Monday, December 31, 2007
Do you want to show your support of our troops? Well it is simple to do, simply slap a yellow ribbon on your SUV and you can show just how much you appreciate watching those troops get their limbs blown up in the war that you sit at home and watch on Fox News for entertainment.
If you show off your ribbon you will be showing our troops plenty support, and you can feel comfortable defending keeping them in Iraq for years to come. You don't have to worry about the fact that many of them want nothing more than to be able to go home and be with their families, you can just pretend that the best way to support them is to keep them there longer. You can sit and watch as they are forced to kill and be killed in a war that many of them don't even support, because as long as you say you support the troops you can put them through whatever hell your ideology creates.
It doesn't matter that many of the young men and women who are in the military are there because they enlisted on the basis of misconceptions. Here they were being pummeled with television ads showing the members of our armed forces being promoted to hero status, and assured them that if they would only enlist they could be a hero too. Everybody wants to be a hero, and so many people listed out of a great sense of civic duty. But they were never shown what it is really like to be in the military in those ads. They never showed images of people having their friends blown up by bombs in those ads, they never showed a child crying when they learned their daddy was killed, they never showed the people who came back from war with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, they were only showed the hero worship. Many people wanted be heroes, but once they signed on the dotted line there was no going back. All of a sudden they were being sent into an illegal war and being forced to fight for a lie. If they backed out they would be sent to prison and have their lives destroyed, and so their families were ripped apart and they were forced to fight for the lie.
They fought for the lie in large part because they had no choice and were lied to about the reality of war. And they watched helplessly as their friends get killed, they watched helplessly as civilians died needlessly, and they watched helplessly as the blood squirt from the stump that remained of their leg after they got too close to a roadside bomb. And then they were they sent off to be treated for their injuries within the confines of the mold encrusted walls of Walter Reed.
But you can forget about all that, because all it takes to support the troops is to slap that yellow ribbon on your SUV. If you say you support the troops then you can go right ahead and vote for politicians that will cut their benefits, extend their tours, and get them sent home in coffins. As long as you have the yellow ribbon you can excuse anything.
So drive around with your yellow ribbon, watch your Fox News, and pump your fist wildly in the air as you scream "USA! USA! USA!" As long as you pretend to be really enthusiastic about supporting the troops you don't have to worry about bringing them home from the war they are being killed off in.
Are you proud to be an American right now or what?
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/MN%20Against%20Bush/134
Sunday, December 30, 2007
An Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement From Iraq Veterans Against the War
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the quagmire known as the invasion/occupation of Iraq, many of us feel a need to mark this occasion with an appropriately momentous show of resistance. For the past few months, IVAW has been organizing "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan." From March 13-16, 2008, we will assemble the largest gathering of US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in history, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors, to offer first-hand, eyewitness accounts to tell the truth about these occupations — their impact on the troops, their families, our nation, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Winter Soldier will require IVAW's full attention and organizing capacity leading up to and during the event.
We would like to have as many people as possible attend the event and we are making arrangements to provide live broadcasting of the hearings for those who cannot hear the testimony first hand, as space will be limited. We ask all of you to help us to spread the message of the testimony, raise funds, and get more veterans and GIs involved.
We have been inspired by the tremendous support that the movement has shown us and we believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members. Because Winter Soldier will provide a unique venue for those who experienced war on the ground to expose the truth and consequences of the "War on Terror" to the nation and the world, we are requesting that, from March 13-16, the larger anti-war movement call no national mobilizations and that there be no local protests or civil disobedience actions in Washington, DC.
Some leaders of the movement have expressed a desire to have a mass assembly to mark the fifth anniversary. Some have expressed support for a concert/rally. IVAW would support any events that do not interfere with the Winter Soldier hearings, our strategy, or goals. We would encourage our members to continue participating in events of the larger movement to end the occupation of Iraq, as we acknowledge both the significance and the necessity of such actions for movement building. IVAW will also arrange to make available copies of the Winter Soldier transcript highlights to support the various efforts of the antiwar movement.
We are thankful for your enduring support of IVAW and Winter Soldier. Let us all continue to think strategically and act in a spirit of cooperation.
Iraq Veterans Against the War
IVAW Board of Directors
Camilo E. Mejia
Winter Soldier Organizing Team
For detailed information on how your organization can support Winter Soldier please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Rick Hassett. AKA; Reddog. Just joined the blog and will be posting from time to time. I'm a member of VFP/Smedley and currently at the Coatesville, Pa. Vet's Hospital in residential treatment for PTSD. (19 months in Vietnam).
Will be blogging as to my experiences here in the future.
For now, Best Regards and Very Happy Holidays,
Rick Hassett (Reddog)
Friday, December 21, 2007
The disastrous production of BushCo, a minor opera best known for its collection of ear-grating contradictions and cacophonous lies, is about to end as all operas do.
The Fat Lady will assume center stage, and will belt a tune that can be heard with clarity all the way to the back of the balcony, signaling an end to the nightmarish extravaganza whose aftertaste will be as bitterly remembered as the outlandish price of admission.
After an expenditure of billions of taxpayers’ dollars on sets, props and costumes rather than a script of style and substance, the cast is already rushing to the nearest backstage exit, hoping to escape a more-than-irate audience demanding a refund on their tickets.
In fact, some haven’t even waited for the last curtain call, but have already snuck out into the alley behind the theater, claiming a suddenly-remembered need to quit the bright lights of show-biz in order to spend more time with their families.
But the fact is that in this soon-to-close show, the Fat Lady is none other than Lady Justice, and as emaciated and weak as she has become – having been bound, gagged and tortured backstage during the entire run of the BushCo debacle – she is ready, willing, and more than able to take the stage and regale the world with her finale.
After the frustration of the last seven years, as the crimes of this administration have mounted and become more blatantly obvious with seemingly no end in sight, it is understandable that so many have adopted a never gonna happen attitude when it comes to imagining that these criminals will finally get their just desserts.
But Lady Justice has her fan base and, when all is said and sung, she will not be deterred from – you should pardon the expression – bringing the House down.
We have seen this phenomena before – the concentration camp inmates who never thought they’d see justice done, but who, after years of dashed hopes and no basis for any real anticipation, watched the Nuremberg trials unfold, saw Eichmann twitching in the prisoner’s dock, saw those who had haunted their nightmares, suddenly humiliated and frightened, stand trial at long last.
This will happen. Lady Justice may not be as swift to act as we would hope, and after years of the silence imposed by her captivity, it may take some time for her voice to regain its traditional strength.
But she will sing again and, when she does, there will be no corner of the stage dark enough for the guilty to hide. Slowly but surely, the house lights are being turned up, and the rats are becoming increasingly uneasy about the alleged security of their hidey-holes.
The audience has turned, and they have turned with a vengeance. For some, the turning point came well into the first act; for others, it is the last scene, now in progress, that will prompt them to rush to the ticket office, waving their playbills and demanding to see the show they had been promised, and not the one they had been duped into sitting through, no less paying for.
Shredded documents, missing taxpayer dollars, deleted hard-drives, contradictory statements, claims of executive privilege, secrecy due to alleged national security interests, corruption, escalating debt, cronyism, malfeasance, sex, lies and erased videotapes – and the fact that the country has nothing of value to balance the losses it has sustained due to all of the above – is a scene about to explode on the stage in a display of fireworks bound to dazzle those still left in their seats, not to mention capturing the attention of the so-called MSM critics who hailed this bomb as an unabashed hit since opening night.
So be patient, my fellow opera attendees. The Fat Lady WILL sing, and when she clears her throat and opens her mouth, the whole world will hear the sweetness of her dulcet tones – which will sound all the sweeter after such a long absence from her rightful place on the stage.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/NanceGreggs/320
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Brownies Will Get You Five to Ten
A Boondocks Chapter Christmas at Fort Bragg
By Jason Hurd
On the morning of December 17, 2007, Steve Casey and I awoke bright and early at the Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Steve and I had driven nearly three hundred miles from our home-base in Asheville, North Carolina to distribute holiday gift bags to the wonderful servicewomen and men stationed at our nation's busiest military post--Fort Bragg. Our friends and supporters in Asheville stuffed nearly three hundred small lunch bags full of holiday cards, chocolates, cookies and home-made brownies. The gift bags had a humble feel to them: brown paper lunch sacks with the tops folded down, green and red ribbons, a copy of our newsletter Sit-Rep stapled to the outside and a small sticker that said, "To: A Warrior, From: IVAW." Our mission was to ensure that these bags--each made with love and kindness--got into the hands of our deserving soldiers.
With gift bags in hand, Steve and I drove to Fort Bragg's Mini Mall and set up a small collapsible table to distribute the bags from. We taped two large poster boards to the front of the table; one said, "Happy Holidays From Your Fellow Veterans," and the other proclaimed, "We Love Our Service Women and Men." Immediately, Steve and I began handing the packages to soldiers as they exited the Mini Mall. I greeted each soldier by saying, "Hello. My friend and I are veterans and we are giving holiday gift bags to our soldiers to show our appreciation for your service. Thank you and happy holidays." Nearly every soldier I spoke with replied with a large smile, "Thank you very much. I'm glad there are people like you doing this. Happy holidays to you too!" Within an hour, Steve and I had given out nearly one hundred and fifty bags. In that time, only one soldier reacted negatively toward us; every one else seemed extremely pleased.
Around one o'clock in the afternoon, a female manager who worked for the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AFFES) came out of the Mini Mall and said, "Hey guys I'm glad your giving out packages to soldiers, but you can't do this on Fort Bragg without a permit." I replied, "Great! Where do we get a permit?" The manager explained where we needed to go, and we began packing up shop to go get our permit. That's when the Military Police showed up. Three MP's--SSG Netwig, PFC Murray and PVT Garren--approached us and began questioning us about our gift bags. SSG Netwig glared at a copy of Sit-Rep and said, "I'm going to keep my personal opinion out of this, but you are disrupting the order and discipline of my post." I explained that we were on our way to get a permit for our bags and we had no intentions of disrupting the order and discipline of Fort Bragg. SSG Netwig replied that we had offended a lot of people with our bags (which was news to Steve and I) and that he would not allow us to continue distributing them.
At that moment, a Special Forces Captain (apparently one of the people we had offended) approached SSG Netwig and spoke with him privately. Immediately, SSG Netwig said that we were going to the Provost Marshall's office to answer questions.
"Are we being arrested?" I said.
"No. But you are being detained," SSG Netwig replied.
At that moment, the MP's shoved Steve and I against their patrol car, searched us, handcuffed us and placed us in the patrol car like criminals. They drove us away leaving a box of gift bags on the trunk of Steve's car. In the back of the patrol car, I looked at Steve and said, "Don't worry, this is a good thing--trust me." "OK," Steve said. SSG netwig drove us to the Provost Marshall's office where, after being searched a second time, we spent the next four hours as detainees. One investigator told Steve that Fort Bragg is a conservative post and that anti-war views were in the minority. The officers separated Steve and I and began questioning us. I asked four times to make a phone call so that I could consult with an attorney; the officers denied my right each time. A criminal investigator entered my room.
"Are you affiliated with any other groups besides IVAW?" he asked.
"No, I am not, " I replied.
"How did you and this Steve guy meet?"
"Look," I said, "I'm not going to continue answering questions without consulting an attorney."
"But you aren't under arrest. You're merely detained and we are trying to have a friendly conversation with you," the investigator said.
"I feel like like it is in my best interests to consult with an attorney before continuing," I replied.
Then the investigator and officers walked out leaving me alone in the room. Against my captor's wishes, I began text messaging the Quaker House and IVAW members to let them know what was happening (the officers had mistakenly left my phone). Immediately, the investigators began receiving calls from every peace activist from North Carolina to Philadelphia urging them to release Steve and I. The MP's knew they had a situation on their hands.
Before we knew it, an investigator apologized to Steve and I for the inconvenience and released us. The investigator informed us that we just needed to get a permit for future activities of this nature. Two young MP's escorted Steve and I back to our car and we talked about Iraq on the way. One of the young MP's said, "Yeah, fuck Iraq. I hate that place. I had friends die there. I don't ever want to go back." We pulled up to Steve's car and rubbing the cuts on our wrists from the handcuffs, we saw the perfect ending to our day. The box of gift bags was still sitting atop Steve's trunk and some passerby had written on it the following:
"Hi, I heard what happened. Listen up cops, politicians, and OVER EGOTISTIC DRAMA QUEEN SENIOR NCO'S AND OFFICERS! Many friends in my platoon DIED BRUTALLY for the First Amendment. We have the right to peaceful protest, damn you! Why did you arrest these guys? To all ya'll who don't believe in: freedom of speech, press, council, religion, assembly, and petition...GO TO HELL!! Sincerely, A concerned passerby and witness to the arrest of protesters."
So much for being the minority.
uhc comment: I can't tell you how proud these guys make me feel. Rock on, Brothers!
A day after 21 Democrats folded in the face of republican demands that they approve more money for Bush's Iraq occupation, it's been predicted that enough House Democrats are now willing to abandon last week's insistence that Iraq funds be tied to a commitment to set an end date to the aggression and will reportedly accept the Senate capitulation which allows Bush to dip into our treasury once more and continue his open-ended militarism (most say they reject) with impunity.
In an unusual procedure, the House will take up the Iraq portion of the omnibus spending bill today and is expected to give Bush and the republican minority in Congress more rope in Iraq in exchange for compromises on veterans spending and other Democratic priorities republicans have been hindering with their unyielding opposition and obstruction.
The obvious question for Democrats who are allowing these funds to advance, and allowing Bush to (again) sidestep the majority of congressional opposition to his occupation, is, what obligation do these Democrats feel they have to the overwhelming majority of voters who demanded an end to the Iraq occupation last November with their votes replacing the republican majority with Democrats who pledged they would stand in the way of Bush's arrogant disregard of our collective will? Where has our Democratic majority demonstrated the same unyielding opposition and obstruction to Bush's widely unpopular stance on Iraq that republicans have managed since they assumed the majority we provided them?
At every point where Democrats were to hold the line on their demands (our demands) for a timetable or a mere commitment that Bush bring our troops home by a date certain, Democrats have done nothing but posture, and then, bend; albeit in increments of funding that they insist are 'bridge funds' for the troops while they wait for Bush and his republicans to relent. Amazingly (and many say predictably), those Democrats who have continued to give our lame-duck commander more rope for his occupation are still dealing with the administration and their republican enablers as if they've actually demonstrated honesty, or even good faith, in their characterizations of the quagmire, or in their justifications for keeping our troops bogged down there.
Where is any of the political reconciliation Bush and his republicans promised forthcoming from the Iraqi regime which over 3800 of our nation's defenders have fought and died to support and defend? It's an insult to anyone who has assumed any honesty or good faith from this administration that their Secretary of State is busy, right now, at the dawn of the House capitulation, begging the Maliki regime to clean up their political act and make nice with their sectarian rivals for their hapless U.S. audience and save their congressional supporters' political faces.
Where is the assurance that Iraqis will assume any of the 'security' tasks that the administration and their republicans now insist are tantamount and have precedence over the "room" Bush argued earlier this year our troops were providing Iraqis for their political reconciliation? The only demonstrated results of Bush's unilateral, increased occupation (which Democrats have funded right along with the deployment) have been from our troops' ability to kill thousands of Iraqis they claim are either 'insurgent' or terrorist.
There is no more of a 'threat' to America from resisting Iraqis than there was from the non-existent Iraqi WMDs Bush and his minions claimed threatened the U.S. as they argued for the invasion at its outset. Six years into the diversion from the pursuit of the original, 9-11 terror suspects in Afghanistan to "fight terrorists there," in Iraq, there has been no diminution of individuals openly committed to violence against the U.S., our allies, or our interests abroad. In the administration's own intelligence reports there are repeated warnings that Bush's reckless militarism in Iraq has actually fostered and is fueling resistant violence, rather than stifling it, as the administration and their supporters have claimed in their justifications to continue.
Where are these supporters of giving Bush more money to continue in Iraq getting the intelligence that justifies continuing? If they're still relying on the administration's word on Iraq then they're settling for less than half-truths. None of the administration's shifting justifications for continuing in Iraq contain any acknowledgment of the years of squandering of lives in Iraq or any acknowledgment or understanding of their own complicity in the unrest and chaos which their invasion and occupation has unleashed.
The politicians, here and in Iraq, are merely shaving off the edges of their disintegrating coups and constructing little barriers to scrutiny - and for Bush and his republicans, to hold back the accountability that our votes in the next election intend to bring to bear on their autocratic abuses of power and assumed authority. In the Senate yesterday, and in the House today, a determinate number of Democrats elected to tear down the administration's petty obstructions are expected to abandon their opposition (again) and allow Bush another shred of cover on Iraq.
Democratic presidential aspirants who actually are employed to confront Bush behind their elected positions in Congress - Dodd, Obama, Biden, Clinton - didn't even bother to show up and vote. Bush supporter, republican John McCain did, to wage the administration fight against any limiting amendments.
Sen. Clinton, who co-sponsored an amendment to the bill which would set a date for withdrawal, but failed to show up and vote, said today on Fox & Friends morning news that she's "focusing on the "vision that I have for America" and "what I would do to hit that ground running on that very first day." It would be infinitely more productive if she just focused on the job at hand, instead.
Sen. Obama, who also failed to show up and debate or vote, gave an Iraq speech earlier in the week in which he railed against politicians who "feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions." Why wasn't he on the Senate floor, asking those "hard questions" and providing that "strength" he says he expects?
These absent politicians can claim to be opposed to the funding, but they all chose to distance themselves from the accountability of a recorded vote. Who really knows what their fine words of opposition actually mean if they don't even take advantage of the elevated platforms of office they've been gifted with and hold today?
But, there is no opposition to be found at all from those Democrats who vote to allow this omnibus bill to advance with Iraq money buried inside. They can try and convince themselves and others that they voted to protect the interests of soldiers already deployed, but we know, from the Majority Leader's own mouth, that there are more than enough funds already allocated to keep Bush in business in Iraq until March. "What they're trying to do is hold the whole government hostage to this crazy money for Iraq," Reid was quoted in the WSJ just last week. "All we're trying to do is to swallow hard and give him enough for the military and keep the government open," he said.
Well . . . he and the others who allowed these funds for Iraq to advance may have 'swallowed hard,' but they capitulated and gave Bush his 'crazy money' for Iraq anyway. They're under Bush's bloody heel. They might as well be the opposition we elected them to put down. In the case of Iraq, they are the opposition.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at opednews.com: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_ron_full_071219_bush_s_democrats_on_.htm
Don't think about them.
Don't think about the Iraqi civilians who are being blown to bits by the weapons that your tax dollars have paid for. In order to truly understand the situation in Iraq you have to listen to the reports from the generals on the ground, after all they would never try to spin anything. So don't worry about all the dead civilians because the generals are telling you everything is going just fine, just so long as you ignore the missing limbs of the soldiers who are coming back.
Don't think about the child that does not have health care. Just remember those buzz words "socialized medicine", then you can easily look away from the sick child who is unable to see a doctor because her family can't afford to pay for it. After all just think of the harm that socialized medicine would do to the wallets of insurance industry CEOs. Much better to look away from the dying kid and focus your sympathy on those poor HMOs who would suffer if they did not make big profits.
Don't think about those people who are sitting in a secret prison overseas and being tortured by our government. Just remember 9/11. That makes it much easier to ignore the fact that our government is running prisons which are not subject to oversight by human rights groups and the prisoners are almost exclusively of one race (Arab) and one faith (Islam). Just ignore those other times through history when people of a minority religious group were treated under a different set of laws and imprisoned without charges. That is all irrelevant because all of that stuff happened before 9/11. After 9/11 the world became a very different place. In our post 9/11 world we have to trust our leaders who are just trying to protect us from another 9/11 that would be even bigger than 9/11. Did I mention 9/11?
Don't think about the man who will be sleeping on the streets tonight because his minimum wage job can not pay the rent. Just think about that tax-cut that the really rich people got, because maybe, just maybe that wealth will trickle down to the homeless guy. After all, wouldn't you expect that the CEO of Halliburton sees a lot of potential business coming from that homeless guy that is sleeping in the gutter? There is just so much incentive for the CEOs of military contractors and oil industry executives to watch their wealth trickle down to the poor. So go ahead and praise wasteful government spending in social services and praise our trickle-down your leg tax cuts for the rich, it makes it much easier to avoid thinking about the poor if you just think about the extremely wealthy.
So don't think about dead civilians, don't think about poverty, don't think about the people in those secret prisons, don't think about the child without health care, because if you think about them you would be engaging in partisan politics. If you want to develop an informed opinion just listen to our completely non-partisan pundits, they will tell you what opinions you should hold. It is very clear that our pundits are clearly focused on the issues that matter, John Edwards' haircut, Al Gore's electric bill, Hillary Clinton's cleavage, Barack Obama's middle name, Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, and OJ Simpson. So just forget about all those completely irrelevant issues like Iraq, health care, election fraud, and warrantless wiretapping and focus on what really matters. The fact that Britney Spears' little sister is pregnant.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/MN%20Against%20Bush/130
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Over this weekend and by noon today, 82,000 Americans signed a petition sponsored by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and two other members of the House Judiciary Committee, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), calling on that committee and its chairman, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to begin immediate hearings on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.
There was no report in the nation's corporate media on the three Judiciary Committee members' call (they are three senior members of the House Democratic Party), and no report on the remarkable public response to their petition.
As always when the story involves impeachable crimes by the Bush administration, the corporate media have been silent, devoting their pricey news minutes and their precious column inches to meaningless stories about the twin horseraces for the presidential nomination, which themselves have blacked out any word of the main crowd-pleasers in those campaigns: Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Kucinich.
Impeachment is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows that this country is being run by a criminal syndicate that has rigged elections, hidden its knowledge of the 9-11 attacks, lied the country into war, plotted to out an important CIA undercover operative and then obstruct a criminal investigation into that treasonous act, subverted most of the articles of the Bill of Rights, emasculated the Congress and the Courts (which it has also shamelessly packed with shameless hacks), betrayed veterans, surrendered a major American metropolis to the devastation of a hurricane, plotted to enable the declaring of martial law, tortured kidnapped and killed people in violation of international law and obstructed efforts to deal with the unprecedented crisis of global warming for an unconscionable seven years.
But the media won't allow any talk of holding this administration to account. It's not just that we are being told that the only power and duty we as citizens have is to vote once every two or four years (after which we are supposed to shut up and consume), but that we are not to be told about, or are being encouraged not to talk about these larger crimes that are occurring, and worsening, day by day.
Impeachment isn't just off the table in the Congress. It is off the table in the media and thus in public discourse.
This is intolerable. It is only because of the alternative media that those 82,000 citizens knew of and signed onto Rep. Wexler's courageous call for impeachment hearings on Kucinich's equally courageous bill.
We as citizens should not just be haranguing our representatives to demand that they support impeachment hearings. We should be picketing our local news organizations and deluging them with calls and letters demanding that they stop the censorship and report the news honestly without fear or favor, as they are supposed to do.
Here follows a letter I just sent to the ombudsman at the New York Times:
Dear Public Editor:
How can it not be news that last Friday, three senior, respected members of the House Judiciary Committee, six-termer Robert Wexler (D-FL), leading hispanic member Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and floor leader Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), publicly called on the House Judiciary Committee to begin immediate hearings on Dennis Kucinich's bill to impeach VP Dick Cheney?
On Friday, Wexler announced that he was setting up a webside, asking for 50,000 people to sign on in support of his call for impeachment hearings. By the end of the first day, he had 53,000 signatures and as of today, just three days after the site was established, there were 77,300 signatures, rising by the second.
There has been no report on this development in the impeachment story in the NY times, which is nothing short of astonishing.
I also hear from Wexler's office that the Times rejected an op-ed submission written by the three congressmembers explaining their decision.
While of course the opinion page editors have the right to make what choices they like about what runs, they have elected to run rather obscure opinion pieces by politicians, often on positions that the editors don't even disagree with. Here is a case of a perspective that is not shared by the editors, by three real players in the debate, and they don't deem it worthy of seeing print?
As author of the book The Case for Impeachment, which was published by the mainstream publisher St. Martin's Press in 2006, and which, after selling a respectable 20,000 copies, went to paperback, all without receiving a review or mention in the NY Times, or for that matter in any mainstream newspaper in the country, I am well aware that the impeachment movement, which has seen over 100 cities and towns and one state senate (VT) vote out resolutions calling for impeachment, and which is a key demand voiced at every major anti-war demonstration, is being completely blacked out by the major media, including the Times.
As a 34-year veteran, award-winning journalist, a former Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the author of a well-regarded book on impeachment, I find the whole thing unconscionable, especially considering the incredible amount of ink--and high-dudgeon editorials--that were expended on the ridiculous Clinton impeachment less than a decade ago.
Your paper should do a better job of covering the news, and should stop covering up the news.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at http://thiscantbehappening.net/: http://thiscantbehappening.net/?q=node/83
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
An open letter to Tony Snow:
With respect to your recent remarks at Oklahoma Christian University, I am in agreement with your assessment that there is indeed a War on God in our country. And you should know, having worked for the president, the administration, and the party that launched that war, and continue to wage it on a daily basis.
From day one of Bush’s catastrophic tenure in office, God has been treated by George and the GOP like a commodity to be bought and sold, a stick with which to prod Christians and other believers into accepting things like torture, and a blindfold to be placed over the eyes of those who can be most easily led astray with false promises and empty rhetoric.
“God”, or your party’s version thereof, is no longer the creator, but the destroyer of those who worship him differently, or seek his blessings in a language other than ours.
He is no longer the God whom Moses sought out on the mountain; he has been replaced by the Golden Calf your party fashioned out of valueless trinkets, like lies and a lust for money. And as for those Ten Commandments – Thou Shalt Not Kill, Thou Shalt Not Steal, etc. – they apparently now come complete with signing statements and can be rescinded as is convenient.
He is no longer the Christ who threw the money-changers out of the Temple, but is now the Guardian of the Greedy, the Protector of the Profiteers, the patron saint who sheds His Golden Light upon the Golden Parachute and its recipients.
In other words, your god is safe, my friend. It’s the true God who has been taking a bashing.
Last Friday, you stated that you “loved being on a stage where you could say the word God”. Tell us, Tony, when and where have you been prevented from saying that word? Is this part of that infamous persecution of Christians we keep hearing about? Surely a seasoned newsman like yourself must have the horrific details of this endless persecution – why don’t you share them with us?
You see, Tony, unlike you, I can actually cite the instances where God is no longer allowed to be mentioned in this country.
You can’t mention that God the All-Loving wouldn’t condone torture, or waging a war that kills innocents for the sake of oil.
You can’t mention that God the Creator expects stewardship of the earth, regardless of how deeply protecting the environment cuts into corporate profits.
You can’t mention that the Son of God admonished his followers to help the needy, the sick, the hungry, the homeless, because spending tax dollars on social programs to accomplish that end would result in less money for the weapons manufacturers, and the war-profiteers.
You can’t mention that doing God’s work on earth means looking out for someone other than yourself – at least not to Republicans, whose credo is “I’ve got mine, and everyone else is none of my concern.”
And if you really want to know about people who can’t say the word God in this country, ask a Muslim. Sure, they can pray to Allah (and that’s God, in case you didn’t know, Tony) in an airport, as long as they don’t mind the risk of getting thrown off their flight – or worse.
And then of course there is the “War on Christmas”, that great battlefront situated right smack-dab in the middle of Consumerism, USA, where – according to your ilk – good Christians can demonstrate the true meaning of Jesus’ birth by emptying their wallets in stores that say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.
Having been raised with the old Jesus – you know, the one you people have abandoned – I seem to remember being taught that the true spirit of celebrating Christ’s birth was to be found in giving rather than receiving, and a sharing with the less fortunate.
I recall being told by the good nuns at school to remind my parents to donate to food banks and homeless shelters in observance of the Lord’s birth.
Funnily enough, I don’t remember a word about running up their credit cards only at the right stores as being an appropriate way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace – but, hey, maybe that’s just me.
But I can’t argue with your initial point, Tony. The War on God is as blatantly obvious as the “Spend Your Money Here” banners that hang over Nativity scenes at the local mall. It’s as in-your-face as the photographs from Abu Ghraib.
It is fueled by the deceit of fabricated intelligence that leads a nation into war-for-profit, by the corporate greed that infiltrates our society and buys our government officials, and by the godless apathy that allows citizens to go hungry, homeless, and without medical care while wealthy individuals and corporations are given tax breaks paid for by working-class Americans.
Yes, there IS a War on God, Tony. And if you truly have a problem with that, you might try NOT being one of its most outspoken warriors.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/NanceGreggs/319
Monday, December 17, 2007
Or so says The Firesign Theater comedy troupe of the 1960’s and 70’s. Steeped in satire and double entendre you might listen to Firesign a routine a dozen times finding new jokes hidden in the text each time. Somewhat like the Bush administration only the Firesign were actually trying to be funny.
“The future is fun! The future is fair! You may already have won! You may already be there!” (I Think We’re All Bozo’s on This Bus)
From 1938 until the beginning of the Second World War CBS employed William Shirer as their corespondent in Germany. Shirer had an up close and personal view of the Fuerher’s Reich. Monthly, he would travel to London to discuss the pertinent issues with his boss Edward R. Morrow. Shirer commented to Morrow that despite his knowing that the Nazi press was controlled and contrived he was surprised how much of it seeped into his consciousness. A shocking revelation that even the opposition press can be taken in by an organized propaganda effort.
A few months back I wrote about the Atlanta newspaper praising the new 150 bed homeless shelter. Lauding and laureling local politicians and corporate sponsors with out once mentioning the simultaneous closing of the current 250 bed shelter. Could that be an accident? A net loss of 100 beds is cheered as good news?
I’ve heard some news radio stations with the slogan, “All the News You Need to Know!” And I think to myself, the Firesign couldn’t have said that any better!
What is good news and what is bad news is decided by those with financial and political interests and because of that. “Everything You Know is Wrong” What Fox news spins as a story acts as a bell weather for the other networks, if Fox presents the story, as lunatic fringe will the other networks go in the opposite direction or only moderate the Fox spin?
Case in point, The Iraq Surge, Do you really believe that all the opposing parties have suddenly put all their differences aside? Ok, we will let the American corporation’s rule over us and steal our natural resources. Our do think maybe the Iraqi’s own a calendar? What opinion would the ruling political elite prefer you to believe?
Case in point, Hillary’s stumble, The media has suddenly determined that Hillary Clinton’s support has crumbled. Nonsense, it was never there to begin with, but with all the special interest groups pouring in millions of dollars she had to be the front runner right? The media couldn’t have been wrong could they? They’ve all but chosen the flatware for the coronation but now, uh oh! Hillary’s stumbled. All the networks funded polls had Hillary ahead but now as we get close to voters actually pulling the levers and Hillary’s suddenly screwed up somewhere.
Odd isn’t it? Six years ago the same media nipped at Hillary’s heels like a possum with hydrophobia now it’s like a travelers reunion at a Grateful Dead concert. Every source of corporate money imaginable pouring in, soft and fuzzy network interviews. Try, just try and go 24 hours without seeing the image or hearing the name Hillary Clinton. Then tomorrow pick another candidate and see how that works out for you.
Case in point, The Sub Prime Market fiasco, Now if you think the media has been pushing Hillary down your throat this will require a suspension of belief. The problem has been caused, according to the media by people buying homes that they couldn’t afford. A truckload of yokels just off the Greyhound from Prattville walked in and snookered those poor Harvard MBA’s into financing their mortgage. A mortgage that they knew they could never afford! Do you believe your countryman are that stupid? Would you sign on the dotted line for a house if you knew you would be evicted from it in 18 months?
The professionals who originated the loans, who put coins in their pockets from those loans are the innocent’s hornswaggled by these crafty but indigent amateurs. Three years ago when George Bush campaigned he threw a benevolent arm around these millions of homebuyers. The multitudes of new homeowners were living proof that his policies were working. For let the cock crow three times now, for he knows them not! They are irresponsible purchasers. You see according to the media, this is all your fault.
Because if it’s not your fault, then who’s fault is it? No, now don’t you go there, they don’t play the blame game. Well, they play it, but they just don’t accept it. The money boys have been playing fast and loose with multimillion dollars subprime loan bundles. They knew as the why not refinance your home commercials were airing on TV that this day would come. But now they talk in somber tones about assuring liquidity in the system and Bush allows them to play eeny, meannie, miney, moe on who’s loans they choose to save.
After all the free market did such a good job originating these loans who else, should decide who keeps their home? And the Republicans are already talking about those conniving consumers gaming the system. While the bankers who made the bad loans in the first place get to make the rules up as they go along. Somewhere Scrooge is smiling but don’t you smile, remember this is all your fault.
When millions of Americans voted for Ross Perot because of his stand against NAFTA what did the media say about him? What did he say would happen? Now we’ve gone from the world’s largest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor nation in 25 years. Yes, it’s all our fault we should have planed that our wages would fall. What is the reason millions of illegal aliens come to cross our borders? For the jobs that you don’t want of course! These peoples are refugee’s, fleeing the effects of NAFTA at home but the media chooses to call them immigrants, Are they immigrants in Darfur too?
The mainstream media consists of 1% of the highest paid workers in the world and 90% of the lowest paid employee’s in the world and guess how you climb to the top? Not by exposing the local industry that’s for sure, you do stories about the new 150 bed homeless shelter and mums the word on the one that’s closing. You tell them all the news they need to know. The falling dollar is good! It helps our grain exports.
If you can’t convince you confuse; if you can’t confuse you obscure. If you can’t obscure you change the focus. If you can’t change the focus you ignore it entirely, nuclear weapons missing from their storage areas and loaded on a plane headed towards the Middle East now that’s a one day story. Could a lone General be responsible for that? Or a group of underlings? To move nuclear weapons and put them on a plane headed for points east. The largest breach of nuclear protocol of all time and yet the media accepts that it was all just a bureaucratic snafu.
Well if you believe that, Everything You Know is Wrong!
“Hey, Pablo? He broke the President man!”
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/Daveparts/193
It's 'mission accomplished' all over again for the British in Iraq as the pull their troops out of Basra. Hailing their relinquishment of authority to the 'provincial Iraqi control' as a "significant achievement," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in an interview Sunday with Sky News sought to distinguish their exit as a success, much like the U.S. declarations of victory as they eventually withdrew their own forces from several of the Iraqi regions they had occupied. Asked whether Britain would have been more successful in reigning-in what is an arguably more violent and unstable Basra than the one which existed under Saddam by deploying more troops like the Americans, and whether the withdrawal represented a 'defeat' for Britain in Iraq, Miliband held up the fact of their exit as some seemingly obvious measure of the success of their occupation of the Iraqi province.
"We have been able to draw down our forces because the Iraqi security force has been built up - point 1," Miliband said. "Point 2 - the rules for our draw down are exactly the same as those that are applied to the Americans in other provinces. And remember, just as we have handed over a security responsibility in four provinces, the Americans have done so in seven according to the same rules that apply," he argued.
Despite the increase in civilian killings in Basra over the Saddam era; despite the re-arming and rehabilitation of the Shiite militia death squads by the British, despite the emergence of an oppressive and dominating theocratic rule in the province which threatens the freedoms and civil liberties of Iraqi residents in ways much more pernicious than anything Saddam was responsible for there, British authorities are willing to move aside and let the sectarian chips fall where they may.
It's a tragic reality that Britain has, long ago, relinquished any chance of being some sort of 'honest broker' for democratic principles and democratic rule in Iraq by their own arrogant disregard of Iraq's sovereignty in their initial, manufactured invasion. To assert that their occupation of Basra was a success because Iraqis there have managed to organize and put in place some local military protectorate is nothing but a self-serving deception crafted for those who know and care little about the lives lost and disrupted as the cost for their reckless, imposed interference.
For Britain's beleaguered and overdrawn military forces, the withdrawal itself is bound to be seen as progress over the open-ended commitment of their country folk their leaders have sacrificed for Bush and Blair's "line in the sand." But, it's also the apparent view of the fugitive 9-11 suspects, who've been gifted by Bush's invasion and occupation, with a safe haven and a propaganda platform for over six years, that the British withdrawal from Basra (and the dwindling of the British forces to just over 2,000 troops in Iraq) actually represents a victory for al-Qaeda.
This weekend, we were subjected to yet another taunt from Bush's enabled specter of terror from his protected perch somewhere in Afghanistan/Pakistan. Al Qaeda's assumed second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a web site video, said the British decision to "flee" represented the "increasing power of the mujahideen and the deteriorating condition of the Americans."
To some extent, Zawahri is correct. The decision by Bush and Blair to abandon the active 'hunt' for the 9-11 suspects in Afghanistan and invade Iraq as some intimidating demonstration of their collective military strength, and the administration strategy of characterizing Iraq as the "center" of their terror defense as they openly invited attacks on our soldiers there, has actually fueled and fostered even more individuals pledged to violent reprisals against Americans, our allies, and our interests.
The ritual parroting of the fugitive 9-11 suspects' taunts and threats by the Bush administration and their British cohorts as they promoted their open-ended occupation, elevated the al-Qaeda thugs (and everyone who associated themselves with the al-Qaeda moniker) to an unearned and false position of virtual parity with the preeminence and authority of our respective nations. The perpetuated industry of militarism, employed by both al-Qaeda and their Western opponents alike, has also provided a means for the assumed leaders of this manufactured conflict to elevate their own contrived positions of power and influence over their subjects; over both the hapless resisters to their rule and the willing defenders.
Despite the inherent risks of any move by any of the players in the deadly Iraq deception to end their cynical folly, it is, without a doubt, the wisest choice for our aggravating forces to end their involvement. As Britain has just demonstrated - and as our own forces in Iraq have repeatedly demonstrated with their own retreat from provinces in Iraq they had so wantonly defended for so long with the lives of thousands of our nation's defenders - there will be no measure of 'success' or 'victory' from Bush's occupation to be found, no matter how long we stay or how many resistant Iraqis our soldiers manage to kill.
When we do leave Iraq, there will still be a taunting specter from the 9-11 era of attacks urging us to return to the destructive and senseless propelling of Iraqis and Americans at each other, to one day declare ourselves victorious and leave Iraq in the shambles our respective 'leaders' designed and orchestrated to the mindless destruction of the innocent; and to the devastation of the lives of those abroad who would actively resist Bush's and al-Qaeda's self-serving militarism.
As the fugitive 9-11 suspects propagandize their own 'victories' over the U.S., our leaders are just as free to declare their own successes and walk away; perhaps to turn to the original mandate to capture the 'perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks' which the original authorization from Congress, to use military force, was predicated on. The WaPost reported today that "some Pentagon officials are "urging" a faster drawdown of forces in Iraq than the administration wants, to accommodate commanders in Afghanistan who want additional forces to move against a "resurgent" Taliban.
After the loss of over 3800 American defenders in Iraq, and the loss of countless tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis to the deliberate unrest and chaos created by Bush's invasion, a re-declaration of 'mission accomplished' (followed by a hasty withdrawal) is the best result in Iraq that anyone can expect to come out of the colossal blunder. Fortunately, for the British, that moment of acceptance and resolve to move on has arrived for their leaders. For our own lame-duck commander-in-chief and for our own nation, that same resolved epiphany cannot arrive too soon.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at opednews.com: http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_ron_full_071217_the_epiphany_of_an_i.htm
Sunday, December 16, 2007
… even when the truth is this in-your-face obvious:
The invasion of Iraq was justified, because Saddam Hussein had WMDs. They were never found because when he heard he was about to be attacked by US forces, Saddam decided to get rid of the very weapons he could have used to defend himself and retain control of his wealth and power.
Since landing in Baghdad, our troops have continually been hailed as liberators and barraged with sweets and flowers. The liberal media has just steadfastly refused to report it.
No one from this administration ever attempted to make a connection between 9-11 and Iraq, or Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The millions of people who heard such statements are all delusional, and the videotapes of those words being spoken were all tampered with after-the-fact.
On-the-ground success in Iraq is directly proportionate to the number of magnetic yellow ribbons displayed on US trucks and cars.
“Support the Troops” is a snappy slogan, and was never proffered as administration policy.
Every prediction made by PNACers like Bill Kristol came to pass exactly as foreseen. Any statements proving the contrary were simply taken out of context by the left-leaning mainstream media.
The use of torture has resulted in the thwarting of thousands of plots against our country. The fact that the administration has never released details of same is in keeping with their usual stance of downplaying their many successes in the War on Terror.
Increased prices at the pump are necessary to offset the massive losses in oil company profits that have occurred since Bush took office.
We are currently experiencing a booming economy thanks to tax-cuts for the wealthy, who have invested their money in American businesses, thereby creating the new jobs and increased wealth all Americans now enjoy.
The sub-prime mortgage crisis is a direct result of experienced, well-established financial institutions being completely duped by a scam perpetrated by naïve, inexperienced home buyers.
American children rank poorly in education as compared to children in other nations because all of the other countries’ kids are cheating on the tests.
The theory of global warming has been completely debunked by the fact that it still snows in the wintertime.
All fossils alleged to be more than 6,000 years old have been found to bear a Made by Satan to Fool You! label upon closer scrutiny – a fact which has been covered-up by scientists for the past 6,000 years.
Larry Craig and Bob Allen are not gay. They were part of a special GOP sting operation set up to snare gay cops who hide out in public bathrooms hoping to force straight Republican men to convert to the gay lifestyle.
Flooding the US market with cheap, made-in-sweatshop products is a humane way of providing employment for tens of thousands of Chinese children who would otherwise be wasting their childhood by being unemployed.
All administration staffers should be protected from having to testify under oath on the basis of executive privilege in matters where the executive branch has denied any involvement whatsoever.
There is no correlation between investigations into GOP wrongdoing and sudden resignations. Family-values Republicans only give up their positions when overwhelmed by a desire to spend more time with their loved ones.
Despite the most frequent reasons cited for the breakdown of marriages being abuse, adultery, alcohol/drug addiction, etc., most marriages actually fail because a gay couple moved into the neighborhood.
There is nothing untoward about the awarding of no-bid government contracts to companies owned by administration family members and friends. The names of those companies were randomly picked out of a hat, and any association with Bush or Cheney is merely coincidental.
Despite the very lengthy list of Republicans who have been found guilty of corruption – e.g. Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Dusty Foggo, et al – they are all innocent. They were railroaded by mean-spirited Democrats, and were forced to perjure themselves and/or admit to crimes they did not commit.
Alberto Gonzales cannot remember attending a number of meetings he was noted as being present for. But he can remember, with complete clarity, what wasn’t discussed at those same meetings.
Valerie Plame was a lowly desk-jockey at the CIA. Ironically, due to a rotating secretarial assignment pool, it was her turn to choose who to send on an all-important mission to investigate alleged purchases of yellow-cake in Niger.
George W. Bush is an intelligent, well-read, well-informed man. He only acts the buffoon to keep our nation’s enemies off-balance.
Dick Cheney hides himself in undisclosed locations in order to escape the constant intrusion of well-wishers, adoring fans, and autograph-seekers.
Jeff Gannon’s many visits to the White House were not of a personal nature. He just needed his WH press pass revalidated, which, due to the president’s busy schedule, often required waiting in line overnight.
Dana Perrino is not as dumb as she seems. If she was as dumb as she seems, a teleprompter flashing the words inhale/exhale would be clearly visible during televised briefing sessions.
Billions of dollars, millions of electronic records and communications, and countless hours of video and audio tapes have not gone missing during this administration. They are merely hiding in a corner of a dryer somewhere in a DC laundromat, under a pile of hundreds of thousands of long-lost socks.
The fact that federal spending on paper shredding has increased more than 600 percent since George W. Bush took office is merely reflective of the fact that he has received 600 percent more fan mail during his years in office than Clinton did.
Everything wrong with the country today can be directly linked to the actions of Bill Clinton, even the things that happened before he was born.
Everything right with the country today can be directly linked to the actions of Ronald Reagan, even the things that happened after he became a drooling, senile old man.
Any link between the current unprecedented national debt and control of government by the fiscally responsible Republicans has never been proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
All Gitmo detainees are guilty of all of the crimes they have never been charged with. Republicans who have been caught red-handed with their hands in the till are innocent victims of having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
God always intended that American corporations have unfettered access to oil – he was just so busy inventing the universe in six days, he totally forgot to put it underneath the most deserving country.
George W. Bush has staunchly adhered to the Constitution, if you include the recently-discovered footnotes that were written in crayon by an anonymous original-signer’s hand.
Laura Bush is not living in a prescription drug-induced dreamlike state – she is just permanently bedazzled by her husband’s wit, style, wisdom, and compassion for all of the people he has killed, maimed, orphaned or tortured.
Karl Rove is not attempting to rewrite history. He is simply offering an alternate theory to the concept that history should be based on things that actually happened.
Face it, we can’t handle the truth.
What is wrong with US?
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/NanceGreggs/318
Saturday, December 15, 2007
While the Democratic and Republican candidates for president blather on about non-issues like who will be meaner to immigrants, who will use the most water on torture victims, who wanted to be president at the youngest age, who’s the best Christian and other such nonsense, and while Congress and the president dance their meaningless dance of pretend conflict, let’s for a moment ponder something more momentous.
What if the US just packed up and left Iraq and Afghanistan, and brought the troops all home, shut down the 750-odd overseas bases we operate around the globe, and slashed our military budget by 75 percent?
That would be an instant savings of roughly $365 billion per year.
Now, the first thing we need to do is address the criticism that such an action would be abandoning the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, whose countries we have been systematically destroying for the last four to six years.
Okay. I agree we have an obligation here. So let’s allocate say $50 billion in annual aid to those two countries, to be funneled through international aid organizations, from the U.N. to CARE and the Red Cross/Red Crescent.
That still leaves $315 billion in funds to play with.
We also have to address those who will ask fearfully if we aren’t opening ourselves to attack from our many enemies abroad.
But hold on a minute. If we cut the US military budget down to a paltry $115 billion a year, that would still leave us with by far the largest military budget in the entire world. The next biggest spender on its military is China, at $62.5 billion, followed by Russia, at $62 billion. That is to say, our military budget, if slashed by three quarters, would still be about equal to Russia’s and China’s military budgets combined. And that only tells part of the story. Most of China’s army is a repressive police force, required to keep order in what is a widely despised dictatorship, and would never be available for foreign adventures. (That’s why China, with a million or more soldiers, hasn’t ever invaded Taiwan, with a population of just 23 million. The army China could spare for an invasion would probably be no larger than the one little Taiwan could field to defend itself.) The same can be said for Russia, which is eternally in danger of splitting apart into myriad smaller states, and has to be held together by threat of force. Figuring that neither China nor Russia is likely to attack us anyway, given that one needs us to buy all the junk they make, and the other needs us to buy their oil, maybe we should look at those “axis of evil” states and their ilk, that might think we’re easy pickin’s if we were to slash our military spending.
Well, maybe not. It turns out if you add up all the military budgets of America’s other “major” enemies—those so-called “rogue” states like Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria—and throw in a few extra possible hostiles for good measure like Myanmar, Somalia and, oh, what the heck, Grenada (you never know when that troublesome little island might have another revolution!), it comes to a grand total of $15 billion spent on military stuff. That’s less than one-seventh of what we’d still be spending.
And of course we wouldn’t be alone. Our allies—Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Israel, Holland, Canada, Italy, Australia, South Korea and Spain for example, though there are surely more who would come to our aid in a crisis—collectively spend another $258 billion on their militaries (and yet even today we have our military based in many of those countries. Go figure!). So we would hardly be at anybody’s mercy.
We could even take a few billion of that $115 military budget and shift it productively from our huge and useless strategic nuclear program (you know, the one that just lost six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles for 36 hours, and flew them across the country, unprotected and unnoticed) over to operations like border patrol, satellite monitoring, and the Coast Guard, where it might actually help protect us, instead of just funding futuristic weapons that will never be used for anything but helping generals justify their stars by having units to command.
So here we would be with still, by a factor of two, the largest and most advanced military in the world, but at peace and with $315 billion a year suddenly freed up and at our disposal.
What might we do with all that money?
Well, for starters, if we accept for argument’s sake that the Social Security System is running at a deficit and will eventually be defunded (which, by the way, I do not for a minute believe), actuaries say that injecting about $130 billion a year into the fund (the equivalent of increasing everyone’s SSI payroll tax by 2 percent) would solve the alleged problem indefinitely, allowing all current and future Americans to count on an inflation-adjusted secure retirement forever. So let’s do that. Then there’s education. Currently, the federal government spends about $58 billion a year on education. That gives us classroom sizes in our cities of 30-35 kids (40 here in Philadelphia). That’s not education—that’s child abuse (and teacher abuse). So what say we boost that amount by 50 percent—a much better educational reform than a lot of stupid “No Child Left Behind” testing regimens. Then there’s healthcare, on which the government spends a paltry $52 billion, leaving us with declining life expectancies and infant mortality rates, particularly among our poorest citizens, that are a scandal. Let’s boost that spending by 50 percent, too.
Geez! We still have another $130 billion left!
The federal government right now only spends some $40 billion a year on science, energy and the environment. That includes nuclear power and waste containment, and the entire NASA budget. Given the global climate change disaster we’re facing, we should probably double that, with the added $40 billion going all to environmental research, don’t you think?
Now we’re left with $90 billion.
Well, it turns out that’s about what the government spends on “social programs.” You know, like welfare—the thing that we were supposedly ending? Truth is, of course, that over the last decade, the number of poor people and hungry people in the US has been rising, not falling, so maybe we should rethink that “ending welfare as we know it” mantra, and start thinking about improving the lives of those at the bottom of the ladder. That extra $90 billion, by doubling social programs—especially if it was spent on housing and job creation—would go a long way towards making America a better place for all. It would also reduce crime significantly, meaning we’d have a whole lot of money freed up that currently goes to police and prisons, so we could spent that money on other good stuff too.
So who’s going to make this eminently sensible proposal?
I’m frankly sick to death of hearing about how “tough” our next president is going to be.
Our current president has shown just what being tough is good for: nothing. The country is less safe, we’ve got 80,000 returned soldiers suffering from life-long injuries, we’ve made enemies out of friends all over the world, and this country’s been going down the tube, with joblessness rising, the economy teetering and the once mighty dollar headed for Third World currency status.Until I hear political candidates start talking about slashing military spending—and I mean on the order of 75 percent, none of this nickel-and-dime stuff, and about funding the things that really need funding—I’m not even listening to these moronic campaigns.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at thiscantbehappening.net: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/?q=node/80
Friday, December 14, 2007
...although I am a convinced Friend, a pacifist, and a believer in non-violence. I would have said, to the core of my being, but I am a little shook up now, and I am wondering.
I'm familiar with transitory feelings of rageful violence, upon being confronted with some horrific crime or injustice-- that "Damn, I want to pound that asshole's head against the wall until there's a spot soft enough for enlightenment to seep through" feeling. I've gotten that a lot in the last seven years. But I don't wallow in it, I remind myself that it's just an endocrine surge and that violence doesn't make for any lasting and constructive change. And so forth. I don't beat myself up for it, not much, anyway. It's human.
But for the last few days I've been doing a slow burn, and it bothers me. My stomach roils with acid a lot, I find my eyes narrowing and my fists clenching. The desire to HIT someone, something, to cause DAMAGE... keeps rising up within me no matter how hard I try to rationalize or meditate or pray it away.
It started on Sunday when my esposo and I took a guest with us to visit the IAIA's Contemporary Art Gallery in downtown Santa Fe. (Institute of American Indian Arts.) The current exhibition is themed around violence, war, and the damage it has caused to Indian people and their communities. The art was wrenching, but what really got to me was a video showing on a loop in their theater.
It was a Sioux filmmaker's documentary about American Indian veterans of the Viet Nam war, their experiences in the war and in coming home, and, finally, their creation of a network of veterans among all the Indian nations, to support one another and help each other deal with the problems of having been in Vietnam and coming home to a nation that had nothing to offer them in the way of healing.
One man told of being part of a unit that was tasked with moving civilians out of areas being designated as "kill zones"-- areas that would be systematically emptied and defoliated to eliminate any cover for enemy reconnaissance or advances. Once the civilians were moved out, anything moving within the area would be assumed to be enemy action and large-scale ordnance would be applied. The man narrated his experience trying to get the people from their villages into trucks and helicopters, evacuating them to "safe areas." And he realized that their skin was almost exactly the same color as his-- one of the civilians, an old man, kept trying to give him a chicken, and pointed to his own arm, and then the soldier's, and saying 'same, same.' It hadn't really sunk in what they were doing, but he realized when the last truck left and they started herding the livestock into the open to kill them, and burning the village structures, 'This is what they did to my people, to my grandparents and great-granparents.' And he stopped believing in the war, and stopped believing that he was doing anything good. Two weeks later he was wounded.
Others told of similarly gut-wrenching experiences. Some weren't all bad... one Navy Corpsman told of experiencing respect from non-Indians for the first time in his life, and being grateful that he learned to save lives rather than take them. But a lot of them came back feeling "empty" or "changed."
The good part to the film was the story of getting the inter-tribal veterans' alliance started and how healing it was for them. It took them twenty years, and the work was still going on. That was good, but as I watched it I suddenly burst out (aloud, yes, right there in the theater,) "And twenty years from now it will be all to do over again, we haven't learned a goddamn thing!" And I started crying. My esposo put his arm around me and we sat there until the end and then we went out, but that was when the slow burn started.
We haven't learned a goddamn thing. I lived through that nightmare as a civilian, I watched the ghoulish body counts on the evening news and had my soul riven by the bloody photographs from My Lai. I knew what we left behind, the blackened, poisoned land, the abandoned half-American children, the devastated economy and war-brutalized people. And I knew what we brought home-- the men with empty eyes and terrible opiod habits, the homeless, the ones whose bodies were slowly deteriorating from the contact with Agent Orange and the other poisons we flung about. And what never came home... the names on the Wall and the ones whose bodies were never found and whose families even today don't know their fate.
And I knew the utter stupidity and futility of the reasoning behind the nightmare, the sophistries of the villains and worse-- the well-intentioned ones, who rationalized it and then didn't have the guts to pay the full price, the real price, to accomplish the goal and who left half a million young Americans and millions of Vietnamese in hell for more than a decade while they played political games on the world stage. Especially the ones who knew that if the American people truly understood the real price it would have cost to win, the American people would have said "Fuck THAT shit, we're outta there, NOW..." and so kept lying and lying and lying about how victory was just around the corner and we were accomplishing great things and Vietnamization was WORKING, really!! Believe it! Tet was just a fluke! The carpet bombing would finish off an already disheartened VC leadership and destroy their support among their own people... All that crap they fed us to keep the lid on it, to keep the fat defense contracts raining down on the big corporations, to keep the commie-haters happy and the narcissistic power-hungry prats prancing about in Paris and the UN in front of the cameras, pretending something important was being accomplished.
I knew that was shit even while it was going on. I figured, finally, when the balance tipped and half a million marched on Washington and the politicians began to get more scared of staying than of going, that it would be one of those Learning Experiences that, for all their awful price, at least carry the nugget of hope that we wouldn't ever, EVER be stupid enough to make those mistakes again.
And now this feeling of disbelief mingles with rage and it just won't go away, not for long.
All to do over again. Bigger and better. More expensive, more destructive, more futile than ever. A whole new generation of men and women WE sent to war for no good reason, who put their mortal bodies between us and the IEDs that OUR stupidity provoked, who have paid prices that we sitting in our comfy living rooms listening to the god damn nutcracker for the fourteenth time this month can't even begin to contemplate. And once again, having sent them to get fucked up over there, we are now ensuring that the ones who make it home are getting another thorough fucking up over here.
It's the well-intentioned ones that rend me the deepest. The ones who went along because there might be something in it, who continue to go along because they 'see the bigger picture.' The ones who dutifully propose a few bright-colored bandaids for the sucking chest wound of our inadequate care for those wounded and damaged on our behalf, and rail earnestly at their colleagues for not doing more, but who stop just short of putting their political futures or their careers on the line to make a real difference. Because, after all, they ARE well-intentioned, and isn't that better than being dyed-in-the-wool assholes? In the long run, isn't it better to have well-intentioned marginally effectual people representing us than real shitheads?
I guess so. I don't know. I'm not sure anymore. For the first time in a long, long time I can't talk myself out of the gut-level belief that if I could tie ONE, just ONE of those idiots to a chair and slap them silly and rub their noses in the full extent of the crap their well-intentioned self-interest has flung us into, I'd feel better.
At the moment, I don't like myself very much. That will change, eventually. Intellectually I know that I'm resilient and will once again remember my humanity and that my flaws aren't any worse than the rest of humanity's. I will abandon, finally, the spiritual vanity of holding myself to a higher standard and then judging myself harshly for falling short of that standard.
But at the moment, I just want to bust some heads.
Thought y'all would want to know.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground.com: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/TygrBright/58
When the first veteran was called, our attorney stood up and said he represented all of us, so the judge allowed him to call us by name. As our names were called, we walked up to the railing and stood shoulder to shoulder. All of us.
The District Attorney for the City of Boston made a motion to the judge to turn this case into a civil case. That means the case would be heard by a judge with no jury.
Our attorney said "Your Honor, we think this case should be dismissed."
Before he got another sentence out, the judge said "I concur." There was a smattering of applause in the courtroom.
After control was regained, our attorney asked if the one case that was continued to January 10 could also be included in this dismissal. The judge agreed.
And thus ended our criminal proceedings.
To celebrate, about a dozen of us went to Mayor Menino's office and asked to speak with him. We told the nice young lady at the desk we would like to ask the Mayor to have Boston's Veterans Day parade held and controlled by the City of Boston. The Mayor wasn't in but the nice young lady said she would have someone call us.
Since the economic policy was extremely unpopular among the most numerous sectors of the population, it had to be implemented by force – Truth commission report explaining the use of torture in Brazil in the 1960s and 70s, titled “Torture in Brazil: A Shocking Report on the Pervasive Use of Torture by Brazilian Military Government, 1964-79”
The Bush/Cheney administration presents its use of torture alternatively as the work of “a few bad apples” or as the necessary means to win their “War on Terror”. It is neither. Rather, it is a systematic and widespread policy that is used to achieve imperial domination, with all that that entails.
They have presented our invasion and occupation of Iraq alternatively as the means of defending ourselves against nuclear attack, bringing “freedom and democracy” to the Iraqi people, or as the necessary means to win their “War on Terror”. It is none of those things. Rather it is the imperial domination of a country that posed no threat to us, with the goal of enriching certain U.S. corporations and of achieving geo-strategic dominance in the Middle East.
These things cannot be emphasized too much. What little support there is in our country for Bush/Cheney torture and imperial policies is based largely upon a tragic misunderstanding by the American people of the reasons for and consequences of those policies. Our leaders have created that misunderstanding through its lies (the Bush/Cheney administration) and the utter failure to challenge those lies (the U.S. Congress and news media).
In this post I will review those two things – the Bush/Cheney torture policies and the motives for the occupation of Iraq – and follow that with a discussion of the relationship between them, how that relates to our current situation in Iraq, and what that appears to portend for the future. I’ve previously discussed the Bush/Cheney torture policies and the motives for the occupation of Iraq in other posts, so if you’ve already read those you might want to skip to the section “The relationship between torture and occupation or dictatorship”.
The Bush/Cheney Torture Program
The use of torture by the Bush administration is much more widespread than is commonly realized. In a recent post, titled “The Only Way to Stop the Bush/Cheney Torture Program Is to Cut it out at its Rotten Core”, I discuss in detail the abundant evidence for widespread torture condoned by the Bush/Cheney administration, referencing numerous Bush administration memos, the testimony of eyewitnesses, and evidence put forth by human rights organizations and journalists. Charlie Savage sums up the situation in his recent book, “Takeover – The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy”:
Furthermore, the problem appears to be far more widespread than most Americans are aware of. Estimates of how many prisoners have disappeared into the Bush administration’s Gulag system cannot be precise because of the secrecy. Estimates have varied from 8,500 to 35,000. An AP story estimated around 14,000:
Colonel Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had put the blame on Dick Cheney for much of the administration’s “torture guidance”, claims that the number of “disappeared” approximates 35,000.
And despite claims to the contrary, there is very good evidence that a large proportion of our tortured prisoners are killed as a result of their torture. For example, a 2005 analysis of 44 autopsies reported by the ACLU, of men who died in our detention facilities, found 21 of the 44 deaths evaluated by autopsy to be homicides:
Keep in mind that that study involved only a small fraction of the total number of detainees dying in the largely secret U.S. prison system since September 11, 2001. We will probably never know for sure the full extent of these barbaric homicides.
The purpose of the invasion and occupation of Iraq
The purpose of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that I discussed in a previous post was based mostly on a book by Antonia Juhasz, “The Bush Agenda – Invading the World One Economy at a Time”. In a nutshell, the invasion provided a great opportunity for many of George Bush’s wealthy supporters to make millions, billions, or tens of billions of dollars from contracts with the U.S. government to assist in the war effort and the reconstruction of Iraq and through access to Iraqi oil and other resources. Iraq also provides a launching site to occupy much of the Middle East, in order to satisfy the Bush administration’s imperial ambitions and acquire access to literally trillions of dollars worth of oil and other resources.
Soon after U.S. forces established military control over Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III, Bush’s appointee as the administrator of Iraq, quickly put into effect 100 orders which facilitated the recommendations of Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force and plans for the economic transformation of Iraq: All members of the Ba’ath Party and of the Iraqi Army were fired from their jobs without pay, thus putting hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (many who were highly skilled) out of work and paving the way for U.S. corporations to receive billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts; the “Trade Liberalization Policy” provided many benefits to U.S. corporations, devastating Iraq’s businesses and industries in the process; an order for “Prohibited media activity” essentially outlawed any news media criticisms of the Bush administration’s role in Iraq; the Foreign Investment Order provided the legal framework for the invasion of U.S. corporations into Iraq; Americans were placed in numerous key positions; and many other repressive orders were decreed by Bremer, including the granting of criminal and civil immunity for all Americans from Iraq’s pre-existing laws.
Billions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts were provided by the U.S. government for reconstruction and security purposes. But while almost all of this money was awarded to Bush and Cheney cronies, the Iraqis were almost totally excluded from the process. Furthermore, the reconstruction effort was a miserable failure, with electricity, potable water, and sewage services remaining far below pre-war levels. Audits of U.S. taxpayer funds found contract files to be unavailable, incomplete, and unreliable, while $8.8 billion from the Development fund for Iraq were completely unaccounted for. Yet none of this interfered with U.S. corporations receiving the full amounts of their contracts plus much more.
As for U.S. oil companies, Production Sharing Agreements were put in place to ensure their access to Iraq’s oil, their profits have skyrocketed since the occupation began, and the Bush administration remains hard at work to ensure that their access to oil increases and becomes permanent.
The relationship between torture and occupation or dictatorship
Naomi Klein, in her new book, “The Shock Doctrine – The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, provides a vivid and clear explanation for the relationship between torture and occupation or dictatorship. In the early chapters of her book she provides examples from the 1960s and 70s, involving Indonesia and several South American countries, including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
The common sequence of events for all of those examples was economic policies that were moving towards improving opportunities for the poorer segments of the population, followed by a military coup and the replacement of the leftist trend in economic policies with polices that served to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class. I won’t go into the details of those policies except to note that they were subsumed under the banner of “free trade” or laissez-faire economics, they are often required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a condition of loans to developing countries, and yet governments in developing countries are hesitant to use them because they are so unpopular with the great majority of people.
Klein explains the common sense relationship between torture and the imposition of these economic policies:
She explains the reason why torture is required and used in these situations:
How this relates to our current situation
The above discussion could not be more relevant to our current situation in Iraq. Klein makes this point crystal clear at the end of chapter 5:
Though there is much to criticize about our current Congress, as least they reject torture. They fought long and hard against the Bush administration with regard to the use of torture, as they enacted the Military Commissions Act. In the end, though they desecrated many parts of our Constitution by passing that Act, at least they included in it an absolute ban against torture, by a vote of 90-9 in the Senate (Though Bush nullified the torture ban with a “signing statement”.)
Though many Congresspersons talk about the need to end the Iraq War, and most appear to be in favor of at least some sort of plan to end it, the urgency of ending the war is minimized by the prevalent attitude that the occupation of Iraq is basically a sound idea just hasn’t worked out well. It is that kind of attitude that enables the Bush administration to use minor signs of “progress”, such as a slight decrease in the monthly death toll of American soldiers, as a rationale for continuing the occupation.
What urgently needs to be recognized and admitted publicly is that the occupation of Iraq is NOT a basically sound idea. Iraq poses no threat to us now, just as it posed no threat to us when we invaded it. We are not bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. And our occupation of Iraq is not helping in our “War on Terror” – to the contrary, it is impairing it by encouraging the development of ever more intense anti-American feeling throughout the world.
Our occupation of Iraq desperately needs to be recognized for the imperialist adventure that it is: It is a brutal occupation, against the will of the Iraqi people, and therefore it can be maintained only with continued violent repression of the Iraqi people. The results speak for themselves: torture; approximately a million dead (mostly civilians); and more than four million refugees. Once our occupation of Iraq is recognized and admitted for what it is, there can no longer be any excuse for a civilized nation to continue that occupation.
Implications for our future
It must be noted that the Bush/Cheney administration torture policies are not by any means confined to Iraq. They are in fact used all over the world in its conduct of our “War on terror. So we should ask ourselves: If torture of Iraqis is used to force them to acquiesce to our occupation of their country, then why do we torture other Muslims throughout the world? Clearly, the answer is that the imperial ambitions of our “leaders” extend way beyond Iraq.
We already know that to be the case, of course, with regard to Iran, as evidenced by all the saber-rattling aimed at that country. Also, the PNAC document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, written and signed by so many high level Neoconservatives in the Bush/Cheney administration, spells out their intentions clearly. After saying that we must “deter the rise of a new great-power competitor”, the document explains that the way we should do that is by “deterring or, when needed, by compelling regional foes to act in ways that protect American interests and principles.”
It is tempting to believe that the election of a Democratic President in 2008, if an election actually takes place, will put an end to these imperialist plans. But I’m not so sure. Though I have no doubt that any Democratic nominee will be far better than the Republican nominee, the two Democratic front runners in particular have consistently striven to appear “centrist” on the issue of the Iraq occupation, and in so doing they have utterly failed to characterize our imperialist occupation of Iraq for what it is. Consequently, I have serious concerns about their commitment to end that occupation if they are elected President. And for the same reason, I also have serious concerns about their commitment to reversing the wider imperialist plans of the current administration, which could well result in the destruction of our country and of our world if followed through to their conclusion.
Posted in full with author's permission.
Originally posted at democraticunderground: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/Time%20for%20change/256