Starving for Change - America Out of Work - Trust Me To Provide Your Needs - George W. Bush Belongs in Prison - By What Authority? - Washington Arrogance has Fomented a Muslim Revolution - We Will Not Jump Ship - Turn Aside
January 1, 2009
Starving for Change
By Chris Hedges
Elba Figueroa worked as a nurse´s aide until she got Parkinson´s disease. She lost her job. She lost her health care. She receives $703 a month in government assistance. Her rent alone costs $750. And so she borrows money from friends and neighbors every month to stay in her apartment. She laboriously negotiates her wheelchair up and down steps and along the frigid sidewalks of Trenton, N.J., to get to soup kitchens and food pantries to eat.
Food prices have gone up,’ the 47-year-old Figueroa said, waiting to get inside the food pantry run by the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton. I don´t have any money. I run out of things to eat. I worked until I physically could not work anymore. Now I live like this.’
The pantry, which occupies a dilapidated three-story art deco building in Old Trenton, one of the poorest sections of the city, is one of about two dozen charities that struggle to provide shelter and food to the poor. Those who quality for assistance are permitted to come once a month and push a shopping cart in a U shape around the first floor where, clutching a piece of paper with allotted points, they can stock up on items using the pantry´s point system according to the number of people in a household. The shelves of the pantry hold bags of rice, jars of peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and cans of beets, corn and peas. Two refrigerated cases hold eggs, chickens, fresh carrots and beef hot dogs. All Fresh Produce 2 pounds = 1 point,’ a sign on the glass door of the refrigerated unit reads. Another reads: 1 Dozen EGGS equal 3 protein points. Limit of 1 dozen per household.’
The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country, many of them elderly or single women with children, have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. General welfare recipients receive $140 a month in cash and another $140 in food stamps. This is all many in Trenton and other impoverished areas have to live on.
Trenton, a former manufacturing center that has a 20 percent unemployment rate and a median income of $33,000, is a window into our current unraveling. The financial meltdown is plunging the working class and the poor into levels of destitution unseen since the Depression. And as the government squanders taxpayer money in fruitless schemes to prop up insolvent banks and investment houses, citizens are callously thrown onto the street without work, a place to live or enough food.
The statistics are already grim. Our banking and investment system, holding perhaps $2 trillion in worthless assets, cannot be saved, even with the $700 billion of taxpayer money recklessly thrown into its financial black hole. Our decline is irrevocable. The number of private sector jobs has dropped for the past 10 months and at least a quarter of all businesses say they plan to cut more jobs over the next year. The nation´s largest banks, including Citigroup, face collapse. Retail sales fell in October by the largest monthly drop on record. Auto companies are on the edge of bankruptcy. The official unemployment figures, which duplicitously mask real unemployment that is probably now at least 10 percent nationwide, are up to 6.1 percent and headed higher. We have lost 1.2 million jobs since January. Young men of color have 50 percent unemployment rates in cities such as Trenton. Twelve million houses are worth less than their mortgages and a million people will lose their homes this year in foreclosures. The current trends, if not swiftly reversed, mean that one in 33 home owners will face foreclosure.
There are now 36.2 million Americans who cope daily with hunger, up by more than 3 million since 2000, according to the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C. The number of people in the worst-off categorythe hungriestrose by 40 percent since 2000, to nearly 12 million people.
We are seeing people we have not seen for a long time,’ said the Rev. Jarret Kerbel, director of the Crisis Ministry´s food pantry, which supplies food to 1,400 households in Trenton each month. We are seeing people who haven´t crossed that threshold for five, six or seven years coming back. We are seeing people whose unemployment has run out and they are struggling in that gap while they reapply and, of course, we are seeing the usual unemployed. This will be the first real test of [Bill] Clinton´s so-called welfare reform.’
The Crisis Ministry, like many hard-pressed charities, is over budget and food stocks are precariously low. Donations are on the decline. There are days when soup kitchens in Trenton are shut down because they have no food.
We collected 170 bags of groceries from a church in Princeton and it was gone in two days,’ Kerbel said. We collected 288 bags from a Jewish center in Princeton and it was gone in three days. What you see on the shelves is pretty much what we have.’
The largess of Congress to Wall Street bankers and investors does not extend to the growing ranks of the poor. The U.S. Department of Agriculture´s Emergency Food Assistance Program donated $240 million in surplus food in 2003 to food banks and other programs. Those donations fell last year to $59 million.
States, facing dramatic budget shortfalls, are slashing social assistance programs, including Medicaid, social services and education. New Jersey´s shortfall has tripled to $1.2 billion and could soar to $5 billion for the next fiscal year. Tax revenue has fallen to $211 million less than projected. States are imposing hiring freezes, canceling raises and cutting back on services big and small, from salting and plowing streets in winter to heating assistance programs. Unemployment insurance funds, especially with the proposed extension of benefits, are running out of money. Governors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and David A. Paterson in New York have called special legislative sessions to deal with the crisis.
If Barack Obama continues to turn to the elites who created the mess, if he does not radically redirect the nation´s resources to assist the working class and the poor, we will become a third-world country. We will waste gargantuan amounts of money we cannot afford on our military, our national security state and bloated corporations while we damn the middle and working class to the whims, idiocy and greed of an entrenched, corporate oligarchy. Obama´s appointments of Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers as director of the National Economic Council are ominous signals that these elites remain entrenched.
Dolores Williams, 57, sat in the cramped waiting room at the Crisis Ministry clutching a numbered card, waiting for it to be called. She has lived in a low-income apartment block known as The Kingsbury for a year. Two residents, she said, recently jumped to their deaths from the 19th floor. She had a job at Sam´s Club but lost it. No one, she says, is hiring. She is desperate.
She handed me a copy of The Trentonian, a local paper. The headline on the front page read: Gangster Slammed for Bicycle Drive-By.’ It was the story of the conviction of a man for a fatal drive-by shooting from a bicycle. The paper, as I flipped through it, was filled with stories like these, the result of social, economic and moral collapse. Poverty breeds more than hunger. It destroys communities. There was a report about a 56-year-old woman who was robbed and pistol-whipped in the middle of the afternoon. There was an article about the plight of four children whose two parents had been shot and seriously wounded. Libraries OK Now, but Future Is Murky’ a headline read. Another announced: Still No Arrests in Hooker Slayings.’
It is like this every day,’ Williams said.
So while our nation crumbles, physically and morally, while our empire implodes, while our economy tanks, the bankrupt elites who got us here play the merry-go-round game of power in Washington. They will continue to oversee our demise, including the obscene drain of our military and security budget, which now accounts for half of all discretionary spending. Pentagon officials have reportedly asked the Obama transition team for $581 billion, an increase of $67 billion. This increase does not, of course, include the $3 trillion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We will pay these loans later.
Banks, automotive companies and investment firms, all sinking under the weight of their own incompetence and greed, head to Washington, usually in private jets, to engage in the largest looting of the treasury in American history. And Congress doles out our money without oversight in the greatest transference of wealth upwards in modern times.
As this pitiful march of folly rolls forward, children in Trenton and across America go to bed hungry.
Chris Hedges´ Truthdig column appears every Monday.
America Out of Work
By Marie Cocco
WASHINGTON -- There will be no freedom from want. The only thing we might now hope for is freedom from fear. Even that is a distant state of mind.
It is not just the wild fluctuations in the stock market, the water-cooler jokes about retirement accounts that are now 201(k)s. It is the incomprehensible dithering of our current president through his lame-duck period, his bizarre refusal to give approval to any economic package that aided anyone or anything that is not a big bank or a Wall Street financial institution.
This delay may well be the scariest development of these frightening times.
What are the reasons for President George W. Bush to have blocked the post-election congressional effort to make a down payment on an anti-recession program aimed at job-creation and sending money to the squeezed states, which must balance their budgets while struggling with ever-rising demand for basic services such as Medicaid and what remains of the program we used to call welfare? Bush has argued, at various times in the past few weeks, either that such a package isn't really necessary or that it might be possible if it were tied to a long-term trade deal with Colombia. The reasoning tortures the mind.
Besides inheriting an economic crisis of historic proportions, President-elect Barack Obama must make up for the squandered time. But at the earliest, it is likely to be at least February or March before the first dollar of an Obama recovery plan is felt.
This is a national disgrace.
Consider, for example, that one of the leading indicators of poverty -- a rise in the number of people eligible for food stamps -- climbed 10 percent between August 2007 and August 2008. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which studies the impact of federal policy on the poor and working class, one in five children already receives food stamps, a rate that is comparable to the recessions of the early 1980s and the 1990s. Advocates for the poor are expecting that a record number of Americans will be receiving food stamps once new numbers are tallied over the coming weeks.
And we aren't deep into this recession yet. Economists believe that unemployment will climb to 8 percent or even 9 percent next year.
As it happens, right around the time we became politically enamored of de-regulating whole industries -- and so prepared the ground for the current economic morass -- we also became politically obsessed with shrinking the social safety net. It was too generous, the thinking went, and had to be made less so to encourage work and discourage dependency.
We are entering a recession the likes of which we haven't seen in about three decades or perhaps longer. Since the last time the economy fared so poorly, changes in the unemployment compensation system, coupled with a transformation of the labor force to include vastly more part-time and low-wage workers, have left a majority of workers unprotected by this basic benefit. "Unemployment benefits cover a smaller set of workers than they did in the late 1970s and early 1980s," says Sharon Parrott, director of welfare reform and income support research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Fewer than 40 percent of unemployed workers now are eligible for benefits.
And we haven't yet tested -- not on this scale anyway -- what really happens to the welfare-to-work system when there is no work.
Welfare revision was a signature cause of the 1990s, a centerpiece of President Bill Clinton's drive to remake the Democratic Party's image and a relentless demand of congressional Republicans determined to dry up what they considered wasteful social spending. Basic cash assistance to the poorest families has shrunk substantially since the 1970s and 1980s. In most states, adults who have no children and are not disabled are ineligible for any aid. Single mothers who may have lost their jobs now have time limits on the number of months they can receive public assistance. To cope, Parrott says, "they'll double up, they'll live with friends, they'll move from house to house, which is very bad for kids."
We have lavished hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the financial masterminds whose collective genius has brought us these desperate times. Some of those taxes were paid by the now-unemployed workers who don't qualify for benefits. Having socialized the financial system, there is no excuse now for failing to repair the social safety net.
Marie Cocco's e-mail address is mariecocco(at)washpost.com.
(c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group
Trust Me To Provide Your Needs
Dear child, the world has entered a season of trouble and difficulty, and its financial system is failing before the eyes of all men. People are learning that they do not have all the answers; and despite their best efforts, many are seeing their plans and strategies to secure their futures come to naught. Yes, dear one, these are troubling times for many. But I do not want you to be frightened or surprised by this. Indeed, I have told you that there will be tribulation in this world, but the blood of My Son has already overcome this world, so you have no cause to be afraid. Be of good cheer, for your life and your future are not defined by the world's current financial system--they are defined by Me.
Let Me say it again, dear child. I do not want you to fret because of the world's current economic crisis. You may be in the world, but you are not of this world. You are My child, and you are in My care. I want you to put your trust in Me, for I desire to take care of you; and I am well able to supply everything that you need. That is right, dear one. I am your loving heavenly Father, and I delight to take good care of My own.
You believe this is true, but at the same time, you have difficulty believing that I really do desire to provide and to take good care of you. That is because you are confusing My care with My discipline. It is easy to assume that if you do not live up to every one of My expectations, that I will punish you by with holding some of the things that you need. Or you may think that if you are not perfect, then I will change My mind and not want to take care of you.
But I am not like that, dear one. My care and provision for you are not based on your performance, but on our love-relationship. How can I turn My back on you once you have been adopted into My family? That is not in My nature, for I am a good and loving Father, and I always take good care of My own.
Look at it in the natural, so that you might understand what I am saying: Even when a child has been naughty, its father does not disown it or stop loving it. A good earthly father does not take away his child's food and shelter and clothing because that child did not live up to his expectations. No, that father loves his child, and he continues to take care of it to the best of his ability. Man have been made in My image, and I am like a good earthly father in that respect.
However, there is one important difference between Myself and a human father. His resources are limited, but Mine are not. I am the God of all power and of all might and nothing is too hard for Me. Don't you understand, dear child? I have both the desire and the ability to not only take good care of you, but also to give you many good gifts above and beyond your minimal needs.
But as My Son Jesus has said in My word, you must trust Me and put your faith in Me. Trust that I am Who I say I am--Your father. Trust that I love you and I know what you need. Trust that I will supply for you because you are My child.
Do not fret or be alarmed by the world's current economic situation. Instead, trust Me to provide your needs. Then watch and see what I will do for you.
George W. Bush Belongs in Prison
By Joel S. Hirschhorn
Electing Barack Obama president was the first step in redeeming American democracy. The second step must be indicting ex-president George W. Bush, giving him a fair trial, finding him guilty of many criminal acts and putting him in prison. Forget revenge. Think rule of law and justice.
I want President Obama soon after taking office to go on television and announce the formation of a special group of outstanding jurists and attorneys to make a recommendation whether or not the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against George W. Bush. Based on earlier analyses, including work by the American Bar Association, I have no doubt they will recommend indictment.
If moral honesty and courage have any meaning, then the nation must take seriously the concept that no president can ever be allowed to be above the law. How can President Obama not strongly support this? Surely no president must be allowed to disrespect and dishonor the US Constitution. George W. Bush broke his oath of office. His behavior was treasonous. Instead of defending the Constitution he disgraced it. Instead of protecting constitutional rights, including privacy, he sullied them. He asserted his right to ignore or not enforce laws so he could break them. Respect for the office of the presidency must never be allowed to trump truth and justice.
Millions and millions of Americans and people worldwide know that George W. Bush made 9/11 the trigger for initiating an illegal war in Iraq that has killed and maimed so many thousands of people. What Vincent Bugliosi, author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder" called the most serious crime ever committed in American history.’ I say convict Bush of myriad counts of criminally negligent homicide related to both Iraq and the Katrina disaster and put him in prison. A former president in prison would not disgrace the presidency. It would restore honor to the office and the Constitution.
Surely millions more people now understand that George W. Bush bears responsibility for creating the conditions that encouraged greed-driven capitalism to rape and murder the middle class and push us into the current global economic meltdown. By removing government oversight and regulation he committed the greatest acts of fraud in the history of mankind. After he made American democracy delusional he made prosperity delusional.
We the people are paying the price for George W. Bush´s criminal acts and so must he. When George W. Bush is sent to prison everyone will see that American democracy has earned the respect of the world. Everyone will better understand that evil comes in many forms and that even an elected president of the United States of America can and must be recognized as a perpetrator of horrendous criminal acts.
Please President-elect Obama, make it so. Be the principled person we want you to be. Make the USA the nation it is supposed to be. Have the courage to do what Congress refused to do when it did not impeach George W. Bush. Change history by showing the world that American justice applies as equally to the president as it does to anyone else. Do not let George W. Bush escape the justice and prison sentence he deserves. Do not let respect for the presidency trump respect for justice. If we do not bring George W. Bush to justice that probably only you can make happen, then surely we do not restore respect for the office that you worked so hard to achieve.
To ensure that no future president behaves like George W. Bush we must punish him. Not merely through the words of historians, but through the physical punishment that he has inflicted on so many millions of people. In previous eras citizens would have demanded off with his head.’ Now we must demand lock him up.’ How poetic for a pro-torture ex-president. As summed up at www.imprisonbush.com : Bush must be made accountable to the law, to serve as a lesson to all those who would attempt to destroy the American system of laws and liberty for the sake of their own power.’ This is a test for both President Obama and American democracy.
If there is any kind of God in the universe, then George W. Bush must go to prison. When he does, then and only then should God bless America.
By What Authority?
Matthew 21:23-27 NIV
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?" Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism - where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men' - we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Then he said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
Don't you love the way Jesus messed with the chief priests' and the elders' heads? Here these guys were - excuse me, these powerful men -ready to trap Jesus once again. They were absolutely sure they had Him this time. Here He was, this nobody from Nazareth , this uneducated, unemployed carpenter, teaching the people in the Temple . Who did He think He was? He had no credentials. He didn't graduate from seminary. He didn't come from a good family. He certainly didn't come from a respectable town. Who gave Him the authority to come to the great temple in Jerusalem and teach? The chief priests and elders were going to put Him in His place. They would show Him up to be a fool in front of the people. And that would shut Him up.
But their plan backfired. Jesus presented them with a question, rather than answering theirs. He asked by whose authority John had baptized. The priests and elders were stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they said, "God", then Jesus would ask why they hadn't believed what John had said. If they said, "Man", the people would turn against them, because the people believed that John was a prophet. So the priests and elders found themselves neatly painted into a corner, with no way out. And they betrayed themselves for the fools they really were.
People today are no different from the chief priests and elders. They look for outward appearances. They look for credentials, for degrees, for earthly signs that someone has the authority to teach or to act or to speak up for Jesus Christ. But the point is that you and I have authority - through Jesus - to speak and act for Him no matter what our educational level is no matter where we live or who we hang out with or where we work no matter what we look like or how well we speak or what kind of clothes we wear or how big our bank account is or what kind of car we drive God has given us authority through Jesus Christ to speak and act in His behalf. Our authority doesn't come from man. It comes from God. How much are you exercising your authority?
Washington Arrogance has Fomented a Muslim Revolution
By Paul Craig Roberts
"In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy." (Justice Louis Brandeis)
Is Pakistan responsible for the Mumbai attack in India? No.
Is India's repression of its Muslim minority responsible? No.
Is the United States government responsible? Yes.
The attack on Mumbai required radicalized Muslims. Radicalized Muslims resulted from the US overthrowing the elected government in Iran and imposed the Shah; from the US stationing troops in Saudi Arabia; from the US invading and attempting to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing weddings, funerals, and children's soccer games; from the US violating international and US law by torturing its Muslim victims; from the US enlisting Pakistan in its war against the Taliban; from the US violating Pakistan's sovereignty by conducting military operations on Pakistani territory, killing Pakistani civilians; from the US government supporting a half century of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their lands, towns and villages; from the assault of American culture on Muslim values; from the US purchasing the government of Egypt to act as its puppet; from US arrogance that America is the supreme arbiter of morality.
As Justice Brandeis said, crime is contagious. Government teaches by example, and America's example is lawlessness. America's brutal crimes against the Muslim world have invited every Muslim to become a law unto himself--a revolutionary. It is not terror that Washington confronts but revolution.
By illegal, uncivilized and undiplomatic behavior, the US has stirred Muslim peoples from their long slumber as serfs of Western colonial powers. Some Muslims have had all that they can take, and their fury drives them to rouse a billion of their fellows to throw off the yoke of foreign hegemony.
The arrogant incompetence of American governments brought this conflict to the American people and inflicted it upon the world. By destabilizing Pakistan, the US lost a puppet and created an opportunity for Muslim revolutionaries to exploit. By enraging India against Pakistan, the Mumbai attack has created new problems for Pakistan that will focus that government's attention away from combating Taliban sanctuaries on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. If the US picks up the slack, it will have invaded yet another country and become trapped in a larger quagmire.
Having fomented terrorism, the American government now pretends to be the innocent victim, just as Israelis, having brought about terrorism by driving Palestinians from their homes and villages, pretend to be innocent victims.
Today European members of NATO, an outdated organization formed to defend Western Europe against Soviet invasion, are sacrificing the lives of their soldiers fighting the American Empire's war in Afghanistan. If America continues to have its way, Europeans will soon be dying in Ukraine, Georgia, and Iran.
The American government, which preaches "freedom and democracy" has in the 21st century gone to great extremes to stamp out the US Constitution and the civil liberties that it guarantees. The US government has repudiated the Geneva Conventions and the prohibitions in US statutory law against torture. The US government has set aside habeas corpus, the ancient legal principle guaranteed by the US Constitution that prohibits governments from holding people in prisons without presenting charges. The US government has broken the laws of other nations by kidnapping foreign citizens and transporting them to other lands to be tortured.
These massive crimes have been justified in the name of the "war on terror." In truth, America's crimes foment revolution.
It was the US government that created the "war on terror," which has been used to murder and dispossess millions of Iraqis and Afghans, to imprison US citizens as if they were medieval serfs, and to squander three trillion dollars for the sole purpose of enriching Halliburton and the military-security complex.
Investigative journalist John Pilger has shown that the so-called "moral superiority of the West" is a hoax designed to shield from view the self-seeking West's crimes against humanity.
Obama promised change from this destructive behavior, but how does change arise when the most arrogant woman on earth is appointed Secretary of State and the rest of the new government is staffed with tried and true Likudniks and servants of the militar-security complex?
The change over which Obama will preside will have no American victories. The change will come from America as a failed state, from the dollar dethroned as reserve currency, from America repudiated by its allies and paid puppets, from massive unemployment for which there is no solution, from hyperinflation that produces anarchy.
The day might arrive when Washington is faced with revolution at home as well as abroad.
We Will Not Jump Ship
By Sheila Samples
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The recent blowout election that gave us President Elect Barack Obama resulted in a flood of emotion that engulfed both parties. The one thing they had in common was that neither party could believe it. Political comedian Mort Sahl once said, "Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen."
If we have learned nothing else about Republicans, it's that, with few exceptions, they are vindictive, immoral, blood-thirsty, and just plain power-mad. Republicans are so much better at destroying things than Democrats are. They say and do whatever it takes to win. And if that doesn't work -- they seize it anyway.
So we were braced for another disappointment -- not because we didn't share Obama's vision of change and his hope for a better life for all Americans, but because voting machines were frantically flip-flopping votes from Obama to John McCain, minority voters were purged, telephones jangled with robocalls smearing Obama as an alien terrorist -- and John King over at CNN kept ramming solid red "magic" maps in our faces as proof that McCain could not lose.
So, what happened?
We woke up. After snoozing through massive homicide, refusing to confront genocide, ignoring fratracide and the hopelessness that has driven an alarming number of our military to commit suicide... we woke up. We stood united against a national addiction to chaos, bloodshed and corruption. We voted for a leader who promised to break that addiction, and to heal this nation in the name of the people.
By election night, we were giddy with relief. We clambered aboard that ship of state and rode the wave of long-lost hope -- free at last. Obama's win ripped a hole in the political air, and millions of us stood weeping as the blissful sound of Democracy wafted through every nook and cranny to swirl around this magnificent moment in our history.
But that was election night. Republicans, terrified of change, were in shock -- in total disarray. But the next morning, they were out in force -- maggots streaming from rotten turds whose blossoms had been stomped on.
The Heritage Foundation warned against the danger of the Left's "radical agenda" of health care, education and energy. House majority leader John Boehner was either drunk or stupidly arrogant, or both, when he maintained that Obama may have won, but his "far-left agenda" was out of step with the majority of Americans. Boehner did concede, however, that House Republicans might work with Obama "when it is in the best interest of our nation," and only when it promoted "superior Republican alternatives..."
Boehner's predecessor, Dick Armey, was quick to point out that Obama didn't win -- Republicans lost. And they lost because they were just too damned compassionate. Armey is chairman of Freedom Works, which advocates scrapping the Federal Income Tax, kicking older folks out of Social Security to keep from overburdening the young, and of course freedom -- such as that of network carriers to manage and control Internet content. According to Armey, Republicans have simply forgotten their principles.
Richard Haass, Council on Foreign Relations president, hissed, "The one thing I'm sure of is, events will test him. ...There will be coups. ...There will be genocide. ... There will be terrorism." Gee, Bush hasn't completed his sprint to the finish line yet, and those like Haass are already waxing nostalgic for the Bush Doctrine.
Georgia Congressman Paul Broun called Obama a "Marxist" who was determined to set up a jack-booted Gestapo civilian security force to use against citizens -- an ominious tactic taken right out of Hitler's playbook. In the ensuing flap, Broun refused to apologize, or to acknowledge that the "civilian national security force" proposed by Obama is, in reality, a two-year-old pilot program -- The Civilian Response Corps of the United States of America trained and equipped to "deploy rapidly to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict, in order to provide reconstruction and stabilization assistance." The State Department has already deployed members to Sudan, Chad, Haiti, Lebanon, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Intolerance, hate -- racism -- runs deep within the heart of this country. It's easy not to be racist, to support civil rights, equality -- but when confronted by a change so abrupt, so momentous as the election of an African-American president, many white Americans have problems calming their inner beast. William Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina, said when discussing the hundreds of threats against Obama that the election of a black president is "the most profound change in the field of race this country has experienced since the Civil War. Racism is like cancer," Ferris said, "It's never totally wiped out, it's in remission."
Remission? Perhaps, except for those like the feral, all-knowing, all-caring, all-sensing, all-feeling, all-concerned -- pretty much all-everything -- "Maha Rushie" Limbaugh, who has been in shrieking racist meltdown since the day Obama announced his candidacy. Referring to Barack Hussein Obama early and often, Limbaugh stoked racist fear by warning millions of Dittodeadheads they were being taken over by a "half-minority." In April 2007, Limbaugh aired an insulting Paul Shanklin parody, "Barack The Magic Negro," and went from that to trying to whip up murderous riots at the Democratic National Convention.
Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and their gang of slimy supremacist clones inflame the fires of fear and hate on a daily -- hourly -- basis. They know exactly what they're doing. "The economic mess Bush has gotten us into is all Obama's fault! The Obama recession is in full swing! We will soon be in the throes of an Obama depression! Obama's going to raise our taxes! Obama's coming after our 401k retirement checks! Millions more will lose their jobs! Quick -- burn a cross -- hang a noose in your tree before it's too late!"
And Michael Savage warns that Blacks don't want just a foot in the door; they are poised to take over the entire nation. On his Nov. 18 broadcast, Savage said, "I am telling you that there's gonna be a wholesale firing of competent white men in the United States government up and down the line, in police departments, in fire departments. Everywhere in America, you're going to see an exchange that you've never seen in history..."
If that's not enough to send us screaming into the night, our knees hitting our chins, Lisa Miller, former front-page religious writer for the Wall Street Journal, now Newsweek's Society/Religion editor, asks, in a shameful, code-word laden piece -- "Is Obama the Antichrist?"
Miller quotes several right-wing evangelicals, and she says conservative Christians believe a great battle is imminent. "After years of tribulation -- natural disasters, other cataclysms (such as the collapse of financial markets) -- God's armies will vanquish armies led by the Antichrist himself. He will be a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda." Miller says, given Obama's liberal positions on abortion and traditional marriage, it's no wonder that "Obama triggers such fear in the hearts of America's millennialist Christians." And, if we want proof -- one of the winning lottery numbers in Obama's home state of Illinois was 666 -- which Miller says everyone knows is the sign of the Beast, or the Antichrist.
The fascist lies and smears of Republicans and their doppleganger radio creeps should come as no surprise to those paying attention. However, the ripples of uneasiness and fear surging through Democratic ranks as a result of these assaults is a bit puzzling. Perhaps it's because after eight years of covering -- and uncovering -- deceit, lies, and monstrous war crimes perpetrated by George Bush, they are hesitant to trust another president regardless of his party affiliation. Or, perhaps they're afraid to have hope because they believe George Orwell's flat, no-wiggle-room assertion that -- "All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia."
Whatever the reason, each day brings a new rash of criticism about Obama's choices for his transition team, his economic team, his foreign policy team. His selection of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, probable selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and his decision to keep Robert Gates as Defense Secretary for at least a year resulted in cries of betrayal throughout the left-wing blogosphere.
For two Democrats to agree on any one thing would indeed be change. Everybody has his/her own views as to who should make up the cabinet. And, since I'm the most liberal Democrat I know, it seems obvious that Obama should have put the environment into the hands of award-winning former vice president Al Gore, justice into the hands of Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, and Defense into the hands of former Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark.
Those on the left who complain that Obama is "loading up his administration with Clintonites" should pause and take a deep breath. Anybody old enough to serve -- who has the experience to serve -- would necessarily come from either the Clinton or the Bush era. Which would you prefer? We should remember it is Obama's policies, not theirs, that will be put into effect. He promised change -- to be honest and up-front with all the people. He is keeping that promise.
Last week, in three days Obama held three press conferences wherein he outlined policies that reach far beyond the immediate crisis, such as his long-range plan to boost the economy by creating 2.5 million jobs. "We´ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children," he said, "and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead."
Millions of us who voted for Obama are weary of fighting our way through the tangles of an Orwellian world. We yearn to live in a Wellstonian world, one where "...politics is not about observations or predictions. Politics is what we create by what we do, what we hope for, and what we dare to imagine."
Obama is not perfect. The problems Bush is only too happy to dump on him are almost insurmountable and getting worse by the day. Obama will make mistakes, but he has promised that, with our help, the hopes of all Americans can be realized. Together -- we can change the direction of the country.
We will not jump ship. Come hate or high water -- we can do it.
Yes. We. Can.
Information Clearing House
Sheila Samples http://sheilastuff.blogspot.com/ is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I." -- Exodus 3:2-4 (RSV)
Have you given up? Are you tired of doing things your way? Give in. Come, rest in Me. Allow Me to dry your tears. All that is Mine is available to you. You belong to Me, so draw nearer.
Turn aside. Now is the time. Find that I am Who I say I am. Let Me guide you through this time. I am what you are seeking. Turn from your familiar ways and methods. Learn how to rely upon My supernatural abundance.
I will speak you and you will recognize Me. I will supply what is needed. Turn aside and find My reality. I will show you new ways. I am the light that burns true. Walk in the pathway I created for you.
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