Five-Fold Today - Springing Ahead - Iowa and the Poles of Protestantism - Whatever Happened to 'We the People'? - The Evangelical Rebellion - You´re Damn Right I´m Angry. Why Isn´t Everybody? - Shut Up (About) Chavez - Why I Believe Bush Must Go - You Can Change the World - Walk With My Authority

January 15, 2008

Springing Ahead

Steve Bliss

I am moving ahead, bringing birth to new ways and new ideas. I am moving forwards with the plans created from the beginning.

I am on the move, springing ahead. I am causing circumstances or thoughts of change into your life. I am propelling forward My people. In this next short season I am causing a rapid advancement.

Already I am searching. My eyes are looking for those to move forward in advancement. I am rewarding those who move with an expectation. I am promoting those who continue to seek more of Me. Those who have not resisted My preparation will be springing ahead.

Iowa and the Poles of Protestantism

by Diana Butler Bass

Now that the people of Iowa have chosen Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama as their nominees for president, pundits will spend much of the next few days (until New Hampshire at least) analyzing the results. Many will note religion as an important factor—especially as evangelicals turned out largely for Huckabee.

But evangelicals are not the only religion story from Iowa. Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama represent something much more profound in American politics and religion. With Huckabee as a Southern Baptist and Obama as a member of the United Church of Christ, the two men symbolize the poles of Protestantism, the divided soul of America's majority religion.

In the late 19th century, American Protestantism divided into fundamentalist and modernist camps. In the political realm, fundamentalists believed that personal conversion was the foundation of politics. If Jesus changed individuals, individuals might change society if God so called them. But they more typically shied away from politics as sinful, defining it as an essentially hopeless enterprise. They eschewed social change in favor of a kind of feisty Jesus-centered ethics of personal responsibility, private prayer, and morality. They bemoaned the possibility of political change without being born again.

Modernist Protestants argued that politics existed as part of larger social structures—economic, social, and class systems. These structures were corrupted by sin and injustice. Yet, they could be transformed through human goodness and God's justice. Instead of emphasizing individual morality, modernist Protestants extolled a political theology of the common good regardless of personal faith. As a result, they stressed hope, change, and the future in their politics—and its communal emphasis tended to resonate with African-American Protestants.

During the last century, these two visions have gone through several historical permutations. However, they continue to shape American Protestantism. As a Southern Baptist, Huckabee emphasizes Christian conversion, personal morality, and individual character. Obama, as part of a liberal denomination, articulates the communal vision of progressive Protestantism, appealing to human goodness, optimism, and social justice. Whereas Huckabee speaks of the "zeal" of individuals to "do the right thing" and act heroically, Obama preaches on "building a coalition" to transform the nation through innovation and creating a new global community. They are replaying, in dynamic new voices, an old disagreement in American religion.

The Iowa winners represent the two major traditions of Protestant political theology. If Huckabee and Obama wind up as presidential nominees, it would be the first time since the Great Protestant Divide that candidates so clearly articulated these two versions of religion and politics—and so clearly have the opportunity to reshape an old argument. Although it is far too early to make such predictions, the next election could be a referendum on the Protestant political soul.

Whatever Happened to 'We the People'?

By Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishing

We the people

The traditional American liberal story is the story of We the People.

As Americans, the most important part of our social identity is our role as citizens. To be a citizen means to be part of, and a de- fender of, the commons of our nation. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the streets we drive on, the schools that we use, the departments that protect us -- these are all the physical commons. And there are also the cultural commons -- the stories we tell ourselves, our histories, our religions, and our notions of ourselves. And there are the commons of our power systems (in the majority of American communities), our health-care system (stolen from us and privatized over the past twenty-five years, our hospitals in particular used to be mostly nonprofit or run by mostly city or county governments), and the electronic commons of our radio and TV spectrum and the Internet.

Most important for citizenship is the commons of government -- the creation and the servant of We the People.

Franklin D. Roosevelt understood this commons. In his "Four Freedoms" speech, he said, "Necessitous men are not free men." Hungry people aren't free people, no matter what you want to call them. Hungry people can't be good citizens: they're too busy taking care of the hungry part of themselves to care about the citizen part.

Republicans don't want to fund FDR's social safety net because they fundamentally do not believe in the concept of We the People collectively protecting all of us in anything other than a military/police way. They don't believe that "the rabble" should run the country. They want big corporations to run the commons of our nation, and they think that the most appropriate role for citizens is that of infantilized consumers -- of both commercial products and commercially produced political packaging.

This is the fundamental debate in our society: Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of consumers? Are we a democracy run by citizens, or are we a corporatocracy that holds consumers locked in dependency by virtue of their consumption?

Consumerism appeals to the greedy and selfish child part of us, the infantilized part that just wants someone else to take care of us. The core message of most commercials is that "you are the most important person in the world." Commercial advertising almost never mentions "we" or "us."

What is at stake today is the very future of our democratic republic. If we accept an identity as fearful, infantilized consumers, we will be acting from our baby part and allowing corporate America and an increasingly authoritarian government to fill the role of a parent part.

The story we are told is that we should surrender all of our power to corporations and just let them govern us because a mystical but all-knowing godlike force called "the free market" will eventually solve all of our problems.

That story fits in very well with the conservatives' other story: that we are children who need to be protected from evil humans; and because corporations are amoral and not human, they are intrinsically and morally superior to evil humans.

To save democracy we must crack that code and bring back the code so well understood by the Founders of this nation: that we're a country of barn-builders, of communities, of intrinsically good people who work together for the common good and the common wealth. We begin this process by speaking to the responsible part of us, the part that enjoys being grown up and socially responsible.

The story we have to tell is the story of citizenship derived from our best and most noble parts. It's the story of We the People.

We talk a lot about the features of citizenship, like the right to vote, but we sometimes forget what the benefits are. The main benefit of citizenship is freedom -- not freedom from external or internal dangers (although that is included in the package, it's only one of the six purposes listed in the Preamble to the Constitution) that conservatives obsess on, but freedom to think as we want, to pray as we want, to say what we want, and to live as we want to fulfill our true potential as humans (the other five things listed in the Preamble).

The question, ultimately, is whether our nation will continue to stand for the values on which it was founded.

Early American conservatives suggested that democracy was so ultimately weak it couldn't withstand the assault of newspaper editors and citizens who spoke out against it, leading John Adams (our second president and our first conservative president) to pass America's first Military Commissions Act-like laws: the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. President Thomas Jefferson, who beat Adams in the "Revolution of 1800" election, rebuked those who wanted America ruled by an iron-handed presidency that could -- as Adams had -- throw people in jail for "crimes" such as speaking political opinion, and without constitutional due process.

"I know, indeed," Jefferson said in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801, "that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough." But, Jefferson said, our nation was "the world's best hope" precisely because we put our trust in We the People.


Excerpt from Thom Hartmann's new book, Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America's Original Vision.

Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is 'We The People: A Call To Take Back America.'
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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The Evangelical Rebellion

By Chris Hedges

The rise of Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate represents a seismic shift in the tactics, ideology and direction of the radical Christian right. Huckabee may stumble and falter in later primaries, but his right-wing Christian populism is here to stay. Huckabee represents a new and potent force in American politics, and the neocons and corporate elite, who once viewed the yahoos of the Christian right as the useful idiots, are now confronted with the fact that they themselves are the ones who have been taken for a ride. Members of the Christian right, recruited into the Republican Party and manipulated to vote against their own interests around the issues of abortion and family values, are in rebellion. They are taking the party into new, uncharted territory. And they presage, especially with looming economic turmoil, the rise of a mass movement that could demolish what is left of American democracy and set the stage for a Christian fascism.

The corporate establishment, whose plundering of the country created fertile ground for a radical, right-wing backlash, is sounding the alarm bells. It is scrambling to bolster Mitt Romney, who, like Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton, will continue to slash and burn on behalf of corporate profits. Columnist George Will called Huckabee´s populism “a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs.’ He wrote that Huckabee´s candidacy “broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America´s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.’ National Review´s Rich Lowry wrote that “like [Howard] Dean, his nomination would represent an act of suicide by his party.’

Huckabee spoke of this revolt on the “Today’ show. “There´s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican Party,’ he said. “They wanted us to be a part of it. And then one day one of us actually runs and they say, ‘Oh, my gosh, now they´re serious.´ They [evangelicals] don´t want to just show up and vote, they actually would want to be a part of the discussion.’

George Bush is a happy stooge of his corporate handlers. He blithely enriches the oligarchy, defends a war that is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history and callously denies medical benefits to children. Huckabee is different. He has tapped into the rage and fury of the working class, dispossessed and abandoned by the mainstream Democrats and Republicans. And he refuses to make the ideology of the Christian right, with its dark contempt for democratic traditions and intolerance of nonbelievers, a handmaiden of the corporate establishment. This makes him a much more lethal and radical political force.  

The Christian right is the most potent and dangerous mass movement in American history. It has been controlled and led, until now, by those who submit to the demands of the corporate state. But the grass roots are tired of being taken for rubes. They are tired of candidates, like Bush or Bill Clinton, who roll out the same clichés about working men and women every four years and then spend their terms enriching their corporate backers. The majority of American citizens have spent the last two decades watching their government services and benefits vanish. They have seen their jobs go overseas and are watching as their communities crumble and their houses are foreclosed. It is their kids who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The old guard in the Christian right, the Pat Robertsons, who used their pulpits to deliver the votes of naive followers to the corporatists, is a spent force. Huckabee´s Christian populism represents the maturation of the movement. It signals the rise of a truly radical, even revolutionary force in American politics, of which Huckabee may be one of the tamer and less frightening examples.

Hints of Huckabee´s bizarre worldview seep out now and then. Bob Vander Plaats, Huckabee´s Iowa campaign manager, for example, when asked about his candidate´s lack of foreign policy experience, told MSNBC: “Well, I think Gov. Huckabee has a lot of resources that he goes to on national security matters. Here´s a guy, a former pastor, who understands a theological nature of this war as we´re fighting a radical religion in Islam.’

Robert Novak noted that Huckabee held a fundraiser last week at the Houston home of Dr. Steven Hotze. As Novak wrote, Hotze is “a leader in the highly conservative Christian Reconstruction movement.’

Huckabee has close ties with the Christian Reconstructionist or Dominionist branch of the Christian right. The Dominionist movement, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism, is small in numbers but influential. It departs from traditional evangelicalism. It seeks to redefine traditional democratic and Christian terms and concepts to fit an ideology that calls on the radical church to take political power. It shares many prominent features with classical fascist movements, at least as such movements are defined by the scholar Robert O. Paxton, who sees fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.’

Dominionism, born out of Christian Reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians. It also has, like fascist movements, an ill-defined and shifting set of beliefs, some of which contradict each other. Paxton argues that the best way to understand authentic fascist movements, which he says exist in all societies, including democracies, is to focus not on what they say but on how they act, for, as he writes, some of the ideas that underlie fascist movements “remain unstated and implicit in fascist public language’ and “many of them belong more to the realm of visceral feelings than to the realm of reasoned propositions.’

Dominionism teaches that American Christians have been mandated by God to make America a Christian state. A decades-long refusal by most American fundamentalists to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion’ over the nation and, eventually, over the Earth itself. Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to actively build the kingdom of God on Earth. America becomes, in this militant Biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America´s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, in which creationism and “Christian values’ form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil rights laws and public schools will be abolished. Women will be removed from the work force to stay at home, and all those deemed insufficiently Christian will be denied citizenship.  

Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America and a self-described “Christocrat,’ who attended the Texas fundraiser, has endorsed Huckabee. Scarborough, along with holding other bizarre stances, opposes the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine on grounds that it interferes with God´s punishment of sexual license. And Huckabee, who once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public and opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure, comes out of this frightening mold. He justified his call to quarantine those with AIDS because they could “pose a dangerous public health risk.’

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,’ Huckabee wrote. “It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.’

Huckabee has publicly backed off from this extreme position, but he remains deeply hostile to gays. He has used wit and humor to deflect reporters from his radical views about marriage, abortion, damnation, biblical law, creationism and the holy war he believes we are fighting with Islam. But his stances represent a huge step, should they ever become policy, toward a theocratic state and the death of our open society. In the end, however, I do not blame Huckabee or the tens of millions of hapless Christians—40 percent of the Republican electorate—who hear his words and rejoice. I blame the corporate state, those who thought they could disempower and abuse the working class, rape the country, build a rapacious oligarchy and never pay a political price.  

Chris Hedges, who graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.’

You´re Damn Right I´m Angry. Why Isn´t Everybody?

By David Michael Green

I write articles each week with titles like “Everything I Need to Know About the Regressive Right I Learned In Junior High“, or “Conservatism Is Politics For Kindergartners“, or “Schadenfreude Is My Middle Name“.

I regret doing so very much. Believe it or not, I really don´t like spewing venom, sarcasm and rage all over my computer keyboard.

I particularly don´t like it because I have friends who are conservative, and it´s not my nature to trash-talk anybody, let alone friends.

Indeed, none of this is in my nature. I don´t start fights and I don´t go looking for them. I´m not an angry, bitter or mean-spirited person. But I can understand how I might be seen as such in the absence of the appropriate context, and it truly chagrins me that I might be so misperceived, and so negatively.

But I don´t intend to change, and I don´t intend to stop making the arguments contained in my rants. I´m angry for a very good set of reasons, and I´m angry because I care about my country just the way conservatives claim to. I´m angry, in short, because I´m a patriot and defender of the ideas that America is supposed to stand for. And what I really want to know is why those on the right aren´t equally outraged?

I was a teenager when Nixon was being Nixon, destroying democracy at home, napalming civilians in Vietnam, conducting secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, employing racism to win elections. At that age I knew enough to dislike what I saw (and what I learned of what Nixon and McCarthy had done to innocent Americans even earlier, before I was born, in order to serve their political ambitions), but I didn´t know enough yet to feel genuine rage at what regressives were doing to my country and to the world.

I began to experience those feelings in my twenties, first as truly sociopathically insane gun laws in this country helped to claim the life of John Lennon, and then as Ronald Reagan began to systematically turn his back on the poor and the middle-class in order to further enrich the country´s already wealthy economic elites. I also felt deep shame and outrage that America - the country that had supported if not literally created every two-bit dictator in Latin America, ‘our backyard´, (and well beyond) for a century - began to murder Nicaraguan peasants in order to halt their struggle to free themselves from the economic and political tyranny of one of those Washington-run caudillo clients, the sickening Somoza regime.

Then I watched in disgust as Newt Gingrich and his merry band of infantile hypocrites impeached a president for lying about a consensual sexual affair, while they were themselves all doing worse, like dumping a wife while she was lying in her hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery, or fathering children with a mistress, or carrying on many years-long affairs.

All of this was truly noxious. Nothing to that point had prepared me, however, for the regressive politics of our time. And they have turned me very angry indeed.

Regressives like to call people like me Bush-haters, and so it is important to address that claim before proceeding, because the entire intent of hurling that label at the president´s critics is to undermine their credibility. If you simply hate the man, they imply, you´re not rational, and your critiques can be dismissed. But it isn´t that simple - not by a long shot. First, it should be noted that the regressive right is far wider a phenomenon than just one person. It currently includes an entire executive branch administration, almost (and, just a year ago, more than) half of Congress, a majority of the Supreme Court and probably a majority of the lower federal courts, a biased-to-the-point-of-being-a-joke mainstream media, and tons of lobbyists, think tanks and profitable industries.

But as to George W. Bush, himself, I suspect it´s quite fair to say that most Americans and even most progressives did not originally despise or loathe him. I didn´t. I certainly didn´t admire the guy, nor did I think he was remotely prepared to be president of the United States. (Nor, by the way, was I particularly impressed with Al Gore in 2000.) Bush campaigned as a center-right pragmatist (a “compassionate conservative’, in his words), much as his father had been, and I expected that´s how he would govern if elected. You know, more embarrassing most of the time than truly destructive.

I mention all this because it is important to note what has - and what has not - been responsible for my/our anger, and to make clear that attempts to dismiss that anger as some Bush-hating bias or predisposition are false, a ploy to destroy the messenger when one doesn´t care for the message he´s carrying. If Bush had governed like he campaigned I´m sure I would have disliked him, but neither hated him nor his policies, nor experienced the rage that I feel about what he´s done to the country and the world. Frankly, my feelings toward another center-right Bush presidency would have likely been largely the same as my feelings toward the center-right Clinton presidency which preceded it.

But he hasn´t governed anywhere near to how he campaigned, and he wasn´t even elected properly, and I do in fact feel huge anger at the damage done. Moreover, I cannot for the life of me imagine how anyone - even conservatives - could feel differently. Even the wealthy, to whose interests this presidency is so wholly devoted, have to sleep at night. Even they have children who will inherit a broken country existing in an environmentally and politically hostile world, though no doubt they figure that big enough fences, mean enough private armies, and loads of central air conditioning will insulate them from the damage.

I don´t mind that the Bush campaign fought hard to win the 2000 election. That was certainly a legitimate goal for them to pursue. But it nauseates me beyond belief that their agents in the Florida government disenfranchised tens of thousands of African Americans in order to keep them from voting Democratic. And it sickens me that they gathered up a bunch of congressional staffers pretending to be an angry local mob and stormed election canvassers, using pure Gestapo techniques to shut down the most fundamental act of democracy, counting the votes.

I don´t mind that the Bush campaign took the election to the Supreme Court, even though they were simultaneously accusing the Gore folks of being litigious. What disgusts me beyond words is that a regressive majority of the Court anointed Bush president in a sheer act of partisan politics. And that they were so anxious to achieve that end that they repudiated all their own judicial politics previously espoused in case after case - from states´ rights, to equal protection, to judicial restraint. And that they were so conscious of what they were actually doing that they took the unprecedented step of stating that no lasting principles were involved in the matter, that their decision would forever apply to this case and this case only.

Once in office, there was still the possibility that the administration would govern as it had campaigned, as a rather centrist, status quo-style government, perhaps especially tempered from arrogance and overstretch by the knowledge that the country was deeply divided and that Bush had in fact actually lost the popular vote. In fact, though, they did precisely the opposite.

The first order of business, certainly the top priority for the administration, and arguably the only thing they were ever completely seriously about, was their tax restructuring program. It was grim enough that the tax cuts, as under Reagan, where dramatically tilted in favor of the wealthy. But what made them especially disgusting was that - again, as under Reagan - these wholesale revenue reductions were not only not accompanied by expenditure cuts, but in fact were coupled with increased spending. Can you say “voodoo economics’? Bush´s father once had, before he treasonously changed his tune to win the vice presidency (leading to the presidency) for himself. But he was right the first time, before he put personal ambition and transparent insecurity ahead of the national interest. And thus we´ve witnessed the only possible result of the combination of massive revenue cuts and continuing spending increases: astronomical debt, now well over nine trillion dollars in total, and rapidly growing. What I want to know is how can we - especially so-called family-oriented, so-called fiscal conservatives - not be outraged, not be scandalized, not be boiling with anger at the debt we have transferred to our own children, all so that we could avoid paying our own way, like every generation before us has?

I am outraged as well at how the administration polarized the country in the wake of one of the greatest traumas it had ever experienced. Let us leave aside the ample evidence demonstrating that the Bush team was asleep at the wheel before 9/11 - or perhaps far, far worse - a set of facts which is noteworthy in part because progressives did not use them to attack the president and score cheap but easy political points. But the administration did precisely that. It is disgusting - and it fills me with anger - how they used a national security crisis to win partisan political contests. How they scheduled a vote on the Iraq war resolution right before the midterm elections of 2002, thus politicizing the gravest decision a country can make by forcing Democrats to choose between voting their conscience and campaign accusations of being soft on national security.

It boils my blood that these chickenhawks - almost none of whom showed up for duty in Vietnam when it was their turn - could dare to accuse Max Cleland of being weak on national security, a guy who gave three of his four limbs to that very cause on the battlefields of Southeast Asia. How could they run ads morphing his face into Saddam´s or bin Laden´s, when his opponent - of course - took Vietnam deferments, just like Cheney and Ashcroft and the rest? And how could they accuse him of being weak on national defense because he opposed the bureaucratic reshuffling to create the Homeland Security Department, when Bush himself had also opposed it? That is, before Rove politicized it by inserting union-busting language applying to tens of thousands of civil servants covered by the act.

It nauseates me beyond words that this president could use the tragedy of 9/11 to justify invading a country which had nothing to do with that attack whatsoever. It enrages me that those who had the courage to oppose this policy so transparently deceitful (and it truly was - from the proof of the Downing Street Memos, to Colin Powell´s charade at the UN, to the assurances that the US knew where the WMD were, to the rejection of the weapons inspectors´ request to have two more months to finish the job) were labeled as traitors and worse for telling the truth. And that 4,000 Americans and over a million Iraqis have died for these lies.

And speaking of treason, what sort of looking glass have we all fallen through when the government of the United States exposes its own CIA undercover agent in order to punish her spouse for revealing administration lies about the war? When did that cease to be a cause of outrage, especially among our super-patriotic friends on the right?

How is it possible not to be angry looking at the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, and the bungled response of the government before, during and after that tragedy? Indeed, even journalists who had spent so many years licking government boots that their tongues had long ago turned black were moved to outrage at the magnitude of that failure, with the president meanwhile on a stage in San Diego pretending to play guitar at a Republican fundraiser.

I am outraged, as well, by one of the most insane and avoidable tragedies of all human history, the slow-motion holocaust of global warming. How can anyone not be angry at a political movement and a government that puts the short-term profits of one or two industries ahead of the viability of the entire planet? How can anyone not be mortified as we one-twentieth of the world´s population, who generate one-fourth of the greenhouse gases causing the problem, not only do nothing about the problem, but actively block the rest of the world from saving all of us from this folly?

I´m furious because the Bush administration and its ideological allies have shredded the Constitution at every turn, destroying the institutional gift of those they pretend to revere (but only when it´s convenient to upholding their own depredations). This president, who has gotten virtually everything he has ever wanted throughout his life and his presidency, once privately exclaimed in frustration at not getting something he wanted when he wanted it, “It´s just a goddam piece of paper!’, and that is precisely how he has treated America´s founding document. His signing statements - probably over a thousand in count now - completely obliterate the checks and balances principle of the Constitution, its most central idea. His admitted spying on Americans without warrant smashes the Fourth Amendment. His fiasco in Guantánamo and beyond mocks due process and habeas corpus guarantees. His invasion of Iraq against the international law codified in the UN Charter, to which the United States is a signatory, violates the Constitutional requirement to hold such treaties as the highest law of the land. Altogether, Americans have never seen a presidency with such imperial ambitions, and anyone who cares about the Constitution should be furious. A year from now, it is quite possible that Hillary Clinton will be president of the United States (ugh). Would our conservative friends silently countenance, let alone viciously support, such a monarchy in the White House if it belonged to Queen Hillary rather than King George? I think not.

We could go on and on from here. This administration and the movement it fronts at least gets high marks for consistency. Everything they touch turns to stone. There´s Pat Tillman and Terri Schiavo. There´s the politicization of the US Attorneys and the corruption of DeLay and Abramoff. There´s North Korea, Pakistan and the Middle East. There´s the shame of torture and rendition. There´s the wrecking of the American military and of the country´s reputation abroad. There´s Afghanistan and the failure to capture bin Laden. And much, much more. But above all, and driving all, there´s the kleptocracy - the doing of everything in every way to facilitate the looting of the national fisc.

What an unbelievable record of deceit, destruction, hypocrisy, incompetence, treason and greed. What a tragic tale of debt, lost wars, stolen elections, environmental crises, Constitution shredding, national shame and diminished security.

All done by the very most pious amongst us, of course. Merry Christmas, eh? I guess those are our presents, all carefully wrapped in spin, contempt, and preemptive attacks on any of us impertinent enough to say “No thanks, Santa’.

So, yeah, you´re goddam right I´m angry about what´s been done to my country, and what´s been done by my country in my name.

How could anyone who claims to care about America not be?

12/29/07 "ICH " ---- David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers´ reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

Shut Up (About) Chavez

By Paul Buchheit

It gets tiresome to hear the one-sided media coverage of Hugo Chavez. Yes, he´s authoritarian. He´s also abrasive, arrogant, stubborn, and all too human. But he knows what happened to leaders in Iran and Guatemala and Chile and Haiti over the past half-century when they tried to defy the western world by nationalizing oil and other industries. He´s influenced by the memory of the US-backed attempt to depose him in 2002. And he can see the effects of unregulated multinational companies in Nigeria, where in 2004 80% of the revenue from the oil industry went to only 1% of the population, and only 2% of Shell Oil´s employees were from the local population.

Chavez has alienated the wealthy, the business establishment, thousands of upper-class student protestors, and, perhaps worst of all for him, the media. But the mainstream media rarely speaks for the poor majority. Chavez has instituted a literacy program, land-acquisition policies that benefit the poor, job training for unskilled workers, free health care, and manufacturing cooperatives which give the poor an active role in business development. He was democratically elected, and recent polls still place him about 20 percentage points ahead of his nearest challenger.

The Venezuelan leader´s popularity is summarized by human rights activist Medea Benjamin:

“Walk through poor barrios in Venezuela and you´ll hear the same stories over and over. The very poor can now go to a designated home in the neighborhood to pick up a hot meal every day. The elderly have monthly pensions that allow them to live with dignity. Young people can take advantage of greatly expanded free college programs. And with 13,000 Cuban doctors spread throughout the country and reaching over half the population, the poor now have their own family doctors on call 24-hours a day.’

Opposition to Chavez comes from those with connections to the old political elite: the Venezuelan business community, the Chamber of Commerce (Fedecámaras), and the major union federation CTV, who used their control over the media to disparage Chavez for economic problems and communist ties. Many officials and journalists in the U.S. dismiss him as a troublesome dictator. An editor of the leading El Nacional newspaper said Chavez and his cabinet “just want to steal and get rich.’ Even some of the Venezuelan poor resent his attempts to spread his influence with anti-poverty programs outside the country.

Ironically, Chavez was criticized for two initiatives that most Americans would like to see implemented in the U.S. — health care and increased oil company taxes. He is maligned for his friendship with Fidel Castro, even though some 10,000 Cuban doctors and health care workers came to Venezuela in return for oil. His industry reforms included a doubling of oil company taxes. He also opposes U.S. efforts to implement free trade agreements that would surrender the country´s raw materials in return for expensive products from abroad. Perhaps most significantly, Chavez is feared because of his growing independence in a country whose vast oil reserves are coveted by the north.

One doesn´t have to be a socialist to cheer for equal opportunity for hard-working citizens of any country. According to the U.S. Department of State, the income gap in Venezuela decreased between 2003 and 2005, with the Gini coefficient (a measure of income disparity from 0 (equal) to 1 (unequal)) dropping from .618 in 2003 to .514 in 2005. Chavez speaks, however noisily, for the poor. Most of the media speaks for the people with money.

Paul Buchheit is a professor with the Chicago City Colleges, co-founder of Global Initiative Chicago ( )

Why I Believe Bush Must Go
Nixon Was Bad. These Guys Are Worse

by George McGovern

As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.

After the 1972 presidential election, I stood clear of calls to impeach President Richard M. Nixon for his misconduct during the campaign. I thought that my joining the impeachment effort would be seen as an expression of personal vengeance toward the president who had defeated me.

Today I have made a different choice.

Of course, there seems to be little bipartisan support for impeachment. The political scene is marked by narrow and sometimes superficial partisanship, especially among Republicans, and a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians. So the chances of a bipartisan impeachment and conviction are not promising.

But what are the facts?

Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly “high crimes and misdemeanors,’ to use the constitutional standard.

From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team´s assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged — perhaps even by a congressional investigation.

In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the United States is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion, most of which we have borrowed from the Chinese and others as our national debt has now climbed above $9 trillion — by far the highest in our national history.

All of this has been done without the declaration of war from Congress that the Constitution clearly requires, in defiance of the U.N. Charter and in violation of international law. This reckless disregard for life and property, as well as constitutional law, has been accompanied by the abuse of prisoners, including systematic torture, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

I have not been heavily involved in singing the praises of the Nixon administration. But the case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era?

How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?

It happened in part because the Bush-Cheney team repeatedly deceived Congress, the press and the public into believing that Saddam Hussein had nuclear arms and other horrifying banned weapons that were an “imminent threat’ to the United States. The administration also led the public to believe that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks — another blatant falsehood. Many times in recent years, I have recalled Jefferson´s observation: “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.’

The basic strategy of the administration has been to encourage a climate of fear, letting it exploit the 2001 al-Qaeda attacks not only to justify the invasion of Iraq but also to excuse such dangerous misbehavior as the illegal tapping of our telephones by government agents. The same fear-mongering has led government spokesmen and cooperative members of the press to imply that we are at war with the entire Arab and Muslim world — more than a billion people.

Another shocking perversion has been the shipping of prisoners scooped off the streets of Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other countries without benefit of our time-tested laws of habeas corpus.

Although the president was advised by the intelligence agencies last August that Iran had no program to develop nuclear weapons, he continued to lie to the country and the world. This is the same strategy of deception that brought us into war in the Arabian Desert and could lead us into an unjustified invasion of Iran. I can say with some professional knowledge and experience that if Bush invades yet another Muslim oil state, it would mark the end of U.S. influence in the crucial Middle East for decades.

Ironically, while Bush and Cheney made counterterrorism the battle cry of their administration, their policies — especially the war in Iraq — have increased the terrorist threat and reduced the security of the United States. Consider the difference between the policies of the first President Bush and those of his son. When the Iraqi army marched into Kuwait in August 1990, President George H.W. Bush gathered the support of the entire world, including the United Nations, the European Union and most of the Arab League, to quickly expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The Saudis and Japanese paid most of the cost. Instead of getting bogged down in a costly occupation, the administration established a policy of containing the Baathist regime with international arms inspectors, no-fly zones and economic sanctions. Iraq was left as a stable country with little or no capacity to threaten others.

Today, after five years of clumsy, mistaken policies and U.S. military occupation, Iraq has become a breeding ground of terrorism and bloody civil strife. It is no secret that former president Bush, his secretary of state, James A. Baker III, and his national security adviser, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, all opposed the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In addition to the shocking breakdown of presidential legal and moral responsibility, there is the scandalous neglect and mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. The veteran CNN commentator Jack Cafferty condenses it to a sentence: “I have never ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans.’ Any impeachment proceeding must include a careful and critical look at the collapse of presidential leadership in response to perhaps the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

Impeachment is unlikely, of course. But we must still urge Congress to act. Impeachment, quite simply, is the procedure written into the Constitution to deal with presidents who violate the Constitution and the laws of the land. It is also a way to signal to the American people and the world that some of us feel strongly enough about the present drift of our country to support the impeachment of the false prophets who have led us astray. This, I believe, is the rightful course for an American patriot.

As former representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who played a key role in the Nixon impeachment proceedings, wrote two years ago, “it wasn´t until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country´s laws — that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate. . . . A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law — and repeatedly violates the law — thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors.’

I believe we have a chance to heal the wounds the nation has suffered in the opening decade of the 21st century. This recovery may take a generation and will depend on the election of a series of rational presidents and Congresses. At age 85, I won´t be around to witness the completion of the difficult rebuilding of our sorely damaged country, but I´d like to hold on long enough to see the healing begin.

There has never been a day in my adult life when I would not have sacrificed that life to save the United States from genuine danger, such as the ones we faced when I served as a bomber pilot in World War II. We must be a great nation because from time to time, we make gigantic blunders, but so far, we have survived and recovered.
Published on Sunday, January 6, 2008 by The Washington Post

You Can Change the World
Jim Grayson
“In Truth I tell you, he who believes in Me will do the works I do, and greater works shall he do, for I am going to My Father.’
John 14:12
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’
Mark 9:23 NKJV
“You can change the world around you, My Beloved, if you only dare to believe. Far too much time has been spent by church leadership trying to find ways to make excuses for their own lack of faith, rather than seeking Me to find out why things don´t happen when they pray. They have taken My Word out of context and used bits of it to excuse their failings, and you have suffered for it. So often, I have watched a pastor stand at the bed of a dying child and pronounce death on that child by saying, ‘It is the will of God,´ when all along, it was My will to heal the child but no one stepped up to be used in a miracle. Instead, they accepted what they were told and their hearts were broken. Beloved, this should not be. I AM the Giver of Life. How could I take a little one whom I had just given to the parents? How could I make that child go through the agony of sickness, which all along is the product of the fall of man, with nothing at all to do with My Will? My Son Jesus showed you what My will for you is in the area of sickness and bondage: He healed the sick and set the captive free because that is what I told Him to do. Behold, I AM the Lord God, and I change not!
Truly, I have not left you alone and defenseless in the world. I told you I would never leave you and I haven´t. Forget the lies you have heard, open your own Bible and read what I have to say about faith and you will see that what I have said does not line up with what you have been told. Awaken, oh, dreamer, from your sleep and arise to the task I have set before you. The time has come for you to act the part of Royalty, born of MY Love for you, paid for with the Precious Blood of My Son Jesus, and now, My Holy Spirit awaits your decision to move or remain where you are. There is nothing impossible for you, if you are willing to simply be obedient when I speak to you.
Do you know you can do anything so long as I say it is needed? Do you know that, with the Mind of Christ within you, you have at your disposal any piece of knowledge you may need at any given time? Many years ago, I brought it forth through My prophets that My Son Jesus did not do the works of healing and miracles as the Son of God but as a man filled with My Holy Spirit. Truly, He was always My Son but He did no miracles until He was filled with My Holy Spirit.
Now, that same Holy Spirit resides in you, Beloved, and I must ask you: are you going to continue now as you were or are you going to draw close to Me, as I wish for you, and learn from Me so you can change the world around you. Do you know many people live and die because of what My children do or fail to do? Do you realize many people are going to spend eternity in outer darkness because those around them have not come to the place where they obey My whisperings and leave it all to their pastor to bear?
Listen to Me, Beloved: I have made you to be world changers…world changers in the sense of changing the world of those whom I place in your daily path. I AM not calling you to any particular ministry except to simply obey Me when I ask you to speak or to act. If you will do this, the world will change around you and people will come to the Knowledge of the Truth of the Cross of My Dear Son Jesus, and they will be set free from the bonds of the enemy and find healing in their lives but you must first come to the place where you are willing to act when I ask you to do so.
For those of you who are accustomed to doing My will, to the point of seeing the supernatural work in the lives of others, I say this: I AM taking you higher than you have seen in the past. You have been faithful in the smaller things; now, I AM taking you to a place where your spirit will be thrilled by what I will accomplish through you. Do not worry about this or think you are unable to do it, for I AM with you, as always, and I will give you the faith to do the things I will lay before you. Just go on as you have before but expect more results now when I speak to you. It´s time for the lame to walk and the blind to see and the dead to rise again. The time of the greater works is here…now.
It isn´t so hard to do, Little Ones. Just listen to Me when I speak and do what I ask and I promise to do the rest. I AM the Miracle Worker, not you. You are the one who carries the Message of Life and Hope to a dying world. If you will do that, I will make your life a pure delight to you and to those around you. Doesn´t that sound better than what is going on in most of your lives right now? Isn´t it exciting to think of being used by Me, of watching as I orchestrate your life with those around you and use you to change the lives of those who so desperately need My touch?
The choice is up to you, Beloved, to either obey My Will or ignore the call I have placed on your life and be a great blessing to others. I already know what you will do. Do you? I, and the world, await your answer.’

Walk With My Authority

James Donovan

Arise My people, and grab hold of My promises. Be vessels yielded to Me and obey My voice. There are many conflicts and oppositions in this world. But draw near to Me and resist the devil and his schemes. I have given you authority over all opposition.

Walk in faith, like David, and defeat the giants in your life and the world. I have given you authority and power over every situation that is not of Me. So speak to the mountains and they shall be removed.

I have called you out of the world to be used of Me, to shine over darkness and be light bearers. So let My river flow out of your mouths. Let My light be seen through actions of love. Use My authority and operate in My anointing and power. Release My authority and set the captives free!

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