Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blindness From The Left And Right

The absence of clarity and vision from both ends of the political spectrum is characteristic of government today in the United States of America.

Our foreign policy is a national shame. Essentially it is an exercise in greed, self interest and ignorance of our obligation to seek the common good through attention to the environment, the preservation of natural resources, concern for international justice and the reduction of third world poverty.

How is this so? We, the wealthiest democracy in the history of the world, the most generous and giving nation in history, have degenerated into a self absorbed nuclear power insisting upon international dominance. Such dominance is not based on a superior commitment to higher levels of morality and ethics but sadly an interest in asserting greater power in preserving world wide economic advantage.

It is quite clear that since 2000 with the onset of the Bush Administration our military industrial complex seeks international dominance and control through the exercise of military power. All the rhetoric about the spread of democracy is just that; empty voices using flags and false patriotism, fear and intimidation to further vested self interest. The Bush Administration preaches international democracy, individual and women's rights while making foreign aid commitments to countries where human rights are trampled. (Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Israel as examples, Israel practicing a form of Apartheid against Palestinians)

The scope of this ignorance is impossible to articulate in a brief space. Our neglect of health care in this country is a national disgrace. Health care is a right, not a commodity you buy if you can afford it. Yet millions of Americans live day to day without proper care or are forced to wait sometimes days for care in crowded Medi-Cal clinics and doctors offices where assembly line tactics create humiliation and embarrassment to compound physical illness and the need for medication.

With 1% of what we are spending in one month in Iraq we could provide medicine to African nations where one in five children dies before age five of easily cured diseases such as dysentery or malaria. For even less we could provide disease free drinking water to nations where today people die prematurely as a consequence of using contaminated water. If we truly want to act in a morally responsible manner and create good will again throughout the world, assaults on disease and poverty will achieve that goal with much greater certainty than assaults with bombs and bullets. Isn't it clear that radical Muslim groups would have great difficulty recruiting for their forces if the United States were extending assistance to their wives and children through healthcare, clean water and other humanitarian efforts?

Where are thinking, feeling American legislators Republican or Democrat? I believe they are hunkered down in silence behind the powerful political groups who "purchased their offices."

In the Senate, or the House, we have no voices from either side of the aisle speaking out forcefully in opposition to war as the ultimate solution to terrorism. Our soldiers in some cases must rely on families to send them proper helmets and armored vests because this administration advanced to war poorly prepared. The costs in lives, dollars and loss of international respect rises daily and yet there is no effective movement to end the failing effort, and it is failing no matter what our corporate press and TV tell us. This is an extraordinarily fragile democracy taking shape held together only by the military presence of our troops at immense cost. Some of our military leaders have said we may have to remain in Iraq for ten years. It might be longer than that since we have constructed 14 permanent military installations to house our troops.

I believed that conservative meant conserving and exercising caution in expenditures. This administration seems convinced the American Treasury is bottomless. Current national debt distributed to America's families is approaching $5,000 per family just for its share of the costs of the Iraq War. Is this the way we truly want to spend our resources? Some friends of the administration with big no-bid reconstruction contracts are profiting greatly. The average guy in the street pays the bill and 159,000 of them go to sleep each night worrying about sons and daughters coming home from Iraq safely.

William J. Clarke
Lompoc Resident

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Questions For Ron Fink, re: Bush Supreme Court Appointment

Serious consideration of the qualification of John Roberts to serve on the US Supreme Court of the US would seem to require an entirely open record of his past performance. However, consistent with most operations in the Bush Administration, "executive privilege" or "national security" requires secrecy, i.e., closed records preserving public ignorance.
Questions for Ron Fink (based on his column, Lompoc Record, 8/2/05)
  • What does Ted Kennedy's tragedy at Chappaquiddick have to do with John Roberts appointment?
  • Since John Kerry's war record was, and is, fully available on the Internet, ( I have copies) what does that have to do with hiding Roberts' records? How could you even bring it up in view of George Bush's AWOL record during the Viet Nam War and his refusal to unseal his records?
  • The print and network strength of the neo-conservative right is by far more pervasive than any more progressive print and media sources. Check that on the Internet.
  • The painful decision that tens of thousands of women have to make each year throughout this world about bringing new life forward requires much greater sensitivity than to label them "Mothers who murder their children."
  • In Africa one of three babies born dies before the age of five from curable diseases like malaria and dysentery. Are we murderers for withholding the drugs we could easily supply to cure these diseases with a very small fraction of what we are spending on pet food or the Iraq War?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Regarding Peaceniks

When people have weak argument, limited facts and blind belief in imperialistic leaders like George Bush, in desperation they revert to name calling, questioning national allegiance and humiliation of those with opposing views.

Thus we have those who would name the people who seek peaceful solutions to differences rather than war, "peaceniks." Has a nice ring to it doesn't it, something like "beatniks:" mindless, amoral hedonists who have no particular higher purpose than to serve themselves.

Well, that's not what opposition to the Bush Wars is all about. It's about a president who went AWOL during his reserve service in the Vietnam era and is unhesitant in sending 1800 young Americans to premature deaths in Iraq for false causes.

It's about a president who never admits to error and persists in lying even when proof is obvious (Downing Street Memo, UK Sunday Times). A man who persists in a war that has killed well over 100,000 Iraqis and is killing and wounding more every day.

A leader who is bankrupting this nation with unrestrained borrowing from European, Japanese and Chinese sources. Bush Wars cost $6 billion a month and have established a debt for every American family approaching $4,000 just to wage War.

While the environment is abused, health care neglected, education left unsupported and the infrastructure of our own country left to rot, George Bush continues to gloat about how great things are going! As a nation we are polarized and left weaker by his divisive policies.

The only victory we will ever have is the one that comes with a global declaration of peace.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Response To Terrorism

I was literally shocked by the comments made by columnist Andy Caldwell in the July 14th edition of the Lompoc Record regarding terrorism.

In the limited and heavily abused space of earth we can no longer rely on the rather primitive belief that war power can solve international conflict as it once did (WW II). Overcoming barbarian mentality and tactics by equally barbaric counter measures is a cruel illusion (Iraq/Afghanistan).

What we need is not more war power but in fact more Peace Power. The reality is that third world people in Central America, South America, Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines, Asia, and the Middle East have suffered exploitation by western industrialized nations for too many generations. Myopic, capitalistic, amoral corporations with only a vision of profit at dehumanizing costs have sewn the seeds of terrorism.

"Terrorist" has become a catch-all term for "dehumanized criminals" who like disease bearing vermin need to be eliminated. I remind Andy Caldwell and others of like mind that these are human beings, with motive and cause for extreme behaviors only undertaken after exhaustion of belief that there can be negotiation, compromise and new pathways to understanding and mutual advantage.

I remind also that the absence of a uniform in no way suggests a loss of basic humanity. We praised and embraced and supplied the partisans in Yugoslavia, the Chechs, Polish and Italian and others as they fought in their work clothes against the Nazis in WWII (Who by the way called them terrorists). I would also remind of a contemporary example of patriot tactics as portrayed by Mel Gibson in the war against the British in the recent movie "The Patriot."

Clearly we need a Department of Peace in our federal government with the same passion and funding that is present in our present Department of Defense.

Iraq War, Presidential Lies, and Extraordinary Debt

President Bush and most of his cabinet gave us their absolute assurances that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that we were in great peril; that Saddam Hussein hated us and our democracy and would not hesitate to use them in attacks on the cities of America; that he was a tyrant who needed to be removed and that the only way to do this was through military action. Although he had allowed UN Weapons inspectors access to his country their report of no weapons found was not to be trusted and that we would not place our security in the hands of any International body.

We have the recent disclosure of the Downing Street Memo which clearly demonstrates that Bush was convinced in July 2002 that military action was to be conducted and that there was no time for negotiation and intervention through UN activity.

War Facts: The war has cost American taxpayers well over $200 billion dollars, approaching 1800 battle deaths and 14,000 seriously wounded
  • Well over 100,000 Iraqi deaths and countless seriously wounded civilians.
  • Destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure, electrical distribution, sewer systems, water supply which have yet to be restored.
  • Loss of stability in the Iraqi healthcare system and educational structures.
  • Construction of 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq.
  • Increasing resistance and effectiveness in the so-called insurgency.
  • Disruption of the lives of 40,000 National Guard and Reserve families whose husbands are now on active duty in Iraq.
  • The largest corps of civilian militia ever formed in support of corporate enterprise, the second largest armed force in Iraq after the American military (firms like Bechtel and Halliburton spend 40% of their charges to the American taxpayers on armed, high paid security forces).
  • Increasing success in the recruitment of "terrorists" with Iraq as a billboard for why America is the enemy.
  • Neglect of the "War" in Afghanistan where the Taliban are regrouping, opium exports are at an all time high and war lords rule a good part of the nation depositing 2/3rds of American aid in their personal war chests.
  • Administration neglect of domestic programs related to health care, education, protection of American jobs.
  • Deterioration of democracy in our own hemisphere in Central and South America and the polarization politically of the American people.
I encourage readers to join the action taken by Rep. John Conyers Jr., on May 5, 2005 and over 100 other members of congress and ½ million Americans in asking Bush to respond regarding the content of the Downing Street Memo. Go to and become a signatory.

In 1987 then Vice President Bush met with Iraqi Ambassador Nizor Hamdoom to assure him that Iraq could continue the purchase of the technology from the US. Later under his own administration, Bush kept the deal going knowing full well that Iraq was developing nuclear and chemical weapons. From 1986 to 1991 the commerce department licensed over $1.5 billion of strategically sensitive US exports to Iraq. Our corporations profited and Iran became the recipient of this deadly technology at a cost of death to tens of thousands of men women and children.

Logically, is it any wonder the Muslim world questions the integrity and predictability of the American government?

It is estimated that the war bill thus far will add up to an average of at least $3,415 for every US household.

Just $151.1 billion of the amount expended thus far could have paid for: close to 23 million housing vouchers; health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries for nearly 3 million elementary school teachers; 678,000 new fire engines; over 20 million head start slots for children; or health care coverage for 82 million children.

This same $151 billion spent by the US government on the war could have cut hunger in half and covered HIV-AIDS medicine, childhood immunizations and clean water and sanitation needs of the developing world for more than two years.

We can spend our wealth more wisely in support of world peace and well we should. We can no longer tolerate the deceit of our national leaders and their moral posturing while behaving like bullies in moral vacancy. One possibility is to move toward impeachment.

Our Common Place

Today in our world, our nation and clearly in our city we experience a discomforting emphasis on our differences. Differences in ethnicity and race, differences in national identification, differences in political sensitivities and affiliations, competitive differences in gender, in level of income, in age and differences in religion and moral and ethical beliefs.

In every major belief system however the need to recognize our wholeness and our oneness is heavily stressed. Surely the central message of Christ is clear in this regard as He directs us to "Love one another as I have loved you," and "To love your neighbor as yourself," and "Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me." Similar guidance may be found in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and in Native American traditions.

It seems that our essential oneness is beautifully celebrated in an embracing greeting engraved on that beautiful lady who stands guard in New York Harbor, our Statue of Liberty.

It says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

What a great contrast this beautiful greeting strikes with the vicious, in some cases armed resistance offered today to fight off those who wish a better life across our borders. We have almost demonized the term "Illegal Alien." Consistent with our faith, are these not our brothers and sisters we are talking about? Sure there needs to be care and planning in opening our borders but should our top determinants be extracted from economic and capitalistic interests?

Should we live with the illusion we can effectively seal our borders against "9-11" type enemies no matter how many agents we assign there? Don't we have to awaken to the reality that the dissolution of hate can only occur through new understandings, communication and mutual effort in support of common life goals? This means the production of more rice and wheat and fewer land mines and smart bombs.

There is no nuclear defense without peace and international cooperation and compromise. Nuclear monopoly and control is an ugly illusion impossible to enforce.

Years ago, weary of the eye searing smog of Los Angeles I moved with clear joy to the clean skies of Lompoc. The air smelled sweet. Still does. I had a business in LA I wanted to continue and so have been commuting to LA each Monday and back on Tuesday evening. Sometime back as I made the return to Lompoc I thought to myself I wonder where the line is that separates dirty LA air from clean Lompoc air.

After a bit of reflection I finally woke up. There is none. One is ultimately only as good as the other. Sure we have temporary relief but we're in this together. Sooner or later they mix and we have a common quality. Either clean or polluted. So many things are like that. Water supplies, ozone layers, soil that produces food, diseases, medicines, profits, losses, education, there is no safe zone. We are in this together. Building star wars defense systems and being convinced we can build shields against sectarian hate is the same as believing we can build air shields against L.A. pollution along Route 101.

We need to wake up in time, consistent with the title of Peter Russell's great book. We need to share more of our abundance and do it more indiscriminately.

We must recognize our common interests and work toward the common good. Republicans, Democrats and others need to set aside differences in these vitally important times and recognize the value of a new closing appeal. "God bless not only America, but all people everywhere."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Support Our Troops

"Why, of course the people don't want war. But, after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
--Hermann Goering, quoted in Nuremberg Diary.

How fearful it is that this seems to describe what is happening in our country today. 9/11 just made it that much easier to sell the war.

Contrast the above with this quote:

"I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war." --Albert Einstein, interview with G.S. Viereck.

Peace starts with each one of us doing our part. How are you doing with yours?