Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Day of reckoning awaits the 1% and the Kindred

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

The seventh novel in the Green Stone of Healing® speculative fiction series is now under way. Books Five and Six are complete as first drafts and await a big enough improvement in their authors finances to see the light of publication.

This forthcoming tome sees a changing of the guard. Outspoken heroine Helen Andros fades and her offspring assumes the spotlight. Think Helen was feisty? Wait until you meet her child.

I‘ll give you some idea of what the Kindred of Azgard are about to face. Billionaire Nick Hanauer wrote a lengthy piece in Politico about seeing the pitchforks coming for U.S. oligarchs if we as a nation do not do something to roll back raging income and opportunity inequality. It’s spot on and well worth reading. 

Helen’s descendant is that pitchfork, growing up to despise the indifference to suffering and outright cruelty she witnesses in those privileged, powerful, and wealthy few who have more than they could possibly use in multiple lifetimes and refuse to provide chances for others.

She also is the reincarnation of the very soul who founded the nation of Azgard, and thus has the karma to make a huge impact on everyone, Turanian and Toltec alike. Does she? You betcha!

She’s the embodiment of the ancient Chinese curse about living in interesting times…..

JFK after 50 years: We’re not ready for the truth

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Have we had our bellyful of memorials to President John F. Kennedy?

In all of the ceremonies, however, there was no eulogy for the truth that died on Nov. 22, 1963. A truth about the who, what, how, and why of his death that we may never know because we are not ready, as a nation, to face this truth, whatever it is. Especially the who, since many of those involved are doubtless still among us, deeply embedded in the post 9/11 surveillance state, wielding undemocratic, unchecked, deeply invasive, unconstitutional power while we as a nation avert our gaze.

Critics of the 1964 Warren Commission Report skeptics always claim that well, of course we want to believe in conspiracies. We simply cannot bear the thought that one lone crazed gunman actually brought down the president of the United States.

The reality is the exact opposite. Most people want to believe that it was just a lone gunman, not members of their own government acting against the will of the electorate. They shrink from the prospect of a coup d’etat. Those messy power grabs (gasp!) are for banana republics, not the United States.

Well stare it in the face, folks. On that day, an unknown group for whatever reason took the life of the commander-in-chief. And in all of the discussions since, what is glaringly obvious about his death is also the least remarked upon. The evidence of some sort of plot to kill JFK has always been right in front of us.

One immediate sign of the plot is the lack of action on the part of the Secret Service agent driving the limousine in which were riding the president and Mrs. Kennedy along with Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife. Every existing film of the motorcade shows that when the first shot rang out, the vehicle unaccountably slows down and almost stops. Why? There was an obvious threat; mere seconds meant the difference between life and death.

Proper action to protect the president would have been to floor the accelerator and zoom toward the freeway entrance close by. Instead, the limousine strangely crawls along while more shots are fired. Then it finally accelerates, after it is too late. Why the deadly delay?

jfk_unspeakable.jpg“In Dallas, the Secret Service would step out of the way not just individually, but collectively,” James W. Douglass writes in JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters (Orbis Books, 2008).

A second piece of conspiracy evidence is how Kennedy reacted to being hit. The unique film shot by Abraham Zapruder shows Kennedy initially jerking violently backward and to his left. This indicates that the bullets came from the front and the right of the limousine, not from behind as they would if he were truly shot from the school book depository. I have seen that film dozens of times, and there is no way the shots that hit him came from behind him. If that were the case, his body would have lurched forward from the initial impact. But it didn’t.

A third piece of conspiracy evidence is the absurdly short amount of time it took for the authorities to detain a suspect. After a mere 21 minutes, they put out an alert for a man named Lee Harvey Oswald, who was under arrest a grand total of 88 minutes after the shooting. Fast forward 32 years to the deadly bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Despite three decades of advances in communications, surveillance, and other law enforcement technologies, it took the FBI’s entire field force 48 hours to determine the identity of a suspect, let alone bring him in.

How then did Dallas police and the FBI have a suspect in hand in less than 1.5 hours unless one had already been predetermined? Mr. Oswald was indeed the patsy that he claimed to be, the fall guy. And since no trial was ever held to determine his guilt or innocence, Oswald’s role in the killing, if he had one at all, remains pure conjecture, despite all claims to the contrary.

The fourth piece of conspiracy evidence is the so-called killer’s behavior right after the shooting. He went home, took a shower, and went to a movie theater in Oak Cliff just across the Trinity River from downtown Dallas. Are these the actions of a guilty man? If Oswald had done it, he would have been trying to get as far away from Dallas as fast as possible. His behavior is utterly inexplicable if he were truly JFK’s murderer, but not if he had just put in an ordinary day’s work at the school book depository.

There is no room in this column to enumerate all of the findings that scream out conspiracy. Indeed, it would take multiple libraries to house all of the books and films devoted to Kennedy’s murder. Probably the most accessible review is the BBC documentary, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. The final part of the series theorizes that the fatal shot came from the storm drain in Elm Street below the grassy knoll, in front of and to the right of the limousine’s location at the time of the shooting. The killer(s) escaped unnoticed through the drain system to the nearby Trinity River bottom.

Now there is word of a previously unseen film of the shooting that may show a man in the bushes of the grassy knoll holding a gun. Let’s hope it sees the light of day instead of quietly disappearing into some sealed vault somewhere like so much of the evidence.

In 1979, after a three-year review of available evidence, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report stating that there most likely was a conspiracy to kill JFK. The House never investigated the conspirators’ identities, probably for the reasons enumerated above.

Thus there are people alive today who conspired to murder the highest office holder in this country and have never been held accountable, and in all probability never will be called to justice. I’ve been hopping mad about it since I was nine years old and I will never get over it. How can I? And how can I believe anything the government says, regardless of which political party is in power? A pox on their moving, lying lips.

And as long as we as a nation live in denial, we will continue to pay with endless war and the end of freedom. When will the price become too high?

Author flees judgment, not Jesus

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Mega-bestselling author Anne Rice has quit Christianity, according to her Facebook blog post.

“I quit being a Christian,” she writes. “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life…”

What Ms. Rice objects to are not the actual teachings of Jesus, but all the judgments others have attached to his message. Jesus told his followers that God is unconditional love.

Unconditional love  means love without judgments, standards, expectations, or hooks. Unconditional love is love without any limitations. It most emphatically is not the so-called love exhibited by Christian political conservatives. 

Most of those who heard Jesus did not understand him and do not truly comprehend his message even now. Hence they insist on judging and condemning, when Jesus did no such thing, and still claim to be his followers.

Just as radical conservatives hijack and pervert Islam in the Middle East for their theocratic ends, so radical conservatives twist and distort Christianity for similar political goals in this country.

Let us hope that many others become as fed up (and as vocal about it) as Ms. Rice with the unloving, uncharitable words and deeds of the militant Christian right. There is hope yet that this nation will avoid becoming a Christian theocracy, which is the goal of far-right Christian conservatives. 

Avatar reprises ‘ugly American’ theme with high-tech twist

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

avatar.jpgDirector James Cameron’s billion-dollar, award-winning blockbuster, Avatar, bears a striking resemblance to Dances with Wolves in its basic plot. White guy from a military background encounters an indigenous population, falls in love, decides their values and way of life are superior to his, and casts his culture aside.

Of course, there are some refinements to Avatar, mostly the over-the-top technical effects that make this film possible and that are woven into the storyline. The white guy, a crippled former Marine named Jake Sully, uses an avatar, a biomechanical fictional being that is genetically engineered to be half human and half Na’vi, the inhabitants of the planet Pandora. With it he is able to walk again, breath air that is poisonous to human beings, and mingle with the natives to learn their ways.

Avatar is paradoxically plentiful and yet insufficient. The bounty consists of the powerful visual punch that this movie packs. There is so much to see in Pandora that the eyes boggle long before even half of the activity registers in the mind. Watching it non-stop on the big screen is downright exhausting. It’s as though the director does not trust his audience to be able to imagine anything for themselves. In that sense, Avatar unintentionally insults viewers even while offering them the most spectacular blend of animation and live action to come out of Hollywood yet.

As to its lack, the film provides frustratingly superficial glimpses of the natives’ beliefs and spiritual practices, squeezed in between all of the action sequences. Even so, that’s a deal too much for certain critics, who slam it as “anti-human” and “anti-American.” The Vatican doesn’t care for the film’s earth-based faith, and still others bash the portrayal of a white man as yet another savior of an indigenous population.

What do they expect? Cameron, who wrote the script as well as directed, is a white male, so he’s stuck with that viewpoint. No doubt those who find fault would be equally censorious had the director tried to make the film from the native viewpoint.

Critics may gnash their teeth all they want over the movie’s politics, but it is wildly popular precisely because of its advocacy, not despite it. As polls continue to show, more and more Americans have abandoned traditional religions to call themselves independent seekers or simply spiritual. There has also been a huge rise in interest in the goddess, or the feminine divine. On top of that, the public is incensed over unpunished Iraq war profiteering, massive corporate fraud that led to the 2008 economic meltdown yet was rewarded with equally gigantic bailouts, and Wall Street’s baleful influence over Congress and the White House.

Avatar reflects and builds on these trends. The Na’vi tribe’s home is on top of a huge deposit of highly valuable ore that a human corporation wants to mine. Sully’s mission is to persuade the tribe to move peacefully, or his corporate masters will have no qualms about using deadly force to clear the members off their land.

Sully soon realizes and tells his superiors that the natives have no interest in anything the human interlopers could offer them. The Na’vi do not live to amass wealth or power. They love the world that sustains them and try to live in harmony with it and with neighboring tribes.

What a tragedy that the preceding is so threatening to so many Americans. If might-makes-right, profits-uber-alles is now the creed of our culture and country, then we are indeed as lost as Sully is when his avatar inadvertently spends its first night alone outside in Pandora.

This film is also a hit worldwide. In the greedy ore-grubbers, who don’t care who they kill or what they destroy in their profits quest, others clearly recognize the proverbial ugly American. If we also see it and don’t like it, then there’s little point in blaming the mirror, which in this case is a movie called Avatar.

Maybe it’s time to address what causes such a revolting reflection in the first place.

Critics of Sarah Palin overlook her real threat

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Going Rouge“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

If Nobel Prize winning author Sinclair Lewis were alive today, he would have to rework his statement. A timely version might read, “When fascism comes to America, it will smile and wink like Sarah Palin and carry a cross.”

The book’s name is similar to the title of Palin’s recently published autobiography. But their monikers and their main topic are the only things the two have in common. Unlike Going Rogue, Going Rouge is a compendium of essays and columns that thoroughly and often wittily skewer the former Republican vice presidential candidate and ex-governor of Alaska. The authors form a roster of well-known leftwing and progressive commentators.

Many of the pieces were written in the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign once John McCain tapped Palin as his running mate. A few were published after the GOP election debacle. Although the editors group the essays under varying themes, it gives readers whiplash to move back and forth between the before-after perspectives. A chronological ordering of the work might have been easier to digest.

One of the most powerful parts of the book is the brief compendium of Palin criticisms from conservative pundits. And there is also a good deal of angst from women who worry that Palin’s stark deficiencies in experience and understanding of complex issues set back the cause of serious female candidates for high office.

“Palin won’t bust through the ceiling that has Hillary [Clinton]’s 18 million cracks in it,” writes Slate columnist Emily Bazelon. “She’ll give men an excuse to replace it with a new one.”

While there are many pithy, cogent observations about Palin, most of the contributors do not seem to understand the deeper significance of what they are analyzing. Typical is New York Times columnist Frank Rich, who writes that Palin “puts a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions.”

What Palin truly represents is a sexy, winking stalking horse for a twisted version of Christianity every bit as radical and destructive as Muslim extremism. Adherents of this militant Christianity, known as the New Apostolic Reformation, scheme to remake the United States as a Christian theocracy, and have enlisted significant swaths of the U.S. military in their cause. They want power and control every bit as much as bin Laden and his followers, who dream of imposing a new Muslim Caliphate over the entire Middle East and do not shy away from violence to achieve their ends. Neither do Christian militants.

Not even Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, an expose of how right-wing politics and politicians are financed on a global scale, connects the dots. Instead, his column compares Palin to Westbrook Pegler, an ultra conservative commentator masquerading as a populist in the early 20th century.

The omission is perhaps the editors’ doing, not Sharlet’s. If there’s one thing left-wing punditry shy away from, it’s examining core religious beliefs. That’s very uncomfortable territory for them.

It’s a shame. The editors of and contributors to Going Rouge might want to spend time reading the knowledgeable researchers at websites like Talk2Action.  Bruce Wilson, the site’s founder, and his colleagues understand exactly what Palin really represents, possibly because they are also people of faith. They are doing their best to alert the rest of us to the true perils of Palin’s rise to political prominence before it is too late.

Gives this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

We moved our money to community banks–a decade ago

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

The Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington struck a nerve in the American public when she suggested on Dec. 29 that we take our money out of banks that are “too big to fail” and put it into community banks or credit unions.

In other words, vote with our pocketbooks against the venal, corrupt institutions that caused the U.S. economy to crater and were rewarded with billions in taxpayer bailout dollars to save them from the consequences of their short-sighted greed and folly.

Welcome aboard, Ms. Huffington. We walked away more than a decade ago. We have two checking/savings accounts. One is with the Fort Worth City Credit Union, which my partner can use because her grandfather was a Fort Worth city employee for decades. We opened that account back in 1989.

A decade later, we moved our second account from Bank of America to a credit union serving residents of our small Texas town just south of Dallas. It was a minor pain in the keister to move the money. The satisfaction of blowing off BofA was priceless.

The BofA account did not start out at BofA. It began in 1981 at First National Bank, a Texas-based institution that, like most large Texas banks at the time, served consumers as an afterthought but really cherished commercial business. Then the 1986 oil crunch hit, and FNB became First Republic, merging with its statewide rival in a desperate bid by both parties to remain solvent.

The years passed. We watched as a larger regional player stepped in to acquire InterFirst before it swooned into bankruptcy. That regional powerhpouse was, in turn, snapped up by BofA. Along the way, customer service evaporated, fees for everything exploded, and we finally cried, “Enough!” and left in sheer disgust.

That was at the height of the 1990s dotcom boom.

We have never looked back. The service is great at both of our credit unions, and the one in our town, which deals with us on a day-to-day basis, knows our names, and refuses to deliver check refills to our home out of concern about identity theft. (Instead, the CU has the checks delivered there and calls us to come get them.)

Any money we subsequently earn will go into credit unions or small local banks. Once we pay off our credit cards, we will look hard at how to ditch plastic, too, and go all cash.

BofA never noticed or cared about losing our meager dollars. But if thousands and maybe millions of us make the effort to walk away, it will hit the big boys in the only place they can feel–their pocketbooks.

Evidence of plot in JFK death right before our eyes

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate President John F.  Kennedy has always been right in front of our eyes.

One glaring immediate example: the behavior of the Secret Service agent driving the limousine in which were riding the president and Mrs. Kennedy along with Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife, Nellie. It was incompetent at the very best and more likely part of the death plan.

Every existing film of the motorcade shows that when the first bullet rang out, the vehicle unaccountably slows down and almost stops. Why? There was an obvious threat to the president’s safety; mere seconds could mean the difference between life and death.

Proper action to protect the president would have been to floor the accelerator and zoom toward the freeway entrance straight ahead, on the other side of a tunnel. (I have driven this route numerous times during my 28+ years as a Dallas area resident.)

Instead, the limousine strangely crawls along while more shots are fired. Then it finally speeds up, after it is too late. Again, why the deadly delay?

“In Dallas, the Secret Service would step out of the way not just individually, but collectively,” James W. Douglass writes in JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters (Orbis Books, 2008).jfk_unspeakable.jpg

Another odd aspect to the aftermath of the JFK murder. How did the authorities come up with a named suspect within 20 minutes of the president’s death? After the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, it took a nationwide search involving almost every law enforcement agent in the country two days to produce the same results.

The almost instaneous speed at which a suspect in the JFK killing emerged screams not only that the assassination was a conspiracy, but that those who conspired had high-level law enforcement connections. Lee Harvey Oswald spoke the truth before he, too, was murdered. He was a patsy.

One of the most interesting parts of Douglass’s unique account of the events leading up to and beyond Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas is his take on Abraham W. Bolden, whom Kennedy appointed to be the first African-American member of the Secret Service’s White House detail.

At the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Bolden saw the open hostility of Secret Service agents toward Kennedy. He soon asked to be sent back to the Chicago field office. After Kennedy’s death, Bolden returned to Washington, D.C., for job training. He tried to contact the Warren Commission to tell members about a Chicago-based attempt to kill Kennedy that failed when the president’s trip to the Windy City was canceled at the last minute.

For his efforts, Bolden was arrested and charged with soliciting money to commit fraud, obstructing justice, and conspiracy. The first jury deadlocked; a second one convicted him on all three counts.

Later, in a trial before the same judge, the forger charged in the case admitted to perjury when fingering Bolden on the witness stand during Bolden’s trial. Yet Bolden was not released or re-tried, instead serving more than half of a six-year prison sentence. His wife and family survived several mysterious attempts to kill them.

Bolden, who died some years ago without ever having the chacen to clear his name, and his loved ones are among the many who paid dearly for their efforts to bring the truth about the JFK plot to light.

Douglass’s book is one of the finest of many efforts to make sense of this killing, which in reality was a coup d’etat that took place 46 years ago to this day

Exploring the spiritual dimensions of JFK death

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

jfk_unspeakable.jpg“It’s never gone away, the nightmare of November 22, 1963,” a recent article in Vanity Fair laments. Yet the writer dutifully toes the line, insisting that the official explanation about the murder of President John F. Kennedy 46 years ago is correct.

Ahem. One of the major reasons the nightmare continues is because the official explanation is a tissue of lies and distortions. The 1964 Warren Report, thrown together to appease the public, instead unleashed a torrent of critical books, documentaries, and movies that is unabated close to five decades later. This onslaught was entirely predictable. For every action (the grotesque cover-up), there is an equal and opposite reaction (numerous attempts, however misguided, to set the record straight).

The nightmare goes on because we the people have never learned the truth about what happened in Dallas, and we know this, in our heart of hearts. The profound wrong of Kennedy’s death was compounded tenfold by the fact that the guilty got away not just with murdering one individual, but with undoing the U.S. Constitution and overthrowing the people’s will.

In his 2008 seminal work, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters, James W. Douglass calls it the “unspeakable,” these un-exorcised national demons driving Kennedy’s murder. In examining the motives behind the death of the president, not merely who did it or the how, Douglass, a longtime peace activist, imbues the discussion with a long-missing, much-needed spiritual dimension.

Douglass’s “unspeakable” refers to so much more than merely the identities of who pulled the triggers or even the ones who hired them to do so. Part of the “unspeakable” is the sharp divergence between the high ideals of this country’s founding and our current national security state, established in the aftermath of World War II, that promotes endless war and profits from it.

It is this untreated, denied poison that, Douglass argues, corrodes the national soul and breaks out like violent boils every so often in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and, on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, D.C., and over the skies of Pennsylvania. Unafraid of the unspeakable, the author poses the unframed and unspoken question: Can the United States be a global empire that spends more on its military each year than all other western, industrialized nations combined, yet remain a representative democracy?

The signs are not promising. The parallels between now and Kennedy’s day make Douglass’s book about the past all the more critical to the present. Just as Kennedy stared down his generals, President Barack Obama faces truculent military leaders determined to force his hand in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the Durham Herald Sun, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh recently told an audience at Duke University that the U.S. military “is in a war against the White House – and they feel they have Obama boxed in.” While Hersh may be accurate in citing racism behind the tension between today’s commander in chief and the Pentagon, the real issue is the unspeakable. Just what kind of country do we want to be anyway?

This issue goes to the very soul of this nation, and this tension has existed since before this country was born. Do we keep shedding blood for profit? Or do we beat our swords into ploughshares and make peace the cornerstone of all our national policies? The political founders of our nation were divided over whether or not to risk foreign entanglements, but from the outset U.S. business leaders saw no problem in using the power and money of the U.S. government to advance their narrow interests.

To date, business has had the upper hand, masking a profits-at-all-costs agenda behind an anti-terrorism (previously, anti-communism) smokescreen. After the implosions of Chrysler, Enron, Global Crossing, GM, and Worldcom, the massive Bernie Madoff and other investment fraud, and the Wall Street meltdown, however, it’s a little harder to pretend that business is better run or more effective than government.

How long will ordinary Americans remain silent about the unspeakable before they start roaring out loud and then, en masse, revolt?

Outstanding nonfiction examines plot to kill JFK

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

jfk_unspeakable.jpgThere is no scorn like that heaped upon those who dare suggest that the official explanation for the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy is worthless.

For decades now, the mainstream media have derided as a tinfoil-hat nut anyone who questions the 1964 Warren Report’s “lone gunman” thesis, despite the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives 15 years later determined that Kennedy most likely was the victim of a deadly conspiracy.

Congress reached this disturbing conclusion three decades ago, yet pursued it no further, a reticence echoed in the Barack Obama administration’s utter lack of enthusiasm for investigating, let alone prosecuting, the previous administration’s wholesale trampling of the U.S. Constitution.

There’s a good reason for this hesitation, according to James W. Douglass, who penned JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters (Orbis Books, 2008). Backed by extensive research, Douglass argues eloquently that Kennedy was slain as a warning to future presidents and members of Congress not to challenge what President Dwight Eisenhower labeled the “military-industrial complex.” Think of it as a murderous melding of vested mutual interests between those on the warrior right who favor might-makes-right foreign policies and their business underwriters who profit handsomely from providing the hardware and outsourced support services to implement and sustain these policies.

Kennedy’s so-called crimes in the eyes of this longstanding cabal, Douglass contends, were thwarting top military officers who urged a first nuclear strike on the Soviet Union and opposing the CIA’s expansion of conflict in Vietnam. There were also the president’s transgressions of not backing up the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, of withdrawing defense contracts in 1962 from U.S. steel companies that reneged on their promises not to raise prices, and of the 1963 treaty with the Soviet Union to ban atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

Kennedy’s worst sin? Secretly reaching out to Russian leader Nikita Kruschev to explore ways to make peace between the post World War II superpowers. Douglass shows how a series of letters between the men humanized the “enemy” for each side, a highly subversive act for those who peddle and exploit hate and fear, both in this country and abroad. The cold warriors who ordered (and still run) the U.S. intelligence community and their corporate allies would not stand for a president actually using the power of his office to reign in their war-making activities and curb their profits. Peace? Absolutely out of the question!

“Those who designed the plot to kill Kennedy were familiar the inner sanctum of our national security state,” Douglass writes.  “Their attempt to scapegoat the Soviets for the president’s murder reflected one side of a secret struggle between JFK and his military leaders over a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union. The assassins’ purpose seems to have encompassed not only killing a president determined to make peace with the enemy but also using his murder as the impetus for a possible nuclear first strike against that same enemy.”

There’s a familiar ring to exploiting a national tragedy to propel pre-emptive strikes against an enemy that had nothing to with the calamity. Its contemporary counterpart was the Bush administration’s post Sept. 11, 2001 modus operandi. The bloody debacle in Iraq is one of the reasons that Douglass’s take on the Kennedy murder is essential reading. This book helps us recognize and understand the darker side of our nation’s past, present, and likely future course. The pointless loss of life, enormous tax-payer burden, and pitting of American against American are all the poisonous effects of the endless-war profit cycle.

Douglass calls this “the unspeakable,” and argues compellingly that it corrodes this nation’s very soul. He does not hesitate to pose difficult questions that our national dialogue since the end of World War II has avoided even asking, let alone answering. One of the toughest: Can the United States be a military and financial empire and still be a representative democracy?

Anti-gay policy toughest on U.S. service women

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT) toward homosexual members of the armed forces is more accurately described as “snitch and ditch.”

Under this odious law, passed by Congress in 1993, the military command is not to look into the sexual orientation of potential recruits or active service members (“don’t ask) without evidence of disallowed behavior. Recruits and service members, for their part, may not engage in homosexual conduct or talk openly about their sexual orientation or gay/lesbian relationships (“don’t tell”) while serving in the military.

President Barack Obama cannot change this situation with an executive order. The enabling federal legislation removed the president’s authority to set it aside. Only when the law is changed can this absurd policy be eliminated.

DADT was supposed to outlaw harassment of gays in the military. It hasn’t. The mere suspicion of homosexual orientation usually sets off a career-ending investigation (“snitch and ditch”). DADT also falls most heavily on enlisted women, according to The Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California-Santa Barbara that specializes in research on gender, sexuality and the military.

Since 1993, females have received 61 percent of total Air Force DADT-related discharges, even though they represent just 20 percent of that service branch; women received 36 percent of DADT-related discharges in the Army, where they are 14 percent of personnel; 23 percent of such discharges in the Navy, where they comprise 14 percent; and 18 percent of DADT-related discharges in the Marines, where they are just 6 percent.

There are two possible explanations for these disproportionate discharges, says Nathaniel Frank, senior fellow at The Palm Center. The first is that a higher percentage of women enlisting are gay. The other explanation, and the one Frank thinks is more likely, is the “macho” culture that is pervasive and enduring throughout all branches of the armed forces and that leads to sexual harassment. A male colleague or officer makes advances toward a woman, and if she does not respond, accuses her of being a lesbian, setting off an investigation into her sexual orientation.

“The military regards women and gays as a threat to a fragile male identity,” says Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. “Women are at much greater risk of being outed by an angry male” than men, he adds. It’s known as lesbian baiting.

One former service member profoundly affected by this poisonous policy is Lt. Col. Edith Disler, who used to be an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy. As Congress and the military’s top brass discuss ending the ban on gays, Disler invited a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender academy graduates into her class for a talk with students. Disler told The Palm Center that she received approval to do so from her course director and that no written policy requiring approval from a higher level existed.

The week after the visit, Disler was removed from the classroom after a 25-year career, investigated for having possibly violated policies, procedures, or “classroom decorum,” and reprimanded with a letter of counseling inserted into her record. She has since retired from the military.

“What happened to Edie is a disgrace,” says Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate who knows Disler and is the president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. “They turned her into a sacrificial whipping boy.” He praised Disler as an outstanding career officer and the embodiment of the sacrifice and commitment to country required of members of the armed forces.

“The day we finally get rid of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is the day I go out and buy some Dom Perignon,” Weinstein adds. The 75 percent of Americans who support gays serving openly in the military will raise a glass with him.