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

And I was worried about the pentagon…

This is the presidential oath of office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Apparently the President has directly authorized the NSA to spy on Americans, without first obtaining a warrant.

Last time I checked, the 4th amendment was still part of the constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Even worse than radical militant librarians – a dozen Quakers

From MSNBC:

WASHINGTON – A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn’t know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.

Why does it not terrify people to know the military is spying on peaceful civilian activities?

If they believe it is a worthwhile expenditure of resources to investigate the “threat” of Quaker activities, someone should give the geniuses in charge a dictionary with the word “Pacifist” bookmarked and highlighted.

Radical Militant Librarians

Quoting an FBI Agent, from an article in the NY Times:

“While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR’s failure to let us use the tools given to us,” read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. “This should be an OIPR priority!!!”

Doesn’t that phrase trip lightly off the tongue, conjuring an assortment of images? “Radical Militant Librarians.”

Whisper, and you might be beheaded.

In fairness, the article discusses the reluctance of the FBI to authorize use of any portion of the Patriot Act, to some extent because of the widespread objections to its less accepted provisions.

But still, Radical Militant Librarians?? I guess it goes along with the greater war on terror, including Secretary Ron Paige calling the NEA a “Terrorist Organization.”. Terrorists are where you find them, I suppose.

Col. Westhusing

I recommend this article from the LA Times, which discusses the life and death of Colonel Ted Westhusing. Colonel Westhusing graduated third in his class from West Point, and is described in the article thus:

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army’s leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

With one month left to go in his tour in Iraq, Westhusing committed suicide.

The details of how this honorable man came to feel so violated in Iraq that death was preferable to the dishonor he felt there are discussed in the article.

No war is “good.” Reasonable people can argue that some are justified or necessary.

Iraq is not one of them.

Thank you, General.

The normally satirical weblog Jesus’ General typically provides a devastating satire of the right wing. Today the author drops out of that mode, and posts a message that describes my angst in a better way than I ever could.

Thank you, General.

Keep up the good fight.

Editted to update the link

Food Banks

From USA Today:

As Hurricane Katrina donations reach near-record levels, some food banks in the USA are seeing bare shelves as they prepare for Thanksgiving and winter.

Food donations are down 12% in Los Angeles, 30% in New York City and more than 50% in Milwaukee and Denver, according to America’s Second Harvest network, which accounts for 80% of the nation’s food banks for the needy.

“People just aren’t able to do it,” says Shannon Cardellina, spokeswoman for the Food Bank of the Rockies. “Our community is feeling tapped out.” She says the food bank received 50,000 pounds of donated food in October 2004 but only 17,000 pounds last month.

“It’s pretty much a direct result of Katrina,” says Lisa Jakobsberg, spokeswoman for the Food Bank for New York City, which diverted some of its food and staff to the Gulf to help hurricane victims.

“We have a lot of empty shelves now. I’ve not seen that before,” says Jakobsberg, who has worked at the food bank for five years.

“People saw a need (with Katrina) and responded,” says Karen Ford, executive director of the Food Bank of Iowa. “It’s difficult to respond in the same manner when the need is not as visible.”

Three out of four agencies that help the poor say it will be harder to do so this holiday season because the need is greater, according to a survey of 70 agencies to be released today by Catholic Charities.

The Department of Agriculture says 11.9% of households lack year-round access to sufficient food.

Find your local Foodbank.
Donate to it.

Local to me are:
COORDINATING COUNCIL OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, INC.
73 Downey Drive
Warminster, PA 18974
215-672-9422
My Quaker meeting regularly collects donations for this group

New Britain Baptist Church
Route 202 & Tamanend Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901
215-345-9170
This is the church which sponsors my scout troop. They also coordinate one of the largest foodbanks in Bucks County.

Read Luke 14:12-14
Find your local Foodbank.
Donate to it.

PA Progressive!

Congratulations to the PA Progessive for being named one of the best political blogs in Pennsylvania.

Good job. Fight the good fight.

1984

As long as I’m referencing old music, how about an old book? Specifically, Orwell’s 1984


This from the Jesus’ General blog. I like it.

Seven O’Clock News.

Throughout my life the music of Paul Simon, with and without Art Garfunkel, has spoken deeply to me. In 1966 Simon and Garfunkel released an album called “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” on which the final cut was the duo singing “Silent Night” as a newscast slowly rose in volume in the background.

It was powerful.

The last, loudest, section of the newscast dealt with the Vietnam War. The parallels to today are staggering, and the last sentence especially could be taken directly from a Dick Cheney speech:

In Washington, the atmosphere was tense today as a special sub-committee of the House Committee on Un-American activities continued its probe into anti Viet Nam war protests. Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting anti-war slogans. Former Vice-President Richard Nixon says that unless there is a substantial increase in the present war effort in Viet Nam the U.S. should look forward to five more years of war. In a speech before the Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York, Nixon also said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single weapon working against the U.S. That’s the 7 o’clock edition of the news, Goodnight

It is saddening how little we as a country have learned over the last 40 years.

I can’t keep up.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is it possible to become completely inured to the travesty and lies which have become our government? I read things on a daily basis, and find sometimes that I have to will myself to see them as important, in the grand scheme of things. In any other administration, these would be scandal enough. Today, they are ignored as simply standard news.

  1. The Washington Post reports that oil executives were indeed part of Cheney’s secret energy task force. So? Well as recently as last week the oil executives denied this before congress (though the republican majority would not have them, as would be normal, sworn in before testifying). Basically, we’ve always known this, despite Cheney’s repeated denial. While the country was suffering under the largest increase in gas prices in it’s history, the oil companies were making record profits.
  2. The General Accounting Office shows that a decision was made by the Food and Drug administration to restrict access to a “Morning After” pill for political reasons, before the usual scientific reviews were even completed.
  3. The administration has already spent us so far into debt, according to comptroller general of the United States, that we may never be able to recover from it.
  4. Our government is maintaining secret prisons overseas, many leftovers from the soviet gulags, and our Senate Majority leader is more concerned about how this information became known, rather than the violation of international standards, not to mention our own laws, it represents.

  5. Investigators for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have shown the former chairman (who resigned recently, just before this report came out) broke numerous laws in hiring, and isolating the corporation from political influence, using his illegally to advance a conservative agenda.
  6. Republican Sources are reporting that the president is behaving irrationally, not talking to his own advisors:

    The president’s reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

    The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

    Am I unreasonable to be alarmed that a president, defensive and uninformed at the best of times, is withdrawing from regular contact with anyone except his mommy, and three mommy surrogates?

  7. The CIA has used foreign airports for illegal transportation of detainees, without the knowledge of their government, causing our nominal allies to attack us:

    The Spanish government had no knowledge of the alleged flights but a judge was investigating them, Alonso told Spanish television channel Telecinco.

    “If it were confirmed that this is true, we would be looking at very serious, intolerable deeds because they break the basic rules of treating people in a democratic legal and political system,”

  8. The Pentagon, after first denying it, has admitted to using chemical weapons in Fallujah. In this case White Phosphorus, which when used correctly can illuminate a battlefield, but when fired at people, sticks to the skin, burning and maiming.
    Didn’t we invade Iraq because of Saddam’s inhuman use of chemical weapons? (Or was it because of 9/11, or Nuclear weapon production, or to bring democracy, or whatever lie is being told today.)

There are daily outrages such as these, with no critical response in the media, no coordinated attempt to investigate.

Meanwhile, the current death total for American Service Personnel stands at 2072. (Remember less than three weeks ago the news of it passing 2000?) Add to this the approximately 280 civilian “contractors” of the military that have been killed
(Convenient how these numbers never make the official death totals). That gives a total of 2352 American deaths alone in Iraq. The total casualties from 9/11 were approximately 2986. How long before the administration manages to kill more Americans in this war than Al Qaeda managed? This means ignoring, of course, the 10′s of thousands of Iraqi dead, the tens of thousands of American wounded, the wounded and dead from our allies, and the untold devastation in Iraq.

How can we let ourselves become inured to this?

If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention!