You need to pick a black non-Catholic woman if at all possible for the opening on the Supreme Court. Please do not fall for the idea of "getting along" with the opposition which has, from the beginning of your presidency, openly stated their desire to kill whatever you proposed. Compromise with such radicals is not a possibility. By nominating such a person you will put pressure on these ideologues that needs to be on them. The reason for the non-Catholic portion of my suggestion is that the current Court is dominated by Catholics, most of whom come from the right wing of the Catholic Religion. These very conservative Catholics fail miserably in what the Catholic Church is supposed to stand for in Social Justice issues so important to our people and to the country. You have met the Pope and know much of his beliefs on the environment, on workers' rights, on race, on war, on torture and on and on. Judge Scalia represented well the positions of many of the "Catholics" on the court. Never speak ill of the dead? All right! But in our hearts many of us know that Scalia led the court down paths that reversed the general trend of our country's history from more Democracy, more human rights, more care for the poor and powerless, and so forth. You have a need to ensure some legacy in history. You have a need to leave this country and world a better place for you children. The need for more women on the Court goes w/o doubt as I am sure your own family will agree. Don't chicken out. You need to help us all in this critical moment.
The second 2016 GOP Presidential Debate had very disturbing candidates who focused on topics such as undocumented immigrants and debunking Planned Parenthood. Let’s hope these candidates continue to just be just ridiculous entertainment and not our next president.
Are they fools or fascists? Probably the former, but there was a disturbing cast to the second GOP debate, a vituperative jingoism reminiscent of the xenophobia that periodically scars Western capitalist societies in moments of disarray.
While the entire world is riveted by the sight of millions of refugees in terrifying exodus attempting to save drowning and starving children, we were treated to the darkly peculiar spectacle of scorn for the children of undocumented immigrants and celebration of the sanctity of the unborn fetus.
Marching to the beat of that mad drummer Donald Trump, the GOP candidates have taken to scapegoating undocumented immigrants, in particular the young, blaming them for all that ails us. Most of the GOP contenders appeared as a shrill echo of the neo-fascist European movements of late, adopting the traditional tactic of blaming the most vulnerable for economic problems the most powerful have caused.
Forget the collateralized debt obligations and other Wall Street scams that continue to cripple the world economy—as the Federal Reserve Bank noted Thursday in postponing a threatened increase in interest rates—or the massive shipment of jobs abroad by leading companies like GE. Instead, blame the folks who cook your food, raise your kids and pick the grapes from the vineyards for all that has gone wrong.
None of the candidates—not even Marco Rubio, who admitted to a Spanish-speaking grandfather who emigrated from Cuba, or Jeb Bush, who is married to one of those Mexicans now tarred as criminals—had the courage to cite the overwhelming evidence from the Congressional Research Service and other impeccable sources of these facts: Undocumented immigrants are far less likely than the general population to commit crimes, and they pay more in taxes and uncollectible benefits than they receive in public assistance.
No candidate mentioned that the supposedly porous border with Mexico has never been more tightly controlled, that in 2013 the Obama administration set a record for deportations, and that the 9/11 hijackers all had valid documentation, with our ally Saudi Arabia providing documents for 15 of the 19. Even Trump has yet to come up with the name of a Mexican terrorist who crossed our southern border.
How odd to hear candidates who generally trumpet a pro-family, pro-Christian sensibility speak so cavalierly about ending the birthright path to citizenship affirmed by the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Their indifference to the suffering of the stranger in our midst stands in sharp contrast to Jesus’ extolling the virtue of the Good Samaritan. The attack on immigrants comes at an inconvenient time, when Pope Francis is about to visit the United States with his message of compassion for millions of refugees pouring into Europe after being dislocated in Mideast nations the U.S. claimed to be concerned with liberating.
It was a bit refreshing that Rand Paul, Ben Carson and even Trump reasserted their initial opposition to the Iraq invasion, so there is a slight possibility that a GOP candidate might challenge Hillary Clinton, the hawkish big-money candidate of the Democratic Party, on her Senate vote for the war.
Paul had the good sense to observe, “Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk.” But, as Trump noted, Paul’s caution on imperial hubris, his opposition to crony capitalism and his principled critique of NSA spying have reduced the Kentucky senator to low-single-digit support among likely primary voters.
Unfortunately, the lone female candidate, fast-rising Carly Fiorina, was the most militaristic contender, even returning to the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) insanity of the Cold War in calling for ramping up the nuclear triad in apparent preparation for a war of human annihilation with Russia.
“Let’s talk about the future,” Fiorina demanded before drowning in the swamp of the past. “We need the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it.” And that means, she said, 50 Army brigades, 36 Marine battalions, 300 to 350 naval ships, and “we need to upgrade every leg of the nuclear triad. …”
For those not steeped in the full nuttiness of Cold War thinking, the triad of bombers, subs and missiles was necessary to have sufficient military assets to survive an all-out Soviet nuclear attack so we could make the radioactive rubble that was left of the enemy bounce higher than their surviving forces could inflict on our rubble.
While we desperately need to break the glass ceiling, it is tragic that we are offered two women who could compete quite effectively for a Margaret Thatcher award.
The rumored “return of the Progressive Omaha Film Festival” takes a significant step towards fulfillment. Elaine Wells and I will sponsor the film “Dirty Wars” at 7PM on the 18th of August at her Unitarian Church. Located at 3114 Harney St
Madeleine Albright Blows into Lincoln and “earns” $75,000 speaking to the “Food Factory of the Future” conference. Amazingly, one of the sponsors is Con Agra. Can you imagine the the message was largely about the “need” for GMO's to be better marketed so that “countries will accept them”?
Wow! This is not quite as bad as having Kissinger recently on the national “news” telling us his deep thoughts on international relations. Or possibly the gall involved in the appointment of Tony Blair as a special adviser of some type on the Middle East after his stellar performance as Britain's rubber stamp for the Bush/Cheney wars in that region.
Madeleine should be well known as a Testosterone loaded public figure who helped Clinton bomb the daylights out of several countries including Iraq. She, famously, was asked about the reputed deaths of some 500,000 Iraqi children from our sanctions and from our disrupting of the Iraqi water/sewage systems with our bombings. This all before the Bush/Cheney call to action which certainly was a critical factor in the rise of “terror groups” all across the Middle East and into Africa. Her reply on national TV was something like we (Clinton/ Albright etc) thought “it was worth it”.
Now she enters the GMO world stating that they are of the greatest needs. “GMO crops increase yields and do not pose a threat.” Never mind that these seeds have not been tested prior to their adoption as you might expect to be required to protect our food. Never mind that the entire USA push for GMO's, for patent protected seed, Chemical fertilizers, and for the mass use of pesticides has driven record numbers of poor farmers in India to suicide. This American model has been a significant contributor to the migrations of millions from Central/South America to move to the North (Read USA) trying valiantly to find work after being forced off their small family plots.
No , I would seriously question Albright's concerns with feeding the third world countries as I would this whole “Food Factory of the Future”. There are many in our own country who think the idea of “Factory Foods” is a major reason for many of our health problems along with environmental disasters so obvious in the millions of Chickens who came home to roost dying of bird flu. Bird Flu spreads, as do many other problems in our food supply, because the animals are stacked together so tightly disease is next to impossible to prevent. Thus still another disaster caused by the use of antibiotics to quell the disease largely caused by the “Factory” in Factory Farms.
Today's Democracy Now has a great segment on Charter Schools well worth watching. It is at the end of the hour and you can watch at Democracynow.org and bypass the rest if you want. For people who think Charter Schools are positive ways of affecting our school system this look is critical to a more complete understanding. I say again, when the very rich (Including the Koch brothers and Walmart foundation) are backers of this trend you need to wonder if these pillars of democracy and fair play are all of a sudden converts to all that most of us believe.
Just one little tidbit for those who cannot or will not watch this...
Virtual Schools with no buildings, few teachers, and no real overhead are sometimes paid the same amount from federal funds per student as those of our traditional schools. In these wonderful institutions one "teacher" can "teach 100 or even 500 students and wonder of wonder they do not have to have teacher accreditation. President Obama is currently seeking a 50% increase in funding these charter schools. There are few checks on how the funds allocated are used.
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari
This is possibly the best book I have read on the “Drug War” and its consequences. Hari traces the very beginnings of our current mess to an original drug czar, Harry Anslinger. This man's background, methods, and beliefs drove him to extraordinary actions that still to this day haunt not only the USA drug policy, but also that of the so called developed world too. I considered my self fairly up on the entire area of our drug policy and related but this book continually pointed out to me how complicated and devious the “science”, drug policy, history, and related topics really are. I cannot recommend a better, more important book to be read by all. I will guarantee it contains many gems of knowledge that should shake our own long held beliefs and, hopefully lead to significant change in our laws, treatment programs, and viewpoints.
This drug war was, from the very beginning, heavily rooted in racism using fear to produce actions that were far from scientific or rational. From those early days what we now call hard drugs were commonly prescribed by most doctors but Anslinger was able to demonize drugs so thoroughly that doctors who continued to espouse the truth were forced out of the national picture. His success was largely based upon painting the drugs as able to turn Blacks into super strong criminals that were next to impossible to stop from rampaging through white lives. Harry told the public that “the increase in drug addiction is practically 100 per cent among Negro people,” which he stressed was terrifying because already “the Negro population... accounts for 10% of the total population, but 60% of the addicts.” Harry's rise to incredible power came in the form of a race panic.
During this time the NY Times ran a story of a supposed North Carolina chief of police who was faced with a normally “inoffensive negro” who was “running amuck” in a cocaine frenzy trying to stab a storekeeper. The chief knew that he must kill this man or be killed himself. He drew his revolver and placed the muzzle over the Negro's heart firing. “...But the shot did not even stagger the man.” In the press at the time it was common to claim that cocaine turned blacks into superhuman hulks who could take bullets to the heart without flinching. This common story was the official reason police across the nation increased the caliber of their guns. Part of the game was to make cocaine the reason for black anger (as opposed to lack of basic rights) thus the importance of removing this white powder returning blacks to a docile state and put them on their knees again. See any connections with today's beliefs?
The opponents to Harry's warped views of people and of drug addiction would pour out study after study showing the fairly well known science of addiction but Harry would counter them with anecdotes, almost always sexual. But Harry was able to convince enough key people that drugs had to be outlawed. And therein lies one of the great truths of this book: When a popular product is criminalized, it does not disappear. Instead criminals start to control the supply and sale of the product.`These criminals have to control the product from its sources to the end users. It is a terribly vulnerable supply line and the only way it can be protected is with violence. And the rise of this violence, driven by the incredible profits, becomes the source of all kinds of death and destruction normally not seen in “normal” criminal activity. Fear must be paramount to prevent others from taking over the trade. Of course, this gets so bad that even governments are taken over. The current Mexican government uses our weapons to kill its own people as corruption prevents any real police force from actually threatening the money generated. Of course, Afghanistan is also notorious for drug connections at the highest levels. And the USA is certainly not immune...
Just one part of this whole scene is the fact that once you are busted for a drug offense at age 15 or 17 or 20 you are virtually unemployable for the rest of your life. You will never get a student loan, you will be evicted from public housing, you will be barred from even visiting such housing, and, if you get busted for drugs and visit your family in public housing the entire family can be kicked out. Such violators are stripped of most all of their rights, to include voting rights, all because at some point in their lives they possessed drugs.
According to a United Nations Office on Drug Control only 10% of drug users have a problem with their substance. 90% are able to live normal lives w/o harm. William Bennett, the most aggressive drug Czar in US history, admits: “Non-addicted users still comprise the vast bulk of our drug-involved population”. Both of these claims fly in the face of what the majority of Americans have been “taught”.
This is just my feeble attempt to convey some of what is in this book. Lots more on the nature of addiction which runs counter to what most Americans believe is the science involved. The author was able to interact with many different groups within the drug culture and give all kinds of examples of places/times which provide real insight to the direction solutions lie. Portugal, for instance, has moved well away from the driving forces involved and has seen a significant drop in deaths, crime etrc.
The Swiss found that the drug war means disorder while ending the drug war means restoring order. The author has many detailed examples from all over the world of this basic tenet and more...
READ THE BOOK!!!
Well your comments about Iran's history have some merit. It is great that you acknowledge that we overthrew the duly elected government of Iran back in the pre-Shah days thus putting that despot in power for years. I trained at Ft Belvoir with Iranian officers from that regime. But your apparent acceptance of the " Iranian Nuclear Weapons" reminds me of the WMD of Iraq. Both Israeli and US intelligence sources have stated that Iran IS NOT working on a nuclear weapon. Some sources within the power structure of Israel were actively pointing out that the Netanyahu speech was not at all accurate to say the least. It is also good that you see that the taking of the American hostages was not an act of random anger at the USA but, in fact, was largely based upon the anger felt by some Iranians at our messing with their established democratric government. This is a great example of "blowback". Our media rarely acknowledges this history nor looks for the reasons for the hostage taking. The drone attacks across countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and so forth can only cause terror in the population of the targeted countries as these drones hover for hours on end fairly often loosing their weapons on "suspected" terrorists" which all to often turn out to be innocents. Even if they killed only "enemy" they are counterproductive in that many people rightly feel that it just is not a fair way to kill people. Underlying these attacks is the fact that Saudi Arabia provides much of the intelligence for the attacks and unfortunately their view of the "enemy" is distorted by a fear that any group working for change is a threat to their own despotic regime. The results of our policies in the entire area is becoming exceedingly clear. People of any persuasion, do not like to be bombed, to have their homes entered in the dead of night, to have a foreign government making decisions from afar frequently with no idea of the consequences for their country.
Thank you for at least seeing this issue in some light other than that common to so many. "Bomb them all!" (as yelled at us on 72nd and Dodge during our peace vigil)
A must see. Author of the book "The New Jim Crow", Michelle on this Amy Goodman interview, makes it even more clear with the help of Amy's and Juan's questioning the condition of the "War on Drugs", racism, and really the war on poor people. This interview needs wide distribution. Available on your computer at democracynow.org. I'll have copies too, hopefully.
A long link to a long article. But well worth it.
Twenty five years ago this November, a Salvadoran military unit entered the Jesuit residence at University of Central America in San Salvador and shot six priests in cold blood and also killed the priests' housekeeper and her daughter.
It was one of the last of the massacres of a long civil war that would soon exhaust itself. Each priest was shot in the back of the head. It was as if the government was making one last effort to silence the most consistent, authentic and powerful counterforce to an oligarchy's reign of terror (see http://ncronline.org/node/90226).
They died because they refused to stop talking about the demands of justice, of the great imbalances in systems that brutally oppressed the most vulnerable, of the inherent rights and dignity of all humans. They were among those in Latin America whose understanding of the Gospel increasingly compelled them to speak up for the marginalized and disenfranchised.
On that score alone — the integrity of their lives and the circumstances of their deaths — it is worth commemorating them. We would betray a gross deficiency in understanding the meaning of their lives, however, if we were to stop there, placing them now apart from the community, reverently compartmentalized, a relic of some bygone era to be taken out on occasion and admired.
NCR's dedication of space in this issue to this event of a quarter century ago is no mere exercise in nostalgia. Far more, it is another piece of an effort that has gone on for nearly half a century to connect some very significant dots: what it means to be a U.S. Catholic; what it means to live under a government that condones dictatorships and helps train militaries that engage in such egregious violations of human rights; how to understand the consequences both of proxy wars and of silence before state-sponsored violence.
It is fascinating, in this era of episcopal fixation on religious liberty, to hear barely a whisper of objection to ongoing wars, drone campaigns and increasing militarism of U.S. culture. Instead, we have an Archdiocese for the Military Services that never raises a question about U.S. military adventures, even when they are soundly condemned by a succession of popes.
The U.S. bishops' obsession with religious liberty takes an easy route, picking contentious fights with the state over issues that ultimately are a matter of individual conscience and decision. The state mandates no one to have an abortion or use contraception, nor does it require churches to perform same-sex marriages.
On the other hand, the state does compel everyone to pay for our wars, for ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction, for the unconscionable destruction of entire cultures and civilizations. We understand only in the aftermath of our fevered resort to war that it rarely contributes to stability or justice. It only inspires ever-expanding circles of fanaticism and violence.
If the bishops really wanted to confront assaults to religious liberty, if they really wanted to engage a Fortnight for Freedom that wouldn't seem a parody scripted by "The Daily Show," they would take on the profound idolatry of our complicity with the military industrial complex. It is the American idolatry of biblical proportions, an unrelenting theft, as President Dwight Eisenhower so chillingly described it, "from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
The Jesuits who were executed in cold blood understood, from the deepest wells of our sacred texts and Ignatian spirituality, that in such pursuits we spend our very souls. So did Roy Bourgeois, Vietnam veteran and former Maryknoll priest, who connected the dots between U.S. support for brutal dictatorships in Latin America and our training of military thugs at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga. Nineteen of the soldiers who carried out the killings of the Jesuits were graduates of the School of the Americas.
The 25-year history of the campaign to close the school detailed by Linda Cooper and James Hodge (http://ncronline.org/node/90301]) is a narrative that isn't taught in our children's history classes or addressed from the pulpits of our churches. It is a history that glides beneath the cultural radar. The lessons of the SOA — cleaned up in name to sound neutral, even uplifting, as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation — are as relevant today as ever, as the military-industrial complex devises new means of expanding the country's war-making capabilities in far-off places.
In 1989, Jesuits around the world confronted the disturbing truth that standing against the powerful on behalf of those exploited and on the margins could be deadly. The Jesuits in the United States, as Timothy A. Byrnes points out on Page 6 (http://ncronline.org/node/90221), "had to face the additional fact that these executions had been carried out by a military force that enjoyed the full political and financial support of their own government."
That realization, concentrated in the moment of the massacre, would have resonated with religious communities throughout Central and South America. The pattern of dictatorial brutality propped up by the United States was repeated with distressing regularity throughout the region.
It led an otherwise measured figure, Jesuit Fr. Joseph O'Hare, then president of Fordham University in New York, to ask in a widely publicized sermon: "Can we hand weapons to butchers and remain unstained by the blood of their innocent victims?"
The question applies today, perhaps in different ways, as we survey the results of our wars of choice and extended occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Strip the scene of political bravado and the deserved sympathy for the thousands of young people needlessly placed in harm's way, and the scenario is one of dismal failure. Our wars have become military, political and financial disasters.
The question still hangs in the air whether we can face this history honestly and square off today against the idol that continues to threaten our religious selves, the idol of false security in military might.
A clear-thinking, clearly written blog with an excellent commentariat.
News from 23 Sept 2014: (And if you are an optimist you better stop right now!)
The Obama administration is increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal despite President Obama’s public championing of disarmament. When Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008, the Nobel committee cited his steps toward reducing nuclear stocks around the world. But The New York Times reports Obama is overseeing extensive rebuilding of nuclear weapons at home, including at a new plant in Kansas City, dedicated last month, which is larger than the Pentagon and employs thousands of people. According to a recent federal study, the United is poised to spend up to $1.1 trillion over the next three decades on modernizing nuclear weapons.
Obama continues to prove the Nobel Peace people dead wrong...
Meantime, back at the ranch, We have formed another coalition possibly more shaky and fake than that of GW Bush in the Iraq fiasco. All five supposed Arab countries are outright despotic regimes that should not be our buds nor part of our war machine. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain especially have a long history of suppression of their people. Saudi Arabia should be best known for funding much of the very people we like to think are our mortal enemies. They also “help” us by providing much of the intelligence on Yemen and other countries of Africa. Unfortunately, because of their extreme repression (Beheading their own people with one tally being around 138 killed that way) the intelligence they provide frequently is based upon their need to make the “Arab Spring” go away or turn into “Arab Winter” in terms of freedom from suppressive governments (Like theirs). Since self determination is so dangerous to their view of who should rule, they can provide targets that are not our enemy as much as the Royal Family's enemy. This can be exceedingly damaging to our interests.
Then we have the spectacle of a brand new enemy with claims that they are an “eminent danger to the United States”. Course the idea here is to provide some cover to the requirement that such threat be present to justify the actions taken. The new enemy is a separate militant organization known as the Khorasan group, They have managed to go from “unheard of” to the “Most Dangerous” in less time than it takes a Porsche to get to 60mph...
Now let's look at the actual attacks. These bring up in my mind the senseless pounding of Baghdad by repeated fancy pants missiles even though most of those buildings were empty and certainly did not remain military targets after the first few hits. But we love a show and Obama has learned from experts. The supposed HQ building was undoubtedly empty as one of Amy Goodman's reports claimed. It is one of our near fatal myths, developed with media expert advice, that these types of wars have HQ buildings similar to what we might have. They make great targets if you want to believe that the “enemy” mirrors our own tendency to have huge stores of weapons, fancy control mechanisms, and generally great targets for attack. Unfortunately, unconventional war is frankly, UNCONVENTIONAL. From Vietnam to today, the supposed enemy does not need the supply structure nor command facilities we think are necessary. We can “bomb Cambodia or the Ho Chi Minh trail” with tons and tons of High explosives but most of this effort is wasted.
In the immediate case, we supposedly used 47 Tomahawk missiles. Hmm. Sources put the cost at about 1.4 million each or about 64 million for just this one component of the attacks. Many other weapons were also used. The point might be made is the mantra of the Republican party dead? Is this “cost effective”?
One source said at least 20 ISIS fighters were killed. We will never know. I'd point out that this missile was designed as a nuclear weapon to be used upon big strategic targets such as cities. It's use with conventional explosives on questionable targets is certainly not cost effective. It also is not terribly accurate especially with its history of targeting based upon our lousy intelligence.
For instance, on “17 December 2009, two Tomahawk missiles were fired at targets in Yemen. One of the targets was hit by a TLAM-D missile. The target was described as an 'alleged al-Qa’ida training camp' in al-Ma’jalah in al-Mahfad a region of the Abyan governorate of Yemen. Amnesty International reported that 55 people were killed in the attack, including 41 civilians (21 children, 14 women, and six men). The US and Yemen governments refused to confirm or deny involvement, but diplomatic cables released as part of Cablegate later confirmed the missile was fired by a US Navy ship." (Wikipedia) This is just one attack which certainly did not help our winning of the “War on Terror”. (See the documentary “Dirty Wars”.)
Meantime, the Global Climate march on Washington, which most media puts at 300,000 and Amy put at 400,000, was knocked off the lead news stories across the country. Instead we see more War and actions that lead to more destruction, enemies made, and mothers motherless. I'll have to puke if I hear one more parent talking of their son/daughter who died for our “:Freedom” or hear Kerry (who sure should know better from personal experience) declare our intentions to get all of ISIL etc etc etc Hell, we cannot even agree on what to call the latest iteration.
What's wrong with the picture of these groups multiplying and spreading as we bomb and arm and screw the entire Middle East and Africa? Surely, it ought to be abundantly clear these tactics have not worked and WILL Not.
A mind-boggling article from the Washington Post on how small St. Louis suburban governments feed on poor blacks. Very long, but worth reading.
Gouttierre strikes again. How long is enough? His quote at the end of the article says it all:
"This could be the one country in the middle of all of this mess that we see in the news today where we know 90 per cent of the population wants us there to be working with them into the future."
It could be, but it's not. If any where near that figure were true we would not have had the mess we have had for all these years. Believe it or not no people want to be invaded or occupied. Afghanistan has managed quite well to make that fact exceedingly clear to most of us, even the slow learners.
Air strikes, drones attacks, night raids on people's homes, use of mass firepower, and on and on create enemies very efficiently. The chaos that results from our actions along with our propensity to back despotic regimes have allowed, even helped, spread the disease of extremist reaction to us around the Middle East, Africa, and likely other places to come. These groups have exceedingly little actual backing from the people in the country and would lose their support if we did not keep doing things no sane people appreciate, Their extremism has largely been hatched in the jails of the despotic regimes we have backed helped by torture and injustices w/o end.
I suggest you watch the "Democracy Now" from today (Sept 8th) where they have an expert who very well articulates the situation. It can be found at Democracynow.org. Amazing what sources outside of our government see that Gouttierre seems not to notice.