Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Never, Ever, Ever listen to your hat!

“Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2004

It’s easy to forget

“There are people in this world who do not love their fellow man, And I HATE PEOPLE LIKE THAT!!!

- Tom Lehrer

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is sometimes easy to get caught up in the righteousness of a cause, or the passion of a political season, and forget what the root of your beliefs really are. If I truly believe that all humankind is valuable, that we all have “that of God” in us, then I must love everyone, including those with whom I dramatically disagree. Hatred only begets hatred, war only begets more war. While I resist that in my country and my leaders, I must also resist it in my own spirit.

“You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”

- Matthew 5:43-47

Justification for Iraq war

Isn’t the crux of the administration’s rationale for the war a tie between Iraq and the events of 9/11? Already disproven are the claims of weapons of mass destruction, the claims that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons, and the claims that Iraq somehow had other weapons which could threaten the United States.

An article on CNN today indicates that despite claims to the contrary, even the administration is now admitting there were no ties.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on “Meet the Press”

“We know that there had been connections and there had been exchanges between al Qaeda and the Saddam Hussein regime. And those have been pursued and looked at,” Powell said on the program.

“But I have seen nothing that makes a direct connection between Saddam Hussein and that awful regime, and what happened on 9/11.”

Dick Cheney said on Friday, “al Qaeda organization had a relationship with the Iraqis.” But last June said “we don’t know” whether Iraq was involved in 9/11.

In September 2003, Cheney said Iraq under Saddam had been “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”

But at the time President Bush said, “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 [attacks]. What the vice president said was that he has been involved with al Qaeda.”

“The independent, bipartisan panel that investigated the attacks released its final report July 22. The 9/11 commission found there were numerous contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda in the 1990s, but it said those contacts did not result in a “collaborative relationship.”"

Another quote from the article, this time from Kerry: “The president needs to answer the question: Who do you think is right? Vice President Cheney or Secretary Powell? And if it’s Secretary Powell, will you direct your vice president to stop misleading the American people?”

The Kerry statement continued: “On an issue of such importance, where U.S. troops are bearing nearly 90 percent of the burden, and American taxpayers are paying $200 billion and counting, the administration has an especially solemn obligation to conduct itself in an honest and straightforward way.

“Unfortunately, in its desperate attempts to reinvent a rationale for the Iraq war, this White House has repeatedly chosen to mislead the American people.”

Bush as world leader

Want to know what the world thinks of Bush’s leadership? A new poll among 35 countries, many of whom are our “allies” in Iraq, show what the world thinks of Bush, and whether they would prefer Kerry as president:

Country Kerry Bush
Norway: 74% 7%
Germany: 74% 10%
France: 64% 5%
Italy: 58% 14%
Spain: 45% 7%
UK: 47% 16%
Canada: 61% 16%
Mexico: 38% 18%
Brazil: 57% 14%
China: 52% 12%
Japan: 43% 32%
Indonesia: 57% 34%
India: 34% 33%

Too bad they can’t vote, they are clearly more perspicacious than the sheep in this country who believe anything they are told.

But Bush shouldn’t feel bad, the people in Nigeria and Poland prefered him (by slight margins)

My latest letter to the editor. I doubt it will be published.

Today the casualties in Iraq passed the 1000 mark. Given the current polls in the presidential race, I have a few observations, and one question.

First, the observations. To date 1005 American soldiers have given their lives in Iraq, believing they were fighting terrorism. This does not include the approximately 150 “Civilian Contractors” of the American government who have died, nor the in excess of 10,000 Iraqi’s who have died, nor the nearly 7000 American wounded, who have given limbs and more to this fight. In the time since we invaded Iraq nearly two years ago, we have found not one shred of evidence of the alleged weapons of mass destruction, not one bit of evidence that Iraq was in any way allied with Al Qaeda, not one shred of evidence that Iraq could threaten the United States in any way. While the Bush administration strives to tie the Iraqi War with the “War on Terrorism,” there is no demonstrated connection whatsoever between them. Americans have died, cheated not only of a life and future, but even of a meaningful death, and American world leadership has been lost, because we were mislead into a war we never should have entered. How do the Iraqi’s feel about this? Ask their olympic soccer team midfielder who commented on Bush: “How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes.”

President Bush will finish his first term with a net loss in US jobs, the first president to do so since the beginning of the Great Depression. The gain in jobs in the last month that they have trumpeted are not enough to keep up with population growth, let alone overcome previous losses.

The National Debt as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product has decreased under every president since Franklin Roosevelt with the exception Of Ronald Reagan, George Bush the first, and George the second. Under George W. Bush it surpasses 70%, the highest level since the Truman administration. It was approximately 30% under Carter.

Fiscal years 2003 and 2004 both set records for the highest national deficit in one year. In fact the deficits of 2003 and 2004 accounts for 10% of the national debt alone, and fiscal year 2005 promises to be included with the preceding two years as the highest three years of national debt in history. In 2003 the US government spent $61 billion on Education, $56 billion on transportation, $15 billion on NASA, and $318 billion on payments on the National Debt. With the deficits of 2003 – 2005, this percentage will only increase, saddling our next generation with crippling debt. Taxes haven’t been reduced, they have been transferred to our children.

In the last year, according to the Census Bureau: “The number of Americans living in poverty jumped by 1.3 million last year… The percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose to 12.5 percent from 12.1 percent — as the poverty rate among children jumped to its highest level in 10 years.”

Given these facts (not opinions, facts) I have a single question for those who support the reelection campaign of George W. Bush:

Are you insane?

Not only OB/GYN’s…

“Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN’s aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”

—George W. Bush
Sept. 6, 2004, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Contractor Casualties

A little publicized fact about the Iraqi war is that the 2nd largest contingent there is not the British, but actually the civilian contractors hired by the US government. Many of these are American, many are not. Some are cooks, cleaners, and so forth, some are “Security Personal”, or mercenaries.

Casualty figures for these civilian contractors are very difficult to find, the government for obvious reasons doesn’t publish them with the “official” US casualties. I have looked for this information for a while, and recently came across this page.

While incomplete, this shows 150 deaths among the contractors, of which about 45 are Americans. In perspective, our largest official ally, Great Britain, has had 65 fatalities.

I do wonder about the anguish of the families of these dead. While the death toll of the military personnel there is unconscionable, they at least get some recognition from the government, which just pretends that these deaths don’t exist.

What do budget deficits mean?

An interesting factoid I recently discovered, particularly relevent as we go into our third year of record national deficits:

In Fiscal Year 2003 the U. S. Government spent $318 Billion on interest payments to the holders of the National Debt.

In contrast, the government spent $15 Billion on Nasa, $56 Billion on the Department of Transportation, and $61 Billion on Education. And the much maligned National Endowment for the Arts? .115 Billion (115 million, less than 1/8th of a Billion)

The administration is not cutting taxes, despite what they would tell you. They are simply postponing them until the next generation of taxpayers. Essentially they are buying votes, spending the welfare of the children of those from whom they are buying the votes.

How can I comment on something like this?

Friday 03 September 2004

To Whom it May Concern,

I found out that my brother, Sergeant Ryan M. Campbell, was dead during a graduate seminar at Emory University on April 29, 2004. Immediately after a uniformed officer knocked at my mother’s door to deliver the message that broke her heart, she called me on my cell phone. She could say nothing but “He’s gone.” I could say nothing but “No.” Over and over again we chanted this refrain to each other over the phone as I made my way across the country to hold her as she wept.

I had made the very same trip in February, cutting classes to spend my brother’s two weeks’ leave from Baghdad with him. Little did I know then that the next time I saw him would be at Arlington National Cemetery. During those days in February, my brother shared with me his fear, his disillusionment, and his anger. “We had all been led to believe that Iraq posed a serious threat to America as well as its surrounding nations,” he said. “We invaded expecting to find weapons of mass destruction and a much more prepared and well-trained Republican Guard waiting for us. It is now a year later, and alas, no weapons of mass destruction or any other real threat, for that matter.”

Ryan was scheduled to complete his one-year assignment to Iraq on April 25. But on April 11, he emailed me to let me know not to expect him in Atlanta for a May visit, because his tour of duty had been involuntarily extended. “Just do me one big favor, ok?” he wrote. “Don’t vote for Bush. No. Just don’t do it. I would not be happy with you.”

Last night, I listened to George W. Bush’s live, televised speech at the Republican National Convention. He spoke to me and my family when he announced, “I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong.”

This is my reply: Mr. President, I know that you probably still “don’t do body counts,” so you may not know that almost one thousand U.S. troops have died doing what you told them they had to do to protect America. Ryan was Number 832. Liberty was, indeed, precious to the one I lost– so precious that he would rather have gone to prison than back to Iraq in February. Like you, I don’t know where the strength for “such pride” on the part of people “so burdened with sorrow” comes from; maybe I spent it all holding my mother as she wept. I last saw my loved one at the Kansas City airport, staring after me as I walked away. I could see April 29 written on his sad, sand-chapped and sunburned face. I could see that he desperately wanted to believe that if he died, it would be while “doing good,” as you put it. He wanted us to be able to be proud of him. Mr. President, you gave me and my mother a folded flag instead of the beautiful boy who called us “Moms” and “Brookster.” But worse than that, you sold my little brother a bill of goods. Not only did you cheat him of a long meaningful life, but you cheated him of a meaningful death. You are in my prayers, Mr. President, because I think that you need them more than anyone on the face of the planet. But you will never get my vote.

So to whom it may concern: Don’t vote for Bush. No. Just don’t do it. I would not be happy with you.

Brooke M. Campbell
Atlanta, GA

Zell Miller Flip-Flops

From the speeches section of his own Senate webpage – Part of an introduction Zell Miller gave for John Kerry in 2001:

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation’s authentic heroes, one of this party’s best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn’t stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its “Digital Dozen.”

John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 – when he defeated popular Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the country.

John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America.