President Jimmy Carter and Sen. John Edwards Podcast in Atlanta
The photo you see on the left features Senator John Edwards and former President Jimmy Carter. Would you believe that they were podcasting at the Carter Center in Atlanta today? The podcast (also known as a 'Bookcast') is due to be up at the One America Committee (OAC) media center early next week. The special Bookcast will include questions from readers of the One America Committee Book Club where we've been discussing President Carter's book Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis [Simon and Schuster]. I have been moderating the Book Club and I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am that President Carter so kindly agreed to participate in this podcast with Senator Edwards.
A sidenote, President Carter and his gracious wife Rosalynn were fresh off of a trip to Nicaragua where there were preparations being made for monitoring November's elections, and they came back home to quietly celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary last Friday in Plains. What a couple - and what exemplary lives they've led - separately and together.
Reagan-Era Ally Gorbachev: Rumsfeld and Cheney Are Shallow Hawks
Former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev mentions that Bush has "character", and you will note he did not mention what kind of character...he only says it involves being determined. The fact that he classifies Rumsfeld and Cheney as shallow hawks and Americans as people with a winner's complex leads you to see that he sees Bush as a stubborn bully with a superiority problem who falls in with shallow hawks.
Rep. Hoekstra Late in Questioning Bush on Intelligence
The Whistleblowers' (NSWBC) Dirty Dozen List includes Rep Peter Hoekstra, who is finally shedding some of his partisan Fox News defensiveness toward our power-abusing president.
Rep. Hoekstra, like so many of his fellow rubber stamp colleagues in Congress, is a day late and a dollar short. Democrats have been screaming for meaningful investigations and have been called unpatriotic by these obfuscating partisans who lead the committees repsonsible for oversight. Shame on them. They only come out of their rubber stamp shells when an election looms in their future.
Have you heard about Hot Soup? Howard Kurtz describes it as a Web site that a group of political strategists hopes will eventually reach 30 million opinion leaders, elevate public discussion on matters from politics to sports to culture and, in the process, make them some money. Sounds pretty savvy - pretty slick. Just like my blog. (Hahahaha.) I'm sure it will be interesting. Sister Wonkette says..
Et Tu, Bob Woodward? We know by now that Judy Miller, the New York Times, and the Washington Post were conned and used in the days leading up to the disastrous Iraq War - but who would have believed that Woodward would slide down to a steno pad career at the President's service?
Robert Parry reports his suspicion that Bob Woodward was not playing the part of an investigative jounalist in 2002:
[..] "...in the two years since publication of Plan of Attack, other evidence has emerged suggesting that Woodward was acting less as an objective journalist than as a stenographer taking down the preferred history of Bush’s inner circle. The legendary hero of the Watergate scandal may have been the one who was slam-dunked."
[...] According to [Ron] Suskind, the two CIA officials—Tenet and McLaughlin—have very different recollections of the Dec. 21, 2002, meeting. They remember it more as “a marketing meeting” about how to present the WMD case, not a review of the quality of the underlying intelligence.
Both Tenet and McLaughlin say they don’t even recall Tenet exclaiming the words “slam dunk,” although Tenet won’t dispute the version from Bush and his top aides, Suskind wrote.
“McLaughlin said he never remembered Tenet saying ‘slam dunk,’” Suskind wrote. “He doesn’t recall Tenet ever, in any context, jumping up and waving his arms.... The President’s question, McLaughlin recalled, was ‘whether we could craft a better pitch than this—a PR meeting—it certainly wasn’t about the nature of the evidence.’”
Mr. Parry reports that the preponderance of evidence tilts against Mr. Woodward’s version of the "slam-dunk" story.
For instance, in 2005, leaked British documents revealed Bush—in 2002 and early 2003—to be eagerly pushing U.S. intelligence agencies toward hyping and twisting the evidence to build the strongest possible case against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
According to one of those documents, the infamous Downing Street Memo, dated July 23, 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had already secretly agreed to Bush’s plan for invading Iraq—nearly a half year before the “slam-dunk” meeting.
As a rule, I do not post entire articles because of ethics and copyright issues. I feel so strongly about the issue of mental health, suicide, and depression that I would prefer that this heartfelt column by Richard Moe be reposted in its entirety so that no meaning is lost in abbreviation.
What my son couldn't tell us Column by Richard Moe
The recent death of publisher Philip Merrill brings to mind the observation of Henry David Thoreau that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. While it's impossible to know exactly what motivated Merrill to take his own life, few, if any, apparently saw signs that caused them to suspect he might be considering doing so. And so it is with those who contemplate this final act; it is the most personal decision an individual can make, not to be shared with family or friends but to be reached entirely alone.
Our son Eric took his own life three years ago. He was an extraordinarily gifted young man of 35 - an artist and self-taught architect and designer with remarkable intuitive abilities. He also possessed a wonderful sense of humor, enormous personal integrity and an exuberance for life that made it inconceivable he would ever choose to end it.
But in recent years he had suffered an increasingly debilitating series of episodes that temporarily immobilized him. He worked hard to understand and overcome his problem, and he sought help.
Two months before his death he was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Although he began taking a prescribed medication, he continued to experience great pain, and he told me twice that he didn't know what was happening to him. We could find no safe place for him to go. He was very close to his family, and we know he didn't want to hurt us. But in the end he concluded, for reasons that will never be fully known to us, that he had no other choice.
Our society does not encourage conversation about death, and certainly not about suicide. The silence can sometimes be deafening for families that have experienced it.
The taking of one's own life is still a taboo subject in most places, laden as it is with judgment. Many people still associate suicide with shame, as if it were a morally heinous albeit tragic event.
It has been our family's experience that most people are reluctant to raise the subject because, in addition to being uncomfortable with it, they do not want to cause us more pain. On the contrary, we feel no shame regarding Eric's death, and we are eager to talk about him because we loved and respected him to the end and still do. We wish he hadn't taken his life, but his life still has great meaning for us. I am especially proud of how courageous he was to live as long as he did with this debilitating illness and how he developed his spirit to help him endure pain that cannot be imagined.
Most suicides are related to some form of mental illness - depression, acute anxiety or myriad other disorders. We cannot begin to understand these disorders and their consequences until we acknowledge and discuss them frankly and publicly.
Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression; I am one of them. Compounded as it is by the increasingly stressful nature of our society, particularly in such intense work and social environments as Washington and New York, it is probably no exaggeration to say that America is on its way to a mental health epidemic.
Fortunately, a few people are helping us to see mental illness for what it is - a complicated illness that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with like any other.
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has been making this point forcefully for decades. Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, wrote eloquently of her own attempted suicide in her classic, "An Unquiet Mind." In publicly acknowledging the need to take medication for the rest of her life, she has become a leading advocate for greater awareness and for how medication can save lives. Sen. Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican, has recently written a deeply moving book, "Remembering Garrett," about his 21-year-old son's suicide.
These are important contributions to public understanding that are necessary if we are to lift depression and the suicide it sometimes causes out of the shadows and into the daylight. Only then can the mass of men and women who lead lives of quiet desperation hope to lead lives of peace and fulfillment.
Richard Moe is president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This column originally appeared in the Washington Post.
In the Absence of Moral Leadership in Government, The American Peace Movement Leads the Way
A CODEPINK member, a 71-year old named Chloe Jon-Paul is arrested at a Washington, D.C. Independence Day Rally for Troops Home Fast. She attempted to enter the march with her sign after an Iraq war veteran was arrested, and she was also arrested by the police. While she was being arrested, Jon-Paul said to the police, “I’m a 71-year-old woman. I don’t want to be arrested. But if you’re preventing our veterans from speaking for peace by arresting them, well, you’ll have to arrest me too.”
The pace of peace sentiment in the United States has been accelerating, as Tom Hayden points out in a blogpost called Shifting Winds on Iraq.
He says the Iraqi government we've called "puppets of the U.S." will soon be taking on a new role as the peacemakers in their own country, and he warns the American peace movement to keep a "withdraw now" message without a counter-productive demand for arbitrary timelines. If anyone calls the new Iraqi government "soft on terror" for attempting to achieve some level of peace in the nation that the U.S. occupation has turned into a chaotic killing field, remember that the toughest hawks who have cried "stay the course through it all will soon be looking mighty hypocritical.
Many American officials, past and present, are worried over the strain a prolonged occupation would have on the armed forces--especially because a draft is a political impossibility. They are intensely worried also about the increasing power of Iran to support its Shiite allies in Baghdad. The "Iran factor" as well as the insurgency account for the recent tilt of the US embassy toward empowering the Sunni minority to balance Teheran's influence throughout the Iraqi government and security forces. Some in the security establishment, perhaps even US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilizad, himself a Sunni, may think a deal fortifying the Sunnis is better than allowing so much of Iraq to fall peacefully to Iran. The contradiction is between renegotiating empire and attempting to expand it by force.
The American peace movement will have to carefully evaluate these events, including the actual content of any peace proposals, before issuing demands any broader than "withdraw now." The time seems at hand for Americans to at least support the Iraqis' own peace process, especially if it includes timelines, interim cease-fires, prisoner releases, reconciliation and compensation.
The Iraqi government, in pursuit of peace, will release prisoners who've killed American soldiers and demand extradition for more and more American military members who have allegedly murdered innocent Iraqi citizens. Perhaps US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilizad may think a deal fortifying the Sunnis is better than allowing much of Iraq to fall so easily to Iran. To prevent any more slaughter under occupation, it's inevitable that the Iraqis may have to set the timetable and tell the U.S. to get out. Bush and the rubber stamp hawks will find a way to try and make that morally and ethically palatable.
War knows no morality except its own brand - totally remote from a civil society's code of mores and ethics. Talking points will change with every change of course to make it seem that there was never a change in the course. Most Americans now believe that U.S. soldiers never belonged in Iraq. It's clear that we're only there because we owed some old debt to one of the many non-democratic (or pseudo-democratic) regimes in the Middle East with whom we've been co-dependent while George W. Bush is still boasting, in all his buffoonery, about the way that we are "speading democracy" throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, the U.S. government, under his watch, has done virtually nothing to tackle the real problem of energy/oil dependence. It's a great farce, and the American people have finally begun to understand it. We agree that we have to get our troops the hell out of Iraq and pay, with honest international cooperation and good faith, the price to make up for the wrongs the Bush administration has done. Above all, we agree that we want no new unnecessary wars planned for our sons and daughters.
Mr. Hayden credits the American Peace Movement for the work they've done, but laments that the Kerry-Feingold Democrats have not been a force that has gotten much farther ahead, in terms of peacemaking, than the Iraqi government on their own. It looks as though the Irai government may be the ones left alone to press for timelines. This has been a source of disappointment for many Americans who oppose the war in Iraq and would like to see an immediate beginning to troop withdrawl - all the while hoping the Democrats could have asserted the appropriate pressure by presenting a united front - getting themselves out ahead of the Iraqi government and looking like the leaders they'd like to be. Citizens for peace are truly the leaders for whom they've been waiting and they need to keep up the pressure on the hawks to put an end to the occupation (and any plans for permanent bases in Iraq) at once. Of course, it's never too late for Democrats to get together on this rather than worrying about who's going to be the next Democratic presidential candidate. There's a lot of respect being lost out here that could be regained if someone in the Democratic party could take a convincing lead and worry less about "positioning" themselves.
Mr. Hayden says:
...clearly antiwar forces have been a significant factor in limiting the Administration's options as the November elections approach and with presidential politics already under way. At this point, it appears that the Kerry-Feingold Democrats are barely ahead of the Iraqi government, if at all. Hawkish Democrats and Republicans, on the other hand, might wind up staying the course, while the Iraqis themselves press for a timeline to prevent any more slaughter under occupation.
The fasters are are demanding that we bring our troops home from Iraq. They want the White House and Congress to call for:
The withdrawal of all U.S. from Iraq;
No permanent bases in Iraq;
A commitment to fund a massive reconstruction effort but with funds going to Iraqi, not U.S., contractors.
At an Independence Day rally for Troops Home Fast, a 71-year old and a 25-year old Iraq war veteran were arrested. From D.C. IndyMedia:
Geoffrey Millard, 25, an Iraq War veteran who served on active combat duty for 13 months, walked into a break in the parade with a sign that read: “Support the Troops, Bring Them Home Now.” He was dressed in his military jacket with “Iraq Veterans Against the War” on the back and his many medals pinned to the front. He was stopped by the police, and when he tried again to enter the parade with his anti-war message and was subsequently arrested. As he tried to explain to the police that he simply wanted to march in the parade with his message, the crowd chanted “He earned the right!” and “Let the vets in!” behind him.
“When I was in Iraq, I used to dream of going home, getting on with my life. But I can’t be silent now, knowing the horror of what is going on over there,” said Millard. “It is my duty now to speak out against this immoral, illegal war. That’s why I felt it was my right and my duty to march in the 4th of July parade.”
If you're a non-faster, you can still help. You can sign the Voters Pledge that says you will only vote for candidates who call for a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, and to sign the Declaration of Peace, saying that if we do not have such a plan by September 21, you will participate in a week of nonviolent actions against the war.