April 20, 2008

Dear Sen. McCain:

I duly admire your courage. I like a couple of your ideas. But we need moral judgment in the White House, so I'm going to lecture you now on right and wrong. I can do that, because I'm even older than you, and I've never killed civilians. Listen, please:

Bombing, invading and occupying the countries of people who have never attacked us is not right, it's wrong. It is a crime. Crime does not pay. Once you do it, you are morally unable to prevail; you deserve to lose. Even if you can somehow convince yourself that you're getting away with it, it's still a crime. Even if you think you can make someone else's botched crime more efficient by taking control, it's still a crime, and it would be wrong for you to perpetuate it.

The only right thing to do about a crime, if you're in a position to do anything about it, is to put a stop to it and see that the culprits are brought to justice.

Let me say it again, because you seem to be a slow learner: crime is wrong, and whether you do it adeptly or poorly, it won't pay, because it's still a crime.

April 6, 2008

Former Pentagon and State Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg knows a lot about the lies politicians from both major parties use to generate support for unpopular and costly wars.

He also knows something about warrantless wiretapping, having been a victim of the Nixon administration's efforts to intimidate and silence the outspoken critic of Vietnam War.

Though it felt awkward asking him for permission to tape our recent phone conversation, he readily agreed. Since the host of his upcoming will be ACLU-Indiana, we began our conversation with that topic.

TPH: The theme of the ACLU-Indiana banquet that you will address is: "Restore American Democracy: A Call for Change." What kind of changes will you be calling for?

December 5, 2007

Howard Zinn, eminent peacemonger and sage, can really set you to thinking.

He wrote to me last week that he'd given a Veterans Day speech in Worcester, Mass., telling the audience what Veterans Day should be: a day we pledge "No more veterans!"

Wow! Is that a loaded idea!

Stop making veterans. Pledge to stop making wars for so long that peace outlives even the oldest veterans. Think of it.

November 7, 2007

A busload of card-carrying peace activists, jacked up on caffeine and shared contempt for the Bush war machine and a Democratic Congress that needs to dial 1-800-GROW-A-SPINE, rolled out of Bloomington early Oct. 27 to join several thousands more in Chicago for one of 11 regional anti-war demonstrations that took place that day.

Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC) organizers Christine Glaser and Timothy Baer led that group to the Windy City. And several other area groups and individuals met them there.

Other cities that participated included Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Orlando and Seattle.

October 24, 2007

We know by now that our troops have been fighting and dying in Iraq longer than they fought in World War II.

Might as well mention also that we’ve been fighting and dying in Iraq’s civil war as long as we did in our own Civil War (1861-65).

George W. Bush has put David Petraeus, surge-in general of the United States, out front pitching his case for making it last longer. What U.S. military officer ever had a harder mission assigned to him: trying to convince Congress and the American people that Bush is telling the truth about something he’s lied about for five years? About his reason for starting it; about “Mission Accomplished” when it was just beginning; about its costs; about its progress, etc., etc.

October 24, 2007

Do you know where Zimbabwe is? I’ll give you a hint -- Africa, the most fucked up continent on the planet. We’ve become so desensitized to the problems of Africa because all we hear about is the famine, disease, repression, and death. That’s what’s expected of Africa.

We send our soldiers into Somalia (think Black Hawk Down) only to get our embassies blown up. It almost seems they just don’t appreciate what help we try to provide. Zimbabwe, with a total population of 12 million people, is just a speck on our radar screens. Zimbabwe’s total population is still only half as many people as are in New York City, and 25 percent of the adult population is HIV positive, with an 80 percent unemployment rate.

The economy of Wal-Mart is over 100 times bigger than the economy of Zimbabwe, and people aren’t expected to live past 40. Have I emphasized this point enough? We don’t really care too much about Africa because it’s not economically worth it.

May 9, 2007

Elizabeth Verbich-Britton doesn’t think for a minute that her opinion on the Iraq war is any more valuable than any other American’s. But because her husband is a soldier in Iraq, it’s a bit more personal for her.

So, when her landlord forced her to remove her “U.S. Out of Iraq Now!” poster from her bedroom window, she was incensed.

“The sign was up for about a month,” she said during an interview at her apartment on East 10th Street. “I heard nothing from anyone about it, and then all of a sudden I got a letter from Woodbridge management saying I had to take the sign out of my window. And of course I was angry right away.”

After Verbich-Britton analyzed the rule cited by the apartment management and consulted with a couple attorneys, she was even angrier.

“Basically the way leases are written it’s all about the lessors’ rights, and the lessees have no rights at all,” she said. So she took her message to another venue, one that Woodbridge management couldn’t touch.

May 9, 2007

One member of Billy Reed's squad died when he was in Iraq - a soldier who strayed too far from the unit and was shot by a sniper.

But it was not this sort of face-to-face combat that Reed worried about. It was the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and car bombs that he feared the most.

"I always thought a war was about fighting an enemy in uniform, you know who the enemy is," he said. "But this situation is nothing like that."

See more Iraq photos

April 25, 2007

I say! Whatever happened to the old stiff upper lip, the Colonel Bogey March, the ramrod spine, the code of honour, and all that jolly rot so dear to the British heart?

How embarrassing that maritime capture incident in the Persian Gulf turned out to be! First, Her Majesty’s sailors and Marines gave up their wee patrol boat to the Iranians without firing a shot, and Horatio Nelson turned over in his grave, don’t you imagine? Gave up without a fight. You’d almost think they were Frenchies, what?

March 11, 2007

In this age of astounding blunders, it is our responsibility as intelligent citizens to educate ourselves in the field of fiascoes, FUBARs and flubs. If nothing else, we owe it to Molly Ivins.

Blunders come in many forms, but some of the most serious are listed and defined here:

  • The Blunderblunder, done by failing to look both ways before crossing the Rubicon.
  • The Thunderblunder. This is characterized by loud threats, war drums, bombast and bomb blasts. It is similar to:
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