Category Archives: War

On Hawks vs. Pacifists

How do you explain away Hillary Clinton’s assumed hawkishness?

Like this.

Everyone voted to invade Iraq. I remember, I was active in politics that year. I mentioned this fact in the article Libertarian hostility for Hillary Clinton. Either you were with Bush II or you were against him.  Painting a target on your back is not how you get things done in a political sphere.  It is how you get eliminated.  She was a savvy operator then, and she is one now.  A survivor.  Someone who gets shit done. Someone who will make a good leader.

Obama let France take out Muammar Gaddafi like they wanted to do, and I don’t shed tears for dead dictators. They get what is coming to them. The same fate is waiting for Assad in Syria.  You don’t destroy your country the way he has done over the last five years and walk away from that. Justice is waiting for him when this conflict ends.

If Hillary Clinton was a war hawk, she wouldn’t have worked to get a deal with Iran. Pacifists dismiss this fact because it destroys their narrative. However, all of these are the president’s policies; Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton. The President calls the shots, not the Secretary of State. That I happen to agree with them is beside the point. Those policies are his policies, not hers.

Let me frame the question of who Hillary Clinton really is with her own history.  Her history as related in this piece contrasting her past with the past of the Orange Hate-Monkey;

Consider, for a moment, two people. One, as a young woman at the beginning of a promising legal career, went door to door searching for ways to guarantee an education to the countless disabled and disadvantaged children who had fallen through the cracks. The other, as a young millionaire, exacted revenge on his recently deceased brother’s family by cutting off the medical insurance desperately needed by his nephew’s newborn son, who at eighteen months of age was suffering from violent seizures brought on by a rare neurological disorder.

Now let’s talk about the future.

Daesh has to be destroyed. Daesh in all it’s forms, all across the world. no amount of wishing will make them go away. It is going to take killing. Also, we have an uppity Russian dictator who needs to be treated with a firm, sure hand. Those tiny hands the Orange Hate-Monkey has will not do the trick. It’s going to take someone who knows the ins and outs of diplomacy.  Someone who has been on the scene for the last thirty years or so would be good.

Much as I don’t like it, and I don’t. I’ve protested every war that has occurred while I was breathing. But we need someone who can credibly hold the keys to the largest military machine in the world and be trusted not to blink. We need someone who is going to be able to do the job in front of her. That someone is Hillary Clinton. If we’re lucky.

Ideologues should stick to theorizing and stay out of real politics. They just screw up the real world for the rest of us.  There is no panacea that will fix the world.  War isn’t the answer.  Peace isn’t the answer. Walking the path before us is going to take hard decisions.  It requires someone who isn’t constrained by an ideology that keeps them from doing what they have to do. Whether that thing is taking the fight to a credible threat, or walking away from an unwinnable conflict.

It takes someone willing to occupy the middle space. Like most things in life, it requires compromise.

“Violence … is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Isaac Asimov

Libertarian Hostility for Hillary Clinton

Yesterday a friend of mine published this video from Reason on Facebook. It struck a cord with me. A negative cord.  Did I laugh? I’ll let you be the judge of the humor content;

This was my initial response.

Yes, let’s piss on the one good thing that is occurring in this election. Surely that won’t piss off the other 80% of the population.

 “Nice shooting, Tex.

What the video represents is precisely the kind of miscue that first started alienating me from the LP and libertarians. They just can’t see the kinds of emotions their attempts at humor generate.  That their principled stands generate.  They are, as most of us are, their own worst enemy.

What this reminds me of is the LP precinct meeting I attended immediately following the attacks on 9-11.  I’m going somewhere with this.  Let me take you there.

Try if you can to imagine that time, even if you were there.  Shell shocked.  In denial that we could be targeted by a foreign group, in the heart of one of the greatest cities on Earth.  The entire world in mourning over the senseless loss of life and destruction.  The first rumors of retaliation were circulating, and a meeting was convened at the precinct level of the Libertarian party with the specific purpose of passing a resolution condemning retaliation and war.

Now try to imagine me in this situation. It’s hard. I know.  I’ve been told enough times. Here I am, a guy who roundly condemned Bush I for being a warmonger. It was how I became a libertarian. Hung images up in my cubicle at work that made my employers livid.  I was a radical advocate for staying the hell out of the Middle East, slipping flyers into free magazines and newspapers in the area condemning the First Gulf War. Celebrated joyously when the conflict was over in weeks.

And I know that this resolution proposed by my peers in the Libertarian party was completely the wrong move.  I know it, in my gut.  It is going to alienate people who rightly think we have to strike back at whoever attacked us. It ignored the real possibility of continued violence on the part of the group that we had just started hearing about, Al Qaeda and their leader Osama Bin Laden. It was the wrong thing, politically, morally, strategically.

So I went to the meeting specifically to scuttle the motion, prodded by a few members who agreed with me that sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. We were on a surge in popularity in Texas at the time, needing to get recognizable percentages of votes to stay on the ballot, and negative press about the pacifist Libertarian party was not going to play well in gun-toting Texas.

I had been looking into how to postpone a motion and had stumbled across the idea (or it had been whispered to me, I can’t remember) of motion to table.  So I made that motion and it was promptly seconded by my allies and the purpose of the meeting was defeated.  Some of my more pacifist friends were livid with anger.  Why?  Why would you do that?

I tried to explain to them that the trends that had been set in motion were bigger than a personal stand against war and violence.  That standing in the way of the juggernaut that was about to be unleashed was suicidal at best. In the end, several of them never forgave me for that sneaky tactic, and that is understandable. The discomfort I felt after that event lead me to study Robert’s Rules and in so doing I realized that I had broken the tabling rule as it is currently spelled out.  But we got what we wanted and the Texas LP was one of the few branches of the LP that didn’t denounce the retaliation that occurred in Afghanistan.

I questioned my own wisdom when Bush II decided to go to war in Iraq on what I just as firmly believed was a contrivance, a method to establish a firm beachhead in the Middle East from which to advance throughout the area, subjecting it to American rule through proxies.  And for awhile it looked like he might actually succeed in that operation.  Until the resistance started, and the costs mounted and the housing bubble collapsed in 2007.

The financial bubble bursting is what made it possible to hope again, politically. Which is a weird way to look at it, but it was the culmination of nearly 30 years of Reaganomics and it was bound to happen eventually given that trickle-down economics just doesn’t work.

So it wasn’t just coincidence that Obama’s campaign tag was “Hope & Change” and I really wished him luck on that course. In hindsight it looks like he’s been a very good  president, possibly the best one to serve in my lifetime.  But now his 8 years are at an end, and we need to decide where to go next.

Which brings us to that video, and my sense of where we are now.

There is a wisdom in large groups. Large groups of people will generally come to a better estimate of value, quantity, etc. than any one member of the group can achieve.  We have known Hillary Clinton for a very long time. I hated on her along with most of my fellow Texans through her husband’s entire presidency.  Still cringe remembering how I had to explain sex to my children because of something the president was caught doing.  Was outraged by the parsing of is in lawyer speak like so many others.

But Hillary Clinton happened to be right.  Which is also weird to admit now. Right on a number of things. We rejected her as not having enough experience in 2008, and she wisely went back to the drawing board, was appointed Secretary of State and managed to do a passing good job at a very difficult task. Perhaps one of the most difficult times to be a Secretary of State for the United States.

And now she is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, a feat that no woman in history has achieved.  She has proven herself to be a consummate politician, outmaneuvering many of her peers so that she was the presumed candidate for the Democrats long before she even officially threw her hat into the ring.

But another way to look at the primary is that Clinton employed a less masculine strategy to win. She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 208 members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; only eight have endorsed Sanders.  Ezra Klein on Vox.com

The fact that a woman has finally run the gauntlet and will likely receive her parties nomination is well worth celebrating; and if she wins, it is more likely to be because she is perceived to be a better leader by the average person, than it is that she’s a woman.

Deriding her because of the imperfections (near fatal flaws, worst case) of the government she will take control of is not only unfair or unjust, but puts the lie forward as the truth; that we cannot change government with her in charge.   If that is true then nobody in that chair or in any chair in government can make changes to government by their participation, and that is obviously false on its face.

h/t to On Point

The bully pulpit has limited power. There are a whole host of ways to make changes in government without taking control of the presidency. Ways that are better, more reliable and possibly welcomed by her government if she is elected.  What she will bring with her is the most progressive slate of Democrats to be seen since at least LBJ’s time in office, and if we support them we may actually see the change that Obama promised eight years ago.

I’m not supporting Hillary Clinton because she is a woman.  I’m not supporting her because I think she will win. This is the first time in my life where I actually think one of the candidates for the two major parties is a decent choice before they were elected to office. Weirdly that happens to be Hillary Clinton. No one is more surprised by this than I am.

Smells like 1984 to Me

PBS News Hour: Egypt’s opposition forcibly muted five years since revolution

Five years after the revolution that toppled the government, Egypt has yet to achieve the movement’s democratic ideals. But there are no more protests because protests are illegal. Freedom of speech curtailed, McCarthy-esque fear pervades under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, with opposition parties persecuted and former revolutionaries jailed. Special correspondent Nick Schifrin reports.

Contrast US satellites Egypt & Israel, the treatment of their people by their governments, with Syria. Syria, backed by Russia and tied to the old USSR, is held up as resisting progress while US satellite countries in the region continue the old ways of suppression quietly on the sidelines. Never has the future painted by George Orwell in ‘1984’ been more starkly illustrated than on this anniversary of Mubarak’s fall from power.

Guardian article

Social media post copied to the blog

The Cost of War vs. The Cost of Peace

I listened to Waking Up #26 – The Logic of Violence today. I was left troubled by the way that Sam Harris seemed to be drawn down the garden path by his guest.



This is another episode of a podcast that I’m listening to and wondering “What Would Jim Wright say about this?” I mean, he wouldn’t be critical of the man’s service, that much is sure. He has a rule about that which I agree with. There are a few other points that can be made without going there. The Iraqis asked us to leave, so insisting that we stay just invalidates the premise that we went there on, to free the people. So too the majority faction voted for the government they have, which created the fertile ground that Daesh spread into.

Syria and Russia contributed to the current mess Daesh mess, and too few voices point this out. Shall we go to war with Russia over Syria? Daesh is a world problem, it should not fall to the US to fix it, or should it? Are we the world’s policeman now, is that our job?

Allusions to the paving stones in the road to hell, or to what ‘big brother is watching’ means in a twenty-first century war aside, I have to really wonder at intelligent people who claim that war ended the ideas of fascism while the Republican front-runner openly voices fascist proposals and is applauded for it. Fascism is clearly alive and well here in the US.

We having an identity crisis right now. Perhaps we should figure out who we are before we try to tell others who they should be.

Facebook musings duplicated on the blog at the time. Linking for reasons of personal sanity. 

Greece in Perspective

This was the piece I was working on before writing Sidelined by Illness.  It is important enough that I felt I needed to post it belated as it is.  Or maybe it is still current. In any case…

When I was in high school and later in trade school, I sacked groceries after school as a way to help the family.  It was common in those days (1980’s) for high school students to have jobs on the side, and it was common for children to start working as soon as they showed interest in work, if not being forced to work simply to feed themselves.

We were a poor family. My mother was on her own at that point, had been on her own for several years. Dad had remarried, but found the chore of raising 5 unruly children too much to deal with so he sent us back to our mother in Texas to live. Mom was trying to get an education at the time, living in what would loosely be called ‘campus housing’ (Avenger Village next to what was then TSTI. An interesting history if you are into that) so the 5 of us crammed ourselves into whatever housing she could afford on the wages for whatever jobs she could get.

Which wasn’t much. It was also typical back then for women to leave college once they had found a husband, sexist as that statement might sound; but women weren’t expected to be wage earners, bread winners. They were expected to be mothers and housewives and to put up with whatever their husbands asked of them. So mom started a family with no real job skills of her own beyond the ability to raise children, and when she finally refused to put up with dad’s behavior she was on her own with 4 kids and no skills.

We interrupted her education again, but she never complained about it. She just went back to working at fast food joints, bars and restaurants, the odd convenience store job as the demands for housing, clothes and food for her growing children required.

I had already had my first job by that point, my one and only experience with fast-food work (a job you couldn’t force me to do again) if you count work that dad found for me to do the fast-food work was my 3rd job, having worked off and on in his gas station for change to buy comics and sodas with, and then worked in the fields hoeing weeds with a one-armed hispanic friend of my fathers (he could work faster with one arm than I could with two and 20 years less mileage on the meter) but in any case I was no stranger to having to work to get the things I wanted, so back to work I went, paying for my own car as a senior, as well as feeding the family whenever I could afford it.

Which wasn’t often, and not often enough.  There were many days where there simply wasn’t enough food.  Oh, we never really starved, mother was sure of that. We survived on government issued milk and cheese, bread when we could get it.  Proud as my mother was, she wasn’t willing to turn away a hand-out of perfectly good food.  She wouldn’t take food stamps (to this day she refuses them, looks down on people who take them) but she would work at almost any job that was offered. As I said, sometimes three or four jobs at once. So we didn’t starve even if we didn’t have much adult supervision.

So here I was working at a grocery store, often hungry, my job being to haul people’s groceries out to their cars for them, making minimum wage.  Rumor has it that in other states bag-boys (as we were called) got tips. Not in Texas.  In Texas you only tip the cute waitresses and the bartenders who give you a little extra alcohol in your drinks. You certainly don’t tip uppity teenagers who carry your groceries for you.  Teenagers should learn to work hard, because hard work is all you can look forward to in this life.

Part of my job was cleaning the store at closing time (I can mop a floor clean enough to eat off of to this day) Part of that job was taking out the trash at the end of the day. Boxes went into the recycler even back in the bad old days, but there was always trash generated during the day that had to be taken out.  Sometimes in this trash there were unopened containers of food. Being an innovative lad, I would arrange things at the end of the shift so that I could drive around back and pick up the food that I deemed safe to eat, and take it home to my family.

That was, until the new night manager took over. The night manager took an instant dislike to me. He knew I was a poor kid, up to no good.  Set the manager against me so that I was watched specifically to be caught setting food aside.

There was a brand of cookie that came in paper bags back then (even more now) No matter how many times the night stockers were told not to open the boxes with box cutters, without fail, they always opened them with box cutters and slit the bags open. This happened so routinely that if the staff wanted a quick snack, there was always a bag or 10 laying around that the stockers had made unsellable by cutting the bag. Of the 20 or so people working in the store who knew this, I was the only one specifically targeted for reprimand for setting the cookies aside.

Starting at about that time, this petty little modo would check to make sure that I destroyed all the food deemed unsellable. Slice open the milk jugs. Shred the bread bags. Whatever it took.  If people wanted food they would have to buy it through the front door.  No one was getting free meals from the dumpster at their store.

This is the mindset of the average working-class American, in a nutshell. If you want anything, you work for it. If you don’t work for it, you starve. If you can’t work for it, you will starve even sooner. Handouts are for layabouts and slackers; no one who takes a handout is worth anything in life.  Sick people are different; but sick people get better.  That poor soul in the wheelchair, we feel sorry for him, but we don’t give him more than enough to keep him off the streets.  We certainly don’t give layabouts enough that they can survive on without work; and if they do work their benefits are cut off.  If you can work you don’t need any help.

You might well ask at this point What in Hell does this have to do with Greece? The title of the piece is Greece in Perspective.

Yet another person on Facebook blocked me over this difference in perspective.  No amount of reasoning with this person was going to break through her preconceived notions of the unworthiness of those layabout Greek people. No recitation of facts concerning the equally ruinous nature of US policy; of our loophole filled tax structure, underfunded and understaffed taxing authority, the low tax rates that the wealthy enjoy (if they pay any taxes at all) Nothing would dissuade this person from her single-minded determination that Greece should be made to suffer for its peoples laziness.

Never mind that an entire country cannot be compared to one person, whose laziness might or might not be determinable just by looking at them. Never mind that wealthy US business firms instructed Greek authorities on just how to cheat the system, the same firms that then later had to go begging to the US government for bailouts (which shouldn’t have been given in my estimation) in order to avoid the same penance that the Greeks are now willing to go down in flames over rather than pay.

Because they can’t pay. Because Greece isn’t Germany, in the same way that Germany isn’t the US, and that whole regions and political entities cannot be summarized in the behavior of a single individual.  Because you can’t get blood out of a stone no matter how hard you squeeze it.

Sometimes people really can’t provide for themselves.  Sometimes lazy people really aren’t lazy at all; sometimes the seemingly lazy lay-about really is sick.  Laziness is itself a survival trait, a reward for not expending energy the body might need to go that one last inch to get to water.

The final straw for me on this subject was when an acquaintance of mine described his daughter as lazy, because instead of going to college and following the track he had planned out for her, she got married and had a child.  Her husband is working, risking his life in the military. She’s working even if she doesn’t have a job.  She’s raising a child, and that is the hardest work of all. Lazy isn’t the word to describe this person.  You can question her intelligence, but not her willingness to struggle with life.

Sometimes the demands placed on people are just too high. Looking at Greece today we would be better served to remember Germany right before World War Two, rather than dismiss them as that slacker kid who mooched off of you back in college. The missed opportunity of all missed opportunities. Watching the suffering of the German people under the debt burdens laid on them following World War One, the rest of the world could have had pity and eased the burden, given them hope.  Instead we hardened out hearts and forced them to do the thing that made sense to them, empower the only man and his political party that gave them hope.

Shall we descend into war and chaos? Or will we be more like General Marshall? General Marshall who, after the destruction of World War Two and understanding that hopelessness was what motivated the Germans to such desperate acts, proposed what became known as the Marshall Plan.  Altering from that time forward how victors treat the vanquished.  Or so we should hope.

A bit of perspective, to brighten your day.

“The cost of war is constantly spread before me, written neatly in many ledgers whose columns are gravestones.” – General George C. Marshall.



Forbes

As it turns out, Greece is not populated by layabouts and ne’er-do-wells. They actually have the most working days per year of any of the European Union nations, according to statistics,

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that workers in Greece put in an average weekly shift of 42 hours, even more than Germans who only manage 35.3. 

So willing to work harder than most of the rest of the people in Europe, just not rewarded at the same rate as the rest of Europe. I wonder where I’ve heard that before? As usual, the people who do the work are rewarded the least. The people who hold the investments make all the money. Just FYI, it looks like Greece is no longer out in the woods financially. So I guess that is good news.

Mukasey’s Paradox is Just a Sign of the Times

A dose of Common Sense (120) via Jonathan Turley and the LA Times, and Dan Carlin:

The problem for Mukasey was that if he admitted waterboarding was a crime, then it was a crime that had been authorized by the president of the United States — an admission that would trigger calls for both a criminal investigation and impeachment. Mukasey’s confirmation was facing imminent defeat over his refusal to answer the question when Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suddenly rescued him, guaranteeing that he would not have to answer it.

Once in office, Mukasey still had the nasty problem of a secret torture program that was now hiding in plain view. Asked to order a criminal investigation of the program, Mukasey refused. His rationale left many lawyers gasping: Any torture that occurred was done on the advice of counsel and therefore, while they may have been wrong, it could not have been a crime for CIA interrogators or, presumably, the president. If this sounds ludicrous, it is. Under that logic, any president can simply surround himself with extremist or collusive lawyers and instantly decriminalize any crime.

However, this is only half of Mukasey’s Paradox. The other half occurred last week when Mukasey refused to allow contempt charges against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers to be given to a grand jury. Bolten and Miers stand accused of contempt in refusing to testify before Congress in its investigation of the firings of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. Mukasey wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that their refusal to testify could not be a crime because the president ordered them not to testify under executive privilege.

read more | digg story

Dan laments the failure of the balance of powers to fix the problems apparent in the Democrat leadership (Schumer and Feinstein) confirming Mukasey to the Attorney General position, even though Mukasey’s answers to the waterboarding question should have been a red flag to anyone interested in seeing justice done within the current lame duck administration. But the failure of the balance of powers happened long before the confirmation hearing, long before the current administration even.

We have an imperial President. We’ve had one since Lincoln forced the Southern states to return to the Union. With secession removed as the ultimate threat to union, there is no real threat that can be used to bring the federal government to heel in events such as we are facing today. Illegal wars, illegal use of police power, etc, etc, ad nauseam.

But it’s not just the lack of real power from the states. There also isn’t any real voice for the states at the federal level. The senate was intended to be the representatives of the several states in Washington; but that representation went away when the Senators became just another set of beauty pageant winners, like the President himself. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution makes them just another popularly elected office, subject to the same forces as the President, and aspirants for that office.

As presidential hopefuls they will bend over backwards to shield the president from criticism (so that they will one day be shielded in turn) as popularly elected officials they will pander to the media and to special interests so as to insure their reelectability. This is a theory advanced by more knowledgeable people than myself. Stumbled across this tidbit while researching this post:

the primary purpose of having state legislatures elect senators was to give the states a constituent part in the federal government, thereby appeasing the anti-federalists, protecting the states from federal encroachment, and creating and preserving the structure of federalism. Senators were seen as, and acted as, the states’ “ambassadors” to the federal government, representing the states and their interests.

and

[The Seventeenth Amendment] was primarily a rebellion of emerging special interests against federalism and bicameralism, which restrained the ability of the federal government to produce legislation favorable to those interests. Changing the method of electing senators changed the rules of the game for seeking favorable legislation from the federal government, fostering the massive expansion of the federal government in the twentieth century.

(from the Independent Institute)

So, the separation of powers has been subverted by the popular vote and those seeking favor from the federal government.

This yields things like what we are seeing today. Presidents that declare war without legislative approval. Presidents that write the treaties that they want without consulting the Congress. And Congress remains silent because Congress doesn’t want the responsibility; Congress isn’t profited by being responsible, elections frequently hinge on their being able to claim that they were not responsible.

Thusly, irresponsibility becomes something to champion, and decadence becomes something you pay extra for. Apparently, irony and paradox aren’t far apart.

Even if there is no exception to the president ordering crimes, there is no crime because the president ordered it. Perfection.

So, once again, this comes down to the structure being broken on purpose, and those who profit from the current broken system not being willing to fix it. How many different ways can you say “not sustainable“?

Common Sense 117 – Terrorists and Liars

Going through the backlog of Common Sense (with Dan Carlin) episodes that I wanted blog on.

Entitled Fanatical Deradicalization the first half of the show is about options in the War on Terror. Personally, I’ll stick to the observation that there isn’t any way to win a war on a tactic, any more than there’s a way to win a war on a substance or a market.

However, I thought about what would happen if we began using the methods described (Fighting terrorism with terrorists) in the second piece, essentially breaking the thought processes (or lack of them) that the terrorists currently use to justify their actions; deprogramming them and sending them back to their people to change them as well. That was back during the Clinton years when the terrorist tried to bomb the World Trade Center the firsts time. If it works, I think we should do it.

The first piece (by Gary Anderson) proposes an interesting method for turning the populations of the Middle East towards our cause by painting the terrorists in the proper light by buying ad time on popular TV stations in the area. But I have to agree with Dan that the more interesting proposition is simply letting the people in the region experience the return to Islam that the radicals want to impose on the Middle East. The suggestion was that we use it as a threat, I suggest we just vacate the premises and let the chips fall where they may.

Be careful what you wish for, it may come true.

The second part of the show dealt with lying Presidents and what their punishment ought to be. I’m solidly behind the idea of impeaching presidents. I think we should have started with Woodrow Wilson (The Federal Reserve alone is worth impeaching him over) and every President afterwards to the present day. All of them were impeachable, and at least some of them should have been (Clinton should have been removed from office. But not for lying about sex; talk about a minor charge) Let’s start now. It’s not to late to teach the bureaucracy that there are consequences to their actions.

FFrF Radio: Atheist in an Iraqi Foxhole

Podcast link.
November 24, 2007Atheist in an Iraqi Foxhole

Theocracy Alert. Pat Robertson. Can you find anything to like about this guy? (Answer: not really) Rick Perry campaigning for Rudy Giuliani. That worked out well. Now we just need to get rid of Perry.

Freethinkers Almanac. The King of Ragtime – Scott Joplin, Jodi Foster & Voltaire. Want more info? Check the calendar.

Jeremy Hall finally gets on the air (Mikey Weinstein spoke in his place previously) Here’s this guy, putting his life on the line for his country, and he has to be given a body guard because of threats against his life from inside our own military; all because he’s an Atheist and simply wants to talk to other Atheists where he’s stationed.

Land of the Free?


“Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.” -Abbie Hoffman

2006 Archive episode.
November 25, 2006Ron Reagan on Stem-cell Research

Elton John on religion. Salk Conference.

Ron Reagan. This episode reveals that much of what was said on the first nationally aired episode was contained in this previous interview. This interview seems a bit more fresh, almost like he’s given this interview too many times since this aired.

The interview is about a lot more than stem cells.

Freethinkers Almanac. Lydia Maria Child & Voltaire.

American Freedom Agenda Act

Today’s DownsizeDC post. This is one we should all get behind.

The full text of this bill can be found on our Background page for this campaign. This legislation will . . .

  • Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2007” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President’s use of “signing statements” as a means to avoid executing the nation’s laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

This one simple 3-page bill will . . .

  • Restore basic Constitutional protections
  • Empower Americans to support human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the world at large, free from the stink of hypocrisy
  • Protect Americans and American soldiers from blowback by foreign powers in retaliation for our government’s transgression of America’s most hallowed principles

read more | digg story

I have been agitating congress on all of these issues for quite some time. We must make them understand that a failure to act now will be an inexcusable act of negligence on their part.

Iranian offered settlement with the United States in 2003

Anyone still in doubt that President Bush is engaged in warmongering, should pay attention to the following:

In May 2003 the Iranian goverment faxed the United States government a proposal to discuss a comprehensive settlement. Prompt action on this offer could have brought peace between our two countries, and done much to stablize the entire region.

How did our government react?

It snubbed the offer.To learn more about this, and other opportunities for negotiated settlements, we recomend that you buy the current issue of “Esquire” magazine (November 2007, with Charlize Theron on the cover). Read the article “Briefing: Our Impending War with Iran” by John H. Richardson. 

DownsizeDC Dispatch, The text of the fax from Tehran

Four years ago, Iran offered to engage in talks with the US in an attempt to end the mounting hostilities. Apparently there is no profit in peace.

Here’s the text of the fax:

Text of Iranian offer for a comprehensive settlement, May 2003:
Iranian Aims: The U.S. accepts a dialogue “in mutual respect” and agrees that Iran puts the following aims on the agenda:
Halt in US hostile behavior and rectification of status of Iran in the US: interference in internal or external relations, “axis of evil,” terrorism list
Abolishment of all sanctions: commercial sanctions, frozen assets, judgments (FSIA), impediments in international trade and financial institutions
Iraq: democratic and fully representative government in Iraq, support of Iranian claims for Iraqi reparations, respect for Iranian national interests in Iraq and religious links to Najaf/Karbal
Full access to peaceful technology, biotechnology, and chemical technology.
Recognition of Iran’s legitimate security interests in the region with according defense capacity.
Terrorism: pursuit of anti-Iranian terrorists, above all MKO (People’s Mujahedin of Iran) and support for repatriation of their members in Iraq, decisive action against anti-Iranian terrorists, above all MKO and affiliated organizations in the US
US Aims: Iran accepts a dialogue “in mutual respect” and agrees that the US puts the following aims on the agenda.
WMD: full transparency for security that there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess WMD, full cooperation with IAEA based on Iranian adoption of all relevant instruments (93+2) and all further IAEA protocols
Terrorism: decisive action against any terrorists (above all Al Qaida) on Iranian territory, full cooperation and exchange of all relevant information.
Iraq: coordination of Iranian influence for activity supporting stabilization and the establishment of democratic institutions and a non-religious government.
Middle East: 1) Stop any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory, pressure on these organizations to stop violent action against civilians within borders of 1967. 2) Action on Hezbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon 3) Acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two-state approach)
-END-


Bear in mind this is an initial offer, the start of negotiations. Negotiations that the Bush administration chose not to pursue. It’s been my opinion (pretty much since 1991, but not confirmed until 2003) that Iraq was simply the beachhead for the eventual pacification of the entire Middle East.

…I really do hate being right.


Another post that is a favorite of bots. Replaced post with more than 1800 hits on it just to see what happens. I may have to alter the link for this one as well.