Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Looking Back
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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

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Stop the Spying!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Looking Back



Looking Back...


Looking Back Over My Days I can See Wise Choices We Have Made and Some That Only That Fools Who Have Surrendered Their Dreams To Other Men’s Schemes Could Have Made In Ignorant Compliance, Sucking Down The Bait Like A Nearly Brainless Fish Inhaling A Rainbow Painted Lure.


Forty years ago when my boomer generation saw its heroes gunned down one-two-three (JFK, MLK, RFK), many hung up the marching shoes and turned towards the inner journey. If we couldn’t face a scary world, at least we could control our own minds. Like Big Sur’s Esalen, the Omega Institute served as a safe place to escape the modern maelstrom, find community, and rediscover inner resources. This I could not do; this I have not done, and though my life has not been one of calm equanimity free of conflict and controversy, I could not have made in the Country Club sell-out lounge guzzling down pitchers of Martinis, the symbol of having made it…early alcoholism.


I don’t know if I ever could have gone that route. It certainly would have been easier to become a docile sheep and not have to live with the knowledge when folks used the word activist to describe me; I knew they meant my words fell on their ears with the ring of resistance, rebellion, revolt and revolution. That’s what happens when you don’t or can’t accept the status quo, when you can’t just slip into that comfortable “Cuál será, sea-what will be, will be” mode, or dumbed down, numbed down: “who me worry?” acquiescent anesthesia. Maybe it was the sound of gun fire, the smell of tear gas and the corpses in the parking lot at Kent State that forever sealed my fate.


Oh well, I suppose it was all for the best. I can’t hit a Golf Ball worth a damn and don’t have the patience for that past time anyway. Hitting a baseball or knocking someone on their ass on a Soccer field or the marksman’s target a hundred yards away is more like it, and you don’t have to be very tall to do any of that. But I digress, so I won’t go into the affect that the mere mention of Che or Camus can have in polite, not overly intelligent social settings.


This election year, we all should, must have a heart-to-heart with ourselves and ask, “what qualities do I want in a president? What truly constitutes leadership?” And Oh yes there is a school of thought that would label the current crowd of Capital Hill criminals as extraordinary leaders. “Extraordinary” indeed!


But, I’d like to draw your attention to a speech President John F. Kennedy gave in 1962, rarely noted or quoted, sadly, this address seems to have been somewhat lost to history, but reading his words again should strike a deep resonant chord in all of us today.


This speech should hit home now when we look at our plunging economy, the national debt, the death of American industry, the downfall of labor unions, our failing education system, corporate profit-taking, the war, escalating tensions around the globe, the pillage of our natural environment, the out-and-out corruption of elections, the deaths of countless good Americans and innocents abroad, and perhaps most importantly - the powers properly granted to the president under the Constitution of the United States to correct, and to create them if we permit, these problems. What is within his or her power, and what is not?


After eight years of George W. Bush, this not a question to be considered lightly like some classroom exercise.


WHEN IS AGGRESSIVE USE OF PRESIDENTIAL POWER A GOOD THING?


Let’s look at just one historical example.


President Kennedy made these remarks during a speech to the United Auto Workers Union in Atlantic City in May, 1962. Addressing the issue of how much influence the President should have over the nation’s economy (or perhaps put more bluntly, whether he should bow and do the bidding of his corporate puppet masters), Kennedy vigorously defended his recent actions which had forced the steel industry to eliminate a price increase.


“I speak,” he said, “as President of the United States with a single voice to both management and labor . . . I believe it is the business of the President of the United States to concern himself with the general welfare and the public interest . . . I believe that what is good for the United States—for the people as a whole—is going to be good for every American company and for every American union.” (You need to remember that this was a man who dared mouth the words “fair profit margin”. Boy did that ever scare the bejesus out of a lot of the corporate board room and stock holder types.)


Unjustified wage and price demands, said the President, are equally “contrary to the national interest.” His Administration “has not undertaken and will not undertake” to fix prices or wages or to intervene in every little old labor dispute. Instead, it depends on labor and management to reach settlements within “guidelines” suggested by the Administration.


This aggressive policy had been the subject of “a good deal of discussion, acrimony, and controversy on wages and prices and profits,” Kennedy acknowledged, but he added this justification:


“Now I know there are some people who say that this isn’t the business of the President of the United States, who believe that the President of the United States should be an honorary chairman of a great fraternal organization and confine himself to ceremonial functions. But that is not what the Constitution says. And I did not run for President of the United States to fulfill that Office in that way.”


Whoa,, stop. Go back and read that paragraph again, because it’s terribly important. What did he just say?


He just stated that he did not run for the Presidency for the honor of being corporate America’s puppet. Or the Military’s puppet. Or anybody’s puppet, for that matter.


He said that he was well aware of the immense powers granted to the president under the U.S. Constitution, and that he fully intended to make use of those powers when necessary.


Do you realize how dangerous these words are when spoken by a president? (Especially one like the current dry drunk syndrome, marginally literate puppet we have the oval office.)


For those who still seek an answer to the never-ending question - “why was President Kennedy killed?” - it could be argued that he had to be “replaced” because he interpreted the Constitution literally.


JFK thought that “goddamn piece of paper” (as future presidents would refer to this now-arcane historical document) actually meant what it said.


Kennedy continued:


“Harry Truman once said there are 14 or 15 million Americans who have the resources to have representatives in Washington to protect their interests, and that the interests of the great mass of other people, the hundred and fifty or sixty million, is the responsibility of the President of the United States. And I propose to fulfill it! Now I’ll admit that neither Harry or Kennedy was perfect, but I sure as hell embrace the starting place of their thoughts and views of the Presidency!


And there are those who say, “Stay out of this area–it would be all right if we are in a national emergency or in a war.” (Well, with Bush everyday is a constant war and emergency, hence Presidential power full steam ahead. Or torture, torture, bomb, bomb, spy, spy, lie, lie…you know all this.)


What do they think we are in? And what period of history do they believe this country has reached? What do they believe is occurring all over the world?


Merely because vast armies do not march against each other, does anyone think that our danger is less immediate, or the struggle is less ferocious?


As long as the United States is the great and chief guardian of freedom, all the way in a great half circle from the Brandenburg Gate to Viet-Nam, as long as we fulfill our functions at a time of climax in the struggle for freedom, then I believe it is the business of the President of the United States to concern himself with the general welfare and the public interest. And if the people feel that it is not, then they should secure the services of a new President of the United States.”


– JFK to the United Auto Workers Union, May 8, 1962


We can secure those new services through immediate Impeachment. We don’t have to wait until after the 2008 elections, if they take place, and if they make a difference. You know where I stand on Hillary and old 100 year war, bomb, bomb Iran McCain. So that leaves Obama as the closest representative of the hopeful years with had with Jack Kennedy, and a lot of younger folk have that feeling. I don’t, but that’s just a function of being bush-weary…not enough time to be enthused.


THE PRESIDENT IS NOT AN “HONORARY CHAIRMAN OF A GREAT FRATERNAL ORGANIZATION”


My point exactly. After eight long years of a president who could care less about the general welfare and the public interest, it is now up to the people to secure the services of a new President of the United States. And we’re going to do it this November. The problem is insuring that whomever that is knows that we mean for them to restore this nation to decency, integrity, respect and the rule of Constitutional law. If the day after the election it is business as usual; all we big bad activists aren’t even going to get an Inaugural breather!


But who among the current crop of candidates possesses the kind of leadership qualities JFK not only talked about, but exhibited during each of the thousand days?


Do you see that kind of bold vision in Hillary Clinton? Does Barack Obama have the fight in him to stand up when big industry starts pushing? Would John McCain lift a finger to challenge the military industrial complex? Who’s got what it takes?


What do YOU want in a president, America? What defines true presidential leadership?


To my mind at least, true presidential leadership requires the kind of courage exhibited by JFK in the example above.


THE CLASH OF THE TITANS OR THE CORPORATE SLUGGERS AND K STREET CARPET BAGGERS.


At the time, Kennedy was roasted for his aggressive use of presidential power in the showdown with Big Steel - by the business community, by academia, the press, members of Congress, and even his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower.


In the May 18, 1962 issue of Time magazine, Ike strongly criticized the President for “the strenuous efforts of the Administration to increase greatly the power of the executive branch of the Government. It has long been my judgment that the real threat to liberty in this Republic will be primarily found in a steady erosion of self-reliant citizenship and in excessive power concentration.” (OK, we can’t find fault with that statement and we all have either an open respect or closeted respect for Ike and his military Industrial Complex warning, so I’m not about to spend a lot words on a lengthy intellectual discussion of the point…not today at least.)


To back up his charge that Kennedy is asking for too many powers, Ike cited Kennedy’s requests for authority to modify income taxes when he decides it is necessary, to finance emergency public works by diversion of funds, to “regiment all agriculture,” to “take over a whole host of state and local responsibilities, notably including the proposal for a Department of Urban Affairs,” and “to dilute the independence of the Federal Reserve Board by presidential appointment of its chairman.” Added Ike: “The objectives under lying many such proposals are not in themselves controversial. I do not agree, however, that in every instance more presidential power is needed to achieve them.”


Ironically, while it was President Eisenhower who had cautioned against undue influence by the Military-Industrial-Complex two years before, the truth of the matter is that during his presidency Eisenhower sought out the Titans, respected their advice, and treated them as they thought they deserved to be treated — in other words, as representatives of the most influential body in the nation.


By contrast, Kennedy kept his distance. Prior to his election he had had little contact with industrial circles, and once he was in the White House he saw even less of them. Businessmen were generally excluded from the Kennedys’ private parties. Not only did he “snub” them (in the words of Ralph Cordiner, President of General Electric), he also attacked them. Kennedy did not consult the business world before making his appointments. The men he placed at the head of the federal regulatory agencies were entirely new. Since the end of the war, the businessmen had become accustomed to considering these bodies as adjuncts of their own professional associations. They were more indignant than surprised. They attempted to intervene, but in vain.


If the Titans thought that John F. Kennedy was going to be their puppet, they had another thing coming.


“Honorary chairman of a great fraternal organization” who should “confine himself to ceremonial functions?” Not this president.


Kennedy had just let t them know: This president had a mind of his own - and if you don’t like it, perhaps you boys should go get yourselves another president.


HAIL TO THE CHIEF


Even nearly 45 years after his passing, I still look to President Kennedy’s words and deeds for strength and inspiration - I think many of us do - and every election year since then, we have searched for a political candidate who embodies that same spirit. Someone who understands and achieves that perfect balance between exercising presidential power and the public interest, while avoiding the temptation to become drunk on their own power and take the country into a dictatorship.


It’s always a difficult balancing act for any president, but the example of JFK’s administration showed us all that a president can use his power forcefully and effectively when the need arises - but that such use is only acceptable and reasonable if this flexing of executive muscle is done to benefit the national interest. (And, more often than not, to force corporations or industries into doing the right thing - what they should have done in the first place - for their fellow citizens.)


“The American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans.”


– President John F. Kennedy, April 11, 196


When the people said, “we want action, not talk“, Kennedy delivered.


THE PRESIDENT HAS THE POWER


So the next time you suffer sticker shock at the gas pump, and you wonder aloud, “who can fix this?” - remember that the president has the power. All a president needs is a plan and most importantly, the courage to stand up to The Men Who Rule The World because he knows the Constitution and the people will back him up.


Next time you feel obliged to curse the oil companies for sticking it to millions of people while they enjoy record profits, remember who our president is now.


Next time you bitch about the modern day industrial robber barons who are stealing us blind and wonder why Congress does nothing to stop it, remember President Kennedy.


Remember that he went to bat for all Americans and fought the Titans just to shave what amounted to a rather paltry price increase in steel down to a reasonable amount. Remember that he won that battle, too.


Remember that if our current president, or any future president, should have the political will and the courage, they can also fight the Titans and curb these out-of-control oil industry profits, bring an energy revolution to the table, get us off of foreign oil and out of debt to dictators quicker than you can say, “all in a day’s work!”


Remember that when you choose a presidential candidate this year.


`Nuff said!


For further reading on JFK’s showdown with U.S. Steel, I highly recommend:


“John F. Kennedy and the Titans” by Laura Knight-Jadczyk at http://laura-knight-jadczyk.blogspot.com/2006/11/john-f-kennedy-and-titans.html


But as third generation self-help advice proliferates on the internet, many maturing seekers recognize the it’s not enough to heal ourselves, we have to face the fear, and take action to heal the world that is.


“This is the worst administration in American history–it’s put the worst polluters in charge of all areas of government” Robert F. Kennedy Jr told the conference attendees. As Kennedy, Valerie Plame Wilson, and others modeled a caring, balanced, and integral activism, they nudged the self-help movement out of its chrysalis and into the us-in-action movement. The recurring message was: “You have to speak truth to power. You must act.”


Back in my parent’s day, Kennedys in their prime were entrusted to lead, due to their rare ability to marry hope with competency and offer an accurate diagnosis and cure for our national ills.


In today’s harsh world, the Kennedy warrior of this generation is critiqued, maligned, ridiculed, and often censured by the mainstream news media when he offers an accurate (though discomfiting) analysis of environmental rollbacks, public health care policy, and their attendant health impacts. When Kennedy gave New York Times’ editors an array of DNA, animal, epidemiological, and biological studies that document the link between mercury and neurological disorders, they were so “hostile and antagonistic it was like talking to a brick wall,” Kennedy reported. In the past, the news media looked for investigative pieces. Today they look the other way, uncritically accepting government studies.


“The US has privatized safety research and by extension, the regulation of toxins. Expecting objectivity under these conditions is naïve at best,” says Kennedy, one of the few to connect the dots as:


• Campaign contributors are given posts in oversight of the industries they represent, where they


• Rewrite governmental regulations to protect their industry rather than the public good, resulting in:


• Environmental pollution, misuse of resources, and health care polices harmful to childhood and adult health.


“We need to protect the environment not because we love trees–but because we love people,” Kennedy points out. A believing Catholic he questions those who thump the bible, and go on to plunder and pollute the Creation for cash.


“MISINFORMATION UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY” - RFK JR.


The multiple crises we face all occur because vested media conglomerates have replaced a watchdog press, Kennedy says.


Goodbye to investigative journalism, foreign news bureaus, and fair reporting. Hello to misinformation, one-sided spins and cheap entertainment, appealing to the reptilian brain.


What happened? As part of the right to use public airwaves, network television was formerly mandated to provide news coverage even at an economic loss, Kennedy reminds us. But that ended in 1988, when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine, which permitted broadcasters to cut back their news divisions and abdicate their responsibility to inform. Today, the CBS news bureau which formerly boasted Edward R. Murrow and others, is rumored to be seeking to outsource its reporting to CNN.


“We’re the most entertained, and least well informed country on earth.” Kennedy told the crowd. “Misinformation undermines democracy,” as 30% of Americans get their information from biased talk radio.


The boomer generation has to face facts: on our watch, this country took a very bad turn. The time has come to second activists like Kennedy and make our numbers count. In the allied areas of the organic food movement, integrative health care, health care policy reform, environmental activism, food and agricultural policy, media reform, election and judicial activism and other key arenas, many are carrying the meditation cushion into activism.


And when my thoughts turn to those of Compassion in a leader; they always turn to my memories of Bobby, his essence so wonderfully and sadly summarized in what I still hold as Ted Kennedy’s finest utterance of public eloquence.


Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Mr. President

On behalf of Mrs. Kennedy, her children, the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world.


We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters -- Joe and Kathleen and Jack -- he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.


Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.


A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father which expresses [sic] the way we in his family felt about him. He said of what his father meant to him, and I quote: "What it really all adds up to is love -- not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it." And he continued, "Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country. Through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off."


That is what Robert Kennedy was given. What he leaves to us is what he said, what he did, and what he stood for. A speech he made to the young people of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation in 1966 sums it up the best, and I would like to read it now:


"There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows. But we can perhaps remember -- even if only for a time -- that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek -- as we do -- nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.


Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men. And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again. The answer is to rely on youth -- not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to the obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. They cannot be moved by those who cling to a present that is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger that come with even the most peaceful progress.


It is a revolutionary world we live in, and this generation at home and around the world has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived. Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth; a young woman reclaimed the territory of France; and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the 32 year-old Thomas Jefferson who [pro]claimed that "all men are created equal."


These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. *It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.* Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.


Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.


For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged, and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that event.


*The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.


* Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."


That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us.


My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.


Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.


As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:


"Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."


We once had days when Jack, Bobby and Martin walked among us and we walked in the world with hope and our heads held high, a world where we felt dreams could be fashioned into realities.


Will that world ever return?

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