distinguished military background and influence, you should be the one who strives to be like Eisenhower, when he warned of the dangers of the Military-Industrial complex, and be the leader in Congress, to warn and claw-back and stand against further ceding of congressional war power to the executive, before you retire from office, to make the point that the war power is to be construed with the broadest scope and that it resides within Congress, according to the Constitution, not with the president, and make going to war/battle/police action—no matter, it’s all subject to the war powers in Article I—make it, the committing of American lives, make it the collective decision of elected men and women that it must be if conflict is to be an extension of popular sovereignty, and not the campaign of a unitary, closeted collective, as it is if the president acts on his or her own to deploy, only consulting with cabinet officers and “appropriate personnel,” like Dick Cheney did when he had his secret meeting with energy executives to plan the deployment of oil-drilling and storage equipment and personnel to Iraq, to arrive within a week after troops invaded and secured the fields—certainly, no implication of Cheney’s actions or character upon this president should be derived.

If the resistance of Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and responsibility has been because of the time it takes to get authority the constitutional way, well, first of all, that is the idea, when not responding to an attack, which is expressed to the executive in Article II, and there is also a constitutional method to compress the process of authorization, to greatly speed a decision of denial or approval, to get the ball rolling quickly in seemingly consensual situations.  But if the resistance is in order to avoid congressional responsibility for decisions of military involvement, then shame on you all!

The president, in his press conference on the day of the Great Japan Quake, talked about taking careful action before engaging in any military action, “with international participation, after consulting with the secretary of defense, the Joint Chief, and other appropriate personnel,” when the first entity he should be talking about getting together with is... Congress!  Is the “other appropriate personnel” of which the president spoke supposed to be you—Congress?  The Constitution specifies the derivation of war powers, in Article I, as Congress.  The president’s implied designation is, himself, and his expressed designation of participating authorities, appropriate personnel, is extremely vague, and where in the formation of the United States did the Founders ever specify that the executive can “conspire” to deploy the military with whatever vague counsel he may wish to engage?  It’s not in Article II, and the president can’t cross over to Article I.  The president’s specification is only valid when he is acting upon congressional authority as Commander-in-Chief, consulting with whomever he chooses regarding the tactics, composition, and coordination of forces, equipment, and allies he must direct to achieve the goals he has been authorized to pursue.  It’s all very clear-cut, except in Congress and the Oval Office.

You and the rest of the chamber need to start doing what is necessary so that presidents begin thinking and speaking with the proper priority about who makes military-policy decisions and decides about initiating engagements.  If you let presidents take the power, they will, for good or ill.  Again, the title “Commander-in-Chief,” is nothing more than the cap the president wears in order to facilitate the will of Congress in directing the military when so authorized by Congress, to achieve goals and objectives authorized by Congress!  Nothing more.  And within that authority, it is the president’s discretion as to how (not if) to deploy force to achieve the authorized objectives.  That’s the way the Constitution requires it be done.  And McCain knows this, but he is a facilitator of the military-industrial complex, and as such, he recognizes that a constitutionally-defined chain of war-power authority would mean that it would be much more difficult to precipitate campaigns, and I suspect he still dreams of being president and wants the power within that office, free of any obligation to Congress or subordination to its authority.

Other than the specified, Article II authority to unilaterally defend against ongoing or immediately precipitous attack (the modern-day equivalent of seeing the masts of the King’s approaching frigates appear over the horizon), the Constitution only permits the president to make his case for military action to Congress for approval, to sell it, if he believes it is necessary to initiate use of deadly force of the military anywhere in the world.  It is never his or her decision to make unilaterally.  There is no “go” button in the White House to initiate aggression.  Further, if the majority in Congress votes a resolution to withdraw all troops from Iraq, or establish a no-fly zone in Libya, the president must carry out those authorizations, even if he does not agree.  With war powers, the Constitution doesn’t even afford the executive a veto, which speaks to how important the Founders believed it to be that the power be excluded from that branch.  The nation has suffered greatly, still suffers, because of the abandoning of this important constitutional constraint.  You, at least, can begin the process of restoring it.

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Obama took away the voice of Americans when he decided on his own to attack Libya, excluding Congress—the branch closest to America’s voice.

cc (via web forms) March 11, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

In Republican hands, the Wisconsin State Capitol.  It certainly has that democratic look to it.

Isn’t it odd...?

Isn’t it odd that the offspring of Germany’s Nazi soldiers are today exercising freedoms that have been stripped from their freedom-fighting, conquerors’ children by Wisconsin Republicans, democratic freedoms which are soon to also be ripped away from descendants of Ohio’s WWII-soldiers by Ohio’s Republican majority?  Germany’s war descendants now enjoy membership in public-employee unions and are striking over their employment conditions.

This is hardly representative of high-sounding, Republican sound-bites and promises, or a result expected from votes cast in the alleged interest of democracy.  And the suppression of democratic freedoms by these states’ governments has little if anything at all to do with budget crises, which in public negotiations require responsibility on the part of government negotiators, which has been absent, not addressed by Republicans who, since they’ve been mostly in charge, are also largely responsible, and for which those irresponsible have not been held to account.  Abolishing democratic freedoms does not accomplish that or save taxpayers’ purses from negligent elected officials or their hired, often over-compensated administrators/managers in any level of government.  It is just another sign of American democracy in decline.

cc (via web forms) March 10, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

George Bush, as president, claimed he was “the Great Decider.”  BUNK!

The Constitution is clear:  Congress has the war powers, not the president.

The Founders did not intend and the Constitution does not allow any one man to decide, or to, as George Bush claimed, stand as “the Great Decider” on matters of war—that power resides only in Congress!

Think of it this way:  the Constitution bestows the title of “Commander-in-Chief” over the military to the president, but Congress is empowered as Commander-in-Chief of the president!

The president, as Commander-in-Chief, is the facilitator of the will of Congress in matters of war and is subordinate to that body, to the exclusion of command intrusion or micro-management by Congress in the direction of the military to achieve authorized goals/objectives.

Past-practices of “Presidentialists” to grab power and of Congress to silently cede power does not make constitutional the initiating of military action by the executive without the express authorization of Congress!  Such abuse has contributed to the unnecessary, global militarism of the U.S., to the detriment of its future and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

With no U.S. lives at risk, President Obama can take NO military action in Libya without the explicit, constitutionally-required authorization of Congress.

Unless previous, congressionally-ratified treaties exist, authorizing the president to act on U.N. resolutions to take military action, Congress must ratify U.N.-approved military actions in Libya.

Congress has constitutional authority to direct the president to execute a no-fly zone in Libya, or to take any other military action, anywhere.

Bottom line:  if a majority in Congress wants military action taken, it can direct the president to do it.  If the president wants to take military action, he or she must solicit the Congress, sell a majority on the plan to get a decision made granting the authority to proceed.  Unless Congress has authorized military actions through law, resolution, or ratification of treaties triggering military action, the president has no authority for any unilateral military action in Libya or anywhere else; with or without U.N. resolutions—Congress must authorize!

And elected government officials must start following the Constitution.

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Constitutionally the president is TITLED as military’s Commander in Chief but Congress is EMPOWERED as Commander in Chief of the president!

cc (via web forms) March 7, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin

The knee-jerk militarism of John McCain is a no-fly zone.

Democracy cannot be bought with intervention, but it can be given away with apathy.

America can thank its lucky 50 stars that Arizona Senator John McCain was rejected by a slim popular majority in his bid for the presidency in 2008.  Not just because it kept Sarah Palin out of the heart-beat chair, but because otherwise, America would at this moment be at war in Libya, risking American lives in the same way that they were wasted in Iraq, not for national defense, but for an unproven assertion, in this case, that genocide is being carried out by Libyan dictator Gaddafi, through the use of military aircraft to bomb citizens.

McCain is a leading supporter and propagator of the military-industrial complex, the objective of that entity being to initiate and maintain military involvement throughout the world, spurring the growth of the military, the entrenchment of military activism in American life, and the sales of military hardware to “allies,” as has been done in Iraq with orders for tanks and F-16 Falcon fighter jets, and where its prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is acting like a dictator, insulated with a private army, paid for with more than 4,400 American lives and billions of homeland-needed dollars.  At least half of America’s citizens cannot remember a time when they would watch the TV news and not see a report on American troops in conflict.  For them, war has long ago become like a constant, distracting noise that the brain tunes out, but nonetheless absorbs.  This militarism contributes to the decline of America through an imposed sense of gloom and death, at home, where a nation in constant conflict can only be perceived as a nation falling deeper into failure, and in the occupied nations abroad, where the constant presence of troops inflicts a sense of oppression and external reformation of culture, instilling hated, sustaining and growing the spread of those who choose to join together to inflict harm upon America in return.  President Obama is right to ignore the likes of McCain and heed the strongly worded advice of his Defense Secretary, against any new military action, because a no-fly zone is an expensive and risky undertaking that America cannot in any way afford, and the outcomes and consequences are indeterminate.

McCain hasn’t learned the lessons of Iraq, probably because he was on the inside of the planning and deceptions, and there is no evidence of genocide in Libya.  It is to be expected that some demonstrators and rebels will claim atrocities and air strikes against them, but American lives can never again be carelessly put at risk on the basis of unsubstantiated claims.  A few pieces of shaky film contain the sound of jets and the rising smoke that resembles a bomb having gone off, but there is no proof that the sound of the video wasn’t altered to add the jet, or that the jet wasn’t just a fly-over, or that the smoke comes from bombs dropped by an aircraft, or that if there were, that they weren’t dropped on munitions or weapons armories to keep them from falling into rebel’s hands, which is not genocide.  Indiscriminate, widespread killing of unarmed civilians is just cause to impose military force to end it, but if that is the case, it would be recognized by multi-national observers, and America would be able to proceed with at least the cursory consent of international forums if not with their participation.

The kind of thinking about military activism with which McCain and the dominating fringe of the Republican party is ingrained must end.  President Obama recognizes that there can also be no impulsive reaction with military force to solve problems in international situations.  In previous Republican administrations, America’s military has sprawled to cover the world, and the president should do more to roll-back that reach, including closing of many military bases around the world, a total withdrawal from Iraq, and complete withdrawal of ground troops from Afghanistan, where the war was won more than eight years ago with the defeat and ousting of the Taliban regime and the scattering of al Qaeda to the four winds, where the core of America’s strength, democracy, is drifting as well.

Democracy is “People” generated and sustained.  If democracy is to succeed in any revolution, the people must want it so badly that they are willing to sacrifice in great numbers to obtain it, not flee to other nations or cower in their homes while the military of another nation confronts their oppressors for them.  This is why democracy is failing to take hold in Iraq and is not yet even a plausible hope in Afghanistan.  And it is also why public ignorance and apathy is the greatest factor contributing to the crumbling of democracy in America, with serious intrusions into the mechanics of popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty—democracy’s foundations.

America’s most important fight for democracy is in its own backyard, and the choking grip of the weeds on the once-grassy lives of its people is alarming and must begin to be met with the gravest attention and resolve.

cc (via web forms) March 6, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Max Baucus, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Rep. Michele Bachmann, hypocrite, saboteur of democracy.

Bachmann contrives party rhetoric to attack democracy’s mechanisms, disguise motivations of greed.

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) statement, in a speech in Massachusetts, placing the revolutionary battles of Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire, has demonstrated that she doesn’t really know or understand the pivotal events that cumulated in the formation of the country and its Constitution, that her qualifications for government office and knowledge of American history are only what’s worn on the skin, tucked away from view beneath the cloth.  Her level of ignorance gives pause to consider a requirement for senators and representatives to pass tests in American history and civics before they can be placed on the ballet.  Elected officials, like Congresswoman Bachmann, who do not know America’s history or understand the Constitution and their obligations to it, lead America into further and accelerated decline of its democracy.

She is also a hypocrite, receiving more than $225,000 in unneeded government farm subsidies for her claimed farm residence, while complaining that the “welfare” Americans in real trouble receive is “socialism,” and that subsidies should not be provided to homeowners who could otherwise make their adjusted payments to stay in their homes, failing to understand or care about the democratic intents of specified homeowner aid:  that aside from the loss of the home for the homeowners and payment revenues for the banks, the defaulted homes also devalue the neighborhoods for other residents and add to the loss of municipal-level revenues, increasing the burdens for remaining homeowners.  Bachmann, like other extremist Republicans, opposes measures that provide benefit to broader swaths of people and institutions if it might cost wealthy taxpayers another cent, despite her readiness to take those benefits for herself, disguising the push-back against the wealthy paying more of their fair share as being instead based in opposition to “socialism” and “big government.”

While some Republicans, and others who are also abusers of the government’s democratic benefits, may see no wrong in or forgive Bachmann’s abuses and hypocrisy, not knowing history is an invitation to repeat its mistakes.  Voters, especially those who voted for Republicans who are not striping democratic rights from workers, should ask themselves if America really needs another shallow, show-business, anti-democracy political figure in office, much less to be elevated beyond a seat in the House of Representatives that she has already demonstrated she is unqualified to hold by virtue of her lack of knowledge, morals, or democratic appreciation and value?

Minnesota’s voters have a history of bold, electoral experimentation, with the verdict still out but winking in favor of the former comedian, Al Franken.  But Minnesotans should do themselves and the nation a favor by throwing Bachmann out where she belongs, into the failed bin, to lie in the wreckage of Minnesota’s political history, along with others for whom the demands and requirements of government service proved to be beyond the scope of their capabilities, like Jesse “The Body” Ventura, though Jesse is wronged by sharing that bin of failed service with Bachmann, since she lacks the quality of his good intentions.

March 15, 2011

Do you really wanna see
a  President  Hucklebee?

Huckabee the wannabe shows he thinks low.

Leading Republican presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee is to politics what Tonya Harding is to figure skating:  classless, making knee-whacking, personal attacks with his incorrect comments about the president’s past, his father, Kenya, and the Winston Churchill bust in the Oval Office that Obama replaced with one of Lincoln.  It all demonstrates that he is incapable of meeting the president or a presidential campaign on the issues.

In another case of Huckabee’s mispoken criticism, his hypocrisy shows through loud and clear, as well as his “Bermuda Triangled” moral compass, when he points out actress Natalie Portman for her decision to have children out of wedlock, while he strongly praised the same situation in the case of cohort Sarah Palin’s daughter.  And if there was ever a good reason why he is unqualified to be president, it’s because he can’t, at this time, decide if he wants to give up his well-paid media career to endure the burden of running for office!  How about the burdens of the office itself, which any dedicated candidate would feel and embrace with the passion to do something worthwhile, passion which is obviously lacking in Huckabee, who only wants an easy path to celebrity attention and power—to abuse, in support of the socially-intrusive and highly-selective ideals embraced by his weak democratic (i.e. democracy) character.

President Huckabee?  America can do better... is doing better than the likes of him, much better.

March 5, 2011

Are you shocked?
Trump as U.S. president is as scary as this to consider.

Trump plays TV, plays real-estate games into bankruptcy, must not play the White House.

Donald Trump wants to become one bullet in a Derringer pointed at the national head, as an expert speaking in oxymorons to create conundrums.  He said he is seriously “considering running for president” (of the United States) because, he said, “I hate what’s happening to the country... it’s being ridiculed.”

“I work all the time.”  This was the reason Donald Trump gave, in a April 16 speech, for his two divorces, and as another qualification for being president.

What it really shows, and what his continual harping on the non-issue of President Obama’s birthplace, is that he doesn’t know how to bring balance to his life and his priorities.  America doesn’t need a president who works all the time as much as it needs a president who understands the necessity for balance and strong family values, because balance and family values are the cores of structural strength that extend into business and government as qualities that weigh on success.

The Donald was thoroughly lambasted at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, and as C-SPAN cameras focused on him while jokes about him flew, he was clearly trying to kill the speaker with his stony stare, Saturday Night Live’s lead writer, Seth Meyer.  Besides being called “The Donald,” there’s something about the character of a guy who can’t laugh at himself that makes him especially unqualified to be in any kind of political power, especially when he is as laughable as Trump.

Sarah Palin is the other bullet, and with the Trump revelation, one of the greatest dangers of Palinism is clarified:  any clown with one foot in entertainment (or politics) who thinks about being president is no longer daydreaming, but actually believes it is not only possible, but that it would actually be good for the country.

It would be gratifying if the voters would set this sickly-comic thinking straight, but polls of November 2010 have indicated that Sarah Palin scored in the neighborhood of 40 percent among some groups, a long way from a majority as polls go, but a nonetheless alarming total that gives rational people palpable cause to fear the public as much as Iranian nucs or the image of Palin or Trump seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.  One can only think that these unthinking or faulty-thinking voters don’t realize that, these days, electing a president is on many levels a life-or-death proposition, and that, to them, Russian Roulette would not be too dangerous, even if played with a Derringer.

Loading the likes of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump as presidential candidates is like playing Russian Roulette with a Derringer.

cc (via web forms) December 13, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Image pending.

Is a nationally beneficial integration of democracy and capitalism the impossible dream?

Despite the assurances of American presidents that motives of conquest and political interference and control are not behind the policies and actions taken by government, capitalism, which is supported by American government and defines much of its history, is heartless and wants to conquer the world and the minds and purses of all its viable population.

Capitalism is the doctrine of financial and resource control and exchange which demands that the avenues of profit dictate the priorities of the players, while corporatism is the structure of capitalism’s component pieces which defines and executes the operable concepts of growth and profit.  These doctrines and structures exist solely, with the least expenditure of investment in the mechanics of the system (production and administrative machinery and operators) as possible, to bring as great a profit as possible, as quickly as possible to those who are shareholders of the enterprise.

In America, all of this must operate within a democracy, which is supposed to be structured upon popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty, which define the ability of “people” to participate in self-determination.  Herein is set upon the nation the conflict, defined by the contrary interests of those who live within and work as component parts of the economic structure, with the power to set the laws defining the boundaries within which that structure must be constrained, and those who own and control the structure, whose purpose is to minimize constraints and operating costs to prioritize enriching themselves.

Democracy places restraints upon capitalism through laws and regulations, which in turn places the imperative upon selfish capitalism to seek control of democracy in order to preserve its operative freedom and minimize its costs, even if those costs are designed to protect capitalism’s operable components and the broader structure of its economic foundation.  The history of America, particularly since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, has been the struggle to strike a balance between the interests of these two structures, capitalism and democracy, to merge the best characteristics of both into one system that is beneficial to the nation, its people, as well as its mechanisms of prosperity.

Today, there is little balance, the rich are richer, the poor poorer, the middle class, which has been at the core of America’s prosperity during the last half of the 20th century, is shrinking like the glaciers and democracy is in a terminal moraine at the leading edge of the down-slide, crumbling apart, all three components that define it under attack and structurally weakened.  And, as the melting and caving of the glaciers is a self-precipitating process, hastening their destruction, so to is the subtle, furtive tearing-apart of democracy by the extreme capitalism favored increasingly by successive Republican administrations over the last 50 years.

Priorities of all government officials, especially Supreme Court Justices, should be nation- and Constitution-biased, not party or special interest of any leaning.  Capitalism and free enterprise must be preserved, as the most efficient and successful means by which prosperity and growth can be achieved, but not to extremes, at the expense of democracy and its three, “people-centered” foundational components.

In the Supreme Court, the branch of government designed by the Founders to be the Constitution’s guardian, most recently, the unethical actions of Justice Thomas and the ruling of the Republican-appointed majority in “Citizens United” have contributed most drastically to place democracy deeper under threat, being severely weakened by a structural eroding of its foundations of:  1) popular sovereignty, through the Citizens ruling and special-interest control of legislators through campaign contributions—the flawed/corrupted election process, making American government more and more to be of, by, and for the wealthy, not the people; 2) political equality, again through the Citizens ruling and the flawed and corrupted election process, giving weight to special interests and the voices of the “haves” over the “have-nots,” and due to the process and costs that are barriers to prospective candidates for office — in America’s political system, money-talk is heard; and 3) political liberty, where while anyone can speak, how and where they can speak, and more important, how and where they can be heard is controlled by special interests, most severely, for democracy, through conglomerated control of the Fourth Estate, limiting the range of responsible voices and sources for opinion, reporting of fact, and oversight of government officials and their activities, which removes any wonder about why Republicans want to de-fund PBS and NPR, which leads all of that which remains as journalism in America in exposing abuses.  And political liberty is curtailed through the party system of biased self-interest and control, through rules-setting in Congress and state/local legislatures, to gerrymandering, also responsible for promoting and preserving partisan gridlock.

The combined effect of the erosion of these three legs in the foundation of democracy is that America is, at best, a quasi-democracy that panders to the wealthy, encouraging the growth of the wealth divide between those who can afford boats and airplanes and those who can’t afford houses, health care, or food, diminishing the middle class, and through the corrupted election process, diverting legislators’ time from committee and legislative work to fund-raising and special-interest pandering, resulting in subverted regulatory and enforcement actions and failures of oversight that precipitate death and destruction, as has been the case since the Industrial Revolution, with mining disasters, factory fires, airline crashes, oil exploration and refining, environmental and economic disasters, lack of preparedness for natural disasters, and the growth and entrenchment of the military-industrial complex, resulting in the spreading of the American military footprint around the world, the addressing of political, intelligence, and law-enforcement problems with military-attempted-and-failed solutions, the callous imposition of American military and culture, to include offensively viewed sexual-advertising mores into the lands and cultures of other nations, through which the seeds of al Qaeda’s focus against America was born, and which, to oppose, further feeds an invalid expansion of military growth and operations, all of which has resulted in government-devised-and-sanctioned torture, kidnapping, private (unconstitutional) and uniformed army massacres, and further growth of hatred and opposition to America and its occupations, not to mention the flawed policies of supporting authoritarian regimes around the world, against the interests of local democratic priorities, which is coming to roost in the Middle East today, and which has been a source and incitement of unrest and violence throughout the world.  The evils of diluted and blocked regulation and destructive special-interest spending that are sprung from contribution-funded elections create a long, long string of deleterious effects upon democracy, the American people, the national welfare and future, of which these are only a few of the most obvious.

The attacks against “big government” and the unions—facilitators of collective, populist voice—by the conservatism of the Tea Party and the extremists of the Republican party mainstream are no more than guises for attacking constraints on capitalism’s unregulated, natively-destructive ambition, which is the real objective of government’s regulatory “evil largess,” with capitalism propagandized by the extremists into a victim that is never named, but instead masked, behind facades, as “initiative” or “self-determination” that is lost, or “uncontrolled debt” or “curtailing business expansion and jobs growth” as the woeful results.  These are the arguments of the wealthy protecting the profits, interests, and the agenda of the wealthy.  Where will be found among the informed middle-class or the poor a supporter of the already-failed, trickle-down, economic platform of the Tea Party or conservative Republicanism?  Those who do are no different than brainwashed suicide bombers, punching ballots instead of bomb buttons, taken in to bring about their own demise by a deceptive, self-interested bunch who make a beneficial milk wagon out to be a charging chariot.

The extreme and ludicrous (like Palin, Trump) must be discarded and American democracy restored through, primarily, the banning of all political contributions in place of publicly-funded campaigns, which will remove bribery from legislation and oversight, bring political-campaign operations and time-spans back to the realm of sanity, release the grip of special interests upon legislators and free them to devote their time to their constituents and their constitutional obligations, and make it possible to begin to diminish and end the evils mentioned above that have all sprung from the sprawl of the growth of special-interest control of every aspect of government endeavor, in the name of unfettered capitalist profit and plain bloodsucking of federal revenues through making careers out of working government’s apparatus, integral and ill-constructed for just that purpose.

Where corporate failure and crime at the top has meant being ousted with a bonus and golden parachute, there must instead begin to be real accountability, beyond just Madoff, for wealthy, white-collar, financial terrorists, as well as for presidents, cabinet officials, and justices who break the constitutional covenant with no consequences, beyond to reputation and historical judgement, for anyone, except the real pain which falls upon America’s democracy and people, as has been ever-more common in the last 50 years, where abuses have been the most flagrant and damaging.

The ageless concept of criminal and ethical immunity for high-level political operatives must end, because it strips away the legitimacy of and public faith in government, chipping away at its underlying democracy and its authority.  Look to the action being taken now against Egypt’s deposed president, Hosni Mubarak, whose illicit assets are being seized under direction of the Egyptian attorney general, or the prosecution of the former French president, Jacques Chirac, as exercises in accountability that should be standard practice in America, not a rare occurrence that, when pursued, is politically motivated.  How hollow is Secretary of State Clinton’s proclamation that, in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi “must be held accountable” for his crimes against his people, when here, torture and kidnapping and illegal wiretaps were made a standard-operating practice, violating constitutional limits and those of international agreements, and those responsible at the top have been held to absolutely none.  Therein is another cost of the persistent failure to enforce accountability within America’s government:  it has made Sec. Clinton’s and the president’s calls for accountability from other leaders anywhere else illegitimate and hypocritical, and it is a failure, the trail of which runs through Bush, Cheney, leading cabinet members and advisors of that administration, down through the bureaucracy to the like of those agency regulators who bedded with big oil and the banks instead of enforcing regulation of their platforms and transactions.

Those elected and appointed to the highest offices in a true democracy must have the fear of real accountability for unconstitutional and criminal or criminally-negligent acts or performance, just as those beneath them who depend upon collective bargaining do.  This will require a priority to prosecute above politicizing by the White House, conveyed down to the attorney general, and the resolve in Congress to cleanse and correct itself, and use the power of impeachment and (implied) withdrawn-confirmation that only it possesses to clean house and enforce ethics, showing a spine not tainted by party—and, in all of this, that seems to be the impossible dream.

cc (via web forms) February 28, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Zoe. Lofgren, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Libya’s Mad Dog and the Puppy.

Murder awaits the murderer.

Muammar al-Gaddafi is a dead man.  Even if he had an invitation for asylum, his insane perspective would prevent him from giving up power.  The hatred of the Libyan people for the murderer has been inflamed by the killings of the last two days, and combined with the successful throwing of the yoke in other Mid-East countries over the last month, and the success of demonstrators in holding the eastern region, the revolution will not go away, even in the face of the death of another 1,000 citizens, particularly with increased military and civil-government defections and stronger international opposition.

As a consequence, Col. Qaddafi will be assassinated, probably by one of his sons, most likely, Saif, who has already become accustomed to sitting upon throne-like chairs, has shown his true colors in the current turmoil to not be as moderate as once believed, and who has been expecting to eventually take his father’s place.  The sons know that if the father is toppled by any other source, they are also out of the palace, and the only chance any one of them has to remain in the throne of abuse and murder is if they take out dad and attempt to placate demonstrators sufficiently to quell the restlessness in the wake of the “Mad Dog’s” removal.  The other possibility is that the shot fired will come from the high-ranking military, or someone coerced/paid by them, with the intent of establishing a military dictatorship, and that possibility extends to any of the sons who might assassinate the father to claim the throne.

Internationally, the worst effect of the violence in Libya and the upheavals throughout the Mid East has been inflicted by speculators, not OPEC, and not oil companies, but speculators, who never receive oil shipments, driving up prices through bets in the commodities-futures trade, bringing inflated prices to the pump which are completely severed from the actual state of reserves and production, and which, in the face of Saudi assurances that it will make up any shortfall because of the revolt in Libya, makes the pump and barrel prices nothing more than naked profiteering at the expense of the U.S. economy, greedily carried out without recourse of any kind in the production and retail markets.  Thank you, Congress, for allowing this speculative-gambling abuse to further cripple the nation and its recovery from the economic crises, which Congress also facilitated, through lax regulation and no enforcement of criminal banking and investment activity, for which, only one man has been jailed, Bernie Madoff, and only because his theft touched so many of the famed, wealthy, and powerful.

cc (via web forms) February 23, 2011:  House Financial Services Committee office, more...

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in one of his many crying jags, when the only
people who had a reason to cry at that moment were Democrats and progressives.

Crying about having an adult conversation?

Since House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) literally sheds tears over important public issues and is incapable of going deeper than party sound bites using speech, his criticism of the president for not addressing issues with an “adult conversation” is only laughable.

A million protestors crowd into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to confront the Mubarak regime.

February 11, 2011 - Mubarak deposed... a chance for democracy.

Congratulations to the Egyptian people, who have removed the figurehead of a corrupt dictatorship, taking a step toward a possible democracy.  With the exception of slow-coming words of support, and doubtless, extreme background pressure from President Obama, they did it with no help from America, the administrations of which, for 30 years, have chosen to support a dictator and remain on the wrong side of history.  It is mistaken, economic-driven policies of convenience and facilitation that, nonetheless, continue beyond Egypt, with aide and other support to corrupt, authoritarian regimes around the globe, helping to preserve the rule of fear that suppresses their people’s freedoms, robbing them of their wealth and opportunities, and where the major rewards go to a few U.S. corporations.  President John F. Kennedy said, of the ambitious goal of landing men on the Moon, that “[America] chooses to do it because it is hard.”  It is tragic that American foreign policy constantly chooses not to do the right thing because to do so would be hard and inconvenient to whomever profits otherwise.

Praises, also, to the Egyptian army, which stood with the people it is supposed to defend instead of assaulting them as the tool of an authoritarian government.

But the future remains uncertain for Egypt so long as the government remains in the hands of officials who have been a long-standing part of the self-serving Mubarak regime.

One can only wonder when and how George Bush or Dick Cheney will twist reality to somehow claim credit, that the Iraqi invasion contributed toward the apparent Egyptian revolution for democracy, events for which they and their criminal Iraqi invasion have had no part in bringing about, whatsoever.

What awaits for Egypt now is the denouement of free elections to create a civilian government, and a practical demonstration as to the validity of domino theories... will populist movements soon displace other Mid-East, authoritarian regimes?

Health-care ruling would nullify many federal authorities.

If the obviously political ruling by the federal-court judge in Florida stands, then how could the government ever have had the authority to draft citizens into the armed forces, or have that authority in the future?  Where is the difference?

In the cases of conscription and health-care payments, components of services which fulfill universal, compulsory needs, the common good is being served by making requirements upon citizens to contribute according to their ability.  The health-care law requires participation through payments from those who can afford to pay in order that the provider system can exist to serve all citizens.  The draft, when enacted, requires citizens who are physically able to serve to “pick up arms” (or provide other service if a conscientious objector) in order that a military system can exist to serve the defense of all citizens.  Do away with one and you must scrap the other, because no constitutional law holds to a double-standard.

And then, if the absurd ruling of the judge is upheld by the Supreme Court, which has already made its contribution to constitutional absurdities in the case of “Citizens,” where would the government be in terms of liability for all the dead and wounded soldiers in the past who were drafted rather than volunteering to serve, and whose service would then be retroactively, unlawfully coerced?

Republicans just don’t want to pay for a conscionable health-care system that makes the United States a bit more socially equal to other, more advanced cultures which have accepted that health care is, like the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (wealth), a universal right—an entitlement to which no human being should be denied full access.

If the United States is to advance as a culture and as a democracy, it can no longer be all about the money.

cc (via web forms) February 1, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Historical struggle underlies President Obama’s “State of the Union” address.

President Obama’s underlying message:  It can’t be all about the money.

Corporatism is not an “American” founding ideal; neither are capitalism and free enterprise.  When you stop to think about it, as ideologies, they were far from the causes to which the Founders pledged their lives and fortunes:  Freedom, Liberty, and Democracy...  for the People, not to give competitive voice to any system or entity created by them.

The closest concept to capitalism which concerned the Founders was the right of citizens to hold and control private property, mostly their farms and, unfortunately, slaves.  The Dutch were among the greatest capitalists, before America declared its independence, and it wasn’t until just after the dawn of the Industrial Revolution that America created and began to grow corporatism, which as a system and philosophy has become entrenched as the controlling blueprint for operations in commerce, government, and the military.

If anything, the current recession has evidenced that American corporatism, in addition to leading the world in promoting production, growth, and preserving wealth for its participants, has bested all other nations in abusing its capitalist foundation, and by extension, the government and the American people.  But that record of achievement, for the few who walked away from the carnage with stuffed pockets, was the culmination of a lot of practice over a long time, since capitalism in America began to show the ugly side of its head back in Andrew Jackson’s time, when he went to war with the banks, a struggle with populist presidents that deepened through to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and to Roosevelt’s, in the Great Depression, before capitalist excess joined with a string of Republican presidents to eventually create the nightmarish landscape onto which President Obama stepped when he entered office in the depths of the Great Republican Recession.

A large nation with a vast range of private enterprises that impact upon public welfare and safety requires a large government to guarantee that safety and welfare, because time and time again, capitalism and corporatism have demonstrated that left to their own devices, death and destruction follow the profits.  Corrupted government, fueled by special-interest contributions to campaigns, contributes through regulation that is lax and criminally negligent, which the president’s announced plans, to streamline government, reducing its agencies, will help correct.

When Republicans who resist spending to create jobs that also keep America at the forefront of education, technology, and infrastructure try to propagandize capitalism, business, and corporatism as “American,” values that are diminished by government largess, as was expressed in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (WI) Republican reply to the president’s address, it is just code for expansion of wealth at the top through reduction of taxes and regulation on business—the discarding of democratic balance, where “free enterprise,” means free of government boundaries on behavior or accountability for consequences affecting others, where government spending means taxes cutting into a Niagara fall of funneled wealth.  The primary core of the contending party philosophies has become wealth distribution, and those are the naked, but veiled objectives of the Republican party today, regardless of the effect upon the vast majority of citizens or the national well-being, which in that narrow, selfish view is just fine by them, thank you, so long as the economy and global profits can be exploited, the rule of law that protects the “haves” is preserved, and the national vessel of the law’s existence is protected by a strong, omnipresent military.

In his Tucson memorial speech, President Obama said the process of democracy is marked by cynicism and vitriol.  How can there be anything else when Republican leaders resort to lies about policies, as when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) said the problems of today are due to the policies of the president over the last two years?  History knows the truth as well as McConnell truthfully does: that the problems of today are due to a conflict of philosophy, not policy, a conflict which has been won over more than two decades by the imposition of deregulated, trickle-down economics under conservative Republicanism, which has created the greatest economic divide between rich and poor in history, with the greatest reduction of the middle class and the greatest percentile of wealth in the hands of the fewest people, and which President Obama’s administration has only scratched the surface at undoing.

In his “State of the Union” address, the president said we are something more consequential than party, that we are a nation-family, and that what is important is “not that we sit together tonight, but that we work together tomorrow.”  But the field where ideologies at war can meet is very narrow, sparking an economic divide that is hardly familial, and working together chafes many elbows and shoulders, especially when the focus of those ideologies is not prioritized upon the national prosperity and the vision of the future strived for is blurred by the sweeping range of influences that buy and have their interests adjudicated into the government’s structure and policy-making, silencing the voices of the powerless, stifling opportunities.

The president also said he wants America’s democracy to be as good as nine-year-old shooting victim Christina Green imagined it to be.  It would have to be the imagination of an innocent child to be that good, because the reality is a cynical, vitriolic process of quasi-democracy which will never perfect the union, but rather, has been tearing it down, and with qualified reason.  Forming a more perfect union is a building process, one that has been set back by illicit, politically-derived, Supreme-Court-majority rulings, extreme partisanship, the unaccounted-for breaking of laws by high officials, the grip of greed and materialism, and most of all, the manipulation of political influence through party self-interest and campaign bribery, none of which will be affected by symbols such as “State of the Union” seating arrangements, which Sen. McConnell was quick to trivialize only hours before the president’s speech.

Until these systemic mechanisms for abuse of wealth and power are eliminated, Christina Green will at least have been spared the destruction of idealism that America’s government now fosters and holds in waiting for the coming-of-age of her peers and all of America’s children.  Republicans who place capitalistic and corporate values above all else should think seriously, and humanistically about how the cost of that failure balances against the bank accounts with which they measure their success.

cc (via web forms) January 25, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The military flyover is a select culture’s expression promoting and sustaining profits, not American ideals.

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King by ending the American celebration of war.

President Obama’s lack of meaningful action to end the unnecessary conflicts, occupations, and deployments of U.S. military force throughout the world is unfortunate and would not garner the approval of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This day of celebration of Dr. King and his vision would be an appropriate time for the president to consider what Dr. King had to say about war during the Vietnam conflict:

“A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war:  A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

More than 10,000 people died in the Afghanistan operations last year, and it has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, with another $107 billion slated for this year alone.  If Dr. King could speak to the president today, he would undoubtedly repeat his warning on the responsibility of public officials to conduct the government’s policy of war, which, though correct in object, was not in its premise of tactical “initiative,” not for Vietnam or Afghanistan:

“The great initiative in this war [Vietnam] is ours [not true then and, with Afghanistan, that is also very doubtful]; the initiative to stop it must be ours.”

If wars, unnecessary and unnecessarily extended, are to be stopped, the constant push of the military-industrial complex to create a public acceptance of military activism and sprawl must be stopped, a push which is designed to penetrate into every aspect of American life, including the prominent use of the “Commander-in-Chief” title for the president, even apart from military environment, and the object of the hundreds of thousands spent each time a flight of jet fighters is sent to overfly football games... to push the image and presence of militarism in American society.

America cannot and will not return to a concept of military use only in cases of true national defense so long as the military and its objectives are allowed to be twisted and propagandized to remain a source of profit for the defense industry and its varied interests, and so long as industry is allowed to remain in control of government through the corrupting influence of campaign contributions.

The pressure placed upon the United States by other nations, through their inadequate contributions to joint-defense objectives, contributes to the hand held by the military-industrial complex, raising the ante on the growth of their pot.  And the deck is also stacked against change back toward a priority for diplomacy through words rather than boots because, unlike in the time of Dr. King and Vietnam, the military is no longer a conscripted force.  A volunteer military minimizes public involvement, concern, and the chance that activism will play a role, as it did in Vietnam, to end unnecessary conflicts that are more damaging to the nation and its societal progress than they are to enemies, real or contrived.

Military service is a worthwhile experience which should again be required, not only for the character and skills it imparts to soldier-citizens, and the benefits provided to the nation during and after service, but because an encompassing, citizen participation mandates a greater public attention and awareness, and a commitment to change wrongheaded bureaucratic and political dictates by imposing a democratic voice to alter the mission objectives and the ways in which the military is used and abused.  It is for this reason that the military-industrial complex loves a volunteer military force and will use all of its considerable political control to preserve it.  The American people unwittingly assist in achieving that objective, because they will never support a return to conscripted service so long as they see the abuse of military force that exists today and know that they have no control to change it, even with a president as Obama, who is supposed to be better than he has been, allowing the obvious folly of profit by conflict and assisted corruption to continue to grow and further entrench itself as a seemingly constant and necessary aspect of daily American life, now and forever.

cc (via web forms) January 17, 2011:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Chicago Cardinals winning a 1948 NFL Championship

NFL - gone soft as the falling snow?

December 26, 2010, the last day of a holiday weekend, and there will be no Sunday Night NFL Football on NBC or anywhere else... postponed until Tuesday because of the weather in Philadelphia, where the Eagle’s stadium is uncovered.  And the weather placed to blame is not lightening, or flood, or hurricane, or tornado, just cold and gusty snow, yet nothing to compare to the famed Packer Ice Bowl, or winter games played at Soldier Field in near white-out conditions.  The would-be announcers for the game say that the postponement was “not because of the weather, per se, because there have been games played in worse weather with more snow and wind, but that the game was postponed because of public safety... travel concerns.”

Well, one might wonder whose travel concerns, because the teams and coaches are there, and in all those other games, where the weather and the snow were worse, where the very same public safety issues still existed but were not ever considered or offered as an excuse to postpone a game, the fans with the exposed seats always showed up.

So what’s the reason the game was postponed?  The real reason?

Because America has gone soft as the falling snow, in so many ways, from abdomens to detached, and therefore more easily carried out, unnecessary wars where with no public sacrifice there is no public outrage.  The postponement is because the NFL has finally caught up with the public... and with many of its players, and gone soft too.  Easier, on the very day of the game, for the NFL to postpone rather than take the difficult turf, and assume everyone else will postpone to join them later in their softer, mid-week exhibition.

It takes a hard-core football fan, perhaps even one who has played the game at some level beyond the Pee-Wee League, to understand why enduring bad weather is not to be too easily avoided:  when fans who love their teams get into the elements with the players, suffer through the freezing cold and blowing snow with the players, there is never any other time that the bond between them, through that shared sacrifice, is greater.  The players know it, and they appreciate the foul-weather fan who stands with them, apart from the protection of sky boxes and living-room HD TV, for it.  That was needlessly taken away from those fans by the NFL tonight.  And for everyone, there has been a chink cut into the softened armor of the NFL’s once brutally defiant roboman.

Once upon a time, in a game that was set apart by shrugging-off weather, it is quite probable that Vince Lombardi, a hard man who was master when football was a harder game, would have agreed, cursing into the wind.

Top ten reasons why the tax-cut for the wealthy should not have been continued:

  • Does not provide sufficient economic stimulus.
  • Does not add significant jobs.
  • Adds significantly, unnecessarily to the debt and the leverage of China and Mid East bond buyers.
  • Many of America’s most wealthy people of conscience have said that the taxes they pay compared to middle- and lower-class people is an abomination.
  • If anyone believes the pressure to repeal will be less significant in the election year of 2012, they’re wrong, and Republicans will properly suffer if taxes are allowed to increase because they would not forgo the unnecessary and ineffectual tax-break for the wealthy.
  • The decision not to pass a continued tax break for the wealthy is an obligation to our children, contrary to the millionaires or even the middle-lower class at the expense of their children.
  • It is immoral to give the wealthy tax breaks when prices and opportunities are all heavily leveraged exclusively in their favor.
  • The time to get serious about economic equality and reducing the divide is now, not later.
  • Failure to pass a continuance of the cuts including the wealthy will focus more pressure on making the changes to the tax laws that are overdue and necessary to simplify and spread the obligation more fairly to the wealthy brackets.
  • The tax break is unfair to those who are among the long-term unemployed and low-income pensioners who have so far received no benefits or consideration during the recession except a single, $250 Social-Security payment!

Tax-cut compromise is Obama pragmatism at play.

After reaching an agreement with hostage-taking Republicans to extend tax cuts for the wealthy as well as the middle class, today, President Obama talked tougher to his own Democrats than he has ever talked to the Republicans.  Even if he is giving away the family farm to the conglomerate, maybe the president figures the voters who forgot it was the Republicans who created the economic upchuck he has been cleaning up over the last 18 months, or who didn’t stop to think that the smell remains a while after the cloth is swiped, will break with tradition in 2012 and remember his pointed, family rebuke and cast their votes with the respect one gives to a responsible, scolding parent, because he was right to do it.  He was right because Democrats are too independent and undisciplined, compared to Republicans, costing them many of their goals, and because too many Democrats believed the president should have instead stood tough and forsaken tax cuts for the middle class, no matter if the Republicans were determined to sacrifice working-class Americans for the sake of the wealthy while also significantly deepening the deficit, which they were, at least with the wealthy non-tax, and which they have with the deficit.

Liberal Democrats were confident voters would have endured the pain and then made the Republicans pay for it in the next election.  But then, the president would have been just as guilty of the same self- or party-interest politics as grips the Republican psyche above any care for the national interest.  And the president is also looking to the 2012 election, where, speaking particularly to Independents, he will now be able to say that he put the national interest ahead of his party, gaining not only an extension of tax breaks for the middle class, and an extension of unemployment benefits, but also another stimulus-shot in the arm for the Republican-desiccated economy, an important stimulus for continuing the job-growth turn-around that, in the new, Republican-majority House, would have never passed in a stand-alone version.

All of this matters because, despite that there are better ways to stimulate the economy, few if any of which Republicans would support, the poor and middle class cannot afford to pay more taxes, and many of the unemployed would be unduly harmed without the benefits extension, leaving the long-term unemployed as the only faction left dying as the dust clears, and who have been living without insurance benefits, extensions, and without hope for years, and who remain permanent political outcasts, invisible to the economic-stimulus or any charitable efforts of government to ease the pain.

Perhaps the most egregious aspect of the deal is that the president opened a crack in the door to Republican ambitions to kill Social Security by agreeing to a temporary cut in the employment tax that funds the Social Security Trust Fund.  The greedy Republicans were not about to give up an ounce of their 300-million persons of flesh, also grabbing for a reduction to 35 percent on estate taxes.

But the president is not right when he charges factions of his party who criticize the tax-cut deal with “revisiting the health-care public option all over again.”  The public option failed, making the health-care law more about setting basic rules than reform, because Democrats could not line up their own party and one Independent, Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is in the pocket of the health-insurance industry.  Also zipped tightly into that pocket is the senior Democrat who chaired the Senate Finance Committee marking up the health-care bill, Max Baucus.  The president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did nothing to call them out, to pin the scarlet letter of public opinion and disdain upon them, to even try to bring them in line to meet their public obligation over their special-interest bribes.  The president shares, with them, and with Sen. Reid, the responsibility for the failure of the public option.  But the president has the public option in mind when he speaks of the “big picture” and the “long view,” because there are loose ends that can be tied-up in subsequent legislation, if the 2012 election recaptures the Democratic majority, and Democrats must work with the president and within their own toward the big picture that materializes in that outcome of the long view.

And come November 2012, the Republicans will not be able to swim in the quicksand of their deficit-concern lies, or the lies that they care about the middle class; nor will they be able to claim that what’s best for the nation is a more important column in their ledger than the cushy bank-account balances of their wealthy and corporate constituencies, many, the likes of hedge-fund king Warren Buffett, and the former Bear Stearns CEO/JP Morgan vice chairman, Alan Greenberg, who do not want the Republican tax breaks and speak with resentment about the inequalities Republicans seek to extend with them.

But how much of a Democratic win should that Republican insensitivity and immoral turpitude generate, come that November?

It will depend upon the economy and unemployment, with two caveats:  the voters have shown themselves to be an unduly-fearful, apathetic, pathetically impatient, uninformed and easily-duped bunch, so the odds remain very good that, unless the White House does an outstanding job of communicating and keeping the good memories of bad behavior by Republicans alive, the president’s coolly-calculated, 60/40, pragmatic gamble will not pay off; and second, considering the fear, and the Republican fervor to fan it, if before November 2012, through all the useless talks and delaying tactics, the president allows Iran to turn a portion of its desert sands into glass.

cc (via web forms) December 7, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Axis of Obstructionism and Hypocrisy, guns to America’s head for sake of tax cuts for wealthy.
Republicans:  One-Man-Dam Sen. Kyl (obscured); Chicken Crapper, Crier, Rep. Boehner; Most
Dangerous (& presumptive prez candidate) Rep. Eric Cantor; Kentucky’s Porker Sen. McConnell

Election regardless, no change:  Republicans hold America and its working class hostage.

Republicans who are trying to protect the wealthiest Americans from a return to higher, Clinton-era tax levels are fond of saying that it is “important to avoid tax increases for anyone in this troubled economy.”  What they do not mention is that, for those wealthiest Americans they are trying to protect, at a cost of $700 billion to the deficit, times could not be better!  They have the ability to increase their wealth and possessions at a time when costs for everything from securities, to cars, to boats, to second and third homes, to airplanes, all of which most of those wealthy already own, are at the lowest prices in memory.  It is practically impossible, even without the Bush cuts, for the wealthy not to prosper in this economy, and the only probable reason that elitist class would not like to see it continue as it is, is so that there need not be embarrassment at spending too lavishly.  Embarrassment, which was evident in the first year of the recession, has already become tiresome and too much with which to bother; yet, their indulgences do not add any significance to the nascent economic recovery.  In addition, despite that the wealthiest Americans, whose pockets the Republicans are trying to further line, can afford these things on the barrel head, mortgage and interest rates are depressed as prices are, affording them increased opportunities for low-cost wealth growth when many middle-income and all low-income Americans cannot afford to take advantage of the low rates and prices that prevail, making like a full-spectrum dollar store for the wealthy.

The fact is that, even if the Bush gift to the wealthy expires, for them, the gravy train doesn’t stop.  Those wealthy at the rising upper crust of America’s rotting pie will still be able to buy and invest and increase their fortunes with little real effect on their pampered lives.  But even so, instead of doing the right thing, for both the economy and the deficit, by agreeing to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans, Republicans have instead allowed millions of Americans to suffer as their unemployment benefits expire because the Republicans want the rich to remain at shamelessly reduced tax levels, while at the same time fronting that reducing the deficit is their major objective, as they deny an $18 billion economic-aid boost to the economy at the cost of $700 billion added to the debt to pay the wealthy, whose rates are so embarrassingly low compared to average Americans that the most visible of their ilk, Warren Buffet, has plainly admitted as much, saying that the disparity is a travesty.

Republicans are clearly not interested in the national interest or any consideration of balance in the demographic-economic equation, holding a missile-defense treaty, deemed necessary by bipartisan leaders in American politics and government, hostage to their demand to keep the rich richer, in addition to dangling the heavily supported effort to end the socially discriminatory and unconstitutional practice of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for the military, in order to pressure keeping the cuts for the greedy rich in place.  With any legislation, the spoiled-brat Republicans have, as they have been doing all along, refused to eat their dinner unless it is dessert.

Those unenlightened who are not among the wealthy, and who voted for the abomination the Republican party has become since the days of Eisenhower, can now see that the Republican campaign promise to end the deficit will be accomplished the same way the deficit was built:  by stripping the poor and the middle class to hang furs and riches upon the wealthy and corporations, which now, in their steel and glass towers, oversee a controlling majority of the Supreme Court (the only branch of government with the power of the last word—the Founders’ great mistake), building for them a treasure of legal access and protections which are beyond all constitutional provisions or boundaries, and which, along with the unconstitutional, Senate-filibuster rule represents the greatest threat to democracy since the expanding Third Reich of Adolf Hitler and the cold-war missiles of the Stalinist Soviet Union.

Those who voted against, and especially those who did not vote to support continuing the turn-around begun by the Democratic administration and Congress—those who expected two decades of Republican trickle-down, economic disaster to be turned around and repaired in 18 months—should not complain as the nation continues to deteriorate in proportion to the growth of the wealth-divide and the deficit as their lives become more difficult; it is only what they so apathetically asked for and therefore, so richly deserve.

cc (via web forms) December 2, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

President signals return to 1950/1960-era nuclear fears by appeasing Iran/N. Korea.
Terrorist attack cannot be stopped.  Nuclear ambitions of irresponsible states can be.

NATO missile shield is weeds and bats.

Some news reporters have said, the missile shield President Obama has signed-on to with NATO, “sends a message to Tehran,” assuming the message is one which reflects upon the shield as a meaningful deterrent to any Iranian weapons development.  This arrogance was the reporting, despite that anti-missile defense systems are far from wholly effective.  Remember, in the Persian-Gulf War (1991), when one of the Iraqi Scud missiles, an intermediate-range system, got past an ineffective, American Patriot anti-missile “shield” to hit the Army barracks in Saudi Arabia, wounding scores of soldiers and killing 28?  There was just some TNT stuffed inside the warheads of those low-trajectory missiles.

Here’s the fact:  the only message being sent to Iran by NATO’s building of a missile-defense shield is that Iran will not be prevented from developing its nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and that Western reliance on security will be placed on the “assurance” of destroying their weapons with the almighty shield after they are launched, a shield that would not be built if the resolve really was to prevent the development of the nuclear weapons and their delivery capability.

Spin those centrifuges!

If NATO had said that no missile-defense shield will be agreed upon or built, because NATO is resolved that Iran will not ever come to possess nuclear weapons, then Tehran would know that the only outcome it faces if it continues with its nuclear-weapons aspirations is war, destruction, and the end of the Islamic ruling regime.

That’s the message that needs to be sent to Iran.

And what message does the missile shield against Iran send to terrorists, who plan to get nuclear materials from extremist regimes, such as Iran, and unstable, extremist-infiltrated regimes, like Pakistan, or its more-stable, but also nuclear-unsecure neighbor, India, for unconventional delivery of fissile or dirty weapons that bypass any conventional defense systems to get to the target?


The missile shield, as a replacement for prevention of nuclear-weapons capability for Iran, and terrorists, is a path to fulfillment of the terrorist dream of the destruction of Western civilization, because any detonation by them, or Iran, in any city, will cause the destruction of the global economy and launch an all-out, all-interests, regional war.

The NATO missile shield is a waste of resources and a cowardly, non-confrontational go-ahead message to Iran’s nuclear-weapons programs, and by implication, reenforcing the okay already given by Bush action and President Obama’s inaction to N. Korea’s program, where it is has become necessary to risk the use of one or two such weapons by N. Korea if the buildup of that insane regime’s nuclear-weapons stockpile (and black-market inventory) is to be halted militarily, since the Chinese refuse to implement the necessary economic stranglehold to bring it about peacefully.  Is NATO to wait for the same elevated cost for security with Iran?  These would be wars worth fighting to restore security for the U.S., NATO, the Mid-East, Russia, and the Korean Peninsula, not the special-interest war that Iraq has always been and that Afghanistan has become.  The decision to go to war, to once and for all end the nuclear threats, is the only chance that war might be averted to achieve that worthwhile purpose.

FUBAR (WWII soldier’s acronym.  Google it.).  Business as usual.  So what else is new?

Weekend assignment:  “Get the weeds and bats out of the old fallout shelter, Honey.”

cc (via web forms)November 20, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The Green Goop in the Gut of the Great Geico Gecko Affair:  a salvageable culture?

Isn’t it odd that none of the trivial-mongering “news” outlets that are diligently reporting the objections raised against the new Biance perfume commercial, that it’s too risque for TV, haven’t even noticed that Geico, for weeks now, has had the Gecko population, specifically, a poor lizard named “Stanley,” having sex and affair-fallout with women!

That’s personification non grotto for you, Heff, bestiality, gecko-style... if you can draw the picture... and that’s selling insurance?  Next, the Aflac duck’ll be running from a panting farmer Joe, tail feathers flying in trail, quacking, “There’s no exclusion for this!  Where’s the sheep?”

This, on top of everything else:

like pat-downs of three-year-old girls (pedophile applications to TSA must be climbing to the wealth level of the top two percent—why doesn’t Obama force the application of common sense to screening... even if common sense is defined by some as including the rub of race profiling?);

like an exemption on weapons sales to nations using child soldiers (wouldn’t have expected that from Obama, would you?  The military-industrial complex hasn’t seduced him, it’s brainwashed him);

like Republican lunacy, arrogance, and obstructionism—to hell with the nation, the economy exists for and services the comforts of the wealthy, and for the rest, if you’re not making or delivering what the wealthy want (and for as little as you can possibly be paid to do it), it’s no promise of tomorrow and to hell in a hand basket... we’re on our way.

MSNBC’s Keith Olberman’s line is to end the fear of losing the culture by “embracing it.”  I guess that’s okay, if it’s like the way Gecko Stanley and his lady friend held onto each other before the break-up, or like in the hug of farmer Joe’s frantic, feathered desires, or Sarah Palin embracing the moronic dream of a nightmare presidency?

Keith’s a decade too late.  A culture that accepts aspiration to and does all of this (less the extrapolated duck), and shows erectile-dysfunction commercials to children, and values and operates and votes on more characteristics of stupidity, injustice, inequity, and abuse than can be printed in all of tomorrow’s newspaper (what’s a newspaper?) has become garbage that needs to be wrapped in one and thrown out like rotten fish, as far, far away as the wealth of the tippity-top two-percent can afford a ticket on a barge.

Or maybe Dick Cheney can rig a catapult and hurl?

cc (via web forms) November 20, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

This will not change history or legacy.

Hope prevails for a final passage.

Any elected official who is not ignorant should know, above all, that tyranny begins in the assertion by those in power that the end justifies the means.  This is where Bush and Cheney crossed the line, by again and again subverting the Constitution, in addition to their moral and legal trespasses, for which, whether or not they ever admit to wrong, they are both guilty and should have been impeached and more... jailed, annuities repealed, and all revenues from speaking and publishing redirected to families of the dead who fell on their coat tails.  No biography or memoir can re-write the history that will forever mark the Bush administration as one of the blackest and most unjustly-killing in America’s history.

This new Bush book does nothing to justify or apologize for anything.  It is merely an attempt to change, or at best, soften history and attempt to pull a legacy out of quicksand.  Even if his ghost writer used perfect grammar and spelling, the book could only rate one or two stars because it has little substance and little that historians either do not already know or would not find out for themselves.

From the interviews and snippets from public appearances since leaving office, it is clear that both Bush and Cheney laugh too easily and share a too-smug satisfaction with themselves, unaccountable for having brought death and misery to so many for so unjust reasons, which are not at all related to the defense of the nation, returning the Department of Defense to a War Department, an effective overlord of fear and aggression.  That is undeniable from the standpoint of those unfortunate enough to have been and who are under the muzzles of the guns of American soldiers and unconstitutional private armies as they pass in streets and break-down doors in the dead of night, and as they have, do NOT forget, also murdered.  If that is not terror, even if one cannot place one’s self and family in other shoes, than what is?  Can anyone be so obdurate not to see how Bush has grown the enemy at the same time he has decimated the image and war-power capacity and legitimacy of America?

The fact Bush says he has no regrets that he (and many others already gone, their blood on his hands) will not live to see the judgement of history on his conduct in office is a conscious rebuke of the global, widespread scorn with which his two terms are viewed, and his subconscious acceptance that the future judgement will be at least as condemning, that the history of his stretch in the office of president, and on many, many, many vacations, is eternally marked by the unjustifiable graves of more than 100,000 men, women, and children, including more than 4,400 U.S. soldiers, their fingers pointing to the decision on his deadly, nightmare legacy.  It is this enormous weight that drives him now, willingly or not, so adamantly to the side of the military members, that it may be forgotten he callously used their service and lives as a tool of industrial expansionism in Iraq.

Now, that is the case in Afghanistan, where the mission to remove the Taliban government, responsible for abetting al Qaeda, was accomplished within the first few years after invasion, al Qaeda also having been exiled and no longer a widespread, local force, the mission there morphing into an extended program of the military-industrial complex (MIC):  an occupation, its purpose to remove the Afghan tradition of tribal authority and control, eliminating opposition to commercial and resource development—no “defense of America” necessity in sight, except in lies and propaganda, tied to a struggle, “long” and “difficult” and “hard,” to prevent a vague, possible, maybe, future threat, trying to touch upon fear in the American people while orders for planes and tanks, like those recently made in Iraq, are the only things of major importance to the interests controlling the MIC that are really expected to cross America’s borders, targeting the defense plants of the MIC!  But the unnecessary extension of military operations in Afghanistan is a down-side part of the Bush legacy, now shared with President Obama as he is seduced by the MIC, and really is an aside to Bush’s memoir, if not a contributing factor in the accelerating, multi-faceted decline of America.

Is America really paralleling the Roman destiny of decline?  Bush’s book maps the outlines between the lines, and with the Bush “W” administration, never in the history of America has the military been so widely deployed around the American “empire of commercial and industrial influence,” the government so detached from the people and corrupted by wealth and greed, never has the populace seen a government so twisted in its purpose and execution placed into authority over them, to act in their name, disgracing them, and in the Bush-loaded, Republican-extremist Supreme Court, drowning out their voices with such scathing abuses.  That is the dire legacy of Bush, Cheney, Rove, and those who steered their crippled design of socio-political travesty into power.  It is a legacy to which many forces contributed and joined to create, but which only Bush could have prevented, had he the knowledge, ethic, and the courage that marks the heart of a patriot—the legacy that might have been would, then, have evolved, not the fiction Bush or Cheney would see ghost-written as memoirs of unfounded justifications and dubious truths, particularly on Bush’s feelings, regrets, and beliefs, for which there is no basis to judge the value, except the contradictory facts and consequences of his arrogant, usurping string of actions, and the harm done to the nation at the expense of the Constitution and those uncountable, irreplaceable, relinquished lives.

This book and its reviews, in whatever venues they exist, have become Bush’s third war—the war of the stars, where the one- and five-star reviews slug it out without much regard to the book on either side, the extremists of both sides, who have the time, frantically clicking “no’s” to rate the reviews of the other, not realizing the first rating is often the only one counted, even after reload.  Those looking for a more objective book review should start by ignoring all of those which are posted without the courage and assertion of a real name, and then just stick to the two- thru four-star comments, giving most weight to the three-star, which will probably turn out to be evenly split between those believing Bush is either a hero or a war criminal, and that the book reveals some truths among some obvious lies, deceptions and redirects, but still, giving it only two stars, those for putting heat on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on opposing the Iraq occupation.

But, a shiny jacket on a new book is not a change of skin... or anything lying beneath.

From this bad president comes a bad book, and neither it, nor any among the lunatic fringe who support its tired premises, openly, or with a secluded eye looking to 2012, will change the facts, bring back the dead or alter the history that will bury Bush’s legacy with them.  Bush has already said he is resigned to live and die accepting the judgement without regrets, though, one with no regrets, and wealth enough, hardly has the need or drive to supervise the writing of a memoir that isn’t a pure labor of love, so how could any book that attempts to paint a kind perspective on the eight years of war and terror and torture and kidnapping and domestic law-breaking and constitutional stomping by the chief perpetrator of the crimes be anything but an exercise in... vanity?

Regardless that he seemingly just says he has no regrets, providing another preview into the lack of credulity bound into the spine of the book, and the man, for not having the courage to finally accept accountability that the awful reality of the truth that buried the dead, and remains, still, for the living, is to be found in his failures:  personal, political, strategic, and economic, then maybe those who so quickly rush to defend the wreckage wrought by his wrong-headed, wrangling ways should begin to live with it instead of, like him, trying too hard?

Hope prevails that Bush’s book and its introductory accompaniments will, outside of a courtroom, at last mark his final goodbye and passage out of provoked memory.

A Democracy cannot build upon citizen apathy toward politicians
who define patriotism with the dollar and votes of self-interest.

Bush mistakes keep on coming.

In his 2010-published, memoirs book, re-framing history, George Bush wrote that cutting troop levels too soon was the biggest mistake in the war in Iraq.

That statement is another Bush mistake, demonstrating that he still doesn’t get it, through his obdurate, irrepressibly Republican-corporate-imprinted mind, which was trolled into office by his puppeteers, that INVADING Iraq was the biggest mistake.  And behind that disaster, only one among a galaxy of Bush blunders, would be failing to properly account for the aftermath, which by itself encompasses a slew of mistakes that were all more severe than premature troop-level decisions.

And Bush’s kind of thinking lives on under the skin in the extremes of the unenlightened Republican party, where the likes of John McCain and Sarah Palin believe in war, forever, anywhere there’s a buck to be made.

The Roman destiny, repeated in an American decline, has already begun and is assured to end in a fundamental collapse so long as parties and politicians act to define patriotism with self-interest and the dollar, which cannot be ended so long as elections are funded by contributions and parties control process, limits, and districting.

In 75 years, historians will look back at this election season and the Bush/Tea-party/Palin episodes, and they will conclude that al Qaeda tainted the national waters with neuropathogens.

Pick up the pieces by establishing the peace.

We live among a growing spate of fools; though, tossing half of the Democratic Blue Dogs, liberalizing or “progressivizing” the caucus and providing one of the silver linings in the losses, may belie that.

But then, the dumbing-down of the nation becomes even more of an embarrassment as it takes another Quayle step backward into the greedy grasp of those Republicans who, with no guilt for the gushing glut, and who, it has so obviously been forgotten, brought down the anchor upon staying the truer course of decades past, set before they hogged the helm.  Now, with three fingers back on the tiller, it is they who so loudly demand change, so long overdue, they dare so boldly to say, with such unstained, unattached abandon, they, who once so recklessly set the nation’s course into the seething storm.

The proverb says, “The people get the government they deserve.”  The people have voted, or not, in this mid-term election, in both cases as victims who are accosted in the park by muggers with empty guns—handing over their purses and the bullets.

Now, though nearly half of those who participated and object to the new intrusion by putting on a swimsuit, we’ll all get striped-down, sobbing, to get a total tanning, eh?  Flip-flop, the front... the back... and now we shed all modesty, “sob,” as we allow ourselves to be planted naked on a hot summer’s beach, tearful, blinded with no sunglasses, no shade or cooling breeze, no sunscreen, no earplugs to block the crowded, ceaseless din of deceptive and inflamed discourse, and no fruity, spirited refreshment anywhere in sight, and no way to pay for any if there were.

As the president responds to the “shellacking,” as he put it, with the same, refined, surrendering, invitational approach and argument as before—the only reality he can truthfully address with the same apparent detachment that helped create it—we shall bake, expressing our anger and frustration in the mire of politically motivated House investigations, double-talk, and far more sharply pointed obstructionism, halting all progress, and handing the president a remaining term of little more than theater politics.  The Republican agenda remains the same:  limit President Obama to one term, though it is no longer publically stated, since the obdurate leadership finally gets that it is a priority that is widely, properly recognized as selfish and a disservice to the national interest.

“The best man for the job,” once taken as a good thing for the country, when government worked better, less at the mercy of a merciless and destructive party mechanism, with all its trappings to gather money and influence, placing itself above the system it embodies and the people who embody it.

Amidst the rubble of his unavoidable fate and his self-confessed failings, and the aimless, hovering turns of Congress, the president will at least still have control to finally act against another great destroyer of America that has seduced him in his first two years, as it has seduced every president, since Eisenhower:  the hold on government by the military-industrial complex.  If he chooses, he can claim the reins of defense over aggression by removing the troops, so hapless and ignored by both press and candidates in this mid-term election, from Iraq and Afghanistan, where the war was illegitimate in the first case and won seven years ago in the latter.  In their place, he can strengthen intelligence-based law enforcement, special ops, and international/interagency coordination.  He should also end the flow of billions of dollars to those corrupt, self-interested governments, payments viewed by many with the same disdain, or worse, as the pay-outs to AIG and Freddie/Fannie, and then act to vastly reduce the sprawling military footprint around the world, finally claiming America’s right to be at peace, where it should be as integral and financial recovery accelerates.

These things he can do without Congress, to turn back another great misdirection of entrenched, extremist-Republican rule, and he should if he wishes to serve another term.

cc (via web forms) November 3, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Answer robo-signing with heartfelt voting.

The mortgage-foreclosure scandal, with its digitized, consolidated, detached, robo-signed documents, more than anything else demonstrates that, to the lenders, people are an industrial commodity to be squeezed, abused, twisted, grindstone processed, swept out and discarded like so much garbage when there is insufficient profit to be derived from them.  These many lenders, with their calloused theology of greed, are who Republicans stand behind, ready to junk financial and safety regulations, toss the already-poor-house minimum wage, wreck earned social security if they can’t control it, and put the care of the nation’s health back into the hands of the profit-prioritized and motivated insurance industry, which treats people the same as many housing lenders:  as processed meat, all the while, sending American jobs and manufacturing south and overseas... all for profits.

Go ahead, put yourself and your neighbors back on the manufacturing-supplies shelves of industry and vote Republican.  After all, after where the Republicans have put America, with their two-plus decades of conservative, trickle-down bias to the wealthy and corporations, what else is there to lose?

A lot, besides the turnaround, which has begun.

Change, particularly socioeconomic, doesn’t happen overnight.  Impatient bouncing of government control back to those who wrecked it and see government as little more than a tool to manipulate money flow guarantees the only change will be a widening, deeper, steeper hole for most citizens, one that captures many more.

What’s good for people is good for the country and benefits industry is how it really goes, not the other way around.  That’s been the proof rendered after more than two decades of Republicans trying it the other way and, don’t forget, failing... badly.

Your Democratic vote now will temper capitalist greed into tomorrow, with
regulation promoting the safety and prosperity of people.  Don’t let it pass.

Your future is in your hands.  Vote for a brighter future with your heart, not with your fear, anger, or impatience, and certainly not with the apathy or frustrated resignation of a non-vote.

cc (via web forms) October 14, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Dickensian, 2010 politics—the literature in the tea leaves.

There is that disconcerting element of the conservative wealthy, flexing throughout America and the “civilized” West, that would see a return to Victorian times, with its immutable classes and fearsome work houses, as a revolution of great promise and, for them, deserved privilege and placement.

Among them are those who, despite the wreckage brought down upon most everyone except the wealthy in the last three years, in a roller-coaster crash of the economy that saw its descent begin from an apex many Republican years before, when there were no brakes or wheel-guards installed, they who set loose that deadly fall, and the net of TARP that would save its designers, they would have you vote to see business unleashed again to stalk at will, to have everyone else’s safety net of mandated health-care standards swept away, and Social Security privatized and/or slashed to save a perceived tax and provide another enriching resource with which to play, at the risk of devastation to those with only that as their earned support:  be that as it may; or, who would say to those, so untethered, who are so resourceless, therefore, so lazy, “be damned,” as would have been the case in this Great Recession; indeed, as it has been for many who would, otherwise, themselves be standing up within that crowd of self-assured individualists.

And, for many who, still standing, attend quaint, dangerous tea parties, the dread, dire boom is just out of sight, lurking, perhaps in the walls of an artery or a malignant growth, or an accident, or career disaster, waiting to harshly lower and also sink them deep within the muckety-muck dirt of that world to which they are now so skillfully solicited, and then painted with bold watercolor so as to seem, of it, a lasting, brethren part.

They, who with much emotion and little thought outside their own charity, aid to so enthusiastically cut away at the slandered cords of social conscience and responsibility, when done, will find that the floor beneath them has instead been let go; or, for now, at least in the case of the artery wall or other health affliction, that despite their best efforts to prevent it, they have been saved.

cc (via web forms) October 8, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The Terminator is back!

The Republican Governator of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the virgin days of fall, stepped outside the current-day Republican-party profile and returned to the old days of national-interest-orientated Republicanism, not seen since Eisenhower and the elder George H.W. Bush (the 41st president, who was most responsible for bringing a cooperative end to the Cold-War Soviet Union—not Reagan).  In taking this bold and necessary step, Schwarzenegger set an important example by confronting the big-oil, corporate interests who are spending $millions to attack California’s Proposition 23, which mandates industry restrictions to help the environment recover and prevent its further deterioration.  In his fiery speech, he went head-on, without the usual, vague references to the culprits, naming names (alero Energy Corp., Tesoro Corp. and Koch Industries, the Koch brothers—the Tea Party founders), and he condemned the motivations of those attempting to overturn the law, which he said was passed by 75-percent of the voters, saying that those companies and those men were attempting to set aside the health interests of the people for the sake of:  “profits... motivated by greed.”

He hit the nail on the head, in stating the motives behind all of Republican-supported industry today: greed, which, with just recent examples, wrecked the economy and the futures of millions of people, and none of those harmed were the responsible bankers; greed, which killed 11 men on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and the lives of its dependents; greed, which killed another 25 men in the Massey Mine disaster, and many before it; and which killed 51 people in the crash of a commuter plane in New York state, and on and on and on it goes, back through U.S. history, beyond the industrial revolution to the days of the Founders, when Thomas Jefferson warned of the danger of national power and the people’s interests being overtaken by business.  In each of these modern-day, recent instances, and, again, many, many more, before them, the Democratic regulations intended to check greed, promote safety, and save lives were trumped by the driving motivation for profits, driven by greed, causing existing regulations to be weakly or not at all enforced by agencies directed by the hands-off agendas of Republican administrations, or in the legislative venue, where the corruption of campaign contributions and party politics causes needed regulations to be watered down or removed from the books, or prevented from ever being passed into laws.

In that venue, in the U.S. House and Senate, legislators who are working for the interests of the people who elected them need to follow the Governator’s example and start pointing fingers and naming names of those among them who they know are acting on behalf of the special interests who contribute to their campaigns, staff their offices, and direct their legislative agendas.  And in the body of men and women who work for the people, within the halls of government, these instruments of political and legislative, corporate manipulation, embedded within them, are known:  elected officials like Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who caused the public option to be removed from the health-care bill, components which would have leveled the playing field in the cost people have to pay for insurance and drugs, and which would have taken control of health costs out of the hands of greed-motivated, profit-driven, and Wall-Street-ideology prioritized insurance companies.

And if you want to know who’s not standing up for keeping jobs in America, who in Congress stands beside the corporations who don’t care if they wreck the middle class and poverty stricken by eliminating their jobs in favor of cheap, overseas labor, look to the entire Republican caucus, which voted against legislation that would have provided tax incentives for companies that brought jobs back to the U.S., killing it.  Yes, there were two Republicans who didn’t vote, allowing them to say they did not vote against the people.  But even for them, the non-vote was only a ploy that killed the bill because it would have passed if they had voted for it, and they probably were being given political, party payback for something like fund-raising, to be selected to not vote, or perhaps they have tough races coming up in the next election where a vote against American workers would have put their re-election in doubt?  I haven’t the time to research the political manipulation that was behind those two Republican non-votes, but you should know that non-votes are not always just a matter of absence, and all anyone who cares about American jobs and prosperity needs to know when they go to vote is that not a single Republican, not a one, voted for them.

The custom of imposed, polite rhetoric when confronting those who oppose important issues for the people of America must end.  The stakes are too high, damages are too quickly rendered, and the society of today has too many demands and distractions and streams of information for the greater mass of people to be informed through all the facades and deceptions and outright lies.  The light must shine, directly and starkly upon what and who it is that really places them and their futures in danger, as the Governator did, in his speech attacking the greed of those big-oil companies, whose executives are looking to their pockets rather then to ways in which they can profit within a framework of community and national responsibility.

Shining a bright light of public scrutiny is doing what must be done to push back the darkness that has come into the lives of so many Americans and which threatens its future and that of all the world.

Shining the bright light of truth upon the eyes and names of the wicked, that’s being a terminator.

cc (via web forms) October 29, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Republicans threaten to return control of care to industry.

The Patient’s Bill of Rights.

Today, September 23, 2010, thanks to a Democratic priority for social conscience, important barriers have been placed against the for-profit-motivated abuses of the health-insurance companies.  These barriers were put in place despite the best efforts of Republicans in Congress to prevent it, and they are protections for all citizens who have health insurance, protections that the Republicans have vowed to repeal if they regain control of Congress after the November election.

These protections are representative of the classic struggle to balance democracy with capitalism, where Democrats seek to curb the corporate greed and excess of naked capitalism with regulations, imposed by law and enforced by government, and where Republicans oppose limitations on capitalism, calling it “big government controlling business.”  Republicans don’t like to mention how big “business” is, and they would have you forget how harmful business can be when it is left to regulate itself, a primary factor that created the recession which has devastated families throughout the nation.  Collectively, these protections against the inate proclavity for abuse within the health-insurance industry are known as the Patient’s Bill of Rights, and these are the protections all health-insured citizens have, starting today, that they did not have before, and that the Republicans want to take away:

No lifetime limits on your coverage:
If you or anyone covered in your family is struck with a catastrophic illness, your insurance company can no longer stop paying for your treatment because of an imposed cap.  Republicans want to give the insurance companies back the cap and leave you on the lurch to pay.

No more rescissions (or arbitrary cancelling of coverage) except in cases of fraud:
No longer can your insurance company refuse coverage or refuse to renew your coverage because you have become ill and now need the insurance to pay for your treatments.  Republicans want to give back the power to cancel to the insurance companies.

Coverage of most adult children up to age 26:
Your children, covered on your health plan, cannot be dropped until they are 26, requiring you to pay for separate policy coverage before then, coverage the insurance companies know many of them will never need until they are older and on their own.  Republicans want to let the insurance companies either have you pay for separate policies or, when your children reach 18, let them go uncovered.

Coverage of preventive services without cost sharing:
Preventive services will help prevent serious illnesses and save lives.  Republicans want to let the insurance companies require that you pay a major share, instead of having a portion of the premiums you pay go from the obscene profits of insurance executives to instead work for you to help keep you healthier and live longer.

Access to OB / GYNs without referrals:
Insurance companies can no longer force you to get a referral from them or an approved practitioner for you to visit a gynecologist.  Republicans want to let the insurance companies dictate the conditions under which you can make such appointments.

Restrictions to prevent insurers from placing unreasonable annual limits on your coverage:
Insurance companies can no longer tailor limits on categories of annual payouts to the dictates and priorities of profit criteria.  Republicans want to let the insurance companies dictate the limits, without restriction, they can pay for treating your illnesses.

No exclusion of coverage for children with pre-existing conditions (up to age 19):
Insurance companies are now prohibited from refusing to cover your children who need treatment for medical conditions.  Republicans want to let the insurance companies say no to your children’s treatment needs.

Access to out-of-network emergency room services:
Insurance companies can no longer limit the facilities you can go to for emergency care, requiring you to search your policy or hold on the phone to find out from the insurance company where you can go and be covered.  Republicans want to let the insurance companies dictate where you have to go to get emergency treatment.

A strengthened appeals process:
Insurance companies no longer have the built-in advantage when you oppose their coverage decisions.  Republicans want to keep the playing field tilted in favor of the insurance companies on appeals and all other circumstances.

Republicans have pledged to repeal the new health-care bill and all of these protections.  Yet they would lie and say to you that they would not take these important benefits away if asked about them.  They would answer by substituting a non-specific, big-picture lie that what they’re doing is preventing big-government intrusion into healthcare decisions, where there is none, and saving the aged from cuts in Medicare, where there are no net cuts, only gains.

Do you want to see these protections swept away and give all the power back to the insurance companies?  Then vote for a Republican this November, or fail to go out and vote for a Democrat, because that’s what it has unfortunately come down to:  Democrats serve the people, Republicans serve the insurance companies, but in both cases, only after they first serve themselves and their parties.  It is, again unfortunately, a matter of choosing the lessor of two evils, and that choice, unless you are wealthy, is clearly the Democrats.

Thanks to Republicans, and some rogue Democrats, like Sen. Max Baucus, many more important protections and services the health-care bill provides will have to wait until 2014 to go into effect.  And, thanks to them, insurance companies still have price control without competition that isn’t prioritized on profits, and the health-insurance industry is already pushing hard to put large increases into effect to preserve their Wall-Street and greed mandated, pocket-bulging profits.

Don’t ask, don’t tell.

A self-interested, cowardly Congress lets drug companies plaster TV audiences of all ages with offensive erection commercials, 24/7, yet despite the military’s desire to drop the unconstitutional, gay-acceptance, DADT policy, it won’t, the Senate imposing the denial of sexual-preference reality to the very adults who commit their lives to wage its misbegotten wars.

So much for all of those congressional military-support speeches.

A Nazi book burning in 1933.  The burning of any book that conveys or examines ideas and
aspirations, religious or otherwise, is tasteless because it always offends indiscriminately.

Does the false conviction of an “obscure” Florida pastor reveal an obscured truth?

In guerilla or urban warfare, commanders are perplexed by an inability to engage the enemy, at least, on their terms; so, isn’t it odd that Gen. Petraeus and Defense Secretary Gates, among others, in response to the so-called Christian pastor from Florida, who threatened to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of 911, complained that it would put U.S. troops in greater danger?  That could only happen if the militants, or the occupied Afghan fighters, or the radical Islamists, or terrorists, whatever, showed themselves to threaten the troops, either directly, or to drone recons as they plant their IEDs.  To any commander who wishes to engage and thereby defeat the enemy, this would be a good thing.  But to Gen. Petraeus, who obviously wants a nice, relatively safe, prolonged, by-the-numbers occupation with which, whether he supports or not, the military-industrial complex (MIC) can continue to profit, the increasing danger and engagement, and the increasing casualties that would come with it, would threaten to bring greater public pressure to bear to end an occupation which, for a growing number of Americans, is no longer being taken at the word of the MIC and its spokespersons as necessary to defend the U.S.

Long-term conflict, at a simmer, with an “acceptable” number of casualties, is what America has been brainwashed to accept and to expect for an indefinite and “conditional” term, especially where “fighting terrorism” is concerned.  “Fighting terrorism,” despite the near-unilateral success of law-enforcement and intelligence operations, has come to be defined as only capable of being effectively executed by occupations that, now and historically, without exception, have propped up corrupt regimes, and will be “long,” and “hard,” and “difficult” propositions, all requiring “responsible withdrawals.”

In a reply, conspicuous for its lack of policy objectives, to a letter objecting to the continued occupation of Afghanistan, where the military objective was really won in 2003 with the routing of the al Qaeda presence to caves and the overthrow of the Taliban government the year before, Sen. James Webb (D-VA), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on September 3, 2010, wrote with one conspicuous assertion, twice stated:

“I have great regard for the careful process employed by this administration in an effort both to define a new approach for the long-standing military commitment in Afghanistan and to put an operational framework in place for our responsible withdrawal...

“Our national security and the welfare of our men and women in uniform demand this deliberative approach in addressing a complex issue that carries significant long-term implications for our nation.”

“Long-standing military commitment... long-term implications.”  America and its military are already way beyond that.

And now, with U.S. Marines staging an armed boarding of a German ship in the Gulf of Aden, to capture Somali pirates, defense of America has been completely thrown out of the equation for use of military force.  Though the September 9, 2010 boarding was successful and resulted in no injuries or casualties to marines, the international crew, or pirates, and is not standard procedure, it was ordered based on advantageous circumstances and is just another example of how out of control the use of U.S. military resources has become, and how the U.S. routinely subsidizes the defense costs of other nations with its resources and the blood of its soldiers.

It seems that World War II marked the end of an American war policy that was based on the concept of true defense, defeating the offending regime’s army and then removing the regime and getting the troops home again, and doing it all as quickly as humanly possible.  WWII was also the last war, police action, whatever, where there was really no standing army, where it had to be raised and trained.

And it has been only since WWII that the influence of the sprawling estate of defense contractors, weapons manufacturers, militaristic, political think tanks, and legions of militaristic, career military, civil, and elected officials, all of whom are collectively known as the military-industrial complex, has grown beyond the point of a self-sustaining, five-headed serpent (the fifth is contract mercenaries, like XE Services, formerly Blackwater) of full-time militarism, laying down and executing a carefully planned and provoked, perpetual enterprise, sold through policy-speak, think tanks, military-college recruitment, TV ads, and football military fly-overs, where the global business plan of America is war, or “occupation,” or “providing stability,” or “spreading democracy,” whatever, and where the quick defeat of the offending regime and its armed forces is no longer the objective, but rather, is only the prelude to a protracted engagement with objectives no army can meet, designed to facilitate the spending of $billions and tens upon tens of thousands of soldier’s lives (since WWII) to become involved in what the Founders called the “messy” business of overseas politics, as a front for spreading the sales territory for orders of tanks and fighter jets and everything that goes with them, as has just recently been ordered by whatever it is that passes for a government in Iraq these days, where its prime minister is another corrupt, wannabe-dictator with his own, private army.

And all of this has happened despite the direct and specific warning of the growing threat, given to the American people after WWII by the man who, in that war, led the greatest army the world has ever known to victory against the daunting power of the most evil and threatening force in modern times, if not all of history.  It was in 1961, in his farewell speech to the nation, after completing his second term as president, that Dwight Eisenhower said:

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

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

Since Eisenhower made his prediction, formed with the astute insight of a versed military expert, the harm done to America’s military members and the nation aside, does not the Blackwater/XE Services massacre of civilians in Iraq qualify as the latest pinnacle episode, among many, in the “disastrous rise of misplaced military power” that has plagued America, and in far greater numbers than America’s soldiers, the peoples America had supposedly been “fighting to help?”

Oh, say, can you see?

Why Gen. Petraeus was not elated over a home-grown exercise of free speech (distasteful though it was, whether for the burning of Korans, King James Bibles, or Torahs) that holds the likelihood of bringing the enemy out into the open?  If the General really wanted to engage and defeat as many of the enemy as possible, as soon as possible, to end the conflict, he should have been telling his commanders to tell the troops that, “this Florida pastor, with a strange irreverence for Holy writings, just might give us the chance we’ve been wanting to engage more of these SOBs, so lock and load, and keep your eyes and ears open and your heads down!”

Not that greater engagement will ever make anything any better for America’s occupation there than it was for the Soviet Union’s, the stated, high-and-mighty, American political motivations for Afghanistan notwithstanding.

Perhaps Gen. Petraeus should explain to the troops how the politics of another country has anything to do with defending the old hometown.  All the explanations from the career politicians are quite a stretch of extremes and unfounded generalizations, where for any credibility to replace the lacking ring of truth, the stock and trade of a pastor is all that remains:  faith.

And where hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, faith that trusts in God finds no grace of repose with a politician.

cc (via web forms) September 9, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Another premature “end of war” media build-up.

It’s Wednesday, August 18, 2010, and the U.S. TV-news establishment is celebrating the “end of combat operations in Iraq,” reporting, “the last combat troops are leaving Iraq,” as the last designated combat brigade, some 600 men and women, crossed the border into Kuwait, some talk hosts claiming Iraq to be a war that was, “in some sense, won.

Like when the war began, is the media just slushing along, slinging at us the dribble the government’s spilling on them?

President Obama, in his August 31, 2010 speech, announcing the end of combat operations in Iraq, could only be fully justified in the praise he gave to the troops as the only constant of success that has been seen in Iraq since the invasion.  But to say the combat is over?

Excuse me.  Are there not 50,000 well armed and combat-trained troops still in harm’s way?  In what sense is there a withdrawal, so long as they remain there, a magnet for violence and for the return of more troops in the name of their safety?  And in what sense, as the media reported, has there been a win?  The sense in which Bush made the claim of the “end of major combat,” standing in front of a “Mission Accomplished” sign aboard an aircraft carrier, on May 2, 2003?

  • More than seven years have been spent there by soldiers on numerous, divorce- and suicide-inducing tours;
  • there is still no government in Iraq;
  • a new lexicon of words and names, all invoking despairing memories, has been dropped like bombs on the American people;
  • infrastructure services, like electricity, have been seriously degraded to what existed before the invasion;
  • violence has been markedly increasing over the last several months;
  • military assets and responsibilities are being replaced by the State Department, and contractors, not included in the remaining troop count;
  • Iran’s influence has grown to exceed that of any other nation;
  • American business trails in contracts being awarded;
  • American criminal and political justice and constitutional checks and balances have collapsed:
allowing the war to begin;
allowing it to become a wrongly motivated, extended occupation;
allowing the perpetrators, Bush, Cheney et al to escape any accountability for numerous violations;
  • $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
  • More than 4,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed and more than 6,500 wounded, many severely;
  • and, unlike Vietnam, there are still 55,000 troops, armed, making them combat troops, and a pretty major number of them at that, still occupying Iraq, although the government would have you believe that what’s being left behind are a detachment of embassy guards and training advisors.
The removal of a murderous dictator has to be weighed against the loss of American lives and possibly up to 100,000 dead Iraqis—men, women, and children, and all the repercussions on both sides.  It’s a pitiful comparison, at best.

Some say that if, years or decades ahead, Iraq becomes a self-reliant democracy, it will have been worth it.

Really?  With those decades, and a decade before them filled with war and death, a mass of lame and buried, mourned as the modern label for American ideological expansion and the sustaining of profits for the stakeholders in America’s sprawling military-industrial complex?  And then, that, as a justification to repeat the process again and again?

The question has to be asked:  is America’s military—the lives of its soldiers—to be spent to achieve democracy and economic prosperity for other nations?  Or, should the military only be utilized in America’s defense, against direct and immediate threats to its security, threats which can be identified and effectively targeted with armies?  Because if anything other than immediate threats are to be allowed, America can hear unfounded sound-bites and catch-phrases repeated again and again by politicians as justification to keep America at war in occupations of indefinite term abroad, as America did in Vietnam and is headed for again in Afghanistan, where the military is engaged in nation-building, and where the objectives of defensive war were won in 2003.

The only positive (if you’re not on the payroll of the military-industrial complex) is the record of service logged by the vast majority of the troops sent there, again, and again, and again, and again, and...

And why are they shipping the hardware back to the U.S., when it will be needed shortly in Iran, that is, unless the U.S. intends to give Iran the same, nuclear free-pass Bush gave to them and N. Korea?

Iraq remains a mess, where the 50,000 troops that remain at the end of August are a magnet for violence, and worse, a temptation for the administration to re-engage there, and later, to do an about-face on the withdrawal, claiming it as necessary for their safety.  Withdrawing them is necessary for that.  But this phase of the withdrawal is an important step toward the promise the president made to get the troops out.  Still, 50,000 combat troops (let’s not play semantics; they have weapons and have been trained and experienced to use them) will remain on very dangerous ground.

The Defense and/or State Department (administration) is playing semantics, calling the Iraq mission a change from combat to stability operations.  But both mean the threat and use of force to counter force, as “Operation New Dawn,” replaces “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” a change of name which, so far, aside from slave-wage troops (compared to security contractors—mercenaries) that have been withdrawn, is the only change that is significant.

Will there be another historical flood of post-war immigrants?  Their arrival has been the past, reliable indicator that the end of another American political-military blunder has really arrived.

The Iraq war is over?

Let’s hope the troops leaving are not ever sent back as the violence continues to increase.  The State Department says any such recall would require a change in policy, as if that’s some meaningful barrier in a government where policy can flip like pancakes.  Now, if they would have said that, as the Constitution requires, it would take an act of Congress to bring troops back, well... a non-reversing withdrawal would be far more assured.  And let’s hope that those left behind don’t have to pay a steep residual price.  They’re not being paid nearly as well for that exposure as the State Department’s unconstitutional army of a reported 7,000 armed-to-the-teeth mercenaries (security contractors?) who will be joining them.

It looks like a lot more guns are going in than coming out over the next month.

And, just so it doesn’t look like a war, all the command is now going to be routed, publicly, at least, through the podium with the State Department’s emblem on it instead of Defense’s.  Clever.

Bottom line:  it doesn’t matter if the administration says, through Defense or State, that the troops left in Iraq are guarding the embassy, training police and troops, peeling potatoes, or acting as school-crossing guards, 50,000 armed and combat-experienced troops being left there, with more than ten percent of their number in contract mercenaries, is not, in any sense, a withdrawal!  The administration is trying hard to convince that it is, that it represents a reasonable “administrative” number, “for stability,” but what it represents is nothing less than a continued occupation, in considerable force, in a zone of perpetual and growing violence, with considerable potential to be drawn into conflict and take considerable casualties, while the Iraqis haggle about how best to shut each other out of the still-to-materialize governing process and corner the market on corruption and the illicit riches that come with the power and the U.S. presence.  It’s a despicable situation, not at all in defense of the nation, and it is despicable to be involved in it or to risk the loss of another soldier’s leg or life to further perpetuate it.

War over?

“Historic moment?”  Or, was it the fabricated history of an historic public-relations blitz, tied to an isolated, invited TV news outlet (MSNBC), and the staged, cross-border movement of a comparatively small Army unit, to engineer the dead-of-night launch of an election-campaign offensive?

We’ll see.  We’ll see if all troops are out, as (conditionally) agreed and promised, by 2012.

Meanwhile, there’s no question the military-industrial complex’s profit objectives are being kept alive, and the weapons orders flowing.  And you can’t fill orders for F-16 fighters (around $18 million, each, not including ordinance and spares—read below) to confront Iran, as is being done, for delivery to a country that doesn’t have a friendly government... or an occupation to support one.

Can you.


cc (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai is viewed cautiously by Gen. David Petraeus.
Asked of his relationship with Karzai, he said, “The relationship with Afghanistan is very good.”

American military policy is a business plan for extended wars.

To pave the way for rumbling over any deadline for a so-called, military withdrawal in Iraq, and keeping alive the military-industrial complex’s (MIC) operations there, Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Iraq, who was instrumental in negotiating the agreement stipulating withdrawal before 2012, said, “For a very long period [read indefinite-to-forever] of time, we’re going to be on the ground, even if it’s solely in support of U.S. weapons systems.”

Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari, Iraq’s chief military commander, who rightly expects sectarian violence to greatly increase, also spoke in the August heat to say that the U.S. forces should not leave Iraq until 2020, ten more years, until his army is able to guarantee internal security.

And finally, with the mid-August, weekend broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, the unified scope of U.S. military ambition was made clear, as Afghanistan U.S. forces commander, Gen. David Petraeus paralleled Iraq to Afghanistan in response to questions on the length of the U.S. occupation there, referring to the president’s earlier, West-Point message of “a substantial additional commitment... in troops, funding... and an increase in urgency,” which he said is the emphasis of the July 2011 deadline in Afghanistan, as “a conditions-based process, not an event...”  He then mirrored former Iraq Ambassador Crocker’s remarks about the term of occupation in Iraq by saying this for Afghanistan’s occupation:  “We will have an enduring presence here, in some fashion.”

Petraeus stressed the “urgency” to increase progress, describing “progress” as a building of small successes in different areas and linking and expanding them, but admitting that, “Progress only began [after nine long years] in late spring, in Helmand Province... a lot of progress still needs to be made and that will be a long-term operation.”  And he repeated, “Withdrawal will be “conditions based... the July 11, 2011 withdrawal date... is conditional.”

His remarks also demonstrated how far removed from defense the Afghanistan occupation really is, when speaking of the what-if’s:  “If we lose,” he said, “think of the repercussions for the country, and then the region,” which was the same “if we lose” justification that blanketed those questions in Vietnam.

On “if we win,” while qualifying his statement with a push-back on the use of the word “win,” as being an unlikely definable goal (which, in and of itself says a lot about the legitimacy of the extended occupation there), he mentioned security, of course, but the overwhelming emphasis of his answer, and of his statement of why the U.S. is in Afghanistan, fell far from the legitimate defense of America:  “There are $trillions in minerals development if we win.”  And Petraeus further described the markers of success, which, admit it or not, are objectives, as “like in Iraq... achieving a level of violence that is reduced sufficiently to allow commerce, business, and outside investment...”

It all has the undeniable ring of a capitalistic agenda vs. defensive, doesn’t it?

If it looks like a duck...

And the General, an exacting and well-versed politician who denies it, finally fell back on the same old generalization that has become the universal facade for claims of national security, which facts show do not apply, are not achievable, and are not critical to the operations of al Qaeda which, like electricity, takes the path of least resistance as it flows to the voids:  “We’re here so that Afghanistan does not become a sanctuary for trans-national extremists.”  As has been pointed out before, on that basis, the U.S. would be able to justify occupations in at least a dozen nations throughout the globe.  It is not a justification for what is, in reality, nation-building, as the General so much as said, to create a platform for commerce.

Lockheed Martin’s F-16 assembly line.
Can industry ever justify soldiers’ lives for livelihoods or profits, especially on weapons sales to other nations?

On the heels of these summer, 2010, MIC-prep statements, and those of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, in the same period, intended to direct the public communication and acceptance of Afghan- and Iraqi-military policies, the “non-government” in Iraq has filled-in Crocker’s statement (and Petraeus’s image of Afghan end-game success), by ordering 140 tanks for $200 million, in addition to naval ships, small arms, F-16 fighter planes, and supporting vehicles, armaments, munitions, and spares—the entire spectrum of the MIC’s conventional-arms-manufacturing-establishment showroom.

Ka-ching!  The money flows, blooded by more than 4,400 dead and near 6,800 wounded U.S. troops.

Operation Enduring Freedom?  More like enduring pain (except for the MIC), and it is time to let the Iraqis live in the stew they make for themselves.  And, yes, it is their situation and circumstance now.  The U.S. has paid with the lives of its soldiers more than long enough and painfully enough to both atone for the Bush-Cheney crime and give them the real chance they need to get past their prejudices and historical strife to make a new start, and America can no longer be held responsible for their future, nor should it be, not by the Iraqis, not by U.S. elected, appointed, or career officials, and certainly not by the MIC.

Yet, it is clear that the Iraqi occupation will not end, as President Obama falsely promised, because it has entered the phase of end-game payoff for the industrial component of the MIC:  the establishing of another armed state where, despite whatever form of leadership evolves to rule Iraq, instead of a defense treaty (and the history of the Iraq-Kuwait invasion outcome) to protect against foreign invasion, the U.S. build-up, maintenance, and involvement with another military nation-state will be perpetuated indefinitely, with the benefits to fall only into the pockets of that industry which has been the only entity to continuously profit from the deaths of the tens upon uncounted tens of thousands of people since Bush invaded.  And that’s just Iraq.  Only a liar would say this is not the very same future envisioned by “officials,” elected or otherwise, for Afghanistan, and then for Iran, and then the rogue nations of North Africa, one by one, keeping America at war and the money flow to the MIC intact beyond the lifetimes of anyone’s children.

The Predator drones (above) and ship-launched cruise missiles are the
current, primary offensive U.S. weapons in the N. African shadow war.

Or, sanity may prevail, at least where taking the tactical fight to al Qaeda is concerned.  The covert approach, basically, the focused, limited-force, intelligence/special-operations approach favored by the Biden camp, has been a component of the occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but is now the core of a quietly built-up engagement composed of intelligence gathering, accelerated drone attacks, and special operations in North Africa, described by administration officials as using a scalpel instead of the hammer of troops.  This covert conflict is dubbed the “Shadow War,” and whether the focused cut of the “scalpel” is a holding action for the later “hammer” of troop invasions, or will be established as the means by which troops will be replaced, to properly engage “shadow” enemies, remains to be seen.  But the tactics are being applied, with local-government permission, by the expanded military-operations capacity of the CIA, and by expanded military-intelligence derived, special-group operations against al Qaeda in Yemen and other N. African locales.  It represents an important step in the right direction, despite the concerns of oversight and blurred military-rights/protections legalities, because officials have finally conceded that the use of intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations is effective while avoiding the kinds of cost and waste that have been endured (again, except by the MIC) and which are the future with troop operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking on the shadow war in Yemen, a former United States ambassador to that nation, Edmund J. Hull, warned that American policy must not be limited to using force against al Qaeda, saying, “I think it’s both understandable and defensible for the Obama administration to pursue aggressive counter-terrorism operations... I’m concerned that counter-terrorism is defined as an intelligence and military program.  To be successful in the long run, we have to take a far broader approach that emphasizes political, social and economic forces.”

But there is danger here, in an “approach that emphasizes political, social and economic forces,” non-defensive terms coming from a civilian official, which are also primary MIC precursors to increasing military presence—build-up, as was done in Vietnam, or invasion and occupation, to establish the security and/or train the local forces to eventually, after another “long-term, hard” struggle, with “conditional” withdrawal criteria, provide the security that is required to grow desired “political, social, and economic” environments, or... to nation-build.

It begins with what Obama administration officials say they already are doing:  increasing Yemen’s foreign-aid budget and proposing advice (advisors, military, primarily, which is how the build-ups begin), which was emphasized, by unnamed administration officials as the core of America’s effort, along with equipping, and establishing coordinated intelligence exchanges.  How quickly and easily this stirring phase of the shadow war can turn into another inflated, unnecessary, perpetuated military presence, with all the attendant casualties and costs, is alarming.

Shadow wars have no commercial or capitalist objectives or rewards.

But the vastly more effective, far-less costly shadow war remains only a second front until it is applied in Afghanistan and Iraq without the presence of occupying troops.  But there is a more relevant, critically important difference to note between shadow wars and wars fought with occupations, which reflects the justification of purpose:  shadow wars are legitimate defense because, by their nature, they can have no commercial or capitalist objectives or rewards.

Defense Secretary Gates is only scratching at the surface of the MIC’s sprawl with his announced plans to cut into the bloated top ranks of the military’s personnel and parts of its flow-chart components and proposed systems.  Much, much more needs to be done, because when a nation that is, by far, the greatest military power on Earth spends decades in war or occupation of third-world nations, that nation is not acting in its defense, but is instead acting out its warfare-derived business plan, where defense (and al Qaeda) is only the initiative excuse.

While the legacy of the Obama administration will be to have turned the steep, domestic-prosperity down-slide, initiated by a string of conservative-Republican, trickle-down, deregulate administrations, it will also be one of propagation of the MIC grand plan for unnecessary, extended war and death, for profit, for a national-security intent that is as much a facade now as it was in Vietnam or Korea, but with a different kind of underlying truth, where the real fear is the nuclear arsenal that is scattered throughout a politically unstable Pakistan, and where, rather than spend 3,000 troops over two years, tops, to eliminate that grave threat to the fabric of America’s society and the lives of every demographic of its citizenry, the U.S. is determined to instead spend decade upon decade, at least 15,000 soldier’s lives, or more, and unlimited national debt to support neighboring nation-building and occupations for some kind of misguided “stability,” and to do it indefinitely.

Military deployment for defense cannot be subverted for economics or cultural policing.

Tactics to encourage an endless occupation in Afghanistan have lately targeted strongly emotional issues, relating to the abusive treatment of women, which is hardly an Afghan novelty.  Most recent, the story from the cover of Time magazine’s issue of a year ago, August 9, 2009, has had new light put upon it.  Aisha, the disfigured girl on the cover, was then a beautiful, 18-year-old who had the misfortune of being the niece of a custodial uncle who killed a man and, under Pashtun tribal custom, atoned by giving her and her younger sister to the dead man’s relative, who made her his bride when she reached puberty.  When she was caught, after fleeing years of abuse, her owner-husband cut off her nose and both ears, since tribal custom sees a man whose wife dishonors him as having cut off his nose.  It was a perverted eye-for-an-eye retribution, leaving Aisha as she appeared in the controversial Time magazine cover (she has since been secretly smuggled out of Afghanistan to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery), a picture difficult to look at, confronting those who are civilized with a window into the incomprehensible, cowardly brutality of one selfish, unfeeling man, whose savage assault stands with those of many others to represent a society of, by civilized standards, deeply perverse values.

The presence of an American occupation in Afghanistan is not preventing these atrocities, and they will continue, in this decade, if and when America leaves or if it stays, and, the evidence shows, Taliban government or not.  Aisha’s is only one among uncounted cases of familial/religious punishments, derived from religious or tribal customs, that are carried out daily in Afghanistan and many other nations whose customs, by Western, civilized standards, are hideously barbaric, most of which are never reported.  But among those that are, in Afghanistan, it is clear that the local acceptance and enthusiasm for the practice of these customs is widespread, beyond the clique of those labeled as “Taliban fighters” or “clerics,” like the crowds in the Deep South celebrated lynchings of African-Americans, or the frontier bounties for “Indian” scalps, or like Salem’s settlers stoked the witch-burning fires.  Time (not soldiers) will also succeed to evolve Afghanistan’s violent cultural practices.

One such reported case, of note, which would make the stories of the defunct soap, The Guiding Light, seem tame, was the stoning to death of a young, Afghan couple who eloped, the woman already engaged to marry a relative of her lover, who himself was already married and had two children.  When they were induced by family members to return home, they were seized by the Taliban and tried before a religious court, under Shariah law, presided over by local mullahs.  Being found guilty, they were taken to the village bazaar, where they were circled by a crowd (women were prohibited) and stoned to death by some 200 of the men, with an even-larger, non-participating crowd looking on and cheering.  Of course, Taliban spokesmen supported the punishment, as did members of the crowd who were interviewed.  And among those throwing the stones were the man’s father and brother, and the girl’s relatives, including her brother.  Similar and less-serious village-participatory-punishment practices are regularly reported from every Afghan province.

Atrocities are not only part and parcel with the Third World, they are exported with immigrants.  In the U.S., the practice of Shariah law has not ended, any more than cock fighting has for Cuban immigrants.  Honor killings and other practices are continually reported.  If the United States cannot prevent these and the barbaric culture-practices of other immigrants within its borders, how can anyone expect that the U.S. can succeed in doing so in other nations, or that it should endure the cost of lives and fortune it takes to act as the world’s cultural policeman to try?  The U.S. will not end these practices in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, with occupations, despite if the occupations have industrial ambitions at their end, though, occupations are far less likely if they do not.

The way to accelerate time’s change of culture on Afghanistan’s and other primitive societies is the way missionaries spread Catholicism throughout the world, but without the religious proselytism, through education and diplomatic and economic incentives and sanctions, by bringing to bear the penalties of deprivation and isolation, and the carrots of aide programs and international participation, not with the lives of American soldiers, and governments should help organizations engaged in this, non-religious kind of work.  The wide community acceptance of cruel punishment that has been shown to exist must be handled civilly and changed into disdain, beginning with the local leadership, then leading to criminality.  It won’t be easy, because even U.N. sanctions to prevent nuclear proliferation are routinely sidestepped by many nations, making them less effective or useless.  But the worth of American soldiers’ lives is only justified in giving over to the defense of the nation, nothing less, not to any other cause that does not reach the scope of genocide, or any capitalist/military-industrial facade that has the label of defense hung upon it.

Otherwise, where, and with what afflicted group, will the wars shrouding the American people ever end?

There is so little time that sweeps past the life of a generation that no policy of war should be permitted to fill large segments of it.  Baby Boomers are experiencing their 30th year of life in a nation at war, and that’s the least of any post-WWII generation, on a percentage scale, with most of it illegitimate, with at least another decade as much as promised, but “Oh, yes we can,” Mr. President... militarize the world, enslave the souls of our children in a climate of continuing conflict, not change the way Washington fails or end the throat-grip held by any of the influences that control and profit from the carnage that afflicts the flesh and the spirit of soldiers, “collaterals,” their families, and the span of generations that bear the pain as a constant affliction in their news and their psyches, and who will pay for it.

“For a very long period of time, we’re going to be on the ground, even if it’s solely in support of U.S. weapons systems.”

“We will have an enduring presence here, in some fashion.”

Expect “a tough fight with difficult days ahead.”  Your words, among the others’, Mr. President.

Was that the promise... or the goal?

This December 2009 swath of violence in Karachi, Pakistan is only one occurance of the internal struggle for
power and control that has sympathizers in every level of that nuclear state’s society, including the military.

Shake out order from the chaos, and there is the big picture:  despite all of the lives and money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military aide, “stability” $billions sent to Pakistan, part of which ends up paying border interests hostile to the U.S., and parts of which support a dangerous nuclear arsenal, there will never be any chance for unilateral nuclear disarmament by Pakistan, not as long as America is unwilling to begin confronting that nation with the fact that it, Pakistan, is the real threat that is currently unacceptable in the region, through the nuclear weapons it tenuously holds and the force of propagation they impel to other nations, like Iran.  And there will never be any guarantee that somehow, someday, a weapon in Pakistan’s questionable control will not find its way to some form of detonation on Western soil, where the U.S. is the prime target.  The objectives of the MIC prevent that confrontation of truth and the shorter conflict, or ended conflicts that would result.  There has been enough of the drawn-out-for-decades military aid and war games, with the U.S. footing most of the bill and the blood as all risks remain evermore ominously on the table.

Are you reassured that this guard of the Pakistani nuclear missiles is smiling?
The nuclear weapons in these medium-range missiles are only the tip of the pyramid of risk that
widens as controls beyond the launch-site soldier’s weapon must be flawlessly extended through
the production, assembly, command-and-control, transportation, storage, and waste processes.

A great source of the hate and determination that continuously drives that dark, nuclear-initiated objective of the extremists, and which brought down the capitalist-iconic Twin Towers, is the perception that capitalism drives America’s new epoch of Mid-East-region imperialism, not democracy, a perception that was reenforced by Ambassador Crocker and Gen. Petraeus, among others.  The other offending factor, becoming more so to Americans, as well, is the widening presence of U.S. troops and infringing U.S. culture, particularly sexual objectification and commercialism, in lands where the U.S., its troops and culture, do not belong, and where the military footprint does no good, except to incite and legitimize Islamic-fronting radicals who want the fight, and to complete the business plan of U.S. “defense” industries which want sustained profits and expansion of their markets and capabilities to be realized on a slowly-simmering stage.

You, Mr. President, are carrying forward their corrupted agenda of greed.  President Eisenhower would tell you as much.

He already has.

cc (via web forms) August 16, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Book ‘em, Danno!

On illegal immigration, the Democratic left is guilty of Republican-conservative propagandizing.

Critics, including MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who call the Republican party an “anti-immigration” party, or that the Republican party is “anti-Hispanic,” or seeks to “make criminals out of newborns” by amending the 14th Amendment’s citizenship stipulations, these critics are guilty of the very same, grossly exaggerated, inflaming propaganda that is characteristic of FOX and the conservative-Republican party’s leadership, their trumped-up charges having no basis whatsoever in fact.  Despite that it is difficult to pose any rational defense for the positions (more, the lack of) of the Republican party of today, and that its leadership is not gifted with the capacity to moderate their views or avoid abuses of rhetoric, the fact is that the Republican party, and many others, are only seeking to see immigration law enforced and American ideals preserved, as immigration law intends.

This, more correctly, makes the Republican party the anti-ILLEGAL-immigration party, as opposed to the Democratic party, which seems inclined to pander to the Hispanic vote.  And, no, the Republican party does not “hate” Hispanics, but the truth is that it is Hispanics, and chiefly those from Mexico, who with the help of the U.S. and their government, through a multi-state network of Mexican consul offices, are abusing the laws, resources, and courtesy of the American people.  There is no other way in which to address the problem than to name that race or nationality which is at its root, simply by the nature of geography, not any other intrinsic race or ethnic characteristic, and any allusion to any other characteristic by critics, other than political, where there are serious deficits, is simply an effort to paint legitimate fact-naming as racism for the sole purpose of casting critics in a completely, falsely deplorable light.

Pandering to the illegal-Hispanic alliance, if allowed to continue, admitting wave after wave of illegal immigrants, as will be the case if an amnesty is again granted with “reform,” allowing more millions to bypass immigration law and obtain the “unenlightened” vote, will eventually result in the loss of the Democratic party and all politics in America to the hands of those very illegal immigrants, forever casting aside America’s historical heritage, which rose from the Founding fathers to fight against the opposed evils in two World Wars, and which, in stark contrast to much of Central and South America, where illegal immigrants have their political values and experience, has stood as the world’s beacon of freedom and democratic process.  Such overthrow of the traditionally American society would mark a significant dilution of the already diminishing global cultural diversity, which, like America’s heritage, is worth preserving.

There is no legitimate reason to oppose a policy of enforcing immigration law, because to enforce is also to support preserving America’s unique customs and heritage instead of seeing them absorbed and replaced by that which predominates Central and South America.  Only those who wish to bring about exactly that result, who wish to see the United States opened up to a sea-change of heritage, custom, and political power as a consequence of an unregulated invasion of Hispanics from Mexico and other nations of Central and South America can oppose, without any legitimate basis, rejecting amnesty or enforcement of immigration law that, enforced, protects America’s identity and ideals.

Even more ludicrous is the charge that the Republican party seeks to criminalize babies of illegal immigrants.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The intent is to remove a key magnet that draws illegal immigrants to America:  that their children, born here, are automatically granted citizenship as a mere consequence of presence within America’s borders, which was not an issue for the nation when the 14th Amendment was passed, but which has been a right that has been abused for purposes never intended or foreseen when the Amendment was passed.

There is no basis of reason for any expectation that children born of parents who are within the borders of the U.S. illegally, or even legally as visitors, should expect those children to be granted citizenship status.  The change sought would be limited to change citizenship so that only children born with at least one parent being a U.S. citizen would automatically receive citizenship status.  This would not criminalize any child, because, legally, those who make that false claim know full-well that the children are devoid of any capacity for culpable intent, criminal or otherwise, and infants born of illegal immigrants would retain the citizenship and nationality of their parent’s country of origin and would remain with their parents as they are processed through immigration enforcement, not, as are their parents, as lawbreakers, but only as their attendant children.  If any critics of this necessary change can deny that the intent of those who come to America illegally, to bear their children here, are not doing so with the intent and purpose of securing citizenship alone, in order that they can both receive free natal healthcare and later secure admission on a legal basis for themselves and their relatives, is either a liar or suffering damaged intellect to not have that awareness.

The only illegal immigrants the U.S. has any obligation to consider for a “structured” amnesty, are those who have served honorably in the U.S. military or whose immediate family are U.S. citizens, and that latter obligation is only through consideration of the citizen relatives.  It is important and necessary to close the spigot the 14th Amendment has opened, to remove the strongest lure to illegal immigrants, after jobs, and prevent further, ongoing abuse.

cc August 15, 2010:  Chris Matthews; (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Troop operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2010.

Happy birthday, Mr. President.

Happy birthday, Mr. President (via web card, August 4, 2010):

At the late-July, Kabul Conference, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that Afghan forces would take over security by 2014, as you, Mr. President, said that the U.S. is a “long-term partner for security and progress.”

It is obvious that the real meaning of both Karzai’s and your statements is quite different than Webster’s would apply.  Karzai means that 2014 is a hoped-for date at which Afghan forces can begin to take control, while you mean that the U.S. occupation and sacrifice will be long-term, beyond your promised date in 2011 to begin withdrawal, and beyond Karzai’s 2014 deadline.  Secretary of State Clinton reenforced the complete lack of any intent to withdraw any time soon, or distant, by stating, “2011 is the start of a new phase, not the end of our involvement.”

Meanwhile, Karzai, while enjoying wide international support and U.S. funding and troop protections, is not trusted by a large segment of his own people and his administration is extremely unpopular after nine years of U.S.-supported existence.

The narrative of the histories of Hamid Karzai, in Afghanistan, and Ngo Dinh Diem, in South Vietnam, and then, in 1965, General Nguyen Van Thieu, are eerily interchangeable, if the proper names are omitted.  They are histories of commonalities of corruption, power lust, regime dependence upon American forces, failure, and repeated mistakes, each costing the lives of U.S. soldiers and each taking hefty chunks of U.S. cash, where the only question is how Karzai’s end will be written.  In 1963, Diem was assassinated by the CIA, resulting in near two-and-one-half years of chaos, hosted by nine inept and corrupt regimes before the U.S. installed Van Thieu, who took the despot’s more traditional path out of power, skipping into exile, in 1975, taking much of the treasury’s gold with him and leaving the RVN Army, loyal only to the cash from diminishing U.S. aid, to quickly dismantle itself, as the stages of the U.S. withdrawal were complete and the Viet Cong army prepared to take Saigon.

The world did not come to an end.

U.S. national security suffered only self-inflicted pain.

Iraq and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are different chapters of the same, sorry story, the denouement, though predictable, also still to be written.

Whether or not you will change your mind about saying Afghanistan is not like Vietnam, of which the foul play of leadership is just one similarity, the fact is that the outcome is heading for the same fruitless end, except that, early on, the primary objective of removing a government that sanctioned attacks against the U.S. was long ago achieved.  It was, in 2003, a victory, and since that early-on, successful attainment of the mission objective in Afghanistan, when Bush should have followed his father’s lead, in the first Iraq war, and just withdrawn the troops, the parallels to the misplaced confidences and assertions regarding the war in Vietnam have become unmistakable, and there is no doubt that if America remains any further to prop up governments and nation-build, the outcome will be another failure, compounded by the deaths of new thousands, heaped on the backs of the 4,520 dead in Iraq and those 58,000 soldiers who died in Vietnam, and whose only worthwhile legacy, aside from their immortal valor, turned out to be that the cost of their lives would prevent any future government from ever repeating that tragic mistake.


American military involvement throughout the world is out of control, Sir.  As you celebrate your birthday, a month after America’s, I hope that you will dedicate yourself to oppose the military interests that wish to see the U.S. military continually engaged in the name of national security, and move to disengage America from illicit occupations, as Iraq, and unnecessary ones, where the victory, to remove the government that supported al Qaeda, and inflict serious harm upon the leadership and body of that organization, was actually won years ago.

The occupations in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, for any other purpose than as a tactical position for operations against Iran, must end.  And the end of the Afghan occupation is not a defeat.  The objectives of the military forces there have been achieved and are no longer valid for that type of force deployment.  Vigorous intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations efforts against al Qaeda, which have brought all the victories, world-wide, should continue and be accelerated, as Vice President Biden supported before the decision to send additional troops was made.  If the Taliban eventually rule there, so be it, and it must be made clear that they must cooperate with all U.S. and Pakistani intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations efforts for as long as al Qaeda is present, and that any failure to do so will be viewed as a position of supporting them, causing the regime to be removed again by force, which U.S. troops can do at will, quickly and easily, leaving afterward to allow whatever government to rise that will, which would have imposed upon it the same conditions and obligations if it is to be allowed to exist.  This is the only way to deal with nations like Afghanistan.  It is not America’s place to determine who runs the governments of Afghanistan or Iraq, only to leave the message that if they support threats to America, they will be removed by force, that such support of these elements, or to seek WMD, is regime suicide.  Costly and unwinnable occupations that create corrupted, elitist, allied regimes are unwise, unprofitable, and unnecessary.  And it will be necessary to focus America’s military upon Iran, which will never give up nuclear armament until confronted with overwhelming force.

You can insure that the U.S. has a better birthday, with yours to follow, next year, if you will act this year to change the direction the military-industrial complex has set America upon, and which path has led for so long to so much harm and failure.  A good first step, to signal that there will be withdrawal, and to send a message to Iran at the same time, would be to strongly advise and press that Congress approve a resolution or bill that authorizes you to direct the military to formulate and implement contingency planning for redeployment of Afghan forces to join American forces in Iraq, near the Iranian border and away from any populated areas, for the purpose of positioning and preparing for offensive operations against Iran, with specific prohibitions against any of those forces engaging with internal Iraqi conflicts.  The occupation in Iraq, since it is a reality, now has only one legitimate objective for America, and that is as an organizing and jump-off point for an invasion of Iran, and seeking congressional authorization to plan and make initial moves would be a strong message to all nations that if war in Iran is to be avoided, sanctions need to be strictly enforced, with the full effort and involvement of all nations which have relations with Iran.

Then, there might be real cause for you and the nation to have a Happy birthday.  But that is doubtful.  It seems to be unavoidable that Iran will be America’s next necessary conflict, unless you decide to do nothing and see a replication of the Korean experience in Iran.  America has given that regime all it needs to be sure that nothing will be done to stop it:  nothing was done with N. Korea, nothing was done with Pakistan, or India, or Israel, and the Iranians consider themselves to be ethnically and historically superior to all of those nations.  They do not believe they will win if there is war.  They believe their threats will deter any action until they have two devices and can detonate one in a test that is primarily a statement, at which point, they calculate that, as with Korea, the cost of intervening with force will be deemed to be too high.  That’s the way it is, and you should be prepared to act before they produce a result that can be deployed.

Quite a job you chased after, fully immersed, not one for really happy birthdays, after all.  Not in these times.

cc (via web forms):  Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

May 22, 2010
President Obama delivers the 9th straight, war-time commencement speech to West Point’s Cadet Corp,
warning them to expect a “tough fight with difficult days ahead” as the U.S. nation-builds in Afghanistan.

Why is America still in Afghanistan?

America has reduced much of foreign policy to a level that should be beneath the contempt of an intellectual president:  buy them or kill them, or both, which is now the situation in Afghanistan, never mind the cost and carnage of innocents left in the wake of such blundering pursuits.

In regard to the WikiLeaked documents, which highlight Afghanistan military-operations data and statistics, including civilian deaths, the administration has lined up the statements of Afghan and Pakistani officials to match its own, saying the leaks pose a severe danger to troops and operations, despite that the documents were vetted and redacted by responsible news organizations to remove names and specific data that could compromise troops or intelligence, and administration spokesmen also say, contradictorily, that most of the information was already known, is outdated, and the problems no longer exist.

Right.  And where’s that bridge?

First, a shrug of the verbal shoulder to deflect the leaked revelations, which reflect poorly on the government’s line on Afghanistan, as unimportant.  And now, it is very likely that with his contradictory statements of grave harm, Sec. Gates is spearheading the making of the leaks into an excuse for the failure of the counterinsurgency effort, the emphasis of which, as a policy, had already been found lacking and had begun a change to anti-terrorism priorities before the leaks.

More manipulation, less truth?

Secretary of Defense Gates cited the violated trust between governments and individuals represented by the WikiLeaks documents:

“It is amazing how much trust matters in relationships, whether it’s with individuals or governments around the world.”

What Gates does not deign to mention, and which his omission makes an example, is the trust between the U.S. government and its own people, particularly when the reasons for sending America’s sons and daughters into war are at question.  The leaked documents show a violation there, more onerous than any other, because for too long, truth, trust, and honesty have been placed last, or not at all, before the American people, behind the consideration of all others, as Gates perfectly reflects in his statement.

White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who is the public face on administration policy, said:

“We are in this region of the world because of what happened on 9/11.  Ensuring that there is not a safe haven in Afghanistan by which attacks against this country and countries around the world can be planned. That’s why we’re there, and that’s why we’re going to continue to make progress on this relationship.”

This is an outrageously unachievable objective, first because it is invalid, because the Afghan government was removed as a response to 9/11, and al Qaeda decimated, hundreds of its front-line leaders killed, and thousands of the Afghan people of al Qaeda and the Taliban, associated and not, were killed, all in a victory responding to the 9/11 attack, achieving the goal stated if the demands issued to the Taliban by Bush were not met, all within the first two years after the invasion!  Second, the objective stated by Gibbs is ridiculous because even if it were possible to destroy all Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which it is not, Afghanistan is not the where and all of al Qaeda bases or planning capabilities.  There is no need for a base in Afghanistan (or Pakistan) to plan attacks against the U.S.  Al Qaeda is global and electronically mobile.  The stated objective of the Press Secretary is so useless and meaningless that it can only be propaganda.

So what is the real objective that hides behind the expressed one of denial of Afghanistan as a place to plan attacks against the U.S.?  Is it the wealth of minerals in the hills and the drool of industries to control and exploit that wealth, U.S. and foreign?  Is it the corporations that profit with defense contracts, those military personnel who would not be happy if there was not some engagement somewhere, and those elected officials who, through contributions or through some vicarious, warmongering ideology are in their pockets, all of whom are otherwise collectively known as the military-industrial complex?  Is it to control the presence of India?

Or... most likely, is the administration afraid to say that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is a threat to America?  If it were, which it is, should not the army be there instead of Afghanistan, achieving an objective that is both quantifiable and most highly affecting of U.S. and Western national security?  That would be a meaningful war, one that removes all nuclear capability from an unstable country that is both threatened by and composed of extremist sympathizers.  One that would also pave the way to remove them from another nation afterward, peaceably.  If al Qaeda or any Mid-Eastern terrorist organization gets nuclear materials to deploy in a weapon against the U.S. or its allies, it will come from either Pakistan or Iran, more likely before Russia or India.  Does the Obama administration wish to avoid highlighting that because it does not wish to place such a threat and confrontation with an unstable Pakistan before the public?  The reason provided by Mr. Gibbs is so easy to substitute, and so unconvincing.

One example demonstrating how blatantly the government, and the Department of Defense, attempts to minimize the negative nature of the truth regarding “difficult” military operations, is Afghanistan commander, Gen. Petraeus’s July 2010 statement that, “some of the ground troops might see the rules of engagement as being somewhat bureaucratic.”  The fact is that the rules of engagement, which are highly restrictive upon soldiers, are levered to the prime value of the local populace in accord with the objectives of counter-insurgency operations, not the safety of U.S. soldiers, and they are considered by most soldiers to be a factor increasing the “danger and casualties” for them, not as being bureaucratic upon them, but rather, as being hazardous to them.  When a nation employs its military in operations that dictate rules and procedures detrimental to its survival, that should be a clue that the situation is not one that justifies the deployment of U.S. troops, because force of fielded armies is meant to be employed against enemies who are identifiable, and always in ways most effective to maximize reduction of the enemy and minimize losses to the troops, always.  If it can’t be done that way, there’s another way the problem has to be addressed, besides troops.  Afghanistan has another way, expressed by the Vice President (LEISO), and like Iraq, Afghanistan has now become a misuse of troops.

The United Nations records that in 2009, there were 2,412 civilians who were killed in Afghanistan—men, women, and children.  And, despite increased awareness that the death of civilians is always two-steps backward for the overall objectives, and regardless of more restrictive rules of engagement, that figure is 14-percent higher than the previous year, which speaks against a war that is reported by governments as going well, as well as “difficult” and “hard.”  If one out of three of the related reports from the secret documents disclosed by WikiLeaks in late July 2010 were discarded, there would still be ample reason to believe that the U.N. figures are vastly understated.

There have also been war crimes that go beyond the attributes of the fog of war, committed by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But while America has so far avoided the branding that comes with trial in the World Court or by war-crimes commissions, that taint is on the heart of compassionate citizens and is a constant source of helpless regret and anger which has spanned the generations to today, beginning with My Lai, in Vietnam, the incredible carnage inflicted upon that massacred village, mostly women and children, and babies, to include sexual abuse, torture, and mutilation, being the first of which most Americans can directly associate.  Is this a palatable price for national security, in unjustifiable or unnecessary, or wrongly-extended wars, and in conditions of a partial commitment, overextending troops year upon year, and unconstitutionally augmenting a thinned resource with contract killers, unaccountable and already responsible for one cross-gender/age massacre, in Iraq?

Yet, the wars, mostly unnecessary and unjustified, keep on coming, prodded by a push to keep the machine well oiled, and reap the profit of it, along with a growing acceptance of “collateral damage,” which is evidenced by the coining of that dehumanizing term for what is, starkly put, a veil upon the casual murder of innocents.  From distant rooftops by machine-gunning, laughing mercenaries and soldiers, pumping rounds into unknown targets on a distant road, to the trigger on a joystick in an air-conditioned room 3,000 miles from the fallen targets, the mechanics of death have becoming more indiscriminate and robotic than the initiation of global conflicts in which the toys and theories are put to the ultimate test, in situations far removed from any ultimate threat to national security, instead, contributing to its demise.

In response to the WikiLeaks documents, the New York Times reported that:

“On Capitol Hill, a leading Senate Democrat (Sen. John Kerry, D-MA) said the documents, with their detailed account of a war faring even more poorly than two administrations had portrayed, would intensify Congressional scrutiny of Mr. Obama’s policy.  ‘Those policies are at a critical stage, and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent,’ said Senator Kerry.”

Therein, within that statement of a leading U.S. Senator, lies a big problem with the Afghanistan occupation, and all wars and occupations:  Congress does not understand that the Constitution puts the power and responsibility for war policy, not just the funding, in the body of Congress, not any president, not an intellectual, right-intended president like President Obama, and certainly not an ignorant, authoritative “Great Decider” criminal like George Bush.  Presidents are empowered to determine the methods and procedures, configurations and levels of force that will be deployed to achieve the goals and policies set by Congress, not make the policy or goals for military deployments themselves.  If a president believes there is a need for military engagement, or a change in congressionally authorized policy or goals, the Constitution requires that the executive “sell it” to Congress in order to get the authority through law, resolution, or order, never to initiate on its own.  Until Congress starts getting that right, there is going to be little hope of ever returning to a state of war as limited and last resort.

And every day it keeps on being done wrong, and wrongly—every day—more U.S. and innocent lives are savagely torn and extinguished.  To continue in this way, or delay to change it, is deadly wrong.

cc (via web forms) July 29, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Born of danger, to dangerous times.

The value of the Founders, the Charters they left to America, is not only in their wisdom and applied knowledge of human behavior, it is that those traits were a critical component in the equation to formulate a structure of government, tied to individual value and participation, based upon their first-person experience of the oppression and dangers of autocracy which seek to eliminate individual freedoms.  Their experience, and the gift to successive generations of Americans that they wrought from that experience, has shielded America from that danger ever since.  And, so departed is America today from the tug of those chains they cast aside, the ability to recognize the threats has diminished, and the framework of the government they handed down for the protection and growth of subsequent generations has been diminished and pushed aside, and in some cases, as with the Bush administration, arrogantly countermanded.

Americans must recognize that their own vision of freedom is far less acute than those who wrote the nation’s Charters, because today’s Americans, native Americans, or immigrants from other democracies, the vast majority never lived under the burden of restriction and compelled obedience like that which, in this generation, in Iran, killed Neda Soltan, and that, with the founding generation, created the anger and desperation born of those conditions, making it possible that the Founders and their townsmen and neighbors would choose to risk everything against formidable odds too change it, for themselves and their “posterity.”  As the memory of those desperate days has faded with every passing generation, and become farther removed from the mechanics of managing and overseeing the conduct of that government, today, the danger has returned, a danger with a different face, but no less threatening and no less capable of eroding the freedoms intended to be the guiding and primal principle of the government, through which all power should be filtered.

The path back to a strong democracy, to reasserting freedom, accountability, and responsiveness to the Will of the People, is to elevate the Constitution out of the lifeless archive of historical decoration to which it has been subjugated, and demand that its limitations and enumerated powers be returned to the life of the nation, in this generation, by being observed, no matter what it takes to do it, including Congress revolting against an activist majority in the Supreme Court, who have forgotten that their first responsibility is to that Constitution, not to the wishful and aborted interpretations and arguments offered by lawyers for industry, or their individual politics.  Given that responsibility, those rulings stand as a violation of the good behavior that justices are granted as the sole condition of their service and privilege, and that majority should be impeached and convicted, not left empowered to destroy political equality through subversive edict!

That is the recent crime of one branch.  For the Congress, it has failed to jealously guard its enumerated powers, allowing government to be transformed to more of an oligarchy than a democratic republic, placing greater distance between the people and the decisions that are made for the most critical policies in national life.  The Founders addressed the Congress in Article I because it is one representation indicating that Congress is the branch they intended to be the primary source of power in the republic, not the president.  The Senate has twisted the constitutional authority to set rules of its proceedings into an aberration by altering the criteria intended for governance, which is a simple majority, except where the Constitution specifically provides for a greater, two-thirds criteria.  The 60-vote rule is as much an abomination to popular sovereignty as the ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United was to political equality, which combined, is two legs of the tripod supporting democracy that have been axed.

As to the House, withdrawals from the Treasury are only to be made in accord with appropriations made by law, and an account of all expenditures must be published, which would include full details of each and every earmark.  And, earmarks are doubtful to fall as a proper appropriation by law, since lawful appropriations are named in accordance to their purpose, and all appropriations have a purpose, which is not served by the earmarks attached.  The Constitution intends that expenditures be required to go through the difficulty of discreet lawmaking and passage for a reason, which, as a consequence of “expedient spending,” most of it during the Republican years, looms dark over America’s future now.  In addition, the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 prohibition against providing preference with revenue to the port of any state over the other can be applied beyond ports, just as surely as the Air Force, which didn’t exist at ratification, is included as an extension of the Section’s military powers.  The earmark funding the Bridge to Nowhere could be ruled unconstitutional simply on the basis of providing revenue to the road system of one state over another, if not that it was not a lawfully appropriated expenditure.  But, these transgressions almost pale when compared to the greatest failure by the House of Representatives to carry out constitutional power and responsibility since the founding of the nation:  its failure to bring articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney.

And both houses of Congress are guilty of providing ratification and oversight with the incompetence and disregard that BP conducted drilling operations on the Deepwater Horizon, or that Minerals Management has regulated that drilling, or mine safety, or that any of the array of financial-regulatory agencies policed Wall Street and the banks, or that the FAA looked after the degradation of safety and pilot-workplace quality as major carriers clawed against hairline margins by growing a flimsily managed and regulated commuter network, or that the Consumer Protection Agency kept dangerous Chinese products from reaching citizens’ homes and children... and all of these failures, and more, compound the oversight failures of Congress, too many of its members sooo busy raising money for the next election, and figuring out how to give it back to the contributors, instead of doing the full job within their committee assignments that good service to the nation and their constituencies demand, ransacking access to office, choice, and political liberty for the People, the third leg of democracy, in the process.

Presidents, from at least Lincoln to Obama, have taken their pound of flesh from the body of the Constitution, from initiating deployment or extensions of military actions, unilateral raising of armies, engaging in foreign agreements or activities requiring treaty, violating individual liberties, to signing statements, which are a pure usurping of Article I, where Congress alone has the power to formulate and pass laws, the president designated specifically to either sign or veto, or let lay, never edit, redact, or annotate with signature.  As Congress has failed in oversight, presidents have also failed to prioritize national good over politics when making appointments, administering their agencies, and executing the laws, most blatant and harmful today in the case of illegal immigration.  And, the history has been that, to date, every president, of either party, has sought to use and protect and expand the unconstitutional powers and authority that have been gained through successive administrations through precedent, by virtue of the wrongful silence or cooperation of Congress and the Court.

The dangers today are subtle, and are primarily, at the lowest common denominator, due to the fraud and bribery and party control that are at the heart of campaign contributions.  But the danger is all around and, if let to continue, just as capable of wrecking the nation as the masted warships in the harbors and Redcoats who threatened the colonies in the years before the Constitution became the backbone of America’s laws and freedoms.  The Founders would tell us that the warnings, written in the history of their words, can still speak out to those who will see, and they are just as applicable today.  They would tell us that, in this strange, instantaneous, news-funneled, high-paced, complex world in which America is militarizing over horizons at every point of the compass, that time is running out, and that, since the Civil War, the Great Experiment is in the gravest danger it has ever known, from forces internal and, as a consequence of America’s excessive military proliferation, external.

Would they be listened to?  If they could appear on television and speak the warnings they’ve written and left behind?  Would that be a call to action, a rake to apathy?  Or, are the Founders no more than historical tokens for political catch-phrases?  Despite that human nature hasn’t changed at all, and that the selfishness of man they balanced with the Constitution hasn’t diminished, have they and their works become, today, as irrelevant to us as the dangers they faced and acted to conquer in their distant time?

America needs a leader to speak for the Founders and to act according to the limitations and priorities they wrote into the Constitution, to stand against those who say the Constitution is outdated and individual freedoms must be subordinated to larger interests and entities in a world of global threat and competitiveness, or that the government of the Constitution is too cumbersome in a quick-response era, and changing it even more so—better to quietly pidgin-hole it and unbalance the separation of powers.  Or more dangerous, those who claim constitutional protection and adherence to preserve freedom and reduce the size of government, the same ones who say spending to help the unemployed hurts the deficit, but keeping the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place does not, whose real purpose is only economic self-interest, paraded behind a facade of promoting business.  They make the government of the Constitution, of the Founders, out to be an evil instrument, when it is really all there is that balances self-interest and greed, “capitalism,” with regulation, “democracy,” to stand between any hope of public safety and self rule on the one hand, and something more akin to the law of the jungle that those wealthy and powerful want to bring about on the other.  If America’s government is as big and bad as they claim, why would they wish to be a part of it?  And why would their constituents want them to be?  Those who appreciate the value of America’s heritage, its constitutional government, are those who can best work to serve both it and the People (not corporations) it was designed to benefit.

President Obama knows the works of the Founders as well or better than any modern president.  If he is unappreciative of it, or overcome by the entrenched system, or isolated by the walls of the office into performance compliant with the career professionals and bureaucrats who surround him and wrongly interpret or carry-out his intent, there may be no hope for the necessary change, or future for the republic that was envisioned and set into motion by Madison, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and the rest.  Their diminishment to the past can only mean the diminishment of every individual in the future, to become as lost and feeble in the eyes of their government as it is to be invisible and muted within the systemic sprawl and the numbing, monotonous mass.

Therein is the danger.

cc (via web forms) July 26, 2010:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Excessive footprint — the military face of America upon the world.

Defending American democracy does not mean or require imposing it.

To (via web form) President Obama:

July 22, 2010

Defending democracy and freedom is what the military is supposed to be about, by definition and by the intent of the Founders.  But constitutional war powers have been aborted by presidents for hollow reasons, beginning with Truman and the perceived, N. Korean hinge pin on the opening door to the onset of global communism, to the domino theory of Vietnam, the falsely alleged, threatened spread of WMD in Iraq, to terrorism in Afghanistan, and all along the way, the influence of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned against, and the corporate conglomerates of energy and infrastructure development which, instead of defending America’s democratic freedom, have made the policy of successive administrations, and the job of the military, into one of promoting and spreading it, in the name of defense, spreading military bases and the U.S. presence over the globe in the process, often attempting to garner the expansion and profit of corporatism that are perceived to go with it.

The cost of promoting, rather than defending, is extraordinarily higher to the nation and the lives of its soldiers, and it is detrimental to America’s national security, quality of life, its future, and world regard, while providing no return.  Since WWII, S. Korea has reached a level of economic and industrial prosperity that, on a per-capita basis, in many ways exceeds America’s today.  And while facing a bankrupted, isolated regime to the north, it is still unable or unwilling to spend to defend itself, prospering under the umbrella of an on-going, American-military subsidy—Truman’s gift, wrapped in a shredded Constitution, endorsed by presidents ever since, that has kept on giving to S. Korea for 60 years and counting.  Had Truman not sent troops on his own initiative, it is difficult to say how a combined Korea, starting out communist, as Vietnam did after the U.S. finally withdrew, without the proximate threat of U.S. forces would have evolved.  All of Korea might not be as the North is now, or it might be, but with America really none the worse, and where would those S. Korean semi-conductor and electronic industries be?  But America would have been spared the lives of some 38,000 of its soldiers and more than $1 trillion that has been spent year over year ever since he deployed there, not to mention the wounded and more than 100,000 dead N. Koreans and Chinese.

Vietnam was more straightforward:   after 19 years, 303,000 lives tattered and 58,000 lost, and more than $500 billion spent... it was all in vein, except to the military-industrial complex.  The only benefit, hard lessons, forgotten and ignored, except by the first President Bush, in the Gulf War, who had the wisdom to take his victory and leave, as his son should have done in Afghanistan, after the Taliban and al Qaeda were routed and decimated.

Iraq, an unnecessary war of criminal inception, where Bush never intended to withdraw, after seven years, more than 4,400 dead soldiers, $700 billion and counting, is still a powder keg with a burning fuse and 50,000 U.S. troops, who by their presence tempt violence and the president, to be sucked back in to defend a so-called, democratic, Iraqi president, who is surrounded by corruption and violates the rulings of his supreme court to rig elections, as oil and other contracts go mostly away from America.

And then, Afghanistan, land of untold mineral wealth, and the buried arsenals of Stinger missiles, where helicopters are beginning to “crash” with frequency, and where after more than 1,100 U.S. soldiers dead, and $285 billion spent, and both increasing, sharply, Bush, and now President Obama, seems determined to follow the Soviet Union, and all who invaded before it, into decades of disaster, backing an unpopular president, who wants to, and should be allowed to deal with the Taliban, who heads a corrupt, absent, elitist government, where, like the X-Files, America can trust no one, from the top to the ranks, except to do whatever is necessary to keep American money and blood flowing, and where a new class of corrupted wealthy are poised to exploit the natural resources as America cooperates by bleeding that blood and money to make it all happen.

And President Obama, intelligent as he is, can count the continuing toll of spreading democracy rather than defending it, at 102,000 dead U.S. soldiers, more than a million wounded, millions of adversaries and collateral victims, and near $2.5 trillion spent—more than 20-percent of the national debt.  He campaigned that he would not be bound by the mistaken policies and politics of Washington but seems to have lost the more objective vision of an outside perspective by being immersed in it, and even given the costs, he is nonetheless strapped in and fastened to the track, like a rocket sled in the dawn of the military’s ballistic research, in a headlong race to disaster, where despite whatever domestic-program hurdles he clears, those mistaken, military policies, which are most entrenched, pervasive, and influencing, form a solid block, where presidents collide when war power is abused, causing the nation to suffer the pain of that cost, which is most acute and unredeeming.

The American experience is testament to the pain, sacrifice, and the lengthy steps and processes a people and their leaders must take, which eventually lead to freedom and democracy for a nation.  That is the example which should be deployed to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, through diplomacy, education, and cultural exchange, saving the military for that which it is so well trained and equipped, and performs so well:  to remove regimes that directly threaten national security, not to remain in occupations to try and impose the lessons and processes of democracy, at the bequest of the military-industrial complex or the corporate interests who seek to see their government and its soldiers break new ground for their exploitation and profit.

The time has long passed to stop dancing around the Constitution’s limitations on war powers, and to stop defending democracy by trying to spread it, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the ground for democracy hasn’t been plowed by the native populations who, otherwise, are not nearly ready to embrace it, no matter how hard and at what cost to America it is pounded into them.

cc (via web forms):  Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Elizabeth Warren, chairing the Senate Oversight Panel on TARP.

Elizabeth Warren must not fall prey to the banking industry’s political influence.

To (via web form) President Obama:

July 21, 2010

From 1996-1999, Ms. Brooksley Born, was chairperson of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which was congressionally neutered because of her warnings and intent to act to reduce the unregulated OTC derivatives dangers.  Her warnings came to pass in 2008, and her determination to act rubbed against the policies of those who were in power at every critical government position affecting the economy, and she was made a victim of their determination to impose their laissez-faire market philosophy, one of whom most championed unregulated markets, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, has since rebuked his belief and leadership to impose the deregulated economy as a “mistake,” a mistake which is now acknowledged by all, except Republican leaders, to have been a major contributing cause to the Great Recession in which America still flounders.

Elizabeth Warren has made similar warnings about derivatives and bank sprawl in her work as Chairman of the Senate Oversight Panel on TARP.  Will that fine work be compounded by a consumer-protection appointment or traded away for influence?  There is no one more qualified, more objective, knowledgeable, and openly unwilling to game play with financial responsibility than Elizabeth Warren.  Not selecting her to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is to leverage the contributions and lobbying of the banking industry against the People and the national interest, which would be Washington business as usual!  But this time, perhaps, with a non-tolerating voter response in November?

cc (via web forms):  Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Chairwoman Elizabeth Warren with Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner before convening the Congressional Oversight Panel.

A footnote point to this story is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, among President Obama’s banking clique of appointments and advisors, is said to oppose the appointment of Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, along with numerous conservative Republicans who oppose strong enforcement of the new financial-regulatory law.

President Obama’s decision to file suit on Arizona’s immigration law is “misguided.”

To (via web form) President Obama:

July 6, 2010

Mr. President, how does a state law, Arizona’s immigration law (S.B. 1070), which mirrors federal law, “encroach on federal authority” when that federal authority is not even attempting to enforce the law addressed by the state?  If Arizona was encroaching, and by so doing, conflicting and interfering upon federal-enforcement operations, there would be a case.  But the sorry fact is that, with respect to immigration law, there is little-to-no enforcement by the federal government upon which Arizona or any other state can encroach, conflict, or interfere.

To the contrary, your administration is carrying on with the Bush-administration policy of aiding the incursion of illegal immigrants by non-enforcement and by allowing Mexico to establish numerous consul offices throughout the nation, the purpose of which is to facilitate services aiding illegal-immigrants from Mexico who remain in the U.S. illegally.  In addition, you are causing the government to continue to turn a blind eye to the activities of corporations which also facilitate the breaking of law, such as the banking services provided to illegal immigrants by Bank of America and WalMart.

Rather than taking Arizona to court, you should be acting to not only secure the border, but also to bring a sense of incentive and urgency to federal enforcement of the law, stepping-up apprehension and prosecution of domestic and foreign violators, and instituting meaningful, aggressive cooperation with state and local law-enforcement agencies to expand pursuit of those ends.

Nothing less than America’s culture and heritage is at stake, Mr. President, and in the case of Arizona, more than other locations, the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens.

cc (via web forms):  Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Constitutional Free Speech Rights protect individuals’ expression of thought through
the word and pen, not the projection of individual political power through the purse.

Sen. James Webb (D-VA)

From Sen. Jim Web’s July 8, 2010 e-mail:

“Proponents of increased campaign finance regulation argue that current campaign financing gives wealthy individuals and corporations undue influence over the political process.  On the other hand, opponents of increased campaign finance regulations argue that prohibitions on contributions impede donors' First Amendment rights.  There are a number of bills pending before the U.S. Senate pertaining to campaign finance reform.  I will support legislation that is fair and encourages participation in the democratic process.”

To (via web form) Senator Jim Webb:

July 9, 2010

It is surprising that, in your non-committal response to the need for campaign-finance reform (elimination), you mention the defense against reform of incursion against free-speech rights.  Democracy is indeed endangered when U.S. Senators hold that up as a viable defense with which to consider voting, because they should know it is not a defense that has any merit.  The vote is what expresses the right of free speech, and the political liberty to stand or write and speak one’s views, not to buy the mechanics of dissemination, and free speech is not embodied in financial transactions, particularly campaign spending, because its primary purpose is to influence and promote, not facilitate the expression of mind of the individual, which requires no large sum of money and which is the object of the First Amendment, and which is what free speech protection is all about.

And it is more important to eliminate campaign contributions because of the greater weight of harm the practice imposes upon political equality, destroying it, which is highly significant because political equality, as you should know, is one of the three pillars of democracy, along with political liberty and “popular sovereignty,” which means that government power and authority is vested in and derived from The People, and that government acts according to the Will of The People, not the will of those who can pay the most to influence elections to detract from the People’s fair weight of voice.  That which threatens any of democracy’s three pillars:  individual political equality, political liberty, and popular sovereignty, must be afforded the preference of protection over human expressions that, like campaign contributing, are mere extensions of the primal rights of man:  free speech, direct expression of mind, being most coveted and at the core, embodied within the Declaration of Independence and the protections and guarantees written into the Amendments and articles of the Constitution of the United States of America, not indirect expression of a desire to influence the election, through contribution, to those who embody one’s ideas.

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men [not corporations, Mr. Chief Justice!] 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—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men [not among corporations to secure the rights of corporations], deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed [not from the influence spending of the wealthy]...”

Forgive that bracketed inserts were placed within the word-for-word and style-duplicated copy of the Declaration’s Preamble, to direct attention to the aborted view and ruling of the Supreme Court, which also acted to promote acquired wealth and entities other than man and his (and her) “unalienable rights.”  Note the capitalization in the Declaration’s preamble and consider how it is an expression that places the emphasis on the innate qualities of man, not the acquired ones, and the role government is to play in the interaction.  Also note it states that the rights secured by the Constitution and its Amendments (defining the framework of government limits upon them) are unalienable, endowed by the Creator, not by the resources of a bank account and the societal power which that endows.

The three pillars, and particularly political equality, have never been intended to be subject to the influence of wealth, which is a disproportional characteristic among people that weighs against the value of the individual voice and its equality.  And political freedom has never been meant to be aborted, as a protection to open the purse, that supercedes and reduces the individual value of opening one’s mind and mouth to convey ideas, beliefs, and grievances.

There is all of that, and the plain and rampant corruption to which political contributions are seed, more than enough reason to see the practice end entirely—elimination, not regulation.

cc (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
She’s what needs changing.

Contributions turn legislators into BIG-RETURN money machines.

To (via web form):  Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chair, House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics):

July 6, 2010

As Chair of the House Committee on Ethics, it is your responsibility to see that Rep. Kaptur’s actions, outlined below, in total disregard for the obvious intent of the rules, does not go without consequences, and to send a message to members that, as elected officials, it is not acceptable to interpret the rules at face value, as a gangster does in trying to ignore them, as Rep. Kaptur did in serving her own interests and greed.  Her actions spit in the face of Americans’ concerns for the conduct and responsiveness of their government, and for the committee that sets the rules, and its chairperson, to allow her deliberate, flagrant disregard of the inherent, undeniable intent of the rules to go unpunished, is to re-enforce for the electorate that their government is out of control and without any moral or ethical authority or conscience.

A prime example of why “enforced” ethics rules are needed and how campaign contributions corrupt, beyond voting pressure, to ignite secondary forms of wasteful and insidious spending by Congress, is laid out in spades in this case, brought to light in a Independence Day, 2010, report in the New York Times:  where the vice president of marketing for a small, Ohio defense-contracting firm, that makes components for a type of body armor the Department of Defense has not shown great interest in purchasing and may never use, had the Ohio congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur (a Democrat), submit earmark requests for more than $10 million for the company, not days after the House banned for-profit firms from receiving earmark funding.  The slithery marketing VP, Victoria Kurtz, had Rep. Kaptur get around the ban to direct the earmarks her company’s way by forming a non-profit organization at the same location as her for-profit company, allowing the money to flow so cleverly around the rules.

Of course, the flow of money was two-way:  Kurtz’s family and the lobbyists for her military-industrial-complex firm have handed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Rep. Kaptur who, instead of being ashamed of herself for stomping all over the spirit and intent of the House reform rule, while at the same time doing some slithering herself, into the taxpayer’s pockets, said, “They met the requirements of the reform.”  And what requirements will they meet when... how much of that $10 million finds its way back to Rep. Kaptur’s coffers?  The Kaptur-Kurtz transaction is meant to be on-going, like a bad case of a scrounging, dirty dog, going round and round in an obsessive-compulsive spin, tail-chasing its own greed.

This is the devastating mathematics of the corruption of campaign contributions:  where, say, in this case, a $20,000 campaign contribution given to a representative opens the taxpayers’ vault for an earmark return of 50,000 percent!  What more does it take to show that campaign contributions should just end, completely?  But there are many more reasons, written throughout this page, and among them all, this is no small part of those reasons why America has fallen deep into debt over the last nine years.  The contribution-to-earmark return, and immunity, makes the Wall-Street slicksters who brought down the economy seem like the Three Stooges in comparison, without the laughs, except in the boardrooms of those shifty, not-for-profit defense suppliers and others like them.  It’s pathetic, wholesale, broad-daylight robbery, and the elected leaders, and the public, which profits not and that keeps voting crooks like Kaptur into office, keep on letting it happen.

Talk about asking for it...

cc (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; Rep. Marcy Kaptur; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Celebrating Our Nation’s Independence.

To the members of Congress, the President, and their families and staffs, wishing them the best on this day celebrating the birth of our national identity, which was passed into their hands through the ephemeral portals of history, hoping that America shall find the path to return to the framework of the Constitution that followed, from which it has strayed, especially in terms of the Founders’ standards for military engagements and the source of that grave authority they intended for America:  to be the combined voices of Congress, not the single, kingly voice of the president, which silently-ceded authority now strangles the nation, miring it in everlasting conflicts and occupations, and staining its ideals and identity of power for just cause and shield of freedom with shadow, mercenary armies which, with no constitutional authority, real consequence or accountability, have brought murder and massacre to again be written into America’s legacy.

And hoping elections shall be rid of the influence of campaign contributions, instead funding elections solely through the treasury, where qualified candidates will receive equal resources, free of party control, reducing the insane electoral costs and duration, increasing the field, and freeing them of the influence peddlers and the time and resources wasted on fund raising, and most important, returning political equality to the framework of America’s weakened democracy.

The national identity is also challenged by the granting of citizenship and the vote to unassimilated immigrants, and that loss of identity is already harshly characterized in many ways, in many states along the Sunbelt, and many towns and cities beyond, throughout the nation.  The heritage of America, born on this day, 1776, now rests in your hands.  It is your responsibility to prioritize guarding it as you necessarily deal with the future of the tens of millions of illegal immigrants who are now changing the character of the nation, and who seek, through the sheer mass of their presence, to become a voice in shaping its future, but mostly in their interests and proclivities.  Those who break America’s laws to come here have no claim on citizenship and the vote, ever, and any means that provides for their absorption into the national life must recognize the value of guarding the right to vote by making full and comprehensive assimilation a mandatory prerequisite, and abandon the multiple-choice, flash-card tests and processes, with no oversight, that now grant citizenship to those who have no real understanding of America’s history or government, no appreciation of its culture and heritage, and in many cases cannot speak or read its language.  Granting the right to live within America’s borders does not impose any right or obligation for citizenship to follow.  The mere presence and growth of unacclimated immigrants is already a significant force affecting change and community resources, and whether given residency or not, with or without citizenship and the vote, it is a force that will continue to grow exponentially to change American neighborhoods, their cultures and heritages, and eventually the nation, forever, which is reason enough that the real solution should be that, with the exception of acclimated “dreamers” and their otherwise law-abiding parents or guardians, all who are here illegally and have not developed family ties with citizens should be found and deported, that armored I.D. mechanisms be instituted, that harsh penalties and equally aggressive, proactive enforcement against offending employers and landlords be initiated, and that the citizenship-birthing incentive driving illegal immigrants to America be eliminated.

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance;  and a people who mean to be their own
governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
— James Madison

While all immigrants are due the protections of citizenship with any amnesty that allows them to become residents, the vote that is attached to official citizenship must be made to be a privilege that is only granted through the earnest effort of immigrants to acclimate themselves to American culture, custom, language, and ideals, and the path should be no less severe than the history, civics, and government studies and passage required of a high-school graduate.  While the merits of that might be questioned because, outside of entertainment culture, the historical, government, and world-event knowledge of the population, particularly within youthful segments, has been shown in numerous studies and surveys to be frightfully appalling, unacclimated immigrants cannot be permitted to be admitted as another component that contributes to the dumbing-down of the electorate, despite how many party organizers and officials might prefer that more-pliable resource.  Otherwise, when those tens of millions have a gifted vote, Independence Day in America will have a new meaning that is far removed from the history that this holiday cherishes today.

You have been placed in a position of trust and have the obligation to move America back in these directions, and hopefully you will make it a priority to do so.

cc (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

How many more children will grow up without fathers or mothers... unnecessarily, as history has
shown was the case, for the more than 58,000 names engraved into the Vietnam Memorial Wall,
where “responsible withdrawal” echoed throughout more than 16 years of conflict deemed to be
useless, except for the now-ignored lessons that war was supposed to have taught to politicians?

Leaders fall on old terms, sound-bites, and generalizations—as soldiers just fall.

President Obama, in a speech regarding the decision to follow former U.S. Afghan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s urging for a troop surge in Afghanistan, said that the Afghan war is not the same as Vietnam.  Beg to differ.  At least, with respect to the manner in which the U.S. installs autocratic, corrupt, ineffective regimes that lack popular support, resulting in disaster, Afghanistan is exactly like Vietnam, except, in Vietnam, the same mistake was made twice.  But sadly, that too could still become a match.

The narrative of the histories of Hamid Karzai, in Afghanistan, and Ngo Dinh Diem, in South Vietnam, and then, in 1965, General Nguyen Van Thieu, are eerily interchangeable, if the proper names are omitted.  They are histories of commonalities of corruption, power lust, regime dependence upon American forces, failure, and repeated mistakes, each costing the lives of U.S. soldiers and each taking hefty chunks of U.S. cash, where the only question is how Karzai’s end will be written.  In 1963, Diem was assassinated by the CIA, resulting in near two-and-one-half years of chaos, hosted by nine inept and corrupt regimes before the U.S. installed Van Thieu, who took the despot’s more traditional path out of power, skipping into exile, in 1975, taking much of the treasury’s gold with him and leaving the RVN Army, loyal only to the cash from diminishing U.S. aid, to quickly dismantle itself, as the stages of the U.S. withdrawal were complete and the Viet Cong army prepared to take Saigon.

The world did not come to an end.

U.S. national security suffered only self-inflicted pain.

Iraq and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are different chapters of the same, sorry story, the denouement, though predictable, also still to be written.

Whether or not the president has or will change his mind about the similarities, of which the foul play of leadership is just one, the fact is that the outcome is heading for the same fruitless end, except that, early on, the primary objective of removing a government that sanctioned attacks against the U.S. was long ago achieved.  It was, in 2003, a victory, and since that early-on, successful attainment of the mission objective in Afghanistan, when Bush should have followed his father’s lead, in the first Iraq war, and just withdrawn the troops, the parallels to the misplaced confidences and assertions regarding the war in Vietnam have become unmistakable, and there is no doubt that if America remains any further to prop up governments and nation-build, the outcome will be another failure, compounded by the deaths of new thousands, heaped on the backs of the 4,520 dead in Iraq and those 58,000 soldiers who died in Vietnam, and whose only worthwhile legacy, aside from their immortal valor, turned out to be that the cost of their lives would prevent any future government from ever repeating that tragic mistake.


And wrong again.

At this writing, July 4, 2010, as America observes its 234th Independence Day and the brightly colored bursts and smoke clouds of celebratory fireworks, there is no independence from the dark clouds of military occupations and their loses, because it is already long, long past any legitimate duration for the military response to the Afghan role in 9/11, where U.S. fatalities have reached 1,150 (including those who died in hospitals in other places due to wounds sustained in Afghanistan), with the climb fast accelerating.  At the end of 2003, when the Taliban had been gone for more than a year, and when America should have also been gone, the fatalities to achieve the legitimate objective of removing the government that supported the attacks leading up to and including 9/11 stood at 109; if a really quick withdrawal would have been made at the end of 2002, one like the first President Bush ordered after Iraqi troops were pushed out of Kuwait, ending the Gulf War, that count would have been 61...  the disparities are even greater for Iraq, which proves that, be it for the criminal, capitalistic, Bush-Cheney goals in Iraq or the initial, legitimate, national-defense response in Afghanistan, the hard cost of applying military force is not in achieving the objective of regime change, but rather in remaining to nation-build afterwards.  Added to the lost lives, the per-year, per-soldier cost, living and dead, has been placed by the White House at $1,000,000, not insignificant, especially considering that it is borrowed money and the interest paid is not included in that official and widely-accepted estimate.

With every life that is now lost in Afghanistan, and with all those that have been and will be lost in Iraq, the futility of the 58,000 lives lost in Vietnam is irrevocably deepened.  From this point, at least, this Congress and the ones to follow, along with the Obama administration, will carry the full weight of the lives that are unnecessarily lost in Afghanistan, and both will share with the Bush administration the stain of further blood spilled in Iraq.  And as the Afghan resistance increases and coalition casualties begin to mount, the administration has already moved to minimize the impact on public awareness by starting to impose restrictions on the press in Afghanistan, in Kabul, which is an old, adverse-condition tactic and an early sign that the situation is not what it is painted to be, that transparency on the flow of the occupation is being eliminated, and that “public opinion be damned, if not blinded,” will be the policy there until the costs and inability to eliminate the Afghan fighters cannot be concealed or justified with the same, tired rhetoric, not even through a closed curtain on press and public access to the truth.

Over the last week, as more than a half-dozen new deaths were reported from Afghanistan, e-mails were received from two U.S. senators and a representative, all Democrats, responding to concerns which were directed to them about the unfolding path for America in Afghanistan.  Their responses share the same components, defining the political line that is being drawn to support the continuing occupation there, and taken together, they clarify the ways in which complex issues are simplified and shaded and reduced to terms that obscure the realities:

From Rep. Steve Driehaus’s June 22, 2010 e-mail:

“Since 2001, the United States has had a military presence in Afghanistan to stabilize the region through counterinsurgency operations.

“My preeminent concern is the safety of Americans.  In the long-term this requires a stable Afghanistan so that they can work with their regional allies to combat terrorism and protect their citizens.”

From Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s June 24, 2010 e-mail:

“We can achieve victory in Afghanistan when we have an environment that is conducive to economic development and most importantly when the Afghans have a security infrastructure that permits them to independently fight off and neutralize the Taliban insurgency in that country. I am committed to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that we pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that brings stability to Afghanistan and defends our nation against terrorism.”

From Sen. Al Franken’s June 24, 2010 e-mail:

“The Bush Administration’s misguided war in Iraq led us to neglect Afghanistan, which harbored Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.  While they were ultimately driven from Afghanistan to the nearby Pakistan border region, they remain a threat to the stability of the region and directly to this nation.

“President Obama has followed the advice of his top military leaders by temporarily increasing the number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan to implement a counterinsurgency strategy.  I support this strategy, but am insisting on full congressional oversight of the war.  In particular, I'll continue to push for greater attention to the civic and economic development of Afghanistan.

“...the President’s announcement [date to begin withdrawal] sent a strong signal to the Afghan government that our commitment is serious but not open-ended.  That should enable us to move more quickly toward a responsible withdrawal from the country.”

In their e-mails, Senator Franken’s assurance of “full congressional oversight of the war” is not very comforting, because the Constitution places much greater responsibility with Congress for the conduct of war than just oversight, and it would be of great benefit to the nation if the ceding of that power to the executive branch was ended, particularly given how the conduct of warfare has aborted into massacre by obscenely paid (compared to U.S. soldiers) mercenaries with the likes of profiteering private contractors like Blackwater/XE Services.  It is Congress that actually has the final and only word on the goals and limits of America’s military involvement, anywhere, not the president, and that power is not restricted to exercise only through the purse.  Those who would argue, given how ineffectual and grid-locked Congress is, that it’s a good thing Congress has allowed the executive to assume so widely its war powers, should weigh that assumption against the fact that the result of no action would have been no invasion of Iraq and, being less insulated from the ire of the public, a quicker exit from Vietnam, and Afghanistan, too, the invasion of which and mission of regime removal Congress would have quickly given the executive the authority to execute, since when there is just cause for war, and wide public support, as with 9/11, Congress is as quick to respond as it is to do nothing, otherwise.

The point, which the Founders considered extremely important, is that the decision to go to war, and to end it, should not be one made by any single person (there should be no “great decider”), but should come from a consensus that is reached within the branch of government that is closest, most responsive, to the people—Congress.  It is unwise to change that ingenious mechanism, which is a protection against the worst kind of abuse governments can commit, of which the Founders were victim.  Validation of the consequences of that mistake can be affirmed by the families of dead soldiers, dead Iraqi and Afghan co-lateral-damage civilians, and the victims of Blackwater/XE Services mercenaries, not to mention the uncountable wounded and incapacitated.

In their replies, both Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Franken (D-MN) have prioritized “an environment conductive to economic development” as a goal for troops remaining in Afghanistan.  Economics is never a reason that justifies military operations, even as a backstop, and even if Afghanistan does have the richest mineral deposits in the world.  “Economic development,” meaning the enriching of American companies able to gain access to exploit the opportunities in the occupied lands, was the basis of British colonialism, enriching British coffers, and the Founders would have a scalding throw of words directed at these legislators and the current government on that reasoning and on the folly inherent in pursuit of those ends through military force.

When national security is not threatened or cannot be convincingly feigned, a favorite excuse of the military-industrial complex, to sustain itself, has always been the promised reward of rich resources to be exploited in foreign lands.  The military-industrial complex has been, along with, to a lessor extent, energy and infrastructure companies, the only beneficiaries of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the last, great, Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, went to great extreme to warn, as he (and the last remnants of a sane Republican party) was leaving the scene, that the military-industrial complex was, then, becoming a dangerous influence on government policy which he warned must be strictly controlled and minimized.  Strange to hear from a president who was allied commander of Europe in WWII, but the West Point graduate and career Army officer was a perceptive patriot, first, and a military man second, and his warning, given in a speech dedicated to that purpose, has been ignored and the threat of that complex of industries (not the military branches, per se, except Blackwater/XE Services, which has become an illicit military branch) is now an oppressive force for international aggression, where at least one occupation is always in order.

The “economic development” reasoning expressed by these senators, and Representative Driehaus (D-OH) in his expression of “stability,” a term also shared with Sen. Franken, is the beginning of a morphing of the argument for the use of military force away from national security to economics, to justify biased nation-building in Afghanistan, benefitting the military-industrial complex, first, and others to follow, along with its paid (contributed) supporters, at the cost of thousands of American lives that will be spent in decades of selfish conflict.  Rep. Driehaus noted that America has been fighting an occupation in Afghanistan since 2001; yet he went on to say that his “preeminent concern” is for “American’s safety” through “long-term stability.”  After nine years and counting, and the example of Vietnam in hindsight, how much longer-term does it have to get?  If politicians think America can outlast the resistance for the prize of resource exploitation, or to achieve a political dream, then what ever has happened to the lesson of history, written into the wall of the Vietnam memorial, the duration of pain suffered there, then, for dominoes, already being exceeded now, in the foreshadowing terms on the expectations ahead for a “long,” “hard,” and “difficult,” struggle?  How safe can America be if it has to see its soldiers killed week after week, year after year, and decade after decade, and for what?  To kill small numbers of fighters and more civilians over time, in repeated skirmishes, generating repeated local reprisals of fear and control, where no victory is ever apparent and no end brought nearer, except through the increasing futility of it all, as America slides on the downside of the curve, which is now being turned in Afghanistan?

Rep. Driehaus also wrote that the sacrifice of American troops is necessary to secure “a stable Afghanistan so that they can work with their regional allies to combat terrorism and protect their citizens.”  This statement commits the U.S. to war in two instances, where there is no ratified defense treaty, and where the only threat to national security is because the politicians, as they always do, say it exists:  1) to prevent terrorism in foreign nations and 2) protect from terrorists the citizens of another nation.  If the spending of the lives of American troops and the deepening of American debt, to be paid by its children can be justified for those ends in Afghanistan, then those justifications will be applied globally, leaving a sorry future for America, boiling with unending occupation, one after another, overlapping and interminable, going after one group or another that is no closer to obtaining nuclear materials than the next, or more properly, than the readiness of someone who is well-placed and sympathetic or well-paid enough to give it to them.

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

The Bush constitutional abuses are proof enough of the wisdom of Madison’s warning.  America’s freedom and domestic tranquility has been disrupted by and cannot stand through continuous military occupation and engagement, and the Islamist radicals realize that.  If the existence of a terrorist organization in Afghanistan threatens U.S. security, then it follows that any viable terrorist organization does as well, because they are all working in clandestine ways to find the most severe means to openly strike at America, and the greatest threat isn’t any one or all of them, but rather that one of these groups will find a willing, capable ally, official or free-lancer, working within the nuclear infrastructure of an unreliable nuclear nation.  It makes no sense to spend lives and resources to strike at the tentacles of terror spread around the world with armies when the real head of the beast is that which is their most-prized objective, that which most threatens the U.S. and is what is most feared that should be targeted with the full tactical range of military capabilities:  irresponsible nuclear nations, which are few, can be successfully engaged in shorter time, with similar costs as meaningless, lengthy occupations, and with a meaningful, future-preserving goal, which can be achieved and which is both definable and measurable.  Until the U.S. takes on the irresponsible nuclear nations, coordinated intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations is the best and most effective way to deal with terrorist groups that have their roots in the lands from which they are based and into which they meld.

If there were no nuclear materials in India, Pakistan, S. Korea, and Iran, what happens internally with terrorists in Afghanistan or anywhere else would not matter as a serious factor of safety for the West.  But as long as unstable and irresponsible nations are permitted to have and deploy nuclear arms, the threat of their use is going to always hang over the heads of free nations everywhere, along with some of those that are somewhat less free, and the lives of all will be more-darkly spent, shared with both the fear of the ultimate failure to prevent the ultimate terrorist success and the reality of the inevitable war constantly being waged somewhere, like an ugly, obsessive-compulsive, ineffectual dog that tears at the cuffs as the body goes on to beat it over the head and eventually break into the house.

Whether the U.S. ever decides to rid the world of unstable nuclear assets, which it could do, perhaps diplomatically, in some cases, if as much effort as goes into occupations were instead applied to that, instead of taking on one decade of war after another to defeat terrorists, which it cannot do, the point is that Afghanistan is not a threat to national security.  It is a proxy for the real threat, and troops there will not do any good, since the sources of the real threat will remain open to whomever finally gets to any one of them first.

Families of soldiers who are injured and die do not and will not agree that either Afghan minerals, the safety of Afghan citizens, nor Iraqi oil resources are worth the cost they have borne and will bear as useless occupations drag on.  No one in their right mind should support the use of America’s military to bring stability to any government, anywhere, particularly when, no matter what government, national security (not national economics) is not threatened.  There will never be a year without some occupation, somewhere, if that is to be the basis for deployments.  And if any government does threaten national security, then the use of force should be employed to remove it when other alternatives fail, as was done in Afghanistan.  There will still be occupations, but they will be fewer and a lot shorter, and it would have been so in Afghanistan if, after the offending government was removed, the U.S. would have then just left to let the Afghans rebuild themselves in their own image, not to ever see another U.S. soldier unless they again directly threaten U.S. national-security interests, not if they just offer some vague, maybe, threat, some unforeseeable time in the future.  Otherwise, what do you have?  You have the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strike, in effect, all the time!

The government in Afghanistan that supported those who attacked the U.S. in New York and numerous places before the Twin Towers is gone.  It was defeated, it’s leaders, most of them, killed or jailed, the rest in flight, with thousands upon thousands of their soldiers and civilian countrymen dead.  How has the national-security threat they posed not been confronted and eliminated?  Armies are not needed to keep at bay the remnants who remain, and the proof is already in that armies are not where the victories are being won to keep the threats at bay.  Intelligence and coordinated law-enforcement and special operations activities, to include Predator and other remote, surveillance-and-attack platforms, are the resources that are making the difference for the better, as the military troops both do the harm and sustain it.  With no real, near-immediate, national-security threat in Afghanistan for eight years now, how is it that national security is suddenly threatened because there is exploitable mineral wealth, which existence is conveniently revealed by the U.S. as patience and prospects for that occupation reach new levels of intolerance as the death-toll begins to mount?  And as it does, things will soon enough begin to stir again in Iraq, since from the perspective of the elements who are able to more easily agitate than nations can deploy armies to counter, Iraq and Afghanistan are two fronts on the same conflict.  And as long as troops remain, politicians are susceptible to being further drawn in, when, particularly for that reason, it is far better to not have armies there at all.

The terms politicians and military spokespersons use to describe the “enemy” are intended to deflect that the enemy are native Afghans, and the terms are also interchangeable, and are really meaningless in terms of defining the component interactions that define either the conflict or the objectives:  “militant” is defined in Websters as someone who is “engaged in warfare or combat, who is fighting,” which applies to anyone, on any side, who fires a gun or RPG, remote-pilots a drone or throws a rock.

An insurgent is defined as “a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government.”  The important thing to keep in mind here is that America facilitated the installation of the current government in Afghanistan (and Iraq) instead of leaving to let locals determine the shape of their own future and participation.  So the fact is that Afghans are fighting America along with anyone who supports American forces, including the Afghan troops and government America caused to exist and props up.  America is fighting Afghans on their own soil, and in some cases, perhaps much of the time, foreign fighters who flock to support any engagement with American troops, just as the French came to help the American “insurgents” fight against the British, because in that era, any fight against the British, anywhere, was the political calling for France.  In Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout the Mid-East, the calling to fight against American occupations is both political and religious; and worse, contrary to America’s manpower reserve, the calling for the Afghans is a constantly renewable component that is fed by the occupation it confronts.  That fact is written in the grave markers of tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers, who also fought with their hand-made, “occupation-legitimizing,” Afghan-army counterpart before being defeated (the Soviet Union began withdrawing its troops in 1988, nine years after they invaded to prop up their puppet, communist regime), and it is written in the graves of the dead hundreds of thousands buried in history before them and, in a conflict where after almost nine years, America is really not all in, the tragic consequence of stubbornly taking on a determined, even fanatical people in their own land, to push beyond the objective victory won at the outset, will be written in the final roll-call of a guaranteed-to-grow field of U.S. and thinning coalition casualties.

“Not all in,” is a short phrase that speaks paragraphs about the one lesson of Vietnam that is being applied now in America’s wars:  if unpopular political or economic goals are to be pursued with the use of military force, have an all-volunteer army, not a draft and the strong public opposition and violent demonstration that eventually comes with it.  It is doubtful that, if the armies occupying Iraq and Afghanistan over the last, almost nine years were conscripts, that they would still be there today.  And, assuming politicians will never see the light, it does seem that, to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will take a repetition of the kind of publicly-demonstrated outrage that forced the politicians to finally abandon their illegitimate ambitions in Vietnam which, with volunteer armies and paid mercenaries shouldering all of the risk, seems unlikely to happen, not as long as the burden of the occupations is not one that widely threatens the hearth-and-home peace of the larger population.

These three, e-mailed responses from the highest levels of America’s government were full of terms, sound-bites, and generalizations, offering nothing concrete, no indication or promise of progress or movement toward any outcome that could begin to justify the growing costs.  The key words that these and other elected officials are using to form the justifications for their actions begin to be more clearly defined against the background of the politics.  Besides “economic development,” which is interchangeable with “stability,” as Rep. Driehaus and Sen. Franken wrote in their e-mails, both senators and the representative also label the Taliban in Afghanistan as an “insurgency.”  But is the Taliban the insurgency there?  Or is it really the ruling President Karzai and his self-interested, corrupt group who are the inserted force that is contradictory to the local palette?  Most Afghans who are heard from in the West say the Americans are the invaders who are killing, causing death, directly and indirectly, agitating the forces at the extremes.  That cannot be denied, particularly since the government that supported the attack against America on 9/11 was long ago removed by American military might.  The assumption of what is “insurgency” is highly questionable and throws the entire premise of the stated objectives into serious doubt.

Finally, Sen. Franken used the term that has been the icon for occupations reflected in troubled wars since Korea: “responsible withdrawal.”  As a U.S. senator, his definition of “a responsible withdrawal” should be precisely expressed, especially since that “objective” has been voiced again and again by senators, representatives, and presidents, in failure, and it would be nice to see how it is posed any differently now.  It is far more important to consider whether it is responsible to enter a country, and then, when it is no longer responsible to remain.  America is long past that point in Iraq and is now at that threshold of a fall to excess in Afghanistan, and the sooner elected officials, particularly the president, see that, and drop the old, tired, unjustifiable slogans of “economic development,” “insurgency,” and “responsible withdrawal,” the better off the nation will be.

Just think about “responsible withdrawal” for one moment.  When a leader states it as a goal, it is also an admission that, whatever the original reason for insertion of the troops, it no longer exists, and the phrase also says that the objective has changed, and when the term is used, the objective is then to withdraw.  Undeniable.  Also undeniable, any delay, anything other than immediate withdrawal, is inherently irresponsible, and that is the kindest tag that can be applied, because as the search for the non-existent “responsible withdrawal,” slugs on, more lives are inevitably lost, and again, particularly with withdrawal as a stated objective, without any good reason.

They are lives that are just wasted, to the detriment of the nation’s objective interests and future.

Where is the responsibility in that?

It is already clear that, as usual, there will be no accountability for those with the power to act who act wrongly, or for those with all the power who do not act at all, except to spout the prevailing political terms and catch-phrases that mimic the same myths and ignore all the realities and past mistakes... justifying nothing.

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With a quick Afghan withdrawal, at the end of 2002, fatalities, now 1,586, would have been 61. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#tsbg

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Leaders fall on old terms, sound-bites, and generalizations—as soldiers just fall. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#tsbg

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Thar’s gold (and a lot more) in them thar hills!

At last, the value (for the usual suspects) of American blood in Afghanistan is revealed.

Just as the course of America’s longest-ever war begins to turn into a dismal mirror of Iraq in the public’s view, the U.S. (the administration, playing the public and, worse, the soldiers) releases remarkable geological studies and reports which, according to a New York Times story, were first initiated by modest surveys completed by Soviet geologists during their war, and then, in recent years, followed-up by U.S. geologists, using the most advanced survey technologies, revealing that Afghanistan is probably home to some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, including iron, copper, gold, and lithium, among other rare-Earth metals and resources.

The commander of the United States Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, said, “...potentially, it [the minerals wealth] is hugely significant,” while involved geologists are having “Ballard moments,” feeling like oceanographer Robert Ballard when he discovered deep-ocean tube worms and the Titanic—in the midst of a career-pinnacle event.

Defense secretary Gates and Afghanistan’s President Karzai were only recently made aware of the resources and their vast extent.

Preparations are now underway to expand the capability of the Afghan government’s mining administration and accept development bids from interested parties.

China is already locked into a contract there to develop what will be one of the largest copper mines in operation, and the U.S. is concerned about China’s extended involvement to access other resources and the effect the new riches will have on aspects of the war, particularly the Taliban’s increased resolve to retain control of the lands holding the newly disclosed riches, and the effect on corruption within the Afghan government, where the China copper-mine presence was bought with a $30-million bribe.

The revelation of Afghanistan’s extraordinary mineral wealth is a face-changing facet on the future of the occupation there.  Most importantly, it puts American industry solidly behind the plan that never really went away (and now we know why):  to remain there until the cows come home.  And that support gives President Obama the extra leverage he needs to keep America’s foot forcefully in the Afghan door, particularly since the primary motivation will always remain as being a moral and defense obligation to answer the September 11th violence in New York, no matter if a division of soldiers is ordered to accompany every mining operation that pays and is authorized to enter the war-torn landscape.

The blood staining those wealth-covering sands and mountains, and that has already begun to spill in increasing amounts, now has a cost beyond national defense, measured in the value of commodities and the bottomless pit of the hunger for technological consumption.

Forget about any broad-based, internet-organized, group-allied, peace efforts to pressure Congress or anyone else to end the occupation there.  On Earth, not being the Kingdom of Heaven, that fight is over, lost, unwinnable.

The new revelation of the Afghan mineral wealth also provides a solid, definable goal, and the conditions under which any American administration can now be expected to withdraw troops, and what doesn’t change is that it won’t be the defeat of the Taliban or al Qaeda.  Rest assured that it will be the point at which accommodation can be made, permitting wealth development to occur so that all the proper players, from the provincial, AK47-toting towel heads who can’t be killed to the international array of corporate, briefcase-carrying suits and bureaucratic, permission-granting palm-uppers, so that all, except the soldiers, are guaranteed to get their pocket-stuffing shares.

The public might as well get behind a more pragmatic effort to facilitate filling all those pockets as quickly as possible, urging the president to set up a department, under the vice-president, like with TARP, to insure that appropriate industry, tribal, and government player contacts and pay-outs are expeditiously made and accounted for, which will bring the troops home that much more quickly.  And instead of demanding a withdrawal, press Congress and the president for useful, attainable goals, which the vice-president’s department can also monitor and enforce, like ending giveaways to Afghanistan and insuring that America gets a cut that not only pays back every red cent spent to fight there, build there, and rebuild New York, too, but also reflects the priceless, warm, red of the blood Americans will have spilled there.

At last, peace activists have something in Afghanistan into which they can really sink their teeth.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ambition of reclaiming Iran’s ancient Persian reign.

The Afghanistan and Iraq occupations are futile pursuits for off-target objectives.

Just a few months short of the start of the 21st Century’s second decade, the Bush administration’s former “puppet,” Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, had severed the strings and has been increasingly, openly critical of the U.S. as it works to influence the balance a democratic government should have.  He again faced sharp criticism himself, from Col. Henry A. Arnold III, commander of the U.S. First Infantry Division’s Fourth Brigade, from State Dept. Reconstruction Team officials, and from Iraqi officials for his use of the Iraqi military to enforce his disqualifications of district-council appointed governors and then to illegally block district governor appointments.  Maliki has in other ways also disregarded the democratic principles of the rule of law and separation of powers, including pressuring the judiciary for reversing the disqualifications of several hundred candidates for provincial-legislature positions.  His disregard for the Iraqi constitution, forged under the oversight of the Bush administration, has become so pronounced that criticism he now invokes mirrors that pointed at the Bush administration for its many unconstitutional activities.  A former prime minister of a growing Maliki-opposition bloc said of his attempts to end-run the court rulings, “A prime minister who should be the first defender of the Constitution, the first defender of the supremacy of law and law and order in the country, should be the first person to defend a decision of the court and the judiciary.”

Twenty-eight months into the Obama presidency, and with more than 4,400 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, this is what the Bush-Cheney, grand, criminal plan to create a capitalist bastion in the Middle East has brought.  And worse, this is what is still being protected by the continued presence of the troops still there, beyond a 16-month withdrawal guarantee by President Obama, and which, despite President Obama’s firm campaign promise to remove them, are still at risk for the sake of just another corrupt and self-serving regime that looks like, sounds like, and has the same foul taste of the Karzai regime in Afghanistan, where its president, Hamid Karzai, has privately said the West cannot beat the Taliban, accused the U.S. of staging the early-June 2010 rocket attack against the peace jirga in Kabul, and whose primary policy in dealing with the Taliban is one familiar to dealers in corruption:  buy appeasement using American taxpayer money, and where the dying of American troops is escalating on the thin promise of attaining very questionable goals, and where, again, the mere presence of troops feeds conflict and blocks any possible, meaningful diplomacy to achieve America’s legitimate objectives.

While it is true that the Iraq and Afghan invasions and occupations are two entirely different catastrophes, they are both headed for the same unproductive, costly end, so long as troops remain any longer in either nation with irrelevant purpose.  Iraq was illegitimate from before the start, while Afghanistan was an answer to an act of extreme violence, carried out on American soil, against U.S. citizens as well as those of many nations throughout the world, sanctioned and made possible by the aid and protection of the Taliban-controlled “government” of Afghanistan at the time.

Since the invasion there, the U.S. and its allies has removed that so-called government, many of its leaders have been killed, the organization that planned and carried out the New York attack under Taliban protection has been routed, decimated, many of its highest and front-line leaders killed and its surviving leaders in permanent hiding, tens of thousands of countrymen of both the Taliban and al Qaeda have been either captured, wounded, or killed, and it has been made plain that any authority that either attacks or backs an attack against the United States will not profit by doing so, but on the contrary, will suffer far greater losses.  The idea that more must be done, that all traces of the Islamic extremism that drives the Taliban and, presumedly, al Qaeda, must be wiped out, is ludicrous, and following that tenant will lead to only a greater waste of lives and resources, and it will transform an apt reprisal into a drawn-out exercise of failure that will erase the gains of the initial response.  The U.S. military is very well equipped and trained to topple regimes, and that mission has been accomplished in Afghanistan, and without regard to America’s security or defense, also in Iraq.  And, if America leaves, it can just as easily return to again remove any regime that is foolhardy and suicidal enough to support terrorism, commit genocide, or dabble with weapons of mass destruction—three rules easy enough to follow... and to enforce.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top allied military commander in Afghanistan, 90 days into the surge to reign-in the Taliban in Helmand Province, calls Marjah, its key district, a “bleeding ulcer.”  To deploy more troops and remain in occupation with no organized army to fight is to step backward on a path that leads to eventual defeat, and eventually, the toll of torn and dead there will start to become as illegitimate as in Iraq.  Without an army on the ground, the Islamic radicals are just criminals.  Give them an army in opposition and they are transformed from the organized criminals they are into soldiers of God, with a holy war to fight against the “infidel” occupiers from the west.  It’s an old trap in a cycle of conflict with Islamist extremists that traces a bloody trail through centuries of history, where those who have fallen into it are a warning of failure, written in that history, penned with blood both ancient and modern, and America should know better than to take that bait, especially given all the harm and little good caused by soldiers in force, after the offending regime has been removed, compared to the successes gained from the deeply organized and coordinated, law-enforcement/intelligence/special-operations alternative, which is the method with the record of striking effectively against the militants and thwarting their plans for aggression.

Freedom and the democracy that it makes possible cannot be bartered like commodities or imposed upon unprepared societies.  No outside nation aided America in its revolution because it believed freedom should be spread, and America could not have won its independence and freedom if its people were not ready to risk life to fight for it, no matter if the French and the Spaniards joined hands with all the Indian nations to help.  Clearly, neither the Iraqis, the Afghans, nor the Iranians, for that matter, are prepared to stand on their own to make freedom theirs, and until they are willing to face-down their own oppressors, no one can properly help them or reasonably sustain them.  Trying to make the Afghan nation a modern civilization as a means to prevent attacks against America is a costly and futile path.  The president should listen to his vice-president and join the camp that wants to fight the Afghan/Pakistan militants as criminals, where law and justice have been winning, not oppose them as an enemy army, where America can only continue to lose.

President Obama is, so far, allowing Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran to be the thorns in the flower of America’s future prosperity.  There is sufficient history to cast aside any fear that, in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, withdrawing from these backward nations will dent the armor that cloaks America’s future.  Remaining, to uselessly bleed, year after year, will rust that armor, widening the chinks already opening that future to uncertainty and peril.  Rather than spend thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and decades to fight Taliban and al Qaeda elements in Afghanistan and the border region with Pakistan, America would be far better served to invade Pakistan, eliminate its nuclear weapons stockpiles and infrastructure, which is the only threat to America’s, Europe’s, and Russia’s security in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq, since those weapons have a real possibility of finding their way into the hands of Islamic radicals, and then just leave those nations to wallow in their barbarities until such time, if ever, that their peoples free themselves of the oppression inflicted upon them by their own countrymen and their readiness to accept it.  Perhaps the real threat of such a move, based upon the resolve to carry it out, combined with an offer of a mutual-disarmament pact and non-aggression treaty between India and Pakistan, both partnered with America’s guarantee to stand against any aggression initiated by either nation would bring a non-violent end to the nuclear threat in both nations.  Certainly, nothing else other than force, if not the threat of it will.

For the same reason America should use force to strip Pakistan of its nuclear capabilities, or persuade a mutual outcome with India, the same will have to be done in Iran, and the obdurate nation-building in Afghanistan distracts and detracts from the resources and resolve that will be needed to do the job, where it is a necessary job to be done.  The failure to rid Pakistan, Iran, N. Korea, and India of nuclear-arms capability will be a guarantee that, someday, one or more of the weapon components in those nations will find its way to be unleashed in one or more U.S. cities or one of the cities in Western Europe or Great Britain, or even Russia.  Any such occurrence, anywhere, would wreak sustained havoc on Western economies, at the very least, while bringing an immutable shroud of fear and gloom over the lives of everyone.

While there is still hope that sanctions, regime change, and pressure from China can combine to have N. Korea peacefully give up its arsenal, and India, if no mutual step-back with Pakistan materializes, may also be persuaded to do so peacefully after Pakistan is stripped of its arsenal and development capability, there will be no means other than force to clear the nuclear threat America faces from Pakistan and Iran, and America needs to be prepared to do so with conviction, speed, and unrelenting aggressiveness.  The only positive aspect of America’s current deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq is that the forces there can quickly be directed across the Pakistani and Iranian borders as an element of the combined forces from European jump-off points that will be needed to quickly overcome the military and then locate and remove the nuclear capabilities, to include the physicists and technicians critical to the development and manufacturing processes.  These are bold steps, but while casualties would be elevated over the losses sustained in meaningless occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the objectives would be clearly defined and achievable in the short term, resulting in a better, safer world, and boldness is what is needed to confront this growing, and without bold action, unrelenting threat to America’s security and future, and that of the rest of the civilized West, and Russia.

The removal of Pakistani nuclear weapons is not now a real public option that is being pressed, but it should be, beyond the president’s ephemerally hope-based, broad, multi-generations-distant, disarmament aspiration.  But those who believe in ignoring Pakistan, or using paid diplomacy to keep intact its government, and thereby safeguard its nuclear arsenal, are acting on false presumption that the one follows the other.  And those who believe in sanctions, U.N. foot-dragging, and playing against the delay tactics of Iran, they will find the answers to their ultimate folly in either mushroom-shaped or irradiated clouds over Western cities, spread as the funeral pyres of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of men, women, and children, which is a horror the Islamist radicals, including Iran’s clerical regime and president, see as both a necessary and inevitable passage on their unalterable path to reaching their so-called, God-given ordainment, and in the case of Iran, to reclaiming its ancient, historical greatness.  In the history of civilization, such falls and rises from distant ash are not uncommon.

The point to realize is, if that history is repeated, now, it will be at the expense of the welfare of the United States and a consequence of its errant courses and accommodative refrain to act in time to prevent it.  Whether that change ever happens is still, but not for too much longer, within the province of America to determine.  If it does occur, either in some city, or in the desolation of an Iranian desert, it will be marked with an explosion that will be the opening of the door to a far more dangerous future, and since any Iranian explosion would likely be of a weapon already produced in at least one copy, it will mark the onset of a darker future with a far, far greater cost to reverse.

Catastrophe, as with the BP-Gulf disaster, often turns out to be far worse than first perceived, and as the oil erupts, deepening the destruction and claiming the attention of all, the planning and work to bring about this new history of nuclear cataclysm also goes on, also unabated, continuous, but out of mind and with the intentioned goal and resolve to bring its dark stain to the surface to cover the world.  From that, there will be no need to investigate to find out how, no easy fixes, alternatives, or remedies in law or regulation, and no restitution.  And from there, as Defense Secretary Gates said, in a post-D-Day-anniversary, weekend statement about the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, also forecasting the discarded promise of a president, the road ahead will really be necessarily long and unavoidably hard.

Bars can await deep-water oil-drilling executives threatening to sue the U.S. to drill again.

Even as the oil erupting from the BP well flows onto pristine beaches and marshlands, spewing its destruction of the Gulf ecology and economy, Wall Street analysts, among others are objecting to the imposition of the moratorium on deep-water drilling, citing the increase in fuel costs that will result, and the loss of jobs, both consequences likely to harm the economic recovery.  This is no surprise, because speculation and distribution looks for any excuse to raise prices, en masse, regardless of the real supply-demand situation.  And that claim is also no reason to lift the moratorium because until the oil-producing industry can prove that it is capable not only of drilling, but of preventing catastrophe, and until the government is prepared to properly and effectively regulate, the world cannot afford to access the deep-water wells.

And, as the Gulf turns ever-more brown, some deep-drilling companies have already begun to rile against the moratorium, threatening to sue the Department of the Interior for breech of contract.  Good luck to them, because no contract they hold can supercede the responsibility and authority of the United States to protect its lands and waters or prevent them from being destroyed.  And further, a minimal investigation will likely uncover that all of the deep-water-drilling companies either violated the law through fraudulent application process in obtaining their leases, or in the actual conduct of their operations, and in either case, if they want to sue, the government can always counter by opening its jail cells to them.

In trying to justify technology-integration vehicles, Ford ignores the critical driving resource.

“Congratulations” to Ford, for its new “cockpit technology” programs, providing internet access and integrating technologies, built into the vehicle, which they say makes drivers better drivers by allowing them better, more organized access to interface with their applications while driving (Twitter, smart phones, Facebook, etc.,), which Ford says is in keeping with its “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel,” [blood-on-the-windshield] philosophy, all of which ignores the most important factor, the mind, which Ford actually is inviting to become less engaged with the serious, constant, ever-changing demands of the road by making it easier to distract and send the mind on a trip roads apart from that of the vehicle’s.  And those demands tend to change quickly, often in an instant, and drivers who are involved with their “technology-integrated” programs will take longer to recognize, process, and react to changing conditions that require reaction, if they recognize them at all before they present themselves as a crumpled hood in the windshield, or worse.

Ford really helped itself by being the only major auto maker to stay out of the government bail-out program, and now it chooses to cancel all that and put itself into a BP light by setting its customers on a path of destruction.  Or, could it be that Ford sees a path to greater traffic for its network of collision centers?

Ford says people can do multiple things.  But the saying, “people cannot walk and chew gum at the same time” has roots in fact.  Most people are not instrument pilots or air traffic controllers, where juggling multiple, diverse actions is an inherent skill, enhanced through training, where the consequences are rooted in safety.  Ford has it all wrong, and this is just another example of a situation where government is needed to step-up with common-sense regulation to block industry from doing whatever it wants, even at the sacrifice of safety, to increase sales/profit, which, with the auto industry, means to prevent distractions that cause accidents and deaths, not allow them to become more prevalent and enticing.

One deleterious political mechanism spawns America’s devastating disaster diversity.

As the millions of barrels of oil and gas erupting from BP’s Deepwater Horizon well begins killing birds, marshlands, fishing, and tourism along the Gulf coast, spreading to threaten the Atlantic, President Obama marked the 32nd day of the unrelenting disaster by repeating that BP will be held accountable.  He also said that it is important to remember that Washington is also responsible.  That was a very vague statement, because Washington is defined in many ways.

The president’s statement is most interpretable to mean “the government.”  This may be political, since government bashing has been made popular by Republican conservatives and seems to be affecting elections.  But the truth is that the killing BP disaster in the Gulf (11 dead) shares the same point of blame with the deadly coal-mine disasters in West Virginia (25 dead, last one), the commuter-airline crash in New York state (51 dead), the financial crash on Wall Street, spread to Main Street (millions of dreams for home, retirement, and education:  dead), and FDA approved drugs and food poisonings that sicken and kill untold numbers throughout the nation, and that point of blame is far removed from the Constitution that defines America’s government.  The tragic truth is that the Constitution has been sidestepped, if not stepped on, with constant and growing violations, like signing statements, executive military initiatives, Senate voting rules, and partisan Supreme Court decisions, making the Constitution more of a ceremonial document seen under vaulted glass, rather than a structure of law and limits, adhered to by presidents and lawmakers, and no matter who says otherwise, the truth is that the government of that Constitution cannot be placed at fault in either fermenting these disasters or for the responses to them.

The fault is the politics that rule the day for those who are elected to take up the reins of government in Washington.  The fault is the politics emerged from campaign contributions that causes presidents to appoint unqualified individuals to serve at the head and upper levels of government agencies.  It’s the election-machine-derived politics that causes presidents to appoint and the Senate to confirm those who are in bed with industries that the agencies they head are chartered to regulate.  George Bush and Dick Cheney spent eight years gutting energy regulation, and no president only a year into his service can be expected to burrow so deeply into the multi-segmented depths of government structure that all the links that have been broken by decades of political expediency will be corrected.

The president says, “I am responsible... the buck stops with me,” when referring to stopping the eruption of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.  The fact is, that’s a political sound bite, because responsibility cannot really be designated unless the ability to act is also available, and the president has neither the means for a method or the resources to stop the eruption.  The buck stops with ending the buck as the start-all and end-all of government purpose and process.  All that government or the president can do is direct the best people and resources of others to the problem, which has been done on an ongoing basis.  He has also claimed the responsibility to investigate and prosecute any criminal charges that may materialize.  It seems that finding criminal negligence, on the part of BP managers who sidestepped safety for speed, and Minerals and Management Service regulators whose job performances have already been found to be corrupt, would be a certainty.

The president doesn’t claim responsibility for the disaster, and he isn’t responsible for it.  Americans have fallen into the lazy habit of looking to the president in any crisis for either responsibility, solutions, or both.  Government, with the broad reach of demands and responsibilities for services it shoulders, through the administration of numerous, multi-level agencies, is far too large for any president to tightly control, even if there was no awesome force of special interest at work, at every level, to distract, divert, and block its legitimate actions.  The best any president can do is to appoint the best-qualified people for the tasks to the leadership positions in the government’s sweeping executive branch, and even with the obdurate roadblocks of Republicans in the Senate, and the polluting political propensity of the appointment process, President Obama has done a better job of doing that than most—a day-and-night difference from the incompetent and totally political appointments that dominated the Bush administration, many of whom set up their own disasters and those confronting America today and in the past two years.

Deepwater Horizon—victim of industry greed and Republican-regulatory negligence.

The Deepwater-Horizon eruption in the Gulf, along with the Buffalo commuter-plane crash, the Massey coal-mine explosion, the Mr. Peanut salmonella contamination, the GSK/Avandia and Purdue Pharma/OxyContin deaths, Bernie Madoff, Enron, the Lehman/AIG/Fannie-Freddie collapses, etc., etc., ad-infinitum... it all demonstrates the need for America to break its addiction to a politically structured, influenced, and greed-manipulated government, which is the sole product of a money-raising driven, corruption-enticing election process, which harms America much more than does oil consumption.  That’s the bottom line on the big picture of America’s dark history of avoidable disasters:  money, buying-off regulation and lawmaking, and the buck really only stops with reforming the process to eliminate the influence of the money.

The president is aware that his administration is not responsible for the shape of government’s agencies as he inherits them and criticizes them in addressing the Massey mining and BP drilling-platform disasters, only that corrections must be applied quickly as the breeches are discovered, as he has done by using executive order to split the Minerals Management Service in order to strengthen its regulatory function and protect it from future, overt political manipulation.  The same should be applied to other agencies that suffer the same dualities of promotion and regulation, and which also are and have been objects of questionable leadership appointments, because the nation is still suffering those abuses and will continue to suffer them in the short-term future—forever, if the underlying cause is not eliminated.

That cause is, put another way, the political priority afforded to industries that fund the election-campaign coffers and then watchdog legislative offices with legions of pressuring lobbyists, resulting in exclusions, loopholes, and regulations not being enforced, ending up with crashes, disasters, deaths, and ruined livelihoods and futures that all should have been prevented.  This political manipulation of government, supported through campaign funding and party control of the election process is the core cause, not the government of the Founders, which has been largely abused, in defamation and practice.  Contrary to what Sara Palin, the Tea Party, and Republican-conservative extremists keep on telling anyone who will listen, the government is not a bad, evil thing, and it is necessary.  And more, the government America’s Founders risked life and fortune to put together more than 225 years ago is still the best mechanism that can be devised by free men, in compromise, who more often than not are working to serve opposite ends, to eventually provide the structure and controls that allow a society to function within the safeguards of the rule of law.

That structure of government is a gift that is unappreciated, wrongly defamed, and wasted, and it is not the problem.  The problem is the way those who are elected to office, and those who are never elected, and who head party apparatuses, have played to make or break those laws to serve their ends, with the advantage of an apathetic, uninvolved, and difficult-to-mobilize public as opposition, who no longer have a strong, diversified Fourth Estate free press as a watchdog of government’s three “estates,” because those same political processes and players, through partisan FCC appointments, rule changes, and Senate confirmations, also in the Bush era, have consolidated journalistic diversity into a conglomerated, more controllable, interest-serving industry.  And the impetus that has moved the actions most harmful to the People and the nation, especially in the modern era, is money.  And the money corrupts through the election process, from which it spreads to varied forms of influence buying and reciprocal exchange, through earmarks and laws, particularly tax laws, that only serve as payback to the wealthy and powerful, to further enrich and preserve the status quo.

End campaign contributions, replace them with public funding (treasury) of elections, and the regulations, most already in place, to prevent so many disasters will have one less distraction and one less master to serve, placing the People’s interests in the forefront.  And without fund-raising, legislators will have more time to spend on the oversight which is now, so often, so accommodating or lacking and after-the-fact.  And that’s only one immediate benefit of many that will move government and its elected officials back toward the People, while also bringing better, more comprehensive service to bear upon their needs and the national interest.

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Massey Mine, W.VA, 04/05/2010 explosion kills 29 as Massey is in violation of safety citations/unpaid fines—greed, unregulated, kills again.

I’ll give you back Texas if you keep your people out of the other 49... okay, New Mexico too.

President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon dance around Arizona.

The fact that Mexico, through its president and its organized spokespersons, are making judgements and demands regarding U.S. laws only makes clear that Mexico, with some historical merit, considers access to the U.S., by whatever means, as a right that should not be abridged.  It seems that Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s first words on visiting the U.S. should have been to apologize to America for the violence his nation’s drug culture spews across the border.  Then Obama could have apologized for promoting the Mexican market by making a cultural choice to smoke pot illegal, while permitting the more harmful cultural choice to drink to be okay.  Then, the president could have gotten a leg up on Calderon by apologizing for letting all the guns get across the border.  And Calderon could have leveled the field by thanking America for supporting so many of his citizens, often at the expense of its own, with its jobs, schools, welfare programs, hospitals and clinics, and jails.  At least they would have been talking issues that need more than talk to fix.  Instead, both presidents whine about immigration and how Arizona, whose citizens live in the thick of the fear, is trying to do what President Obama and Calderon and their predecessors should have been doing all along.

The fact is, by not enforcing immigration law and by allowing dozens of Mexican-counsel offices to be established throughout U.S. states where illegal immigration has made inroads, to provide assistance and aid to those illegal immigrants, the U.S. government is executing a policy of cooperating with the Mexican objective of relieving its own inadequate economic and social structure with the help of border transgressions.  The immigration policies carried out by the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations are contrary to the wishes of a majority of citizens and to the national good.  The policy of these administrations is such that promotes non-enforcement of immigration law and allows American heritage and custom to be displaced at an ever-greater rate and across an ever-increasing span of states and communities.

Santa Ana attacked the U.S., wiping out the militia assembled at the Alamo in an effort to finally rid Mexico of the American settlers.  He eventually lost, then, and America took Mexican lands that became Texas, and which, now, have already been returned, in effect, to Mexican culture and occupancy, in many places, English being set aside and streets renamed for the players in past, foreign cultures who never set foot on American soil.  As this “sanctioned” invasion progresses, cities throughout the nation, far north and far removed from the Sunbelt, now see Hispanic Heritage events where there really is no Hispanic heritage.  Hispanic or any kind of heritage celebration is good, except when it preempts or subordinates American heritage.  It is clear that the objective of Mexico, and to a lesser extent of nations throughout Central and South America, is to infuse and reduce American society, and without invitation, due process, or clearing real hurdles for language and culture acclimation, make it their own:  The Hispanic States of America.

Immigration policy and law should be designed to meet economic needs while preserving heritage and culture by assuring acclimation.  Yes, end the illegal-immigrant exploitation and stop the fear of separation of families, but do not give away citizenship and the vote without mandating that every immigrant who seeks to move up to citizen responsibility and benefit meets STRONG acclimation measures on language, history, culture, and government, not the poorly administered/monitored, multiple-choice, joke test that is learned by rote with flash cards now.  Whether mandating strong acclimation requirements for citizenship is called creating a disadvantaged class or something else, that’s just political grandstanding, because there is a legitimate distinction between being qualified to become a citizen and not, regardless of how a person gets to U.S. soil, and regardless of their socio-economic status.  It’s a real distinction that reflects directly on the quality of the electorate and the decisions that determine America’s future, and it cannot be ignored on the basis of a prejudiced claim of political correctness or discrimination.  Immigration is necessary, but not at the “give me your poor” standard of the last century, and it should not be casually tied to citizenship, and the terms should never be dictated by just the economics or the mass of those who broke the law and seek to overshadow that law’s preservation of a distinctively American way of life.

Under relentless pressure from state and national lawmakers, on May 25, 2010, President Obama announced that he would order 1,200 National Guard troops to the Arizona border; however, they will act as before, in limited support roles, not enforcement.  Maybe 1,200 would be enough... if they were empowered, and if they were the ancient Spartans.

Preventing illegal immigration is a guardian measure to preserve community and national custom and heritage.  The president’s sending of 1,200 National Guard troops to the Arizona region of the border with Mexico seems a positive step, but in such small numbers, and without authority to confront and turn-away violators, it is really an obvious ploy to use a high-profile, but minimalist response to quell a concerned and legitimate demand for overdue enforcement action.  The president must do more to enforce the law and to significantly toughen the testing requirements for knowledge of American history, custom, and language that must be met to achieve citizenship and the ability to influence America’s direction with the vote, particularly if the intent is as it seems to be:  to again legitimize the presence of the tens of millions of illegal immigrants already on U.S. soil.  Whatever arrangement may be made that may ultimately allow illegal immigrants to again remain in the U.S., it must not include the current, simplistic path to citizenship that leads to the subsequent vote that will be cast in ignorance, self-interest, and with third-world perceptions of governance, because that is the kind of vote that made the difference to elect Bush and Cheney to office and which will again prove to be highly detrimental to America’s future.

Only real enforcement of the law (I.D. cards, out of business and into jail for job providers and landlords, and removal of the birthright carrot so any child born of an illegal immigrant in the U.S. retains the mother’s nationality) not walls or window-dressing troop deployments, can keep American heritage and culture, such that it is becoming, intact within its own skin.  And it must begin now, because this next effort at “immigration reform,” of allowing citizenship and the vote without strict acclimation requirements (language, culture, and history education and proficiency at the high-school grad level) for the tens of millions of illegal immigrants now in America, if allowed to succeed, will be to wave a white flag and surrender not only Texas and the Sunbelt, but America’s national identity forever, in every state.  It will mark the consensual beginning of the end for the flag of our fathers.

Rand Paul

About face!  Rand Paul goes with the wind... or the storm.

Rand Paul, the Republican (Tea Party) U.S. Senate nominee for Kentucky, was exposed, again, as soft on racism, this time during an appearance on the May 19, MS-NBC, Rachel Maddow Show.  Leading Republicans who were questioned the next day about Paul’s position:  that the 1964 Civil Rights Act should not have been passed to allow intrusion into business decisions on clientele (that private-property rights should trump equal rights and the blind eye of social justice), distanced themselves by either pleading ignorance of Paul’s position or, in the case of Arizona’s Republican Senator Kyle, minimizing its significance.  By evening of the next day, after repeating his position again and again, Paul finally reversed himself, saying he would have voted to pass the 1964 bill.  Too late, though.  Cat’s out of the bag, Paul’s cat, and the screechers of those Republicans who failed to condemn him.

Maybe this will be enough to get that Democrat state that always votes Republican to finally see the light?  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader from Kentucky, who supported Paul’s opponent in the primary, congratulated Paul on his victory, saying “Kentucky needs Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate.”  McConnell later said he was glad to hear Paul changed his position and would vote for the bill ending segregation... and that the Healthcare Reform Bill has 2,700 pages.

Greeks are acting like spoiled brats by rioting.

Germany’s or any other nation’s reluctance to bail-out Greece is quite understandable.  With Greece’s heavily socialist-biased economy in conflict with its democratic, cook-the-books-to-hide-debt (previous) system of government, providing three-week vacations and full-salary retirements at age 55, other Euro-nations have to see throwing money at them the same way Americans see their TARP funds going to pay obscene Wall-Street salaries and bonuses.

The riots, while criminal, given the basis, are tantamount to an obese, brat kid screaming and throwing toys after its candy bar is taken away, and the behavior does nothing to soften the international view of the Grecian’s self-made predicament.  The more the Greeks scream and kick, the better it is for the economic outlook, because it means painful austerity is being imposed where irresponsible exuberance has been the generational norm, and that’s good for markets, especially banks, which make money on the movement of money in any environment.

With this understanding, it’s hard to see the market downturn of the first week of May as being anything more than the exercise of a pent-up desire to take profit, executed on the basis of the excuse provided by the Greece-Euro conflict, as an emotional response fueled by fear and excessive caution.  The proof of the U.S. recovery’s legs is in, the value basis of U.S. companies is not moving in the down direction of investor response to Europe’s debt remedies, and the wrenching away of Greece from the unsupportable, playground economics of Leninism marks a buying opportunity in a short-term, knee-jerk, market pull-back.

The BP oil eruption threatens Breton and Delta National Wildlife Refuges, the seven principal
islands of the
Gulf Islands National Seashore (National Park), and the Gulf Coast’s economy.

Drill Baby, Drill?

Hardly a month after President Obama, as a part of his energy-independence policy, announced a lifting of the moratorium on oil drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and other coastal waters, BP caused an eruption of oil to gush from a deep-water, Gulf well that is still flowing a week later and has unknown potential to threaten the entire Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Gulf coasts, including the Breton and Delta National Wildlife Refuges, the seven principal islands of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (a national park), and which has already begun to wreck the Gulf Coast’s economy, significant parts of which have yet to fully recover from the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina and the Bush administration’s negligent response to it, let alone the recession, the recovery of which could be slowed by the damage to the Gulf region’s nationally significant fishing industry.  Worse, it could take months before the eruption can be capped.

BP in the Gulf is a prime example of the consequences of Sarah Palin’s and Republican bandwagon enthusiasm and environmental ignorance, and of the mistaken arrogance to challenge nature at any depth with fragile technology.  And it puts an exclamation point on the anger of environmentalists and Gulf-coast state officials who have strongly criticized the president’s pro-oil, anti-environment decision.  The time has come that, when weighing energy needs against the environment and the future, the environment must be made the winner.

The initial information provided by BP (which typically has the highest prices posted for gasoline at its pumps) on the size of the leak (1,000 barrels/day) was so far off the mark, an estimated 210,000 gal/day, that it must have been an intentional deception to downplay the serious consequences to the company that it knew would follow, likely giving insiders more time to sell-off their soon-to-be-plunging stock.

Are there other deceptions?  BP calls the safety equipment failures “unprecedented,” claiming that the $half-million safety valve failed.  If they didn’t really install it (and who’s to say, near a mile down), they would be open to far more damaging neglect liabilities.  It will be interesting to see if any failed safety valve is ever proved to have been installed or is recovered, though, a top priority for the company would be to get a banged-up one down there after the fact.

This latest, predictable, preventable tragedy proves that license to drill offshore must be limited to sites at least 150 miles from shore, farther from sanctuaries, and the approvals must be tied irrevocably and without exclusion to laws requiring quickly accessible resources to handle accidents, and demonstrated technical ability to contain damage that will occur, which, like earthquakes and airplane crashes, is not an “if,” but rather a “when” proposition.

The BP slickening of the Gulf is yet another example that almost nothing that goes wrong in America is exempt from being attributable to election-campaign financing—the major tool of the profit-driven, corporate greed that kills oil-platform workers as easily as it does miners, livelihoods, and environments.  Election-campaign contributions are directly causative for the BP, 210,000 bbl/day oil eruption in the Gulf, just as the buy-off-oriented election process is directly responsible for so many ills in American society.  Massive oil-industry campaign contributions, reinforced by the most deeply funded lobbyist army in the world, bribed the legislators necessary to prevent effective laws governing safe-drilling operations from being passed and kept regulatory enforcement at bay.

Why isn’t it obvious that there is a commonality between all the tainted-food, mining, oil-drilling, and airline/train deaths (and financial ruin) and the hand of monied politics, that is predominate across all government departments?

That the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave licenses inappropriately during Republican administrations, as the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster has brought to light, is hardly any surprise, and the “cozy relationship” being attributed to the slack licensing to drill is not new, either.  Parties and sex scandals between regulators and Big-Oil people aside, Republican administrations have a history of appointing administrators and managers who have not been motivated to pursue the public interest over that of the oil industry, with which Republicans have always been in bed.

Jefferson and Lincoln were right in warning of the power for abuse of industry, as was Andrew Jackson, when he confronted the growing power of the bankers, and the lawless greed of industrial power centers in America still marks a trail in history well-blazed from his time forward.  Bush and Cheney’s oil cronies, who benefitted from earlier years of the cozy relationship with Republicans, were benefactors of Bush directives to the Department of the Interior that forced cutbacks on audits and enforcement while opening up exploration and drilling in the Gulf and national refuges.  The New York Times reported the scandal, when the big firms were being prosecuted, not by Bush’s Justice Department, but under a whistle-blower law, and started negotiating and paying out settlements for defrauding the government by skimming hundreds of millions in royalties due for oil and gas extractions from public lands (and more millions from private land owners):  Mobil was the first to settle and paid more than $40 million in 1998; Chevron paid $95 million; Shell paid $110 million.  By 2002, 15 oil companies had paid a total of almost $440 million, not even enough to equal BP’s first-quarter 2010 profits.

If any citizen wanted to invoke consumer’s punishment against the guilty companies, as was done to Exxon for the way they handled the Valdes disaster, the only recourse would be to sell the gasoline car and buy an electric or corn burner, because Republican administrations do not, by design, properly administer or prosecute laws affecting them.

By President Obama’s executive order, MMS is now being split into three separate agencies so that regulation will not be influenced by any other mission priorities.  Question is, why stop with MMS?  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the exact same problem, reacting to accidents much more often than preventing them because it puts safety second to the economic concerns of airlines and manufacturers.  Like MMS, the FAA has conflicting mission goals, and its regulatory arm is not free of restraint by other considerations.  Same story for mine safety.  Same story for all of government as it has been structured by government officials who are tied to campaign contributions and pressured by lobbying, which is where the core of all problems relating to regulation for the public good is to be found.

Oil companies can clean up and pay restitution, and Congress, under pressure of the disasters it contributes to create, can pass reactionary laws, but the damages will never be completely neutralized by anything industry or government can ever do.  And, as long as laws, regulations, and enforcement are subject to the influence of industry-campaign contributions and lobbying, disasters that could have been prevented by effective, national-interest-prioritized legislation and regulation will continue to plague the nation in every endeavor where calamity is possible.

It is almost difficult to tell if the swooping lawyers are so happy because of all the money on the waters or because they are largely being addressed by the media as heroic.

Whom do you mistrust more, lawyers or oil execs?

Which do you distrust more, Congress or Wall Street?

May 1, 2010

Sen. Schumer (D-NY):

Today I received your e-mail seeking support for the Disclose Act, which you sponsor along with Sen. Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Feingold (D-WI).

Besides just previously, I have written to you and your co-sponsors, and other officials many times about the serious harm and hindrance current election process brings to democracy, and the Disclose Act is just another bill snapping at the symptoms of the core problem:  corporate and union/NPO campaign contributions.  Just as ethics rules and laws, and earmarks rules and laws only put teeth into the pant cuff to tug on the trousers of the crook instead of biting him in the leg, the Disclose Act misses the mark on attacking the real problem.

A bite actually needs to be taken out of the heart of the election problem by banning all contributions in place of publicly funded campaigns and by removing the distribution of funding from party controls, as well as ending gerrymandering, if all the ills that stem from these electoral abuses are to be cured, restoring democracy and ending partisan gridlock, as well as making moot the Supreme Court’s ruling affecting corporate contributions in the Citizens case, which the Disclose Act addresses.  But that ruling is not the core problem, and the Disclose Act falls far short of attacking it as it diverts energy and attention from solving the real problem:  the contributions that are offered as bribes to legislators and reinforced by lobbyists to bring the buy-offs to bank.

I trust you still have access to the e-mails I have previously sent detailing the particulars of the danger the modern electoral process is to democracy and how this single mechanism is responsible for so many seemingly unrelated ills that make government ineffective, cause it to bring so much harm, and separate it from the people.  If not, please let me know and I will resend them to you.

The CNBC financial-reporting show, Squawk on the Street, conducted an unscientific poll, ending April 2010, just after the first two days of Senate-committee grilling of Goldman Sachs executives.  The result suggests that the Goldman executives should have switched chairs with the senators.

The question:  Which do you distrust more:  Congress or Wall Street?

The result:  Congress 82%; Wall Street 18% (4,172 responses)

This lopsided outcome was easy to predict because while we likely really trust Wall Street no more than we do Congress, we know Wall Street is in business to make a profit for themselves.  On the other hand, we expect Congress to be in business for us, yet find that time after time it is in business for itself, and for corporations which are in line way ahead of “us,” so whether we actually trust Congress less than Wall Street, we view its members as having less integrity (being more corruptible) than Wall Street’s executives.  This outcome will never change so long as the electoral system is funded by corporate and union contributions which are supervised and distributed by the Republican and Democratic party apparatuses.

Self-interest is a characteristic trait of most species.  It is very rare that any person would either be without self-interest or hold it strictly restrained through self-discipline.  In government, self-interest is in competition with public interest, and the means by which public interest can be elevated over self-interest is by elimination of factors and systemic procedures that appeal to self-interest.  Those factors and systemic procedures affecting elected and appointed officials are money and the electoral process that is hinged upon campaign contributions, which takes the predominant place as the means by which elected officials serve their self-interest to win re-elections—to remain players.  The task is not to replace the self-interest of public servants to remain in the game.  The task is to change the electoral process as the instrument of meeting that self-interest of preservation and replace it with something else, like achievement or plain good work.

The American system of campaign funding of elections celebrates the self-interest of greed, where chasing the money is elevated as the primary objective of self-preservation, of promotion, to be the “prime directive” of elected office—funding re-election—from day one, consuming major portions of legislators’ and their staffs’ time, time which should be spent on the duties of office, which are many and varied enough, and so diminished, as is clearly seen by the lackluster if not plain shoddy performance of Congress, where getting re-elected is infused, through the raising and transfer of money, into nearly every transaction and equation.

How can The People expect that their government will ever serve them when it is so pre-occupied and beholding to the task of keeping the money flow alive and well by serving two masters:  the providers—special interests, industry and corporate, and the conduit—the political parties and the electoral system, supported by their contributions?  So dependent and entwined are they, that the parties set up call centers and mandated time that elected representatives spend cold-calling for cash, and congressional leaders are largely promoted as a reward for the size of the money pile they have raised!  All the ethics rules and bills to control or limit financing, or to address earmarks, or healthcare reform, or banking regulation, are attacks against the symptoms of the real problem cause:  campaign finance in party control, aided by gerrymandering, which can only be fixed by eliminating all of it in favor of wholly public-financed campaigns and removal of funding control from the leadership of the parties, and fairly redrawing electoral districts, which will also eliminate partisan gridlock.

There is no way to deny that this process undermines democracy, popular sovereignty, the future of the nation and the welfare of The People.  And with the Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court compounded the problem by the removal of transparency, limits, and the endowment of human rights upon corporations, making campaign financing no less than sanctioned corruption at the highest level.  It is power held up for sale and purchased by the wealthy and powerful, not tendered by a consenting public, in trust, or used in good faith.

There is no way to defend it, to turn a pig into a butterfly without making bacon.  The corporate-funded, party-controlled electoral system must be slaughtered if American democracy is to live.

cc (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. David Obey, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Reform with teeth needed to bring Wall Street back down to Earth

Regulating based on “too large to fail” is like blaming the gas tank for running out of fuel.

While, for the most part, Goldman Sachs executives came across as evasive and uncooperative in Senate testimony, the sum of their testimony succeeded in raising the question of whether there really is any case at all the government should be bringing against them.  The two-day gain in Goldman’s stock price, almost unilateral for the sector on the first day of hearings, which also coincided with the debt-rating downgrades for Greece and Portugal, reflects the renewed confidence of investors that little harm will likely befall the cloistered firm as a consequence of the confrontation between its executives and the Senate committee.

At the heart of concerns for consequences on banking reform as a result of the hearings, is the threat of separating derivatives-trade units, eliminating trade in synthetics, and breaking-up of the larger institutions to eliminate “too big to fail,” though the consequential taxpayer bail-outs are being repaid with handsome interest, and may be a non-factor if the Goldman case results in a payback to AIG, the worst outcome Goldman faces.  The Senate testimony on Goldman’s derivatives trades could hardly indict their practices, as it was made clear that, as a market maker and trader, Goldman has no responsibility to hold investors’ hands or restrain its own trade actions based upon transactions with any of its clients, direct or brokered, beyond the usual risk disclosures in the small print.  They made it clear enough, though not for some senators, that their responsibility is to broker trades with responsible parties and, as with any investment, buyer beware.

Now, had an investor asked whether an Abacus trade, or any other was a good one to make, Goldman would have been obligated to advise for or against on the basis of its trade positions.  Or, had Goldman sought out buyers for the trade of its own shorts without disclosing the source, its position, they would clearly have been guilty of unethical and probably illegal practice.  But, so far, there has been no evidence made public that either of these circumstances were ever in play—not guilty.  But the particulars of the newly energized, SEC civil complaint against Goldman remain to be seen, and those charges cannot be discounted or minimized by congressional-committee hearings.

The recession and subsequent bail-outs were not the consequence of improper or illegal trade procedures by Goldman or any other institution.  Nor was the recession and bail-outs a consequence of any institution’s size.  The recession happened because of the size of the players’ greed and the reach of the reckless, negligent, irresponsible managements that prevailed, and the absence of appropriate rules and laws, combined with the intentional restraint of regulatory agencies, initiated by Republican-administration appointees to leading positions within those agencies, who turned a blind eye on enforcement of existing laws, or actively blocked/hindered enforcement, effectively leaving the regulatory apparatus gutted.

Congressional testimony of former administration regulators has also indicated that incompetence and a casual familiarity between regulators and the industries they were charged to oversee was a major contributing factor, allowing institutions to run amuck with unfounded risk and to spin a web of trade mechanisms, particularly synthetics with no underlying commodities or instruments, the sole purpose of which is to generate income for the trade firms, and as in the case of many mortgage loans and the Madoff Ponzi scheme, to facilitate outright fraud.  Teeth to rip apart avenues leading to these circumstances should be the point of banking-reform law.

Breaking apart the large institutions is an attractive alternative, but only because it is punitive to the top executives and legions of managers and traders who failed their institutions and the system while garnering wealth for themselves, courtesy of taxpayer funding.  To do so would harm the U.S. economy because without like break-ups of the U.S. financial firms’ overseas competitors, large U.S. firms would become disadvantaged and unable to compete, and a like weight of their disadvantage would be shifted as advantage to their international competitors.  Size is not the cause of failures, and any break-up, if not to be avoided, should only be done in conjunction with diplomacy and subsequent treaties that result in fair and comparable breakups of similar institutions in the rest of the world.

Capital-reserve levels should be assigned to large-cap institutions based upon individual risk profiles.

Trade in synthetic derivatives should be halted, to include speculation in commodities and instruments where price mirroring of the actual instruments and commodities is merely a gamble and not a transaction or a price-fixing mechanism for future purchase.  Gambling should be a recreational pursuit within the sole province of legal casinos.

Legitimately based derivatives should be limited to transactions across an exchange where transparency and regulation can be enforced.

Rating agencies should be split from firms that trade the instruments that are rated, and no rating agency should receive payment from firms or entities having interest in the trade of the instruments that are rated.  A fee, non-biased for type of instrument, should be charged on trades of rated instruments, and possibly also collected from all institutions, to be paid to the rating agencies as their sole revenue source.  Rating agencies accepting payments from trading firms and bond holders/providers opens the same dark doors as are open for legislators who accept corporate and union campaign contributions.

Rules affecting regulation of the economy should be executed through law, not through agency prerogative, where existence and enforcement of rules are subject to political manipulation through appointed agency leadership.

Outlaw esoteric and phantom accounting rules and practices.

Increase Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) resources, now completely inadequate, to investigate and prosecute rampant corporate crime, perhaps a special DOJ section, apart from the SEC, dedicated to banking and investment fraud.

Require institutions to structure their pay systems so that pay levels and bonuses are tied to performance, and institute regulatory requirements for corporations to allow shareholders to approve salary structures and packages of top executives and to permit employee choice in retirement-fund-investment options.

Consolidate consumer protection and make it immune from both political influence and segmented industry ties that have allowed inroads to undue agency influence by banking and investment firms and the scraping of consumer advocacy by politically appointed leadership.

Repeal laws shielding criminal corporate executives from civil suits.

Block corporations found guilty of fraud and theft while participating in government-contract processes from obtaining future government business, unless the product or service that corporation provides is vital to national security and not available from any other secure source.

These are the kinds of actions needed in reforming banking laws, not anything on the basis of institutional size.

cc (via web forms):  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep Henry Waxman, Rep. David Obey, Rep. Ed Markey; House Financial Services Committee office, more...

The Bill Moyers Journal — 1971-2010.

The departure of The Bill Moyers Journal is another stab to the heart of democracy.

The ending of The Bill Moyers Journal on Public Television is as distressing as recent Supreme Court rulings favoring corporations over the people and cloaking tasteless and illegal practices with the protections of free speech.  In this age of media consolidation, show-biz “journalism” and other “government-excess” trends initiated by Republican conservatives, The Journal has become more and more a necessity to bring abuses to light and serve the democratic needs of true, serious journalism.  The Journal has stood as a strong pillar, reinforcing the front line in the battles against government and corporate greed, abuse, and lies.

Mr. Moyers is richly entitled to his retirement and we all wish him the best and thank him for carrying the sword for so long and so well.  I only wish he had planned this phase of closing his career so that his Journal could have been handed off to another competent journalist who would continue to carry the torch of Mr. Moyers’ legacy and advocacy for truth into the future where it will be needed more than ever.

The greed-infected, the bought and corrupted are rejoicing the passage of The Journal and the bright light of truth it cast upon them, and as its curtain closes, it will be a dark day from which the light of American democracy will dim a little more.

Recent Supreme Court rulings distort and flip constitutional intent.

Recent rulings highlight problem with casual defining of the First Amendment’s key terms.

The Supreme Court, in its ruling favoring corporate campaign contributions, in Citizens United, in its recent, stomach-turning ruling overturning the law banning dog-fight videos, and in numerous other issues, including pornography, has hopelessly convoluted the intent of the First Amendment, thereby making prosecution of crimes and protection of democracy more difficult than should be the case.

The First Amendment’s prohibitions address “speech” and the “press.” And there were no videos or even photo-picture magazines in existence at the time the Amendment was adopted, so it does not follow that these “media” forms should be construed, within any context, as representative of “speech” (the spoken word) or “the press” (the written word) within the context of the Constitution, especially when the intent was obviously a literate protection of free expression of thought, and particularly, political thought affecting the business of governance.  As well, at that time, after the Revolution, most political speech was not through anonymous means, where the person generating the speech or print was difficult or impossible to identify, a factor for greater concern against prosecution for expression of ideas through speech or the press, the only outlets of the time.

“Ideas,” is a key word which has escaped the Supreme Court’s rulings over history, and particularly, recently.  Dog fighting is not an idea; nor is pornography.  These are “actions.” or “practices,” neither of which falls within the bounds of protecting “speech” or “the press.”  Even though pornography or dog-fight promotion in magazines could at first glance, by literal, mechanical means of production and distribution, be categorized as “press,” when taken in context with the expression outlets at the time the First Amendment was appended to the Constitution, and the forms of editorial speech of the day, it is clear that these “practices” were never intended to fall under the protections afforded “speech,” or the written form of speech published in the “press.”

The consequences of these rulings are clearly troubling, but are possible to occur only because modern (at least modern in the sense of being in the public eye) practices conveyed through modern media have been wrongly included within a constitutional concept of “speech” that was never intended or realized by the Founders to be afforded constitutional speech or press protections.  The casual folding of “practices” of any kind into the protections of speech and the press are the root of the problem.  And if the practices were properly separated from considerations of speech, there would be no doubt that laws could be passed to prohibit corporate campaign spending, the promotion of cruelty to animals, or pornography, within the constraint of community standards, without any constitutional violation, and without any affront to common sense.

President signs health-care bill as leaders and traitor, Sen. Max Baucus (D?-MT), look on.

New, needed health-insurer rules have been set; now, let’s get on with reform.

The real reason for the vitriolic conflict during and after the health-care bill’s passage is because the measure represents the first, meaningful confrontation between the class priorities of the Democratic and Republican parties in a half century, and because, in its lawful form, it marks the first step in making a major redistribution of wealth while also cutting into what has been a prime engine of Republican wealth and financing:  the health-care industry’s profit machine.

Republicans express their viewpoint by shadowboxing with phrases like, “individual responsibility being supplanted by another entitlement,” and “a government takeover of health care,” while Democrats mark the passage as the establishing of a basic “human right,” and pushing back against the “inequality of wealth distribution.”  The facts, and the conscience, for those who have one, make clear which side speaks from the side of right and truth.  The implicit responsibility of any society that allows prosperity for some to reach the level of the “filthy rich,” with obscene wealth, is that no citizen should ever be denied the basic provision of preventive healthcare or suffer illness or pain without swift access to competent care, the cost of which never degrades anyone’s quality of life.  The Republican leadership of this age doesn’t get that or care to see the U.S. join with leading, socially-conscious democracies by bringing healthcare out of the capitalist dark ages, when considerations of profit and accumulation of wealth have no limits and come second to nothing, no matter the despair and hardship of the less fortunate, and when there is no balance of democracy to bring relief.

Of course, the secondary goal of reform, to lower costs to patients and the government, will not be realized until the missing piece to complete the transformation to a viable, socially-conscious health system is passed in later legislation:  either a single-payer system or a public, non-subsidized marketplace option, which Max Baucus, a health-insurance-industry stooge, made sure never saw the light of day when the bill left his Senate Finance Committee hearings.  That will be the next fight, and it can be achieved, unless the Democrats, who stood for the people and took the needed first step, lose more seats as a result of the extremist rhetoric and actions of the Republican party during the year of the health-reform bill’s debate and passage and in subsequent attempts to challenge and sidestep the new law, and as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s sanctioning of unlimited, corporate campaign spending.

As it stands now, the new law is an important first step only, representing insurance reform more than health-care reform, ending heartless, profit-driven abuses, but also affording the insurance industry greater profits through mandatory, greatly-increased participation, preserving their and the drug companies’ monopolies without price controls or a truly competitive, detached alternative or any requirement to maintain stocks of needed drugs that do not meet drug-company imperatives for obscene profit, when what is really needed to bring costs under control and assure quality services and uninterrupted supply lines is to separate the insurers and providers from the profit-driven priorities of Wall Street’s firms by confronting them with a public option or eliminating them in favor of a single-payer system that is not a part of the Wall Street corporate culture, and that has quality service as its first and major priority.

Reform without an insurance-company-separated public option is not true reform.  It signals a Congress and president still in the grip of lobbyists and money instead of the welfare-interests of their constituencies, and it leaves insurance companies and for-profit providers in charge, and they will always be ruled by the Wall Street imperative for ever-increasing profit and returns, above all else.

Daniel Mudd, the former CEO of Fannie May, testifying on April 9, 2010, before a congressionally-authorized committee, spoke the truth of profit-prioritized systems when he said that the goal of affordable housing is “impossible” to meet when it competes against that of profit-making, which he said was the priority of Fanny Mae’s board as it entered into the irresponsible risks that it hoped would increase shareholder returns, but which, instead, lead to the collapse that forced the government bail-out and the trashing of $trillions in American wealth as the executives who wrecked their firms and the lives and dreams of millions of families reaped unconscionable salaries and bonuses.  Publicly (investor) owned health-care boards and CEOs also have the priority for profit and investor returns set ahead of affordable service, making an affordable health-care system, owned and operated by Wall Street’s firms, impossible.

If anything, the public option or single-payer system will, at last, be the step that moves in the direction of acknowledging that health care should not be, primarily, a for-profit business, and that Wall Street’s firms are, by their nature and mandate, not suited to be properly motivated providers or financiers.  Not everything operating within a capitalist system must be structured to the form and priorities of corporations.  This concept was again proven, last month, as above-usual premium increases, some above 100 percent, were triggered by a combination of Wall Street’s pressure on the industry for better profits and the industry’s effort to establish increases before any reform was passed.

The problem is as obvious as the solution, which still eludes the government... and the people.

The Constitution says XE Services
(Blackwater) does not belong here.

Contracting private security firms (raising armies) by the executive is unconstitutional.

Right now, more than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan without proper authorization.  Recent Congressional hearings have painted a dismal picture of military-contractor operations, particularly XE Services’ (formerly Blackwater) operations.  Employees stole hundreds of weapons meant for the Afghan national police, they billed the U.S. government for a prostitute, and they massacred innocent civilians.  After sullying (not really a good word for this context anymore since the Miracle on the Hudson) the Blackwater name, they then created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts.

It is important to note that the Constitution places ALL military authority with Congress, not the president (except raising a defense against an active attack), and a strict observance of the congressional authority to raise armies must be adhered to if the dangers feared by the Founders, which have already come to pass, are to be stopped and then prevented.  It is not enough to use funds appropriated for operations if those appropriations do not also specifically authorize the fielding of what is essentially a private army, such authorization also specifying strength, parameters of the objectives of their deployment, and oversight.  In fact, by strictest interpretation, Congress would have to specifically authorize the entering into each contract by the executive branch.

The use of private security firms, as it has been practiced since the Iraq invasion, is the raising of a private army without the specific authorization for doing so.  And without the objectives for that use of military force being specified by Congress, it is unconstitutional and another example of how the Constitution, by its provisions being sidestepped or stepped on, has become a ceremonial document, not the living document to guide the governance of a democratic society.  Raising and fielding private armies also makes it easier for the executive to extend military might where, without the supplemental armies, public and congressional pressures against additional, legitimate forces would introduce restrictions or even contribute to eventually terminate the operations.

This freewheeling creation and use of force by the executive, and through the executive, by the Department of Defense, must end, and the The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the House (H.R. 4650) and Bernie Sanders in the Senate (S. 3023), would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like XE Services to perform tasks traditionally done by the military without specific congressional authorization.  Elected officials must be pressured to make this Act a priority for passage.


Not a single, future day can be bought with 3,000 years of history.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who embarrassed Vice President Biden by announcing new, Jewish settlements in Palestine during Biden’s visit, attempted to justify increasing the Palestinian settlements in his March 2010 AIPAC speech by restating an Israeli claim upon Jerusalem as its capital, not Tel Aviv, based upon 3,000 year-old history (a claim with which many map makers agree, though not the legal, international establishment):

The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied.  The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied.  The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.  Jerusalem is not a settlement.  It is our capital.

— Benjamin Netanyahu, 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference speech

Between the lines, Netanyahu is saying that there will be no cessation of settlement building, and further, that Jerusalem will rise above Israel’s historical claim to become, in fact, its legitimate capital again, and any two-state solution will have to incorporate that geopolitical reality.

President Obama realizes that this position makes any enduring peace between Israel and Palestine impossible, and further, that it will set back regional Arab concessions to the process and to Israel as Palestinian repression necessarily continues.  The reading of the “riot act” to Netanyahu, as it is put, by Secretary of State Clinton, after the speech, was part desperation to reverse the meaning of Netanyahu’s rhetoric, and part a knowing, frustrated parent scolding an obstinate child.  Clinton emphasized the responsibility of Israel’s friends and allies to point out inappropriate policies that hurt not only Israel, but the U.S. as well.  Great Britain, in objecting to Israel’s repeated use of forged UK passports, in the latest instance, to carry out an assassination against a Hamas terrorist after promising the UK never to forge passports again, used the same reasoning of responsible policy objection by an ally, which seems now to be a coordinated line justifying criticism by Israel’s feather-ruffled friends.

Israel must abandon the objective of Jerusalem as its capital and the unilateral decision to continue building settlements as a consequence.  The world, the region, and Jerusalem are not what they were 3,000 years ago, and that distant past cannot be a basis for setting the political realities of today, just as Iran’s epoch of ancient greatness cannot justify its reclaiming reach for nuclear arms today.  To attempt to make it so will only ensure continued violence and the continued growth of extremism and influence by Iran and other nations that will come to support greater extremism in the face of unrealistic Israeli intransigence.

Jerusalem is a supreme holy place for Jews, Moslems, and Christians, and as such, it has a significance beyond nationality and can never be held by any of them alone, and any nation tied to any of those faiths that attempts to control it will only face endless trouble in a hopeless cause.  Like the District of Columbia is separated from all the other states as a political entity, as the seat of the capital of the United States, or Vatican City from Italy, so too, Jerusalem must be separated from the geopolitical sphere of the nations that surround it, because all the nations and religions have a connection, past, present, and future, that is just as valid and undeniable as Israel’s, and all three religions, through their political faces, must equally share in the administration of the city’s life and determining the direction of its future, through some arrangement and structure that gives the parties equal voice and power.  Only then can peace in and beyond Jerusalem’s limits be secured and maintained.  President Obama knows this, and more than any other nation, Israel should also know the reality of its limitations and history’s limited reach to touch the future.

For Jews, the Torah defines a philosophy of life that is founded in morality and peace, which leads to the light—a relationship with God.  Despite that Israel was attacked, and despite that nations resorting to war risk loss without right of redemption, the people of Palestine, who did not make or participate in those decisions, have been displaced and are held beneath Israel’s mandated moral horizon.  Instead, fear and a more-recent, horrific past have prioritized an Israeli stance of survival through fiercely wielded strength which now also consumes its allies.  Until Israel recognizes that history is not the path to the future, no plan will ever bring the breath of lasting life to the light of peace for itself or with its neighbors.

Richard M. Nixon, the king of Republican dirty tricks.

Passage of health-care reform instigates a Republican, Halloween follow-up.

The extremists who control the Republican party, egged on by inflammatory, metaphorically violence-invoking statements by the elected Republican party leadership, showed their true colors, all ugly shades of brown, gray, and black, as they hurled spit, and shouted racial and sexual slurs at members of congress who spoke for their hundreds of thousands of constituents and all Americans by voting for passage of health-care reform.

There is little doubt that later threats and vandalism, directed against Republican targets, are more Republican dirty tricks, where they created attacks against themselves in order to attempt to mute the political effect of the acts committed against Democrat health-bill supporters by the conservative-Republican, extremist fringe who, after all, are the base of the Republican party as it exists today.

The acts carried out by the rallied forces of the Republican extreme still have not been forcefully condemned by Republican leadership.  If Americans really are looking to change government by “throwing out the bums” in the next election, there could be no better place to start than with the leaders of the Republican party who, as a block, have stonewalled and monkey-wrenched the process of governance, and who have sparked and fanned the flames of the partisan divide, and who have resorted to the lowest form of political persuasion, with rhetoric supporting acts of violence and hate.

Google’s fade brings China’s authoritarian business culture into question.

Google rightly gags on its gagged China operations.

The decision by Google to agree to Chinese government censorship restrictions in order to access its market was an abomination, not only because it came from the world leader in technological communications, and as such, provided the Chinese government a source of significant support and justification for continuance of its repressive policies, but because it represented a philosophy of greed that has come to overtake American corporatism, a philosophy that mandates profits will come first, no matter the consequences, which was Google’s conscious and unconscionable decision when it agreed to bend to the Chinese government’s terms.  Profits are important, and without them, no corporation can continue, but neither Google’s profitability nor its market dominance was ever at stake as a consideration for acceding to Chinese censorship and other demands contrary to privacy.  It is unfortunate that it took an act of Chinese government technical abuse, targeted against Google’s systems, to finally cause its boardroom to see the light and make the decision to remove censorship filters and relocate Google’s China service to Hong Kong.

That censored presence in China was a decision that never should have been made in the first place.  Now, there should be no turning back, not because of public relations or profits, but because Google should make the decision that, as a leading American company, it will act with priorities that are, or were once vested within American philosophy and heritage, that individual rights, liberties, dignity, and respect come second to nothing else.  It can be hoped that Google’s decision to remove its censored, search service from China, while overdue and not wholly, properly motivated, will nonetheless evolve into a change that becomes a new model for corporate self-discipline and moral character, a model that will lead the American, corporate sector into a new standard of priorities that once existed for all levels of their operations, as responsible, supporting community members.  But don’t hold your breath, because with the American electoral system funded by campaign contributions, and unlimited corporate participation to buy legislators sanctioned by the conservative-Republican majority on the Supreme Court, the temptations and benefits of acting on greed will never be overcome.

President Obama, chairing the February 25, 2010 Healthcare Conference.

Republican intransigence turned the president’s healthcare conference into a Dem battle prep.

“The President’s Healthcare Summit,” or “Conference,” or the “Bipartisan Healthcare Conference,” whatever the official name, it certainly wasn’t the latter, since Republicans could have just sent a tape recorder with their stale, misleading, and untruthful talking points, turning the day-long conference into a futile bipartisan effort, accomplishing nothing, apart from the wrangling, except to demonstrate the president’s depth of knowledge, patience, gentility, and his long-awaited commitment to reform, which should bring home to Democrats that they need to swim together through the Republican cement, and that the president’s sterling performance in the public light will make it difficult for any of them to go against the Democratic reform measure when reconciliation nulls a Senate, Republican filibuster to block bringing it to a vote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) both responded by demonstrating that they have the number of pages in the healthcare-reform bill down pat; or maybe not, since they repeated “2700” no less than three times.  On that basis, those two parrots should really be going macaws over the mega-War-and-Peace-sized tax code, made into the inflated, loopholed, exclusioned, block of Swiss cheese that it is by mostly Republicans looking out for the profits of big business and the accounts of the wealthy... oh, and the insurance companies.

The voters, who put the Democrats into power to bring change, who are becoming disillusioned and angry with the incompetence of gridlock, and who McConnell still insists are the ones demanding that insurance companies remain in charge of healthcare costs and processes, will be watching.

Austin, Texas IRS building after being crashed into by small plane.

IRS building air-suicide/murder may signal limit-edge on government abuse.

Sent to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

It is difficult to know if your remarks, concerning last week’s flight of the Piper Dakota into the Austin, Texas, I.R.S. building:  “When you fly an airplane into a federal building to kill people, that’s how you define terrorism,” is sensationalism, ignorance, or another part of the ongoing Republican plan to play on fear of terrorism and eventually create a false perception that the Obama administration is partially to blame, while you wait for the successful, real terrorist attack to come, which you know eventually will come, regardless of which party is in the White House, so you can, if it is a Democratic administration, stand up and say, “I told you so.”  No doubt, Dick Cheney will be frothing at the mouth to be the one to say it.

Of course Joseph Stack’s suicide-by-aircraft was not terrorism!  He also probably had no priority to kill government employees, which detracts from his real objective of garnering attention to his obsession by flying into the building, and he probably believed his slow, fragile, lightweight craft would do minimal internal damage to the building.  So that you’ll know, which is important for you to know, since you are supposed to be serving as the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, not agitating on it, “terrorism,” is an act of political consequence, usually systemic, against government, tied to a movement of organized effort to attain political goals.  An objective investigation into Mr. Stack’s life will likely show a man who, though troubled, loved his country but hated the bureaucracy, not the employees of the I.R.S., which is probably the most-hated department of government, and which he identified as evil, separate from his “red, white, and blue” concept of the whole of government.  People and groups can and do make those kinds of distinctions, and their motives and wrongs claimed done can never justify or soften the blow to affected victims, co-workers, and families.

Mr. Stack is hardly the first person to risk or suffer loss of life in order to object about something in government, in the U.S. or around the globe, and he won’t be the last.  If he wasn’t a pilot, he would have probably rented a U-Haul and tried to drive it through the I.R.S. building’s front doors.  Other, like, criminal acts, wrought of similar motives are carried out by other disturbed people who walk into offices and classrooms with guns blazing.  Are you going to call all such acts “terrorism?”  Had he remotely piloted a plane into the building, then you might call it an act of terrorism.  But since he ended his life and any further opposition with his “statement,” with no one else or nothing to continue in his place, terrorism cannot apply, except when claimed as part of another, unrelated agenda.  You must focus if real terrorism is to be kept at bay, not game-play the politics, not-fear monger, not grandstand for every opportunity that can be distorted to touch your committee and state.  If anything, Mr. Stack’s suicide was a demonstration of opposition and consequence to an unfair tax code that is politically engineered to favor the elite at the expense of everyone else, as is so much of everything political in this generation.

His suicide and collateral-damage murder is certainly not in any way excusable or defensible, regardless of how detestable are the tax laws and the abuses of government, as a result of political corruption, of which I’m sure you cannot deny with a straight face, Texas Republicans, like Tom Delay, in every level of state and federal government, have proven themselves to be masters.  But Stack’s suicide is, nonetheless, a sign that the abuse in government favoritism to the elite, and the influence of money over government is reaching a kind of breaking point, and it would do you and other members of Congress well to address that, rather than cry fire in the theater with the use of “terrorism” as being what defines Stack’s act, and then attempt to punish civil aviation with more restrictions that even you admit will not be able to prevent another suicidal act of desperation and anger, or another act of terrorism.

cc via Web forms:  White House, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, House Financial Services Committee office, more...

Safety must be separated from ownership and politics in the nuclear industry.

Abuses by management of Entergy, a Louisiana-based company that owns and operates the Vernon, Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, caused the Vermont Senate to vote, on February 24, 2010, against renewal of the plant’s operating license when it expires in March, 2012.  The structural and safety problems include leaks of radioactive tritium from pipes underground and the collapse of a cooling tower, while officials falsely answered questions related to safety concerns arising from leakage.  A company spokesman described the problems as, “almost a perfect storm,” when in fact, the leaks and tower collapse were a result of long-term, inadequate inspections and repairs, while the false, sworn statements made in two separate instances by plant officials as to safety concerns was emblematic of either improper training and management acumen, deception to avoid financial and company accountability, or all of the above, in any case, being serious concerns when tied to nuclear-operations safety.

The inadequacy of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), still in transition from philosophically lax Republican standards of oversight, was also highlighted since the agency, which is responsible for ruling on safety issues, is prepared to renew the plant’s operating authority for another 20 years and has made no comment regarding the shortcomings uncovered and acted upon by Vermont, or if it is planning to release any maintenance or operating directives to remedy the situation.  Nonetheless, the Vermont Yankee plant shortcomings should have been detected and acted upon by the NRC, and they highlight a primary problem with U.S. nuclear-energy production:  regulation and safety have been left too much in the hands of the private-sector builders and operators, often through political influence on federal regulation and setting of standards and specifications.  As a result, Americans don’t trust industry or industry-influenced government-regulatory agencies to insure that nuclear power in their communities will be safe.

In the Yankee plant case, though, state legislative action, though slow to recognize problems ongoing for several years, was prompt to act in the public interest by voting against license renewal, an example the U.S. Congress should endeavor to duplicate.  There is no doubt that it is completely unrealistic and environmentally undoable to shut the door on nuclear power as a means of replacing high-carbon-emission coal-powered plants and supplying additional power to an expanding population because of a belief that safety cannot prevail, or to allow the threat of any terrorist group to cause the safe use of nuclear power and its necessary advantages to be excluded from America’s resources, where America must be a leader.  So, Vermont and the NRC should insure that the Yankee plant is properly repaired and its management and operations rehabilitated in time for both houses to vote for the plant’s licensure before the March 2012 deadline.

A look down into a nuclear-power plant’s flooded reactor core.

Nuclear-power technology isn’t flawed or unsafe, management and regulation-enforcement are.

Despite that nuclear power will probably not be any less expensive than coal-fired plants, and may likely be somewhat more expensive, due to the cost of establishing and operating the nuclear framework with safety as the only priority of consequence, it will eliminate all emissions—the greatest source of emissions—from the environment and be an important source of advanced technology and career-worthy jobs.  And with proper setting of the rules, and the complete elimination of private-sector operators from developing safety rules, specifications and guidelines, and from regulating themselves, the four major concerns of:  unsafe operation (including construction), waste, security, and control can be properly and safely resolved.

The president and Congress should establish the needed federal guidelines and apparatus now, which will define the revised safety web under which nuclear-power plants will exist.  A federal nuclear oversight agency should be established or evolved from the current Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will be composed of engineers and scientists who are expert in nuclear applications and who will supervise and approve construction plans, engineering and building, maintenance and operational procedures, and safety implementation and monitoring.

Since security of radio, satellite- and microwave-linked, or internet-based remote controls cannot be guaranteed to be secure, and since such remote capability is only a cost-saving feature, designed to reduce on-site manpower costs and increase profit, and since jobs are good, there is no justification for any remote-operations capabilities and none should be permitted.  Backup generators and batteries must be elevated out of possible flood reach, and spent fuel rods must be afforded the same levels of containment and security as the reactor cores, not just dumped in ancillary ponds.  Finally, for both safety and security, maintain a five-mile buffer zone around each plant, with no habitation or enterprise permitted.

Severe penalties should be established for failure to promptly report incidents affecting safety, and unlike the National Transportation Safety Board’s accident-investigation recommendations, which mostly bounce off the Federal Aviation Administration and other DOT agencies, being either not applied or diluted, the recommendations of the corresponding nuclear-incident-investigating authority should be mandatory directives, not subject to discretionary adaptation or alterations.

A Russian nuclear-power plant control center.

As an adjunct to the safety panel should be security experts who will be the final authority on securing materials, facilities, personnel, and transportation, and devising waste-transfer and operational procedures, and there should be a position for an observing representative of the major environmental groups, to be filled on either a rotating basis among them or from a panel of three nominees designated by the groups, from which an appointment and an alternate will be selected by the oversight security panel, and each plant should be required to provide reasonable at-will access to a public-safety liaison designated by the nearest city’s health-department board (not the mayoral office).  The important point to be made is that nowhere in this apparatus should be any representative of the private, profit-making, ownership sector, except as is provided for the environmental groups, as an observer-only position.  They should be otherwise excluded and required to build their profit margins around and be completely subordinate to the safety dictates of the federal oversight agency, and that agency’s employees and directors must be strictly separated from political processes, except Senate confirmations, and from officials who are subject to the greed-driven influences of the industry, perpetrated through campaign contributions and lobbying.

Capitalism is like a hungry, wild dog.  It should always be leashed, and the regulation of democracy is that requisite restraint.
—  M. L. Kantzler

Like with health insurance, this requirement to so exclude the corporate sector from the nuclear industry’s operations, in order to preserve the necessary levels of safety, service, and cost, indicates that capitalism is not always the best method in cases where it is really impractical to bend over backwards to provide necessary safety and service while allowing private-sector ownership, and that in such industries, as healthcare and nuclear power, where the greed-driven profit motive is contrary to safely providing a universally required service at affordable prices, it is better to just nationalize or create more easily regulated and operated single-provider services   But regardless of the set-up, for the nuclear industry, the entire procedure, as to all aspects of safety, must be guaranteed by the president to be entirely, irrevocably separated from any kind of influence by the ownership or politicians, especially while elections are still funded with contributions instead of publically, through the treasury, thereby eliminating the official basis for all greed-derived, corrupting influences.

Environment — Japan’s Great Quake triggers explosions at nuclear-power plant;
partial meltdowns result; wide radiation release threatens.

Above, an explosion emits shock waves and smoke from one of the reactor buildings of the Fukushima Prefecture’s Dai-ichi No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, some 36 hours after the 8.9-magnitude, 2011 Great Quake struck, officially upgraded by USGS to a 9.0 three days later, the epicenter, beneath the ocean floor, approximately 80 miles west of the town of Sendai, which is located on the northeast coast of Japan (map below).  The plant has also endured more than 600 aftershocks, still ongoing through the days after the initial quake, with numerous, false tsunami warnings, the largest aftershocks above 7.0-magnitude with more than 75 aftershocks above 6.0-magnitude, compounding the risk and the danger to all of Japan’s infrastructure, including nuclear.

The quake and tsunami have claimed at least 30,000 missing, presumed lost.

Getting accurate information about the damage at Tokyo Power Electric Company’s plant, which has a total of six reactor units, three manufactured by General Electric, and the risk of radiation exposure or meltdown has been difficult from the beginning of the nuclear emergency, as the severity of the disaster multiplied.  Although authorities had said that the explosion at unit no. 1 did not damage the reactor, it seemed almost assured that at least, the containment structure, which comes under pressure as the reactor heats and steam is released, was compromised, which would mean that the reactor vessel, containing the core and nuclear fuel, would be exposed to the environment and possibly weakened.

This possibility is reinforced by reports coming in at 6:00 p.m. (EDT, 03/12/11), supposedly from an official of Japan’s nuclear safety agency, that the reactor in the containment building that exploded may be in the process of melting down, although the U.S. ambassador to Japan denies this, saying that only the building in which the reactor is housed was damaged by the explosion.  On Sunday, stuck to that story about the explosion, but he confirmed that the reactor unit and another unit in the plant in the plant have been shut down and that both are being cooled with sea water, which is an emergency measure.  He still denies any situation threatening a meltdown, calling the sea-water cooling a preventative measure and the evacuations a precautionary one.  False information is always possible when governments report on matters of public safety, as was the case in 2007, when a 6.8-magnitude quake caused leakage of radioactive material from the nuclear plant in Kashiwazaki, Japan, and authorities, it turned out, underplayed the extent of the leak by 75-percent.  This may have been the case with this disaster, as since the ambassador’s last assurances, it has been confirmed that both Dai-ichi reactor units, numbers 1 and 3 (3 is a highly toxic plutonium reactor), that were suspect, have suffered partial meltdowns, and late Sunday, the building housing the second Dai-ichi unit (no.3) exploded, with the full extent of what the damage impossible to determine, though later in the week, levels of it’s plutonium was detected, indicating that the reactor core has suffered at least a partial melt-down.

And, by Sunday evening, it had also been revealed that there are varying degrees of problems at four other nuclear-power plants.  A state of nuclear emergency was also issued after it was determined that the quake caused a cooling-system failure at the Onagawa nuclear plant, this one, Japan’s most advanced, is operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co., and it is located on the north point of the coastal crescent that is Sendai’s harbor and beach, the Dai-ichi plant being at the southern point of the coastal crescent, 70 miles away (map, below).  Reports indicate this plant, with its two, Toshiba-manufactured units, may now also be resorting to pumped-in sea water for cooling, but no further news is heard of any change in the plant’s status by the end of the third day.  The United States, has responded with 19 ships and 18,000 military personnel for extensive rescue and relief, and is also sending coolant for the reactors.

At this point, the disaster is at the level of what happened in 1979 with the U.S., Three-Mile-Island reactor, where the reactor’s core was partially melted-down, but containment did not fail, preventing significant release of radioactive material to the environment.  The question is whether the damage at these damaged reactors will hold at that level or escalate to the disastrous, killing scale of the Ukraine’s Chernobyl.

Late into day three, a third explosion of one of the Dai-ichi units, no. 2, brings the total to three of the six units without building containment, three cores overheating and being pumped with sea water, the last of which is also believed to have lost reactor-vessel containment and have sustained possible damage to the core.  In short, at the end of day three, after the earthquake struck, the Dai-ichi plant has been reduced to half-capability, with explosions in three of its six reactors, blowing away portions of the reactor building, exposing the containment vessel for the reactor in all three units to the environment, at least partial melt of all three reactors, and damaging one of those containment vessels, and possibly the reactor, meaning that if that reactor core melts, there would be no containment to keep the radioactive material from being exposed to the environment...

Then... still late into day three, a report comes through of another, fourth reactor-building problem at Dai-ichi, building no. 4, this time, damage from the third explosion of the adjacent reactor building, starting a fire in a pool used to store used fuel rods near another reactor, and possibly damaging the reactor containment vessel, releasing additional radiation, supposedly at levels four-times higher than previous, with the fire in the storage pool causing it to boil, releasing additional radiation directly into the atmosphere.  Early reports say this fourth reactor was not in operation at the time the earthquake hit, that fuel was being moved from rods.  Still not confirmed, if the reports are true of the fourth reactor, this would mean that two of Dai-ichi’s reactor-core containment vessels are damaged, the core exposed to the environment if any portion of the reactor melts through, but three weeks after the first explosion, officials confirmed that damage to four of Dai-ichi’s six units is so severe that the reactors will be permanently deactivated and sealed.

An hour later, the demise of the third reactor’s containment vessel is confirmed, in the worst possible way:  an announcement that sufficient radiation has been released to “impact human health.”  Persons within 12 to19 miles of the plant have been advised to remain indoors with windows closed; the evacuation zone is a 12-mile radius, affecting some 250,000 residents.  The State Department advised U.S. citizens within 30 miles of the plant to leave, and the military later raised that to 50 miles and is not allowing personnel or flights within that distance of the area, after one if its aircraft carriers unknowingly sailed into a contaminated area, afterward relocating its operations.  Rising radiation levels were measured in Tokyo, but not yet to levels posing any health risk, while levels in the ocean near Dai-ichi measured more than 3,300x above what are called "safe levels;" yet, despite two failed attempts to plug the leak with cement and polymers, officials insist there is no food-safety danger posed for the fisheries.

Since authorities have been forced to resort to pumping sea water into the shut-down reactors in an attempt to cool them down, a last-ditch measure which will result in high salt-corrosion of the facility’s conduits, piping, structures, and mechanics, any hope to ever put those reactors back in service has been lost.  By the end of day three, talk began of the possibility it would be necessary to bury the reactors in sand and concrete, sealing them, as was done at Chernobyl, and abandoning the land for decades at least.

Fuel-rod-storage-pool fire rages at Japan’s Fukushimi Dai-ichi Power Plant

On the beginning of day four, only two things are for sure:  the Dai-ichi plant is in severe trouble, and the reports coming from Japan’s nuclear-safety personnel and from high, elected and appointed officials is so vague and contradictory, and the damage involving so many reactor units, that it is not possible to know what’s happening other than what can be seen, how bad it really is, or how bad it might eventually become.  But by the end of day four (EDT), a second fire erupted from unit no.4, releasing sufficient radiation that all plant workers were ordered out of the immediate area for 55 minutes before levels allowed them to return to fight the multiple emergencies.  The prime minister announced that radiation had leaked from source material associated with all four all four reactor units at Dai-ichi that have sustained explosions and fires.  Aftershocks continue to shake the ground at the plants and throughout Japan, and as day four comes to an end, the severity of the disaster has again notched up, and no one can say how or when it will finally be put to rest, or at the cost of how many workers’ lives, who have been described as sacrificing themselves to work through periods of hazardous radiation exposure in order to try and prevent the situation from possibly threatening widespread areas of population.

Near the time of the worker evacuation, the wind shifted so that radiation being released from the damaged reactor structures is no longer drifting toward Tokyo, now blowing out to sea.  Some experts have said it is unlikely the radiation can be suspended long enough to reach and endanger Alaska.  Radiation from Chernobyl was carried across Europe, but that explosion, of dry-core material, was much more severe and released much more radioactive material than is possible with the wet-core reactor units at Dai-ichi.  The Dai-ichi disaster has now displaced Three Mile Island, to be ranked as the second-worst in history, behind Chernobyl.

On Wall Street, Monday and Tuesday, the indexes were down, uranium miners and nuclear industries all taking hits, along with companies depending upon supply of parts from Japanese manufacturers, which cannot operate at varying levels as a consequence of the reactor outages and other interruptions to electricity.  The losses deepened in the U.S. stock market on day five, Wednesday, and on Thursday, but recovered to close in the green on Friday, after the first day the situation at Dai-ichi was not reported to have worsened.

On Monday, members of Congress called for moratoriums and investigations on existing and future-planned plants.  Tuesday, after the second fire and the associated release of radiation, it was announced that hearings on the safety of nuclear-power plants in the U.S. would be scheduled immediately.  The next day, day four, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission testified before the Senate Environmetal and Public Works Committee, that Japanese officials were underplaying the severity of the disaster and that high levels of radiation were being emitted from unit no. 4 where, he said, all containment had been breeched.  Unit 4 has highly radioactive, spent fuel rods stored, without containment since the building explosion, and where the water drained out, exposing the rods directly to the atmosphere.  The Chief Nuclear Officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, also testified, listing a number of reactionary measures the industry had initiated, which should have been common-sense, standard-operating procedures at every nuclear plant without a disaster.  But, what else is new?  Congress convened many closed-door meetings with nuclear-industry executives, and some of the newly-grown support for expanding nuclear-power capability was reported to be stepping back on the issue.  No new plants have been built in the U.S. since the partial melt at Three Mile Island, in 1979.  Numerous approvals in review status for new construction are at risk of never seeing the light of day.

The distance for which U.S. citizens should leave was expanded to 50 miles.  Many foreign nationals and multi-national employees are leaving Japan, creating heavy traffic at the airports.

On CNN, sensationalism has taken a grizzly tack, as some correspondents have taken to wearing dosimeters and reporting on the levels to which they are being cooked, one reporting the dose of ionizing radiation rising four-fold, to 0.004 sieverts per hour (4 mSv/hr).  The correspondent should relax, because this dramatically reported quadrupling of the initial dose recorded by the correspondent is hardly significant when compared to the usual dose level recorded at Chernobyl after the explosion and exposure of its fuel, at between 10,000 - 300,000 mSv/hr, or a brief flare at Dai-ichi’s unit no. 3, on March 16, of 1,000 mSv/hr, or a brief 11 mSv/hr at the plant gate the same day.  To keep this new “cooked reporter” statistic on the level of disaster in perspective, 0.52 mSv/yr is the value for the average, natural radiation exposure delivered to people that is sourced from the sky and the ground, and a mammogram delivers 3 mSv.  Symptoms of radiation sickness begin to develop at dosage levels approaching 250 mSv/hr, and treatment for exposure is likely to bring recovery with doses up to 3,000 mSv/hr.  Between 3,000 and 6,000 mSv/hr, recovery is more likely at the low end, with treatment, and not assured at the upper half, while sterility is, and treatment is not expected to prevent death with doses above 6,000 mSv/hr.  No two people are affected the same by like dosages, numerous factors, including medical history, body mass and weight, contribute to varied sensitivities.

In the second week, tap water serving areas around the Dai-ichi plant and as far as Tokyo reported radiation levels twice as high as considered safe over the term of a year for infants.  Milk and some crops from the area had been taken out of the market.

On other dosing matters, helicopters with 70-gallon tanks suspended beneath attempted dropping water on the units, hoisted about that many feet above the plants, in the wind, and the effect has been like trying to put out a hot, glowing, barbecue pit with a hand spray bottle in a 15 mph wind... useless.  Efforts to restore power connections for whatever pumps may still be operable was reported nearing completion, but more than a half-day later, no word of any progress has been forthcoming.  The next few days saw 300 workers in full protective suits manning hoses and trying to effectively lay down cooling waters accurately as sky-drops continued.

The level of cooling waters in unit no. 5 was reported to be dropping...

One week after the quake struck, at the Dai-ichi plant, power connections were made, but with no success reported at inspecting and activating equipment for useful relief of the situation, which officials said could extend into the third week, as water dumping with helicopters and fire hoses continued, and the emergency level was raised to five, out of seven.

Considering Japanese officials’ high awareness of the continuous nature of earthquake exposure Japan faces, it was the height of audacity to go ahead with a nuclear-power program at all, since this quake has proven that the best laid plans of construction are inadequate.  Perhaps, especially if this plant melts down, it will never be reactivated, given the years required before the area would be habitable, and the nation’s other plants will be reinforced.  Japan is one of the top nuclear-power generating nations, operating more than 60 reactor units, and its investment in nuclear power would not allow them to consider closing the plants, regardless of the earthquake danger, even if one or two of their reactor units melts-down as a result of the 2011 Great Quake and its pummeling of aftershocks, the latest major one, a 7.1 magnitude, on April 7, in the deep ocean, about 60 miles east of Sendai, or about half the distance of the Great Quake epicenter.  Three elderly persons are known to have died as a result, while no additional damage was reported to the reactors at Fukushimi Dai-ichi

The quake-triggered damage to the Japanese reactors relighted the call for total moratoriums on new plants in the U.S., which would be a mistake.  One can only wonder at the horrors, with all of Japan’s nuclear plants, had the epicenter of this 2011 Great Quake been under the island instead of offshore.  But the quake has also certified that the design is exceptional for areas that have no exposure to the risks faced by locations in known fault-zones and geological-plate interactions, as is the case in Japan and the west coast of the North- and South American continents.  But this disaster in Japan should cause the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shelve any plans it may have to approve new construction of plants in west-coast states, which abound the eastern arc of the Pacific Ring of Fire.  A total moratorium would only be appropriate if sufficient guarantees are not in place to enforce construction and operating requirements, so they are never again compromised by political pressures to de-regulate (Republican-speak for shrink government), as has been done in the nuclear industry in the past, as well as in mining, oil drilling, food-and-drug safety, air transportation, and every other industry having an impact on public and environmental safety.

Two Marines clearing IEDs on patrol were killed in this July 2009
explosion, the first, big, Southern Helmand Province offensive.

Trying to fight ghosts, the U.S. kills civilians, hurts itself.

In what is called by drama-seeking news reports, “big news,” in the opening weekend of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, 6,000 U.S. troops entered the long-time, Taliban-controlled, Helmand Province village of Marja, a center of Taliban opium production, where neither the Taliban nor foreign fighters were to be found, as should have been expected, since the offensive was broadcast in advance.  Instead, U.S. forces find themselves targets of selective ambushes in the middle of a dangerous, IED minefield, set exclusively for their announced arrival, which has already claimed two U.S. soldiers’ lives.  Officials say that the idea is to drive out the Taliban, by whatever means, and then prevent their return.  Since the Taliban, like al Qaeda, will not fight except on their terms or when cornered, announcing offensives will hardly serve the objective of decimating or even demoralizing them.  Instead, two U.S. missile strikes in Marja have killed nine civilians, including five children, possibly three Taliban, and have given the Taliban and al Qaeda more propaganda ammo to use in winning hearts and minds and recruiting more fighters in the name of those civilians, a total of 13 killed over the offensive’s first weekend who are now the major casualties of the U.S. offensive.

What will happen now, for the U.S. and the Afghan government the U.S. tries to support, is that the adverse consequences of dead civilians will continue, since the Taliban fighters purposefully put themselves in proximity with the populace when they decide to fight, and since coalition troops cannot be everywhere and presumedly cannot stay forever, the Islamist radicals will strike where troops are not, and are not ready to face them, and they will wait until troops are gone to reimpose their authority.  Both cases mean that U.S. leaders, despite contrary public mandates, will resist ever removing the troops, or if they do, when the occupations are over, little will have been gained in return for the cost in lives and fortunes spent, the terrorists still in operation in their enclaves, spread around the globe.  Again, loosely organized, disbursed militant organizations are not effectively countered by fielded armies; they are aided by them.  When will U.S. presidents and the Congress, which should be the constitutional authority making military-deployment decisions, ever learn?  This ignorance is harming America more than anything else.

                   Sarah Palin at the Tea Party convention     AP/Ed Reinke

Sarah Palin really can walk the walk.

Sarah Palin is little more than a political monkey in training that can never end, one who while questioning the accountability of others proved she has no sense of dedication or responsibility for seeing through her obligation to voters unless it coincides with her soap-opera standards of celebrity.  In FOX she found that, and with her, FOX got exactly what it deserves to represent its shameful lack of objectivity and journalistic integrity.  She is a tunnel-visioned, deceptive demagogue who stands for everything that hurt the nation in the Bush presidency, and she will never be able to be trusted to stand on her own two feet and answer unscripted questions, which was not even a passing thought as a remote possibility after her speech at the Tea Party convention (a conservative-Republican, religious-right tent revival without the sick being healed), let alone make decisions in the Oval Office that are critical for hundreds of millions of people.

Voters should remember the CBS Katie Couric interview (be sure to click all the segments that are available), because that “I'll try to find you some and bring ‘em to ya” ignorance is the real Palin that will always be beneath the surface of any answer that is eventually pounded into her by her paid consultants and memorized over time or written into her palms.  As one who depends wholly upon that structured process of repetition and upon truth-ignoring, duplicitous speech writers in order to merely grasp at the appearance of an informed mind (an image which eludes her as easily as it did George Bush), how dare she refer to the president’s use of teleprompters as a liability or detraction from the worth of his messages!

Kate Zernike’s New York Times article, reporting on Palin’s appearance at the Tea Party Convention, should have said as much, or should have been published with Joan Walsh’s Salon article alongside, to paint Palin as what she really is, for those who are blind to the paint she clumsily pours on herself, because the stakes are too high to allow any more right-sided Republican conservatives or celebrity hawks to further influence government or collar the ignorant or emotion-dominated, goggle-eyed elements of the U.S. electorate.  Sarah Palin’s best calling is in her past, as a model for hosiery, where her long, shapely legs can allow her to really walk the walk.

A line-item veto is unconstitutional.
How far, once taken, can abuse go?

Line-item veto would exacerbate, not cure spending abuses.

Republicans, unopposed by President Obama, are pressing for passage of a line-item veto, to place a front of legitimacy on the abuse of signing statements.  It is assured that they are not doing so to give greater latitude and power to a Democratic administration!  They know, as should the Democratic leadership, that while the line-item veto would be used by Democratic administrations to remove items of interest to them, it will be Republican administrations that will (ab)use this power the most to cut into the “intrusions of government” which they do not see as necessary for a responsible, compassionate, social posture in American society.  To the Republicans, the line-item veto is an investment that they know would incur some costs to their initiatives, but which they also know would provide them enduring profits over losses in the long term because they would be, by far, the most active “traders,” while the transaction fee would be paid by those of the American people who can least afford to be hurt.

In addition, and more relevant, as with signing statements, a line-item veto, since it would alter the procedure outlined in the Constitution for passage of legislation, would be unconstitutional unless it were put into effect as a constitutional amendment, and legislation for it has already been rejected by the Supreme Court.  The historical record makes clear that the Founders most feared government power being too strongly vested in the executive and the possibility for abuse of power by the executive.  Neither signing statements nor the line-item veto—the same coat of different colors—would have ever been written into the legislative process defined in the Constitution by the Founders for the very reason that it focuses far too much power upon the executive.  President Obama is advanced in knowledge of constitutional law, but in responding to the line-item-veto request in the Republican-caucus meeting, he regrettably supported the idea, but he also provided the necessary, valid solution: bills should not have funding measures attached that are not relevant to the purpose of the bill.

The line-item veto purports to be another measure to control spending abuse, when in fact it would be another abuse, more deleterious than any of the others.  The single step of eliminating campaign contributions in place of public funding would have the greatest cleansing effect upon all the monetary abuses in government, setting into motion a domino-effect to act upon the other abuses that stem from it, including lobbying and all other forms of influence peddling, earmarks, and the abuse of congressional leadership based on money raised, and returning the great amount of the people’s time that is taken from legislators, and their real purpose, to serve the cash cows funding their campaigns.

The president should be working to reestablish prohibitions and public-voice balancing limits upon campaign-ad spending by corporations and organizations and to completely eliminate campaign contributions in place of public funding, which would also achieve his aim of reducing Republican obstructionism, the effect of lobbyists and the instances of earmarks and add-on funding items in bills without the need for additional legislation, though these abuses should also be lawfully eliminated.  Campaign contributions and disbursements are a tool used by party leaders and “controllers” to keep legislators “in line,” promoting obstructionism and gridlock, blocking bipartisan passage of necessary legislation for the sake of extremist goals.  Without the influence of campaign contributions and election-advertising funding, beneficial laws and vital appointments would not be regularly blocked, and it really would not matter how much is spent on lobbyists, since they would have no pressure to bear upon legislators, other than the merit of their arguments, despite that they would still have the advantage of access to make those arguments more frequently and effectively than the average citizen or small organization.  But even so, corporations and unions would have much less incentive to fund massive lobbying efforts when they would no longer be backing-up or have the hammer of campaign contributions to hold over the heads of legislators, a hammer that would also be taken from the hands of the party elite to contain bipartisanship to achieve extremist goals.

The president argues that one of the big problems with the political system is that legislators are busy scoring political points rather than working the problems.  If Congress believed those political points were important to the people, there wouldn’t be a problem.  The problem is that it’s not important to score points for constituents.  Then, who, besides the media, which is an “echo chamber” the president notes perpetuates the false debates, and from which he advises legislators should turn away?

To answer “who,” a definition or clarification is required:  “Political points” is another of those Washington/political pseudonyms for “obligation points,” which are the points legislators get when they take positions, place votes, and get away with the explanations they give or facades they erect to justify those positions and votes, while actually bending to the pressure of vast campaign contributions they receive, reinforced by lobbying.  Those are the political points legislators must score and that have the highest priority in the present electoral system.

“This industry gave my reelection campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I can’t ignore that, because if I do, I risk cuttin’ off the money and losin’ my seat, and maybe also goin’ against my party’s line, because they also gave a million bucks to the party!  I’m not going to let that happen, and I’ll do what I have to and explain it any way I can, or say nothing,” as is the policy of Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, who chaired the Senate committee working on the healthcare-reform, which killed the public option, and whose closest staff were former health-insurance industry executives.  “Or, I’ll just say, ‘I’m not influenced by contributions,’” as Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman responds to questions about the bags of money his war chest gets from his state’s insurance industries, headquartered there.

And for Republicans, the party platform is rife with good “explanations” to cover fronting for the interest groups:  “government takeover, inhibiting business and innovation, just bad [unexplained why] policy, not the right way to do it [no reason why, except the former],” are high ones on the list, or any lobbyist can be asked and will probably have a worksheet in his or her briefcase to hand out.

The unfortunate campaign-spending ruling of the Supreme Court, which the president rightly criticized in his State of the Union address, combines with a consolidated, corporate-influenced media industry that is in a dual crisis of constraint upon finance and journalistic independence and scope, and an evolved, long-standing, bipolar political climate, powered by party control of contributions to create gridlock, that propagates vast spending for propaganda more often than fact, to threaten the voices and influence of the men and women who make up the constituency to whom the government should be most responsible and responsive.  The system of elections, rooted in the campaign-finance machine, is at the heart of the threat to popular sovereignty, bipartisanship, the anger of voters, and the reason they feel they are out of touch with a government they can hardly call “theirs.”  This is where prompt and cutting remedies must be applied if there is ever to be a realization of the president’s promise to change the way Washington does business and restore a viable framework of democracy.

President Obama’s address a call for more Democratic action, less Republican obstructionism.

Mr. President, tear down that wall!

“We do not quit,” was the statement that is a hallmark of President Obama’s first State of the Union address.  I hope people were paying attention to the Republican side during the speech, because they were tipping their hand, sitting there like Supreme Court justices, a stone-faced wall, instead of joining with Democrats, standing and applauding on a lot of issues that are important to voters, showing that they, too, aren’t quitting, being obstructionists, being more concerned about defeating Democrats than the ills afflicting their constituents and the nation, of which they are proving to be big, green, mucus men and women, barraged and intransigent in the house of the People, perpetuating the suffering.

The president, not quitting, was talking about resolve to face and conquer problems, differences, enemies, and international competition.  But while he rightly chastised the Supreme Court’s ruling, which allows unlimited campaign contributions, and the bankers for sending armies of lobbyists to oppose needed bank-reform measures, he failed to put the needed emphasis on those latter items, because no matter what faces America from without, it will not be met with success while the core of America’s democracy is being relentlessly assaulted from within, by the entrenched election machine and its system of contributions and reinforced, paid influence.

Senior legislators, charged with reforming bank and healthcare law to benefit the interests of the nation and the people, are the targets of campaign money, rained upon them by the industries the laws they form will affect, and they have undeniably been forming those laws or blocking them to serve the interests of those who got them elected, not those of the people who elected them or the nation.  Campaign contributions invite corruption and the follow-up of intense lobbying, all of which also contribute to a host of related abuses, including earmarks.  The money-for-influence system cannot be effectively regulated.  To try and do so is like trying to quit smoking by slowly withdrawing, a method that almost always fails, compared to cold-turkey prohibition, which does work.  This is why campaign reform to end all contributions and replace them with full, public funding is required.  And it is the most important of all issues that face America, because the electoral system in America has devolved into an engine of corrupted influence that blocks and dilutes effective governance, and it will be the cause of the eventual destruction of America’s democracy.

The wall separating the People from their government is already well under construction.  It is a philosophy of the conservative-Republicans, and it is being funded by the influence of money, which is the tool of greed, and it has no place in a just government of the free.

Mr. President, tear down that wall!

High Court’s campaign-finance ruling is an obscene constitutional distortion.

Supreme-Court ruling rolls The Founders in their graves and buries the voice of the people with them.

The Reagan-Bush appointed, Supreme-Court majority has finally handed the conservative Republicans and their big-business and industry stewards a victory of monumental proportions with their ruling (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission) tying First Amendment free-speech rights to campaign contributions.  The 5-to-4 ruling is an abomination of the Constitution that puts representative government up for sale or bribe, ripping apart the fabric of The Founders’ concept of democracy.  It is a ruling that is so partisan, so contrary to the tenants of democracy and the Constitution, that any argument attempting to preserve the aloofness of the Court and shield it from the transparency that now brings televised sessions of Congress to the public is subject to question.  The democratically-adverse ruling, along with Chief Justice Robert’s March 2010 statement that, because of the president’s criticism, directed at the Court, during the State of the Union address, perhaps, in future, the Supreme Court’s justices should not attend what, Roberts says, has become “a political rally,” combines to demonstrate that the time has come when the Supreme Court’s business, which, thanks to Roberts and his politically activist majority, should be more subject to open scrutiny and increased criticism and accountability, and that it’s finally time for cameras to be a part of the furnishings within its increasingly, People-isolated chambers.

Conservative spokesmen say the ruling, which sweeps away the Congress’s McCain-Feingold restrictions on campaign contributions (which actually never went far enough) and allows unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, restores free speech and equality to that which was always intended by the First Amendment.  To the contrary, the fact is, in the time of the Founders, there was no election machine or industry serving the influence of corporations that depended upon the monetized system of election influence that exists today, or that was any kind of consideration at all for free-speech protections.  The truth of that is in the very words of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and others spoken against the power and ambition of industry to challenge government and take control from the people, and which cry out from his grave against the falsehood of all of the conservative-Republican claims supporting the ruling, and which also prove the highest court in the land no longer stands to protect the Constitution, but rather, to protect and preserve the power of corporate-industrial America, the people be damned.

The majority justices went beyond the scope of the Court in four ways:  first, they ignored precedent; second, they ignored the precept of avoiding a constitutional question, if possible, and then when necessary, ruling on the narrowest constitutional issue that would address the conflict in the case before them; third, they ignored the Preamble of the Constitution, which is just as binding upon them and the other branches as is any section of any article that follows it, and for which the stage for all that follows is set by its proclamation:

“We the People of the United States [not corporations, and corporations are of the state in which they are chartered, not of the United States], in order to [skip to the relevant clause] Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“We the People... do ordain and establish,” the Founders wrote, not the corporations; “for our posterity,” they wrote, not the posterity of corporations.  The posterity of corporations, parent companies, are units.

And lastly, the Court majority ignored the Declaration of Independence, which lays the foundation for the Constitution, and which, if there is any doubt as to the interpretation of any part thereof, the Declaration is a necessary and proper arbiter, which in its second paragraph, states:

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...”

Corporations are not “Men.”  Capitalization, by the way, is quoted here in both documents as it was written by the Founders, providing the emphasis which they intended in that literary style of their day.  Corporations are not endowed by the “Creator” which is capitalized, or that which created “Men” (and Women).  Corporations do not pursue “Happiness.”  They pursue profits for their owners, who are men and women, and other organizations, so when they speak, they do so with the motive of profit, which is not the voice of “Men,” who are the “Governed” (capitalized), as those voices are Consensually heard, through the vote (which the Court majority corrupted with its ruling), in a society based upon the precepts of “popular sovereignty” or “democracy,” as is provided by America’s charters and subdued by the Court majority’s campaign-funding ruling.

Popular sovereignty (also spelled “sovranty”) is the birth child of the Declaration of Independence.  It means that government power and authority is vested in and derived from the People, not corporations (or kings), and that government acts according to the will of the People, again, not corporations.  Popular sovereignty is one of the three pillars of democracy, along with political liberty and political equality, all of which are (or were) embodied within the protections and guarantees written into the amendments and articles of the Constitution.  Corporations cannot attain or aspire to political liberty or equality with “Men,” under either the Declaration or the Constitution, and that the Court’s majority chose to do so is what makes their ruling an aberrant abortion of those documents and the intent of the Founders who struggled so eloquently well with their genius to write them.

But this is what you get when an ignorant president (Bush) appoints a conservative-Republican majority to be led by a relative kid as Chief Justice, whose confirmation was in the hands of that president’s conservative-Republican, rubber-stamp Senate, creating an activist majority that abuses the power of the Court, while their congressional peers moan and groan about the activism of the “liberal” Court appointed by Democratic presidents.  The real harm done should now be as apparent as it so well fits into this closing, that the Court failed in its primary responsibility:  to stand for the Constitution, outside of all political considerations.

Only Congress can right this abortive travesty and threat to democracy by passing laws banning all campaign contributions and establishing funding for all elections that is wholly public.  And state legislatures will also have to act to protect the democratic value of their elected offices.  Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has taken an immediate, important, first step to counter the Court ruling by introducing the American Elections Act of 2010 (S. 2959), which would prohibit campaign spending by foreign-controlled corporations, and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) has introduced an amendment to the Constitution, which would make ironclad the democratic assurance of elections for the People.  An amendment, while the best solution, is the most time consuming and difficult to achieve; so, meanwhile, passage of Sen. Franken’s bill and the introduction of subsequent, fast-track legislation to neutralize the disastrous effects of the Court’s ruling and eventually replace the myriad of ineffective campaign-control measures with a ban on all contributions in place of public-funded elections, which will remove the primary source of party control which is abused to promote obstructionism and create gridlock, should be the highest priority of the president and the Democratic Congress, even above healthcare and banking-regulation reforms.  Otherwise, the United States of America, as the Founders conceived it, to be an instrument of the People, is dead and going to hell.

Everything killing America begins with an “E”

When President Obama, in his December 1 Afghanistan speech, claimed a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would begin in June 2011, in almost the same breath he announced he is sending another 30,000 troops there, he delivered a cheap shot to the American people, which was regrettably delivered again later by Vice President Biden when he wrote in a broadcast e-mail that the president’s speech came “with a firm commitment to begin bringing our troops home in 2011.”  But John McCain, in playing out his war-mongering, opposition role by rote, treated that empty withdrawal promise as legitimate and criticized President Obama’s setting of the meaningless deadline based upon the tried-and-failed concept, “you win a war by breaking the will of the enemy.”  That assessment is as far from true as his assessment of Sarah Palin’s qualifications for high office in the 2008 election.

The will of the South Vietnamese government was not defeated when they and America lost that war, few South Vietnamese had the necessary will, and despite that breaking the communist will was always a voiced objective, as was the false threat that withdrawal would spell the fall, like dominoes, of the region to communism, it was the will of nationalism that overcame South Vietnam and the patience of America.

In WWII, the will of the German people was not broken.  Their ability to wage war was reduced to rubble and their army decimated.  There is no such army to defeat fielded anywhere in the terrorist conflict.

In the trenches of WWI, the will of soldiers on all sides to throw their lives away by rushing machine-gun nests was not broken.  They were, on both sides, overcome with lead, and the leaders on both sides eventually decided the costs were just too great to continue.

The same is true of both al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Their will to fight will never be broken.  And the fact is that, despite McCain’s eagerness to commit America to another endless war, any war has a limit of worth, which is the limit the president chooses to impose upon the U.S. government and the Afghan regime, based upon the evaluation of the threat as it exists now and is forecast, and based upon the reasoned conformity to real limits of capability and objective.

The increased 30,000 U.S. troops, bringing the U.S. total to about 100,000, will not achieve the objective of eliminating the Taliban and al Qaeda.  Some coalition members have agreed to trace additions, but international, public outcry, particularly within America’s strongest allies, Great Britain and Germany, is already loudly opposed.  Perhaps the president realizes this and thus sets a deadline.  It may be successful in building up an Afghan army that can permanently reduce the Taliban to a minority political faction, and it seems it is this objective that the president has decided is worth adding to the troops and effort already in place there to obtain.  The November 2009 report of Taliban resurgence in Kunduz province, where Afghan police presence was cut, and where U.S. analysts expected the Taliban would not to be a factor in the military planning, is a perfect example of why the U.S. cannot win a guerrilla war there, and why sending more troops will not be enough, and will only provide greater opportunities for Taliban and al Qaeda offensive actions.  And aside from proving that intelligence and law-enforcement anti-terrorist efforts, though effective, are still falling far short of where they need to be, the Christmas-day bombing attempt against a Detroit-bound Delta-Northwest Airlines jet, by the self-professed al-Qaeda Nigerian, Abdul Mutallab, is yet another example of how shortsighted it is to wage a military campaign in Afghanistan or anywhere else on the basis of defense against another 911-type al-Qaeda attack, which can and will originate from anywhere al Qaeda or any organized terror exists.

The Taliban will flow like electricity, along the paths of least resistance to deliver shocks, and then pull the plug to disappear again.  Afghanistan is turning into another case of an enemy that yanks the American chain and, for the most part, cannot be confronted except on their terms.  Going after the Taliban as a tactic to attack al Qaeda is as much taking a sucker punch as is attacking al Qaeda with a fielded army.  If 30,000 will be sent, then another 130,000 will be needed, and when the time-limit the president has set has been reached and extended or not, what will have been gained?  The eradication of al Qaeda?  Not likely.  Or the Taliban?  Again, not likely.  The continued support of the American people or Congress?  Not at all likely, particularly as predictable incidents come to light, like the cover-up of the killing of three Afghan women in their homes, two pregnant, mothers of a combined 18 children, by U.S. forces gunfire in a Special Operations assault, not by a remotely fired missile, a cover-up admitted to nearly two months later by American command.  And that is only a small reflection of a murderous problem, where conservative United Nations records show there were at least 2,412 Afghan civilian deaths in 2009, 14 percent more than 2008.

These “collateral” deaths will never be eliminated so long as U.S. troops occupy the land, and the hate that is spawn, and the support that grows to act against America, through the Taliban or al Qaeda, only worsens the U.S. political and military outlook.  With the resistance of Pakistan in the Afghan border region, the growing public resistance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and his refusal to eliminate government corruption, which has continued into the command changeover of Gen. Petraeus, the eventual failure of an occupation there, to follow a much more involved and intensively violent, failed Soviet occupation, is a foregone conclusion, except to stubbornly arrogant U.S. administrations.  On the Karzai-corruption front, which is a major inducement of popular support for the Taliban, the New York Times reported, in late August 2010, that Karzai’s assistant attorney general, the highest official charged with active prosecution of government corruption, has named Karzai as instrumental in continued obstruction of his mandate, personally reining in his office’s investigations targeting the corrupt activities of Karzai’s closest aides and ministers.  If one attributed America as the good guys in the white hats, with Karzai as its partner, what you have is the Lone Ranger trying to fight for law and order with Geronimo, where all he’ll get is a knife in the back when the campfire dims.  But, at least, unlike Karzai, who uses America’s soldiers and money to secure his own power and enrich himself, Geronimo’s cause was righteous, fighting invaders stealing his home and heritage.  Yet, the U.S. continues to invest blood and money in this useless (except to the military-industrial complex) endeavor, in a country with another U.S.-installed and supported government that is like a cancer upon the skin of the world, and where the American occupation and the money it radiates is like the sun’s ultraviolet shining on it, causing it to worsen and spread.  At best, the Taliban will only be driven underground and reduced to a constant, low level of aggression with occasional but regular spikes in violence, ever a threat to the populace who would dare to betray them and leaders who dare to defy them.  But in the end, after America has taken its losses and left, they will still be there to consolidate their influence, because as is now being seen in Iraq, Afghanistan is their land, not America’s to shape.

All of that, and an era of casual, run-on warfare, with its expanded legions of riddled and shockingly, disgracefully overstretched American military families is the only future that awaits a decision to act against al Qaeda through the Taliban with troops and nation building in partnership with a corrupt, self-interested regime, instead of attacking al Qaeda as organized criminals, with law enforcement, intelligence, limited, precision military action in appropriately advantageous situations, and nation cooperation.  Two examples of where the will of the “enemy” was broken to bring victory were not wars fought with fielded armies (if you discount the CIA):  the Cold War, which was won chiefly by the spies of intelligence and the guns of economics, and the treaty obtained by Great Britain with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was brought about chiefly with intelligence, law-enforcement and diplomacy.  And in post WWII Germany, there is another example of fringe violence eliminated without war, there to enlighten any who look for it, and, undoubtedly, many others.  America’s conflict with al Qaeda should be among them.  But after one incompetent, failed, eight-year attempt, the conflict with that Islamist Mafia is set again, through misdirection and misjudgment, to fail to make the list of smartly engaged and settled conflicts.

The withdrawal promise in the president’s speech was a cheap shot because after his speech, the president, through his cabinet and spokesmen, “qualified” his withdrawal date by saying it would be conditional to conditions on the ground, which means there is no withdrawal promise or commitment, and that, in fact, more troops could and will be sent after that date unless the president actually decides to withdraw or Congress forces him to.

Presumedly, if a withdrawal ever happens in the baby-boomer generation’s lifetime, the president will begin the withdrawal and set about to morph the U.S. effort into something more akin to the cooperative intelligence/law-enforcement offense, supplemented with special forces as needed, that Vice President Biden and many others preferred, which will mean a two-year delay to get to where the fight against terrorist-criminals should be focused.  The trouble is that those two years will cost at least $150 billion and the lives of no less than 1,200 more soldiers.

When president after president, Republican or Democrat, and war after war, the will of the people and the majority of Congress is ignored, the message is clear, that democracy in America is broken.  And the factors that stand between the government and the People are no mystery.  President Andrew Jackson, in a spawning industrial, corporate, and banking expansion was warned that, without care, these industries would take over the power of government, a warning echoing Founder and President Thomas Jefferson’s, Abraham Lincoln’s, and most lately echoed by President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning of the dangers of the growing, Cold-War fueled military-industrial complex.  And, 100 years before the end of the Great Depression, Jackson found himself in a struggle with the banks, a struggle in which the Democratic party’s roots were sewn.

Now, if the Founders were resurrected, they would look at their aborted government and return to Europe, because all they would see, from rug-swept high crimes to ceremonial Constitution to shameful abuse of wealth to health care for provider profit to futile war to unrelenting climate change, is their legacy to us being strangled in the hands of influence peddlers who are tied to all of these factions, controlling the policies that are destroying the future of America, and with global warming, the world.  These interests, mostly exercised through the Republican party’s conservative wing, will trade jobs in one industry or another for eventual disaster everywhere.  In wars, where they no longer need fear the involvement of their own sons or daughters, they press for conflicts to keep the technology of violence progressing and the military involved to use it.  And at the very core of the power that these and other influences have over the People and their representatives, precipitating obstructionism and creating gridlock, lies the entrenched, enshrined, corrupted, influence machine of elections, with its abuses that range from gerrymandered districts that precipitate and extend partisan gridlock, to party control of funding, to bought-out legislators, paid for with contributions, which the conservative-Republican majority in the Supreme Court has placed even more solidly in the hands of industry, and apart from the People, with its ruling voiding Congress’s McCain-Feingold limits on campaign contributions.

A Court in control of conservative-Republicans, who are in the control of industry, doesn’t care that a clean electoral process is what lies at the very heart of a true democratic system, and that very core of freedom and choice is at the heart of the Supreme-Court-escalated attack for control by the monied, greed-vested entities from corporate to industrial that see Washington as their own personal cache of money and privilege to be raided at will.  The control has been theirs because of their steadfast, long-term grip on the system of contributions and gifts that buys the advertising that brings the unenlightened mass vote used as the leverage that delivers influence used to sway law makers to the dark side, and as a result, the American democracy is a sham, a front for disguising the true nature of the elitist democracy that really exists and controls the lives and future of all in the nation.  The corruption of campaign finance has become as comfortable as old sweats, so integral to the life of Congress and its members that congressional promotions are based upon fund-raising accomplishments rather than skills that yield intelligent legislation or more enlightened constituent integration with the process of government.

Until all election contributions by both individuals and organizations are banned, and elections are fully, treasury funded, Americans will never get near their worth from the fund-raising-prioritized time and money-influence-prioritized decisions of their elected officials, and they will never be free of unneeded, unwanted wars, suicidal policies against the thin, fragile veil of air that supports all life and dictates whether climates are to be stable, or the whole slew of influence travesties, ranging from pork spending to government ethics that plagues the relationship between Washington and the voters.  And this destructive abuse will continue, unabated until the conceptual America of the Founders is completely dead and gone, along with a uniquely American culture and heritage that will be obliterated by laws pushed aside to allow the invasion of an unacclimated, poorly or uneducated illegal-immigrant horde, whose blindly-granted right to vote, based upon a poorly devised and questionably administered flash-card test, will be cast, subject to manipulation, with the only native knowledge of government they possess, rooted in Banana-Republic abuse, self-service, ineptitude and corruption.

With the administration’s latest moves to block a promised, “greater-transparency” release of military and intelligence documents, and the president’s anti-Peace Prize choices (which he tactfully acknowledged as one of many conflicting factors in his Nobel acceptance speech) to step up Afghanistan deployments and make America the sole NATO hold-out against signing the Land Mine accord, the hope of a brighter democratic future for America and its people, sparked by the campaign and election of President Obama, has dimmed as the changes crossing the face of Washington seem to be limited to little more than a different elocutionary rhetoric, the lining of a few different pockets, a no-different shortchanging of institutional ethics reform, and different points of fruitless military deployment—a headlong, though more shallow plunge into still-darkening directions.

The talking heads are all concerned about how to label the first decade of the 21st Century.  How about:

The Decade of Decadence ?

The Decade of Terror ?

The Decade of Decay ?

The Decade of Pain ?

The Dog Decade ?

Any of these would apply.  Terror was abundant, in criminal massacre by U.S.-paid mercenaries (Blackwater - now Xe Services, and they created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts after trashing the Blackwater name), mass-murder assaults on soft targets, suicide-delivered explosions, lost homes, jobs, retirements, and imploded, volatile equity markets.  Name it and it was decadent, decayed, and the piper is being painfully paid, except in the case of the incompetent and irresponsible big-banking and investment executives, and former, top-level, elected government officials and appointees who acted outside the law and now are permitted to remain untouchable, beyond its reach.  Consider:

The decadent government spending of the first decade’s most aberrant source of widespread ineptitude, abuse, and criminality:  the Bush administration.

The decadently wide-spread and casual deployment of military power, come to roost by the rise of Mid-Eastern terrorism, where the American presence in support of unjust kingdoms and oligarchies stirs greatest resentment.

The initial statement of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in response to the failed bombing attempt on the Detroit-bound Northwest flight, that “the system worked,” retracted two days later with the president’s evaluation of “systemic failure,” shows that, for government agencies, covering of one’s ass after the fact is still more important than being accountable and properly covering ass in the first place.  Worse, it proves that the same failures which allowed airplanes to be flown into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were not corrected over a six-year period by Bush’s incompetent Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff (who also royally screwed New Orleans with the mismanagement of the Katrina response), and these sharing and coordination failures still plague law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, risking hundreds of lives every day the stupidity prevails.  It also proves that the money, effort, and lives wasted in fielding armies to fight a largely invisible, global al Qaeda presence should instead be spent on intelligence and law enforcement, which obviously are not operating at the level they should be or with the resources and interagency coordination they need to be more effective.

The incomprehensible willingness of government to give, give, give to the unentitled, from unwarranted government payments to 911 victims to no-bid, ripoff contractors and war profiteers, to the many resources, not critical to life or limb, totaling $billions, paid out to some 12 million or more illegal immigrants.

The use and purchase of housing and its transaction instruments as hedges for near limitless, irresponsible spending and unfounded profit.

The unbridled issuance and use of credit for frivolous and decadent desires.

The endless greed of the American corporate and industry structure, rooted in Wall Street, pervasive and enduring, even in the case of banking and finance, where the abusers who should have been ruined instead were permitted to richly reward themselves.

The allowing, by government, of the bartering of health and the economy for the sake of decadent and ruthless profit by care and insurance industries which are devoted first and foremost to Wall Street’s imperatives.

And, after Bush-Cheney, the next most aberrant abuses of government in the first decade of the 21st Century, which directly reflect upon most other abuses listed, those embodied by the absolutely corrupting influences of campaign finance and industry lobbying (and the linked abuse of congressional earmarks) which are destroying American democracy.

“Politics” is defined as, a:  the art or science of government; b:  the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy; c:  the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government.  These definitions are traditional.  Today, substitute “money” for “government,” because, since the era of the Founders, the art of controlling government and its policies has devolved to become all about the money.

Politicians try to disguise and outright lie about the influence $millions in campaign contributions, and lobbying expenditures to push the advantage of those contributions, have upon them and their votes.  They won’t always vote for the special interests who shove money into their parties’ campaign chests, and no one, particularly the special interests, expects them to, because they and the politicians know a few battles must be given up to retain the image of integrity.  But where it really counts, when the gloves are off, as with the public option in health-care reform, or reform of banking regulation, the tax code, or election financing, these interests expect their money to go to work for them by having the recipients go to work for them, and it is plain to see that the elected recipients of the $millions, like Max Baucus, who chaired the Senate committee blocking the public option from the Senate bill on health-care reform, and Joe Lieberman, who has received piles of money from his state’s health-insurance industries, respond with their votes in service to how they have been paid, not the national interest or that of their constituents.  This corrupt system of buy-outs is the legal equivalent of what, say, gangster Al Capone did when his murderous, criminal organization regularly paid off police, judges, and city officials to look the other way, or to pass ordinances favorable and block those unfavorable to his illicit enterprises.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have elected officials who never spend your time attending fund raisers or other campaign-finance appointments?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see lobbyists walk into an elected official’s office with no more weight to bear upon him or her than you or your next-door neighbor, and no leverage to impose, except the value and validity of his argument, with no other means or hope of influencing a legislator’s vote on the issue or placing a legislator in a beholding position?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a major impetus (campaign contributions) behind earmarks eliminated, reducing earmarks accordingly until they, too, are banned?

Wouldn’t it be nice if distribution of campaign funds were taken from the control of the two major political parties and made equitable across the board of eligible candidates, removing the leverage used by political parties to precipitate partisanship and obstructionism??

Wouldn’t it be nice if political leadership within Congress was never based at all upon an elected official’s fund-raising accomplishments, because there would be no fund-raising?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress got out of the rackets, and the old, influence practices of gangland were exorcised from government?

Wouldn’t it be nice if voters made a New Year’s resolution to vote accordingly to move Congress and the states to achieve these ends?

“There’s reason to hope for the 21st Century.  And that’s the way it will be.” — Walter Cronkite

Despite the late, great Walter Cronkite’s optimistic remark, the first decade of the 21st Century does not at all support reason to hope, not for intelligent restraint from use of the military to, in the case of Iraq, build capital- and resource-development platforms, or in Afghanistan, to ineffectively confront extremists; not in diluted, industry-enriching health-care and banking reform; not in environmental agreements that continue to deliver far less than what is needed to avoid the irreversible tipping point; and not for Cronkite’s profession of journalism either, largely turned into show business and surface-scratching, banter-polluted tripe, the few remaining, legitimate journalistic outlets falling like dominos, which is another bad omen for the nation, as the shrinking and distracted focus of the Fourth Estate (constitutionally protected but not specified watchdog “branch” of government equilibrium and power limiting) is spread ever more thinly, threatening democracy in the face of ever-growing government abuse and consequence.

The varied adverse effects, consequences of the abuses and negligence of governance, that have finally begun to be so severe, and that are beginning to come together to threaten a perfect storm, have been eating away at American futures and prosperity for three generations, and in some cases, far longer.  Why should anyone expect that either the voters or elected officials will see the light to force the needed changes until the drowning is well under way?  With just the issue of climate, several island nations are already slipping underwater and water shortages that have been threatening for decades are now critical in the face of vanishing glaciers.  By any measure of the events of the last decade, the most vital of American systems, from the overstretched military, to the economy, healthcare, manufacturing, and the preservation of national identity and heritage, the people’s return on the cost of government is lower than the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in early March, 2009.  And to add to the clouded decade’s failures and unaccounted crimes, on the last day of 2009, a federal judge dismissed, on technicalities, all charges against five Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) guards, indicted for their part in the September 16, 2007 massacre of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.  Again, the Bush administration’s disdain and contempt for law was at the root of the dismissals, as the judge, in an unusually lengthy opinion, cited, “reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights,” by the involved Bush-administration agencies.

The government improvements marking the first decade of the 21st Century, aside from the painfully waited-for lapse of the Bush administration and the 2009 repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, have largely been the promises couched within false or misleading talk, smoke and mirrors, with very little meaningful change in the face of continued steps down the same, old, wrong, self-destructive paths.  And it seems there is little hope to save the next 90 years unless politicians who talk and vote against necessary reforms, along with the “good men who do nothing,” are all thrown out of office in place of progressives, now mostly independents, unaffiliated with the parties, whose purpose is to ban all campaign contributions and make all election financing wholly public, finally eliminating the basis of monetary influence, indebtedness, and its moral, institutional, and national corruption forever.

Squeaky clean.

Then, there can be a real, new beginning, about which Walter could really smile.

Happy New Year.

Khost Province, Afghanistan
December 31, 2009

Bankers (et al) gambled with no risk to themselves or care for the stakes of others.

The recession:  systemic... or psychopathic failure?

“Bankers” is a loosely defined term that actually, nowadays, includes anyone or any entity having anything to do with activities normally associated with banking, or Wall Street’s investment types, and those who caused and/or contributed to the ongoing recession, and/or who act as though it either never happened or is long gone.  These bankers and those who, once their peers, have moved into related occupations, have little upon which to stand when complaining about popular uprisings or witch hunts, or when attempting to defend their professionalism or motivations in the wake of the economy they sank.  But these “bankers” also fall very neatly into another definition:

Superficially charming, tending to make good first impressions on others and often striking observers as remarkably normal, yet self-centered, dishonest and undependable, often engaging in irresponsible behavior [risk] for just the sheer fun of it.  Largely devoid of guilt, empathy [obscene compensation] and love, having casual and callous relationships, routinely offering excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead [regulators, consumers, the system, global factors], rarely learning from their mistakes or benefitting from negative feedback [more and bigger bonuses, getaways], and having difficulty inhibiting their impulses [more and bigger bonuses, getaways, risk].

This, not violence, is what has been the long-standing, accepted description of that which characterizes a “psychopath,” as first defined by psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley, in 1941.  Does it sound like psychopathic bankers are capable or inclined to police themselves, as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan fervently believed?  Or that in the process of endlessly compromising their amorality they will adopt non-sociopathic, “learned behavior” on their own?  Is Congress listening, or can the truth be heard and the pain seen through the mountain of bankers’ cash in which legislators are buried?

In answer to their part in engineering the economic train wreck of the era, bankers with psychopathic traits prefer to do as most do who either are or have been aligned with the high dwellers in steel and glass:  testify and make media statements diluting the blame and responsibility, avoiding accountability, and remaining blind to the fact that they are leeches who still, for the most part, believe they are entitled to bonuses that dwarf the annual salaries of most working Americans (referred to as “they still don’t get it.”), not to mention the multitudes whom they primarily put out of jobs and homes.  These arrogant, high-and-mighty financial magicians pulled scorched and battered rabbits out of their hats and then bled money out of them while claiming that the hats in which the rabbits were assaulted were not theirs to either wear or control.

The rabbits—American citizens, governments, charities and companies, still suffering and, in the latter case, many gone, are still scarred, battered, and burnt, and they will continue to be all the while the bankers are pocketing their loot and marveling at the wondrous fortune of their chosen profession, where they control Congress, and accountability is less onerous for them than even for the politicians they own (who are quite willing to let their campaign paymasters get away with murder—same story with health-care reform) and where punishment is the comfort of bulging pockets, the opposite of what those they failed and hurt are destined long to suffer, and for whom no tax or penalty that can be mustered could ever be repayment.

Sure, some top executives were forced out or went down with their companies, but they were richly, life-term endowed with golden parachutes, and a few top CEO’s, like Citi’s Pandit, took no salary in 2009.  But that is a meaningless non-sacrifice in their far, far-away universe, where the tens upon tens, up to hundreds of $millions they’ve already been paid have seated them in the cozy lap of luxury for life, with no need to ever work again!  Even if these irresponsible banking elitists were all taxed and clawed-back into bankruptcy and ruin, as they should be, there would be not nearly enough to right the treasuries of charities and all levels of government that have been depleted in softening the blows to the people who have been made the jetsam of their wreck, or pay back a measure of justice for those who will never see a bonus or a year’s salary that equals the most modest of those bank bonuses, so rich that they draw easy attention to bankers’ greed and thoughtlessness.

Now, big-time bankers are taking extraordinary and, in many cases, record profits and pay while talking about lessons learned and revamped risk assessment.  But the fact is that there is no such thing as risk in an industry where those in the top floors maintain total separation between the losses of their firms and those in their wallets.  Nothing demonstrates the prevailing, obscene distortion of business and capitalist logic better than the contrast of the drained net worth of millions of Americans and thousands of businesses, charities, and governments against the burgeoning pay, bonuses, and multi-million-dollar homes and toys of the privileged few who brought down so many as their personal, financial umbilicals were and still remain severed from the dying and resuscitated bodies upon which they greedily feed through their professionally structured, investor-separated IV lines.

The worst cases are too numerous and painful to ignore, except for those who pocket the big bucks.  A parent holding a foreclosure ruling and a worthless front-door key knows that the party is over.  A single mom converting a pink slip into an unemployment claim that’s about to run out of its extension knows the tap is dripping dry.  A 65-plus year-old retiree who is forced to go back to what will be difficult, physically tiring work (if it can be found) or face impoverished subsistence or homelessness knows the cherished future, his or her slice of the American dream, has vanished.  A business owner who can’t get a loan to expand or provide for the next quarter’s needs knows where an “Out of Business” sign could soon hang and that severe cuts are not a matter of choice.

Meanwhile, these victims are invisible to the bankers who culpably failed and who now strategize bonus payments and buyouts with taxpayer windfalls, and who see horizons brighter than ever and don’t know about suffering or cuts, except those which they impose on others.  One firm after another has demonstrated that, for them, the party is bigger than ever, as the only concern about their payrolls is how to shuffle them while enlarging them so that they won’t draw any more ire than absolutely necessary.  If the stuffed pockets of the bankers could at least buy a pound of social justice from which to build a more responsible future, then perhaps one could say it is all worth it.  But the evidence seems to be that both bankers and government have learned nothing and will be poised to bring another disaster down upon us in the future, one from which, as it has been going, the bankers and blindly re-elected politicians will continue to not only be immune, but from which the bankers will, somehow, again find loopholes and exclusions in the rules from which they will greatly profit at the enduring expense of many others.

Business as usual...

Organisation Internationale de Police Criminelle (Interpol) — the International Criminal Police Organization
the most effective forces against terror lack cutting-edge technologies, sharing, human resources, priority over military.

Blood-reddened eyes, stained lives mark the vision of Lieberman, warmongers.

With President Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, the voices of the warmongers have prevailed, like John McCain and Joe Lieberman, whose Sunday news-show statements prove that, for him, every year is another year for war:  “last year’s war was Iraq, this year’s war is Afghanistan, and tomorrow’s war has to be Yemen.”

If American policy continues to be driven by these corrupted, hair-line visions, the U.S. will find itself fielding armies all over the world and sending home greater numbers of caskets, indefinitely, its soldiers to become targets of terrorists who strike at will, at their advantage, only to evaporate into the cloaked safety of their indigenous populations.  The wisdom of the president’s Afghanistan strategy to prevent another 911, or of Lieberman’s to add Yemen to the list of occupied nations, is repeatedly countered by the facts.  Aside from proving that intelligence and law-enforcement anti-terror efforts, though effective, are still falling far short of where they need to be, the Christmas-day bombing attempt against a Detroit-bound Delta-Northwest Airlines jet, by the self-professed al-Qaeda Nigerian, Abdul Mutallab, is yet another example of how shortsighted it is to wage a military campaign in Afghanistan or anywhere else on the basis of defense against another 911-type al-Qaeda attack, which can and will originate from anywhere al Qaeda or any organized terror exists.

This global terror threat can only be successfully met, as it has been, with intelligence and strong, aggressive, cooperative international law-enforcement efforts, backed by government change and economic improvement in rogue and failed nations, and an agile, appropriately equipped, mobile special-forces component, to be called up for intelligence- and enforcement-developed circumstances of military offensive opportunity and advantage.  Many in government, led by Vice President Biden, have come to realize this, but they have been unable to prevail over the military-industrial complex that feeds itself and the views of the likes of McCain and Lieberman, whose path will only strengthen al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as it bleeds American government into greater fiscal, moral, and institutional decay which, thanks in great measure to the military and other abuses of the Bush administration, has been government’s hallmark in the first decade of the 21st Century.  Another decade must not be painted in the free-flowing red of loss and sorrow, marked with no other gain but the pain.

Partners in crime—Max Baucus and Joe Lieberman
Two grinches who stole true health-care reform.

Senate health-care bill — corrupted, not “imperfect.”

Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column, describes the Senate’s health-care bill (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) as “imperfect.”  I accused him of being either blind to the big picture or generous to a fault, because the correct adjective would be “corrupted.”  The bill is corrupted because it was bought with earmarks for key senators and because it was bled of the public option, drug importation, and an expedient start date, not by senators with legitimate moral, philosophical, or budget concerns, but rather a few senators, including a committee chairman overseeing the bill’s passage, Max Baucus, and the masquerading Joe Lieberman, who have been bought and paid for by the industries that, thanks in large measure to them, under the Senate’s version, remain in control of costs and now also would benefit by a federally mandated and subsidized expansion of their market base... and their profits.

Sen. Max Baucus and Joe Lieberman are excluded from any thanks for the passage of the health-care bill because they directly, intentionally helped change this bill into a profit engine for the insurance industry, rather than have healthcare be removed from the greed-based imperatives of Wall Street businesses.  They deserve no thanks.  And the rest of the Senate, which allowed a minority to abuse the Constitution and the majority with the 60-vote rule, and defeat what should be a true reform bill, also deserve no thanks because the minority, were the roles reversed, would have thrown the 60-vote rule out the window without a second thought.  The Democrat majority let down the voters who sent them to Congress with a majority and a mandate, and hopefully, the discarded public option and drug-importation components will be returned to the bill in conference and then passed by whatever means necessary.  This stranglehold on government, held by the campaign and influence money of profit-motivated industries, must end or it will end American democratic rule forever.

It is important to begin calling a spade a spade if the corrupt election financing, lobbying, and earmarks practices that dictate almost every outcome in Washington are ever to be removed from what should be a money-separated democratic process, even when by doing so, by being bluntly honest, the credit for what still is a meaningful achievement is made less heroic and somewhat tainted, because a less heroic and tainted system is what lies at the foundation of government in America, and it will never be swept away as long as it remains hidden, insulated, and unacknowledged.  Neither Krugman nor the president or the senators who try to justify what their corrupted system has produced, in the process of claiming credit and handing out accolades for producing the bill they are obligated by standard procedure, ego, political objectives, and in some cases, payments received to defend, should shade the truth of the true failure the Senate’s health-care attempt really represents or who the largest beneficiaries of that ultimate travesty really are.

cc via Web forms: White House, Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Rep. John Murtha, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Richard Durbin, Sen. Russ Feingold, Sen. Arlen Specter, Rep. Steve Driehaus, Rep. David Obey, House Financial Services Committee office, more... (this cc group really applies to most everything on site.)

U.S.S. America is in steep dive.

Things in the “new, promised” Washington of the populist Obama movement are not looking very Democratic in these troubling times.  Like President Obama’s retracted campaign promise to allow prescription-drug imports, ever more necessary as drug companies limit production of low-profit drugs, creating shortages, the Ship of State is beginning to take on the pained and retracted look of another Bush/Republican-skippered submarine, its dive plains jammed in the down position with a runaway, full-bore, concocted-money and fear-and-lies-fueled engine pushing it swiftly down into the dark abyss of oblivion, to be crushed by the overpowering pressure of the money and influence that weighs it down and presses all around it.  The lights are dimming, the crew is going blind, and the air they breathe is becoming heavy and stale with the rising pressure and venting pipe bursts of the foul contaminates that have spilled from Washington’s halls over the last half century or more.

The president’s regrettable choice of Afghanistan as the single venue in which to put up a real fight, the failure to address the bloated, favors-for-friends tax code, restore the 2009 estate-tax rules, to eliminate costly, naked speculation in oil, to pass banking regulation that isn’t a Swiss cheese of loopholes and exclusions, to change the structure of banker pay and bonuses from ripped-off, no-down-side handouts and obscene bonuses to performance-based systems with investor control on limits, or to force banks that are now, thanks to the taxpayers’ money, recovering, as President Obama said, to act on “a greater obligation to the goal of a wider recovery, a more stable system, and more broadly shared prosperity,” all verify the downward dive is full-force.  Should not a good banking system aspire to do those things on its own?  If not, should not banks be forced to do those things?  Instead, as the president rightly complains, they slink a forked-tongue, public rhetoric of cooperation while taking the muzzles off their lobbyist jackals on Capital Hill.

Add to that unblowable ballast the Big-Pharma, $20-million-bought-and-paid-for failure to allow pharmaceutical imports, or the Senate’s failure to include a public option (not mandate) in health-care reform, and there is no doubt that the state ship is beset by the most unconscionable of all the failures that will severely stunt that reform, increase its cost at direct benefit to industry pockets, and prove the government of the United States is not by, of, or for the People, but instead buy, bought, and owned by the corporations, industrialists, and monied elite who, with the likes of Max Baucus (who has the gall to stand behind the president’s right shoulder as he addressed the nation to push the diluted, non-public-option health-care-reform bill Baucus torpedoed), John Murtha (a great Marine, but king of pork-spending abuse), Joe Lieberman (as unconscionable a Republican as any to ever hide in the Senate), along with the leadership and a large rift of the Republican caucus, have mined a channel that separates the president from his promises and the People from their own Congress as a consequence of the ocean of election-campaign and lobby-money influence poured into lawmakers’ pockets.

Democratic leaders in the Senate, like Harry Reid (D-NV) and Charles Schumer (D-NY, were falling over themselves backpedaling with the president in the face of the obdurate, bought-out minority and their own turncoat caucus members, now labeling the diluted bill as a “first step,” and defending the cut-out heart and soul of the reform as “components that must not hold up passage” of whatever it is that walks without a heart and soul—a zombie health-care bill?  Instead, as this would not be a case of tyranny over the minority, which the Senate’s 60-vote rule (which makes a supermajority body out of what the Constitution sets up as a majority body) is not needed to protect against in any case, the Democrats should be swatting the minority out of the way with reconciliation to drop-ballast on the unconstitutional 60-vote requirement that is blocking majority rule and the People’s will to trump all the money, lobbyists, and their abusive industries for the sake of shifting the power of health and life where it belongs:  to patients and doctors!

And, the latest, good news is that, in a mid-February e-mail, Sen. Schumer announced that he is joining four other senators, Sharrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), who have have reignited a push to pass a healthcare bill, with the public option, through the reconciliation process.  But even if the current zombie bill is killed without bypassing the 60-vote rule in reconciliation to start over, the bill won’t go away for a decade as the fear-mongering says, like a missed ship, not even close, because there are two important differences that separate health care from other issues of tenuous-compromise standing and will keep it a priority on the front burner:  it will remain a strong social demand of growing consensus and, most important, because if it isn’t passed, it has already been made official by leaders on both sides that health care will take down the economy in short order.  Even the most money-injected, green-skinned insurance partisans can’t ignore that to just keep on going with unreasoned, uncompromising opposition, and their constituents would not allow them to continue doing so, assuming the president or anyone in active government would be willing to take them on to openly strip them of their public-service facades.

Just as Jefferson, Lincoln, Eisenhower, and other great, past American leaders warned, until the ilk of these “public servants” who serve up for the public bitterly worsened lives are removed from office, and contributions of any kind are prohibited for all elections, the People will continue to be sunk, their lives and futures pressured under the weight of the money that fills pockets and campaign funds in Washington and state houses alike, sinking the ship and doing no good or constructive thing, only making the rich richer, the powerful more powerful, the corrupt more absolutely corrupted, and everyone else worse off than they should be, which isn’t really too good at all, thanks in larger part than most realize to the sinking demise of America’s popular sovereignty.

Another tasteless college coach joins the swelling ranks of values and player stompers.
How American colleges and the NCAA still allow repeated teaching of life-lesson fouls.

Notre-Dame’s new head coach, Brian Kelly, didn’t leave the Big East champion Cincinnati Bearcats for the sake of his family as he claims to deflect from himself.  His and his family’s futures were secure with the generous salary and benefits for which he contracted at UC, and he turned down more.  Kelly left his team in a playoff-bowl lurch without the coach who helped them get there to selfishly answer his own personal desires and misplaced priorities.

The lesson to youth and young men alike?  Nothing is more important than your own ambitions.

Since no sense of loyalty or obligation to the team, the school, or the players will ever prevent any college coach from the tasteless treachery of cutting and running to allegedly improve stature or pay, or keep colleges from dropping ethical restraints, even those as high as a program like Notre Dame falsely chooses to attach to itself, as they walk over athletes and other schools to snatch away whomever they want, whenever they want, the only way to end this fishy-smelling flipping and back-stabbing and insure that bowl-winning coaches remain with their teams is for the NCAA to mandate that recruiting by any school cannot begin until one week following the last bowl game.

Kelly left with his players feeling angry and disappointed, just to begin recruiting for the Irish and realize his personal dream.  How does he do that?  Go recruiting, sell himself?  What promises can he make that anyone can take seriously?  If I were a player and he came to my house, I’d tell him, “Why, hello there, Mr. Coach Kelly.  So you came out here to get me to play for you?  Well, that’s real nice and all, and I do appreciate it.  But man, you lied to your school back there in Cincinnati, to the fans, the press, and man, you lied to your players and left ‘em hangin’!  You don’t really think I can just forget all that and trust you to be lookin’ out for what’s best for me or the team, do ya?  All that glitters ain’t gold, Coach.

“Now, get off my porch!”

A 1st-season won-lost record of just rewards,
while facing 13 unranked teams.

Deployment of U.S. military forces (legal and illegal branches) must
not be "use it or lose it" or "we have it so should use it" propositions.

A West Point Afghan troop announcement means a tragic decision has been reached.

The following letter was sent via White House Web Form.

Mr. President:

I am disappointed to learn that you will be increasing troops under a misguided justification that the U.S. must stabilize the Afghan government.

Think about it.  If the U.S. were to be responsible to stabilize every impacting emerging government, war would continue to be America’s primary international pastime.  Your choice leaves the nation on that regrettable, unprofitable path, instead of the path of least resistance and, based upon results, greatest effectiveness.

Were you to announce that the terrorists that occupy those and other regions would be attacked as the international criminals they are, which has produced stellar results from mostly other nations’ law-enforcement efforts, your announcement would come from the FBI building or the State Department, not West Point.

As your Justice Department chooses to treat terrorists as criminals, you will choose to treat them as some sort of fielded army.  You are choosing to fight a guerilla war, and you should know it cannot be won with the big stick.  It is probably too late to sway you away from those who wish to always see America in some military tangle, but mark my words:  you will regret this decision as the years pass and the deaths and costs rise in the face of a continuing threat.  The hope was that you would be the president to take America off the path of war and military involvements in the affairs of other nations.  That would have been your greatest accomplishment.

Instead, you are choosing to join in the mistakes of the past which have left little but a history of regret and “if onlys,” viewed from the perspective of ignored hindsight.  Aside from proving that intelligence and law-enforcement anti-terrorist efforts, though effective, are still falling far short of where they need to be, the Christmas-day bombing attempt against a Detroit-bound Delta-Northwest Airlines jet, by the self-professed al-Qaeda Nigerian, Abdul Mutallab, is yet another example of how shortsighted it is to wage a military campaign in Afghanistan or anywhere else on the basis of defense against another 911-type al-Qaeda attack, which can and will originate from anywhere al Qaeda or any organized terror exists.

I published a selection of Joseph Biden as your best possible choice of running mate two months before you made the announcement.  I wish you would listen to him now, because his path is the right one, the only one that can lead to success.  Any half measure will still leave an army in place against an ephemeral foe to build resentment and provide a target.  And there will be more and more deaths, inflicted by an enemy that does not give up bin Laden for any pile of money, which should tell you something.  As should the fact that international and U.S. forces have been unable to find him.  They know the land, its people, and they know us, and they have an arsenal of advanced weapons they have yet to really employ to do significant damage, which will be done on the path of increasing troops.

This threat of Islamic terrorism is not one that can be defeated by fielding armies.  The proof of that is already in.  You choose to ignore it at the peril of the nation and your legacy.

A long-term Afghan-region victory through occupation?  Go see a psychiatrist!

The murderous rampage visited upon Fort Hood by one of its soldiers, a commissioned officer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, shines a light into the darkened heart of true Islamic radicalism, which should give pause to President Obama, and to those who believe the way to keep America safe from terror, an ocean and a continent away, is to occupy Islamic lands with more and more troops, where the only experience that most of those faithful have of America is the violence that accompanies its troops, and the injuries and deaths that it eventually inflicts upon their families, friends, and livelihoods, which is the solemn commitment and intent of the radicals, and criminals who use Islamic radicalism as their mechanism of operations, to retain the loss and violence as permanent associations.

Maj. Hasan is certainly not the first Islamist to claim that America is at war with Islam, but he is certainly in the best position to know that isn’t true; yet, he believed it.  No doubt, he relived the experiences of the wounded and shell-shocked soldiers (post-traumatic stress disorder) he treated, as an Army psychiatrist, through their perspectives, feeling their hatreds, and while that kind of exposure to naked, vehement feelings toward Islam and Arabs would certainly be impossible for him to ignore, and there is evidence it challenged his professional capacity, it amounted to only a small part of his American experience, sprinkled at the top of a life of growing and being educated and eventually enlisting to become indoctrinated and trained as a soldier in the professional ranks of the Army, which some relatives perceived as being the very core of his life.

Somewhere along the line, the scale of his internal principles, held in precarious balance for years, began to tip, probably during his mental preparations for his first deployment to his native regions, where he knew he would confront, far more directly, the violence and aftereffects he saw, heard, and experienced through his grind of consultations with battered soldiers, and his religion began to overcome his acclimation to his American civil and military cultures.

The native peoples of the Afghan and Iraqi regions have no such background of American and military cultural indoctrination, nor have they Maj. Hasan’s American experience or insights to temper their perspectives, and even combined with counseling he received during his Army practice, they were insufficient to temper what troubled him; so, with what grain of salt can any commander or U.S. official take the assurances of any villager, tribal leader, local police officer, soldier, minister or leader that what is being told them, be it the direction of the Taliban or that corruption will be eliminated, is what is really in the heart?  What can be the true weight of the assurances that matter so much to the decisions that will cost the lives of Americans who never even consider these questions?

If nothing else, Maj. Hasan has demonstrated for the president and his advisers, if they will stop to consider it, that there is no explanation or qualification for, or uncovering the true scope and depth of the passions that America is up against, which lead to many kinds of suicide missions, and not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, and to armed violence of lessor single-mindedness that will not subside even in a decade.

If America cannot [will not] secure its borders to keep out illegal immigrants, much less terrorists, what official can be so misguided to believe America can control either side of the hostile borders of nations in the Afghan region?  Those who so assuredly advise the president to commit Americans to occupy and die there for years, with some sort of vision for a victory, should go talk to a psychiatrist.  Maj. Hasan has some answers for them, though even he will not likely be aware of their complexities and reach.

The health-insurance reform public option is the flag of true freedom from special-interest rule.

The public option is the only way to keep profit-motivated, public insurance and provider companies from doing what they have always been doing:  failing to put patients’ health-care needs and availability in the forefront of their priorities.  There is nothing like a public option except a public option that is entirely divorced from insurance influence, as it would be politically correct to see Congress so divorced.  Co-ops cannot trump the empowered insurance companies and providers to affect lower prices.  Any trigger would only be a meaningless, costly delay.

Reform without an insurance-company-separated public option is not true reform.  It signals a Congress still in the grip of lobbyists and money instead of the welfare-interests of its constituency, and it leaves insurance companies and for-profit providers in charge, and they will always be ruled by the Wall Street imperative for ever-increasing profit and returns, above all else.

Daniel Mudd, the former CEO of Fannie May, testifying on April 9, 2010, before a congressionally-authorized committee, spoke the truth of profit-prioritized systems when he said that the goal of affordable housing is “impossible” to meet when it competes against that of profit-making, which he said was the priority of Fanny Mae’s board as it entered into the irresponsible risks that it hoped would increase shareholder returns, but which, instead, lead to the collapse that forced the government bail-out.  Publicly (investor) owned health-care boards and CEOs also have the priority for profit and investor returns set ahead of affordable service, making an affordable health-care system, owned and operated by Wall Street’s firms impossible.

If anything, the public option or single-payer system will, at last, be the step that moves in the direction of acknowledging that health care should not be, primarily, a for-profit business, and that Wall Street’s firms are, by their nature and mandate, not suited to be properly motivated providers or financiers.  Not everything operating within a capitalist system must be structured to the form and priorities of corporations.  This concept was again proven, last month, as above-usual premium increases, some above 100 percent, were being triggered by a combination of Wall Street’s pressure on the industry for better profits and the industry’s effort to establish increases before any reform was passed.

The problem is as obvious as the solution, which still eludes the government and the people.  And, how can any elected representative even DARE to consider any plan that would fine those who do not buy coverage and at the same time be willing to drop the public option and thereby fail to seize control from the for-profit corporate groups!?

Did The People elect a Democratic government, or not?

Republicans, with a solitary, one-time exception, have refused to compromise, and so they should not be permitted to block the single-most-important element that is the glue of true reform:  the public option.  And Democrats who do not tow the bottom-line on this necessary victory should be rightly let out in the cold for the remainder of their participating terms and the next election.  If these Democrats want to influence the shape of reform, then let them know they must move the Republicans, not sabotage their constituents by plunging a knife into the heart of needed reform.

Democratic and Democratic-leaning Independent voters will not appreciate any final bill, coming from the Democratic Congress they elected, which is tainted by the same minutia of conservative-Republican avarice that devised the “death panels” argument and the hypocritical, mind-control claims protesting the president’s speech to school children, which was an audience also addressed by presidents Reagan and both Bushes, whom they elected.

The president must know that letting the public option go, as he seems too eagerly prepared to do, is not changing the way Washington does business, as he promised he would strive to do.  This would be the same old story of caving to the special interests.  There is no reason, except influence, not to have a non-subsidized public option.  Without it, there is no competition, because the power remains with the insurance industry, where profits rule, not patient care, and co-ops will only be at the mercy of the bottom line they set.  The president will have failed, not only to bring meaningful reform, but also by having the treads of special interests and lobbyists imprinted on his face and his administration for every policy priority to follow.  Those treads are too deep in the skin of Republicans to erase, and President Obama must bring his party into line, make the Blue Dogs realize they will pay the price if they continue to stand with the special interests, not allow them to rule the day, and by precedent, the years to follow.

If Republicans and traitorous Democrats, like Senate Finance Committee chair, Sen. Max Baucus, who have the interests of insurance industry and health-provider profits as their priority want co-ops instead of a public option, then write the bill so that government-employee insurance, their public option, is ended for representatives and senators and require them to move to private or co-op insurance instead.  The problem with the cost of health care is that it is for-profit prioritized, not patient-care prioritized, and the profit motive should be removed from the industry, which would remove the greed-factor, which is the Wall-Street factor.

Enough is enough.

These ignorant, Republican-right protestations are proof enough that the one-sided gift of bi-partisanship the president intended to provide, and still tries to provide to the once-overbearing minority, is misguided, unrealistic, and unattainable.

It is time to let the citizen majority overrule the greed-based, profit-first motives of the health insurance and provider industries.

Brooksley Born

The supremacy of the Born warning, spanning decades, is an ultimatum to Congress and the president.

Frontline’s The Warning, is a masterful accounting of the steps taken along a blindly traveled path leading to destruction, where today, the blinders remain, and the lone, assured, and courageous voice of caution and omen, which was silenced 11 years ago, the agency of that voice’s authority stripped of its regulatory power, speaks out again to say that, despite the carnage, nothing has been done to remove the danger that still threatens to visit again and again.

Brooksley Born, chairperson of the congressionally neutered Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), from 1996-1999, warned of the [still] unregulated OTC derivatives dangers in late 1998, years before Larry Summers (then Deputy Treasury Secretary), Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (1987-2006), Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (1995-1999, who was succeeded by Summers and later moved to Citigroup), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Arthur Levitt (1993-2001), served with President Clinton’s economic working group.  They became the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse, pulling the chariot of laissez-faire markets, moving quickly with their power-honed wheel hubs to sideswipe any contender, eventually cutting the spokes out from under Born.

Summers, now President Obama’s financial right arm, as Director of the White House’s National Economic Council, has allegedly been converted to believe in strong market regulation.

After the first, initial collapse, marked by the 1998 rescue of the leading hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM), the Federal Reserve Board chairman at the time, Alan Greenspan, testified before Congress that regulation would be “a mistake.”  Ten years later, after the recovery from the latest meltdown, he testified, in October 2008, that his world perspective, as it pertained to unregulated markets, was wrong.  Give back the 2006, Bush awarded, Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission at the time, Arthur Levitt, said, “I didn’t know Brooksley Born... I was told that she was irascible, difficult, stubborn, unreasonable.  I’ve come to know her as one of the most capable, dedicated, intelligent and committed public servants that I have ever come to know.  I wish I knew her better in Washington, and I wish my view of her was more rounded by personal exposure... I could have done much better.  I could have made a difference.”

Trillions of personal wealth and government debt reserve have been destroyed. Millions of citizens have lost homes, jobs, savings and retirements.

A “new normal,” of uncertain futures, constricted credit, retarded growth, a devalued dollar, looming inflation, and double-digit unemployment has emerged from the flotsam of the expertly sunken economy.

But Wall Street bankers, traders, and consultants are still afloat, not weighted down with an iota of public responsibility, pocketing $billions in bonuses under the philosophy that investment and banking professionals are too big and too special to fail to be lavishly, outrageously paid... in many cases with the barge full of taxpayer dollars sent by a Congress, starkly awakened to rescue them.

Those old Horsemen and their groom, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, from 1998–2001, under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers), who are not retired have been given the reins, by a promised, pro-regulator president, to the highest levels of government’s financial structure, one can only assume because of the reputed intrinsic value that is attached to one who confronts and admits his mistakes, and is hopefully less likely to repeat them and best qualified to correct their consequences.

But capitalism is on trial, guilty as hell, ruled by the dark side, where ill-restrained Greed is king and Lust is queen, her hand poised lightly over his wrist, a delicate finger tapping out the rush of his pulse.  And in a Congress with short memory and twin, decade-separated awakenings that were not stark enough, the regulation that Born, in 1998, urged in vein be adopted, and that the Horsemen fought against with all they had, only to recant after the damage was done, has been stalled, assailed by the alien lobbyists of the other-world-based financial sector, still nowhere to be seen, except in contemplation, with a Swiss-cheese outlook, to be riddled with loopholes and exclusions as, for the financial elite, with their bonuses, lobbyists, and arrogance, business stubbornly remains as usual, their fingers, not voters’ ballots, tapping the pulse of Washington.

Capitalism is like a hungry, wild dog.  It should always be leashed, and the regulation of democracy is that requisite restraint.  —  M. L. Kantzler

Recent economic history is sufficient, alone, to prove that naked capitalism is just as bad as naked socialism.  Most of America’s historic success has been due to a successful blending of the two, capitalism’s greed tempered by socialism’s, or more properly, democracy’s restraints (regulation), a compromise which has been ever more lacking over the last decades.  The banking regulation that is finally passed will signal if “change-agent” Democrats lied, instead to allow democratic rule to be subverted by politics and monied influence, as is usual on The Hill.

Still, as before, Brooksley Born’s warning, issued again, this year, echoes into the unprotected future, and hopefully, within the Halls of Congress:  “We will have continuing danger from these markets and we will have repeats of the financial crisis... there will be significant financial downturns and disasters, attributed to this regulatory gap, over and over, until we learn from experience.”

Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal says 40,000 more
troops needed for Afghan nation-build mission.

If Afghan war is one of necessity, then it is thanks to failed US and UN non-proliferation policies.

The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose visit to the United States, in the last days of September, coincides with the concluding White House reevaluation of Afghan military policy, in his public address, restated that the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity, and that the NATO nations (contributing about 40 percent of forces there) are committed for the long term.  If President Obama redefines the mission in Afghanistan to isolate on al Qaeda instead of nation-building to destroy the Taliban, then, instead of the additional 40,000 troops Gen. McChrystal says are needed now to prevent mission failure, which would only be a second of many installments to come, more than half the troops now there could be immediately withdrawn.  But if, in the midst of rising U.S. public and congressional uncertainty about continuing the military buildup, and, despite growing, international public resistance to the Afghanistan war, over Rasmussen’s stated convictions, it is decided that the means by which stability is to be attained is through integration of vast forces into the towns and villages on a widespread, continuing basis, while also building the Afghan military and police, providing security for infrastructure projects and other development operations, and while also conducting offensive operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda elements (nation building), then there can be no conclusion other than that McChrystal’s additional troops are necessary if the multi-pronged effort is to be effective, and that, considering American unwillingness to shoulder the majority of the fighting over the long haul of a nation-building effort, additional troops will also be required from other NATO nations.

The die may already have been cast, because unless Rasmussen’s speech was delivered without Obama-administration coordination, as a NATO persuasive argument, which is unlikely, his visit and statements have all the markings of a united posture that will be endorsing an intended, if not proclaimed, U.S.-NATO position to proceed with the costly nation-building objectives.  With these objectives in place, if they are somehow valid, failing to increase troop levels will only delay the date at which a determination can be made as to operational success, adjustments, and eventual withdrawal.  Every day of delay increases the cost in lives, injuries, and money.  It will not be possible for the United States to provide the security necessary to carry out a multi-pronged, civilian-sector effort to develop economic and infrastructure improvements, to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, and build their security resources to fully take on the anti-insurgent campaign unless troop levels are dramatically increased.

Yet, if the multi-national troops will be viewed by the majority of rural Afghans as shielding and validating a corrupt, insulated, and illegitimate central government, then no plan that is dependant upon central authority will succeed, because any central government, good or bad, represents a sea-change for a nation where the vast, non-urban regions have been under the jurisdiction of a disbursed and separatist tribal system, and where heritage and evolved leadership in the hands of elders is respected and endorsed by the people.

If there is any inclination to dismiss the strength or resiliency of the networkable tribal order in Afghanistan, be reminded that it was that system which defeated the Soviet Union’s best, most violent, years-long efforts to take control.  Any form of acceptable central government must find a way to weave the far-flung tribal authorities into its fabric, while also turning those elements away from their profitable, criminal activities, through substitution of rewarding and growth-sustaining enterprises.  Without an acceptable central government, the only real option is to carry out independent military offensives against targets of opportunity, and most al Qaeda targets of effective value are believed to be in Pakistan.

Assuming that keeping the Taliban’s influence in check benefits American security and can be accomplished, it is still going to require the long-term presence of U.S. troops, whether a progressive transition from a strong U.S. military presence to a competent, comprehensive Afghan-security apparatus takes place or not, and an in-check Taliban is not going to translate into an in-check al Qaeda.  Defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, and any al Qaeda element is left more exposed, but not eradicated, and with its head in Pakistan and its world reach, al Qaeda elements will still operate and continue to threaten from many points around the world.  Therefore, the fact is that, even if there can be success (U.S. withdrawal with secure, effective government in place) in Afghanistan, the perpetrators of 911 and possible future attacks will still remain at large.

If the post-911 purpose of removing those who were behind the attacks on U.S. soil and preventing them from striking again cannot be achieved by force in Afghanistan, as a consequence of al Qaeda’s global ties and mobility, how would the extended deployment of massive military resources there really serve to protect American interests?  How would the end-purpose—the door-opener to exit—be defined?  It seems that the effort against al Qaeda should be primarily offensive law enforcement and intelligence, with targeted military options employed only as necessary and as opportunity and circumstances permit for effective impact, and Vice President Biden’s recommendation is to reduce troops and focus on al Qaeda in Pakistan with special military resources and intelligence, utilizing whatever cooperation is possible with local forces.  This is the right path, and it coincides with current congressional authorizations.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel with a nation-building, war-against-the-Taliban approach in Afghanistan, and there is very little likelihood that those who committed and plot terror against the West will be killed or captured through such extensive, resource-crippling measures.

This common Republican and vested-interest argument, that turning away from the nation-building option in Afghanistan in favor of more directed, far less costly efforts against al Qaeda will result in Afghanistan becoming a haven again for al Qaeda, makes no sense at all; it has no validity.  If the policy is to deny al Qaeda refuge, then that means they will be pursued and attacked wherever they are found, in Pakistan’s border regions, in Afghanistan, in Africa or the streets of London or New York!  Adopting an effective strategy, focused on al Qaeda is not granting a license to establish safe havens and training grounds in those nations where the U.S. chooses not to nation-build.

Safe havens must be targeted, wherever they are, or else the same major mistake of Vietnam will be repeated in the prosecution of al Qaeda, where the enemy retreated, unassailed, to regroup and rearm in Cambodia and Laos.  Neither Pakistan or Afghanistan can be permitted to be out-of-bounds safe havens for any kind of operation, the purpose of which is to find and destroy al Qaeda; otherwise, American lives will be needlessly lost, and the fighting needlessly extended.

Public and broadcast news interviews with unobjective officials are meaningless.  Of course the Afghan ambassador to the U.S., Said Jawad, wants the nation-building option to be U.S. policy, and to be expanded.  It means billions of dollars and guaranteed security to him, through his government, but, certainly, not necessarily to his people.  Of course he will say it is in America’s security interest to prop up his government as the means to attack al Qaeda.  It is in his personal and regime-derived interest to say that.  And when he says “public opinion must be shaped” to coincide with that view, he is promoting effective propaganda for his regime, not any truth that serves America’s security interests.

Whether or not the U.S. is to take the long, hard, costly option to nation-build in Afghanistan as the means to defeating al Qaeda, the Pakistani border areas can no longer be ceded to the enemy.  Pakistan must not be permitted to control or dictate the offensive operations needed to clear the Pakistani border as a safe haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban terrorists, nor can the Afghan government dictate operations there if they are not aggressively doing the job themselves.  Pakistan and Afghanistan must be told, point blank, that they have only three options:

1.  Carry out aggressive and effective operations on their own to clear and keep clear the border regions, and all of their territories, of the terrorists.

2.  Assist the U.S. in carrying out that objective.

3.  Stay out of the way.

There can be NO option that allows them to stall or shield the terrorists in their countries.  Otherwise, American lives are being thrown away, again, for no good purpose.

There is only one real objective for America in Afghanistan: bring to its government sufficient stability (under any form of responsible, humanitarian government) so that no terrorist-based group can make Afghanistan become a threat to neighboring Pakistan, where stability, primarily for its coveted nuclear arsenal, spread throughout the land, is a legitimate security concern for the U.S., Europe, Russia, and the Mid-East.  Yet, it still remains dubious that the objective of Pakistani security should be addressed with troops in Afghanistan.

One has to wonder, if the NATO ministers who, this week, endorsed Gen. McChrystal’s troop-hungry, counter-insurgency plan, would be so anxious to do so if their nations were required to match U.S. troop commitment and deaths, which are guaranteed to be high if the president decides to take the nation-building approach to fight al Qaeda.  The European nations’ peoples will be quick and aggressive to mount prolific resistance to the effort when the dead-and-injured tolls mount, as they will, eventually leaving the U.S. carrying even more and more of the risk and consequences, which are already out of proportion.  The fact is that, if McChrystal’s plan is put into effect, al Qaeda will remain outside of the center-focus of U.S. military activities in the region, in place of a multi-pronged, multi-decades occupation, another Vietnam/Iraq.  And while the justification for launching another generational war are far more substantial for President Obama than they were for Kennedy/Johnson or Bush, where justifications were non-existent, that does not make it the right policy to follow.  They only guaranteed aspect of it is that it will be the policy most costly and damaging to the United States’ long-term prospects for a peaceful stance in the world.

Remember what the Founders’ position was on U.S. entanglements with Europe.  Europe was the international space then, and while the world today was unimaginable to them, it seems clear that they would still advise against any overseas military commitments that do not provide for immediate relief against aggression, and that they would look first to history, where for the U.S., in Afghanistan, Russia is a frightening experience set, and then they would look to other available alternatives, as is the position of the Vice President and many others of great experience, who would rely first on technology, combined with aggressive intelligence, law enforcement, and coordinated special military forces, which they know have amazing capabilities when effectively combined and coordinated with other international, allied assets—capabilities of which are greater than is publicly known.  U.S. history and the troops deserve the opportunity to avoid the mistakes so often repeated by choosing the most violent path, and these alternative resources, in the front line during peace and war, properly funded, staffed, and led, deserve the first crack at the combined Islamic-radical/criminal presence in the Afghan region.  Otherwise, there is no chance for this generation to avoid another label of war that will succeed Vietnam, Iraq, and the already interminable, place-holding non-effort of Bush in Afghanistan, which, at least, has served to provide a preview of what can easily become a Russian repeat mistake.

Americans should be thankful that an unjustified, wasteful war in Iraq, one that continues to reduce American security, is apparently, finally giving way to the increased focus on the more-relevant U.S. security threats in the region, and view that fight, however it evolves, as the premium that is being paid to insure the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is a prime example of why preventing and reversing nuclear proliferation is so critical, and so costly when not achieved.

The diplomatic coup of all American history would be if both India and Pakistan could be persuaded to give up their nuclear and biological arsenals in exchange for a tri-lateral, U.S. non-aggression treaty, where if either India or Pakistan attacked the other, they would face a countering U.S. military and economic response, along with reparations.  This would insure the security of both nations, increase U.S. and world security, and then, the Afghanistans of the world could be left alone, as should be the American way, to make and lie in their own beds.

Instead, Iran is being allowed to slowly but surely insert itself into the dangerous equation of irreversible threat and extreme option that now causes the U.S. to stew in Afghanistan as the checksum for the Pakistani factor is debated and resolved.

Whatever the resolution, constitutionally, the determination of objectives and approval for military deployments remain the specified, first-order responsibilities of Congress, not the prerogatives of the president.  But with the abortive delegation of war power between Congress and the executive that is characteristic today, the best outcome that can be hoped for is that if the president’s decision is opposed by a majority of Congress, thet either he or they will act to change it.

Health-care reform is a tug of war to balance democratic and capitalist ideals.

The more Connecticut’s Senator Joe Lieberman speaks, the more he reveals the Republican insensitivity to suffering and need that lies beneath his changeable, Independent feathers.  Over the weekend, he said there’s no reason to push health-care reform as a large program until the recession is history.  President Obama, months ago, countered that cold-hearted line of 21st-century Republicanism when he said that he’s in a hurry for change because too many people are in dire need.  People are actually suffering needlessly, and dying, at the Lucy-swift, disappearing and invisible hands of the insurance industry.  But, Republicans of today don’t care, and no health-care reform in the world will ever mend the sickness of the heart that plagues Lieberman and his Republican ilk, who defiantly refuse to accept any change that doesn’t leave the profiteering, Wall-Street prioritized insurance companies and providers on top and in charge.

Only those with no conscience can live without care or in blindness to the fact that among them, in their community and nation, are those who are denied health and, eventually, life because of the difference in the sizes of their purses.  Health care should be an entitlement for all, denied to none, denying home, happiness or opportunity to none who need it.

The Republicans and so-called Democrats who object to healthcare becoming an entitlement must be ignored, pushed aside, because a progressive democracy within a civilized society has no room for them or their kind, and must overcome their lack of conscience or hard-hearted, ignorant blindness to the need and suffering of those around them with the bludgeon of law that equalizes the freedom of economics whose first masters are greed and self-service.

For public companies, with Wall Street mandates, delivering compassionate health care is an oxymoron, and to expect them to find a way to do it at a fair price is an enigma wrapped within a conundrum, because the Wall Street mandate is for profits, ergo prices, to climb as though they are passing through a black hole’s event horizon.  And after America comes to its senses and provides a competing, non-subsidized public option, within reform, the fallout may well be that publicly-traded companies will be eventually, over years, eliminated, leaving the field to public and non-profit operators and providers, and that would be a very good thing for patients, doctors, hospitals, and the government.  After all, those legislators who are so concerned about insurance companies and providers are the same Republicans who blocked health-insurance supplementals for children no less than three times during the last four Bush-administration years.  No major reform was involved there, just getting care to more kids who needed it.  During that time, Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (KY), who led the spending splurge of the Bush era, and who, forgetting that, is now so quick to scourge any spending for heath-care reform, found it was more important to earmark public money for the steeplechases of horse owners in his high-poverty state, at the same time that he was repeatedly pushing children’s health-care needs aside with his votes.

And now, to block any reform that provides balanced competition and compassion in the access to healthcare in America, the Republicans are resorting to their best asset:  fear mongering, by writing horror-genre fiction for their propaganda machine, about death panels and illegal-immigrant welfare and government mandates replacing consumer choice, etc., when what Americans should really fear is that, in 2008, so many voted for Sarah Palin, who delivers the party line so convincingly that, given the revelations of her sub-par acumen, indicates she probably believes all the Republican lies are really true, and her former running mate, Sen. John McCain (AZ), who acts like he’s suppressing a gas attack when confronted with questions about the validity of her claims, claims that would throw his validity into greater question if he didn’t avoid answering them by repeating the same falsehoods, but with different, less horrific labels.

But, there is cause for concern, real concern, over illegal-immigrant access to the new reforms.  Although the proposed bills include wording that excludes anyone not legally in the U.S. from being enrolled, there is no requirement proposed for verification or a secure form of verification for eligibility.  Unless there is specific wording in the legislation requiring stringent verification for enrollment, the access to doctors, hospitals, and clinics will be as available to illegal aliens as has been their free run over American soil, heritage, and social-service dollars, and their inclusion will limit and make access to services more difficult for Americans, and the cost of servicing them will make any budget-constraint expectation for health care irrelevant, forever.  This is the time to issue some sort of difficult-to-forge health-access card to Americans, which wouldn’t be anything new, since veterans receiving VA health services have long been issued I.D. cards for access.

If healthcare is, in practice, reserved for Americans only, then reform, Obama-style, will mean, for most, increased coverage, lower costs, and for all, new rules, very much like those which must be followed by Government Employee Health Insurance providers, which prohibit the insurance industry’s favorite, profit-driving abuses of caps, pre-existing exclusions, and coverage withdrawals and refusals, not to mention the public-OPTION (NOT required for anyone) benefit of dooming their outrageous premiums.

One can only hope the rude town-hall shouting and curses of the fearful, uninformed, and mostly of the Republican and industry shills, will be drowned out by the votes of the majority in Congress this fall, because the debate over health-care reform is the sound of the tug of war that is being waged over where control will rest, over whether compassion and need will triumph over profit and greed.  That vote is the only thing that can shift the power, the choices, and the rationing decisions away from the clenched fists of the insurance industry to the caring hands of doctors and the outstretched, hopeful hands of their patients.

Walter Cronkite, Journalist
November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

Without banter, corporate ideology or economic imperative, he delivered the unblemished
facts to America, from the WWII battlefields of North Africa to beyond Man on the Moon.
And that’s the way we wish it still was.

Disgusting:  News-media irresponsibility/corporate control highlighted by Jackson’s eclipse of a more-significant world.

Madoff (L), co-conspirators Christopher Cox, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (2005-2009), and Bush.

Justice not served by Madoff’s sentence.

As Bernard Madoff begins the rest of his life in prison, justice still has not been served, because the Republican-era appointees, to the Securities and Exchange Commission and other, less-impacting regulatory agencies, have yet to face any personal or professional accountability for failing in their industry-oversight obligations, from preventing Madoff-like extremes to the monthly rash of trash stocks allowed to enter into markets, losing hundreds of millions of dollars for investors.

The negligent performance of the S.E.C. under Bush appointees William Henry Donaldson (deceased) and Christopher Cox, who should have applied controls to achieve mission objectives, objectives contrary to the present-day, neo-con ideology of the Republican party, made the S.E.C. into a functional partner to Madoff in his far-reaching fraud, and to countless other fraudulent operators.  Had those Madoff victims who cheered his 150-year sentence kept in mind these unaccounted, unpunished official partners, who flipped the Madoff victims’ coins on the S.E.C.’s mission and responsibility, they would be less inclined to feel satiated by Madoff’s punishment.  He could not have hurt them so severely, if at all, had the S.E.C. and the Republican administrations only made a cursory effort to regulate as they were supposed to, and if the Clinton administration had not bowed to Bank lobbies and repealed critical laws.  Another case of lousy Bush appointments, lobby money, and the consequent politics affecting government operation to the great detriment of the public welfare, all of it escaping any accountability.

June 20, 2009
Neda Agha Soltan, a 26-year-old Iranian student, dead
from a “punishing,” dictatorial, Islamic regime’s bullet.


Torn from herself and from us, asunder,
Wide eyes scooping frantic, fleeing life
Fluttered fast from her young heart.
Bright day fading... seeping past.
No star eternal set her sudden course,
Invoked for her the blinking, Devine vault
Of silent multitudes there she joined
And, wailing, left behind to flow with her
Unjustly into that deep, crimson ebb.


“There is a dead, depressing air across Tehran.” — Neda Agha Soltan, shortly before her state murder.

The same could have been said of Nazi Germany, with its Basij-like Gestapo.

 Tweet this:
Neda Soltan, 26, slain in a dangerous crowd, June 20, 2009, symbol of Islamic extremism’s totalitarian inhumanity. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#neda

 Or this:
Neda Soltan’s murder in the street by Iran’s Islamic-extremist regime reveals its selfish, Godless dictatorial intent. — http://popularsovranty.org/index.shtml#neda

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad eyes key to restoring past greatness.

For Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, missile is a key to regaining ancient power.

The May 20, 2009 successful launch of an ICBM by Iran, allowing it to reach U.S. bases and Israel, and the accompanying, inflammatory statements and threats by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is proof that offensive weapons are the purpose of Iran’s missile program, and removes any doubt that placing a nuclear device within the nose cone of such a missile is the means by which he intends to achieve his undeterred ambition and intent:  to regain the ancient Persian power and prestige with which, around 490 BC, it ruled most of the known world.  In that ancient world, Persia imposed its religion and culture, highly refined in art and learning, upon the nations it conquered, and the goal was no less than to rule the world.

While Ahmadinejad’s and Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s ultimate ambitions can only be guessed at, it’s no guess that permanent dominance in the region and nuclear parity with Israel are primary objectives, meaning Iran will never even consider giving up its nuclear ambitions unless Israel disarms.  But, more, if Iran’s leaders look to their grand history, and then look to North Korea, India and Pakistan, whom they consider vastly inferior, no future can hold Iran in its proper place if it is denied the supreme armament the world has allowed those nations to obtain and hold.  So, if Iran is to obtain world standing, in terms of power, that in any way resembles that of ancient Persia, nuclear arms are seen as a mandatory prerequisite and an eternal right, for which, as long as Israel, North Korea, and even the U.S. and Russia are so armed, there can be no substitute, and they can only be deterred by force.  And Iran realizes that once it has detonated its first weapon, that the best policy of the West will be to engage it diplomatically, to lift all sanctions and bring it into the political and economic life of nations, in the hope that extremism can be repressed and treaties with safeguards put in place to monitor Iran’s nuclear deployments and its command-and-control procedures, to hopefully avoid any radical use of those weapons or conveyance of them to extremist third parties.

If the upcoming elections in Iran do not produce new leadership, which moves immediately to reach accord on abandoning nuclear ambitions, turning back the clock on non-proliferation with respect to Iran (which did not happen, since the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains the source of real power as the supreme religious and political leader of Iran), then the time will have passed to continue dancing around the issue with Iran by wasting more time on talks and U.N. sanctions, based on any stubborn and unjustified hope for the possibility of reaching an accord.  Iran will only stall and deceive as it continues to move ever closer to that ominous, inevitable detonation in the desert.  That detonation will create an immediate threat for nuclear terror by delivery methods other than missile, and, Iran’s nuclear resources are already a threat for use in “dirty bombs.”  This represents the kind of threat America’s military power is justified to confront, to rid Iran of all of its nuclear-weapons and ICBM resources, including nuclear-power facilities.  It will be foolish to allow Iran’s defiance to continue to be the punctuation at the end of the sentence that speaks to its attainment of nuclear capability.

If Iran is permitted to become a nuclear power, the inflammatory threats and statements made by Ahmadinejad today will be followed, at minimum, by conventional military actions that are backed by that nuclear capability in the future, and President Obama will be primarily responsible for the consequences that follow.  President Obama must not make the same mistake, with respect to Iran, that Bush made with North Korea.  It is time to begin operational preparations to “put meaning and consequences into the words,” as the president said, with respect to North Korea, and bring a permanent end to the Iranian-extremist nuclear threat, once and for all.

While the president is urged, above, to begin “operational preparations” to end Iran’s nuclear-weapons development, that should not be construed to indicate a call to attack, because “operational preparations” would be defined by the Constitution as meaning “lobbying Congress for authority to take military action,” since the president has no authority, none, to do so on his own, unless Iran attacks U.S. installations or nations with which the U.S. has appropriate defense treaties.

Congress has been totally inept in preserving its constitutional, war-power authority, by allowing presidents to run rampant with military excess, including the unconstitutional raising of armies by Bush (Blackwater, now called Xe Services, and they created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts after trashing the Blackwater name), a war power like all others, except one, that is specifically reserved to Congress.  This must end.  And that means not only must end the inaction to block unconstitutional, presidential military actions, which are all offensive actions not authorized by Congress, but Congress also must not fail to act, on the basis of fear of political repercussions, to provide the president the authority required so that he can prepare and act now that no change on arming is forthcoming after the Iranian elections.  Doing so is not only constitutionally necessary, it will also send the strongest message that can possibly be sent to Iran, that it is near the precipice and will be pushed over the edge if it does not act immediately to verifiably end its nuclear-armament programs.  And it will put the president on notice that Congress will no longer cede to the executive its constitutional authority with respect to offensive military operations.

Iran must not be allowed to join North Korea, Pakistan, and India, and it is time that Congress exercise its authority as a responsible partner in government rather than act as either a rubber stamp, a limp rag doll, or an immobile obstacle.  Now is about the right time for the debate on military action against Iran’s nuclear and ICBM resources to begin, so that an appropriate resolve can be reached and authority provided to the president by the time it is needed, and it will be needed.

President’s daughters:  Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10.

President Obama on his daughters’ future dating:

“Having a lot of Secret Service agents around with guns is not entirely a bad thing.”
NBC Inside the Obama White House interview.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, out to lunch.

Lunch at a burger joint serves up some soulful truths.

One early-spring afternoon, in the week after his 100th day, the president took Joe to lunch at a burger joint across the Potomac, Ray’s Hell Burger, both men standing in line (try to imagine Bush and Cheney), and when reaching the counter, the president motioning the vice-president to order what turned out to be a swiss-cheeseburger with jalapeno pepper and ketchup, medium-well, with root beer.

The president then ordered for himself, “...just your basic cheddar-cheeseburger, medium-well... spicy... or Dijon mustard, if you have something like that, lettuce and tomato... and are your fries pretty good?  Can you vouch for your fries?”  An order of vouched-for, cheesy-tater puffs was shared by the two in place of the unavailable, requested fries, “We’ll have one order of that.  We’ll check that out....”  The president then offered to buy a burger for any of the press corp in attendance who wanted one, telling the assembled group, many of whom declined, “You guys are cheap dates,” as he paid the $29.27 tab, with cash, adding a $5 tip and taking the pick-up ticket from the cashier.

The restaurant did offer to pick up the tab, but the president would have none of it.

The two then sat together at a small table, coats over chair backs, eating their burgers.

The president and his entourage may have been of some concern to the Hispanic woman, working, sweating over the grille, as while observed, she was no smiles, never looking back to glimpse the VIP procession that had invaded the usually unremarkable workplace into which she normally blended, invisible, bringing to mind the conservatively-estimated, eight-million-strong influx of illegal immigrants, soon to be consuming the president’s legislative and public-relations agenda.  By the time the heads of the world’s most powerful government finished eating and left the restaurant, stooping into the long, black, presidential limo, their coats slung over their arms, a crowd had formed across the blockaded street and began cheering.

While it’s not known if the prez and Joe talked about traveling by train vs. plane during a viral outbreak, just the trip to the joint does make known one big difference in this president over the former:  an unassuming comfort with things common.  While the lunch-time duck-out to a burger joint was not really that remarkable, except in that comparative sense, it not being a campaign or Fourth-of-July barbecue, what really sets this president apart from Bush, his father, Reagan, and Nixon, is that the president came back to the White House laden with small bags full of lunch orders for White House staffers, carrying them himself.  Now, that’s a worker’s boss, which no doubt makes him a soldier’s Commander-in-Chief, and it is the undisputed act of a president, no matter the political and practical pressures that bend him against his word, whose heart is with the people.

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama after inauguration

The First 100 Days, Jan 20 - April 29, 2009

U.S. Iraq deaths: 4,227 - 4,281 (54)
Dow 7949.09 - 8185.73; NASDAQ 1440.86 - 1711.94

12-year-old Severn Suzuki, in 1992.

Cheney just doesn’t want to go away.

On Wednesday, February 4, like a recurring nightmare, Dick Cheney crawled out of his cave of dark-moral isolation to protest President Obama’s executive order canceling his and Bush’s barbaric and illegal interrogation and incarceration policies, which not only violated U.S. and international laws and were cited by the highest-ranking military officials as dangerous to U.S. troops and ineffective, but also caused to be wrongly apprehended and falsely imprisoned, for years, many innocent “suspects,” whose lives and family relationships have been unalterably, detrimentally changed or ended.  Since Cheney only knows how to persuade through fear, it was fear that he again used, claiming that the elimination of the illegal and immoral practices he and Bush championed, which drew international disdain, would result in a nuclear device being detonated in the U.S.  If that were to ever happen, it would be due to the failure of the West to enforce non-proliferation policy in India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, and North Korea, not due to America’s return to the community of enlightened, lawful and civilized nations through the trashing of the Bush-Cheney aberrations.

Cheney should learn to let go, live with his dark legacy, and maybe go hunting when he feels the urge to inflict more of his unwelcome discharges, and above all, remember that anything he says can, hopefully, be used against him in a court of law to serve justice, which remains a tattered rape victim, without retribution, as a consequence of his and Bush’s criminal abuses.

President’s uplifting speeches, so far, only prove words are light.

Dick Cheney still refuses to go away.  He wasted no time proving that he is a criminal, either by intent or inexcusable ignorance, when he responded to President Obama’s mid-April 2009 release of the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) secret policy directives to the CIA on torture, by saying that documents he has seen, which verify the effectiveness of the torture that was unlawfully committed should be released, which the CIA refused to do.  But indeed they should, as they would serve to reinforce the evidence of the crimes, his awareness of them and failure to halt those crimes.  And, the disclosure Cheney demands should not end just with the documents he suggests, it should also include the documents that he would not want released, that show his hand and the hands of other administration officials, staff, and appointees who formulated the illegal policies, so that criminal charges can be facilitated to bring them to justice.

The former Bush gang is beginning to form a united front in defense against the rising tide of public insistence that their crimes be investigated, as Carl Rove surfaced only days after Cheney to join with him in saying that disclosing particulars on torture make the U.S. more vulnerable, and adding that, by releasing the memos, the president is “trying to be a star instead of a statesman.”  Cheney, Rove, and no doubt, most members of the former administration’s inner circle still just don’t get it.  It is irrelevant that some intelligence was obtained through illegal torture.  All that is relevant is that he and others, without a care as to whether legal interrogations could be productive, made the United States guilty of stooping to torture as a standard procedure.

Rove, in his ignorant defense of torture, also argued that “criminalizing the previous administration” is akin to governing like a ruling general in a banana republic, “wearing mirror sunglasses.”  Quite the contrary, the Bush administration, by trashing the Constitution and the rule of law, caused itself and this nation to be one governed by a gang of uniformed thugs, with colorful uniforms, meaningless ribbons and medals, and mirrored sunglasses through which they only saw themselves and their arrogance, worn like the stench of an acclimated homeless man several months from his last shower.

While the president, Rove, the Republicans, and some Democrats all say, in the context of the Bush administration’s crimes, America needs to look forward, the motivations are vastly different.  Rove, Bush, and Cheney are interested in legacy- and self-preservation, the conservative Republicans left in Congress are anxious to leave a bad past in the past, stay in Congress and regain power, while the president and some Democrats don’t want to see their agendas hamstrung by confronting Republicans to force accountability.  All say they love America, though the reasons for that are undoubtedly just as varied.  But looking to America’s best interests, as first priority, a strong Constitution (meaning an “enforced” Constitution) is the foundation of America’s heritage and its best, lifelong asset.  What they all miss, or ignore, is that looking forward (overlooking previous, unenforced, constitutional transgressions) is what has been done with almost every case of political criminality in American history, either through choosing not to prosecute by ignoring the past, or by pardon, and the result is that, looking forward, America has been assured that it will again and again face political criminality, more severe, just as it has in the past, because except for the circumstances of the crimes, nothing is changing.

Yesterday, May 20, a month after putting up his periscope and bullhorn to object and fear-monger against the president’s release of the OLC policy directives, Cheney spoke again, saying, “When an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.”  Cheney speaks from the stone-cold heart of a disgraced past.  That same, fear-of-the-animal, undisciplined mentality, since condemned, and still a source of national shame, was applied to take liberty from and confine an entire race of loyal citizens after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  It was the same, invented justification that was used to barbarically commit genocide against a native-American population that was defending its heritage and lands by attacking settlers, only after continuous treaties and promises were broken again and again by the U.S. for the sake of greed and selfish, unrestricted expansionism.  And the same warped ethos, which calls to scrap all codes of liberty and justice, was in play when, in the initial, fearful years of the Cold War, from 1950 to 1954, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, like Cheney, as vice president, was allowed to play on that fear, McCarthy transforming the U.S. Senate from a democratic, lawmaking institution into a court of the inquisition, intent on punishing free speech and thought.

Will Cheney and those of his demented persuasion ever learn?  Not likely, not as long as their crimes go unaddressed and unpunished. A nation that turns its back on a criminal past, without accountability, places that past forever into its future, through unappeased justice, broken victims, the unenforced shattering of the civilized armor that is the rule of law, and all of the consequences that domino down, decade to decade, life to life, and nation to nation from those unanswered consequences.  The failure to confront criminal leadership is always a mistake that jeopardizes democracy, liberty, and the future.  As Cheney continues to make speeches defending the illegal policies he and Bush instituted, attempting to deny their criminality and harm, persuade their endorsement and continuation, only public, institutional condemnation of Cheney and those others in the Bush administration who were complicit in allowing the immoral, criminal behavior to spread, from the twisted and tainted minds at the top to the dark and dank confines of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, will silence him and end the moral argument over policies which are the norm in brutal police states and history’s darkest periods, and which should never have need been made a part of the American public discourse.

President Obama has been making with the high-sounding words, which he so capably delivers, but he has been delivering no indication that any of those words hold any value, in terms of actions or accountability for the lawbreakers who disgraced their offices and the United States.  While it is appropriate that CIA agents who followed the Bush-Cheney policies be shielded from prosecution, there is no basis, by any definition, that provides a means by which those who formulated and put those illegal policies into effect should be excused.  To fail to prosecute them says that there is no rule of law except that which is dictated by convenience and station.

On April 20, 2009, a day after Cheney’s initial self-implication in the torture crimes, the president addressed CIA employees, saying, “Our nation is stronger and more secure when we deploy the full measure of both our power and the power of our values, including the rule of law.”  Those words are as empty as the cells of justice awaiting Cheney, Bush, Rove, Rice (for whom there is now evidence that she deceived Congress about her involvement in creating the policy on torture), Rumsfeld, Addington, Gonzales, Yoo, and the rest who made torture and kidnapping a standard of procedure in America, if violations, whether committed when it is most difficult to abide by the law, or not, are ignored.  But the president is aware of this, and he made that clear later on in that address, saying:

“What makes the United States special... is precisely that fact, that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals, even when it’s hard, not just when it’s easy, even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it’s expedient to do so.  That’s what makes us different.  That’s why we can take such extraordinary pride in being Americans.  Over the long term, that’s why I believe we will defeat our enemies, because we’re on the better side of history.”

The biggest problem with that statement is that it begins with a lie: “we” did not uphold our values or ideals, and with respect to the Bush administration’s transgressions, they still have not been upheld.  They were trashed, and nothing has been done about it.  The available evidence so far indicates the only difficulty encountered by those known to be involved was how the meaning of the law could best be twisted to achieve a sense of justification deemed by the perpetrators to be plausibly deniable.  Signing executive orders banning torture—obeying the law—is all fine and necessary as a step to null the Bush precedent.  But if the president does nothing to make real the meaning of his words and the laws for violators, then the high-sounding words and the law are reduced to empty ornaments of nothing but political persuasion, and he will have failed to uphold and enforce the rule of law and bring any real change or accountability to government.  It is not sufficient to say, “that was then and this is now,” or to just acknowledge abominable law-breaking by calling it “mistakes,” as he also said, and then saying, let’s “move forward,” because if that is the answer, tomorrow, someday, will again find the nation on the broken path of Bush and Cheney leading back into that dark past.

Too many significant words promised by the president have not yet been made solid, into actions, when it comes to the law, the Constitution, earmarks, or the rule of interest groups.  Just consider Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin’s remarks, about the bank lobby “owning” Congress, after the failure to get a mortgage bill passed which was opposed by banks, and which would have saved thousands of families from evictions, families who would have otherwise paid real-value rates to the banks.  The president has bent his promises by postponing ending the occupation of Iraq, and even then, has proposed a remnant force of 50,000, along with conditions that sound just like those of the Bush administrations’s nation-building-for-friendly-exploitation agenda, all of which would mean continued, open-ended occupation.  And, whether it’s keeping his promises or standing by the rule of law, as the president said on April 5, in Europe, when he referred to the violation of U.N. sanctions by North Korea’s launch of its test ICBM:

“Rules must be binding, violations must be punished, and words must mean something.”

Are those words only to be applicable to the North Koreans?  Even that remains doubtfully to be seen.  But the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il, who scoffs at the president’s words as readily as Bush or Cheney in their context spurn them, could make that argument, because with respect to the Bush administration’s crimes of torture, kidnapping, illegal domestic surveillance, and subverting Congress (with its willing assistance), all of which were transgressions against the Constitution, the law, and the people of America and other nations, in all of these circumstances, where the meaning of the words can have no more import, so far, the Constitution has stood unshielded, through all the abuses of the Bush administration, the failure of both Republican and Democratic Congresses to “uphold and defend” it, as those lawmakers are sworn to, an obligation to which they have no higher priority of duty, and at this point, the failure of the Obama administration to significantly indicate it will do otherwise.  Kim, or anyone else could look at these posturing silences and rightfully wonder if there is anywhere in American government or politics, besides a witch hunt, where words really have any meaning, or where political high crimes will bring at least the ludicrous consequences borne by a stained blue dress.

Although the president has withheld aggressive condemnation of the Bush administration and has not vigorously supported investigation and prosecution of its crimes, one of his first executive orders established a Special Interagency Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies, which should provide facts and recommendations, and he has not ruled out prosecutions if evidence warrants, and consideration has been given to appointing a special prosecutor.  The Department of Justice is preparing what has been reported will be a stinging internal-ethics report on John C. Yoo, Jay S. Bybee, and Steven G. Bradbury, the three Bush-administration lawyers behind the torture memos that wound up becoming government policy.  A draft of that report indicates there will be no recommendation for criminal prosecution of any of the three, but the department’s ethics office could make recommendations ranging from suspension to disbarment.  In this, the president could, and should exert pressure for the harshest actions supportable by the report’s conclusions.

In Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has recently begun a bipartisan, comprehensive, year-long investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, and the House Armed Services Committee has been examining the military’s interrogation practices for nearly two years and will soon be releasing its report.  The judiciary-committee chairmen of both the Senate and the House have been pressuring for a commission to investigate, and the president can surely choose to support the chairmen to make a commission a reality, as he should.

Internationally, the United Nations’ chief torture official declared that, as a signatory to the Convention against Torture, the U.S. [Obama administration] is obligated to investigate possible crimes of torture, while on the week of President Obama’s 100th day in office, Spain’s Judge Baltasar Garzon moved to open formal, criminal, judicial investigation of the Bush administration’s torture crimes.  The actions of these officials is a clear indication of the far-reaching, adverse affects of those crimes and the international determination that accountability for them be forthcoming.  It is inherently wrong for the United States government to allow any other authority to take the lead in documenting the truth of wrong-doing and pursuing accountability, since these efforts are the prima-facie responsibility of the United States, of the Obama administration, and remain the administration’s undeniable obligation to the Constitution, its people, and the free nations of the world which are structured on the rule of law.  The statement that is finally left to stand for the history of our times matters.  Those who are responsible for violations of the law and the Constitution, who destroy lives and families, and who contribute to a continuation of the tragic, never-ending commentary that history writes about abused power and degenerating nations, must not be rewarded to settle standing in history’s good light if the direction of that story is ever to change.

Because of what President Obama, so far, has failed to do, it seems that what speaks loudest is that it is true that Washington corrupts, and that a president, no matter where he or she comes from, becomes a protector, above all else, of the presidency (the instrument propelling his policies) once in office, along with whatever power and privilege that office has garnered by past practice, regardless of how.  That is the way it is looking today, and it makes for a bleak social future to blend with a bleak economic one, and a bleaker geophysical tomorrow.  The latter two seemed easier to shoulder with the promise President Obama held for reforming of the former.  It is sad that it is he who, early on, seems to be the one being reformed to turn away from those promises, including his oath, “to uphold and defend the Constitution,” which is an obligation to look back to “then,” and by doing so, make the meaning of the law and the Constitution relevant for “now” and in the future.

Highly decorated Army Sgt. John Russell

Army Sgt. John Russell, an electronics technician, who by all home-front accounts was not a violent person, with an honorable, distinguished military record, shot and killed five other soldiers after an argument at a combat stress-control facility at Ft. Liberty, Baghdad, where he was ordered to undergo counseling for signs of instability near the end of his third extended Iraq combat tour, tours with scant "down time" between, which has become a growing source of problems and criticism for the overextended military.

The Bush obsession with Iraq, and his abuse of the military to pursue it, is a significant, contributing cause to the death of the five soldiers killed by Russell, and the ruined life of Russell, his family, and the families of the other dead soldiers.  Russell and those he shot are as much war casualties as Bush and Cheney are war mongers.  The fact that Bush and Cheney are no longer in office does not, to any degree whatsoever, reduce the culpability for mayhem and death in Iraq which they share and which will fall upon them as long as soldiers continue to die there, by whatever circumstances.

The invasion of Iraq was a conspired, derelict, and treasonous act, propelled by ill-motive, abuse of power, a travesty which never should have happened.  Although the war in Afghanistan, which Bush was also derelict in carrying out, by his subordinating it to his monopoly-board-building mission in Iraq, will become President Obama’s war as he turns America’s military and diplomatic focus upon it, the war, occupation, and toll of dead and injured in Iraq will always belong to Bush and Cheney, and they will continue to bear the primary responsibility for every drop of blood spilled there, along with those who joined with them in that arrogant conspiracy of imperialistic, capitalist-extreme aggression.

No matter what the outcome of the mandatory judicial process Sgt. Russell must now face, he will no doubt, after treatment and separation from this event, hold himself painfully accountable for the death of the soldiers he shot, if he doesn't already, and he will bear that self-punishment for the rest of his life.  The evidence will likely show that he was acting as a consequence of the stress that became unendurable and caused his commander to order him into treatment, and if it does, then, if Nixon could be pardoned for his crimes, and Bush could pardon his criminals, and escape all accountability for his high crimes and treason, then Sgt. Russell should certainly receive the fullest presidential consideration for pardon if the sentence of the Courts Martial is criminal-based rather than rehabilitation oriented.  Sgt. Russell and the soldiers he shot are all victims of Bush’s twisted ambition, and if the evidence supports the circumstances that seem apparent in his breakdown, he should not be treated as a criminal, particularly not if Bush and Cheney are to continue to be permitted to run free and unaccountable.

An estimated 1.8 million, record crowd swarmed the D.C. landscape to see Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th U.S. President.

Cleaning up the Bush-Cheney Mess

While there is no doubt that Obama is the white knight to Bush’s black knight, or that Obama-Biden will steer America to a better future, despite the Bush-Cheney minefield left behind, a better future for most Americans than any Republican-conservative clone, it’s never as simple as black and white.  Like McCain, with some of his initial campaign promises, Obama is also slipping on some issues, like NAFTA, and not stepping out on others, like respecting limits on constitutional power, abused by Republican administrations over the last decade.  But Obama promised more, including not to be a candidate who just said what was needed to be elected, a purveyor of empty or even exaggerated promises; yet, now it seems he is to becoming hazy, failing to take a firm stand to:

remove all troops from Iraq within the promised 16 months and obtain restitution from Iraq’s multi-billion oil-surplus fund to, at least, repay amounts lost due to Iraqi fraud, corruption, and abuse, instead, making Bush-administration sounds about “responsible withdrawal,” which could mean another administration falling into lock-step with imperial Republican ambitions.  Getting out responsibly means doing it quickly without risking increased casualties.  The installed Iraqi regime has had all the chances (and American lives) it has needed to get its act together, and America needs to leave and let the internal chips fall where they may.  Any regime will still be subject to American force if it engages in genocide, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, or supporting terrorism.  An extended American presence is not required to deter those outcomes;

bring down the Washington system of influence and the money-based election machine, which includes ending earmarks and political districting (since this item was listed, Obama has said he would be against earmarks, but he has yet to make the strongest affirmation, as McCain has, that he would veto any bill containing them and not use them himself.);

end the influence of lobbyists to promote their interests over the public interest.
On his first full day in office, President Obama signed an executive order strictly requlating lobbyist activities within his administration, but the president must also push for strict controls in Congress and end influence in the electoral system by changing to full public financing only.

reaffirm that the Constitution does not allow for presidential signing statements;

reaffirm that the Constitution prohibits the executive from raising or maintaining private armies;

reaffirm that only Congress constitutionally determines where and when troops are deployed in non-defensive circumstances;

reaffirm that Congress constitutionally must ratify all international agreements relating to deployment or use of force and trade;

simplify the tax structure, now a tool of political manipulation and advantage to corporations and the wealthy;

balance the benefits and obligations of NAFTA and all trade agreements to reflect standards fair to American workers;

rein in the out-of-control, wild-west, Wall-Street investment/banking operations;

end or reverse the bailouts the Republican-controlled administration and Treasury Department are showering upon financial firms responsible for the current economic climate;

increase Department of Justice resources, now completely inadequate, to investigate and prosecute rampant corporate crime;

hold accountable executives of financial firms being bailed out, who are still on the job, making their millions, who caused the economic failure now bleeding middle- and lower-class Americans;

Only one week short of one month in office, President Obama’s administration has embraced a surprising number of elite members of the broken economic system into its financial inner circle and has displayed an amicability with the industry that is extremely disturbing, seemingly, willing to allow the firms that failed to continue calling the shots and, seemingly, unwilling to assert government power and authority over the attempt by the salary- and bonus-stuffed heads of the financial sector to control the nation’s financial policies, preserving their position and their rewards, regardless of whether their practices succeed or fail, aid or harm.  The President, in particular, and his cabinet, would do well to review the words of Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln, warning of the arrogance of corporate power, which has left its mark well and deep over the last several decades of conservative-Republican rule.  Both presidents also warned that corporate greed and arrogance, much in evidence over the last two months, pose a direct danger to government, and with that in mind, look to see what remnants of that ill-motivated clique have been permitted to infiltrate and influence the effort to regain control over a runaway and rampant banking elite.

repeal laws shielding criminal corporate executives from civil suits, and put in place regulatory requirements for corporations to allow shareholders to approve salary packages of top executives and permit employee choice in retirement-fund investment options;

block corporations guilty of fraud and theft from participating in government-contract processes;

bring to a final, unsquirming end all credit-industry practices attacking those afflicted by poverty, including ending all interest and penalties associated with medical debts;

end all speculation in oil and food commodities and medical services/products;

end the unconstitutional, Bush-initiated distribution of tax dollars to all “faith-based” programs;

reverse the flood of illegal immigration and green-card abuse costing American jobs, job standards, and community heritage, and commit to strictly enforce and actively partner with states to enforce immigration law;

and block any use of public funding and resources for any George W. Bush or Richard Cheney library, and instruct the Department of Justice to investigate grounds for possible criminal charges to be brought forward against them and other members of their staffs.

The blame stops here.

Professor Elizabeth Warren

Bush, Paulson, Banks Condemned by Oversight Panel, Senate Committee

Professor Elizabeth Warren, dubbed as a consumer and middle-class crusader, is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, the author of many books and papers on finance, and a veteran of government service in the financial sector.  She was appointed by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reed (D-NV), to the post of Chairman of the Senate Oversight Panel on TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), where she is urging Treasury accountability for its irresponsible administration of the TARP expenditures during the Bush administration.

In testimony on Thursday, February 5, 2009, before the Senate Banking Committee on the Treasury Department’s Use of Financial Assistance Funds, Prof. Warren was very impressive in her expressed commitment to serve the purpose of congressional oversight by bringing accountability to the disbursements and uses to which assistance recipients put the funds they receive.

Meanwhile, Bush’s former Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, a former CEO of the once, investment-banking firm, now, bank-holding firm, Goldman Sachs, and Bush’s chief architect of the TARP process, joined Cheney in reaching out from the confines of his dark legacy to speak out, in the press, against accountability by criticizing the Obama administration’s limitations on executive pay for banks receiving assistance, saying that it will discourage banks from using the fund, provoking failures.  The panel, questioned on the likelihood of executives letting their firms fail rather than accept assistance with such conditions attached, advised the committee that Paulson’s conclusions are not realistic, since executives of banks that fail lose their jobs.  Paulson was obviously speaking with the same allegiance he held when working for the people at Bush’s Treasury:  his former banking-executive peers.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) reflected this view when he spoke harshly against the TARP and Paulson, saying that Congress gave Paulson more power than any Treasury secretary since Hamilton, but that his service certainly did not approach the distinction of Hamilton’s, instead, addressing the needs of his friends when structuring the TARP’s administration.

Prof. Warren reported that experts hired for the panel are not associated with the institutions receiving TARP funds or rating agencies, and that those finance-business professionals are augmented by two academicians, university professors of finance, and lawyers to perform legal analysis.  Her testimony was pointed in that the facts her panel had so far uncovered confirm that the Treasury Department, under Bush, misled the people and the Congress regarding the assignment and use of the TARP funds the Bush administration received.  The Obama administration is also providing spending oversight through a TARP Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky, whose office is auditing to investigate procedural and criminal aspects of the uses of the funds which have been disbursed.

The rule of law ends when it is not present, undistorted, in the heart and mind of its principal guardian.

Graphic design/FX by Silkscape Arts
A Bush burning with no reverence or sanction.

It is widely reported that Bush, when confronted about the constitutionality of some of his policies, said “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face.  It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Spitting upon the mainstay of the American Charters of Freedom is, like flag burning, a right of expression those documents guarantee, no matter the office held.  You can see a search on the phrase, “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper” and draw your own conclusions.  But this is undeniable fact:  Bush’s actions, contrary to law and the will of the people, amount to worse than having said it.  Bush must be legally leashed and caged if not removed from office.  His latest violation of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights,, in the form of another “signing statement,” claiming the authority to conduct warrantless searches of mail, is especially defiant of constitutional protections, particularly in light of the objections which arose after the illegal wiretaps he secretly authorized came to light.

Bush and Cheney are gone, but the Constitution still wears their footprints, and restoring the Constitution’s eroded authority and splintering framework in government remains a necessary and urgent imperative.  In his opening speech to the Senate, the new majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, said, “The foundation of [the Senate] is the committee system.”  He is wrong.  The Constitution, is the foundation of the Senate, as well as the House and the entire platform of government.  The failure to see that is partly responsible for the drastic tilt of the scale of power that has been destroying the government of the Founding Fathers.  The new House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, along with every other newly elected member of the 110th Congress, in January, 2007, took the oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  And despite much talk from the new Congress of working together, between the aisles and with the administration, there can be no “working together” when the work of one party is destructive to the life and foundation of a nation.  Bush has shown himself to be a domestic enemy of the Constitution, and the interaction between Speaker Pelosi’s and Sen. Reid’s Democratic leadership, between the Democratic Congress and the Bush administration, can only be, at best, aggressively contentious.

Bush continues to use fear as a means to reach beyond the authority of his office.  He is the incarnation of the Founding Fathers’ and the Constitution’s chief architect, James Madison’s worst fears.  “Listen” to Madison’s words and think of how they apply to today’s evolution of his government.  It begins with multiple expressions regarding the abuse of power, and then goes on to address the careless relinquishing of power in trying times, an issue hotly alive with the concerns of the Patriot Act, the continuing attempts by Bush to grab power with his legislative sign-offs, the use of fear to gain support for accumulating ever greater and farther-reaching powers, and his attacks against the judiciary, supported by other Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also Pavlov-reflexed to salivate the Bush line on Iraq, ignorantly claiming enthusiastic support for all the harm Bush has imposed and will impose, and that the war there has prevented attacks in the U.S., when, in fact, it has not.  Only limited al Qaeda capability combined with increased intelligence and law-enforcement initiatives and cooperation are responsible for the lack of post-9/11 attacks.  At this point, Madison would be holding his sword to Bush’s breast when speaking:

“All men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

“Tyranny” meant the more subtle abuse of the minority by the majority—not so much a Nazi or Genghis Kahn type of violent repression and control, though that would be the possible result of an excess allowed to go too far.  Nip it in the bud would be Madison’s strong warning.  He went on:

“The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.”

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

These quotes of Madison are a stern warning and all have bearing upon today’s choices for citizens, Congress, the courts, and Bush’s unfounded claims that power in his hands will keep fighting away from U.S. streets.

The time is past for these legislative sign-offs to continue.  They are unconstitutional.  The Constitution provides that the laws be made by Congress with the signing approval of the president, not that the president can or should, on his own, alter the laws Congress sends to his desk.  His options are only to sign them into law, unaltered; do nothing and, after ten days, with Congress still in session, let them pass into law without his signature, unaltered; or veto them.  This practice of declared signing statements, which Bush has taken beyond all others (who were equally wrong to exercise it) is self-legislation.  If there were any validity to signing statements at all, it would only be if the statements were returned to Congress for its approval, because the role of Congress in writing the law CANNOT be sidestepped or ceded away.  Such is the path to a dictator, and Bush’s dictates, made through the illegal signing statements, are tantamount to “the King’s word is the law!”  That is the blatant inverse of the Founders’ intent for American government!

The egregious sweeping away of the Constitution’s privacy protections, authorized by Bush’s latest signing statement, is irrefutable evidence that the dangerous practice of one-sided executive signing statements must no longer be permitted to continue unopposed, unless the route back to Congress is provided.  The process of creating law contained within the Constitution is sufficiently robust, thought out, and time-tested that no president, particularly not Bush, has any justifiable reason to discard or amend it, and no such authority in any case.  This latest affront to law makes clear that a new priority for Congress and the courts is to shore up the weakened legs of government’s separation of powers, upon which Bush’s signing statements are a decaying form of rot and rust.

FX by Silkscape Arts

Liberties are fragile, vulnerable to apathy, fear, corruption, and greed.

Government is many things to different people, systems, and philosophies.  Further, the view of government changes as the leaders of government change.  There are those, in America, who view their government as an interference, a barrier that restricts freedom.  Many of these are criminals, and many own guns, stock supplies for some coming conflagration, and for vacation, or avocation, they play warrior in wilderness camps.  Some few become terrorists, striking against an alien force that has somehow morphed from what was once acceptable into a current abomination.  Many more are businessmen who object to regulation and taxes.

Then, there are those who share the view of government as a barrier, not for what it is, but for who and what controls it.  To some, the barrier is in their face, blocking their path of opportunity, draining their energy and resources as they try to navigate its restrictions.  To others, the barrier is keeping out the riffraff, providing advantage by exclusion, an asset of control and assurance of well being.  These are opposed forces and interests of a more personalized nature, rather than structural.

To systems—industrial, corporate, financial, military, religious—government is different things, but still changing with the change of hands at the helm.  The American, constitutional, democratic government is, to the military, the defining authority and the provider of tools and purpose.  To the religious sector, it is a guardian angel, protecting existence and separatism, and it is also a constitutionally locked box, containing forbidden fruit of worldly power to extend reach, expand congregations, and draw wealth, if the box can be pried open, just a bit, which, with Bush’s disregard of wise and necessary, constitutional separation of church and state, the key has been handed over to favored factions.

To industry and corporation boards, constitutional government is also a guardian, sanctifying property and setting boundaries of interference and control, making it also a tool to be used to greatest advantage in garnering market, resource, and wealth, where it also is a treasure chest to be pried open and raided, and anything else government can do, not contributing to those goals of enrichment, or that seeks to control or allow interference, is an anathema to be removed, by lawyers, elections, persuasion (spin, P.R.), payout, and, too often, when all else fails, by lies, theft, fraud, or worse.

Since the corporate-industrial system derives its protections and restrictions from government and law, lawyers are the principal players in those interactions, and with lawyers, trimmed to this segment, signed contracts are the foundation of operations, transactions, and understanding, and for them, and corporations and industries, all contracts are negotiable.  Perhaps it is this view that allows a president, George W. Bush, who is the servant of corporate-industrial interests, to say that the Constitution is just a Goddamned piece of paper.”

No less, the Bush administration has demonstrated, over six years of closet rule, that, to it, the Constitution is just that:  a piece of paper, to be ignored, contradicted, spun, defied, and cursed.  Of course, liberty’s shelf of constitutional-progenitor documents, from before the Magna Carta to beyond the English Bill of Rights, defies the simplifications and smears that define the Constitution for Bush’s administration, partly, because those earlier documents cost lives to pen and to make into living protections of human rights that are far more meaningful and enduring than just the pieces of paper upon which their aspirations and declarations were written; and, partly because the Constitution, beyond being just a piece of paper, is also beyond just being a framework of difficult, ingenious compromise, signed as a contract between states or between the elected and governed of only a long-ago generation of people.  It is also a legacy of life, and conduct, a statement of hope and aspiration, created not only for the time that belonged to the great and thoughtful men who painstakingly argued and reasoned to write it, but even more, for the times to dawn on future generations who would stand upon their shoulders to build and refine the greatest nation the world would ever know, secured by liberty and the rule of justly conceived law, in pursuit of dreams and ambitions.  That is the great historical conception of civil enlightenment to which the Founders aspired, and the Constitution, and its Bill of Rights, is the product of their best efforts to define and secure that aspiration and future hope, and make it real, as a lasting framework, a government, for the people of a new and great nation, and for their generations to come.

The Constitution was the Founders’ greatest achievement, one like no other, which has withstood the disasters, and wars, and changes in culture and technology, and politics, and lousy politicians, for over 220 years, with only a handful of amendments.  Since 1776, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and statesmen didn’t bleed and die for a so-called piece of paper.  And, while more than 4,400 who died in Iraq didn’t, either, what that “Goddamned piece of paper” stands for is what the Bush administration found useful as an excuse to send them to their deaths there, and that piece of paper is also in there, somewhere, amidst a slew of false justifications and well-spun speaking points to keep them there.  No matter how Bush uses and abuses it, the Constitution is and remains a national treasure, worth the greatest sacrifices made to protect it, and considering what America has done to benefit the rest of the world in that comparably short time, since the Declaration of Independence, it is also a world treasure.

The Bush administration perception, or conduct indicating that the Constitution is just a piece of paper—a contract, to be renegotiated by the unilateral decision of a president, or even any single branch of government, that it can be loopholed, walked on and around, propagandized, and diminished or attacked on basis of standing, relevance, or some lessor authority, or past practice, or any present or future expedience or call to fear, or to make a buck, is the naked, base perception of greedy businessmen or greedy and corrupted lawyers and politicians, like many of those who populate the Bush administration, top down.  It is good that, along with many Republican-administration supporters in Congress, they are finally being seen to be beneath even that stark reduction of respect and value they hold for the instrument of this nation’s rights and strength, particularly in light of Bush’s actions with former Attorney General Ashcroft and the reauthorization of the illegal NSA wiretaps.  Most emphatically, their perception of the Constitution is not that of a patriot, and it cannot be the perception, driving actions, that is allowed to stand alongside a sworn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, because the oath and defense will fall, as they have, leaving the Constitution, its rights and protections, vulnerable, weakened, and eventually, destroyed.

The Bush presidency (including Bush’s Nixon-administration alumni, who include ties to the murderous, privatized army, Blackwater USA, now called Xe Services, and they created a shell company called “Paravant” so they could keep getting government contracts after trashing the Blackwater name) has done more to tear down American democracy and damage the nation than the combined legacy of any of America’s three-most cherished presidents to build it, excluding, perhaps, Madison and Jefferson.  But given another 18 months of the Bush-Cheney White House, even the contributions of those Founders and presidents could be neutralized.  With Bush, the historic chain of democratic strength, and of linked, evolving heritage has been arrogantly, selfishly, and remorselessly broken.  It is safe to say that the Bush administration has no clue of the Constitution’s or the Bill of Rights’ real value, or reverence for their virtues, or respect for more than a dozen references that “piece of paper” provides for impeachment.  It is already regrettably late for Congress to pick up on the latter, but still not too late to act and return America’s government to the hands and vision of patriots.

 James Madison  
Father of the Constitution

“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”
— James Madison

Thomas Jefferson, the third president, before Madison, wrote to reaffirm this undeniable intent:

“As the executive cannot decide the question of war on the affirmative side, neither ought it to do so on the negative side, by preventing the competent body [Congress] from deliberating on the question.”
— Thomas Jefferson

Founder Alexander Hamilton wrote to say how the other side of the coin also stays the president’s hand with respect to war power:

“[It is] the duty of the Executive to preserve peace till war is declared.”
— Alexander Hamilton

The non-binding resolution, introduced by Senator Biden, failed to assert the constitutional prerogative and responsibility of Congress, not the president, to initiate non-defensive-response military action.  To senators and congressmen deciding whether or not they would vote to support the resolution, and particularly, if the resolution is the strongest action they should invoke, the quote, above, from the Constitution’s chief architect, would be Madison’s instruction that it was not the role of Congress to sign off on Bush’s initiative in Iraq.  It is for the executive to seek and obtain the initiative for war from the Congress!  The inverse of Madison’s stated intent also leaves it to the judgment of Congress, not the president, to decide whether there is or is not cause for terminating a war, as is written in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution.  The authority to carry out war is not like a serve on the tennis court, with Congress placing the ball in the executive’s court as Rebublican conservatives would have you believe.  It is more like a handoff or pass in football, where the runner or receiver is trusted to carry the ball and advance the team, according to the play called, within the rules of the game, the ball still belonging to the team, which may choose to remove an errant runner or receiver from the game, or change the strategy and plays called as the situation demands.  The authority to determine the objectives and scope of war is never handed to the executive, only the power to direct the military within the authorized scope to achieve the objectives set by Congress is granted.  The course to war in Iraq and its unchecked run over the last four-plus years is a travesty of power as twisted as Madison would be after rolling over in his grave from witnessing it.

Countering the stance of those who argue the meaning of the Constitution’s War Powers clause from the perspective of presidential power, that declaring war is different from the undeclared use of force, the Supreme Court expressly ruled, in 1862, that the Constitution’s exclusion of executive power to “declare” war also extends to “initiate” without declaration.  The presidentialists’ stance that the role of Congress to declare does not exclude undeclared presidential force initiatives because the congressional role to declare was intended simply to be a trigger mechanism for other domestic and international war-related laws is equally invalid.  The legal basis against this view and against the president’s sole authority without congressional declaration is also supported by the Founders, especially Madison’s expressed caution against vesting too much power in one person, and there is no more affecting power than the direction of force of arms, which is assumed to follow a declaration, and which the president is then authorized, by the larger body of the minds and hearts of the elected representatives of Congress, to conduct.  Who can contrive or construe that the Founders, so fearful of the power of force they saw so ruthlessly directed against them by England’s King, would ever conceive to construct a government where that power, for domestic or international purpose, would ever again be vested within one man to threaten?  No, their words and their Constitution bars that, even in the case of an authorized use of force by the president to counter an attack (defend), where, the attack suppressed, any extended, continued use of such force to pursue the enemy would only be constitutional when authorized by Congress.  The further specificity with which the Constitution withholds related war powers from the president (Marque and Reprisal, and the Captures Clauses of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11), vesting them, as well, only in Congress, reinforces the intent of the Founders that all powers of armed conflict, save initiating immediate defense responses, be so specifically and solely within the power of Congress and not the president.  In Iraq, there never was any element of the 911 attack forces, present or directing, against which any defensive-initiative authority could have constitutionally applied.  And look, there, at the death and mayhem, and at home, the resultant damage, grief, and sorrow one man’s abuse of such power has wrought, as the Founders knew it could!

The Biden resolution failed to address the limited circumstances and conditions under which the constitutional authority for military action in Iraq was transferred, and it failed to take the president to task for stepping beyond that authority when the circumstances put forth to secure it were found to be false and, in the case of the terms of the October 2002 Joint Resolution of Congress, which authorized the president to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq,” were also non-existent, because the U.N. Security Council never did authorize the use of force.  In effect, while expressing a departure of accord with the administration’s Iraq-war management, goals, and expansion of forces, the resolution, by failing to assert the lack of authority for military operations, by terms and circumstance, once proposed threats to national security were found not to be present, validates the president’s wayward actions with respect to the use of military force beyond the issue of WMD threats to American security which authorized his invasion.  Beyond the spectrum of harm caused by the war to America expressed in the resolution, the most egregious circumstance of the president’s war in Iraq, not addressed by it, is that Bush’s actions in Iraq redefine the constitutional basis for initiating and carrying out military operations, removing that authority from the collective consent of the people’s representatives, intended by the Founders, to that of one person.  The resolution, having no force of action and imposing no constitutional limit or claim of transgressed rights, thereby silently reinforces the effective ceding of that congressional power to the executive.  The consequences of allowing the power to initiate and define the scope of war to be vested within the singular “belief” of one executive, rather than the collective wisdom, experience, and conscience of the Congress, has already been made clear by the tragic losses in Iraq, which will continue to affect the nation for decades to come.

House Minority Leader John Boehner’s announced bipartisan panel proposal, offered as an alternative to Senator Biden’s resolution and as a tool of presidential oversight in Iraq, like the Democratic proposal, has little meaning without a mandate that represents the will of the people as expressed by the new configuration of Congress.  Open-ended benchmarks combined with binding statements for the panel, like, “failure is not an option,” voiced by Boehner, represent nothing more than a mouthing of Bush’s previous statements with regard to his Iraqi policy.  Boehner and other Republicans also fail by too willingly conferring to Bush the right to do whatever he wishes as Commander-in-Chief, specifying that particular actions cannot be dictated by 535 members of the House and Senate, that responses cannot be slowed by such requirements in the modern era.  No such attempt has been proposed.  And to the contrary, since the Constitution places no need to obtain authorization from Congress when responding to the attack of an enemy, the fast paced flow of events and facts demand that more time be given to the consideration of the use of force in those conditions where there is no overt attack to which a response must be initiated.  The failures in Iraq, Vietnam, and other presidentially initiated and carried-out military adventures reinforce this, and also reinforced is the wisdom of the Founding Fathers which has been ignored, to ill consequence, over the last half century, and now is the time to set the balance of power on the Constitution’s intent for war back to its intended point on the fulcrum.

The powers accorded to the president by the Constitution are not policy-setting powers of war, as Bush has taken them, changing the purpose from WMD, through freedom, to a democracy; they are not powers of scope and scale of conflict, allowing him to draw without end or accountability upon troops and resources; and they are not powers to define the goals of any conflict beyond that for which authorization was granted, which was to remove the threat of WMD.  The president’s powers are restricted to directing America’s military assets within the scope of operations that are determined and authorized by Congress, and for which Congress may, at its discretion, and at any time, alter or withdraw.  If the president wishes to operate with use of force beyond that authority, it is up to him to make his case to Congress to grant him further latitude and renewed authority.  The Constitution never specifies or implies that it be within the purview of any one man to commit the nation and its soldiers to war or risk of conflict by such placement of troops by any circumstance, other than as authorized by Congress.  That right is reserved solely to the collective judgement of the elected representatives of Congress, and the sooner that Congress responds to America’s demands, issued by proxy of ballots in the last election, that the scope of war be returned to its constitutional limits, the better will be the outlook for America’s future, long term and immediate.  The Constitution does not specify that the Congress must act as a full body in administering its war powers, and so it would be appropriate for constituted segments of Congress to take on designated responsibilities during any conflict for which it has authorized the president to engage—such formed directives would still represent the collective voice of a majority of legislators and not the will or “belief” of a single man.

Bush’s war in Iraq is unconstitutional.  The Constitution’s Articles cannot be altered or sidestepped with legislation or by presidential directives.  They can only be changed or removed by the purposefully difficult process of amendment.  The War Powers Act is unconstitutional, and the cost of allowing presidential discretion with war powers beyond constitutional limits has cost Americans dearly, most recently, the cost of more than 4,400 lives and fast increasing; it has set back American foreign policy, has created more hatred and more opportunity for enemies who are not confronted in Bush’s war to gather the forces to be launched against America that will cause irrevokable harm to American society and the American way of life.  It is time for Congress to put Bush on actionable notice that he has overstepped the authority he was conditionally granted.  It is time to end his adventure and its cost in lives and resources sorely needed elsewhere.  The time for political games and adventures must be ended.  The allowances they assume have for too long strayed to quash the tried-and-true guidelines and restraints, which constitute America’s heritage, contained within the Constitution and its associated wealth of documents and written history.  As has already been proven, it is foolhardy to continue to ignore them.

Ex-secretaries of State Warren Christopher, James Baker

Constitutional War Powers can only be short-cut at the peril of more Vietnams / Iraqs.

Ex-secretaries of State James Baker III and Warren Christopher, who headed a bipartisan commission looking into war powers, have released the National War Powers Commission Report, which announced a determination that the War Powers Resolution (Act) of 1973, which sought to reenforce the restraints placed upon the executive by the Constitution (and as such, from a legal standpoint, was unnecessary) should be replaced.  But as a tool to reassert the authority of Congress and, after the unnecessary loss of 58,000 lives in Vietnam, to remind of the limitations placed upon the executive by the Constitution, it was a necessity, and with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the creation of a civilian army in Iraq by Bush (a congressional-only power), it still points to the increasing imperative that Congress assert its authority over the executive with respect to war.

Baker, speaking as a presidentialist, calls the War Powers Act “a bad law,” saying that it “undermines and damages the rule of law” because it is so questioned or ignored, and that it is not efficient or a convenient means of exercising constraint on executive authority.  But that is a continued failure of Congress, not the Act or the Constitution, and his commission’s proposed replacement would not, as he claims, preserve any constitutional balance, but would serve to loosen the restraints imposed by the 1973 resolution, which, though unconstitutional, would also be a deleterious evolution because the War Powers Commission proposal, at minimum, implies that there is a prerogative for the executive to initiate military actions independently, it would provide no requirement for congressional consent, and it would dilute the absolute authority of Congress by subjugating it to executive-veto power and by limiting its actionable authority to funding alone.  The Supreme Court spoke, indirectly, to this issue in 1983, when it ruled, six to three, in INS v. Chadha, that the procedural safeguards of the Constitution cannot be sidestepped by either house of Congress or the president.  Justice Burger delivered the ruling, excerpted below:

“The bicameral requirement, the Presentment Clauses, the President’s veto, and Congress’ power to override a veto were intended to erect enduring checks on each Branch and to protect the people from the improvident exercise of power by mandating certain prescribed steps.  To preserve those checks, and maintain the separation of powers, the carefully defined limits on the power of each Branch must not be eroded.  To accomplish what has been attempted by one House of Congress in this case requires action in conformity with the express procedures of the Constitution’s prescription for legislative action: passage by a majority of both Houses and presentment to the President.

“The veto authorized by 244(c)(2) doubtless has been in many respects a convenient shortcut; the “sharing” with the Executive by Congress of its authority... is, on its face, an appealing compromise.  In purely practical terms, it is obviously easier for action to be taken by one House without submission to the President; but it is crystal clear from the records of the Convention, contemporaneous writings and debates, that the Framers ranked other values higher than efficiency...

“The choices we discern as having been made in the Constitutional Convention impose burdens on governmental processes that often seem clumsy, inefficient, even unworkable, but those hard choices were consciously made by men who had lived under a form of government that permitted arbitrary governmental acts to go unchecked.  There is no support in the Constitution or decisions of this Court for the proposition that the cumbersomeness and delays often encountered in complying with explicit constitutional standards may be avoided, either by the Congress or by the President.  With all the obvious flaws of delay, untidiness, and potential for abuse, we have not yet found a better way to preserve freedom than by making the exercise of power subject to the carefully crafted restraints spelled out in the Constitution.”

Yet, Baker says, “...polls show this [executive-leaning replacement of the War Powers Resolution] is what Americans want to see.”  That would be a poll he has interpreted wrongly, because to the contrary, Americans, fearing power abused, like the Founding Fathers, want to see that no president has sole authority to commit troops to battle, but rather, only that authority bestowed by Congress, according to the Constitution.  The past abuses of the executive have all been grounded in an inappropriate expanding of the defining role of Commander-in-Chief, invoking upon that “title” powers that are totally within the constitutional context of the congressional authority to “declare war,” when, in fact, the Constitution is merely designating the executive as the facilitator of congressional intent with respect to the goals and authority it receives for engaging in military conflicts.

The proposal of the commission seeks to amend the Constitution by proxy, as opposed to the War Powers Resolution, or the recent Senate resolution to prohibit unilateral actions against Iran, which sought to reenforce the Constitution, and no law is constitutional that would alter the power of Congress to decide when and where America’s blood will be spilled.  Only an amendment to the Constitution can accomplish that end, which Baker says “isn’t going to happen,” and so, as Republican administrations have guided Japan’s government in ignoring its constitution’s Article 9, absolute prohibition against creating a military, Baker’s commission report seeks to end-run the U.S. Constitution’s delegation of war power to Congress, at what would be the loss of more soldiers’ lives in conflicts either premature to diplomacy or unrelated to America’s defense or security.  Of merit, however, is the joint House and Senate committee the commission proposes, to oversee military activities after authorizations are granted, because this committee, as proposed, would be a responsive tool for oversight of congressional authority with immediate potential to curb any expansion beyond the intent of Congress in exercising the authority it provides to the executive.  As to Baker’s justification that the proposed law would clarify who in Congress the president should consult, with respect to war, it is a shallow front for another attempt to imply or plant the seed that consultation is a sole requirement for what would then be unconstitutional, unilateral executive action without the formal authority of Congress required by the Constitution.  Any high school or college student who has studied government would know that, in any issue, the president should consult with the designated leaders of each party in each house, and the chairs of House and Senate committees affected by the issue.

In the end, only the voice of the American people, expressed through contact with their representatives can affect an initiative for Congress to properly exercise and oversee its authority over the executive and ensure that America’s military will be a tool for defense of liberty and not that of any president’s whim, acting as a king or dictator, without regard or obligation to the will of the people, as Bush, and now, with Libya, President Obama, walking over the Constitution and a prostate Congress, have endowed upon the office of the President, as that of “The Great Decider.”  That travesty is intended to be prevented in war matters by the Constitution’s provisions of congressional authority over the executive.  The election of a president does not bestow upon that person such power or authority, and it never has.

Aside from the discarded constitutional imperatives and historical guidance which are at the core of such a wrong move, as Iraq, and the wrong motives for invading, No End in Sight documents how, after all the basic wrongs, the wrong deed is also wrongly executed by America’s wrong choice for a Republican president.

Courts under attack.  Justices cite disturbing threats from Republican right.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.  The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.  It thus becomes vitally important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the [authoritarian] state.

— Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s Chief of Propaganda

Click to join the petition to end the Bush colonial occupation of Iraq.

This DoD-sourced chart shows that Bush’s surge has only in the last months reduced
deaths below those of any previous month of the war, and that, surge regardless,
there is an up-cycle that will continue as long as the U.S. continues the occupation.

It turned out to be correctly leaked that Bush’s troop surge would be couched in a grand-sounding emphasis on rebuilding (when contractor corruption and accountability are an aid and comfort to the enemy) and tied to a meaningless troop-level-match promise from the Iraqi P.M. Maliki, who is self-interested against Bush’s plan and who has no reliable troops to match, especially when you consider that Bush’s plan aims just to gain control of the capital, with no accounting for the far-larger surrounding country.  This will only invoke a delay and set up Maliki as the fall guy when it goes wrong, as it will, as enough military and administrative people with knowledge and experience have said it is likely to.  The chance for success, except in getting increasing numbers of U.S. troops killed (by mid April, before the surge to control Baghdad is even complete, members of the Iraqi parliament in the fortified green zone were killed, and U.S. troop casualties in Iraq increased 20 percent) is about a great as the truth behind the phrases with which Bush opened and closed his speech:  “The new strategy I outline tonight will... help us succeed in the fight against terror,” and “