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Oregon Town Hall: Pot In 2015

What will be the social and health consequences of pot on children?  We ban smoking cigarettes in public spaces. what about pot?  

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Sign petition to stop Keystone XL Pipeline

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Trust in government is 'dead, Jim'

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Oreaviationwatch

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.


The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column


Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 



Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness, hunger & health care disparities in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

Heath Care Disparities: 

•    Adults in Oregon without insurance represent 22.3% of the state’s population compared to 19.7% of the nation.  In Washington County approximately 


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

Obamacare another good week

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 Explore Intel emissions

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#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  QuestionIntel.com  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001


    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 


"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

 

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

 

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?'

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" 

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921)

 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11


"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”  

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."

- Abraham Lincoln

 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."

- Edmund Burke 

 

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”

- Jonathan Swift

 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."

- Garrison Keillor


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Friday
Dec192014

PORTLANDIA AT NIGHT

Pioneer Square at Christmas, 2014

     Attended a HSCO workshop - Human Services Coalition - on Wednesday which gave me an excuse to walk around downtown Portland after the meeting.  Took MAX then jumped off at Pioneer Square Mall, then walked over to Macys to see the Christmas kid's area - "recon" for our grand daughter!  Santa, trains, reindeers - what's not to like?  The city is the place to be on the holidays not some cookie cutter mall.  Had a fun 2 hours - then home to the burbs.  

     A brief trip down the Holiday's memory lane for Lavanya Sophia Dondero -

     I was born in Seattle in 1942 so my first memories of Christmas are from our family home on 2007 Brandon Street on Beacon Hill.  As an only child I remember listening on my 45 RPM record player to all the favorites of the season but what sticks out even today is Spike Jones' "My Two Front Teeth."     

     My most wanted gift at that time which Santa delivered was a Fort Apache set which I still have remnants of devoted to infra-structure on my electric train empire.  I also talked to the main man at Seattle's Frederick & Nelson's store, got the pictures to prove it, Miss L. 

     But the best present of all time was my first American Flyer train set which Santa brought me when we lived for a year, 1948, in down town San Francisco.  It was a steam loco, PRR - Pacific with 4 cars.  Over the years I've managed to add to it somehow by magic.

     In 1951 my Dad was transferred again to San Francisco from Seattle and we lived in Palo Alto on Middlefield Drive.  Christmas in Palo Alto was amazing because despite no snow everyone in the area we lived in decorated their homes!  I've never seen such splendor on such a scale ever! 

     We moved to Roseburg in 1952 and by then Christmas was more of an annual ritual more memorable because of Christmas music heard in church and because my mother was a singer in the local Messiah Choir.  I've always loved The Messiah, a legacy for classical music from my mother and piano teacher! 

     But I do remember our first Christmas getting another Gilbert product besides my American Flyer trains - the chemical set.  I managed to stink up the house with some foul concoction one day.  Fun, fun, fun.  My career as a budding scientist came to an end.

     Sadly, my most enduring memories of Roseburg at that time - 1952-60 - was the annual flooding of the South Umpua River.  We never got flooded out but our home my Dad built in the Melrose area was marooned like an island and we had to jack the furniture up every Christmas - just in case! 

     My Dad's marriage in 1963 to my step mother, Edie (Edith) brought much more wonderful memories of her beautiful home decked out with the holiday spirit - the classic Nobel Fir and all the trimmings.  That continued after Ann and I returned to Oregon from 5 years in Pennsylvania. 

     The best story from that era was going with Dad, Edie, Ann and Tony (2 years old) with the camera club to cut our own Christmas tree in the Umpqua National Forest 40 miles east from Roseburg.  I'll never forget my Dad throwing a cut tree into drifted snow when a US Forest Service officer checked for permits!  

     Of course starting married life in Minnesota with Ann, 1966-69 in St Paul one always had snow, lots of it and stone cold 20 to 20- degree weather from November to March.  We eventually went "native" by getting into the spirit of St Paul's Winter Festival. My on my!  

     One Christmas Dad and Edie sent us a Nobel Fir all the way from Oregon!  Wow - what a gift - a "real" tree not some shriveled version from a local tree lot.  And then there was the Christmas I ended up in the U of Minnesota hospital with what they thought was TB but turned out to be just a bad flu bug! 

     By 1969 we were off to Pennsylvania where I taught at Dickinson College in Carlise, PA - a picture post card New England like town 30 miles north of Gettyburgh.  Our first Chritmas there we got snowed in but managed to drive to DC despite drifting snow and white out conditions - foolhardy youth!    

     Marion, sister Judy, Ann and I ended the holiday on New Year's Eve in NYNY.  NYNY is magical during the holiday season!  If only I could have gotten Ann to Time Square!  My first experience there was in 1963 as a Alfred Sloan Scholar from Whitman at Thanksgiving - the Pacific northwest kid in the big city. 

     Over our years in Carlisle from 1969-74 we spent several holidays with Jewish friends from St. Paul days window shopping at local antique stores and then driving to DC to enjoy the big city - the French Market in Georgetown and often ending the night at the National Cathedral, an ironic place for non-believers! 

     Living in Oregon from 1974 on - Christmas has been a traditional time with our two sons and Grandma Marion, Ann's mother with one memorable trip to Roseburg with Dad and Edie, Nancy, Clyde and Diane.  Sister Judy and Marion extended their stay due to a car malfunction.  I had to get back to work!   

     The family tradition which has been passed down to Jason and Lavanya is cutting the annual Christmas tree at Christmas Trees West just a mile from our home in the Grove.  Due to my asthma we've given up the tree but Jason keeps the family tradition going. 

     When Marion was with us and now with Lavanya my most vivid memories are the sight of the tree on Christmas eve night with all the presents surrounding it - opening to the next day was anti-climactic and we managed to make it a day long affair - why hurry!   

     Of course, having grandmother Marion and Ann doing their magic act with the turkey and trimmings was the real highlight of the day.  And is our tradition we didn't sit down to dinner until at least early evening.  And the rest of the week until New Years was spent eating left overs, yummy!  

     But best Christmas memories of all are watching Lavanya open her presents on Christmas Day.  I'll never forget as a 8 month old how fascinated she was over a Kleenex tissue pack and its crinkling sound!  Now her gift expectations are more tailored to the latest toys!     

     As a grandpa I enjoy watching Lavanya's eyes light up at Christmas time - actually all year long - that's the best present ever!  The circle of life comes back to what Christmas is all about - seeing the season though the eyes of a child and hoping it lasts all year long!      

     So my visit to Macy's the other night brought me full circle.     

Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday
Dec172014

IN THE NEWS...  

     President Obama announced "normalization" with Cuba.  It's about time after 50 years of failure!  It shows what a "lameduck" Potus can do.  Thanks, Barack for moving the needle...  

     But the dominant news was the killings of 132 Pakistani school children and 16 of their teachers by Taliban terrorists.  Will this be the game changing event in Pakistan that get's their government to do the right thing?  Hitting a soft target like a school illustrates the ideological mendacity of the Taliban and its medieval mind set.

School children in mourning....

Grieving parents...   

Other news: 

Tuesday
Dec162014

TORTURE - THE BACK STORY

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

     It is “boiler plate political science” that one of the major weaknesses in American government is that the “oversight” function within the executive and legislative branches is haphazard at best. 

     When a law is passed Congress seldom keeps track of how it’s being implemented unless a scandal of some sort occurs often trip wired by press inquiries.

     The executive branch is similarly slow in tracking the bureaucracy largely because day to day events and politics shapes the actions of the folks in the West Wing not long term attention to detail.  

     Events like Watergate or Iran/Contra and now the use of torture only get public attention of the “electeds” when some outside source “outs” the issue or the inside the beltway narrative changes. 

     The commentary below by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius examines the “story behind the story” showing that Congress itself all too often kicks the can…   

     As Ignatius points out “…this is a way of life on Capitol Hill…” His commentary reinforces my take on the Senate report in my blog post last week: 

US SENATE "TORTURE" REPORT

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The torture report’s one glaring weakness

By David Ignatius December 10

     Senate investigators have delivered an indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits. (AP)

     The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s use of torture was immensely valuable. But it should have addressed Congress’s own failure to oversee these activities more effectively. By giving lawmakers a pass, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) weakened the very process of accountability her report was meant to enhance.

     Feinstein was brave in resisting pressure to squelch her report, and she did the country a service. But with its thousands of pages, her investigation had one glaring weakness: Self-examination.

     A more honest report would have squarely faced the arguments made by former CIA officials that key members of Congress were informed about interrogation practices and, far from objecting, condoned the very CIA activities we now judge to have been wrong.

     RAD:  The question for Feinstein et al is regarding EIT aka torture is the old Nixon Watergate Era question – “what and when did the Congress know it?   

     “There’s great hypocrisy in politicians’ criticism of the CIA’s interrogation program,” wrote Jose Rodriguez, the CIA deputy director who oversaw it, in last weekend’s Washington Post. That allegation deserves a serious response, rather than the stonewall it got from Feinstein.

     “The CIA briefed Congress approximately 30 times” on interrogation, according to six former CIA directors or deputy directors in an article Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal. “The briefings were detailed and graphic and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection.”

     RAD:  “Approval to no objections” – the silence of the lambs?

     Are the former directors right? Not according to the Senate report, which claims: “The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.”

     For example, the report notes that the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee wasn’t briefed about the brutal interrogation techniques until September 2002, a month after they were first used against Al Qaeda member Abu Zubaydah.

     Let’s look at the 2002 complaint. A CIA review of “contemporaneous records” shows that this initial briefing to Sens. Bob Graham and Richard Shelby and Reps. Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi included “a history of the Zubaydah interrogation, an overview of the material acquired, the resistance techniques Zubaydah had employed, and the reason for deciding to use the enhanced measures,” along with a description of “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.”

     RAD:  If these select leaders of Congress knew – it belies that other members of Congress, especially those serving on the Intelligence Committees of both House and Senate didn’t know either! 

     Did the members of Congress push back hard, as we now realize they should have? Did they demand more information and set stricter limits? Did they question details about the interrogation techniques that were being used?  It appears that, with rare exceptions, they did not.

     Like the CIA contractors and officers who devised the program, the Justice Department officials who endorsed the legality of the harsh techniques, and the Bush administration that authorized their use, members of Congress made mistakes. They were silently complicit. They just don’t own up to that fact.

     RAD:  Keep in mind in 2002 we were well into the occupation of Afghanistan and planning to invade Iraq.  So the mood in the country and on the Hill was to be “tough.”  EIT fit the mood at the time. 

     The Senate report doesn’t hold members accountable. Instead, it blames others.

     DI:  This culture of blame-shifting and hypocrisy matters because it undermines oversight of intelligence activities: History (including the latest dark chapter on interrogation) suggests that members are for questionable activities when they’re politically popular, and against them when public opinion shifts.

     I wish the interrogation program were the only issue where Congress fails to hold itself to the same standards it uses for others. But this is a way of life on Capitol Hill.

     Take the recommendations of the Sept. 11 Commission. In addition to proposing a Director of National Intelligence to “connect the dots” in the executive branch, the panel urged reform of congressional oversight. 

     Among the recommendations was consolidating authorization and appropriation authority in the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Needless to say, the turf-protecting appropriations committees blocked the proposed reform.

     RAD:  When oversight invades the “space” or “turf” of governmental agencies or committees “turf protection” is the name of the game.  This is also aggravated by the highly decentralized nature of congressional committees where committee chairs operate their fiefdoms like medieval war-lords. 

     “Congressional oversight for intelligence—and counterterrorism—is now dysfunctional,” the Sept. 11 Commission warned in 2004. The record has improved, as the Feinstein report shows. Hopefully, this marks a new era of oversight and accountability. But when it comes to self-criticism on intelligence matters, Congress has once again dropped the ball.

     RAD:  In a highly partisan and gridlocked political system the chief operating principle is to “cover thine ass” not to “investigate thy errors.”  Only an aggressive press can enhance transparency and all too often the media has its own agenda. 

     But in a convoluted way the Founders never anticipated the “checks and balances” system operates better here than in other “democracies” as noted in this article my CC sent me about Canada.   My oh my!  

     "...One thing you could say about the United States: No other country’s government is able to self-critically document its own abuses and excesses with such regular alacrity, transparency and totality...  This sort of exposure, even with executive approval, would be almost unimaginable in, say, Canada..." 

     RAD:    I recall during the Watergate era and Monikagate Euros had a hard time comprehendi ng our penchant for public self-flagellation.  Perhaps it's our Puritan heritage which makes us "exceptional" - first deny, then admit after the "cover-up" fails?  Contradictions are US...   

 

Saturday
Dec132014

FROM FERGUSON TO DC - OUR SANCTIMONY/CIVILITY GAP

     The debate in the US over the Ferguson tragedy has led to a polarized debate over how and why Michael Brown was shot by a white cop, Darren Wilson.  This debate has also morphed into a national debate over the role of police in minority communities across the nation.    

     On a parallel path of national discordance, the vote on the omnibus tax bill to prevent a government shutdown has caused legislators to chose up sides as if they were in a shootout in the Wild Wild West with President Obama caught in the middle as if he were the sheriff in the movie High Noon. 

     In both cases, partisans on both sides of these debates are deluging e-mail, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter with alarmist missives as if the world was coming to an end if "their side" doesn't win this battle for the heart and minds of America.  There is no middle ground here.  

     As a Garrison Keillor fan I have a large collection of his tapes and CDs from Lake Wobegon.  In one I listened to last night there is a passage that ends a hilarious scene at a memorial service on the Lake which illustrates how silly humans are, so why not cut ourselves some slack is the takeaway question?  

     This was reinforced by an interview by PBS's Tavis Smiley of actor Rene Russo (Tin Cup fame) about her newest movie Nightcrawler which deals with the story behind the story of the local TV new's mantra - "it's got to bleed to lead."   Russo said to play her role required her to tap into her dark side...  

     In the interview Smiley discussing how an actor taps into the dark side noted that Martin Luther King, Jr. said that in the best person there is evil, in the worst is there is good.  They then went on to agree that it's our questions not the answers that are the key to our humanity.  

     As one looks at the current political landscape in the US from Ferguson, to enhanced interrogation and to the battle over the budget - we are exposed to a lot of ideological sound and fury which marginalizes us all and reduces the conversation to talking points where we talk past each other not with each other.  

     The state of our union is in disarray.  Each party plays a game much like we did in Vietnam - "we had to burn the village to save the people."  The goal is to seize the moment  as if politics was a sprint not a marathon.  Principles are important but politics is the art of the possible.  And the possible changes with every election.  

     Being very opinionated, a blogger, a pundit and citizen activist, I'm easily sucked into this vortex whether it is the politics of the Puzzle Palace in Salem, race relations in America or debates over the Middle East.  But sometimes I just want to get off the treadmill of clashing e-mails or blogs and retreat to the train room or golf.  Enough! 

     Social media accentuates this diving into the dumpster of "I'm right and you're wrong" pseudo conversation.  A check of online "comments" of any media source reinforces for me how infantile we become when we're not talking face to face, we say things in e-mail or online we'd never say to each other in person!  

     The same is true of protest marches and political rallies - they are not occasions for rational thought processes but emotional discharge - what the Car Guys term "comments unencumbered by the thought process."  And sadly, more and more of what goes for discussion of politics in the USA and beyond is like this - discourse reduced to junk mail.    

     Now back to Ferguson.  What began this tragedy?  A young man stealing a cigararello from a convenience store.  Why did Michael Brown do this?  I've never read anything which explains his actions.  Similarly, why did officer Wilson confront two young black men for simply walking in the middle of a street? 

     But I have more questions - why do African-Americans end up in jail disproportionately to their percentage of the population?  Where are the parents of these kids, usually sons?  Why aren't they raising their "sons" to help them make good choices instead of life threatening ones?  Even a college prof/parent has had sleepless nights on this issue....  

     I have a similar set of questions for local police departments - why don't you recruit more minority cops?  Is there something in your training methods that requires a "shoot to kill" mentality?  Why aren't you held to standards of accountability that a local DA would hold anyone alleged to have killed somebody?  

     Now to Congress:  Why are the two parties engaging in the politics of playing chicken when the risk to the public if there is a governmental shut down will do harm to many - especially the poor, kids and the middle class.  Why do you privilege big business lobbyists from Wall Street?  

     For Senator Elizabeth Warren is your last minute alarm simply self promotion, a prelude to positioning yourself for a 2016 presidential bid or are you serious about being a US Senator?  I'm not happy with giving Wall Street more loopholes but this move has been in play for years - why go to the matt now? 

     News alert - the budget billl passed with all its goodies and warts.  The next act in the theater of the absurd starts in January - a prelude to 2016. 

     For President Obama, Majority Leader Reed, Minority Leader Mitchell and Speaker Boehner you have the power to end this nightmare.  Why does one get the feeling each of you is playing a game here?  You all do speeches but you never seem to sit down with each other out of the limelight to talk "with" instead of talk "past" each other!  

     At the local level here in Washington County I've documented how duplicitous County leaders aka the TROIKA are but their defenders and detractors can reduce the discussion to the level of school yard catcalls.  And the contentious battle in public schools over testing get's downright nasty as the article below illustrates: 

     Like Tavis Smiley and Renee Russo - I have more questions than answers and I haven't even gotten to the Senate "Intelligence" Committee report,  Let me add this question - why did it take so long to get this report out and why were no CIA officers interviewed - just e-mails scanned? 

     For those who want to indict Dick Cheney for crimes against humanity why stop there - why not go after every CIA officer complicit in EIT?  Back in the day, I wanted Nixon in jail for Watergate, then Reagan for Iran/Contra.  But the politics of recrimination would poison the well by creating a constitutional crisis? 

     The politics of vengeance as opposed to reconciliation makes discourse impossible.  What is needed is communication not score settling.

     It begins with we the citizens as voters.  We are the deciders at election time.  So look in the mirror - "you've seen the enemy, it's not them, it's us."  You can blame the media, the politicians, the lobby, the PACs - as long as Americans are divided into Red and Blue voters ideological gridlock will be the name of the game!  

     We've ceded the political process to our worst angels not our best angels.  Shame on us!   

      When engaged in face to face negotiations one is less likely to default to a zero sum game if you want a successful result where everyone feels they were heard.  The "grand bargain" on urban/rural reserves was like this.  I hope that our "good neighbor agreement" negotiations with Intel "can" have a similar result.    

     But right now I feel we too often are like trains passing in the night. 

 

 

Friday
Dec122014

US SENATE "TORTURE" REPORT

     A friend of mine, a fellow progressive, after the Senate released its report on Tuesday of torture, rendition et al in the Bush II era had misgivings – which I also share:  

 

1.  It seems very politically motivated, Democrats getting even with Bush, Cheney and the boys before the Republicans take over and hide the report.  I think the motivations are more political than truth-telling.  A bit of hypocrisy in the committee’s justifications for release.

2.  There’s a strong self-righteous whiff to it—look at what democratic America is doing, unlike bad states like North Korea, Russia and China! It’s a little like Catholics going to confession, getting absolution, and then going about their business unchanged in any fundamental way.

3.   It gives more fuel to the anti-American forces around the world, unnecessarily endangering innocent (and guilty) people. Why give our enemies more reason to attack Americans whatever their views, many likely not supporting the torture the government participated in?

4.  What good will come from the release?  I see a lot of patting ourselves on the back that we can admit our faults to the world but will the world see it that way?

     I can see a lot of bad but little good. The whole world knows that we’ve tortured, do we need to give it a detailed examination? Why isn’t a brief admission of that fact enough? We could say that it was a response to the 9/11 attacks, followed by the recognition that torture resulted in no actionable evidence and then acknowledging that we stopped the practice—why isn’t that enough?

     It just seems that admission is enough to satisfy the demands of truth; the details are not necessary and endanger too many people. 

     After time for more thought my friend is conflicted.

     After reading some of the details, I think it's important that the American people know what was done in our name. That should ensure that the appropriate watchdogs of our system will be more vigilant and responsive if these conditions should happen again.

     But giving this information to the world (which will happen sooner or later anyway) creates more danger for our citizens and also the opportunity for others to self-righteously condemn us for what they've been doing themselves for years.  So maybe we can hope for a bit of humility from us as we condemn others for their barbarisms. Condemning ISIS now would be hypocrisy at its finest.

     In a better world, those responsible for the torture would be tried and punished (well, in a better world it wouldn't have happened), but we don't live in that world. We live in a world where the strong and the victors make the rules and don't have to follow them. If we'd lost a war or were weak, the perpetrators wouldn't get off. Maybe we'll have to be satisfied with the verbal condemnation of those nations we admire, assume some humility and less self-righteousness, and try to do better in the future. 

     It's impossible for only us to know what happened, so I guess I'm saying that what's happening is about the best we can hope for. The world knows what we did and condemns us for it, and we admit it and try to do better in the future. It's a messy world we live in and we're a big part of that mess; that doesn't mean we're North Korea or or China or ISIS, but it does mean we should do our best not to make it messier.

     We've failed on this issue, but we do have better ideals and can do better.  Let's be on with it.

     RAD: I agree with my friend.     

     There is nothing much new here but recycled news which gives a pretext for a media feeding frenzy over old news. And any new details will put Americans at risk not just CIA types but business people, tourists and students from the USA who are in the Middle East. 

     Watching CNN’s coverage Tuesday the examples of “enhanced interrogation” or torture used in the Bush II administration were clearly morally repulsive, nauseating and disgusting.  It reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s phrase “the banality of evil.” 

     But this ended in 2009 when Obama became president and possibly earlier as the Bush II era ended.  Nobody can justify it.  Senator John McClain, a Vietnam POW said it best:  torture "stained our national honor" and did "much harm and little practical good." 

     Opening this wound again on the conscience of America (and her allies) just numbs us even more to the callous regard for human beings reinforcing so much in American popular culture that glorifies outlaw violence and our siege mentality. 

     Enough of pulling this scab off – well maybe… 

     It certainly gives ISIS more reasons to take hostages to use for ransom or for beheadings on social media.  I suspect the next news alert from the State Department will be a warning for Americans not to travel to the hot spots in the Middle East.

     Such a warning is out…  no surprise!        

     The spin by the ACLU on NPR that Obama might want to give the people who engaged in this stuff a pre-emptive "pardon" in lieu of a trial is absurd...  Unless the pardon included Bush I and Cheney et al it is more posturing and would create a backlash among the GOP as they return to power!  

     As a partisan, I’d love to see George W. Bush and Dick Cheney face prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity for approving “enhanced interrogation.”  But they can claim plausible deniability, the old Reagan Iran/Contra mantra otherwise we’re just looking for a sacrificial lamb. 

      The CIA says they didn’t tell Bush II what they were up to in the Dubya era. One suspects it was the classic wink and a nod. The national security state what Oliver North during the Iran/Contra hearings called the “enterprise” – a stand lone entity free from scrutiny is alive if not well. 

      The nation has known about torture and rendition since early on in the Bush II era.  Cheney acknowledged it publically on TV then and this week again! Why revisit this now?  One reason, people like Oregon’s Ron Wyden and California’s Diane Feinstein are burnishing their “tough love” credentials. 

     As members of the oxymoronic named “Intelligence” committee, they have been briefed for decades on this “stuff” as Joe Biden would call it.  If they didn’t ask the right questions in public hearings or in executive sessions, they were derelict in exercising their oversight duties as members of Congress.  

     Feinstein got pissed off because she found out the CIA monitored her computer. Well, the data-mining folks at the CIA, NSA et al have been engaged in spying on us since the early ‘60s as any civil rights or peace activist from that era knows!  Golly gee Diane!    

     Granted most Americans were clueless about this torture “stuff” for good reason. Since 9/11 Americans have been in economic “shock and awe” dealing with the Great Recession and too busy making ends meet to pay attention. That’s where the media and Congress comes in. 

     After 9/11 the public supported this “stuff” trading freedom for security.  Only until the war on terrorism became unpopular as we got bogged down in another increasingly problematic quagmire did public opinion change - though a majority still supports EIT!     

     Any NPR regular knew what was going on and our collective wake up call was Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib. Nobody can claim to be ignorant – if they were it was willful ignorance.  And as before the law but also before higher law (natural law) ignorance is no defense.  

     So spare us the gnashing of teeth and walling in the halls of Congress.  We have turned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over to the locals and their allies in the region (if they will step up).  Our attacks on ISIS et al are a matter of public record. One hopes the era of torture and rendition is really over.  

     Sadly the time for US legal action against the Dubya era Grand Inquisitors is over. 

     But that shouldn’t stop foreign governments from charging Bush II era officials with “crimes against humanity” and war crimes. Bush II is not at risk but VP Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Diector George Tenet, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo (author of the “torture” memos) should all be on the list. 

     Will they be tried before the World Court?  Not a chance in hell.  Why not?  Because when you start picking at the US side of the scab foreign leaders such as Tony Brown and MI5 et al will be implicated…  Where would this end?  But it will limit these “cretins” travel itineraries!

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     Wikipedia has updated the Bush era EIT policies and given it historical context:  

     For those who want to know more and have strong stomachs here’s the report: 

      The American media has not been unscathed…  not even NPR –

     “In the summer of 2009 NPR decided to ban using the word torture in what was a controversial act. Its Ombudsman Alicia Shepard's defense of the policy was that "calling waterboarding torture is tantamount to taking sides." But UCal-Berkeley Professor of Linguistics Geoffrey Nunberg, pointed out that virtually all media around the world, other than what he called the "spineless U.S. media", call these techniques torture.