'/> Uncommon Hours: November 2009
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

by Michael Moore

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That's the way General Washington insisted it must be. That's what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. "You're fired!," said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in' hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea -- "Let's invade Afghanistan!" Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There's a reason they don't call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan's nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires." If you don't believe it, give the British a call. I'd have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev's number though. It's + 41 22 789 1662. I'm sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you're about to commit.

With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the "war president." Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line -- and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.

Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn't have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush's Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you're doing it so you can "end the war") will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you've said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone -- and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout "tea bag!"

Choose carefully, Mr. President. Your corporate backers are going to abandon you as soon as it is clear you are a one-term president and that the nation will be safely back in the hands of the usual idiots who do their bidding. That could be Wednesday morning.

We the people still love you. We the people still have a sliver of hope. But we the people can't take it anymore. We can't take your caving in, over and over, when we elected you by a big, wide margin of millions to get in there and get the job done. What part of "landslide victory" don't you understand?

Don't be deceived into thinking that sending a few more troops into Afghanistan will make a difference, or earn you the respect of the haters. They will not stop until this country is torn asunder and every last dollar is extracted from the poor and soon-to-be poor. You could send a million troops over there and the crazy Right still wouldn't be happy. You would still be the victim of their incessant venom on hate radio and television because no matter what you do, you can't change the one thing about yourself that sends them over the edge.

The haters were not the ones who elected you, and they can't be won over by abandoning the rest of us.

President Obama, it's time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, "No, we don't need health care, we don't need jobs, we don't need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, 'cause we don't need them, either."

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would your grandmother do? Not send more poor people to kill other poor people who pose no threat to them, that's what they'd do. Not spend billions and trillions to wage war while American children are sleeping on the streets and standing in bread lines.

All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam "might" be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish -- the full terror of which we scarcely know.

When we elected you we didn't expect miracles. We didn't even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn't even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God's sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DON'T have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother's son.

We're counting on you.

Yours, Michael Moore MMFlint@aol.com  http://www.michaelmoore.com/

P.S. There's still time to have your voice heard. Call the White House at 202-456-1111.

Michael Moore is an activist, author, and filmmaker. See more of his work at his website http://www.michaelmoore.com/

Saturday, November 28, 2009

US Was 'Hell Bent' on Iraq War

This just shouldn't be allowed to fade away. The on-going British inquiry into the Iraq War continues to uncover details about the determination of Bush and the neo-cons to start this senseless war:

US Was 'Hell Bent' on Iraq War, UK Envoy Says
Bush administration didn't care about getting U.N. support, he tells inquiry

by David Stringer
Published on Saturday, November 28, 2009 by the Associated Press

LONDON - The United States was "hell bent" on a 2003 military invasion of Iraq and actively undermined efforts by Britain to win international authorization for the war, a former British diplomat told an inquiry Friday.

Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, said that President George W. Bush had no real interest in attempts to agree on a U.N. resolution to provide explicit backing for the conflict.

The ex-diplomat, who served as Britain's envoy in Iraq after the invasion, said serious preparations for the war had begun in early 2002 and took on an unstoppable momentum.

As diplomats frantically attempted in early 2003 to agree upon a U.N. resolution approving a military offensive, Bush's key aides grew impatient - criticizing the process as an unnecessary distraction, he said.

Read more.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Call President Obama today and tell him not to escalate the war in Afghanistan: 202-456-1111.

This e-mail recently came in from Ira Harritt, the Kansas City Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee:

Now is a crucial time!

Taking a few minutes today to call the President and tell him that more troops in Afghanistan will make us less secure and not bring more stability to Afghanistan can have a lasting impact!

In a recent interview Obama has said “we're not signing up for a permanent occupation.” But he has also expressed concern that, while Al Qaeda is not currently in Afghanistan, “an Afghanistan that has completely fallen apart that can further destabilize Pakistan…, a government that has nuclear weapons - so we've got some significant interest in the region.”

Obama is being pressured to send more troops to Afghanistan by military contractor lobbyists. He needs to hear from concerned citizens who are not profiting from U.S. war making.

Help us send a message to President Obama that we don't want more troops sent to Afghanistan.

We call for:

1. No additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan.

2. A timeline for the withdrawal of US troops and for diplomacy and dialogue with all parties to the conflict without preconditions.

3. The provision of badly needed development aid by civilian-led organizations not the military.

4. Redirect the more than $44 billion spent yearly on war funding to human needs in Afghanistan and at home.

Call the Whitehouse comment line: 202-456-1111 (takes calls from 9am to 5pm Eastern) or email the President at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact or use Peace Action’s Toll free number: 1-888-310-8637.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The irony speaks for itself

So boasted Humble Oil in Life magazine in 1962.
(Humble is granddaddy, via its offspring Standard Oil, to our very own Exxon!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kansas has a new Teacher of the Year!

At a banquet in Wichita last evening, Karen Tritt, a Spanish teacher at Shawnee Mission West High School, was named the 2010 Kansas Teacher of the Year. This announcement culminated months of preparation and competition in school districts throughout Kansas. Tritt won out over ninety candidates statewide.

I heard her speak at the Region 3 awards dinner in September, at which she was named a finalist for the competition, and believe she’ll be an exceptional advocate for education in the state of Kansas.

I have to disclose a more than passing interest in this event, for my wife Heather was also in the running.

Here are Heather (holding the plaque on the left) and Karen Tritt (on the right), with members of the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education.

Congratulations, Karen!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The paradox of climate change: John Bellamy Foster's The Ecological Revolution reviewed

John Bellamy Foster, The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet (Monthly Review Press, 2009). Paperback, $17.95.

Reviewed by Bob Sommer
Uncommon Hours

 A simple contradiction at the core of our economic system accounts for the dire ecological situation in which we find ourselves.

“Capitalism,” John Bellamy Foster points out in his new book, The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet, “… embodies a logic that accepts no boundaries on its own expansion and its exploitation of the environment. The earth as a planet, in contrast, is by definition limited.”

Foster has written a compelling and informed synthesis of the current state of the global environmental crisis and the historical path that led to these extreme ecological and social imbalances. Particularly fascinating is his chapter on “The Jevons Paradox”―that is, the concept that increased efficiency in the use of resources actually creates a greater demand for those resources.

“What we call ‘the environmental problem,’” Foster writes, “is in the end primarily a problem of political economy. Even the boldest establishment economic attempts to address climate change fall far short of what is required to protect the earth―since the ‘bottom line’ that constrains all such plans under capitalism is the necessity of continued, rapid growth in production and profits.”

Assembled from articles and talks over a number of years, The Ecological Revolution provides an overview of the climate change crisis and a refreshing look at the work of Karl Marx in an environmental context.

Foster edits The Monthly Review, where several of the chapters originally appeared. If the book has any flaw, it is that some of the chapters have overlapping information that was not edited out for purposes of a book-length work. That said, this is an important book that goes to the core of the climate change crisis. Until we re-evaluate our economic philosophy in the context of its root causes and the planet’s limitations, we’re not likely find an answerable, long-term solution.