Here’s just the Summary for a quick perusal – but you really have to read the analysis:
Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.
Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on “people” making as little as $42,000 a year, as McCain accused him of doing. McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan.
McCain and Obama contradicted each other on what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said about troop withdrawals. Mullen said a time line for withdrawal could be “very dangerous” but was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan,” as McCain maintained.
McCain tripped up on one of his signature issues – special appropriation “earmarks.” He said they had “tripled in the last five years,” when in fact they have decreased sharply.
Obama claimed Iraq “has” a $79 billion surplus. It once was projected to be as high as that. It’s now down to less than $60 billion.
McCain repeated his overstated claim that the U.S. pays $700 billion a year for oil to hostile nations. Imports are running at about $536 billion this year, and a third of it comes from Canada, Mexico and the U.K.
Obama said 95 percent of “the American people” would see a tax cut under his proposal. The actual figure is 81 percent of households.
Obama mischaracterized an aspect of McCain’s health care plan, saying “employers” would be taxed on the value of health benefits provided to workers. Employers wouldn’t, but the workers would. McCain also would grant workers up to a $5,000 tax credit per family to cover health insurance.
McCain misrepresented Obama’s plan by claiming he’d be “handing the health care system over to the federal government.” Obama would expand some government programs but would allow people to keep their current plans or chose from private ones, as well.
McCain claimed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had drafted a letter of resignation from the Army to be sent in case the 1944 D-Day landing at Normandy turned out to be a failure. Ike prepared a letter taking responsibility, but he didn’t mention resigning.
Here’s just one example:
McCain was went too far when he said, "I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it."
McCain certainly did lead a fight to kill the contract, and the effort ended in prison sentences for defense contractors. But the contract isn’t exactly "fixed" yet. In fact, questions have been raised about the role McCain has played in helping a Boeing rival secure the new contract.
After the original Boeing contract to supply refueling airliners was nixed in 2003, the bidding process was reopened. And in early 2007, Boeing rival EADS/Airbus won the bid the second time around. But Boeing filed a protest about the way the bids were processed, and the Government Accountability Office released a report that found in Boeing’s favor. In the summary of GAO’s investigation, the organization said there were "significant errors" with the bid process and that the directions given to Boeing were "misleading."
Further, the New York Timesreported that "McCain’s top advisers, including a cochairman of his presidential campaign, were lobbyists for EADS. And Mr. McCain had written to the Defense Department, urging it to ignore a trade dispute between the United States and Europe over whether Airbus received improper subsidies." A liberal campaign finance group ran an ad hitting McCain on the connections back in July and our colleagues at PolitiFact found their attacks to be true, saying: "Center for Responsive Politics prepared a report for PolitiFact that backs [the charge] up. U.S. employees of EADS/Airbus have contributed $15,700 in this election cycle to McCain’s campaign."
“Woke him up with a barrel to his head
His eyes shut tight bracing for the blow
Resigning his life to the metal held
In another man’s hand
Twenty days in a concrete fallout
What life have I to take your own
Oh my country won’t you call out
Doorbells are ringing with boxes of bones
And from another land’s war torn corners
To a prison cell in my own
Punish me for not taking your orders
But don’t lock me up for not leavin’ my home
Your words just a bloody fallacy
A house of cards you painted white
You tried to recreate Normandy
But you made up the reason to fight
And now red oil is spillin’ down on the street
And your eyes too big for the belly is weak
Will you not refuse this currency
Or is blood money just money to you
Is blood money just money to you
Twenty days in a concrete fallout
What life have to take your own
Oh my country won’t you call out
Doorbells are ringing with boxes of bones
From another land’s war torn corners
To a prison cell in my own
Punish me for not taking your orders
But don’t lock me up for not leavin’ my home
I wonder how many Christians regularly visit prisoners to offer consolation and comfort anymore? I’m not talking about ministers or special group missions, but regular laypeople of the many congregations in all their many denominations all over the country. Somehow I think that the ones who call for punishment and torture and war probably don’t do that.
A prisoner is someone who is held against their will in… a prison! Oh, you can call it a penitentiary, a correctional facility, a camp, a containment center or a detention center, but the thing is what it is: it’s where individuals have been physically confined, deprived of freedom of movement and other freedoms, and are treated as subhumans. Why? Because they have been convicted (it is to be hoped the conviction was established through a through a legal and ethical process) of doing a terrible awful thing, or even several terrible awful things.
Of course, prison may also function as political tool, and that is a sign of a move toward a more authoritarian regime. In such societies, the detention of enemies of state and other political prisoners is common. Prisoners of conscience and religion, people imprisoned because of ethnicity, cultural difference, sexual preference, birth nation, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time – we can all think of examples of this kind of thing. The incarceration and interrogation of prisoners of war – and what we now euphemistically call “detainees” instead of prisoners – is common during times of war and other conflicts. We used to have some laws and standards about that, remember? Many other countries still do.
The social psychology of this century reveals a major lesson: often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act. – Stanley Milgram, 1974
Within the context of the society that has the power to imprison, prisoners are considered to be a danger to others. This is often true enough, although much can be debated about the process – in any country – by which certain people are imprisoned and other people are not. There is also a very strong ideological debate, of course, about the merit and effectiveness of ideas about punishment/vengeance as opposed to rehabilitation.
I find much to loathe in certain kinds of criminality, but I also find much that is detestable about the ways that we choose to deal with prisoners. In some circumstances, cruel treatment – and even torture – has been condoned and approved of by many Americans.
One of every 100 Americans is incarcerated. In the United States of America, there is now a thriving private prison sector. We impose the death penalty, although almost all European nations (not to mention Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and most of Latin America) have abolished it.
Some of the people who are most enthusiastic about the punishment, torture, and killing of prisoners profess to be Christians.
Isn’t that strange?
It seems to me that following Jesus is all about interrupting cycles of violence, not perpetuating them. I don’t understand how someone can say that they are following Jesus and then ignore everything he ever said and did. Doesn’t that miss the whole point – the “good news” part?
There are clear directives not to judge or condemn others. Who can ever forget Jesus confronting the would-be executioners of an adulteress in John 8? Sure, start throwing stones, just as soon as one of you is without sin or fault! Right! Now take a deep breath and chill. Do you know that there are people who call themselves Christians who would like to bring back stoning? And when will they give UP on controlling women? It’s tiresome.
God knows what we need before we even ask, but we should pray for forgiveness for the wrongs we have done, and remind ourselves every day that we must first forgive others. Only insofar as we have forgiven those who have wronged us may we be forgiven our own wrongs. There have been times, I admit, when my prayer has been to be released from that obligation. Sigh.
If you, then, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him!”
But how does that chapter (of Matthew 7) start?
Pass no judgment and you will not be judged. For as you judge others, so you will yourselves be judged, and whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you.
It’s all about measuring – and that takes a bit of mindfulness and humility. It sounds a lot like conscious karma, and it’s certainly a very wise piece of guidance for the soul’s path.
Yet, for someone who knocks, the door will always, always be opened – that is grace. That is the gift, and it is open to all.
God’s gifts are irrevocable.
One very important way to understand what some of those gifts can be (and how to practice them) is to model the way you’d like to be understood and loved in your relationship with others. When you offer yourself in service to others, even in a kind of “secret service,” you are blessed in turn. It just happens.
Christians are not meant to be vengeful. It only escalates violence into never-ending cycles of death.
Over and over, the biblical Christian texts tell us to leave vengeance to the Lord, to turn the other cheek (to make them think?), to care for the least among us – the poor, the downtrodden, the detested, even to call down blessings on our enemies and persecutors! That last bit is a little over the top, but maybe the writer had an affection for flourish. At least, I hope so.
To be joyful with the joyful and mournful with the mournful, to be humble and caring and moved by love (not by hate) – to me, that’s the heart of a Christian. The whole law, Jesus believed, was completed in Love.
Not only wasn’t he the fully Anointed King of Israel that they were expecting (to usher in a messianic age of war and then a time of peace) but he even forgave the ones who were crucifying him! Nobody was ever expecting that. Seems like lunacy on the face of it. I don’t know. I only wonder how important these things really are that we fight about.
Who are you to say that you know for sure who is and who is not accepted – or acceptable – by God?
Maybe God loves everybody, even if they’re a jerk. You don’t know. Maybe there is no God – maybe it’s all about power after all. Maybe God has God’s own ways of deciding things without consulting your interpretation. Maybe God is that which is greater than anything that you can think, or that can be thought. Maybe God is Love. Maybe God is an abyss with a big eye looking back at you. Maybe God is an alien. Maybe God exceeds our expectations. Maybe God is nothing at all like anything we think.
But America, brought down so low as to forget that we are all human – or to remember but be too complacent to believe it, or to be too busy trying to live to think about it at all.
You so-called Christians that condone or cheer for the abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other places like them, who turn a blind eye to our prison-for-profit systems and detention centers and extraditions for torture…
You who will not look at photographs because “images are too disturbing” while you let the actions that you have no spine to observe continue … it’s too easy to blame someone else…
You who think that it’s so macho and even sexy to hurt and dehumanize others…
You hypocrites and compartmentalizers, you sociopaths lacking empathy and simple human understanding…
When is the last time you visited someone in prison to console them?
When was the last time you showed kindness to someone that others in your little in-group might find detestable?
Are you so sure that your smug dehumanizing arrogance is pleasing to God? If you really are sure, give us a wee hint – how can we make you less sure? You’re destroying us.
It’s time for Christian assistant shepherds to recall their flocks to the meaning of the message. Cool, clear water of life, ratch ‘ere.
How can torturers and greedy war-mongers and spreaders of lies and fear have become so triumphant that they can brazenly assume that any real Christian could or would be a part of their “base”? How can Christians support such degrading and oppressive corruption as this? It’s a culture of fear and death.
We’ve gotten into ruts in our thinking – it’s all full of ideology and false oppositions and judgments that aren’t based in reality but on dark fantasies and projections.
Don’t dehumanize others – that’s where it all starts. Counter terror with justice, not sadism. Yes, there are reasons for prisons, but there is never a reason to degrade another human being, to invade them, to rape them, to torture them, to kill them.
And yes, I realize that I’m strident. There is an irony here, I know.
I try to understand and even to love those who hate just as much as I can. It’s a major challenge, and so perhaps the board of Benevolent Deities Inc. is having a little laugh watching me here in Georgia. For now, it’s about daily practice, trying – one person at a time – to understand how it happens, and to plant small seeds of its undoing while my imaginary guitar of the spirit gently weeps (the guitar is a permanent installation designed by John Lennon).
My assessment is that American pseudo-christians need to de-familiarize themselves again – to step away from their customary ways of thinking about religion so that they can hear and see and form their own insights again.
Agape love is a powerful way to inspire creative confrontation, restitution, and reconciliation.
Americans also need to remember and uphold the standards that we tell ourselves that we hold dear and which have been sold far too cheaply.
Ok, that’s all rather heavy, isn’t it? It all came out in a rush.
“My mind’s been going places without me lately”…
And after I truly finished the first draft, I went outside to see that the sky was an unearthly yellow.
I hope that you’ve heard about the study from The Center for Public Integrity in which they collected 935 false statements by eight top administration officials in the period before the March 18, 2003 invasion of Iraq.
We have the searchable database now. Provable, documented lies that can’t disappear or be denied.
“These false statements dramatically increased in August 2002, just prior to congressional consideration of a war resolution and during the critical weeks in early 2003 when the president delivered his State of the Union address and Powell delivered his memorable presentation to the U.N. Security Council,” the CIJ added.
Bush was the chief of misstatement, with 260 — about weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaeda in Iraq, trailed by then-secretary of state Powell with 254, the study charged.
The center emphasizes the point that its work calls into question “the repeated assertions of (George W.) Bush administration officials that they were merely the unwitting victims of bad intelligence.”
John Cushman at the Washington Post points out that
The database shows how even after the invasion, when a consensus emerged that the prewar intelligence assessments were flawed, administration officials occasionally suggested that the weapons might still be found. The officials have defended many of their prewar statements as having been based on the intelligence that was available at the time — although there is now evidence that some statements contradicted even the sketchy intelligence of the time.
No, they didn’t lie to us a thousand times…. it was just a little under that. But there were spikes – increases in the frequency and intensity of the statements – at politically opportune times. This suggests that they knew they were lying.
The study concluded that the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”
“If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Can you imagine a trillion? How about the almost 9 trillion of our national debt? How could the $2,000,000,000,000 (2 trillion) that the Iraq War has cost us so far been spent instead? At a cost of less than 200 billion a year – about a tenth of the total war budget – we could eliminate extreme poverty everywhere! What does this say about America’s priorities?
Israel has blocked all fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, a move that Amnesty International calls deliberate collective punishment. As electricity and fuel supplies run out, and humanitarian assistance is cut off, this may well escalate to a full-blown humanitarian emergency for the entire Gaza Strip.
The organization called for an immediate lifting of the fuel blockade and of other restrictions which have effectively prevented entry or exit of people and goods from the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized control in the territory, in which 1.5 million Palestinians live, in June 2007. … Amnesty International acknowledged Israel’s right to take measures to protect its population from rocket and other attacks by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, but condemned the Israeli authorities’ decision to cut off the already tightly restricted supplies of fuel, electricity and humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s inhabitants.
“This action appears calculated to make an already dire humanitarian situation worse, one in which the most vulnerable – the sick, the elderly, women and children – will bear the brunt, not the men of violence who carry out attacks against Israel,” said Malcolm Smart. “The rocket attacks should cease, and immediately, but the entire population of Gaza should not be put at risk to bring this about. …“Now, even crucial aid is not allowed to reach those that need it most in Gaza. These measures must be stopped and the passage of aid, fuel and electricity and other basic necessities must be allowed to resume immediately”, said Malcolm Smart.
How about – get this – corporate representatives sitting on governing boards? How about corporate sponsors influencing the direction of research before the funding decisions are made? How about giving away the exclusive rights for commercialization, effectively subcontracting research rather than promoting independent research? How about delaying the publication of research while they scurry for the patents?
“It’s a cheap subterfuge for carbon-emitting companies,” said Merrill Goozner, director of the CSPI’s Integrity in Science Project. “They get the prestige of associating themselves with major respected universities, yet can control the direction of research and get first rights to intellectual property while delaying any finding that doesn’t help the bottom line. Meanwhile, the p.r. blitz surrounding these programs masks the fact that the carbon-emitting industries actually are spending much less on research and development than they did 10 or 15 years ago.”
Between 1998 and 2005, Exxon gave more than $19 million to groups that promoted the idea that global warming was a hoax. Yet beginning in 2006, ExxonMobil ads proudly touted the company’s funding of the Stanford program: “Today an energy company and a leading university share a common goal. The common good.” Another ExxonMobil ad bore the Stanford University seal.
There’s a proposal in the works to turn Union Square – the famous Washington Mall site of the Capitol reflecting pool and the Grant Memorial – into a designated protest place. Oh, swell. You can imagine the debate going on.
“This is a sugar-coating effort to conceal the real plan, which is to reorganize the Mall from its traditional venue as the heart and soul of this country’s free-speech protest movement,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator of Answer, an antiwar coalition.
C’mon, you millions! Off to the protest area! You are not allowed around here!
Other noteworthy articles collected at Common Dreams:
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident. Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job. “Don’t plan on working back in Iraq. There won’t be a position here, and there won’t be a position in Houston,” Jones says she was told.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
A US senator came forward today on behalf of the second woman in a week to allege rape by private contractors in Iraq, worsening a controversy that has already sparked a congressional hearing.
Democratic senator Bill Nelson questioned whether the justice department had dragged its feet in the cases of an anonymous woman from Tampa, Florida, and Jamie Lynn Jones, a Texas woman who disclosed her rape charge to ABC news this week.
Both women say they were sexually assaulted by employees of KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary, in Iraq in 2005.
Nelson wrote to attorney general Michael Mukasey to confirm reports that the US navy criminal investigative service (NCIS) had investigated the rape charge and told the justice department of its findings.
He asked Mukasey whether more women have raised rape charges against private contractors and whether the government has responded.
“Both of these incidents occurred approximately two years ago, yet no one has been charged in either case,” Nelson wrote.
Jamie Leigh Jones was working in Iraq for a subsidiary of Halliburton when she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by several coworkers. For the last two years, she’s been asking the US government to hold the perpetrators accountable, but the men who raped her may never be brought to justice because Halliburton and other contractors in Iraq aren’t subject to US or Iraqi laws.
I just signed MoveOne’s petition urging Congress to investigate the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law.
I received an email today from Senator Saxby Chambliss, and I’m posting both his communication and my own.
Dear Ms. N: Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) monitoring of conversations connected to terrorist activity and the treatment of military detainees. It is good to hear from you.
I certainly understand your concerns regarding personal freedoms. We are blessed to live in a free and effective democracy, and, just like you, I hold dear the personal freedoms that are provided to each and every law-abiding American.
As you know, the world changed on September 11, 2001. In the weeks following the catastrophic and murderous attacks on our nation, President Bush authorized the NSA to intercept certain international communications into and out of the United States from persons known to have links to terrorist organizations. As it has been publicly discussed, the purpose of the monitoring program is to prevent another attack on our country. This program is effective and the terrorist plots that have been foiled demonstrate that it is vitally important for the President of the United States to have the power and authority to act on information to protect the American people.
With respect to military detainees captured by the United States, they should be treated humanely and in a manner that honors our agreement under the Geneva Conventions. On October 17, 2006, President Bush signed into law (P.L. 109-366) a bill that outlines the treatment of our military detainees and our interrogation program. This law will further underscore to other countries that the United States will treat its detainees properly and justly.
As always, I appreciate hearing from you.
(Yada yada yada, I’m so sure he appreciates hearing from me.)
So here is my response. I am almost completely certain that such correspondence has no impact on Senator Chambliss whatsoever, but perhaps his staff draws some kind of statistical trend reports for purposes of future elections.
I’m not the only Georgian who wonders why Mr. Chambliss continues to puppet the lies of this administration.
Dear Senator Chambliss:
The NSA monitoring of conversations and email has gone beyond the bounds of what you describe in this correspondence. I am quite sure that you are aware of that.
How can you try to say that you hold dear our freedoms and the values of our democracy when you continue to support the unethical and anti-American actions of this President and Vice-President?
Stop using 9/11 as the “second Pearl Harbor.” With policies such as surveillance of American citizens, retroactive immunity laws, the expansion of executive power, and the torture and mistreatment of prisoners of all kinds – both here and abroad – you have undermined the values of the United States of America.
In this respect, the 9/11 attack couldn’t have been more successful as an act of terrorism; this administration, with your full support, has used it to betray what we should have been standing up for – our freedoms, our democracy, our rights as Americans. You, sir, are allowing that act to succeed in changing the very fabric of our nation.
You say we are “blessed to live in a free and effective democracy.” What remains of this “blessing” – a state of affairs hard-earned in blood and vigilance – is systematically being dismantled, and you contribute to this! Your oblique reference to God does not move me; I cannot imagine how you think God would approve of rampant greed and corruption, deceit, theft, torture, war profiteering, or throwing away the very aspects of American democracy that used to give hope to so many people here and abroad.
Senator Chambliss, after 9/11, we had the sympathy and support of most of the world – think for a moment about how we have thrown that away. Think for a moment about how a truly effective counter-terrorism policy might have reduced terrorism, rather than exponentially increasing it as this administration has done with its harmful policies and actions.
America currently disregards international and domestic laws and agreements on a level that I would never have thought possible. We have even aggressively invaded another country that had not attacked us – a deep violation of our own principles, and of the U.N. agreements for member countries.
You claim that the NSA program has foiled terrorist plots. Would you care to name a few? Can you show me someone that has been lawfully convicted on the basis of this (unconstitutional) activity?
The statement that we treat prisoners (whether at Gitmo, or in Iraq or Afghanistan – or in the countries we ship them out to for torture) in a manner that is in accordance with international law and treaty is so laughable that I am quite frankly amazed that you would still continue to make this claim.
Mr. Chambliss, I have contacted you about many issues, and although I know that your email responses are simply cut and pasted from form letters written by others, I still ask you to hold yourself accountable for the misleading statements being made in them.
Sir, your role in the Senate is to represent the interests – and the laws – of the people of Georgia and of this nation. When will you begin to take your job more seriously?
Senator, I plead with you. Revisit some of these important issues. The future of America is at stake.
These are real problems, and the way they have been handled so far will have lasting repercussions.
Won’t you begin to be part of solving these problems rather than making them even worse with your denials and your continued support of every whim of this secretive and dangerous administration?