Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Another Military Critic of Bush

'Unit's' military expert has fighting words for Bush
By David Kronke, TV Critic

Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the
U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the
military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He
culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force"
(Delta; $14), a memoir rich with harrowing stories,
though in an interview, Haney declines with a shrug to
estimate the number of times he was almost killed.
(Perhaps the most high-profile incident that almost
claimed his life was the 1980 failed rescue of the
hostages in Iran.) Today, he's doing nothing nearly as
dangerous: He serves as an executive producer and
technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama
based on his book, developed by playwright David
Mamet. Even up against "American Idol," "The Unit"
shows muscle, drawing 18 million viewers in its first
two airings.
Since he has devoted his life to protecting his
country in some of the world's most dangerous hot
spots, you might assume Haney is sympathetic to the
Bush administration's current plight in Iraq (the
laudatory cover blurb on his book comes from none
other than Fox's News' Bill O'Reilly). But he's also
someone with close ties to the Pentagon, so he's privy
to information denied the rest of us.

We recently spoke to Haney, an amiable, soft-spoken
Southern gentleman, on the set of "The Unit."

Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very
first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this
administration for taking this nation to war were not
what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was
brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew
strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why
he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could
tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably
fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between
the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well
have started the third world war, all for their own
personal policies.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly
zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ...
And I say "we," because the American public went along
with this. They voted for a second Bush administration
out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have
from now on.

Our military is completely consumed, so were there a
real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to
the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't
confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing,
because that keeps Bush from trying something with
Iran or with Venezuela.

The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are
more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed.
Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed
ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those
people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that
fact. It has been a horror, and this administration
has worked overtime to divert the American public's
attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost
now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna
have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's
done just to what America stands for. It may be two or
three generations in repairing.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only
reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it.
It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's
about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way.
Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than
small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News
shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a
torturer? Do you want someone that the American public
pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse
than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal.
This administration has been masters of diverting
attention away from real issues and debating the
silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment
of helpless people in your power is torture, period.
And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved
in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and
all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act
of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say,
"Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous
argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not
our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution
saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're
going to throw it away.

Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the
line, did some of the most hair-raising things to
protect your country, and to see your country behave
this way, that must be ...

A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in
the good and the decency of the American people, and
they're starting to see what's happening and the lies
that have been told. We're seeing this current house
of cards start to flutter away. The American people
come around. They always do.


What: Action-adventure about special-ops unit.
Where: CBS (Channel 2).
When: 9 p.m. Tuesdays.

David Kronke (818) 713-3638

Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration as an issue: Yes, think, study, but Act? Maybe not yet.

Immigration Rally Is Largest in L.A. History

Posted on Mar. 26, 2006
LA protest march

Saturday's immigration march was so large that it covered 26 blocks at one time and took six hours to wind its way through the city.

An estimated crowd of more than 500,000 thronged downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to protest a tightening of the country's immigration laws. The gathering was spirited but peaceful. There were no arrests.


North of the Border
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Monday 27 March 2006

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration - especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.

That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do "jobs that Americans will not do." The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays - and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net has more holes in it than it should - and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net.

Basic decency requires that we provide immigrants, once they're here, with essential health care, education for their children, and more. As the Swiss writer Max Frisch wrote about his own country's experience with immigration, "We wanted a labor force, but human beings came." Unfortunately, low-skill immigrants don't pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive.

Worse yet, immigration penalizes governments that act humanely. Immigrants are a much more serious fiscal problem in California than in Texas, which treats the poor and unlucky harshly, regardless of where they were born.

We shouldn't exaggerate these problems. Mexican immigration, says the Borjas-Katz study, has played only a "modest role" in growing U.S. inequality. And the political threat that low-skill immigration poses to the welfare state is more serious than the fiscal threat: the disastrous Medicare drug bill alone does far more to undermine the finances of our social insurance system than the whole burden of dealing with illegal immigrants.

But modest problems are still real problems, and immigration is becoming a major political issue. What are we going to do about it?

Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration. But the harsh anti-immigration legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests - legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to provide an illegal immigrant with medical care - is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I'd still be careful. Whatever the bill's intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice - that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

Friday, March 24, 2006

In Charge, except W's NOT. . .by Dionne, WaPo

In Charge, Except They're Not

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, March 24, 2006; A19
Washington Post.

Is President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show host?

The question comes to mind after Bush's news conference this week in which he sounded like someone who has no control over the government he is in charge of. His words were those of a pundit inveighing against the evils of bureaucrats.

"Obviously," said the critic in chief, "there are some times when government bureaucracies haven't responded the way we wanted them to, and like citizens, you know, I don't like that at all." Yes, and if you can't do something about it, who can?

Bush went on: "I mean, I think, for example, of the trailers sitting down in Arkansas. Like many citizens, they're wondering why they're down there, you know. How come we've got 11,000?"

Bush was talking about 10,777 mobile homes ordered up to provide housing for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As Rep. Mike Ross put it in an interview, most of these "brand-new, fully furnished homes are sitting in a hay meadow in Hope, Arkansas," and are "a symbol of what's wrong with this administration and what's wrong with FEMA."

Ross, a Democrat whose district includes that hay meadow, has been running a one-man crusade since December to get the homes moved to where they could actually provide shelter for those left homeless by the storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency let the homes sit there because its regulations don't permit the use of such structures in a flood plain.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why I am a Democrat. . .courtesy of . . . .

From www.trial lawyer's diary, posted on Daily Kos, March 23, 2006

I'm a Democrat because we've elected Jim Hightower, Ralph Yarbourough, Howard Dean, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Paul Wellstone, Jimmy Carter, LBJ, JFK, FDR, and Thomas freakin' Jefferson, all with Ds next to their name.

It's my party because it doesn't put a barrier on your membership based upon your social views. It only asks whether you are committed to making this country better than it was yesterday, for ALL Americans.

It's my party because it understands that the tools of government can be used to solve problems, rather than create them; serve people in need, instead of watch them drown in flood waters from a hurricane; use restraint in our relations with our global neighbors, rather than ignore their viewpoint.

There have been times I've been proud of my members of party, like when John Kerry voted against the first Gulf War in 1991; and ashamed by my party, like when John Kerry voted for the invasion of Iraq a little more than ten years later.

I love my party because we bitch and moan about what's wrong, and we dig into to try and fix what's right. We are proud to be Democrats, even in years when we've gotten our ass handed to us in elections (anybody remember Mondale/Ferraro?).

I love my party because it's not based on hate or fear, but on the promise of hope.

And I love my party because I know that it can and will change, even if it takes 30 years.

I don't get that from Republicans. I've grown up in an era that began to embrace Goldwater conservatism in favor of neocon nuttiness.

And while I disagree with the stances my party's leaders take in Congress, and I wish they would stand up more and more frequently than they do, I am behind them right now:


So I'm willing to help stop the bleeding this year, and in '08, and from every election until I die or until we get our majority back. All the while, I'm going to fight for progressism.

But I'm not going to abandon them only because they're a little slow on the uptake.

Remember the immortal words of Will Rogers:

"I don't belong to an organized party. I'm a Democrat."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who Killed Tom Fox, Quaker killed in Iraq, March 10

Bob Burnett writing on Daily Kos, reference below.
Tom Fox's last post on his blog before he was kidnapped.

"If I understand the message of God, his response to that question is that we are to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the operative means of relating to each other. We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls."

Tom told his friends that if he was captured or killed they should not take revenge on those responsible.

Who killed Tom Fox? Why and what's the reason for?

Out here on the radical fringe of Christianity, there are those of us who believe that there are worse things than being killed standing up for what you believe in. We feel that it's better to honor our personal integrity, our relationship with the divine, than to play it safe.

Out here on the edge, there are those of us who believe that Jesus didn't suffer just one time all those years ago up on a lonely cross. We feel that Jesus dies in every generation, whenever good folks stand up for righteousness. This Jesus perished in the Holocaust and in the collapse of the Twin Towers. This Jesus expired when Tom Fox was tortured and shot. This Jesus dies over and over until human kind gets that we have to learn to live together in peace and justice.

That's why Tom Fox died. That's the reason for.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and Quaker activist. He can be reached at

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How is it that the American people, media and common folk are so ready to believe leaders like Bush, Powell and others? commentary

Published on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 by the Progressive
America's Blinders
by Howard Zinn

Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?

The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans--members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen--rushed to declare their support as the President was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.

A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Colin Powell's presentation in February 2003 to the Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech which may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk. In it, Powell confidently rattled off his "evidence": satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare. The New York Times was breathless with admiration. The Washington Post editorial was titled "Irrefutable" and declared that after Powell's talk "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."

It seems to me there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture, and which help explain the vulnerability of the press and of the citizenry to outrageous lies whose consequences bring death to tens of thousands of people. If we can understand those reasons, we can guard ourselves better against being deceived.

One is in the dimension of time, that is, an absence of historical perspective. The other is in the dimension of space, that is, an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism. We are penned in by the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior.

If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. I am not speaking of the history we learned in school, a history subservient to our political leaders, from the much-admired Founding Fathers to the Presidents of recent years. I mean a history which is honest about the past. If we don’t know that history, then any President can stand up to the battery of microphones, declare that we must go to war, and we will have no basis for challenging him. He will say that the nation is in danger, that democracy and liberty are at stake, and that we must therefore send ships and planes to destroy our new enemy, and we will have no reason to disbelieve him.

But if we know some history, if we know how many times Presidents have made similar declarations to the country, and how they turned out to be lies, we will not be fooled. Although some of us may pride ourselves that we were never fooled, we still might accept as our civic duty the responsibility to buttress our fellow citizens against the mendacity of our high officials.

We would remind whoever we can that President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn’t that Mexico "shed American blood upon the American soil," but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.

We would point out that President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that we really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Woodrow Wilson—so often characterized in our history books as an
idealist"—lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the Western imperial powers.

Harry Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was "a military target."

Everyone lied about Vietnam—Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia, all of them claiming it was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanting to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.

Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.

The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country.

And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991—hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait (can one imagine Bush heartstricken over Iraq's taking of
Kuwait?), rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.

Given the overwhelming record of lies told to justify wars, how could anyone listening to the younger Bush believe him as he laid out the reasons for invading Iraq? Would we not instinctively rebel against the sacrifice of lives for oil?

A careful reading of history might give us another safeguard against being deceived. It would make clear that there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States. This thought startles most people, because it goes against everything we have been taught.

We have been led to believe that, from the beginning, as our Founding Fathers put it in the Preamble to the Constitution, it was "we the people: who established the new government after the Revolution. When the eminent historian Charles Beard suggested, a hundred years ago, that the Constitution represented not the working people, not the slaves, but the slaveholders, the merchants, the bondholders, he became the object of an indignant editorial in The New York Times.

Our culture demands, in its very language, that we accept a commonality of interest binding all of us to one another. We mustn't talk about classes. Only Marxists do that, although James Madison, "Father of the Constitution," said, thirty years before Marx was born that there was an inevitable conflict in society between those who had property and those who did not.

Our present leaders are not so candid. They bombard us with phrases like "national interest," "national security," and "national defense" as if all of these concepts applied equally to all of us, colored or white, rich or poor, as if General Motors and Halliburton have the same interests as the rest of us, as if George Bush has the same interest as the young man or woman he sends to war.

Surely, in the history of lies told to the population, this is the biggest lie. In the history of secrets, withheld from the American people, this is the biggest secret: that there are classes with different interests in this country. To ignore that—not to know that the history of our country is a history of slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor—is to render us helpless before all the lesser lies told to us by people in power.

If we as citizens start out with an understanding that these people up there—the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all those institutions pretending to be "checks and balances"—do not have our interests at heart, we are on a course towards the truth. Not to know that is to make us helpless before determined liars.

The deeply ingrained belief—no, not from birth but from the educational system and from our culture in general—that the United States is an especially virtuous nation makes us especially vulnerable to government deception. It starts early, in the first grade, when we are compelled to "pledge allegiance" (before we even know what that means), forced to proclaim that we are a nation with "liberty and justice for all."

And then come the countless ceremonies, whether at the ballpark or elsewhere, where we are expected to stand and bow our heads during the singing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," announcing that we are "the land of the free and the home of the brave." There is also the unofficial national anthem "God Bless America," and you are looked on with suspicion if you ask why we would expect God to single out this one nation—just 5 percent of the world’s population—for his or her blessing.
If your starting point for evaluating the world around you is the firm belief that this nation is somehow endowed by Providence with unique qualities that make it morally superior to every other nation on Earth, then you are not likely to question the President when he says we are sending our troops here or there, or bombing this or that, in order to spread our values—democracy, liberty, and let’s not forget free enterprise—to some God-forsaken (literally) place in the world.
It becomes necessary then, if we are going to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens against policies that will be disastrous not only for other people but for Americans too, that we face some facts that disturb the idea of a uniquely virtuous nation.

These facts are embarrassing, but must be faced if we are to be honest. We must face our long history of ethnic cleansing, in which millions of Indians were driven off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations. And our long history, still not behind us, of slavery, segregation, and racism. We must face our record of imperial conquest, in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, our shameful wars against small countries a tenth our size: Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq. And the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not a history of which we can be proud.

Our leaders have taken it for granted, and planted that belief in the minds of many people, that we are entitled, because of our moral superiority, to dominate the world. At the end of World War II, Henry Luce, with an arrogance appropriate to the owner of Time, Life, and Fortune, pronounced this "the American century," saying that victory in the war gave the United States the right "to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have embraced this notion. George Bush, in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2005, said that spreading liberty around the world was "the calling of our time." Years before that, in 1993, President Bill Clinton, speaking at a West Point commencement, declared: "The values you learned here . . . will be able to spread throughout this country and throughout the world and give other people the opportunity to live as you have lived, to fulfill your God-given capacities."

What is the idea of our moral superiority based on? Surely not on our behavior toward people in other parts of the world. Is it based on how well people in the United States live? The World Health Organization in 2000 ranked countries in terms of overall health performance, and the United States was thirty-seventh on the list, though it spends more per capita for health care than any other nation. One of five children in this, the richest country in the world, is born in poverty. There are more than forty countries that have better records on infant mortality. Cuba does better. And there is a sure sign of sickness in society when we lead the world in the number of people in prison—more than two million.

A more honest estimate of ourselves as a nation would prepare us all for the next barrage of lies that will accompany the next proposal to inflict our power on some other part of the world. It might also inspire us to create a different history for ourselves, by taking our country away from the liars and killers who govern it, and by rejecting nationalist arrogance, so that we can join the rest of the human race in the common cause of peace and justice.

Howard Zinn is the co-author, with Anthony Arnove, of "Voices of a People's History of the United States."

© 2006 the Progressive

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Character of President Bush

I have been wondering for several years what is the source of the negative and visceral reaction of many persons to President Bush. Many I know cannot stand to watch him or hear him period.
From the beginning I have been sure that there is something missing in his character,something vital and urgent missing. I have been assessing candidates for employment for some thirty years and so I am not a naive observer. I never thought he was believable. I also, and said so to some at the time, thought he had the characteristics of a dry alcoholic, rigid, black and white, good or bad thinking.
Now a respected journalist takes recent events to present a character analysis of Mr. Bush. I am afraid he is correct. I agree with his conclusion that there is no inner life to the man, no ability to refect upon himself, with the need always to place blame out there in others. Read yourself and see what you think.

Bush, Lies, and Videotape
By James Carroll
The Boston Globe

Monday 06 March 2006

If George W. Bush were a character in a novel or a play, last week might have been the turning point in the narrative. He was shown on film being explicitly warned, just hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, that the levees in New Orleans were vulnerable.

But everyone knows that after the levees broke, he denied having been warned that such a thing was possible. The broadcast of the film amounted to a terrible epiphany: The president seemed caught in a lie. Grave questions had already been raised about his administration's manipulations of the truth, especially in relation to the war in Iraq. Does the truth matter in America any more?

Critics of the president (among whom I must be counted) might come to yet another swift judgment of him, finding further evidence of a disqualifying character flaw. Rumbles about impeachment can be heard, despite the unlikelihood of such an outcome, shy of still-fanciful Democratic victories in the fall elections.

But what if our concern with Bush was embedded in literature, not politics? In that case, the conflict we would care about is not the one between a public figure and his critics, but the struggle inside the man himself. Literature unfolds across an inner landscape, and on that terrain the character flaw is essential.

Indeed, the character flaw of the hero is what enables a reader or playgoer to identify with him, even while passing judgment. Last week's videotape revelation raised public questions about the president's truthfulness, but the private question - the one a man must face alone, in the crucible of conscience - is a version of the question we all must ask of ourselves.

Consider the possibilities. The fictional character - let's call him "Bush" - learns that his firm public statement about what he had been told is radically contradicted by incontrovertible evidence. What he told the nation at its moment of crisis was not true, and that contradiction is now exposed.

Learning this, in one narrative line, "Bush" might feel deeply shamed to have laid bare what he has always known was a lie. The character flaw is deception. But in another narrative line, "Bush" might be shocked to realize that, in the traumatic moments of the hurricane crisis, he had blocked all memory of the critical briefing. He hadn't consciously lied, but had constructed a new reality tailored to personal and political needs. The character flaw, in this case, is not deception, but self-deception.

Whatever "Bush" did in the past, however, the drama that matters adheres in what he does now, at the moment of being exposed. Whether "Bush" is a deceiver or a self-deceiver, the question is: What happens inside him at the terrible moment of judgment? In that instant, will he experience a transformation in awareness, as the truth of his condition shows itself? Or will he descend into a further circle of denial, deepening his predicament?

If this were a novel or a play, we would watch with a certain empathy, alert to revelations of our own inevitable implication in deception and self-deception. None of us is innocent, and it is to wrestle with that fact of our condition that we read books and buy theater tickets.

But the present American story is not a work of literature. From all appearances, the president is not a candidate for the role of "Bush" because a narrative that unfolds across the terrain of an inner life requires an inner life, and Bush shows no sign of having one.

Even a character flaw presumes a depth of character that the president seems to lack. What interior conflict can there be for a man who attributes all failures, all mistakes, all crimes to those around him, as if he himself (alone of all humans) is blameless? Where there is no capacity for shame, there is none for insight, much less transformation. Without the secret struggle against the self, there can be no drama, only pathos.

As for us, the beholders of this narrative, there can be no suspension of disbelief, no identification, and no recognition of our own fate being rescued by a confrontation with the truth. On the contrary, since this is not literature but life, there is only the increased awareness of the danger into which the world is plunged by having such a hollow creature in the position of ultimate power.


James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Celtic Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

Celtic Christian Church
and the Ministry of Fr. Paschal Baute

Rev. Paschal Baute, Ed. D., is a Catholic priest of the Celtic Christian Church, whose ministry is located in Lexington, Kentucky. His bishop is the Rcv. Joseph Greiner, of the Celtic Christian Church whose home is in northeast Pennsylvania. Information on this jurisdiction can be found on the internet at

We are an independent catholic and orthodox Church, in the spirit of the ancient Celtic Church. You may wish to visit this web site. It contains a statement on Homosexuality and Same Sex Relationships, a study of scripture and Natural Law, with which I fully agree. Few other religious jurisdictions have undertaken such a thorough study, yet the issue is tearing apart several jurisdictions, including, more recently, the Episcopal / Anglican, (See USA Today, March 3, 2006).

Father Paschal's ministry is inclusive and varied, in the Celtic Spirit. He welcomes all Christians and others to a wedding ministry at the Amazing Grace Chapel in the retreat center in East Fayette County. To this ministry, he brings his understanding of marriage and love and conflict enriched by some 30 years as a marital therapist and many years of listening. This ministry gives him great joy. An explanation of this wedding ministry with pictures can be found at

His ministry is interfaith as he has been a facilitator of the Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky for some 17 years. SGN of Kentucky offers six kinds of assistance for the personal spiritual journey; regular weekly meetings, seven monthly Days of Recollection, quarterly retreats, specific workshops, newsletter, and community wide conventions where all Wisdom traditions are welcomed and studied. Further information can be found at the blog at Paschal's writing site at Paschal also participates and contributes to other community dialogue, for example, the Clergy and Lay Network. He helped organize the Interfaith Alliance in central Kentucky.

A jail and prison ministry is now in its fourth year, with some ten volunteers participating. Currently we are staffing groups in both men and women's units at the Fayette County Detention Center. The men's unit is interfaith and spiritual growth oriented, named, A Fierce Landscape for the Spiritual Warrior. This program incorporates some twenty years of consulting in correctional settings, and can also be found described on Paschal's writing blogs. Almost 100 inmates have been through our program which teaches jail-time as a necessary bootcamp for personal transformation. Its power is not only its structure, but also the diversity of volunteers participating and the group process of inmates taking leadership roles in confronting one another, building trust and developing new social skills. The self-examination they do is nothing short of grace-ful.

Paschal also teaches Ethics, Theology and Human Resource Management at the School for Careet Development at Midway College, Midway, Kentucky, 15 miles west of Lexington. He serves also as joint coordinator of the Human Resource Management program there, a new state of the art evening degree program for the non-traditional students.

Paschal has a storytelling ministry and incorporates scriptural and wellness themes to teach a healthy spirituality and inclusive faith. He calls this Amazement in his blog. He is a Board member of the Kentucky Storytelling Association. Currently he is helping organize the KSA presentation at the Kentucky Guild Berea Arts and Crafts Festival on May 19 and 20.

Paschal is active in Peace and Justice issues in Central Kentucky. His most recent articles is "Iraq: Vietnam Redux" in the March /April issue of Peace and Justice newsletter, and "Pander by Design" in the Lexington Herald -Leader, February 11, 2006. He writes to integrate faith and wellness and spirituality.

Paschal is married to Janette Osborne for 37 years and they have three children and three grandchildren. They live in east Fayette County, near the Clark County line, on Lofgren Court, just off Winchester Road, U. S. 60. U.S. 60 was an old stagecoach route called the Midland Trail, a toll road stretching from Norfolk, Virginia to St. Louis, Missouri and points west.

Paschal was a Benedictine monk for 16 years and a ordained Roman Catholic priest. He resigned from the Roman Church in 1968, and has continued a pastoral ministry.

Noblesse Oblige. I can never give back enough for all the many blessings, gifts and opportunities I have received. Never. I choose to spend the rest of my life giving away time, energy, love and creative initiatives. I am lovingly supported by my wife of 37+ years, Janette, and blessed with three grandchildren, each of whom is precous beyond compare. March 5, 2006, approaching my 77th birthday anniversary.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Clinton's sin versus those of Bush: Impreachment?

"Why I wonder was there such zeal for Bill Clinton's impeachment over sexual peccadilloes and so little for Bush's crimes, which minimally include lying, spying, killing, torture, corruption, cronyism, nepotism, secret prisons, criminal neglect, taking us into an unnecessary war on false premises, earning the growing enmity of the world, and the piling up of unpayable debt (more money spent than that spent by all other American presidents up to now)."

--From a letter writer to Rep John Conyers, David Fredericks, March 4, 2006,endorsing Impreachment proceedings.