Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July Goes Out With a Bang

Something unexpected happened between July 1 and July 31. Perhaps it was that subversive holiday in the United States known as Independence Day. Perhaps it was the sheer joy of long, warm and sunny summer days. Whatever the cause there is something in the air. There is a spirit of anticipation among freedom lovers as two "Bush administration" figures suffer.



While I am not a sadist, I do see the pain being experienced by Alberto Gonzales as justified. It is ironic to see Mr. Gonzales going to such lengths to protect his "boss", George W. Bush, when the latter man lets Gonzales twist slowly, slowly in the wind. We are now seeing the United States Congress becoming the independent branch of government it truly is. Certain members of Congress simply are not amenable to the spin machine of the White House. This does not bode well for Mr. Gonzales. There are now calls for Mr. Gonzales' impeachment. I support and applaud such calls.

The second ailment is a physical one being endured by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The seizure had by Mr. Roberts was his second reported seizure of this kind. I now quote from the Associated Press story: "By definition, someone who has had more than one seizure without any other cause is determined to have epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a neurologist at Washington Hospital Center, who is not involved in the Roberts' case." If no cause is found for the seizures, John Roberts has epilepsy according to Dr. Schlosberg. Can things get any stranger?



Is there some relation between an Attorney General whose memory seems to fail him at critical points and a Supreme Court Justice whose brain blacks out? Is there an aversion to truth as such? And do they share this trait with both George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney?



America is coming to its senses. America is in the process of returning to its roots. The process, though sometimes painful, is necessary because it is beginning to bring a small but real sense of hope.



Now if we can only prevent R. Cheney from launching an attack on Iran in August.





++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



Coming soon: A review of Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason. I am coming to the end of this important book and look forward to writing about it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Cascade of Events

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a large national music conference, one which was beneficial to me. I got to see old friends and I met new ones.

Thus I was not able to submit more than one post last week. Then this week I have been getting ready for vacation. If this sounds like a short litany of excuses, I will have to let the matter rest there.

While my own personal life has been proceeding apace, national events have seemed to cascade. One of the most important events was the sit-in at John Conyers' office after an unproductive meeting on the subject of impeachment. I know many people are very disappointed in Mr. Conyers at this moment, and justifiably so.

Among inadequately-reported events, there is a huge build-up in the middle east in preparation for a U.S. attack on Iran. There are reports that the Cheney-Bush administration is waiting for a "false flag", a pretense for launching an air war against that sovereign nation. (And in this instance I have seen fit to interchange the order of characters in the Bush-Cheney administration.)

The concern is that with Congress almost daily issuing statements condemning Iran, the stage is being set for such an attack. What folly we have come to! What preposterous and criminal nonsense all this is! Whatever the intemperance of the Iranian leader, with no evidence of a nuclear weapons program we have already pre-positioned a large expeditionary force in the waters off Iran. It would be little wonder that some trumped-up charge against Iran could set off a dire chain of events. This would be the Iraq War, Part II.

This is only one reason why Cheney and Bush must be removed from office through impeachment. The very health and safety of the world is at stake. It is Congress' responsibility to take the appropriate action and launch an impeachment inquiry immediately.

Coming soon: my review of Al Gore's important new book, The Assault on Reason.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Landmark Event

Nichols' argument...bases the power of impeachment in the hands of the people, rather than the [C]ongress.


For those of you in the U.S. who may not have seen the Bill Moyers Journal program last Friday evening on the subject of impeachment, I am happy to tell you how very refreshing and exhilarating it was.* Two experts, one from the left and one from the right, were essentially in total agreement about not only the need but the requirement for Bush and Cheney to be impeached. This program was a breakthrough for national broadcast television and thus for the country as a whole. It is essential viewing for anyone who either a) needs an uplift during this dark time; and/or b) anyone who cares about our country.

The program combined scholarship, eloquence and passion to present a rock solid case for impeaching these two governmental rascals. In fact, said John Nichols, and Bruce Fein, if they are not impeached it would be a grave injury to both the Constitution and the Republic.

As a result of this program, I have decided to make impeachment my number one civic project. I do believe, as Scott Ritter has stated, that impeachment cannot be the only remedy in our society. And, of course, my special fields of interest are both ethics and spirituality. But Nichols and Fein have made clear to me, nothing is really going to happen until the people rise up and take charge of the impeachment issue.

I will write more later about this. But for now I hope you will be able to see the program!


*The program is available for viewing on line here:
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07132007/profile.html

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Unspoken Co-conspirators

We hear much these days about the lies of administration officials which brought the U.S. to the sorry state of affairs in Iraq today. What we hear little of is the role played by the U.S. media in carrying the Bush administration propaganda directly to the people with precious little analysis, skepticism or criticism. Such lack is a colossal and criminal negligence on the part of what used to be an adversarial (if often friendly) relationship between the press and media and the White House.



As Americans rightly express their outrage with the failure of the Bush Iraq policy, we must remember the central role played by the media in pumping up a kind of mass hysteria surrounding alleged weapons of mass destruction. In the future it will be shown that certain people in the administration knew exactly what they were doing in playing the fear card. It will also be shown that the media, cowed by the fall-out from the attacks of September 11, 2001, instead of maintaining an objective distance from the President, instead simply asked where to line up and salute (as Dan Rather infamously offered.) There must come a time of accountability for the press and media as well. May God have mercy on these slimy people of the pen. In a sense of Christian charity may they be spared the fate they consigned thousands of American soldiers and many more thousands of Iraqi citizens to, dear in their humanity, even as each of us in this great land is dear and precious.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

2008 Is Too Late

As a service to my readers I am today posting the ad from a group known as The World Can't Wait. For several months now, this group has been advocating legal action to remove Bush from office, saying the dangers of leaving him in office are greater than the effort to remove him. I completely agree.

At the same time, I am cognizant of Scott Ritter's admonition to work in ways in addition to the impeachment effort. In various posts on this blog you will find many resources for further information.

But because this ad, which appeared in The New York Times on Friday, June 22, 2007, is so compelling, I am taking the time to present nearly the entire text of the ad along with a link to the World Can't Wait web site.

There is so much to be said about all of this. However, after reading the ad I believe you will agree that 2008 is too late and that peaceful but definite action must be taken now before the 2008 elections begin to dominate the airwaves. Thus time is of the essence. Please do what you think is right.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




2008 IS TOO LATE






What harm can Bush do before his term is up?



He can bomb Iran. He can appoint another Supreme Court Justice.



He can continue with impunity the crime of torture. And more:













YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in its sights.






YOUR GOVERNMENT is openly torturing people, and justifying it.






YOUR GOVERNMENT puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.






YOUR GOVERNMENT is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.






YOUR GOVERNMENT suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.






YOUR GOVERNMENT supresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.






YOUR GOVERNMENT is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.






YOUR GOVERNMENT enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.






People look at all this and think of Hitler -- and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.






Millions and millions are deeply disturbed and outraged by this. They recognize the need for a vehicle to express this outrage, yet they cannot find it; politics as usual cannot meet the enormity of the challenge, and people sense this.






There is not going to be some magical "pendulum swing." People who steal elections and believe they're on a "mission from God" will not go without a fight.






There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into "leaders" who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.






But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn -- or be forced -- to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.






And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.






Acting in this way, we join with and give suppport and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.






This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.






The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined.






The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.






THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT!



DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME!






Sign this call. Join these endorsers and the thousands more who have already signed:






James Abourezk, Rocky Anderson, Edward Asner, Rene Auberjonois, Paulette Cole, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Eric Dyson, Niles Eldredge, Daniel Ellsberg, Eve Ensler, Laura Flanders, Jane Fonda, Mike Gravel, Paul Haggis, Stephen Hays, Ron Kovic, Cynthia McKinney, Tom Morello, John Nichols, Major Owens, Sean Penn, Michell Phillips, Harold Pinter, Franice Prose, Michael Ratner, Henry Rollins, Mark Ruffalo, James Schamus, Richard Serra, Jeff Sharlet, Sunsara Taylor, Gore Vidal, Alice Walker, Cornel West, Howard Zinn









Attend Town Meetings

Nationwide

IMPEACH BUSH

& CHENEY FOR

WAR CRIMES

For info: 866.973.4463


Los Angeles: July 12
Immanuel Presbyterian Church

San Francisco: July 15
Civic Center




More at worldcantwait.org











http://www.worldcantwait.org/

Monday, July 09, 2007

Justice Department Attorney Speaks Out

At considerable risk to his personal career, John S. Koppel, a long-time attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice has written a public letter clearing setting forth the truth about the politicized Department.

Mr. Koppel is an American hero for his bravery in speaking about his Department. This is obviously a man who loves his country and the Department of Justice. We need more people like John Koppel. Read his article here: < http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_6308408 >.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Illogic of Impeachment

Occasionally on this web log it has seemed necessary to be contradictory, even contrary. Such is the case this evening.

It has occured to me during the day that if one faces the facts as they are known, there is an illogic to the current efforts to impeach Cheney and Bush. The illogic is this. If we accept, as has been shown by prize-winning journalist Greg Palast and renowned prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi that the ascension of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney to power was illegitimate, then is not the impeachment of these two inappropriate? (The so-called re-election of 2004 can likewise be shown to be bogus.) In the strictest sense can someone who has not entered the office legitimately be then legitimately removed? Is not this the supreme irony of the current efforts toward impeachment? And is not this illogic a kind of protection for the impostors mentioned above? That is, for persons who care not a whit for the niceties of electoral law and procedure, it cannot be of any great concern that certain rabble rousers are putting forward the notion of impeachment.

At this point I may hasten to say that I whole-heartedly support impeachment if that is what will stop this heinous and hurtful renegade administration. Yet it is important to keep in mind the danger of pursuing a course of action which is based on a sour sense of history, that is, an incorrect reading of recent electoral history. Far better to come clean on the facts and through a process of a type of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, followed by proper Congressional vote, have the Bush Presidency cease to be. (The House of Representatives has the power to declare who is the legitimate President in such a situation.) This is the ideal. And being an unapologetic idealist, I am proud to present it here, regardless of the popular tide of the moment. I still believe truth has an intrinsic value and should be honored.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Impeachment Movement Continuing to Build

There was something about the Fourth of July this year which made it seem like a welcome blast from the past. It was a day for people to be happy. If it was not completely clear what we should be celebrating, what the heck, let's celebrate anyway. (And here I have adopted the informal style of the Internet.)

Still, there was a gnawing sense that something was amiss in the land of the golden grain, and the sparkling skycrapers. The laundry list of evil attacks on the Constitution, so adroitly justified by those in power, served as a check on the joy of the day.

Now comes word from Los Angeles of the opening of an Impeachment Center, whose link you will find below. The list of planned, on-going activities to culminate in the impeachment of Cheney and Bush is impressive. With Cheney's colossal gaffe declaring he was not part of the Executive Branch, people are wondering, at the least, whether Cheney has all his marbles these days.

I very much support the impeachment of Cheney. (Bush can be impeached as well, but not before Cheney leaves office. We can't have Cheney marching into the Oval Office.) He has exerted an incredible amount of control over policy development in this Administration. And his policies have led this nation into an unwinnable war. His policies have led to the extreme embarrassment of torture.

Yet even as the impeachment of Cheney is gone after, let us remember how we got here. Let us be about restoring a sense of decency and compassion in our public policy. Let us clean up our elections. Let us do all these things, looking within our own hearts, examining what evil may lurk there, unknown yet damaging to us. Then we will be better able to oppose the evil in our leaders.

http://www.bcimpeach.com/

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Dangerous End-Time Movement

There is afoot in the land a dangerous movement based on shoddy, selective and erroneous theology called End-Time Christianity. A number of years ago living in a small city in Florida, I became acquainted with the End-Timers, a sect which had recently taken up residence there. This group, whose members seemed ordinary in one sense, began to slowly permeate the community.

The End Time philosophy, which is said to be based on the book of Revelation, claims we are living in the last days before the re-appearance of Christ. Never mind that Jesus Christ himself said Of that day and hour no one knows. This theory states that the establishment of the nation of Israel was a sign that the apocalyptic age was at hand. Before the appearance of Christ, say these End-Timers, there will be a period of tribulation. Those who have been faithful to Jesus will be taken up directly into heaven in what is known as "the rapture."

As a student of the Bible and a former seminary student, I can assure the reader this is all bunk. Yet it seems to meet the need of numbers of uncertain people.

Considerations of time prevent me from writing more about this movement here. That is why I have included the link to an important article on the subject below. No one should minimize or attempt to simply laugh off this End-Time doctrine, no matter how kooky it seems. As the article shows, this pseudo-Christian philosophy has numerous adherents in our society and, now in the federal government, including -- reportedly -- George W. Bush.

The value of the article mentioned here, written by J.P. Briggs II, Ph.D., and Thomas D. Williams, is in analyzing the coded language being used by Bush and others in government. To some reading this, what I have just written may sound nutty. I believe, however, that as you read this well-thought-out piece, you will find the theory offered by the authors to be quite plausible.

As a person with a music degree from a seminary, and as a student of Christian history and theology I know the End-Time Prophecy is heresy. The sad thing is how powerful it has become in American society reaching even into the White House and many agencies and Congressional offices of the Federal Government. Is it not past time to take notice?



http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/062907J.shtml

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"SiCKO"

It was my privilege to see the new film "SiCKO" by Michael Moore Monday evening. I highly recommend this important and moving film. The film, which contains the stories of several worthy but desperate Americans as they seek proper health care, is already something of a sensation. The pundits and public relations machine has already been deployed to counter the effects of this film.

As you will see, Michael Moore quite brilliantly juxtaposes the U.S. health care system with other systems in other countries. And the picture is not pretty: America is now 37th in the world, says Moore in the film, in the quality of its health care, ranking just above Slovenia. Michael Moore essentially says that the profit motive has no place in medicine. I have never heard this stated so clearly in film before now and I whole-heartedly agree!

Moore's film is full of heart. The editing and use of music and sound are wonderful. The only thing missing is a how-to list for those who want to do something, a la the ending of An Inconvenient Truth. As time permits I will try to offer some suggestions here. One thing to be done is to study up on the history of corporations as given by groups such as The Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy and Reclaim Democracy. Both can be found on the world-wide web. This history shows how a certain motive of greed really got rolling in this country in the nineteenth century and how we are victims of this motive today, including in the area of health care.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

BAE Scandal Up-date

Below is the letter of June 21, written by the Honorable Senator John Kerry to Mr. Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States.

This scandal, now beginning to be revealed, appears to possibly involve the breaking of U.S. law. This is doubly important due to the attempt of BAE, a British concern, to take over Armor Holdings, Inc., a United States company.

Although not the first to post information on this scandal to the web, I do appear to be one of the first.


************************


June 21, 2007

The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530


Dear Mr. Attorney General:


I am writing you concerning recent reports that the British defense company BAE Systems (BAE) may have violated U.S. anti-bribery laws in relation to its international arms deals. As you are undoubtedly aware, BAE is currently seeking approval for the acquisition of Armor Holdings, Inc., the U.S. maker of armor for Humvees. BAE also currently supplies Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the U.S. military.

According to published reports, Britain's Serious Fraud Office was investigating an $80 billion transaction, known as the Al-Yamamah deal, involving a series of illegal payments by BAE through the now defunct Riggs bank in Washington, D.C., to former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan. That investigation was halted last December by the British Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, on the grounds that it was not in the national interest to pursue the inquiry.

It appears that U.S. officials have also been concerned about BAE's business practices for some years. In July 2002, a State Department memorandum noted persistent allegations that BAE Systems pays bribes to obtain business. The memorandum concluded that this volume of allegations about one company would have triggered a Department of Justice criminal division investigation long ago. More recently, in October 2006, a high ranking official at the Department of Justice indicated that foreign-owned companies, such as BAE, could be targeted by U.S. investigators: The Department will not hesitate to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, just as it does against American companies.

Recently published reports indicate that the Department of Justice's Fraud section, in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has begun a preliminary investigation to review allegations that BAE may have illegally paid key officials to win contracts to sell fighter jets and other major weapons systems. However, representatives of both BAE and Saudi Arabia have told media sources that they have not been notified of any investigation by the Department of Justice.

Given BAE's prominent role within the U.S. defense industry, their pending application before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for approval of the Armor Holdings sale, and the serious nature of the allegations against this company, full disclosure of the facts is essential. Accordingly, I would appreciate receiving from you a formal clarification on the following points:

1. Have there ever been any investigations, preliminary or otherwise, of BAE by the Department of Justice?

2. Is there an ongoing investigation of BAE by the Department of Justice?

3. If any investigation of BAE was ever initiated by the Department of Justice and subsequently dropped, what were the specific reasons for this decision?

4. Was the Attorney General's office, or any other office or official in the Department of Justice, ever contacted by any other officials, agencies or departments of the U.S. government, including the White House , concerning this matter? If so, please list any and all such contacts.

5. Is the Attorney General's office aware of any past or present investigation of BAE by any other agency or department of the United States government? If so, has the Justice Department requested access to any information relevant to this investigation? Has the Justice Department requested any information related to BAE from Britains Serious Fraud Office?

6. What contact, if any, has the Attorney General's office had with the Committee on Foreign Investment regarding the sale of Armor Holdings to BAE?

I look forward to a reply no later than June 30, 2007. I would also encourage you to share any information you may have related to this issue with the Committee on Foreign Investment.


Sincerely,

Senator John F. Kerry

Cc: Senator Joseph Biden, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee

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