Tuesday, September 13, 2005

end the problem

The resignation of FEMA's director, in the face of the Gulf Coast disaster, is a wet blanket. It doesn't lessen the real issue of Michael Brown's tenure. How did he go from directing a horse association -no one is quite clear whether he resigned or was fired from that post, under a cloud- to heading the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Is it because he was the college dorm-mate of one of the President's close friends? Clearly, the question of how Mr Brown ended up in a position where he was totally underqualified and ineligible -when was the last time I got a government job after drawing numerous lawsuits down on my last employer?- this is a question that needs to be asked.

Unfortunately, the question is being dodged. The President wants to move forward. "Here in Mississippi and Louisiana, people want to move forward," he says. I agree wholeheartedly! Then he goes on to say, "They understand there's time to try to blame somebody. But they want to get their lives back together."

I truly appreciate the President's positivity. No, let's not malinger or point fingers. Get help to the Gulf Coast in massive waves of mercy.

The problem isn't who is at fault for the disaster: it's the hurricane, stupid. What we need now, from our elected officials, is accountability. Perhaps blame is being solicited by the mass media. So what? Is the Administration culpable to the press, or are they accountable to the citizens of our fine United States? We are paying attention!

This is the cold comfort: The questions that should be asked are being dodged, in favor of shifting attention away from the neglect of responsibility. I want to know when someone will take responsibility for the lackluster response to the Gulf Coast disaster. I want to know when we will find out why a horse trader was placed in charge of emergency services.

Answering the first question will ease my mind that, despite a fatal fumble this time, responsible parties will step forward and preventive action will be taken looking forward toward the next crisis. After all, this is an Administration that prides itself on pre-empting bad outcomes; let's see that pride in action, rather than in retreat.

The second question needs to be answered too. Otherwise I'll worry that duly-appointed federal offices will start filling up with wrestlers and celebrities. Oh wait, too late. Seriously, the US government needs to show accountability to the electorate of our splendid country. Isn't that why we elect our politicians?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

christians are not assassins

Wow, Pat Robertson really put his neck out this time, calling for the assassination of democratically-elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. And why? Because Chavez does not agree with US policies? Mr Robertson seems to have confused things profoundly.

Christ teaches us to forgive and to be stewards not snipers for each other. Has Mr Robertson read his Gospels lately?

Here's a fine response from the Christian community:


nonoverlapping magisteria

Being a scientist in no way, nonetheless I adhere to a view that, side by side, science stands with God, so far as the physical realm. Naturally science is not involved nor is it concerned with spiritual standards of any color, these falling into the category of irreproducible proofs and therefore to the divine constant, the One, the Word, or that which properly is I AM; science is and was, and shall be so long as humans practice it, whereas the present tense applies from every perspective to God.

The argument made by CS Lewis for the "plausibility" of God, that the idea of right and wrong is universal to humanity, is a defense of morality that we "did not make, and cannot quite forget." If we were British subjects the world over, I'd be compelled to agree, and in the Queen's English to boot. However, I am not compelled in that direction.

To paraphrase Billy Graham, what to one person is right can to another be terribly wrong. "Everything is permitted," says Christ, "but not everything is beneficial." Morality is a political undertaking and is decided upon as the result of deliberation, mental or democratic; this deliberation, in its turn, depends from social, cultural and psychological dictates. It is human, in short, all too human.

What is plausible to me, as a verification of I AM, is that prayer in one form or other cannot be forgotten by any member of our race. Regardless of family, school or vocation, mental or physical condition, we endorse an outside agency when our hope or despair drives us to something outside of self.

This endorsement assumes variegated conclusions about just what is the target. Still, it is a performance that comes, reflected upon or simply reflexively, out of mutual respect that we cannot guarantee our desires; even if you call upon another person and not a divine apparatus, yet the impulse for prayer is automatic.

One can also argue idolatry as proof of I AM. Each of us shares the worship gene, so to speak. But isn't this another form of prayer, to raise something higher than self in order that our desire or exhortation or ego transfer or whatever might be aimed at it?

Dr Stephen Gould describes religion and science as "nonoverlapping magisteria," classifying the latter as a study of the natural world and distinct from the former in its lack of spiritual dimension. I interpret that as meaning faith is unnecessary for sound theory and hypothesis. Be that as it may, what does it say about prayer? If scientific discipline is not mindful of the divine constant, it does not necessarily follow that it is looking at the whole picture.

Monday, August 22, 2005

get used to it

Hypocrites and Liars
by Cindy Sheehan

The media are wrong. The people who have come out to Camp Casey to help coordinate the press and events with me are not putting words in my mouth, they are taking words out of my mouth. I have been known for sometime as a person who speaks the truth and speaks it strongly. I have always called a liar a liar and a hypocrite a hypocrite. Now I am urged to use softer language to appeal to a wider audience. Why do my friends at Camp Casey think they are there? Why did such a big movement occur from such a small action on August 6, 2005?
I haven't had much time to analyze the Camp Casey phenomena. I just read that I gave 250 interviews in less than a weeks time. I believe it. I would go to bed with a raw throat every night. I got pretty tired of answering some questions, like: 'What do you want to say to the President?' and 'Do you really think he will meet with you?' However, since my mom has been sick I have had a chance to step back and ponder the flood gates that I opened in Crawford, TX.
I just read an article posted today on LewRockwell.com by artist Robert Shetterly who painted my portrait. The article reminded me of something I said at the Veteran's for Peace Convention the night before I set out to Bush's ranch in my probable futile quest for the truth. This is what I said:
"I got an e-mail the other day and it said, 'Cindy if you didn't use so much profanity '. There's people on the fence that get offended.'
And you know what I said? 'You know what? You know what, god damn it? How in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence?'
"If you fall on the side that is pro-George and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out."
This is what the Camp Casey miracle is all about. American citizens who oppose the war but never had a conduit for their disgust and dismay are dropping everything and traveling to Crawford to stand in solidarity with us who have made a commitment to sit outside of George's ranch for the duration of the miserable Texan August. If they can't come to Texas, they are attending vigils, writing letters to their elected officials and to their local newspapers; they are setting up Camp Casey branches in their hometowns; they are sending flowers, cards, letters, gifts, and donations here to us at Camp Casey. We are so grateful for all of the support, but I think pro-peace Americans are grateful for something to do, finally.
One thing I haven't noticed or become aware of though is an increased number of pro-war, pro-Bush people on the other side of the fence enlisting to go and fight George Bush's war for imperialism and insatiable greed. The pro-peace side has gotten off their apathetic butts to be warriors for peace and justice. Where are the pro-war people? Everyday at Camp Casey we have a couple of anti-peace people on the other side of the road holding up signs that remind me that 'Freedom isn't Free' but I don't see them putting their money where their mouths are. I don't think they are willing to pay even a small down payment for freedom by sacrificing their own blood or the flesh of their children. I still challenge them to go to Iraq and let another soldier come home. Perhaps a soldier that is on his/her third tour of duty, or one that has been stop-lossed after serving his/her country nobly and selflessly, only to be held hostage in Iraq by power mad hypocrites who have a long history of avoiding putting their own skin in the game.
Contrary to what the mainstream media thinks, I did not just fall off a pumpkin truck in Crawford, TX. on that scorchingly hot day two weeks ago. I have been writing, speaking, testifying in front of Congressional committees, lobbying Congress, and doing interviews for over a year now. I have been pretty well known in the progressive, peace community and I had many, many supporters before I left even left California. The people who supported me did so because they know that I uncompromisingly tell the truth about this war. I have stood up and said: 'My son died for NOTHING, and George Bush and his evil cabal and their reckless policies killed him. My son was sent to fight in a war that had no basis in reality and was killed for it.' I have never said 'pretty please' or 'thank you.' I have never said anything wishy-washy like he uses 'Patriotic Rhetoric.' I say my son died for LIES. George Bush LIED to us and he knew he was LYING. The Downing Street Memos dated 23 July, 2002 prove that he knew that Saddam didn't have WMD's or any ties to Al Qaeda. I believe that George lied and he knew he was lying. He didn't use patriotic rhetoric. He lied and made us afraid of ghosts that weren't there. Now he is using patriotic rhetoric to keep the U.S. military presence in Iraq: Patriotic rhetoric that is based on greed and nothing else.
Now I am being vilified and dragged through the mud by the righties and so-called 'fair and balanced' mainstream media who are afraid of the truth and can't face someone who tells it by telling any truth of their own. Now they have to twist, distort, lie, and scrutinize anything I have ever said when they never scrutinize anything that George Bush said or is saying. Instead of asking George or Scotty McClellan if he will meet with me, why aren't they asking the questions they should have been asking all along: 'Why are our young people fighting, dying, and killing in Iraq? What is this noble cause you are sending our young people to Iraq for? What do you hope to accomplish there? Why did you tell us there were WMD's and ties to Al Qaeda when you knew there weren't? Why did you lie to us? Why did you lie to the American people? Why did you lie to the world? Why are our nation's children still in harm's way and dying everyday when we all know you lied? Why do you continually say we have to 'complete the mission' when you know damn well you have no idea what that mission is and you can change it at will like you change your cowboy shirts?'
Camp Casey has grown and prospered and survived all attacks and challenges because America is sick and tired of liars and hypocrites and we want the answers to the tough questions that I was the first to dare ask. THIS is George Bush's accountability moment and he is failing miserably. George Bush and his advisers seriously 'misunderestimated' me when they thought they could intimidate me into leaving before I had the answers, or before the end of August. I can take anything they throw at me, or Camp Casey. If it shortens the war by a minute or saves one life, it is worth it. I think they seriously 'misunderestimated' all mothers. I wonder if any of them had authentic mother-child relationships and if they are surprised that there are so many mothers in this country who are bear-like when it comes to wanting the truth and who want to make meaning of their child's needless and seemingly meaningless deaths?
The Camp Casey movement will not die until we have a genuine accounting of the truth and until our troops are brought home. Get used to it, George: we are not going away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

O for a magic wand!

Discord is rampant between the House and Senate today, the source of fracture being an overdue energy bill that is on the verge of passing. Says Henry Waxman, the California Representative, "The bill is simply a failure. It's a huge waste of money."

The Texan that heads the House energy committee says different, promoting the bill as the right kind of subsidising that our energy service providers deserve. House members, however, have failed to convince him to incorporate a Senate provision to use more renewable energy sources and to direct the President to ween the national oil habit.

"We are having an energy bill that is doing so much on the supply side that we need to address the demand side, " says Waxman, describing the bill's whittled-down goals as the "bare minimum of what we ought to be doing."

Apparently other representatives have concerns that diverge from energy demands. "Just telling the President to wave a magic wand and tell each and every one of us that we need to conserve energy may sound good," says the Texan chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton, "but those of us elected by the people every two years have a different view of that."

Oh, so it's an election issue, how Americans should conserve energy?

It's ignorant of Mr Barton to suggest that the President has a magic wand handy, when the President himself along with the Vice-President and the former White House Press Correspondent repeatedly deny possessing a magic wand. It was only April of this year that the President bemoaned his lack: "I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow; I'd do that." Three years ago this month, the VP griped along similar lines, when he admitted that "There's no magic wand that Washington can wave." In May of 2001, Ari Fleischer provocatively suggested that "If any politician has a magic wand that they can wave over gas prices to lower them, the President would like to listen."

There's a connection here, in these repeated invocations, that is drawn (four years and counting!) between gas prices and this magic wand that is tragically missing from our Administration's otherwise well-stocked supply of mystical problem-solvers. But in the year 2000 on the campaign trail, our future leader set the precedent of the magic wand in reference not to gas prices but to healthcare reform when aloud he said "I wish I could wave a wand." It was not yet a magical stick then, as it has so clearly become now. Nevertheless, we Americans have all the more reason to feel the loss, and to feel sympathy for the Administration; our President has been aware of not having a magic wand for five years!

At any rate, the energy bill looks like business as usual in the current climate of loosened controls and consolidating decision power to the federal level. The bill aims to repeal Depression-era Public Utility Holding Company Act, which limits utility mergers. Seeing how utilities are realising record-breaking profits (those high gas prices have to profit somebody), such a repeal doesn't bode well for healthy economic competition.

The bill's authors have also rejected state-level objections and granted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval authority over new terminals handling gas imports. That's not very Republican of them, is it?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bush's Brain: Emphasis on "Brain"

I don't always agree with what he writes, but Geov Parrish is onto something this week, when he says that going after Rove for the now-notorious leak of a CIA agent's name is expedient and totally missing the point:


Friday, July 01, 2005

created equal... by who???

My idea of a Christian entity, such as a church or foundation, is that
it incorporates Christian philosophy and has a prerequisite for
membership that a person is born again.

As this applies to our nation, I see a problem. The philosophy of the
US Consititution is that this is a nation where all citizens are
welcome to worship freely. A citizen is not required to be a Christian
worshipper; our Constitution encourages believers of every stripe to
worship without fear of prosecution.

Now, in a Christian entity, if freedom of worship for every religion
were the policy, I think that entity would not be Christian at all but
rather it would be something altogether different. When I go to a
Christian church, I do not expect to find a Buddhist meditating next
to me or a Muslim praying toward Mecca; I expect to be in a fellowship
of Christ's followers. Does this seem unreasonable?

Since the philosophy of the US is to welcome all believers of any
stripe, I do not see how this country of ours can call itself

the opposite of peach?

In case you hadn't noticed, there's a lot of noise on the wire lately about why the US, with a little help from our friends, invaded Iraq. Between the findings of no WMDs and the more recent Downing Street controversy, it looks like the answer is not easy to pin down.

I don't want to get into that. Like a Buddha, the question has infinite incarnations.

What bothers me is if the President lied to drive the decision process for war. Or, if the president presented the situation from a skewed perspective, if the decision for war was made not because of what we knew going in but instead because of a desired outcome, namely an outcome that would be to our advantage, whatever that advantage might be.

There's a new noise on the wire today, one that resembles the noises that began as a murmur early in the last President's second term -Bill Clinton, remember him?- and grew into a vindictive firestorm of impeachment. The allegations that our current President lied about the reasons for the US to go to war has got people talking about impeachment again.

With the President's party as a majority in both the House and Senate, actual impeachment proceedings are a remote possibility. Yet that does not absolve the question. Lying about your sex life is inappropriate for the President -lying about anything is inappropriate for the leader of our country.

If a lie brought the US in to the present bloody quagmire, that seems a far more impeachable offense than any indiscretion at the White House, one whose cost in lives and suffering is a crime of the highest order.

Friday, June 17, 2005

gitmo = get more?

In the wake of Amnesty International's "disassembling" report about the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay, watch all the president's men come out in its defense. Beyond the articulate response of "No, it is so not a gulag", supporters of the Administration's enemy combatant program have been telling us how it really is not so bad at the prison fondly known as "gitmo".

California lawmaker Duncan Hunter went further than words. To a press conference he brought with him a steaming plate of food, to represent just how easy prisoners have it. Included in this feast was rice pilaf, lemon-baked fish, honey-glazed chicken and "two types of fruit".

"This is representative of what these killers are given every day, courtesy of the American taxpayer," exclaimed Mr Hunter. "The inmates have never eaten better, they've never been treated better and they've never been more comfortable in their lives."

This is supposed to rally support for gitmo? Sounds more like "get more" to me, as in "get more than jobless American citizens," or "get more than millions of working taxpayers who are raising families."

Students of American history will recognise this tactic. It was used in the 19th century to foment tensions between minority immigrants. The government would give jobs to blacks that Irish thought belonged to them, then call a meeting to rouse the latter to go on a rampage against the former; it is a classic technique for population control.

In the present case, we are being made to resent those enemy combatants as being made comfortable, more comfortable in fact than a lot of taxpaying Americans. In fact, it clouds what those people are doing in that gulag in the first place.

Why are not our taxes going toward the well-being of our citizens? And while we're at it, when will we "get more" peace?