Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What I Know (and What I Don't)

By Nancy Greggs

What I know is that my country used to stand for something of value. What I don’t know is the value of what it stands for now.

What I know is that I grew up believing that my countrymen would always speak up for what was right. What I don’t know is why my countrymen still speak up, but go unheard.

What I know is that the role of the journalist was to question everything. What I don’t know is why they now question nothing at all.

What I know is that my fellow citizens have always been generous when it comes to their neighbors’ needs. What I don’t know is why a government elected by and for that same citizenry deem it acceptable to ignore the needs of all.

What I know is that I was taught the use of torture was what separated us from them. What I don’t know is what greater good is to be served by abandoning who we were to become what we once abhorred.

What I know is that our strength as a nation was our unity. What I don’t know is how being a divided nation will not weaken us now, and ultimately destroy us in the end.

What I know is that our government once took pride in its transparency. What I don’t know is why our current government’s secretive policies are not to be viewed as a source of shame.

What I know is that we traditionally fought against slave labor, child labor, and other injustices around the world. What I don’t know is why we now embrace the very practices we once so vehemently sought to expunge.

What I know is that our Constitution was the document which defined our rights, our freedoms, our way of life. What I don’t know is how it became an obstacle to be circumvented or ignored by those who swore a solemn oath to uphold it.

What I know is that justice was meant to be blind. What I don’t know is how justice can be served when administered with eyes firmly focused on a political agenda to the exclusion of all else.

What I know is that in their wisdom, the founding fathers set in place the checks and balances meant to ensure our survival as a democracy. What I don’t know is how democracy can survive the dismissal of such foresight as outdated foolishness meant to be ignored.

What I know is that I still believe in my fellow citizens to ultimately choose to do what is right, what is moral, what is just, and what is fair for the many. What I also know is that my government is intent on ignoring those principles in favor of what is politically expedient and financially beneficial to the few.

What I know is that We the People are patriotic Americans who love their country. What I don’t know is who these people are who call themselves patriotic Americans, and seek to destroy her by their every word and action.

What I know is that ultimately, the truth will prevail; the criminals will be brought to justice, the traitors among us will be exposed, and those who have sought to enrich themselves to the detriment of our nation's wellbeing will be called to account.

What I don’t know is when. But for the sake of us all, I pray it is soon.

Posted in full with permission of author.

Originally posted on democraticunderground. com:

Monday, October 29, 2007

War Costs Spiral Out of Control

War Costs Spiral Out of Control

Posted on Oct 23, 2007
By Robert Scheer

Hey, a billion here, a billion there, who’s counting? Not the State Department, which admitted this week that it can’t say “specifically what it received” for the $1.2 billion it paid DynCorp, ostensibly to train the Iraqi police—other than that somebody got an Olympic-size swimming pool out of the deal.

On Monday, President Bush demanded that Congress fork over $46 billion more to pay for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, insisting that it be approved by the end of the year. That brings the total requested this year in “supplementary funds” for his foreign adventures to $196.4 billion, and the prez said Congress had better pony up or it will be betraying the family of the dead Marine that he was using as prop for this particular White House photo op.

Of course the Democrats, after some pussyfooting, will sign off, as they have for the rest of the more than $800 billion that will have been allotted for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts by year’s end, lest they be accused of failing the troops that Bush has put in harm’s way. “Our men and women on the front lines should not be caught in the middle of partisan disagreements in Washington, D.C.,” Bush warned darkly, while edging ever closer to the family of the fallen Marine. “I often hear that war critics oppose my decisions, but still support the troops,” he said. “Well, I’ll take them at their word—and this is the chance to show it.”

I half-expected some leading Democrat to respond: “Hey, you want support for the troops, I’ll see your $46 billion and raise you another $46 billion.” But then again, Joe Lieberman is no longer running the party. Instead, the Democrats tried to show that $46 billion is not loose change and that, as Nancy Pelosi put it, a mere 40 days of the cost of the Iraq war could provide annual health insurance coverage for 10 million American children. Harry Reid added that the money might be better spent for law enforcement, homeland security and fixing the sagging infrastructure, but his argument isn’t going to get any better traction than Pelosi’s. As Reid pointed out, “this intractable civil war in Iraq ... is being paid for by borrowed money.”

Sure, some day the Chinese communists and others holding our debt will have to be paid back with compounded interest, but for now the war has been successfully marketed as a financial freebie. Leave it to the next generation to wake up and discover that this war, which in constant dollars has already cost more than the Korean or Vietnam wars, prevents Congress from implementing any of the needed domestic programs, even those advocated by both parties, as was the children’s health insurance bill vetoed by Bush last week. But even if you think none of that domestic spending is needed, even for fixing Medicare and Social Security, the cost of this war will require a substantial increase in taxes over coming decades.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the future additional costs of these wars over the next 10 years at between $481 billion and $1.01 trillion, depending on how fast the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wound down. Those are extremely optimistic projections that assume these wars will wind down and that the U.S. will be able to finally climb out of the quagmire. Much more likely is the spread of those wars to neighboring battle theaters in Pakistan and Iran. And that’s without conjuring up the prospect of WWIII, as Bush did last week.

Understand further that all of the numbers referenced above pertain only to that part of the defense budget directly attributable to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Post-9/11 defense spending, excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has seen a 40 percent increase for building high-tech Cold War-era weapons in a charade that assumes that stateless terrorists present a military challenge even greater than the once mighty Soviet armed forces. The $686 billion overall 2008 defense budget is the highest since World War II.

There was a time when responsible politicians would decry this looting of the public treasury, but not now, when we are in the midst of a never-ending “war on terror.” Not now, when a Marine dies a needless death in Iraq, a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, or in any substantiated way presented a threat to the United States, and his family can be produced as cover for a president determined to morally and financially bankrupt the nation.

Posted in full with permission from

This column was originally published on Truthdig (

It's just politics, they tell me.

It's just politics, they tell me.
Sun Oct-28-07

When our Democrats ignored our calls about Iraq, ignored the marches, ignored the emails and voted to give Bush unprecedented powers....we were told it was just politics.

We were told we had to appear strong on keeping our country safe. It was simply a political move so we could win.

When we begged them not to pass that bankruptcy bill in 2005, the one in which people who are caregivers and people who have medical debt could lose their homes to bankruptcy...we were told it was just politics.

When the Democrats somehow managed to give Bush his agenda in the courts by refusing to really fight on Alito and was just politics we were told. We heard from some that maybe a Democrat would want their judges passed also, so we needed to go along.

Women's choice matters were already off the agenda by the time the judges were appointed, because it was good politics to appease the "abortion greys" know, the ones who were undecided. As it turns out we passed a plan to cut abortions by 98%. A Supreme Court ruling made sure that doctors can now spend up to two years in jail for using a certain procedure late term to save the life of a woman.

It was just good politics.

The Democrats are either being mum or being hawkish on Iran. I have at one time or the other this year heard most major Democrats say how dangerous that country is to our safety.

For the sake of good politics, appearing strong on National Security...we will probably not attempt to stop Bush from bombing that country.

I got through last week to the state party here. I had talked to some at county level earlier about the way our state was actiing toward other states and toward the authority of the national party.

I did not get a good answer, I really just got asked to go along and get along to win. I have always done that in the past. I guess they expect and assume it will happen in the future.

It is just the way politics works, I have been told by state leaders and often here at DU. I have been told it is just the way things happen.

I hear from a friend who attended the convention that he saw several buttons with the name of the chairman and a screw sticking through the name. I saw a picture in the paper and posted it here at DU.

I was told it was just politics, all in good fun, and just a form of free speech. Only a few recognized it was harmful to the party.

I have noticed a lot of doublespeak about plans for Social Security. I wondered why the think tanks which form Democratic policy are working with Republicans and with groups like the Heritage Foundation. Their history on Social Security is nothing to brag about.

Turns out it is all just bipartisan politics. It turns out none of us who were upset really understood anything at all about Social Security or much of anything else.

It is now more about "anything goes" politics and winning than it is about decency, being right, and having a moral center. And people who like me think first about the rightness and wrongness of an issue, and not so much its use poltically...are left out in the cold with nowhere to turn.

Posted in full with author's permission.

Originally posted at

Ten Seconds

Ten Seconds

The wind is cold and damp against the flesh of my face; the only exposed skin on my body. My shoulders ache under the strain of a thirty pound armored vest, the back of my neck grows raw from the constant friction of my rifle's heavy canvas strap. My antiquated pistol holster constricts my lungs and digs painfully into my ribs, my hips are tender and bruised where they've been jarred against the edge of the turret. Every few minutes I fall asleep for a moment, a fraction of a second, awakened only when my chin touches the bulky kevlar neck guard that is fastened tightly over my throat; I’m the only one in my platoon who still wears it. The cloth is oily and slick and brown, coated with two months of sweat and filth, has it really only been two months? I am utterly exhausted, I think of nothing, my mind is vacant.

A shot rings out, I ignore it, I'm so tired I don't even care, and besides, someone is always shooting at something around here, I wish they'd just fucking quit, this is so stupid. Another shot, followed by a few more, a bullet glances off something in the road and screams over my head, the spark remains in my eyes. I am awake now, totally awake, the kind of 'awake' that cannot be described and most people never have to feel. It's four in the afternoon right now back home, my friends graduated from high school a few months ago when I was still in basic training, their faces flash through my mind, I can barely recall them now. I know my mother is thinking of me, can she sense what is happening to her only son? More bullets, closer this time, and these do not glance off the road but fly straight past my face, coming straight on now. I can almost sense their heat, like sitting too close to the fireplace, and the sound of a thousand bull whips cracking all around me. So this is what it's like! Just what I expected, which in turn surprises me. No fear though, I always thought I'd be afraid, thought I’d be the one to lose it, but there's no time to be afraid now.

I drop down inside the humvee and glance around at the faces of my comrades, they stare at me apprehensively. Someone asks if I've been hit, "No. I'm fine, I'm fine." We're moving swiftly now, the road is uneven. I lose my balance for a moment but catch myself on the 'butt strap', a canvas strap that is hooked into the turret for me, the gunner, to sit upon, though I've rarely been allowed to use it. In fourth platoon we stand fully erect with eyes scanning back and forth 180 degrees; from shoulder to shoulder, completely exposed for all the world to see and kill.

He's still shooting. I notice that his weapon is on semi-automatic, they never use semi-automatic, but not this one, his aim is true, he means to kill me. I respect him now, it's easy to admire a man like him. After all, he is not like me; a soulless mercenary who kills on a three year contract, this is his life. He hates me, I cannot hate him, but I must try to kill him. He continues to shoot at me, I wish he'd just run on home like the rest of them.

Them... how I hate them, we all do. They are so easy to hate, so vile and treacherous, subhuman even. It's because of them that I am here in the first place, God how I hate every inch of every one of them. We will all fight to the death, we are prepared even to take our own lives, rather than fall into their hands, to be tortured, raped, and humiliated. They thieve and lie and have killed boys who were once my friends. People with whom I used to carry on intelligent conversations, laugh with, live with, and when I saw them last I never knew it would be the last. They have transformed them from men into cumbersome heaps of cold flesh, no longer anything more than a sanitation problem to be solved with the aid of a plastic bag. The blood and entrails must be scrubbed away with Simple Green and scratch pads. My first true friend in the Army was cleaned up in this way. Thank God I wasn't there, had I seen it I wouldn't be able to remember him as I do now; always a smile, always a comment worthy of note, always something interesting in mind; a husband and a son. And when he died I didn't even bother to cry, I wanted to, I even tried a little bit, but that was stupid and wrong. No need to lie to yourself my friend, you are no longer human and everyone knows it.

Pulling myself up using the butt strap I bring my head up just far enough to peer over the lip of the turret ring. Where is this motherfucker? I take a look around.... there he is. Not 'him' per say, but a tiny flash of light, followed by the report of a rifle and the sound of a bullet striking concrete or metal, I never learned to tell the difference. I look down at the orange handle which will unlock the turret and allow me to swing it around, pointing the machine gun in his direction. No, there's no time for all that, the way this humvee is leaning and rocking I'd never be able to do it. The gun alone weighs nearly eighty pounds, it's the old kind, a "fifty cal". Besides, he’s standing on the roof of an apartment building, and I am imagining a family huddled inside their cramped home. They are poor and the weather is cold so they sleep in the same room, probably without beds. I will not send a score of fifty caliber bullets into that building, to grind and shred the flesh of three generations with one flick of my pathetic thumb, my thumb that is only eighteen years old. I'm not that inhuman, not that cruel, not yet at least.

No, but I will use my rifle. Now I am ready, now I have a purpose. No longer will I cower inside this armored hull and take whatever he chooses to give me, now I will give him something, I will take control, I will kill him. I bring the rifle to my shoulder, the same kind my father and uncles carried when they were in the service. What a gruesome object, it's black steel and plastic lay cold and lifeless in my hands, much like the corpses it was designed to create, incapable of human warmth. I place the tip of my nose on the charging handle, shut my left eye, and peer into the sight hole.

Now I am in a different world entirely. A still, silent void that has but one entrance. You cannot reach it through meditation or by ingesting some strange plant, not even in death can one find it. This man-made world can be glimpsed only through the sights of a rifle, only when it is pointed at a living thing. Here there is no God, no Hell, no consequences and certainly no remorse, those will all come later. For the time being he and I are completely alone, oblivious to the outside world.

Now the moment of truth. Am I really going to go through with this? Can I? Oh yes, I can, and I will, I must. This man is attacking you and your comrades, it is your duty as the gunner of this vehicle to kill him as soon as possible. You are the gunner, you are responsible for the lives of these men inside this humvee. I hope... I know that they would do the same for me. Now I'm nervous, my knees tremble, I feel like a kid who's just been caught stealing. For an instant I can clearly see his bullet coming for me, flying straight towards my face, I vividly imagine the impact. Switch the safety off, take a moment to blink your eyes and breathe. Let me wait and see one more muzzle flash before I strike, let me wait for him to show me where he is just once more. Oh what sweet satisfaction I am about to receive! Two months of misery and a lost childhood because of you, damn you, I finally get to kill one of you now. I will use you as the object of my vengeance, this is for everything you have done to my life and to my family, you alone will pay the price, tonight. I think of nothing else now but my own misery and suffering, selfish I know, to kill a man and not even think about him. Then my wish comes true, I see another flash, he has revealed himself. Instantly I readjust my hands, he's fairly close so I aim a little lower than usual, just like they taught us at Ft. Knox. And now I can feel the trigger. In this moment I think of my father, who always taught me to 'squeeze' a trigger, never to 'pull' it, so, ever so slightly, I begin to squeeze. The movement of my index finger is barely distinguishable to the human eye, it curls inward only millimeters per second, when the rifle finally discharges it's almost unexpected. A shell casing jingles against the floor, I taste smoke, and the finger now points at no one but me.

My enemy, my peer, a man who I have even come to admire in the last few seconds, stops firing immediately. I raise my cheek from the rifle and look at him. I see him for the first time, nothing more than a black silhouette against a midnight sky, but I see him. He goes down behind the edge of the roof. I never see him again, I never learn his name or his lineage, I never learn what became of him.

Later the next morning, when the patrol is over, after I've refueled the humvee and put away the weapons, I'm congratulated by my friends. I am quiet and expressionless, though I'm not upset. I sit down alone on my cot and disassemble my rifle, the one I used against my enemy, the brother I never had, the only man who has ever faced me as a natural equal. The smell of the spent bullet is strong, but the weapon is mostly clean, after all it was only one shot, I push a piece of paper through the barrel with a thin rod, the paper empties out into the breech, bearings it’s little sunburst of black residue. I wipe off each metal part, coating them with fresh CLP, and reassemble them carefully. This rifle did not fail me in my hour of need, it may have even saved my life. I imagine the next soldier who will carry it after I have gone on, will he ever know of the sin it has committed this night? How many people did you kill before I took you off the rack? I push such thoughts aside and am asleep in a matter of minutes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In spite of the weather, almost 10,000 people came to the rally on Boston Common yesterday. The crowd was both peaceful and fired up.

View from the stage

I walked thru the crowd for almost an hour and got a sense that maybe, perhaps, just maybe, we are beginning to wake up.

Howard Zinn was there

Last year at this rally, three Iraq vets led the parade. This year? We had a shitload of vets.

Even the wait staff at The Four Seasons Hotel were flashing the peace sign

At the end of the march, veteran’s peeled off to applaud the marchers

It was a day of

Friday, October 26, 2007

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fulttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!

Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest,
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord and God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- excpet he pause and think. "God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, and the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard the words 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it --

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

What Did You Export Today?

By David Glenn Cox

What have you exported today? What do you export? I’m so tired of hearing pundits explain that the weak dollar is good for the economy, it helps exports they answer. So what do you export? Me? I don’t export anything but I import quite a bit. Most of the gasoline I buy is imported so if the weak dollar help exports it must conversely hurt imports. The rise in crude oil prices is due just as much to the loss in value of the dollar which has lost half 50% of it’s value against the Euro as it is the demand for oil.

I’m sure a weak dollar helps GM and Ford as they export auto parts to their subsidiaries in Mexico only to import them back as finished automobiles. I sure it was a dandy negotiating tool when GM told the UAW they would shut down all US production and move overseas if they didn’t get a deal. It most certainly helps farmers to export crops abroad but still, those farmers are now being paid with weak dollars that they in turn must spend more of to buy fuel and machinery and petroleum based fertilizers most of which is imported.

But if a weak dollar helps exports and causes the price of imports to rise then how does this help an economy that imports two billion dollars a day more than it exports? The short answer is, it’s a catch phrase like eat your vegetables people are starving in Darfur. One has nothing to do with the other; my eating all my carrots will neither help or hurt the starving. An emotional argument much like your deposits are insured by the full faith and credit of the US government. What does that mean besides, you can trust us. Ask yourself, which economies in the world today are strong? And which are weak?

Germany, Japan, China and South Korea are all strong and what do they all have in common? They all manufacture products for export and heavily regulate the amount of products they import. Yet this flies in the face of the number one catch phrase of a global economy, like telling the doorman to let him in he’s all right. Germany is currently embroiled in a case in with the European Union over golden shares giving the German government a voice over foreigners purchasing German companies.

Japan is the toughest market of any democratic nation in the world. US popcorn producers were asked to guarantee that 100% of all the kernels would pop. A US producer of salad dressing was stopped at customs and not allowed to bring in samples because Japanese officials had not tested them for safety. The producer offered to dump the contents down the drain just to be allowed to take the bottles in to show potential customers. This request was also denied for the same safety concerns. An Austrian company was denied the right to sell its ski’s in Japan with the explanation that Japanese snow was different.

For many years foreigners wishing to operate in China had to form a partnership with a Chinese company. A virtual trade school to train the Chinese to learn manufacturing techniques. Many of the restrictions have been relaxed in the import of luxury goods but still remain in place for companies wishing to compete in China.

Mazda, Hyundai and Dae Woo sell millions of Korean produced automobiles every year in the American market paying import duties of 2% on each automobile. American cars companies wishing to import American cars into Korea must pay a 25% import duty on each car. What of free trade? Why don’t American car companies protest? Why don’t they demand Congress take action? Well, Ford motor company owns 50% of Mazda and General Motors bought out Dae Woo outright after a financial scandal. Why do they need to import cars into Korea? They get the business either way if Congress were to demand higher import duties the losers would be Ford and GM.

So why then are we in America told that we must bow down to the golden idol of free trade? The same reason Ford and GM don’t want higher import duties on automobiles. American manufactures can produce off shore with $5.00 a day labor slap an American name on the product and make big money. Then with an offshore mail drop avoid paying any taxes at all and pass the savings on in political contributions to keep the free ride going.

But the greatest asset of a weak currency is the ability to pay debts and not have to pay full value. Imagine you owned a bakery in Germany after WW1 you borrowed one million marks to build a new modern bakery with funding provided by American bankers. The profit on a loaf of bread was one mark so it would take a million loaves of bread to repay the loan.

Then after the treaty of Versailles the German government obliterated the value of the mark by excessively printing money. The price of the loaf of bread soared to ten thousand marks of course this reflected your normal profit margin and the cost of doing business. Your profit on a loaf of bread went to one thousand marks so your debt was effectively reduced to 100,000 loaves or a 90% reduction in your debt. You still owned the bakery and paid your bills on time but you paid them with devalued currency.

The German middle class was wiped out; pensioner’s starved and American bankers were able to juggle the situation and cover the actual losses temporally. On paper they were being paid in full and on time but they were being paid with worthless script. Only by a flood of capital in the 1920’s and an era of rampant speculation where everyone was getting rich in the stock market were the losses covered but we know how that tune is sung and how the last verse ends.

So if the weak dollar is so good for us who is benefiting from it? My guess would be those with huge debts especially those with huge bad debts. Those who have the availability to buy and sell in foreign markets and then convert their profits to weak dollars to pay their debts. But who owes more money than anyone else? Who is the biggest debtor in the whole world? Where do they get their money? That’s right they print it themselves.

If you were fortunate enough to have a million dollars in the bank chances are it’s not in the bank. It’s at work in the stock market benefiting from the outsourcing of jobs and American industry. You don’t own the bakery but your resources are hedged against the falling dollars but only to a point. Because sooner or later you’ll have to try and get them out and judgement days a commin.

Over 8 Trillion dollars of financial assets are controlled by foreign interests 3 trillion more than Americans hold in foreign markets and want to make a wild guess which ways that’s balance is going and who’ll get out first? Wonder why the market gyrates wildly for apparently little or no reason? The wise are no longer so wise and the seer’s no longer see and those that do in the street vernacular are scared shitless.

They prayed like penitents during the plaque for the holy God the Federal Reserve to save them with a rate cut. It managed only to rescue the stock market for 45 days but then the plaque returned. But God spoke to Moses Bernacke and said don’t ask again build an ark and remember the weak dollar is good for the economy. (hint hint)

So what did you export today? Did you hire a third a world worker to do your job and then pay him $5.00 bucks and pocket the difference? Do you export more than you import? The answer to the question of who will bail out the banks in the mortgage loan crises has been decided, you will. Can you swim? Or can you build an ark to protect yourself from the rising sea of worthless dollars? Cause it looks like rain from here.

Posted in full with permission of author.

Originally posted at

What We DON'T Need (Full Circle)

By Nancy Greggs

We don’t need a healthy citizenry to be a productive workforce that fuels the economy, so let’s not bother ourselves with easy, inexpensive access to healthcare.

We don’t need a workforce in America, healthy or otherwise, because we can outsource jobs to cheaper labor markets.

We don’t need education for our children because there won’t be any skilled jobs available for them after those jobs have all been outsourced, so let’s invest the money in a war we’ve already lost instead.

We don’t need to actually win the wars we start, because they are only allegedly meant to be fought in order to protect our rights and freedoms.

We don’t need rights and freedoms, because that’s what the terrorists hate us for, and why invite their anger?

We don’t need international cooperation to find terrorists, so let’s distance ourselves from our traditional allies.

We don’t need undercover CIA operatives who specialize in the proliferation of WMDs around the world, so let’s ‘out’ them for political revenge.

We don’t need accurate information on possible terrorist activity, so let’s just torture people who are willing to provide faulty information so as to be freed from the pain.

We don’t need alert, well-rested soldiers in combat, so let’s dispense with nonsense like periods of rest and recuperation.

We don’t need live, able-bodied troops, so let’s not waste money on body-armor, fortified vehicles, or other life-saving equipment.

We don’t need to inspect the cargo that comes into our ports and is then loaded onto airplanes, so let’s just keep passengers from bringing baby formula and shampoo on board and call ourselves “safe”.

We don’t need diplomacy, because we have a vibrant, well-equipped military to force our will on others.

We don’t need a vibrant, well-equipped military, because that money is better spent providing profits to no-bid contractors who take the lion’s share of the allocated funds.

We don’t need to demand an accounting from no-bid contractors making obscene profits by short-changing our soldiers, because those contractors reinvest those profits in the American economy by moving their companies to places like Dubai.

We don’t need to secure our borders, because no one has ever entered this country with untoward intentions.

We don’t need fair elections in a democracy, so let’s rely on questionable voting equipment instead of hand-counted ballots to elect our leaders.

We don’t need to have real leadership in our president, because photo-ops on aircraft carriers, in NOLA, or in California are a worthy substitute.

We don’t need intelligence assessment reports on how the war in Iraq is creating more terrorists, because we have an articulate president to explain how these kinds of facts don’t matter.

We don’t need to worry about how our Middle East policies will turn out, because we have the PNAC boys to predict it for us.

We don’t need the PNAC boys to be correct in their predictions, because the mainstream media will keep inviting them to speak as experts while ignoring how wrong they’ve been.

We don’t need the mainstream media to keep us apprised of the faulty logic of the PNACers or anyone else, because they are providing more important information about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

We don’t need to think about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, because they are not examples of good Christians, like Pat Robertson.

We don’t need to hear from Pat Robertson from the mainstream media, because the White House will speak for him as long as he can deliver votes.

We don’t need to talk about the White House speaking up for Christianity, because we have a president who exemplifies Christian behavior.

We don’t need to think about what constitutes Christian behavior, because we have a born-again Christian president who defines it for us – and it includes invading sovereign nations based on lies and faulty intelligence that was gained through torture, which led to under-equipped troops being sent to the Middle East to occupy a nation that deserved to be invaded because it sanctioned torture.

We don’t need to spend tax dollars on infra-structure repairs or maintenance at home, because those dollars are needed to destroy the infrastructure of nations we choose to “liberate”, as we win their hearts-and-minds by refusing to rebuild that which we have destroyed, except for their oil fields, which we will spend millions to protect, because that’s what it was all about from the beginning – and what part of this do you not understand?

But then, we don’t need any explanations, because the president knows what he’s doing, and who would argue with a guy who has run-up the greatest national debt in the nation’s history, increased poverty at home, overseen the destruction of the Constitution he swore to uphold, sanctioned torture, corrupted our system of justice, outraged our traditional allies, lost an American city due to incompetence in the aftermath of a natural disaster, and spent his time reading The Pet Goat knowing that the country was under attack?

We don’t need paltry things like logic. What we need is to suspend all common sense and believe that a draft-dodging, promise-breaking, vacation-taking, illiterate, inarticulate buffoon is what it takes to make this country GREAT.

NOW do you get it?

Posted in full with permission of the author.

Originally posted at

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not One More Dime to Continue the Iraq Occupation

by Ron Fullwood
October 25, 2007 at 11:49:33

NO one should be surprised to find Bush back at the public trough, looking for Congress to hand over another wad of taxpayer cash to fund his blundering Mideast occupations. The last time he went fishing for funding to cover his escalation of force in Iraq, Bush found a Democratic soft spot in the promises which had been made by the leadership that they would not hold funding intended for the troops hostage to their efforts to legislate a timetable for withdrawal.

After they had their timetable bill rejected by the White House, they went ahead and muscled through a funding bill which contained many Democratic priorities for the troops in Iraq, and was intended to cover those priorities for the troops through the period they expected to be debating withdrawal legislation. September was the point at which the Democratic leadership was assuring us that there would be some movement toward withdrawal by defecting republicans which would trigger the beginning of the end of the occupation.

That far-flung scenario of a legislated end to the occupation after September, obviously, didn't happen. Republicans pulled back from their rhetoric against the occupation and have decided to weather whatever backlash which may come their way come election day by insisting, along with their president, that the numbers of Iraqis our soldiers have been ordered to attack and kill under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda represent 'success' and 'progress'; enough to justify continuing indefinitely.

There's every reason to expect that, if Bush is allowed to continue in Iraq with impunity -- if he's allowed to draw billions more from our treasury to fund his fiasco in Iraq and his misdirected defense of Kabul in Afghanistan -- that very capitulation will deepen the jeopardy our troops are in and make it that much harder to effect a safe and timely withdrawal. Like a spoiled child with an arsenal of dangerous toys, Bush is poking and taunting Iran at such a level that no one can be convinced he won't just leap forward with his particular brand of contrived aggression and unilaterally bomb the sovereign nation; carrying out one of the last, major planks of his right-wing benefactors' Mideast agenda before he leaves office. The troops in Iraq would, logically, be his ready-force for that aggression.

There is nothing left of the promises and benchmarks which Bush offered Democrats in congress as a fig-leaf for their summer stall. All there is to show for the faith the Democratic leadership put in republicans to confront their president is, yet, another yank of the political football and the moving of the goalposts.

In the period since Bush was given his latest infusion of money intended for Iraq, there has been none of the political reconciliation from the Maliki regime that was promised to be a cornerstone of any further commitment of U.S. troops to Iraq. The "surge" strategy was an obstinate response from the White House to the results of the November 2006 congressional elections which replaced Bush's republican majority in Congress with Democrats pledged to end the occupation. Bush didn't get any authorization at all from Congress as he began packing even more soldiers into the middle of the raging sectarian violence.

In every assessment from the administration of the effects of their increased occupation they have been reduced to citing their military 'progress' against the inflated 'threat' from those Iraqis who've taken on the moniker of the 9-11 fugitives Bush has allowed safe haven in Afghanistan. Instead of continuing to argue that our military occupation is defending some emerging Iraqi democracy in the Maliki regime, the justifications for continuing have evolved into the argument that we're actually fighting bin-Laden in Iraq by our soldier's killings of insurgents there (and, in some cases, innocent civilians).

Bush, shilling this week for his latest supplemental:

"Last month, General Petraeus said he believes that our successes in Iraq mean we can maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces. I accepted this recommendation that we not replace about 2,200 Marines who left Anbar last month," Bush said. "We expect to bring home another 3,500 soldiers by Christmas. The funds in the supplemental are crucial to continuing this policy of "return on success." Every member of Congress who wants to see both success in Iraq and our troops begin to come home should strongly support this bill," he insisted.

So, Bush is now walking away from the summer stall Democrats afforded him -- the 'surge' resulting in nothing but increased attacks on Iraqis by our forces, and producing none of the political reconciliation which Bush, himself, insisted was integral to any increased deployment. He's holding the troops in Iraq hostage to whatever he determines to be 'success' and he wants Congress to fund his open-ended militarism in Iraq to keep the bulk of the U.S. troops there, even after he leaves office.

There hasn't been any measurable amount of accounting for the almost a trillion dollars already spent on Bush's dual invasions and occupations; almost $200 billion on slate this year with his latest $46 billion supplemental request. Congressional investigations into official corruption in Iraq have been blocked by the administration; other investigations have been delayed by the absence of any accounting at all for money allocated by Congress and spent by contractors in Iraq.

The unsurprising news today was that defense contractors are raking in record profits from the demand for replacement equipment and supplies to sustain the occupation. WaPo reported today that:

General Dynamics said profit rose to $544 million ($1.34 per share) for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $438 million ($1.08) in the comparable period last year.

Northrop Grumman's profits rose 62 percent, to $490 million ($1.41), on strength in the company's shipbuilding. Boeing said profit rose to $1.11 billion ($1.44). Lockheed said Tuesday that its profit rose 22 percent in the third quarter.

Before there is any more money spent to refurbish or replace the worn-out military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan, there needs to be a full accounting for the billions which have already passed through the industry's hands.

Moreover, there needs to be a full accounting of all of the money spent by the administration in Iraq and Afghanistan before Congress begins to consider new funding requested by the administration in the Defense budget. Also, those funds which Congress intends to allocate for Iraq need to take a back seat to those concerns here at home which have been parsed out as miserly afterthoughts while over $800 billion since the invasion has flowed to Iraq, unabated by Congress.

There can't be any more cover for legislators who claim to be providing some necessary gear, equipment or supply for the troops because, there is more than enough money allocated in the last supplemental to just bring the troops home. There isn't even a bit of pretense left of any reasonable or acceptable justification for remaining in Iraq that anyone serious about their opposition to the occupation should accept or support with a vote for more tax dollars thrown into the money pit.

Any congressperson or senator claiming to be anti-occupation who gives Bush another dime for Iraq without legislating an exit date will be no less complicit in its continuing than the duplicitous liar in the White House. Those couple of thousand troops Bush promises to bring home by Christmas should be joined by several thousand more. The best way to ensure that Bush allows more troops to come home will be to show the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, that Congress is finished with funding their Iraq fiasco.

Mullen told students in the Artillery Captain's Career Course at Fort Sill this week that, "the Army is the best trained and equipped in the world and is a model for other countries. The question, he said, is: "How do I hang on to all of that?"

Congress needs to dictate the answer to his question, and not just wait for fate, or the demonstratively flawed judgment of the administration, to (once again) prevail.

Posted in full with permission of author.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm an AMERICAN Fuckin First!

Please allow me to rant. I am so livid, pissed off, beyond myself that I can barely type straight.

I am an American first, over any fuckin party!

Our Constitution is in tatters and the democratic leadership spits not only in loyal democrats face every single god damn day, but all constitution loving americans, every single god damn day!

Who the hell are they working for? Obviously, not us! They will give permission for the gov't to spy on us. Why so they don't appear weak on terror, well let me give them a hint on how to handle this. Say simply:

Giving away one right afforded to Americans by the Constitution of the United States is allowing the terrorists to win. We cannot live in fear and give up our values we hold dear as a nation.

Was that so hard?

They must apologize for and waste our dime doing it, about every little thing the republicans complain about. Why don't they simply say this:

We don't have time for these political follies to sway attention away from the real issues facing our country, like the War and SCHIP etc.

On no, they can't even think that far out of the god damn box.

Make no more excuses for them, they are not being threatened, or extorted. They are in bed with all that is wrong with this country. They want the powers so they can abuse them as well.

I pray I am wrong, but it isn't looking like it.

Bullshit they don't have the votes, do they think we are stupid or something, they do have control over agenda, what goes to the floor and a microphone to speak at.

Fuck them today, god damn it, fuck em!

Posted with author's permission.

Originally posted on

Bush wars to cost 40 times higher than original estimates;t 40 times higher than original estimates; $8,000 per man, woman child in US

Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday October 24, 2007

New estimates show Iraq, Afghanistan will cost US $2.4 trillion; White House refuses to provide estimate

The United States is spending about $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country to pursue wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to new estimates that show the wars will cost about $2.4 trillion over the next decade.

More than one-fourth of the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $705 billion -- will go to paying interest on the wars' costs, which are being funded with borrowed dollars, according to an estimate to be released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Iraq accounts for about 80 percent of the costs with a $1.9 trillion tab, including $564 million in interest, a House budget committee staff director told USA Today, which reported the numbers Wednesday morning.

"The number is so big, it boggles the mind," Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) told the newspaper.

The CBO previously estimated the war's costs at $1.6 trillion, which did not include interest payments or Bush's latest request for an extra $46 billion in war funding.

Since President Bush decided to invade Iraq in early 2003, the war's costs have skyrocketed as government number-crunchers continue to revise their estimates.

The latest estimate is more than 40 times higher than the Bush administration's initial estimates that the war would cost between $50 billion and $60 billion; meanwhile a proclivity for cutting taxes has marked Bush's tenure almost as much as his dedication to mounting international invasions.

The latest CBO report puts government estimates in line with those from outside economists, who have long warned against the war-on-the-cheap pipe dreams of Bush and his allies. In 2002, Yale economist William Nordhaus estimated the war would cost $1.6 trillion by 2012, and last year Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the costs could exceed $2 trillion.

Responding to the latest estimate, White House spokesman Sean Kevelighan refused to provide USA Today with an administration estimate of the war's cost, but he couldn't resist accusing Democrats of "playing politics" and "trying to artificially inflate" funding levels.

The CBO assumed that 75,000 troops will remain in Iraq a decade from now in calculating the estimate. Although it is "very speculative," that estimate is far from unreasonable, Loren Thompson, a nonpartisan defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, told the newspaper.

Already, the wars' $604 billion price tag is higher than than the costs of conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, when adjusted for inflation, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Posted in full with permission of

Iraqis Looking to U.N. to Limit Bloody U.S. Mission

U.S. killings of civilians in Iraq have pushed the Iraqis in power to look to the U.N. -- which gave its approval to the bloody U.S. occupation of their country even after its leader Annan had labeled the invasion "illegal," -- to limit the mission of their American benefactors as a condition of the reauthorization of the Security Council resolution later this year which the Bush administration uses to justify keeping troops bogged down there.

On Tuesday, it was reported that a U.S. military helicopter gunship in Iraq had opened fire and chased a group of men, who they say were planting roadside bomb, into a house which turned out to be full of civilians and continued their attack; killing as many as 15 Iraqis, all civilians, according to Iraqi officials, including as many as five women and one child.

That attack followed another tragedy a few weeks earlier where at least 15 civilians were killed by coalition forces in Iraq in a raid on a building where the U.S. military claimed al-Qaeda terrorists were gathered.

The LATimes reported today that the Iraqi parliament speaker's office issued a statement Monday saying: "The Iraqi parliament condemns these violations that are against the basics of military work and human rights. ... The Iraqi parliament is taking these negative violations seriously as it touches the life and dignity of Iraqis."

The killings are the product of the primary justification the Bush administration is using to keep our soldiers engaged in battle against Iraqis. Bush and his generals pressing forward in Iraq, against the clear will of the American people that they withdrawal. They insist in their new 'National Strategy for Homeland Security Report' issued earlier this month, that the 'Iraqi al-Qaeda' is the "group's most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack us here." The revised report concludes that al-Qaeda will "likely will continue to enhance its ability to attack America through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda in Iraq. “

The 'Iraqi al-Qaeda' has never been a threat to the U.S. outside of the opportunity they have to attack our troops Bush has placed there as targets in his cynical, circular protection scheme. In fact, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of the Joint Special Operations Command's operations in Iraq, reportedly, believes the Iraqi al-Qaeda "has been all but eliminated." Yet, these U.S. assaults against Iraqis have been allowed to continue as if our occupying forces risked some U.S. national emergency by exercising restraint.

The actual al-Qaeda instigator (and suspected orchestrator of the 9-11 attacks) is not in Iraq, although Bush and his national security focus is clearly centered in Baghdad, where he's positioned the bulk of our nation's ready-defenders. It was no surprise to hear the latest taunting and instigating from yet another 'bin-laden' tape, urging his imitators in Iraq to unite against their American occupiers.

The occupation's the hook which Bush allows him to actually engage our nation on the same level of our commander-in-chief's own assumed authority. Bush says he's fighting bin-Laden 'there', in Iraq, and bin-Laden obliges him with an inspirational pep talk across the airwaves; followed, no doubt by the extra elevation of Bush or his minions repeating his propaganda, word-for-word.

There was republican presidential candidate McCain, on the campaign trail yesterday, who decided that bin-Laden's call for Iraqis to unite in violent resistance against the American occupiers was a sign of desperation, rather than any concern about the effect on the troops in the way of those reprisals; or to have the obvious wonder of why the terror Svengali still has the ability and capacity to inspire anyone at all; issuing threats and making taunts from his safe haven, six years after his president's promise to capture him "dead or alive."

"Basically he encouraged the extreme elements -- al Qaeda in Iraq particularly in the Sunni areas -- to join together and be more effective in bringing terrorism and murder and suicide bombings to Iraq and to Anbar province," McCain said Monday.

"It's a clear sign that we are succeeding in Iraq," McCain claimed.

One thing is certain, the continuing and escalated occupation of Iraq has played right into the hands of everyone who has an interest in keeping our military forces bogged down in Iraq. The occupation has clearly become a military mission against the Iraqis themselves, with millions having fled their homes -- and those remaining, in the way of whatever mission Bush and his generals contrive -- well apart from any need or concern of the Iraqi people. Under the guise of preserving the Iraqi regime Bush has installed behind the sacrifices and deadly power of our military forces -- reduced to staging contrived assaults against Iraqi civilians -- Bush is now, unilaterally, pressing our forces to open a new offensive against the threat he's conjured out of whole cloth against Iraq's neighbor, Iran.

The Iraqis are correct to look for ways to limit the military ambitions of the U.S. in their country, but it goes without saying that it's probably too late to expect the U.N. to have any more influence on the U.S. in Iraq than they've already demonstrated in their surrender to Bush's invasion and overthrow. The Iraqis would be better served by cutting ties with the U.S. carpetbaggers altogether and voting in their parliament for our military forces to leave. Expecting the U.S. and the Bush administration to recognize or respect the toady exiles they've enabled into power in Iraq as the Iraqi parliament begs the U.N. to stand in the way of Bush's swaggering advance is doomed to disappoint.

Posted in full with author's permission.

Iraq veterans deserve more than post-combat negligence

Iraq veterans deserve more than post-combat negligence

by Military Families Speak Out Member Stacy Bannerman

WHEN the appalling conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center were made public, accompanied by grim photos of moldy walls, crumbling ceilings and dirty, bug-infested rooms, it sparked a national outcry and immediate action. Unfortunately, it has been comparatively quiet about the nearly 300 Iraq war veterans who have committed suicide, and thousands more who have attempted it.

America cannot afford the price of failing to care for veterans with combat-related mental-health problems. The systemic breakdown in mental-health care is so profound that military families and veterans groups have filed lawsuits against the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth have filed a class-action suit on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The suit claims there are as many as "800,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans said to suffer or risk developing PTSD." The groups charge the VA with collaborating with the Pentagon to avoid paying PTSD benefits.

Joyce and Kevin Lucey of Belchertown, Mass., are suing the VA for negligence, contending that their son Jeffrey, a Marine Reservist, hanged himself after the military refused to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yet, in conversations about the dire state of care for deployment-related trauma, the question I am most often asked is some variation of "Why should I care?"

Not so long ago, I believed that when it came to veterans' assistance, demonstrated need was justification for treatment. I thought that the unprecedented number of troops returning from Iraq with post-combat mental problems — 31 to 48 percent, compared with the estimated 30 percent for Vietnam veterans — was evidence enough.

Because this country drapes itself in the flag of family values, I thought the increased divorce rates among U.S. troops might be sufficient motivation. I presumed that the growing body of evidence attesting to the skyrocketing rates of child abuse, neglect and maltreatment during combat-related deployments would be enough to spur this nation to tend to the invisible wounds of war.

I imagined that the escalating incidents of post-deployment domestic violence and murder — domestic abuse in military households is around five times the civilian rate — would seal the deal. And then there are the public health and community costs incurred when the police, fire and emergency medical technicians are called. The costs escalate more when the courts get involved, when guardians for the children are assigned, supervised visitation is required and foster-home placements have to be made.

I figured that making good on this nation's commitment to support the troops, and keeping America's promise to take care of our veterans, would be sufficient closing arguments.

I was wrong. It seems that the double bottom line on most Americans' minds is economic and national security, both of which are compromised by negligent post-combat care.

According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for young Iraq war veterans is triple that of their civilian counterparts. Almost half of the 425,000 citizen soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan experience deployment-related mental-health problems, according to the Department of Defense Mental Health Task Force.

Because their post-combat mental-health care is limited or nonexistent, when citizen soldiers return to their civilian jobs, they bring their psychological problems along.

In Washington and other states with large concentrations of civilian veterans in the work force, untreated war trauma means higher turnover, increased absenteeism, elevated health-care and human-resources costs, and reductions in performance and productivity. It also means a diminished tax base, lower housing values and fewer consumers.

Those things may be the least of our worries. The No. 1 reason for military attrition is untreated mental-health problems, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. If we don't take care of the troops who have seen combat, they will, quite literally, not be available to take care of us.

Stacy Bannerman is the author of "When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind." The wife of an Iraq war veteran, she is working to establish The Sanctuary for Veterans & Families, a Kent-based nonprofit. She can be contacted at

Posted with permission of author.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Open Letter to the Government Officially ending all Military Obligations.

Open Letter to the Government Officially ending all Military Obligations.

To those Businessmen and women holding seats in Congress,
To the Highest Court of America,
To every Department within the U.S. government,
To the President's Cabinet,
To the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
To the Vice President and President of the United States of America:

My name is James Circello. I am sure some of you already know who I am now that wiretaps and spying on American citizens has been approved.

Or maybe you've heard of me when you saw my name on a comprehensive list of Anti-War activists.

Or maybe you just know of me because I was a Sergeant in the United States Army and served as an Airborne Infantryman for six years, went to Iraq in March 2003 and served until March 2004, remained in the Army a little longer before refusing to take part in the Occupation of the Middle East and went AWOL.

I am writing you today, not asking for forgiveness for what I decided to do, but to give you an idea of what brought me to that decision to leave the Army and speak out against the Occupation. Though some will claim I left for other reasons and will try to force the discussion away from the facts and at the same time attempt to assassinate my character with half truths and out right lies, these are the facts. If later we wish to get into more of my personal life, we can do that: I have no fear of it.

I will first like to say that I am no longer a member of the United States Armed Forces. When I left the military on Easter morning, April 2007, I have officially resigned from service to that military. There are no ties between myself and an oppressive military regime set on occupying groups of impoverished indigenous people.

I am no longer a Sergeant or a paratrooper.

I will not respect an organization that can and does, at its own will, change entire enlistment contracts for the purpose of extending soldiers;

Gives quarterly sexual harassment courses and still allows roughly 30% of women to be sexually assaulted in some way, shape or form;

Openly discriminates against people based on homosexuality, race, gender and ethnic background;

Allows crimes against humanity and peace to occur and covers them up with internal investigations;

Actively recruits young boys and girls from low level income high schools and communities with false promises of health care, school and job experience and fails on all accounts;

Refuses to recognize conscientious objectors (C.O.), and when individuals apply for C.O. status that are administratively "punished" by their chain of command;

I refuse to be a part of a military and Administration that continues to abuse and torture, doesn't recognize the rights of detainees and allows them to be shipped to secret detention facilities for "National Security" purposes; a military that is illegally, based on all U.S. as well as International Law, inside of Iraq; a military that is over extended, under funded in a war with no foreseeable end (because time tables give our enemy a "sense of victory", but how can the enemy have victory when "Mission Accomplished" has been declared?); a military that watches billions of government contracts given to private military outfits, while they run through the streets of Iraq unchecked, and allows soldiers to be poorly equipped and the V.A. poorly funded.; the No Child Left Behind Act and it's policy of making it mandatory for schools to send out the information of all students attending the school to military recruiters, or they are threatened with being cut off from Federal funding (I thought school was a place of learning, not a place of turning our youth into the next: "(insert Arabic country name here) Veterans Against The War".

This and many other reasons are why I tell you today, I do not recognize any of the warrants that may have been placed upon me. These warrants are merely a way to silence any opposition to this criminal war. I do not support the United States foreign policy and will not be the fool that enforces it.

The United States has a history of using the poor of this country to massacre and oppress the poor of other countries and I say to everyone that is able to read this - I am no longer a member of the United States Armed Forces.

I also say, this by no way makes me unAmerican. I love this country and feel very strongly that it can be saved and that it must be saved.

I say this without a growing ego, but my acts as of now are what the Founding Fathers envisioned and wrote about. This is what Democracy looks like.

Dissent isn't unAmerican, it is what Patriotism means.
Patriotism is not blindly following a Flag waver, it is Direct Action.

I joined the Army after the towers of New York fell. Swept up in the fervor, I left college to enlist. My country was attacked - I, like many, wanted to defend it.

But here is where a majority of Americans, as well as Politicians have made their largest mistake: Defending your country does not mean destroying other Nations out of and/or for Revenge. But the People bought into the outcry that we must kill to feel better, and the Politicians sang their songs and danced their dances, in an attempt to show who was the most Patriotic of them all!

America stayed fixed to the lies from Fox News (can it really be called "News"?) and we watched the towers fall so many thousands of times until we were all ready to go kill and die for the Eagle and Red, White and Blue.

Though, I will admit, I was angry and young but it didn't take me too long to see that this wasn't about defending America, but creating an entirely new enemy.

It was all there.
It was almost too perfect.
They are of different color.
They speak a different language.
They are a people that have been made to be poor - not a people that are poor; there is a difference.
They follow a strange religion that Americans don't understand! A religion so very similar to Christianity, that - get this - it recognizes almost the same individuals as being Prophets that the Bible does.
They "hate us (you) for our (your) freedom".
They will come here and kill our women and children if we do not go there (and kill their women and children first).

The Administration and all of Its men and women sold it and Americans bought it.

How many people got chills when the American flag was placed there at Ground Zero? Remember when there were so many flags outside of houses, and flag stores ran out of them?

So I went to Iraq and I saw their faces. People that I thought wanted to kill me, and hated me because I was free, brought me into their homes, offered me food and something to drink.

Was the food poisoned? No.

Was it a poor family that could barely afford the food they were offering, but offered it to me without charge or regret? You bet.

I was quickly disillusioned by the military. Senators and Representatives from Congress would come to visit us - and we would be told to get everything clean for the Dog and Pony Show.

We would up the security levels, to make everything look ship-shape. When it was time for the questions and answers portion, we would never be without a question, because the chain of command was always there for us - and thankfully they had come up with the questions we were allowed to ask our Representatives. This is what happens every time someone from D.C. came for a little sight seeing visit. I can only imagine what kinds of shows they put on now.

Long story short, I left Iraq feeling really uncomfortable with America's position in this entire conflict. It didn't feel right. It didn't look right. And after much soul searching and researching, I discovered that it plain out just wasn't right.

It took me a while to finally decide to leave. I wanted to leave prior to invading Iraq, while witnessing the illegal "Shock and Awe" that killed so many innocent people and destroying the infrastructure of the country that we hadn't destroyed from the first bombings in the Gulf War and what wasn't antiquated and useless from the illegal sanctions held over the heads of the every day Iraqi citizen.

I fell for the trap of "don't let your buddies down". And what a well spun web it is. I can not control the conscience of another man. I can only follow mine. And after deciding what I believe in is not consistent with the United States military and learning that "don't let your buddies down" is just a form of domination through guilt, I left my post in Italy to return to America. I began speaking out against this Occupation. I do not fear arrest. I do not stay hidden. I go to all national events and travel the country at my own leisure.

I say this to you Congressional Democrats: you have failed us. I delayed my going AWOL, because when I learned both Houses of the Congress were controlled by Democrats I was confident that the war was finally over. You ran on the platform of ending the war. I told all of my friends to just hang on, it will be over very soon. You funded the war and you continue to fund it. By no means is my hostility solely directed towards the Republican bench of the government. You lied to the American people, and more so, you failed the American people. We are finally awake and more and more are realizing that we don't have a two party system in America, we have a single party that is not representing the will of the People.

Realize this Congressional Democrats, that when you agreed to continue funding the Occupation, this was no longer the President's war against the Arabs.

You helped buy this Occupation and now you own it as well.
And I will remind you every time that I see your faces.

The People say end the war. Stop funding the Occupation. The Soldiers want to come home. The insane idea of we must stay in Iraq and Afghanistan so that these thousands of soldiers will not have died in vain should never be said again! We tried saying that in Vietnam! The Iraqi people are strong and can defend themselves. They also want us out.

It took years for a G.I. Resistance to begin within the Military during Vietnam, but I am telling you right now - the feeling of resentment is there. The feeling that Politicians and Businesses are profiting off of this Occupation while we suffer through extended tours and battle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depleted uranium, losing friends and family and losing our lives and limbs through wounds.

We come home and barely have time to adjust to being home before we begin training to leave again.

Families are falling apart.
Iraqis are dying.
For what?
A red, white and blue flag that says, "I'm a Patriot"?
Dissent is Patriotic.

Open discussion is Patriotic (this to Speaker of the House Pelosi who refuses to have an open forum with the people of her district. I believe it is going on just over 2 Years now.)

And I say to you dissent is filling the ranks of the military and it doesn't even need a charismatic figurehead to come forth and say "Dissent; Desert!". They are doing it and will keep doing it.

And the attempts by the Military to censor free speech will not contain it. Blogs, Youtube, Myspace: these sites, and others, weren't blocked for any reason other than these are the most popular places to find out that the G.I. Resistance Movement is growing daily.

So proud Patriots of America, I ask you today for nothing. You are my Employee, never forget that. My tax dollars pay your salary, never forget that.

I do however have demands for you:

-End the Occupation Now. Not tomorrow.

-Bring home all American troops. Replace them with a true international coalition designed specifically for peace keeping operations, NOT military operations.

-Remove all U.S. contractors from the Middle East that continue to benefit off of the death of the Iraqi and Afghan people and the destruction of their countries.

-Allow the Afghan and Iraq governments the freedom to decide what kind of country they want to be in, not what kind of country we want them to have.

-Allow the Afghan and Iraq governments freedom to choose who is given reconstruction contracts - which none should be American companies, for obvious reasons.

-Fund in full all reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and Iraq: We destroyed their countries, by International Law we must pay. By Moral virtue we must pay.

-Support the Troops means take care of them when they come home, not blindly fund their continued existence in a war zone - Completely fund the V.A. Department!

-Fund the Levees; Do NOT allow another Hurricane Katrina or Rita.

-Oversight on Gulf Region reconstruction (where is it?) - I was just in New Orleans, it is still a disaster area two years later. Fix it now.

-Open Diplomatic negotiations with Iran - Do not allow another war to take place. We have Diplomats that are paid by taxpayers to do just that: to Talk and Discuss. Use Diplomats not Depleted Uranium and Cruise Missiles.

I also want to say this before I close, I wrote it in a letter, just yesterday, to the people of Italy that stand up and actively oppose more U.S. military bases in their country. And it says:

The Iraq war is a War of Aggression, led by a cry of "We Will Never Forget"; the famous quote from September 11, 2001. Well, I have something to say for the people of the World and to the People of this Administration, as well as to the members of the U.S. Congress.

We WILL never forget.

We will never forget that the men who hijacked those aircraft on September 11, 2001 were not Iraqi.

We will never forget that Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction (W.M.D) when we invaded.

We will never forget that the W.M.D's that Iraq did have years before, were sold to them by the U.S. Government.

We will never forget the millions of Iraqi men, women and children who have suffered through the Dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, The Iraq-Iran War, The Gulf War, Depleted Uranium, Years of Illegal Sanctions, Shock and Awe, "Liberation" from a Tyrant only to find a new Tyrant take his place.

We will never forget the 2 million Iraqi men, women and children who are now displaced refugees within their own country.

We will never forget the 1.5 million refugees in Syria, the 775,000 refugees in Jordan and the nearly 200,000 refugees in Egypt.

We will never forget the 1 million dead Iraqi men, women and children since March 2003.

We will never forget that nearly 100,000 Iraqis flee the country each month since 2003.

We will never forget the widows, widowers and orphans of those dead.

We will never forget the effects of depleted uranium in American ammunition that litters the countries of the Middle East.

We will never forget the increased infant mortality rate. The sewage on the streets. The sectarian violence that was never in the streets of Iraq until we installed a Pro-U.S. Government.

We will never forget the destruction of Shock and Awe that destroyed Iraq's entire infrastructure.

We will never forget Abu Ghraib.

We will never forget the Lost men and women of Guantanamo Bay and other Secret U.S. Detention facilities.

We will never forget the every day Iraqi that is gunned down at a Traffic Control Point by a tired American teenager.

We will never forget the sounds of Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D) directed not at the American soldier, but at American Policy.

We will never forget the Women and Children gunned down at random after an I.E.D. explodes, because they were working the vegetable fields and were frightened and began to run.

We will never forget that War is, in fact, Terrorism. And America is the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism.

We will never forget that the Men, Women and Children of the Middle East may be of the same color as Saddam Hussein, but they do not have his face. They are not him. They do not deserve what they have been made to endure.

And we will never forget that corporations are profiting off of the death and destruction.

We will never forget that Blackwater and other private armies, which are in themselves illegal, are running around the Middle East killing at will - and are left unchecked.

We will never forget amazing photo opportunities with the soldiers, whether its walking through a market in Iraq with security all around you and Apaches in the air, or sitting on the deck of a ship under a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

We will never forget that a majority of the American population want the Occupations to end and we will keep repeating it until you do what you are paid to do - and that is, Listen to the People.

The People are United and I know that attempts will be made to have me appear a fool and soon you will have my grade school photographs, my coloring books, a list of every library book I have ever checked out, and whatever other records these incredibly large and over-funded Secret Agencies compile on Activists in America, but I do not fear you.

You have no moral authority over me.
Or any authority at all.
I do not fear you.
Any of you.

We The People,
United within The Struggle,

James Circello; Iraq Veterans Against The War
October 17, 2007