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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Who's That at the Back Door

Who's that knocking at the back door? Why it's "G"lobal "W"arming bush and his back door draft, of course. Although constantly talking about reducing the troops on the ground in Iraq, the truth of the matter is that more and more troops are going to be necessary to simply keep the status quo in the nation where, according to "the Doofus-in-chief", the "mission" has already been "accomplished". By the way, the status quo includes a civil war and sectarian violence.

Already, an Alaskan Army Brigade has had their stay extended in Iraq for at least an additional three months. A brigade consists of somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers. Hey... maybe they'll get back to the 49th state in time for the winter!

The back door draft will recall some 2,500 troops at a time with no set limits. If my son was in the Boy Scouts, I'd be worried.

"Since this is going to be a long war, we thought it was judicious and prudent at this time to be able to use a relatively small portion of those Marines to help us augment our units."
-Marine Col. Guy A. Stratton, head of the manpower mobilization section

In other words, start singing "I'll be Home for Christmas" and add the words "I hope".

Many of the men and women who are going to be called up are from the "Ready Reserves." These are people who have begun lives which include families, mortgage and car payments and jobs in the civilian world. Many of them have though that they're out for good and their call-ups will be a huge, unwelcome surprise. Many won't have jobs to come back to, either. These "Ready Reservists" are at the whim of Secretary of Defense Donald "We Don't Know What We Don't Know" Rumsfeld's Pentagon, for a total of eight years, so don't look for any of that mercy.

Although, much to my surprise, the Bushies haven't instituted a full-fledged draft (at least not yet), they have figured out ways around that. Even though the obvious evidence shows that there are just not enough troops to accomplish all of "Bush's Crusades" worldwide, somewhere along the line someone on the right will start telling us all that re-enlistments are on the rise or, after lowering their expectations, that the armed forces are meeting their recruiting goals. This, of course, isn't and won't be true despite the sign-up and re-enlistment bonuses which now can exceed $35,000.


Gee... I hope I didn't just give these PNAC-Neocon-ultra-rich Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" a new idea

As long as war profiteers like Blackwater and Halliburton can make a buck "filling in", there might not be a sixties-style-Vietnam-era draft in our future, unless, of course, they can figure a way to privatize the army.

Maybe we could start selling advertising space on our soldiers' uniforms. Something tasteful. The helmets could be sponsored by TYCO plastics and the uniforms could look like a NASCAR driver's fire resistant driving jumper.


"This battle was brought to you by the good people at ATT&T. We're Listening."

-Noah Greenberg

The Guys at the Bottom Rung

Two U.S. Border Patrol Agents, have been found guilty, and now face prison terms of upwards of 20 years for doing their jobs--apprehending an illegal alien at our border!

Even more outrageous, this illegal alien is suing the U.S. for $5 million for violating his civil rights!

I have just signed a petition calling for the President to pardon these two Border Agents and I'm asking you to join with me by clicking here for the full story and the petition: http://www.grassfire.org/142/petition.asp?PID=11678226&NID=1

-Forwarded by Sean (Mr. Blue-Sky)


Being Supported By Bush

I read this and figured it just couldn't be that cut and dried. Surely the Bush administration wouldn't let two border agents get convicted for a crime that, at its worst, seems to be two police officers who might have been over-zealous at doing their jobs. After all, US border patrolmen are really police officers with a gain, continuous "beat" to walk and very little help in walking it.

However, this all fits in with the Bush administration's failure at backing those in their employ and in harm's way. Here are the rest of the details. You decide:

Border Patrol Agent Ignacio and Agent Ramos Jose Alonso Compean were fighting a very large and determined illegal alien, rolling in the dirt, dirty and bloody, attempting to make him give up.

In other words, illegal alien and drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican citizen, was resisting arrest and was dealt with in the terms that any policeman in the US would have dealt with him: Forcibly.

It was then when Aldrete-Davila, already with his gun in hand, had turned at Agent Ramos. Ramos fired back and struck the smuggler-illegal alien in the back. The smuggler escaped into the bushes.

The question? Why were they charged and why were they convicted?

"According to the U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted the agents, the man they were chasing didn't actually have a gun, shooting him in the back violated his civil rights, the agents didn't know for a fact that he was a drug smuggler, and they broke Border Patrol rules about discharging their weapons and preserving a crime scene.
"'Even more broadly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof said, Ramos and Compean had no business chasing someone in the first place.
"'It is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing. The Border Patrol pursuit policy prohibits the pursuit of someone.'" said Kanof

-from http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_4141562

There were conflicting versions of the events that day. Suspect turned witness Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila was given immunity for his testimony. Apparently he's a known drug dealer who has made this trip before. He is now suing us, the US taxpayer for $5 million.

These agents are both veteran border patrolmen and Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

"They don't throw this many charges at guys they've caught with over 2,000 pounds of marijuana. There's murderers and child rapists that are looking at less time than me."
"I am not guilty. I did not do what they're accusing me of."
-Agent Ramos

I have a different take on the situation.

Maybe the zeal was on the US Attorney's side if the courtroom. Maybe the Bushies figured it was easier to show that they are the true supporters of immigration reform by showing that they have no problem in trying and convicting border patrolmen for doing their job. maybe it was even easier to do so because these patrolmen have Spanish names and are, quote probably, from Mexican descent.

One wonders white agent Smith or Jones would have faced these same charges. Much like the lessons not learned at Guantanamo Bay or Abu-Ghraib, the Bushies see a way to look firm and supportive of their victims while convicting low-level US servicemen, women and border agents. After all, they are easy to discard as one would sacrifice a pawn in a game of chess. And if they're brown, black or any have any other complexion other than lily-white, and a name to match, so much the easier.

The sacrifices made are by our "boots on the ground", and the Bushies have no problem throwing them into the mouth of the volcano.

Read the story and decide for yourself.

-Noah Greenberg

It's Just a Word

Colin Brown writes in the Independent that British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott "has given vent to his private feelings about the Bush presidency, summing up George Bush's administration in a single word: crap. . . .

"The remark is said to have been made at a private meeting in Mr Prescott's Whitehall office on Tuesday. . . .

"The Deputy Prime Minister's office said that the meeting was private and would not confirm or deny his use of the word 'crap'."

-Forwarded by Casey Sweet

In response to "A Man for All Seasons", Jenny Hanniver writes:

I loved those quotes from A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, one of my favorite plays--and films. However, during my graduate work in Medieval studies I learned a good deal more about Thomas More. Bolt based the play largely on a hagiography of More written by his daughter, Margaret Roper, to whom her father could have done no wrong, and glossed it further with his own modern attitudes. It is unfortunate that the historical Thomas More, Lord Chancellor during Henry VIII's savage persecution of England's proto-Protestant Lollards and English Lutherans, became a persecutor and burner of heretics.

People need to know that, and the play is better understood as a reflection of Margaret Roper's and Robert Bolt's points of view, not as Thomas More's genuine biography. My own favorite quotation--although I can remember it only in paraphrase--is when author Bolt puts these words into More's mouth: "What I believe is not so important. What is important is that I believe it!" It may not be about the real-life Thomas More, but it's still a great play and movie.

One of the few movies that has presented a genuine hero in real-life proportion is GETTYSBURG, and that's because the screenplay dialogue is almost word-for-word from Michael Shaara's magnificent and well-researched novel, THE KILLER ANGELS. The hero was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a brilliant college philosophy professor who as an undergraduate had attended seminars led by Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of UNCLE TOM'S CABIN), who admired Lincoln and quickly enlisted in the Union cause when the Civil War began. As Colonel of the 20th Maine he was instrumental in the Union victory at Gettysburg, strategized and fought in many subsequent campaigns. In one of them was crippled for life by a severe wound. Some historians speculate that Chamberlain's high standard of respect for Confederate prisoners of war and his insistence on courteous treatment prevented years of vindictive guerrilla raids into the North after Appomattox. He went on to became long-time president of Bowdoin College where he struggled to reform and modernize the hidebound Calvinist curriculum, became involved in liberal Republican politics, served four one-year terms as Maine's governor, and when the Republican party of Maine split into two factions, one Lincolnesque with high standards, the other unsavory, he had to face down a murderously hostile lynch mob, speaking to them with courage and reason and sending them home ashamed. A multi-linguist and student of history, he was denied a well-deserved ambassadorship because his liberal views and staunch incorruptibility made him the enemy of the extremely corrupt Republican machine that had captured Maine politics. He would not bend to the corrupt political bosses, and because of their vindictiveness ended his years as a political pariah--in obscurity and semi-poverty.

Chamberlain died in February 1914 at the age of 85, and soon before his death he warned that the Civil War in which he had fought had made mass killing and savagery routine, turning back the gains of civilization, and that the world was on the threshold of an even more brutalized war. It was an accurate prediction. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain remains one of my most honored heroes, and his life is the sort we need to learn from and emulate.

In response to Jenny Hanniver's thoughts and the follwing:

"My own personal theology has evolved to become a combination of Process Philosophy (God is evolving along with the universe) with multi-sourced Judaeo-Christian theology and wisdom ((1) Orthodox--especially Augustine, the Medieval Schoolmen and the Reformers from the 11th century to John Wesley and beyond; (2) Unitarian--the courage to stand naked before God with no mediators; (3) Universalist--God's all-forgiving grace, embracing believers and nonbelievers everywhere; (4) Heretical Medieval and Anabaptist dissent, to our own day--an unceasing passionate wellspring of social justice from the vision of the City of God on earth; (5) Neoplatonist--natural mysticism, including Unitarian Transcendentalism, joy in existence, and knowing the need for humility from recognizing our place in the vast universe; (6) Donatist--honesty and plain-speaking in opposition to obscurant hypocrisy; and (7) Pelagian--daring to exercise free will and accepting responsibility for our choices). These make up the background of my beliefs, and to them I'd add elements of Deism and secular Humanism, and, as a big "miscellaneous", respect for insights that emanate from any non-religious source of wisdom. Now and then these various sources squabble like cats in a sack, but generally they get on quite well."

Pat Thompson writes:

This is lovely and enlightening, and all I could add is the belief in Gaia -- the planet Earth as a living, breathing being, with its own wisdom. All we can really know for sure is that here we are, creatures living upon and dependant upon, this planet that provides us with sustenance, shelter and beauty. Everything else is conjecture, wishful thinking, philosophy. The reality is human beings and all other beings, living together on this beautiful blue marble spinning through space. And we've "evolved", really devolved into creatures that would damage our Mother Planet, and destroy the very systems that have allowed our species to exist.

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-Noah Greenberg