In memoriam

Morning has broken, like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from Heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning,
God’s recreation of the new day.

December 5, 1989 – September 24, 2007


Deepest sympathy to Robert and Donna Hill, Patrick Bradshaw and the members of the Hill, Winstead and Bradshaw families. Our prayers are with 4-month-old baby Payton Bradshaw, the son of Mindy and Patrick, who is in critical condtion at University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
Update: Baby Payton died on 11 October 2007. I picture him in Mindy's arms. Love to my family.


Who's watching the watchdogs?

When I got my first post-college newspaper job in 1982 I called my brother-in-law, then a Buick “Salesmaster,” and asked him to be on the lookout for a “good used car.” Three months later, I got his call and became the proud owner of what had to be one of the biggest cars ever made – a metallic green Chevrolet Caprice Classic just a few years old and in pristine condition. The price was right: $1,960.

After driving a Mercury Capri that was literally falling apart, no one could have been more proud of a car.

One afternoon on the way home from work I was sideswiped by what was known around Jackson, Miss., as the Police Department “paddy wagon.” This vehicle was driven by jail “trusties,” and the last thing I saw as it sped away was the slogan on its rear door, “To Serve and To Protect.”

Confident that the city of Jackson would compensate me for repairs I contacted the PD and was put through to its legal representative. He first told me, “I would have to pull the trip tickets” to determine who was driving the paddy wagon. He said it as though I had asked him to split the atom. After some discussion it became apparent that he had no intention of helping me.

The lawyer I contacted, after talking with this same man, agreed with my assessment: “You’re right; he is a wily old bastard.” I looked the lawyer in the eye and asked, “Who’s policing the police?”

The matter was settled to my satisfaction.

On a grander scale, bigger than that Chevy, Americans need now to ask themselves, “Who’s watching the watchdogs?”

A recent issue of THE PROGRESS REPORT, Center for American Progress, exposes a number of government watchdogs – aka inspectors general – who are not only failing to do their job, but have been found to be corrupt in their positions.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Read the article in my new reading room: LINK


Kurtz statement stunning

Caught a rerun of Glenn Beck’s recent interview with Howard Kurtz on CNN Headline News (LINK).

Beck was attempting to get Kurtz, a media critic with The Washington Post and host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” to condemn statements made by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who, in my opinion, is not afraid to speak truth to power.

Olbermann had made comments in a Playboy interview that Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News were as dangerous to America as al Qaeda or the Ku Klux Klan.

I have absolutely no argument with that.

This exchange took place in a Beck segment on “media bias” and how it might be hurting our troops in Iraq. As Kurtz began to point out that others, like Beck himself and Bill O’Reilly, are paid for their “opinions,” Beck was spouting, “Hang on! Hang on!” “Bull crap!” and “That’s not true, Howard!” – and claiming, if you can believe this, that Olbermann masks his program as “news.”

Kurtz, whose own bias often bleeds through while discussing media bias, said he did not approve of Olbermann’s “over the top” remarks, adding Olbermann is “very talented” and his remarks were “beneath the kind of erudition I would expect from him.”

Kurtz’ next statement is absolutely stunning:

“I think the argument that I've heard Olbermann make in the past about Fox News - it's not an argument that I embrace - is that, because it poses as a news organization and puts out dangerous misinformation …”

Beck interjects, “But, that's what he's doing!

Kurtz continues, “ … and is a cheerleader for the Bush administration, that it's misinforming our society. But, you know what? They’re entitled to that.”

Here is a man who makes his living posing as a media watchdog saying Fox News is ENTITLED to be a cheerleader for Bush and misinform our society – while presenting itself as a “fair, balanced and unafraid” legitimate news outlet.

I never learned that in Journalism 101!


A brief post follows.

No pill bill

The Capitol Times, Madison, Wisconsin (LINK) reports:

Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill in committee which would allow health care professionals to “refuse to dispense emergency contraception to sexual assault victims if it offends their religious beliefs."


U.S. Senate v. U.S. Constitution

On 20 September 2007, the U.S. Senate voted to reject the Feingold Amendment “to safely redeploy our troops out of Iraq.”

Then, they voted against FREEDOM OF SPEECH:

Question: On the Amendment (John Cornyn, R-TX, Amdt. No. 2934)

Vote Result: Amendment Agreed To
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 2934 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008)

Statement of Purpose:

To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.

Vote Counts:

YEAs 72
NAYs 25

Grouped By Vote Position: YEAs - 72
Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Roberts (R-KS)
Salazar (D-CO)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Webb (D-VA)

NAYs - 25
Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting - 3
Biden (D-DE)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Obama (D-IL)

Source: U.S. Senate (LINK)


Murdoch's double punch

Now, we have the lethal one-two punch of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.

Yesterday’s Murdoch coverage:

“Cheney says Greenspan is 'off the mark': WSJ,” Agence-France Presse: LINK

“The Real Bush Record,” Wall Street Journal: LINK

“Bush Rebuts Greenspan's Critique of Fiscal Policy,” Wall Street Journal: LINK

“Bush Rejects Greenspan Characterization of His Economic Stewardship,” FOX News: LINK

Forget “fair and balanced.” How ‘bout “All the lies that are fit to spit.”


For a little TV news, read on.

News updates

Dan Rather has sued CBS, Viacom and his former bosses for $70 million alleging “breach of contract:” LINK Rather will appear on “Larry King Live,” CNN, tonight at 9 EDT.

About the time Don Imus was booted off MSNBC, three women disappeared off that cable news network’s radar: Norah O’Donnell, Campbell Brown and Rita Cosby. Norah is back on MSNBC after giving birth to twins. Rita has written a disputed book about the whole Anna Nicole Smith ordeal. Cambell Brown is set to host her own evening show to air in November on CNN. Brown, who is pregnant, left NBC’s “Today” show two day ago and will take “family leave” soon after her CNN gig begins. The nightly CNN time slot Brown will fill has not yet been announced. I mentioned Imus because I read somewhere that he caused one female MSNBC employee to diss another to tears, and the employee was fired. Does anyone know the poop on the females involved in this episode?

NBC’s Tim Russert will moderate the next Democratic presidential debate, which airs on MSNBC, Wednesday, 26 September, at 9 p.m. Russert promises that after the two-hour debate, being held at Dartmouth College, viewers will know where the candidates stand on issues. LINK



On CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Thursday, 13 September (LINK), sub host Suzanne Malveaux was discussing Bush’s upcoming speech on Iraq with Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez.

While Malveaux brought up the latest CBS News/New York Times poll showing 71 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war, and Carville was pointing out Bush’s missteps along the way, all Sanchez could do was bring up the MoveOn.org ad in the New York Times – the one which asked “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

For days every right-wing pundit and politician had been hammering the MoveOn ad – a nice RED HERRING to distract the public from the real issues of the war and what Bush would have to say that night.

Sanchez had no rebuttal for the poll or Carville’s remarks, so she threw this out:

“OK. OK, let's be - let's be fair. It is ludicrous to think that MoveOn.org does not represent the fringe liberal left, the anti-war movement of the Democratic Party. It is ludicrous to think that they are not the ones in control that the Democratic candidates are trying to appease. And, on top of that, this is a socialist radical movement that's basically trying to take down the government.”

That, dear reader, is pure BS!

In 2002, I became a member of MoveOn.org – then a grassroots movement 2.5 million strong. Its founders, computer entrepreneurs Wes Boyd and Joan Blades used the fortune they made from those flying toaster screensavers and “You Don’t Know Jack” trivia games to found an organization whose goal was to help the country “move on” after President Clinton’s impeachment – a healing much needed.

I spent a lot of time on MoveOn’s “Great Goals” forum, where members posted goals for our country. I made many good friends there – each of us with our own pet issues.

As the incompetence and deception of the current administration began to come to light, and the faulty intelligence and claims of an Iraq-9/11 connection that would take us to war became apparent, it was only natural that these lies (I’m not afraid to use the word) would be discussed.

That was when contributors to the forum came under vicious personal attacks from the right-wing. I would be red-faced to tell you some of the things they had to say about this retired newspaper editor.

Finally, the forum had to be temporarily shut down after being spammed with one porn photo after another.

Then, came “the Hitler ad.” MoveOn sponsored a contest asking members to submit 30-second campaign ads for Election 2004. An ad was submitted – among the 1,500 entries - showing George Bush morphing into Adolph Hitler. Members reported the ad, and it was immediately pulled from the MoveOn site. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and right-wing Web sites reported the incident thusly: “MoveOn.org has compared President Bush to Adolph Hitler.”

The winner of the ad contest, by the way, was “Child’s Pay,” showing little kids working at menial adult jobs with the message that they will foot the bill for Bush’s burgeoning deficit. Very clever ad. Very true.

The right-wing saw its out. You see, a grassroots group 2.5 million strong, with our fund raising house parties and bake sales in behalf of favorite candidates, was a threat, particularly in the run-up to Election 2004, so we were, in a word, “swift-boated.”

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly called us “the most dangerous organization in America.” In a particularly hypocritical moment, O’Reilly said anyone donating to MoveOn.org might as well “give it to the Nazi Party.”

The mainstream media took up the drumbeat, demonizing the organization. Its name soon became synonymous with “anti-American,” just as criticism of Bush’s policies became “Bush bashing.”

Next came the George Soros contribution. Soros pledged to match members contributions - dollar for dollar - up to $2.5 million. For a man of Soros’ means, that was hardly an attempt to take over. He offered similar contributins to other grassroots entities.

Suddenly, George Soros became the right-wing’s new Beelzebub – a one-man movement to overthrow the government of the United States.

It didn’t matter that the right-wing base had no clue who Soros was, they accepted that his “connection” with MoveOn made both a sinister force to be stopped.

So, what makes Soros such a threat?

From his Web site (LINK): “A global financier and philanthropist, George Soros is the founder and chairman of a network of foundations that promote, among other things, the creation of open, democratic societies based upon the rule of law, market economies, transparent and accountable governance, freedom of the press and respect for human rights.

Yeah, that’s really scary! No wonder Bill O’Reilly sees this man as a threat! Openness would be the last thing Fox News would want its minions exposed to.

Not one soul I met on MoveOn has failed to express support for our men and women in the military. But, in opposing the war in Iraq, we became known, not just on Fox News but in the MSM, as “the MoveOn.org crowd” or “the anti-war crowd.”

I am not anti-war, but I was anti-this war from the start. I knew the history of Islam and of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

By now the picture was complete – a myth perpetuated first by Fox, then the MSM - MoveOn.org is “an anti-American leftist fringe group,” not the grassroots force of persons actively working for a better America and a better world.

I left MoveOn.org in 2005 for one reason. Members pleaded with Wes, Joan, Eli Pariser and other organization leaders to fight back. I thought they remained elitist and aloof, thinking they were above the fray – and for that they are paying the price.

The organization’s clout, its ability to influence persons outside its ranks, has been greatly eroded by right-wing propaganda, and the Petraeus ad might just be the straw which breaks its back. Never mind that the ad’s content was factual.

Sure, this is still a country where free speech is Constitutionally protected, but the right-wing pundits and politicians, the media and many Americans just don’t seem to know that.

Very sad that such a potentially effective group – now with 3.2 million members determined to make this a better America – would let itself fall prey to what is tantamount to a character assassination of its members by mean-spirited persons, who are, in my opinion, more dangerous to this country than any so-called “anti-war crowd.”

Have my American visitors asked yourselves when it became “treasonous” to question a president’s foreign and domestic policies and an unnecessary war – both of which have tarnished our country’s image and set it back for decades?

A Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress led us to where we are today. It is time to move on.


For an in-depth article on MoveOn.org’s beginnings, its growth, its goals and its future, visit my new reading room: LINK


Your news: CENSORED!

It’s that time of year, when journalists in newsrooms across the country gather ‘round computers to read that long-awaited list.

If it’s September, it’s “Project Censored.”

Sonoma State University’s “Project Censored” has released its top 25 news stories of 2006-2007 – which have been censored by the “mainstream media’s” lack of coverage.

These are the stories we might be hearing or reading if the MSM were not obsessed with the latest car chase, sex scandal and celebrity fluff.

(NOTE: This post is long, because it has a list of 25 stories, a brief description of each and links to the winning articles. After you read the introductory paragraphs, just scroll down through the list to see what interests you. You might want to click on the post title and bookmark the post page for future reading. Thanks.)

Hundreds of stories are submitted; vetted by students, faculty and journalists, then the top 25 are submitted to judges who rank their importance.

What makes this 31-year-old tradition so exciting? After the list is published, the top stories eventually make their way into the MSM.

So, why not read tomorrow’s news today?


Here are the top 25 censored stories of 2006-2007, from the Project Censored 2008 news release (LINK):

#1 No Habeas Corpus for Any Person

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) ushered in military
commission law for U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike. Text in the
MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the
constitutional justice system for any person arbitrarily deemed to
be an “enemy of the state,” regardless of American citizenship.

Winning entry:

“Who Is 'Any Person' in Tribunal Law?”, Robert Parry, Consortium, 10/19/2006, LINK

“Still No Habeas Rights for You” Robert Parry, Consortium, 2/3/2007, LINK

“Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Restore the Most American
Human Right” Thom Hartmann, CommonDreams, 2/12/2007, LINK

#2 Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the president to deploy military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent
of the governor or local authorities in order to "suppress public disorder.”

“Bush Moves Toward Martial Law” Frank Morales, Uruknet, 10/ 26/2006, LINK

#3 AFRICOM: U.S. Military Control of Africa’s Resources

In February 2007 the White House announced the formation of
the U.S.-African Command (AFRICOM), a unified Pentagon command center
in Africa. Presented as a humanitarian guard in the “global war on terror,” the real objective is procurement and control of Africa’s oil and its global delivery systems.

“Understanding AFRICOM, Parts 1-3, b real, MoonofAlabama.org 2/21/2007, LINK

#4 Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements

The U.S. and European Union (EU) are vigorously pursuing increasingly destructive trade and investment agreements outside the auspices of the WTO, resulting in unprecedented exploitation, loss of livelihood, displacement and degradation of human rights and environments.

“Signing Away The Future” Emily Jones, Oxfam, 3/2007, LINK

“Free Trade Enslaving Poor Countries” Sanjay Suri, IPS coverage of
Oxfam Report, 3/20/2007, LINK

#5 Human Traffic Builds U.S. Embassy in Iraq

The enduring monument to U.S. liberation and democracy in Iraq – the world’s largest embassy - is being built by forced labor. Contractors subcontracting to the U.S. State Department are using bait-and-switch recruiting practices to
smuggle Asian workers into brutal and inhumane labor camps "in the middle of the U.S.-controlled Green Zone.

“A U.S. Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World's Largest Embassy” David Phinney, CorpWatch, 10/17/2006, LINK

#6 Operation FALCON Raids

Under Operation FALCON - federal and local cops organized nationally - more than 30,000 fugitives were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation's history. Over 960 state, local and federal
agencies were directly involved. Only promotional coverage supplied
by the Department of Justice was ever aired. We have yet to be told who these fugitives were and what became of them.

“Operation Falcon and the Looming Police State” Mike Whitney,
Uruknet, 2/26/2007, LINK

“Operation Falcon,” SourceWatch, Updated 11/18/2006, LINK

#7 Behind Blackwater Inc.

Blackwater, the most powerful mercenary firm in the world, is the company that most embodies the privatization of the military-industrial complex. Bush’s contracts with Blackwater have allowed the creation of a private army of more than 20,000 soldiers, operating with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints, to deploy in nine countries and aggressively expand its presence inside U.S. borders.

“Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush's Undeclared Surge” Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! 1/26/07, LINK

#8 KIA: The U.S. Neoliberal Invasion of India

The Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, quietly signed by Bush and India’s Prime Minister Singh, trades India’s agricultural sector for U.S. nuclear technology. The KIA allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, its trade sector by giant agribusiness ADM and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart.

“Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-
Mart in India” Democracy Now! 12/13/2006, LINK

“Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto” Arun Shrivastava, Global Research, 10/9/06, LINK

“Sowing Trouble: India's Second Green Revolution” Suman Sahai,
SciDev.Net, 5/9/06, LINK

#9 Privatization of America’s Infrastructure

More than 20 states have enacted legislation allowing public-
private partnerships to build and run highways. We will soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers and Spanish contractors for the privilege of driving on American roads.

“The Highwaymen” Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway. Mother Jones, 2/2007, LINK

“Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway” Jerome R. Corsi, Human Events, 6/12/2006, LINK

#10 Vulture Funds Threaten Debt Relief for Poor Nations

Vulture funds, as defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are companies that buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply, when it is about to be written off, and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest, which might be 10 times what they paid for it. Otherwise known as “distressed-debt investors,” these companies profit off plunging impoverished nations into crippling debt.

“Vulture Fund Threat to Third World” Greg Palast with Meirion Jones for BBC Newsnight, 02/14/2007, LINK

#11 The Scam of Reconstruction in Afghanistan

Much of the U.S. tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no farther than the pockets of wealthy U.S. corporations. Paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent,
American experts under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Seventy percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully tied to the donor nation for further fraud and exploitation.

“Why It's Not Working in Afghanistan” Ann Jones, TomDispatch.com,
8/27/06, LINK

“Afghanistan Inc: a CorpWatch Investigative Report” Fariba Nawa,
CorpWatch, 10/6/06, LINK

#12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops

On December 22, 2006, more than 30 unarmed Haitian civilians, including women and children, were killed by extensive and indiscriminate gunfire from UN peacekeeping forces, reportedly as
collective punishment for a massive demonstration days earlier calling for the return of President Aristide.

“UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre” Haiti Information Project, Haiti Action, 1/21/2007, LINK

“Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege” Wadner
Pierre and Jeb Sprague, IPS, 2/28/07, LINK

#13 Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for U.S. Corporate Giants

In the wake of 9/11, Immigration Customs Enforcement has
conducted raids and roundups of illegal immigrants under the rubric of preventing terrorism and keeping our homeland safe. The real goal, however, is to replace the immigrant work force in the U.S. with a tightly regulated, exploitive guest-worker program.

“Migrants: Globalization’s Junk Mail?” Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy
in Focus, 2/23/07, LINK

“Which Side Are You On?” David Bacon, Truthout, 1/29/07, LINK

“Workers, Not Guests” David Bacon, The Nation, 2/6/07, LINK

#14 Impunity for U.S. War Criminals

A last minute adjustment to the Military Commission Act of 2006 redefined torture, removed the harshest definition of war
crimes and provided exemption for the perpetrators from prosecution for such
offences dating back to November 1997. The source of this provision is, however, a mystery. The White House denies any involvement or knowledge regarding the insertion of such language into the MCA.

“A Senate mystery keeps torture alive, and its practitioners free” Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 11/ 22/06, LINK

#15 Toxic Exposure Can Be Genetically Transmitted to Future Generations

Research suggests that our behavior and our environmental conditions might program sections of our children’s DNA. New evidence about how genes interact with the environment suggests that many
industrial chemicals may be more ominously dangerous than previously thought. One researcher points to a revolution in medicine: You aren't eating and exercising just for yourself, but for your lineage.

“Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected” Peter Montague, Rachel's Democracy & Health News #876, 10/12/06, LINK

#16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11

Osama bin Laden’s role in the events of September 11, 2001, is not mentioned on the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted” notice. Six years later, an FBI spokesperson explains that the reason 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden's “Most Wanted” page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.

“FBI says no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11” Ed Haas,
Muckraker Report, 6/6/06, LINK

#17 Drinking Water Contaminated by Military, Municipalities and Corporations

Corporations, municipalities and the U.S. military are using America’s waters as their dumping ground "often with little or no accountability.” The average major facility discharges pollutants in excess of its permitted limit by over 275 percent, nearly four times the legal limit, while more than 40 percent of U.S. waterways are already unsafe for swimming and fishing,

“Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits” Sunny
Lewis, Environment News Service, 3/24/2006, LINK

“Military Waste In Our Drinking Water” Sunaura Taylor and Astra Taylor,
AlterNet, 8/4/2006, LINK

#18 Mexico’s Stolen Election

U.S. interests were significantly invested in the outcome of Mexico’s 2006 presidential election in which overwhelming evidence reveals massive fraud.

“Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in Mexico” Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 8/2/2006, LINK

“Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles” Revolution, 9/10/06, LINK

#19 People’s Movement Challenges Neo-Liberal Agenda

In Latin America, massive opposition to U.S. economic domination has demanded that populist leaders and parties take control of national governments, building powerful alternatives to neo-liberal

“Is the U.S. Free Trade Model Losing Steam?” American Friends Service Committee, Trade Matters, 5/3/06, LINK

“Economic Policy Changes With New Latin American Leaders” Mark Weisbrot, International Herold Tribune, 12/28/06, LINK

“Is Hugo Chaves a Threat to Stability? No.” Mark Weisbrot, International Affairs Forum, 3/31/07, LINK

#20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006 expanded the definition of terrorism to include acts that interfere, or promote
interference, with the operation of an animal enterprise. More than 160 groups opposed this Act on grounds that its terminology is dangerously vague and poses major conflict to the U.S. Constitution.

“The AETA is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement
(and Unconstitutional as Well)” David Hoch and Odette Wilkens, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, 3/9/07, LINK

“U.S. House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little Discussion or Dissent” Will Potter, Green is the New Red, 11/14/06, LINK

“22 Years for Free-Speech Advocates: Six Animal Rights Activists Given Lengthy Prison Sentences for Running Website” Budgerigar, Earth First! Journal, 11/06, LINK

#21 U.S. Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments

The July 2006 Doha round of WTO negotiations broke down over the
contentious issue of farm trade and the unrestricted opening of markets to agricultural products. In a last-minute proposal, one not included on the original agenda, the U.S. insisted that all trade
agreements include a special Peace Clause that would make its use of illegal farm subsidies immune from prosecution by the countries affected.

“Canada launches WTO case on U.S. subsidies” Eoin Callan, Financial
Times, 1/9/2007, LINK

“U.S. seeks get-out clause for illegal farm payments” Oxfam, 6/29/2006, LINK

#22 North Americans Invade Mexico

The number of North Americans living in Mexico has soared from 200,000 to 1 million (one-quarter of all U.S. expatriates) in the past decade. With more than 70 million American baby-boomers expected to retire in the next two decades, experts predict a tidal wave of migration. The land rush is sending up property values to the detriment of locals whose children are consequently driven into slums or forced to emigrate north.

“Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South” Mike Davis,
TomDispatch.com, 9/19/2006, LINK

#23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq

Dianne Feinstein is involved in monumental conflicts of interest as she promotes and exploits the “global war on terror.” As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions of dollars to her husband's military construction firms, while consistently voting to fund U.S. military proliferation.

“Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict” Peter Byrne, Bohemian, 1/24/2007, LINK

#24 Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President

A mistranslated quotation attributed to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, which threatened that Israel must be wiped off the map, has been spread around the world. Ahmadinejad’s actual statements, however, were significantly less threatening.

“Wiped Off The Map - The Rumor of the Century” Arash Norouzi,
MohammadMossadegh.com, Global Research, 1/20/2007, LINK

“Full Text: The President of Iran's Letter To President Bush” Translated by Le Monde, Information Clearing House, 05/09/06, LINK

#25 Who Will Profit From Native Energy?

The U.S. government and the energy industry intend to market a shift away from dependence on foreign energy by deregulating and stepping up their exploitation (development) of wind and solar resources located on Native American reservations.

“Native Energy Futures” Brian Awehali, Lip Magazine, 6/5/06, LINK


From the Web site:

“Project Censored is a media research group out of Sonoma State University which tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's major national news media.”

Read more about “Project Censored” and purchase the yearbook “Censored 2008:” LINK


Four past midnight

The buzz on missing bees

The importance of honey bees in our world cannot be underestimated. Columbia University scientists might have solved the mystery of the disappearance of billions of bees – a devastating condition known as “Colony Collapse Disorder,” or CCD. Watch the NBC Nightly News report: LINK

Powell: ‘Terrorists cannot change us’

“Former Secretary of State Colin Powell doesn't think it's terrorists that pose the biggest risk to this country. About the greatest threat facing this country, Powell tells GQ magazine: ‘People will say it's terrorism, but are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But, can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So, what's the great threat we're facing?’

“Powell also says that he would approach the problem of terrorism differently. He says we should send in military forces when there's a target. But, beyond that, he would look for opportunities to create initiatives that help the world - things that move us toward more respect for human rights: creating democratic institutions and increasing the efficiency of market economies.

“He says that this doesn't mean there isn't a terrorist threat, but rather that we are ‘taking too much counsel of our fears,’ adding we shouldn't destroy ourselves and use fear for political purposes.”

- Jack Caffery, “The Situation Room,” CNN, 9/10/2007 (LINK)

‘Do Not Call’ list expiring

Registrations on the “Do Not Call” list are beginning to expire. Go to the link below and click on “Verify a Registration.” This EASY process will generate an email which will verify whether your home phone is registered, will tell you the date you registered and the date your registration will expire. (LINK)

Democracy or theocracy?

A new poll, conducted by the non-partisan First Amendment Center, shows 65 percent of Americans say our nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation, and 55 percent say the Constitution established a Christian nation.

As for public schools, 58 percent say teachers should be allowed to lead prayers; 43 percent say that public schools should be allowed to put on nativity re-enactments with Christian music; and 50 percent say teachers should be allowed to use the Holy Bible as factual text in history class.

Finally, only 56 percent of Americans believe that freedom of religion applies to all groups.

Source: CNN (LINK)


Our 9/11 moments

In 2002 – a year later - I asked family and friends to share their memories of 9/11/2001 moments. The following article – a result of that sharing – appeared in The Voice of the Southwest, a newspaper published by my friend Father Tim Farrell, pastor of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Farmington, New Mexico, at his request.

9/11 moments define our collective soul

by B. J. Trotter
11 September 2002

We were ordinary Americans doing ordinary things when the clock hand ticked away a minute that would throw our country into extraordinary times.

At 8:45 a.m. (EDT), September 11, 2001, most folks on the East Coast were arriving at work while the first, faint light of day was spreading along the Pacific coastline. At that moment, our lives changed forever. The clock ticked on, and it would be another 18 minutes before the second plane hit the second tower of New York City’s World Trade Center, and the awareness of that change began to creep into our collective consciousness.

While updating The Chicago Tribune’s Web site, Becky thought about her brother, a former NASA astronaut and now an American Airlines pilot, until she learned he was safe.

For Father Tim, a Catholic priest in New Mexico, the moment things got personal was 9:43 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. Father Tim’s brother is a Coast Guard captain assigned to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s office.

Comforting her students was foremost on the mind of Mary, director of the Applied English Center at a major Kansas university. The Center teaches English to foreign students, and Mary said they were “so far away from the comfort of their families. They were suffering, particularly my Muslim students, who were afraid their friends here would blame them.”

On Sept. 10, Joe Galloway, co-author of “We Were Soldiers Once … And Young” on which the movie was based, was sworn into government service as special consultant and speechwriter for Secretary of State Colin Powell. On Sept. 11, his first day at work in the State Department, Joe was standing in line to get his new ID badge and security pass, when at 10:22 a.m. the building was ordered evacuated. While entering the building Joe had seen smoke rising across the Potomac. He recalls, “I walked outside and now knew that the smoke was rising from the Pentagon where so many friends worked. People coming out of the building were gathering on the lawn, under the trees, sitting on the walls. I thought this was not too smart. I walked back to the Metro and tried to go home. It took me three hours to get there, by Metro, by city bus and by foot. I kept trying to call my wife on her cell phone, but the lines were all jammed.” All morning Joe was thinking about his old Vietnam War buddy Rick Rescorla, chief of security for Morgan Stanley’s office in the WTC.

Linda teaches third grade in Memphis. Her thoughts were with her son-in-law who would have been exiting his commuter train under the WTC that morning. “Some folks were asking, ‘Where is God?’ ” Linda said, but she knows God was with her son-in-law when he missed his train that morning.

The God they worship was with these friends during those heart-wrenching moments, and was with the victims and their loved ones.

The horror unfolding brought every one of us a kinship with every person in those buildings and on those planes. In an instant, they were our brothers and sisters. In another instant, their souls seemed to meld into one American soul, defying defeat by any evil foe.

More than 500,000 anxious minutes later, I asked these friends, and 52 other friends and family members across this country, to reflect on that fateful day. With few exceptions, they were willing and anxious to email their 9/11/2001 experiences. Our actions and our reactions as we went about our early morning routines that day are locked indelibly in memory.

Some were already at work; others had not yet had their morning coffee. Some were dropping their children off at school, enjoying a morning run or working out at a gym. One was waiting to board a flight when the country’s airlines shut down. Ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Without exception, each of us picked up the telephone to call loved ones: spouses, parents, children, friends. We wanted to know if they were getting the news, and, above all, we had to know they were safe. Just like the victims in those buildings and on those planes, we sought comfort hearing the voices of those we love.

However much we complain about “the media,” it is there when we need it – a lifeline, a free press which keeps us informed. We were listening to car radios, viewing news streamers on computers, “glued” to TVs. I remember “Today” going off, then Katie Couric saying, “We have breaking news.” I remember Matt Lauer's incredulity when he said, “That building’s coming down!”

One of the toughest jobs that morning was the comforting of children. Emails from young mothers, a pre-school teacher, a school pictures photographer and two elementary school teachers revealed they were no small heroes that day as they protected little ones in their charge.

“My mom and Jack picked me up from school,” recalls 12-year-old great-nephew Spencer. “They were trying to explain to me what happened. I had heard the teachers’ radios, but no announcements were made or discussed that day. Just silence. I was angry and sad that so many people died and were hurt. I called my dad, because he was supposed to fly somewhere that day.”

When reading Spencer’s email, I was reminded of the opening of the movie “Platoon:” “The first casualty of war is innocence.”

One of our first thoughts that morning was “How can I help?” In the days ahead we would pour out our pocketbooks and our prayers for the families of the victims.

John, a Microsoft executive in Washington State, said, “I was amazed at the level of our community involvement at work. I was leading our division’s United Way campaign at the time, and many people approached me to see how they could help. Microsoft really rallied and immediately played a major role in building the computer infrastructure for the Ground Zero crews. They set up computers to help loved ones looking for those lost. They set up the infrastructure the Red Cross needed to run things in NYC. Several folks from Seattle drove to NYC with computer systems and their own expertise and helped without thought of commercial gain. The feeling of national unity and genuine community was amazing, and everyone I worked with was inspired to reach out and join together in a way I’ve never experienced.”

Reflections on that fateful day continue. Some of us remember feeling suddenly cold or as if we were hit in the stomach. We felt anger. We felt fear. We felt pride. We felt love. We felt pain.

Linda keeps picturing all those waiting ambulances and medical personnel, lined up and ready to save victims who never came out of the rubble. I remember thinking New Yorkers really do have “heart.”

Father Tim remembers: “I guess the saddest moments of this whole horrible mess were the haunted eyes of all the loved ones with little Xeroxed and computer-generated pictures of their missing loved ones. Person after hurting person stared at me in my comfortable living room. There they were looking for hope with a little picture on a piece of paper. I didn't know them, but I hurt for them then, and I hurt for them now. It was the most helpless feeling I have ever felt.

“As a priest, I visit the sick and the dying all the time. There is great comfort I can bring them. In this instance, I felt so helpless. But, I prayed for all those lost and saddened eyes. They still haunt me, and I still pray for them. I probably will for the rest of my life.

“Late night Tuesday, Sept. 11th, I sat with Father Ray Mahlmann, a New York City boy and my good friend and assistant pastor. We sat together in silence in our living room of the rectory, watching the dark city of New York, his hometown, enveloped in tragedy and loss. All of a sudden it struck me: when I was a little boy and terrible things happened, my Mama would make chocolate chip cookies, and I would eat them with a big glass of milk. I went into the kitchen and made homemade cookies, and we ate ALL of them with lots of cold milk. After such a horrible day, this seemed my answer: that by eating cookies and milk, the sun would come up tomorrow, and we would rebuild. Cookies and milk can do that for a soul.”

Niece Debra remembers her husband Preston (with a degree in construction management) was explaining to her that there was no way the buildings could remain standing because “the soaring heat on the steel structure will cause the supports to weaken and collapse” when a minute later the first building fell.

Several who emailed had the personal experience of having seen NYC from the top of the WTC and dining at Windows on the World.

My son Ladd emailed that “nothing short of ‘War and Peace’ could express what we have all felt since that tragic event.”

Friend Faye, wife of a Unity pastor in St. Louis, prayed the Unity “Prayer of Protection:” “The love of God enfolds us; The power of God protects us; The presence of God watches over us, Wherever we are, God is.” Friend Gene, who had worked in a newsroom with me here in South Carolina, simply ended his email: “Prayed a lot.”

Ann, the mother of 4-year-old Ryan, is concerned that we are becoming apathetic, that we are forgetting the enormity of our wound. “I feel more vulnerable than I did a year ago. I feel like we could be attacked at any time. Every day before I turn on my TV, I say a little prayer that nothing has happened.” Ann, whose birthday is the 11th of September, is worried about Ryan’s world.

As the clock ticked toward midnight on that new “day of infamy,” Microsoft’s John was second-guessing himself: “Strangely enough, it took some time for the ramifications to sink in. I remember one newsperson saying life as we knew it would take a dramatic turn. Honestly, I remember questioning that since it was ‘so far away,’ both geographically –from Seattle – and culturally – NYC and all it stands for. By the end of the day – as predicted – life began its gradual but pervasive shift to ‘post-9/11.’ ”

Writer Joe Galloway’s old war buddy Cyril R. “Rick” Rescorla died that day: “Rick called for an immediate evacuation and was responsible for saving the lives of 3,000 Morgan Stanley employees. He got them all out but five, and he had gone back in to get them when the building fell in. Rick died in that building, but he died saving the lives of 3,000 people and preventing incalculable damage to the lives of their spouses, children, siblings, parents and friends – a circle that surely totaled more than 15,000 other people. We miss him and mourn his absence, but Rick died a real American hero.”

We must draw upon the strength and resolve of all the heroes that day and trust that, in the words of the patriotic song, “Right is right, and right will stand the test.”


An important second post follows.

The Cliff Notes on Petraeus

After six hours of sheer boredom listening to testimony, this is all I need to know about Petraeus:

Excerpt from Brit Hume’s exclusive interview with General David Petraeus, Fox News, 10 September 2007:

HUME: Would you say that we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today in terms of sectarian violence in Iraq generally had not al Qaeda been present and active there?

PETRAEUS: That's correct. That is correct.

HUME: Has this, in an ultimate sense, turned out to be more than anything else, a war with al Qaeda?

PETRAEUS: Well, it is al Qaeda and associated movements, I think, or affiliates, if you will, because again the insurgents, until they started flipping more and more certainly throughout the Euphrates river valley and now other areas, certainly were associated with al Qaeda, at the very least turning a blind eye to them, and at the most in many cases aiding and abetting them.

HUME: What is the great reward for this undertaking? What, briefly, General, is the payoff here?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think an enormous payoff is the fact we may be able to defeat al Qaeda. Al Qaeda Central, if you will, does regard Iraq as the central front in its war of terror. Our overall commander who prosecutes the global war on terror ... regards that as the central front. And, so this would frankly be an enormous blow to al Qaeda if we were to defeat al Qaeda in Iraq. The converse of that would be really a huge lift for al Qaeda and really a shot of adrenaline to them.

And, there you have the Party line. Unbelievable.


'Books are my life'

Many of you know about my buddy Chris, a “special” young man now age 24.

Chris travels with an armload of books he cannot read, and once told me, “Books are my life.” So, it’s appropriate that we met over a book.

I was sitting on my porch reading when a red-haired little boy with a big smile and a speech impediment came up and leaned over the porch rail to talk.

Chris, the son of my then neighbors, Teresa and Charlie, was 11 at the time. Getting to know him, I asked several questions, and I’ll never forget his answer when I asked him about Charlie’s work:

“He cuts people open and takes their guts out.”

It turned out, after my initial shock, that Charlie is county coroner, and Chris had given me a pretty apt job description.

From that moment on I have never underestimated Chris’ wisdom. I learned if I really listen, he makes a lot of sense.

And, we share a love of books. Ironically, he cannot read their printed words, and I can no longer see them. Tears ran down my cheeks once when I was cooking, and he was in the living room turning the pages of a book. I heard him say, “Once upon a time” as he tried to make his book come alive.

One summer on our weekly trip to the public library, Chris was interested in a display of prizes to be won in the summer reading program. If a kid read a hundred books, he could get it all: T-shirt, Frisbee, a certificate to frame and other assorted goodies.

So, we marched up to the front desk to enquire whether if I read the books to Chris, he could participate. Then, off we went with a sackful of children’s books.

That summer we sat under the trees and read, and what a gift it was – a chance to enjoy children’s classics – old and new.

I might otherwise have missed our favorite that summer, Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and would have been the poorer for it.

Reading of Connecticut author L’Engle’s death last week at age 88 brought all these memories back.

This award-winning writer of some 60 books once told the Associated Press: “In my dreams, I never have an age. I never write for any age group in mind. ... When you underestimate your audience, you’re cutting yourself off from your best work.”

She did not like being labeled “the writer of children’s books.” She understood, as do I, that a good story is ageless and will find a reader sooner or later.

Read about this amazing woman’s life and death: LINK


Bin Laden's FBI poster

Hmmm. So, another bin Laden tape is set to be released just in time to bolster Bush’s claims that Iraq is the frontline in the “war on terror” – which, of course, is just in time for his and Petraeus’ reports on Iraq.

Remember that “reverse psychology” tape just days before Election 2004 telling Americans NOT to vote for Bush? Might as well have slapped a bumper sticker on his ass. (OK, if I use “donkey” the right will find a way to blame the Democrats.)

And, all these heightened terror alerts and arrests? So timely. (See my post, “Read or ignore: it’s your country!” 6/7/2007 LINK)

What follows is the exact text of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” poster on Osama bin Laden. Can you, dear reader, leave a comment and tell us what is MISSING?




Date of Photograph Unknown

Aliases: Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin, Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin, the Prince, the Emir, Abu Abdallah, Mujahid Shaykh, Hajj, the Director


Date of Birth: 1957
Hair: Brown
Place of Birth: Saudi Arabia
Eyes: Brown
Height: 6' 4" to 6' 6"
Complexion: Olive
Weight: Approximately 160 pounds
Sex: Male
Build: Thin
Nationality: Saudi Arabian
Occupation: Unknown

Remarks: Bin Laden is the leader of a terrorist organization known as Al-Qaeda, "The Base." He is left-handed and walks with a cane.

Scars and Marks: None






The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Usama Bin Laden. An additional $2 million is being offered through a program developed and funded by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.

June 1999
Poster Revised November 2001

(If you prefer to read the poster, here’s the LINK.)


By the way, that “deadly substance” found in a United Nations office in late August and hysterically reported, turns out it was “a non-toxic commercial solvent.” LINK

9/8/2007 UPDATE:

Click on the TITLE of this post for readers' interesting comments and discover the ANSWER to what's MISSING from bin Laden's FBI poster.


The roar of the crowd

Speculate! Embellish! Overkill!

“Throw him to the lions!”

“Burn him at the stake!”

“Off with his head!”

“Crucify him!”

Throughout history there has existed a bloodlust to destroy persons whose behavior does not fit the current mores – the political, religious or social convictions of the crowd.

Aside from the possible hypocrisy of Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, which I wrote about a few days ago in “Outing the sex police,” (LINK) something else has been heavy on my mind.

What if Sen. Craig is innocent? Aren’t we all supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty?” What proof do I have that he is guilty of so-called “deviant sexual behavior” or “lewd and lascivious conduct?” We have the word of a lone undercover officer.

The man, with his character on the line, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of “disorderly conduct.” There was no trial. There was no verdict of his peers.

And, it’s true that the U.S. Senate has never sought to expel a member for such a charge.

Also true: Republican senators know if Craig eventually resigns, a Republican governor will appoint his successor. On the other hand, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana remains at his post despite a known liaison with a prostitute.

The differences in attitudes toward the two, one can surmise, are: Vitter admitted his indiscretion and asked for forgiveness, Vitter’s act did not involve homosexuality, and, of course, Louisiana’s Democratic governor could replace him with a member of her own party.

Then, there was the media. Do I approve of sex with strangers in public restrooms? No. Would I want a public airing of my own bathroom habits? No, again. Would you? Probably not.

Journalism gets more “yellow” every day. Tabloid fever has replaced legitimate news across the cable spectrum.

In my opinion, with the continual looping of Sen. Craig’s police interview cable news hit a new low – feeding the prurient lusts of viewers.

How low can the media go?

The Web site mediabistro.com reports (LINK) “ABC's ‘20/20’ will air its investigation into NBC rival ‘Dateline’ this Friday.”

The “20/20” exposé “looks into ‘Dateline's’ ‘To Catch a Predator’ series, and the suicide of a Texas prosecutor who was also a suspected child predator.”

NBC News President Steve Capus calls this “silly competiveness,” but ABC sees it otherwise.

An ABC insider is quoted by mediabistro, "The only interest ABC News has is doing a fair piece about a very interesting story in which 23 suspected pedophiles can't be prosecuted because of the interaction between police and ‘Perverted Justice’ (Web site) and NBC News."

Personally, I find a degree of perversion in anyone who enjoys watching these cretins caught on camera.

And, in equal proportion, I am appalled by the willingness to destroy another human being before ALL the facts are clear.


A second post follows.

Seven rights make a wrong

Caught the replay of the GOP debate from New Hampshire last night and came away with one impression: these guys are nuts!

Maybe it was the combination of Fox News’ biased questions, the rehashing of hot-button issues like abortion and illegal immigration, or just the eight candidates attempting to outwit each other, but I found the whole debate tiresome and lacking in spontaneity.

To a man, each candidate had his prepared one-line zinger for Fred Thompson, who was seated in the “Tonight” show studio, yukking it up with Leno and finally entering the fray.

A surreal moment: John McCain’s stuck-record reassurance that the surge in Iraq is “working, it’s working, it’s working.”

The post-debate coverage got equally surreal with Tom Tancredo’s exaltation of torture, egged on by a salivating Sean Hannity.

The Hannity hammer came down on any candidate who didn’t agree with him that we should attack Iran ASAP.

A panel of audience members dubbed Giuliani the loser for talking about nothing but his record as NYC’s mayor.

In typical Fox fashion, Mike Huckabee was declared the winner in a confrontation with Ron Paul, despite audience applause indicating the contrary.

When the Fox News viewer poll revealed the one candidate on stage who made an iota of sense – Ron Paul – had won by a long shot, Hannity and Colmes attributed it to “Paul supporters redialing like crazy.”

With the exception of Paul, there did not seem to me to be an ounce of conviction on stage. These guys know their “base.”

Don’t know which is scarier: nuclear warheads in our friendly skies or the possibility that any one of these spineless self-seekers might be president.


The faithful reader

Few things are more meaningful to a writer than a faithful reader.

Whether the writer is a blog author or a bestselling wunderkind, there is pleasure when one’s words are awaited.

Over the last three days I finally got to listen to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final installment of J. K. Rowling’s magical epic.

After reading (listening to) the 3,361 pages of the first six books, I fought sleep day and night to finish the 759 pages of this last book – the end of Harry’s story.

Ms. Rowling is a writer so skilled as to render 4,120 total pages of a work with no minor characters – each so imbedded in the reader’s psyche as to never be forgotten.

I am her “faithful reader” and for that I am the recipient of one of the seven dedications in Rowling’s climatic tome.

While waiting for this “talking book for the blind or visually impaired,” I made every effort to dodge those who seemed intent on spoiling its outcome.

One well-read friend made a casual and innocent comparison to a Dickens book I had recently read. His clue, as subtle as it was, hit me like a “confundus charm” and colored every plot twist of this final experience. To his great credit, he’s still my friend.

No spoiler myself, I will sum up this final book in one word: intense - and, for me, made a thousand times more intense by the acting skills of the talking-book series’ narrator, Erik Sandvold, who brought each character to life with distinctive voice and gripping emotion. In the words of one reviewer, award-winner Sandvold is simply “masterful.”

My longtime friend Annelle, who read the seventh book, then immediately read all seven again, opines that it would be a grave mistake for adults to dismiss these as children’s books and deprive themselves of such an experience.

If you, faithful reader, have not read J. K. Rowling, you are missing arguably the greatest imagination ever put to print.


Once more:

• Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 26 June 1997, 309 pp. (UK title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.)

• Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2 July 1998, 341 pp.

• Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 8 July 1999, 435 pp.

• Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 8 July 2000, 754 pp.

• Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 21 June 2003, 870 pp.

• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 16 July 2005, 652 pp.

• Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 21 July 2007, 759 pp.