Saturday, November 25, 2006

Just another day in the empire



Winning the hearts and minds is hard work:
From the London Metro:

A video showing US soldiers in Iraq taunting thirsty children with a bottle of water has caused outrage. The footage shows a group of children desperately chasing a truck so they can get a drink.

Today the US Department of Defense confirmed the video showed US soldiers and said the images were 'unfortunate'. The faces of the two men in the vehicle are not revealed but they can be heard saying in American sounding accents: 'You want some water? Keep running.'
"Unfortunate." That's one way of putting it. Let's call it the cruelty inherent in the mindset required to bear what Kipling would call "the white man's burden." No doubt the "support the troops" crowd would have us believe that "we" are over there to "civilize" these "savage Others" out in a remote corner of the Third World. Such a view is one easily devoid of empathy, and one that easily leads to acts of cruelty, be they the torture at Abu Ghraib or taunting children for kicks.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Torture in Iraq, intimidate at home: Ah, that's the American Way®

Consider the unique problems faced by the corporate suits at CACI International, a defense contractor whose services have included "coercive" interrogations of prisoners in Iraq -- interrogations most people simply call "torture."

Think about the image problems a major multinational corporation faces after becoming inextricably linked with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, a firm whose employees have contributed to the iconic images of the occupation of Iraq -- the symbols of American cruelty and immorality in an illegal war. What can a company like that possibly do to protect its brand name after contributing to the greatest national disgrace since the My Lai massacre?

CACI's strategy has been two-fold: its flacks have distorted well-documented facts in the public record beyond recognition, and its senior management has lawyered up, suing or threatening to sue just about every journalist, muckraker and government watchdog who's dared to shine a light on the firm's unique role as a torture profiteer.

Lately, the company's sights have been set squarely on Robert Greenwald, director of Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, in which CACI plays a starring role. Greenwald has been in a back-and-forth with CACI's CEO, Jack London, and its lead attorney, William Koegel, during "months of calls, emails and letters" in what Greenwald calls a campaign to "intimidate, threaten and suppress" the story presented in the film.

"The threatening letters started early, trying to get us to back off," Greenwald told me. "We refused, and went back at them with a very strong letter saying, 'no, you're war profiteers and we won't be silenced.' Like any bully, they backed down when confronted. No lawsuit was filed-- they're a paper tiger."

The story they don't want told is of a federal contractor that, according to the Washington Post, gets 92 percent of its revenues in the "defense" sector. The Washington Business Journal reported that CACI's defense contracts almost doubled in the year after the occupation of Iraq began, and profits shot up 52 percent.

[snip]

But while the firm had experience in electronic surveillance and other intelligence functions, it, too, didn't have the interrogators. Barry Lando reported finding an ad on CACI's website for interrogators to send to Iraq, and noted that "experience in conducting tactical and strategic interrogations" was desired, but not necessary. According to a report by the Army inspector general, 11 of the 31 CACI interrogators in Iraq had no training in what most experts agree is one of the most sensitive areas of intelligence gathering. The 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which was in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib when the abuses took place, didn't have a single trained interrogator.

"It's insanity," former CIA agent Robert Baer told The Guardian. "These are rank amateurs, and there is no legally binding law on these guys as far as I could tell. Why did they let them in the prison?"

That's one of many questions the company doesn't care to have asked. It's common for corporations to be fiercely protective of their brand's image, often obsessively so. That's true of multinationals selling soda pop or accounting services or military intelligence. But a company on a federal contract that rents out interrogators who become involved in a torture scandal that ends up splashed across the cover of Time Magazine -- that's the kind of thing that can be a real problem for the PR flacks back at corporate headquarters.

Colonel William Darley with the Military Review wrote of Abu Ghraib's impact:

We have never recovered from the Abu Ghraib thing. And it's likely all the time we're in Iraq, we never will. It will take a decade and beyond. I mean, those pictures, a hundred years from now, when the history of the Middle East is written, those things will be part and parcel of whatever textbook that Iraqis and Syrians and others are writing about the West. Those pictures. It's part of the permanent record. It's like that guy in Vietnam that got his head shot. It's just a permanent part of the history. That will never go away.

But CACI's tried hard to make it go away. The company sued Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes for $11 million for defamation, including $10 million in punitive damages. The supposed defamation? Rhodes read a portion of an interview with Janice Karpinski, the former Brigadier General who commanded the MPs at Abu Ghraib. The suit was dismissed with a summary judgment in April.

After the Institute for Policy Studies named CACI and CEO London in its annual "Executive Excess" report on CEO pay, they received "a blistering seven-page letter" from London himself, demanding that CACI be removed from the report. Later, Sarah Anderson, one of the study's co-authors said she got "a rather ominous email just saying that they were monitoring everything I wrote about them."

Then a blogger at Blogcritics got the "CACI treatment" for reporting on the Air America suit, as did the online media watchdog Newsbusters. When David Rubenstein, a columnist for the alternative paper Pulse of the Twin Cities, wrote an article about former Minnesota Congresman Vin Weber that mentioned CACI, it triggered, as Rubenstein would later recall, "a bombastic two-page single-spaced letter" from London with a "wholesale attack on my credibility." Runbenstein wrote of London's letter:

He doctors a quote from a newspaper interview. He quotes selectively from a Senate hearing. He constructs logical absurdities and lays them out as if they were pronouncements from an oracle. Apparently he thinks because he is the CEO of a $1.6-plus billion company that is willing to throw its weight around, he can say whatever he wants. It's a calculated strategy to shut down critics.

According to the New Standard, CACI has even characterized suits brought against it by human rights lawyers as slander. In a press release responding to a case brought by the Center For Constitutional rights on behalf of prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib, CACI's attorneys said the firm "rejects and denies the allegations of the suit as being a malicious recitation of false statements and intentional distortions" and called the allegations of abuse "ill-informed" and "slanderous."

After the article ran, The New Standard got a threatening letter (PDF) that quickly made its way around the internet.

CACI's problem is, ultimately, with reality. The firm claims that it was vindicated by the military's investigations into Abu Ghraib, including in a Washington Post editorial by Koegel in which he wrote that "no CACI employee has been charged with any misconduct in connection with interrogation work." It's technically true in that no CACI employee has faced formal charges -- it's unclear what jurisdiction civilian contractors in Iraq fall under, if they fall under any -- but the Taguba Report (PDF) said that CACI's Steven Stephanowicz had encouraged MPs under his command to terrorize inmates, and "clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse."

The Ballad of Valery Ponomarev: Update

Remember this from mid-September of this year?
Let me tell you a story...it won't take very long...about how far the Bushist doctrine of fear and power has spread.

How far, how deeply and how dangerously it has spread.

Security people at Charles DeGaulle airport broke the arm of the internationally famous jazz trumpet player Valery Ponomarevlast week...an American citizen for over 30 years...because he argued with the gate people at an Air India flight to New York when they demanded that he gate check his trumpet rather than bring it onto the plane. A trumpet that:

A-Fits with no problem whatsoever in the overheads.

and

B-Had been properly tagged as carryon baggage before he got to the gate.

Read on.

Now you must know that that musicians try very hard to get their instruments onto planes whenever they can do so. Baggage handlers are notorious for breaking things, and a broken instrument is painful in any number of ways. So is a lost or misrouted instrument. It's not like you can just pick up another one before the gig and play at your usual level of competence. Even if you are lucky enough to FIND one, every instrument has its own quirks and personality, and most professional musicians own instruments that are not easily replaceable. Older instruments or ones that were custom built or modified to their specifications. And since 9/11 and the whole Homeland Security/Terrorism scare-scam, if you DO carefully pack an instrument in a special ape-proof flight case and allow it to be checked as baggage, the minimum wagers that are doing "security" work in the baggage depeartment are often capable of opening the case, taking the instrument out to see if it's a bomb (Duh...a trumpet or violin REALLY looks bomb-like on an X-ray machine.) repacking it backwards and upside down and then forgetting to close the latches.

I have SEEN this happen.

So Valery...63 years old, maybe 5' 5" tall, 140 lbs...pitched a bitch at the gate when some pissed-off functionary at a loading gate decided to pull rank on him. They called security and four (as he so colorfully put it to me today when he told me the story) "giant asshole cops" took him someplace where there were no witnesses, tried to forcibly take his trumpet away and when he would not let go of it with his right hand, pulled his left arm behind his back and broke it.

And people sniff and moan when the word "fascism" is used to describe what is happening in America and in much of Western Europe as well.

Valery did not try to fight these people. As he related today (I wish I could reproduce his great Russan accent) "I grew up in Soviet Union under Stalin and Khruschev. I know enough not to try to hit a cop. Let alone four of them. Big, stupid motherfuckers." (Here he stands on tiptoe and raises his remaining functioning hand as high in the air as he can.) "They were THS BIG!!! FOUR of them!!! I am not THAT stupid."

And indeed he is not.

Here is a man who grew up in Russia when playing "jazz" was almost an act of open rebellion and got so good that Art Blakey hired him to join the Jazz Messengers in the late '60s. And if you do not know how serious THAT was...Blakey was possibly the only equal to Miles Davis in terms of hearing and hiring the best of the best in the post-bop era.

Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter...that level.

The BEST of the best.

So here we have this INSATIABLY positive little Russian guy, authentically playing in an idiom that had its genesis in the riot-torn black ghettos of America during the Civil Rights era. Moving to New York, getting his citizenship, re-starting a life here...a true "American" success story, when there really was such a thing. Now seriously crippled...they had to operate because it was a complex break...and unable to even HOLD a trumpet, because George fucking Bush and his handlers have decided that they are the deciders and we are their subjects.

I just thought I would bring this general "fascism" discussion down to a more personal level. This can happen to ANY of us who do not totally surrender on any level whatsoever to the madness of these people.

It's their way or it's their way.
Arthur Gilroy (who wrote the above), has an update on Pnomarev's story. Seems he's been interviewed by some folks at CBS news and will be on their evening news show (if you can stomach Katie Couric) approximately 6:45 EST. In Arthur's words:
CBS Nightly News tonight. They spent three hours interviewing him a couple of weeks ago and now they tell him...and he told me...that the story will run tonight. (Friday, 11/24/06.) 6:45 PM EST they said, although if you really want to see it you might have to watch Katy Kutie or her sub from the get-go because "Breaking News" like W. choking on a pretzel or a few hundred incinerated Iraqis...both stories being considered roughly equal in importance by the corporation corpses who really call the media shots...might change the schedule somewhat.
It happens...
I'm rooting for the pretzel, myself.
And I am rooting for Valery as well.
Read on.


Big media means more chance for Valery to get some recompense from Chas. DeGaulle and his racist, imperialist inheritors.
We shall see.
But one way or another, this shows the way "the blogs" work.
From the relatively small audience of two left of center blogs starting on Sept. 13th (Booman Tribune and My Left Wing-"The Ballad of Valery Ponomarev. It's Their Way Or It's Their Way." Here and here. And "What Good Are Blogs? The Slow, Steady Action of the Starfish on the Clam. [Valery Ponomarev Knows]" Here and here. ) to larger centrist blogs like dKos and special interest websites like The Jazz Times, to the International Herald Tribune and the NY Times, thence to the ears of millions on CBS.
A précis of the way it works.
Pas à pas. (Step by step.)
Let's hope this artist can get the justice he deserves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

So many wankers, so little time

The competition for "wanker of the week" is getting really stiff, what with Michael Richards' racist outburst and lame-assed apology. But leave it to Richard Cohen, the "esteemed" WaPo columnist, to reach new depths of inanity:
In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic.
Say what!?!

Talking is therapeutic - including heated, confrontational talking. Taking up a hobby is therapeutic. Hell, writing is therapeutic. Violence? Not so much - whether we're talking on an interpersonal or large-scale situation. To call something therapeutic implies that it has some beneficial effect on those undergoing the therapy, some sort of healing effect on those seeking treatment as well as those around them. I fail to see how the mass-slaughter of something in the neighborhood of a half million Iraqis, along with the 3,000 coalition troops killed, not to mention the countless maimed, displaced, and traumatized people who've been affected at ground zero. Nor has the sheer divisiveness that the last several years of war-mongering has caused within our own borders. I can say that personally I lost quite a number of friends and friendly acquaintances in 2003 as the Iraq debacle got underway, and that my experience was hardly unique. Near as I could figure, those dishing out the worst bile at anti-war types such like me didn't exactly seem to be gaining any therapeutic benefit either: the more bile they spewed, and the more their targets pushed back, the more hostile they became. In therapy, participants talk with each other, not at or past each other.

If Cohen subscribes to some sort of "catharsis" hypothesis - i.e., the notion that violent or aggressive acts will lead to a "release" of emotions followed by calm, there is a growing body of research that would contradict that notion (I'd suggest brushing up on some of Brad Bushman's work over the last decade, or even go back to Russ Geen's work from the 1970s). Extrapolating from the lab to a large scale, what has this huge international "catharsis" led us? Not to calm, but to escalating violence and hostility. There is nothing "therapeutic" to be had.

What might be therapeutic at this juncture would be to take that first step and admit the problem: that the war is a debacle that was a bad idea from the get-go, and even better to look at some of the more problematic facets of the American Zeitgeist (such as this belief that others' resources are ours for the taking). Having taken that step, the next therapeutic action would be to simply stop contributing to the mess: get Americans the hell out of Iraq, and acknowledge that our government has no legitimate claim to "helping" to clean up the mess (as an astute Iraqi would likely say, "You've done enough already.").

As for Cohen, do us all a favor and retire. I hear that gardening is quite therapeutic. Give it a go.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yet another unhinged racist celebrity on a rampage

This is just pathetic:

That is Michael Richards, who until this weekend would have likely been remembered as Kramer on the hit tv series Seinfeld, and little else. I'm just trembling with anticipation for the "I was drunk" or "high on crack" excuse that will inevitably make its way to all the entertainment "news" shows.

I used to love catching stand-up comedy acts, in part because of the hecklers. Now, most hecklers make asses out of themselves, but occasionally you'll find some who are every bit as witty as the best comedian. Usually they just make asses out of themselves. A good comic can take whatever hecklers might throw at them and turn it around in a way that gets the audience laughing with the comic and at the hecklers - I have yet to see any context in which showering a heckler or hecklers with racial epithets would be even remotely funny.

The video apparently was taken via the miracle of modern cell-phone technology - not the best quality in the world, but it pretty well captures the essence of what went down. It's kind of like driving past a gruesome car accident scene - you don't really want to look but you can't help yourself. Few things are more pathetic than a comedian losing his or her cool.

I'll have to say that I'd be kind of curious to catch one of his shows in the near future. An easily unhinged racist "comedian" makes for a heckler's paradise, and I'm willing to bet that Michael Richards will get some serious hecklers who'll know just the right buttons to push, unless he decides to limit himself to doing KKK meetings.

This incident will deservedly follow him around like an especially smelly fart. No matter how much he tries to divert attention, someone will be pointing out to him that he still stinks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why I still won't trust the Dems any further than I can spit against the wind

Two words - The Draft:

Charles Rangel thinks that having a society where human beings own each other is perfectly okay as long as the slaves are destroying lives and property for the state rather than producing things for private plantation owners.

From USA Today:

“Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.

‘There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,’ Rangel said. …

At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, ‘I don’t see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft,’ said Rangel, who also proposed a draft in January 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.”

Don’t you see? Conscription will deter wars by providing the politicians with a bottomless supply of cannon fodder. And by the new magic principle of “everything works how Charlie wants,” the rest of the politicians will be somehow unable to swing exemptions for their own children.

As for those of us who have priorities other than killing foreigners, well, individual sacrifice for the greater good is the American Way, right?

Rangel proposes this piece of b.s. legislation every Congressional session. Thankfully, it has in the past gone nowhere, and I personally hope it continues to go nowhere. Somehow, like Scott Horton, if a new draft were made a reality, I suspect that our Congresscritters will be quite adept at finding loopholes for their own kids, while yours and mine would get sucked into being bullet stoppers in whatever war our nation's elites deemed "necessary" (i.e., good for corporate profit margins).

The draft, like military interventionism, needs to be swept into the dustbin of history permanently. Heck, I have a novel idea: rather than continuing to invade other sovereign nations in order to raid their natural resources, how about we try living within our own means.

Starve the Beast

Now here's an approach to killing off the SOA that has some punch:
However, while SOA-W haven't slowed their demonstrations or lobbying efforts, in the last year organizers have pioneered a new--and dramatically successful--strategy.

The new strategy involves directly working with Latin American social movements and sympathetic governments to get them to agree to stop sending troops to the SOA. To this end, in past months SOA-W activists have traveled to Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador, meeting with movements and urging governments to deprive SOA of students. "The thinking behind this new Latin America strategy' was simple," writes Lisa Sullivan, one of the key organizers of this new campaign and who, to better coordinate with Latin social movements, has recently opened an SOA-W office in Caracas, Venezuela. "If there were no more students, there would be no more school."

To date, they have made vital steps towards this goal. In recent months, the Defense Ministers of Venezuela, Uruguay, and Argentina have all agreed to stop sending troops to the SOA. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez had Bourgeois and Sullivan on his weekly television show, "Hello President," to talk about SOA, before announcing Venezuela's boycott of SOA. Uruguay, which has not sent troops since the inauguration of President Tabaré Vásquez, made its abstention from sending troops official with a public announcement. Argentina, which has typically sent 10-20 troops a year, made a similar public announcement, timed to coincide with the thirty year anniversary of the 1976 military coup.
While the SOA-W has been a key player, as the article notes, the organization has been fueled by a change in the Zeitgeist at the grassroots level in South and Central America:
In an attempt to hold both past and present human rights violators accountable, grassroots social movements from north to south have been successfully demanding past-dictators and present military offenders--often ex-members of authoritarian old guards themselves--be punished. In Argentina, this past September, prosecutors won the first significant conviction of an ex-member of the 1976-1983 dictatorship there when they sentenced ex-Police Chief Miguel Etchecolatz, responsible for the torture and murder of twenty high school students in 1976, to twenty-five years in prison; Pinochet, after years of stalled efforts to bring him to trial, is likely to be judged for crimes against humanity in a Spanish court; in Bolivia, a strong movement has emerged to extradite ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada for his role in the 2003 massacre of over sixty protestors in the city of El Alto; in Peru, the National Supreme Court has authorized the extradition of ex-Army Major Telmo Hurtado, who now lives in the US and has confessed to involvement in the 1985 massacre of 74 children, women, and old men, in an Andean village. The message Latin American movements are sending is clear: the era when the military, or anyone else, could torture and kill without fear of justice is over.

And here is where the SOA ties in to the new Latin American movements against impunity. The Latin America strategy of SOA-W has found such success because as Latin American movements fight against and work to build accountable and democratic governments, SOA's role in both dictatorship and democracy-era military violence comes up again and again.

[snip]

In short, SOA-W's new campaign has met such success because of the coalescence between its goals and the anti-impunity mood in Latin America. "Everywhere we've traveledin South America, we've been amazed to realize that people are fully aware of the reality of the School of the America's," says Lisa Sullivan. "They have experienced firsthand the horrors of the tortures, detentions, imprisonments and disappearances' caused by its graduates."
Actually it's a good idea to read the whole thing.

Who would Jesus audit?

Failure to heed the prevailing winds of political correctness seems to have landed this church in hot water with the IRS:
So what exactly did a priest say to get a Pasadena church in trouble with the IRS?

The federal agency has launched an investigation into the activities of All Saints Episcopal Church, asking whether a sermon by a former rector before the 2004 presidential campaign constituted campaigning. As tax-exempt organizations, churches are barred from campaigning for candidates.

The sermon, delivered Oct. 31, 2004, by the Rev. George F. Regas, was framed as a debate involving Jesus, President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

In September, the church announced that it would not comply with an IRS summons demanding that All Saints turn over materials with political references, such as sermons and newsletters, produced during the 2004 election year. The current rector, the Rev. Ed Bacon, did not obey a summons that ordered him to testify before IRS investigators.

The church continues to set a defiant tone. On Sunday, All Saints will sponsor a conference called "The War, the Pulpit and the Right to Preach." It will include workshops on conflict resolution, tax law and "Prophetic Traditions and Free Speech." Regas and Bacon are scheduled to speak.

But did Regas' speech violate federal laws? The answer, mostly likely to come from the courts, hinges on how one defines campaigning and interprets his remarks.

An extended excerpt from the sermon appears below. It represents about a third of the text. The complete address can be found at http://www.latimes.com/beliefs .

— Steve Padilla

Good people of profound faith will be for either George Bush or John Kerry for reasons deeply rooted in their faith. I want you to hear me on this. Yet I want to say as clearly as I can how I see Jesus impacting your vote and mine. Both Sen. Kerry and President Bush are devout Christians — one a Roman Catholic and the other a Methodist.

Against the teachings of Jesus, listen in as Kerry and Bush debate three hugely important issues this morning: ending war and violence, eliminating poverty and holding tenaciously to hope.

Sen. Kerry and President Bush are engaged in a titanic battle for the White House. Central to their race for the presidency is the quest for peace. How deeply the world longs for peace. President Bush has led us into war with Iraq as a response to terrorism.

Yet I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: "War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq.

"More than 1,100 U.S. soldiers dead, 8,000 wounded — some disabled for life — and now the latest figures say 100,000 Iraqi fighters, women and children are dead. Oh, the cost of your war.

"Your fundamental premise for the massive violence of this war is that it is the proper response to the terrorist attack that took place Sept. 11, 2001. But remember: The killing of innocent people to achieve some desired goal is morally repudiated by anyone claiming to follow me as their savior and guide."

Jesus, looking at the United States, the most powerful nation in the history of civilization, disavows any path that affirms grief must lead to war; Jesus refuses to accept the violence of war as the necessary consequences of our tragic losses on Sept. 11.

Maybe you are calling Jesus naive, but he points us to the truest reality in the universe: "Mercy brings mercy and revenge brings revenge. Tragically, your world refuses to learn this truth even after so many bitter experiences in every part of the world. Mercy brings mercy. Revenge brings revenge."

How Jesus mourns the deaths of those 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11. But Jesus also mourns the death, devastation and loss in Afghanistan and Iraq and Sudan and Israel/Palestine and in so many other parts of the world. They too are part of God's precious human family.

Jesus would say to us: "Yes, mourn the deaths of those closest to you who have died; yet it is troublesome that you in America could get so caught up in the tragedy of Sept. 11 without ever noticing all my children who have been blown apart by this war, and the 30,000 children under 5 years of age across the globe who die every day of malnutrition and hunger. My heart can hardly bear it."

Jesus confronts both Sen. Kerry and President Bush: "I will tell you what I think of your war. The sin at the heart of this war against Iraq is your belief that an American life is of more value than an Iraqi life. That an American child is more precious than an Iraqi baby.

"God loathes war. At the time of the trauma of Sept. 11 you did not have to declare war. You could have said to the American people and the world: 'We will respond but not in kind. We will not seek to avenge the death of innocent Americans by the death of innocent victims elsewhere, lest we become what we abhor.' "

Jesus continues: "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster. It will take years for the widely felt hostility in Iraq and around the world to ebb. The consequences of arrogance, accompanied by certitude that the world's most powerful military can cure all ills, should be burned into America's memory forever.

"President Bush, Sen. Kerry, will you save us from all this suffering? But God's only hands are yours and all who call upon my name. In the midst of great suffering, I call out to you: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.' "

Jesus turns to President Bush again with deep sadness. "Is what I hear really true? Do you really mean that you want to end a decade-old ban on developing nuclear battlefield weapons, as well as endorsing the creation of a nuclear 'bunker-blaster' bomb? Are you really going to resume nuclear testing? That is sheer insanity.

"This only encourages nations to build their nuclear arsenal in defense against you. This is morally indefensible."

Jesus grows more insistent. "The development of battlefield nuclear weapons and threatening their use against 'rogue' nations and willing to strike first is a dangerous change of policy. Talk of winnable nuclear war is the greatest illusion. I am indignant when I hear people in your government saying a nuclear war could end for anyone as a victory."

Everything I know about Jesus would have him uttering those words. From my own study, prayer, reflection and dialogue, I say that nuclear war is the enemy. Anyone who can avoid seeing the horror of that has lost his soul. The political reality that nuclear war still remains an option for America and other countries is the paramount horror of modern existence.

The nuclear bomb is the most outright evil thing that human beings ever created.

What does it say about the moral values of a nation that puts its security in nuclear weapons that are morally outrageous? I believe that Jesus calls us to be nuclear abolitionists through the political process. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

When you go to the polls on Nov. 2, vote all your values. Jesus places on your heart this question: Who is to be trusted as the world's chief peacemaker?
Tip of the hat to Antiwar.com. Of course it goes without saying that the answer to that last question would have been neither Bush nor Kerry (though Kerry would have been arguably more sane than the current despot reigning in the White House). Being antiwar is definitely not going to make the PC police happy campers, hence the impulse to harass those who dare to call bullshit on the warmongering.