Monday, August 31, 2009

If Obama Could Fly

If Obama could fly, the right wing of this country would demand that he be arrested for breaking the laws of gravity.

If he turned water into wine, they would demand that he be arrested for the illegal production of alcohol.

The absolute ridiculous nature of the claims coming from the right these days would almost be humorous were it not for the rabid, gun-packing, hatred spewing, blood lust that seems to be occurring hand in hand with the screaming paranoia. All of a sudden, individuals who sat by and said nothing for the last eight years while the government systematically violated the rights of every citizen of this country, now scream that the government is taking over their lives by trying to provide a little health care to the poor.

Throw in the birther nonsense, the "death panel" lies, and all the other ridiculous claims and the right appears to be a wounded beast, afraid and desperate.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AG Holder Takes the First Step

The journey of ten thousand miles begins with the first step. - Lao Tzu.

Attorney General Eric Holder took the first step towards returning the United States to its ideals with the appointment of Federal Prosecutor John Durham to begin an investigation into allegations of torture by CIA employees and their subcontractors.

The appointment of Durham coincides with the release of the Inspector General's report that the Department of Justice has prevented the public from seeing for approximately five years. The largely still redacted report reveals a number of events that are so troubling that one wonders what kind of individual could have conceived of such actions. To argue that several of these actions are anything but torture is to defy common sense.

- Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri was threatened with having his mother raped in front of him.

- one detainee died after being beaten with a flashlight by a person identified as an "independent contractor."

- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was told that his young children, whom he knew to be in custody, would be killed.

- mock executions were staged.

- hand guns and power drills were present at interrogations.

I have worked as a prison psychologist, examined sociopaths and murderers, witnessed violence become so casual that it was second nature, but these revelations shocked me. There are only a few of the worst and most ruthless in prison who could look at these actions as anything but pathological.

Yet such behaviors seemingly occurred with frequency. The actions described are just the tip of the iceberg. It would be impossible for multiple people to behave in such barbaric and inhumane ways without others knowing about it. In my reading of the report, there seems to have been concern that then Attorney General Ashcroft was aware of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed having been waterboarded "119 times." If there was no concern of illegality, why was there seeming concern about him knowing. Alternatively, if I have misread this and Ashcroft was merely being informed, then he was clearly in the loop. As Attorney General it would have been his duty to stop the actions, not sanction them.

Remember though, that Ashcroft was the one who refused to sign off on Gonzalez's efforts at even greater atrocities. I know, with the Bushies it gets hard to remember what crimes you're talking about.

The confusion about who was informed and what was ordered and by whom are questions that are miles down the road at present. Bush may be at the ten thousandth mile, but I'll bet Cheney will be somewhere around mile marker one. Now that Durham has begun an investigation he must take this wherever it leads him. The report already seems to suggest that the CIA people were deeply concerned that their actions would not be covered. It seems irrational to suggest that they would have spent so much time documenting and questioning how to proceed, i.e. requesting orders from headquarters unless they were following orders.

Who gave the orders? Who ordered that legal justifications be concocted to support the orders to torture? Who made up the legal justifications? It is not just about who inflicted the torture. Those who sanctioned, ordered and turned a blind eye are all guilty. The first step that Attorney General Holder has taken must be followed for the entire ten thousand miles.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Nation of Laws

Recent reports have revealed that the CIA under the Bush (mis)Administration subcontracted assassination squads from Blackwater and manipulated Homeland Security alert levels for political purposes. This last revelation comes from none other than former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge.

I really hate to keep bringing up the Bush-Cheney reign of error and terror - but will there be no end to the trail of crimes revealed? Follow the link on this site to "Hugh's List" for just a sampling of the treachery of the Bush (mis)Administration.

It is all well and good to wish to put matters behind us. However, when a litany of abuses and crimes have already been revealed and continue to be revealed, accountability must occur. At the very least, prosecutions for torture and war crimes must occur for the United States to be taken seriously again as a nation of laws. When one small group of people can lie us into a war, hire private assassination squads, manipulate the public into a frenzy of fear in order to gain politically, run clandestine prisons to specifically circumvent U.S. and international law, can rationalize torture and then claim that there should not even be investigations, there is no longer justice for all. There is a privileged elite that has become above prosecution.

There biggest crime I likely have left out: mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren when Bush with his henchman Hank Paulson turned the Treasury over to greedy banks. Did this really need to happen in retrospect? See this move for what it was - Bush rewarded his base, the have mores, at the end of his presidency. In so doing, he robbed your children and mine.

To act as if there is nothing to investigate or prosecute in the past administration is absurd. To allow the Bush (mis)Administration to go unchallenged is to turn your back on this country as a nation of laws.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How To Pay For Health Care

Estimates of the costs of health care reform generally range from about $800 billion to $1 trillion over a ten (10) year period. Even though these estimates can be disputed I will accept them for arguments sake at this point. Given these numbers, the upper costs of providing health care would be around $100 billion.

Looking at the budget of the U.S. government, there is an obvious source of money to pay for health care - the Defense Budget. According to the Department of Defense, the 2009 Federal expenditures for the military is approximately $515.4 billion!

Before the paranoid become apoplectic over the idea of making the nation less safe, let's put the numbers in perspective. According to multiple sources, the United States spends about half of the worlds total defense dollars. The two countries that might reasonably be considered a military threat on any par with the U.S. in the future are Russia and China. While numbers for both countries are a little difficult to nail down, the upper estimates of spending for both are around $70 billion. In other words, the combined military spending of China and Russian would have to be increased three to four times in order to match the U.S.

To look at this another way, if the U.S. cut military spending in half, we would still spend about four times as much as either of the only two countries that are even anywhere close to being a potential threat.

What is the U.S. so afraid of militarily? Did I mention that the nation that spends the second most on military spending is Great Britain, our ally? Again, what or who are we so afraid of? India, with hostile neighbor Pakistan sharing a more than thousand mile border, has the largest army in the world, and spends $17 billion total on its military. Our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, pose no military threat to us and one would have to be insane to contend otherwise.

There really is no justification for the excess in spending by the military except for the fact that the war industry, the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us against at the end of his term, has control of the people who control the purse strings. The United States could easily, without causing any threat to our security, free $100 billion dollars from the defense budget.

All money spent is a matter of priorities. The U.S. could easily fund health care by shifting its priorities from the killing business to health care.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Who Would Jesus Deny Health Care?

Who would Jesus deny health care?


Jesus was a socialist.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. - Matthew 25:40

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drowning In Blackwater

Blackwater Security, (now re-branded as Xe Services) the private army of mercenaries that served in a legal netherworld in Iraq, neither accountable to military nor Iraqi law, has now drawn attention for its questionable legal activities on American soil. In a report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation, Blackwater is revealed as a criminal organization that operated and continues to operate beyond the law.

Allegations made in Federal Court in North Carolina, now implicate Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, in crimes including murder, weapons smuggling, and destruction of evidence. The witnesses who have reportedly given testimony against Prince and other Blackwater/Xe employees, are so endangered by their actions that they are identified only as "John Doe #1" and "John Doe #2". John Doe #2 is described as a former Blackwater executive and John Doe #1 is an ex-Marine. If mercenaries and Marines are afraid for their life, that should provide some clue as to the perceived dangerousness of those they are accusing.

According to Scahill, Erik Prince selected individuals for duty in Iraq who shared his beliefs that Muslims should be killed. Blackwater, from the top down, seemed to see itself as on a new Crusade. The full story by Scahill involves stories of Iraqi being hunted and murdered by Blackwater employees. The full scope of this story can be viewed online at

What has happened in this country that a group such as Blackwater was ever allowed to exist? Is America an ideal that needs defending by mercenaries? If yes, is the answer to that, then we are already lost.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Iran's New Revolution

"A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past." - Fidel Castro.

Weeks after the Iranian election, long past what anyone thought could endure, the people continue to take to the streets and protest their stolen election. Just as the country changed course in 1979, so it is has again. It has not yet finished this new change. The new revolution is incomplete, but the outcome is decided.

The future of Iran has stepped forward to confront the past. Although that revolution of 1979 rid Iran of a past of rule by outsiders and their puppets, it continued with a past of censorship, oppression and authoritarian rule. That past is now being confronted as the young of the country struggle for a future free or the giant boot of tyranny pressing down on their throats demanding compliance and obedience.

The war has been won, for the future always defeats the past, but the battles remain to be fought. The question in Iran is to what lengths the past will go to hang on for a few more moments.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer