Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat's Morality Message

Felt said he was "only doing his duty" and did not seek to bring down Nixon over the cover-up of a break-in at Democratic Party offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. …

…“I don’t think (being Deep Throat) was anything to be proud of,” Felt indicated to his son, Mark Jr., at one point, according to the article. “You (should) not leak information to anyone.”—MSNBC

Vanity Fair is reporting a story that says Mark Felt, former second in command at the FBI under Nixon, was indeed the background informant, "Deep Throat," who provided direction and substance for Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate scoop 32 years ago. The first thing that comes to mind hearing this revelation after all these years is, why didn’t Felt go on record at the time if he knew how pervasive the corruption was?

I have taught my children that it is not being a tattle-tale to report on someone’s wrong-doing if the wrong-doing might hurt others. The obvious “high crimes and misdemeanors” of Nixon’s impeachable regime were worthy of being brought to light the minute anyone of conscience knew about them. A person in Felt’s high-up position had an obligation to protect and defend the US Constitution, and by abrogating that responsibility--choosing to meet Woodward only surreptitiously, in dark alleyways and garages, so as not to be identified, and only giving bits and pieces of the whole picture--he belongs in the category of coward and cheater, not of hero. John Dean heard the call, and came forth, even if belatedly. A hero would have come forth publicly and saved the country months of polarizing senate hearings and a stagnant executive branch with a Vietnam War going on that was getting ignored. A brave hero would not have thought of his own consequences as he chose to tell fully what he knew about laws that were being broken and oaths that were being waived.

According to the Washington Post:

The article concluded, "Felt, having long harbored the ambivalent emotions of pride and self-reproach, has lived for more than 30 years in a prison of his own making, a prison built upon his strong moral principles and his unwavering loyalty to country and cause.

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others."--Groucho Marx

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Oil Flows; Democracy Goes

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, left, and leaders from Central Asia and the Caucasus after leaving handprints during the opening in Azerbaijan of a new pipeline. --New York Times Sunday, May 29, 2005

Samuel Bodman, the new secretary of energy, led the United States delegation to Azerbaijan last week to celebrate a huge moment in America's effort to diversify its sources of oil: The opening of a pipeline that will carry Caspian oil to the West, on a route that avoids Russia and Iran.

Mr. Bodman delivered a message from President Bush: "As Azerbaijan deepens its democratic and market economic reforms, this pipeline can help generate balanced economic growth, and provide a foundation for a prosperous and just society that advances the cause of freedom."

Just a few days earlier, the Azerbaijani police beat pro-democracy demonstrators with truncheons when opposition parties, yelling "free elections," defied the government's ban on protests against President Ilham Aliyev. Mr. Aliyev is one of President Bush's allies in the war on terror, even though he won a highly suspect election to succeed his father, a former Soviet strongman.--"There's Democracy, and There's an Oil Pipeline" by David E. Sanger, New York Times

Sam Bodman, last mentioned on this blog April 16, is an apt representative from an arrogant administration bent on controlling world oil and concerned with little else regarding ethics or democracy, for that matter. As long as a year ago, the World Bank was questioned for continuing to loan money for the construction of the pipeline because of environmental concerns:

The Georgian government suspended work on BTC following BP’s decision to start construction in the ecologically vulnerable Borjomi region, despite its repeated failures to obtain the necessary environmental certification to proceed. The region contains the Borjomi national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty
and mineral water springs whose bisection by the BTC pipeline has long been the subject of fierce opposition by environmentalists.
--Bank Information Center

All of this goes hand in hand with the Bush doctrine of ignoring concerns that impede progress toward the goal—any means to the desired end. What is outrageous is how open and obvious the mode of operations is, yet we the people stand by and watch without blinking, as in this latest celebration over the opening of an oil pipeline to riches for the rich.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Rights? You want Rights? I got your Rights Right Here!

The horrendous abuse of human rights represented by the detention of subjects without legal recourse at Guantanamo makes a mockery of American constitutional justice. This point is taken up by Thomas L. Friedman’s New York Times piece today.

Shut it down. Just shut it down.

I am talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantánamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please, Mr. President, just shut it down.

Friedman’s argument is that world perception of US maltreatment of people thrown into the Guantanamo camp is far more detrimental, even dangerous, to Americans than the possible acts of any of the detainees themselves. As I read Friedman’s column, which comes from a background of understanding and immersion in the international problems of Europe and the Middle East, I imagined the right-wing response to his advice and suggestions. I have heard loud-mouthed radio pundits including Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and others, describe what a mess there would be if the US justice system treated suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo like regular criminals with attorneys and constitutional protections. The fact that some of those held are not even remotely connected to terrorism, and the nature of individual mistreatment at the camp, is a separate issue. The very existence of this slap in the face of humanity and American fair play, which is what Gitmo has become, is the entire problem.

Why care? It's not because I am queasy about the war on terrorism. It is because I want to win the war on terrorism. And it is now obvious from reports in my own paper and others that the abuse at Guantánamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. Tell me, how is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody so far? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply immoral, it is strategically dangerous.
It makes so much sense—I’m with you, Mr. Friedman.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Daddy, if Kerry Won, Why is Bush President?

The 2004 presidential election was stolen by the Bush professional scam team. No, not the one in 2000 where the bought-and-paid for friendly members of the Supreme Court got their guy into office. That one was done right before our eyes. I’m referring to the very last, most recent, run for the White House when the media dropped the ball on covering the obvious voting problems in Ohio, the state whose electoral votes decided the winner. One could argue this was done right before our eyes, too, but for some reason the fourth estate said “the hell with it.”

I have already quoted Christopher Hitchens’s fine summary of how the votes were lost or changed in Ohio. Keith Olberman tried to keep the story alive in his blog for MSNBC and on his show “Countdown,” but to no avail.

Today, in his blog entry for Arianna Huffington’s “The Huffington Post” Jim Lampley opens the issue all over again and makes a very hard case for major election fraud. Lampley has been a professional broadcaster in sports and news for 30 years. He has turned to political blogging recently, and his well-read research serves to enlighten us all.

I'll remind you again that the truth of Watergate was still well-submerged at this point in 1973. But the New York Times and the Washington Post ultimately did their jobs back then. The Post showed its colors yesterday, moving a story about the vast disparity between pre-Iraq war military assessments and what the Bush Administration chose to tell the public from its original placing on page one to a main edition spot on page twenty-six. I don't think we can count on Katherine Graham to shepherd the truth anymore, and Ben Bradlee's gone. As for the Times, it is of course the constant target of the right-wing media conspiracy which labors so hard to cover the crimes of this Administration up.
I am wondering why, with polls showing a majority of Americans against the Iraq occupation and believing the incursion was not worth it, and Bush’s approval rating at an all time low for second-term presidents—why is the issue of a fraudulent election so hard to get going as a major press story? Watergate sold newspapers, wouldn’t a major expose on Ohio voting irregularities create a snowball effect of interest? Congressman John Conyers is doing an investigation right now into the matter--why doesn’t this get more coverage?

Or do the powers-that-be who arranged for the stolen election also have enough clout to bury the depiction of how they did it? Are we the people too afraid to face the truth that 1,600 of our brave soldiers may have died in vain in a phony war? It’s time to face facts, bring the troops home, and start impeachment hearings into Bush’s and Cheney’s high crimes and misdemeanors. That will honor the war dead more than anything else.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Nazi Regulations: Something to Aspire to

Leave it to Drudge to dig up a Washington Post column about the FBI trying to ditch the Constitution under the guise of security protection. What’s the point of having a government “by the people,” if that government tries to subvert the protections guaranteed "the people" by the document on which the government is based? Pursuant to Patriot Act allowances for leniency in perceived areas of security problems, the FBI will ask congress for permission “to investigate terrorism without first securing approval from a judge.”

In Nazi Germany, the same sort of precautionary laws were passed while the Germans were told it was for their own protection. By the time those who were threatened woke up to what was happening, it was too late. The only hope now is that congress will tell the FBI where to get off with their reckless ambitions—or have we already crossed the line where it’s too late for us too?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Info vs. Oil; a Disney Tale

---close May 23, 2005

Drudge tonight has the “O WOW!” headline:

'GOOGLE' NOW VALUED AT $71 BILLION... More than Walt Disney Co and General Motors -- combined???!!!

My friend Stu Cooper, stockbroker extraordinaire and heads-up on the important trends, told me 30 years ago that energy is the source of wealth for the 20th century, but information would be the key to wealth in the 21st century. Stuart was not a conjurer, nor a medium, nor a practitioner of the “black arts,” whatever that means. But he was right! How’d he know? At the time I thought gasoline got us everywhere, even to the moon, what could we tangibly gain from “information?” Based on the graph above, Stuart proved smarter than me. Or he was a time-traveller who saw what email, search engines, immediate connection to all corners of the world via satellite—all of these could provide in terms of cash dollars.

Whatever Stu foresaw, or heard about, or understood—who would have imagined, back in the olden days of 1975, that Google--a web concept that flashes across our desktops and laptops as the arbiter of all knowledge—would be worth more money than General Motors and Walt Disney combined? Then again, back in 1975, who’d have thought we’d still be driving vehicles that use oil for fuel in 2005?

The Magic of Medicare

For two years, health policy experts have been warning that Medicare beneficiaries may be confused by complexities of the new prescription drug benefit. Now it turns out that Medicare officials were also confused, not just about the drug benefit but also about other options.

The Bush administration is revising a preliminary draft of the 2006 Medicare handbook - the main tool for educating beneficiaries - after discovering that many statements in the document were inaccurate, misleading or unclear, even to people who have worked on the program for decades. Members of Congress, insurance companies, advocates for beneficiaries and state insurance regulators all told the Bush administration that the new handbook was flawed.

For example, in describing the drug benefit, the handbook says,"After you meet the deductible, you pay part of the cost of covered prescription drugs, and the plan pays part." The handbook does not mention that beneficiaries face a gap in coverage. After the beneficiary pays a $250 deductible, Medicare pays three-fourths of the next $2,000 in drug costs. But then the beneficiary is normally responsible for all of the next $2,850, and Medicare pays nothing. Beyond that, Medicare pays about 95 percent of drug costs. --Medicare Will Revise Guide to New Benefits for 2006 By ROBERT PEAR

So far, the mumbo-jumbo of the Medicare program as translated by Mr. Pear is fairly clear. But toward the last third of his article it is pretty unclear what the program represents, what options there are in private coverage—in short, the 106 page handbook that Pear says is being revised won’t cut through this bureaucratic grease any better than the present version does now, mistakes and all.

What is clear, is the magic of Bush the prestidigitator and his assistants. If you can’t fix a broken system like the fractured American health care morass, just don’t deal with it as a priority, and redirect your audience, as would a true professional magician, to the other program that just needs some minor tweaks to temporarily fix—Social Security. You make the real problems seem to disappear before the audience’s eyes. Everyone applauds, and you haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary. In fact, if the audience knew what you were really doing, they’d be disappointed and probably want their money back.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Call a Spade a Spade--Criminal

Forty-one months after the United States entered World War II, we had achieved victory in Europe. We've been in Iraq for over half that period. What reasonable person would say we have reached the halfway point in Iraq? --Neil Abercrombie and Dennis J. Kucinich, USA Today May 16, 2005

I saw Dennis Kucinich speak in Laguna Beach during the presidential campaign. He was coherent, he clearly delineated the issues of the Iraq war and the economy, and he posed definite substantial solutions--I learned from what he had to say. The two men who wrote the column quoted above--Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio, is ranking member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations—are dedicated to supporting our troops by bringing them home from foreign occupations and dangerous futile missions.

The analogy to WWII should not be taken lightly, nor should the cost in dollars and lives be minimized despite the Iraq colonialization not being a “world war.” The congressmen also make the case of Iraq turning into Vietnam:

We feel this course, with its echoes of Vietnam, is unsustainable. It has already added $200 billion to our national debt and costs U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion per month. It jeopardizes the strategic interests of the United States, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. It alienates allies in the Muslim world and elsewhere, hindering efforts to create a united global front against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

41 percent of Americans think the war in Iraq is "worth fighting" and only 42 percent think it's going well. Americans can’t sleep forever and assume this foreign war is not affecting every one of our lives. Men like Abercrombie and Kucinich appeal to the rationality and morality of their fellow citizens. It is about time Americans recognize Bush’s policies as criminal, and stop verbally tiptoing around the issues. Our lives, liberty, and prosperity are at stake.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Strangelove Sworn in


Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, the truth is not always a pleasant thing, but it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless, distinguishable post-war environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.


You're talking about mass murder, General, not war.


Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say... no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh... depending on the breaks.


I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolph Hitler!


Perhaps it might be better, Mr. President, if you were more concerned with the American people, than with your image in the history books.

--Continuity transcript Dr. Strangelove: or, how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The New York Times reported this week that the Air Force is planning to ask the Bush administration for a directive to put weapons in space.

The proposed change would be a substantial shift in American policy. It would almost certainly be opposed by many American allies and potential enemies, who have said it may create an arms race in space.

A senior administration official said that a new presidential directive would replace a 1996 Clinton administration policy that emphasized a more pacific use of space, including spy satellites' support for military operations, arms control and nonproliferation pacts.

Any deployment of space weapons would face financial, technological, political and diplomatic hurdles, although no treaty or law bans Washington from putting weapons in space, barring weapons of mass destruction.

The story alone has raised international ire, especially among the Russians during a time when relations between Bush and Putin are not as cozy as it looked with them tooling around together in a 1950’s era automobile. From the Financial Times:

Russia would consider using force if necessary to respond if the US put a combat weapon into space, according to a senior Russian official.
Stanley Kubrick’s and Terry Southern’s version of Armageddon gone crazy still seems outrageous and funny. The dialogue was partially quoted from actual writings of "think tanks" and Pentagon scenarios of the time--it is as real today as it was in 1964. How careless our elected officials and their appointees want to be with the lives they were sworn to protect seems to be, as my daughter would say—totally!

The Force of Power

When Nelson Rockefeller, heir to one of America’s richest fortunes and worth over $1 billion, ran for vice president in 1974, my dad asked “why does he need that job when he already has so much money?” That question could be asked about many super rich people who run for office, or who choose to do anything entrepreneurial, charitable, or any productive tasks other than perpetual vacation and retirement.

I answered my dad’s question from my self-assumed lofty pedestal of higher learning as a student in graduate school; I told him that money was a means to an end, the end being power and control, and what better place to command as much power as possible than being second to the most powerful man in the world?

There has been a lot of press about the politics of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.

Since early screenings of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith began last month, film critics, commentators and Internet bloggers have been debating whether filmmaker George Lucas is comparing President Bush and the Iraq war to the Dark Side of the Force. The conservative film site Pabaah.com has called for a boycott. The topic even made NBC's Today show.
Quotes from the movie have been sighted as direct parallels to current events, about the surrender of liberty in favor of security, even to statements Bush has made about terrorism. I saw the film yesterday, and what sticks out the most as a theme that can echo in any age comes from the Chancellor as he moves to seduce Anakin to the dark side. The Chancellor speaks about power and how it changes those who achieve it.

In another galaxy, far far away, famed historian Lord Acton (1834-1902) stated simply
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Acton also said
Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
We need to remember this when we choose to divest of our hard-won liberty by heeding the powers that be to renew the Patriot Act, to continue occupational expansion overseas in the name of freedom, to ignore real problems at home in favor of smoke-and-mirrors issues such as repairing social security instead of universal medical coverage. That’s the lesson of Star Wars, and what we the people should be vigilant about with our leadership in America.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Don’t it Make Ya Proud

My wife’s cousin is getting married this weekend and the location is a property that is outside on a hill which is difficult for foot traffic to negotiate. I asked why of all places this was chosen for the ceremony and reception. One of the reasons was that the bride and groom are not members of a church, so any church at which they inquired about having the ceremony said they had to be members. I said that was also true of most Jewish temples and synagogues—I didn’t know of any where you could get married without being a dues-paying member of the congregation. They won’t even let you in to the popular High Holiday services without a special separate, and usually costly, ticket. I understand everyone’s gotta make a living, but this tradition always seemed unseemly for a spiritual organization devoted to non-material heavenly worship.

I said the same thing to my wife about membership in organized religious facilities that I said the day Orthodox Jews threw stones at Reformed Jews who were praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, “Don’t it make ya proud?”

Bad joke. Right after our conversation, I stumbled onto a quote to balance any bad jokes and thoughts you may hear today about religion in politics and faith-based anti-filibusters etc—a quote that can reaffirm all of our pride to be members of the human race, and it comes from a cleric:

The way that I see Christianity is that its role is to enhance the life of every person. My basis of morality is this: does this action enhance life, or does it denigrate life? Does it build up or does it tear down? And if that's your basis, then you can't possibly be a sexist because sexism diminishes women. You can't possibly be homophobic because it diminishes homosexuals. You can't possibly be a racist because you can't tell people they are lesser because their skin is black. Or any of the other things that have discriminated against people.
This is from an interview on the web site Beliefnet.com with former Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark, N.J. The intelligence and rationality of Spong’s remarks make the entire interview worth reading. That’s no joke.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Star Wars: I Miss Kubrick or How I learned…

28 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band—oh no, that’s the Beatles and that was more like 38 years ago…28 years ago I went to a movie theater in downtown Boston with my high-school friend Tom Feldman, to see the new movie Star Wars. I was not that impressed. The story was in sections, the characters were not empathetic, and I missed the grandeur and panache of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddysey, my favorite movie at that time. At least if you’re gonna emulate, emulate with style!

What I didn’t understand was Lucas’s homage to serial movies of the late forties and early fifties that guys like him and Spielberg grew up enchanted by. I had the same lousy feeling after I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was waiting for a profound religious experience and instead all I got was good old-fashioned suspenseful entertainment.

I told my wife to expect our 16-year-old son, a major Star Wars fan, to be bummed by the latest in the Lucas entry of his monolithic epic saga—if I remember the many viewings of Star Wars and the evil of Darth Vader and the Empire as I think I do, then watching the germination of that kind of character from someone who was born of man and woman, untainted at birth, into the devil—that’s going to remind us all of the possibilities and the pitfalls we face. The key is how we all rise above; May the Force be with us! I’ll let you know.

Conspiracy of PR

Gotta go on record about this ridiculous Guantanamo Bay story about the Quran desecration.

The Newsweek retraction of this story, under immense pressure from all sides, smacks of the same cover-up when Kennedy was in office, and it was still possible to inhibit the press into suppressing the news, as evidenced by the delay on reporting the Cuban missile business. Now Newsweek is made to look foolish for publishing a story that was nodded and winked at by those of authority, who might also be trying to create a scapegoat.

In a virtuoso example of editorial gumption and hard-core research and synthesis, Keith Olberman of MSNBC sets out the sinister underpinnings of the Bush Administration's dealings in this fiasco:

Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply, told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.

But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.
--Keith Olberman's Blog at MSNBC.com

Newsweek needs the same PR pros that the White House uses to diffuse potential backlash traumas like this one. Obviously there are planted stories, just like there are planted drugs on suspected hoodlums. The Pentagon got what they wanted, probably way more than they could hope for, in an embarrassment of a major media institute. It’s time for the rest of us to maintain cool heads and remember the lying liars for who they are—greedy warmongers who sniff out oil like bloodhounds.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Jesse Kornbluth States the Truth

Jesse Kornbluth has decided he will not continue writing daily for his blog, at Beliefnet.com. Instead he will post once per week. I for one will miss reading his entertaining and choice culls of what’s important and interesting in our world every day. However, one section of his farewell last Friday is ringing with me constantly as a higher truth, ideas and writing to which we all aspire:

The War is thus the primary spiritual event of our time. Rooted in fraud, destined to fail, it is a death factory for Iraqis and Americans alike. Everyone who calls himself or herself a spiritual leader ought to be screaming about the real cost of this war--the price our souls pay for the lies told in our name, the deaths of women and children we don't bother to count, the wounds we are inflicting on our planet. And the press should be asking what's next--something in Syria? The bombing of Iran? And you, out there in America, should be marching
in the street, calling--in the name of Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna--for the killing to stop and our kids to come home.
Goodbye for now, Swami—I look forward to this week’s entry!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Star Wars Our War

"When I wrote it, Iraq didn't exist," Lucas said, laughing. "We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. ...The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."—George Lucas at the Cannes Film Festival

The audiences at Cannes are comparing the themes and plot of the final Star Wars film to current political events and the US occupation of Iraq. Two lines from the movie are significant:

This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause," bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi. "If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin - soon to become villain Darth Vader - tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The
line echoes Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

We’ll soon all be able to draw our own conclusions. It is a refreshing thought that the creator of the number one pop-culture mythology of the twentieth century also might engender some serious reflection among younger viewers of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith about what course this country is on.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Eisenhower Tells it Like it is

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, l952-----

This quote circulating around the internet, as quotes do, seems to be a prescient warning from President Eisenhower. According to one web site about urban legends the verbiage is accurate but abridged, and the date is wrong:

This is one of several abridged versions circulating online of an actual statement by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). The original passage, from a letter Eisenhower wrote to his brother Edgar on November 8, 1954, went as follows:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political
history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

The additional accompanying commentary is not necessary to reprint as it consists of a disclaiming diatribe that the quote doesn’t really apply to the current situation. Maybe not, but Eisenhower also warned us to beware the military-industrial complex, and just how much disclaiming can be made of these clear-cut, bare-bones pronouncements? I can only say I like Ike!

Friday, May 13, 2005

9/11 – They Knew!

Ever since I read Gore Vidal’s Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Bush-Cheney Junta I have believed the White House had some sort of prior knowledge of the attacks of 9/11. In an interview shortly after the book was published and before the US invaded Iraq, Vidal gives the main reason for doing so:

The true motivations are that the government is in the hands of oil and gas people. The two Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and so on. The oil reserves of the world are dwindling, and the greatest reserves or all are around the Caspian Sea…
Simple enough—Vidal describes in the book several strange inconsistencies surrounding 9/11, including the unknown whereabouts of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the unusual delay getting the fighter planes scrambled, the intelligence gaffs. Much more has been discovered since he wrote the book.

There are those among the sane who think conspiracy mongers are of a psychopathic type that precludes rational thinking or discussion. There are those among the conspiracy mongers who think non-believers have their heads in the sand. No matter what you think, there are a lot of unanswered questions that make the Bush leadership prior knowledge of, and complicity in, the tragedy of 9/11 plausible. One place to start checking it out is here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What’s in Pat Buchanan’s Drinking Water?

Blogs and pundits are all scrambling to quote the latest peculiar, if not wacky, diatribe from writer and MSNBC talking head Pat Buchanan. Commenting on the commemorations in Europe that Bush attended for the end of WWII, he asks whether the cause was worthwhile:

Bush told the awful truth about what really triumphed in World War II east of the Elbe. And it was not freedom. It was Stalin, the most odious tyrant of the century. Where Hitler killed his millions, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot and Castro murdered their tens of millions.
Throw the names out there Pat--Castro? Tens of millions. Ho Chi Minh, considered by his countrymen to be the “father of his country.” I will give you Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot in a group with Hitler—major bad guys all. But then what’s Cambodian Pol Pot got to do with our liberation of Europe from the Nazis?

When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France – hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires – was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?

If the objective of the West was the destruction of Nazi Germany, it was a "smashing" success. But why destroy Hitler? If to liberate Germans, it was not worth it. After all, the Germans voted Hitler in.

…Was that worth fighting a world war – with 50 million dead? The war Britain and France declared to defend Polish freedom ended up making Poland and all of Eastern and Central Europe safe for Stalinism. And at the festivities in Moscow, Americans and Russians were front and center, smiling – not British and French. Understandably.

Yes, Bush has opened up quite a can of worms.

You gotta be kidding! I guess old Pat knows the truth—it doesn’t matter what we say about him as long as we spell his name right.

Abbas Denied Holocaust

Rabbi Gelman regularly writes a thoroughly engaging column for online Newsweek and this week's entry is quite illuminating. While discussing his reasons for not wanting to defend the truth of the holocaust, Gelman makes the stunning comment that “Many do not know that the new prime minister of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, wrote a Holocaust-denying doctoral thesis.” This caught my attention, especially since the news of late has been focused around anything but the Israeli-Palestinian “Road to Peace” and its ongoing ups and downs.

Here’s the background to Gelman’s reference:

… Mahmud Abbas completed a doctoral thesis in 1982 titled “The Secret Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement”. In his thesis, Abbas wrote that the estimated number of Jews killed during World War II was “less than one million.” Abbas stated that the Zionist leadership collaborated with the Nazi regime to “facilitate the wide-spread destruction” of Jews. Abbas’ ‘research’ was later printed by a publisher located in Amman, Jordan.

In an introduction to his work published in 1984, Abbas raised doubts regarding the existence of the gas chambers. He asserted again that the number of Jews killed during the war was about one million.

Abbas claimed in his work that the Zionist leadership was interested in convincing the world that a large number of Jews were killed during the war in order to “attain larger gains” after the war and to “divide the booty.”
[George Mason University History News Network]

There’s more, but how much of this crap do you need to know? A little less ignorance, and a little more education, never hurt anyone. And forgiveness, on both sides, is a big part of the lesson. There is no other choice.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Swami Magic News

Washington’s Reagan National Airport has been closed to general aviation since the Sept. 11 attacks. In the 3½ years since then, hundreds of small planes have flown within the restricted airspace around the capital — a 15¾-mile radius around the Washington Monument. MSNBC-5/11/05

So what’s so special about today’s Cessna and the big evac and the major news humdrum? Jesse Kornbluth, on his entertaining and insightful blog, Swami Uptown, nailed it. Comparing Bush and Cheney to Siegfried and Roy, he explains how the misdirection and distraction works:

When these things happen, we need to say: What isn't being covered because of this non-story? Is it Iraq? Tom Ridge? The "Downing Street memo" that shows how Bush decided to go to war in 2002 without a good reason? The National ID cards you probably haven't heard about?

As Jon Stewart says, “That’s all I have.” Read Swami for the emmes.

Dickey Sets Us Straight

As I write this at 2 PM The lead news headlines are “Culkin Denies being Molested During Jackson Testimony,” and "White House and Capitol evacuated briefly after plane enters restricted airspace," and the awful story of the dad who killed his daughter and her friend. The more than 60 people killed by insurgents in Iraq are not selling newspapers right this minute.

My frustration grows at how immune we the people are becoming to the details of carnage these bombings produce, and the billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars being wasted in a fruitless colonial occupation which is going nowhere, with no hard-core opposition to stop it among our elected representatives.

Then along comes my friend Chris Dickey, back on the “Shadowland” trail after weeks of sharing his insights on the demise of the old Pope and in with the new. Today Chris tells the tale of body counts, official glossings-over, and unplanned declassification of the classified truth about Iraq. Click now, and get up to speed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hillary 2008 is OK

Joe Klein’s viewpoint in Time Online last Sunday that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t run for president in 2008 has some very good points. Among them is that her candidacy would polarize the country; attacks by the right-wing opposition would be ugly and bad for our image; she isn’t a warm person.

A republican acquaintance who works for the government told me if Hillary were to declare her candidacy, the wallets and purses would open in a flood of contributions to the GOP. That’s how much they despise her. You mean they could raise more than the record-breaking $360 million Bush got for the 2004 campaign? No kidding.

Here’s the bottom line: if Hillary can withstand the immense pressures from mudslinging and scrutiny and other major attacks against her gender and her abilities, then wouldn’t that temperament be good to have as president during times of crisis? She also comes with a very close expert personal adviser. For every reason Klein says she shouldn’t run, that’s exactly the reason she should. Compared to the train wreck we have as president now, wouldn’t Hillary Clinton provide a breath of fresh leadership? The fear of those who would convince us that a Hillary candidacy is detrimental, is that she might win in a huge landslide carrying a bunch of democratic legislators with her. Maybe it’s time the GOP started to re-think ditching the filibuster rule. It could come in handy for them in 2009.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Putin, Stalin, Mussolini, and the Trains

AFP/Getty Images
Just when we're thinking how bad US leadership is these days, along comes Vlad Putin pining for the good old days of Joe Stalin, the KGB and total control.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, joined by President Bush and dozens of other leaders, commemorated the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany today with a resplendent military parade in Red Square that was steeped in Soviet symbols and new Russian pride.

Standing in front of Lenin's Tomb - not on it, as Soviet leaders once did - Mr. Putin expressed no contrition for the Soviet Union's domination of Eastern and Central Europe that followed the end of World War II, as some leaders there had hoped he would. Instead, he said that that war's legacy had demonstrated the necessity for a new unity with Russia against new threats "It is our duty to defend a world order based on security and justice and on a new culture of relations among nations that will not allow a repeat of any war, neither cold nor hot."--New York Times 5/9/2005

For "world order" read "Stalin," murderer of 8 million souls in the Gulag as well as political dissidents and other enemies of the state. Hitler couldn't hold a candle to the enormity of running a front against his own huge Nazi military machine and killing millions at the same time. Plus, the Red Army overtook Eastern Europe and helped win WWII for the allies. Hitler killed millions, but not as many as Stalin, and he lost--Stalin was on the winning side.

Yet Bush and many other heads of countries attended the gathering amidst images of Stalin without cringing. They surely would have cringed had it been a German reunion with pictures of Hitler held high. Of course Stalin was our ally against Hitler in WWII, right after he signed the non-aggression pact with Germany NOT to fight against them--it's all very complicated. Then right after the allies beat the Nazis, Russia got the A-bomb along with the US, and we were all terrified of each other and the ultimate cataclysm which seemed right around the corner. Stalin was no longer our hero but our enemy. Hitler was history.

I asked a taxi driver in Rome in the 1970's what he thought of politics in Italy. His answer immediately was that what his country needed was another Mussolini. I didn't expect that response. I knew Mussolini was allied with Hitler in WWII, and I knew he was a villain who was hung after the War. I didn't realize that so many Italians felt a pang of nostalgia about their former fascist dictator. I asked the fellow why he liked Mussolini. He said that there was order, everyone knew what to expect, and the economy was a sure thing instead of ups and downs. The question of dictatorship and oppression was not an issue for this taxi driver. The old line was no matter how bad Mussolini was, he did make the trains run on time. The order and control of a society under a dictatorship can mesmerize any individual into forgetting that freedom has its responsibilities, and pitfalls.

Putin may be hoping for a similar sentiment for order and control in Russia today. He went even further, calling the dissolution of the USSR a "disaster." Remember President Reagan's famous cry, "...tear down this wall?--Now the Russian head is saying that wasn't such a good thing.

Putin and Bush are publicly at odds over these concepts of democracy and freedom. They do get along personally. Bush really likes the Saudi royals too, and they adore him and his whole family. He was in with the CEO's too--Kenny Lay of Enron and whoever--they're all under indictment for cooking the books. With that kind of camaraderie, where's the folks like me supposed to fit in? I don't want to sound like Andy Griffith playing country bumpkins, because I really think I know what's up. And if it's obvious to me, where are all my fellow Americans to call to muster our elected representatives, including George W and company?

Bush and Putin and all the self-interested power-mongers have no clue of the shining light of possibilities. They are mired in cross-purposes with nuclear proliferation, contradictory entanglements and innocent people suffering in Africa, implied threats like North Korea, Syria, Iran, and of course real interventions with thousands dead in Iraq.

There is one reality of purpose. President Kennedy said the famous and over-quoted phrase, "Ask not what your country can do for you..." for which I don't have a deep sentiment, despite what the right-wing hard-liners warped it into: "My country, love it or leave it." If Kennedy were here to offer a piece of advice today, it would be the next sentence of that speech, after "ask not":

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.--JFK Inaugural Address 1/20/61

Kennedy would have been proud of his Irish compatriot, U2 lead singer Bono, who has recently put wings on how high we can aspire:

You see my country, Ireland, is a great country, but it's not an idea. America is an idea, but it's an idea that brings with it some baggage, like power brings responsibility. It's an idea that brings with it equality, but equality even though it's the highest calling, is the hardest to reach. The idea that anything is possible, that's one of the reasons why I'm a fan of America.

George W--are you listening?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin at Yalta...Where's Alger Hiss?--
Back in the hotel room drafting the agreement to give
Eastern Europe to the Russians while these guys are
distracted by the photo op? Maybe Ann Coulter thinks
so but I doubt it!

Bush at Riga: Hiss/Yalta Canard

The claim, in a blog, that Bush’s speech at Riga in Latvia included remarks that Alger Hiss’s attendance at the Yalta conference, as adviser to Secretary of State Stettinius, was the reason for handing over the Eastern European bloc of countries to the Russians after WWII is bizarre at the least, and false at most.

It is bizarre in that the blog states that Bush quoted verbatim from an old Joseph McCarthy speech from 1950, which condemned the Yalta agreement because McCarthy claimed it was co-written by Alger Hiss. Hiss had been interrogated by HUAC at the time of McCarthy’s speech in 1950, for being a communist spy in the 1930’s, as part of the red-baiting witch hunt following WWII.

It is false, because the text of Bush’s speech has no such reference to Hiss, or quote from McCarthy. So why would the blog invent this quote?

I knew Alger Hiss during the Watergate period of the early 1970’s. I was a graduate film student at Boston University, and I and a journalism student put together a documentary film concept showing the connection between Watergate shenanigans and the same goings-on in the Hiss case a quarter-century before. Both involved Richard Nixon. The ideas became a screenplay for my master’s thesis, but the film was never made.

I got to know Hiss personally at a lengthy lunch meeting, and during several extensive phone conversations over a period of months. I remember him as a brilliant, although arrogant, personality. Some said his arrogance actually caused his downfall in his two trials, the first ending in a hung jury, and the second in which he was convicted on a perjury technicality—never related to espionage or passing documents, just a time-line contradiction. Even the supposed documents in question were shipping reports available without classified clearance. Hiss considered himself, and I believe him to have been, an innocent pawn in a steamrolling republican effort to show as tainted with leftists and communists, the entire Truman administration and especially the state department. But I also agreed that Hiss’s condescending attitude could have put off potential supporters, including jurors in his trials.

The reason for Max Blumenthal’s blog to show Bush quoting McCarthy saying that Hiss was the reason the West turned over so much of Europe to Stalin is not clear, because it would seem to serve a liberal purpose, yet as a lie, it could cause backlash and misunderstanding, thus helping a right-wing effort to create confusion.

Even Hiss said the Yalta agreement, giving so much up to Stalin, happened because of several reasons, including that the Red Army occupied much of the area already, and the Stalin promise to hold democratic elections in the territories, on which he reneged. The statement by McCarthy, that Hiss was responsible for Yalta, has percolated into the political vernacular of the time so that those who want to believe it, whether they remember the origin of McCarthy’s statement or not, can find a basis for that belief in the ambient memory of the event. The rumor of Alger Hiss, an aide to the Secretary of State and at Yalta, somehow engineering events for the future of Cold War Europe, just won’t go away.

What Bush is doing in Europe revising history by calling the handover of East Europe to Stalin at Yalta a mistake by the US, is also a tad bizarre. But that’s another story, and another blog post.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Dobson, Linkletter and Mickey Mouse (Opening Day)

Whoops!! Lions and tigers and bears, O MY!! Looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. Fact is, ya just can’t believe anything you read anymore. Even here in the “emmes!” Fineman wrote in Newsweek and I quoted here that James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” is getting involved in politics for the first time, and had avoided this until now. Wrong! Leave it to my favorite watchdog group, Media Matters for America, to set the record straight.

In 1983, Dobson founded the Washington-based Family Research Council to lobby Congress and the executive branch, and to act as a political advocate for conservative Christian causes. A decade later, Dobson was one of the founders of Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization pressing conservative causes through the courts. Dobson has weighed in publicly not only on high-profile issues such as abortion, but on more esoteric matters as well; for instance, in 1988, he and other conservative activists urged (PDF, p. 19) President Reagan to veto a bill supporting the Legal Services Corporation, which funds public defenders, unless funding for the organization was slashed. Dobson also has hosted many Republican politicians on his radio show.

Though Focus on the Family is a nonprofit 501(c)3
organization, its heavy involvement in policy and political issues is obvious from its website, which loudly denounces "judicial tyranny" and stem cell research, while advocating state and federal constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Focus on the Family also has 34 affiliated "state councils," which conduct similar advocacy on the state level. Dobson has issued several warnings to the Republican Party to cater to evangelical voters or risk losing their support; in 1995, he wrote a letter to the then-chairman of the Republican Party, Haley Barbour, saying in part, "Remember, 43 percent of your voters last November came from evangelical Christians. ...Losing only 5 percent of them could prove fatal in 1996" [Kansas City Star, 5/16/95].
…Dobson's involvement in politics goes back more than two decades.

Now about Mickey Mouse, who was also mentioned here yesterday. The 50th anniversary celebration of Disneyland opened yesterday in Anaheim including many celebrities among whom was Art Linkletter, also a functionary at the original opening day in 1955. I was 5 years old at that time watching, from my home in Connecticut, ABC publicize Disneyland. It became my childhood dream to go there. Little did I imagine that I would be employed by Walt Disney Studios and have a free pass to go to Disneyland anytime I felt like it. Also, little did know how warped and sinister was the mind behind the pleasant visage of the grandfatherly man I loved on TV, Walt Disney.

I had heard enough of the hearsay stories from old-time workers on the Disney Studio lot in Burbank, and read some of the unauthorized tomes about his life and attitudes, to realize that the work and output of his genius had to be divorced from his character in order to appreciate and enjoy the result. Often we must ignore the person behind the monument in order to accept the higher aims of which humanity is capable, rather than dwell on the sordid qualities of the individual.

According to the stories, Walt was abused as a child, had anti-Semitism instilled in his bones, drank too much, was a tyrannical boss who underpaid his employees, and more. His early classic animated features were terrifying for little children, with one touchstone moment being the killing of Bambi’s mother as a permanent element of insecurity to add to the developing human mind. Little boys turning into jackasses in Pinocchio wasn’t fop the faint of young hearts either. Just as much as I know the great German composer Wagner was an overbearing obnoxious bigot who wrote the greatest operas which express the finest attributes of humanity, so do I love to go to Disneyland and watch the expressions on children’s faces as they experience the ultimate fantasy world. Ironic, and I believe it doesn’t hurt to know the truth.

This brings me to Art Linkletter, whose TV shows “House Party” and “Kids say the Darndest Things” were my favorite shows as a kid. As with Dobson and Disney, Linkletter has a very likeable TV personality which belies his arch right-wing hostile viewpoint. Linkletter co-Chairs the non-profit USA Next, a conservative activist group for seniors. The head with Linkletter, Charles Jarvis, is a former executive vice president of Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based organization run by—remember?--James Dobson.

“I stand fearlessly for small dogs, the American Flag, motherhood and the Bible. That's why people love me” –Art Linkletter

"I know the president very well. I have visited with him, well, many times — well, once."—Linkletter on Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes

Although both USA Next reps and the White House deny that they are working jointly on reforming Social Security, Jarvis affirms: “We know the people at the White House agree with us and we agree with them.” Jarvis has publicly stated his group’s intention to devote at least $10 million to the effort.—Right Web

Here’s a Biblical reference these guys would understand:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves—Matthew 7:15

Thursday, May 05, 2005

James Dobson and Mickey Mouse

My observation is that women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership.

One of the problems with sex education... is that it also strips kids - especially girls - of their modesty to have every detail of anatomy, physiology and condom usage made explicit.

State Universities are breeding grounds, quite literally, for sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), homosexual behavior, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
--James Dobson quotes from Brainyquote.com

Today Disneyland reopened after being closed for one day to redecorate for the 50th anniversary celebration. Speaking of Mickey Mouse, James Dobson is profiled in a straightforward and illuminating piece by Howard Fineman of Newsweek. Dobson is getting involved in politics after years of avoiding just that. He heads "Focus on the Family" and does a short radio broadcast every day heard by millions. His Ph.D. credentials give authority to his advice, delivered in a calm, appealing manner that conceals the sinister and hateful underpinning of his ideas.

I used to listen to Dobson’s daily homilies on the local radio news channel, and found some of the advice about children to be enlightening, almost soothing, from his fatherly tone. A lot of it was so general it would be hard to find anything controversial to argue about. These broadcasts belie the real message this guy wants to get across. Fineman says,

“…his message—corporal punishment is necessary, if carefully used, especially on boys; Christian faith is the ultimate support that all families need to survive—is one that fellow evangelicals find helpful and inspiring.

…He was venomous on the topic of the federal judiciary, which he sees largely as a coven of secular ayatollahs imposing a pro-abortion, pro-pornography, pro-gay-and-lesbian agenda on a Christian nation. He and his lieutenants have become deeply versed in the voting records and election prospects of the senators who will handle the judicial nominations.”

Next time you hear the quiet, calm, diplomatic voice of James Dobson being interviewed on TV, or his daily radio broadcast, listen to the words, and don’t be fooled.

--Beware the wrath of a quiet man.—Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hate in the U.S.—Deep and Wide

There is a subculture of anti-government, white supremacist, racist groups in this country that is huge and pervasive, and it coincides with conventional society in such a subliminal way that most of us never see the evidence of its existence. Visit the web site of the Southern Poverty Law Center to see the locations and names of these various numerous cells and clubs across the nation. One wonders why they remain so secretive if their claim of popularity is concrete. Due to their numbers and influence, I was surprised that the government could dig up only two accomplices to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building ten years ago. The massive nature of the crime, its planning and execution, cried out as a conspiracy, rather than the destructive prank of two lone nuts.
In today’s Los Angeles Times, Richard A. Serrano writes that one of the convicted conspirators, Terry Nichols, who remains in prison on multiple life sentences with no possibility of parole, wrote a letter from prison to a woman who lost two grandchildren in the bombing. Nichols mentioned another man, Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore, as an additional accomplice who supplied bomb components to Timothy McVeigh, plus other bomb materials found in Terry Nichols home. Nichols claims the government covered up other facts of the case and wants to help uncover the truth.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), chairman of the investigative arm of the House Committee on International Relations, has been collecting new evidence in the bombing and said he would announce soon whether formal hearings would be opened into the April 19, 1995, tragedy.

He believes Nichols' knowledge about other potential conspirators is
central to his investigation, especially since the components found in March in a crawl space below Nichols' former home remained undetected for nearly a decade.

The congressman said it was important to determine whether others
were involved beyond Nichols and McVeigh, two Army pals who became antigovernment zealots.

"That this mass murder of Americans was accomplished by two disgruntled veterans acting alone seems to be the conclusion reached by those in authority," Rohrabacher said recently on the House floor, referring to the FBI's investigation of the bombing."However," Rohrabacher said, "there are some unsettling loose ends and unanswered questions."
Rohrabacher, a bit of a loose canon himself, may actually be onto something a lot bigger than he is imagining. Anti-government and racist groups tend to form webs of networking and ties with each other, in order to influence and solicit new membership, and that activity might have been behind the aid that McVeigh and Nichols got in their attack, and of which they may only be the tip of the iceberg. It’s interesting that Nichols sees himself helping to uncover information about government cover-up of a plot in which he played a major role.

The unraveling of this story may reveal deeper and more pervasive threads of antisocial, anti-government and bigoted elements in our communities than we are presently aware of. And that knowledge, while providing an uncomfortable fear, may lead to the exposure of more of these hate groups and individuals, thereby lessening their threat to our lives.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Show Some Respect for your Mothers

When Laura Bush stole the show with her zany jokes at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner last weekend, she probably didn’t expect the evangelistic Christian right to frown on her little attempt at harmless humor. There’s nothing like NOT pandering to your base. I enjoy a good sense of humor too, but somehow the recent deaths of 127 people in Iraqi violence just since the new regime was anointed seems to make hilarity over Laura’s husband, the leader of the free world, not doing his job well, bad timing. That’s as bad as my criticism gets. I can’t hold a candle to the reactions of several groups and clergy according to the Swift Report’s Russell D’Arby. Among the problems was a perception that Mrs. Bush was emasculating her husband verbally. They quote a section of Ephesians: “'Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.”

Well guess what, Coalition for Traditional Values: if “stay at home moms” got paid according to their work output, they would receive $131,471 annually, including overtime, according to an informal study done by a web site, Salary.com. So while your wives are submitting unto you, it might not hurt for you to kiss their feet.

Is this Panda smiling?
It's Monday and the Washington Post headline reads:
Doubts About Mandate for Bush, GOP

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Immigrants R Us

Like it or not, “Past immigration alone ensures that it [marriage across ethnic and racial lines] is our demographic future,” according to James P. Smith.
Smith’s byline states “James P. Smith holds the chair in labor markets and demographic studies at Rand Corp. He led a panel for the National Academy of Sciences on the economic and tax effects of immigration.” The report of that panel has been quoted in this blog before. Smith’s clear and sober treatment of the current immigration issue is in today’s Los Angeles Times “Opinion” section, which is devoted to the immigration debate. He draws major conclusions from statistical evidence of the advantages to our society of immigration, both documented and “undocumented”--or as the knee-jerk detractors would call “illegal”--immigrants.

Smith draws comparisons and contrasts between immigrants of today from Latin America and immigrants of the past from Europe and Asia, blasting holes in several long-held stereotypical assumptions with simple facts. For instance:

Some have contended that because of language, a common border or unwillingness to assimilate, U.S.-born children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants will not enjoy the spectacular generational successes achieved earlier by European migrants. That's simply not true. The education advances of Latino immigrants across generations are larger than they were for Europeans.

The op-ed piece is worth reading just to garner arguments for debate next time one of our xenophobic friends or relatives makes a remark like “We (meaning “regular Americans, white and mostly Christian”) pay for illegal Mexicans’ medical care and they give nothing in return.” Smith's study proves otherwise:

Immigrants also benefit federal taxpayers over the long term. They are young,they pay taxes, and the most expensive federal programs are for the elderly.Immigrants will not come close to solving our impending budget shortfalls caused by an aging population, but they help on the margin.

Smith also notes that in some areas, like California, the cost of education for immigrant children exceeds the benefits linked to immigration. Overall, the boost to the economy of immigration, both legal and illegal, is in the billions of dollars. The substance of the issue is complex, and there is the added confusion of emotional content “more cultural than economic,” to both sides, according to Smith. Smith’s discussion, based on facts and figures, rather than erroneous bigoted attitudes, provides intelligent ground for solution of the immigration issue, rather than continuing the ignorant hatred. This country’s government certainly is not going to round up millions of undocumented immigrants and send them back to their homes of origin.