March 30, 2007

At Last! The 'I' Word Surfaces!

'The impeachment threat is real, argues The Nation's John Nichols, as shown by talk show pundits who have begun to discuss it seriously.
'According to Nichols, "We are nearing an impeachment moment."

'"The Alberto Gonzales scandal, the under-covered but very real controversy involving abuses of the Patriot Act and the president's increasingly belligerent refusals to treat Congress as a co-equal branch of government are putting the discussion of presidential accountability onto the table from which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tried to remove it," Nichols writes.' here is the complete text

NOW will Congress get serious?

March 29, 2007

They're At It Again--The Walter Reed Scandal

Obviously, I'm behind the ball here--I've been so out of touch.
Still, this merits attention--so in case some have missed it, here's the link to an article in the New York Times.
'For all its cries of "support the troops," the Bush administration has treated veterans' medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent, and privatizing everything it can.

'What makes this a particular shame is that in the Clinton years, veterans' health care — like the Federal Emergency Management Agency — became a shining example of how good leadership can revitalize a troubled government program. By the early years of this decade, the Veterans Health Administration was, by many measures, providing the highest-quality health care in America. (It probably still is: Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the VHA.)

'But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement.'

March 28, 2007

Eichmann's Legacy

I can’t help it. I just keep coming back to parallels between what is happening in our country and what happened in Nazi Germany.

During WWII, the Nazi’s labeled many groups as ‘undesirables’. These included: Jews, intellectuals, criminals who weren’t savvy enough to ingratiate themselves with or join the Nazi Party, Gypsies, homosexuals, dissidents, protesters, underground workers, the physically handicapped, the emotionally handicapped, the mentally retarded, people who owned land or property the Nazi elite wanted, people who had been wealthy or powerful before the Nazis came to power and couldn’t be controlled by them, the list just goes on and on.
Adolf Eichmann coordinated the trains that moved those people from their homes to numerous slave labor or death camps, most of which were located in Poland.
In the 1960’s, when an Israeli task group caught up with him and transported him to Israel to stand trial for crimes against humanity, Eichmann’s defense was that he was just a cog in the great machine — a clerk doing his job. The fact that his job resulted in the deaths of over 11,000,000 people was not his concern.
Eichmann was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death.
Recently, I watched a television show on PBS that outlined a similar situation.

Our government officials wanted to conduct the war in Iraq on the cheap and simultaneously reward their cronies with lucrative contracts. To these ends they did not, as had been done in previous wars, arrange for the soldiers to perform KP or MP or motor-pool duty, or engage in any of the many other jobs necessary to keep a military operation up and running. Instead they farmed out such jobs to private companies. One of these was Halliburton.

Halliburton, answering as it does to its shareholders rather than to the people of this country [though we were the ones paying for the services it was supposed to be providing], wanted to do its job on the cheap. It sent to nearby poor countries to recruit young men to do the cooking, cleaning, vehicle maintenance and other behind-the-scenes jobs necessary to make the military operations functional.
Executives of Halliburton were known to boast about the money-saving tactics they were using in running the war effort.
Here is the story of one young man caught up in Halliburton’s system. As will become apparent, he is by no means the only one.
His name was Krishna and he lived in Nepal. His mother had worked for many years breaking stones with a hammer. For this work she was paid a pittance but she was able to at least put food on the table for her family.
When Krishna grew up, he wanted to better his family’s living conditions so he attempted to find work in a more prosperous country than Nepal. He heard about a recruiter who was promising jobs to young men in four star hotels in Jordan. He applied for one of these positions and, after an interview, was told that he qualified for the job. He had to pay an enormous sum [about a decade’s worth of wages] in order to secure the position. He somehow scrounged the money from savings, from friends, from family members and presented himself at the debarkation area. There he was relieved of his new passport and loaded into a truck for the journey.
He was taken, not to a prestigious hotel in Jordan, but along a dangerous highway route in Iraq. There, the convoy of trucks was stopped. The drivers were told to drop off their human cargo [in this particular run, twelve young men] and that the Americans would pick them up.
Whether the young men ever got to their ultimate destination, I don’t know. Obviously, it had never been the plan to take them to the hotel where they had been promised employment.
What I do know is that one of the young men was beheaded. The rest were executed by a bullet to the back of the head.
The jihadist group that conducted the executions stated that they did so because the men were, ‘cooperating with the Americans.’
Obviously, that had never been Krishna’s intention. He wanted to make a better life for himself and his mother by finding work in Jordan. He paid an exhorbitant fee. His passport was taken from him—making him the prisoner of the people who had deceived him. At the first sign of resistance along the way, he was abandoned by those same people. He was the fifth of the eleven remaining men in the group [after the first had been beheaded] to have a gun put to the back of his head and be assassinated.
And, what is the parallel with Eichmann?
All the people who were tracked down by Cam Simpson—the reporter from the Chicago Tribune who pieced the story together—from the people who recruited Krishna to those who interviewed him to those who transported and, ultimately, abandoned him and the other eleven by the side of the road, said the same thing: ‘I was just a cog in the machine. Someone else would have done it if I hadn't. It wasn’t my responsibility.’

Since this incident occurred in 2004, Halliburton is, so far as I know, no longer a contractor with the US military.
I’m also fairly certain that no one at Halliburton has been held accountable for the human trafficking and the human suffering and the deaths of these twelve and who knows how many others. And, while it was going on, they made huge profits for themselves and their shareholders.

Meanwhile, we act the part of the Germans, the Poles, the Czechs, the French who knew and didn't know what was being done in Germany and Poland in their names.
To the extent that we stand by and allow it to happen, we are guilty.

March 12, 2007

Here's a copy of the email that went out to friends and family when I got the puters up and running:
g’morning all-----
Well, I do’ed it! I’m in lovely Clearwater Florida!
I lucked into an absolutely incredible home in a retirement community where I had already known a couple of people [the dad of a friend and his wife] and am meeting more. my hermit ways just may go by the wayside—that seems already to be happening.
in the mornings, I step outside and, if the temp is below 65, I feel cheated! :)
this is the life.
I’ve got to tell you about the various serendipities, fate and blind luck that got me here:
About a month ago, I’d had it—the house wasn’t selling and I wasn’t going to wait any longer. I had made arrangements with some friends [Christie and Michael] to move me down here, I called em and said, ‘I’m running away from home. When can you get away?’

They were planning a vacation in about 3 weeks to Mississippi—in fact had planned to start booking flights in a day or two. So, they moved their vacations up a week, I booked a truck instead, and we were in business! [btw—I’d had no idea of their planned trip when I phoned em. See what I mean by serendipity? Those kinds of coincidences just kept happening.]

I began packing frantically and the VERY NEXT person to look at the house fell in love with it!!! So, while packing, booking movers to help with the loading, etc., I was also dickering over the price, holding the inspection, arranging for 2 [only TWO!!] repairs, driving icy roads from 46th street to 135th [while telling myself ‘never again’] to sign the papers, etc.

The weather turned up and, two days before the move, I woke to find a river running down my street as the ice and snow all melted at once [AFTER shoveling my walk twice in prep for the move, of course].

As it happened, the clothes I had packed for the move and set aside were LOADED by the movers. So, I had a pair of men’s pajama bottoms, a thermal shirt and a pair of slippers to my name. My friends gave me bunches of shirts. Christie and I went shopping and outfitted me from the skin out. She even found shoes that would FIT me! [I wear a 12 wide—the result of wearing moccasins and homemades for so long].
I comforted myself with the idea that the mandatory crisis had happened and the rest would be smooth sailing—and it was. Other than having to replace my phone charger [also packed—still haven’t found it] the move went smooth as silk. Michael, a professional driver, knew the routes, what areas to avoid at what times of day, etc. He drove himself into the ground, but we only spent one night in a hotel!

After we got down here, Christie’s dad arranged for me to see a couple of houses in the community where he lives and I fell in love with one. So much for renting for a year or two. . . . I’m able to pay the full price without taking out a loan! I don’t own the land it’s sitting on [that’s how I could afford it—it would’ve cost about 5 times as much if I bought the land as well] so there will be land rent. :( But, it will take about 15 years before I will’ve paid as much as I would’ve for a much smaller and not-nearly-so-nice traditional home— and taxes would have been much higher --so I’m not complaining too loudly.
Also included in the land rent are: a book-and-videotape-library, a pool, game courts, a game room, a clubhouse, a laundromat, etc. etc. plus a ready-made community. A perfect arrangement for a hermit working toward shedding her reclusive ways.

I’m within a few blocks of Old Tampa Bay though I haven’t gotten down to the water yet—too busy. One of these days, I’ll no longer be living in the middle of a bomb-site. When that happens [IF!] I imagine I'll get back to daily posts -- but it's gonna be a while.Here's me with the house and Michael restoking the fires after his ordeal.

March 7, 2007

I'm baaa-ack! :)
See below for my first Florida post. Sorry it's an abbreviated version. That's going to be the case for a while--till I get my feet under me. And that's happening rather slowly. Who knew moving cross-country would be so complicated?
Hey, from Clearwater, Florida!
I'm still WAY too busy unpacking and organizing my new home to post in my usual way. So, I simply offer this for your perusal.
Here's the link to the entire article.
By an overwhelming voice vote, Middlebury called for impeachment.

So it has gone this week at town meetings across Vermont, most of which were held Tuesday.

Late Tuesday night, there were confirmed reports that 36 towns had backed impeachment resolutions, and the number was expected to rise.

In one town, Putney, the vote for impeachment was unanimous.

In addition to Governor Douglas's Middlebury, the town of Hartland, which is home to Congressman Peter Welch (news, bio, voting record), backed impeachment. So, too, did Jericho, the home of Gaye Symington, the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives.

Organizers of the grassroots drive to get town meetings to back impeachment resolutions hope that the overwhelming support the initiative has received will convince Welch to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney.
Now, may Congress PLEASE get off the dime?