liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Now This Is News

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read this:
Lawmakers acknowledge that the bill is more limited in its scope and impact than the provisions promised by congressional leaders immediately after Abramoff's guilty plea to federal charges of bribery, conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud nearly four months ago. But they say they do not feel compelled to push more stringent measures partly because voters do not appear to be demanding them. "We're all being rushed into a bill," said Rep. David L. Hobson (R-Ohio). "We panicked, and we let the media get us panicked."

Anthony Romero and the ACLU

Last night, Wednesday, I brought my ESL students to a special program at the college. It was an assembly featuring a lecture by Anthony Romero, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Of course, it's the end of the semester and everybody's exhausted, probably even including Romero. I would have brought my students to the assembly no matter who was speaking--even if the speaker were the Manager of the local McDonald's.

Romero started off talking about his own humble beginnings as the son of a waiter. Neither of his parents spoke English nor had they even gone to high school. Anthony was the first member of his family to ever attend college. This scored highly on the bona fides register with my students.

Romero focused on the importance of citizen involvement, engagement, and activism at the local level for the preservation of our democracy. He talked a little bit about the history of the ACLU, including the Koramazu case, as well as some other civil rights cases, eventually leading up to Hamdi.

Then he launched into twenty-minutes of very measured but damning criticism of the Bush administration and the post-9/11 "War on Terror." (Interestingly, Romero did not challenge the authenticity of the War on Terror. He used the term throughout his address to refer to the Bush Administration's current anti-terrorism policy). At one point, Romero even said, "We want the Bush Administration to fight the War On Terror, we just insist that they do it within the law, respecting our democratic legal procedures."

His criticism was limited to the prisoner abuses in the Padilla and other cases, particularly in denying hearings and trials before judges for the Guantanamo detainees. He also attacked the detentions and abuse at Abu Ghraib as being further indications of the lawless arrogance of the Bush Administration's policies in fighting the War on Terror.

Then he turned to the NSA eavesdropping situation, and his criticism escalated, not only toward the Bush Administration and Alberto Gonzales, but toward Congress, too. Romero was angry that the Bush Administration felt they could conduct warrantless wiretapping on Americans without going to Congress, or even the FISA courts, for approval.

Romero said that in the sixties, the radicals and protesters wanted to put an end to one particular police authority abuse: the "say so" bust. This is when, he said, the police grabbed a protester, a hippie, an immigrant, a negro, or anyone else they didn't like and dragged them into jail. When the victim then asked why he was being detained, the police could answer, "Because I say so." This, to Romero, is the poison seed that will spread and choke off all freedom, civil liberties, and democratic respect for law if not rooted out and crushed.

His complaint is that the NSA wiretapping program is the ultimate "say so" bust. The Administration put up no credible legal defense for it, other than "inherent powers."

But Romero stopped there. As sickened as he is by Congress, he did not join the call for Bush's impeachment. He insisted that the proper course of action is to find out the facts about the domestic wiretapping program before legislating for or against it.

This reflects his implicit support for the War on Terror. He said he didn't want any domestic wiretapping, but it would be slightly palatable if Congress and the FISA court were monitoring and approving the operations.

Romero also said that the 9/11 Commission Report was credible because of the bipartisan composition of the Board. He felt that the Commission's recommendations should be implemented. He didn't say anything about Bush not testifying under oath.

All in all, it was an inspiring and provocative presentation. My students got into it and even asked a couple of questions in the Q&A at the end. We saw that the ACLU is not a reckless or incautious, radical organization. It is a well-founded, principled and democratic institution. In the end, Romero reminded the students that the ACLU can't protect our rights without real democracy, and real democracy depends on ordinary people getting involved in the political process and making their voices heard.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

this saturday, get out and do something

Dear International Herald Tribune,

There is no, "Iraq War."

Just like the so-called, "Global War On Terror," the United States of America's war machine, funded by an annual budget of $500 billion, has created a conflict where none existed.

The oil companies, security contractors, weapons makers and defense industry war profiteers are raking in profits while the American people go bankrupt.

We go bankrupt, not just economically--borrowing trillions to fund a war without sacrifice at home--but morally. We are no longer guardians of freedom and justice. The world now knows--and we can no longer hide from our own disinformed citizens--that we are aggressors seeking to dominate commerce and natural resources through military preeminence, out of greed and fear.

Have you seen the hospitalized, wounded, maimed and murdered women, children, and men of Iraq? Have you seen the pervasive poverty in Afghanistan?

How can a destructive juggernaut, no matter how expensive, ever bring about peace, renewal, prosperity and democracy?

It can't. And all our ignorance about our country's use of force will never change that. But our blindness will mean the electricity goes out, the torture continues, the levelling of cities and fouling of water supplies go on.

They go on and they will soon visit our shores. For we are a people who have forgotten that character is fate, and as we sow, so shall we reap.

March on April 29th, for God's sake.


Liberal Elite

Monday, April 24, 2006

Republican 2008 Strategy

Since they're going to lose the House and Senate this fall, the Republicans are going to pull a lollapalooza in 2008 in a desperate attempt to hold on to the White House.

They're going to run Hillary and Joe Lieberman.

Republican 2008 Strategy

Since they're going to lose the House and Senate this fall, the Republicans are going to pull a lollapalooza in 2008 in a desperate attempt to hold on to the White House.

They're going to run Hillary and Joe Lieberman.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The groundswell begins

West Point Grads Against the War

"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificually induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951
Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac....

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
– George Orwell

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Somebody asked me to tell them about my religion. This is what I told them.

"What Is Your Religion?" Does everyone have their own, then? Maybe--in the sense that we all have a different idea of "blue" or "apple." My idea of God is unique from everyone else's.

However, Wikipedia has a lot of interesting things to say about what the definition of religion is, but it seems to be essentially a social thing: beliefs are personal but religion is public, social.

That being said, I'm a Christian. The simplest explanation is often the best. It makes perfect sense to me, now anyway, that our Creator became a man to speak, act and teach us to love.

Anyway, my experience is that Jesus thus conveyed to humanity an immortal, grace-ful spirit that is, in fact, essentially vital and authentic. But even though I believe in Jesus's words, that doesn't necessarily translate into one or another "religion" as its practiced by other people.

Jesus gives his spirit directly to the believer who then is nurtured by the church. But the church is the creation of Jesus Christ, not Christ the creation of the church. The church exists because Christ exists, and in the end, Christ says God above all, God Almighty, is the true goal of Christianity.

The church, where "religion" is found, is sort of an imperfect work-in-progress, like a human being.

So the challenge, I find is sharing my faith with others, and persevering in the life of faith. The world is somewhat dismissive-- and occasionally hostile-- to people who believe in God. On the other hand, believers are constantly having to ward off and shed worldly imperfections such as fear, anger, lust, envy, and all the things that steer us into a world-focused crash landing, not an uplifting movement to God above.

But that's me. There's not an imperfection I'm free of, to my knowledge. But instead of crawling off to cry myself to death in a dark lonely corner, because Christ abides with me I know God.

"Preposterous!" scoff my critics. "You can't say you know God!"

But I know Jesus, and God is in Him. He said, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me."--John 14:11.

I'm just explaining my religion this way because that's how I can tell you what I know. My experience is that when you take him at his word, Jesus is telling the truth when he says that God is in Him, and whoever has seen him will see God. It works. I don't know about other religions, really.

But religion is useful as a way of getting to God, so Christ fills the need. It's because God's love for all of us is so great, and his grace and glory are so spectacular and abundant.

In the end, it looks like God is doing everything. What we need to do is avoid sabatoging his workings in our lives.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

How to Clean Up A Big Mess

The Defense Budget is consuming the economy. The corporate world is in bed with the weapons people. Money, energy, technology, force: it's all getting organized under the menacing auspices of the DOD.

They aren't going to slow down, or even run out of gas until they have consumed the lives, the minds, the energy and the wealth and resources of our society and the world.

It's the nature of power systems to exploit and consolidate resources, making them their own while expanding more and more as they gain more power.

The US is an inch away from being a military state, not a democracy. It's a mess because our resources and productivity are so intertwined with military institutions and systems.

The solution is to swamp our military's organizational power in one fell swoop-- a la Katrina. We need to pull a Hercules cleans the Augean stables. As we know, our government is great at bombing stuff, but we don't do clean-ups.

By the time the Pentagon had a chance to reorganize, the people of North America would have had ample time to restructure our society on a non military dominated basis. We could have something more like a cooperative society, or an environmentally sustainable society instead.

It's gotten to the point where the raison d'etre of the civilization here is to project military power, rather than vice verse.

Plus, there's a precedent for this model: when the Ents flooded Isengard.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

massive resistance

From After Downing Street

The last six and one half years--heck, twenty-six and one half years--have taught us that no matter how inert and telefixated we are on spam-speak modern mass media, we can change things if we want to.

Get off our asses, get out from in front of the screen and out into the public space.

If we can't convince Congress to stop blowing money on war and weapons, then we have to shut down the Pentagon with peaceful disobedience.

Afghanistan is a smoldering brushfire and our "leaders" want to attack Iran.

They will not stop until they have destroyed everything: our economy, our society, our environment, our world.

As hard as it is going to be for us, we are going to have to stop and drop everything, and go and save democracy. The war machine has to be unplugged first, or it will consume everything that is good in America. I believe it will require peaceful, passive resistance and civil disobedience on a massive scale.

To those who are given much, much will be required. We need to walk away from our orderly lives, our plans and our preconceptions, because this project is bigger than anything we ever imagined and we don't know what we will have to give to get peace, maybe everything.

It's time to stop waiting and start acting for peace.

From Daily Kos

Karen Kwiatkowski has been an outspoken critic of Rumsfeld and the neocons' war policies since before the invasion of Iraq.

She writes a column for the web, called, "Without Reservation"  It's worth a read.

Anybody who hates war and waste and loves progress wants to see the Bush Administration, especially Rumsfeld and the neocons in the Pentagon, get thrown out on their faces in disgrace and failure.

But it's really a matter of kill or be killed, for us.  As Paul Krugman explains in his book, The Great Unraveling,

I don't know where the right's agenda stops, but I have learned never to assume that it can be appeased through limited concessions.

   --Krugman, Paul, The Great Unraveling,Norton, New York, 2005, p. 19

Krugman goes on to quote the step-father of neoconservatism, Henry Kissinger, who said,

It is the essence of a revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.

Like a real soldier, Kwiatkowski hasn't run from the front lines in the war for America's soul.  She speaks out.

Torture destroys the torturer. Torture weakens the societies and the governments that practice it. And for all that, torture is generally not effective for the purpose it portends.

But driving tubes into the noses of stubborn resisters of some government's will is not the only worrisome form of force feeding.

Centralized states, like the one managed from Washington, D.C., practice force feeding on a much grander scale. We the people, have been force-fed fantastic suggestions of fear and threat. We have had "preemptive strike," and the "need" for war against distant countries jammed down our throats.

But what is so righteous about Kwiatkowski's intellect is that she takes everything a step further.  Her knowledge of the Bush Pentagon and the American War Machine and the Republican leadership requires her to go a step further in defense of America.

She says she went to Capitol Hill recently, where she was assured that we would be acting militarily against Iran soon.

Gary Hart told the Marjority Report on Air America tonight that he doesn't think any conflict with Iran is possible, because our military is too depleted.

Kwiatkowski concludes her piece, Force Feeding, by saying this:  

Americans have for now lost our appetite for war. The predictable response of the Bush Administration is to insist that the force feedings must continue.

The U.S. government says that "force-feeding [at Guantanamo] was designed to improve the prisoner's health." Whether we are praying and waiting in an isolated steel cage in Cuba for freedom and justice or praying and waiting with loved ones in our living rooms for some sign of humility and morality from Washington, we know better.

If America isn't America anymore, I guess we have to change with the times, too.