Sedition or Free Speech...
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An Ozark E-Zine

According to ConsortiumNews in an article titled "Bush's Mysterious New Programs" by Nat Parry (02/21/06), domestic operations to deter terrorism will now target Fifth Columnists -- aka: disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

“The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6, Parry reports. “I stand by this President’s ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that,” Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

Question: Who gets to decide what, specifically, quantifies as disloyal to America or
helpful to the enemy?

Question: Does the sale of American ports to ANYONE who is NOT a residential member of our own NATIONAL business community count? Or does stating this opinion in public qualify the author of having committed a Fifth Column offense?

Who decides? Where do we register to serve on the committee...? Which I bet will be the same group of folks who will get to pick and choose which among us get to vacation in the lovely new $385million Detention Centers the New York Times reports [Feb. 4, 2006] are being built by Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root for the Homeland Security Department, to:

  • House an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S.;
  • House people in the event of a natural disaster;
  • Support the rapid development of new programs that require additional detention space.

Besides the questionability of trusting Halliburton et al with large sums of money, given their somewhat abysmal track record with standard fiduciary accounting practices, I must wonder aloud what kind of 'rapid deployment' programs would require the quick construction of national detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people.

Anyway, these questions and many more are posed amidst noteworthy research in the aforementioned ConsortiumNews article. And whilst you are pondering this do consider -- if YOU were a member of the Fifth Column Committee -- how would you rate the following:

Silence the War Drums
Ron Paul, Republican member of Congress from Texas, before the US House of Representatives, February 16, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this very dangerous legislation. My colleagues would do well to understand that this legislation is leading us toward war against Iran.

Those reading this bill may find themselves feeling a sense of déjà vu. In many cases one can just substitute "Iraq" for "Iran" in this bill and we could be back in the pre-2003 run up to war with Iraq. And the logic of this current push for war is much the same as was the logic used in the argument for war on Iraq. As earlier with Iraq, this resolution demands that Iran perform the impossible task of proving a negative – in this case that Iran does not have plans to build a nuclear weapon.

There are a few things we need to remember when thinking about Iran and this legislation. First, Iran has never been ruled in violation of its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

Second, Iran concluded a Safeguards Agreement more than 30 years ago that provides for the verification of Iran's fulfillment of its obligation to not divert nuclear energy programs to nuclear weapons development. Since this agreement was reached, the International Atomic Energy Agency has never found any indication that Iran has diverted or attempted to divert source or special nuclear materials from a peaceful purpose to a military purpose.

But, this does not stop those eager for conflict with Iran from stating otherwise. As the Washington Post reported last year, "U.S. officials, eager to move the Iran issue to the U.N. Security Council – which has the authority to impose sanctions – have begun a new round of briefings for allies designed to convince them that Iran's real intention is to use its energy program as a cover for bomb building. The briefings will focus on the White House's belief that a country with as much oil as Iran would not need an energy program on the scale it is planning, according to two officials."

This reminds us of the quick move to justify the invasion of Iraq by citing Iraq's "intentions" when actual weapons of mass destruction could not be found.

The resolution's second resolved clause is a real misrepresentation of the Iran/EU3 talks. The "efforts of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom" were not "to seek...suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities..." As the EU3-Iran Paris Agreement makes very clear, the suspension of enrichment is a purely voluntary measure taken by Iran and is "not a legal obligation."

This is similar to the situation with Iran's voluntarily observation of the Additional Protocols (allowing unannounced inspections) without legally being bound to do so. Suspending voluntary observance of the Additional Protocols is not a violation of the NPT. But, those seeking to push us toward war with Iran are purposely trying to connect the two – to confuse voluntary "confidence building" measures taken by Iran with the legally-binding Treaty itself. Resolved clause four of this legislation is the most inflammatory and objectionable part of the legislation. It lowers the bar to initiating war on Iran. This clause anticipates that the US may not be successful in getting the Security Council to pass a Resolution because of the potential of a Russian or Chinese veto, so it "calls upon" Russia and China to "take action" in response to "any report" of "Iran's noncompliance. That is right: any report.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a drumbeat for war with Iran. Its logic is faulty, its premises are flawed, and its conclusions are dangerous. I urge my colleagues to stop for a moment and ponder the wisdom of starting yet another war in the Middle East.

And how would you rate It Didn't Work, wherein William F. Buckley explores the violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq, finding that the "troublemaker in the middle" who is propelling the clash and "the main reason behind all our woes.. is the United States."

Or what about this piece by Joe Lauria, The Strange Quiet of the Inner Sanctum, published on Friday, February 24, 2006 by, who (as a member of the UN press corps) describes his repugnant impression of a recent White House briefing.

And finally under this same heading, while reflecting on the sanctity of liberty and our inherent right to see things differently, how would you -- in terms of drawing the line between Free Speech and Fifth Column -- rate So called re-discovery of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker allegedly 'made up' by the anti-Kerry 'Delta Swift Boat' veterans Karl Rove hired during the last Bush Crime Family election.

Watch what they do, not what they say. ~Karl Rove

On the way coming home from the keynote speech delivered by Karl Rove (pictured at right) during the Lincoln's Day Dinner sponsored by the Republicans of Faulkner County at the University of Central Arkansas Student Center Ballroom in Conway, Arkansas, February 16, 2006, we passed a church with a large marquee that read "God is not afraid of your questions."

I thought, "Right. God's not, but Karl Rove is."

In fairness, I'm sure that Mr. Rove in his affable manner would likely redress this observation as crap. But not exactly, because I'm fairly certain that Mr. Rove would not utter the word crap in public if he was 'blessed' (a favorite among his descriptive terms) with the proverbial mouthful.

A casual uptown cowboy with likeable manners, unassuming and monochromatically soft spoken, professor-like in demeanor, Karl Rove reminds me (and I'm dating myself here) of a cross between Colombo and Gene Autry minus guitar, fringe and chaps. "A real nice person and so intelligent," a woman standing outside the campus hall said of him after his keynote speech. And quite a speech it was.

Proof of this, I took twelve pages of notes.

They start with a description of the star-spangled centerpieces adorning the dozen or so staggered rows of round tables all draped in white linens, each decked out with place settings for eight, inclusive of a fat slice of cheesecake and crisp endive (or was it escarole?) salad decorated with crunchy croutons on top, a stemware goblet of ice water and another of iced tea.

Red linen napkins stood in a circle of starched attention, saluting the petite American flag that peeked between red and white carnations, accented with a single green fern and wandering spray of glittery red, silver and blue metallic stars, all sprouting from a slender glass bud vase at their center, precisely placed in the middle of a square doily of navy blue.

I am called now to think that somehow this deftly contrived display of patriotic symbolism summarized the overarching genre of the evening. The whole room looked Republican.

Dark suites with lots of red ties for the guys, red blazers and blouses with black skirts and slacks for the gals. The invocation, offered by a locally esteemed Baptist minister, gave thanks for 'our country and our people' with a special request to 'pray for our military.' A General with a prestigious record of service to our country led the Pledge of Allegiance, and when we got to reciting the 'One Nation Under God' line, every voice in the room rang loud.

Rove was introduced as "a man committed to this country, committed to service, and the architect who helped elect George W. Bush." The remarks brought a standing ovation as Rove entered the room and strolled to the podium where he made haste to endorse Asa Hutchinson's candidacy for Governor of Arkansas and joked about the days when "Republicans were hunted with dogs in Texas" which of course made everyone laugh.

Rove noted with customary deference that the primary purpose of the gathering was to honor the Presidency of Lincoln and by extension of George W. Bush who Rove cited as "a compelling moral force" with the will to "shape human events."

Rove reminisced about how, over the last few short decades, the Republican Party had risen from "a party of little influence to a party of dominance" in the political fray. He gloried in the "Republican victories" of the last two national elections.

Rove astutely mixed metaphors, drawing elaborate correlation between the works of Abraham Lincoln and the works of George W., managing to calculate-in a few backhanded insults to Democrats of notable repute while in the same breath denouncing those who sling mud at their political foes.

Under the headings Economy, the Courts, and National Security -- which he identified as the three top issues of the day -- Rove recited streams of data about low unemployment rates, new job numbers, and great gains in national productivity, proclaiming that the U.S. economy in 2005 was "enviable" throughout the world, a state of affairs which he credited entirely to the "pro-growth tax cut” policies of the current and past Republican administrations.

A smooth public speaker, Rove expertly yodeled to the tune of "Home On The Range" where never is heard a discouraging word -- about Republicans. But about Democrats and the "Liberal judges" who want to (according to Rove) "impose their values on us" by (for example) "changing the definition of the institution of marriage," well… Rove couldn’t find one good word.

Rove lauded the war in Iraq as a continuing success, making it clear that this administration will settle for nothing less than "total and complete victory in the War Against Terrorism." Again, these remarks brought a resounding ovation.

"The nature of the threat is in the gravity of the moment," Rove tolled. "If we cut and run as the Democrats want us to, we show the world our failed resolve." It would, he said, be "reckless to retreat before victory is won."

Rove also spent some time defending the Bush administration against (what he called) "false and reckless charges" regarding the covert spying program now under public scrutiny. He said that Democrats are "not unpatriotic" in their pursuit to end the war and withdraw from Iraq, but that they are simply "wrong." He concluded his opinion that history will judge President Bush as one of the "great reformers" who single-handedly "recast national security policy" and is leading the Republican charge to eradicate "the entitlement mentality" and "shape history.”

However, after elucidating to his heart's content about all of this Karl Rove did not take questions.

Not from the media and not from his audience. Not even from the moderator or the evening's emcee.

Not one single question was posed to this man who is quite literally one of the most powerful people in the United States and who is also under investigation in the leak of a CIA operative's name -- an offense akin to treason – allegedly as part of a dirty-dealing political ploy contrived to lead our nation to war.

Somewhere along the course of the evening, however, Mr. Rove made one particular statement which I believe above all others bears resounding emphasis.

"Watch what they do, not what they say," Karl Rove advised his audience.

Personally, I'd say this wisdom is profound and should, by all of us, be taken deeply to heart. [more pics here] ~~~

"A whole lot of something going on!" is the adopted slogan of the newly forming Norfork Area Business Association (NABA). The association will work to bring attention to the natural attractions of the NorthCentral Arkansas community area and the businesses that serve the tourists and locals alike.

Elected officers include:
Sarah Denton, The Comfort Zone, President
Sandie Cloud, For Mother Earth, Vice-President
Jane McBride, Secretary
Coetia Batarsch, Victorian Rose, Treasurer

Plans are underway for a website and printed brochure highlighting Norfork area businesses and attractions, a beautification project for downtown Norfork and various fundraising events are in development.

All area businesses are invited to attend the next meeting to be held in the CommUnity Room at For Mother Earth, 13869 Hwy. 5 South at 7:00 pm, Monday February 20th. For more information email or call 870-499-5514.

peace, love & hempiness!

Sandie Cloud, VP NABA
13869 Hwy. 5 South
Norfork, AR 72658
Member HIA (Hemp Industries Association) since 1996.
"BUY HEMP....nothing better for Mother Earth!"

he War on Drugs takes a serious toll on the quality of life in America today. Click here to read a recent Letter to the Editor of our county paper, the Van Buren County Democrat, which raises common sense challenges to difficult questions.

I think it important to note for the record right up front that nearly six years ago, when Gozarks debuted, my thinking was to create a 'good news' publication topical to the issues, hopes and dreams of folks who live in and love the Ozark Mountains. In retrospect, I believe I have held true to this overarching objective in spite of the fact that I have delivered unsettling commentary from time to time.

One example of this would be the coverage we did on a local public water issue back in 2003. More recently, there was our December 2005 front page note about the brutality of war. Neither of these reports, as with some others we've done, could realistically be described as 'good news.' However, there is a responsibility to 'inform the public' inherent to legitimate journalism and over the last six years I have come to take this duty ever more seriously.

For the public to NOT be informed about unpleasantries is to deny the public (that's you and me) the right to make an informed choice about what does (or does not) constitute the condition of 'personal happiness' -- noting here that the 'pursuit of happiness' is identified in the U.S. Declaration of Independence as a Creator endowed and thus 'inalienable' right --  as I see it, the communication of information which is pertinent to our own immediate and/or future happiness, even if that information itself is unpleasant, still falls under the heading of good  NEWS and the minimum standard of good journalism.

With that said, I feel compelled to address the recent furor over the dreadful cartoons found so infuriating by devout Muslims. This subject caught my attention because the editor of a respected newspaper in a (supposedly) 'enlightened' nation (France) was fired for having printed 12 cartoons.

Think about this boys and girls.

Really, think about this.

I did. And in the process I compiled a few notes from various sites, the bottom line of which (in bold itallics below) offends me I assure you every bit as much as the referenced cartoons offend the Muslims, to wit I quote from various reports scattered about the Internet:

The cartoons include an image of Mohammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse, and another portraying him holding a sword, his eyes covered by a black rectangle. The 12 drawings were published in September by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and republished in a Norwegian paper this month. Bendt Bendtsen, the chairman of the Danish conservative party and minister of economic and business affairs, compared the 12 caricatures of Mohammed to pictures of Jesus with an erect penis painted by Danish artist Jens Jørgen Thorsen.

"I was deeply affected by them. I didn't like them. Those are some of the same emotions," Bendtsen said, pointing out that it was not unheard of for Danes to get upset over misused religious symbols: Two summers ago, a grocery store was forced to stop selling flip flops with pictures of Jesus after religious groups complained. Bendtsen also said Danish newspapers could possibly learn something from US newspapers, which tended not to try to push the limits of what was permissible.

What did he say? Let's read that again. He said that U.S. newspapers tend to NOT publish things which are NOT 'permissible.'

Wait a minute... In context of having a 'free press' who exactly is it that decides what is permissible and what is not...??? And how does an editor get canned for reporting 'the news.'

That is, it is NEWS when a religious order is grieved by something published in a newspaper. And, whether you like it or not, it is NEWS that the original publisher of the (offensive to some, not offensive to others) images apparently went to great lengths to get same published, first having to deal with the fact that a number of graphic artists refused to touch the lampoon project this publisher envisioned (note that  'lampooning' is a sacred tradition in the newspaper business) because depicting Mohammed in imagery is forbidden by the Islamic religion and the artists feared they would pay for their graphic skill with their lives.  [For more on this, click here.]

Now before I go on I must underline that as far as I am concerned all of us have the right to be just as offended as we want about whatever we choose to be offended by... But NOBODY should EVER be subjected to THE THREAT OF DEATH because of having drawn (even the most vile) cartoon. (Not even Hugo Chavez by Pat Robertson... how disgusting!)

This is pathetic and chilling, especially when one considers that this dangerous ideology which requisites 'death for blasphemy' has been throughout history ratified as a fundamental tenet of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam alike.

Yeah, I know, I hear you objecting. All of us 'enlightened' and 'reformed' religious practitioners would just never do a thing like kill somebody because they drew a 'dirty picture' or spoke a foul word. However, the Christian Reconstruction movement -- which is the 'high octane fuel'  driving the neo-conservative political agenda -- is tenaciously determined to  convert the USA to a THEOCRACY where there will be NO 'freedom of the press' or anything else that is not considered 'permissible' by the 'authorities'... and I defy anyone with a brain to look at the policy changes that have swept through our nation since the 1950s with increasing tenacity since 9.11 and tell me that this authoritarian insanity is not 'winning'...

Really, folks. This is serious, destiny altering, life threatening business.

Add to this the fact the Muslim religion is the largest and fastest growing religion in the world and then perhaps you will get a clue as to why somebody thought it could be a good idea to lampoon this particular prophet. Think of it like you would the phrase "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Offended? I hope so. I am offended to know that a sufficient amount of nasty behavior has been committed 'in the name of Christ' to justify the colloquialism of this phrase around the globe.

I say shame on us Christians... and shame on us Muslims and Jews... It is time for us all to grow up and take the intentions of our sacred masters to heart. To stop "quibbling over words" (or cartoons) and get on with the business of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves which is the bottom line of every religious ideology known.

No matter whether we are 'offended' by another's religious beliefs, the greatest courage Liberty calls on us to take is the sacrifice of our need to raise vendettas on behalf of God.

Trust me on this, fellow Gozarkians... God is perfectly capable to take care of God's own business -- without our help. There is NO need, ever, to 'rise to God's defense.' God's got it handled. All we've gotta do is get out of God's way, get the log out of our own eye and do unto others whatever it is we feel lovingly induced to do -or- brush the dust from our sandals and move on. Anyway... a few related/unrelated thoughts to close this particular rant:

Item 1: If you wish to read more about the controversy and view the offensive cartoons referenced above, click here.

Item 2: Psy-ops right out of the movies, aka: are you aware of the US military's plans to 'fight the net' (ie: control, distort and censor the free exchange of ideas and information) with psychological operations and attacks on "hostile" computer networks? Click here to read more.

Item 3: On what we hope is a much more appealing 'good news' front, early in May Gozarks will be kicking off a calendar of gatherings on topics ranging from personal health care to civic activism. To be held at our homeoffice headquarters near Clinton, Arkansas, the series will start with a "Well Aware" women's workshop on birthing. This open-ended, spontaneous and 'non-medical' dialog among mothers and prospective mothers, addressing thoughts, questions and concerns about the birthing experience in general, will have a special focus on homebirthing which, for those of you who may not know, was the venue by which four of my own six children made their debut in this world.

Anyway, as with all things, there will be more about this coming soon...

I just watched a podcast of a demonstration against left-leaning President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez which stands in stark contrast to numerous and equally potent reports about the great good works this man has done to level the playing field for the citizens of his country. It is amazing to me how such polarity can exist... how people can look at the same scenario and see two entirely different and diametrically opposed sets of values. Somewhere there must be a middle ground of sanity.

I watched the State of the Union last night (January 31, 2006)with nice guy from a neighboring community; a professional and a gentleman of about my same age (late 50s) who is very well traveled having lived in China, Finland, and a few other places and is somewhat of a left-leaning democratic-socialist by self-definition (which is also how I would describe myself).

This gracious guest and gentle soul expressed that he has become so disillusioned about the state of governmental affairs in the dear old USofA that he has seriously considered relocating to Canada in order to escape the insanity he sees being increasingly accepted as 'the norm' around him every day... but feels somehow that would be a cowardly thing to do... that this is his country... that he owes it to himself to 'do something' to make a difference... to put things 'right'... but -- like the rest of us -- he just doesn't know what and isn't sure how.

Said he had never attended a meeting of this ilk before... that in fact he had never watched the State of the Union address before, but that he subscribes to SoJo and when he found Gozarks listing for a "State of Our Values" get together as part of national mobilizing campaign he wanted to see what other people thought about all of this.

After we watched Bush deliver his speech, we agreed that the dangerous thing about him is his Bush-speak. That he strings words together which sound lovely and persuasive because they allude to ineffable ideals which strum the bass strings of every red-blooded American heart. But the problem with Bush-speak is that our dear President never defines the terms he uses by connecting them with identifiable values.

An example, we agreed, was the President's use of the word 'success.' That he used it in such a way that you had absolutely no idea of what success really looks like to him... other than an image of himself... which as we saw it was self-inflated, aggrandizing and dictatorial. The arrogance, for example, to assert that the world cannot survive without USofA leadership... and particularly the style of capitalistic profit-driven (and I'll add 'fear mongering') leadership we have become credited with of late: unprovoked invasion of another nation; waging a blatantly unconstitutional and thus 100% illegal war against an intangible enemy (terrorism) for which we concurred the President and the entire Congress should have been and should be now impeached.

In addition, I'll mention the Katrina debacle and having a deserter as our Commander and Chief.

But Bush's definition of success looks in real life very different than ours. Our President reflects on his track record and the 'accomplishments' of our nation over the last several years and essentially, overall, he sees a working model of success. We look at this self same series of events and are revolted, reviled, dumbfounded, perturbed and amazed.

Amazed that our definition of success is so profoundly different than what we saw being applauded during the State of the Union speech, especially in context there having been articulated no clear vision or plan for accomplishing those things which we value and would define as tangible benchmarks of a healthy, thriving and successful society, worthy of being credited as leaders in the free world.

Such things would include the implementation of systems which ensure everyone access to the best possible health care with absolutely no thought about 'cost'. In the workplace, the janitors earn the same salary and respect as, for example, would the chief of surgery because everyone understands that it takes qualified professional competency in each area of expertise for a health care facility to perform its best.

Also in our world, kids would be 'taught' ONLY the a,b,c's and the 1,2,3's, and all other 'teaching' would be focused on enabling them to THINK ON THEIR OWN. Which is, with all due respect, the inverse opposite of our current administration's "No Child Left Behind" action plan and a further example of how, based on strict evaluation by empirical evidence, the values that our President attaches to his definition of 'success' are -- in context of tangible benefits to real people -- very different than those we defined as our own.

As a summary thought I'll share a quote from an ongoing e-conference I've been attending for the last several days wherein we participants are hashing over ideas in a similar vein, to wit:

"For those of us who sort of subscribe to the Gaia hypothesis, it sure looks like the Internet is part of an evolving, planet-wide nervous system. For those of us who have teenaged kids, the behavior of the planetary organism looks a lot like teenaged behavior (just beginning to get a handle on the
way the world works, huge appetite, ...) - hopefully the planet will mature. :-)"

If elements of the foregoing conversation interest you, I highly recommend the following books. Order here through Amazon and we at  Gozarks (aka: my kids and me) actually earn a few cents...!!!! Thanks!!!

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Looking for more books to enrich the mind with musings about history, science, government and life?

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Christine Beems [read my blog]

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