Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Byron Norwood’s Mother

Byron Norwood’s Mother

I felt so sorry for Byron Norwood’s mother at the State of the Union speech tonight. She forever has lost her son in a war of lies; a war now unpopular with the majority of Americans. The best (and closest) symbolic reason she could find for her son’s ultimate sacrifice was embodied in the Iraqi woman who stood one row below her in the audience.

Two women caught up in a liar’s web, they embraced. The Iraqi woman seemed truly grateful to the U.S. for bringing a war for democracy to her country. Completing the liar’s web, the dead Marine’s dog tags became entangled in the democracy-seeking woman’s dress-jacket as the women continued to hug. For a brief moment, they were as one.

GOP cheerleaders showed appreciation almost wildly, perhaps a bit too long and loud for Byron Norwood’s mother’s comfort.

President Bush had prefaced the introduction of Byron Norwood’s parents by saying that Byron “died for our freedom”.

But he didn’t. Byron Norwood died for a nation inside which his Commander in Chief told him were dangerous weapons of mass destruction. The weapons, Byron’s Commander in Chief told him, were imminently threatening U.S. national security and the lives of Byron’s countrymen. The prospect of a mushroom cloud was lurking. That, we now know for certain, was untrue, and seems to have been no more than a ruse to turn Iraq into President Bush’s testing ground for him to become some kind of ‘Freedom-Messiah’ for posterity’s sake, all at great risk to the lives of U.S. troops.

“Bring ‘em on,” he’d said. As one might expect, when invited and dared, insurgents ‘brought ‘em on’. What was once a land run by a internationally-contained tin-pot dictator has become a haven for something far more insidiously destructive to the safety of the Iraqi people and the preservation of their culture.

Iraq is now a magnet for terrorists. Iraq is in shamble, traces of their cultural history destroyed. Before the pre-emptive war, there was no provable connection whatsoever between Iraq’s government and the 9/11 terrorists, even though we were lied to, time and time again, about it. [Speaking of 9/11, remember how many times you heard it invoked during the Republican convention? How many times did you hear it tonight?]

He was a brave and loyal soldier, but Byron Norwood didn’t die for ‘our freedom’. We’ve been a free nation for centuries now, and the only threat to our freedom these days seems to come from within.

Let’s be honest. Byron died for Iraq’s freedom, a freedom that has not arrived yet. Elections do not equate to democracy. It’s going to be a long haul for the Iraqis, and it’s not the U.S. military’s responsibility to unilaterally fight a never-ending and violent battle for a foreign government when there is no threat to our own national security. I’ll wager that Byron didn’t even understand wht he was actually fighting (and dying) for. If there was one salvation for Mrs. Norwood, I’d imagine it was the day the elections went off with less than 50 Iraqis being blown to bits. It gave her what she could grab onto as a noble reason for her son’s sacrifice.

How many more U.S. soldiers will die for a foreign government in a war they never should have been sent to initiate in the first place? Millions of Americans are gullible. We know that, after seeing their acceptance of being lied to (so boldly) by their own government and forgetting so easily, with the tried-and-true recipe of a few repeated lines in a political speech, an emotional scene set up for political effect, and a few ounces of all-too-positive media coverage.

If we say we’ll be leaving when democracy takes hold in Iraq, that might mean “never”. It’s time for an exit strategy to be made clear to the American public.

I don’t want to have to see another American soldier’s mother hugging another woman from some other foreign land whose sovereignty we had no business meddling in next year, or the year after that. President Bush’s overt threats to Syria and Iran tonight gave me no comfort or trust in his future judgements

Jesus Pan

Peter Jesus Pan

*A tip of the hat to Tony Francis

Tonight's SOTU Speech

Tonight's SOTU Speech

President Bush has been so dismally predictable up to now, that I feel as if I could write up my critique of tonight's State of The Union speech before he even opens his mouth to speak. I am already picturing the cheers and the standing ovation after the President gives mention of the recent farce of an election in Iraq. (Oh, yay.)

According to Atrios, the G.O.P. is intent on politicizing everything Iraq-related. Congressional Republicans are reportedly planning to show up at tonight's State of the Union address with purple ink on their fingers to send the message that they support Iraqi voters. At Buzzflash, they suggest trying the color red. A good idea. They may take credit, then, for all the dead at their bloodied hands and lying tongues.

A leak of the talking points for the SOTU is HERE at Raw Story.

William Rivers Pitt, hard at work at his Truthout blog, summons the memory of a State of the Union 'best-of-hypocrite-highlights' past, the infamous "sixteen words", and the reality that followed the spewing of those irresponsible words. Says Will:
"None of the agents themselves were found. A few rusted-out munitions were dug up. The mobile biologial weapons labs were weather balloon platforms sold to Iraq by the British in the 1980s. The uranium from Niger story has been so thoroughly debunked that a special investigator is looking into the lie. Several journalists are in the dock because they carried water for a couple of Bush hatchetmen who went after the CIA-agent wife of the man who first blew the whistle on this nonsense.

That's quite a bit of disgraceful history inserted into the long story of the State of the Union, yes? Way to be, George.

One specific policy proposal has been leaked prior to tonight's speech. Anyone on any kind of governmental assistance program better perk up and read this closely:

Bush to Call for Near-Freeze in Spending: Aide
By Adam Entous
Tuesday 01 February 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush will call for a near-freeze in the overall growth of government spending not connected to national defense to try to rein in record deficits, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Bush will make the proposal in Wednesday's State of the Union address, previewing the fiscal 2006 budget he will send to Congress next Monday.

A senior administration official pointed to Congress' approval last year of a 0.8 percent cap in non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending, and said Bush "will articulate a similar type of goal or principle, which his budget will adhere to."

With the White House projecting inflation at about 2 percent, government programs subject to the cap would face the budgetary equivalent of a cut in spending from levels enacted in fiscal 2005.

The senior administration official left open the possibility the cap would be less than 0.8 percent, saying Bush "believes we can even go further" in restraining spending growth.

Having pushed through sweeping tax cuts in Bush's first term as president, "it's now time also to focus on the priority of fiscal discipline," the official added.

Read the rest from Reuters."

--WR Pitt

The Bush administration will campaign hard on a platform filled with many lies and scare-tactics in the coming months in order to acccomplish their goal. That goal is to slowly kill any form of democratic socialism in America. The buffer between your economic security and the natural flaws in our imperfect Capitalism-based system will disappear. You, my friends, will be left with no protection as you plunge to the abyss of the greedy mammonites. You think you've seen the worst of exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few? Just wait until your built-in protections are no longer there!

Oh, well - what good is democracy, anyhow? No one really seems to care these days. It's much easier to fall into a comfy chair and stare at the framed stage the Republican party loves to set and watch their scary movies.

What about your economic welfare? Your future? There's always that charity down the street from you. I'd tell you to start saying your prayers, but that faith-based charity will force you to pray, anyhow, if you want what they're dishing out.

Welcome to Bushworld.

Right Bloggers Stalk CNN

Right Bloggers Stalk CNN

According to Rebecca MacKinnon, Right-wing blogs, including Little Green Footballs, have moved their sights from CBS to CNN. Find out why by visiting Rebecca's blog. It involves CNN's Eason Jordan, at Davos this week, asserting that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but of whom had, in fact, been targeted. Rebecca is hoping that, perhaps, other CNN reporters and free lance journalists blogging from Iraq (ie: Kevin Sites) will weigh in and let us know what they think.

Common Ills: Stories You Shouldn't Miss

Common Ills: Stories You Shouldn't Miss

Many thanks to Rob for the mention of Iddybud at Common Ills this week. It's not very often that I get to see my name up there with the likes of Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Since we're on the topic of The Common Ills, I wanted to mention a couple of their recent blog reports. (They're all superb, but these really stand out).

Be sure not to miss IRAQ ELECTIONS- DON'T BUY OPERATION HAPPY TALK It's everything I would like to have written. Why duplicate the effort when it's already been done so beautifully and competently?

Adam Nagourney and the NY Times have scrambled to get on the story they missed on Monday--Howard Dean emerged Tuesday as the almost assured new leader of the Democratic National Committee. (My note: "YEEEEHA!" I don't know about Adam, but count me in as one Nagurney who DOES support Gov. Dean for DNC chair! )

**Scrutiny Hooligans has a great piece on the Howard Dean story as well. See Give 'em Hope, Howard!

As The Lenten Season Approaches

People with disabilities are humanity’s privileged witnesses. They can teach everyone about the love that saves us;
they can become heralds of a new world, no longer dominated by force, violence and aggression, but by love, solidarity and acceptance

--quoted from a statement by Pope John Paul II in his January, 2004 message to an International Symposium in Rome

As The Lenten Season Approaches

The Lenten season will begin a week from today.
Being raised Roman Catholic, Lent is a season with deep meaning to me.
I believe we are all sojourners before our creator, whoever we deem that creator to be. We're little more than tenants on Earth, as all who came before us were. Our days on the earth are little more than time spent in shadows. Where our hope springs from is a deeply personal matter, but there is no doubt we all require hope to guide us through the shadows...we need a map to steer us through the shallows.

In the coming week, I plan to take extra blog-time for reflection on the Lenten season, politics aside. My secular friends, I beg, you will have to indulge me.

I would like to extend prayers and healing wishes for the Pope, who is gravely ill as I write these words today.

I wish to begin with some words from Henri Nouwen, who came clearly to a realization that his vocation was to spend his life among the poor. [* not the unwealthy, but the poor in spirit and the disabled.] In the mid-80s, he made a break with Harvard, which was a difficult one because he felt that he could do much there. He'd begun to believe, however, that the way, for him, was the "downward mobility" of living with the poor, rather than the "upward mobility" of the academic world. He moved to Trosly, France, where the L'Arche community for the disabled was founded by Jean Vanier and Pere Thomas. Having succeeded in the academic world where productivity was an expectation, Nouwen discovered the pain and joy of caring for people who some had seen as "useless". He was attracted to the extreme vulnerability and honesty of the disabled community. These disabled peopel were to become his teachers. They were the people that were going to bring him the words that he was destined to bring to others in his spiritual writing.

Henri Nouwen writes about this one Good Friday experience with the disabled in his book: The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey. Whether or not you are a Christian, I ask you to set aside any prejudice you may be harboring and listen to the heart of Henri Nouwen. What he derived from this experience is the inspiration that could only come from a communion of unconditional love. What we can personally take away from Nouwen's words is up to us.

In them, I have found great hope....

“During the liturgy at the L’Arche Community in Trosly, Pere Thomas and Pere Gilbert took from the wall the huge cross that hangs behind the altar and held it so that the whole community could come and kiss the dead body of Christ.

They all came, more than four hundred people – handicapped men and women and their assistants and friends. Everybody seemed to know very well what they were doing: expressing their love and gratitude for him who gave his life for them. As they were crowding around the cross and kissing the feet and the head of Jesus, I closed my eyes and could see his sacred body stretched out and crucified upon our planet earth. I saw the immense suffering of humanity during the centuries: people killing each other; people dying from starvation and epidemics; people driven from their homes; people sleeping on the streets of large cities; people clinging to each other in desperation; people flagellated, tortured, burned and mutilated; people alone in locked flats, in prison dungeons, in labor camps; people craving a gentle word, a friendly letter, a consoling embrace; people – children, teenagers, adults, middle-aged, and elderly – all crying out with an anguished voice: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

Imagining the naked, lacerated body of Christ stretched out over our globe, I was filled with horror. But as I opened my eyes I saw Jacques, who bears the marks of suffering in his face, kiss the body with passion and tears in his eyes. I saw Ivan carried on Michael’s back. I saw Edith coming in her wheelchair. As they came – walking or limping, seeing or blind, hearing or deaf – I saw the endless procession of humanity gathering around the sacred body of Jesus, covering it with their tears and their kisses, and slowly moving away from it comforted and consoled by such great love. There were signs of relief; there were smiles breaking through tear-filled eyes; there were hands in hands and arms in arms. With my mind’s eye I saw the huge crowds of isolated, agonizing individuals walking away from the cross together, bound by the love they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own lips. The cross of horror became the cross of hope, the tortured body became the body that gives new life, the gaping wounds became the source of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Pere Thomas and Pere Gilbert were still holding the cross. The last people came, knelt, and kissed the body, and left. It was quiet, very quiet..."

--Henri Nouwen

MIA in Iraq: $9 Billion U.S. Taxpayer Dollars

"Wake up, America!
Your democracy is disappearing!"

--Congressman Dennis Kucinich
see link

MIA in Iraq:
$9 Billion U.S. Taxpayer Dollars

Over the past nine months, we've had a mysterious disappearance of $30 million per day in Iraq funds.

Where is our $9 billion?

Did it go to dirty bribes?
Was it out-and-out theft?

Where is Claudia "oil-for-food" Rosett when America truly needs a great investigative journalist? Too busy delegitimizing the U.N., I guess.

Is there a new "Iran-Contra"-style scandal looming?

Why is there no call for a Grand Jury investigation for our unaccounted-for billions? Doesn't democracy (small d) mean ANYTHING anymore? Are Americans that stupid?

Which blogger or journalist might get the "deep throat" tip that will win them the Pulitzer? Josh Marshall? William Rivers Pitt? Duncan? Jerome? Markos? Anonymoses? We can hope that one of these excellent bloggers might be chosen as a trusted carrier of truth, if our own government abandons their sworn duty to the people.

I thank Dennis Kucinich for keeping this at the forefront for public discourse and action. I also thank Reps Tom Lantos and Henry Waxman.