Saturday, March 22, 2008

Voinovich Has Called McCain A Liar....

.....well, sort of.

The main point being, this is all taking place in Ohio, over which we cannot obsess enough, according to the author of the following article. I tend to agree, but where are we on the security of Ohioans' votes? Can we be sure that all Ohioans, who are eligible to vote under Ohio law, will get to vote and will their votes be counted?

Just so you know: my opinion is that between now and Election Day in November, we cannot obsess about Ohio enough. Can Barack Obama, a black guy (did you know that?), or Hillary Clinton, a woman with high negatives, win the White House against John McCain, an old white war hero? All either has to do is win every state that John Kerry bagged in 2004 and swing Ohio from red to blue. The latter seems particularly doable given that the Republican Party has imploded in the Buckeye state thanks to a series of scandals and now Ohio is ruled (so to speak) by Ted Strickland, a popular Democrat, who just might end up in the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket. And it does seem hard to envision a McCain victory without Ohio on his side.

So any Ohio-related news is national news. That's one reason why I thought it's important that McCain has campaigned in Ohio with a megachurch pastor who has literally called for the eradication of Islam. If this story comes to hurt McCain--and he has to disavow this pastor--it could damage his effort to turn out fundamentalist voters in Ohio. (I may have more on that story soon.)

Today the political news out of Ohio is that the top-ranking Republican in the state has called McCain a liar. Well, kind of. At a forum of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission on Wednesday, Senator George Voinovich said, "We're going to have to raise more money in this country. Did you hear me? We're going to have to increase taxes in order to do the job. Anyone that tells you that's not the case isn't being truthful with you. They're not being intellectually honest with you."

I must add my humble (no count) opinion to that of the senator from Ohio, Mr. Voinovich, a conservative of the old school, like the ones I grew up around: If a man or woman says to you that taxes will not have to be raised to help the next president and congress begin to drag us back from the social/economic abyss, not only is he/she lying to you and what's more, they think you are stupid.

Nevertheless, just raising taxes on people who make more than $250,000/year will not get us where we need to be. We need tax cuts on the people who will continue to consume because they have to. They have no choice and if we want them to be able to save anything, tax cuts are needed. I'm talking about people who make less that $60,000 after their employers take out money for retirement plans, benefits and social security, etc.

People who are disabled or retired, in other words, who are living on fixed incomes, of less than 60,000 per year should pay no taxes at all on that money. People who are disabled are finding themselves over-whelmed with healthcare costs, as are some retired people who are more elderly than the younger retired people. Until universal healthcare comes, these people are in failing financial situations.

Retired and/or disabled people who can find jobs that they can manage to do, should be taxed on earned money after the first $10,000/per year at a rate of 10%. They should not lose their healthcare as a result of earning extra money.

As the Ohio state Democratic party was lickety-split quick to point out, McCain has declared that under no circumstances will he increase any taxes if he is elected president. By Voinovich's standard, then, McCain is not being honest.

I doubt this disagreement will prevent Voinovich from campaigning for McCain in Ohio. But the anti-McCain ad writes itself: juxtapose Voinovich's declaration against McCain's. If Ohio is tight any issue could tip the national race one way or the other. This particular matter may not end up the decisive one. But pay attention to each and every bump encountered by either party's nominee in Ohio--for any one of them may be what throws an entire train off the tracks.

Some trains need to be derailed and as soon as possible.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Friday, March 21, 2008


By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Politics is the art of controlling your environment.

- Hunter S. Thompson

(Photo: William Rivers Pitt / Truthout)
Five years in Iraq.

That's 1,825 days since "Shock and Awe" lit up the skies above Baghdad, all of which was captured live and in living color by unblinking CNN cameras with unobstructed views of the carnage.

3,991 United States soldiers have died in Iraq since then. That's a little more than two United States soldiers killed per day. Every day. For five years.

More than 40,000 United States soldiers have been wounded in Iraq since then. That's more than twenty-one United States soldiers wounded per day. Every day. For five years.

The last Congressional Budget Office report on the monetary cost for Iraq dates back to October of last year, and tabulates that cost at $421 billion. The CBO cannot be censured should that number prove lower than what has actually been spent, as it is understood that all the other millions pilfered by profiteers and passed on in bribes were not duly recorded in the books, and thus cannot be accounted for.

The CBO's number must be considered inaccurately low on spec, thanks in part to a nifty little cash-and-carry hootenanny from three years ago in July of 2005. A report from the UK Guardian tells the tale: "The auditors have so far referred more than a hundred contracts, involving billions of dollars paid to American personnel and corporations, for investigation and possible criminal prosecution. They have also discovered that $8.8 billion that passed through the new Iraqi government ministries in Baghdad while Bremer was in charge is unaccounted for, with little prospect of finding out where it has gone. A further $3.4 billion appropriated by Congress for Iraqi development has since been siphoned off to finance 'security'."

But wait, there's more: "Pilfering was rife," continues the Guardian report. "Millions of dollars in cash went missing from the Iraqi Central Bank. Between $11 million and $26 million worth of Iraqi property sequestered by the Coalition Provisional Authority was unaccounted for. The payroll was padded with hundreds of ghost employees. Millions of dollars were paid to contractors for phantom work. Some $3,379,505 was billed, for example, for 'personnel not in the field performing work' and 'other improper charges' on just one oil pipeline repair contract."

This one example, just one among the multitudes, makes the existence of significant gaps in the accuracy of the information supporting the CBO's conclusions a safe assumption. As for the money not present on the official balance sheets, well ... to paraphrase John Kenneth Galbraith, that cash went to the same place your lap goes when you stand up. Even the guys who stole it probably don't know what happened to it all, not completely, not for certain. If the Federal Reserve had stuffed those bills into the belly of a ballistic missile and launched the thing into deep space, they'd know exactly as much about where it is as they now know about what happened to the cash literally dumped into Iraq. It's somewhere, and nowhere, and all the way gone.

$421 billion spent over 1,825 days in Iraq comes to $230,684,931 plus change per day. Every day. For five years.

And that number is low.

It may be a low number, but think about how many Priuses could have been bought for every American who couldn't afford to trade their larger gas-guzzlers, but would have liked to, considering the writing on the wall after 9/11 and till this day.

How many of the Hijackers came from Saudi Arabia? That should have been enough right then and there for Americans to say, "I'll be damned if I will use any more of that Arabian Oil than I absolutely have to!"

I'll never be able to explain the insanity of people flocking to buy R.V.s, Humvees and other humongous gas-guzzlers. It was absolutely jaw-dropping. It was such mass suicidal behavior, and I might add, truly unpatriotic or stunningly stupid.

There would be money left over that could be devoted to research and development in the field of alternative fuel, and I'm not talking about making food into fuel, an absolutely nutty idea that is going to harm many, many people before we can shut it down.

Cities could have applied for grants to install electrical plugs at parking meters and in parking lots and Americans could have been encouraged to green up their homes, with government assistance, if necessary. We are talking real national security measures. Not starting a war with innocent people and making the Arab world hate us when they didn't really before. They did and do hate American government policy, but none but the most extreme hated Americans, and the percentage of them was small before Iraq.

Fast-forward the tape ten years to 2017, via the calculations recently published in a new book by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, and the cost of attacking Iraq will be somewhere in the vicinity of $3 trillion. This is based on the assumption that United States soldiers will still be dying in Iraq ten years hence. Six to four and pick 'em on that one. Sucker bet.

George W. Bush's banner-bolstered "Mission Accomplished" photo-op happened four years and ten months ago. This event is noteworthy for myriad reasons, Bush's gruesome and unspeakably inaccurate grandstanding being foremost among them. Also, as an aside, Bush's use of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as a backdrop for his 1,825-days-wrong-and-counting festival of balderdash set a new world record for Largest Prop Ever Used For Political Gain, by any world leader, ever.

That event was followed the very next day by a comment from General Tommy Franks, leader of the US attack and invasion of Iraq. A reporter apparently had the unrivaled gall to query Franks on the matter of Iraqi civilian casualties. "We," replied Franks, "don't do body counts."

The man was not lying; in the five years since the United States invaded Iraq, not one attempt has been made by any United States government agency or office to accurately count the civilian dead and wounded. A number of non-official efforts have been made to find some kind of answer for that cheeky reporter's question. In October of 2004, a team of experts sponsored by Human Rights Watch put forth their best attempt to provide a number.

"One of the first attempts to independently estimate the loss of civilian life from the Iraq war has concluded that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have died because of the US invasion," reported The Washington Post. "The analysis, an extrapolation based on a relatively small number of documented deaths, indicated that many of the excess deaths have occurred due to aerial attacks by coalition forces, with women and children being frequent victims."

That was four years ago, and might not be accurate. Two years later, the British medical journal the Lancet put the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at 655,000. A hue and cry was raised about the methodology of that study, so we really don't know how many have died. Is it a million dead Iraqi civilians, is it two million, or only a half-million? Two hundred thousand, or one hundred thousand? Fifty thousand, or ten thousand? Nobody knows, because we don't do body counts.

One thing is sure. Iraqi civilians have been dying. Every day. For five years.


Mainly, because the motivations behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq came down to power, payback and greed, which makes this entire calamity just another ghastly page within the oldest book in humanity's bloody history.

Vice President Dick Cheney is, by far and away, the most powerful man in the present administration. He is still bitter from watching the slow annihilation of Richard Nixon, his first boss in Washington, at the hands of a Democrat-dominated US Congress fueled by broad and vocal support from an outraged public. Nixon was Cheney's archetype, the Unitary Executive version 1.0, who tried to raze the separation of powers doctrine to the ground by brazenly declaring the Presidency to be beyond any legal limitations, beyond any meddling intruders sniffing for secrets in the name of oversight, and thus vested with the same absolute authority once claimed by the Stuart kings of old.

Yet that Nixonian leviathan collapsed and came to grief before the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the rule of constitutional law. Cheney was a man thwarted, and so he would brood on that defeat for many long years, and would bide his time. Few people, not even his closest Republican colleagues, were aware of the stone-fisted authoritarian lurking behind that bland conservative facade.

One passage from a Washington Post analysis of Cheney's long career in government and business stands out: "Cheney's muscular views on presidential power, then and now, offer one answer to the question raised often by former colleagues in recent years: What happened to the careful, mainstream conservative they once thought they understood?"

What happened? Opportunity happened, at long last, George W. Bush and 9/11 and a manufactured state of permanent war happened. Over these last five years, virtually every invocation of the ever-expanding powers laid claim by Executive privilege, every ignored Congressional subpoena, every assertion of confidentiality or national security to block even meager attempts to scrutinize White House activities, every summary termination of a US attorney who refused administration orders to cripple offending Democrats with baseless abuses of prosecutorial discretion, every refusal to obey black-letter laws requiring the release of administration documents even to the harmless librarians at the National Archives, every signing statement that eviscerates another duly-passed bill from Congress, every attempt to stack the Justice Department and the federal court system with devoted yes-men whose only qualification is their total loyalty to and complete Judicial protection of the administration, with neither heed nor concern paid to whatever laws or freedoms or principles are rubbished by the process, every one of these lethal attacks upon America's constitutional infrastructure have been committed under the ill-defined and therefore limitless legal prerogatives afforded to American presidents "during a time of war."


Because war in Iraq presented Dick Cheney with the means to fulfill his decades-old ambition: to invest the Executive branch with unprecedented and unlimited power, to settle a few festering scores with that nettlesome Legislature, and to cash in on the spoils of supremacy by rerouting every available dollar out of the Treasury and into tax-sheltered coffers of like-minded comrades in the oil and warfare industries, comrades who eagerly joined in the plunder and have happily fattened their fortunes with money that now might as well be in the same place as your lap once you stand up. Somewhere, nowhere, and all the way gone.

Author and former presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal, writing in November of 2005, noted where Dick Cheney's plans had led him, and the nation, to that point. "The making of the Iraq war, torture policy and an industry-friendly energy plan," he observed, "has required secrecy, deception and subordination of government as it previously existed. But these, too, are means to an end. Even projecting a 'war on terror' as total war, trying to envelop the whole American society within its fog, is a device to invest absolute power in the executive. Dick Cheney sees in George W. Bush his last chance. Nixon self-destructed, Ford was fatally compromised by his moderation, Reagan was not what was hoped for, the elder Bush ended up a disappointment. In every case, the Republican presidents had been checked or gone soft. Finally, President Bush provided the instrument, September 11 the opportunity. This time the failures of the past provided the guideposts for getting it right. The administration's heedlessness was simply the wisdom of Cheney's experience."

It is certainly possible that those Bush administration officials who advocated legalizing the torture of prisoners, and who celebrated Bush's recent veto of legislation to prohibit same, are simply a bunch of clandestine bondage freaks with a taste for the whip and the waterboard. It doesn't matter. The one and only reason this White House chose to legitimize the infliction of ruthless agony with the stamp of presidential approval is because somebody somewhere forbade them from doing it.

They may all genuinely despise the very idea of torture, but not as much as they despise being told "No" under any circumstances. "No" is the red flag to Cheney's bull. "No" is unacceptable to the Unitary Executive. "No" will not stand, period, and whatever the matter at hand may be is almost completely irrelevant to the argument as they see it. Forcing "No" into becoming "Yes," or forcing the defeated retreat of whatever adversary dared to defy them with a "No," is the complete sum and substance of Bush administration ideology.

And Cheney found that with the right president; he would have almost limitless power and not have to answer to the press, congress or anyone else, unless he wanted to spew out a little more disinformation from Fox Noise.

That's why he told Bush a lie when he told him that Air Force One had been threatened on 9/11 when no such incident occurred. He had the president of the United States hop-scotching around the country like a scared little rabbit, while he, Cheney, was in the bunker calling the shots, I'd like to know the "why" of that.


Outrageous as it may seem, that is the answer.

This is a wretched anniversary. Let us not do it again next year.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

The Breach Of Obama's Passport File

I'm going to try not to speculate on this, as every newscaster I've seen so far has done, but I may highlight a few sentences or words and make
a few comments throughout the article.

However I am, firstly, off on a rant about ideological nut cases.

First of all, I just sat in amazement as both Joe Di Geneva and Tucker Carlson, on MSNBC, blamed this breech on, among other things, big government and the much hated, by them, bureaucracy. Are they saying that we should have no passports in this country?

Are they saying that we should be able to go wherever we want, whenever we want and it should be none of the state departments business?

Just try that, Tucker and Joe. You won't get very far because other countries demand that you have a passport.

(Tucker was also visibly upset that this had blown Jeremiah Wright off the TeeVee for at least a day or so and what's-her-face as well. Problem is, What's-her-face seems to have "spoken and she can't shut up.")

I have a libertarian streak in me that's about a mile wide, but even I'm not that stupid. Passports are necessary for many reasons, quite a few of those reasons are for the protection of Americans abroad. However, the information on those passport files should never be used against an American citizen, unless there is other evidence of a crime; a big crime. This is the kind of thing that keeps me from being Libertarian. More knee jerk, thoughtless plugs for your ideology. It's every bit as aggravating as the gun-hating far left using every school shooting to decry the existence of guns in America., when my question is "where the hell are these kid's parents?"

Besides, Americans should be encouraged to travel abroad (not the ugly American, please, but the curious, courteous kind.) I have witnessed an ignorance in this country about other cultures and countries that even I have found shocking and in people I knew and believed to be more informed and open to learning more. When that many people are that ignorant, you can tell them anything and they will believe you, especially if they are ignorant, frightened and looking for an authority figure who will protect them. That, my brothers and sisters, is one super dangerous combination for a Democratic Republic, that is if we still have one.

I grew up in the deep south with a father who had an arsenal, practically. I was never really sure how many guns he had until he died, and I didn't really care. My father wouldn't have shot a bird, let alone a human being, unless that bird or that human was threatening his daughter and/or wife, not to mention himself, by entering our house unbidden and in the middle of the night, through a window with a ski mask.

When will we learn? We should not frighten each other, on purpose.

Nevertheless, I did know where two of the guns were. My father showed me where they were and made a big deal of it. He didn't do that often, so I was always impressed when he did. He told me that I should never touch those guns unless he was with me. The calm, firm tone in his voice was all it took. I never touched the things. I wouldn't even open the sock drawer where his pistol was. When I did the laundry, on occasion, I laid his socks, neatly folded, on the top of the dresser.

Later, my grandfather taught me to shoot, on a farm we had back then, with Dad's permission, of course. No, not even that made me want to pick up a gun for any other reason than shooting those tin cans off the rock fence and even then, as a teenager, my grandfather was with me. We had contests by then. I would try to out shoot him. I don't think I ever did. But it was fun, like shooting arrows, which I also did, at a big stack of bailed hay with a homemade target on it. I would most certainly learn to shoot arrows, as that was a part of my heritage.

I realize that that rant had absolutely nothing to do with the real point of this article, but there is nothing that will bring on a rant from me like concrete-minded, knee jerk babbling of ideology, even when its absolutely stupid in the context.

So, I still ask, where are the parents? You all know who I'm talking about, those Americans who are held in such high regard that they get tax breaks, apparently whether they are doing their jobs or not.

WASHINGTON — The State Department says it is trying to determine whether three contract workers had a political motive for looking at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's passport file.

Two of the employees were fired for the security breach and the third was disciplined but is still working, the department said Thursday night. It would not release the names of those who were fired and disciplined or the names of the two companies for which they worked. The department's inspector general is investigating.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that for now it appears that nothing other than "imprudent curiosity" was involved in three separate breaches of the Illinois senator's personal information, "but we are taking steps to reassure ourselves that that is, in fact, the case."

BWAhahahaha. Couldn't help it! Excuse me while I get the coffee of my monitor

It is not clear whether the employees saw anything other than the basic personal data such as name, citizenship, age, Social Security number and place of birth that is required when a person fills out a passport application.

It's enough for identity theft, which could lead to all kinds of mischief!

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama's presidential campaign, called for a complete investigation.

"This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," Burton said. "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

"This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama's passport file, for what purpose and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach," he said.

The breaches occurred on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14 and were detected by internal State Department computer checks, McCormack said. The department's top management officer, Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy, said certain records, including those of high-profile people, are "flagged" with a computer tag that tips off supervisors when someone tries to view the records without a proper reason.

I feel it necessary to add this: When an employee attempts to look into the passport records of certain high profile people, not only is there an immediate notification to the supervisor, but a warning appears on the screen that the file cannot must not be pulled up unless for certain necessary reasons and only with permission from higher-ups at state. This warning is immediate and given before a person commits the "error" of "imprudent curiosity." Ask yourself, would you let your own curiosity get the best of you in such a situation? In this economy would you risk losing your well-paying job over curiosity? Maybe the old saying is right; curiosity killed the cat. But cats don't have pre-frontal lobes which make executive decisions for us and, hopefully, keep us from ignoring warning signs.

The firings and unspecified discipline of the third employee already had occurred when senior State Department officials learned of the breaches. Kennedy called that a failing.

Therefore there can be no full investigation of this incident as two of the employees are gone, having been fired and beyond the reach of the State Department, though not beyond the reach of the FBI. If I were them, I would be camping out in Congress, begging to tell their story for immunity if a real crime has been committed.

"I will fully acknowledge this information should have been passed up the line," Kennedy told reporters in a conference call Thursday night. "It was dealt with at the office level."

In answer to a question, Kennedy said the department doesn't look into political affiliation in doing background checks on passport workers. "Now that this has arisen, this becomes a germane question, and that will be something for the appropriate investigation to look into," he said.

Nor should the State Department routinely check the political affiliation of any potential employee. That would be illegal. But political affiliation should have been checked immediately after all three breaches. Why are the names of the contracting companies being released. They have no right to privacy in this issue that I am aware of, especially since they have been accused of nothing.

The department informed Obama's Senate office of the breach on Thursday. Kennedy said that at the office's request, he will provide a personal briefing for the senator's staff on Friday. No one from the State Department spoke to Obama personally on Thursday, the officials said.

And say what, exactly? Mr Kennedy doesn't know anymore about this issue than I do, if he is telling the truth about when upper level management knew about it. The fate of the contracted employees was decided by the janitor it seems and no investigation was done. There is no one to investigate since the guy who would have done that left his position at State ahead of congressional subpoenas. (Remember Old Cookie Krongard?) He did have an assistant, but as I say, the two fired employees are out of the reach of the State Department now and as we all know referring anything to Justice is like shooting it toward a black hole from which no information ever emerges. They still do have the third "curious employee." Perhaps, she he should be called before a congressional ASAP, even if they have to offer immunity.

Obama was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia for several years as a child before returning to the United States. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has traveled to the Middle East; the former Soviet states with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; and Africa, where in 2006 he and his wife, Michelle, publicly took HIV tests in Kenya to encourage people there to do the same.

Obama's father was born in Kenya, and the senator still has relatives there.

The disclosure of inappropriate passport inquiries recalled an incident in 1992, when a Republican political appointee at the State Department was demoted over a search of presidential candidate Bill Clinton's passport records. At the time he was challenging President George H.W. Bush.

Maybe they learned a lesson from that; don't use political appointees for your political dirty work. Use contractors. It seems to work in Iraq. Joe Di Geneva, far right lawyer, said last night that the Clinton investigation, which he ran as a special "independent" counsel said that that the GHWB stunt was just stupid, but not a crime because none of Clinton's information could be used politically it was not "disseminated." Had it been, it would have been a felony. Let's face it, it wasn't disseminated because there was nothing there that would prove harmful to Clinton's campaign and I imagine that the Bush campaign, if not the W.H., was in formed of that.

But we can't help but wonder. Like father, like son?

The State Department's inspector general said the official had helped arrange the search in an attempt to find politically damaging information about Clinton, who had been rumored to have considered renouncing his citizenship to avoid the Vietnam War draft.

Not a very bright move for a man who had wanted to be president almost his entire life.

It seems to me that the use of government agencies against the political opposition, elected or rank and file, should be a felony in itself, whether such an effort bears fruit or not. Is my memory failing me or isn't that what finally did Nixon in; the use of executive branch agencies against people who were on his "enemies list"? (We are talking the IRS and other agencies, plus the use of rogue elements who came to be known as the Plumbers.) It wasn't the secret bombing of Cambodia and therefore the broadening of the war, and sending our soldiers and sailors into Cambodia, unknown to the American people or Congress that did him in any more than the war crimes of this administration will be the reason for their down fall. Presidents always get in trouble for what they do to the American people and the political opposition, unless, of course, the people are scared witless of an outside enemy and allow breaches of their own personal security, by allowing their own government to shred the constitution and throw their rights out the widow.

We hapless, stupid Americans: like lambs to the slaughter.

Just imagine Hillary with all the new powers afforded the new president under the unitary executive theory of government.

The State Department said the official, Steven Berry, had shown "serious lapses in judgment."

After a three-year, $2.2 million probe, a federal independent counsel exonerated officials in the incident, saying that while some of the actions investigated were "stupid, dumb and partisan," they were not criminal. The independent counsel also said that Berry and others who were disciplined for their involvement were treated unfairly.

What do you think should have happened to them, Mr. Di Geneva? Perhaps a medal of freedom?

Doug Hattaway, a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady who is challenging Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, said of the current breach: "It's outrageous and the Bush administration has to get to the bottom of it."

Yeah right, Hillary. Are you going to keep pushing for the truth on this one, are are you going to wait until it happens to you and it will. Oh boy, is it going to happen to you and it won't matter one bit whether it's the truth or a lie.

You and your campaign are using the kitchen sink strategy against Obama. McCain will use the airborne and special forces against you, Dear Lady, all the while saying he isn't doing it and he may be telling the truth. It may be the Rovian forces, now in darkness, who come after you.

Kennedy and McCormack said it was too soon to say whether a crime was committed. The searches may violate the federal Privacy Act, and Kennedy said he is consulting State Department lawyers.

Too soon? Given how long it's been going on and how many times it's happened, it may well be too late.

The State Department inspector general's power is limited because two of the employees are no longer working for the department. McCormack said it was premature to consider whether the FBI or Justice Department should be involved.

McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was informed of the breaches on Thursday.

I don't doubt that. Why on earth involve her?

For anyone who is interested, there are some curious correlations between the time of the breeches and what was going on concurrently on the political landscape.

But, here is what I don't get and what may make it clear that this was not political. Obama is now a presidential candidate, surrounded by secret service and the press. How could he have gotten out of the U.S. and come back in without everyone knowing any way on or around the dates of the breaches. Why did it take three times, if it is political. Admittedly, Obama's passport file is probably pretty long. But these days it's all on computer, easily pulled up and read.The contractors who committed the beaches were data entry people. Was there a plan afoot to alter Obama's file in some way in order to scare Americans, again?

Passport files contain much more than most Americans think they do. They are not simply a record of where one went and when, especially when one is an official in the U.S. or people who are being watched by the government for whatever reasons. Like maybe they are Quakers or other dangerous pacifists. (snark)

I wonder why no one finds McCain's or Hillary's file all that interesting, or even Bill's file, these days. God only knows what he's been up to! LOL

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Perino: A,mericans Have No Say Over War

Well, do tell, Ms. Perino.

Thanks, Helen for the question, which caused Ms Perino to let's 48% of us who voted for Kerry off the hook for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those of us who voted for Kerry are almost in the clear. Some of us are still, however, paying for it for whatever reason (no doubt, the obvious one; they believe it is unlawful to not pay taxes and it is in ordinary times, but these are not ordinary times.)

Why doesn't that make me feel better?

Our Representatives (didn't vote for mine and more than I voted for Bush, as he is a mindless Bushite follower) have say over the war. They have the power over the purse. They won't exercise that power, so the people must. This is a criminal war.

Serious business, indeed. Just ask the Germans.

At a White House press briefing today, Press Secretary Dana Perino effectively tells veteran correspondent Helen Thomas that the American people's say in the Iraq occupation ended after the 2004 election.

"The American people are being asked to die and pay for this," probes Thomas. "And you're saying they have no say in this war?"

"No," Perino responds, "I didn't say that, Helen. But, Helen, this president was elected--"

Thomas interrupts: "But it amounts to it. You're saying we have no input at all."

"You had input," Perino says. "The American people have input every four years and that's the way our system is set up."

Perino's statement comes on the heels of a direct assertion by Vice President Dick Cheney that he doesn't care about public input on Iraq.

"I think we cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations of the public opinion polls," said Cheney to ABC's Martha Raddatz on Wednesday. "There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment."

Video of the exchange between Thomas and Perino is available at Think Progress.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

One Old Preacher Excercises His Constitutional Rights: The Flag Is Falling

I could come no where near putting it better that P.M. has in this opinion piece.

God, I don't know what's wrong with me, but I was blown back by the outrage after Obama's speech. I guess I keep hoping that the conservatives will be conservatives and not the frightened, bigoted, ideological, authoritarians that has taken over the Republican Party over the last 40 years, that seems to have reached its peak with the BuCheney administration. Why, oh why do I keep hoping? Maybe it is guys like Andrew Sullivan who is a true conservative and a very thoughtful man. I may not agree with Mr Sullivan on everything, but he does make sense and doesn't have seemingly programed, robotic, knee-jerk reactions to all things to the left of Attila the Hun. He is also not from here, but from England.

I have already expressed what I felt about Obama's speech; a speech that he shouldn't even have to have given. But he, unlike many of the rest of us, was wise enough, because of his life experience, to know that not only did the speech have to be given, but that he knew that the speech was not the end of anything, but the beginning of something new; honesty about race (and quite a few other issues, I feel sure) in this country.

The fact that the news media was in a typical feeding frenzy about the preacher thing while the anniversary of shock and awe passes, with protests blacked out, as usual, with out president and vice president sounding more sick and delusional by the day and their man for the next president having to be told that he had misspoke about al Qaeda and extremists, correcting himself and then misspeaking again just blows ones mind. I did see some discussions about the McCain thing and it looks like Dan Abrams is going to start a feature about old Teflon John. I guess it was such a gaff that ever Cabal news couldn't completely ignore it.

On Olbermann, McCain was described exactly as Bush is described, smart in his own way, but not a detail man.

Sweet Jesus, that's just all we need!

The guy doesn't know jack about economics and whomever the next president is, he or she will have to deal with some major crooks in the financial industry who have been up to serious no good and the fallout from their criminal shenanigans. My God, does any one trust McCain to do that? Only a fool!

The right's peculiar notion of proportionality lies in one of those intellectual sand traps that one can whack away at for years and yet never come close to dislodging its smug, half-buried target. The notion just sits there, grinning back, confident that logical blows will do it no harm or budge it one bit. It's one of the more stubborn obscenities known to man.

While, for instance, right-wing scribblers were succumbing to the vapors because of one over-the-top preacher's exercising of all three guarantees of the First Amendment, we were "celebrating" the fifth anniversary of an illegal, anticonstitutional, wholly unAmerican foreign war. This, however, merited no similar reactionary dread.

The disproportionality was stunningly obscene, as were its objects of timid affection.

You want obscene? Our -- their -- president offered that yesterday in spades when he insisted once again that "removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision," without noting once again its dreadfully wrongful costs in human and fiscal treasure.

Obscene? How about the vice president's considered response to ABC News' observation that two-thirds of his citizenry believe the war was never worth waging: "So?"

Obscene? How about about John McCain's latest Baghdad-Bob like pronouncement that we're on the jolly good "precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism." Why, to hear you folks whine, one would think this marvelous little war against an amorphous ideology and its centuries-old tactics is dragging on with no end in sight.

Obscene? Pshaw. That -- wretched unAmericanism, presidential recalcitrance, vice-presidential debauchery and would-be presidential imbecility -- is but the stuff of negligible nothings.

Hence it gets a pass from our right-wing scribblers. They have bigger and far more ominous fish to fry; namely, that one, aforementioned preacher who once exercised his First Amendment guarantees in warning that God may indeed "damn" this country if it didn't stop acting more like Beelzebub than Jesus.

With tin foil molded properly on pate, with incense burning and adorned by a Cross, two Stars of David and several cloves of garlic, I journeyed yesterday to the Dark Side, just to take a confirmational peek at what the 15th-century minds of right-wing hysteria were likely saying. And sure enough, there it was, splattered all over the screen, in all its eerie irrelevance and screaming disproportionality.

One of this preacher's parishioners, you see -- I know, this is shocking, but be of strong heart, hale friend -- had heard the preacher's message in his parish and now seeks to convert its hate into love, its disunity into fellowship, its hopelessness into potential.

The Republic is doomed.

One of the distaff scribblers at Townhall, for example, wrote of the parishioner's speechifying: "Deflect, deflect, deflect.... He cannot disown Wright? Really? This rationale makes no sense to me." Thank you, dear lady, for affirming the clinically manifest.

But I quickly tired of Townhall's third-rate second-rateness so I scurried over to the more sophisticated banality of National Review -- where I found our good friend, the liberal-fascist-fighting Jonah Goldberg, sputtering in apoplectic regret that "Obamaniacs think conservatives just don't get it, that we're mired in the past, that we are motivated by old passions and bigotries." Like, uh, blindingly lily-white conservatism?

And there was Byron York, who perhaps you recall has made a living out of astonishingly proving that the liberal New York Times is liberal. Byron's latest insight was this: "What was surprising, for me, was the number of Obama supporters I spoke to afterward who not only thought the speech was great but also didn't see anything particularly wrong with the 'controversial' remarks of Rev. Jeremiah Wright." In other words, and quite unsurprising, disproportionality met proportionality and was utterly dumbfounded.

Yet let me be not too harsh, for there are thinking conservatives out there. And perhaps the most thoughtful is Andrew Sullivan, who wrote on his own site: "This searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime.... I have never felt more convinced that this man's candidacy ... is an historic opportunity.... I love this country. I don't remember loving it or hoping more from it than today."

So see? The conservative bug isn't lethal to the conservative mind in every way and with every conservative. And given Mr. Sullivan's brand of it, I don't remember loving it or hoping more from it than yesterday.

Please respond to the commentary by leaving comments below and sharing them with the BuzzFlash community. For personal questions or comments you can contact P.M. at


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Finally, Obama's Speech

We are just now posting this since we rarely post anything we have not read thoroughly. It's hard to read with tears in your, I'm sure everyone would agree.

This speech reminds me of Lincoln, Bobby and Martin. It has been a long time since I have heard a speech like this. It's honest. It's authentic and it's clearly the best political speech I have heard since Bobby's brains were blown out by the very people who will hate Obama and everything he stands for, because these people make their livings off racial hatred and division and chaos.

I will vote for this man and I will follow him even if he loses, because we all know by now that a candidate can lose even when he wins.

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so na├»ve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Depression just around the corner, and it can't be fixed with Prozac

We've been predicting this since before the 2006 election. It doesn't take an economist to figure out what's been happening, especially during the Bush years. Everything that's happening is happening on purpose. This is no accident. Admittedly, it may have gotten out of hand in the last 6 months, but there is no doubt that the devastation of the middle class was planned long ago, just as the invasion and occupation of Iraq was.

For the poor, it makes life intolerable. Many of the middle class are about to join the poor and they won't like it one bit.

Why the attack on the middle class? I can't really say. What little economics I took in college was very little and taken only to please Dad, as business and econ. always bored me silly. However, one thing I do remember from those years is that the middle class is what keeps the nation prosperous and protects the upper classes from a full blown revolution (other wise known as class warfare by conservatives, especially the ones who have all the money).

Here's something to chew on: It wasn't until the 60s, after the boom years after the WWII, that ordinary Americans could afford to travel overseas and we did, in great numbers. Many traveled the old Happy Hippie Trail, which circled the globe. Many went to Europe; as for many it was the old country, from where their ancestors came. Others dared to travel to countries where the cultures are very different from ours. There are consequences for this kind of middle class behavior. Americans who travel over seas (not just for business), especially young Americans, will always be less likely to want war with anyone, unless of course we are attacked, as we were on 9/11, by whomever. (The FBI, last time I checked, has still not added 9/11 to the list of crimes Osama is wanted for, as they still don't have enough evidence., or so they say.)

So, you see, there is no way in hell we would be in Afghanistan or Iraq had it not been for the attack, but the plans for those wars were already made when 9/11 occurred. Our surplus from the Clinton years was a target as well as the Middle east.

The blood for oil crowd were wrong and we knew it then. although no one can blame them for thinking that It has always been blood for the control of resources, not for cheap resources. High oil prices, among other numb-skull acts by this administration and allowed by congress, would surely bring down the middle class, in such a way that it will take generations too fix, because the devastation is not over yet. By the time the next president takes office, we can expect all hell to break loose financially in almost every American household and around the world.

No place to run to! We will all stay home now and learn to fear and hate everyone, just like they want us to. Unless, of course, we realize who the enemy really is, just as the citizens of other nations must realize who their really enemies are.

Recession? Depression? Shocking Gallup Poll…

According to a Gallup Poll released this morning, over 75% of Americans believe the country is currently in a recession, and nearly 60% believe the economy could slip into a depression in the next few years. Thanks again, GOP.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Negatively loaded economic terms such as “recession” and “depression” rarely make a lot of news, simply because neither is used that frequently in polite company. A Gallup poll released today, however, may actually allow these words to creep into a national discussion:

More than three in four Americans think the United States is in a recession according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll released on Tuesday…

…Seventy-six percent of to those polled said the economy is in recession, compared to 22 percent who said it is not, USA Today said.

Asked if the United States could slip into a depression lasting several years, 59 percent said it was likely and 79 percent said they were worried about it, the newspaper reported…

The poll was taken even before the Bear Stearns bailout had been thoroughly digested by a disgusted American public. One wonders, as the media has bandied about another pejorative phrase - “bank run”, to describe the initiating event of the Bear Stearns collapse last week - how much worse the same poll would look if taken today.

There’s not a lot that one can add to this gloomy poll, other than it’s rather surprising that it’s taken so long for the depth of U.S. economic woes to fully sink into the American psyche.

If you need even more gloom, I suppose you could go read this piece that I wrote a few months back (if you haven’t already). Remember - and don’t let any of your acquaintances forget - what we’re experiencing is a direct result of GOP fiscal policies that began during Ronald Reagan’s reign, and that were elevated to the high art of social theft during the Bush years.

The GOP pyramid scheme is collapsing - for most of us, anyway.

The “worst business cycle since the depression”?? Scary stuff, indeed.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

American Liberalism

From the Publisher of "Why We're Liberals":

The bestselling author demolishes myths about liberalism in a spirited polemic

Thanks to the machinations of the right, there is no dirtier word in American politics today than “liberal”—yet public opinion polls consistently show that the majority of Americans hold liberal views on everything from health care to foreign policy. In this feisty, accessible primer, bestselling author Eric Alterman sets out to restore liberalism to its rightful honored place in our political life as the politics of America’s everyday citizens.

In Why We’re Liberals Alterman examines liberalism’s development and demonstrates how its partisans have come to represent not just the mainstream, but also the majority of Americans today. In a crisply argued though extensively documented counterattack on right-wing spin and misinformation, Alterman briskly disposes of such canards as “Liberals Hate God” and “Liberals Are Soft on Terrorism,” reclaiming liberalism from the false definitions foisted upon it by the right and repeated everywhere else. Why We’re Liberals brings clarity and perspective to what has often been a one-sided debate for nothing less than the heart and soul of America. Why We’re Liberals is the perfect election-year book for all of those ready to fight back against the conservative mud-slinging machine and claim their voice in the political debate.

If truth be told, by the time this administration is over, the most despised word in American politics will be neoconservative. We certainly intend to help make it so.

About Eric Alterman:

Eric Alterman, media columnist for the Nation, is professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, and “Altercation” weblogger for He is the author of five previous books, including The Book on Bush (with Mark Green), What Liberal Media? and Sound and Fury.

Eric blogs at Altercation.

If anyone is interested in buying a copy of Alerman's book, please help BuzzFlash by adding "Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America (Hardcover)" to your shopping cart ( These folks do a good job of news hunting and gathering.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.