Walking While Black


The state of Florida has declared open season on young black males.  Any white person, anywhere in Florida can open fire and kill a young black man;  any white law enforcement officer can assault, arrest or physical intimidate black boys willy nilly and expect nothing will happen to them.  If you don’t believe me just ask Bobby Wingate Wingate

Walking down the road, minding his own business, one First Coast man says he was assaulted by a Police Officer and thrown in jail for no reason.

When he was tried for the crime, a judge threw out the case half way through the trial.

Bobby Wingate said the incident occurred on Oliver Street in Arlington.

The last time Wingate walked down the road, he said he called 9-1-1 to protect himself from the police.

“He parked his car right up here near this curve,” he said as he pointed.

On a 9-1-1 recording of that night Wingate can be heard saying, “He said do I really want to fight him? I haven’t done anything wrong.”………

According to court papers uncovered by First Coast News at the federal courthouse, Wingate was walking down the road in December when a JSO Police Officer stopped him and asked to talk.

When he told the officer he was running late for an appointment, the officer cited him for walking on the wrong side of the road.

According to court papers the officer then hit Wingate in the face and engaged his Taser. That’s when Wingate called 9-1-1.

Wingate spent a night in jail, and the State Attorney’s Office took the case to trial.

He was charged with resisting arrest without violence, and walking down the wrong side of the road.

But in court, the officer testified he wasn’t sure what side of the road Wingate was on.

Before the defense could even present its case, the judge ruled that there was not nearly enough evidence to proceed and dropped the charges and the case against Wingate.

I am not a fan of police officers because repeatedly I read about how they abuse and assault citizen rights and this case with Wingate reinforces my prejudices that they are terrorists in communities in which they patrol….those of them who are bad anyway.  However, what is interesting about this case revolves around another case and the prosecutor  that both cases have in common.

Remember Trayvon Martin, the young man who was murdered by George Zimmerman?  During his trial a medical examiner Dr. Shiping Bao made assertions that buttressed the prosecution’s case, if the prosecution was really interested in bring Zimmerman to justice.  However, Bao doesn’t think that was the case and was vocal about that saying the district attorney was sloppy, indifferent and proclaimed Martin got what he deserved.  With those attitudes, according to Bao the prosecutor carried out a half-hearted case.  His opinion of how the prosecutor conducted herself is what got him fired and as a result of his termination, he’s decided like Wingate to sue the prosecutor, Angela Corey.

CoreyWho is Angela Corey?

Before Corey made national news by charging Zimmerman with murder for killing Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the state attorney was no stranger to calculated risks. She had already made a 12-year-old face first-degree murder charges.

She also put a woman in prison for 20 years for firing at, yet missing, an allegedly abusive husband, the prosecutor’s office says. Now, a growing number of critics describe her as a desperate prosecutor who regularly overcharges defendants and is more interested in making a name for herself than in seeking justice.

“She had the worst reputation in Florida for overcharging and the worst reputation with professional responsibility,” said Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor explaining why Corey should not have tried the Zimmerman case. “There are some great prosecutors in Florida and across the country. She’s not one of them.”

On the one hand Corey conducted a luke warm prosecution of a cold blooded murderer in George Zimmerman, fired a medical examiner who could have helped her case  yet went after a man for walking on the wrong side of the street only to have that case thrown out by the trial judge.  Is this indicative of the type of justice you can expect if you are a black man in Florida?  It’s hard to think otherwise.

An update on the “American Taliban”


John Walker Lindh, the American who was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan at the very beginning of the Afghan/Iraq war and his subsequent mistreatment both by the Bush Administration and corporate media, which marked the beginning of America’s decent into lawlessness and criminality has always had a stalwart defender in his father Frank Lindh.  The senior Lindh wrote a lengthy, detailed piece for The Guardian newspaper earlier this summer  asserting his son’s  innocence against the charges of terrorism leveled by Bush’s justice department and proclaiming that the son, John met bin laden at some point BEFORE 911 but wasn’t impressed with him and felt no desire to do whatever it was bin laden wanted done in the way of terror.  He also says John was in Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance who at one point was even at odds with the Bush Administration, the implication being Lindh was doing America’s dirty work in fighting the NA until 911 happened.  Below is an excerpt; the entire article is linked above

As they moved among the prisoners, they singled out captives for interrogation. They never identified themselves as American agents, and so they appeared to John and the other prisoners to be mercenaries working directly for General Dostum.

John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.

In the video, John sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality.

“Irish? Ireland?” Spann asks.

John remains silent.

“Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you’re willing to be killed here?”

Still no reply.

Tyson to Spann [for John’s benefit]: “The problem is, he’s got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We’re just going to leave him, and he’s going to [expletive] sit in prison the rest of his [expletive] short life. It’s his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.”

I think it was apparent that Spann and Tyson were American agents, but because they were in the company of Dostum’s forces, unaccompanied by American troops, it clearly was not safe for John to talk to them. They meant business when they said John might be killed by Dostum, and that the Red Cross could only “help so many guys”. John was in extreme peril at that moment, and he knew it.

John was then returned to the main body of prisoners, while others were still being brought out of the basement and forced to kneel in the horse pasture. Then, there was an explosion at the entrance to the basement, shouts were heard, and two prisoners grabbed the guards’ weapons. According to Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s account: “It was then… that Spann ‘did a Rambo’. As the remaining guards ran away, Spann flung himself to the ground and began raking the courtyard and its prisoners with automatic fire. Five or six prisoners jumped on him, and he disappeared beneath a heap of bodies.”

Spann’s body was later recovered by US special forces troops. He was the first American to die in combat in the American–Afghan war. He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

There were two groups of Taliban prisoners in the fortress: those who chose to fight and those who hunkered down in the basement of the pink building and tried to survive. John was in the latter group.

By Wednesday, the last of the resisting Taliban fighters had been killed, and Dostum’s soldiers were once again in full control of the fortress. Luke Harding was allowed into the compound along with some other journalists, and he found a horrific scene: “We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale… It was hard to take it all in. The dead and various parts of the dead… turned up wherever you looked: in thickets of willows and poplars; in waterlogged ditches; in storage rooms piled with ammunition boxes.” Harding observed that many of the Taliban prisoners had died with their hands tied behind their backs.

On Saturday 1 December, the Red Cross arrived at the fortress and the survivors, who for several days had been trying to surrender, were finally allowed to exit the basement. When they emerged into the bright sunlight, they encountered a confusing horde of journalists, Red Cross workers, Dostum’s soldiers, and British and American troops.

That evening John and the other survivors were taken to a prison hospital in Sheberghan. Although wet and cold from the flooding of the basement, they were transported in open bed trucks in the frigid night air. At Sheberghan, John was carried on a stretcher and set down in a small room with approximately 15 other prisoners. CNN correspondent Robert Pelton came in accompanied by a US special forces soldier and a cameraman. Despite John’s protests, Pelton persisted in filming John and asking questions as an American medical officer administered morphine intravenously. By the time he departed a short time later, Pelton had captured on videotape an interview in which John said that his “heart had become attached” to the Taliban, that every Muslim aspired to become a shahid, or martyr, and that he had attended a training camp funded by Osama bin Laden.

The CNN interview became a sensation in the US. By mid-December, virtually every newspaper in America was running front-page stories about the American Taliban, and the broadcast media were saturated with features and commentary about John. Here was a “traitor” who had “fought against America” and aligned himself with the 11 September terrorists. Newsweek magazine published an issue with John’s photograph on the cover, under the caption “American Taliban”.

Beginning in early December, President Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, members of the cabinet and other officials then embarked on a series of truly extraordinary public statements about John, referring to him repeatedly as an “al-Qaida fighter”, a terrorist and a traitor. I think it fair to say there has never been a case quite like this in the history of the US, in which officials at the highest levels of the government made such prejudicial statements about an individual citizen who had not yet been charged with any crime.

I will offer only a small sample of these statements. In an interview at the White House on 21 December 2001, President Bush said John was “the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured”. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, told reporters at a press briefing that John had been “captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands”. Colin Powell, secretary of state, said John had “brought shame upon his family”. Rudy Giuliani, New York mayor, remarked: “I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.”

John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, staged two televised press conferences in which he accused John of attacking the US. “Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” he declared.

A federal judge took the unusual step of writing to the New York Times criticising the attorney general for violating “Justice Department guidelines on the release of information related to criminal proceedings that are intended to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced when such an announcement is made”.

Even the ultra-conservative National Review thought Ashcroft had gone too far in making such prejudicial comments about a pending prosecution. It criticised the comments as “inappropriate” and “gratuitous”, stating that in the future “it would be better for the attorney general simply to announce the facts of the indictments, and to avoid extra comments which might unintentionally imperil successful prosecutions”.

Once John was in the custody of the US military, the US government had to decide what to do with him. The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist. They were simply ignored by their government, which made no attempt to interfere with their travel. But the 9/11 attacks changed everything, and it was the timing of John’s capture that contributed to his fate. It soon became apparent to me that, rather than simply repatriate my wounded son, the government was intent on prosecuting him as a “terrorist”.

In the days and weeks that followed, John endured abuse from the US military that exceeded the bounds of what any civilised nation should tolerate, even in time of war. Donald Rumsfeld directly ordered the military to “take the gloves off” in questioning John.

On 7 December, wounded and still suffering from the effects of the trauma at Qala-i-Jangi, John was flown to Camp Rhino, a US marine base approximately 70 miles south of Kandahar. There he was taunted and threatened, stripped of his clothing, and bound naked to a stretcher with duct tape wrapped around his chest, arms, and ankles. Even before he got to Camp Rhino, John’s wrists and ankles were bound with plastic restraints that caused severe pain and left permanent scars – sure proof of torture. Still blindfolded, he was locked in an unheated metal shipping container that sat on the desert floor. He shivered uncontrollably in the bitter cold. Soldiers outside pounded on the sides, threatening to kill him.

In June 2002, Newsweek obtained copies of internal email messages from the justice department’s ethics office commenting on the Lindh case as the events were unfolding in December 2001. The office specifically warned in advance against the interrogation tactics the FBI used at Camp Rhino, and concluded that the interrogation of John without his lawyer present would be unlawful and unethical. This advice was ignored by the FBI agent who conducted the interrogation.

Interestingly, in an 10 December email, one of the justice department ethics lawyers noted: “At present, we have no knowledge that he did anything other than join the Taliban.”

John’s lawyers filed a motion to “suppress” the statements that had been extracted him under duress at Camp Rhino. A hearing was scheduled in July 2001, which would have included testimony by John and others about the brutality he had suffered at the hands of US soldiers. On the eve of the hearing, the government prosecutors approached John’s attorneys and negotiated a plea agreement. It was apparent they did not want evidence of John’s torture to be introduced in court.

In the plea agreement John acknowledged that by serving as a soldier in Afghanistan he had violated the anti-Taliban economic sanctions imposed by President Clinton and extended by President Bush. This was, as John’s lawyer pointed out, a “regulatory infraction”. John also agreed to a “weapons charge”, which was used to enhance his prison sentence. In particular, he acknowledged that he had carried a rifle and two grenades while serving as a soldier in the Taliban army. All of the other counts in the indictment were dropped by the government, including the terrorism charges the attorney general had so strongly emphasised and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Mike Spann.

At the insistence of defence secretary Rumsfeld, the plea agreement also included a clause in which John relinquished his claims of torture.

The punishment in the plea agreement was by any measure harsh: 20 years of imprisonment, commencing on 1 December 2001, the day John came into the hands of US forces in Afghanistan. The prosecutors told John’s attorneys that the White House insisted on the lengthy sentence, and that they could not negotiate downward.

On 4 October 2002, the judge approved the plea agreement as “just and reasonable” and sentenced John to prison. Before the sentence was pronounced, John was allowed to read a prepared statement, which provided a moment of intense drama in the crowded courtroom. He spoke with strong emotion. He explained why he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban in their fight with the Northern Alliance, saying it arose from his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people who had been subjected to atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance. He explained that when he went to Afghanistan he “saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets”.

John strongly condemned terrorism. “I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression.” He had acted, he said, out of a sense of religious duty and he condemned terrorism as being “completely against Islam”. He said: “I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”

After a brief recess, the judge granted a request by John Spann, the father of Mike Spann, to address the court and express his dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. He began by saying that he, his family, and many other people believed that John had played a role in the killing of Mike Spann. Judge Ellis interrupted and said: “Let me be clear about that. The government has no evidence of that.” Spann responded: “I understand.” The judge politely explained that the “suspicions, the inferences you draw from the facts are not enough to warrant a jury conviction”. He said that Mike Spann had died a hero, and that among the things he died for was the principle that “we don’t convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Osama bin Laden is dead. John Lindh, now 30 years old, remains in prison. He spends most of his time pursuing his study of the Qur’an and Islamic scholarship. He also reads widely in a variety of nonfiction subjects, especially history and politics. He remains a devout Muslim.

Blowback-The Intended Consequence of American Foreign Policy-The Awlaki Interview


It was one of the themes of Ron Paul’s candidacy for president in 2008; American foreign policy would exact a price for Americans that they should neither have to pay or  or are not responsible for paying.  Blowback, a term coined by the CIA after their coup was responsible for re-installing the Shah of Iran to power in the early 1950s means the possible “unintended consequences” of American government’s  covert action against other countries, most notably those in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Paul used the term to refer to any policy of the US government, covert or otherwise that adversely affected the people to whom it was directed, but might have possibly been considered advantageous to American interests in the short term.  What Paul and his supporters, I counted myself among them, wanted to say was that American interventionist policy held no strategic long term advantage for anyone and the best course of action was for the US to not become obstructionist in its relations with foreign countries, especially those in the Middle East.

In the present much ado has been made about a certain Imam that might have inspired Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter of late, to commit his acts of murder and mayhem, saying the Imam, Anwar Al-Awlak used his firebrand rhetoric which he espoused while an Imam in an Arlington, Va masjid shortly after 911 and which left an indelible mark on Hasan until today.  However, that narrative is incomplete and at the same time convenient for the proponents of blowback, because it allows policy and public to aim their ire at the people who respond to acts of aggression against them in much the same way as they are assaulted.  Thanks to the American Muslim blog, I ran across a National Geographic interview with Al-Awlak while he was Imam of Dar al-Hijrah  masjid and the things he said at that time are a far cry from the firebrand rhetoric he is accused of using to incite people to acts of terrorism against America. In answer to the question of the climate in America created by the 911 catastrophe, al Awlak had this to say.

we stated our position clearly, and I even feel that it’s unfortunate that we have to state this position because no religion would condone this, so it should be common knowledge. But we were in a position where we had to say that Islam does not approve of this. There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion.We encourage people to participate in blood drives, we encourage them to donate, and then we encourage the community to reach out. Part of the blame is on us that we haven’t been very active in reaching out to our fellow citizens, so that when these things happen we don’t have to go through this unfortunate backlash. We had a neighbor come in, and she said, “I’m coming to show my solidarity with you, to let you know that we are with you in this and that we are sorry for the difficult times you’re going through.” And then she said, “I wish you had came and visited me earlier, to give me an understanding of your religion. Although we were neighbors, we didn’t really hear from you.” This really is a message for us Muslims, that we need to reach out.

He defined “jihad” this way

The linguistic meaning of the word is “struggle.” The jihad of the individual would be to struggle against the evils of oneself. Therefore, it’s a continuous process of improvement. It is striving to become closer to God. That’s jihad for the individual.Jihad for the community is to protect the religion from any inside or outside enemy. So the jihad of the community would mean that if there is any internal corruption, we would struggle to get rid of it. And if there is an invading force from outside, then we would, too, struggle to defend ourselves, and that is where armed combat occurs. So actually, fighting is only a part of the jihad, and it’s considered to be a defensive force in order to protect the religion. If somebody defends their life, their property or their family, this is considered to be a jihad.

 

Could it be this was the ideology that attracted a searching Nidal Hasan to Awlaki at a time when he was looking for direction and purpose?  As we mentioned in an earlier post the place of worship in Virginia where Awlaki was imam was well known to federal authorities and worhshippers there remember Awlaki strongly condemning acts of terrorism on American soil, as the tone of the above interview seems to suggest.  In a heavy dose of foreshadowing, Awlaki while referring to bin Laden had this to say,

My worry is that because of this conflict,(i.e. in the Middle East-pre Iraq war)  the views of Osama bin Laden will become appealing to some of the population of the Muslim world. Never in the past were there any demonstrations raising the picture of Osama Bin Laden—it has just happened now. So Osama bin Laden, who was considered to be an extremist, radical in his views, could end up becoming mainstream. That’s a very frightening thing, so the U.S. needs to be very careful and not have itself perceived as an enemy of Islam.

True to form, America did just the opposite, entering into what George Bush and others in his administration and the  media called the “clash of civilizations”, an inevitable war of the worlds, and blowback ensued, which is just what the fanatics on both sides of the divide, in Washington and in cities across the Middle East wanted.  Throughout the Iraqi war the constant refrain was the occupation of Iraq by American troops  made America less safe today than it was before and the radicalization of people like Awlaki is proof of that.  Even in the words of the milquetoast Washington Post, Awlaki didn’t become radicalized until he returned to Yemen in 2004, the land of his parents, and witnessed  firsthand the destruction of a nominal agrarian society by an aggressive American foreign policy toward  Yemen and other countries in the Middle East. The fact that Yemeni authorities arrested him once and tried to identify him with a group he had previously eschewed and whose tactics he had condemned played no small part in his about face to  today.  Blowback; and the ability of policy wonks to point to him and by extension Hasan as a reason for repressive measures against Arab/Muslim citizens of the United States, as well as increased vigilance, read, military spending and government intrusion into the lives of all citizens is a convenience of blowback that the initiators and proponents cannot  overlook.  Quite simply, many in government want dissension and strife in areas of the world and if need be at home as well, to justify their continued occupation of such areas amidst huge military and government appropriations.  Anything that can be done to justify this trend is acceptable in their rational, and blowback becomes just another tool, at the risk of ordinary citizens, for the interference of government in people’s lives, either as oppressors or liberators or saviors.

 

The Moral Depravity of Fox News


foxFox News is not a channel I look at because I see them as an organization that entertains with innuendo and racial titillation. These days I find interesting  how they’ve managed to reach up the journalistic ladder and pull everyone else down with them onto a level that’s neither journalism or informative but rather the lowest common denominator of racism and bigotry.  The news they disseminate is inflammatory and incendiary.  One can only speculate what is behind this slant of their news approach. The fact that they’ve been around for so long, and are so popular is scary considering the propaganda they put on the air everyday. As for  the symbiotic relationship between Fox and it sister news organizations, the latest example is that of Brian Ross’ appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox program where he talked about the ties between the Ft. Hood shooter, Malik Hassan, and al-Qaida.  Of course, Ross’ links were tangential at best, or completely non-existent, but that didn’t stop him from being recruited onto a rival network, FoxNews to inaccurately report this connection.

This after other obviously blatant Faux Pas of FoxNews, including the Glen Beck assertion Obama is a racist .  Such bluster is expected from a performer, an entertainer,whose job it is to attract viewers to his network.  What was dismal however is several months after Beck’s verbal diarrhea when cooler heads should have prevailed, Beck’s boss, Rupert Murdoch appeared on one of his other media outlets and supported Beck’s blatantly racist diatribe, saying, ‘But he (Obama) did make a very racist comment. Ahhh..about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And um, that was something which perhaps shouldn’t have been said about the President, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right’ and while everyone is entitled to an opinion, and freedom of speech is a cherished right in America……not always recognized as such by the minions of Fox when it comes to their latest target group, Muslims, to have the owner of a widely listened to news operation be so emphatically wrong,…………….is well frightening.

It is evident therefore one can expect that for FoxNews, Muslims, African-American politicians and especially those who support a black President are targets of Fox’s bigoted distortions.  With the help of other willing “journalists” like Brian Ross, encouraging the rumor mill which masquerades for news, such repetitive inaccuracy will only serve to push  an already nervous, hate saturated society to new lows of moral depravity that will become the standard in the near future for  mass social psychotic behavior currently held by Nazi Germany.

UPDATE:

The Dar al-Hijrah mosque that is a central piece in Brian Ross’ story is not the terrorist training ground Ross would have you believe.  They’ve been established since 1991 in the greater Washington, DC  area and their mission statement has as its goals, ”

  • Helping the Muslim community continue to be an effective contributor to the advancement of the Society.
  • Establishing strong relations with other faiths based on cooperation, tolerance, and mutual understanding in order to serve our communities.
  • Helping all individuals in our community to lead a healthy and productive family life that is free of drugs, crime, substance abuse and discrimination.
  • Helping the Muslim community continue to be an effective contributor to the advancement of the Society.
  • Establishing strong relations with other faiths based on cooperation, tolerance, and mutual understanding in order to serve our communities.
  • Helping all individuals in our community to lead a healthy and productive family life that is free of drugs, crime, substance abuse and discrimination.
  • and it counts itself as an active member of McLean Clergy and Arlington Interfaith Council and an active member in the Interfaith Conference of Washington Metropolitan area. This is the terrorist mosque that Ross claims Hasan associated with and which drove him to his homicidal rage at Ft. Hood. As for the preacher, imam, that Hasan possibly tried to contact, it seems he expressely and publicly condemned the terror attacks of 911 during the one year he was at Dar al-Hijrah. The full time Imam of the mosque is on record saying the federal authorities were aware of the supposed Ross al-Qaida link at his mosque, and claims there is nothing to hide at his mosque. Indeed, the mosque has invited law agencies of the government to come and talk to the worshippers to maintain positive contacts between the Islamic community and government. The terrorist mosque therfore becomes less threatening and more concerned with social cohesion with the greater metropolitan Washington area than Ross would have you believe, and Hasan’s worship there was no more than any of the other thousands of Muslims who pray, marry,  bury their dead there.

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    Obama’s Inauguration Speech


    My fellow citizens:

    I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

    Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.

    So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

    That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

    These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

    Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

    On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

    On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

    We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

    In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

    For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

    For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

    For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

    Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

    This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

    For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

    Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

    What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

    Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

    Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

    We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

    For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

    To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

    To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

    As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

    For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

    Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

    This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

    This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

    This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

    So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

    “Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

    America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

    The highest point for me was Dr. Joseph Lowery’s benediction.  He has been around since the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the United States, and though his voice was feeble and his step unsteady, his message was the same, that our country is one for everyone who respects the  tradition of opportunity and the rule of law.  His remarks  of  hope are the same as the ones he  had many years ago when the country seemed to be at its darkest moment, that it could still emerge from that and prosper.  We must not let him or the others forget that our country has now become the home of faiths and peoples who weren’t here during the Civil Rights movement but who should be and must be included in America.

    Images of war return to the public


    A bipartisan effort initiated by Republican congressman Walter Jones, NC and co-sponsored by three Democrats and three Republicans has culminated in the The Fallen Hero Commemoration Act, or H.R. 6662, which states, “The Secretary of Defense shall grant access to accredited members of the media at military commemoration ceremonies and memorial services conducted by the Armed Forces for members of the Armed Forces who have died on active duty and when the remains of members of the Armed Forces arrive at military installations in the United States.”

    We’ve blogged before about how the Administration has tried to control the images coming from their occupation in order to control public opinion and everyone from media to government and the public in general has gone along with the program.  Finally, members of Congress are attempting to correct that situation by using the power they have as legislators to undo this Bush Administration policy.  Let’s hope they can wipe the entire slate clean of the excesses done by this cabal.

    Propelling the propaganda, part deux


    The US administration has asked Americans to sacrifice their lives to fight the war on terror, while it tries to keep them deprived of information particularly about the failures of that war. The leaders are smart enough to remember the lessons from the Vietnam war in terms of how to spin war while keeping enthusiasm high for warmongering, but they weren’t smart enough to keep us out of a losing proposition. Any and all images which depict the human suffering of the war are kept out of the media because such images tend to evoke the emotions that are as self-preserving, instinctual as self defense because this administration, in fact the federal government of the United States is consumed with the notion of war and it needs all able bodied people it can muster to fight, even when that fight is not in the best interest of the people.

    So, the news that people want to bring to America that truly reflects the costs of war has to be suppressed. What I found interesting about this story of the public affairs director of Arlington Cemetery was even after she secured the permission of the families of those being buried in Arlington, the Army tried to limit access to such funerals even though such limitations were baseless. I love how people want your enthusiasm, your patriotism, but only on their terms. Support the troops has been the battle cry for this war, yet the reality is so much more different. Hiding behind empty slogans is not characteristic of a great Republic, but rather of a banana republic.