Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Truth & Consequences

According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, if gays in the military suddenly enjoyed the same constitutional rights as their heterosexual comrades, it would have “enromous consequences for out troops.” He’s got a point. One of the “consequences” would be 14,000 lingquists, tecnicians, pilots, riflemen and commanding officers would still be honorably serving their country, instead of pounding the pavement of civilian life.

Another “consequence” would be the survival of military combatants who otherwise might be dead were it not for the skill and bravery of their gay comrades who fought along side them in battle.

The final “consequence” would be dealing with homophobic career officers and enlisted personnel whose ignorance and bigotry facilitates contentious behavior in a unit.

That should be simple: Shape up or ship out!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Collateral damage isn't collateral!

In April WikiLeak exposed an Apache helicopter crew gunning down unarmed civilians, including two journalists, in Iraq. Included in the footage, shot from the Apache camera, can be seen on You Tube, we witnessed the murder of two men who drove up in a van to rescue a wounded civilian. The van which was riddled with bullets, also contained two children, who, fortunately were not killed.

We hear the Apache crew laughing and joking about “those dead bastards,” and chomping at the bit to kill the wounded, crawling civilian. When watching the children being taken from the van, one of the crew members remarks, “That’s what they get for bringing their kids.”

What we haven’t seen or heard in the intervening time is any news about the U.S. investigation or decision making as to the culpability of the Apache crew.

Now we hear via Associated Press that the Army has detained a 22 year-old Army Specialist in connection with the leak of the Video. Ah, yes, as standard procedure from Defense and State Departments, the messenger is the real culprit!! The State Department spokesman praddles about exposure of information classified as secret.

I have been a unit commander in Korea, with secret clearance, and am here to tell you a great deal of what the Army classifies as secret should be classified as Cover Our Asses. Meanwhile the culprit Army Specialist remains in confinement with no charges leveled against him. And meanwhile, the dead civilians rest under Iraq soil.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I don’t know why anyone should be surprised, much less shocked , by the catastrophic oil well blowout in the Gulf Of Mexico—unless, of course, you’ve been living under a rock. Environmentalist and reputable scientists have been warning us about the risks of off shore oil drilling for at least 30 years.

Politicians, presidents and regulators have been in the back pocket of Big Oil for a long as I have been drawing political cartoons and that is 50 years. However, that particular relationship reached a new high—or rather low—when the Bush administration allowed Vice President Dick Cheney to gather oil executives together to secretly rewrite U.S. energy policy.

The only new aspect to this debacle is the blatant disregard for even the pretense of regulatory oversight by the Minerals Management Service which allowed BP to write its own “regulations.”

The hypocritical dimensions to this tragedy are almost too numerous to mention, not the least of it are the Senators and Congressmen who are, today, sitting in judgement with their back pockets filled with contributions from the oil industry.

Then there is Mr. Kum Ba Ya, who has been President for a year and apparently had a deaf ear to all the environmental and scientific road signs blinking DANGER! DANGER! He bought into the oil industry fairy tale about the technological advances that made deep water drilling a viable alternative.

This is not to mention the myth that offshore drilling would greatly add to our energy independence.The only thing it will add is big oil profits.

Which brings me to two questions: Why wasn't the adminstration and BP mustering barrers to protect the Lousiana wetlands on day two after the blowout? And why aren't giant oil tankers in the gulf sucking up the oil spill?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fish or cut bait, Mr. President!

It is time for the Obama administration to look back and reclaim this nation’s honor that was tainted by the Bush administration’s policy of torture. It is time to reclaim for future generations those principals of the Geneva Convention, of Nuremberg and of accountability that were the legacy of a past generation.

President Obama says he wants to look forward and not dwell on the past. That is acceptable only if you subscribe to the idea that there is nothing to be learned from the past and therefore no lessons to be learned for the future.

To suggest, as President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder did, that those carrying out torture techniques should have immunity from prosecution because they were only following orders, is an insult to the legacy of Nuremberg and gives credence to the twisted legal logic of the Bush Justice Department sycophants, John Woo and J.S. Bybee. It is also an insult to the legal profession.

When battered by the sordid details of the Bush White House policy which facilitated the CIA’s water boarding in secret, black site, prisons --- President Obama assured us that anyone exceeding the Woo-Bybee torture guidelines would be prosecuted.

Well, Mr. President, it is time to fish or cut bait.

Recently disclosed internal CIA e-mails not only revealed that the CIA destroyed video tapes of water boarding (which we knew a year ago) but that higher ups including former agency head, Porter Goss, approved of their destruction. (Can anyone spell obstruction of Justice?)Associated Press reported that Jose Rodriguez, the agency’s top clandestine officer thought the tapes would be "devastating" to the CIA.

The AP story further reports that the documents indicate that "the videos showed that interrogators DID NOT FOLLOW the water boarding procedures" handed down by Bush administration.

For more evidence of how far we have drifted towards denial and away from the harsh truth, one need only look at the Associated Press lead paragraph which uses the euphemism, "harsh interrogation" for the word torture.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

De Ja Vue!

If there was one quote that best articulated the sum of the early 60's, I would nominate this one by Barry Goldwater,”...extremism in defense of liberty is no vice...and moderation in pursuit justice is no virtue.”

This week a note with that quote attached to a brick was thrown through the window of a Democratic Headquarters in New York. De ja vue. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When I moved to the Kansas City Star from the Greensboro Daily News in 1963, a subculture of extremism had swept across the Midwest in quest of various lost “liberties” as seen in the eyes of the beholders.

George Wallace rode the crest of a “segregation forever” landslide into the Governorship of Alabama in January of 1963 using rhetoric that was red meat to prejudiced tendencies across the country. His “stand at the schoolhouse door” of the University of Alabama plus his bigoted bombast crackled across the synapses of those on the border of paranoia—and those ready and willing to exploit that border for personal and political gain.

The reverberations from the Greensboro sit-ins and the path President Kennedy laid out in his civil rights proposals, fed into those circuits.

The reality of equality in education was played out in the confines of institutions that were isolated from the daily give and take of social intercourse. Not many adults spent time in schools before or after the Supreme Court decision that resulted in integration.

However, most all adults exercised their social habits in places of public accommodations from time to time---and when the impending reality of equality of service in restaurants, bars, motels and such loomed large in the national consciousness---suddenly, it was up close and personal.
This was not only an affront to segregationists and others with ethnic prejudices but is was a coalescing force among those with strong anti-government sentiments, particularly those who embraced the outer edges of a libertarian view.

The John Birch Society, an ultra-conservative “Patriot” group, founded in 1958 by candy manufacturer Robert Welch, Jr.–-claimed a membership in 1961 of over 100,000 and (in gross exaggeration) “sympathizers” of upwards to a million.

The Bible of the Society was Welch’s Blue Book, in which he equates the U.S. and Soviet Governments as being controlled by “cabal of internationalists” bent on a “New World Order”. He considered liberals to be “secret communist traitors” .He called President Dwight D. Eisenhower a possible “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy.”
The John Birch Society opposed the Civil Rights movement because Welch considered it to be rife with Communists.

Also active in this fringe milieu was one Robert Bolivar DePugh, a financially successful entrepreneur in veterinary medicine who founded Biolab Corporation in the small town of Norborne, Missouri in the late 50's.

By the early 60's he had organized and recruited a terror prone militia group called the Minutemen. They believed a Communist invasion was coming and their mission was to amass a cache of weapons and train in guerilla warfare.

Taking a page from the John Birch Society’s book, they were dedicated to eradicating Communist spies they “knew” infested our government.

DePugh published a monthly magazine called “On Target” with a logo image of the circle and cross-hairs of a rifle scope (think Sarah Palin). Its mantra was “Traitors beware, the cross-hairs are on the back of your neck.” My name was superimposed under the cross-hairs for some time.

One October afternoon, I was seated at my drawing board in one corner of the large room that housed the entire editorial staff of the newspaper. As I sat there making some preliminary sketches, I heard a commotion and the loud clatter of a typewriter crashing to the floor. Looking up I saw a uniformed postman wading past reporter’s desks, knocking off typewriters and inboxes.

He had his mail bag over one shoulder and was shoving objects and people out of his path as he headed directly towards me with a fixed glare in his eyes. Chasing several feet behind him was our security guard. About halfway through his charge, the man reached into his mailbag. My first thought was that he had a gun.

The security guard caught the man just as he got a few feet from me. As the guard yanked him by his neck to a stop, the man’s hand pulled a sheaf of papers from his bag and threw them in my direction, yelling “Put these in the paper you son-of-a-bitch!”

They turned out to be copies of white supremacist cartoons. I picked up one to examine it. It depicted a large black man leering as he choked a little white girl.

The Goldwater campaign for President dovetailed nicely with the ugly fanaticism of the time and rallied silk stocking CEOs to the “conservative groundswell” that hijacked the Republican Party.
However, back then there were no 24/7 television talking heads to bring the paranoia into living rooms night after night—and no internet for instant fanning of the flames—and people actually read newspapers.

Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson by an historic landslide.

The irony of the note attached to that brick thrown through that New York headquarters, is that Barry Goldwater in later years, reflecting on his presidential campaign in 1964, concluded that the Republican Party had been taken over “by a bunch of kooks!”

De ja vue!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thus saith Stupak...

Imagine this: A member of the U.S. Congress is blocking health care reform until the legislation prohibits federal or private dollars being spent on vasectomies. Get the picture? This is a perfectly legal medical procedure that will be banned in the U.S. because of the religious tenants of one member of Congress and highly vocal lobbyists who support such a ban.

This parallel is exactly what is going in the efforts of Congressman Bart Stupak and the abortion lobby. A perfectly legal medical procedure will be effectively banned to accommodate the religious beliefs of a few. Not only would Stupak prohibit federal money being used for this legal medical procedure–but it would prohibit private insurance money from being used.

Of course, we would never see legislators wringing their hands over vasectomies, even though the procedure plainly interdicts the path to human reproduction. After all, vasectomies are a male thing, not to be tampered with—and in cafeteria pick-and-choose religion, that form of life interdiction is left in the food-for-thought line.

The real relevant question ( that should be raised with outrage), is why any form of money should be denied for a legal and scientifically sound medical procedure?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reality check on economic history

The election of Ronald Reagan in 1981 revitalized America Inc.—the merged assets of corporate, political and personal greed—that had been somewhat dormant since the 1930s. At the same time, a credible survey of University seniors, revealed in anonymous responses that large numbers of our potential future leaders were cheats. Significantly, the champion cheaters were business majors with 86% of them admitting they cheated.

President Reagan’s embrace of the 1930's trickle-down economics and his simpleton mantra of “government is the problem”not the “solution”struck a responsive chord in the hearts of millions of American voters. They loved his cue-card homilies, his welfare bashing and his de-regulation fear mongering.

I mattered not that Reagan led us to abandon our progressive tax structure so as to enrich the wealthiest among us. It mattered not that Reaganomics increased our national debt from 2.5 % of the national economy when he took office—to 5% by the time he left. (The interest payments on the that debt went from $69 billion in 1981 to $169 billion at the end of his administration.)

It also mattered not that two years into Reagan’s first term, we experienced the worst recession since the great depression with an unemployment high of
10.8 %. In short, the Reagan presidency started American Inc. on the road to our present destination.

We look back and see a path of unbridled greed, littered with corporate carcasses like Enron, Tyco, and Author Anderson--- that were once guided by corporate felons.

The zenith of de-regulation and the facilitation of corporate-political greed came under the aegis of George W. Bush, his evangelical right wing base and the Republican party. Texas Senator Phil Gramm led the charge.

After the 1929 stock market crash, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act that would separate commercial banks from investment banks (which deal with speculative trading and mergers) and thus encourage market stability.

In 1999 Senator Gramm shepherded a bill through Congress that gutted the Glass-Steagall Act allowing commercial banks, investment banks and insurers to merge—think Citibank, Travelers Group, Smith-Barney, etc. Then after George W. Bush’s election, Gramm slipped an amendment into an omnibus appropriations bill titled Commodity Futures Modernization Act. It deregulated derivatives trading and exempted energy trading from regulatory oversight----think the current economic disaster and the Enron debacle.

Meanwhile Un-curious George inherited a $236.2 billion surplus, spent more than $500 billion in Iraq and walked away leaving a $1.3 trillion deficit. The Republican hypocrisy is palpable!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010