Tuesday, December 23, 2003
W afraid of Osama
Says Saddam takedown bait, switch
By JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
"Bush did a bait-and-switch on us and substituted Saddam Hussein, and boom,
$150 billion, 460 American lives and no telling how much more of our Treasury
before this is all over. This administration didn't have the heart to put the effort
and the innovation and the ingenuity into fighting terror."
-- Wesley Clark,
John Kerry's plan:
(1) Repeal Bush overtime regulations that prevent as many as eight million Americans from getting overtime pay.
(2) Crack down on big corporate farms that are violating anti-trust laws, and better target agriculture assistance to family farmers instead of rewarding big agribusiness, as George Bush has done.
(3) Get rid of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to invest in education and health care. Keep the middle class tax cuts such as the expanded child credit and end of the marriage penalty.
(4) Assure every child can afford four years of college with a new College Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 a year, instead of doing nothing as states raise tuition to deal with budget deficits, as George Bush has done.
(5) Create 500,000 new jobs by investing in alternative energy, rather than supporting big oil and energy companies, as George Bush has done.
(6) End government contracts for companies that take jobs offshore, rather than supporting no-bid contracts for Halliburton, as George Bush has done.
(7) Provide tax credits to manufacturers to keep jobs in the United States, rather than stand by while 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, as George Bush has done.
(8) Support budget plans that cut deficits and create millions of new jobs, rather than preside over record deficits and job loss, as George Bush has done.
(9) Control rising health care costs that are consuming wages and hurting businesses, rather than champion proposals that actually increase health care costs for millions of Americans, as George Bush has done.
(10) Enforce trade agreements so American jobs aren't exported and fight for strong labor and environmental standards, rather than letting our trading partners off the hook at every opportunity, as George Bush has done.
(11) Invest in technology to create an economy that is strong for the future - not just through next November's election, as George Bush is doing.
(12) Give support to small businesses, building on a record that included expanding a program for women-owned businesses from 8,000 to 80,000, rather than slashing programs that support small business, as George Bush has done.
(13) Crack down on corporate scandals to protect savings and retirement, rather than watching CEOs line their pockets at the expense of workers, as George Bush has done.
(14) Increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation and assure fair pay, rather than provide lavish tax cuts for the wealthy, as George Bush has done.
(15) Control wasteful corporate welfare with a line item veto and strong budget rules, rather than spending billions on special interest pork for big companies, as George Bush has done.
(16) End the assault on the right to organize at home and abroad and fight for a mandatory ergonomics rule that protects workers from repetitive stress injuries, rather than provide a weak rule that companies don't have to enforce, as George Bush has done.
(17) Help working families by expanding the quality and supply of child care and after school, rather than cut after-school for 550,000, as George Bush wants to do.
(18) Cut the budget deficit in half in four years, rather than explode the deficit with tax cuts for the wealthy and reckless spending, as George Bush has done.
(19) End layoffs, education cuts, and higher state taxes with a new "State Tax Relief and Education Fund," rather than promoting policies that have left states with $90 billion in deficits, as George Bush has done.
(20) Assure financial stability for military families with mortgage insurance for reservists, an increased death benefit, mandatory $250,000 non-taxable life insurance plans, and guarantee adequate imminent danger pay, rather than increasing the strains and jeopardizing the income of these families, as George Bush has done.
(21) Protect pensions so workers get back what they are owed, rather than look the other way while corporate fraud undermines workers savings, as George Bush has done.
(22) Prepare our first defenders by restoring the COPS program and creating a new 'Father Judge Fund' to recruit and train 100,000 firefighters, rather than forcing states to lay off first responders when we need more protection, as George Bush has done.
(23) Support worker training programs and the lifelong learning tax credit, which that allows people to take a 20% tax credit on $10,000 a year to improve job skills or get vocational education or college, instead of gutting our job training programs, as George Bush has proposed doing.
(24) End influence peddling and secret deals by closing the revolving door for lobbyists and requiring lobbyists to disclose every meeting, rather than keep records secret and reward wealthy campaign contributors, as George Bush has done.
Classified Leaks Continue
Monday 22 December 2003
The Honorable John Ashcroft
Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
On September 29, 2003, we wrote to you and to the President requesting the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of an undercover CIA officer. You rejected this request, stating that the Department of Justice would initiate a criminal investigation of this matter instead. However, based on what we have seen to date, it is far from clear that the Administration and your department are truly committed to taking the steps necessary to apprehend the person or persons responsible for this grave national security breach.
More than five months have passed since the first press report disclosed the name of the CIA officer and more than two months since your investigation was initiated.
As we wrote in September, we believe it is critical that this matter be investigated as quickly, thoroughly, and as impartially as possible. If, as has been reported, senior Administration officials disclosed this confidential information, they should be prosecuted and, if found guilty, dismissed from their positions of public trust.
An aggressive response in this case is also important in order to deter those who may be tempted in the future to use classified information for their own partisan purposes. Unfortunately, since our September letter, we have seen a continuing pattern of leaks of classified information from the Executive branch. These disclosures include information related to sensitive counter-terrorism intelligence sources and activities related to the war in Iraq. There have been reports that these leaks also have been referred to the Department of Justice for a possible criminal investigation. The continuing unauthorized leaking of classified information to support particular policies is inexcusable. It is endangering the lives of the men and women serving our country and jeopardizing our national security.
Your continuing refusal to name a special counsel, despite the possible involvement of senior Administration officials, and the appearance of a conflict of interest, make it even more imperative that the Congress and the American people be assured that this case is being thoroughly pursued free of partisan influence and you are personally committed to achieving a prompt, successful conclusion. Therefore, we request that you provide us an update on your Department=s efforts in this investigation, the steps you have taken to ensure its independence, and any measures you have implemented to stem the tide of leaks of classified information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Monday, December 22, 2003
White House Web Scrubbing
Offending Comments on Iraq Disappear From Site
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post ,Thursday, December 18, 2003;
It's not quite Soviet-style airbrushing, but the Bush administration has been using cyberspace to make some of its own cosmetic touch-ups to history.
White House officials were steamed when Andrew S. Natsios, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said earlier this year that U.S. taxpayers would not have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq -- which turned out to be a gross understatement of the tens of billions of dollars the government now expects to spend.
Recently, however, the government has purged the offending comments by Natsios from the agency's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished.
This is not the first time the administration has done some creative editing of government Web sites. After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word "Major" before combat.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, administration Web sites have been scrubbed for anything vaguely sensitive, and passwords are now required to access even much unclassified information. Though it is not clear whether the White House is directing the changes, several agencies have been following a similar pattern. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have removed or revised fact sheets on condoms, excising information about their effectiveness in disease prevention, and promoting abstinence instead. The National Cancer Institute, meanwhile, scrapped claims on its Web site that there was no association between abortion and breast cancer. And the Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site.
Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said the Natsios case is particularly pernicious. "This smells like an attempt to revise the record, not just to withhold information but to alter the historical record in a self-interested way, and that is sleazier than usual," he said. "If they simply said, 'We made an error; we underestimated,' people could understand it and deal with it."
Thursday, December 18, 2003
9/11 Chair Says White House Could Have Stopped Attacks
It has been two years and three months since America absorbed the horrific attacks of September 11. A fight has been waged since then to determine the facts behind that terrible day: How did it happen? Why was it not stopped? The Bush administration has fought the official investigations into these attacks every step of the way, going so far as to nominate master secret-keeper Henry Kissinger to chair the investigation. They failed in this nomination, and wound up with former New Jersey Governor and fellow Republican Thomas Kean. Today, Kean has fired an incredible broadside across the bow of the White House, stating bluntly that the attacks of September 11 could have and should have been stopped, and that blame for this failure rests squarely on the shoulders of the Bush administration.
-- William Rivers Pitt
Go to article: http://truthout.org/docs_03/121803A1.shtml
Convicted Felons Worked for Electronic Voting Companies
By Rachel Konrad
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Tuesday 16 December 2003
(AP) At least five convicted felons secured management positions at a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, according to critics demanding more stringent background checks for people responsible for voting machine software.
Voter advocate Bev Harris alleged Tuesday that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold Inc., one of the country's largest voting equipment vendors, included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions, and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records.
The programmer, Jeffrey Dean, wrote and maintained proprietary code used to count hundreds of thousands of votes as senior vice president of Global Election Systems Inc. Diebold purchased GES in January 2002.
According to a public court document released before GES hired him, Dean served time in a Washington correctional facility for stealing money and tampering with computer files in a scheme that "involved a high degree of sophistication and planning."
Monday, December 15, 2003
Ray McGovern, Former CIA Analyst: 'We're Trying to Spread a Little Truth'
By Dan Chapman
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Sunday 07 December 2003
Q: Do the American people care that they were misled on Iraq? Does Congress? The press?
A: There's still a lot of torpor, but there are two new elements now. No. 1: The men and women who are being killed every day in Iraq. No. 2: The fact that no one --- not even the press --- likes to be lied to. I'm an American, and I never thought the president would lie so often and so demonstrably.
The Bush administration's reasoning went like this: "We'll deceive Congress. We'll have our war. We'll win handily. The folks in Iraq will meet us with cut flowers and open arms, and who will care at that point whether the [war's premise] was based largely on a forgery?" But there's zero chance that Congress will establish an independent judicial commission to investigate how we got into Iraq. Both houses of Congress are controlled by the president's party. There are no statesmen to rise above party affiliation and say, "We were lied to." No one will do that.
Q: Do you honestly believe the Bush administration is the first to politicize intelligence information for its own geopolitical endeavors?
A: No. I've seen some pretty terrible stuff. We did a very careful job of analyzing how many enemy [soldiers] there were in Vietnam in 1967, and we found out that there were twice as many as the military in Saigon would admit.
We put that into the National Intelligence Estimate for the president, and CIA Director Richard Helms caved in to the military and went with their numbers. Two months later, with the Tet Offensive, our numbers proved to be correct. That was bad. The Gulf of Tonkin [misinformation] was equally bad.
But what makes this different is that it was knowingly calculated over a period of a year and a half. The public relations was masterful --- just think back to Colin Powell's speech. Not one charge has been borne out and yet it persuaded the country that the war in Iraq was a good idea.
Q: What's the danger?
A: I see us in a particularly critical period now, a period very much akin to the early stages of Vietnam. Key decisions need to be made. Do we commit more troops? The president is under great pressure to do that. But if he does, the situation will just get worse and worse and the troops will be the lightning rods.
We Caught The Wrong Guy
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 15 December 2003
Saddam Hussein, former employee of the American federal government, was captured near a farmhouse in Tikrit in a raid performed by other employees of the American federal government. That sounds pretty deranged, right? Perhaps, but it is also accurate. The unifying thread binding together everyone assembled at that Tikrit farmhouse is the simple fact that all of them – the soldiers as well as Hussein – have received pay from the United States for services rendered.
It is no small irony that Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad, the monster under your bed lo these last twelve years, was paid probably ten thousand times more during his time as an American employee than the soldiers who caught him on Saturday night. The boys in the Reagan White House were generous with your tax dollars, and Hussein was a recipient of their largesse for the better part of a decade.
. Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, reached at his home on Sunday, said, “It’s great that they caught him. The man was a brutal dictator who committed terrible crimes against his people. But now we come to rest of story. We didn’t go to war to capture Saddam Hussein. We went to war to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons have not been found.”
Indeed, reality intrudes. The push for war before March was based upon Hussein’s possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 1,000,000 pounds of sarin gas, mustard gas, and VX nerve gas, along with 30,000 munitions to deliver these agents, uranium from Niger to be used in nuclear bombs, and let us not forget the al Qaeda terrorists closely associated with Hussein who would take this stuff and use it against us on the main streets and back roads of the United States.
When they found Hussein hiding in that dirt hole in the ground, none of this stuff was down there with him. The full force of the American military has been likewise unable to locate it anywhere else. There is no evidence of al al Qaeda agents working with Hussein, and Bush was forced some weeks ago to publicly acknowledge that Hussein had nothing to do with September 11. The Niger uranium story was debunked last summer.
Conventional wisdom now holds that none of this stuff was there to begin with, and all the clear statements from virtually everyone in the Bush administration squatting on the public record describing the existence of this stuff looks now like what it was then: A lot of overblown rhetoric and outright lies, designed to terrify the American people into supporting an unnecessary go-it-alone war. Said war made a few Bush cronies rich beyond the dreams of avarice while allowing some hawks in the Defense Department to play at empire-building, something they have been craving for more than ten years.
Osama bin Laden... was not captured on Saturday. Bin Laden, it has been reported, is thrilled by what is happening in Iraq, and plans to throw as much violence as he can muster at American forces there. The Bush administration spent hundreds of billions of dollars on this Iraq invasion, not one dime of which went towards the capture or death of the fellow who brought down the Towers a couple of years ago. For bin Laden and his devotees, Iraq is better than Disneyland.
For all the pomp and circumstance that has surrounded the extraction of the former Iraqi dictator from a hole in the ground, the reality is that the United States is not one bit safer now that the man is in chains.
There will be no trial for Hussein, at least nothing in public, because he might start shouting about the back pay he is owed from his days as an employee of the American government. Because another former employee of the American government named Osama is still alive and free, our troops are still in mortal danger in Iraq.
Hussein was never a threat to the United States. His capture means nothing to the safety and security of the American people. The money we spent to put the bag on him might have gone towards capturing bin Laden, who is a threat, but that did not happen. We can be happy for the people of Iraq, because their Hussein problem is over. Here in America, our Hussein problem is just beginning. The other problem, that Osama fellow we should have been trying to capture this whole time, remains perched over our door like the raven.
'Spoils of War' Bidding
By Rupert Cornwell
Friday 12 December 2003
George Bush poured fuel on the flames of the Iraq contracts dispute yesterday with a sneering dismissal of a suggestion by the German Chancellor that the decision to bar Germany, France Russia and Canada from bidding might violate international law.
"International law? I'd better call my lawyer," the American President joked in response to a reporter's question at the White House.
Democrats seized on the episode as further evidence of Bush diplomatic blundering. "How do we get a coalition together when we're putting it out on a government website that a country like Canada is a national security risk to the United States?" Marty Meehan, a Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee, said.
Friday, December 12, 2003
Dollar hits record low vs euro after Snow comment
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar touched a lifetime low against the euro Friday after Treasury Secretary John Snow said the dollar's decline was "orderly," a comment dollar bears took as a green light to sell the currency, analysts said
HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOUR VOTE IS COUNTED?
From: WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 12 Dec 03 Washington, DC
1. ELECTRONIC VOTING: HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOUR VOTE IS COUNTED?
You won't. After the 2000 election fiasco in Florida, election
officials across the country sought to modernize voting. This
has meant a lot of business for companies that make touch-screen
electronic voting machines. However, voters may also be getting
the business - the machine codes are proprietary secrets (WN 25
Apr 03). This puts vote counting under full control of private
companies, with no way to conduct an audit. If this isn't scary
enough, there's the fund-raising letter to Ohio Republicans from
the CEO of Diebold, the major supplier of touch-screen voting
machines: "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver it's electoral
votes to the President." He is in a perfect position to do so.
A study for the State of Ohio, found 57 serious security flaws in
electronic voting machines. Our best hope is H.R.2239, the Voter
Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, introduced by
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a physicist. The bill would require a
voter-verified paper trail for all voting machines, making audits
possible. There are currently 74 bi-partisan cosponsors.
'Just last week Baker said, 'I fixed the election in Florida for George Bush.'
That was the substance of his remarks to an audience of Russian big wigs as
reported to me by my somewhat astonished colleagues with BBC television.
It was Baker, as consiglieri to the Bush family, who came up with the strategy of maneuvering the 2000 Florida vote count into a Supreme Court packed with politicos. Baker's claim to have fixed the election was not a confession."
"It was a boast. He meant to dazzle current and potential clients in the former Soviet states about his big In with the Big Boy in the White House."
Stars and Stripes blowing the whistle
Stars and Stripes is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away.
The newspaper, quoting two officials with the Army's 1st Armored Division in an article last week, reported that "for security reasons, only those preselected got into the facility during Bush's visit. . . . The soldiers who dined while the president visited were selected by their chain of command, and were notified a short time before the visit."
The paper also published a letter to the editor from Sgt. Loren Russell, who wrote of the heroism of his soldiers and then added: "[I]magine their dismay when they walked 15 minutes to the Bob Hope Dining Facility, only to find that they were turned away from their evening meal because they were in the wrong unit. . . . They understand that President Bush ate there and that upgraded security was required. But why were only certain units turned away?"
Russell added that his soldiers "chose to complain amongst themselves and eat MREs, even after the chow hall was reopened for 'usual business' at 9 p.m. As a leader myself, I'd guess that other measures could have been taken to allow for proper security and still let the soldiers have their meal."
The 1st Armored Division officials told Stars and Stripes that all soldiers had the opportunity to get a proper Thanksgiving meal -- possibly more than the newspaper's editors will get in Guantanamo next year.
It's been two weeks since Bush made that secret trip to Iraq, but the flight itself continues to cause turbulence.
The controversy began when the White House said Air Force One was spotted by a British Airways plane but the president's pilots told the dubious British Airways pilots by radio that they were flying a Gulfstream V. The White House later said there was no British Airways plane involved and the conversation took place between British air traffic control and another plane while Air Force One was "off the western coast of England."
As it happens, Air Force One was flying across the North Sea, off the eastern coast of England, when it was spotted by the mystery plane, a German charter jet. But that's being picky.
Of more concern, air traffic controllers in Britain are seething over the flight, in which the president's 747, falsely identified as a Gulfstream, traveled through British airspace. Prospect, the controllers union in the United Kingdom, says the flight broke international regulations, posed a potential safety threat and exposed a weakness in the air defense system that could be exploited by terrorists.
"The overriding concern is if the president's men who did this can dupe air traffic control, what's to stop a highly organized terrorist group from duping air traffic control?" asked David Luxton, Prospect's national secretary. Luxton said the flight was in "breach" of regulations against filing false flight plans set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which he said should apply to a military aircraft using civilian airspace.
Luxton said that by identifying itself as a Gulfstream V instead of the much larger 747, Air Force One could have put itself and other airplanes in danger. The Gulfstream can climb faster and maneuver more nimbly than a 747, which means controllers could have assumed the president's plane was capable of a collision-avoiding maneuver that it couldn't actually do. And the "wake vortex" of a 747, much larger than a Gulfstream's, could jeopardize smaller planes that were told by unsuspecting controllers to follow in the mislabeled plane's wake.
As it happens, Air Force One passed without incident. But Luxton said that's beside the point. "It's important air traffic control have an accurate picture of what's up there in the sky they're controlling," he said.
Senate Democrats Protect Overtime Pay From GOP Pork Bill
Dec 11, 2003
With Republicans trying once again to strip overtime pay from millions of workers, Democrats were forced to block a major spending bill in order to protect working families from the GOP assault.
Republicans wrote the "omnibus" spending bill, which would fund 11 of the 15 federal agencies, to allow President Bush to change overtime rules so that eight million Americans' overtime pay is at risk.
Both the House and Senate — led by Democrats — passed initiatives that would protect overtime rules from the Bush administration's changes. But the Republican leadership used the omnibus spending bill to try to pass President Bush's changes to overtime rules.
Democrats also objected to the enormous amounts of pork the GOP put into the spending bill.
2000, August: Cheney leaves his position as Halliburton’s CEO to run as Bush’s Vice President.
Halliburton announces that it is giving Cheney a retirement package worth more than $33.7 million.19 Under public pressure, Cheney sells company stock worth $30 million.
Cheney appears in an Arthur Andersen promotional video praising the firm’s accounting practices,
saying: “I get good advice, if you will, from their people [Arthur Andersen], based upon how we
are doing business and how we are operating, over and above the normal, by-the-books auditing
arrangement”.15 KBR is later investigated by the SEC for accounting fraud – in a case similar to
the charges leveled against Anderson’s other client, Enron.
November: Kellogg, Brown & Root is paid $2 million to reinforce the United States embassy in
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, under contract with the State Department.26
December: Kellogg, Brown & Root secures a 10-year deal with the Pentagon with no cost ceiling
to provide support services to the Army.27 The contract is known as the Logistics Civil
Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). This contract is a “cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/
indefinite-quantity service,” which means that the federal government has an open-ended
mandate and budget to send Kellogg, Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run humanitarian
or military operations for profit.
May 22: A New York Times article alleges that Halliburton artificially inflated its stock price
between June 1999 and May 2002 and counted cost overruns on construction projects as additional
revenue.35 Following these allegations, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) launches
an investigation into Halliburton’s accounting practices.36 The company’s then-accountant was
Arthur Andersen. Despite the ongoing investigation and previous revelations about cost over-runs,
Halliburton continues to receive government contracts worth billions.
June: Brown and Root is awarded a $22 million deal to run support services at a military camp in Uzbekistan. This is the first LOGCAP contract in the “war on terrorism”.
July 15: Newsweek publishes the article, “Halliburton CEO Says Cheney Knew About Firm’s
Accounting Practices” revealing that Cheney was aware that the firm was counting projected cost-overrun payments as revenues.
July/August: It is revealed that while Vice President Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO, the number
of its subsidiary companies in offshore tax havens increased from 9 (in 1995) to 44 (in 1999). One
of these subsidiaries (Halliburton Products and Services Ltd.), incorporated in the Caiman Islands,
is used since 2000 to get around sanctions on doing business in Iran.41 At the same time,
Halliburton’s federal taxes dropped dramatically from $302 million in 1998 to an $85 million
rebate in 1999.
January: The Wall Street Journal reports that Halliburton officials met informally with
representatives of Vice President Cheney’s office back in October to figure out how best to jump-start
Iraq’s oil industry following a war.52
March: Congressman Henry Waxman launches an inquiry into the fact that the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers has secretly awarded a no-bid contract to KBR to extinguish oil well fires in Iraq. The
contract has a huge cost ceiling of $7 billion, with additional fees of up to seven percent ($490
million). The mission and the contract have been “awarded without any competition or even notice to Congress, [… and] were entered into on March 8, but not disclosed publicly until March 24”.53
This contract is open-ended. It is also a “cost-plus” contract, i.e. the company is guaranteed to
recover costs plus an additional percentage of those costs as its profit.
It is later revealed that the contract not only includes fighting fires, but also operating the oil fields.
Stop Corporate War Profiteers!
It becomes clearer as time passes that some of the biggest winners of the war
in Iraq are the corporations standing to profit from the multi-million dollar contracts
doled out by the U.S. government for the reconstruction of the war-torn country
and the extraction and management of its vast oil reserves.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Surviving Crisis Fatigue
by Tom Atlee
Dear John, You might consider something I'm thinking of calling crisis-fatigue. Like battle fatigue or compassion fatigue. I think its main ingredient is ambiguity-fatigue. It is exhausting to continually contemplate potentially massive threats from a place of radical uncertainty littered with certainties that blink on and off...
How does one respond to this in anything approaching a sane way? I struggle with this all the time. At least a few things have become obvious to me. These strategies are remarkably consistent with what you'd expect the requisites would be for living in a complex, chaotic, unpredictable system:
1) Let go of outcome. Since we're not in charge (and never really were), admit that what happens is much bigger than any of us.
2) Come to terms with our own intrinsic participation in Whatever Happens. Not only are we not in control, we're not un-involved. Our role in Whatever Happens isn't something we can escape.
Guilt-based responsibility is part of the linear cause-and-effect worldview. ("Who's responsible/ guilty/ blameworthy?" is the social equivalent of the scientists' question, "What's the cause?") But blame can't fathom the complexity of What Happens in a living/chaotic system. Phenomena arise from the whole, from the system itself.
The route to better conditions is through increased awareness of the whole, and a more radically expansive sense of all our roles. This includes the previous item -- letting go -- because co-creation means we're not in charge of outcomes, we're just vitally important participants in influencing them.
3) Look for positive possibilities and ways to partner them into greater probability....
the universe is made of possibilities, not atoms.
..That is the edge of co-creativity where Life resides most vividly.
Some say it is narcissistic to think we are playing a role in everything. This is true if we're talking about a linear world of cause-and-effect responsibility. But I see reality as bigger than linear. I see it as an infinite, infinitesimally dense web of co-creation, a sea of mutual participation. Spangler has called this "a co-incarnational universe" -- everything is bringing everything else into existence.
So we join with everyone and everything -- past, present and future -- in sharing influence on what happens. We are neither guilty nor innocent. Rather, we are consciously or unconsciously involved. In everything. Our actions matter. Our awareness matters. Right here and right now. Because we are a factor in the Life of Everything.
This ultimate application of the admonition "Think Globally, Act Locally" points towards what we might call "participatory responsibility." Are we playing the best role we can imagine, given the limits of (our infinitely expandable) awareness?
Friday, December 05, 2003
Semi-fun thing to do:
Go to Google, http://www.google.com
type in the words : miserable failure ,
then hit "Feeling Lucky"
What pops up isn't a surprise, but the source is.
Bush Is Holding the Centerpiece
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 4, 2003; Page A33
President Bush's Baghdad turkey was for looking, not for eating.
In the most widely published image from his Thanksgiving day trip to Baghdad, the beaming president is wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers as he cradles a huge platter laden with a golden-brown turkey.
The bird is so perfect it looks as if it came from a food magazine, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.
But as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the 21/2-hour stop at the Baghdad airport, administration officials said yesterday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate.
A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line, while the 600 soldiers were served from cafeteria-style steam trays, the officials said.
...the foray has opened new credibility questions for a White House that has dealt with issues as small as who placed the "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the aircraft carrier Bush used to proclaim the end of major combat operations in Iraq, and as major as assertions about Saddam Hussein's arsenal of unconventional weapons and his ability to threaten the United States.
The White House has updated its account of an airborne conversation in which a British Airways pilot wondered into his radio if he had just seen Air Force One and was told that it was a Gulfstream 5, a much smaller plane. White House officials first said that the British Airways pilot had talked with the Air Force One pilot. Bush aides now say the conversation occurred between the British Airways pilot and an air traffic control worker.
British Airways said it has been unable to confirm the new version. "We've looked into it," a spokeswoman said from London. "It didn't happen."
White House officials do not deny that they craft elaborate events to showcase Bush, but they maintain that these events are designed to accurately dramatize his policies and to convey qualities about him that are real.
Some of the reporters left behind at Crawford Middle School, where they work when Bush is staying at his Texas ranch, felt they had been deceived by White House accounts of what Bush would be doing on Thanksgiving.
Correspondent Mark Knoller said Sunday on "CBS Evening News" that the misleading information and deception were understandable, but that he had been "filing radio reports that amounted to fiction."
"Even as President Bush was addressing U.S. personnel in Baghdad, I was on the air saying he was at his ranch making holiday phone calls to American troops overseas," Knoller said. "I got that information from a White House official that very morning."
Was the Turkey a Canard?
Now, Mike Allen reports in the Washington Post this morning that the turkey Bush held in his photo-op with troops was a prop that was never served to the soldiers. White House officials defend such stage-managing by insisting that their fiction is "designed to accurately dramatize his policies and to convey qualities about him that are real."
They're right, and pictures are worth a thousand words. From the man who lied about why we went into war, nothing could be a more accurate image.
P.S. The turkey prop itself was, in all likelihood, provided by Halliburton. Dick Cheney's old firm has the contract to feed troops in Iraq, along with at least $7 billion worth of other no-bid post war contracts paid for by American taxpayers. Maybe Halliburton donated the turkey to Bush — it would have been the least they could do to thank him for all that money.