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The People’s Bishop

Posted on May 7, 2012
AP/Stephanie Keith

Police arrest retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard during an Occupy demonstration in December. Packard was among those trying to access a vacant lot owned by Trinity Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan.

Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard was arrested in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in New York City last Tuesday night as he participated in the May 1 Occupy demonstrations. He and 15 other military veterans were taken into custody after they linked arms to hold the plaza against a police attempt to clear it. There were protesters behind them who, perhaps because of confusion, perhaps because of miscommunication or perhaps they were unwilling to risk arrest, melted into the urban landscape. But those in the thin line from Veterans for Peace, of which the bishop is a member, stood their ground. They were handcuffed, herded into a paddy wagon and taken to jail.

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It was Packard’s second arrest as part of the Occupy protests. Last Dec. 17 he was arrested when he leapt over a fence in his flowing bishop’s robe to spearhead an attempt to occupy a vacant lot owned by Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. The December action by the Occupy movement was a response to the New York City Police Department’s storming and eradication of the encampment in Zuccotti Park. Packard will appear in court in June to face the trespassing charge that resulted. Now, because of this second arrest, he faces the possibility of three months in jail.

Packard’s moral and intellectual courage stands in stark contrast with the timidity of nearly all clergy and congregants in all of our major religious institutions. Religious leaders, in churches, synagogues and mosques, at best voice pious and empty platitudes about justice or carry out nominal acts of charity aimed at those bearing the weight of resistance in the streets. And Packard’s arrests serve as a reminder of the price that we—especially those who claim to be informed by the message of the Christian Gospel—must be willing to pay to defy the destruction visited on us all by the corporate state. He is one of the few clergy members who dare to bear a genuine Christian witness in an age that cries out in anguish for moral guidance.

‘‘Arrests are not arrests anymore,” Packard said as we talked Friday in a restaurant overlooking Zuccotti Park in New York. ‘‘They are badges of honor. They are, as you are taken away with your comrades, exhilarating. The spirit is calling us now into the streets, calling us to reject the old institutional orders. There is no going back. You can’t sit anymore in churches listening to stogy liturgies. They put you to sleep. Most of these churches are museums with floorshows. They are a caricature of what Jesus intended. Jesus would be turning over the money-changing tables in their vestibules. Those in the church may be good-hearted and even well-meaning, but they are ignoring the urgent, beckoning call to engage with the world. It is only outside the church that you will find the spirit of God and Christ. And with the rise of the Occupy movement it has become clear that the institutional church has failed. It mouths hollow statements. It publishes pale Lenten study tracts. It observes from a distance without getting its hands dirty. It makes itself feel good by doing marginal charitable works, like making cocoa for Occupy protesters or providing bathrooms from 9 to 5 at Trinity Church’s Charlotte’s Place. We don’t need these little acts of charity. We need the church to have a real presence on the Jericho Road. We need people in the church to leave their comfort zones, to turn away from the hierarchy, and this is still terrifying to a lot of people in the church and especially the church leadership.

‘‘Occupy,” he went on, ‘‘is a political movement. Let’s not be naive. But it also has a moral core. We are in the midst of a reawakening of a spiritual anthropology. All of the groups that have risen up, across the globe, have this reawakening. Those who took to the streets in the Middle East were not simply unsettled. They were called together because they had a connection with each other. Many, many people have reached a point where the only option left is to place their bodies, their beings, in a location where they can finally have some say and some control over their own lives. As Carne Ross points out in his book ‘The Leaderless Revolution,’ people have lost their agency; they have lost control of their lives. The only control many have left is the control of their physical being. They place themselves in locations where they can demonstrate that they no longer support current systems of power. If you don’t have any money in our political system you not only have no say, you don’t have any dignity. And the only way left to reclaim our dignity is to occupy, to reinhabit the environments that have been taken away from us.”


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Packard had been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza before. In 1985, once the humiliation of the United States’ defeat in Vietnam no longer stigmatized Americans who had fought in the war, New York City organized a ticker-tape parade for Vietnam veterans. The parade began at the memorial. And Packard, wearing his old jungle fatigues, was at the site 27 years ago along with thousands of other veterans.

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By Harold Stassen, May 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This man’s church is now at barely 1.9 million, the smallest it’s been since Coolidge was President.  It’s been “Celebrating our Diversity!” for forty years and yet it’s still barely 5% non-White and non-middle/upper middle class.  The average Sunday attendance is the lowest it’s been in nearly 100 years and the median age is 60 and rising.  The only ones even mildly interested in it are divorced/gay ex-Catholics and ex-Baptists/Penecostals tired of singing off screens and who have had enough education to realize that they just can’t believe in a week-long creation but not enough to believe that they can’t live without doing some singing on Sunday mornings.
  Barely 3% of the US population between 18-30 belongs to ANY mainline Protestant church.  This man, and his church, have delusions of relevance.  As does Hedges, who thinks that politics can’t get along without men who enjoy wearing purple dresses as clothing and large metal Roman execution implements as accessories.

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By IMax, May 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment


Obliviously I’ve caused you a great deal of anguish and embarrassment. 

Summon the courage to carry yourself in a more honest and direct manner.

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By Ed Romano, May 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Ah Ha ! Just as I thought. I nailed it…and on my first attempt.

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By Ed Romano, May 14, 2012 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

Max, Wow! You ceratinly are a prickly broad. Since you started this game of - Let’s play psychoanalyst and Mind Reader - let me take a crack at it. Remember, I’m not as expert at this as you evidently are…..Here goes. You are a taller than average female, right ? And thinner than most. Tell the truth now. ( Oops! Soory about that word ). Ahhh! Just a minute… it’s coming through…. Okay. I see. As a child you were either a bully or very much picked on. There. How’s that for a beginner? Be honest now. ( Ooops! sorry about that too.)

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By IMax, May 14, 2012 at 2:30 am Link to this comment


Head up.  Without whining look people in the eye.  Be honest and direct.

Narcissists rarely care what others think.

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By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Max, Thanks. I didn’t know you were a psychoanalyst. And based on almost no information about me at all…..simply astounding. During all this bickering, while you were trying every trick you could think of the get me float a trial balloon for you to shoot at, did you notice that I never asked you what your various positions were on anything ? Why? Try to understand this in case you get similarly frustrated in the future…. I don’t care what you think…. And where did I ever tell anyone how smart I think I am ? You remind me of a lawyer’s secretary I once knew who said that during a trial the lawyer should throw as much mud as possible at the opposition. Most of it might not stick, she said, but if there is enough of it, some of it will. The defendant will find it impossible to deflect all of it…..The “truth” has no place in your thinking and, as a matter of fact, is not what you are after. If this tete a tete had not become so vicious we could discuss why that probably is. But as things stand….I don’t care about that because I don’t care what you think. Have you got that ? Does that get through to you? Your infantile quest to draw me out by charging me with being afraid to speak is not,and will not, work for the simple reason that… I -don’t- care- what- you- think…..If it has become an obsession with you….you can find plenty of forums on Truthdig where I have laid out what you seem to be looking for.

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By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment


I prefer the more direct and honest approach. 

You’ve made every attempt in avoidance of answering my questions in any direct or succinct manner.  You now understand that I allow no one to get away with a. avoiding the tougher questions and b. any claim that the tougher (fundamental) questions are some type of device or scheme perpetrated upon you.  The truth, if we are to both be honest, is that your answers make you uncomfortable. - Not unlike Chomsky you end up feeling profoundly trapped by your own reasoning. Also, again not unlike Chomsky, you believe that if you only change the subject again and again no one will notice.

If I may make a couple of suggestions?  It’s not necessary to constantly tell others how smart you see yourself.  The next time someone poses a question concerning your beliefs simply be honest and direct.

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By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

Here’s a last attempt from the Whiner to Max the Heroine. You want an explanation from me concerning where I stand? Here’s what I recommend…..If you’re not already familiar with the following….read them,. A grounding in these ideas will give you an excellent idea of where I’m coming from…
  The State, Franz Oppenhiemer
  Political Parties, Ricardo Michels
  The Philosophy of Theodor Adorno
  White Collar and The Power Elite by C.Wright Mills
    ( also his essays recently collected and published )
  Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Kline
  Keeping The Rabble in Line, Chomsky
  The Psyhcholoy Of Power, R.V. Sampson ( important)
  War, Politics and Insanity,C.S Blumel
  The Politics Of War, Walter Karp
  Anarchism, Pennock and Chapman
  Rebel Voices, an IWW Anthology, Joyce Kornbluh
  Christian Socialism, John C. Cort
  The New Testament
    I would find it a bit difficult to summarize all the ideas therein contained into a format only allowing about 4000 characters, and would clearly not satisfy you even if I could….. But if you absorb even half of the above you will then have an excellent idea concerning the question you asked me to bite on.
  P.S.  When you are finished with these I will be happy to supply a sub list. There’s a lot more.

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By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano,

Would you please stop whining about how I treat you?  If you’re as educated as you claim you surely know I have given, from the beginning, precisely what I have received.

Would you also reevaluate what it means to “shoot down” all you write?  Clearly we see the world differently.  Put your “Big Boy” panties on and deal with disagreements like an adult.  You surely don’t see me complaining how you “shoot Down” all which I opine.


You receive from me what you give.  Your real problem is on how you dislike that I give it back.  Period.

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By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

My dear Max, Why on God’s earth would I ” when given the opportunity ” ( thank you profusely for the offer of this gift ) enter into a dialog with someone who has clearly demonstated that the only reason they want to draw me out is….NOT so that a little light may be shed on the subject, but merely to give the you a chance to shoot down everything I have to say?...  I recently went through this exact scenario with a crack pot on another forum. He had been hostile for some time and then one day asked, as kindly as though he were a sincere person, if I would explain my position to him. I was sceptical, but since he asked in a seemingly sincere manner, I complied. This gave him the opportunity to go ballistic concerning my character, and the chance to air what he thinks of as a viable political philosophy. I don’t use the term “crack pot ” loosely. This man says things like ” capitalism is socialism” . It is also labor. And “there is no difference between the left wing and the right wing. They are exactly the same”....Surely, you can see that I would have to be demented to engage you in a dialog based on the the approach you have taken with me. And suppose, just for the sake of supposing, that you were to be converted entirely to my way of thinking. Don’t you see? I just don’t care that much what you think…..So this is it for me, Max. You can shoot your final salvo now, but you won’t be hearing from me again. And isn’t it sad when you think that your efforts have brought about a unbridgeable estrangement with another human being. God bless.

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By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 7:54 am Link to this comment


I would not hesitate for a second to tell you to your face precisely what I write here.  The result, so it seems, would be you getting your highly educated, sanctimonious, ass kicked up and down the halls of academia by a woman.

Next time, when given the opportunity, have the balls to answer a couple of direct questions.  ROFLMAO!!

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By Ed Romano, May 13, 2012 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

Dear Courageous Max, You really are a nit wit aren’t you. Your scurrilous remarks only go to prove I was right not to enter your spider web. If you spend a month thinking about what you just posted it may begin to dawn on you that there are people who are hep to your method of “arguing”, because we’ve been educated by a host of nincompoops like you in these anonympous forums. You have the balls to talk about courage but you say things to a person behind a wall of anonymity that you wouldn’t dare say face to face without risking a trip to the emergency room. God must love crazy bastards. He made so many of you.  Have a real nice day.

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By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 5:38 am Link to this comment


Without a doubt yours is the superior intellect.  We, meaning everyone on TruthDig and beyond, understand this due to your near constant reminders of the fact. 

Unfortunately you again opted to avoid tackling my direct question concerning your stated positions.  If only you possessed courage in equal measure to your intellect.


I have a final question.  In your extensive and unequaled education, did anyone in your travels utter the term narcissist?

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By Ed Romano, May 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

IMax, Is it possible to have a discussion with you without you claiming I’m “vaguely aware” and I ” judge the world’s ills”. I have no intention of entering into a dialog with you since you don’t seem capable of a straight ahead, logical approach to civilized communication. So I will limit myself to this one observation about the loaded things you had to say about me…...My mention of the Stalin era gulags ” seems to indicate” that I am unaware of similar camps in other parts of the world. Really ? I used the Stalin camps merely as a passing example of the point I was making. I also din’t mention the nazi camps, Idi Amin’s atrocities, Attila the Hun or Guantanamo Bay. That doesn’t mean I’m only “vaguely aware” of them .“I’m not in the top echelon of intellects Max, but you’re in over your head with me….By the way, Oppenhiemer was writing about governments in general around the globe when he wrote, The State. He wasn’t talking about Rhode Island which you seem to be more than vaguely unaware of…..and to have a twerp like you denigrating a giant like Noam Chomsky takes a fairly large set of brass ones….So as for your asking me to enter your spider web….I pass.

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By Edward Romano, May 12, 2012 at 6:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

IMax, Poor fellow. you’re in over your head when it comes to straight ahead logical thinking. So I’m not going to argue with you except to give you an example of your loaded way of proceeding.. You say I seem to be aware of Stalin era slave labor camps and that “indicates” that I’m not aware that these also exist in other countries. I used the Stalin camps simply to illustrate a point, because that is probably the most well known of those camps. I also didn’t throw in Hitler’s camps, Idi Amin’s atrocities or Attila the Hun. Does that mean I am “unaware” that those things existed? I am certainly no heavy weight intellectually, but you’re in over your head with me, buddy. By the way, Oppenheimer was talking about the entire world in his great book, The State…..not just the State of Rhode Island. ....And when a twerp like you has the balls to denigrate a giant like Noam Chomsky it would seem to be further proof, that those who think the intelligence of the human race is worth celebrating, need to give that belief a second look.

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By IMax, May 12, 2012 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano,

You may be vaguely aware of labor camps in N. Korea but you will not become fully aware until you read that book.

Your mention of Stalin era gulags appears to indicate that you’re not yet aware of the same types of camps in and around Russia and China today.  You judge the world’s ills as caused by the United States.  Which, in reality, not unlike Oppenhiemer and Chomsky, ignores the politics and conditions over the entire remaining globe.

So I’m asking again, what is the point you’re making about the United States in particular?  Is it that you have chosen sides with those who oppose capitalism and, therefor, necessarily oppose The U.S.?

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By colin2626262, May 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

John Zerzan also wrote: “The moral gesture is meaningless - anyone not get that?  It usually smells of the sanctimonious, the it-makes-ME-feel-good.”  I have to respond to this by saying no, I don’t get that.  The moral act is the only meaningful act in resisting oppression.  Hedges has written about that, how our acts in many cases won’t bring tangible results against the oppression we face from the capitalist state.  But we find meaning in being on the side of what’s morally right.  Only someone who has no faith in God will say that morality is meaningless.  As far as being sanctimonious, let’s define what that word means.  The definition of sanctimonious is not “making oneself feel good.”  Sanctimonious means putting on a show of morality, trying to make others think how good, how moral, one is.  Firstly, doing what’s right does make you feel good, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Secondly, those of us who have real faith, and morality, recognize that Jesus was speaking the truth when he said, “There is none good but one, that is, God.”  We are not good, but God is.  Our moral acts are eternally meaningful.  This is why there must be faith in God among Americans who wish to protest.  We must be believers in order to do those moral acts, remaining nonviolent and thereby being a legitimate force of resistance.  We have to believe in God in order to experience love and to love one another.  Those who don’t have a belief in God don’t appreciate love, aren’t interested in it, think it’s meaningless, and aren’t aware that it’s what makes us moral and gives us meaning.  Love is the truth of all existence.  The great prophets and social reformers all understood this.  They also understood that God is the source of love and truth.  Do we not get that?  Some of us do, thank God.

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By colin2626262, May 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Emile Z, your disgusting imagery fits with your perverted idea of what faith is, showing you have no understanding of what faith does for those who believe in God.  If you understood what faith could do for you, you would be a person of faith yourself and wouldn’t tarnish beauty with your ugly ideas.  But as you said, that is just you.

John Zerzan (the real John Zerzan?): No, Hedges is not pathetic, and is definitely not on the side of the powerful.  Violence is what’s pathetic.  The powerful cannot deal effectively with nonviolence.  If we are going to have a movement, like Occupy, violent tactics are not welcome.  We have to protest peacefully, with love.  We are all brothers and sisters in God.  We can’t hate.  Violence is poison.  This is what Hedges preaches, and he knows better than most of us, having covered wars as a journalist.  I am not entirely in agreement with Hedges about the nature of religious belief, but, as he said, he is informed by the Gospel.  He knows how to act, how to live a moral life, and he knows violence, in the end, doesn’t help the cause of justice, since it only breeds more violence.  We can learn a lot from George Packard.  He knows we need to pray and that’s the only way to live.

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By Ed Romano, May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Imax, I am familiar with the truly inhuman gulags of North Korea. It’s actually far worse than the gulags operated under Stalin… butI place “my attention on the evils of the United States”, because that’s where I live. This is the country I was brought up in. Where else would I spend my political life ?

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By ControlledDemolition, May 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment


Agreed.  In ZEN they say, Put no head higher than your own.  Nonetheless there’s a devotional side that lets one attune to certain qualities without becoming dumbed down or enslaved.

Bowing to the Buddha,

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By Airborne855, May 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges often refers to “the church.” There are thousands of denominations, sects, and cults. Which church, specifically, is he referring to? Does anyone know? They all preach a different gospel and a different Jesus Christ. This problem began nearly 2,000 years ago. Paul warned about it. It has only gotten worse since then.

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By IMax, May 10, 2012 at 5:31 am Link to this comment


The gulag behind the goose-steps
A ghastly secret that the North Koreans have tried to hide for too long

Apr 21st 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition


What you will read from the above is illustrative of how hundreds of millions of people live within the walls of dozens of countries (China and Russia, for example) while you, Oppenhiemer, and Chomsky place all your attention on the evils of the United States.  If you read no other book in the coming year pick up a copy of Escape from Camp 14.

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By IMax, May 10, 2012 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano, -  “Thanks for the condesension.”


Here’s the thing.  If you look closely you’ll see that I actually, literally, copied your sentence structure in my reply to your previous post.  It worked.  In doing so I was successful in illustrating just how condescending you appear in writing.  That level of condescension is quite disturbing, yes?

Your last post is identical to the previous.  With great condescension you elect to ignore a few fundamental questions in favor of various personal attacks and belittlement.  You failed to actually defend your theories.  You failed to even try.

P.S. Those who truly feel accomplished rarely feel the need to herald their accomplishments.  With that said, it’s nice that you can, and do, read.  I could suggest for you dozens of books and White Papers, however, my sense is you’ll not take the time.  <—How’s that for condescension? - wink

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By Ed Romano, May 10, 2012 at 2:41 am Link to this comment

IMax, Thanks for the condesension. To answer your questions would require having you take several courses in the nature and history of capitalism and the foundations of the nation state - including books like The State by Franz Oppenhiemer, Political Parties by Roberto Michels and several of Noam Chomsky’s books on American imperialism. The questions you asked reveal that they are coming out of American government propaganda and myths you probably learned in school. I have no intention of becoming enmeshed in that spider’s web. Onward.

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By IMax, May 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment


I’m sincerely curious.  Would you say you disagree with the following? 

Is it correct to say that China, Russia, Britain, Turkey, Iran, Cuba, Japan, The U.S. and Thailand operate with ideologies and each of these respective ideologies are centered around what is, respectively, best for each his own?  In the case of the U.S. one of these ideologies revolve around capitalism and open markets.  And is it not correct that every nation on the planet opposes those ideologies which disagree with their own?  Is it not correct to say that to believe otherwise, in you educated opinion, is to deny the history of the globe for the past 100 years or more?

No need for a knock down drag out.  So I’m simply asking, what is the point you’re making about the United States in particular?  Is it that you have chosen sides with those who oppose capitalism and, therefor, necessarily oppose The U.S.?

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By Edward G. Amos, May 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In act that is moral should make us feel good.  If it
doesn’t then we should question the morality of what
we are doing.

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By john zerzan, May 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges continues to be truly pathetic. Against resistance at all costs.
The moral gesture is meaningless - anyone not get that?
It usually smells of the sanctimonious, the it-makes-ME-feel-good.
Anarchist haters like Hedges and Jensen are on the side of Power.
John Zerzan

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By Ed Romano, May 9, 2012 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

IMax, ....not going to get into a knock down drag out over this. Appreciate your stance and I agree that “the U.S. does not operate in a vacumn”. Neither does it operate without an ideology and that ideology is that what is best for U.S. society is capitalism. It will oppose all ideologies that disagree with this. Whatever will advance the U.S. ideology or give the U.S. a leg up as far as acquiring the wealth or resources of foriegn lands is what drives the actions of the government. To believe otherwise, in my educated opinion, is to deny the history of U.S. involvement in other countries for the past 100 years of more.

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By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

ed romano,
THE FIRST CAUSE for ALL wars [perhaps even one supposedly waged for helen] is acquisition of
land and everything that’s on, and in it.
it sometimes includes the inhabitants of a conquered land as well.
however, even a strong empire like u.s cannot directly control or annex all lands it invades.
it can annex some, tho; such as hawaii, porto rico. many others it can only partially occupy.
but the final solutions or goals never changes: ownership of all of the planet by world
supremacists and and creation of an ideal master-serf relationship that’ll endure forever or until
end of life.
naturally, world supremacists are not going to tell us this.
instead of telling us that, they tell us they are on ‘missions’ to protect natives from abuses by
their leaders, for democratizing their lands, to establish peace; bring progress, enlightenment,
and it seems to me at least half of the world pop evaluates this as true; and in u.s probably 90% 
evaluates this rationalization as true.

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By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

thanks for your response.
i suggest that we—in order to live in accords with nature, ‘god’, or nature-god—abandon
once for all time personal, ethnic, religious supremacisms.[nazism, fascism, idols, icon,
saints, great white fathers] 
for eons we have lived w.o. ‘leaders’, priests, organized religion, ‘nobles’, experts,
generals, banksters, police, standing army, judiciary, senators, other politicians, MSM, TV,
movies, etc., and we can now live and quite better w.o. all that.
in short, go back to respecting all people and their basic human rights [ to healthy food, to
life, gregariousness, shelter, equal protection, etc.] and being respected by all others.

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By Ed Romano, May 9, 2012 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

Het, Here we go again? NO, not this time. If you think we went to war in those places to “bring democracy to those people”, well…. I’m not going to be the one to burst your bubble.

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By IMax, May 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Ed, - “I don’t think it’s necessary to agree with that in order to understand the economic causes of war.”


Yes.  Yet we will disagree that profit, in the strictest monetary sense, plays as the predominant cause of most contemporary wars.  At least no more a role than real clashes of ideology and cultures.

For example: It is my belief that the issue of oil has never been more about profit than it is about the respective national security of China, Russia, the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, India, etc..  The entire world of diplomacy understands how oil, in the strictest of ways, won WWII.

Point being, the United States does not operate in a vacuum.  It is impossible to choose sides by ignoring the goals and agendas of every player, less the U.S..  To concentrate so fully on the United States, I believe, is to take the entire globe (the dozens of wars being fought at this very minute) out of all context.

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By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

Ed———the Korean War was fought for economic advantage? Viet-nam?

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By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

IMax, Wars are sometimes started by ego maniacs like Hitler, Napoleon and the like, but most wars, especially these recent ones, are fought for economic advantage. I know a man in my city who has been standing out on a busy corner every Sunday for many decades protesting one war after the other. In conversations I have had with him I have tried to get him to see that the wars he is protesting are the result of economic aggression. He is blind to this and thinks war can be eliminated or lessened if only we could convince men to be a little more peaceful. My own belief is that capitalism breeds war….indeed war is a large part of its life blood, but I don’t think it’s necessary to agree with that in order to understand the economic causes of war.

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By ControlledDemolition, May 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment


I acknowledge your point, but I take a different view.  I think to work from a place of compassion is closer to “uphold the Prophets” than being pious.  In fact, I hold atheists who are truly humanistic closer to the meaning of “religious” than pious drones who really only have a “thought” about doctrines, and split humanity into parts.  Something has to be breathed and actual.  So ultimately I differentiate between religion and mysticism—while granting that some, like Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard, can be a mystic within the context and culture of a particular religious framework, but not really confined thereby.  The Prophets, you know, were not exactly wimps, and they certainly were not constrained by dogma and authority.


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By IMax, May 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Ed Romano, gaylordcat, George Packard.

All interesting points worth thinking about.  These exercises in just and unjust wars.  Laying blame and choosing sides.  There is, however, a much more fundamental aspect which, I believe, is too often ignored in these deliberations.  As Mr Packard will agree, politics, religion, and ideology aside men war because they are men.

There are roughly 200 nations and 6.5 billion people on the planet.  Acts of aggression between men, great powers, and cultures is a daily thing.  No nation of men is faultless.  Not in NATO and not in SCO.  In this context people and cultures will choose sides.

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By rumblingspire, May 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

soldier.  lay the guns down.  come home.
“but the dark is still there”
“and you keep praying”

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By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

Gaylordeat, Excellent defense of a man who must have been genuinely remorseful in order for him to take the path he has taken since Vietnam. I don’t think anyone need fear for his soul. But the major organized religions, one of which he has aligned himself with, are equally responsible with modern governments for the wars that have been and are being waged. Why ? Because they claim the space where a moral authority is desperately needed, and then fail in that responsibility. I don’t know about the Episcopal church, but I do know quite a bit of the Roman. And the Roman church is currently waging an all out war on abortion which it claims is murder, but it has nothing to say when its adherents murder living people in a foriegn land….and to paint the picture blacker… the people being murdered are often other christians….These institutions are a perfect drag on humanity, and the sooner they disappear the better off the world will be.

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By gaylordcat, May 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

I’m always amazed at what people “know” or think they know. Many here condemn George Packard because he went to war and killed people, but few condemning him said they experienced war, a shooting war, where people termed “the enemy” came at you with the sole purpose of killing you. How many condemned Packard without knowing what he faced?

I have never been to any kind of war. Too young for Korea, too many kids for Nam. But, as I talked to George many times about Nam, I saw deep regret in his eyes, the same eyes that looked down a gun barrel into an enemy eyes and blew him away. If George had not blown him away, Hedges could not have written this story.

War is about killing. It’s what one does when one goes to war, voluntarily or not. As Patton was quoted as saying, “It is not your job to die for your country. It is your job to help some poor son-of-a-bitch die for his.”

War is senseless, stupid, immoral, horror, etc., etc. I wish we’d never see or hear of another. But war will not end, ever. Why? Because people like it. I dare say there is a rush when a soldier has a weapon in his hands and is stalking an enemy who is stalking him. And in that moment both feel more alive than they have ever felt. We cheer when the good ol’ US of A destroys an enemy. George told me that. I have to believe him because he did it. I never did.

War is money, too. Lots of it. Wars will always be waged because they are profitable, for a few, yes, but that few are the ones in charge of waging war.

War also helps politicians. A leader with a war, big or little, has a better chance of re-election than a peace-nick. Ask Jimmy Carter. Ask Reagan, if you could; he started his little war, Granada. Good idea, Ronnie.

Will George be forgiven his sin of killing people, innocent or guilty? None of anyone’s damned business. If you’re a Christan you know, or think you know, that your savior Jesus told you not to judge, lest you be judged. None of your damned business. God’s business. Is George guilty of sin? Who knows? You? Casting the first stone as a paragon? It’s easy to judge and condemn others. It’s vastly harder to love and accept, something you Christians are charged to do by your Jesus. Live by His words, or drop out of the church.

What Packard is, is a man trying to make it on his journey through life as best he can. Sound familiar? He went to war because he’d been raised an American and told that to defend one’s country is the highest honor one can attain. In a few days we’ll honor and praise our veterans, celebrate with fireworks, rousing music and honeyed platitudes. When we do, we’ll be praising many killers of innocent and guilty people. We’ll be honoring the crew that liquified people at Hiroshima. But Packard is an irredeemable sinner because as a kid wanting to help his country went to war and became good at killing for Uncle Sam?

Until you who condemn George Packard have walked in his boots and served as he served, shut up? You have nothing to say. You open your mouths and make noises, nothing else; you cannot make sense. Your opinions are rubbish. And any of you who are Christians who judge him, you are a joke unto the very God you claim to be a child of and an affront to Jesus whom you claim to be your Lord and Master. It is very possible He would turn His back on you and tell you to get lost. Yet again, if He was who you say He was, He’d forgive you. Feel better now?

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By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

EZ—there are several people playing professional sports quite willing to buy some
nice clean urine from a youngster and happy to pay more than a quarter for they
have faith that her urine will better serve their needs that will their own.

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By sallysense, May 8, 2012 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

“A Rebellious World or a New Dark Age?”

“Plutonomy and the Precariat”

(On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline)

by Noam Chomsky

(he talks about:

‘the working class’...


‘politics and money’...

‘plutonomy and the precariat’...

‘toward worker takeover’...

‘climate change and nuclear weapons’...

and the value of the occupy movement…,_a_rebellious_world_or_a_new_dark_age/?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=6c125b15ec-TD_Chomsky5_8_2012&utm_medium=email

(and also to help those who don’t know any better…
who try to make the occupy movement…
look like some kinda bad guy…
which it’s not)...

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By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

What is “faith”? Isn’t it a hope that the things you suspect lie behind the visible wall of reality really do exist? Faith can have a lot to recommend it, and seem to the believer to be a substantial foundation on which to base one’s life. But, no matter,it is still “faith”.....The age old problem with christian believers has always been that a majority of them claim to have faith and then proceed as though they had certainty. This results in spectacles like religious anti- abortionists attempting to get the government to enact laws that agree with their belief. It results in certain books disappearing from public libraries because the books don’t agree with things that are in the Bible. It results in attempts to teach children that evolution is not a proven fact…..The funny thing is that such attempts, and others like them, could not be more unchristian, and are the exact opposite of the way Christ told his followers to proceed in the world.

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By IMax, May 8, 2012 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

We on the Left have become an ineffective, whiny, complaining, finger-pointing kind of movement that hasn’t had a new out-of-the-box idea for a couple of generations

The man behind the curtain, Kalle Lasn, on Occupy and a resurgent Left.

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By EmileZ, May 8, 2012 at 4:02 am Link to this comment

@ colin 2626262

How sweet. A little child’s smile.

To me faith is something that you have to be able to keep after you found out the next day that that cute little girl had sold you a glass of urine, and all the people you observed who didn’t partake knew all about it and were snickering at you behind your back.

When they talk about a “test of faith” I believe they are really saying “discovering what faith really means and what it truly entails”.

But that is just me.

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By colin2626262, May 8, 2012 at 3:19 am Link to this comment

I recently was driving around, as I often do, and I noticed there was a neighborhood garage sale going on.  Lots of people were out and about, walking around, looking at what was for sale.  I happened to catch a glimpse of some children who were running a lemonade stand.  One little girl looked to be the main vendor, as her friends, or maybe they were her siblings, played around her.  Since I was thirsty, I pulled the car to the side of the street and got out, figured I’d get a glass of lemonade.  I also wanted to chat with the child for a minute, since I love to hear whatever innocent children have to say.  I came up to the little girl and asked her for a glass of lemonade.  It cost very little, only a quarter.  I thought she could’ve charged more, so I said to her, “You’re really nice, you know.”
  “What?” she said.  She didn’t know why I said she was nice, since we didn’t know each other, hadn’t ever seen each other before.
  “Yeah,” I went on.  “You’re nice because you don’t charge hardly anything for this lemonade.”
  “Oh,” she said.  “Actually, I wanted to give it away for free.”
  “Did you?”
  “Yeah, but my mom said I had to put a price on it.”
  “It’s so cheap,” I said.  “Anyone can buy a glass.  We can all afford it.” 
  “I know,” she said with a smile, while handing me a paper cup filled with lemonade.  All the other people in the neighborhood were walking by.  I stood there and felt how hot and muggy it was getting.  I was thinking all the people surrounding us could use a glass of refreshing lemonade, that they were probably just as thirsty as I had been.  But they didn’t want to take the time to stop and ask for a refreshment, didn’t want to spend the little amount it took buy a cup, and they didn’t feel like talking to the child who was offering them a drink and, more than that, a kind, loving smile.
  “Well, it’s their loss,” I thought, smiling back at the little girl.  “Thanks,” I said, and I was on my way, feeling inexplicably happy.  I was so glad I stopped to get that glass of lemonade and talk to that sweet child.  It was so easy, and it didn’t cost me anything really.  It brought me joy, and I felt love from the encounter. 
  In the same way, all we have to do is pray, stop and spend time with God.  This is how we connect with God.  This is how we have a connection with the God who loves us.  And this is how that connection we have with God is passed on to others, creating a spiritual connection, a connection of love.  It doesn’t take much time or effort, and it doesn’t cost us hardly anything.  We do have to go beyond our own selfish lusts and base desires.  It costs us that.  But the reward, in this life, and in the life to come, is greater than we can ever understand.  And we don’t have to understand it.  We just have to experience it.  Experience love.  That’s how we love: we pray.  We pray in order to love.  If we don’t pray, we won’t be able to love.  And if we aren’t able to love, our society will be a reflection of our selfish, hateful, immoral lives.  God is not simply a word, not simply a human concept, an idea.  God is the reality of love, in ourselves and in the world, but only if we choose to be connected to God, only if we choose to pray.  We were given free will.  We can make the choice to pray, or we can choose not to pray.  We can choose life or we can choose death.  Life is prayer, praying to the God who exists, the Reality of the Being of beings with whom we can connect.  God’s being is love, which we can find in our being, and we can love.  We can be children of God, as we are, and as we were meant to be.

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By colin2626262, May 8, 2012 at 3:18 am Link to this comment

I was listening to a debate between Chris Hedges and the atheist Christopher Hitchens from some years back.  I found the audio online, then read Hedges’s column this week.  I shouldn’t have been classifying Hedges as hardly better than a skeptic.  His faith is real.  He has a view of faith that is ambivalent toward the actual existence of God, though.  His faith is, to some extent, synonymous with his ethical views, but he also sees faith as being within us, our own existence as human beings defining God’s existence, the existence of God unfolding itself within our being.  He sees faith as a process, doesn’t see God as a Being with an independent existence, or at least not an existence that can be understood by us, calling God a mysterious force of transcendence that also provides us with ultimate meaning.  Faith is our greatest concern, and yet faith is not just what we say we believe.  Rather, it’s how we behave, especially towards others, and more especially towards those who are in need of help and deserving of compassion, the poor, the oppressed.  Hedges understands that rationality only takes us so far, that there is much more to human experience than reason.  We also must have love, which is not based on reason.  Hedges doesn’t connect love directly to God, since he doesn’t share my belief in the personal God of love who is involved in every aspect of our lives.  He doesn’t seem to realize that the connection we have with God, our love for God, is the wellspring of our connection to other people, our love for others, all of whom have the same God, and the same capacity for love, within them. 
  This latest story by Hedges, with him interviewing an Episcopal bishop who is active in the Occupy protests, is a story I can relate to.  The bishop, by the name of George Packard, talks to Hedges about having to pray to the Lord.  How can we improve society?  We have to be connected to one another, to feel love for one another, as Jesus preached.  How do we do that?  We can’t just use reason and say to ourselves, “I’m going to be kind and compassionate.  I’m not going to be selfish.  I know it’s good to be altruistic.  I know it’s best to be loving.  I know it’s right to treat everyone as I wish to be treated.”  The truth is you cannot be a moral person with having faith in God.  You cannot put morality into practice without God’s guidance.  You may intellectually know what’s right, having learned moral values from religion or just from society’s laws and norms, but you cannot be an ethical person, that is to say, a loving person, a person who practices love both towards yourself and towards your fellow beings, unless you love God.  So the question is how do we love God.  How do we connect to God so that we can connect to one another and be good, kind, compassionate, loving people, creating a society that reflects our values?  I’ll tell a little story here.

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By Marc Schlee, May 8, 2012 at 12:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Does he move diagonally or up and down like other Catholic clergy?




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By IMax, May 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

Suspect in bridge bombing plot signed lease on Occupy Cleveland warehouse
Published: Saturday, May 05, 2012, 6:30 PM   Updated: Sunday, May 06, 2012, 1:18 AM

CLEVELAND, Ohio—One of the five self-described anarchists arrested last week for attempting to blow up a local bridge signed the lease for a West Side warehouse where about a dozen members of the Occupy Cleveland group live.

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By Bill Davis, May 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fifteen people stood up to the masters of the universe’s representatives and
enforcers….only fifteen but a start.

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By blackops2x, May 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the bishop knows what is coming. I hate to say it, but you know the banks and the wealthy have taken over. But not only that, but you also have an entitlement class on the other side. One side wants handouts and the other wants all the wealth. But i commend the good bishop for being with the people.

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By Art Brennan, May 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Brook.  My name is Art Brennan and I was arrested with your husband
along with a young priest and the members of our Veterans Peace Team.  I thank
you for your thoughtful response to the defensive questions of people who are
curious enough to ask and need just a little more help in understanding what
Occupy is about and how it can help us all, all of us, all of our brothers and sisters
in the world.

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By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Argy——in some way, you are wrong. Americans
overwhelmingly believe that they stand for Truth,
Justice, Fairness, Decency.

many of them do….but these concepts are prone to
different interpretations in application to life in the
world…..some people think it unfair, unjust and
indecent that people don’t all have the same amount of
money. others think that it’s the inequality of
opportunity that’s the real transgression

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By Argy F, May 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

I look forward to every Monday morning. Reading articles by Chris Hedges is a
true pleasure.

Some weeks I also read the comment section, if I feel resilient enough to
weather the inevitable vitriolic and/or incoherent messages that make up a
minority - albeit a sizable minority - of the posts.

This one is great article, as they always are.

Lately though, I am thinking that perhaps the great and heroic individuals that
are giving so much to the Occupy movement are unlikely to accomplish much.
My initial hopes were that the movement would be able to coalesce around
core principles already accepted and internalized by the vast majority of
Americans (Truth, Justice, Fairness, Decency) and the trick would only be to
quicken the conscience of those multitudes who already agree.

I’ve come to the point where I’m almost fatally convinced that the majority of
Americans AREN’T in sync with these core principles and as such - it is futile
and the movement for democratic and economic justice is doomed to fringe

I hope I’m wrong.

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By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

controlled demolitions,
i do suggest that pious people actually believe in their ulema, rabbinate, clergy, lamas and not god. and
they are much afraid of them.
for if one wld have god or a deity in one’s life why wld one need priests, churches [cold empty buildings]
it beats logic or makes crazy to affirm a belief in god [most people evaluate belief in god as knowing
god—or so it seems to me] and then run to hospital, doctor when sick or to a priest when despondent,
troubled, or upset.
in any case, no one knows nor will ever know god. one can only guess that there is a deity. so whom
pious people obey then? bible, quran, torah all written by fallible men?
so again, whom/what believers obey? not god and that’s a certainty!

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By sallysense, May 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

new doors can open in a moment for our human common bonds…
they’re here beyond the mindsets mental walls get built upon…
and as we cross those thresholds leaving phoniness behind…
power-hungry profiteers still need deception to survive!...

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By Free Thinker, May 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading the story of Bishop George Packard I was left with mixed feelings about the value of being called “The People’s Bishop.”

Certainly, joing a protest movement and being arrested for that by a so-called democracy, turned into a police state, is something commendable and fine.

But doing that after all the blood on his hands which he confesses of commiting in an earlier life, I am not sure that the loving God of Jesus and all of us is capable of forgiving in exchange for the little acts of protests he worked in a later part of his conscious-tortured life.

Couldn’t Bishop Packard be as smart and consciouncious as Muhammad Ali, who refused to be drafted into that evil war, opting instead to go to prison?! Compared to Bishop Packard, Muhammad Ali truly deserves to be annoited as “The People’s Imam.”

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By jimmmmmy, May 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

The religious left is highly unstable and usually disintegrates, once the minister banks his first million bucks. It then morphs into the religious right.

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By jr., May 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment


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By jimmmmmy, May 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

An old Vietnam vet atoning for his “sins” so what. Calling him Bishop rather than lieutenant is rather annoying from several points of view . even though I agree with and admire him for what he has done and is doing. He has no reason to feel wrong about his military service, pushing religion is a far greater crime in the cosmic scheme of things . Stupidity is always punished.

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By Textynn, May 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

End war now. These wars are insane and a waste to everyone except the One Percent who turn every war into a private for-profit business. Why did Bush and Cheney want war, because they did it to amass even more PERSONAL wealth…  Cheney being part of Halliburton and his wife a former CEO of Lockheed Martin.  Both major benefactors of the death for profit biz. The Bushes in finance and oil, making billions and acquiring the middle east oil resources for their oil cabal. 

The trillions of dollars we spent in the middle east killing and destroying makes me sick beyond description. We could have bought this oil for half the price and brought prosperity to these desolate places.

I don’t know why any country or group would allow themselves to be run by such low and criminally insane people. Not to mention sacrificing our loved ones.

What the hell is wrong with this country that we can’t wrestle the reins of power from the hands of these lowlife sick people.  The time is now.  And once we get the control of this country back into the hands of sane people, we MUST rewrite history in such a way that our children know what really happened and how to outlaw it for the rest of time.

Reinstate the Constitution
End the Fed
End Fascism
End a debt based economy
Single Payer
Nationalize Oil
Free tertiary education

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By UreKismet, May 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

So in Chris Hedges funny little word we praise murderers turned spruikers for the organised superstitions that have presided over most of the death, misery, lies & hypocrasies inflicted on humanity for the last two thousand years.
On the other hand according to Hedges, we must abhor the actions of young people whose lack of worldliness helps them eschew self-serving political order of any sort as they seek to rebuild our sick society from the ground up. Why?
Because they see the flaws in all that has gone before?  Or is it because in Hedges’ view the order of organised killing beats the chaos of individual expression?

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By ControlledDemolition, May 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Chris, great positive story!

Bit by bit, people of heart are going to get activated.  Let’s hope it’s sooner than later, inshallah.


NOT. “uphold the prophets” directive does not mean that pious christians should always obey their priests.  Au contraire.

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By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Ed—- It hadn’t occurred to me that the churches referred only to Catholic houses
of worship…......and I certainly know little about the official positions of the RC . I
have noted that there’s been dissent within the RC about those positions.

Other churches and faiths have been more involving in opposing the Vietnam War
and in ending segregation and many other things near and dear to the

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By Ed Romano, May 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Het, You are just trying to raise a little dust here, right? You don’t truly believe the churches have had anything relevant to say in our time do you?  Okay. You pushed my button.
  In the 1930’s the Roman Church published an encyclical, The Mystical Body Of Christ in which it   said that all christians are part of the Body of Christ in a mystical or spiritual way. This document could form the foundation of an understanding of our communal brotherhood that could go far in bringing the idea of peace among men into the social and political discussions of the past 50 or 60 years. But the church doesn’t believe any of this. Since the heirarchy must have some doctrine to preach, in order to justify their existence, they publish a social encyclical from time to time which raises the issue of things like economic justice and is immediatly put on a shelf and forgotten. I was raised as a catholic and was one into my thirties and forties. Never once ,let me repeat, never once did I ever hear anything preached that came out of the encyclicals. Never once did I ever hear any of the economic issues in the encyclicals by Leo X111 or Pius X1 even hinted at in any church. I attended catholic schools for 11 years and nothing written in the excyclicals was ever mentioned….  Concerning other issues, the church carefully picks those that do not bring it into conflict with governments. It does not confront governments concenerning economic injustice,for example, because that would interfere with the government’s partnership with inequity. It chooses to preach against abortion because it knows that governments don’t really give a rat’s ass if a woman has an abortion or not.( This is getting good isn’t it ?)
  During the Vietnam War we were treated to the spectacle of having a Roman cardinal in North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese catholics had a cathedral in Hanoi. Now, back to the Mystical Body Of Christ. On a daily basis we saw American catholics flying over North Vietnam and lathering their brothers and sisters with bombs, napalm and defoiliants. Catholic peace activists strove mightily to get Rome to speak out strongly against this blasphemy. Nothing doing. We did get a few wishy washy statements at internals, but nothing that would help to slow down the massacre. Toward the end of
the war, and under great pressure, the church said something to the effect that the war was immoral. All they had to do was take the next logical step and say ...therefore catholics cannot take part in it, and the conflict would have ended within weeks.It is relentless in telling women not to use birth control or have an abortion isn’t it? Why didn’t it have anything to say about its members killing live catholics in Southeast Asia ? Why? Because it would have given U.S. catholics, who were being drafted, the perfect out. They could have said to the government….“Sorry, my church says I can’t participate” but this would have brought the church into direct confrontation with the the U.S. government.
  The maintream christian churches are a millstone around the neck of humanity for this reason….they make claim to the moral center of society, but have abandoned all responsibility to that end. 
  Awfully, nice of you to give me this opportunity.

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By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

to those who condemn George Packard for what he did forty years ago…... show
us your hands.

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By David J. Cyr, May 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

QUOTE, of Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard:

“As Carne Ross points out in his book ‘The Leaderless Revolution,’ people have lost their agency; they have lost control of their lives. The only control many have left is the control of their physical being. They place themselves in locations where they can demonstrate that they no longer support current systems of power.”

It was the people’s strong and steady support of corporatism’s seductive systems of power that produced the conditions that Occupiers are now demonstrating against.

Amassed millions of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and atheists regularly congregated in solidarity together on every Election Day to devoutly vote for the corporate party’s money-manufactured really retrograde Republicans and deeply depraved Democrats.

As a result of this society’s religious dedication to the corporate party’s Republicans and Democrats, America has a degeneratocracy… a gangster government ruled society servicing the desires of a degenerate people.

The degeneratocracy doesn’t care how many times the police occasionally need to provide “exhilarating” experiences for Occupiers, by carrying away a dozen or more demonstrators like garbage men clearing away garbage from the streets… as long as the millions upon millions of degenerate people comprising the immoral majority keep voting to provide popular vote mandates for the sociopathic policies of the corporate party’s Republican/Democrat team, while the Occupiers also affirmatively support the degeneratocracy by urging the moral minority wanting a better world to refuse to vote.

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

Jill Stein for President:

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By gerard, May 7, 2012 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

Other creatures on earth are beautiful, glorious, impressive, incomparable, marvelous—and yet humans excel—for variety of responses, for ability to learn, for sheer folly and making wrong choices, for hideous wars as well as for loving care and intervention
  These days we suffer enormous challenges and a confusing number of possibilities—and millions of us in all different places, experiencing different degrees of good and evil, are confused.
  The choices are truly awesome. We can destroy ourselves or save ourselves—and at the same time each other. We can find ways or lose ways, or arrive somewhere in between. The human race seems trapped in some kind of spiritual amber.
  Civilizations have faced awesome challenges before, and faced up or not, by thinking and talking together or fighting together, based on their own limited experience (for all life is doomed to limited experience. Priests, teachers and leaders, thinking to do right even though they didn’t know for sure,  felt “called” to organize and begin teaching some few simple tenets they chose by virtue of will or wish, some wise and unwieldy, some crazed by odd enthusiasms.
  Most of these innovators lauded the special virtues of one particular human person—and then, perhaps at that moment of choosing, made a fatal error:  They chose to call that leading figure divine. In doing so they elevated him (occasionally her) above human level, beyond human ability, impossible to equal—and to that extent, irrelevant six days out of the week.
  This gave us all the open door to excuse ourselves from fully living.  We allowed ourselves to be lazy—to lie, to cheat, to kill, abuse and deny—not that we didn’t know we did wrong, but ... well ... after all, we are not up to truly living the ideals of this or that great representative. We are not truly the sons and daughters of an awesome divinity. No, no, we are only human—less than enough, flawed, sinful, evil. No matter. We were created insufficient to the need, and it is “not our fault.”
  Hence, when our evils accumulate and we have made our problemss too difficult, oh well! Somebody else will have to fix it. 
  And sad to say, it is only one short step from there to the belief that “we are rotten, no good, deserve to die, don’t deserve to live, are not as good as ... ” and a million other self-deprecating notions that fill us with hatred and disrespect for oourselvles and others.  And still beyond that, we willingly give up the faith that we ourselves can—indeed must—fix our own messes. That notion of “divinity” of religious leaders, of “special dispensation”  in reality “lets us off the hook” by creating an impossible gulf between what is and what could be.
  It might be said, in the case of Christianity, that the people who wrote those stories about Jesus walking on water and raising the dead excused us from feeding the poor and figuring out a way to stop killing each other.
  So much is simply left undone not so much that we can’t do it, but that we have never even tried. In that sense, we might all be able to rise—if all our gods were only allowed to fall.
  It is no accident that many of those in prison are more righteous than their jailors.

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By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

EJ—the churches were never silent.

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By ElkoJohn, May 7, 2012 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

As usual, the mainstream church-religions are silent.
They were silent during slavery, segregation, the KKK lynching era, and Vietnam.
If the churches speak out, they will loose membership and their tax exempt status.
But the carpenter from Nazareth said you can’t serve two masters.
The mainstream churches have made their choice.

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By prisnersdilema, May 7, 2012 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Too many Christians not enough Christs..

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By prisnersdilema, May 7, 2012 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

This is the 50th anniversary, of our Vietnam invasion. In all that time our political class, 
has learned the wrong lessons. They have spent those years perfecting their cruelty,
getting rid of inconvenient civil rights, infiltrating dissenting groups, and hiring poisoners
to spread venom in public forums like this, and through the air waves.

Those that have been used as unconscious tools, never learn how to live with their
actions, except by self numbing. And when their own emotional trauma, over what they
have done, breaks through to consciousness, what they have become will be hard to
live with.

The antidote, has always been to reach out, to connect, to give service of oneself, to
community.  The very impulses that the elite twists, to make someone a more effective
comrade in arms, can be used to restore hope, and peace of mind. Until then the past
can only stand in the way of becoming something else.

There are too many Christians, and enough Christs.  But when someone follows his
example, someone who is not content to be anesthetized by his teachings, as they are
wrongly taught,  he has always been a threat to evil.

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By Ed Romano, May 7, 2012 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

Good Morning Comrades, Yes, The meek shall inherit the earth after the captialists have rendered it unin habitable….Let’s give Mr. Packard a round of applause for putting his rear end on the line while many of his colleagues are busy excercising their tongues. But lose the red dress, George and think about what it is your committed to in that backward looking, mealy mouthed, capitalist blessing institution you are in cahoots with.

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By Joyusness, May 7, 2012 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Your story is truth and healing balm.  Just this morning, in a sermon study group,
we came to the conclusion that, like Saul, who merited redirection from God for
his passion, we are called by God to be on fire for him.  Thank you, George
Packard, for carrying the torch and leading the way!

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By morongobill, May 7, 2012 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

Jesus would be right alongside the Bishop getting arrested, and yes, he would need an appointment also to make it to the 14th floor.

Courage such as this is what will be required to change this world, and not just from the young or the Bishop.

Repentance and redemption, ancient concepts that still can help give life meaning.

There really is nothing new here nowadays, greed and hubris still alive and kicking, maybe the feet of clay which will lead to the 1%‘s downfall.

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By hmk, May 7, 2012 at 8:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I knew way back when that it was wrong to kill - especially in a war because, despite the rabid lies, no war has ever been about self-defense.  So why didn’t this paragon of morality Bishop Packard know?  This is the first Christ Hedges article I merely skimmed over.  I’m sorry but I cannot accept a George Packard as a moral figure.  You can be forgiven for taking another life in a fit of passion; but you can never be forgiven for taking countless lives with your signature - and make no mistake: Packard’s signature when he joined the military is no different from our “leader’s” signature authorizing a drone attack.  And until enough people understand that it’s the people, not their leaders, who thirst for blood and that their leaders only reflect public sentiment, however carefully hidden, to speak of such an impertinence as “morality” is an abomination.

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By Midnight Stalker, May 7, 2012 at 7:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One good aspect concerning Packard is that he eventually grew a conscience. However how much he is haunted by his horrible memories—he deserves it, it is the price he must pay for his callous crimes. The fact that he became a religious man does not move me in the least, and is this his way of expiating his guilt?

As an anti-war activist, I could never forgive this man for the atrocities he has committed. As a young stupid man, he made the decision to travel thousands of miles to kill fellow human beings who were defending their land from an invasion of the imperial killer American forces.

Packard has a lot of karma to work out and judging by his own admission of the number of people he and other serial killers have sent to the nether world, it is doubtful he will ever get to be a forgiven person, and if he believes in the “hell” his religion teaches, it is a place he will reside in for eternity.
He helped to create a living hell for the Vietnamese and it is only fitting that work out his sins in “hell” created by his god.

The other matter he must work out is the question of religion. Is it a force for good or is it just another joke perpetrated on humanity, and can he really believe he can find forgiveness in a dubious god and religion?

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By Brook Packard, May 7, 2012 at 7:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, Chris, for you prophetic voice. George
may be the only bishop willing to keep up the fight,
but he is joined by comrades around the world who
know our votes are useless, money is power used to
destroy, and that the laws does not protect the least
of these but the interests of a handful of people
with personality disorders and twisted values.  All
we can do now is take the streets and get arrested.
What noble cause? Name it. That homes, jobs, health
care, and education are rights and not privileges;
hunger, war and war profiteering, use of public
space, exercising First Amendment rights, the
corporatocracy, fake democracy, and church hypocrisy.
While Troy Davis was being executed-galvanizing more
support to abolish the death penalty-the House of
Bishops of the Episcopal Church met in Quito, Ecuador
to study Liberation Theology. Not even a token
statement let alone joining the people in the
streets. (There was a group that had gotten a deal on
a tour of the Galapagos, you see.) Jesus said there
was but one law: Love God and love your neighbor as
yourself.  People of faith do not need leadership
anymore since that leadership has betrayed their
trust. “To whom much is given, much is required.” 
For some, that means sharing financial wealth. That’s
easy. For a lot of us, that means occupying the
courts, public and private space, with our bodies.
Come join us. There is the possibility of police
brutality, but not in every case. Those photos of
people fighting cops show the 1% of OWS. The 99% is
happening…anywhere, any time. I’m very proud of my

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By bluejeanne, May 7, 2012 at 7:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He certainly took a circuitous route to become ‘the peoples’ bishop’.  Had he met the Berrigan Brothers before his military experience in Vietnam, maybe he would’ve spared himself his profound guilt.  One would think more clergy would be demonstrating their disagreement with the exploitation by the economic system today. Sadly it seems the Churches are evermore entrenched in that very system.

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By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

yes, god, allah, jesus, muhammad, yahweh, your
country/priests/politicians may forgive you your crimes [?
sins] but your nervous system may never.

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By Devon J. Noll, MPA, May 7, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For the first time in a long time, I finally made it through an article by Chris Hedges where I was not depressed, but rather filled with hope and respect for someone.  Rev. Packard is so right that Jesus of Nazareth would hate what the church has become, and He would be out there standing in the streets doing the right thing.

Our nation is filled with people who want to do the right thing, and many are trying to do so.  We need to learn that a common spirit drives us all and whether you believe in God or not, that spirit calls to all of us to come together to help one another fight for justice and honor.  It is the spirit of each person that makes us create strong communities of people - whether a military platoon or a small town or an Occupy event - and they are connected to one another as strongly as if forged in steel.  Rev. Packard and others who understand this sense of community can help lead us all back to what makes us all strong - our unity.

Whether you join in an Occupy event or just stand up and state to your preachers in church, rabbis in synagogues, or imams in mosques that killing someone who does not believe as you do is wrong, you can make a difference and bring hope to a world that is rapidly losing hope.  We must look past our prejudices and stop listening to warmongering religious fanatics to find that which connects us all - our spiritual selves, that inner core that makes us try to be decent human beings.  It is the same among all of us - we love, we laugh, we learn, we give of ourselves to others, and when we face our own mortality, we all cry together.  We must tap into this center of ourselves, because in a world gone mad with hate and fear, it is the only thing that is going to save us.

Thank you, Rev. Packard and Mr. Hedges, for reminding us of our humanity.

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By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

ok, i mispelled caeser’s name. btw, “uphold the prophets”
directive means that pious christians shld always obey their
priests. and christians have always done so very faithfully.
how long so, oh my goddevil?

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By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

sorry, packard, but jesus had said [or s’mone said it for
him]: meek shall inherit the earth [and christians hear it loud
and clear]; render onto caesar caesar’s; you shall always
have poor amongst you [and perforce strong and weak in
daily living/politics as well]; i came to uphold the law
[theoocratic, of course] and prophets.
and we know that no one can foresee the future!!

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By heterochromatic, May 7, 2012 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

So what great cause was George Packard that compelled him to be arrested that

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By egsmith, May 7, 2012 at 6:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I serve the church as clergy, and while much of the characterization of the church
rings true, I am compelled to say that all of the work is not meaningless simply
because it is not a part of the Occupy movement. I hold hands with people who are
dying, I cry with families losing loved ones to cancer, I sit with people who no one
remembers. None of this is as exhilarating as being arrested in New York, nor do I
serve out of some need to atone, at least not for something as profound as
systematic murder. I am sympathetic to the Occupy movement, it is just that those
who’ve been forgotten and abandoned, whether their abandonment is the result of
a corrupt monetary system or not, are not able to process it all because of their
predicament. Please don’t flush us all because we are not being arrested.

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By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

i did not expect that more than one in thousand of pious people wld support Occupy.
thus i suggested Occupy occupies churches.
but OWS need to occupy ONEPERCENT’S [or actually of the 30-90%‘s] ideology, foreign and
domestic policies as well.
ows has to stop jumping fences, occupy private property, disobey, or shout at police.
police is there to protect their pensions, healthcare, early retirement, double dipping,
american dream, etc.
i wonder if the OWS realize what it is they are facing and that changes can be wrought only in
congress-w.h-judiciary and never from street?
recall, please, that private property in a strong empire such as u.s is a holy of holies and you
shld never violate it or you’d pay for it!

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By John holland, May 7, 2012 at 6:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great piece, and well deserved. Personally I would have liked to hear how Bishop
Packard’s past influenced his current politics and activities. Nonetheless, I appreciated
reading about his background.

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By gaylordcat, May 7, 2012 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

George Packard was my rector at Christ Church, Martinsville, VA, in 1978, his first parish, I think, after his ordination. We talked, frequently, about his Viet Nam experiences, especially the fact that he was so very successful at what he did in that war. I asked about his nightmares and how he reconciled what he did in the war with what being a priest demanded. He said it was very hard.

George taught me a lot about facing demons; I had, have, many. Even now, when I turn and look them in the eye, I often think of George. His arrests do not surprise me at all. If he had not been arrested, I would be shocked. He is what we all should be, religion aside: courageous, standing for what is right. Right! Getting off our butts and wading into battle because it is the right thing to do.

I believe George is a priest, not because he wants to be, but because he has to be. He is compelled, as your story clearly shows, to atone for the lives he took in Viet Nam. He knows it is the right thing to do, but he also knows it is what the church, synagogue, temple, stupa—whatever—must do if humanity is to survive.

I am no longer a believer in a god, but there is a place for religions in the lives of people. However, that place is NOT inside a building re-enacting the myths of the religions and calling it worship. Using Christianity as an example, re-enacting the so-called Last Supper (the Mass) every Sunday is an utter waste of time and an affront to Jesus whom Christians profess to follow. According to the New Testament, he did not spend his time in buildings worshiping a god. He waded into the streets and helped people to end hunger, pain, affliction, stress, worry, etc., etc. I think that’s what George Packard means with his own life; get out there and help, do what you can to make lives better for our brothers and sisters, do what is RIGHT; WE ARE OUR BROTHERS’ KEEPERS, and if we are not, our species is doomed.

I haven’t seen George for over 30 years, but I’ve never forgotten the young man who spent so much time with me helping me face the torments that surrounded me then, a very courageous act while burdened with his own tormentors. I love George very much and my admiration of him is so much deeper after reading your story. Thanks, Mr. Hedges.

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By loneagle, May 7, 2012 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most people think soldier PTSD is from what was done to you, while most people
who suffer from it know it is from what they did.

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By antrosie, May 7, 2012 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

Thanks for this great story. It’s difficult to leave
our comfort zone and risk getting arrested to join in
the street protests. You and Bishop Packard have my
respect for your commitment to the expression of free
speech and for trying to awaken others to do the same.

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By Tom Degan, May 7, 2012 at 4:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Beware the sleeping giant of the Religious Left….

I’m just sayin’.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

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