Monthly Archives: September 2007

Journal Report — September 24, 2007

As always, my vacation is a working vacation and my journey is a journey of self-discovery and self-creation. I go as the spirit moves me when and where it feels right to go, not so much seeking, but taking things as I find them and trying to understand my reactions to them, my likes and dislikes, the pleasures and discomforts, the delights and annoyances. I find myself to be more outgoing and gregarious when I travel, impelled by my desire to connect, to be less separate, to be more the participant than the observer. What is life, after all, than a mosaic of experiences that we create for ourselves in order to discover who we are and who we wish to become.

This is a primary lesson of my literary companion on this particular sojourn, Book 2 of Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God. It has provided additional insights, and confirmation of many things I have known at some level to be true. The idea of a conversation with God will seem blasphemous to many who have been reared in religious traditions that place God above and beyond humans, but there is plenty of confirmation, for instance in the Bible, and probably in Islam, as well other religious writings that makes it plain that God is with us, that God is love, that God does not judge or condemn us, that we are in fact God. Did not Jesus say, The Father and I are one? Does the Bible not say that Jesus was the first-born of many brethren? This “birth” is a shift in consciousness, for as Walsch puts it, You must stop seeing God as separate from you, and you as separate from each other. Is this not what it means to love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself.

When I finished Book I of Conversations With God a couple months ago I found little to disagree with, but there were two points I cannot accept. First, Walsh’s (God’s) view of reincarnation seems to be one that sees the personality (the individual consciousness) as surviving and reincarnating through many lifetimes. I have seen no evidence for that. Obviously, life keeps manifesting in new bodies, but it seems to me that each is a unique manifestation, like each snowflake is a unique manifestation of the phenomenon we call snow. Yes, there is something that we all share, something which is the essence of life, the source of all, what we may call God. And when we identify with that, there is no need to hold onto the idea of a separate self that comes back into a new body. This, after all, seems to be the sum of what Walsch (God) is saying.

The second point of disagreement is about the use of alcohol. Walsch seems to take the position that total abstinence is an ideal to be sought after. Granted that alcohol is much abused in our world, but so are so many other things, and such an extreme position is at variance with everything else in his book and ignores the fact of the many beneficial effects of moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. They are, first of all, anti-septic, so a bit of wine or beer or tequila with a meal may help to ward off the ill effects of contaminated food, which is quite common in most countries. Medical research has shown that a bit of wine has a positive effect upon cardio-vascular health, and then there is its capacity to “make men merry” and promote conviviality.

Book II has some interesting things to say about human sexuality and geo-politics, but I’ll leave comment on that for another time.

Regarding my usual work in the realm of “transformation restructuring” I’ve continued while “on the road” to maintain my fairly regular email correspondence. Malaysia has an abundance of internet cafes, and many hotels and guesthouses provide internet access, some free of charge. Much as I wanted to travel light, I could not bear to leave my laptop behind. It is, after all, my primary work tool, memory bank, and main link to the world. So instead of being burdened with only a small backpack, I must carry a computer briefcase as well (I left the rest of my stuff in Auroville). Fortunately, it’s still a manageable burden to carry between stopping places if I don’t try to walk too far.

The monetary education project has made some good progress. Just prior to my departure from Auroville, Manuel and I did some significant work editing the audio records of some of my recent presentations and adding the edited files as sound tracks to the respective power point slide shows. One of these, Money, Power, Democracy and War, has been added to the slide shows at our main website, http://reinventingmoney.com; another, The End of Money and the Liberation of Exchange, which was presented at the International Conference on the Gold Dinar Economy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (July 24, 2007), will soon be added. I’ve also added some new posts and pages to my blogs. See especially beyondmoney.wordpress.com.

Going Places Doing Things

Since emplaning at Chennai on June 14, I’ve spent time in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and now Langkawi. I’ll leave aside the more personal details for eventual face-to-face conversations and make this more of a tips-for-travelers report and description of where I’ve been.

One thing that will be of interest to Americans who travel extensively abroad is my experience at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Five years into my current (10 year) passport I’m finding that most of the visa pages are filled up, so I made it a point to visit the embassy to have some supplemental pages added. This can be done up to four times before one must get a new passport. If done at an U.S. Embassy in a foreign country this service is free of charge.

After phoning for instructions, and learning that one must report between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., I took the light rail train to the closest stop, then walked the rest of the way (another 15 minutes) in a light intermittent drizzle.

As you would expect, security around the embassy was pretty tight. There is a glassed-in cage (no doubt, bullet-proof) at street level where one must first report the nature of one’s business. After gaining admittance there, one must pass through a metal detector and allow a search of any bags or parcels. I was required to leave my briefcase containing my digital camera and digital voice recorder there before receiving my visitor’s pass and proceeding into the next building.

There I entered a waiting room containing 25 or 30 chairs and 6 or 8 service windows, a scene much like what I’ve seen at the motor vehicle offices in Tucson. Each person receives a number and then proceeds to one of the windows when called. Most of the people there were Malaysians seeking visas to enter the United States. Each was interviewed (interrogated) by an examiner, no attempt being made to keep the interview private. In the short time I was there it appeared that those who were professional employees of big companies, who being sent to the U.S. on business, had no trouble being approved, while others had little chance of getting a visa.

The first night in KL, I stayed at the same five star hotel where I had stayed on the previous trip but when I discovered that the price had gone up and the service had gone down I decided to stay just one night and find other more reasonable lodging. I moved the next day over to the Winsin Hotel, a  clean, well managed, centrally located lodging which at RM 88 (eighty-eight Malaysian ringits, or about US$ 26) was priced at less than a third of the first hotel. Winsen Hotel is just a couple blocks from the Central Market, close to Chinatown, and within walking distance of three light rail stops and the main bus station. Both Chinatown and the Central Market are major features that make KL distinctive and are popular with tourists.

This time, being at leisure and having no presentations or work assignments, I was able to get around a bit more and learn something about the city. I discovered the biggest indoor mall I’ve ever seen just at the Imbi monorail stop. I think it’s called the Times Square Mall. It has 10 or 11 levels, each crammed with a variety of shops and eateries. Later, I discovered another very large mall at the Twin Towers. This one seemed almost as big but with more upscale shops. I mention this, not because malls are of any interest to me, but just to give you the flavor of the place. It amazes me that so many of these shops are able to find a sufficient market for their overpriced goods to stay in business.

On Tuesday (Sep 18) I headed north to Penang. It was a six hour ride in a comfortable air-conditioned coach over the smooth and well maintained Malaysian freeways; quite a contrast to my experiences in India. Arriving at Georgetown, the capital city, around 6 in the evening, I agreed to share a taxi with a young couple who had arrive with me on the bus. We were both headed for Ferringhi beach, a half hour ride to the northwest of the city. Ferringhi means “foreigner” so that gives you some idea of what the place is like. There are a number of luxury resort hotels, including a Holiday Inn, strung out along the road that parallels the beach. I opted for one of the guesthouses that are clustered together a bit farther up. Ali’s guesthouse seemed the best of the lot and cost me RM 65. The room was adequate but had no A/C, only a fan. The place was on the beach but neither the beach nor the water seem all that inviting. The ambience of that part of the beach was dominated by the Mosque just behind which loudly broadcast call-to-prayers that continued late into the night and started again early the next morning. I checked out by noon the next day and took the public bus back to Georgetown.

To cut a long story short, I ended up following a trio of backpackers, who seemed to know where they were heading, down a street that had a number of guesthouse signs. They unwittingly led me to the place where I ended up staying for four days. The SD guesthouse was clean, modern, well-managed, friendly, and cheap. I decided to splurge for an air-conditioned, double room at a price of RM 35 ( a bit over $10). I could have had a single without A/C for half that. Sharing bathrooms proved to be no great inconvenience.

On Friday (Sep 22) I visited the Penang National Park which is situated at the extreme northwest corner of the island. This 1381 hectare (3412 acres) preserve, established as a park in 2003, seems to be an undiscovered treasure. More details at http://www.tourismpenang.gov.my/article.cfm?id=93.

For RM 2 ½  one can ride the U101 bus from Georgetown to the park office and trailhead. The trail to the first couple beaches was quite easily managed in sandals but, after making a short foray beyond I decided that the trail to Monkey Beach would require more appropriate footwear. The second beach, where I spent a pleasant couple of hours, is home to a University research station, which on this occasion seemed to be deserted. Although it was a bit past noon, I had the beach virtually all to myself.

My advice to others going to Penang is this. Unless you want to stay at one of the luxury resort hotels, forget Ferringhi beach and stay in Georgetown. You’ll find plenty of interesting things to do there and much better socializing with other visitors and residents. For a beach experience, pack your bathing suit, a towel, and a picnic lunch and take the bus to the National Park. You’ll find the scenery prettier and the beaches cleaner in the park. If you don’t feel like hiking, you can hire a boat to take you by sea to the beaches. The cost of the ride for up to 8 people is RM. 80 (less than 3 dollars each for a full boatload).

On Sunday (Sep 24) I caught the fast ferry from Penang to Langkawi Island, a pleasant three hour ride. Langkawi is purportedly the most beautiful island off the west coast of Malaysia. For the past two days I’ve been enjoying Cenang beach along with numerous other tourists, mostly foreigners but also a few Malaysians. My beachfront bungalow is quite adequate, the beach is clean, the water warm, and there is pretty good food available at the various nearby restaurants. More about Langkawi in my next report.

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Report of September 12

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Greetings,

My life in Asia may not always be comfortable, but it’s always interesting and sometimes exciting. Of course, it is a matter of choice that I take the crowded, hot, and bumpy public bus instead of the air conditioned taxi, or the regular “sleeper” train instead of a short flight. It’s not just a matter of expense, but of wanting to be with ordinary people and to know what daily life is like for them in their own country. But I see plenty of extreme cases that I prefer to forego – people working long hours in oppressive mid-day heat doing hard physical labor, living in thatched huts with dirt floors and no running water, or sleeping in the streets. One needs to learn to look past the many beggars that haunt the cities and are especially numerous and persistent in tourist areas.

Current Itinerary

I’ve postponed my return to the United States until late November. The current plan is this:

On Friday Sept 14, I’ll fly to Malaysia, then go to Thailand for a while, then to Bali. My objectives in Malaysia and Thailand are to experience some other parts of Asia where the living seems to be easier and more pleasant than in India, and to take a little break from my regular work schedule and enjoy the beaches. In Bali I will be doing some work with another of my colleagues who has, for the past 10 years, been helping to organize complementary currencies and exchange systems in that part of the world. We will put some serious effort into developing sources of grant funding and investment capital to support the kinds of exchange options that are becoming increasingly urgent as the global regime of money and finance become ever more oppressive and unstable.

I’ll return to Auroville in late October to continue work with our project teams there, then fly to London on November 12. I’ll have a 2 week layover for visits in the UK and Europe, then fly to San Francisco on Nov 26.

Other News

Toward the end of August I took a journey of exploration toward the west coast of India. I started with an overnight bus from Pondicherry (now officially, “Puducherry”) to Bangalore. There are many private companies that provide intercity transport. Most intercity runs are made overnight, I suppose to avoid both traffic and daytime heat.

My coach was a sleeper bus, reasonably comfortable but not air conditioned. The layout has bunks above and regular coach seats below. There are no toilets on these busses. Fortunately, about the time my need to pee became urgent, we pulled off the road for our mid-trip stop. To call the place a “rest area” would be misleading. There was a little tea stand and snack bar beside a big parking area, and a concrete building labeled “men” and “women” at either end, which unfortunately was padlocked. There was no choice but to follow the lead of some of my fellow passengers to the muddy field at the edge of the parking lot. There were a couple women on the bus, but I have no idea how they managed their necessities.

The main problem with this mode of intercity transport is that you get dropped off early in the morning, in some side street, in a strange city, in the rain, and have no idea where you are or where to go. Fortunately, there’s always a swarm of motorized rickshaw drivers eager to take you somewhere. My greatest need upon arriving in Bangalore was to find a toilet, then a café where I could get a cup of tea and bite to eat, and take some time to get oriented and plan my next move. My driver proved to be helpful in finding the former but not the latter. Being still early morning, I had to wait for a café to open.

Bangalore showed little to interest me. Like most Indian cities, it’s crowded, noisy, dirty and, if you don’t know your way around, expensive. I ended up paying far too much for a very ordinary hotel room in a bustling part of town close to the bus and train stations, an area that seemed like one big bazaar.

I decided the next day to catch the train for Goa. I’ll not take the time to relate the details of that part of the trip, but just to summarize, I found the Goa beaches to be a bit of a disappointment in comparison to those in Carolina, Florida and California. I’ve heard that there are some nicer ones toward the south of where I stayed, which I might explore on another occasion. It did not help that it was still rainy season there, so outdoor activities and time on the beach were limited. The four month long monsoon (June through September) causes everything in Goa to be covered with some combination of moss, mold, and mildew. One café owner told me that everything must be repainted after each rainy season.

The most pleasant and relaxing part of that trip was the three days I spent in Pondicherry prior to my return to Auroville. After 24 hours on the train from Goa to Madras (now officially “Chennai”), I caught a public bus back to Pondi where I managed to get a room at the Park Guest House, which is operated by the nearby Sri Aurobindo Ashram and is located right on the Bay of Bengal. For less cost than anywhere else I’ve stayed in India, I had a clean and bright second story room overlooking the garden and the sea. The one minor drawback is the 10:30 curfew, but that was no inconvenience in my case.

Understand that Pondicherry is divided into two sections. Pondi was formerly a French colony and the eastern part toward the sea, the most desirable part, was laid out along traditional European lines. The “French quarter” is cleaner, prettier, quieter and less crowded than the rest of the city, and is a place that still offers some escape from the frantic pace that is characteristic of India cities.

There’s much more to tell, but that must suffice for now.

Warmest regards to all,

Tom

I heard Col. Bob Bowman speak in Tucson last spring and I was greatly impressed with his intelligence, compassion, courage, and sense of justice. His positions on major issues pretty much mirror my own and, I think, that of the majority of Americans. If there’s such a thing as a “dream candidate” for the Presidency, I think Bowman is it. Whether Bob can actually get elected is irrelevant, no single person can implement these needed changes from the top, it will take a groundswell of local action by millions of us to restore the America we’ve always believed in. Please give this vision statement your serious attention and let’s make it our solidarity platform for a new America and do what we can to realize it. – t.h.g.

 

STATE OF THE UNION:

A Post-Impeachment Vision of the Future

17 Aug 2007

by Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.; National Commander, The Patriots

www.thepatriots.us

          I am going to ask you to pretend that I am speaking to you as President of the United States and giving my State of the Union Address shortly after inauguration.  Your role is as Members of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Cabinet, and various dignitaries.  Your task, as is always the case in these events, is to cheer and clap like crazy when you hear something you agree with … and to sit on your hands when you don’t.  The purpose of this is, of course, to let the people watching on television know what they’re supposed to think.  Seated behind me are the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate (the Vice President of the United States).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Madam Speaker, Madam President, distinguished Members of the Congress, honored guests, and my fellow Americans:  The United States is unquestionably number one in the industrialized world: number one in our use of the world’s resources, number one in the production of pollution, number one in the gap between the rich and the poor, number one in deaths by gunfire, number one in teen pregnancy, number one in poverty among the elderly, number one in citizens without health coverage, number one in child poverty, number one in homeless veterans, and number one in citizens behind bars.  We are the world’s #1 debtor nation, #1 in the creation of new billionaires, #1 in school dropouts, #1 in poverty, homelessness, hunger, divorce, suicide, and (oh yes) #1 in military force, nuclear weapons, and military spending —  as much as all the other nations in the world combined.  We also lead the world in the number of hours worked per family, since it now takes two wage-earners and three jobs to provide the income earned with one 40 hour per week job in the 1950s.  Despite soaring productivity, real wages are now a third of what they were in the 1950s.  If it wasn’t for corporate control of our government and the resulting trickle-down economics, ordinary workers could support their families with one job … working two days a week!  Would you like to have a five-day weekend every week?  If worker pay had kept pace with executive pay, the average worker would now be making a million dollars a year!! and the minimum wage would be $171 an hour!

What do you call a country in which the gap between the rich and the poor is growing beyond bounds, whose principal exports are wood pulp and scrap metal, whose principal imports are manufactured goods, and whose fastest-growing industry is the construction and operation of private prisons?  A third world country.  That is the state of the union we have inherited.

In our government’s drive to protect the far-flung financial interests of multinational corporations, we have abandoned our principles and fought wars of aggression against small countries.  We have overthrown popularly-elected leaders and installed puppet dictators who sell out their own people to our corporations.  In our drive toward a corporate New World Order, we have sold out our workers, our families, our environment, our children’s futures, and the American dream.  This too is the state of the union we have inherited.

We have had the opportunity to create a land without want.  What went wrong?  Why are our workers paid such a tiny percentage of their true worth?  Why are we the only major nation without a national health program?  Why are our high school graduates two years behind their counterparts in other countries?  Why are we hated by so many around the world?  Why do we have hundreds of thousands of troops patrolling foreign lands and supporting foreign dictators?  What is going on?

The answer, I’m afraid, is that we have lost our republic.  Legislators no longer represent the people who elect them, but the corporations who finance them.  They answer not to their constituents, but to the lobbyists who line their pockets and fill their campaign coffers.

For years now, through both major political parties, the world’s billionaires have directed U.S. policy for their own personal profit.  This has included agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the World Trade Organization falsely portrayed as supporting free trade, but in reality promoting free investment, overturning U.S. laws, and putting American workers in competition with those in the Third World.  NAFTA, for example, has destroyed the standard of living and quality of life on BOTH sides of the Rio Grande, and by driving Mexican farmers off the land, has been largely responsible for the flood of illegal immigrants into our country.

Corporate control of our government has also resulted in a series of wars, from Iraq to Bosnia to Kosovo to Afghanistan to Iraq again — wars which are never in the interest of those fighting them, or of the families left behind … wars which only serve the insatiable greed of the global investor class.

Those of us who dedicate our lives to peace, economic justice, and environmental preservation can make little progress in our struggles so long as ultimate power is in the hands of those who profit from war, poverty, and pollution.

Well, I didn’t get here tonight by taking corporate millions.  I didn’t get here by selling myself to the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies … .  To be quite honest, I’m not sure how I got here!  But here I am, and as long as I am President of the United States, this government will serve the needs of the people, not the greeds of the wealthy elite.

Turning things around won’t be easy.  What our Constitution empowers me to change, I shall.  But for much of what needs doing, I will need the cooperation of you in Congress, and I ask for it tonight.  The Constitution does not make me “the decider,” only the proposer and the implementer.  You, the people’s representatives, are the deciders.  I am therefore vacating all the over 800 signing statements imposed by my predecessor.  I’m revoking Presidential Directives 20 and 51, which give me dictatorial powers.  I ask for repeal of the misnamed Patriot Act and all the martial law and special and dictatorial powers acts passed in the last seven years.  This is not a monarchy!

But I warn you members of Congress.  If you continue to violate your Constitutional responsibility to serve your constituents, and instead serve only yourselves and the big money interests you are indebted to, if you ignore the Constitution and attempt to protect the crooked corporate-dominated status quo, I will go over your heads to the American people and ask them to retire all of you, regardless of party.

We must sever the connection between big money and political power.  This means electoral reform and media reform.  The latter can be done now.  I have ordered the Federal Communications Commission to reinstate the equal time rules and to reimplement the ban on multiple ownership.  A free press is incompatible with corporate monopoly domination of the media.

Electoral reform is a little more complicated.  The immediate need is for paper ballots.  We also need Instant Runoff Voting, Proportional Representation, the elimination of burdensome petition requirements for qualifying third party and independent candidates, making Election Day a federal holiday so working people can actually vote, and true campaign finance reform.

Once we succeed in separating big money and political power, everything becomes possible.  In this richest of nations, we can and we will guarantee every American access to a good education, a decent job at a living wage, and health care.  As a conservative, I believe that the only fiscally responsible way to provide universal health care is to kick the insurance companies out of health care completely with a doctor-run single-payer national health program.

We will also guarantee every American the undiluted protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Fear of terrorism is not going to make this nation a police state.

As a step toward the living wage, I propose that the Minimum Wage be indexed for inflation and, over a ten year period, be raised to what it would have been had it been so indexed at its creation (currently over $14 an hour).

As you know, the previous administration resigned under threat of impeachment over their exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy to deceive this nation into unnecessary and illegal wars of aggression.  They still face court-martial proceedings over abuse of power as Commander in Chief.  The evidence of their guilt was overwhelming.  This evidence is in the PNAC document calling for the permanent occupation of Iraq justified by a “new Pearl Harbor.”  It is in Richard Clarke’s book in which he notes an immediate attempt by the Bush administration to tie Iraq to 9/11 – regardless of the facts.  It is in videotaped statements of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld themselves using 9/11 to justify the Iraq War.  It is in CIA documents showing that Wolfowitz, Perle, Libby, Feith, and others “cherry picked” intelligence for use by Cheney and their other bosses.  It is in the Downing Street memo which says that the intelligence was being tailored to fit the policy.  And it is in speeches by me and others prior to the invasion of Iraq, in which we laid out the truth, predicted the inevitable results, and noted that such an invasion would be an impeachable offense and an act of treason.

There is also evidence of a massive cover-up with respect to 9/11 itself.  The official 9/11 Report, tightly controlled by the White House, amounts to little but a whitewash.  When combined with the confiscation of videotapes, audio tapes, black boxes, and other evidence by the FBI, it is clear that regardless of who was responsible for 9/11, the subsequent cover-up was itself a conspiracy involving elements of the White House and the intelligence establishment.

This is important because, remember, Richard Nixon wasn’t undone by the two-bit break-in at the Watergate, but for the cover-up.  Bill Clinton wasn’t impeached for his sexual encounters with Monica Lewinsky, but for stretching the truth when asked about it.  Scooter Libby wasn’t convicted for leaking Valerie Plame’s identity, but for lying about when he learned about it.  Martha Stewart didn’t serve time for insider trading, but for not telling the truth.  Is there ANYONE who believes the Bush administration always told the TRUTH about 9/11?

This raises the question, “If the Bush Administration had nothing to hide, why did they hide everything?”  Were they covering up guilt or incompetence?  If it was incompetence, why was no one demoted or fired or court-martialed or even reprimanded?  If they were protecting guilty parties, are they Saudis?  Pakistanis?  Israelis?  Americans?  All the above?  And why on earth aren’t the people’s representatives in Congress asking these questions … and demanding answers?

The American people have still not been told who was really responsible for 9/11.  Dedicated researchers [like Dr. David Ray Griffin, Dr. Kevin Barrett, and Dr. Steven Jones] have proven that it could not have happened the way the Bush administration said it did.  Hijacked airliners do not fly around for an hour and 40 minutes without being intercepted … unless our air defense system was deliberately sabotaged.  Indestructible “black boxes” are not vaporized by the same fire from which undamaged passports float to the street below.  Steel skyscrapers do not implode and collapse at free-fall speed because of a kerosene fire.  Steel buildings do not collapse at all because of a kerosene fire (never have and never will).  And building seven wasn’t even struck by an airplane.  {3 minute video of WTC 7}  Millions of 9/11 Truthers consider this the “smoking gun” that “proves” 9/11 was an inside job.  But even if they’re wrong, even if the Bush administration’s official conspiracy theory was essentially correct, [you know, the one about 19 Arabs with box-cutters and an old man on a dialysis machine in a cave.  Even if that official conspiracy theory was essentially correct,] the American people would still need to know (for example) why our multi-trillion dollar defense establishment failed to protect even their own headquarters from an unarmed aircraft.  The truth about 9/11 is that after six years we still don’t know the truth about 9/11 … and we should.  I am therefore appointing a commission to conduct a new and truly-independent investigation of 9/11.  It will have oversight by a few of you in Congress, by Senator Max Cleland, by Dr. David Ray Griffin, theologian, of the 9/11 Truth movement, by Karen Breitweiser and Mindy Kleinberg, Jersey girls, representing the families of victims, and by Sibel Edmonds and other whistle-blowers in the FBI.  They will have full subpoena power, able to require sworn public testimony from anyone up to including me and the former president and vice president.  I think we’ve had enough so-called testimony behind closed doors with no oaths and no transcripts.  This time, we want the truth!  The new commission will examine all the evidence, even that which seems to contradict the official story (and there’s a mountain of it), and it will have no predetermined conclusions about who the conspirators were.  (They won’t even assume Cheney is guilty.)  There have been all too many Pearl Harbors, Gulfs of Tonkin, 9/11s, and Reichstag Fires.  We must make it clear that the truth will out.  Never again must we allow this nation to be stampeded into war under false pretenses.

Speaking of war, the new Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have redefined two basic missions for our armed forces: (1) deterring anyone from attacking the United States with weapons of mass destruction, and (2) defending our shores and borders from foreign invasion.  Period.  This redefinition of mission will, after a few years of transition, result in a peace dividend of $400 Billion per year … with no one joining the ranks of the jobless.  Until new contracts come out for renewable energy, non-polluting transportation, and the rebuilding of our infrastructure, there are to be no layoffs.  If we can pay farmers not to grow crops, we can pay engineers and machinists not to build weapons.

Among the new weapons they will NOT build are new nuclear weapons and “Star Wars” weapons in space.

The part of the defense budget which is absolutely inviolable is that part which takes care of our veterans.  The VA must be fully funded.  The cost of caring for the disabled combat veterans from the Iraq War alone will be in the trillions of dollars over their lifetimes.  But it is a cost we must bear.  The signature wound of this war is brain trauma.  Yet the Bush Administration slashed the budget for the Brain Trauma Center by 50%.  To create so many thousands of disabled veterans in their wars of aggression and then refuse to take proper care of them was perhaps the worst sin of the Bush administration.  The care of those wounded in action, wracked by PTSD, and poisoned by Depleted Uranium is NOT a discretionary expenditure to be avoided by delay, denial, and bureaucratic red tape.  It is a solemn obligation of this government, and it will be met.

In the last half a century, the United States has gone from savior of the civilized world to the number one rogue nation on earth.  As a result, despite spending a billion and a half dollars a day on military power, the American people are less secure today than at any time since the end of the Civil War.  The expenditure of fourteen trillion dollars since World War II has brought our people only more insecurity, massive debt, and the loss of many of the cherished rights enshrined in our Constitution.

It’s time for the cycle to end.  It’s time to end the belligerence, bring home our troops, and rejoin the family of nations.  And that’s what we’re going to do.

To set the stage for discussing our plans for Iraq, I would like to give you a little historical background.  First, I’d like to read a few excerpts from a speech I gave to an anti-war rally on February 15, 2003, a month before the Iraq War started.

“Saddam Hussein is a bad guy. He’s a bad guy now. He was a bad guy in 1990 when April Glaspie of the State Department gave him the green light to invade Kuwait. He was a bad guy in the 1980s when Donald Rumsfeld sat down with him for a chat while Saddam was supposedly gassing the Kurds. He was a bad guy in 1977 when Zbigniew Brzezinski met with him and proposed the invasion of Iran. And he was a bad guy in the 1960s when the CIA hired him to assassinate Iraqi leader Abdel Karim Qassim and then helped Saddam take over Iraq.  He’s always been a bad guy. But he was always our bad guy. Right up to 1990, official DoD documents praised Saddam for vastly improving the education, medical care, and standard of living of his people, along with women’s rights and religious freedom. His regime was called one of the most enlightened, progressive governments in the region … and it was.

“But there was a problem. The Berlin wall had come down and the Soviet Union had collapsed. The first Bush White House had to find another bad guy – fast, to justify the defense budget. And they did — Saddam Hussein.  They suckered him into attacking Kuwait, and the first Gulf War was on.

“Now the second President Bush wants his Gulf War too.  But starting a preemptive war against Iraq: (1) would be immoral.  (2) would be costly, in terms of American lives and in dollars.  (3) would require us to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely.  (4) would come between us and our allies.  (5) would incense the Arab world.  (6) would provide Osama bin Laden with thousands of new recruits, and (7) would therefore greatly increase the terrorist threat.

“As a combat veteran, I will not stand idly by and watch our security destroyed by a president who went AWOL rather than fight in Vietnam.

“When I joined the Air Force, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies — foreign and domestic.  That includes a renegade president.  If they go ahead with this war, I will call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the whole oil mafia.  This war would be treason!  God bless America!  And God save us from George W. Bush!”

That was Feb 15, 2003.  A month later, troops were massed in Kuwait, but “Shock and awe” hadn’t yet started.  This is a little of what I said on Mar 15, 2003, on the eve of the war.

“I’ve been severely criticized for speaking out in opposition to this coming war.  We’re told that we’re aiding and abetting the enemy.  We’re told that we should support the president no matter what.  Well I say, “Hogwash!”

“I feel an affinity for the troops deployed in Kuwait.  They are my comrades in arms.  But the truth is, they are not over there protecting our freedoms.  Our freedoms are not under attack by Saddam Hussein.  Our freedoms are under attack by John Ashcroft.  They are threatened by John Poindexter.  They are trampled by Donald Rumsfeld.  They are disdained by Dick Cheney.  And they are not even understood by George W. Bush.

“The troops surrounding Iraq are not protecting us.  We are protecting them … and their honor … and their freedoms … by speaking truth to power.

“Here is the truth that we proclaim.  This coming war has nothing to do with national security or freedom or democracy or human rights or protecting our allies or weapons of mass destruction or defeating terrorism or disarming Iraq.  It has to do with money.  It has to do with oil.  And it has to do with raw imperial power.  And it is wrong.

“A preemptive war would be immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, a war crime against the people of Iraq, and treason against the United States of America.”

That was Mar 15, 2003, on the eve of the Iraq War.  Now the point of this bit of history is that we in the peace movement knew better.  We weren’t taken in by the doctored and manipulated intelligence and the outright untruths we were told to justify this war.

One more little bit of history.  I would like to quote briefly from the memoirs of the first President Bush, written before his son got the job.

“Trying to eliminate Saddam .. would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.  We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. … there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see.  Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.”

My sisters and brothers, it’s just too darn bad his son doesn’t read!

Now here we are four years and 3,700 American lives later.  This misguided war has cost more American lives than 9/11 and has dragged on longer than World War II.  Yet we still have no accountability for how this war started.  We know that most of you lily-livered members of Congress from both parties abdicated your Constitutional responsibility to declare war … or not, and gave a blank check to the imperial presidency.  We also know that you were lied to by George W. Bush and his people.  What I can’t figure out is how you believed those lies.  I sure didn’t.  Are the members of Congress that much more stupid than we in the peace movement?  Or did you really know better, but were just being lap-dogs for the fat-cats as usual?

Well, in 2006 the Democrats took control of Congress.  Months went by … and more months went by, and you still failed to hold President Bush accountable for his lies.  What on earth was wrong with you?

It’s a hackneyed expression, and you’ve heard it many times, but it’s true: “Clinton lied, no one died.”  If it was OK to impeach Bill Clinton for fibbing about an event which only embarrassed his family and soiled a blue dress, what took you so long to impeach Cheney and Bush for deceiving us into a war costing so many thousands of lives?  Where’s the accountability?

If it was right for Richard Nixon to have to resign under threat of impeachment for covering up an attempt to peek at the other party’s plans, why was it not right for you to immediately get rid of those responsible not only for two deadly wars of aggression, but also for the loss of habeas corpus, spying on American citizens, torturing suspects in the phony war on terror, saddling our grandchildren with more trillions in debt, giving away our sovereignty with the North American Union, and subverting the Constitution itself?  Where is the accountability?

Much changed while George W. Bush was in office.  Nearly 3,000 died on 9/11.  Many more than that died in his wars and occupations.  There are more than 27,000 wounded soldiers whose lives will never be the same.  There are tens of thousands of young men and women with serious psychological problems because of what they have seen and what they have done.  There are hundreds of thousands poisoned by Depleted Uranium who will suffer lives of pain and disability, and who will father thousands of children with severe birth defects.  Our military services are depleted and demoralized.  The VA system is overwhelmed.  The National Guard and Reserves have been subjected to tour after tour, disrupting lives for even the lucky ones who return unscathed.  Jobs have been lost, marriages have been destroyed, homes have been foreclosed, children have been estranged, and natural disasters like Katrina have been undealt with.  And still, there was no accountability.

That was just in this country.  In Iraq, things were even worse.  Religious liberty was lost, mosques, churches, and synagogues which thrived under Saddam were destroyed, women lost their rights and freedoms, essential services were disrupted, people were tortured, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were killed, cities like Fallujah lie in ruins, and in spite of heroic efforts by the vast majority of our young men and women in uniform, most of the remaining people of Iraq are much worse off than they were before we “liberated” them.

More than four years of war have destroyed Iraq, destroyed our standing in the world, destroyed our national security, destroyed our civil liberties, destroyed precious lives, and brought our nation to the brink of financial disaster.  And it was all predictable, because we in fact predicted it!  The hundreds of billions of dollars already spent on this war have not just vanished.  They have gone to Condoleezza Rice’s Chevron-Texaco and Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and George Bush’s Carlisle Group, and through their lobbyists into the pockets of you Congressional incumbents.  Perhaps that’s why there has been no accountability.

Well no longer.  The American people finally got together and demanded a government which (1) follows the Constitution, (2) honors the truth, and (3) serves the people.  And that’s exactly what we intend to give them.

I am asking the UN to send peacekeepers to Iraq to do a job we can’t do as an occupying army.  But whether or not they do, we will leave completely within three months.  We are going to support what’s left of our troops by bringing them home while they are still alive.

Terrorism is a real threat.  In the short term we must protect the American people from the terrorists our misguided policies have already created.  This means enhancing port security and strengthening the border patrol and Coast Guard.  These we will do.

But in the long term, we must stop making more terrorists.  That means stopping policies and actions which make people fear and hate us.  It means listening to the legitimate grievances of peoples we have wronged, and then changing our ways.  Only one thing has ever ended a campaign of terror (anywhere in the world) — separating the handful of terrorists from the larger community upon which they depend.  This is done by ending the feelings of desperation, hopelessness, and powerlessness afflicting the people.  It is done by listening to them and then actually making their lives better.  It is not done by revenge and retaliation, which only create more terrorists.

We have at times (including, I think, the last few years) had a government with bad policies.  But we are a good people.  What we have long needed is a government which reflects the values and goodness of the American people.

Our values and goodness are not reflected by a government which violates international law in its conflicts and denies its own citizens their Constitutional rights.   I have therefore ordered the release of all those being detained without charge, the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay (we’ll find somewhere else for Bush and Cheney), and the end of the “rendition” program in which suspects are kidnapped and taken to secret foreign prisons to be tortured.  All contracts for mercenaries, including those with Blackwater, are being cancelled.  This includes contracts with DoD, CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security (which, by the way, is being abolished).  There will be no more Blackwater goons terrorizing the poor people of New Orleans.

I have also pardoned a host of political prisoners, including Border Patrol agents jailed for 12 years for doing their job against a Mexican drug smuggler bringing 700 pounds of cocaine across the border.  Agents Campean and Ramos are now free.  I have also pardoned Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal, and I’ve given a blanket pardon to all those convicted of the possession or use of small amounts of marijuana.

(I must admit to you, however, that I have NOT pardoned Scooter Libby.  He will at least have to pay his fine.)

Our values and goodness are not reflected by a government which promotes a globalization which depresses living standards at home and allows corporations to destroy the quality of life in banana republics and client states all over the world.  The WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank have caused untold suffering.  If we can’t reform them, we will abolish them.

With respect to our relationship with the government of Mexico, I have ordered (1) the cancellation of the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” or “North American Union”, (2) abandonment of plans for a NAFTA Super Highway which would have put nearly all American longshoremen and truckers out of work, and (3) suspension of NAFTA completely until Mexico gives its workers union rights, protections for safety, health, and the environment, and wages at least matching the US federal Minimum Wage.

From now on, globalization will mean raising living standards in developing nations to match ours – not the other way around.

Our values and goodness are not reflected by a system in which all our personal income taxes go to pay interest on a staggering national debt created out of thin air.  The Constitution authorizes Congress to print our money, not a private cartel.  I ask Congress to pass legislation abolishing the Federal Reserve.

Our values and goodness are not reflected by a government which uses our money to train death squads in the techniques of torture, intimidation, and assassination.  The School of the Americas (by whatever name they choose to call it) will be closed.  [As Commander-in-Chief, I have ordered that the students presently attending the School be shown the movies “Romero” and “Panama Deception” and then sent home.]

Our values and goodness are not reflected by a government which gives Most Favored Nation status to the butchers of Tienanmen Square and places an illegal secondary embargo on the impoverished people of Cuba.  The embargo of Cuba must end!  And it just did.

I recognize that we need advance information on the activities of Al Qaeda and those who wish to do us harm.  But our values and goodness are not reflected by, and our security is not enhanced by, an organization which promotes instability, insurrection, tyranny, torture, terrorism, murder, and war around the world in our name and with our money.  If the CIA won’t stick to gathering intelligence, I will abolish it.

Our values and goodness are not reflected by a government which sends its working-class youth around the world to kill the sons and daughters of working people in other countries.  Our values and goodness are not reflected by sending our children to the Middle East to kill Arabs so the oil companies can profit from selling the oil under other people’s sand, making us the target of terrorists.

No more Iraqs.  No more Kosovos.  No more El Salvadors.  These are not isolated incidents of stupidity.  They are part of a long, bloody history of foreign policy being conducted for the financial interests of the wealthy few.  It is a new form of colonialism.  It violates our Constitution.  It endangers our national security.  It mortgages our future.  It sacrifices our children.  It must stop … and it just did.

As president, I will use the men and women in our Armed Forces to protect our borders and our people, not the financial interests of Folgers, Chiquita Banana, Exxon, and Halliburton.  Needless to say, there will be NO nuclear attack on Iran.  My special envoy to the Middle East, Jimmy Carter, will be meeting with them to solve our differences.  Once he has finished there, he will straighten out the Israelis and Palestinians.

With over sixty years having passed since World War II, and with the Cold War long since over, I see no reason why we should still be occupying Germany and Japan.  Our global military presence will end within two years.  This is not isolationism.  It is common sense.  It is in the security interest of our people.  And it is obeying our Constitution for a change.

Instead of a worldwide military presence, we are going to have a humanitarian presence.  Along with the other wealthy nations of the world, we shall initiate a new Marshall Plan, providing funds to rebuild the Middle East as we rebuilt Europe after World War II.  We will also have a Domestic Marshall Plan, fulfilling the unkept Bush promises to rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding area.  In addition, we will take the lead in complete debt forgiveness for the poorest countries, starting with those in Africa.  If we are once again to be a great nation, we must first be a good nation.

Finally, I’d like to speak directly to the American people.  I understand that I am but an interim president.  I could never have been elected under the present system.  I know.  I tried in 2000.  And I am unlikely to even finish out this term — partly because I have terminal cancer from Agent Orange, and partly because there are powerful interests with hundreds of billions of reasons for wanting me assassinated.  (By the way, if you hear that I have suddenly committed suicide … by shooting myself in the back … with a shotgun … three times, you might be just a little suspicious.  They’ll call you a conspiracy theorist, but be suspicious anyway.)  But, you know, it won’t matter.  They can kill me, but they can’t kill what we have started.  It’s too late for that.  My words, heard tonight by a few, will tomorrow reach many.  Through the internet, the vision of The Patriots will spread across the land and around the globe.  You, the American people, will not let it die.

I am unlikely to get there with you, but like Brother Martin, I have been to the mountain top, and I have seen the Promised Land.

What I have seen is an America in which every person (regardless of their race, creed, color, age, or sexual orientation) is valued and lives in dignity, every person is cared for, and every person is free to reach his or her full potential.

It is an America in which every family can be supported by one wage-earner with one job paying a living wage. It is an America in which single parents can freely choose to stay home to care for their children or to work outside the home knowing that their children are taken care of in a safe and nurturing environment. It is an America in which health care is provided to all as a right.  It is an America in which our youth spend two years in the American World Service Corps, perhaps serving in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps or Habitat for Humanity or some other worthy organization, in exchange for their higher education, including whatever advanced education the person can successfully handle.  It is an America  in which educators and teachers are highly valued and financially compensated accordingly. It is an America in which policemen, nurses, poets, firefighters, teachers, and garbage collectors can afford a good house in a nice neighborhood and live in comfort, not just scientists, brain surgeons, CEOs, rock stars, lawyers, and basketball players. It is an America whose borders are secure, immigrants are legal, and workers are amply rewarded. It is an America in which faith is respected, culture is preserved, the arts are supported, and the Constitution is followed.

It is an America that seeks not to be king of the hill nor subservient to the World Trade Organization, but to be a responsible sovereign member of the family of nations (nothing more, and nothing less) … an America that is free of the threat of terrorism because it is no longer feared and hated … an America that leads the world — not just with military might, but with its vision, its compassion, its democracy, its productivity, its freedom, its standard of living, its care for the global environment, its treatment of its own people, and its goodness.  Above all, it is an America at peace with the world and with its own people. That’s the America I have seen, the America our people deserve, and the America you can build … and you don’t need me to do it.

Spread the word.  Keep the dream alive.  Drop your own pebbles in the pond and make some waves.  Never vote for any politician who takes money from corporations or lobbyists, and never elect a president who raises a hundred million dollars from special interests or is the darling of the corporate media.  If you can’t find anyone worth voting for, run for office yourself.  Cleave to your sisters and brothers all across the political spectrum in demanding the basic reforms I’ve outlined tonight, and never settle for anything less than government of the people, by the people, and especially for the people.

I know it wasn’t original to him, but my old friend, William Sloane Coffin, used to say, “He who makes peaceful change impossible makes violent revolution inevitable.”  Let us be thankful for our many blessings, bringing us this far on our journey; and let us pray that this, our inevitable second American revolution, will continue to be a nonviolent one.

It matters not if my presidency is real or fanciful.  My part is done.  It is finished.  The rest is in your hands.  The future and the dream itself depend on you.  May God sustain you in your struggles and bless America through your actions.  Thank you, and good night.