American Liberalism Project Archives September 2004 to June 2006

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sticking it to the Poor

An October 29 AP story which appeared in our local news paper The Daily Progress describes budget cuts approved by the Republican –controlled House Agriculture Committee. These draconian cuts would take food stamps from 300,000 people and could cut school lunches and breakfasts for 40,000 children.

This action came at the same time the government was reporting that the number of people who can’t afford to buy enough food rose to 38.2 million in 2004, an increase of 7 million in the last five years. The number represents almost 12 percent of U.S households.

These cuts, approved on a party line vote, are part of an effort to curb federal spending on the backs of the poor by $50 billion. The food and agriculture cuts would reduce spending by $3.7 billion, including $844 million on nutrition, $760 million on conservation and $212 on payments to farmers.

Tax cuts approved by this administration gave massive gifts to the upper ten percent of the U.S. taxpayers. These giveaways to the wealthy, or as “W” once called them” his base the haves and the have mores,” would have been more than enough to fund the additional expenditures due to the recent hurricanes. True to form, however, the Republicans would rather continue to stick it to the poor and the helpless and compound their misery by cutting the very programs which would help the hurricane victims.

Liberals on the other hand would have been guided by their principles of true compassion and concern for those who can least help themselves. If liberals were in control, those tax cuts to the wealthy would never have been enacted. Liberals would not have led us into a war on a tissue of lies. A war which, in addition to costing precious lives, is costing us taxpayers billions of dollars each day. Without the war and without the hand outs to the rich we would have a surplus from which we could fund programs to help the poor and disenfranchised pull themselves up to the middle class. Instead we have a situation where the poor get poorer and the middle class is rapidly disappearing- for this we can thank those compassionate conservatives. O hell let them eat cake!

David Goldberg

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Presidential and Corporate Fraud

Here's a item from TomDispatch worth your attention this Halloween weekend.


As long as we are dealing with horrifying situations, here's the New York Times Magazine on the end of pensions.


JRB

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bitter Fruit


This slide show takes a few minutes, but it is worth it. In fact, you should have taken more notice before. Now, sit back and understand.


(The volume bar is near the bottom center with a "-" and "+" at either end.)


JRB

Friday, October 28, 2005

Trick or Treat?

It is pretty obvious as we head into Halloween and then the "holiday season" that things are not right with the world. Things have not been right for a long, long time, actually, as we all very well know but often try to forget. But this year it seems like the situation is worse; it seems like some things are getting ready to pop or rip or give way in some surprising fashion. Halloween promises to be exciting for the kids again this year and for the politicians in Washington, too.

Halloween is a unique and peculiar rite among modern people in western countries. Very few among us really understand the meaning of Halloween. The "eve of all hallows," or the vigil before All-Saints Day as it is properly termed, is a curious rite in countries that have a large Christian population, especially Roman Catholic Christians.

The original intent of All-Saints Day was to honor any saints that the church had missed along the way in its regular calendar of honoring those men and women who often died horrible deaths defending their faith or leading unselfish Christian lives. But, the day was also intended to honor people whose lives and deaths have not yet been confirmed as officially saintly ... but might soon be ... or that will never be because their story is completely unknown. In this respect All Saints Day is sort of a grab-bag remembrance of things meant well that often did not turn out that way on this mortal coil.

This grab-bag, omnibus nature gives to the dark night vigil anticipating All Saints Day—Halloween— a syncretic uniqueness perhaps best described as a brush with paganism, now in the modern age marked by the cavorting of children in the streets dressed as figures out of the current popular dark mythologies. Few, indeed, are the costumes meant to portray saints and religious figures. Some children dress to please their parents, but most prefer the iconic and neo-iconic costumes of the borderline characters of our culture, you know, witches, ghosts, goblins, pirates, gorillas, Frankenstein monsters, Nixon, Agnew, Darth Vader, Bush 43, Hannibal Lecter, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Lt. Calley, Libby, Frist, Santorum, Ollie North, Blunt, DeLay, Benedict Arnold, and the like. It is a ritual attempt to redeem the bad in these characters by inhabiting their outward appearances with the innocence of children.

The costumes parade around the neighborhoods of America asking for sweets representing goodness, or being rejected, warning of impending tricks. The sociopathic aspects of the characters represented is never far from the surface of Halloween activities, yet the worst is submerged. Halloween is a brief stylized glimpse into the primitive imagination of a culture. It describes the willingness of the people to believe that while there is a lot of good in some people, there is some good in everyone, and even in the worst monsters of the culture a need to set them on a better path, if only for one dark night under the waning harvest moon.

It is fitting that the Valerie Plame Affair seems to be culminating this Halloween season. In reality we have in our country a group of bad guys who have been masquerading as friends of our culture when in fact they have done no end of things to subvert our culture and to deride its core values. They are the opposite of saints, and briefly they get to take cover under the strange shroud of forgiving amnesty implicit in Halloween.

Next week, our tribal rites complete, we will take them to court and then the gaols and gallows, where if they are innocent at heart (and no one on the planet truly believes that) they will be returned to the ranks of unnamed saints to be remembered again en masse in future Halloweens, but if not, to be forgotten with all the refuse of a messy, slightly insane world.

James Richard Brett

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Waiting for Fitzgerald

Today (October 27, 2005) could be the day. Maybe we've just been scatching an old scabrous wound and the infection is ours to deal with, or just maybe Tom Englehardt has the right metaphor-- "implosion." Just maybe there is courage somewhere in Washington, D.C. and Josh Kalven is right on with his debunking the skeptics and Bushite press groupies. We shall see.


In any case, remember we are 229 years old and worse things than this have happened ... no matter what happens ... (unless they scrap our Constitution completely, that is)! If he pardons anyone, we meet on The Mall on Veterans Day!!


JRB

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Compassion?

Something has been bothering me for some time now. Well, actually, a lot of things bother me about the current administration, but the one thing that stands out is their steadfast mantra of being compassionate and conservative.

When the American Liberalism project was founded, our main goal was to try and achieve a greater understanding, a clearer understanding about the term liberal. On our masthead we even have a wonderful quote, from President John F. Kennedy, about being a liberal. I think it sums up liberalism very succinctly. Someone who is forward looking, who embraces change and who cares about the future and others. Little did I think that, down the road, I would be writing about compassionate conservatism.

But, today, it seems blatantly obvious that this administration pays lip service to those things. Before some of you feel the need to chastise me for this observation, please let me qualify. I understand that there are plenty of liberal conservatives and plenty of conservative liberals out there. Nothing is exactly black and white, despite Mr. Bush's statements to the contrary.

Over three hundred years ago, a small group of dissatisfied men and women sought a new life on the shores of North America. In Plymouth Colony they set their roots and built a community, a commonwealth, in which they could all prosper, the sharing of religious freedom was a priority for some, but not all. Some simply wanted to make a new life in a new land. Legend notwithstanding, all 104 passengers aboard the Mayflower had little in common save the belief that all would be better off anywhere other than England. The religious freedom seekers were the smallest part (41 persons) of the group. Even being the diverse group that they were, some conservative, some liberal, they knew that to succeed they must work together to create a new community. They celebrated their diversity and forged ahead.

Little more than 150 years later, when the break with our mother country, England, was being sought, our Founding Fathers were determined that what would result for our fledgling country would be a society just and equal to all. They were forward looking, ready to embrace change and sought to improve our future and that of generations to come. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to be anything that you could dream of being. And even while invoking God as being a divine inspiration to them, they sought to make sure there was no one religious belief that had to be adhered to by all. Liberalism at it's very best.

From 1820, and onwards into the 20th century, ships bore others who sought refuge and a new way of life. Compassion was America's middle name. The trend continued and even today we have those seeking asylum on our shores, whether for religious or political freedom, or simply because they still see America as the great shining land of opportunity. There are, however those amongst us, who would twist the intentions of those immigrants to try and make the rest of us fearful of their intent.

We have a President that came into office espousing a new era of compassionate conservatism. Maybe it is me, but I have yet to see anything compassionate or conservative come out of Washington for the last 5 years. I have seen major incompetence thrust to the forefront in our government agencies (Brown-FEMA), a studied denial of all things which would benefit the majority of this country's citizens (education, the environment, healthcare) and a hearty disregard, almost an intolerance, for most everyone who is not a Christian Fundamentalist. I have seen my country head backwards, a schism which has been created by my own government based on the color of ones' skin (New Orleans) one's manner of dress (towelheads!) or the religious beliefs one holds (Islam).

A major reversal of all those things our ancestors worked so hard to create and fought to preserve. This is not compassion, it is not even conservative. It is a narrow, bigoted view which has created a Civil War map of red states against blue states. Not compassion, but fear mongering.

Compassion is not Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Compassion is not the slashing of programs within the government that benefit all of us. Compassion is not taking from the middle class so that the few can have even more. Compassion is not turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to those world wide things which demand the attention of all nations who have the power to make a difference. Compassion is not treating others, who do not hold the same world view as you, as pariahs. Compassion is not cloaking what you say and do in the name of God, and then acting contra to everything which Jesus taught. Compassion is not governing by fear. Compassion is not doing all within your power to destroy your supposed enemies. Lying to get your way is not compassion, it is a bullying tactic, subtle though it may be.

We have some very serious issues facing this country. We have a national debt that has gone through the proverbial roof, (not conservative...and they call liberals spenders?) tax cuts which benefit less than 10% of the populace, an infrastructure which needs serious improvement, and an educational system that is being taken over by issues which do not even belong in public education, not to mention a war without end (very MUCH not a conservative move). Where is the compassion in all of that? Compassion means taking a look around, seeing what is beneficial to all, not the chosen few. Compassion is having concerns for those who have less and trying to improve their lot through education and training. But, sorry folks, those are programs that have been slashed in the conservative budget. Not surprisingly, it has been reported recently, that if the election were held today Bush would not be elected. Is this truly a surprise? What is a surprise is how long it has taken for so many of my fellow countrymen to finally take the blinders off and see that the Emperor has no clothes. It is past time for all of us to say that, no, Bush has not done, and is NOT doing a fine job, and is not compassionate nor conservative.

Today, like it or not, we live in a global community. Countries we have sought to work with and have forged alliances with in the past 50 years, showed us what compassion truly was in their universal response to our country's plight after September 11th. Now most of them would prefer to see someone, anyone else in power in the United States. Why? Because our administration's response to compassion was to spit in their collective eye.

Susan Goodwin

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Possibilities

We are very interested in Walter Cronkite's idea for a mid-term convention of the Democratic Party. (See Daily Kos.) We think it would help to clarify a few things for the electorate, and we think it would provide a good foil for candidates. Most of the leading contenders would have a chance to speak, of course, and we would be looking especially for election 2000's real winner, Al Gore, to pick up the mike and show the American people what a thoughtful, intelligent, and sincere liberal looks and sounds like, but also we would like to see Bill Moyers, who has the philosophy, insight, and experience in politics that just might be the ticket! And, of course, there's Hillary.


JRB

Monday, October 24, 2005

Autumn of Our Discontent

The question puzzling us this weekend was how best to prepare you for the news that surely will erupt sometime this week in Washington, D.C. from the Special Counsel's office. We will have essays on Wednesday and Friday, of course, but for today (while one of us recovers from surgery) here are your two reading assignments:


Don't Rat Out Spies


We Now Live in a Fascist State


JRB

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Halftime Reading

Liberals labor under a confusion of terms stoked and whipped into frenzied hatred by the right-wing press. Whose fault is this? That's why this website exists.

~~~

Occasionally we link to a site that requires registration, if it's free. The New Republic is an old time liberal journal and, although it has been rather hawkish since 9/11, they currently have a piece on Republicans that is incisive and interesting.

~~~

J. Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Counsel pursuing the culprits involved in the divulging of the identity of a secret agent of the CIA, has just published a new official website, of all things. We thought you'd like to know.

JRB, SBG, SD

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Colin's Hamlet

A weekend's here and lighter reading our fare this wartorn morn.
Or is't daggers of last night's lamplight rendezvous
as medals clinked against the baize of green and ovoid lawn,
reflecting pools of light 'gainst darkened faces and devil's spawn?

JRB

Friday, October 21, 2005

Brer Bush

Back in the old days, before "PC," children of all races in America were read to before bedtime, and quite often parents would read from one of the various selections of Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris, a poor white who went on to a career in journalism in post-bellum Georgia, transcribed stories he heard from the Black slaves as a boy. These became the Uncle Remus (1881) stories and among them is a story about Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit (who were always key characters in these tales, Fox being somewhat inept as a predator, and Rabbit being something of a smart-aleck trouble-maker) called The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story.

The tar-baby story is Aesopian, as most of the tales were. It is a cultural treasure, really, about a number of things, including minding your own business, about glib dishonest courtesy, about temper, hubris, and being ornery, about getting entangled in something so that every next move you make gets you in deeper and more helpless against the real threats of life, like Brer Fox!

There's no racism in repeating this story, for it is a wise story and, although the accents and vocabulary seem a bit overdrawn to us 125 years later, even these have a story to tell about communication and wisdom.

I was going to write about Iraq today and tell you about the complexities of religion and ethnicity in Iraq and how the U.S. and U.K. press have been trying desperately to make sense of something that even Iraqis do not understand fully and completely, ... else why would they be at such internal loggerheads with one another.

I was going to explain that although the Kurds are not Arabs (they are Kurds, a "Persian" people,) they are Muslim and most of them, but not all, subscribe to the Sunni vision of Islam, not the Shiite version. There are also Turkmen (Turks, whose ancestors rode out of a part of central Asia north and east of Afghanistan near the western reaches of greater Mongolia a millennium ago). Turkmen are in the north of Iraq along the Turkish border and southward in decreasing numbers. They are Muslim, but the more Turkish they are the less important to their politics is their religion, it seems.

And, of course, there are the Arab peoples of Iraq most of whom are Muslim, but a significant numbers of which are Christian. Baghdad once was also the largest urban concentration of Jews in the world. Ethnic Jews, you will recall, are a semitic tribe related to the semite Arabs. But, the vast majority of Iraqis are Arabs, and there are twice as many Shiite Iraqis as Sunni, but under Hussein and the Baath Party Sunnis ruled.

Keenly aware of all this chaos of religion and tribe and ethnicity and language, George H.W.Bush (41) decided to forego the opportunity to barge in and tell these people how to behave. His son, on the other hand ... with the considerable "intellectual" assistance of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld felt that it was not that big a problem, and so there we have been for the past two years and seven months, two hands and one foot completely entangled in Iraq's fabled tar-baby!

The rest of this article was to be about how to withdraw from the military occupation of Iraq, given that the occupation itself was predicated on a unconscionably arrogant set of misunderstandings about the substance of Iraqi thought on governance (and religion and ethnicity and modernism and so forth.) I was going to explain that most observers believe that, if the U.S. troops were not there, the Shiite Iranians will come to the aid of the Shiite Iraqis at the drop of a kuffiyeh! This would add insult to Iran's already nose-thumbing position on nuclear weapons development, and would pose a huge threat to peaceful transformation of Iran by its younger generation (70% of Iranians are under 30, while 100% of its leaders are over 50), not to mention the likelihood of some trigger-happy triumphalist imperialist neocon deciding to nuke them before they nuke us ... or Israel.

Then there is the problem of the oil fields which are capable of providing about 4 million barrels of good petroleum a day into a world market that now includes a gas-guzzling China and very little abatement of appetite here in North America. Sans U.S. troops the angry factions would inevitably continue their sabotage of pipelines and wells, reducing production ever lower from the current 1.8 million barrels.

Of course, the world does not want to see Shiites and Sunnis descend into civil war. There is a good chance that they will anyway no matter what anyone from the outside does. In a serious way, it really is up to them. There are some bitter feelings that make our own Hatfields and McCoys look like a noisy pre-teen slumber party. Presumably, our U.S. troops there give both Sunni and Shiia a target for their festering animosities and, perhaps, time to consider various ways of reconciliation, but this fits in poorly with American sensibilities about the use of our armed forces as deliberate targets. No one knows the answer to the civil war problem, because as a Iraqi government moves ever closer to a theocracy, to law based fundamentally on the Sharia, the rational element of civil discourse fades ever more into the realm of fantasy and nightmare.

It really matters quite a bit what the U.S. and the U.K. do in the next few weeks and months. Clearly, (or at least I thought so last week at this hour) the domestic embarrassments besetting the Bush administration should temper (and perhaps bring back toward reality) George's intentions. That was before we stuck the other foot into the tar-baby, Syria!

Yes, folks, we are in a de facto war with Syria!—the naughty little country that we let run Lebanon for several decades and are now sorry that we did. With Syria in the mix, there is no telling what will happen. All the Arabs are now going to have to reassess their position on the U.S. intervention in Iraq, since these Syrian Arabs are maintaining staging areas for insurgents and fifth-columnists in Iraq.

Like my colleagues at the Project, I am wholly in favor of an orderly departure from Iraq. I do not think that will happen now. We have now a "Cambodia" to consider and, remembering the fallout from that little expedition a generation ago, we might well be cautious about what happens to innocent civilians inside Syria because of our truculence ... and their leaders'ineptitude.

The punchline of Uncle Remus's tar-baby fable was that as Brer Rabbit got himself totally messed up with the tar-baby and stuck hand, hand, and foot, foot in the sticky tar, along comes Brer Fox, ready to take advantage. There are plenty of foxes out there; you just pick one: China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Libya, Sudan, Avian Flu, Global Warming, Fundamentalist irrationality, Hurrican Wilma, and so on. The stage is set for a debacle the likes of which we may never live down ... or survive.

As I see it, the invasions of foreign countries is a matter for the Congress to decide. Congress cannot give up its Constitutional responsibility by signing away its duties with flimsy war-powers acts; that would be, obviously, unconstitional! (There can be no such thing as a War On Terrorism any more than there can be such a thing as a War Against War or a War on Poverty. These are metaphors and Congress knows it!) Nor can the President simply choose lawyers to parse unconstitutional acts and vote their boss ambitious autonomous powers; their judgments are obviously meaningless.

And so, we are long past the time when impeachment is a debatable issue. The security of the nation is clearly at risk, treason abounds, high crimes and misdemeanors litter the floors and hallways of this sty of government. Ugly as it may be, we must ... impeach!

James Richard Brett

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Party Hearty?

We hope you will read these two articles. The first article is about Democrats and whether there are really only 21% of voters who are ideologically "liberal." The second article is about the Democratic Party. We would encourage you to comment on the 2nd article, especially.

JRB

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Safety and Security

Back in the fall of 2000, the man I voted for did not become President. Rather, the Supreme Court appointed his rival, George Walker Bush. I know some will argue this point with me, but the fact remains, that the election of 2000 was fraudulent and the beginning of the end of intelligent governance in this country.

Up until now, I never considered myself a sore loser. When the person for whom I did not vote was the one who took over the reins of government I sighed and accepted the fact. After all, in four more years, there would be another opportunity to vote and perhaps the person that I backed would make it. In the meantime, I would back the President of my country as he was the face of our nation to the world. George Bush had also stated that he was a "compassionate conservative" and as compassion is always good there was no need for alarm. Was there?

Then we had September 11, 2001 and the flood gates opened. Suddenly the benign, recovering alcoholic Texan was on the world stage and playing to a captive audience. We were all in the throes of fear. What was happening to our country? How, and why, had this happened? For days we were subjected to a video loop of the WTC destruction. Our cowboy President, minus the horse, stood amid the rubble in NYC and proclaimed through his bullhorn, his (our) determination to get those who had committed this atrocity, and we all said, YES! Let's get those suckers! Boy oh boy that George Bush is a take charge kinda guy! Little did we know that we were being set up. Our first clue should have been the seven minutes it took Bush to remove himself from the classroom in Florida. Not much of a "take charge" reaction, but then it was a "safety and security" issue.

A call went out to track the perpetrators down in Afghanistan. We cheered, we agreed, our elected representatives sang and prayed and off our troops went amidst a sea of their flag waving countrymen to get the job done. Once again make the world safe for democracy and for "safety and security" reasons. But somewhere along the way things went pear shaped and suddenly we were out of Afghanistan and now, without so much as a nod to his cave hiding persona, Osama Bin Laden was left in the dust of Afghanistan. An even greater threat, we were told, loomed against the "safety and security" of our country in the person of Saddam Hussein, President, CEO, lead rat and Butcher of Bahgdad.

Finally the stage was set and we embarked on that bleak and narrow path called war. We would shock them and awe them and then the Iraqi people would welcome us with open arms, parades and flowers. We would be their saviours! Now they too could be "safe and secure".

The war in Iraq has certainly shocked and awed. It has shocked most of us to learn that the war was instigated by lies. Iraq, we were told, was an imminent threat to the safety and security of our country, armed to the teeth with Weapons of Mass Destruction and with the words mushroom cloud bringing fear and trembling upon us, we believed. The shock was the fact that there were no WMD's , and, sadly, most of the country has only recently awoken to the fact that there had not been any for a very long time. But the die had been cast and we now find ourselves in a never ending state of fear, and color coded emergency, signifying nothing. And, it is under the guise of "safety and security", that we have been lulled into acceptance of this administration's policies.

As casualties continue to mount in Iraq, are we any more secure? Was there ever a real security issue beyond which newer and better safety measures might have been employed without the rush to bloodshed and war? Where, dare I say it, more intelligent, rational minds might have put us on a different path? Where are the safety measures covering our chemical plants, our railroads our ports? Are our airports safe even now? When the person who waves the wand, who barely speaks English is primarily concerned about the contents of an infant's diaper bag, or my choice of footwear, I am not feeling reassured. When a disaster of epic proportions occurs here, and we are totally unprepared to handle it, we are far from secure. And, given the fall out over the response to that catastrophe, and the unmasking of the inept people in charge, I am even more concerned about our collective safety given the combined intellect of those in charge.

There is no exit strategy for this war, and with the increase in terrorist activity, we can expect to be in a continual state of war for at least another decade. The DoD has a document, Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support which is chilling to say the least, and shows where we are headed thanks to Bush and his War on Terrorism. Saner, more rational voices are not to be heard or tolerated in this administration as they run counter to the goal of absolute power, and undermine the militaristic mind set. Terrorism CAN be handled and made manageable when it is taken as a global issue. Terrorism, after all, is not a thing, it is a means to an end. It is a schoolyard bully tactic.

It has been far easier and simplistic to lump all terrorist activity to "extreme Islam", when in fact we are the occupiers of a country which wants us to leave. The terrorist insurgency and activity in Iraq can be directly linked to our invasion of that country, and that invasion was the proof the jihadists needed as to our intent. Most of the terrorism is being carried out by Iraqis who wish to see their country returned to them and to be left alone to manage their problems. If this ends in a civil war, then so be it, as no one's purposes are being served at this point. Even with a referendum vote on a constitution, Iraq has a long way to travel, and with certainly no thanks to us, and certainly not "safe and secure".

In the meantime, for a country whose main objective was to spread democracy to a former dictatorship, it seems more and more as if the roles have been reversed. We are a country in lock down. This administration's operatives have made it harder and harder for those who would disagree with their motives or tactics to have a voice in the forum. If you wish to hear your President speak in an open forum you first must pass the "getting in the front door" test, the criteria for which is to be a dues paying, card carrying loyal Bush Republican.

The Constitution guarantees us the right to peacefully assemble and petition our government for a redress of grievances, but with "safety and security" at stake, God help you if you wear the wrong T-shirt or dare to ask a legitimate question (the answer to which has not already been cleared by Karl Rove and written on a 3 x 5 index card), for you may find yourself in handcuffs and being "detained". Even doing your homework for a high school Civics class can warrant a visit from the Secret Service operating on a "tip" from your friendly local Wal-Mart employee/spy who surely knows a "safety and security" risk when he sees it! Civics Student...or Enemy of America?

I do not know about you, but I am feeling far from safe, and sad to say, it is this administration which I fear the most.

Susan B. Goodwin

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Our Short List

Things To Investigate: Short List


  1. George H.W. Bush's involvement in Iran Contra. His role in the October Surprise.

  2. George W. Bush's insider selling of Harken Energy stock after he had been sent a memo that the company was in trouble. He did not report the sale for 8 months.

  3. The 2000 election including the activities of Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris and the interference of the Supreme Court which overrode states rights and the Constitution.

  4. George W. Bush's illegal diversion of 700 million dollars allocated by Congress to be used in Afghanistan, to build up military for Iraq.

  5. Bush administration's use of intelligence to start war in Iraq. Let us compare original intelligence with their use. Examine the evidence of Downing Street memo.

  6. Connections of corporate campaign funding and the disemboweling of our environmental laws and favorable rates to corporations for the use of federally held land, minerals and timber and water resources.

  7. The corruption of the FDA to allow unsafe or questionable products to be marketed.

  8. The illegal innoculations of our military with untested drugs.

  9. The illegal use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs and napalm in the War on Terror.

  10. The violation of our treaties in invading Iraq and the war crimes of torture, destruction of water, medical energy and media resources in that country. The illegal altering of Iraq's laws and constitution and the takeover of Iraq's agriculture, banks, and energy resources.

  11. A criminal investigation of 9/11 done by a panel of experts outside of any political influence.

  12. An investigation of who in government has financially benefited from war and the above violations of the law.

  13. Fraud in the 2004 elections.

Sue Dyer and Jim Brett

Monday, October 17, 2005

Epidemic of Lies


We have been tracking this story for years. It may be the gravest assault on Individual Liberty yet organized. It's not all about profits; it's also about salvaging a psychiatric industry that has exposed its threadbare theoretical base; it's about misplaced trust; it's also about violence in the family, neighborhoods, and schools. And, yes, it has something to do with mental illness, but less than you are being led to believe ... when you are allowed to hear about this at all, that is!


Please read:

1. Bush Plans to Screen US for Mental Illness

2. USDHHS SAMHSA Transforming Mental Health Care in America

3. Anatomy of an Epidemic

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Casualties

We strongly recommend this article published in TomDispatch by Nick Turse.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Double Meat


We would like to direct your attention to this short video.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Politics As Usual


Clearly the average politician, whether conservative or liberal or somewhere waffling around in the middle, wants to have a hand in crafting what he or she believes is the best possible solution for Americans. They want to help to create the future and after they have done it once or twice it becomes intoxicating and they want to do it more. Solutions to some problems are relatively easy to think about, but others are persistently intractable and are the real source of political double-talk.


Liberals, for instance, have trouble with national defense because they have no natural ideological affinity with the military-industrial complex and generally believe in the international equivalent of the Rule of Law—collective security, hence they are intrinsically war avoiders for ideological and ethical reasons.


When it comes to talking with the electorate almost every politician feels more comfortable saying what he or she thinks the people want to hear and often that is jobs, health care, pensions, quality of life, and homely issues that most politicians realize are not especially complex until you add up the per individual cost for a population of three hundred million persons, which individuals rarely do.


There is an inherent problem in this kind of politics, of course. How is the politician to know in advance of saying anything what the people are thinking about complex subjects. Do they actually go out to the hustings, the trenches of life and work, and actually listen? Or, do they listen to opinion leaders in the localities, or do they read, listen to, and watch the big-time media? Yes. They do all of that!


Good politicians know how to get the pulse of the area they are seeking to represent. They can go down to the ghettos and slums and observe and even listen to the impoverished speak about the lack of jobs for them. They can go uptown and listen to stories about how no one acceptable applies for the low-paying, low-expectations, low-preparation jobs. They can listen to local newscasters, clergy, police, health officials; they can listen to whomever they please, but do they reflect everything they hear in what they say?


Of course not. How could they? What they hear is a garble of conflicting ideas and half-baked notions, a rant of uninformed opinion, an occasional point well made but perhaps inconsistent with other points also well made, a thrum of appetite and ignorance spiced with immaturity, need, want, and all the daily biles and humors of human life on this planet.


Politicians need to hear the movers and shakers of society, for it is among and through these men and women that change is possible or not. Real content for political consideration is gleaned from these active forces in society; accordingly, they have a disproportionate voice in the chorus of democracy, because they are productive while others are not. The key is to understand that this is so and take advantage of it when you speak. If you talk like an opinion leader, they will listen.


Earlier this week we featured Barack Obama of Illinois, a key speaker at the most recent Democratic National Convention in 2004, and darling of many liberal and moderate Democrats. Does Obama represent liberal thought? Is he correct in saying that there is not just "one way" for liberalism? Or should we be more disciplined and define our goals and ideals more vividly and with greater precision? Is Obama's way likely to bring more into the liberal fold, or is it more likely to just add to the endemic dissention?


It is very frustrating for liberals to see themselves in apparent disarray and contesting among ourselves while the opposition sits smugly on their hymnal contract on America. We seem to look indecisive while they look like a drill team of precision and virtue. But, of course, these appearances are wrong, very wrong.


The conservatives are currently trembling in their shoes over the possibility that Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby will be indicted and forced from the West Wing, that Dick Cheney will be named as an unindicted co-conspirator and his effectiveness will evaporate like the morning mists, that Senate Majority Leader Frist will soon occupy the Martha Steward suite in West Virginia prison for insider trading, that the unequivocally vicious Tom DeLay will be convicted and removed from society altogether. Why are they trembling? It is because a highly disciplined organization like theirs soon loses its ability to think for itself and to respond to rapidly changing circumstances! Bush will be lost without Rove and Cheney, and he knows it.


Part of our liberal frustration is in the seemingly irrational way we select people to run for office. There are probably a dozen Democrats waiting in the wings for a substantial nod from someone with money to begin their trek to the nomination for president. Yet, their chances are slim and none when the press has nothing else to do but ask them for concrete answers to thorny questions during the time they are out in the hustings listening and formulating their campaign positions. The press plays this game deftly with malice aforethought and corporate pleasure.


We liberals tend to forget how raw and unsophisticated the process of selection and of position taking can be. Josh Lyman may have his polls, and know to within a few percentage points what those polled have said on a given day, but it really comes down to the people and what they think on election day. It also comes down to the thousands of grass-roots meetings of candidates with people that take place starting now.


Understand that now is the time that all candidates for seats in the House of Representatives are tuning up their campaigns; remember that one third of the Senate is up for re-election, too. The rest of our politicians are stoking the fires burning the directions they want them to burn, the way they see the people asking them to. They are all out to capture money to fund polls, to ease the intelligence gathering in the trenches, and to pay for all those media ads and the campaign professionals who get a significant cut of all those ads.


You cannot hope to be heard if you are not at least active enough to get out of the house to meet your candidates. You owe them your opinions and your facts. They really do want to hear from you. They need to feel that touch with their constituents. Give them a story to use. Understand the process and use it! The smaller you are, at this point and for a few more months, the more important is your voice. Politicians want to hear you! Write a letter. Speak!


James R. Brett

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Penguins and the Politics of Denial

We strongly urge you to read this keynote speech by Bill Moyers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Prophetic Words

On April 20, 1795, James Madison wrote,


Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

In war, too, the discretionary power of the President is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both.

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.


How prophetic Madison was two hundred years ago, and how clearly his words outline what, we today, are experiencing under this administration. Yes, we have engaged in warfare throughout our nation's brief history, and yes we have been victorious. And nearly always having been victorious has given us a certain arrogance. Some would say we have a right to that arrogance, others would say we do not. I believe that Madison felt the former might be the case and took pains to outline the pitfalls when war and power march hand in hand by design, and not from the necessity of survival.

In the last two hundred and ten years we have survived a second war (1812) with our Mother Country, a Civil upheaval which threatened our very existence as one country, and two World Wars. Never have we been an aggressor towards another foreign nation, and those wars in which we engaged, on foreign soil, were thrust upon us.

In 1917, when he spoke before a joint session of Congress and sought a Declaration of War against Germany, President Woodrow Wilson said, "It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance." Truly it was a most savage war, but one which we did not initiate, and one which our leader was loathe to rush headlong into.

More prophetic lines were uttered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when in his first Inaugural address he said, "...This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory." It was this man's leadership which took us successfully through a second Great War. Again a war in which we were not the aggressors.

Today, I see in my country those things about which Madison warned. We have almost unbridled power in the hands of but a few, an administration which fears the truth, fears public discourse, which seeks to dominate by RULE of fear and one which has sold us into never ending debt. We are in a war which is profitable to those who are in the top echelon of business, receive monies gleaned from the backs of those least able to pay (and will be paying for generations to come) in order to support a war, in which we have been the aggressor, and seemingly will continue to be in a never ending war scenario painted by PNAC and the current administration.

I cannot believe that there has not been a hew and cry sent up from the citizens of this country which truly, by now, must see this administration as morally bankrupt despite the protestations to the contrary. Is no one else sick of being told they are unpatriotic if they do not support this President and all his henchmen in their nefarious escapades? Is no one else sick of seeing one of our fellow citizens handcuffed and removed from an otherwise public forum for daring to speak out and demand answers? Is no one else sick of being told that if you do not believe in their interpretation of God that you are godless?

We have seen how cronyism in this administration has managed to put the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens at risk, (Brown/FEMA & New Orleans) and we have seen how the manipulation of fear (Baby strollers blowing up the NYC transit system) has allowed us to send our young people to die for this administration's agenda of greed (Halliburton & Oil), hardly compassionate no matter which way you care to slice it.

Never before, in our history, have we been so scorned for the actions of our leader. Never before in our history have we been thought less of, where the American Dream has somehow turned into a nightmare from which there is to be no awaking soon.

It seems that we have allowed Madison's words to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Susan B. Goodwin

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Theocracy Now!

We strongly recommend this website for your study: http://www.theocracywatch.org/taking_over.htm

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thoughts of Barack Obama

We strongly recommend this essay, Tone, Truth, and the Democratic Party and this graduation speech by Barack Obama.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Intimidation

We recommend this article to you.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

American Democracy in Trouble

We strongly recommend this October 5, 2005, speech by Al Gore to you.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Corruption


If you look again at the five principles that undergird American Liberalism—"Individual Liberty, Humanity, Progress, Ethics, and the Rule of Law"—you see that Humanity is central to our concerns. Liberals are always focused on the effects all parts of government and civil life have on human beings, from the unintended consequences of industrialization to the direct consequences of taxation. Our eternal focus on Humanity as the central premise of our thinking should not be understood as separate from or independent of the other principles, however.


The principles are positive statements of attitudes and ideals. We promote Individual Liberty as if it were first announced yesterday. It is important to emphasize Individual Liberty because it is the foundation for individual responsibility. Think of the problem of yelling "Fire!" in a theater. You have the individual liberty to do so, but there had damn well be a real fire, otherwise you have taken on yourself the responsibility for panic, fear, injury, and perhaps death of your fellow human beings.


We promote the idea of Progress, not because we are all "Progressives," but because we are convinced in our hearts and minds, emotionally and rationally, that human beings in civilized organizations can defeat entropy and, in fact, reverse it. We believe that we can, if we try hard enough and are circumspect and do not develop hubris, improve things generally, and specifically for humanity and for individuals.


We promote Ethics because we believe that Ethics are essential to governance and citizenship, but moreover, we promote Ethics independent of particular sources of ethical teachings, because we believe in a separation of church and state. We draw on our general heritage of ethical philosophy and ethical behaviors, and we understand that heritage to be a summation of wisdom over the ages, interpreted anew, daily, under our new circumstances. Nevertheless, we understand humanity to be frail and subject to hubris, so our ultimate trust is put in the rule of law.


We believe in a Rule of Law because we do not believe in a rule of individuals. When we divorced ourselves from Great Britain in 1776 we took with us our long tradition of Common and English Law dating back to Magna Carta and forward through centuries of Parliamentary legislation. At the same time we disassociated ourselves from kings and nobility, from sources of authority based on privilege and accident.


We stand today in the midst of corruption in government the likes of which have not been seen at the national level in perhaps a century. The corruption is epidemic and tracable to a philosophy of government held by contemporary Republicans that does not contain the principles of American Liberalism. It contains their negation.


At mid-twentieth century there were many Republican Liberals. The ideas expressed by the five principles were held by most respectable men and women in and out of government. By 1950, a leading writer could say,

"In the United States at this time, liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition... there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in circulation, [merely] irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas." Wikipedia

Trilling's "Liberal Consensus" lost its way, however, and it lost its way by being faithless to its own principles—all of them.


Republicans eventually turned away from Liberalism for this reason. They were left without principles, of course because Conservatism is empty. It is the cathedral of incarnate fear. It is the opposite of a philosophy, but it has been able to assemble a group of "complaints" against hubristic liberals and weld it into a political program.


Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush each represent a stage of development of this program. The program attacks Individual Liberty because of the excesses of Liberals during the 1960's, perceived excesses all the more. The ensuing drug culture and welfare-queen stories proved to these new conservatives that Individual Liberty was dangerous.


They railed at the welfare system and decried the abuses of it. They decided that the principle of Humanity was dangerous and expensive. They forgot the poor and disadvantaged, but more, they actively worked the fears of one group against other groups. They played the racism card, at first cautiously, but then with a vengeance.


They complained about regulations and all the regulatory agencies that were created in the full flush of Progressive legislation, the intent of which was to protect Americans from thoughless and heedless actions by those pursuing profits. They created a bond with those wealthy corporations that were being regulated and enjoyed the red carpet treatment that being in league with money can provide. They learned to love money more than liberty.


They exchanged an active participation in Ethics for a noisey affiliation with religious dogma, stating that they had returned to first principles, but they did not behave that way. No, they behaved as dirty-tricksters, felons, thugs, and were caught red-handed time and time again. Today we are seeing the latest batch: Rove, Frist, DeLay, Libby, and their henchmen and dupes. They care not for ethics of any kind; they just hate Democrats, yes, hate, even though they are vocally Christian!


They even decided to dispense with the idea of a Rule of Law. Orwellian language began to infiltrate the pronouncements of Republicans. They turned words on their heads to confuse, to humiliate, to be comical, to be destructive. They turned agencies created to regulate commerce against the people and for the commercial interests. They perverted the meaning of treaties and solemn international agreements. They performed torture against human beings, denied the scientific evidence of global warming, lied about the justification for war, and have not finished lying yet. They employ cronies and believe that personal connections are more important than merit.


The federal government of George W. Bush is corrupt. It is the most corrupt government this nation has ever endured. His allies on the Hill are corrupt, his friends in the press are corrupt, his constituents in their racist and sexist and self-righteous attitudes are corrupt, and there is only one cure for it all.


Men and women of principle, of conscience, and of humility must realize that the government must be changed. We should do this according to the laws of the land. We must impeach those who have commited high crimes, treason, and misdemeanors, and defeat at the polls those whose actions and inactions have contributed to this awful mess. Now is the time to decide, the time to volunteer, the time to contribute to your party and candidates.


James Richard Brett

Thursday, October 06, 2005

An Open Essay

Last week The New York Times began hiding their liberal columnists under the cover of a new commercial venture they call "Times Select." Horsefeathers! What makes these voices any more important or expensive to publish than the voices of reporters and editors throughout the paper? Nothing, obviously. It is simply a misguided way of gauging liberal sentiment through a "market mechanism." Will we, the hungering public, put in our nickel for a talking head?

Editors and Publisher of the Times, the best time to correct a mistake is before it causes any serious damage. The damage is to yourselves, of course. I can assure you that the liberal world and its critics will live quite well without the voices that have been allowed to write from your hallowed pages and websites over the past few years.

The fact is, there is so much to read these days, every day, week after week, that only a Herculean effort makes a dent in it all. To sequester your stable of liberal pundits only removes them from our daily struggle to review the news and opinion. The result is that most of us will scan the NYT for news and skip faster through your Ed and OpEd pages. You lose influence. Figure it out! Duh!

What was that? Of course you need to make a profit, and yes, I am too cheap to subscribe to something that has been free for a decade! Wake up, Times! You don't get to be (or remain) the newspaper of record by being continuously stupid.

Post Script:

Oh, and to clear up the current pronunciation issue emanating from the White House, the correct pronunciation of Harriet Miers is: HAA-ree-et CROW-knee.

James Richard Brett

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Great Divide

Last week I wrote about New Orleans and the fact that most of those areas, which were most devastatingly hit by Katrina, had been home to that city's poorest residents. They have absolutely nothing to return to, and in some eyes they need NOT ever return. Many feel no desire to return.

I was taken to task, for rightly saying, this was a race issue. I had no need to try and make it anything but what it truly is, a racial divide which some choose to ignore or pray fervently will disappear. Not since the days immediately following the Civil War have there been so many displaced persons, and not since that time has it been so glaringly obvious that for all the reconstruction plans, the fighting for Civil Rights, has so little really been done or accomplished.

We, as a nation have deliberately turned a blind eye to those among us who are the poor. It is the ultimate negative about the American Dream. It is the underbelly of our society that we try not to see. If you are white and poor then there is much tsk tsking done and excuses made. But if you are black and poor well then you are somehow less of a human being or a citizen. Never mind that poverty, across the board has risen, by 12 per cent, under the Bush administration, even those who were employed made barely enough to squeak by and now even their jobs have been destroyed, not by some foreign terrorist but by a storm of such magnitude that we were forced to look squarely at this poverty and suffering.

A man, who day after day went out on an oyster boat to gather the harvest of much sought after Gulf oysters, made, on a good day, perhaps a hundred dollars, other than that he was paid $2.00 a sack, his "pay" for swabbing down the boat. His monthly income was approximately $2,000. This was just enough to allow him, his wife and 3 children to survive in a trailer home but hardly enough to buy flood insurance. Not only is everything he worked for gone, his source of income has vanished as well. No more boat, no more oyster beds. In his early 40's, he is faced with starting over, but with what? No basic education, no skills, no savings and certainly nothing to return to. Not a man on the "dole" but a working American, trying to support his family.

He is not alone, this Gulf Oyster fisherman, many others in this shelter also made a living the same way. Barely able to scrape by, trying desperately to provide for a family in a dead end occupation with no hope of advancement or monetary improvement. And, despite what my critic would say, most are poor, uneducated and African American. This is a fact of life, not something that needs to HAVE a racial spin put on it. Surely this is not to say that there are not whites suffering for the same lack of education, employment or poverty, but when you take a city whose population was 68% black, I am sure you can do the math.

Charles Nelson of the US Census Bureau in Washington was presenting the latest report, on income and poverty in this country, at the same time the levees, in New Orleans, were being breached by Katrina. This report served to show devastation without the aid of outside natural forces. Poverty has been growing steadily in the last 4 years by 1.1 million people, with now a full 37 million of us living in poverty. Under the Clinton administration the official number of poor had steadily decreased. Under the Bush administration it has grown 12 per cent. So much for Compassionate Conservatism.

The US Census Data Report, which usually gets no press, and is largely ignored, has forced us to take a horrifying look at how we, as a nation, have regarded our poor. And it is not just in the south but in cities like Detroit and even Washington, DC, where the infant mortality rate is higher than Cuba's, and a full one third of the population live below the poverty line. Still, it is in the South that the most worrisome numbers prevail. Both Mississippi and Louisiana are two of this nation's poorest states, and the two most heavily damaged by Katrina, and in New Orleans, where two thirds of the population
were African American, twenty three percent of her residents lived hand to mouth. Is it any wonder then that what unfolded, in front of our eyes, was a lawlessness, and anarchy if you will? New Orleans, after Katrina's departure was referred to by Yale Professor Jim Sleeper, as "Baghdad on the Mississippi" and erstwhile New York Times editorialist, Frank Rich, likened it to the Titanic where the first class passengers were the only ones guaranteed safe passage off the sinking vessel, while below decks it was every man for himself.

And now we have the aftermath. People who had nothing to begin with having to find a way to start rebuilding their lives. Some will move to other states, perhaps stay in the one to which they were evacuated. Mayor Nagin will continue to pontificate about not wanting those people back into his city. The wealthiest residents will get to have a meeting, with Mayor Nagin, to talk about rebuilding New Orleans and changing the structure of the city, demographically, geographically and even perhaps politically, while helicopters deposit security forces in Audubon Park in order to protect their properties. Ahhh...the TRUE meaning of Homeland Security!
Susan B. Goodwin

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Real Threat of Fascism

We recommend strongly that you read this article by Paul Bigioni published in CommonDreams.

Monday, October 03, 2005

An Open Letter to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz

Dear King Abdullah,

Please excuse the lack of formality. We are just so democratic over here, still, that it never occurs to us to say "your royal highness" or "your emminence" or "your whatever."

Please also accept our congratulations on your new job as King. Sorry, I was not able to attend the festivities back in August (... was it). The world is happy for you, we think, with some bitterness here and there left over from your Crown Prince days, of course, but, you know, that's life in the big desert.

We understand that you have been in charge of the Saudi National Guard since 1962. The single message of this letter is that it's a good thing you know something about militias, insurgents, and the like, for this is your notice, sir, that we believe 43 years is long enough to prepare yourself for what is about to happen.

Best estimates these days, and our data could be off by a percent or two, Saudi Arabia provides 9% of the petroleum consumed by my country, the United States of America. All told, I think, we get about a third of our petroleum from OPEC nations, of which yours is the most notable and clearly among the most vulnerable. We may have to dispense with that 9%!

This letter has to do with our presence on the Arabian Peninsula lo these past two and a half years! Of course you know from your hand-to-hand comraderie with our Presidents Bush (41 & 43) that U.S. troops are there in Arabie only partly for the reason of capturing WMD and destroying them. It turns out there were none, so booting out that awful man Saddam Hussein was an alternative goal and squelching his contacts with al Qaeda operatives a happy bi-product of that operation. (Yes, I know, we are still looking for them.) You see we like to have nesting goals, sort of like those crazy Russian dolls, inside dolls, inside dolls, etc. (You get the point, I am sure.)

George Bush announced these goals, chatted with you a while before we attacked, and since then we have done our best to keep out of your hair. But, all is not going well, you know, Abdullah. The American people are restive and, although they are capable of unbelievable flights of fancy and carnival-like gullibility, they are catching on.

You probably know that Vice President Dick Cheney held a secret conference to discuss energy for our country back in 2001 or so. It's no secret that U.S. petroleum interests were present and voting and that they told George and Dick that you and your country, sir, had to be protected from the unhappy Wahabists in your extensive unpropertied classes. That's the real reason we are there, as you know. The alternative was that nine or so percent of our petroleum imports AND the petro-assets of Iraq might easily become unavailable to our SUV drivers and even me, who drives an economical (relatively) low problem, high tech Japanese nameplate, built-in-Kentucky sedan.

Well now, sir, it is time for you to protect yourself. We believe that the price of petroleum has gone high enough as we approach 2,000 dead American soldiers, 13,000 wounded, and literally untold scores of thousands of Iraqis, soldier and citizen alike. Yes, the cost is too high, the pretext of our presence there way too thin, and your countryman Bin Laden has not relented one bit. We are thinking that if we just up and decamp next year, maybe he will lay off our buildings, bridges, and nuclear generating plants. (If not, then I think we will ask your friend Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan to get of the pot.)

America has its interests around the world; there's no doubt about that, King. Your petroleum assets are interesting to us, of course, especially as long as we continue to live in our dream world of energy consumption. But, as I have already said, the price is not right and the internal contradictions are just too rancorous ... remember we have an election coming in in just over a year ... for us to continue in this pretend war for democracy, while actually we are there as a bulwark for one of the least democratic regimes anywhere on the planet is just too much. We believe that if there are to be resources wars on planet Earth, then they should be labeled that way right up front, so the people who die in them know why they are dying, even if they don't have a chance to vote on the idea or buy stock in the corporations that we are protecting.

Sorry, Abdullah, we are sure you can hold up for a while under the strain. We recommend that you hire our really wonderful Halliburton people to build your ground infrastructure and maybe the battle-toughened Blackwater people to train your elite guards. The Pfizer and Fox folks should attend to your medical needs and public relations, respectively. Perhaps if you start paying all these companies directly we can get them off our payroll and can rebuild some levees on our lovely Gulf Coast riviera.

Sincerely,

James Richard Brett

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