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Posted by UpInArms in General Discussion: Presidency
Fri Oct 15th 2010, 04:22 PM
March 29, 2002

"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it." - Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, America's No. 1 Publicist in the 1920's

When is a scandal not a scandal? When a scandal appears to be connected with a member of the Republican Party, it is not reported as a "scandal." Only when a member of the Democratic Party has involvement in anything that broaches the questionable grey area is something "determined" to be a "scandal."

After an eight year-long investigation of William Jefferson and Hillary Clinton was concluded with "no evidence," it is still reported as a "scandal." That $70 million in taxpayer dollars and untold hours were devoted to finding something, anything, to throw at the Clintons has shown that there was nothing to throw. The media (and I mean the major corporate media) still consider it to be a "scandal." One that just won't go away. One that has to be lied about and drummed constantly into the psyche of the American public until something resonates. What is resonating are the words that have been repeated endlessly until almost everyone can recite them verbatim.

But let me tell you what was not a "scandal."

There was no "scandal" when Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger with an indictment filed against him, thus avoiding any questions regarding the involvement of that same Republican President in the Iran-Contra Affair. There was no "scandal" when a partisan court appointed the highest elected official in this country.

There was no "scandal" when an intern was found dead of mysterious causes in Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough's office. There was no "scandal" when Republican Mayor Philip Giordano of Waterbury, Connecticut was caught and charged as a sexual predator of young girls.

There was no "scandal" when the Republican President George Walker Bush nominated Theodore Olson (investigated for obstruction of justice and lying to Congress during the Superfund investigation) to the office of Solicitor General. There was no "scandal" when Florida Governor Jeb Bush's daughter, Noelle Bush, was charged with felony fraud in obtaining a controlled substance.

There was no "scandal" when Republican President George Walker Bush's daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush, then 18, were convicted with using illegally obtained and false identification to obtain alcohol. There was no "scandal" when Mark A. Grethen, a Republican activist, nominated for "Republican of the Year" was convicted and is serving a more than 20 year sentence in prison for six counts of sex crimes involving children.

There was no "scandal" when Wendy Gramm, the wife of prominent Republican Senator Phil Gramm, approved illegal partnerships and waived the code of ethics for those partnership formations while on the Board of Directors of Enron. There is no "scandal" when Kenneth "Kenny Boy" Lay (Enron and Lay contributed $2.16 Million to Republicans in the 2000 election cycle) the largest contributor to the sitting Republican President, George Walker Bush, currently being investigated for leading one of the largest American companies, Enron, into bankruptcy following fraudulently filed earnings reports.

There was no "scandal" when Enron was allowed to price-gouge consumers and the sitting Republican President George Walker Bush refused to allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) to impose price caps to control excess profiteering. There was no "scandal" when the current sitting Republican President George Walker Bush appointed Elliott Abrams (convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair) to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations.

There was no "scandal" when John Ashcroft, the current Republican Attorney General, spuriously gave a "reprieve" and discontinued the lawfully entered agreement for damages to The Adams Mark Hotel, owned by Fred S. Kummer Jr, a personal friend and $25,700 senatorial campaign contributor, for charges of serious violations of racial discrimination.

There was no "scandal" when key figures, John Negroponte (complicit in the Honduran Death Squads), Richard Armitage (linked to illegal arms transfers and CIA drug-running operations), Otto Reich (propaganda operative), John Poindexter (convicted of conspiracy {obstruction of inquiries and proceedings, false statements, falsification, destruction and removal of documents}; two counts of obstruction of Congress and two counts of false statements) of the Iran-Contra Affair have re-appeared in official governmental positions by appointment by George Walker Bush, the sitting Republican President, the son of the former Republican President, George Herbert Walker Bush, for whom these men worked.

There is no "scandal" when the current Republican Vice President Richard Cheney refuses to release what should be public records of meetings held in the formulation of public policy (The Energy Policy) after being ordered to do so by three Federal Judges (U. S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan and U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman). There is no "scandal" when the personal fortune of George Walker Bush, the sitting Republican President, is being bolstered by governmental war contracts to The Carlyle Group, partially owned by his father, former Republican President, George Herbert Walker Bush.

The only exception to this "scandal" rule that you will be able to easily recall is the Watergate scandal presided over by Republican President Richard Milhouse Nixon, who was forced to resign his office in disgrace.

Don't worry about those "scandals," you know the "liberal" major media corporations (Rupert Murdoch of FOX - $30,033 to RNC... AOL/Time Warner/Walter Isaacson of CNN - $6,150 to RNC... GE/Jack Welch of NBC - $160,350 to RNC... Disney/Michael Eisner/ABC - $208,052 to RNC) are surely going to tell you every "scandal" that they want you to know.

They do not want you to remember Republican "scandals." It makes it easier to demonize Democrats. They do not want you to look around. They do not want you to question their version of the news. There are only Democrat "scandals". You can recite them as easily as you can recite the Pledge of Allegiance: Whitewater. The Blue Dress. Chandra Levy. Chappaquiddick. You know the drill.

As citizens of this once great country, we must demand the truth from our media. We must demand the truth from our politicians. We must demand our country back. Each of us, you and I, has that power and the right to make these demands. Call your local television station. Write your representatives. Our voices must be heard. And we must hear the truth.
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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Thu Aug 26th 2010, 10:19 PM
I wrote this in early 2002

How Long Can You Tread Water?

By: Bridget Gibson

When George Walker Bush ascended to the office of the President of the United States, with his experienced entourage in tow, we were told that "the adults were back in charge" and there would be no learning curve. With this in mind, knowing that the collective governmental and administrative experience would not fail to recognize the function of the Executive Branch of our government in international policies, I look back on the accomplishments of the Bush administration's first year.

Opportunities abounded in February to join with 123 nations that pledged to ban the use and production of anti-personnel bombs and mines. The Bush administration refused to join. I guess they hadn't figured out how to agree to something so obvious. Another opportunity presented itself in August, and Mr. Bush disavowed a claim made by President Clinton that the United States would comply by 2006 to the Land Mine Treaty (banning land mines) which was signed in Ottawa in December 1997 by 122 nations. I surely hope that the land mine that took our American soldier's foot in Afghanistan was not of our own making.

Then, in March, Mr. Bush declared the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 "dead". Bush decided that global warming and greenhouse gasses had not been discussed and studied enough. (Note: Bush also shunned negotiations in Marrakech in November to revise the accord.)

In April, the United States failed to be reelected to the UN Human Rights Commission. Since Mr. Bush had been working for the appointment to the Human Rights Commission of John Negroponte and Richard Armitage as Deputy Secretary of State (of Iran-Contra fame), I can only suppose that the United Nations was more familiar with their history than most Americans.

In May, the administration refused to meet with European Union nations to discuss economic espionage and electronic surveillance (the US "Echelon" program), and refused to participate in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which sponsored talks in Paris on ways to crack down on off-shore and other tax and money-laundering havens. Would OECD have assisted us in tracking terrorists earlier?

In July, the US walked out of a London conference to discuss a 1994 protocol designed to strengthen the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (which had been ratified by 144 nations - including the United States) by providing for on-site inspections. I wonder if the knowledge that could have been gained then would have helped to understand the threat of anthrax and who possessed the technology to use this as a terrorist threat? (Note: In Geneva in November 2001, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated that the protocol is "dead" while accusing Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Sudan and Syria of violating the Convention while refusing to offer specific allegations or supporting evidence.) Also in July, the US opposed the UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms and the International Plan for Cleaner Energy, being the only nation to oppose either of these agreements and plans. Did the opposition to such accords allow the terrorists to arm themselves at the expense of American lives?

The week prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States withdrew from International Conference on Racism, which brought together 163 countries in Durban, South Africa. If we had attended and listened to the participants of this Conference, would we have learned more about the view held by other countries to the expanding powers of the policies of the United States and how the effects of such were influencing opinions of the disenfranchised?

By November, the Bush administration's disdain for humanity became obvious when it forced a vote in the UN Committee on Disarmament and Security to demonstrate its opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This Treaty was signed by 164 nations and ratified by 89, including France, Great Britain and Russia. Continuing on in December, the US Senate again added an amendment to a military appropriation bill that would keep US military personnel from obeying the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, which would be to set up in The Hague to try political leaders and military personnel charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC was signed in Rome in 1998 and approved by 120 countries, with seven opposed (including the US).

Also, in December, the United States officially withdrew from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), gutting the landmark agreement. This is the first time in the nuclear era that the United States has renounced a major arms control accord. Cold Wars are no longer in vogue, it would appear that we like ours hot.

The pattern of unilateralism becomes obvious when all of these acts are views together. Taken separately, they barely mark as blips on the radar of the American public. Only when viewed as a whole does the position of the current administration take its shape. We, these policies say, do not wish to coexist with other nations. We don't care what you think. I heard that said before this year. In the inimical words of George Walker Bush, "Who cares what you think", to a fellow citizen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 4, 2001.

ten years gone and it only gets worse
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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Wed Apr 14th 2010, 06:55 AM

(this can be found here)
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Posted by UpInArms in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Dec 03rd 2009, 03:04 AM

Afghan Oil Pipeline before Congress 1998
"From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company. "

Mr. John J. Maresca, vice-president of international relations, Unocal Corporation Feb 12, 1998

FEBRUARY 12, 1998

Next we would like to hear from Mr. John J. Maresca, vice president of international relations, Unocal Corporation. You may proceed as you wish.


Mr. Maresca. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's nice to see you again. I am John Maresca, vice president for international relations of the Unocal Corporation. Unocal, as you know, is one of the world's leading energy resource and project development companies. I appreciate your invitation to speak here today. I believe these hearings are important and timely. I congratulate you for focusing on Central Asia oil and gas reserves and the role they play in shaping U.S. policy.I would like to focus today on three issues. First, the need for multiple pipeline routes for Central Asian oil and gas resources. Second, the need for U.S. support for international and regional efforts to achieve balanced and lasting political settlements to the conflicts in the region, including Afghanistan. Third, the need for structured assistance to encourage economic reforms and the development of appropriate investment climates in the region. In this regard, we specifically support repeal or removal of section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.

Mr. Chairman, the Caspian region contains tremendous untapped hydrocarbon reserves. Just to give an idea of the scale, proven natural gas reserves equal more than 236 trillion cubic feet. The region's total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels. In 1995, the region was producing only 870,000 barrels per day. By 2010, western companies could increase production to about 4.5 million barrels a day, an increase of more than 500 percent in only 15 years. If this occurs, the region would represent about 5 percent of the world's total oil production.

One major problem has yet to be resolved: how to get the region's vast energy resources to the markets where they are needed. Central Asia is isolated. Their natural resources are landlocked, both g eographically and politically. Each of the countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia faces difficult political challenges. Some have unsettled wars or latent conflicts. Others have evolving systems where the laws and even the courts are dynamic and changing. In addition, a chief technical obstacle which we in the industry facein transporting oil is the region's existing pipeline infrastructure.Because the region's pipelines were constructed during the Moscow-centered Soviet period, they tend to head north and west toward Russia. There are no connections to the south and east. But Russia is currently unlikely to absorb large new quantities of foreign oil. It's unlikely to be a significant market for new energy in the next decade. It lacks the capacity to deliver it to other markets.

Two major infrastructure projects are seeking to meet the need for additional export capacity. One, under the aegis of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, plans to build a pipeline west from the northern Caspian to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. Oil would then go by tanker through the Bosporus to the Mediterranean and world markets.

The other project is sponsored by the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, a consortium of 11 foreign oil companies, including four American companies, Unocal, Amoco, Exxon and Pennzoil. This consortium conceives of two possible routes, one line would angle north and cross the north Caucasus to Novorossiysk. The other route would cross Georgia to a shipping terminal on the Black Sea. This second route could be extended west and south across Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.But even if both pipelines were built, they would not have enough total capacity to transport all the oil expected to flow from the region in the future. Nor would they have the capability to move it to the right markets. Other export pipelines must be built.

At Unocal, we believe that the central factor in planning these pipelines should be the location of the future energy markets that are most likely to need these new supplies. Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union are all slow growth markets where demand will grow at only a half a percent to perhaps 1.2 percent per year during the period 1995 to 2010.Asia is a different story all together. It will have a rapidly increasing energy consumption need. Prior to the recent turbulence in the Asian Pacific economies, we at Unocal anticipated that this region's demand for oil would almost double by 2010. Although the short-term increase in demand will probably not meet these expectations, we stand behind our long-term estimates.I should note that it is in everyone's interest that there be adequate supplies for Asia's increasing energy requirements. If Asia's energy needs are not satisfied, they will simply put pressure on all world markets, driving prices upwards everywhere.

The key question then is how the energy resources of Central Asia can be made available to nearby Asian markets. There are two possible solutions, with several variations. One option is to go east across China, but this would mean constructing a pipeline of more than 3,000 kilometers just to reach Central China. In addition, there would have to be a 2,000-kilometer connection to reach the main population centers along the coast. The question then is what will be the cost of transporting oil through this pipeline, and what would be the netback which the producers would receive.

For those who are not familiar with the terminology, the netback is the price which the producer receives for his oil or gas at the wellhead after all the transportation costs have been deducted. So it's the price he receives for the oil he produces at the wellhead.

The second option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. One obvious route south would cross Iran, but this is foreclosed for American companies because of U.S. sanctions legislation. The only other possible route is across Afghanistan, which has of course its own unique challenges. The country has been involved in bitter warfare for almost two decades, and is still divided by civil war. From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company.

Mr. Chairman, as you know, we have worked very closely with the University of Nebraska at Omaha in developing a training program for Afghanistan which will be open to both men and women, and which will operate in both parts of the country, the north and south.Unocal foresees a pipeline which would become part of a regional system that will gather oil from existing pipeline infrastructure in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The 1,040-mile long oil pipeline would extend south through Afghanistan to an export terminal that would be constructed on the Pakistan coast. This 42-inch diameter pipeline will have a shipping capacity of one million barrels of oil per day. The estimated cost of the project, which is similar in scope to the trans-Alaska pipeline, is about $2.5 billion.

Given the plentiful natural gas supplies of Central Asia, our aim is to link gas resources with the nearest viable markets. This is basic for the commercial viability of any gas project. But these projects also face geopolitical challenges. Unocal and the Turkish company Koc Holding are interested in bringing competitive gas supplies to Turkey. The proposed Eurasia natural gas pipeline would transport gas from Turkmenistan directly across the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey. Of course the demarcation of the Caspian remains an issue.

Last October (1997), the Central Asia Gas Pipeline Consortium, called CentGas, in which Unocal holds an interest, was formed to develop a gas pipeline which will link Turkmenistan's vast Dauletabad gas field with markets in Pakistan and possibly India. The proposed 790-mile pipeline will open up new markets for this gas, traveling from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Multan in Pakistan. The proposed extension would move gas on to New Delhi, where it would connect with an existing pipeline. As with the proposed Central Asia oil pipeline, CentGas can not begin construction until an internationally ecognized Afghanistan Government is in place.

The Central Asia and Caspian region is blessed with abundant oil and gas that can enhance the lives of the region's residents, and provide energy for growth in both Europe and Asia. The impact of these resources on U.S. commercial interests and U.S. foreign policy is also significant. Without peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the region, cross-border oil and gas pipelines are not likely to be built. We urge the Administration and the Congress to give strong support to the U.N.-led peace process in Afghanistan. The U.S. Government should use its influence to help find solutions to allof the region's conflicts.U.S. assistance in developing these new economies will be crucial to business success. We thus also encourage strong technical assistance programs throughout the region. Specifically, we urge repeal or removal of section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. This section unfairly restricts U.S. Government assistance to the government of Azerbaijan and limits U.S. influence in the region.Developing cost-effective export routes for Central Asian resources is a formidable task, but not an impossible one. Unocal and other American companies like it are fully prepared to undertake the job a nd to make Central Asia once again into the crossroads it has been in the past. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(The prepared statement of Mr. Maresca appears in the appendix.)
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Posted by UpInArms in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Oct 08th 2009, 10:26 PM
No Value for Their Money

by Bridget Gibson and James G. Wilson

"All families have their problems," is becoming a familiar refrain. Privacy for these families should be afforded so that they can "work out" their problems, we are told. The media spends too much time focusing on these problems when they are reporting on certain people's children, we hear. Although such courtesies were never afforded to the previous first family and their relatives, America's conservatives seem to have recently had a change of heart.

Public opinion of Bill Clinton and his extended family was shaped largely by tales of their private lives. The conservative media hammered away mercilessly at them with every rumor, innuendo and outright lie imaginable. Now we are supposed to turn the other cheek and let George W. Bush and his family rule in peace? We don't think so.

If these questions were appropriate regarding the Clinton family, there is no reason to believe that they are now "inappropriate" regarding the Bush family. To ignore reality will make one delusional and ill-informed. It is important that the behaviors of our nation's leaders be examined closely so that we can be certain that our country is being led by one that is capable of leading.

Much about this family has been draped in secrecy and we wish to draw back the curtains and let the light of day shine in. Let's turn a few stones and see what's revealed to us:

On January 29, the eve of the State of the Union address by George W. Bush, a girl was arrested for fraud. In this particular instance, she impersonated a physician to prescribe herself narcotics. This "girl" was twenty-four year old Noelle Bush, one of three children of Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. We thought that it might have been an isolated incident, but it would appear that the Florida Bushes have a number of issues with law enforcement.

It would seem that Noelle was also arrested in Flagstaff, Arizona for shoplifting in 1995. Her brother, George P. Bush, was busted for burglary and criminal mischief in 1994, and her other brother, Jeb Jr., was cited for sexual misconduct on October 2, 2000, in a shopping center parking lot. Knowing that the apples don't fall far from the tree, we must look to the parents of these wayward children.

Their mother, Columba Gallo Bush, was fined for smuggling clothing and jewelry into the United States after a $19,000 Parisian shopping spree. A cursory search on Jeb Bush showed that marital fidelity was not his strong suit. Seems that he really really liked a lady named Cynthia Henderson. They were the talk of the town after several of Florida's major newspapers broke the story.

A lack of "family values" is not, however, limited to the Bush clan in Florida. Last year, there were twin troubles in Texas. Jenna Bush had her day in court on May 16 for underage possession of alcohol. Experimentation with alcohol netted her eight hours of community service and 6 hours of anti-drinking lectures. Being lightly tapped on the shoulder did not appear to deter Jenna. On May 29 (a mere eight days later), Jenna and her twin sister, Barbara, were arrested for attempting to purchase alcohol and possession of fraudulent identification.

Looking up the tree a little higher, one finds George W. Bush. Knowing that he has admitted to frittering his "youth" away and becoming "responsible" at the age of 40, we looked to see what that entailed. In 1968, G. W. Bush was arrested for what he calls a "college prank." It turned out to be a vandalism charge. Not a respecter of other people's property, our George. While the draft was scooping up the sons of less fortunate Americans, George managed to become a part of the Texas Air National Guard, learning how to fly a plane that had been discontinued in combat, and generously agreeing to spend a few weekends, plus two weeks of every year in service to the war effort.

On August 1, 1972, George was suspended from flying for failure to comply with a physical examination. It would appear that he refused to take a physical examination. Why would a healthy young man in his 20s refuse to take a physical examination? Also, he did not attend any drills or perform any service for nearly a year, from May 1972 until May 1973. Did George forget about the obligation to serve and just not show up as required to complete his tour of duty?

Perhaps some other civic duty called to his conscience. In 1972, George uncharacteristically had a sudden desire to perform community service at Project P.U.L.L., an inner-city youth center. There have been some rumors that this desire was linked to an court order stemming from a cocaine arrest and that the record was "fixed" by his father in Houston, Texas. In 1976, at the tender age of 30, Maine police arrested George for driving under the influence of alcohol. George plead guilty to this charge, paid a $150 fine and had his driving privileges revoked in the State of Maine. In 1986, being the dutiful son of former president, George H. W. Bush, he defended him in a drunken rage in a restaurant in Dallas, Texas.

After studying George's behaviors, it was almost refreshing to find that the only baggage his wife, Laura, brings to the table consists of a poor driving record. It was unfortunate that when her abilities were outstripped by reality, the "friend" that she inadvertently killed was her fiancÚ. Could it be that the smile that appears on her face at all times has been firmly placed there to disguise the horror that must live daily in her soul?

Even further up the tree of Bush "family values" is George HW Bush. He, like his son Jeb, had a real problem with fidelity. While Vice-President, he apparently began an affair with a staffer named Jennifer Fitzgerald. They met back in the days when Bush was the Ambassador to China and the relationship continued into his presidency. It is said that when Barbara Bush found out about it, she went back to D.C. in a state of depression. The press eventually found out about it, and CNN's Mary Tillotson asked Bush if he was having an adulterous affair. Bush was humiliated and refused to answer. The term "believable deniability" may have begun with George H. W. Bush. He later sent someone out to tell the press, 'The answer to the 'A' question is a big NO.' That person was none other than George W. Bush. Was this the father teaching the son that it's okay to lie to the public when you hold office?

Let's come back to George W. for minute here. His record at the age of 40, shows him to be an unemployed alcoholic, an aging ne'er-do-well with a predilection for avoiding the truth. We know that everyone lies on occasion- it's human nature. Many lies are harmless, as in "Oh, yes, that dress (or suit) looks quite becoming. However, George W. may have stretched that loose acceptance to a breaking point this past December.

In a "Town Hall Meeting," he was asked to recount his experiences on the morning of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th. Here's just some of what he said, "I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the first tower -- the TV was obviously
on." Now, we all know that none of the networks had footage of the first plane hitting the tower
until much later in the day. So, how could he have seen "an airplane hit the tower" before it was aired? This is the kind of fabrication that would cost most presidents their credibility. The truth of that moment, was that he was reading in a classroom of students in the State of Florida and was notified (we were shown the moment on television) by Andrew Card, Chief of Staff, whispering in his ear. The four words that were spoken by Card were "America is under attack." At that time, George W. continued to read to the children for an additional thirty minutes. Obviously, he didn't think it was such a big deal. He later boarded Air Force One and flew about the country while we were told that Air Force One was a target. This, too, proved to be a lie fabricated to justify his unwillingness to deal with the magnitude of the disaster that had stricken all Americans on September 11, 2001.

In fact, given all that we've come to know about the Bush family dynasty's clashes with the law and the truth, they should have been discredited as politicians and legitimate business people long ago. How is it that these people of questionable character (to put it mildly) have risen to some of the highest offices in the land? They do not have a leg on which to stand when it comes to preaching their self-righteous rhetoric. The next time you hear a Bush pontificate on the virtues of morality, integrity and family values, just remember that they don't even know what these words mean.
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Posted by UpInArms in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Sep 13th 2009, 11:37 AM

Over 200,000 protesters marched in San Francisco on Sunday, February 16, 2003

Tens of thousands of flag-waving, whistle-blowing protesters march through the streets of Florence, November 9, 2002 to denounce a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq. More than half a million anti-war protesters from across Europe marched through this Italian Renaissance city in a loud and colorful demonstration denouncing any possible U.S. attack on Iraq. (Andrea Comas/Reuters)

An estimated crowd of 500,000 marched in Washington DC on January 18, 2003 (ANSWER photo).

NYC Police Attack Anti-War Protestors. 311 Arrested, Many Hospitalized, 2/15/03
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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Wed Apr 15th 2009, 08:40 AM

How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf
Excerpted from Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, Chapter 10

"If I wanted to lie, or if we wanted to lie, if we wanted to exaggerate, I wouldn't use my daughter to do so. I could easily buy other people to do it."
--Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait's Ambassador to the United States and Canada
The Mother of All Clients

On August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops led by dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the oil-producing nation of Kuwait. Like Noriega in Panama, Hussein had been a US ally for nearly a decade. From 1980 to 1988, he had killed about 150,000 Iranians, in addition to at least 13,000 of his own citizens. Despite complaints from international human rights group, however, the Reagan and Bush administrations had treated Hussein as a valuable ally in the US confrontation with Iran. As late as July 25 - a week before the invasion of Kuwait - US Ambassador April Glaspie commiserated with Hussein over a "cheap and unjust" profile by ABC's Diane Sawyer, and wished for an "appearance in the media, even for five minutes," by Hussein that "would help explain Iraq to the American people."69

Glaspie's ill-chosen comments may have helped convince the dictator that Washington would look the other way if he "annexed" a neighboring kingdom. The invasion of Kuwait, however, crossed a line that the Bush Administration could not tolerate. This time Hussein's crime was far more serious than simply gassing to death another brood of Kurdish refugees. This time, oil was at stake.


Hill & Knowlton, then the world's largest PR firm, served as mastermind for the Kuwaiti campaign. Its activities alone would have constituted the largest foreign-funded campaign ever aimed at manipulating American public opinion. By law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act should have exposed this propaganda campaign to the American people, but the Justice Department chose not to enforce it. Nine days after Saddam's army marched into Kuwait, the Emir's government agreed to fund a contract under which Hill & Knowlton would represent "Citizens for a Free Kuwait," a classic PR front group designed to hide the real role of the Kuwaiti government and its collusion with the Bush administration. Over the next six months, the Kuwaiti government channeled $11.9 million dollars to Citizens for a Free Kuwait, whose only other funding totalled $17,861 from 78 individuals. Virtually all of CFK's budget - $10.8 million - went to Hill & Knowlton in the form of fees.74

The man running Hill & Knowlton's Washington office was Craig Fuller, one of Bush's closest friends and inside political advisors. The news media never bothered to examine Fuller's role until after the war had ended, but if America's editors had read the PR trade press, they might have noticed this announcement, published in O'Dwyer's PR Services before the fighting began: "Craig L. Fuller, chief of staff to Bush when he was vice-president, has been on the Kuwaiti account at Hill & Knowlton since the first day. He and Dilenschneider at one point made a trip to Saudi Arabia, observing the production of some 20 videotapes, among other chores. The Wirthlin Group, research arm of H&K, was the pollster for the Reagan Administration. . . . Wirthlin has reported receiving $1.1 million in fees for research assignments for the Kuwaitis. Robert K. Gray, Chairman of H&K/USA based in Washington, DC had leading roles in both Reagan campaigns. He has been involved in foreign nation accounts for many years. . . . Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado, account supervisor on the Kuwait account, is a former Foreign Service Officer at the US Information Agency who joined Gray when he set up his firm in 1982."75

In addition to Republican notables like Gray and Fuller, Hill & Knowlton maintained a well-connected stable of in-house Democrats who helped develop the bipartisan support needed to support the war. Lauri Fitz-Pegado, who headed the Kuwait campaign, had previously worked with super-lobbyist Ron Brown representing Haiti's Duvalier dictatorship. Hill & Knowlton senior vice-president Thomas Ross had been Pentagon spokesman during the Carter Administration. To manage the news media, H&K relied on vice-chairman Frank Mankiewicz, whose background included service as press secretary and advisor to Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern, followed by a stint as president of National Public Radio. Under his direction, Hill & Knowlton arranged hundreds of meetings, briefings, calls and mailings directed toward the editors of daily newspapers and other media outlets.
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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Sun Feb 01st 2009, 10:32 PM

Worker Pay versus Executive Pay
Last year, average CEO pay rose 2.6 percent to $10,544,470, according to an Associated Press survey of S&P 500 firms.1 That’s 344 times the pay of an average American worker.2 The gap between CEOs and minimum wage workers runs even wider. In 2007, CEOs averaged 866 times as much as minimum wage employees.

Private investment managers continue to push U.S. business leader paychecks off the charts. Last year, the top 50 hedge and private equity fund managers earned an average of $588 million, according to Alpha magazine.3 That’s more than 19,000 times as much as average worker pay.

2007 Compensation of the Top Five Highest-Paid Private Investment Fund Managers and CEOs

Private Investment Fund Managers Public Company CEOs John Paulson, Paulson & Co. $3.7 billion John Thain, Merrill Lynch $83 million George Soros, Soros Fund Management $2.9 billion Leslie Moonves, CBS $68 million James Simons, Renaissance Technologies $2.8 billion Richard Adkerson, Freeport-McMoran $65 million Philip Falcone, Harbinger Partners $1.7 billion Bob Simpson, XTO Energy $57 million Kenneth Griffin, Citadel Investment Group $1.5 billion Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs $54 million

Sources: Private investment funds: Alpha magazine. CEOs: Associated Press.

The tax loopholes we examine in this year’s Executive Excess have, in some cases, sat lodged in our tax code for many years. But the exploiting of these loopholes — for executive personal aggrandizement — is a much more recent phenomenon, a development that has intensified only since the early 1980s.

What has changed on the American economic scene, over the last three decades, to make
these loopholes so exploitable? Economic power, to put the matter most simply, has concentrated in America’s executive suites. The mid 20th century checks and balances of our economic system — the building blocks of post-World War II American middle class prosperity — have been swept away.

The most important of these checks and balances: a vital trade union presence in the private sector. A half-century ago, over one-third of American private sector workers belonged to unions. Bargaining between these workers and their employers set wage patterns throughout the U.S. economy, in both organized and unorganized workplaces, and served to restrain executive rewards at the top of the corporate ladder.

Today, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data, only 7.4 percent of private-sector workers belong to unions. Top executives, at the vast majority of America’s workplaces, face no institutional challenge from their workers. The absence of that challenge leaves executives free to pocket rewards at levels that would have seemed recklessly greedy only a generation ago.

Recent academic research has demonstrated the executive pay difference that a union presence can make. In one survey, released last year, researchers found that CEOs at nonunion companies take home nearly 20 percent more than their fellow executives in unionized firms.4 Workers in union companies, meanwhile, make $200 more a week than their counterparts in nonunion firms, $863 a week for union employees, only $663 weekly for their nonunion counterparts.5

(edit - fixing stupid looking title line)
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Posted by UpInArms in Editorials & Other Articles
Sun Dec 21st 2008, 11:49 AM
A Street Pioneer Strikes Again Lewis Ranieri is back with a new company, a bigtime IPO, and a big new idea for banks.

By Kimberly L. Allers; Lewis Ranieri
October 13, 2003

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Lewis Ranieri is besieged by thoughts--an endless parade of business ideas, inventions, novel approaches, and the occasional house design. "It's a plague," says the 56-year-old Wall Street icon, immortalized by Michael Lewis in his rollicking tale about Salomon Brothers, Liar's Poker. "I don't know why my mind works this way." Sitting in his modest Long Island offices, the bearded and portly "Lewie," as he's known, interjects new thoughts before completing old ones, truncates his sentences with long pauses and slight stammers, and usually laughs long before he reaches a punch line--his whole upper torso bobbing up and down.

In the 1980s Ranieri gained notoriety as a loudmouthed prankster when he was a trader and later head of the mortgage securities and real estate division at Salomon. He was known for giving instructions by screaming across a room while standing on top of a desk and waving his arms like a referee. Tales of his fierceness at work are also legendary. "It's not all true," Ranieri offers with a smile.

What is true is that Ranieri virtually built from scratch the $5 trillion mortgage-backed security market and in the process helped spearhead a populist movement to make home mortgages more affordable. Now the "father of the mortgage-backeds" is back with a new company, a bigtime IPO, and his latest big idea: helping banks manage their property problem. In an exclusive interview, Ranieri sat down with FORTUNE to talk about his latest project.

The company is American Financial Realty Trust (AFR, $14), and Ranieri is its chairman. In June the real estate investment trust, or REIT, raised $804 million in its initial public offering, the largest IPO for a REIT in six years and the largest IPO so far in 2003. AFR already has $2 billion in assets and offers a dividend yield of 6.9%, well above the 5.77% average for REITs. It is also the only REIT of its kind, serving financial institutions and banks.

For lenders, property has always been the biggest pain in their balance sheet. Branches and buildings can take up a big portion of a bank's assets. As of September 2002, U.S. banks owned $91.2 billion of property. The problem, explains Paul Reeder, director of the real estate group at SNL Financial, is that "property is a nonperforming asset. They'd rather divest themselves of their branches and free up the cash for other investments." Banks used to sell off unwanted branches one by one or region by region. (Selling a nice bank building to a nonbank buyer, by the way, is not easy--not when each one houses a 70,000-pound, reinforced-concrete nightmare, otherwise known as the vault.) Even owning property they want to keep creates operating expenses and clogs up a balance sheet with nonperforming assets.

Ranieri first began "noodling" (as he calls it) over the problem a couple of years ago. He decided there was a big opportunity for a company that could apply a sale-leaseback model to the banking business. In that arrangement a company buys entire lots of properties (in this case, local bank branches) and leases back to the seller any buildings it still wants--with terms that give the bank flexibility and control of the property. The sale-leaseback structure has become increasingly popular with movie theaters, chain restaurants, and even prisons in recent years (see sidebar). And local entrepreneurs have long offered it for banks on a limited regional basis. But the investment costs of applying it on a nationwide scale--combined with the logistical challenges of managing bank property--made it daunting to imagine a profitable national business.

...more of the beginning of the end at link...

Lewis S. Ranieri: Your Mortgage Was His Bond - The bond trader turned home loans into tradable securities

NOVEMBER 29, 2004

The past quarter-century has seen a revolution in finance. It's felt every time a homeowner refinances a mortgage or signs up for a credit card. No one person can claim to have lit the fuse for this revolution -- but Lewis S. Ranieri was holding the match. Joining Salomon Brothers' new mortgage-trading desk in the late 1970s, the college dropout became the father of "securitization," a word he coined for converting home loans into bonds that could be sold anywhere in the world. What Ranieri calls "the alchemy" lifted financial constraints on the American dream, created a template for cutting costs on everything from credit cards to Third World debt -- and launched a multibillion-dollar industry.

Salomon and Bank of America Corp. (BAC ) developed the first private mortgage-backed securities (MBS) -- bonds that pooled thousands of mortgages and passed homeowners' payments through to investors -- in 1977. Not a moment too soon: Skyrocketing interest rates were turning the business of savings and loans -- funding long-term mortgages with short-term deposits -- making it a financial death trap for banks just as the housing demands of maturing baby boomers began to surge.

Ranieri's job was to sell those bonds -- at a time when only 15 states recognized MBS as legal investments. With a trader's nerve and a salesman's persuasiveness, he did much more, creating the market to trade MBS and winning Washington lobbying battles to remove legal and tax barriers.

A less likely financial engineer would be hard to imagine. Ranieri, a Brooklyn native, set out to be an Italian chef until asthma ruled out work in smoky kitchens. A part-time job in Salomon's mail room set him on the path to trading. A large, volatile man, Ranieri built the firm's mortgage desk in his own image: "fat guys," as author Michael Lewis described them in Liar's Poker, promoted from the back office, who indulged in feeding frenzies and practical jokes while selling strange new bonds to doubtful investors.

But Ranieri also recognized that "mortgages are math." He hired PhDs who developed the "collateralized mortgage obligation," which turns pools of 30-year mortgages into collections of 2-, 5-, and 10-year bonds that could appeal to a wide range of investors. The homeowner in Albuquerque could now tap funds from New York, Chicago, or Tokyo, a change that Ranieri figures cuts mortgage rates by two percentage points. Soon everything from credit-card balances to auto loans was being repackaged.

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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Tue Dec 16th 2008, 10:53 AM
Shredding the Bill of Rights

By: Bridget Gibson - 11/23/01

On September 11, 2001, four American airplanes were hijacked and used as weapons of mass destruction against the citizens of the United States of America. The following shock that ensued was normal. Shock at the loss of lives. Shock at the ease with which this act was carried out. Shock that anyone alive could even concoct such an atrocity.

The majority of Americans supported retaliation for this attack. We looked at out governmental leaders to provide us with the knowledge and understanding of who and how and why such a thing could have happened. We have not been told, discounting the talking heads on the media, the answers to these questions. Ten weeks later, we still have not been told. Terms such as "evil doers" do nothing to tell us who has done this. The finger pointing at the Al Qaeda network seems vague and indecipherable. Evidence has not been presented to the American people because of "National Security".

Well, folks, our "National Security" let us down on September 11, 2001. And, in my opinion, our "national security" is still letting us down. Our representatives have passed the USA Patriot Act in response to this heinous crime. Few people understand what that document does, so I want to tell you about it.

The USA Patriot Act:

Violates the First Amendment freedom of speech guarantee, right to peaceably assemble provision, and petition the government for redress of grievances provision; it violates the First Amendment to the Constitution three times.

Violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee of probable cause in astonishingly major and repeated ways. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons of things to be seized." The Patriot Act, now passed and the law of the land, has revoked the necessity for probable cause, and now allows the police, at any time and for any reason, to enter and search your house - and not even tell you about it.

Violates the Fifth Amendment by allowing for indefinite incarceration without trial for those deemed by the Attorney General to be threats to national security. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, and the Patriot Act does away with due process. It even allows people to be kept in prison for life without even a trial.

Violates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of the right to a speedy and public trial. Now you may get no trial at all, ever.

Violates the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment).

Violates the 13th Amendment (punishment without conviction).

We have been told by our leaders in Washington, D.C. that in the name of "National Security", we must be made insecure. If that isn't an Orwellian twist to this first year of the Twenty-first Century, I cannot say what is. Orwell, in his book 1984, wrote "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength".

All Americans should do more than wave their flags in support of our troops. All Americans should be ever more vigilant to the erosion of our entire reason for being a democracy, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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Posted by UpInArms in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Dec 09th 2008, 04:02 AM

Spoiling for a Fight
February 19, 2002
by Bridget Gibson

Plans are in the works, we are told, to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Two hundred thousand American troops will be deployed and on the ground in the Middle East sometime this year. These are the schemes from our current administration. The administration from Hell. The administration with a master plan to rule the world for the oil and the spoils of war.

When did we, the United States, lose our way? Was it when all but one courageous Congressional Representative stood and handed George W. Bush his dreams on a platter? Was it when we forgot the responsibilities of acknowledging what is done in our names? Was it when we called for blood of thousands before standing back and understanding the policies that have been used as weapons against the multitudes of nations that are considered of less value to humanity?

A terrible darkness has befallen our country. I have heard the conservative pundits on the right call for the blood of their fellow citizens. A shining example is the words of Ann Coulter, "When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors." It seems that she doesn't want a contemplative counsel of restraint. Or the illustrious words of Jerry Falwell in which he claimed that God allowed terrorists to attack America because of the work of civil liberties groups, abortion rights supporters and feminists. Mr. Falwell also said the terrorist attacks on the U.S. were "probably what we deserve." These statements were made by Mr. Falwell during a broadcast of the 700 Club in September shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. Pat Robertson agreed with Jerry. Does one need to ask where the logic in this resides?

I hate to be obtuse, but what are these people talking about? Are they truly so narrow-minded and close-visioned that they do not grasp the entire concept of right and wrong? What gives them the right or authority to claim that any of the deeds that have been done have been caused by progressive thinking people? What in the world could allow them to absolutely demonize the majority of the population that calls for a thoughtful and considered plan to maintain peace in this world? When did it become traitorous to question the role that our government takes in the making of policies and decisions about the lives of two hundred eighty million souls?

Excuse me for thinking that September 11 was not caused by liberals, gays or civil libertarians. September 11 was caused by a massive failure on the part of the government to pay attention to the rest of the world. When this administration called for a blind eye toward Saudi Arabia and Osama Bin Laden in March of 2001, it asked for the devastation that followed. It failed to understand that the policy of building a pipeline through Afghanistan was not our "God-given" right. It failed to understand that paying the Taliban $43 Million on May 19, 2001 made us complicit. And by "us," I mean the United States government and by extension of that, the citizens of this country.

We, the people, have allowed ourselves to become so disconnected from our government that we think that it's okay for some hawkish bureaucrat to rake up a few hundred thousand of our youngest and brightest hopes for a future and send them off to war. War is where people die, become permanently disabled or scarred from the experience of killing human beings. Unless each and everyone reading this column is prepared to become a murderer by proxy to force their will upon another people, you need to think about what is happening here.

All of this has led me to remember a line that I heard in a 1966 French film called "Masculin, Feminin" by Jean-Luc Godard: Kill a man and you're a murderer. Kill thousands and you're a conqueror. Kill everyone and you're a god.
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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Fri Nov 14th 2008, 06:11 PM
Exchange between U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT)and Alan Greenspan

House Banking and Financial Institutions Committee Hearing on the Semiannual Report of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Witness: Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

February 24, 1999

Sanders opening statement at the hearing:

REP. SANDERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. John, thank you very much. I would just like to say this . . . . there is no argument that in recent years the economy in fact has been very good. But we should not overdo it in terms of what's going on for the average working person in this country. The good news is that for the last couple of years, for the first time in decades, we have seen wages go up for lower-income workers and middle- income workers -- for the first time.

But the fact is that the median family in 1996 was $1,000 less than in 1989. The inflation-adjusted earnings of the median worker in 1997 were 3.1 percent lower than in 1989. And over the period from '89 to '97, real hourly wages either stagnated or fell for most of the bottom 60 percent of the working population.

So while we can say that in the last few years, for the average worker, things have been getting better, the reality is that most workers in America today are working longer hours and lower wages than was the case 10 or 20 years ago. And if we say this is as good as it's going to be, that's a pretty pessimistic outlook.

More importantly, and this is a point that I want to stress, because it is not talked about too much, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the typical married couple family worked 247 more hours per year in 1996 than in 1989. That's more than six weeks worth of additional work. That means all over this country, and I'm sure it's in your district as well as in mine, you're seeing people working two jobs, working three jobs. In the beginning of the century, workers fought. They said, "We want a 40-hour work week. That's what we want." A hundred years later, workers are working 45, 50, 60 hours a week. Wives are working alongside of husbands because we need two bread-winners in a family to pay the bills.

eah, I have seen improvement in the last couple of years. We should be proud of that. We should continue that effort. But if you look at what's going on for the average American worker today, in many respects, he or she is not where they were 20 years ago. We still have 43 million people without any health insurance. People can't afford the cost of college education. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world; the greatest gap between the rich and the poor.

So if we sit here and we say, "Gee, we are living in Utopia. It's not going to get any better than this," boy, I think that would be a very sad and unfortunate statement. And that would be my point, Mr. Chairman.

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Posted by UpInArms in Editorials & Other Articles
Sat Nov 08th 2008, 10:00 PM
Friday, June 21, 2002

"There Ought to be Limits to Freedom!"~George W Bush
(at a Press conference at the Texas State House, May 21, 1999)

America's Dark Heart

by Bridget Gibson

There's no excuse anymore. It is apparent that the elected representatives in the Senate and the House of Representatives are doing their constituents bidding. Within a majority of the citizens of this nation lies a murderous heart.

You have silently or vocally called upon your representatives to destroy our future. You have wantonly allowed the warmonger attitudes to take control of the agenda of this country. You have supported the killing and the destruction of anything that is ‘different' from you.

A letter or a phone call has proved too great a task. Your voices of dissent have remained tucked in some closet. The rule of law means nothing to you. You allow a fascist regime to ram the United States Constitution into the trash can of history. You should be ashamed. You do not deserve to be a free people and you are getting your desire.

Jose Padilla will have lots of company. On May 8, 2002, he was apprehended in the Chicago O'Hare Airport and held ‘under suspicion'. No charges have been filed against him and the Justice Department does not plan to file any. He has not had a hearing. He cannot be contacted by his court appointed attorney. He has been named an ‘enemy combatant' and will be held until our undeclared permanent ‘war' is over. If he ever has a trial, it will be one of George's ‘military tribunals' where no one will hear the evidence presented against him and he may be executed upon the whim of a man that was not elected by the majority of the American people.

What a sad state of affairs.

June 13, 2002, marked the six-month anniversary of George's nullification of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. That very night missile tests by the government were begun. Now Russia has stated that since the ABM no longer exists, they are not bound by the Start II agreement of 1993 and they have begun their nuclear build-up. China has also decided that nuclear is the future (what an oxymoron!) and George's cabinet has shown their support of that decision.

The CIA has been given the go-ahead to assassinate Saddam Hussein and the Congress has shown great support for that decision.

I guess that we should start making that short list of things that we want to accomplish in our lifetimes and get cracking. Because time is running out. Global warming has been melting the permafrost of Alaska, but if George and his thugs have their way, that should not be anyone's greatest fear.

You should fear yourselves. You have, from the moment that George ascended his dictator's throne, supported his wet dream of world domination. Just remember that we won't survive it.
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Posted by UpInArms in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Oct 23rd 2008, 10:46 PM
Bridget Gibson

Last Saturday, I thought that I was going to go and be an impartial observer at a political rally. What happened along the way was for me, transformational. Standing apart from the areas for the handicapped and from the background that is seen by the people in front of the stage and speaker’s podium I did one of my favorite things – I “people watched.”

I watched as parents and children went through screening processes and showed identification and let dogs sniff around and I looked at the spaces set aside for the crowds and attempted to estimate how many people it would take to fill each fenced off area.

I watched as the back-stage crews set up microphones and speakers and handed out placards and props for the assembling masses.

I watched as the line of porta-toys ran out of toilet paper and saw cases of water being given away to anyone needing a drink after waiting in hours’ long lines and walking miles to get the opportunity to be in a space I can only call a “moshpit.”

As people continued to flow into these spaces at a respectable pace, I realized that someone had really done a lot of work – I had been breezily placed in the appropriate line reserved for “Press” – efficiently screened and forgotten. As the clock ticked nearer the moment for the rally to begin, the spaces became standing room only and the crowd’s sense of eager anticipation grew thicker. One woman in the middle of the crowd began to suffer from the close quarters and help was immediate – she, along with her young son, was allowed to move into a much less confined space and she was able to stay and recovered completely.

Looking across the expanse and watching the trickles of people become rivers of people flowing across the park – all becoming a vast sea of excitement. Cameras held high attempted to capture the view as tens of thousands more joined the crowd. High above the crowds, blimps and helicopters hovered and flittered back and forth as snipers set up their bases for watching – and how could they watch so many?

The national anthem was sung, prayers for everyone spoken and loud “Amen brothers!” could be heard. More speakers gave their best rousing to the crowds and all eyes scanned the horizons for any incoming “official” looking vehicle. At last, a bus pulls up behind the tent and everyone falls silent – what are they thinking? A collective breath seemed to be drawn and excitement registered on every face (And wow! Was that ever the most diverse looking crowd?!)

A wave from the sea of people pushing ever so much closer – each person seemed to be trying to get just as close to the man walking toward them as possible.

And then, up on the stairway and onto the stage – and the crowd went wild – the noise was one of pure joy and love – the placards waving and then I saw the widest smiles of my life on the faces around me – they were so intent on just being in the presence of this one man. I truly was amazing.

He approached the microphone and silence immediately fell – no noise heard because no one wanted to miss even one word. He was so inclusive of everyone – turning to those behind him and including them, knowing that they would be able to only see his back and not wanting to close them out or use them only as a background for the cameras.

The expressions on his face were ever changing and he talked for almost forty-five minutes, covering all the issues that are burring for the citizens of this country. The financial crisis, healthcare, insurance, jobs – jobs – jobs, taxes, roads, bridges – the war, security, the budget, the people – mostly it was about the people. He said that we are here at this most important moment in time and that we, the people, are the ones that this entire election is about. Not him. Us.

And as I looked across that sea of faces, I realized that I, too, was a part. Not apart. But – a part of all of that yearning and hoping for a better future for our country.
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Posted by UpInArms in Latest Breaking News
Sat Oct 18th 2008, 11:50 PM
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