Thursday, July 31, 2008

Freedom to Profit on Middle East Oil

ExxonMobile's record quarterly earnings report of nearly $12 billion should have thrown cold water on Bush's expanded drilling push. But George W. was never stopped by the facts. That means further digging.

Does anyone else recall big oil executives testifying to the uses of their massive profits? "We're putting the money back into exploration and research." How do those words stand up?

Exxon spent $816 million on R & D in 2007. They pumped $1.47 billion into worldwide exploration. These sound like huge numbers but pale in comparison to a $40.6 billion bottom line, $56 billion in positive cash flows, and $390 billion in gross revenues.

So what did the company do with all that cash? They paid $7.6 billion in dividends and bought $28 billion back in stock. This trend continued with a gross $8.8 billion of share repurchases in the second quarter alone. That's $35.6 billion to shareholders in 2007, 15 times the total for exploration and R & D.

A look at ExxonMobile's exploration is insightful, given the Bush push to drill more domestically. Exxon spends more to find oil in America than it does in the whole Middle East!

U.S $280 million
Canada/South America $264 million
Europe $164 million
Africa $470 million
Asia/Middle East $226 million
Russia/Caspian $67 million

My guess is ExxonMobile would love access to Iraq and Iran’s oil fields. But it’s just a guess!

Bush Cites "Dungarees of Durability" in Iraq

President George W. Bush framed America's success in Iraq with an unusual analogy. He hailed "dungarees of durability" in security gains. Bush noted the durability of his brush cutting, Chinese made work jeans.

"They hold at bay terrorist mesquite thorns," quipped the President. "General Levi has a plan to secure the gains on behalf of the Iraqi people. It involves a draw down of troops, based on success. The time horizon is 501 days, if we continue to button-up those acid-washed terrorists in their lairs."

With Iraq won, who will George W. attack next? A rural Texas ranch, a chainsaw weilding madman...surely some victim will run out of gas and stumble across his path.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shift in Terror Strategy?

The RAND Corporation suggested shifting from a "War on Terror" to "Counter-Terrorism". They studied 648 militant groups which existed between 1968 and 2006 and, based on their findings, the report concluded that only 7% were defeated militarily.

Political settlements helped neutralise 43% groups and an effective use of police and intelligence information helped to disrupt, capture or kill 40% of leaders of such groups, the study says.

It recommended a shift to intelligence and policing, and less focus on force. That doesn't sound like a particularly new idea.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Central Command Strategic Reserves to Stay on Sidelines in Kuwait

Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell said in today's Q & A session, the strategic reserve for Central Command isn't slated for mobilization into Afghanistan given the "unstable nature of the region." He refused to offer hypotheticals as to how these troops might be used.

Does it have anything to do with the revolving door of Israeli military leaders through the White House, the Pentagon and Capital offices?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bush Buys 90 Days to Do WTH He Wants to in Iraq

A letter from the White House to esteemed members of Congress relayed President Bush's intent to postpone implementation of section 1228 of the Defense Authorization Act for 2008 for 90 days. In his letter, Bush states:

Halting the provision of defense articles to Iraq during this period of review and implementation would be contrary to the national security of the United States.

A summary of section 1228 says nothing about the "halting of defense articles" mentioned by the President in his letter:

Sec. 1228) Directs the President to implement a policy to control the export and transfer of defense articles into Iraq, and to implement a defense articles registration and monitoring system. Authorizes the President to exempt items from such registration, after congressional notification. Requires: (1) periodic review of the items subject to such registration; and (2) the reporting of review results to specified congressional committees.

However, it does require the President to maintain a list of defense articles and only exempt items after notifying Congress. Might that be the sticking point and the reason for the 90 day postponement?

What does President Bush want to push into the Middle East's newest democracy that he doesn't want America's elected officials to know about? We certainly cannot impose on our President's freedom to make war, oops, I mean his freedom to launch pre-emptive attacks to defend the homeland. While Israeli military officials visit the Pentagon by the planeload, George Bush retains his sleight of hand on military puzzle pieces.

Will UU's Train in Catskills?

Revelations that a lone gunman killed two people for their "liberal views", could cause Unitarian Universalists to examine their policies. The unstable man used a guitar case to smuggle a shotgun into the Tennessee church.

The case echoes a Seattle shooting, where a mentally disturbed Muslim entered the Jewish Federation of Seattle, killing one and wounding five others. Naveed Haq, also had a history of untreated mental illness.

Mr Haq's attack prompted the formation of a Jewish paramilitary group. For the last three summers, it has trained volunteers at a camp in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Will the Unitarian Universalist Church respond similarly? I doubt it. In an Amish like move, they may want the perpetrator to get therapy while they greive their significant loss.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

GedenK Campaign Targets Holocaust Deniers

As I eagerly awaited Saturday Night Live, a commercial ran with an attractive violinist. She told the story of Nazi's invading her grandfather's town in Poland, finding a young Jewish girl who played the violin beautifully. They cut off her hands. GedenK flashed on the screen.

What the hell? Having been to Dachau, Germany, I've stood at a site of unspeakable evil. It's darkness lingered long after my feet left the grounds. But why this commercial, why now? I googled GedenK.

Their aim is to teach and raise youth awareness about anti-Semitism, racism and their consequences.

Sure, that's noble enough. That could include Native Americans, Africans who perished in droves while being brought to America for slavery, anywhere imperial powers oppressed locals or pitted people violently against each other to maintain control.

On closer examination GedenK has one campaign thus far, remembering the Holocaust. The ad ran in America. How is the U.S. doing on Holocaust education? Mary Beth Donnelly did a study, "Educating Students about the Holocaust: A Survey of Teaching Practices." It was published in 2006, with data from 2003-2004. It concluded:

"The findings show that Holocaust education is well represented in secondary schools."

So why GedenK and why now? The three principal actors behind the group state their Jewish heritage.

MIT Professor Noam Chomsky speaks to the motivation of leaders in communicating certain messages:

Popular opinion in the United States has been very well studied, mainly because the business classes, who run the country, want to have their finger on the public pulse - for the purpose of control and propaganda. You can only hope to control people's attitudes and opinions if you know a lot about them, so we know a lot about public opinion....

Actually, the United States is far from a fascist country, that's a bad analogy. But the similarity to fascist propaganda techniques is quite striking, and it's not accidental. The Nazis explicitly, consciously, and openly adopted the techniques of American commercial advertising, and said so. They took a few simple ideas, stressed them over and over again, and made them look glamorous - that was the technique of American commercial advertising in the 1920s and it was the model that the Nazis explicitly adopted, and it's the model of business propaganda today.

Today, the message repeated over and over is Iran hates Israel and wants to wipe it out, that Iran wants nuclear weapons to use on Israel, who happens to have hundreds of nukes of their own.

GedenK likely is a group of caring world citizens who want no harm to come to any of the God of Abraham's people. But its message seems odd, at least in America at the moment. I can understand them advertising in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other areas with deep educational deficiencies on the Holocaust. But this evening it had the feel of a setup, of justifying a pre-emptive attack to save future violinist's hands. I've been wrong before and will be again, but I know what I felt.

We should remember the holocaust to stop the persecution of any group of people. It should not be used to perpetuate horrors on thousands, to hundreds of thousands, to millions of innocents.

Armed Religious Paramilitary Trains in the Catskills

Before 9/11 religious fundamentalists plotted to bring down a holy building. A coalition of Christian fundamentalists and Jewish Orthodox cults schemed to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The World Trade Center fell to Muslim fundamentalists in fall of 2001.

Fast forward to upstate New York, where an orthodox Jewish group conducts paramilitary training, courtesy of retired Israeli Defense Force personnel. The group's beliefs, mostly stated by leader Yonatan Stern, include:

1. American Jews have "felt a false sense of security in the United States."

2. "The threat is not from the American people or government," but from "terrorist sleeper cells that want to target Jews. These people are very dangerous and the FBI issues warnings against them very often."

3. "The average American is friendly to Jews, but we're worried about those individuals on the periphery of society."

4. "We realized there is a need for this kind of organization, and as Israeli combat veterans living in the US, we have the skills and ability to respond to this."

5. "We believe all Jews in the US must be legally armed and trained, and towards this goal we hold paramilitary training camps to train and equip Jewish American youth."

6. "We strongly believe in the constitutional right to bear arms and we express this right to its fullest."

7. The group claims to be "well-connected with the New York police and fire departments" and it invites "all members of the law enforcement community to join in our life-saving activities."

8. "We are all legally armed and carry radios and cellphones" during all hours of the day, and even on Shabbat, "as we need to be constantly ready to respond to any incident."

9. the group does not exclude secular Jews, Stern says, but asks that they respect the Orthodox nature of the camp by observing Shabbat in public and refraining from bringing non-kosher food.

10. "We wouldn't have a problem with non-Jews coming either, but no non-Jew has applied thus far."

The training began three years ago. What happens when this group shows up at the next disaster to save Jews? How will the authorities respond?

If their paramilitary services are accepted, will they push aside Gentiles in favor of their Orthodox friends? Might they ignore atheists in need of aid? And what happens when they run across a suffering Muslim? Do they train on headcounts and collateral damage?

We've already seen the franchising of parts of the American public safety system. Private fire fighting companies did banner business in Southern California during their widespread fire storms. Sovereign Deed will pluck its clients out of a disaster zone, long before the common citizen.

When did it become American to rely on the corporate profit motive to optimize safety for the wealthy? Why do we need armed religious groups, regardless of brand, conducting paramilitary training so they can save "their brethren"?

If these people want to be policemen and save any American, join the force. If they want to be soldiers fighting the good fight, join Uncle Sam's army. Mr. Stern, our next conflict could well be against an extraordinarily grave , "nukular equipped Jew hater", at least that's the spin. Think of the profitable war tourism and nonprofit fundraising doors that effort could open.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Freedom to Expand Nuclear Reach

President Bush's shoe banging military policies brought the world another arms race and a potential repeat of the Cuban missile crisis. The Guardian cited the expansion of nuclear weapons in space by Russia and time by Britain. Russia threatened to land nuclear equipped bombers in Cuba for refueling, in response to planned missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Across the English channel, an estimated 3 billion pound (currency) replacement of Britain's nuclear arsenal would extend their weapons program over four decades.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Freedom's Forces Plot in D.C.

The head of Israel's Defense Forces met yesterday with Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. State Department officials. Was Paul Wolfowitz in on the meeting? If so, it might have an eerie pre-Iraq invasion feel to it. But this time, there are no plans to invade and occupy, a surgical strike should be sufficient.

Today, General Ashkenazi meets with Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. The Israeli military chief "commented to journalists that he was pleased with the meetings' progress and was eagerly anticipating his session with Admiral Mullen. His goal had been to expand operational inclusion and to intensify the dialogue between the Israeli and American militaries. He indicated that he has been pleased with the results thus far."

The meetings included sessions with key members of Congression and leaders of the Pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC. Along for the ride was the head of the Strategic Department in the IDF Planning Branch.

Meanwhile Iraq surge architect, Fred Kagan, called for an Israeli strike on Iran's military facilities. He joins numerous other neo-cons in calling for a pre-emptive strike:

Richard Perle
John Bolton
Max Boot
Bill Kristol
Norman Podhoretz
Fred Kagan
Jmaes Woolsey

The religious right is clearly on board:

Pastor Hagee
Rev. Robertson

In place to make it happen:

Dick Cheney, VP
John Negroponte, State Department
Paul Wolfowitz, State Department
Paula Dobriansky, State Department
Gen. David Petraeus, CentCom
Adm. Mullen, Chair Joint Chiefs
Eliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Adviser

Loyalists On Bush’s Intelligence Oversight Board:

Frances Townsend
Peter Pace

On Pentagon Defense Contracting Oversight Board:

Dov. S. Zakheim

The chess pieces are in play against Iran, as shown by the IDF General's visit, culminating with a medal. With Iran pulling out of the IAEA investation in a Saddmish move, how long before Bush, Olmert and company can say "check"?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chevron Money Still Flowing to Burmese Junta

Congress passed a bill tightening economic sanctions on trade with Burma, but left a giant loophole for Chevron. The gas field, developed during Bush I's term, stays open for business under Bush II. Never mind the military junta's oppression of political opponents and Buddhist monks. Ignore their abandonment of millions after a devastating typhoon. They have Human Energy, which translates into economic freedom, Bush's favorite form!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Obama Reaches Out to Pat Robertson's Peers

In a move worthy of Dick Cheney and his energy buds, Presidential hopeful Barack Obama met with thirty some evangelical leaders, requiring confidence on topics discussed and who attended. Yet, an intrepid reporter with Israel News cobbled together enough information to give the public a picture, however fuzzy.

It seems "get your war on" Reverend Pat's peers turned out en masse for the gathering. Franklin Graham, Stephen Strang, and T.D. Jakes were among the inquiring faithful. The outcome of the meeting is yet to be understood, that is, if any understandings were reached.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stories Too Hot for ThinkProgress?

One might expect a progressive website to pick up on the smorgasbord of juicy morsels offered by powerful conservatives the last few days. Sure, the folks at ThinkProgress were busy at the NetRoots Nation meeting in Austin. But consider some of the fish they let off the hook:

Ex-White House economic adviser Al Hubbard saying spoiled Americans gorge on "medical caviar"

Rev. Pat Robertson preaching Israel has "no choice but to attack Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities", likely before election day. (Update: Amanda Terkel is pouring through tape to confirm what I heard this morning, so this story could soon be posted)

The Honorable Peter G. Peterson's $1 billion foundation (designed to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) awarded grants allowing American CEO's to reform health care and teach college kids about shared sacrifice. (Not on the curriculum, the preferred tax status of private equity underwriters like Mr. Peterson, something he doesn't want to sacrifice.)

House Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats caucus around the banner of deficit reduction. Pete Peterson attended their first joint session. Did the topic of carried interest come up?

Of course, the TP crew could be hungover from partying in Austin with all its great bars and restaurants. They offered only one post yesterday, likely filled with return travel. While they cranked out the volume today, consider the riveting topics:

O’Reilly Attacks Gore For Attending Netroots Nation: ‘The Same As If He Stepped Into The Klan Gathering’

Bush: ‘I do know about YouTube.’

Hannity scores $100 million contract.

‘The Most Trusted Name In News’ Surrenders Its Full 9 PM Hour To Beck Tonight

During a segment on education, Fox News misspells the word ‘education.’

Graham jokingly compares McCain’s bird watching talks to interrogations at Gitmo.

Who has your back? It looks like you may be on your own, given our two parties collaboration with the government-industrial monstrosity, Eisenhower's military-industrial complex on steroids.

Rev. Robertson Turns Bush's Amber Light to Green

On this morning's 700 Club, host Pat Robertson said Israel had no choice but to attack Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities. He suggested the Jewish state would use submarine based cruise missiles and air power to take out Iran's nuclear sites. The Reverend prophesied a time frame for the necessary military incursion, before the U.S. Presidential elections. (He did so at the 6 minute, 20 second mark of today's 700 club program.)

Pat turned George W. Bush's amber light to green. With cars lined up, the horns are honking. Might Pat's strong support for Israel get him back into the Christian World Development project on the Sea of Galilee?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Britain May Not Be Free to Extradite Prisoners to U.S.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the British Parliament recommended the government carry out an "exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques." The order was prompted by the Brown and Bush governments having different definitions of torture. BBC News reported:

In its report, the committee said: "Given the clear differences in definition, the UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the government does not rely on such assurances in the future."

The MPs also challenged the government to check more actively that Britain had not been used by the Americans for so called "rendition" flights - when detainees are taken to countries where bans on torture may not apply.

The United Nations convention bars the return of individuals to states where they are at risk of being tortured. That risk is clearly present in King George's America.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Freedom to Order Medical Caviar?

Ex-White House Economic Adviser Al Hubbard cited major problems with employer sponsored health insurance. Rising medical costs thwart corporate CEO's maxing out their incentive compensation, thus depriving them of that executive health food, caviar.

Al crafted a plan for employers to jettison that pesky benefit and used the aforementioned terms, caviar and food, to sell his nefarious wares at The Center for American Progress Action Fund. Mr. Hubbard noted 47 million Americans without health insurance, but neglected 25 million currently underinsured, in part due to his market based solutions and high deductible health plans. He never mentioned those with insurance pay an average 20% in out of pocket costs.

That old "eighty/twenty rule" exists in health care, as eighty percent of health care costs are incurred by twenty percent of the patients, five percent make up fifty percent of all costs. Al wants that five to twenty percent to soldier up and quit eating caviar via feeding tubes or washing down their medical care with fine barium cocktails.

Not only do they need to quit ordering expensive medical tests and treatment for themselves (doctors don''t exist in Al's world), sick patients need to push aside that vomit basin and shop for prices. There's where the real savings will come! Never mind that employees already pay $3,300 annually for their health insurance benefit and 20% in out of pocket costs. So that medical caviar isn't anywhere near free, despite Al's assertions. Even people with insurance avoid necessary care due to high out of pocket costs.

Gee, what happened to group purchasing? Shouldn't some group, like the government or employers, package large numbers of people for preferential pricing? Employers are the historical linchpin in providing health insurance coverage, although the percent has declined from nearly 70% to 59% of all covered Americans. Hubbard greases the skids for that to drop to zero.

Al had the temerity to suggest insurance companies (of which he served on the Board of Directors) should only collect those high dollar premiums to cover healthy people. His home owner's analogy was "the insurance company can't be expected to insure a house on fire".

Hubbard's later cited West Germany's laudable profit motive. That comparison failed in the eyes of those who understand Europe's "socialized" health care system.

Mr. Hubbard delegated all the required health care purchasing knowledge to the individual, leaving the government and employers off the hook. That's a tough road when people are acutely ill, have a low level of medical literacy, and are an insured group of one, if they have coverage at all.

John McCain endorses the Hubbard crafted health care plan. It eliminates incentives for employers to offer insurance and shifts the burden of health care costs onto individuals. Tax credits would help people buy insurance. Do you want to pay 100% of your insurance premium and all your out of pocket costs? Get ready, Al's tired of you caviar gorging, whining Americans.

Friday, July 18, 2008

CNN's Freedom to Rewrite History

CNN's Situation Room referred to the site of John McCain's speech on the economy as the place where General Motors plans to "develop its first battery powered car." Did a White House fiction writer create that script for the reporter? G.M. had an electric car in 1996. The giant auto maker pulled the plug on the project in 2002.

Had Dana Bash said "first hybrid car", they would still be incorrect. GM's Saturn division launched the Vue Green Line Hybrid in 2006. Welcome to the state of reporting in America. Whatever the reporter believes is reality, how White House of them to create a second life. The "first plug in electric car"? Hardly...

Bush's Freedom to Fly Threatened, Portends Future American Invasion

Six Israeli Arabs were arrested for allegedly plotting an attack on American President George W. Bush's helicopter during one of his recent visits to the region. Haaretz reported that Israeli police and Shin Bet Security Service prevented any attack by the al-Qaeda linked group. One terror suspect attended a university where the Bush helicopter would land. His dorm room had line of sight to the landing pad.

This portends badly for any new Palestinian state, given America's history of blood revenge for planned Presidential assassinations. The current George W. Bush invaded Iraq, in part for payback for Saddam Hussein's attempted offing of his father, ex-President George H.W. Bush. Years down the road, will President George P. or Jeb Bush invade any new Palestinian state? Stay tuned for ongoing reports on America's freedom to fly or to invade for revenge.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bush Appoints Cliff Hawk to Broadcasting Board of Governors

The White House website announced "the President has nominated Clifford D. May, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, for the remainder of a three-year term expiring 08/13/09." Cliff stands squarely in the war hawk category.

Consider his words from August 2006, "Allowing (an Iranian Islamic Superpower) to happen would represent a mistake of historic proportions, akin to enabling the rise of Hitler in the 1930’s." Six months later, May poked fun at a windsurfing flotilla protest to Guantanamo Bay.

Clearly, George W. Bush nominated an uber-hawk, likely a strong proponent of waterboarding to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Little did Clifford know, that's the new macho name for windsurfing. Everybody take their sailboards to Guantanamo Bay, where they can freely and safely join the waterboarding race!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Freedom for U.S. and Israel Defense Officials to Meet

It's been a banner month for meetings between American and Israeli military brass. Consider the sessions as reported by the Jerusalem Post. Weeks are listed as specific dates for meetings weren't always available. Planned meetings include:

July 21-27 Israeli Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi will head to Washington for his own round of talks with American defense chiefs, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, who was in Israel two weeks ago.

July 14-20 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will head to the US on Monday for talks at the Pentagon. Barak will spend three days in the US for talks with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Defense officials said he would likely also meet with President George W. Bush.

Recently held meetings:

July 7-13 Mossad chief Meir Dagan was in Washington for meetings with key intelligence officials.

June 23-30 U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen segways to Israel during his European Tour. That same week, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations visited the Jewish State.

Something is up, my friend, and it smells hauntingly familiar. The air of violent, heavy handed, corrupt, greedy leaders has a unique odor. Funny, it smells like burning flesh, of course not theirs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Freedom to Declare War

A bipartisan War Powers Commission recommended repeal of the War Powers Act of 1973. The act passed as the Vietnam War drew to a close and was intended to limit the President's ability to go to war with Congress' explicit approval. The U.S. Constitution clearly shows Congress responsible for declaring war and the Presidency as the Commander in Chief. Yet, in thirty five years the Supreme Court never weighed in on the contentious issue.

Ex-Secretaries of State James A. Baker and Warren Christopher don't want the Supremes to address the issue. Baker called that strategy "a futile undertaking" in a USA Today article. On Morning Joe he noted this problem existed since our nation's founding. Ironically, Thomas Jefferson's university sponsored the commission via the University of Virginia's Miller School of Public Affairs.

UVA is my alma mater and it recently took a turn toward The Carlyle Group and private equity. James Baker's ties to Carlyle are long and murky. While Mr. Jefferson was part of the landed gentry (while the super rich are doing quite well), he wanted separation of powers. What Mr. Baker and Christopher refer to as a glaring error, was our Founding Father's intent. I find it interesting that the dispute resolvers, the Supreme Court, stand squarely on the sidelines.

James A. Baker has a clear history of using U.S. military might to open free markets for U.S. companies abroad. The Republican Party pushed the consolidation of Executive power the last eight years. It seems we have more of the same in this Commission's report.

Excessive partisanship can manifest itself just as easily with a new Congressional Committee as it can with Congressional leadership. The Executive is free to consult with whomever they want on issues. They can do so with or without the recommended War Powers Consultation Act of 2009. Giving the current President more power is a supremely bad idea, especially given his ability to serially abuse it. I don't think John McCain or Barack Obama need it, either. The Supreme Court should do the right thing, their job. This issue needs constitutional clarification and the sooner, the better. If not, Thomas Jefferson might suggest a rebellion to be in order.

Friday, July 4, 2008

People Exercising Free Speech Removed by Police

President Bush was heckled during his talk in front of 76 naturalized citizens at the home of Thomas Jefferson. A UPI report stated:

Several people yelled out criticism during his speech in Charlottesville, Fox News reported. One man shouted "This man is a fascist," while another screamed curses.

"We believe in free speech in America," Bush ad-libbed. The protesters were removed by police. In the ceremony at Monticello, Bush paid tribute to Jefferson, the nation's third president, and to the immigrants taking the oath of citizenship.

"We honor Jefferson's legacy by aiding the rise of liberty in lands that do not know the blessings of freedom, and on this Fourth of July we pay tribute to the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America," he said. "We also honor Jefferson's legacy by welcoming newcomers to our land, and that is what we're here to celebrate today."

This Fourth of July, inspiration from our Founding Fathers is badly needed. Consider other words of the first resident of "The Western White House", Monticello.

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

Our state manifests numerous evils at the moment. How will the "free people" respond? Are they, like the protesters, to be carted off by authorities while leaders offer quippy platitudes? Let's hope our democratic foundation is deep enough to survive. That includes the oppressed rebelling and raising disturbances. It means secret societies working to cure the evils of the State. Will Thomas Jefferson of yesteryear prevail? Or will Bush's modern day interpretation, a watered down international version, win the day? Stay tuned...