Friday, November 25, 2005

Percentages are Bush's approval ratings according
to states, shown in shades of red and blue.
He is over 50% in 3 states. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"Any moment of choice is a sacrifice."

Martha Graham

Thanks for J.K. Rowling, for inspiring new readers, for
writing one novel better than the last, transformed into
one movie better than the last. Posted by Picasa


I saw this in print somewhere but couldn't find it on the Internet, until I ran across it today. Katrina is no longer "yesterday;" in a way, it's forever now. And this is the perspective that is likely to be attached to it, especially when combined with the other evidences of criminal neglect by the oilcrats in the White House. Combine it with today's news on the subject, reported below.

Katrina's real name

By Ross Gelbspan, author of THE HEAT IS ON and BOILING POINT
August 30, 2005

The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.

When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the cause was global warming.

When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the driver was global warming.

When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the reason was global warming.

In July, when the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in Spain and Portugal and left water levels in France at their lowest in 30 years, the explanation was global warming.

When a lethal heat wave in Arizona kept temperatures above 110 degrees and killed more than 20 people in one week, the culprit was global warming.

And when the Indian city of Bombay (Mumbai) received 37 inches of rain in one day – killing 1,000 people and disrupting the lives of 20 million others – the villain was global warming.
As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms.

Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

The consequences are as heartbreaking as they are terrifying.

Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.

The reason is simple: To allow the climate to stabilize requires humanity to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent. That, of course, threatens the survival of one of the largest commercial enterprises in history.

In 1995, public utility hearings in Minnesota found that the coal industry had paid more than $1 million to four scientists who were public dissenters on global warming. And ExxonMobil has spent more than $13 million since 1998 on an anti-global warming public relations and lobbying campaign.

In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory yet when President George W. Bush was elected president – and subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and energy policies.

As the pace of climate change accelerates, many researchers fear we have already entered a period of irreversible runaway climate change.

Against this background, the ignorance of the American public about global warming stands out as an indictment of the US media.

When the US press has bothered to cover the subject of global warming, it has focused almost exclusively on its political and diplomatic aspects and not on what the warming is doing to our agriculture, water supplies, plant and animal life, public health, and weather.

For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.

Today, with the science having become even more robust – and the impacts as visible as the megastorm that covered much of the Gulf of Mexico – the press bears a share of the guilt for our self-induced destruction with the oil and coal industries.

As a Bostonian, I am afraid that the coming winter will – like last winter – be unusually short and devastatingly severe. At the beginning of 2005, a deadly ice storm knocked out power to thousands of people in New England and dropped a record-setting 42.2 inches of snow on Boston.

The conventional name of the month was January. Its real name is global warming.

Mt. Hood, photos taken in late summer 1985 and 2002.
photos Gary Bramson. Posted by Picasa
Nobody Will Thank Us For This

from "Greenhouse gas at highest level in 650,000 years"
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor Telegraph UK

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the gas that drives global warming, is greater by more than a quarter on any previous high in the last 650,000 years, according to a European study.

Analysis of air bubbles trapped in ice taken from east Antarctica has revealed the stark comparison and the findings will be added to evidence of human interference in the Earth's climate, which has been collected for next week's United Nations' conference on global warming in Montreal, Canada.

The latest sample, or ice core, extends previous records by 210,000 years. It was obtained by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, and the findings are published in the journal Science today. The scientists, working in severe weather conditions, used a four-inch wide drill bit, in 10ft sections, to bring up ice that was deposited by snows that fell up to 650,000 years ago.

The analysis showed that today's atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, at 380 parts per million, is already 27 per cent greater than previous highs, said Prof Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern, Switzerland. "We have added another piece of information showing that the timescales on which humans have changed the composition of the atmosphere are extremely short compared to the natural time cycles of the climate system."

Ed Brook, a professor of geosciences at Oregon State University, who analysed the research, said: "Not long ago we thought that previous ice studies which go back about 500,000 years might be the best we could obtain. Now we have a glimpse into the past of up to 650,000 years, and we believe it may be possible to go as much as one million years or more."

He added: "The levels of primary greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are up dramatically since the Industrial Revolution, at a speed and magnitude that the Earth has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years. There is now no question this is due to human influence."

• Ocean levels are rising by two millimetres per year compared with one millimetre annually for the last several thousand years, according to Prof Kenneth Miller of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "With solid historical data, we know it is definitely a recent phenomenon," he said.

Sea level rise doubles in 150 years · Increase blamed on fossil fuel use since 19th century· Cut in greenhouse gases futile, researchers say
Ian Sample, science correspondent

Friday November 25, 2005The Guardian

Global warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile, leading researchers will warn today.

The oceans will rise nearly half a metre by the end of the century, forcing coastlines back by hundreds of metres, the researchers claim. Scientists believe the acceleration is caused mainly by the surge in greenhouse gas emissions produced by the development of industry and introduction of fossil fuel burning.

Today's warning comes from US researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey who analysed cores drilled from different sites along the eastern seaboard. By drilling down 500 metres through layers of different sediments and using chemical dating techniques, the scientists were able to work out where beaches and dry land were over the past 100m years.

The analysis showed that during the past 5,000 years, sea levels rose at a rate of around 1mm each year, caused largely by the residual melting of icesheets from the previous ice age. But in the past 150 years, data from tide gauges and satellites show sea levels are rising at 2mm a year.

"The main thing that has happened since the 19th century and the beginning of the modern observation has been the widespread increase in fossil fuel use and more greenhouse gases," said Professor Kenneth Miller, who led the study. "We can say the increase we're seeing is much higher than we've seen in the immediate past and it is due to humans."

The rising tide is expected to make oceans 40cm higher by 2100. "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed," he said. Rising sea levels will also add to the destructive power of storm surges triggered by hurricanes such as Katrina which battered New Orleans and surrounding areas this year.
Why Worry About the Dolphins ---We're Killing Each Other With Noise

The Times
from "Noise link to danger of heart attacks"
By Sam Lister, Health Correspondent

A study of more than 4,000 men and women has found associations between long-term exposure to higher decibel sounds and susceptibility to a heart attack. Furthermore, the risk appears to be linked more to the physiological effect of environmental and work noise, rather than the annoyance and stress that it causes.

Both sexes were vulnerable but were affected in very different ways, according to the study, which was published yesterday in the online edition of the European Heart Journal.

General environmental noise, such as caused by traffic, made women three times more likely to have a heart attack, but increased the risk for men by less than 50 per cent. In contrast, workplace noise increased the risk for men by nearly a third, but did not seem to have an impact on women.

The heart attack risk rose with increasing noise levels until a threshold point, above which it remained constant. This appeared to be about 60 decibels, which is the level of noise typically experienced in a large, busy office.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

"There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, 'Business as usual.' But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening."

Yann Martel
Life of Pi

Cute. Let's deafen him. Posted by Picasa
Sound of Killing: Machines Drown Out Dolphins and Whales

Ocean Noise Harms Dolphins, Whales

By PAUL CHAVEZ, Associated Press

Increasing levels of ocean noise generated by military sonar, shipping, and oil and gas exploration is threatening dolphins and whales that rely on sound for mating, finding food and avoiding predators, according to a new report.

The report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that the affects of ocean noise on marine life range from long-term behavioral change to hearing loss to death.

The report, a follow-up to a 1999 study, included details from necropsies performed on beached whales suspected of being exposed to Navy sonar. Scientists who examined more than a dozen whales that beached in the Canary Islands in September 2002 found bleeding around the brain and ears and lesions in the animals' livers and kidneys.

"It is a set of symptoms that have never before been seen in marine mammals," said Michael Jasny, the report's principal author. "That physical evidence has led scientists to understand that the sonar is injuring the whales in addition to causing them to strand."

Researchers believe that whales are suffering the same type of decompression sickness that is known as "the bends" in humans. The leading theory is that sonar either causes whales to panic and surface too quickly or forces them deeper before they can expel nitrogen, leading to nitrogen bubbles in the blood.

A federal probe into the mass stranding of 17 whales in the Bahamas in March 2000 cited the Navy's use of mid-frequency sonar as a contributing factor. The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Navy last month in federal court in Los Angeles in an attempt to curb its use of mid-frequency sonar, which is the most common method of detecting enemy submarines. The environmental group wants limits on sonar during training exercises, not in war.

In the new report, the NRDC urged the National Marine Fisheries Service to better enforce the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. The service should also require the Navy to obtain permits for its sonar exercises, according to the report. A fisheries service spokeswoman said the agency had not seen the report and could not comment on it.

Jasny said noises from oil and gas exploration have also been linked to lower catch rates of halibut, cod and other species of fish. "It's been shown that some species of fish suffer severe injury to their inner ears, which can seriously compromise their ability to survive," he said.

The NRDC recommended year-round restrictions of excessive ocean noise in critical habitats and seasonal restrictions on migration routes. For example, the group suggested that oil-and-gas companies avoid seismic surveys in the winter off the west coast of Africa when baleen whales are breeding offshore.

It also called on the fisheries service to increase oversight of oil and gas surveys, which rely on shooting high-intensity air guns at the ocean's floor. The true impact of ocean noise remains unknown because strandings likely represent just a small portion of marine life effected by excessive noise, Jasny said.

Deep in the heart of darkness Posted by Picasa


The Austin, Ohio, Gestapo Connection

Bill Moyers at

excerpts of an article about the newspaper, the Texas Observer

Consider the scene just a few weeks ago when your Gov. Perry [of Texas], surrounded by cheering God-folk, showed up at a pep rally in Fort Worth for yet another cleverly staged bashing of gay people, contrived to keep the pious signed on for the culture war so they won’t know they are losing the class war waged against them in Austin by the governor and his rich corporate patrons.

The main speaker was none other than the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio. Keep your eyes on Rev. Parsley. He is the new incarnation of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, that devout duo who channeled Elmer Gantry into a new political religion driven by an obsession to punish people on account of sex. Parsley runs a multimillion-dollar-a-year televangelism ministry based in Columbus, Ohio, with access worldwide to 400 TV stations and cable affiliates. He describes himself as neither Republican nor Democrat but a “Christo-crat” —a gladiator for God marching against “the very hordes of hell in our society.” But he shows up with so many Republicans that he has been publicly described as the party’s “spiritual advisor.”

The “advice” he offers is the same old stuff peddled by Robertson and Falwell in their own rise to the top of the dung heap of religious bigotry and bile. Parsley demonizes other faiths (“The god of Islam and the god of Christianity are not the same being”) and rouses the partisan faithful to fever pitch by tossing them the red meat of radical disinformation: “The church in America is under oppression.” “The separation of church and state is a lie perpetrated on Americans—especially on believers in Jesus Christ.”

So intense is his scapegoating of gays that one cannot help but think of the 1930s when the powerful and the pious in Germany demonized Jews and homosexuals in order to arouse and manipulate public passions. Watching the two of them together, you have to wonder if Gov. Perry and Rev. Parsley have ever read a history book detailing how Heinrich Himmler organized a special section of the Gestapo to deal with homosexuality and abortion, exhorting his country to remember that “Germany’s forebears knew what to do with homosexuals. They drowned them in bags.” You want to believe the governor and the preacher are surely ignorant of such horrors, horrors you know they would never condone, but you want to grab them by the lapels and shake them and tell them their loathing of other people is the kindling of evil.

Ohio newspapers report that Parsley has launched Reformation Ohio to bring “spiritual revival and moral reformation” to the Buckeye state by using pastors and their churches to register at least 400,000 new voters motivated by “Bible-based values.”

It’s a familiar agenda: deny women freedom of conscience in the difficult personal choices affecting pregnancy, discriminate against gay people who seek the commitments of marriage, outlaw stem-cell research no matter the lives it might save, and overturn a provision in the U.S. tax code that prohibits non-profit churches from endorsing political candidates. (At one recent rally, Parsley and former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller delivered “fiery speeches” as more than 1,200 pastors were handed thousands of mail-in petitions to spread among their congregations urging the Senate quickly to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court.)

Rev. Parsley is a master of mass psychology. He sees the church as a sleeping giant with the ability and the anointing from God to transform America. At a rally in July he proclaimed: “Let the Revolution begin!” And the congregation answered: “Let the Revolution begin.”

So what was it that brought Rev. Parsley to Austin recently to meet with Gov. Perry? Both showed up for a “Pastors’ Policy Briefing” sponsored by the Texas Restoration Project (not to be confused with Reformation Ohio, unless you think of kissin’ cousins). Once again the aim is to sign up “Patriot Pastors” who will call on their congregations to vote the Lord’s will on Election Day. Also present in Austin was Ohio’s secretary of state, Ken Blackwell. You will remember him as the overseer of the election process in Ohio last year when a surge of conservative Christian voters narrowly carried Bush to victory there. Yes, the same Ken Blackwell who had modestly acknowledged that “God wanted him as secretary of state in 2004” because it was such a critical election.

Now, apparently, he has been divinely designated for higher office. One wonders what Blackwell, Perry and Parsley were really talking about when they got down on their knees here in Austin. We will never know, because the praying and preaching and politicking were closed to the press, as befits the stealth salvation they are plotting for Texas. Who paid to bring preachers from all over the state to town for this politically religious camp meeting? That, too, is a big secret. Two Texas oligarchs were spotted at the closed-door sessions—James Leininger and Bo Pilgrim— and they may have dropped something into the offering plate. But no one will say who put up the half million shekels it cost to bring the brethren to town and provide for them more than a few loaves and fishes.

Some years ago the classicist scholar, William Arrowsmith, writing in The Texas Observer, described the “worst of Texas attitudes—the rock-bottom conviction, expressed in stone throughout the state and in the hearts of politicians, that what counts is always and only wealth, that everything is for sale and can be bought.” Including now the Faith of Our Fathers, the Old Time Religion, the Rock of Ages. Right-wing religion provides the political and corporate forces running America a cloak of “moral values” with which to camouflage the plunder of America. It is the Texas machine duplicated many times over.

For, as The Texas Observer once put it, “The men who run the Lone Star State, through a tacit but powerful interlocking directorate of politicians and corporation executives [joined now by preachers] are perpetrating and perpetuating a monstrous deception on the public” —namely, the illusion of self-government.

Everything President George W. Bush knows, he learned here, as the product of a system rigged to assure the political progeny needed to perpetuate itself with minimum interference from the nuisances of liberal democracy. You remember liberal democracy: the rule of law, the protection of individual and minority rights, checks and balances against arbitrary power, an independent press, the separation of church and state. As governor, Bush was nurtured by the peculiar Texas blend of piety and privilege that mocks those values.

With the election of 2000, he and his cohorts arrived in Washington like atheists taking over the Vatican; they had come to run a government they don’t believe in. The results have been disastrous: reckless tax cuts, a relentless assault on social services, monumental debt, pre-emptive war, an exhausted military, booming corporate welfare and corruption so deep and pervasive it has touched every facet of American government.

Much has been made of the president’s inept response to Hurricane Katrina. His early response was to joke the fun he had as a frat boy in now-grieving New Orleans. When a reporter pressed him on what had gone wrong after the hurricane struck, he sarcastically asked: “Who says something went wrong?” His attitude would surprise no one who read the 1999 profile of Bush by a conservative journalist who reported how the then-governor had made fun of Karla Fay Tucker’s appeals to be spared the death penalty. The journalist—a conservative, remember —wrote that Bush mocked and dismissed the woman, like him a born-again Christian, as he depicted her begging him, “Please don’t kill me!” But this is not what she had said. Bush made it up.

Such contempt for other people’s reality is embedded in a philosophy hostile to government except as an instrument of privilege and patronage. This is the crowd, remember, that was asleep at the switch in the months leading up to 9/11 when the intelligence traffic crackled with warnings about terrorist attacks (look it up in the official commission report).

It’s the same crowd that made a mess of the occupation of Iraq—and then awarded themselves Medals of Freedom for the wreckage they had created. Their mentality was well summed up by Donald Rumsfeld, who, after Baghdad’s libraries and museums were sacked, shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Stuff happens.’ Hurricane Katrina uncovered what the progressive advocate Robert Borosage calls the “catastrophic conservatism” of the long right-wing crusade to denigrate government, ‘starve the beast,’ scorn its purposes and malign its officials. We are seeing the results of an economic policy focused on top-end tax cuts and deregulations to reward private investors, as opposed to public investments in the country’s vital infrastructure. On the day that Katrina struck the coast, the census bureau reported that last year, one million people had been added to the 36 million Americans living in poverty.

A few weeks earlier, the Labor Department had reported that while incomes had grown impressively last year, the gains had gone mostly to the top—the people with stocks and bonds and income other than wages. But the 80 million people who live paycheck to paycheck barely stayed even. It took a natural disaster to expose the stunning inequality and poverty produced when people are written off and shoved to the margins.

And to remind us, as Borosage writes, of the dearth of basic investment in the boring but essential public works vital to civilization—schools, public transport, water systems, public health, and yes, wetlands and trees. We are seeing now the results of systemic and spectacular corruption and cronyism and the triumph of a social ideal—the “You get yours/I’ll get mine” mentality—that is diametrically opposed to the ethic of shared sacrifice and responsibility.

Consider the story of the president’s buddy, Joe Allbaugh. When he was appointed head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration—FEMA—he described the agency as “an oversized entitlement program” and told states and cities to rely instead on faith-based organizations. Not surprisingly, the first in line at FEMA’s front door in the aftermath of Katrina was the televangelist and tycoon, Pat Robertson. Although he had only recently called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and had prayed in public for God to open some Supreme Court vacancies “one way or the other,” Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing—sic—got one of the first faith-based grants for relief work on the Gulf Coast.

As a Christian magazine has now informed us, Robertson used some of those tax dollars to help rush 80,000 Bibles to the stricken region. Joe Allbaugh, meanwhile, was already on the scene—but not as head of FEMA. He had returned to “private life,” as the term is laughingly used among Washington lobbyists. Having failed to prepare his agency to cope with disaster, he carefully prepared himself to exploit disaster when it strikes. It had not escaped him that the invasion of Iraq opened splendid opportunities for gain among the well-connected of Washington who ha cheered it on. Setting up a lobbying firm near the White House, he was soon facilitating business for contractors in Iraq and running another company that provides security for private companies operating there.

Allbaugh housed his entire complex at the Washington lobbying and law firm of Barbour, Griffith and Rogers. The ‘Barbour’ in that lineup is none other that the former chair of the Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour. The ‘Rogers’ is Ed Rogers, Barbour’s partner, who is also—hold your breath—one of Allbaugh’s vice presidents. Haley Barbour, having enriched himself as an influence peddler, went back to Mississippi and ran for governor, which means he is playing a big hand in passing out your tax dollars for reconstruction. Lo and behold, on September 1, the Pentagon announced a major contract for repair of Naval facilities on the Gulf Coast to Halliburton, whose chief lobbyist is… Joe Allbaugh. What a lucky coincidence. Or as Shakespeare might put it: ‘Merit doth much, but fortune more.”

This is what you get from people who don’t believe in government except to aggrandize their own privilege. It wasn’t the lack of resources that prevented the administration from responding effectively to the disaster. The Washington Post’s Bill Arkin, among others, reminds us that the federal government had water, medicine, food and security at hand, in addition to the transportation needed to get it down to the coast in a hurry. The problem was “leadership, decisiveness, foresight.” And this goes to the core of the radical right’s atheist-in-the-Vatican philosophy: Denounce the government you now run, defang its powers and dilute its responsibilities, and direct the spoils of victory to your cronies in the private sector.

This predatory convergence of corporate, political and religious power has taken the notion of our commonwealth —the ‘We the People’ in that magnificent preamble to the Constitution—and soaked it in the sanctimony of homegrown Ayatollahs, squeezed it through a rigged market, and then auctioned it to the highest bidder for private advantage, at the expense of working people, their families and their communities.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

JFK Eternal Flame, Arlington National Cemetary. Posted by Picasa

January 20, 1961. Inaugural Address. "The torch has been passed..." Posted by Picasa

The official presidential portrait photograph. Posted by Picasa

meeting with African American leaders Posted by Picasa

October 1962. John and Robert Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Posted by Picasa

Captain Future's Diary

I’ve posted at dkos and elsewhere on the significance of two days in June 1963, as a highlight of JFK’s presidency, especially in terms of the future.

(I combined the commentary on RFK and speech excerpts that appear here as posts that were frontpaged at dkos and Booman Tribune.)

President Kennedy gave the American University speech on June 10. Major excerpts appear elsewhere on this page. The next day, he gave an impromptu address to the nation on Civil Rights. Responding to turmoil and violence in the South that spring, he proposed what would become after his death the Voting Rights Act, in terms of simple justice. “In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated.”

I put these both in historical context in the diaries at dkos and Booman Tribune. But what I want to emphasize here is this: What is striking about these two eloquent statements today is the premium they place on using imagination as a crucial tool in political life. The imagination to step back and see things whole. The imagination to empathize on a personal level. The imagination to seize new ideas, and the imagination to know the right time for them to be heard.

June 10, 1963,at American University: a vision for peace
and proposal for a nuclear test ban treaty, agreed to by
the U.S. and Soviet Union several months later.
Posted by Picasa
A Vision of Peace from "An Idealist Without Illusions"

Excerpts of Remarks of President John F. Kennedy at American University, Washington D.C.,
June 10, 1963. Emphasis added.

President Anderson, members of the faculty, Board of Trustees, distinguished guests, my old colleague, Senator Bob Byrd, who has earned his degree through many years of attending night law school, while I am earning mine in the next 30 minutes, ladies and gentlemen:

"There are few earthly things more beautiful than a University," wrote John Masefield, in his tribute to the English Universities - - and his words are equally true here. He did not refer to spires and towers, to campus greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty of the University, he said, because it was " a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see."

I have, therefore, chose this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is to rarely perceived - - yet it is the most important topic on earth : world peace.

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace - - the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living -- the kind that enables man and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children - - not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women - - not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all of the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by the wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles - - which can only destroy and never create - - is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war - - and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament - - and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must re-examine our own attitude - as individuals and as a Nation - - for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward - - by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the Cold War and toward freedom and peace here at home.

First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many of us think it is unreal. But that is dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable - - that mankind is doomed - - that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade - - therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable - - and we believe they can do it again.

I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the values of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace - - based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions - -on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.

There is no single, simple key to this peace - - no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process - - a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor - - it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable - - and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly - - by making it seem more manageable and less remote - - we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.

Second: Let us re-examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims - - such as the allegation that " American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of wars…that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union…(and that) the political aims of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries…(and) to achieve world domination.

Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements - - to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning - - a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodations as impossible and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.

No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements - - in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation's territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland - - a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.

Today, should total war ever break out again - - no matter how - - our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironical but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the Cold War, which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this Nation's closest allies - - our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counter-weapons.

In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours -- and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.

So, let us not be blind to our differences - - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

Third: Let us re-examine our attitude toward the Cold War, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had history of the last eighteen years been different.

We must, therefore, preserve in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists' interest to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our vital interest, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy - - or of a collective death-wish for the world.

To secure these ends, America's weapons are non-provocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplines in self-restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility.

For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove that we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people - - but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.

Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument of peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system - - a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished.

This will require a new effort to achieve world law - - a new context for world discussions. It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding will require increased contact and communications.

We have also been talking in Geneva about other first-step measures of arms control, designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and to reduce the risks of accidental war. Our primary long-range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament - - designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this Government since the 1920's. It has been urgently sought by the past three Administrations.

And however dim the prospects may be today, we intend to continue this effort - - to continue it in order that all countries, including our own, can better grasp what the problems and possibilities of disarmament are.

The one major area of these negotiations where the end is in sight- - yet where a fresh start is badly needed - - is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty - - so near and yet so far - - would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas.

IT would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security - - it would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.

I am taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two important decisions in this regard.

First: Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history - - but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind.

Second: To make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on the matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty - - but I hope it will help us achieve one. Nor would such a treaty be a substitute for disarmament - - but I hope it will help us achieve it.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our won society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our own lives - - as many of you who are graduation today will have a unique opportunity to do, by serving without pay in the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service Corps here at home.

But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our duties today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete.

It is the responsibility of the Executive Branch at all levels of government - - local, state and national - - to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within their authority. It is the responsibility of the Legislative Branch at all levels, wherever that authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of all others and to respect the law of the land.

All this is not unrelated to world peace. "When a man's ways please the Lord," the Scriptures tell us, "he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter human rights - - the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation - - the right to breathe air as nature provided it - - the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can - - if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement and if it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers - - offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough - - more than enough - - of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on - - not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace.

June 11, 1963, addressing the nation on Civil Rights,
proposing what would become the Voting Rights Act. Posted by Picasa

Dallas, November 22, 1963. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Robert F. Kennedy, born November 20,1925. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Quote

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with its many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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1968 Posted by Picasa

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This would have been Robert F. Kennedy's 80th birthday. It comes at a moment of intense political polarization, in a nation roiled by an unpopular war characterized by official deceit. Many of Robert Kennedy's words on Vietnam could be dropped into the newspaper today and they would be just as relevant.

If he were a politican today, there would be many in the blososphere ripping into him daily, this one, charging him with opportunism, cynical and self-centered politics, and trading on his name and wealthy family.

Kennedy was himself a polarizing figure, although his words were of reconcilation. That in part was what made him polarizing.

His positions on various issues did not satisfy the templates of the left or right. Yet he was the only white politician who had the passionate support and love of many blacks. He was the only political leader who spent time on Indian reservations and tiny Inuit villages as well as southern rural and white West Virgina mountain shanty towns.

He inspired passions for and passions against. People wanted to touch him, and he needed to touch others--he seemed to learn through touch. He learned through children, extending the feelings of a father to compassion for all children.

He grew up in privilege, and his early meetings with black leaders were not warm. Yet by 1968, when Martin Luther King was shot and killed, his widow asked Robert Kennedy to arrange to have his body moved from Memphis to Atlanta. His impromptu speech, passing on the news of King's assassination in a black neighborhood where he happened to be, is one of his most famous.

If we took Robert Kennedy out of time, and dropped him into our own, he would find a different country in many ways. There are about twice as many people in the United States. The racial and ethnic composition has changed. In 1968, one parent usually did the earning for the family, the man in most white families, and increasingly the woman in single parent poor black families. Two paycheck families, let alone two parents with five or six jobs between them, were rare.

But the social needs and injustices are largely the same. Kennedy spoke in favor of national health care coverage in 1968, a cause his brother Ted would champion and keep on the agenda for many years.

Politically, the parties were stronger. Democrats had deep organizations in the cities, and industrial unions were strong. But the Democratic party was also coming apart. JFK knew that by leading on civil rights, the Democrats would lose their hold on the solid South. 1968 would see Richard Nixon exploit this. Vietnam was itself tearing younger people like me away from the party. Eugene McCarthy ran within the party, but he was not really of it. Robert Kennedy was, and his candidacy may have kept many young people in the party.

I happened to catch some of the C-Span coverage of a commemoration of his birthday, and saw John Lewis say that this would be a very different country today if he had been President, and I've known in my heart for a long time that this is true. But the emotion I felt I later understood as this: loneliness. Robert Kennedy's death made this a very lonely country for me.
Robert Kennedy took on that last political fight, knowing the odds were against him, knowing that violence was in the air. He was a warrior for peace. It is important to remember even as we stand up against the cynical and cowardly violence of the rabid right, that Robert Kennedy's last crusade was this: as he said to a largely black audience in that unwritten speech on the night of Martin Luther King's assassination, "Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

I could quote his Vietnam speeches, emphasizing the horror for the victims of war. But Robert Kennedy's life, and a great deal of the promise of America, was ended by an act of violence in June 1968. So I quoted instead Kennedy's first major speech was just after King's death, and after the violent riots that torched and destroyed significant parts of many cities. In some cities, like Washington, it would be more than a decade before those areas recovered. Paragraphs from that speech are the previous entry.

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"For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, this poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family , then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies---to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look on our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear--only a common desire to retreat from each other--only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers. Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what program to enact. The question is whether we can find in our midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can niether be enobled or enriched by hatred or revenge. Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land."

Robert F. Kennedy
in Ohio April 4, 1968

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RFK with some of his children and JFK's Posted by Picasa