Friday, November 28, 2008

The Soul of George Bush

To enunciate how utterly clueless a man could be, here is our Nero telling us that nothing is wrong because he never changed while our empire burns.

Bush reflects on legacy: 'I'm leaving with the same set of values'
November 28, 2008
Posted: 06:10 PM ET

(CNN) — Reflecting on his eight-year presidency, President Bush said above all he would like to be remembered as a commander-in-chief who remained faithful to his values and "did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process."

In an interview with his younger sister, Doro Bush Koch, the president said he was forced to make several difficult choices during his tenure in the White House, but added "I darn sure wasn't going to sacrifice [my] values."

"I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values," Bush told Koch in an interview taped earlier this month that aired on National Public Radio Thursday.

Bush also indicated he hopes his legacy is evaluated on success in the War in Iraq, America's efforts to combat AIDS, and the passage of Medicare legislation in 2003.

"I'd like to be a President (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace; that focused on individuals rather than process; that rallied people to serve their neighbor; that led an effort to help relieve HIV/AIDS and malaria on places like the continent of Africa; that helped elderly people get prescription drugs and Medicare as a part of the basic package; that came to Washington, D.C., with a set of political statements and worked as hard as I possibly could to do what I told the American people I would do," Bush said.

In the same wide-ranging interview, Bush said it was a "fabulous experience to be president," but said he would not miss being in the daily spotlight.

"This is a job which, you know, obviously had a lot of stress to it; it has a lot of pressure," he said.

The interview was conducted for StoryCorps, a national oral history initiative.

The problem with this storyline is that for George Bush never to "sell his soul," it assumes he actually had one. Remember, this is the same man who thought he could see into Vladimir Putin's interior regions and detect an ally and friend!

I still cannot believe this idiot received 51% of the popular vote four years ago.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terrorism in Mumbai

When not able to attack people from where you really want to reach them, you look for alternative targets of opportunity. This appears to be the case the last 24 hours in India, although it should be worth noting that terrorism in India is nothing new, long predates US's own problems, and will likely continue to be in the foreseeable future. Just something to maintain perspective on turkey day.

India's Leaders Need to Look Closer to Home

The Assault on Mumbai
by Tariq Ali

The terrorist assault on Mumbai’s five-star hotels was well planned, but did not require a great deal of logistic intelligence: all the targets were soft. The aim was to create mayhem by shining the spotlight on India and its problems and in that the terrorists were successful. The identity of the black-hooded group remains a mystery.

The Deccan Mujahedeen, which claimed the outrage in an e-mail press release, is certainly a new name probably chosen for this single act. But speculation is rife. A senior Indian naval officer has claimed that the attackers (who arrived in a ship, the M V Alpha) were linked to Somali pirates, implying that this was a revenge attack for the Indian Navy’s successful if bloody action against pirates in the Arabian Gulf that led to heavy casualties some weeks ago.

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has insisted that the terrorists were based outside the country. The Indian media has echoed this line of argument with Pakistan (via the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and al-Qaeda listed as the usual suspects.

But this is a meditated edifice of official India’s political imagination. Its function is to deny that the terrorists could be a homegrown variety, a product of the radicalization of young Indian Muslims who have finally given up on the indigenous political system. To accept this view would imply that the country’s political physicians need to heal themselves.

Al Qaeda, as the CIA recently made clear, is a group on the decline. It has never come close to repeating anything vaguely resembling the hits of 9/11.

Its principal leader Osama bin Laden may well be dead (he certainly did not make his trademark video intervention in this year’s Presidential election in the United States) and his deputy has fallen back on threats and bravado.

What of Pakistan? The country’s military is heavily involved in actions on its Northwest frontier where the spillage from the Afghan war has destabilized the region. The politicians currently in power are making repeated overtures to India. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, not usually shy of claiming its hits, has strongly denied any involvement with the Mumbai attacks.

Why should it be such a surprise if the perpetrators are themselves Indian Muslims? Its hardly a secret that there has been much anger within the poorest sections of the Muslim community against the systematic discrimination and acts of violence carried out against them of which the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in shining Gujarat was only the most blatant and the most investigated episode, supported by the Chief Minister of the State and the local state apparatuses.

Add to this the continuing sore of Kashmir which has for decades been treated as a colony by Indian troops with random arrests, torture and rape of Kashmiris an everyday occurrence. Conditions have been much worse than in Tibet, but have aroused little sympathy in the West where the defense of human rights is heavily instrumentalised.

Indian intelligence outfits are well aware of all this and they should not encourage the fantasies of their political leaders. Its best to come out and accept that there are severe problems inside the country. A billion Indians: 80 percent Hindus and 14 percent Muslims. A very large minority that cannot be ethnically cleansed without provoking a wider conflict.

None of this justifies terrorism, but it should, at the very least, force India’s rulers to direct their gaze on their own country and the conditions that prevail. Economic disparities are profound. The absurd notion that the trickle-down effects of global capitalism would solve most problems can now be seen for what it always was: a fig leaf to conceal new modes of exploitation.

Tariq Ali’s latest book, ‘The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power’ is published by Scribner.

What I also cannot help but wonder, which Ali omitted addressing, is the degree to which India's increasingly close relationship with the US has played in expanding the front to within its own borders? After all, it was Americans who were the primary focus of the killers in question, and it was under George Bush's leadership that the US signed an agreement with the Indian government to include the country in a US-led alliance, including support for India's status as a nuclear power, and even added India in a potential future nuclear shield. In the past, American and British civilians were relatively safe in India. It was the Indian population who had to worry about the issue of communal violence. Of course, this is not new to the region, if one recalls previous terrorist attacks on Westerners in Indonesia and the Philippines (not to mention everywhere else in the world). And what an unpleasant world it can be.

The bigger question remains, how India will respond to these attacks? If history is any indicator, the "persecution" of native Muslims that some of the terrorists used to justify the attacks will only increase, as will suspicions by the Hindu majority that its Muslim minority represents a fifth column. This has always been the greatest fear of Hindus in India, going back to days of India's independence movement (before the exit of the British). The logical conclusion of this endgame cannot be anything but a disaster, for India's Muslims or the Indian government and its Hindu majority. Not that this will lead to new massacres and violent recriminations. Hopefully, it will not, but it highlights the desperation (and the delusion) of any young person in this world who walks the streets without even the attempt of disguise, with fully automatic weapons and explosives, killing people without consideration to your own life or well being because of an interpretation of what someone else said 1,500 years ago (which is the convenient cover for the current social conditions of the suffering group in that society by the dominant class of people, enabled by their interpretation of what someone else wrote from thousands of years ago).

I suppose someone forgot to remind our religious fundamentalist brethren of this world that according to Mr. Fukuyama history is over and we are all free.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Disappointed by Obama? Progressives and Liberals

Glenn Greenwald wrote an excellent piece, illustrating the absurdity of those progressives who are already upset at the thought of a troglodyte for capital liquidity like Lawrence Summers setting economic policy. Of course, we should not be surprised. Obama ran as a centrist, notwithstanding the fulminations about socialism that conservatives use for rhetoric when campaigning against anyone to the left of Attila the Hun. I am not going to waste anymore of my time expressing my disappointments over Barack Obama. I did that during the primaries and voted for him knowing that he would only be a marginal improvement over his Republican opponent. Any progressive (after the last three decades) who votes Democratic not expecting to be lied to and betrayed is either deluded or sincerely foolish.

What we should be concentrated on is what the "new" New Deal of Barack Obama will look like. This is something that President-elect Obama did not specify too much on the campaign trail (choosing instead to use the last eight years as the contrast to attract votes). At this moment, it appears the stimulus package that will be submitted this next year shall include the following:

1. Increased spending on infrastructure improvements, our roads, bridges (which will second as a form of jobs creation).

2. Increased spending on education, technology, and "improving our failed schools" (i.e., more funding for public schools in disadvantaged or low performing areas).

3. Increased spending to quicken technology advancements for alternative energy sources (solar, wind power, etc.), and increasing the fuel efficiency of cars (presumably this will be a part of any bailout of the Big Three automobile companies).

On the face of it, these all seem like great ideas. Actually, they are much needed and should have been priorities years ago, as opposed to national standardized testing designed to de-fund schools in poorer districts, waiting for our bridges to collapse and kill people before pretending to care about our crumbling roads and bridges, and trade policies that have accelerated the de-manufacturization of our economy.

Still, the impacts these policies will have on the economy remain minimal. The jobs component of this legislation is notoriously seasonal and short-term (construction for our infrastructure improvements). Likewise, education is something that takes time to really parlay its impact on the larger polity. And manufacturing is not going to recover by creating a niche market for electric cars (especially when those same companies have already outsourced most of their operations). I guess this is all we have to constitute hope these days.

Progressive vs. Liberal

It has come to pass that those of us who feed off the spleen of unborn fetuses should return to calling ourselves liberals. I am not sure why I should call myself a liberal, although most people would say I am. Much of this is because the word has become a slur against people who are progressive (in the same way conservatives red-baited folk back in the '50s by accusing them of being Communists and socialists [which they are still doing to this day]). Be that as it may, I always thought of myself as a progressive more than a liberal. Why? Because liberals historically have been an appendage of the Democratic Party, at least since the latter part of the Progressive Era. Progressives, on the other hand, while having similar values, are historically linked with movements (labor, civil rights, women's rights, etc.), independent of the Democratic Party. Indeed, we became so upset at the rightward shift of the two parties that we formed our own progressive parties (in the early to middle part of the 20th
century), and ran our own candidates for those offices (Teddy Roosevelt for President in 1912, Robert LaFollette in 1912 and 1924, Henry Wallace for President in 1948, et al.).

In fact, progressives were to the left before liberals were. In the 19th century, American liberals like Thomas Jefferson and Grover Cleveland may have held similar views on some issues, particularly civil liberties, but they were most certainly not progressives when it came to labor unions or much of anything else of concern to modern liberalism, which became a derivative of the late 19th, early 20th century progressive social movements. Calling one's self a progressive is closer to the values of those movements than insisting on saying that you are a liberal. This is not to say that I care if someone prefers to be called liberal, but I call myself a progressive because I care more about those movements than the fate of any party (even though I am a Democrat), and because labeling is not as important to me as the values that they represent.

So, if one wants to call me a liberal Democrat, fine, but when push comes to shove I am not going to support anyone who is just a Democrat or claims to be a liberal. Lyndon Johnson was a liberal Democrat. I never would have supported him after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Bill Clinton was a Democrat. After NAFTA and GATT, and refusing to lobby in support of a striker replacement bill whose passage he campaigned for back in 1992, I would not vote the man for dog catcher. My priorities and sympathies are with the social movements that agitate for the change in the system and society at large. This is what makes us different from conservatives. If we are not mass-based, we have no rationale to exist. Participatory democracy (be women, freed slaves, or segregated blacks voting, workers having more say through unions, etc.) is what we are (or should be) all about. Outside of religion, the right has no ties to mass politics (and they are slowly losing their religious base with the decrease in church attendance). Because of this, I call myself a progressive first.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Moron Report #24: Panda Bites Idiot

One of the reasons why I am not an animal rights activist is because most animals deep down are ignorant and not infrequently violent, although I suppose one could say the same for us. Meet Chinese undergraduate student Liu. He thought it would be a swell idea to jump into a Panda bear's preserve and give him a hug.

Panda in China zoo bites student who wanted a hug

By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer Audra Ang, Associated Press Writer Sat Nov 22, 10:18 am ET

BEIJING – A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug, state media and a park employee said Saturday.

The student was visiting Qixing Park with classmates on Friday when he jumped the 6.5-foot (2-meter) -high fence around the panda's habitat, said the park employee, who refused to give his name.

The park in Guilin, a popular tourist town in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, houses a small zoo and a panda exhibit. It was virtually deserted when the student scaled the fence surrounding the panda, named Yang Yang, the employee said.

He said the student was bitten in the arms and legs. Two foreign visitors who saw the attack ran to get help from workers at a nearby refreshment stand, who notified park officials, the employee said.

The student was pale as he was taken away by medics but appeared clear-headed, he said.

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Liu underwent surgery Friday evening and was out of danger, but will remain in the hospital for several days, Xinhua said.

Yang Yang, who was flown to Guilin last year from Sichuan province, was behaving normally on Saturday and did not seem to suffer any negative psychological effects, the park employee said.

He said it was not clear whether the facility would add more signs around the enclosure or put more fences up.

"We cannot make it like a prison. We already have signs up warning people not to climb in," he said. "There are no fences along roads but people know not to cross if there are cars. This is basic knowledge."

Pandas, which generally have a public image as cute, gentle creatures, are nonetheless wild animals that can be violent when provoked or startled.

Last year, a panda at the Beijing Zoo attacked a teenager, ripping chunks out of his legs, when he jumped a barrier while the bear was being fed.

The same panda was in the news in 2006 when he bit a drunk tourist who broke into his enclosure and tried to hug him while he was asleep.The tourist retaliated by biting the bear in the back.

This is not my favorite man-meets-animal-blunder story, though. With apologies to Roy Horn, my personal favorite is this Ukrainian Christian a couple of years ago who wandered into a lion's cage at his local zoo, believing he would live to tell the tale, because the good Lord would protect him from the said lions.

Lion Kills Man Who Went Into Kiev Zoo Cage

The Associated Press
Monday, June 5, 2006; 10:38 AM

KIEV, Ukraine -- A lion killed a man who climbed into its enclosure at the Kiev zoo, police said Monday.

The lion attacked the 45-year-old Ukrainian late Sunday after he used a rope to climb down into an enclosure with four lions, said police spokesman Volodymyr Polishchuk.

Ukrainian TV channel NTN broadcast interviews with witnesses who said the man told them that he believed God would not allow the lions to hurt him.

Polishchuk said the man, who was not identified, was acting aggressively and one of the lions seized him by the throat. The man died at the scene.

Zoo officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Apparently, God was out to lunch.

So, do not feel so bad, Liu. The Pandas were nicer than they should have been.

Strange enough, I have been to that park, and three years ago I saw one of the Pandas there. Usually, the Pandas are sensitive to humans and will try to avoid getting near people, so you really have to catch one off guard to be able to get your arms around him/her. Hey, it could have been worse. Just ask these two Americans who were rear-ended during the Running of the Bulls.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama & Domestic Policy

Domestic policy presents a myriad of options and policies for the incoming Obama presidency, most of which will likely come down to prioritization and Congress. If history is any indicator, Democratic Presidents, at least since Johnson, have tended to be cautious. The last time one actually tried to accomplish something as sweeping as Johnson’s Great Society programs was Bill Clinton’s universal healthcare proposal.

The problem with Barack Obama is that his economic agenda is as vague as his foreign policy. What constituted his healthcare plan was less-than-universal during the primaries (when candidates attempt to appeal to their base, which means typically in Democratic presidential primaries they are more liberal). There is the mention of some kind of “jobs program” that could accompany any future stimulus package, but again no details have been submitted (and what ones that exist is mostly the result of the proposals of Democratic members of Congress).

What principles that President-elect Obama has expressed does not leave much hope. He supported the Wall Street bailout several weeks ago. Indeed, then-candidate and Senator Obama personally lobbied the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats in Congress to switch their votes. He is also supportive of free trade agreements, which is unlikely to change, not the least since labor unions no longer have much influence in the Democratic Party (or as much as they once had). They certainly were not able to stop Bill Clinton from arm-twisting his own party’s Congressional members to support NAFTA and GATT. The chance that President Obama will act on any of this in the interest of people who actually work for a living seems highly unlikely.

The only other economic policy that is known will be the rescinding of President Bush’s tax cuts. Assuming Congress supports his view legislatively people who make more than $250,000 a year will pay an extra few percentage points on their income tax. This is certainly a laudable goal (indeed, it is a pity we have not returned to the days of the true progressive income tax, as we had back during the Second World War). Nevertheless, it means nothing if the revenue enhancement is not put to legitimate use. At this time, it seems the main utilization of this revenue will be to decreasing our annual deficit/national debt, which should be of no concern to us since we do not have a World Bank or IMF collecting on that debt. Certainly, international investors who continue to purchase or valuate their own portfolios or economies on American currency would prefer a return to monetarism, but it was monetarism which helped put us into the current mess (with its stress on deregulation, deflation, and tight money supplies). Those days are over because the debts accrued from those years make it impossible for the US government to operate differently, regardless of who is in power.

Another area of contention will be repeal of President Bush’s arcane executive orders, which rolled back civil liberties, environmental law enforcement, and concentrated power in the imperial presidency to a degree that is unprecedented in American history. Some are even wondering if Obama will go ahead and use the expanded executive order authority to begin ruling by decree on other economic issues (before the 1900s executive orders dealt mostly with regulating behavior of federal employees or members of certain federal agencies). Thanks to Franklin Roosevelt, the imperial presidency has more authority than ever to do this, but even by the standards of Lincoln and Roosevelt what has happened in the last eight years is unprecedented. Be it his faith-based initiative, union dues for government contracting companies, establishing an entire agency of the government (Office of Homeland Security), limiting public access to presidential records (in direct contravention of an act of Congress), designating airspace as combat zones, limiting use of eminent domain, to what even constitutes a terrorist, these rules by decree have become a convenient way for the President to avoid Congressional debates and public scrutiny. The problem is President-elect Obama has not declared, to date, which ones he will rescind.

Another issue of note will be who President Obama picks for his cabinet. Already, the lecherous Lawrence Summers is being floated as a potential Secretary of Treasury. You may remember Summers more for getting himself dethroned from the presidency of Harvard after wondering aloud whether anyone with birth canals could ever learn to count or test a hypothesis. What is not remembered is that this stooge for ‘80s and ‘90s neo-liberalism was one of the movers and shakers for trade liquidity in the Clinton Administration, as well as a leftover bureaucrat from the World Bank who once wrote of the joys of dumping pollution and toxins in Third World countries to relieve rich white people like himself of its presence. The man is an academic Jabba the Hut for starvation economics, and any thought of having a second New Deal will end with his ascension to the Treasury.

Eric Holder will likely be our next Attorney General. Of course, he will be an improvement over John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, which is not saying much. Amoeba would be an improvement over this.

Holder is most famous for giving the OK for Clinton’s eleventh hour pardon of Marc Rich (who bought his legal clearing after donating some money to the Clinton library). It was not the finest hour of the Clinton Administration, and I cannot help but think that some enterprising Republican will stop fulminating against the anti-American/Islamic-Bolshevik takeover long enough to make an issue of this.

What will be most entertaining is if Hillary Clinton accepts becoming our next Secretary of State. She is not a natural pick. She has no real diplomatic experience, spending most of her foreign travels apparently dodging assassin’s bullets in Bosnia airstrips back in the ‘90s, and running a losing campaign against her rival for the presidency. She could easily get reelected to the Senate. I am not sure what kind of Secretary of State she would make. It is difficult to trust anyone with this country’s foreign policy after voting for the greatest foreign policy disaster in this nation’s history (she supported the Iraq War resolution in 2002 and only “came out” against the war coincidentally right around the time she formed her presidential exploratory committee). And if the Vanity Fair article on Bill’s recent escapades with members of the opposite sex are to be believed, this would give Bill Clinton an opportunity to (from the vocabulary of the village idiot) “practice his love” with scores of foreign folk through his travels as the spouse of the Secretary of State. Who knows, with any luck, we could get a global pandemic started.

As for the courts, the possibilities are endless. As it stands, John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court’s most senior liberal-leaning justice, is 88 years old (he is old enough that he witnessed Babe Ruth's famous “called shot” home run against the Cubs in the 1932 World Series). After him, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75, Breyer is 70, Souter is 69, and Anthony Kennedy (a moderate) is 72. The Court’s conservatives are somewhat younger (Roberts is 53, Alito is 58, Thomas is 60, and Scalia is the right-wing’s elder inquisitor at 72). It is almost certain in the next four years that Stevens will be retire or depart to the hereafter. After him, likely Ginsburg and maybe Kennedy (it is doubtful that Scalia would ever retire as long as a Democrat is President). This is not likely to shift the court too much ideologically, as the replacements are mostly liberals and moderates--that is, unless Obama were to replace them with more liberal justices. This is possible, but my guess is that the politicization of court appointments is such that he will seek safe candidates. Just look at his cautious approach to economic, trade, and foreign policy issues. I would be surprised and happily so if he were to pick a Thurgood Marshall-type justice (or two or three).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting Away with Murder: Army Covers Up Killing Its Own

It is tough to imagine too many things worse than having your own government kill you. Well, actually, yes, having your government kill you, while you are in service of that government and its people, and then covering it up.

New friendly fire coverup: Army shreds files on dead soldiers

Hours after Salon revealed evidence that two Americans were killed by a U.S. tank, not enemy fire, military officials destroyed papers on the men.

Editor's note: On Oct. 14, 2008, Salon published an article about the deaths of Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez. The Army attributed their deaths in Iraq in 2006 to enemy action; Salon's investigation, which included graphic battle video and eyewitness testimony, indicated that their deaths were likely due to friendly fire.

After Salon published Benjamin's Oct. 14 report, the Army ordered soldiers to shred documents about the men. As proof that they were ordered to destroy the paperwork, a soldier saved some examples and provided them to Salon.

By Mark Benjamin

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Last month, Salon published a story reporting that U.S. Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez were killed by U.S. tank fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in late 2006, in an incident partially captured on video, but that an Army investigation instead blamed their deaths on enemy action. Now Salon has learned that documents relating to the two men were shredded hours after the story was published. Three soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo. — including two who were present in Ramadi during the friendly fire incident, one of them just feet from where Nelson and Suarez died — were ordered to shred two boxes full of documents about Nelson and Suarez. One of the soldiers preserved some of the documents as proof that the shredding occurred and provided them to Salon. All three soldiers, with the assistance of a U.S. senator's office, have since been relocated for their safety.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Oct. 14 was a long and eventful day at Fort Carson. The post had been in an uproar. The night before, Salon had published my article airing claims that two of the base's soldiers, Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez-Gonzalez, had been killed by friendly fire in Iraq on Dec. 4, 2006, but that the Army covered up the cause of death, attributing it to enemy action.

Based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and on video and audio recorded by a helmet-mounted camera that captured much of the action that day, my report stated that Nelson and Suarez seemed to have been killed by an American tank shell. The shell apparently struck their position on the roof of a two-story ferro-concrete building in Ramadi, Anbar province, Iraq, killing Suarez instantly, mortally wounding Nelson, and injuring several other soldiers. I included both an edited and a full-length version of the video in the article. The video shows soldiers just after the blast claiming to have watched the tank fire on them. Then a sergeant attempts to report over a radio that a U.S. tank killed his men. He seems to be promptly overruled by a superior officer who is not at the scene. An official Army investigation then found that the simultaneous impact of two enemy mortars killed the men.

The article about the alleged friendly fire incident was long overdue for some of the men who fought in Ramadi that day for the Army's Fort Carson-based D Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Many continue to insist privately that a U.S. tank killed their friends.

But for their superior officers, the publication of the article was a problem to be solved. On the morning of Oct. 14, battalion leaders held an emergency meeting in response to the Salon article. The sergeant in charge of 2nd Platoon, Nelson and Suarez's platoon, had a pointed confrontation with at least one of his men in a vain search for the source that leaked the Ramadi video to Salon. Soldiers were told to keep quiet from then on.

"Everybody was trying to figure out who released this video and who talked to a reporter," said Pvt. Charles Kremling, a stout, tough-looking infantryman from the 2nd Platoon, as he recalled the accusatory atmosphere on the base that day. "Pretty much we were made to understand that we are not supposed to be talking about this."

Kremling was in Ramadi the day that Nelson and Suarez died. He had been huddled among the 2nd Platoon soldiers on the second floor of the ferro-concrete structure when the explosion shook the roof above him and threw him to the floor. Above him, on the roof, soldiers say a tank shell screeched in from the west, killing Suarez instantly and blasting his head and torso clear off the building to the east. The shell severed Nelson's left leg, and he suffered nearly a half hour waiting for a botched medical evacuation as his buddies struggled to save him. He died at the gates of a military hospital.

By the evening of Oct. 14, after the battalion leaders' meeting and after both cable and network news had aired segments on the Salon exposé, the harried atmosphere died down at Fort Carson. When Kremling and Pvt. Albert "Doc" Mitchum, a compact, battle-hardened medic, reported for extra duty at battalion headquarters sometime after 6 p.m., they were tired and facing hours of mind-numbingly boring tasks. Being a private working the late shift in battalion headquarters usually meant a night of filing paperwork or straightening up offices.

Staff Sgt. Swinton was in charge that night. He told Kremling, Mitchum and a third soldier who had reported for duty that the evening's labor would include the inglorious task of cleaning out a closet. The first priority, Swinton said, was to shred the thousands of pages of documents in two large copy-paper-size boxes. It would be tedious work, but Swinton was adamant. "He says, 'I need that paper shredded. That has to be done tonight,'" remembered Kremling, who volunteered to get started on the job.

At first, the men tried to avoid the monotony of shredding. "We are talking about two Xerox boxes — filled," Kremling told me later. But eventually Kremling told the other two, "I'll go do it."

Kremling stepped into a quiet office with the boxes of documents and the shredder. Kremling lifted handfuls of paper out of the first box and stuffed the material into the machine. It hummed to life, chopping away.

This went on for about a half hour. "I was shredding for a while. I was halfway through the first box," he recalled. He picked up a stack with an official-looking memorandum on top. "I started feeding it into the shredder and then, Bam! I noticed the names Albert Markee Nelson and Roger Suarez," he remembered. "And I look into my lap and there is paperwork galore with their names on it," he exclaimed. "I was like, 'What the fuck?'"

He froze. He shuffled through the boxes at his feet. Nelson, Suarez and more, page after page. "The first thing I was thinking was Enron," said Kremling. "People go to jail for this kind of shit."

Kremling grabbed an inch-thick stack of documents and went to find his buddy, Mitchum, in another room. "I said, 'Look at this! There are boxes full of documents about Nelson and Suarez!"

Mitchum understood immediately what his friend was thinking. He tried to stay calm. "I wanted to make sure we were not overreacting," Mitchum recalled.

Mitchum walked into the room with the shredder humming away. "I looked through the boxes," he said. He was stunned.

It was as if somebody had rifled through the unit files and, in a desperate effort to get rid of everything associated with the two dead soldiers, simply marked anything with the name Nelson or Suarez for destruction. Of the two boxes, one contained documents mostly on Suarez, the other, mostly Nelson — one box for each man.

They brought the third soldier into the room and showed him the files. The three men stood there watching the shredder hum away, unsure of what to do next. They paced. They argued. Nobody knew what to do. Should they stop shredding? Spirit away the documents in the trunk of a car? If this was some kind of coverup, where they unwitting accomplices?

Like Kremling, Mitchum had been in Ramadi on the day in question. He had been holed up with members of the 3rd Platoon in a building a few hundred yards to the southwest of where Nelson and Suarez died, and vividly remembered the hours-long battle against Iraqi insurgents that ended with a barrage of U.S. tank fire. Unlike a number of Salon sources who say they saw the tank fire at the building where Nelson and Suarez died on Dec. 4, 2006, Kremling and Mitchum were not eyewitnesses to the tank shot, though Kremling was on the second floor of the building that got hit. But both men believed their buddies who claimed to have seen it, as opposed to the official Army explanation.

After much discussion, the men called the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the army's premier investigative organization, based at Fort Belvoir, Va. But by this time, it was late at night. No answer. They dialed the Army inspector general. "They keep bankers' hours," Kremling complained.

Finally, they called a trusted fellow soldier. His counsel was that although it was difficult to say, they should proceed as if they had received a lawful order, since as far as they knew, they had. He thought they should probably go ahead and shred the stuff.

But after they resumed shredding and were almost finished with the second box, one of the three soldiers snapped. "This is bullshit!" he announced. "I'm pretty sure this is illegal." He reached into the second box, pulled out seven pages, folded the documents twice and shoved them in his pocket. "I finally said, 'Fuck it,'" he told me about his decision to grab some of the documents. "I'm tired of getting bullied around."

The papers he grabbed at the last moment are routine — deployment checklists, immunization records and other forms. But the documents definitely refer to the Albert Nelson from Ramadi, and they are unquestionably official Army documents. The documents have two holes punched on the top of each page, like many Army files. The various documents contain Nelson's full name, his home address in west Philadelphia, the names of some of his family and his correct Social Security number. (Some of the paperwork is reproduced here, but with personal information redacted.)

The seven pages that survived the shredding incident are not dramatic and do not pertain to the friendly fire incident. But they provide proof that on Oct. 14, the day Salon published the article about Nelson and Suarez's deaths, the Army was shredding documents about the two men.

I learned about the destruction of the documents through my sources at Fort Carson. I contacted the soldiers involved and interviewed them in Colorado Springs in mid-October. They wanted the story out but feared repercussions from the Army. They also complained of serious but largely untreated medical problems from combat in Iraq.

I called the office of Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., who has a long track record of advocacy on behalf of returning veterans. Bond's staff contacted officials at Fort Carson and raised the issue of the shredding incident and the health problems of some soldiers from the friendly fire unit. The Army agreed to move the soldiers out of their unit and work to address their medical needs. Bond's staff also contacted a representative of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, who agreed to assist them in getting medical care.

The Army has completed an investigation into the shredding incident, called a 15-6 investigation, a relatively informal, internal affair typically conducted by one officer who reports to his commander. In a 15-6, the military unit that may have screwed up is responsible for investigating itself.

Kremling and Mitchum's brigade commander, Col. Randy George, told me in a phone interview that he ordered a captain on his staff to handle this 15-6 investigation. (George was not the commander of the brigade in Ramadi in 2006, and he had not heard of the friendly fire incident until Salon published the initial story.)

George's investigation found that the battalion routinely shreds old, inactive personnel files. The destruction of documents on Oct. 14 was routine. "They shredded some documents," George told me. "Coincidentally it happened on the 14th ... We shred documents all the time."

George acknowledged that files on Nelson and Suarez went into the shredder on Oct. 14 — but none were related to the alleged friendly fire. "I would guarantee you that there was nothing in there that was destroyed that had anything to do with that incident."

George sent me a copy of his investigation, which includes a sworn statement from an Army staff sergeant (name redacted) who works on personnel issues in the battalion headquarters. The sergeant wrote that the shredding on Oct. 14 resulted from an effort that began in early September to clean out old files. That sergeant also wrote that "at no time did anyone give any order to destroy personal records specific to those two soldiers, nor did anyone I work with indicate that the battalion leadership or any company commander direct [sic] any soldiers ... to destroy the records of those two soldiers."

George's investigation also contains sworn statements from the soldiers interviewed by Salon, reflecting essentially what they told me. They describe boxes filled predominantly with files on the two men, including some documents with both men's names on them. They also reiterated what they said in our interviews — they simply don't know for sure exactly what all they put into the shredder on Nelson and Suarez.

"The documents that were shredded were not related to the deaths or the investigation into the deaths" of Nelson and Suarez, according to the copy of George's investigation. "The command was aware of the media interest in the case but had no motivation to destroy the documents; and the command did not order nor did it know about the shredding of the documents."

On Oct. 14, George did discuss the Salon article with his superiors in the 4th Infantry Division, he confirmed. And he did order an effort to comb through files that day, but only to identify who from the unit on the day of Nelson and Suarez's deaths might still be around. "I asked who was in the unit because I was not here when that happened," he told me. "But that had nothing to do with shredding any documents."

This self-exoneration echoes the Army's original investigation into Nelson and Suarez's deaths. Col. Sean MacFarland was the commander of the tank unit in Ramadi that was supporting Nelson and Suarez's infantry company that day in 2006. MacFarland also oversaw the subsequent Army investigation into the deaths, another 15-6, which found that two enemy mortars landing simultaneously killed Nelson and Suarez, not MacFarland's tanks.

MacFarland said in a brief telephone interview on Oct. 14 that the full investigation included 170 photographs, dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of ballistic analysis.

"I think it was the gold standard of investigations," MacFarland said, "particularly in an active combat zone."

He argued that his investigation shows that the eyewitnesses are mistaken. "I think there was a strong consensus among the soldiers at the platoon that yes, a tank fired at their building. But the evidence just did not support that," he said. "One could see how young soldiers in the fog of war could get confused," he continued. "So a soldier could very easily be forgiven for thinking that tank was shooting at his building, but they weren't."

I've known for months about the existence of MacFarland's investigation and I requested all of it, including the photographs, statements and exhibits, back on July 30. So far, the Army has produced only a heavily redacted, 10-page summary of the investigation and a two-page memo from MacFarland concurring with the findings. A letter from Fort Carson officials, dated Oct. 10, says they are still looking for the rest of the material requested by Salon in July.

The men in battalion headquarters on Oct. 14 acknowledge that they don't know what they destroyed under orders, or even whether they shredded investigative documents. Said Mitchum, "Who knows what was in there?"

What Mitchum is sure of is how Nelson and Suarez died. "They were killed by a tank," he said. He complained about officers and senior enlisted leaders going along with the official story that the cause of death was enemy fire. "They fall in line," he told me. "And they don't give a shit what it makes us feels like."


If this was a just world, people like Colonels MacFarland and George and any CO involved in giving the command to shred those papers would be stripped of their rank, uniform, handed over the families of the dead, and their fate decided by them (with an "official" police investigation that would automatically exonerate any resulting untimely demise as an accident). I am sure if Colonel MacFarland and George's son were killed in a similar fashion, they would think quite differently after discovering it was friendly fire incident, in which superiors lied about it, and the papers into the soldier's death destroyed (under the guise of "we shred papers all the time" [which just so happen to pertain to the one person killed in the friendly fire incident]). Unfortunately, this kind of justice never happens. Another investigation may occur. Someone may be demoted, but the officers with command responsibility for their crimes while in uniform are almost never punished (anymore than the officers at Abu Gharib or Lt. Calley for My Lai). It is a shame. The dead deserve more respect than what they are receiving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Consequences of Letting Them Die: What Will Happen if We Lose the Automobile Industry

I have been longtime critic of the Big Three automobile companies in this country. This is in no small part because I have driven their cars my entire driving life (and watched as their products have dipped in quality). Moreover, I come from a family of workers who (until recently) had jobs in that industry, working for GM and Ford. The three generations of workers in that industry are now gone (or soon will be when my uncle accepts his upcoming buyout). It is a loss of culture, predating World War Two, heritage, and a loss of this country's history (and a history that made us into what we are as a wealthy power). Of course, there are those who see nothing wrong with the US becoming a post-industrial service sector economy. Naturally, these people are almost always wealthy white Republicans who make their money from other industries, and who would not know manual labor if it hit them over the head.

For the rest, this column describes in perfect detail what will happen if we lose our industrial champions.

Why Detroit is Different
Bailing Out the Automakers
by David Macaray

Let’s put two things on the table immediately, two things which, while not exactly logical, are nonetheless meaningful. If you’re looking for steel-trap logic or cold, bottom-line infallibility, you won’t find them here. But if you’re willing to consider a few realistic, peripheral considerations, some of this should make sense.

First, even though we’re being bombarded on all sides with news of economic doom, let’s not delude ourselves. The Big Three automakers aren’t just another industry, so let’s not pretend they are. Let’s not pretend they’re a chain of coffee joints or convenience stores, or even a big-time outfit like American Express, who, reportedly, is already sniffing around for some of that government money.

Detroit is different. Automakers are not only the largest manufacturing industry in the United States, they are, undeniably, the most glamorous, prestigious, loyal and uniquely American corporate enterprise in our history. They’re Industrial America’s version of the Liberty Bell, the Alamo and the Lincoln Memorial, all rolled into one. Smirk if you like, but it’s true.

Americans shouldn’t have to be reminded of our 100-year romance with cars, or the fact that it was we, the United States, who first mass-produced automobiles and introduced them to the rest of the world. And the world fell in love with American cars as a consequence. Pancho Villa drove a Ford Model-T. The Maharaja of Kapurtala (Punjab, India) drove a ’59 Chevy Impala.

I bring this up only to establish the fact that when we talk about the auto industry, we’re talking about a legacy enterprise, a cultural icon. And I’m saying that people who cavalierly assert that allowing one or more of the Big Three to go bankrupt don’t have the first clue as to the enormity of what they’re suggesting.

Besides the 240,000 people who work directly for Chrysler, General Motors and Ford, there are an estimated 2.7 million more who work in related industries, who supply parts, raw materials, sales and technical services. It’s been predicted that a collapse of the auto industry could affect as many as 3 million people, a full 5% of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

Second, if history doesn’t matter, if this conversation isn’t about what was, but about was is—if it’s about money, and not cultural icons and such—then let’s talk money. Indeed, if it’s their hard-earned money that American taxpayers are concerned about, then fine, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about how we spend it.

We’ve already blown close to a trillion dollars on an unwinnable war (not to mention the loss of life and destruction of a country), and continue to pour an additional $14 billion a month down that same bottomless rathole. On a dollar for dollar basis, this has been a monumental debacle, arguably, the greatest foreign policy blunder in our history.

Still, from what we’re hearing, American taxpayers and their representatives are having a problem with giving $25 billion worth of economic relief to the struggling Big Three. They are objecting to this relief on the grounds that [drum roll] “it doesn’t make good business sense.” Please.

Not only have we had, literally, billions of dollars stolen from us by corrupt Iraqi officials and their political stooges, we’ve paid billions of dollars to Halliburton, Blackwater and scores of lesser known but equally greedy private contractors, all in the name of “patriotism.”

Yet, given this record of pissing away money like drunken sailors, American taxpayers are now suggesting that it’s time to get all stingy and wise and fiscally conservative, drawing the line at bailing out America’s most hallowed industry—all in the name of “tightening their belt.” If that’s what’s happening here, give me a goddamn break, people.

On the other hand, if this is about assurances or guarantees, that’s a whole other deal. That’s an eminently reasonable request, one we should pursue. Instead of giving away billions of dollars with no strings attached (as we’re doing in Iraq), let’s attach some economic and environmental requirements. Insisting that Detroit develop a car that gets 85 mph, with drastically reduced carbon emissions, would be a good start.

Let take this opportunity to reinvent the car business, but this time in the image we want. For crying out loud, we’re the country that put a man on the moon and invented the reusable condom. Surely, we have the technical expertise and creativity to make a radically fuel-efficient automobile.

But it’s also time we finally acknowledged the elephant in the room. That elephant is health care. The U.S. auto industry, which spends upwards of 30% of its payroll on employee health insurance (including premiums and administrative costs), competes with companies whose governments underwrite employee health care.

Even though labor costs account for, roughly, 8%-10% of the price of a new car, health insurance is killing the industry. Right out of the chute, before anything’s been bought or sold, the Big Three is already thirty cents on the dollar in the hole. Given that crippling discrepancy, it’s fairly amazing that Detroit has managed as well as it has.

Of course, the Republicans in congress—the same faux-patriots who prevented us from joining the rest of the industrialized world in obtaining national health care by waving the hysterical banner of “socialized medicine”—don’t want to blame health insurance for contributing to the problem. Instead, they want to blame labor unions.

Instead of blaming Big Pharma and Big Insurance, they’re blaming the UAW; they blaming working people—people who are making $48,000 a year, hanging on to their middle-class identity by their fingernails, trying to make a living.

By bailing out the automakers (albeit with stringent conditions) we’ll be saving one of America’s truly valuable institutions. We’ll be giving it a second chance. Twenty-five billion dollars is less than we spend in two months on this war. Doesn’t Detroit deserve a small fraction of the generosity we’re showing the Iraqis?

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and writer, was a former labor union rep. He can be reached at

For those members of the Congressional Republican caucus, especially the characters who voted to subsidize their bankers to the tune of $700 billion, who declare that these car companies should go into bankruptcy and "reorganize," they are living an alternative reality. At least one, if not two, of these companies have debts that outweigh their sales and/or assets. GM has $181 billion of debt. Ford, at least $10 billion (depending on whose numbers you look at). And Chrysler, well, no one knows, because they went off the books after severing ties from Daimler, but by most estimates they are more heavily in debt than Ford. Of the Big Three, only Ford would likely survive a non-bailout. GM will run out of money this calendar year and Chrysler not long afterward. When companies have this much debt, it is not going to be a reorganization. It is going to be an implosion. Texas Instruments reorganized in the '80s and '90s. They rebounded and used Chapter 11 to protect themselves from creditors while they were restructuring themselves (a common practice for corporations, who can more easily exploit bankruptcy than common citizens [thanks in no small part to the banking industry and these same Republican members of Congress who passed laws to make it more difficult for individual bankruptcy filings]). GM and Chrysler cannot make it out of consolidation because there is too much debt to even begin renegotiating (and their credit ratings too low to find anyone who would care to want to invest in the companies). They will end up like LTV Steel, which is to say they will die and with it the pensions, health care, jobs, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers.

When GM and Chrysler dies, and they will without some kind of assistance, they will take with them half of their suppliers. Delphi, a major supplier of parts for GM, which is already in bankruptcy, would not survive. Dana Corporation, another major supplier for the Big Three, another bankruptcy reorganizer, would not survive. Microheat, another GM supplier, will almost certainly not survive. That is more than a hundred thousand jobs lost just with those three companies, and that is what will happen since their debts are too high to make it out of consolidation without any support from the nearly bankrupt companies they contract with.

This is not to say that I am the biggest fan of bailing out these companies. I am not. Indeed, any bailout should be conditioned with executives like Wagoner receiving no compensation (since he is one of the highest paid CEOs on Wall Street and helped drive GM into bankruptcy with his ineptitude). Nevertheless, the loss of a million-plus jobs and the destruction of our way of life for people who do not have multiple college degrees is a tremendous inhibitor. Think about it. China will have an automobile industry and we will not, in spite of the fact that almost 30% of global new cars sales are in North America. Without an automobile industry, the greatest sign of wealth and prestige of our country will be wholly foreign-owned. Let the flag wavers and phony patriots who support free trade think of that the next time they tell you we do not need this industry or its workers, as if they would just as soon see every last one of them drop off the face of the earth (the same workers our free marketers love bashing while defending the pay of CEOs as a product of the capitalist system).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama's Foreign Policy

Expending some time covering the options and likely outcomes of the incoming Obama presidency, this is my first installment of what will be his probable actions with regards to foreign policy.

The problem with Barack Obama and foreign policy is that what little is known does not look very good. Granted, the campaign turned on domestic economic issues, but so much of America's global prestige, or the lack thereof these days, is a product of US foreign policy. This is not to diminish the importance of the domestic economy, or its repercussions on international markets, but intermestic issues tend to be tied more to trade than whether or not GM is going to be bailed out by the American taxpayer.

With that in mind, the issue of trade is one are we are not going to be seeing any major change on. President-elect Obama has made it clear during the campaign that he supports NAFTA and GATT, even going so far as to reassure the Canadian government through one of this advisers (which damaged his campaign immensely right before the Ohio primary [in my view costing him that state to Hillary]). If anyone in the labor movement of this country, or what constitutes it, believes we are pulling out of the WTO or will begin to seriously assert the importance of implementing the ignored labor and environmental side agreements in NAFTA, they will be sorely disappointed. Still, as a candidate, Obama did give some voice to supporting a re-negotiation of free trade agreements on the grounds that they have hurt the American worker. I would not count on him following through on this anymore than Bill Clinton when he promised to pass a striker replacement bill, which he not only refused to support but spent his first year as President lobbying Congress on the passage of NAFTA (the precursor of GATT and the death knell of the American industrial worker).

On Iraq, again, I am not as hopeful as I once was. To be sure, Obama opposed the war from the beginning, or so he claims. And he has been very critical of it on those occasions when it was mentioned during the campaign. Nevertheless, as Senator he voted to maintain war funding, and he has given multiple timetables for when he would like to see the US leave Iraq (almost all of them beyond 2010). If one looks at history, it is not a good sign. The US still has troops in most of the countries it has fought against/for over the past several decades. We still have troops in South Korea, Japan, Germany, in Bosnia, Kosovo, and even Macedonia (and we did not even go to war over Macedonia). Certainly, the troops in most of these countries are there for logistics and not occupation, although this is debatable in the Balkans, but it illustrates that even if President Obama follows through on his promise and disembarks from Iraq we will still have a military contingency of some kind in the country. This would be a grave mistake, especially when he opposed the introduction of those troops back in 2002-2003 (it is worth noting that he did not vote on the Iraq War resolution back in 2002 because he was not a member of the US Senate).

On Afghanistan, I am sorry to say, what reduction and possible elimination of our military presence in Iraq will be more than made up for with a militarization of this sad and defeated land. Since our invasion and quasi occupation of Afghanistan, following 9/11, the Taliban has come back in the last couple of years and taken over 15-20% of Afghanistan's territory, mostly in the Kandahar and surrounding provinces (a stronghold of the Taliban even before the American invasion). And unlike Iraq, Afghanistan has no real national tradition or a history of being a unified state of any kind. It has always been a collection of ethnic groups whose federal polity existed at the familial and tribal level. The monarchy and central governments that followed it were mostly figureheads. The only two times in Afghanistan's history in which this almost changed was during its early years as a Communist republic and when the subsequent Taliban was in power. And even then, there were sizable opposition groups who did not accept the legitimacy of those governments (leading in part to their eventual fall, with outside assistance, of course).

Taking into consideration Afghanistan's history, one would have to be fairly deluded to believe that increasing the number of US military troops will stabilize the situation. If anything, it will make things worse because the locals will always look at foreign armies as invaders of their country, landed traditions, and culture, particularly when those troops come from societies whose values seem to contradict their own (and Russian and American troops are as foreign to this society as the British were in the 19th century). Indeed, it is one of the reasons why the Taliban has as much sympathy from as many Afghans as it does, in spite of its unpopular rule back in the '90s.

In addition, Obama's threat to introduce American troops into Pakistan, even without the government's invitation, will only exacerbate the situation. It will cause a direct diplomatic conflict with one of the few Muslim majority allies of the US, and become fodder for recruitment for both al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the western provinces. People sometimes forget that there is a precedence for this type of behavior. Back in 1998, right around the time that Bill Clinton's impeachment was being debated by Congressional Republicans, the US bombed several suspected hideouts and camps of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and the Sudan (the intelligence was dubious on both accounts, especially the pharmaceutical plant we bombed in Khartoum). It aroused such sympathy for bin Laden that there was a spurt of babies being named after Osama that year, in Pakistan.

To be sure, it is understandable to want to punish and go after bin Laden and his cohorts following 9/11, but it would be preferable for the Pakistani military to carry out such an operation over US special forces, and even if it required the US military it would be even more preferable still to have the support of the Pakistani government for any operation within its territory. If the US isolates itself from the Pakistani government, there is no one left it can rely on, and Mullah Omar and bin Laden will have a free reign to live without being touched. One can only be hopeful that a President Obama would see this. He may well come to this view, when he is in office, so it is too early to say. Campaign rhetoric will oftentimes betray a very different policy path once in power.

With regards to the promise to rely more on diplomacy over force in international relations, this is an area where Barack Obama has his greatest political capital and goodwill internationally. I cannot understate this. The response of my foreign friends to this election was almost as, if not more, jubilant than in Grant Park on the evening of November 4th. And it was based almost exclusively on the perception that an Obama presidency would stress diplomacy more than the Bush and a likely McCain presidency. This goodwill gives Obama some leeway that no other President-elect could have obtained, as a critic of Bush's foreign policy and as the first African American President in this country's history (yes, it is tribal, but peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, who view US politics historically as a place for white men only are going to at least be initially more inclined to a presidency that breaks this color barrier).

A President Obama can use this goodwill to potentially resolve conflicts in both Iraq and maybe Afghanistan, if he so chooses. Even under the Bush presidency, the US-backed Afghan government has attempted to negotiate with the Taliban. Assuming we could secure those responsible for 9/11, and assuming that Afghan democracy is not a top priority, a fantasy anyway (with a government almost as orthodox in its practice of Islam as Saudi Arabia), would it not be more advantageous just to get a peace? This is a country that has been at war with itself and outsiders for over three decades now. Over a million people have died. It has over 10 million landmines sprinkled throughout its land. Its cities and villages reduced to rubble. Conflict resolution should take precedence in Afghanistan, even before politics, ideology, and military necessity. Iraq is even a greater possibility because there is a consensus on the part of the Iraqi government as well as the incoming President.

There could be no greater accomplishment of this presidency than ending these two wars. I wish I could be hopeful, but one only needs to remember the number of countries that Bill Clinton was responsible for bombing (Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria [yes, Bulgaria], Afghanistan, and the Sudan) to remain cautious. If the foreign policies of our Presidents have taught us anything in the post-Cold War era, it is this: only trust results.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Living in the Bible belt has been an educational experience for me. As a Midwestern transplant, I did not really understand what people meant by the term Bible belt. That was until I moved down here. I reside in a state that bans gay couples from marrying, inheritance, civil unions, from just about anything, and yet heterosexual 16 year old first cousins can get hitched with parental approval. To say this place does not represent my values would be putting it lightly. When I discovered that there was going to be a demonstration in my city against the anti-gay marriage votes, particularly the one in California, I did something I have not done since my undergraduate years. I went to a demonstration.

I felt it was important for me to go to this demonstration. I was upset at the vote in California (indeed, it put a damper on my election night celebrations). Moreover, I went because I specifically wanted to show that not everyone who supports gay rights is gay. There are straight people, such as myself, who believe everyone should be treated equally under the law.

What I noticed about the demonstration (a rally march, really), which attracted a few hundred people, was how remarkably diverse it was. Whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, gay, straight, families, single and married people. For a part of the country polluted with Confederate battle flags on vehicles and front yards (something I still cannot get used to), I was heartened by this diversity, although I am certain many of these folks came from out of town to show their support (a couple mentioned that they drove over an hour because it was the closest place they could find that would even tolerate a gay rights march). The next thing I noticed was how upset people I encountered were about the vote in California. It seems strange, seeing how I live in a state that banned gay marriage several years ago, but everyone, including myself, fully expected or hoped the California vote would fail. It was close, of course, but sadly it passed. It was a huge deflating moment because if gay rights cannot succeed in a place like California it means that it is going to be a long, long time before it succeeds anywhere else.

Naturally, some of this is overstated because so much is invested in the marriage issue. California already has gay rights legislation that protects members of the LGBT community from discrimination and are included in the state's anti-hate laws. But marriage is an issue that touches people differently, particularly religious conservatives who see the institution in the same way members of the politburo once looked at five year plans.

To those, like some of the less kindly respondents to my previous posts on the issue, who say this is just a vote and we should respect it, or not anger these forces, well, I obviously disagree. I disagree for a couple of major reasons. One, the anti-gay marriage votes are the product of gays and lesbians doing nothing more than trying to exercise the same rights as straight people. The very thought or notion that I should deny a gay couple from marrying because they are gay (even as consenting, loving adults) seems at best petty and at worst utterly hateful. Since when was it "special" for two consenting adults to get married? Do we consider it special rights to allow gay people to vote or run for office? The fault rests squarely with the backlash and those religious people, and they are overwhelmingly motivated by religion, who put these votes on the ballot to deny rights to the people they fear and loathe.

The reasoning for this fear should be obvious for anyone who has had the misfortune of coming from one of these households. Christianity, like the other Abrahamic religions, has a long and sordid history of hatred of homosexuals. In the Book of Leviticus, gays and lesbians are commanded to be physically eradicated. In the first Book of Corinthians, Paul compares gays to drunkards, liars, and thieves. In England, until the 19th century, gays and lesbians could be executed, and until recent times being gay was considered a crime in our society (and in every case religion was the rationale by which these actions were justified). If someone believes the the words in the Bible are true and inspired by a creator, the natural conclusion is to want to make sure they do everything possible to deny the rights (and to some, if they had it their way, much more) to those that their religion claims are destined for eternal damnation.

Be that as it may, I personally do not care what the Bible says. In fact, it should be of no consequence to civil law in this country, thanks to Madison's inclusion of the establishment clause in the First Amendment. If one wants to sincerely believe that gay people are less than human, and use religion to justify such a view, our society gives them the right to think as they please. They are not welcome to bring that hatred out of their books, minds, and churches, and force it into our lives through the power of the state. For this alone, the use of state power for religious ends should automatically be suspect.

Secondly, regardless of one's religious beliefs, each state and our federal constitution gives us equal protection and treatment under the law. This is what prevents people from taking votes to exclude Jews from having citizenship. It was equal protection that became the legal enabler to overturn state miscegenation laws, which was supported back in the day by religionists who cited the Tower of Babel story in the Bible (not surprisingly, these are the same people who today use the Bible to oppose gay marriage). If we cannot agree to treat each other equally under the law, then guaranteeing such protection is meaningless. These votes make a mockery of it.

Arguments aside, the saddest part, after attending what I thought was a successful demonstration, was coming home, getting online, and reading the comments on the local news story about the event. About two-thirds were negative (and predominantly locals), and filled with such Christian and tolerant remarks about "perverts," "sodomites," "freaks and liberals," as well as the periodic complaint about how anyone could dare to do such an awful thing as demonstrate (I am sure Madison would find that line amusing when he was writing the freedom of assembly clause in the First Amendment). I know I am on a side that ultimately will win, as the progress of history and our political culture has shifted on this issue in the last couple of decades in a way that would have been unthinkable even a few generations ago. However, what I do not know is when our history will turn on these issues. Here is to hoping it is closer to 1789 than 1814.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prop 8 Demonstrations

Today is a momentous day. It is the national anti-Proposition 8 Day. And by national, I mean national. We are having one in our state today, to which I am about to depart for. Here is some information, thanks to Join The Impact!

We need to show our support for our brethren in California and hopefully get this monstrosity overturned. Yes, I know, bans have been passed elsewhere, but California should be ours. It is our most liberal state, next to maybe Massachusetts. If we lose here, it takes away momentum for a cause that should be elementary and fundamental to anyone who believes in equal treatment. And this is something we should all take a stand on and support. I will be there. And the more family members you can bring, the better.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boycott Hate

If the white right, and its country music fan base, can go crazy at the thought of the Dixie Chicks for saying what nearly 80% of Americans today think of the village idiot-in-chief, then it is time we take a stand against bigotry in California. I do not live in the state (I wish I did, just for this), but California was the one place gay rights was supposed to win.

I felt that after the Proposition 8 vote, it was merely delaying the inevitable, but it will only happen if we make it so. It is time to take a stand. Included are the names of the homophobes and bigots who donated money to subordinate gays and lesbians to second class status.


John Griffiths / Dentist, John C. Griffiths, Dds, Mds, Pc Las Vegas, NV $1,000

Anne-Marie Anderson Consultant, Cps Human Resource Svc. Rocklin, CA /$3,900

Darren Hulstine / Sales, Patterson Dental / Santa Maria, CA / $1,500

Dale Olsen / Contractor, The Floor Show Of California / Lemon Grove, CA / $1,000

John Sawyer / President, Penhall Company / Laguna Hills, CA / $2,500

John Sawyer / President, Penhall Company / Laguna Hills, CA / $1,000

Samuel Coates / Attorney / Palo Alto, CA / $2,500

Fieldstead And Co. / Irvine, CA / $95,000

Margaret Friedrich / Farmer, Friedrich Enterprises / Paterson, CA /$1,000

Frank Winger / Insurance, Aim / Santa Ana, CA /$2,500

Andre Carli / Professor, Cal. State Univ. Sacramento / Elk Grove, CA / $1,000

Container Supply Co., Inc. / Garden Grove, CA / $250,000

Wesley C. Hilton / V.p. Ins. Sales, Dominion Insurance / Lafayette, CA / $1,250

Kemp Burnham / Software Developer, Xact Ware Inc. / Lehi, UT / $1,000

Koreen Martone / Budget Analyst, State Of Ca. / West Sacramento, CA / $1,000

Gary Mcarthur / Dc, Ppc / Paradise, CA / $1,000

Gary Melman / Investment Manager, Horus / Los Angeles, CA / $1,000

Barnabas Chen / Manager, World Trend, Inc. / Pomona, CA / $1,000

Gayle Wells / Seminar Business, Empty Spools Seminars / Moraga, CA / $1,000

Lambeth Consulting / Greenwood, CA / $1,000

Stephen Elgorriaga / Sheep Rancher, Stephen Elgorriaga Livestock / Madera, CA / $1,000

Country View Farms / Pierce, NE / $2,500

Roy Menchavez / Equip. Eng., Venzon Engineering / Mountain View, CA / $1,000

Frank Velasquez / Coo, Cornerstone Technologies / San Jose, CA / $1,000

Tyler Albrechtsen / Healthcare Administrator, Victoria Care Center / Oxnard, CA / $1,000

Bruce Andrus / Hotel Owner/operator, Huntington Hotels / Park City, UT / $20,000

Daniel Brinton / Physician, East Bay Retina Consultants / Lafayette, CA /


Stan Lee / Pharmacist, Nelsons Drug Store / Upland, CA / $5,000

Jeffrey Puryear / Lab Research Assoc., Texas Agrilife Research Station / Bryan, TX / $1,000

Matthew Wade / Medical Resident, Uc Irvine / Salt Lake City, UT / $2,000

Focus On The Family / Colorado Springs, CO / $2,909

Robert Gray / Consultant, Rg-construction Consultants / Plumas Lake, CA / $2,000

Robert Mendenhall / Pres., Western Governors University / Salt Lake City, CA / $1,000

John Mcgaffey / Manager, Polara Engineering / Fullerton, CA / $2,000

Garth Pickett / Accounting, Ladera Integrators / Mountain View, CA / $2,000

Tracy Pickett / Executive Support, Ladera Integrators / Mountain View, CA / $1,999

Lisa Myler / Wedding Planner, Myler Weddings / American Fork, UT / $10,000

Jerner Construction, Inc. / Turlock, CA / $1,000

Paula Barnes / Scheduler, Disneyland / Mission Viejo, CA / $3,000

Michael Brown / Attorney, Michael R. Brown, A Law Corp. / Lake Forest, CA / $1,200

Earl Goodman / President, Goodman, Gene, Dtl, Inc. / Chandler, AZ / $9,999

James Mclaughlin / Investment Management, Lincolnshire Management, Inc. / New Canaan, CT / $1,000

Donald Nanney / Attorney, Gilchrist & Rutter, Pc / Pasadena, CA / $1,000

Coalition For The Protection Of / Las Vegas, NV / $5,000

William Allen / Orthodontist, North County Orthodontist / Carlsbad, CA / $1,000

Morgan Lynch / Management, Lago Di Como / Cedar Hills, UT / $2,500

Scott Haskins / President, Facl, Inc. / Santa Barbara, CA / $5,000

Jessica Wooden / Rn, Sutter Roseville Medical Center / Rescue, CA / $1,500

Yvonne Tsai / Consultant, Kingdom Design / Irvine, CA / $1,000

Caleb Nelson / Self Employed, Unishippers Of Oakland/oregon / Albany, OR / $1,000

Jan Pinney / Insurance Broker, Pinney Insurance Center, Inc. / Granite Bay, CA / $10,000

Ken Campbell / Personnel Officer, City Of Long Beach / Mission Viejo, CA / $1,000

Price Funeral Chapel, Inc. / Citrus Heights, CA / $1,000

Kevin Neubert & Associates Inc. / Lake Arrowhead, CA / $1,000

Scott Borgia / Tax Director, Armanino Mckenna / Morgan Hill, CA / $1,000

Leading Edge Duplication, Inc / Moorpark, CA / $1,700

Joseph Ray / Civil Engineer, P G & E / Rodeo, CA / $1,000

Kimberly Sneddon / Teacher, Chino Usd / Brea, CA / $1,000

Tisha Harty / Office Manager, Law Office Of Douglas Harty / Castaic, CA /


Steven Udvar / Manager, Pacific Life Insurance Co. / Dana Point, CA /


Lorin Rocks / Engineer, Tandberg Television / San Jose, CA / $1,000

Melenaite Piutau / Contractor, New Epoch Construction / Ontario, CA / $2,000

Heath Fields / Shipping/receiving, Terico / San Jose, CA / $1,000

Container Supply Co., Inc. / Garden Grove, CA / $1,520

Blake Wettengel / Attorney, Snell & Wilmer / Laguna Niguel, CA / $1,000

Cheryl Aday / Real Estate, Provident Realty / Upland, CA / $1,000

Ray Zinn / Ceo, Micrel Inc. / Atherton, CA / $1,500

Gregory Tuttle / Dentist, Gregory K Tuttle Dds / El Dorado Hills, CA / $5,000

Katherine Foster / Manager, Cisco / Mountain View, CA / $2,000

David Boyce / Cpa, Brown, Fink, Boyce & Astle

/ Folsom, CA / $4,000

Michael Lee / Researcher, Natl Inst. For Materials Science / Elk Ridge, UT / $1,500

Joel Gibson / Consultant, Permanente Medical Group / Albany, CA / $1,000

Courtney Sirard / Medical Provider, Woodland Hospital / Woodland, CA /


Alex Spjute / Attorney, Hughes Hubbard & Reed / Redondo Beach, CA / $1,000

Wei Li / Engineer, Sensage / Daly City, CA / $1,000

Sherri Steenburgen / Real Estate, First Team Real Estate / Anaheim, CA /


John Lewis / Doctor, Tpmg / Cupertino, CA / $1,000

Kevin Schick / Programmer, Synteract Inc. / Carlsbad, CA / $1,000

Anne Jones / Calligrapher, Self - Anne Jones / North Hollywood, CA /


Sherry Jagard / Program Manager / Simi Valley, CA / $1,000

Walter Gubler / Professor, Uc Davis / Davis, CA / $1,000

Montgomery Painting / Cerritos, CA / $1,000

Jeff Lemmon / Businessman, New Star / Pacific Grove, CA / $1,000

Brandon Ballard / Investment Advisor, Investools Inc. / Los Angeles, CA /


Matthew Thueson / Office Manager, Roll Services / Tucson, AZ / $1,000

Lawrence R. Taylor / Cpa, Gallina, Llp / Antelope, CA / $1,000

Carl Trubschenck / Dentist, Carl Trubschenck Dds Inc. / Citrus Heights, CA / $1,000

Christopher Porter / Vp Sales, Pearson / Folsom, CA / $1,000

Ryan S. Beck / Physical Therapist, Western Physical Therapy / Orland, CA / $1,000

David Bjarnason / Analyst, Western Investment / Salt Lake City, CA / $1,000

Ralph E. Carr / Social Worker, Dept. Of Children & Family Serv. / Downey, CA / $1,000

Kirk Phillips / Civil Engineer, City Of Claremont California / Upland, CA / $1,000

Tca Partners, Llp / Fresno, CA / $1,000

Thomas Carmack / Attorney, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosa / Mountain View, CA / $1,000

Mike Power / Engineer, Intuit / San Jose, CA / $1,000

Rhonda Killion / Secretary, Church On The Rock / Woodland, CA / $1,000

Brian Avery / Property Manager, Acco Mgt. / Mountain View, CA / $1,000

Blaine Ray Workshops / Consultant / Pismo Beach, CA / $1,000

Scott English / Programmer, Tmmg / Yorba Linda, CA / $2,000

Special Funds / Santa Clarita, CA / $2,675

Bolt Motorcycle Hardware / Atascadero, CA / $1,000

Ridgway Pope / Accountant, County Of Ventura / Ventura, CA / $1,000

Daniel Trueba / Doctor, U.s. Navy / Stonington, CT / $1,000

Alta Home Care Inc. / Riverside, CA / $2,500

Mark Riem / Audio Visual, Self Employed-mark Riem / Los Angeles, CA / $1,000

Chris Barlow / Finance, Lombard Street Partners, Llc / San Ramon, CA / $1,000

Tulikininifo Penieli / Intl. Export., Dhl Express / Lawndale, CA / $1,000

Metal Related Services, Inc / Chatsworth, CA / $2,000

Kawika Tupou / Engineer, Alg Corp. / Camarillo, CA / $1,000

Brian Everett / Architect, Nmr Architects / Orangevale, CA / $1,250

Cory Reid / Loss Mitigation, Consumer Protection Institute / Moraga, CA / $1,000

Kendell Ricks / Dentist, Village Dental / Bonsall, CA / $1,000

Alekisanita Vimahi / Merchandiser, Retail Marketing / Millbrae, CA / $1,500

Cooley Family Investment Llc / Higley, AZ / $10,000

Andrew Hunt / Civil Engineer, City Of Sacramento / Folsom, CA / $1,000

Craig Yeates / Auditor, Us Department Federal Government / Camarillo, CA / $1,000

Robert Ludlow / Dentist, Self Employed - Robert Ludlow / Modesto, CA / $5,000

Katherine Laret / Teacher, San Juan Unified School District / Orangevale, CA / $1,000

Sandra Ball / Manager, Treehouse Almonds / Lemoore, CA / $1,000

Bruce Stephenson / Cpa, Gallina Llp / Granite Bay, CA / $1,000

Mann Construction / Santa Barbara, CA / $1,000

Golding Publications / Canyon Lake, CA / $1,000

M By 6 Inc / Stockton, CA / $1,000

Richard Reep / Hrm, Home Depot / Shingle Springs, CA / $2,000

David Hilburn / Nursing Home Administrator, Sherwood Healthcare Center / Granite Bay, CA / $5,000

Danielle Peterson / Gis Analyst, Granite Construction / Sacramento, CA / $1,000

Ken Sanofsky / Ceo, Path Solutions / Angoura Hills, CA / $1,000

Scott Kuhnen / Paper Stock Dealer, Recycling Industries / Yuba City, CA / $28,750

John Larcabal / Optometrist, Brea Optomatry / Brea, CA / $1,000

Wailana Kamauu / Agent, Wailana Kamauu Ins. Agency / Sonoma, CA / $1,000

Lori Hooke / Civil Engineer, Ventura County / Ventura, CA / $1,200

Gordon Jones / Chemical Salesman, Cardinal Industry / Thousand Oaks, CA / $2,000

Calvary Chapel Corona Corona, CA $2,533

Trentman Corporation / Auburn, CA / $1,000

Bart Walker / Owner, Barts Electric / Pleasant Valley, MO / $1,000

Huesser Neweight Llc / Concord, CA / $1,000

Nathan Jensen / Attorney, Morrison & Foerster / San Diego, CA / $10,000

Randall Hatcher / Human Resources, Maui Inc. / Augusta, GA / $5,000

Margaret Mccauley / Landscaper, Pml Landscape / Clovis, CA / $1,000

Brian Hayes / Restaurateur, Aunt Fannys Hot Pretzel / Auburn, CA / 1,000

Craig Huey / Advertising, Creative Direct Marketing Group / Torrance, CA / $1,000

Elizabeth Thomas / Teacher, Burbank Usd / Burbank, CA / $1,000

Shelburne Ponsford / Pres., Systems Information Tech. / Santa Rosa, CA / $1,000

Rodney Hewitt / Chief Risk Officer, Centrue Bank / Manlius, IL / $2,500

Kelley Drake / Supply Chain Mgt, Lsi Corp / San Jose, CA / $1,000

Thomas Larson / Engineer, Cal Trans / San Diego, CA / $9,900

Jason Swart / Owner, Specialized Dairy Svc. / Ontario, CA / $1,000

Steven Turner / Attorney, Jones Turner, Llp / Irvine, CA / $1,000

Focus On The Family / Colorado Springs, CO / $328

Focus On The Family / Colorado Springs, CO / $981

Focus On The Family / Colorado Springs, CO / $46

Focus On The Family / Colorado Springs, CO / $83

Lauri Janssen / Accountant, Intermountan Health Care / West Jordan, UT / $1,000

Lee Monson / Air Attack Capt., Dyncorp International / Atascadero, CA / $1,000

Byron Johnson / President, Eml Associates Inc. / Manteca, CA / $1,000

April Bullard / Business Owner, Scv / Whittier, CA / $1,000

Debra Cabeza / Programmer, City Of Los Angeles / Montebello, CA / $1,000

Michael Manning / Cpa, Qlogic Corporation / San Juan Capistrano, CA / $20,000

Dan Northcutt / Property Management/real Estate, Northcutt Properties Inc. / San Diego, CA / $1,000

Brian Thulin / Teacher, Lausd / Simi Valley, CA / $1,000

Lance Dane / Small Business Owner, Self Employed - Lance Dane / Lafayette, CA / $2,500

Karen Rohm / Professor, California State University / San Bernardino, CA / $1,000

Karen Merrill / Finance Director, Bcbg / Pasadena, CA / $1,000

Nancy Hales / Self Employed, Hales Engineering / Camarillo, CA / $5,000

Lupeni Tuaone / Construction, L.t. Concrete / Chino, CA / $1,614

Ryan Hall / Real Estate, Keller Williams / San Clemente, CA / $1,000

Brent Webb / President, Rpm / Granite Bay, CA / $5,000

David Bills / Teacher, Sbcusd / Corona, CA / $1,000

Michael Wach / Self Employed, Self - Michael Wach / Pomona, CA / $1,000

Theron Brown / Nuclear Radiologist, Va / Torrance, CA / $1,200

Robyn Evans / M.d., Self - Robyn Evans / Redlands, CA / $2,500

John Lewis / Physician, Tpmg / Cupertino, CA / $2,000

Craig Ferguson / Accountant, Craig W Ferguson / Laguna Niguel, CA / $1,000

Marsha Saylors / Secretary, Tire Man / Santa Rosa Valley, CA / $2,500

Barnabas Chen / Manager, World Trend, Inc. / Pomona, CA / $1,000

Reybro, Inc. / Vista, CA / $5,000

Quality Recycling / Lakeside, CA / $2,000

Linda Reynolds / Bookkeeper, Quality Recylcing / Escondido, CA / $2,000

Calvary Chapel Of Costa Mesa, Inc / Santa Ana, CA / $9,000

Mont Flora / Manager, Liberty Heating & Air / Laguna Hills, CA / $5,000

Robert Eakin / Tutor, Mobile Math Tutoring / Carmichael, CA / $3,000
Chuck Musselwhite / Pastor, The Village Chapel / Lompoc, CA / $1,000

Nicole Whitman / Administrator, Greystar / Thousand Oaks, CA / $1,200

Brian Sprague / Analyst, Dept. Of Energy / Fair Oaks, CA / $1,000

Phillip Fletcher / Dentist, Phillip Fletcher, Dds / Redwood City, CA / $1,000

Lin Whatcott/ Accountant, Davita Inc. / Maple Valley, WA / $10,005

Adam Smith Cpa, Pwc Santa Ana, CA /$4,000

Marty Walker / Pastor, The Sanctuary / Santa Clarita, CA / $2,500

Michael Lee / Attorney, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher / Sierra Madre, CA /


Donovan Sanchez / Food Services, Mtc Dining Services / Fairfield, CA /


David Watts / Engineer, Aeris Communications / Morgan Hill, CA / $2,000

Daniel Jensen / Owner, Jensen Fasteners / Sacramento, CA / $1,000

Dan Darchuck / Investment Advisor, Ubs / Clovis, CA / $1,000

Karen Floyd / Trainer, First American Title / Newcastle, CA / $2,500

Calvary Chapel Montebello / Montebello, CA / $1,000

Scott Anderson / Executive, Zenith Specialty Bag / Chino Hills, CA / $1,000

Steven Clark / Manager, R.l. Co. / Orangevale, CA / $1,000

Janet Mahoney / Nursing, Scripps Health / San Diego, CA / $1,000

Matthew Major / Engineer, Lockheed Martin / Sunnyvale, CA / $1,000

Paul Eumurian / Engineer, Boeing / Anaheim, CA / $1,000

David Warner / Periodontist, David A. Warner Dds / Whittier, CA / $1,000

Integrated Dental Implant Services / Las Vegas, NV / $1,000

John Ludwig / Dentist, John B. Ludwig Dds Dental Corp. / Santa Clara, CA / $1,000

Craig Paullin / Partner, 14000 Avalon, Llc / Los Angeles, CA / $2,500

Richard Snelson / Accountant, Ernst & Young Llp / Newhall, CA / $5,585

Brent Griffiths / Self Employed, Brents Carpet One / Newhall, CA / $1,000

Gordon Maughan / Medical Doctor, Self Employed / Palos Verdes Estates, CA / $1,000

Scott L. Larson / Mngr., Scandia Rec., Inc. / Ontario, CA / $1,000

Richard Teerlink / Real Estate Consultant, Richard M. Teerlink Consulting / Gold River, CA / $2,500

Mark Warden / Executive, The Bergman Corp. / San Jose, CA / $1,000

James Elison / Geologist, Paso Creek Reources / Bakersfield, CA / $1,000

Mark E. Abel, Dds / Auburn, CA / $1,000

Douglas Myers / Cpa, Douglas S. Myers, Cpa / Mission Viejo, CA / $1,000

Dallin Large / Pool Cover Repairman, Cover Care / Los Angeles, CA / $1,000

Patrick Foley / Ceo, Rirock Technologies, Inc. / Redlands, CA / $5,000

Mark Walton / Accountant, Reading Intenational, Inc. / South Pasadena, CA / $1,000

Wikitoria Lovett / School Teacher, San Bernardino City Usd / Redlands, CA / $1,580

Lois Lafrance / Cinematic Artist, Activision / Thousand Oaks, CA / $1,000

Scott Wallace / Engineer, Carlsbad Manufacturing Corp / Chula Vista, CA /


Steve Keithly / Vice President, Whittier Mailing Products / La Mirada, CA / $3,000

Paul Kepes / Risk Manager, Ctc, Llc / Chicago, IL / $9,900

Monica Kepes / None, N/a / Chicago, IL / $9,900

Salvatore Cordileone / Clergy, Catholic Diocese Of San Diego / San Diego, CA / $2,000

Lance Paddock / Teacher, Alvord Usd / Fullerton, CA / $1,000

New Covenant Church / Martinez, CA / $3,050

Nathan Birchall / Cfo, Ranch Capital / Encinitas, CA / $1,000

Ken Swanson / Engineer, Sun Microsystems / San Jose, CA / $3,000

Patrick Svedin / Sales, Sanofi Pasteur / Salt Lake City, UT / $1,000

Jay Mortensen / Consultant, South West Dealer Services / Laguna Hills, CA / $2,500

Edward Weaver / Teacher, Tehachapi Usd / Tehachapi, CA / $1,000

Jay Clark / Produce Dealer, A & Z Produce / Centerville, UT / $25,000

Scott Eckern / Artistic Director, California Musical Theatre / Citrus Heights, CA / $1,000

Rodney Remington / Physician, Self - Remington / Clovis, CA / $1,000

Harold Stevens / Building Contractor, Stevens Construction / Lancaster, CA / $1,200

David Payne / Self Empoyed, Muzicraft / Santa Barbara, CA / $9,550

Behrouz Younessian / Cfo, The Brass Ring Inc. / Oceanside, CA / $2,000

Robyn Evans / M.d., Self - Robyn Evans / Redlands, CA / $1,000

Todd Johnson / Dentist, Todd L Johnson Dds / Citrus Heights, CA / $1,000

Todd Johnson / Dentist, Todd L Johnson Dds / Citrus Heights, CA / $1,000

Benjamin Whitesides / Principal, Orange County Logistics / Huntington Beach, CA / $1,000

Michael Freeland / Optometrist, Family Optometry Of Camarillo / Camarillo, CA / $1,000

Stuart Watt / Attorney, Amgen / Camarillo, CA / $2,500

Stuart Watt / Attorney, Amgen / Camarillo, CA / $2,500

Drew Dellenbach / Sales, Bms / Corona, CA / $1,500

K. Melton Higgins / Ceo, Ca Bapist Foundation / Fresno, CA / $1,000

Arthur Birtcher / Real Estate, Birtcher Anderson / San Juan Capistrano, CA / $1,000

Barry Magaoay / Advisor, Lee Financial Group / Kapolei, HI / $1,000

Shelley Mitchell / Owner, Strategy Micro / Laguna Hills, CA / $1,000

Brian Mendenhall / Manager, Pendum / Lake Forest, CA / $1,000

Drew Dellenbach / Sales, Bms / Corona, CA / $1,500

K. Melton Higgins / Ceo, Ca Bapist Foundation / Fresno, CA / $1,000

Arthur Birtcher / Real Estate, Birtcher Anderson / San Juan Capistrano, CA / $1,000

Don Francis / Manager, Cbs / San Ramon, CA / $2,500

Jeff Hendrickson / Manager, Legacy Professional Services / San Clemente, CA / $3,500

John Mcgaffey / Manager, Polara Engineering / Murrieta, CA / $1,000

Mike Denning / Consultant, Ernst & Young / San Clemente, CA / $3,000

Jeff Grover / Manager, Solecon / Modesto, CA / $1,000

Lu Little / Admin Asst, Rw Little Ins Agency / Los Angeles, CA / $8,500

Robert Little / Ins Agent, Rw Little Ins Agency / La, CA / $9,500

Richard Zamboni / Manufacturer, Zamboni, Co / Paramount, CA / $1,000

Donovan Cyndi / Secretary, Gaelic Electric / Santa Barbara, CA / $1,000

Calvary Bible Church / Bakersfield, CA / $2,255

Donn Crummer / Real Estate Mgmt, Crummer Realty Mgmt Group / Santa Ynez, CA / $1,000

Ronald Smith / Professor, Biola University / San Bernardino, CA / $1,000

Helen Boltz / Chemical Plant Manager, Tressidewl-kirley / Mesa, AZ / $5,000

Myron Randall / Computer Programmer, Firemans Fund / Penngrove, CA / $1,000

Dave Barlow / Real Estate Broker, Barlow Williams Realty / Camarillo, CA / $1,000

Bohl, Nixon & Schoneman / Ventura, CA / $2,000

Jon Van Woerkom / Attorney, Aig / Roseville, CA / $1,001

Orion Wood / Consultant, Orion Wood Consulting / Newark, CA / $2,500

Frank Johnson / Engineer, Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center / Oxnard, CA / $1,000

Robert Frost / Project Manager, Ace Hardware / Clayton, CA / $1,000

Patrick Fitzgerald / Cpa, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Llp / Mission Viejo, CA / $2,000

Jon Hickman / Investment Analyst, Mdb Capital / Pleasant Hills, CA / $1,000

Scott Letellier / Sports Executive, Big League Dreams Usa, Llc / Palos Verdes Estate, CA / $1,500

Sally Lee / Vp Media, Guthy-renker Corp. / Los Angeles, CA / $1,000

John Warren / Cpa, John Warren Cpa / Uniah, CA / $1,000

Dan Lang / Attorney, J.d. Lang & Associates / Westlake Village, CA /


Kelley Ivancovich / Farmer, Ivancovich Farms / Porterville, CA / $1,500

Alan Colledge / M.d ., Central Utah Clinic / Lindon, UT / $1,000

John Griffiths / Orthodontist, John C. Griffiths, Dds, Mds, Pc / Las Vegas, NV / $1,000

Darren Wight / Finance, Insight Health Corp / Laguna Niguel, CA / $1,500

Dana Del Francia / Ceo, Bullet Freight Systems / Anaheim, CA / $1,000

America Francis / Apartment Manager, Spieker Companies / San Ramon, CA / $2,000

Bruce Higginson / President, Awc / Garden Grove, CA / $2,001

Brian Gibson / Operations Manager, Hewlett-packard

/ Antelop, CA / $1,000

Jennifer Johnson / Manager, Coraticum Asset Mgt. / Holladay, UT / $2,500

Mark Lindgren / Pilot, Fedex / San Luis Obispo, CA / $5,000

Thomas Brasher / Insurance, Brashers Insurance Svc. / Newcastle, CA / $2,500

Jeff Nelson / Tech Support, Shields, Harper & Co. / Vacaville, CA / $1,800

David Knowles / Insurance, David Knowles Insurance / Sacramento, CA /


Jon Iverson / Cpa, Jon Iverson, Cpa / San Jose, CA / $5,000

Michael Schield / Manager, Orpor, Inc. / Laguna Woods, CA / $2,500

Eric Schwarz / Consultant, Omni Management / Thousand Oaks, CA / $2,000

Roman Catholic Bishop / Sacramento, CA / $1,000

Schmoekel Insurance Agency, Inc / Sacramento, CA / $1,000

Eugene Van Zee / Pastor, Faith Community Church / San Jacinto, CA / $1,064

Travis Clawson / Potato Processor, Joy Foods / Laguna Beach, CA / $1,000

Aldric Porter / Co-producer, Columbia Pictures / Santa Rosa Valley, CA / $5,000

Richard Jordan / Professional, Natural Success International / Laguna Niguel, CA / $25,000

Anne Weaver / Rn, Kaiser Sand Teresa Hospital / San Jose, CA / $1,000

Janet Smith / Interior Design, Labelle Maisor / Altadena, CA / $1,000

Kevin Riches / Business Owner, Self - Riches Group / Portola Valley, CA /


Stephen Taylor / Financial Advisor, Bank Of The West / Sacramento, CA /


Robert Pratt / Attorney, State Of Ca. / Woodland, CA / $1,000

Susan B. Jones / Psychotherapist, Susan B. Jones, L.c.s.w. / Yuba City, CA / $5,000

Gregory Clark / Consultant, Cirrus Financial / Dublin, CA / $21,500

William Orlando / Manager, Aes Ins. / Concord, CA / $1,000

Ross Biesinger / Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley / Palm Desert, CA / $1,000

Lise Dimartino / Teacher, Lammersvill School District / Tracy, CA / $1,000

Friends Of Ron Packard / Carlsbad, CA / $5,000

Pam Peterson / Executive, Folsom Lake Ford / Granite Bay, CA / $1,000

Iris Marshall / Designer, Hyundai Kia / Laguna Hills, CA / $1,000

Carole Waite / Teacher, Los Angeles Usd / Huntington Park, CA / $10,000

Karen Cooper / Tech, C.h.w. / Riverside, CA / $1,000

Meghann Pricer / Project Director, Century Group / Los Angeles, CA / $1,000

Kristine Kiser / Accountant, Kristine M. Kiser, Cpa / Mission Viejo, CA / $1,500

Eric Chen / Research, Ucla / Los Angeles, CA / $1,000

Thomas Butler / Real Estate, Fortress Investments / American Fork, UT / $1,000

Fang Lu / Engineer, Broadcom / Rowland Heights, CA / $5,000

Cay Pooley / Accountant, Mosaic / San Luis Obispo, CA / $1,350

David Paxman / Teacher, Byu / Provo, UT / $1,000

Tracy Pickett / Executive Support, Ladera Integrators / Mountain View, CA / $3,000

Garth Pickett / Accounting, Ladera Integrators / Mountain View, CA / $3,000

Richard Marshall / Veterinarian, Sutter Institute For Med. Resrch / El Dorado Hills, CA / $1,000

Angela Li / Software Engineer, Yahoo!, Inc. / San Mateo, CA / $1,300

Bruce Jensen / Engineer, Raytheon Co. / Goleta, CA / $1,250

Linda Reeve / Landscape Design, Self- Linda Reeve / Alamo, CA / $9,500

Ca State Council Knights/columbus / Fontana, CA / $8,889

Lasco Enterprises / Spring Valley, CA / $1,000

David Pace / President, High Valley Construction / Villa Park, CA / $1,000

Calvary Chapel Mission Fund / El Centro, CA / $2,000

High Valley Construction Co, Inc / Anaheim, CA / $1,000

Central Christian Church / Lancaster, CA / $2,490

Larry La Monica / Property Manager, La Monica Properties / Carson City, CA / $1,000

James Lee / Pharmacist, Yorba Linda Pharmacy / Anaheim, CA / $1,000

William Albert / Developer, Sares-regis Group / Irvine, CA / $1,000

William Wilson / Dentist, William G Wilson Dds / Modesto, CA / $1,000

Lisa Call / Teacher, Los Altos School District / Los Gatos, CA / $1,000

Brad Zimmerman / Grading Contractor, Quest Engineering / Tustin, CA / $2,500

Sharleen Peterson / Research Clerk, Bank Of America / Alhambra, CA / $1,000

Paul Manwaring / Ces Coordinator, Ces Seminars/institutes / Twin Falls, ID / $1,800

Linda Williams Cpa, Ristau & Co Inc Cpas Turlock, CA / $1,000

Keith Rowbotham / Tradebinder, Allied Binding Co / Corona, CA / $1,000

Robyn Robinson / Insurance Broker, Self - Robyn Robinson / San Juan Capistrano, CA / $1,000

Kenneth Woolley / Ceo, Extra Space Inc. / Salt Lake City, CA / $5,000

Angie Crosby / Teacher, Anaheim City School District / Newport Beach, CA / $1,000

Melanie Jensen / Insurance Broker, Sheppard & Assoc. / Orangevale, CA / $1,000

Tevita Piutau / Contractor, Self - Tevita Piutau / Ontario, CA / $3,300

Ralph Ogden / Attorney, Law Offices Of Ralph C. Ogden / Modesto, CA /

Sarah Pack / Therapist, Emq Children And Family Services / San Jose, CA / $2,000

Neal Proctor / Appraiser, Appraisal Net / Folsom, CA / $3,000

William Obryant / Director, Unitedhealthcare / Mission Viejo, CA / $1,000

Hierbert Gillespie / Attorney, Gillespie Law Office / Roosevelt, UT / $1,000

Steven Olsen / Psi Network, Inc, President / Laguna Niguel, CA / $24,999

David M. Fenn / Contractor, Fenn-robbins Homes / Lake Arrowhead, CA / $1,000

Daniel F. Johnson Forensic Services / Canyon Country, CA / $1,000

Ashcraft Design / El Segundo, CA / $1,000

Keven D. Oreilly / Physician, Dr. Kevin Oreilly / Redlands, CA / $1,000

Eric Fors / Comm. Loan Underwriter, Bank Of America / S. Pasadena, CA /

Jeremie D. Mckee / Mngr., Npc / Corona, CA / $1,000

Robert C. Van Sweden / Finance, Gfi Energy Ventures / Santa Monica, CA / $1,000

Bradley E. Haag / R.e. Appraiser, Appraisal Solutions / Lehi, UT / $2,000

Daniel E. Burgoyne / Mngr., Ca Dgs / Folsom, CA / $1,000

Matthew Perona / Acct., Price Waterhouse Coopers / Concord, CA / $1,500