*Humility and Jubilation – I was speaking with a good friend who is generally on the opposite side of the political spectrum than me. He said that if he did not love me so much he would use my writing for bath tissue. Although I find the imagery somewhat unsettling it does point out that in America we share the freedom to express our ideas and opinions. To agree to disagree is a highpoint of a civilized society. It generally results in a mediated middle ground that benefits the common good.
*The General, Hillary and Iran – Gen. Wesley Clark (retired, former presidential candidate) wrote an article at the Huffington Post supporting Sen. Clinton’s (D-NY) position on Iran. I take exception to his conclusions. He points out that 8 months ago she gave a speech on the senate floor and said, "If the administration believes that any, any use of force against Iran is necessary the President must come to Congress to seek that authority." And recently Clinton (and 75% of the Senators) voted for a non-binding resolution that designates the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization “in order to strengthen our diplomatic hand”. Clark says that, “she is committed to ending the unilateralism of the Bush-Cheney administration.” Her objective may be honorable but we must remember the context in which this all takes place. President Bush is less than honorable. He is disdainful of Congress and the American people. Hiding behind a phalanx of lawyers he makes his own rules. Oversight is stonewalled. Hillary’s speech had no more impact on Bush than my blog. On the matter of the “non-binding” resolution, calling a group “terrorist” by the Senate strengthens nothing but the President’s hand to attack Iran if he chooses. Our Constitution states that only Congress can declare war. Bush and Cheney could not care less. They have operated with impunity for almost 7 years and the resolution about the Revolutionary Guard is merely red meat for Cujo.
*The Senator, Hillary, and Iran – Last week Sen. Clinton joined Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) in co-sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the use of funds for military action in Iran without specific authorization by Congress. This is legislation worthy of our support. I would suggest one amendment. If the President ignored this legislation, on the day he attacks Iran impeachment proceedings would be instituted.
*Just one click a day – There is no cost and each day that you visit The Breast Cancer Site a contribution is made that helps fund breast exams for disadvantaged women. It will make you feel in the pink.
*Support our volunteer troops, while we still have them – thinkprogress.org reports that: approximately 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard recently returned home after serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq. They served 22 months - longer than any other ground combat unit - suffered nine fatalities, and were awarded dozens of Purple Hearts. But the Army wrote the orders for 1,162 of these soldiers for 729 days, making them ineligible for full educational benefits under the GI Bill, which requires written orders saying they were deployed for 730 days or more. These soldiers were shorted more than $200 per month for college. As the truth about how this administration has waged war and abused U.S. military men and women becomes known, future armed force requirements may only be met by a draft or a hired mercenary force.
*Assault on principles – When a National Rifle Association member opposed a ban on assault rifles Rudy Giuliani responded angrily, “Now the reason why the N.R.A. has lost all credibility is statements like that. By definition these are attack weapons. They are used for offense. It really is absolutely astounding that the N.R.A. continues to have influence in areas in which they make no sense at all.” This took place in 1994 when Rudy was mayor of NYC. In 2007 Giuliani needs the support of the NRA in his presidential bid so he has had an epiphany. NRA support, money and influence now make a lot of sense as he genuflects for their endorsement.
*The state of church and state - Last week I excoriated John McCain for his insisting that the U.S. Constitution established a Christian nation. It was obvious that he was pandering to the religious right, a core segment of the Republican Party. Mitt Romney has the opposite problem. As noted by conservative guru and CIA leak accomplice Robert Novak, a recent Newsweek poll found that 28% of Americans are more likely to vote for a Jewish or Black person than for an individual of the Mormon faith. He concludes that at some point Romney has to address the situation by declaring "the imposition of a religious test on U.S. politics is unfair, unreasonable and un-American." The Republican Party allowed itself to be hijacked by the religious right and now the GOP presidential candidates are being held for ransom. It may not be pretty but it just seems just.
*Public restrooms ~ political restrooms – We are more than familiar with Sen. Larry Craig’s (R-ID) arrest for soliciting sex in a men’s room. (Robert Novak is also reporting that many of Craig’s colleagues in the Senate were aware of other “strange” behavior by the conservative public servant.) We now learn of Joey DiFatta, a prominent Louisiana Republican who just withdrew from a race for state senator. He also has been arrested for lewd behavior in a restroom. Suggestion: designated public restrooms be marked “Republican” so that trolling on the white tiles does not leave one flush with embarrassment.
*Pray for President Bush – In September 2000 the web site prayforgoergewbush.com was established. It offers daily prayers one can say for the 43rd U.S. President. The dismal performance of the Bush presidency may lead some to question the power of prayer.
*The apolitical and political nature of money - Much of the funding of the military dictatorship in Myanmar comes from the millions of dollars it receives from the sale of its Yadana offshore gas to Chevron, which also owns Texaco. Burma Campaign UK offers a “dirty” list of dozens of other corporations supporting this repressive regime. Similar insidious corporate-political relationships are occurring around the world. Commercial globalism often functions with no geographical, legal, ethical or moral boundaries. One may wonder why responsible democratic governments are not exposing these relationships and making it uncomfortable for corporations like Chevron. One may wonder.
*Traversing the Yellow Brick Road – Any American concerned with the Bush administration’s “approval” of torture can relax and move on to hugging trees. At a press briefing White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was queried, “You maintain that the administration still does not torture?” Response: “Correct”. Question: “How can you say that?” Response: “Because we follow the law.” It is not likely that Ms. Perino has vacationed at the Hotel Abu Ghraib or the island of Guantanamo or the secret interrogation kiosks throughout Europe. Asked if she waterboarded she replied that she cannot even swim.
*Getting a grip – I have discussed contractors operating in Iraq with little oversight and increasing abuses. The House of Representatives just overwhelmingly passed legislation that would bring some accountability to all armed private contractors working overseas. The Senate will now consider similar legislation. It is important that they pass it with sufficient votes to override a probable Bush veto. You can send a petition to your senators at this link: truemajorityaction.org
*With so much yet to accomplish - Vladimir Putin is approaching the end of his term-limit as President of Russia. Ever the innovative leader, Putin has indicated that he will take the job of Prime Minister if a president is chosen that he can work with. It is considered a done deal. Facing his own term-limit, President Bush has been meeting with key White House insiders, Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts, to make it happen for him.
*The Liberty Seven or 2 out of 3 – I recently commented that following the arrest by the FBI of a rag-tag group in Miami for intending to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago nothing further had been heard. That has now changed with the start of the trial. The LA Times asks are they terrorists or naïve losers? Prosecutor: they planned to take over the world. Defense: they are victims of an election-year ploy (the arrest was in June 2006). The prosecutor outlined the planned attacks which included poisoning salt shakers in restaurants, blowing up the Sears Tower, and flooding “secret tunnels” under the Tower from "Lake Toronto", an obviously “secret” lake. The accused lived in an abandoned warehouse with no resources until an undercover federal agent appeared, providing most of the plans, weapons and other equipment. These men were homeless, hapless and clueless. The government’s case will likely be two of the three. Larry Arnstein at the HuffingtonPost has an interesting column on the trial. If this is the worst of domestic threats against America we can all breathe a sigh of thank goodness. If this is the best efforts of our government, we best hold our breath.
*Quote of the week – “We cannot replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats.” John Edwards said this on Meet the Press. I agree with this sentiment, but, unfortunately, wonder if the current system of electing our national leaders allows for a candidate to be independent of special interest funding. The huge sums of money required for a campaign inherently require financing by interests that usually are not reflective of the electorate. Unless we institute public financing of elections our leaders necessarily mortgage their independence and our interests. Can you say “sub-prime mortgages”?
*The Taj Mahal Baghdad – Last week I noted that the U.S is building in Baghdad its biggest and most expensive embassy in U.S. history. To almost no one’s surprise the project is more expensive than budgeted. The original cost of $592 million faces a cost overrun of $144 million “and will open months behind schedule because of poor planning, shoddy workmanship, internal disputes and last-minute changes sought by State Department officials”. But it will be quite a place. Covering an area of 104 acres the compound will include 21 buildings. Besides two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, and the apartment buildings for staff, the compound will offer a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club. Unlike most buildings in Baghdad the facility will have treated water and electricity 24 hours a day. One would expect no less for three-quarters of a billion dollars.
*Corporate dilemma ~$500 or a life – Last week 2 security guards were murdered during the robbery of an armored car in Philadelphia. Both died from gunshot wounds to the chest or abdomen. Neither wore bullet-proof vests. Officials of the armored car company that employed them, Loomis, does not require guards to wear the vests but, it encourages their use according to a company spokes person. The vests cost between $350 and $700. The company pays for part of the cost of the vests and offers interest-free loans to employees for the rest. Interest-free loans! Armor for the cash, not for the guards. Common sense and decency shot to hell.
Washington D.C. ~ tarnishing the silver – Neil Volz recently received a sentence of probation for accepting bribes while on the staff of disgraced representative Bob Ney (R-OH) and for giving bribes whiled employed by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff (the sentence reflected his cooperation with prosecutors). In a Columbus Dispatch interview he comments, “I came to Washington this total idealist. … But it's kind of like I took on this mind-set that there was a machine at work and I was just a cog in the machine. And, therefore, I need to get mine." The article notes, “It was part of what Volz calls "Ney World," where ambition and greed overcame the small-town Ohio scruples and idealism that Volz had brought to Washington, a slippery slope toward unethical and ultimately criminal behavior.” Reading about people like Mr. Volz leads me to wonder how many of us would not be blinded by the bright lights?
*Never mind – A report by the London-based think tank Oxford Research Group says that “the war on terror is failing and instead fueling an increase in support for extremist Islamist movements…invasion of Iraq was a "disastrous mistake" which has helped establish a "most valued jihadist combat training zone" for al Qaeda supporters.” The report also said, "Going to war with Iran will make matters far worse, playing directly into the hands of extreme elements and adding greatly to the violence across the region. Whatever the problems with Iran, war should be avoided at all costs." These conclusions mirror those of the U.S.-based think tank “the citizens of the United States of America.”
*The first was least - The Washington Post has an interesting article on some of the top Bush administration officials who have resigned over the last several months. Many are exhausted or discouraged or angry or soul-searching the legacy of their work. I would imagine that those with a sense of their soul will spend the remainder of their lives questioning what their efforts supported and enabled. I feel little sympathy for them as history places a magnifying glass on probably the worst administration this country has endured. It took more than George W. Bush to support the lies, obfuscations, mismanagement, subterfuges, and avoidance of our laws, our Constitution. History will similarly judge their policy and planning. The interest of the American people rarely entered their plans and objectives. Under Bush and his minions we were never first option.
*We all leave footprints in the sand. The question is will we be a big heel or a great soul?