Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Osama: An American-Made Monster

Amidst all the celebration over the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden, a brief moment of sober reflection is entirely in order. We should look back at the facts which brought this person to international notoriety and the greatest manhunt in human history.

The Bush and bin Laden families had close business ties over several decades. This glaring point is rarely mentioned in the media. Virtually every war, including the world wars, were struggles over the control of important natural resources, especially energy. US policy experts obsessed over contriving narratives to support our feigned interest in spreading democracy to oppressed nations. The actual facts in the historic record prove beyond question our political decisions were strongly motivated by imperialist adventurism. The Bushes and bin Ladens benefited greatly from coveting and acquiring other people's goods, services and, yes, resources.

George Santayana warned that: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." America has been strapped to an ugly merry-go-round on which we try to save nations by utterly destroying them. The list of our atrocities is almost endless. The cold war was never solely about competing ideologies of democracy and communism. The driving force of East/West animosities was the conflicts of interest regarding global resources. During our relentless carpet-bombing of the entire planet, people and personal property were of secondary importance, including our own.

No one is born a terrorist. Criminals are usually the product of difficult childhoods and/or traumatic events. Osama bin Laden was born into the lap of luxury. So, it wasn't poverty which led him astray. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, bin Laden funded and supplied the rebels. Then, he personally joined the fighting. He took an interest in their cause because the Afghans and Saudis are both Wahhabi Muslims. An understanding was reached between George H.W. Bush and bin Laden that the president would help him oust the Russians. Let's not forget Osama was an active CIA asset during this period. 

Supplies would be smuggled through CIA channels in the Pakistani ISI secret service. More important, Mr. Bush promised to help with Afghan reconstruction after the mission's success. What most people don't know is Poppy Bush reneged on his promise. Along with our unilateral support of Israel; occupation of Saudi Arabia and endless wars against sovereign Arab countries, this betrayal turned bin Laden against us. Osama listed his reasons for declaring jihad against America, Great Britain and any other nations opposing what he considered to be the best interests of the Muslim world in his "Letter To America"
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/24/theobserver/). When you disregard his religiously-oriented diatribes, bin Laden's complaints are hard to disagree with.

His issue with the West was always our stark hypocrisy. American actions rarely reflected democratic principles. In fact, there was hardly a savage dictator we didn't support. As our stranglehold on the global economy and political alignment started to falter, each of these cruel despots fell. The survivors of these regimes have long memories. They remember our close links with tyranny and torture, despite our happy talk about democracy and justice.

There were conflicting reports that bin Laden was killed at Tora Bora or died shortly thereafter of kidney failure in 2002/3. Since then, all messages from him have been on audiotape. We have no idea when these tapes were recorded or whether the voice on them is really bin Laden's. There's no evidence Osama survived until his ignominious end on May 1, 2011 -- except for what we've been told. Is it merely a coincidence his death was blared on May Day, which is a global labor holiday? How do we know it was bin Laden's body which was tossed overboard to the sharks?

The case of the 9/11 attacks and Osama bin Laden is a docket full of holes, half-truths and lies. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of important, unanswered questions about the events and who was responsible for them. If any one of the Bush facts is untrue, then the whole story is one Big Lie. That jumbo jet didn't make that small hole in the Pentagon. If Osama bin Laden died eight years ago, then who did the Navy Seals kill in that Pakistani compound? The secrecy surrounding Osama's life and death only leads to more insecurity and speculation. Further, someone has to explain why our government was so quick to release this information when they had a roomful of al-Qaeda files to sift through which could've led to the arrest of a great number of Osama's associates. This disclosure instantly invalidated any solid leads. The very fact our leaders continue to insist torture helped to uncover Osama's hideout makes no sense because the terrorists would've closed up shop and moved to another location once they discovered a key member was captured. Terrorists may not be Rhodes scholars, but they're not stupid, either.

The Obama administration has vowed to clean up our failed and flawed approach to the rest of humanity. The president has made it clear he wants to deal with world leaders in an open and responsible fashion. Osama bin Laden was the blowback the CIA warned us about. As children, we were told you can't do evil and get away with it. America has been running on empty rhetoric for decades -- engaging in monstrous acts and expecting good results. It's about time we started practicing what we preach.

Franklin L. Johnson

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Political Killing
Of Keith Olbermann

On Friday, January 21, 2011, after reading a short story by James Thurber, titled The Scotty Who Knew Too Much, Keith Olbermann abruptly closed his program by informing his viewers it would be his last. This out-of-the-blue exit will go down in broadcast history as one of the most bizarre.

It was no mystery Keith Theodore Olbermann had a rocky relationship with the front office of parent company NBC Universal. Often, there were signs his head was on the chopping block for some of his fiery rants which rankled the corporate sensitivities of many NBC sponsors. Keith was able to defy his critics and arrogantly soldier on because he had strong support from CEO Jeff Zucker. He acknowledged Keith's value in growing the viewer base for MSNBC's evening news programs.

Infotainment increased briskly as cable service expanded across the nation. Olbermann played an important part in this process. Furthermore, his opinion was an indispensable expression of liberal perspectives on current issues. And he was a bulwark against the rise of the right-wing propaganda machine known as FOX-hole news.

A terse statement on Countdown's website noted Keith's contract ended. It didn't say why or how. The four-year deal for $30 million was set to expire in 2012, just after the presidential election. MSNBC thanked Mr. Olbermann for his contribution and "wished him well in his future endeavors." A comprehensive explanation was nowhere to be found. There is obviously more to this story. The public has been left to speculate about the few facts available to draw a reasonable conclusion. Here are some bits and pieces which could be helpful in the pursuit of the truth.

It was no coincidence Keith was promptly sacked after the Comcast/General Electric joint venture relating to NBC Universal received final regulatory clearance. This deal also released president Jeff Zucker from his executive obligations. With Mr. Zucker gone, Olbermann had no one in a position of power to protect him from dismissal. The very fact no further details seem to be forthcoming strongly suggests his firing was driven by office politics and/or personality clashes.

The evidence supports the view politics rather than personality was at the heart of this incident. Keith was suspended for two days without pay in November, 2010, for donating to the campaigns of three members of congress. He was sanctioned despite his protests he was unaware of NBC's corporate policy against such donations and he had every intention of informing his viewers about these funds. Although it's now well known he made these contributions, the media seem to omit the huge fact one of the recipients was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the recovering victim of an assassination attempt in Tulsa.

There are several more points worthy of consideration. The Republicans intend to wage a vicious campaign against Barack Obama during the next election cycle. They're emboldened by their seizure of the House at the polls last year and the imprudent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. It was handed down exactly one year to the day of Keith's firing. This decision basically nullifies Buckley v. Valeo which declared money was protected speech but set limits on its use. Citizens opened up a Pandora's Box of unlimited corporate contributions to our political process which could ultimately destroy what's left of our democracy.

Olbermann's axing throws MSNBC's weekly schedule into serious disarray. The evening opens with Chris Matthews in his regular spot at 5 p.m. Then, he's followed by newcomer Cenk Uygur and a repeat of Chris' Hardball show. Keith's flagship 8 p.m. slot is filled by Lawrence O'Donnell, an old political hand and
able replacement with a dull delivery. There's a big difference between these O's. Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow holds her usual slot at 9 p.m. with rising star and labor watchdog, Ed Schultz, ending the evening at 10 p.m. A close examination of this lineup proves Olbermann was fired for political reasons.

Rachel Maddow was the heir apparent to Keith's cleanup batter position. She earned this promotion as a result of hard work and perseverance. Rachel is a superstar in the news business and a legend in her own right. Yet, the very fact she was passed over for somber, sleepy Larry O'Donnell speaks loudly about how NBC and the media in general intend to cover the 2012 presidential election cycle. Moving worker advocate, Ed Schultz, from 6 to 10 p.m. diminishes labor's impact on our national politics. Also, certain contract clauses will probably prevent Olbermann from returning to broadcast TV until the fall at the earliest. All of these actions are setting the stage for a virtual conservative monopoly of our national political debate going into next year's election cycle.

Keith Olbermann chose Thurber's The Scotty Who Knew Too Much very carefully. The "Who," rather than "That" or "Which," in the title personalizes the pooch. It's a clear reference to himself. This was a subtle slap at his and our corporate overlords who reward conformity and punish rebellion. The story ends with the moral "It is better to have asked some questions than to know all of the answers." If we are to survive as a nation, we should fervently heed this warning.

Franklin L. Johnson


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Defunding The In-Defense-Able

Secretary Gates' offer to reduce the alleged "defense" budget by merely trimming growth projections would be laughable if this issue weren't so serious. The other nations are leaving us in the dust because they finally agreed that war and mass murder are useless to the process of advancing humanity's goals. America is dying because we have an unsustainable national debt load which is primarily the result of the Bush tax cuts and excess funding of the Pentagon. How many more reports do we need to read about the Pentagon not being able to account for trillions of taxpayer dollars before we get the picture? This money isn't lost. It gets moved. But, no one has the courage or the congressional authority to open the defense department's books to a completely independent audit.

Most of all, we must get serious about removing America from the death and destruction business and into the life affirming business. When adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon's base budgets could be reduced by half over the next decade with no appreciable loss in our defense capacities. The infinite excuses as to why we can't critically cut our war expenditures must be overridden. America is dying because we refuse to do anything to prevent our drowning in a sea of red ink.

War has been obsolete since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It makes no sense to maintain the ruse we must keep on pumping untold trillions into the bottomless Pentagon pit when there's no enemy to confront worthy of this insane waste of federal funds. Our defense and intelligence budgets are greater than that of all the other advanced nations combined. And terrorism is a matter which would be best handled as an international police problem. Terrorists are by definition lone operators or very small bands of criminals. They don't rise to a level of concern which requires a martial response. Outside of the US and UK, no other nation uses their defense forces to confront them. Terrorism can't be completely eradicated because there have been irrational hot heads ever since the days of Cain and Abel.

Humanity is rapidly reforming international relations to deal productively with the emerging Global Village. Issues of energy, industry and education are replacing the cold war stalemate. Russia refuses to play with us anymore. They're quietly abandoning the US dollar in cross border trades with China and many other nations in the region. Russia and China are writing contracts in their own currencies, cutting us out as the essential middle man and pocketing the transaction fees. The dollar isn't supreme anymore and there's no longer a rational reason why global contracts must be written in US dollars since we refuse to get our fiscal house in order.

During the president's State of the Union address, he never mentioned these serious issues, except by remote reference. For America to survive and compete effectively in the new global economy, we must prepare for the day China's economy will rule the world. This will happen and there's very little we can do about it, except honesty and vigorously compete -- just like all the other nations. The demographics all favor China, not us. There's no reason why America can't continue to be a beacon for peace, liberty and justice. We must start reordering our priorities. And there's no better place to start than our vastly over-funded defense appropriations.

Franklin L. Johnson


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Article's Response

Professor Strasburger,

I read your "Can Diversity Be Diversified?" article with interest. I found that you attempted to be "fair and balanced." However, I got the impression this was more a smoke screen than an honest appraisal of the racist, sexist and, especially, classist system in America. You never mentioned why diversity was initiated here in the first place. This was a very striking omission. We have a modicum of diversity in our political, economic and social fabric today because our blood-soaked history demanded it along with the millions of Americans who fought, bled and died for this handful of opportunities.

I've been saying for decades people only become conservative when they have something of value to conserve. But, what about those who never get the chance through no fault of their own? It's nice to look at the brighter side of American life. There's much to admire about it. But, we have structural problems based on race, sex and class which are still entrenched. They're difficult to eradicate primarily due to the denial of our historic record and the fact this history is rarely taught completely and truthfully to every student.

Our stalwart president, Barack Obama, has been pilloried daily, ever since he had the courage to consider running to be our chief executive. He's been called every evil name in the book of insults. Yet, he perseveres despite this assault because he believes his principles and commitment are more valuable than his own life. How else can you explain his valiant struggle to cure what ails America? And why are so many Americans outraged at the president for simply trying to do the job he was legitimately elected to do?

My grandfathers were Cherokee Indian and my grandmothers were African. So, I have two reasons to want to pick a bone with America over the stunting of my personal heritage. I grew up very poor in Harlem. I went to a segregated Catholic grammar school which was donated to us. The Irish and Italian working class families, who gave us this rat-infested building, sent their kids next door to newly built St. Joseph's. My school was 98% black and Hispanic. St. Joseph's was 98% Irish and Italian. Although at the time I had no idea what segregation was, these schools were more segregated than Birmingham. Our books were old, dog-eared and outdated. Lunch was deplorable but half the time it was the only meal I got that day. Our classrooms were overcrowded and stank when it rained. Despite these difficulties, other kids who were poorer threw rocks at me for carrying a book bag with the school's name on the side. I don't raise these points to elicit sympathy. I bring them to your attention to say unless you've walked in my holey shoes you don't know what it's like to grow up poor in the richest nation on Earth.

Although I was smart enough to go to a prep high school, I was one of only two students in my class who didn't go directly to college. My mother had a third grade education and my father none. My family had no history of higher education. My ancestors were all slaves and sharecroppers. I could've walked to City College nearby, but this choice was never brought to my attention because I was a Catholic kid. My family was poor, ignorant and therefore irrelevant. Despite these disadvantages and having to play catch-up my entire life, I want you to know I retired happily and early. I live in a beautiful log home on several acres of land in upstate New York. Most of all, I own them outright. Many well-established people can't say this. I took a different and difficult path to success because it was the only one available to me. I became an entrepreneur and worked tirelessly to advance my interests. I did so despite the structural impediments placed before me. I must say only in America could my dreams have come true because, at the very least, I did have a chance, albeit a very small one.

Professor, I'm certain you didn't mean to write this article to rain on my unique life story or the struggles of millions of American children who simply want a chance to be the best they can be. The question shouldn't be a matter of selection between those who get in and those who are left out. We must ask why we don't have suitable resources available for every child who wants to fulfil his or her dreams? Even elite families are uneasy fighting an endless, fruitless and finance-draining war to stay ahead of their neighbors. Unfortunately, America has become the very antithesis of the nation our Founding Fathers went through so much trouble to establish.

Self-destructive competition is destroying our reeling nation from within. Our thriving middle class has been decimated and the rich have sucked the life blood out of the American Dream. It's time to stop the infantile blame game. America is still the greatest nation, but it won't be for much longer if we don't seriously address our problems. The answer is quite simple: We must eradicate our Over Class and elevate the Under Class. You do this, of course, through prudent legislation OR another civil war. We know what's wrong with our country and we know what the solutions are. It's time for America to grow up and, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, "...to rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed."

It's time to stop the penny ante sloganeering and word wars. America won't survive as a nation unless we finally begin a fundamental maturation process. Around the world, we've become a laughing stock. We constantly treat China like an enemy when it has shown no external belligerent behavior in almost eight centuries and we owe them a trillion dollars. This is insanity of the highest order. Our ship of state is reeling and we need every productive hand on deck to deal with our eminent sinking from the tsunami of our own futility. We must realize no nation will come to save us from ourselves. Why? Because they don't have to anymore! After we're gone, humanity will prosper and finally declare war and elitism obsolete. We can either join the other nations in constructive brotherhood or it's the ash heap of history. The facts are written in stone on the wall of destiny. I think it's well past time we got busy doing our nation's critical work. Don't you?

Franklin L. Johnson

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election 2010: The Truth

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it (and weep)!

The Repugs with campaign money from the military industrial media incarceration complex (MIMIC) have quietly raised the specter of out-of-control federal spending feeding runaway deficits. Along with the latest fabricated "terrorism" tales, they're attempting to scare the electorate into voting against their own best interests...AGAIN! Using mass mailings, they've gotten out front of the information and election cycles to pump the people full of malarkey about the alleged incompetence of the Obama administration in spending us into oblivion. Barack hasn't been incompetent in any way. In fact, the only thing he's guilty of is trying to fulfill the impossible promise he was sent to Washington to achieve. The president, so far, has been overly cautious in his approach to our problems. This is true. Yet, this should've been expected from Obama who has productively spent a lot of his time understanding how to perform his executive duties.

Obama and the Dems did a poor job of informing the American people it's jobs, not the deficit, which is their top priority. The deficit hawks were all over the Sunday talk shows crabbing about we need to get the deficit down. No, we don't! We need to put people back to work first. Then, the deficits will take care of themselves eventually when tax revenues come in from the newly employed.

We must observe what happened to FDR in the mid-1930s. His massive programs to put Americans back to work resulted in strong growth during this period. Then, in response to heavy political pressure from the deficit hawks, he curbed federal

spending in 1938. The economy promptly contracted 3%. Fiscal austerity was applied much too soon. He should've waited until the economy was completely healthy and confidently producing goods and services. Instead, it took the advent of WWII to forge a sustainable recovery.

FDR and the Dems took it on the chin at the polls in 1938. It's evident Obama didn't learn this lesson from his history book because he made the same mistakes as Roosevelt. The stimulus package was insufficient to eliminate the monstrous mess left by the Bush mob. Unfortunately, the congress wouldn't have passed a larger stimulus bill, even if Obama presented one. The president is wilting under relentless attacks from rude Repug deficit hawks, demanding deep cuts to social programs. Obama and the Dems should take it on the chin today because they didn't absorb the facts from American history. The Repugs, on the other hand, did read their history books. Nevertheless, they're recommending the same flawed remedies which stalled the recovery from the Great Depression. Federal fiscal retrenchment led indirectly to WWII. The Repugs don't want to lead. They want to satisfy their greed and lust for power.

The military industrial media incarceration complex (MIMIC) is secretly funding
many recalcitrant Repugs in a concerted effort to stave off any reasonable restraint put on the defense and CIA budgets. They're already spreading rumors of war, quite possibly in Yemen, to ensure martial money continues to flow and grow. Despite the fact we no longer have a USSR or Red Menace to fear, the Pentagon is contriving insignificant enemies and inflating their threat levels well beyond their actual degrees of menace. This is being done to put Repugs back in congressional control of our national purse strings. Obama and the Dems would be left with only one recourse, namely, to filibuster and/or veto Repug bills specifically designed to slash social programs. Meanwhile, the rabid right-wing frothers will continue to use fear, anger and hatred to foment rumblings of all war, all the time. This is how we got into this evil fix in the first place. The insane cycle of emotionally inspired militarism against imaginary enemies must be broken if America is to survive as a democratic republic.

Obama and the Dems don't seem to see this blatant fiscal forest for the Repug trees. Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon and CIA budgets could be halved over the next decade with little or no effect on our defense and intelligence readiness. How much longer must we endure reports about the Pentagon losing trillions of dollars? If we stopped overfunding them, they won't have reason to waste time contriving lies about how they lost the mountains of money appropriated. Perhaps, we'll finally get some serious bang for our hard-earned tax bucks.

The savings would help to get the federal budget back under control while putting unemployed Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. The Repugs want us to substitute these priorities with an attack on our social network and another war in Yemen on top of the two being waged in the Middle East. Although this is the actual political struggle going on in America today, you won't read about it anywhere in the media or see it on the evening news. America won't progress any further until we begin to respond to the questions about our critical condition with clear, moral and useful answers.

Franklin L. Johnson

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sarah Pablum

Sarah Palin is indeed a very strange breed of bird. Nevertheless, you have to hand it to her. These days, she really gives good speech. It took a few years of trial and error, along with some serious coaching. But, the surprising result is Palin Orations are now worthy of consideration. I'm not saying their content deserves contemplation -- only a little bit of attention.

Sister Sarah appeared before the Tea Party Convention on the 99th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birthday. Anyone who believes this was a mere coincidence has no clue how right wing politics is played in our nation. The oral similarities between her and The Gipper are striking. She spoke for about 45 minutes, then took some prepared questions. Her speech was a collage of platitudes, non sequiturs, talking points, catch phrases, key words, rally zingers and applause lines. They were specifically designed to prompt the intended exuberance from her adoring audience.

Her delivery wasn't flawless, yet she pressed on confidently. While Palin may never reach the heights of extemporary excellence, she's a far cry from the deer-in-the-headlights personality who was interviewed by Katie Couric. The thing that is different and disturbing is you can sometimes listen to her and believe she actually has something meaningful to say.

Ronald Reagan was the master of reading a speech from the TelePrompter. His 1984 acceptance address to the Republican National Convention was a hallmark in his political career. That speech was magnificently presented. I was so impressed I stood up in my living room and applauded his effort. Great communicators have the capacity to inspire an audience. However, when I listened to a replay of the speech, I discovered it offered almost nothing of substance.

Sarah Palin is slowly approaching this level of verbal persuasion. She can't match the debating skills of Barak Obama. Yet, there's no telling what strides she may make between now and the 2012 campaign. In short, she's starting to get a little dangerous. It would be a big mistake for the president and the Democrats to dismiss her, even at this early stage.

What is dangerous about puppet politicians like Reagan and Palin is how easily they're manipulated. Can anyone forget the look on Reagan's face when his TelePrompter died in the middle of a speech? He hadn't any idea what to do next. The same thing occurred to Bill Clinton. Bubba simply went on speaking, as if nothing happened. No one was the wiser. Obama is a new and improved version of Clinton. Yet, his reelection isn't secure. In the coming years and a looming contest with Palin, anything could transpire to dampen his chances and boost Republican prospects.

George W. Bush should be thrown on the Reagan/Palin pile, too. The only difference is the combative style he used to fend off the media. Dubya was able to repeat, over and over, the same rehearsed response to any question. It made no difference whether his replies had anything to do with the inquiries. His stall-ball tactics strangled the press into submission. We were subject to eight solid years of silence about what our own government was doing in our name. Whether it's clueless leaders, like Reagan and Palin, or heartless tyrants, like Bush and Nixon, the American people are never well-served by these presidential impostors.

Despite her protests to the contrary, Sarah Palin is being groomed to be the Republican standard bearer in 2012. Her growing populist support from the Tea Party and other conservative groups means the agenda at the next Republican National Convention will again be shoved from the political center to the religious right. Various consultants will be brought in to sugar-coat reactionary policy with Palin's "family values" image. Using unlimited corporate funds, as a result of the Citizen's United Supreme Court decision, the Republicans will try to overwhelm Obama and the Democrats to push Palin into the Oval Office. Everyone should be very concerned because, historically, stranger things have happened.

Palin's handlers almost blew the benefit of her appearance before the Tea Party Convention by subjecting her to a Q and A session. The moderator, Judson Phillips, tossed her mostly puff-ball questions, except for one. He asked her: "We all know what the Obama plan is. What is the Palin plan?" For a brief moment, Sarah had a Katie Couric flashback and a blank look on her face. This time, she smoothly fumbled around until she found a few words for a response. It wasn't a Maggie Thatcher performance, but it wasn't a Phyllis Diller bit, either.

Sarah Palin was often viewed by politicians, pundits and the press as amusing comic relief. Lately, they're not laughing out loud anymore. Sarah will be a candidate for the presidency. Therefore, she should be considered a genuine threat to go all the way to the White House. If a vision of Palin sitting behind the president's desk doesn't send shivers down your spine, may I suggest you drink lots of coffee -- very black. This frightning daymare could be coming soon to every media screen in America. Only you and your vote stand as a bulwark against further deterioration of our sacred democracy. In these troubled times, we can't afford another president who is mentally on a perpetual lunch break.

Franklin L. Johnson


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Michael Moore's Call To Alms

Dear Michael (Paul Revere) Moore,

I don't know if you got my email broadcast advocating your consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize with president Obama. Nevertheless, I suggested your name for next year's list of potential nominees. And just when I thought it was safe to submit your name, you came up with 15 great points in a magnificent call to alms. Mike, you're making my case for your eligibility.

I say call to alms because our energy should be focused in putting our nation and the world back on the path toward genuine peace and democracy. It's well past time we beat our guns into plow shares. And we should be in the business of building the Global Village with charity (alms), not blowing it up with bombs. We are a generous people who should be about helping, not hurting or murdering, fellow human beings.

Your call to alms, or universal charity, should include the following:

1. There's nothing more important than breaking up the global mega-monopolies. I've said for some time now Obama may not be the one we're waiting for (besides ourselves). The 45th president will probably be in the best position to start this process. If any business is too big too fail, then it's too big to exist. Obama is the FDR of our generation. The next president should be like TR, a trust buster.

2. War should be declared obsolete by universal decree in the UN. The US and UK are the only nations with external military conflicts. That's right. We're the only ones. And these aren't even wars. They're invasions and occupations of sovereign Muslim lands. None of these interventions are legal or moral. We either live by the rules of peace and democracy we champion or the hypocrisy will continue to erode our credibility. We'll become completely irrelevant to the rest of the world. Nations everywhere are opting us out of new economic and political agreements. This isn't an accident. We made our evil bed of bombs and bullets. It's time we stopped sleeping on it. We should make a softer, gentler one.

3. We must remove US troops from stations inside more than 130 countries worldwide. There's absolutely no legitimate reason for these forward bases, except to pad the Pentagon's budget.

4. We must pass a law requiring every penny spent by congress be accounted for and disclosed. Most of the CIA and growing slices of the Pentagon budgets are held in complete secrecy. In the 21st century, this is a dangerous policy. We must know what our military and intelligence assets are doing and what they're spending our money on. The president and congress must sanction each action being done in our name if real democracy is to return to America.

5. The Pentagon budget should be halved over the next decade. There's simply no excuse for spending a trillion dollars a year to fight no one. Terrorism, by definition, is an act perpetrated by very small groups of people. So, why are we fighting it with our military? Only the US and UK are using martial tactics to fight a handful of "bad guys." This is supremely wasteful and absurd. None of the alleged 9/11 hijackers were from Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. So, why are we killing these people? And why don't we go and get the alleged perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, if we know where he is? Sanity must return to our foreign policy decisions.

6. A Department of Peace must be established by law with half of the Pentagon's floor space dedicated to housing it.

7. Universal health care is a right, not a privilege. And it should be non-profit, like it once was.

8. There should be a national conference held each year to determine where we are economically, politically and socially. Then, we should develop plans to meet our national needs. A State of the Union Address by the president is insufficient. Does this mean we should have a federal perspective on where we should invest our resources to match private influence on our collective destiny? The answer is: YES!

9. The UN, NATO and many other international organizations are useless, cold war relics. It's time to close them down and erect a single global meeting place. The UN structure in New York City is old. We should replace not only the building but also what it should be used for. Presently, the UN is nothing but a tool for espionage and defeating virtually every initiative enacted for peace and prosperity. It's time to construct a genuine forum for peace, justice and democracy. Redundancy must be eliminated, including special privileges (Security Council?) for large donor nations. The constant bullying of the UN by the US for selfish, political reasons must end.

10. The vast funds spent on war and rumors of war are wasted every year. While there are few wars going on between nations, there are dozens of civil wars and other kinds of internal conflicts raging around the world. It's time for the five permanent members of the UN security council to declare a serious, global moratorium on small arms sales which stoke these acts of mass murder. It's time humanity got out of the death business and into the life business. If the developed world refuses to lead on these issues, then we should get out of the way and let some other nation do so. In fact, China is quietly assuming this role.

Well, Mike, these are the suggestions which came to mind. They were inspired by your call to alms. The future of humanity must be built on charity for all and violence toward none. I hope these points have been of some help.

Franklin L. Johnson