Biological Arms Races, Biocontainment Labs, Hazards and Assessments

No one wants peace more than a soldier who’s been to war. Military men were my first heroes, my first saints. My darling Dad earned a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, and a chest-full of campaign ribbons and medals. My childhood “hometowns” were Army posts scattered around the U.S., and Japan and Germany.  I went to twelve different schools before college. A civilian now, I’ve listened nostalgically for twenty years to the bugled sounds of Taps floating in my bedroom window near Ft. Detrick.


My husband and good friends working at Ft. Detrick convinced me long ago that the technicians and scientists there have the best intentions, the highest skills, admirable goals, and very conscientious safety precautions.


Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to convince me that the planned Level 3 and 4 labs will be safe in Frederick. The record shows that research lab workers, even those with the highest security clearances and the best available training, are still fallible human beings who can and do become victims of blackmail, fall in love unwisely, get into desperate financial situations, hide growing prescription and other drug problems, and develop volatile feelings about co-workers. Lab workers sometimes become blind to their own religious and political biases and bigotry, and are thus susceptible to involvement in illicit covert operations, conspiracies and cover-ups.


Sometimes they get in a hurry and make professionally embarrassing mistakes and bad decisions. Sometimes they hide evidence, fudge records and fake procedures in order to save their jobs and livelihoods, and then rationalize the risks they’re taking—escalating and exponentially complicating situations already perilous.


Also sadly, no one yet has been able to explain to me why it wouldn’t be easy, temptingly easy, to kamikaze an airplane flown from the Frederick Airport into a targeted Ft. Detrick building, or lob a well-placed rocket over the Ft. Detrick fence. Either of these unpreventable actions would very legitimately throw chaos and panic into the post, city and metropolitan area, creating unforeseen, complicated, dangerous situations.


Scientists in these labs will be genetically-engineering (from diseases with no cures), completely new, highly lethal and contagious life forms, life, life so new that no one yet understands how it works. What if a newly-mutated strain somehow finds a way to attach itself to a lab worker in some unpredictable way, some way that defeats the protections put on it, so that the lab workers carry it outside unknowingly? I plead for humility in the face of nature’s chaotic, awesome genetic power.


Furthermore, if we build the facility, we’ll scare other countries into creating their own labs, creating something like an arms race with ourselves, and increasing the threat. I can’t think why Detrick’s scientists, or the Post Commander, would welcome such dangerous projects, which only complicate, compromise and jeopardize all the other crucially important and valuable research currently being done at USAMRIID and elsewhere on post.


I know we can’t avoid all risks in today’s angry and violent world, but we can avoid adding recklessly to their sum. We can choose not to consolidate, in a metropolitan area, an unpredictable mix of risky components with an infinite potential for dangerous permutations.


I was almost raped as a young mother. A very caring policeman later sternly warned me, “Don’t be so stupid as to leave your window-shade up! You’re attracting every pervert in the county. Eventually, they’ll all make a beeline to your window!”


These labs leave the window-shades in Frederick up. Their very existence in Frederick asks, perhaps begs, for trouble, and that trouble will make its dangerous beeline straight to our area.


Before we expose huge populations to catastrophic risks with BSL 3 & 4 labs, we need to ask why. If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it is needed? Wouldn’t we have to vaccinate people before the threat reaches them? Perhaps an antidote, not a vaccine, will be needed. And how much vaccine, and when, would be considered a good solution? And who would be vaccinated? Only the government? The military? The medical community?  Who might our solution actually save?


And finally, has anyone examined the probability that these risky efforts can even be successful? We’re considering exposing huge populations to catastrophic risks. For what? If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it’s needed?


None of my concerns are even mentioned in the current USAMRIID hazard assessment, much less addressed.


What is needed is a mature, high-quality thought process developing an informed equation comparing the risks and costs of the potential biowarfare threat itself with the risks and costs of attempting to address the threat. At what point are they equal?


Merely by building such facilities, aren’t we unreasonably augmenting the threat? Aren’t we creating/driving a biological arms race with ourselves, since other threatened countries will feel it necessary to build their own labs, requiring us to expand ours again in an expensive, pointless, dangerous, ineffective, wasteful and infinite cycle?


Here is what a credible, predictive and useful BSL 3 & 4 hazard assessment might look like:


1. Estimate the cost of the planned response to perceived Biological Warfare (BW) threats

   –  List the possible negative events which inspired the proposed solution.

   –  Estimate the probability of each negative event occurring.

   –  Estimate the impact of each negative event, if it occurred.

   –  Estimate the risk (the probability of occurrence times impact) of each negative event.

   –  Estimate the expected cost associated with these possible negative events (some sort of group probability—a statistician would be required.)

   –  Estimate the actual costs of responding to perceived BW threats (labs, people, security, maintenance, upgrades, social, political, other costs…)

   –  Add actual and expected costs.


2. Estimate the benefits of the suggested solution (which is essentially a list of the costs of the negative events that would happen to the U.S. as a result of the perceived BW activities of other countries, assuming that the U.S. does nothing to ward off such possibilities.)


3. List the additional possible negative events that could happen to the U.S. as a result of other countries’ feeling threatened by our new labs and then building similar BW efforts, including the costs of expanding the U.S. response to these rising threats.


4. Using the list produced in step #3, proceed with the steps described in #1 above to determine the benefits of the planned solution.


5. After completing steps #3 and #4 above, we would have an informed decision-makers’ estimate of the costs and benefits of the planned response to the perceived BW threats.


6.  Evaluate the assumption that the planned solution to the perceived BW threats would actually be effective, (i.e., what is the likelihood of the US having an appropriate and effective vaccine or antidote ready when it was actually needed during a BW event? Etc.)


7. As a final step, do a sensitivity analysis.  Determine how much the result of the cost/benefit analysis above would change as a result of changes in the assumptions used to create it.


8. At what point does the risk of the threat itself equal the risk of trying to address the threat?


Essentially, we need to develop an equation, a model, which will allow decision-makers to make a practical and informed comparison weighing and comparing the risks and costs of the BW threat itself to the risks and costs of addressing the threat. A mature, high-quality thought process comparing the risks with the solution would allow for decision-makers’ discussions, and even some disagreement about the assumptions and decisions, but at least all involved would be assured that all issues were addressed in a systematic way.


Sometimes the “costs” in the above equation would be expressed in terms of dollars, sometimes in terms of human life, sometimes in terms of political costs, i.e., international opinion, good faith, trust, health, environmental costs, social costs, risks of increased anger, terrorism, war, etc. A complete list of costs and risks would of course also include the cost of the additional threats which will inevitably emerge as a result of the U.S. building such a facility to address the perceived threats. The list of expected monetary costs should thus include the costs of building the facilities, securing them, running them, maintaining them, and upgrading them again and again as response-threats spiral. Do we really want to start this death-spiral?





A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace




















































































Dumb Play

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Regarding the op-ed Obama’s China Card of 4/8/09:  John Wohlstetter’s sinful offer to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />China of a poisoned diplomatic apple would serve only to heighten geostrategic tensions. Why aggravate our banker China, our most influential ally in negotiating with North Korea, when China could well be the very country most-motivated to partner with Obama’s smart-power, win-win efforts to find peaceful and mutually-advantageous solutions to the global problems shared-in-common by China and her trading partners, neighbors and debtors? Immense U.S. profits already accrued from China’s WTO membership will only grow during China’s historic rise—if unresolved energy shortages, climate change, nuclear proliferation, war, terrorism, trade wars, worldwide crime and disease and other such global conundrums don’t make future international trade moot. Increased enmity with China could even lead to war, which never prevents catastrophe, being itself a catastrophe. Our closest allies have with impunity violated far more UN Security Council resolutions than has North Korea. Let’s retire our lingering sentimental attachments to obsolescent strategies like sword-rattling and stick-shaking, along with defunct foreign policies that bully, threaten, and subsidize massive war-profiteering, approaches which have only moved our tiny blue planet steadily closer to nuclear nightmare.


This was a letter-to-the-editor I sent to the Washington Times on 4/9/09 which was considered but not published. I meant to post it long ago–sorry….   🙂

Wake Up, Rush Limbaugh, and Do Something For America With All Those Smarts

I originally titled this piece, “Rush Limbaugh is a Dangerous Destructive Simplistic Fear-Based Hateful Ignorant Terrifying Lying Demagogic Blowhard.”  But I like Rush Limbaugh, if not what he says, so I changed the title.


Some of the things I like best about Rush Limbaugh are:  his work ethic, his perseverence, his vulnerability, his gentleness, his good mind and his facility with words and ideas, his patriotism, and his loving spirit. Despite overwhelming evidence that his narrow worldview is way too confining for his large heart and fine intelligence, he seems fiercely determined so far to force unruly facts into his too-small mental paradigms, in order that he may continue to be safely “right” about whatever he's said up until now.


Rush Limbaugh is afraid (as are we all) of being “wrong,” and also of not-knowing, when the truth is, the more one knows, the more one knows one doesn't know. What I do know about Rush is that he means well, and that he wants very much to believe that what he's doing will work for him and for America and Americans. Certainly his past approaches have made him rich. They've also left him feeling very much alone in an angry, frightened, adoring, clueless crowd.


Like many Americans, I recognize and share many of Rush Limbaugh's values, frustrations, concerns and goals. However, unlike his largely blue-collar and sincerely patriotic audience, I know that Limbaugh's anger, like all anger, is just an attempt to make someone else feel guilty. We all want someone to blame for our troubles. Unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh has no clue of how America got where we are, who got us here, and how we can go about resolving our problems.


Rush Limbaugh has not run for office because his worldview is unsophisticated and black-and-white, and thus, quite indefensible. He thinks that understanding history, governance and current events ought to be simple and straightforward, something anyone can do. Unfortunately for him, his famously-pronounced perspectives do not hold up to confontation or questioning or facts-that-don't-fit (most of them), which is why he avoids debate, interviews, or news conferences, and why he pretends to be proudly above such conflicts, covering up his insecurities with bluster and bombast. Conservative leaders who are fearful of repudiating Limbaugh at least hope to profit from the destructive, hate-filled, fear-based, uninformed, frightening, distorted, polarized, demagogic polemics Limbaugh offers his audiences.


Because Limbaugh effectively isolates himself from dialogue and discussion, he gets away with handing out thousands of blatant distortions to millions of unsophisticated, gullible, poorly-informed citizens who share his frustrations and anger and patriotic values, and so take in his opinions like mother’s milk, embracing without question his assumptions and conclusions as their own. Millions trust Limbaugh–an uneducated, unpolished man they identify as “like themselves”–to explain politics and current events to them. Having little experience or understanding to question what Limbaugh says, and being unwilling to take the time to seek balance by exposing themselves to the many varied and alternative viewpoints they would hear, say, on C-Span, Limbaugh's audiences find it more convenient to “take” their political opinions straight from Limbaugh, especially since he can spin complicated issues into simple-sounding, clever, funny one-liners easy to remember and repeat, making them feel instantly knowledgeable, at least until someone who actually knows what they're talking about challenges them.


What Limbaugh “sells” are memorable, simplistic untruths and distortions. Thus, he is the most dangerous man in America today. He proudly believes that he's a danger to liberals and liberals ideas, but sadly, quite without realizing it, Limbaugh is undermining American rights, freedoms and his own deepest American values. Every day, Limbaugh takes the breaking news of the day and, using innuendo and ambiguity, frightens and indoctrinates millions of Americans into violent, angry, bigoted responses to those changing events. Rush Limbaugh would be broken-hearted to realize that he himself is a (non-violent) terrorist, who crudely uses his own cleverness, quick mind, dramatic abilities and appealing voice to incite conflict, fear, division and hatred, and to relentlessly urge his fellow Americans to do what he himself doesn't dare to do–that is, act out his feelings of helplessness, rage and frustration.


I am hoping Rush Limbaugh will soon wake up and realize the harm he's doing to his country and to his fellow Americans, not to mention brothers and sisters around the world. I'm also hoping that someone will find a way to, democratically and constitutionally curb Limbaugh's destructive influence. Our country's problems are too great to allow such a flagrantly divisive influence to go unanswered.


Others like Limbaugh will be far less damaging when we all decide to support uniform, nationally- and internationally-comparable education standards here. A significant part of the “Limbaugh problem” in America is our very poorly educated and often unskilled citizenry. You may have noticed that in Canada, with its superior, more-uniform education system, demagogic radio blowhards have considerably less influence.


C'mon, Rush. Take a risk. Be as big and brave and smart as you've convinced yourself, and others, and even me, into believing that you really are–but so far, with little good and considerable harm to show for it. Take a leap into the real world, and see what opportunities await you here. You'll be among real friends, smart friends, like you, but also knowledgeable and fearless and openly loving friends, like the “you” that you haven't yet let come out to play. You're rich as Croesus, Rush. It's time to be brave. C'mon over, Rush. I promise you, you'll like it here.

U.S. Right-Wing Extremists Say “Bring It On” To Terrorists

From the looks of the many recent letters to newspapers, U.S. right-wing extremists plan to win back the presidency in 2012 by politiely offering voters a false dichotomy: we citizens will “be forced” to choose between safety and good government—i.e., “Since Bush protected us from terrorist attacks, if there is an attack on Obama’s watch, it will be Obama’s fault, so we'll have to fire him—regardless of his achievements for the people.”


The truth is, terrorist attacks are quite likely nowadays, being relatively cheap, easy to carry out, and hard to prevent; examples of such atrocities are 9/11 (which occurred on Bush’s watch), the London train bombings, and the Mumbai attacks.


Obama will defend our borders, go after terrorists, and work with all nations to confront and ameliorate the conditions which produce terrorism—lawlessness, violent cultures, lack of opportunity, political oppression and repression, poverty, inequality, easily-available weapons, and ongoing conflicts. But Obama’s job has not been made easier by Bush's disastrous economic legacy, nor by his ill-advised Iraq war, Guantanamo, and his record of torture, all of which have left Obama with an Al Qaeda far bigger, stronger, richer, and more dedicated than Bush ever inherited from Clinton.


None of these facts matter, however, to faithless demagogues like Rush Limbaugh, who trust in lies, fear—and a timely terrorist attack—to rescue themselves and their ilk from present ignominy.         




I welcome your comments! Please send them to . Thank you! Nancy Pace 🙂         


Ps. I am working on a memoir of my years as the military brat daughter of a highly-decorated war hero (and career officer)–about the implications of those experiences for me, my family, other military families, my country and the world in general, and about my difficult transition to peace activism.


I will return to full-time blogging as soon as ever I can, and until then, I know I will keep blogging sporadically because sometimes I simply cannot not write about reactions I have to things I read in the newspaper, like the above commentary….


I love blogging, and will post again soon…. Thank you for your patience to all my readers! 🙂

Daniel Craig As Evolving, New Age James Bond “Everyman”: Hey, It Works For Me

I went to see Quantum of Solace because I liked Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale, and because I always take my husband to opening weekends of all good new action movies. I’d already heard reviewers complain that this new Craig/Bond was insufficiently Bondish—i.e., not enough jokes, too much heavy emotion, too many similarities to other, un-Bond-like traditionally-vengeful action heroes, not enough Bond-techy gimmicks and vehicles, too few glam locales. And what to make of the movie’s weird politics? And of Bond’s lack-of-sex with his sexy new love interest? I went to see for myself.


I liked the movie very well. I thought it was very effective, violent, destructive, action entertainment, for those who enjoy this genre. I thought it was definitely worth the price of admission. Even if it was only part of a to-be-continued movie, it was a very complete and satisfying part, setting up well the Craig/Kurylenko movie(s) to follow, which will tantalizingly develop Bond’s budding romance with this particularly ravishing new heroine.


I thought Olga Kurylenko was great. She reminded me of what I love about Catherine Zeta-Jones. I hope she will endure as an unkicked-aside Bond sidekick for many films to come. How much more can Bond evolve, than to stick with one woman?


I liked this movie’s (admittedly undeveloped) politics. I was glad the writers went to the trouble to imply that good and bad actors can be found in every nation and every endeavor, and that all of us will have ample opportunities to participate–or not–in increasingly rampant opportunities for corruption, greed, crime, terrorism, hypocrisy, war, cruelty, espionage, exploitation, backstabbing and wanton violence, especially as enhanced by the global contest for dwindling resources—oil, water, money, what have you….


I also enjoyed the side-talk references affirming vengeance as both a very powerful and tempting human motivation and an unsatisfying one, and forgiveness—of oneself and others—as essential to sanity and peace. Very un-traditional un-Bondian stuff. Very New Age perspectives. And also very true.


This Bond movie didn't disapoint my expectation for novelty, either. I don't think I'm alone in my curiosity about life in desperately poor third world locales like Port au Prince, Haiti, or about glamourous off-the-beaten-track cultural events like traditional bareback horse racing in the public square, and exotically-staged modern operas.


I also loved the new holiday Coca-Cola commercial which preceded the movie. Taken together, the new commercial with the new Bond movie, I got a heady whiff of what our millennial creatives are all about and up to these days: philosophical acceptance of an imperfect “what is,” along with real commitment to making “what is” better, through positive, ideologically indifferent, large and small, person-to-person, moment-to-moment, choice-by-choice contributions in gray areas and complex moral situations, in whatever way they can.


Thus, I saw variously flawed and well-intentioned players in the movie and the commercial persist in acquiring the necessary wisdom and clout to act well their parts and support one another when and where it mattered most—that is, when push came to shove. These creatives and the crowds they are playing to believe in the power of acceptance, forgiveness, inclusion, diversity, and best of all, in one person’s ability to make a difference and find a quantum of solace within such caring moments.


I liked watching Daniel Craig’s Bond try to do his best with his very limited but amazing personal resources. I enjoyed watching him courageously try to make some sense of a morally chaotic world, and seek meaningful ways to contribute and endure. Craig’s Bond is a unique and powerful Everyman perfectly suited to today’s audiences.


I don’t miss the grand old Bond clichés. That was then. This is now. Welcome back, Mr. Bond.



Please send comments to Thank you. 🙂






Sarah Palin for Vice-President?

The McCain campaign would love for the American public to think this campaign is “about” being “for” or “against” Palin. It's not. It's about choosing between Obama and McCain on the issues that affect the American people. But the McCain campaign very much hopes we will forget about the issues, in the midst of all the Palin drama they'll keep stirring….

Palin will do a LOT to open feminism up to conservatives, so there is some good in that. She is in many ways a good, remarkable woman, just misguided and ill-informed. I admire her grit and her many abilities and accomplishments. However, I certainly do not agree with her politics, and she is in no way qualified to be either President or VP of the U.S. No major party would dream nowadays of nominating a man with such weak credentials, so they nominated her in part in hopes of stealing the women's and evangelicals' votes, and in part because she is a very talented, smooth political operative. I would not entrust such an important office to an unqualified woman, no matter how appealing, and I will vote for the ticket which is best-qualified and most likely to solve our many global challenges and right our economy, and make the rest of the changes we need here at home–Obama/Biden.

She knows almost nothing about national and international politics, and on several issues, she is a right-wing extremist clearly out of step with most Americans. Shame on McCain. His gambit may work, but it's cynical and self-serving.

The U.S. already twice elected a Palin lookalike–George W. Bush–a “pretty,” likeable, electable young face with an earnest, authentic voice, ideological convictions and good intentions, someone “real,” “like us,” who doesn't know much but you could have a beer with. And the American public trusted and hoped that those wiser would guide him as necessary. Consider where that got us.

Should Palin need to step up to the top job, her office will immediately be taken over by a committee of small, incompetent, warmongering political insiders who will once again run the country amok.

Palin is a good spokeswoman for Republican ideology, and certainly unique, and I wish her much growth. She has a bright future in conservative politics as a talking head for the powerful insider Rove/Limbaugh/Cheney puppeteer troupe (although they may find her harder to “handle” than Bush was–maybe not.)

But regardless of her politics, she is in no way ready to run our country in it's hour of greatest need.

Although admittedly, Palin is a big step up from Cheney…. 

Hillary and other feminists need to say, Yes, a qualified women for VP or President, but Palin is not qualified. I'm sorry, but Palin's face and style keep reminding me of Annette, the Mouseketeer. J-O-H   N-S-M   C-C-A-I-N! Sorry, Annette. But if it quacks like a duck….

I also think we need someone who will be a 24/7 President, as Obama has promised. He has pre-arranged the excellent care of his children with his wife, in-laws and friends, and they are counting on him to show up and be Daddy on occasion, but not to have any family responsibilities other than being a loving father, husband, friend. He does not have five children, one a special-needs infant, one heading to Iraq and one young, unmarried, pregnant and vulnerable.

Clearly, Palin's husband will be playing the traditional parent-at-home job, and I suspect he'll be good at it. If Palin is willing to turn the raising of the family over to him and others, as Barack has done, and leave herself only the responsibility of showing up to be loving Mommy on occasion, as Barack does, then she can be a 24/7 leader. Otherwise, we're gonna get cheated.

Both candidates should of course be with their families during major family crises, which arise more often in families of five children than of two children (see above). Presidents are also needed on-the-job during world crises. Enough said. I welcome the national dialogue that will occur on this issue, about just how much responsibility any parent of either sex can reasonably take on simultaneously at home and at the office, and still perform “equitably,” satisfactorily, laudably

Obama's judgment and patriotism is so evident in his choice of Biden, and McCain's seems ever more unstable, imprudent, impulsive. Certainly Palin was not thoughtfully vetted.

We desperately need national leadership, and we need a clear vision of where we are going and how to get there, not partisanship. We need someone who can give us good reasons to pull together, not someone whose extremism will tear us apart. McCain is all about scaring people into voting for him, and about making people think this election is about Palin, and not either-Obama-or-McCain.

By insisting that the media is to blame for critically vetting Palin, the Republicans are setting themselves up to excuse Palin from future unscripted media dialogue, interaction, and risky exposure. Palin's a maverick, it's true, but a maverick we know little about, who should not be protected from the press, nor left to cut her pretty teeth on the Presidency.

By the way, I understand McCain will soon be shipping Palin back to hide out in Alaska to prepare for the upcoming VP debate. She desperately needs uninterrupted time to bone up on all the national and international “stuff” that she has remained happily clueless about for forty-four years. She'll also be able to stay safely away from the pesky (i.e.,”unfriendly”) press scrutiny and risky unscripted media events Barack has been subjected to, for the last nineteen months (not counting his previous four campaigns for public office, and his public service.)

When the only tool you know well is a hammer, all problems look like nails, and McCain's most familiar hammer is the military. None of the national and global problems the next President will face can be solved militarily (or by a rookie testing out her learning curve.)

I once enjoyed hunting too, my daughter was a very competitive basketball player, I admire strong, ambitious, talented women and I love to see them get ahead in politics. But really, Vice President? I don't think so…. This is a big decision, folks. Let's all do some serious thinking about its implications. Our lives, and our children's lives, our money, the fate of the nation, the world, our very planet, are at stake.

“ClaremontObserver” recently wrote:
> Only in Republican America would a black man with
> Bachelors degree in
> International Relations from Columbia University,
> a law degree from
> Harvard Law School, 10 years as a professor of
> Constitutional Law at
> the University of Chicago, 12 years in politics,
> four years on the U.S.
> Senate Foreign Relations Committee and manager of
> one of the most
> impressively flawless and forward thinking
> presidential campaigns ever
> not be ready for the presidency while a white
> female evangelical with
> 19 months in politics and a bachelors in
> journalism is considered
> “ready on day one.”

I copied this off a comments thread on . “Claremont Observer” has a website called , so check it out! I thought the above was the most important observation on Palin of the day.




An End to Holocausts, Hiroshimas and 9/11s?

Two survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb recently came to my fair city to share their stories and plead for an end to nuclear weapons. I now am more persuaded than ever that powerful leaders who order the bombing of civilian populations are as misguided and ineffective in furthering their causes as are terrorists who set off suicide bombs in crowded marketplaces.


In the past, I believed that bombing civilian targets was sometimes necessary to end war and save lives, but now I see that Americans would never accept such a double standard if nuclear bombs were dropped on our cities.


We only ever have two choices in any personal or global conflict: We can choose never to give up trying to find positive solutions, or we can claim to have no choice but to accept negative ones. We can opt for unity, or we can retreat into defensive separateness. We can bravely reach out to come together as one—one couple, one family, one organization, one polity, one world—or we can retreat from the hard work of reaching agreement.


Proponents of “just wars” assure us that violence sometimes offers quicker, surer ways to prevent injustices and insure the survival of the “right” side. Yet this same moral argument is proffered equally fervently by terrorists, who also believe in the “rightness” of their causes. To both of these, I contend that to be “right,” whether individually or nationally, is to be in continuously valiant struggle to live up to the highest, most positive, peaceful, loving universal humanitarian ideals and values.


Sadly, many of us excuse our double standards and immoral choices, both at home and abroad, because “we’re right.”  But we’re not “right,” regardless of our politics, religion, or history, unless we, our families, friends, organizations and nation resolve our conflicts generously, cooperatively, and non-violently. If our solutions to human conflict are violent, harmful and hurtful, we are no longer “right.”


Our justly historically proud and idealistic nation now controls most of the world’s nuclear weapons (making us by far the greatest weapons proliferator and threat to others around the world) yet we see no problem with that, because, after all, “we’re ‘right’.” We even justify a nuclear attack upon Iran, fearing that they may develop, use or proliferate such weapons—because we’re “right.” As the Bruce Ivins / anthrax case and the Air Force’s case of “misplaced” nuclear warheads have taught us, even well-intentioned weapons research and maintenance can be too easily sabotaged. Deadly bioweapons and nuclear devices quickly fall prey not only to human greed and guile, but also to weakness, illness, error, and confusion about the politically “right” thing to do. All this, while fueling ever more danger, fear, more arms races, and more likelihood of proliferation.


During the twentieth century, every peaceful, diplomatic effort that has ever received anything like the openhanded financial and political backing which war receives has been successful. Such political compromises, however frustrating and dissatisfying they may feel at the time, always seem presciently wise and politically courageous in retrospect.


Wars cannot prevent catastrophes; war itself is a catastrophe, as attested by all those whose lives are touched by war. Soldiers and soldiers’ families are always catastrophically exploited by war. Ninety percent of the victims of war are civilians. We who so proudly march into war have no idea what future injustices those wars will inevitably loose upon innocents on all sides.


The belief that war can prevent injustices is a powerful, well-funded myth. War may prevent a few specific, immediate injustices, but it always creates many more unpredicted and terrible ones. Tragically, we let every generation forget that, whether or fight or not, some great injustices inevitably are suffered, and some people die. Millions of Jews and other innocents died in WWII despite gargantuan war efforts on all sides, and many more died because of them. In wartime as in peacetime, countries come together and apart, tyrants rise and fall. The price of liberty—and its best guarantor—is never war, but eternal, active, courageous, peaceful vigilance. For what does freedom mean, if not the freedom to live and let others livein peace? Our God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—a right shared by all peoples everywhere—rests inevitably upon others’ good will.


War cannot keep us safe. War cannot prevent human injustices. Even under the best of circumstances, human nature being what is it and human conflicts being inevitable, life will always be fragile, difficult, and uncertain. In today’s (and tomorrow’s) fast-shrinking, intricately intertwined, and insanely violent world, life on earth itself is at risk.


The only moral choice about nuclear weapons that any nation has in today’s increasingly complex and violent world is to take the courageous lead in disarming. Such a decision is no different than any of the other difficult moral decisions we make every day. They all come down to one of two choices: whether to live positively or negatively, hopefully or cynically, bravely or fearfully, in faith or in despair.


Regardless of the size and nature of the conflict, whether personal or political, local or global, we can always choose cooperation over competition, unity over division, hope over cynicism, brotherhood over partisanship, and forgiveness over vengeance.


We can always choose faith, hope and love over fear, defensiveness, and retribution. We can choose whether to add to the sum of injustices by fearfully arming ourselves enough to destroy our beautiful blue planet many times over, mistreating our neighbors as they mistreat us, or we can support only peaceful leaders everywhere, seek compromises, listen to all viewpoints, and steadfastly reject that greatest injustice and attack upon freedom, which is war itself.


I’m not brave enough to be a total pacifist; I would defend my family, friends and neighbors from bad guys climbing in our windows and knocking down our doors, and maybe I’m wrong in this. But such scenarios are far less likely if we elect peaceful leaders who maintain strong local militias, and then spend the rest of our so-called “defense” budget redressing local, national and international injustices, and supporting great projects dear to the hearts of our so-called “enemies.” Everyone knows that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend.


Albert Einstein famously warned us that no nation on earth can simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. Certainly, maintaining the mightiest military force in the history of the world has not prevented us from being continually embroiled in wars.


We are all conditioned to believe that being “right” about ourselves, our politics, traditions and religions, is more important than living and letting others live in peace. We have to be “right” about so many things—about who the bad guys are, who started it, who was at fault, what happened, who meant well and who didn’t, who did what to whom, whose ideology or form of government or religion is superior….


The truth is, in this confusing world, it’s difficult to find agreement even amongst our best friends and those most “like” us, about what life is all about—what we’re doing here, and how best to look upon the world, ourselves, and one another. Even the greatest scholars realize that the more they know, the more they know they don’t know. This is why, in every conflict, humility, acceptance, mutual respect, support, and yes, forgiveness, are the wisest guides to being “right.”


Some day, they will give a war and no one will come. Each of us will either continue to insist upon being “right” and in control (both illusions in this multicultural nuclear age) or hold ourselves to that highest universal standard, the Golden Rule, which treats all others kindly as we would wish to be treated. When more and more of us make this shift to respect and support for human life everywhere, we will enter a more harmonious age.


In this age of climate change and peak oil, the great work of peaceful global transformation is urgent. Wars over oil already rage in Iraq, Darfur, and Georgia, and other global scarcities such as water threaten increasing conflict. Our mother Earth is sick and reaching crisis. Einstein famously predicted, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”


Fortunately, researchers have learned a lot about how to resolve human conflicts peacefully. Amish and Quaker Christians and other historically peaceful communities have shown us that peaceful cultures are possible, and now, across the globe, great moral leaders demonstrate the proven arts and skills of peaceful conflict resolution. It’s time we learned what they know, and time to spread that knowledge around.


Hatred begets more hatred; this is immutable law. Until we lead the global paradigm shift away from division and toward brotherhood, exploiting the potential of our great institutions and media in the service of peace and justice, we and our progeny will increasingly be at risk for more crime, more injustices, wars and terrorism, more Holocausts, 9/11s, Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. Neither love nor fear are simple, obvious or guaranteed approaches to resolving human conflict, but at this late date, only one has any chance of succeeding.


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Obama and McCain Tell Us What “Rich” Means

According to John McCain, only those Americans with incomes of $5 million or more a year are “rich.” That leaves the other 99.99999% making only $4,999,999.00 (or less) merely middle-class. It's hard to impress this guy!


Barack Obama thinks that families who makes $250,000 or more are “rich”–one-twentieth of John McCain’s assessment. He's a bit more in touch with reality….


John McCain has made it clear that he will not raise taxes even on the “rich” except to pay for endless wars. Barack says he will raise taxes on the 3-4% of the American people at the top, who need the money less and have already disproportionately benefited from living in this land of opportunity, to fund his plans for change. He’ll lower taxes for families making $100,000 or less.


So, without raising money, how does McCain plan to solve our country’s huge problems, that individuals and private enterprise can’t resolve on their own, the ones that require national planning and support? How does John McCain plan to level the playing field for all Americans, giving those born with disadvantages, deficits, and barriers a chance to lead healthy, productive lives?


The hard sad fact of the matter is, John McCain has no such plans. He doesn’t plan to level the playing field at all, or to solve our critical national problems. His primary business is taking care that the rich stay rich. He thinks the private sector can handle everything necessary if he just keeps government out of the way. His only plan is to use the bully pulpit to inspire us all upward and onward to greater individual achievement. Aside from that, we’re on our own.


Some of the critical national/global problems which John McCain won’t be solving because he won’t raise taxes to fund plausible government-wide national action plans, are: war prevention; energy and other scarcities; lawlessness; poverty; human and workers' rights; educational access; weapons proliferation; infectious disease; health care; environmental degradation; mass migrations/immigration; infrastructure; disaster relief; the national debt, deficit, and trade imbalance; a failing economy; addiction; hunger; a culture of violence; and prejudice.


McCain's conservative supporters put their faith in volunteerism and enterpreneurism by the wealthy cream of American society who they imagine have risen to the top only through their superior moral qualities. Barack will require such fortunate Americans to pitch in disproportionately to find and fund national solutions to common problems, to help their American brothers make it up to the starting line, and to help “the least of these” who are struggling in difficult times.


John McCain’s presidential vision is a fearful, frightening military one. Like George Bush, McCain will spend whatever amount is “necessary” on war and the military to protect Americans—militarily only—from Islamic extremists; beyond that, none of our common problems will be solved, and it’s every man for himself. Barack will work non-violently, diplomatically, and cooperatively to keep us out of harm's way and to prevent and address conflicts.


John McCain’s idea of leadership is to cheer us on comfortably from the sidelines, while using his most familiar tool, the military, to put bandaids on erupting conflicts and force the outcomes he desires.  Barack Obama will organize and galvanize us to take the necessary effective national actions on our problems. He will spend our tax money wisely, keep us out of costly wars, get us working to solve our problems, and get us where we need to go, together.


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I’ve Finally Decided That Barack Obama Will Pick Bob Casey for His Vice Presidential Running Mate. Or Maybe Mark Warner.… Or Maybe Kathleen Sebelius… Or Bill Richardson? Jim Webb? Or maybe Gore. Or Biden. Or…#@%*!!??

I’m enjoying watching the Obama veepstakes unfold….


If Hillary doesn't want the job, which she isn't right for (although I love her) maybe Barack will pick either Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey or Jim Webb.


Obama and Casey like, respect and enjoy each other. How well they work together really is an important selection criteria in choosing a VP to help Barack move forward on America’s mandate for change.


Obama took Casey for a long test-drive as they campaigned together across Pennsylvania. Casey seems a bit low-key to me, but his mild demeanor seems to have grown on his loyal down-home constituents. Casey is experienced–if not day-one-experienced–in foreign policy. His interests, expertise and politics are very similar to Barack’s. Casey's solid, well-vetted personal background will contain few surprises, if any. He seems to have unshakeable integrity, quiet confidence, little ego, considerable calm and coolness, deep faith, wonky attention to detail, poise on his feet, and a lifetime commitment to challenges and service.


Casey was Jesuit-trained, which says to me he and Barack share values and perspectives. Both Obama and Casey served on the senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees together, so they know each other fairly well.


Bob’s father was a beloved Pennsylvania Governor, so he is not new to political life and its unpleasant realities. Bob’s four beautiful daughters and wife are very much an asset; they twisted his arm to get him to go ahead and support Barack. Barack said Casey’s endorsement meant more to him…as much to him… as any endorsement he’d received in his whole campaign. A telling comment indeed. 


Casey is a devout Catholic and thoughtfully pro-life, which will bring in many new voters, including previous non-political voters, Hispanics, Evangelicals, religious voters in general, and Catholics. Pro-lifers will just have to settle for having a very liberal, pro-life president.


I think Barack is looking for a relatively youthful partner, a natural leader who will share leadership loyally beside him to achieve his agenda of change, and who might, having learned and earned the job over eight years, step into Barack’s shoes as he eases himself over to the Supreme Court when ready for a nice long useful, interesting rest.


Pennsylvania is a state Barack would like to win and Casey could get for him, although regional considerations are less important than all the above factors, since Barack cannot legitimately be said to “belong” to any single region of the U.S.


Casey is a populist who would appeal to Hillary’s current voters—particularly the blue-collar folk slow to see in Barack one of their own, who take a little longer to recognize his integrity, vision and trustworthiness, and might need some significant convincing to understand Barack's unique ability and credible plan to bring about the changes they want to see. Casey seems to be a good manager and a good debater. He's hard-working, productive, ambitious, and attentive to quality and detail.
Casey is a quietly authentic, genuine, natural leader who will help Barack get elected and won't hurt him. If he turns out to be the strong, complementary partner Barack needs to successfully move his agenda forward, if he learns and earns the job of president during the next eight years, then Barack will have exercised his own good judgment to make a selection in the best interests of the all the people, which is what Barack does best.
Both Casey and Obama have a few endearingly sweet but flitty mannerisms which demagogues will use to smear such a team (see Casey's endorsement announcement) so they'd have to be warned to avoid giggling enthusiasm and girlish delight when campaigning together. 
I have adored Jim Webb since I read Fields of Fire when it first came out, and the man just keeps on getting more and more wonderful. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's such a uniquely powerful and thoughtful leader, and a great populist. But perhaps Obama wants someone younger, more religious, a little more like himself in his politics, and a little less-burdened with a strong personality, personal distractions, historical skeletons and wives. If these issues don't bother Barack, they won't bother me. I'm a bit concerned about Webb's health; despite his evident fitness, he just looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. I hope I'm wrong.

Each of the other impressive leaders currently exuding gravitas and national/international military/foreign policy experience (Al Gore, General James L. Jones, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson….) is either too old for the sixteen-year tough-hoeing job, or somewhat reluctant to take it on, although I suspect they would all agree to do whatever might be necessary for the good of their country and/or party. I still think Al Gore must be Barack's intended answer should the party try to foist Hillary on him. The name, Al Gore, is unfortunately still very polarizing to non-Democrat voters because of his past Clinton associations, but his internationally acclaimed environmental activism has made him less-so. Young people love him, and he's learned to be a more natural, relaxed campaigner and leader.

I like Mark Warner for many of the same reasons that I like Casey, but I really don't know anything about him that I haven't learned on the internet. He may not be sufficiently “with” the Obama program, I just don’t know. If Barack is confident of Warner's loyalty and integrity and their shared vision, then he is also a good choice for some–but not all–of the above reasons.


I just love Bill Richardson, who is morally courageous and upright, committed to Barack’s agenda, will bring in Hispanics, runs a tight ship, and gets it done. He's not a lightweight, but he's perceived by some to be one, congenial as he is, so that would have to be worked on. I can't imagine anyone saying Richardson wouldn't be ready on Day One, or not liking him, or finding skeletons in his closet, which is all good.


Another good choice for Barack right now, based, again, only on internet research and reading, is Kathleen Sebelius, also for many of the above reasons. If I knew more about her, or even more about Casey and Warner, perhaps she would be my first choice. She's had a lifetime in politics, and seems accessible, bright, admirable, hard-working, politically correct and savvy, low-key and appealing. She's powerful in distinctly feminine ways–a real plus–and future presidential material to be sure.


In recent history, both Presidents Bush, Clinton and Gore demonstrated how important and difficult it is to make a good VP choice. Choosing a running mate can be a thankless, nearly impossible task, one best made on one’s own terms and not, ultimately, by committee. Every VP choice inevitably comes with a certain amount of baggage and drawbacks. No single choice can compete with all the best arguments for all the other candidates, of course.


I’m enjoying playing this little veepstakes game along with the thousands of other people who are interested in playing it, too, so I thought I might as well share my conclusions and my reasons for having them (total value: about two-cents) with my loyal readers…..


…About whom I know little, although I’m now happily averaging 2,000+ hits a day, and recently reached 8,957 hits on one very nice day earlier this month. Who are you guys? Why do you read my blog? Where do you live? What would you like to hear more about? Any questions you’d like me to blog about? I would love to hear from any of you…. Please send me a note at And thank you for reading my blog…. JJ