Archives: December 2004
Wed Dec 29, 2004
Year of Surrendering Quietly
I came across this article recently. It discusses the facts of Kerry's political career and reminds the reader of what Clinton really stood for. It reminded me of what a sucker I am. I would have voted for Kerry anyway, but it's important to remember how we voters are easily manipulated.
It's a bit long. Print it and read it over coffee or something. More...
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Wed Dec 22, 2004
Cindy Sheehan - Whose Son Died in Iraq - Responds to Time Magazine's Choice for "Man of the Year"
Cindy Sheehan - Whose Son Died in Iraq - Responds to Time Magazine's Choice for "Man of the Year"
by Cindy Sheehan
Dear Time Editors:
My son, Spc. Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. This has been an extraordinary couple of weeks of "slaps in the faces" to us families of fallen heroes.
First, the Secretary of Defense—Donald Rumsfeld—admits to the world something that we as military families already know: The United States was not prepared for nor had any plan for the assault on Iraq. Our children were sent to fight an ill-conceived and badly prosecuted war. Our troops were sent with the wrong type of training, bad equipment, inferior protection and thin supply lines. Our children have been killed and we have made the ultimate sacrifice for this fiasco of a war, then we find out this week that Rumsfeld doesn't even have the courtesy or compassion to sign the "death letters"—as they are so callously called. Besides the upcoming holidays and the fact we miss our children desperately, what else can go wrong this holiday season?
Well let's see. Oh yes. George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to three more architects of the quagmire that is Iraq. Thousands of people are dead and Bremer, Tenet and Franks are given our country's highest civilian award. What's next?
To top everything off—after it has been proven that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, there were no ties between Saddam and 9/11 and over 1,300 brave young people in this country are dead and Iraq lies in ruins— what does Time Magazine do? Names George W. Bush as its "Man of the Year." The person who betrayed this country into a needless war and whom I hold ultimately responsible for my son's death and who was questionably elected, again, to a second term, is honored this way by your magazine.
I hope we finally find peace in our world and that our troops who remain in Iraq are brought home speedily—after all, there was no reason for our troops to be there in the first place. No reason for my son and over 1,300 others to have been taken from their families. No reason for the infrastructure of Iraq to be demolished and thousands of Iraqis being killed. No reason for the notion of a "happy" holiday to be robbed from my family forever. I hope that our "leaders" don't invade any other countries which pose no serious threat to the United States. I hope there is no draft. I hope that the five people mentioned here (and many others) will finally be held responsible for the horrible mistake they got our country into. I hope that competence is finally rewarded and incompetence is appropriately punished. These are my wishes for 2005.
This isn't the first time your magazine has selected a questionable man for this honor—but it's the first time it affected my family so personally and so sorrowfully.
Cindy Sheehan lives in California
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Mon Dec 20, 2004
Hey, wait a minute, I thought Jesus was for kickin' A-rab Ass!
Bush and His Cohorts Would be Wise to Implement Jesus Agenda
by Brett Hulsey
'Love your enemies. ... If someone strikes you on the right cheek, give them the other.' Are the Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib torture treatments consistent with this teaching?We are told to expect a Christian government just in time for Christmas, but what is the Jesus agenda? Methodist church school taught me that the Sermon on the Mount is the basic statement of Jesus' philosophy, in Matthew 5:1-28 and Luke 6:17-46 for those who want to read along.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth." We haven't seen much meekness in Washington lately, except from Democrats. The question is, "Will the Earth be worth inheriting after the oil companies and polluters trash it?" We have to work harder to protect our inheritance.
"Blessed are those who show mercy." We've not seen much mercy either, especially in the GOP attacks on amputee war heroes like Sen. Max Cleland, for being weak on terror.
"Blessed are the peacemakers." It's not clear how Iraq figures into this. Invading Iraq has killed some 1,300 Americans and 10,000 to 100,000 Iraqis so far. There's not much peace there.
"Do not store up for yourself treasures on Earth." This means we should repeal the tax cuts for the rich in order to fund vital programs.
"Love your enemies. ... If someone strikes you on the right cheek, give them the other." Are the Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib torture treatments consistent with this teaching? The Red Cross thinks not.
"Whoever marries a divorced person commits adultery." Studies show divorce rates higher in very Christian states like Mississippi, and lowest in Massachusetts, home of gay marriage. Christians should focus on staying married themselves, not worrying about gays.
"Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand in the churches and streets so they can be seen by others. ... Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray in secret." President Bush should not be praying at any more Cabinet meetings for the TV cameras.
"Don't worry about the speck in my eye until you take the log from your own." We have a lot of logs to take out of our eyes before worrying about others.
"Do to others as you would have them do to you." The golden rule is a universal religious value. The president has disrespected others on global warming, the world court, the nuclear terror treaty, and many other international agreements.
"Beware of false prophets, men who come to you dressed as sheep while underneath they are savage wolves. You will recognize them by the fruits they bear ... a good tree always yields good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit."
We have yet to see many good fruits from President Bush and his followers. They need to implement a real Jesus agenda, lest they be hypocrites, false prophets and wolves in sheep's clothing.
Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey reads the Bible and tries to implement its wisdom.
Copyright 2004 The Capital Times
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Sat Dec 18, 2004
My Family In Iraq
My Family in Iraq
Views on a Silenced Majority
by Stephan Smith
Since my return from this fall's busy touring schedule, I have been able to reach my family in Iraq regularly for the first time since the beginning of the war. One of the most important things we can do for them, and for the people of Iraq, is to counteract the unjust dehumanization of their entire nation of people, by giving voice to the silenced majority there who want peace. This silenced majority rarely makes it in the mainstream press because they are not killing people, and because they neither support the US occupation and its puppet interim government, nor the minority of reactionary extremists in their own country, who are on our front pages every day. And so, I've decided to begin a series of reports on what "ordinary" life is like in Iraq through interviews with my family and their friends.
I come from a large Sunni family originally from Nineveh, but now spread between Mosul and Baghdad, and I am grateful to report that all of my nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles are alive.
If you listen to Democracy Now!, you may have heard my Uncle Ghazi's voice the last time I did. My uncle Ghazi was Chief Electrical Engineer for the entire country until he retired in the nineties. The last time I heard his voice, it was crackling through a small bedside radio on the day the invasion began, when Amy Goodman interviewed him from his home. I shall never forget laying there, hearing Ghazi's unshakeable, dignified voice, when Amy asked him what he and his family planned to do, "Will you leave town, or...?", and he responded, "What can we do? We are expecting our first grandchild in the next two month we will gather the family and take them into the basement until the bombing stops." Arundhati Roy, also on line from India, burst out in tears thoroughly disturbed that Americans could hear such a testimony and not do everything possible to stop the war that would begin a mere three hours later. Still composed, Ghazi went on to say that he did not blame all Americans for the acts of their administration ... he understood how a people, any people, and in this case the Americans, can be systematically disinformed.
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My Case Against Pinochet
by Francisco Letelier
When I read that Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the 89-year-old former leader of Chile, had been placed under house arrest earlier this week and declared competent to stand trial for his many crimes, it was no abstract issue for me. This was a man, after all, who had a tremendous influence on my life, the man who robbed me of my father, who tore my family apart. More...
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Thu Dec 16, 2004
Fight consumerism at home
I recently found this on a, uh, website. Yeah, website. Anyway, it's recipies for approximating mcdonalds "food" at home. Pretty damn funny. It even tells you how to wrap them for proper "aging." Get 'em here More...
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Wed Dec 15, 2004
DU part 2
go on down and get a book on Depleted Uranium at Wal-Mart.
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Depleted Uranium, Phillip Berrigan
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Tue Dec 14, 2004
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Mon Dec 13, 2004
Thu Dec 09, 2004
Bill Moyers on the Environment
Read and then look at this site. Scary.
Published on Monday, December 6, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
On Receiving Harvard Medical School's Global Environment Citizen Award
by Bill Moyers
This week the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School presented its fourth annual Global Environment Citizen Award to Bill Moyers. In presenting the award, Meryl Streep, a member of the Center board, said, "Through resourceful, intrepid reportage and perceptive voices from the forward edge of the debate, Moyers has examined an environment under siege with the aim of engaging citizens." Here is the text of his response to Ms. Streep's presentation of the award:
I accept this award on behalf of all the people behind the camera whom you never see. And for all those scientists, advocates, activists, and just plain citizens whose stories we have covered in reporting on how environmental change affects our daily lives. We journalists are simply beachcombers on the shores of other people's knowledge, other people's experience, and other people's wisdom. We tell their stories.
The journalist who truly deserves this award is my friend, Bill McKibben. He enjoys the most conspicuous place in my own pantheon of journalistic heroes for his pioneer work in writing about the environment. His bestseller The End of Nature carried on where Rachel Carson's Silent Spring left off.
Writing in Mother Jones recently, Bill described how the problems we journalists routinely cover - conventional, manageable programs like budget shortfalls and pollution - may be about to convert to chaotic, unpredictable, unmanageable situations. The most unmanageable of all, he writes, could be the accelerating deterioration of the environment, creating perils with huge momentum like the greenhouse effect that is causing the melt of the arctic to release so much freshwater into the North Atlantic that even the Pentagon is growing alarmed that a weakening gulf stream could yield abrupt and overwhelming changes, the kind of changes that could radically alter civilizations.
That's one challenge we journalists face - how to tell such a story without coming across as Cassandras, without turning off the people we most want to understand what's happening, who must act on what they read and hear.
As difficult as it is, however, for journalists to fashion a readable narrative for complex issues without depressing our readers and viewers, there is an even harder challenge - to pierce the ideology that governs official policy today. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'
Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index. That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans. More...
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Mon Dec 06, 2004
Ah, the Hubris of Empire
"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men ... The government of Iraq , and the future of your country, will soon belong to you. ... We will end a brutal regime ... so that Iraqis can live in security.”
General F. S. Maude, commander of the British forces, to the people of Mesopotamia , 1917
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Fri Dec 03, 2004
Another good article on "What's the matter with Republicans"
The Civilians We Killed
by Michael Hoffman
The chaos of war should never be understated. On the way to Baghdad, I saw bodies by the road, many in civilian clothing. Every time a car got near my Humvee, everyone inside braced themselves, not knowing if gunfire would suddenly erupt out of it. When your enemy is unclear, everyone becomes your enemy.
I will not judge the marine who killed the wounded Iraqi. I do not know what was going on around him or what he experienced in the hours before. But I do know what the stress of combat will do. I remember talking to a friend who told how, after a greatly loved lieutenant was killed in Nassiriya, the unit started shooting anyone that got close. I remember when a pickup truck got too close to my convoy, the armoured vehicle up front shot the passenger to get the message to the driver. Just as these marines should face charges, then those that put us in these situations should have to answer for their actions.
In his book The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien said: "You can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromised allegiance to obscenity and evil." This is something people in the US have forgotten after years of watching CNN. War is dirty, always wrong, but sometimes unavoidable. That is why all these horrible things must rest on the shoulders of those leaders who supported a war that did not have to be fought.
I know the commitment it takes to serve your country, but I also know this war has nothing to do with protecting my country. My sergeant put it best a week before we left for the Middle East: "Don't think you're going to be heroes. You're not going for weapons of mass destruction. You're not going to get rid of Saddam, or to make Iraq safe for democracy. You're going for one reason, and that's oil."
War for oil: is a term the troops in Iraq know well. That is the only reason left for this war, leaving those on the ground with only one reason to fight - get home alive. When this kind of desperation sinks in, it is easy to make the person across from you less then human, easier to do horrible things to them.
Did the soldiers who committed those acts in Abu Ghraib view Iraqis as equals? Those who committed these acts will have to live with the memories - just as I wonder how many Iraqi children were killed by my artillery battery, or how many Iraqis were trapped in burning vehicles on the road to Baghdad. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night: the bodies of children and the burned remains of Iraqi troops that couldn't get out in time.
But those who put all of us there will never understand this. That is why they need to be judged. But they will never receive the most just punishment: feeling what myself and all the other veterans of this hideous war will deal with for the rest of our lives.
-- Michael Hoffman took part in the invasion of Iraq as a US Marine and is co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
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