Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone!

That time of year when its probably best to just ignore the world and concentrate on the smile on the face of someone you care about.  Well, that's never a bad idea, but this seems to be a time when everyone agrees to  do it.

So, be safe everyone, enjoy the holidays!  And try not to blow a gasket when you find out they snuck through an attack on Social Security while you weren't looking.  After all, a lot of you did vote for these people.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal

At various times I've heard Democratic Party propagandists compare Barack Obama with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  That's revealed as absolute hornswoggle when you start to learn about F.D.R.

In 1940, F.D.R. decided to run for a 3rd term, breaking a tradition that had begun with George Washington.  He also decided to name his Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace as his V.P. candidate.  Wallace had played a key role in the Agriculture department in implementing the New Deal.  His achievements included farm subsidy payments to help prop up both farm prices and farmers.  Note that this gives money to farmers, then mostly small farmers before agribusiness took over, and not to big corporations and banks.  Wallace also put in the Food Stamps program while leading the Agriculture department.  Again, payments to real people, payments that help people eat and survive, while at the same time helping the economy by spurring demand.

A far cry from Barack Obama's giving us a re-run of Herbert Hoover's policies of supporting the bankers while telling ordinary people to go get stuffed.  Barack Obama could have made the same decision on the housing crisis he faced.  He could have chosen to give payments directly to people struggling to keep up on mortgages to prop up a crashing housing market.  Instead, Barack Obama gave the money to the bankers.

There were those in the Democratic Party who didn't like Henry Wallace.  Just the same as today, there are those in power in Washington who won't lift a finger to help the American people, and who will oppose anyone who tries.  So, while the Democrats were happy that F.D.R.'s decision to run for a 3rd term made them favorites to keep the White House, there were some Democrats who were complaining and trying to prevent the nomination of Henry Wallace as their Vice Presidential candidate.

We know what Barack Obama would do in such a situation.  He'd quibble and compromise and the compromise would include ditching someone who actually helps people like Henry Wallace.  Look closely, and you won't find a Henry Wallace in Obama's cabinet room.  The last person even close that's been in the cabinet was probably Dr. Robert Reich in Clinton's marginalized Labor Dept. And he left after the first term.

So, what did F.D.R. do?  He called their bluff, and took the dramatic step of REFUSING the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.

Wow.  Can you imagine that?  During the party's convention, the party's nominee by acclamation turns around and says, no, I won't take it if you won't nominate the guy I want as my Vice President.

And, he didn't even try to be gentile or diplomatic in doing it.  Here's the letter he wrote to the delegates of the Democratic Convention.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Letter to the Democratic Convention
July 18, 1940 
Members of the Convention: 
In the century in which we live, the Democratic Party has received the support of the electorate only when the party, with absolute clarity, has been the champion of progressive and liberal policies and principles of government. 
The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.
The Republican Party has made its nominations this year at the dictation of those who, we all know, always place money ahead of human progress.
The Democratic Convention, as appears clear from the events of today, is divided on this fundamental issue. Until the Democratic Party through this convention makes overwhelmingly clear its stand in favor of social progress and liberalism, and shakes off all the shackles of control fastened upon it by the forces of conservatism, reaction, and appeasement, it will not continue its march of victory.
It is without question that certain political influences pledged to reaction in domestic affairs and to appeasement in foreign affairs have been busily engaged behind the scenes in the promotion of discord since this Convention convened.
Under these circumstances, I cannot, in all honor, and will not, merely for political expediency, go along with the cheap bargaining and political maneuvering which have brought about party dissension in this convention.
It is best not to straddle ideals. 
In these days of danger when democracy must be more than vigilant, there can be no connivance with the kind of politics which has internally weakened nations abroad before the enemy has struck from without.
It is best for America to have the fight out here and now.
I wish to give the Democratic Party the opportunity to make its historic decision clearly and without equivocation. The party must go wholly one way or wholly the other. It cannot face in both directions at the same time. 
By declining the honor of the nomination for the presidency, I can restore that opportunity to the convention. I so do.
Found at ...

"The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of terms of human values."

Can you even picture Barack Obama saying that?  Well, maybe, the man will say pretty much anything as 'happy talk' in a speech.  But, he sure as heck wouldn't back it up by telling his party in the middle of their convention that the party had better change direction away from those interests or else he 'declining the honor of the nomination for the Presidency'.

That's Barack Obama.  He's very good at 'happy talk' sections of speeches   He's good at the 'feel your pain' schtick of Bill Clinton.  But, his speeches always end, or veer away into meaninglessness afterwards.  Barack Obama appears to understand the problems of America.  He just isn't going to do anything about them.

By the way, I highly recommend Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States.  I was watching episode 1 of that series, and that's where I found this little gem.  This example of F.D.R. standing up to the bankers and the wealthy and the powerful who objected to his policies that had eased crisis of over-supply by paying people directly both not to over-produce and to buy.  F.D.R. didn't use the power of his office to funnel money out to bankers.  F.D.R. used the power of his office to help people and help the country.  That's why Barack Obama will never be considered in the same breath as F.D.R.  Herbert Hoover and Obama in the same breath, that's easy.  They are both tools of the bankers who harm the country by kowtowing to the bankers interests.

America needs another F.D.R.  America is ready for another New Deal.  What's changed is that the Democrats have made the decision that F.D.R. fought against.  The Democrats are now solidly in the control of 'those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of terms of human values.'

The Democratic Party appears to be locked down.  At this point, there seems to be very little chance at the statewide level and no chance at all at the national level of anyone as progressive as Richard Nixon, much less Franklin Delano Roosevelt, succeeding in a Democratic primary for President.  Oh, there's a segment of the base who would support another F.D.R., but the party rules were changed after McGovern to make sure such a populist uprising could never again succeed   During the Hillary v. Obama contest, Democrats became familiar with 'super-delegates' as they split between the two.  But the real purpose of the un-democratically selected super-delegates is to tilt the table so that a party (aka money) favorite only needs 40% of the rest of the delegates to defeat an insurgent populist who needs 60%.  The Democratic Party is an un-democratic party that sponsors a rigged game.

Thus it seems as if America is going to find its next F.D.R., its going to have to find him outside of the Democratic Party.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Collapse of Strikes in America

The Collapse of Strikes
as found on Progressive Review's blog.

Is it any wonder that American workers feel powerless?  More than anything, right now America needs a strong and vibrant labor movement.  The hard sad truth is that no one else is going to fight for workers in this country these days.

You can look right now at Washington and watch the Democrats making deals for the phony 'fiscal cliff' crisis that are going to dump the bill for a decades worth of tax cuts for the rich, a huge 'defense' budget, and a series of Terror Wars around the world squarely on the back of workers.  Did you get billions in federal banker bailout money to help you out when you were down? Have you made profits as a war profiteer?  Have you only been paying a pittance in taxes?  Well, guess what, the millionaire Republicans financed by the wealthy and the millionaire Democrats financed by the wealthy are about to 'compromise' and agree to stick you with the bill.

That's the political reality of today.  Maybe once upon a time, back in the days of FDR, and maybe even in Tip O'Neill's day, the workers of America might have once had a seat at the political table in D.C. as a part of the FDR Democratic coalition.  But not any more.  The Democrats sold labor down the river decades ago.

Workers have to organize.  Its become a matter of pure survival.  There aren't any other options left.

By organizing, I don't mean following all the rules and regulations and jumping through all the hoops that have been constructed in this country to strangle labor unions.  I don't mean following a bunch of millionaire labor bosses who cut deals with billionaire CEOs.  I mean workers talking to workers.  That's the basis of a union.  Workers talking to each other.  Invite each other over for dinner, then talk about what you can start to do to help each other out at work.

Some day, you'll have to stand together.  Someone will get fired.  Or the Boss will walk in and tell you that everyone has to take a cut in pay, or a cut in hours or generally less money and less benefits so the Boss can get his bonus and the owners can spend the winter in Tahiti on their yacht.  Some day, you'll have to stand together.

On that day, you can stand there alone, mad at what is happening, but powerless to do anything about it.  Or, you can look at your friends and co-workers with whom you've already been talking and by a look and a clenched fist know that everyone knows now is the time to stand together and fight back.  The difference between being in those two positions on that day is simply talking to each other.  Find ways to meet away from work.  Sit at a bar, invite each other over for dinner, meet in a park on a rare day off.  Find ways to talk.  Find ways to work together.  Figure out that together, you have a strength that you didn't have standing alone.

We have to climb back up to get to square one.  We have to do this again.  Americans once stood tall to build a labor movement.  Americans once beat off bosses and scabs and thugs and the national guard to win the right to have a union.  To win the right to a 40 hour week and overtime pay and paid days off and decent health care that didn't bankrupt them.  These things weren't just given to Americans on a silver platter with a note from the Boss saying that he was thinking of us and thought we should have these things.  These things were won in tough fights by tough American workers standing strong and demanding that these things were the bare basic minimum of a fair deal.

It may seem dark.  It may seem impossible.  But, we know that this has been done before.  Americans have come together before and won a decent life and some dignity in the workplace for themselves.  Its easier the second time, because we know it can be done.  We have to do it.  If we don't, then we just hand more of a messed up country and a truly awful work place on to our children and tell them to deal with it.  The least we can do is to fight for now for a better day tomorrow.  And try to teach them well the lesson that they'll have to fight themselves if they want to keep what we win, or if they want to do better than we can do.

Because, that's surely the lesson of the last 30 years or so.  American workers stopped fighting.  They rested on their laurels and the victories they won.  They stopped fighting.  That's what that chart shows.  American workers have stopped fighting.  And look where its gotten us.

It begins by you talking to the person who works next to you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grover Norquist vs. the Pentagon

Grover Norquist vs. the Pentagon from The American Conservative

I must be getting old. Now I agree with Grover Norquist. Mr. Norquist is the man who first emerged in the 1980's and who's best known quote is that he doesn't want to eliminate government, just to

“shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Now I listen to him, and he's making perfect sense
GN: Conservatives should insist that defense spending be examined with the same seriousness that we demand in examining the books of those government agencies that spend taxpayer money in the name of welfare, the environment, or education. We laugh at liberals who declare that their favorite spending programs should be exempt because the spending is for a noble cause.

A Spanish socialist once declaimed: Spending too much money is not left wing—it is stupid. Ditto wasteful spending in zones conservatives tend to favor because they are actually mentioned in the Constitution.

Spending should be transparent. All spending by the Pentagon should be online. Every check. Exceptions should be made for legitimate national security issues. But military and civilian pay and retirement benefits are not state secrets. This has already been done in many state governments.
I agree with both the anonymous Spanish socialist who's name apparently can't be mentioned in the American Conservative, and Mr. Norquist.  Spending too much is just stupid.

We've literally have been throwing money at the Pentagon for the last decade.  We've been doing exactly what conservatives normally decry, throwing money at a problem.  In this case, the 'problem' was the terror attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.  I don't know the exact number, but I'd guess we've thrown something in the neighborhood of ten trillion dollars, that's $10,000,000,000,000.00, at the 'problem'.  We spend somewhere in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars a year on 'defense'.  It was less a decade ago, but you can also add in several hundred billion dollars a year in the wars that the Democrats and Republicans have both kept "off-budget".  So, ten trillion dollars from 2001 to 2012 is probably not a bad guess, and maybe a little on the low side.

What do conservatives normally think about trying to solve problems by throwing money at the problem?

GN: One should look at the charts that compare tax dollars spent per pupil on education to SAT scores, or high school graduation rates. Spending is not caring. Spending is what politicians do instead of caring. Spending more does not guarantee success. Politicians like to measure spending because it is easier than measuring actual metrics of accomplishment.

Then one should ask why defense spending is exempt from the laws of politics.

For a decade now, we've had politicians who have spent trillions of dollars on 'defense' in order to show they 'care' about 'security'. The one thing that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on consistently for the last decade is that we must 'show we are tough' by increasing defense spending. Obama and Romney both agree that the defense spending should continue to rise, even while they both agree that harsh austerity measures like those in Simpson-Bowles should be imposed upon the American people because of the 'deficit' that's come from spending ridiculously more on 'defense' than the rest of the world.

The Economist, hardly a left-wing journal, wrote in 2011, in a post called "Defence spending: Always more, or else"

All of which isn't to say that America's generals should rest easy, or that the president should disband the army. It is merely a plea to start viewing the defence budget in more realistic terms, where proposed cuts, or small increases, are not viewed as doomsday scenarios
Here's The Economist's chart of defense spending from that article.

Does it look like we spend too little on 'defense'?  Remember, that chart is only the official Pentagon budget, and not the other 30% or so that's hidden in other agencies that bring the total up to nearly a trillion dollars a year.

And also remember that from the stack on the right side of that chart, Turkey, Canada, Australia  South Korea, Italy, Germany, Japan, France and Britain are official allies of the USA.  And that Brazil and India could be considered friendly neutrals that would be very unlikely to attack the US.  That leaves Saudi Arabia, which is realistically the last country to attack the US, which it did on Sept. 11, 2001, and Russia and China.  And frankly, neither Russia nor China is saying a word these days about any sort of attack on the US.  The days of the Soviet Union having tank armies in East Germany aimed at NATO are long, long, long gone.

To understand how absurd this all is, try to picture this chart, but with the USA side some $300 billion (or approx 40%) higher, and then imagine the right side with only Saudi Arabia, Russia and China on the list.  Add a couple of small slivers for North Korea and Iran.  To spare your sanity, don't even try to think about that giant barrel of pork that is the Department of Homeland Security, or what might be in the NSA's black budget.

When was the last time you heard of an audit of the Pentagon?  If you are somewhere in age between myself and Mr. Norquist, you may remember the many stories in the past of over-priced hammers and toilet seats that inflated costs paid out to defense contractors.  But these days, you never hear those stories.  No one is taking a close look at exactly what we spend and how we spend it.  Asking that the Pentagon efficiently use the money that we the people provide to them is now considered "unpatriotic".  Somehow, what's become "patriotic" is to continually raise the defense budget and throw more and more and more and more money at the problem.  Romney and Obama are fighting during the debates about who can raise the defense bill even higher.

What have we gotten from all of this?  Back to Mr. Norquist.
GN: Ask advocates of the decision to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan after the Baathist and Taliban regimes were overthrown what their goal was. What would define winning or succeeding? How much did it cost? In dollars and in lives. And how much will continuing the occupations cost? When will they end? Someone sure of the virtue of his decisions will welcome answering those basic questions. Those who cannot answer those questions now should have been forced to answer them before lives were spent towards an unarticulated purpose.
Reagan asked in 1980: are you better off than you were four years ago? Are American interests in the world more secure today than before the decision to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan?
We've spend 10 trillion dollars on 'defense' in the last decade.  We're currently spending a trillion dollars a year.  Are you more secure than you were a decade ago?  Almost certainly not.  We are told now that we have to give up more civil liberties to be secure.  That the threats are so serious that the President and the Pentagon need the authority to lock up any American indefinitely on their say so.  You are currently so insecure that the NSA is building a massive center in Utah to monitor and store for later investigation all of your communications, and probably this blog post.  You are so insecure that you need TSA to expand their airport checkpoints out to trains, buses and even along the highways.  You are so insecure today that Mitt Romney wants to win your vote by spending an additional $2 trillion dollars over the next decade, and that's on top of the $10 trillion or more that's already planned.

Of course, this is the ultimate wasteful government spending.  Because if it ever succeeded, if it ever did make you feel more secure, then it would have to end.  And, in the world where the government takes your money and spends it, stopping that practice is simply not an option.  The people in charge of the programs, and the people getting rich from the programs both want the spending to go on and on and up and up.  Thus, the one thing that is absolutely certain is that none of this spending will ever make you feel more secure.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Pakistani Family Wants Murder Warrants Over Drone Deaths

CIA chiefs face arrest over horrific evidence of bloody 'video-game' sorties by drone pilots
 By DAVID ROSE from the Daily Mail in the UK
The plaintiff in the Islamabad case is Karim Khan, 45, a journalist and translator with two masters’ degrees, whose family comes from the village of Machi Khel in the tribal region of North Waziristan.
His eldest son, Zahinullah, 18, and his brother, Asif Iqbal, 35, were killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone that struck the family’s guest dining room at about 9.30pm on New Year’s Eve, 2009.
Asif had changed his surname because he loved to recite Iqbal, Pakistan’s national poet, and Mr Khan said: ‘We are an educated family. My uncle is a hospital doctor in Islamabad, and we all work in professions such as teaching.
‘We have never had anything to do with militants or terrorists, and for that reason I always assumed we would be safe.’
Mr Khan said: ‘Zahinullah, who had been studying in Islamabad, had returned to the village to work his way through college, taking a part-time job as a school caretaker.
‘He was a quiet boy and studious – always in the top group of his class.’ Zahinullah also liked football, cricket and hunting partridges.
Asif, he added, was an English teacher and had spent several years taking further courses to improve his qualifications while already in work.
Mr Khan said: ‘He was my kid brother. We used to have a laugh, tell jokes.’ His first child was less than a year old when Asif was killed.
Included in the legal dossier are documents that corroborate Asif and Zahinulla’s educational and employment records, as well as their death certificates. Killed alongside them was Khaliq Dad, a stonemason who was staying with the family while he worked on a local mosque.
To me, there's no difference in how a human being is killed. Killing an innocent human being by blowing them up with a missile with a high explosive warhead isn't any different from killing an innocent human being by shooting them. Or from killing an innocent human being by flying a plane into their building.
Its not the method that creates evil, its the act of killing an innocent human being that is evil.

According to the legal claim, someone from the Pakistan CIA network led by Mr Banks – who left Pakistan in 2010 – targeted the Khan family and guided the Hellfire missile by throwing a GPS homing device into their compound.
Mr Rizzo is named because of an interview he gave to a US reporter after he retired as CIA General Counsel last year. In it, he boasted that he had personally authorised every drone strike in which America’s enemies were ‘hunted down and blown to bits’.
He added: ‘It’s basically a hit-list .  .  . The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.’
According to the article, we've killed somewhere between 2,500 and 3,300 people in Pakistan by our drone strikes. To put that number in perspective, just under 3,000 people died in the Washington DC and New York City terror attacks on 9-11.
The US and NATO claim that pretty much every person killed by a drone strike is a 'terrorist'. Its pretty much by definition, if you were killed by a drone, then you had to have been a terrorist.

Last night a senior Pakistani security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Pakistan’s own intelligence agency, the ISI, has always been excluded by the CIA from choosing drone targets.
‘They insist on using their own networks, paying their own informants. Dollars can be very persuasive,’ said the official.
He claimed the intelligence behind drone strikes was often seriously flawed. As a result, ‘they are causing the loss of innocent lives’.
But even this, he added, was not as objectionable as the so-called ‘signature strikes’ – when a drone operator, sitting at a computer screen thousands of miles away in Nevada, selects a target because he thinks the drone camera has spotted something suspicious.
He said: ‘It could be a vehicle containing armed men heading towards the border, and the operator thinks, “Let’s get them before they get there,” without any idea of who they are.
‘It could also just be people sitting together. In the frontier region, every male is armed but it doesn’t mean they are militants.’
One such signature strike killed more than 40 people in Datta Khel in North Waziristan on March 17 last year. The victims, Mr Akbar’s dossier makes clear, had gathered for a jirga – a tribal meeting – in order to discuss a dispute between two clans over the division of royalties from a chromite mine.
Do you really believe the generals and the politicians when they say that such a process is so perfect that absolutely everyone they kill is always a terrorist? Lets see what the people on the ground think. As part of a longer statement, one resident of the region says ...

He added that schools in the area were empty because ‘parents are afraid their children will be hit by a missile’.
We've created a world where mom's are too terrified of our drone strikes that they won't send their children to school.  How many mom's have you met who didn't want their children to be educated?  Not many, but in this region, the mom's of the region obviously feel that its better to have their children alive and at home.

Does that sound like the people who live in these areas can obviously see that the only people who die in these strikes are terrorists?

If you think this is wonderful, vote for Romney or Obama in this election, and they'll both continue and probably expand this facet of America's Terror Wars. If you think this is just plain wrong, try voting for someone else.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

American Election Nonsense

Well, its now October.  Which means the good thing is that the mountains are beautiful.  And that the farce that is an American Presidential Election is almost over.  The bad thing is that the sure loser in the Election seems to be guaranteed to be the American people.

For the record, if America had some sort of instant runoff/preferential choice type of Presidential election system, here's what my ballot would look like...

1. Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party
2. Mayor Rocky Anderson, Justice Party
3. Gov. Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party.
4. Andre Barnett, Reform Party
5. Stewart Alexander, Socialist Party USA
6. Roseanne Barr, Peace and Freedom Party (despite the continual question of "Is she joking?")
7. Peta Lindsay, Party of Socialism and Liberation Party
8. Jerome Whitehead, Socialist Equality Party
9. James Harris, Socialist Workers Party
10. Tom Hoefling, American Independent Party (despite having the worst campaign website ever)
11. Barrack Obama, Democratic Party
12. Mitt Romney, Republican Party
13. Tom Stevens, Objectivist Party
14. Mervin Miller, American Third Position Party
15. Virgil Goode, Constitution Party
16. Lowell Fellure, Prohibition Party

I wonder what if feels like to be ranked below Roseanne?  And, wow, there really is a "Prohibition Party".  A quick look at their website saw only references to the King James Version Bible and the "Sword of 1611".  So, I'm not exactly sure what they'd prohibit, but I'm guessing its likely a very long list.  And the bit about the sword makes it sound like they might be rather violent about it.

And actually, writing in Ron Paul would probably be about third on the list, except for the fact that I respect the man's wishes in that while he is obviously interesting in becoming President, he has chosen not to run outside the Republican Party and thus has deliberately chosen not to have his name on my ballot.  Odd that in a movement that speaks often of individual choices, many are going to ignore Rep. Paul's choice and will write him in anyways.

For people who say that "instant runoff voting" is too complicated, does it look hard to make a list like the above ranking your preferences from first downwards?  You wouldn't even have to rank every name, just the one's you wanted, in the order you wanted them.  Does that sound hard?

Since I live in a relatively free state in Colorado, most or all of the above names will be on the ballot.  Again, not a bad thing.  I don't see the harm in looking at some names and trying to make a choice.  Doing this exercise today made me at least visit the websites of candidates of whom I had not heard.  An interesting experience.  I learned that just maybe Roseanne isn't joking, and that there really is a Prohibition Party with a rant about the King James Version and the Sword of 1611 as their party statement.

Of course, the only candidates anyone sees on TV are Obama and Romney.  Not that I watch them much, but I suddenly realize that I don't think even reruns of Roseanne's old and popular TV show are on TV much these days.  That's how complete the blackout seems.  Well, ok, research says you can find Roseanne on a cable channel called TV Land at 1 am MT.   More to the point, a google search of C-Span and Roseanne Barr didn't reveal any hits beyond a speech at the Green Party convention when she ran for that nomination.  She, and many others on the above list are completely blocked from any voters who don't already know about them and who don't deliberately go search them out on the internet.  Fascinating that Roseanne Barr can actually get a bit of TV time on an obscure cable channel at 1 am in the morning, but only as a comedian.  As a politician running for the highest office in the land, she can't even get that much.  And its not just her.  Its the same for every name on the above list that isn't Obama or Romney. 

Once I saw a list of what the Carter Center considered conditions for a free and fair election.  Important criteria was that people were not only free to vote, but people had to be free to become candidates.  And all candidates had to have at least some access to speaking to the people about their candidacy.  The right to vote is meaningless if candidates can't get on the ballot and when candidates are denied the ability to speak to the people about why they should be elected.  Think about that, then realize that in most of the states most of the above list can't get on the ballot.  And that you've probably never heard most of these candidates speak unless you've gone out and deliberately found them on some place like YouTube.  Then ask yourself how free and fair American elections are in the early 21st century?  And that's before you consider things like voting machines and the computer programs that non-transparently count our votes.

A system of elections where two candidates are widely promoted, while all other candidates are blocked from ever using media to talk to the people is obviously rigged and will produce the predictable result of the election of one of the two widely promoted candidates.  Go around to people you know, and see how many names from the above list that they can give you, other than of course Obama and Romney.  The fiction that there are only two choices is widely promoted and unfortunately, widely believed.

Meanwhile, Romney and Obama seem to continue their contest to see who can be the biggest liar.  After the first debate, a 'fact-checking' organization produces a long list of the lies and exaggerations that both candidates came up with during the 90 minutes.  The document is 9 pages long if you want to kill a small forest by printing out the lies.  And this is on top of Obama acting like he's never even been President so he wants to tell us what he'll do if elected.  This of course ignores the small question of why the heck haven't you been doing this for the last four years?  And before anyone says "Republican Congress", just remember that Obama had two years of Democratic control of both houses, as well as the momentum of the landslide win in 2008 behind him, and yet he still didn't even try to do then what he now says he'll do for us in the next four years if only we re-elect him.

So, the above list reflects a desire to vote for an honest candidate who will help the American people.  Obama and Romney are both low because to me, both are liars and both will only help their big contributors.  I generally prefer some sort of humane, leftist approach to government rather than the fight-to-the-death, dog-eat-dog sort of world favored by the right.  But I'd take a competent right-wing candidate who can win if they'd at least respect the Constitution and hopefully be honest in governing for what they think is best for the nation.  That would be far better than the corrupt liars that both the Democrats and Republicans now regularly put forward as candidates.

But, since it seems hugely likely that if its not Obama winning, it will be Romney, that just means that virtually nothing will change after the election.  We will still live in a country with a corrupt government that takes our money in taxes, but then doesn't use that for the common good instead using it as a pig trough from which their rich friends/contributors feed.  Both will waste billions on programs that do nothing but funnel money to rich contributors.  Both will continue to spend outrageous amounts on unneeded 'defense', which is really just a specific category of our money being taken and given to their rich contributors in the 'defense' industry.  We certainly don't need a trillion dollar defense budget to stop Canada from invading us.  Both will continue to serve the bankers at all times, giving them money when they need it, and protecting them from prosecution when they break the law ... at least up until they then change the law to make the bankers 'legal' again in their frauds.  Both will continue to kill people in their wars.  Both will continue to get Americans killed in their wars.  Both will start a war with Iran.  Both will continue to aggressively spy on the American people, and to deploy the ever-more-militarized riot police to put down any signs of opposition among us suckers who have to work two jobs to pay for all of this greed.

So, most of all, I'll be happy when the election is over and we can get back to just having exercise machine commercials on the "tele" every 4 minutes whenever we try to watch TV during one of our short breaks before heading back to work to make more money for them to tax and steal.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

NYPD shoots 9 at Empire State Bldg

I'm still waiting, but not holding my breath, for a US media source to put the correct headline on this.  Something like ...

"Killer murder co-worker on NYC street.  NYPD wounds nine in response"

My hackels went up the first time I heard that nine people were injured 'in the crossfire'.  The same major news sources reporting on the "Empire State Bldg Shootings" regularly use that term when an armed force, say the Israeli military, opens fire on an unarmed force.  Its usually a euphemism to try to hide the horror of unarmed people being gunned down.

And, sure enough, when I finally did watch the video of when the NYPD guns down the alleged killer, there is no 'crossfire'.  The alleged killer turns and points his gun towards the police, and quickly goes down in a hail of bullets.  There was not a single person in between the two forces who can accurately be said to have been shot 'in the crossfire'.

Why The Police Shot Civilians At The Empire State Building Today by Joe Flood,BuzzFeed Contributor
In the wake of recent mass shootings in places like Aurora, Colorado and the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, a debate has raged over whether stricter gun control laws might have prevented the shootings, or if a more heavily armed populace might have been able to stop the shooters themselves. This morning's Empire State Building shooting, though, points up the difficulty that even trained law enforcement professionals have in dealing with what they call an “active shooter scenario,” in a crowded public place.

Nine bystanders were injured in the firefight between two police officers and the suspect, Jeffrey Johnson. An unnamed law enforcement official told the New York Times that most or all of the injuries came from the 16 rounds police fired at Johnson. Johnson, detectives speculated to the Times, probably got off one shot at police.


I'm not a big enough @$$#ole to be rich

I long ago came to the conclusion that the secret to real wealth as to be a giant @$$#ole.  And, that I was never going to be rich because I wasn't willing to do the dirty deeds that would get me there.

Now, as we learn more about Mitt Romney, I'm discovering that I was right.

For instance, we know by now that Romney became staggering wealthy through Bain Capital, which bought up American companies and made its big bucks by shutting them down, moving the jobs overseas, and leaving American workers with nothing.

But, I didn't know he got started by financing Bain Capital with the blood money from the rich Salvadoran families that ran the death squads in that country back in the glory days of Ronald Reagan.

Romney’s Blood Money by SANDY SMITH-NONINI

Both the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post published investigations in the last month showing that over a third of the $37 million raised by Romney to launch Bain Capital in the mid-1980s came from rich Latin Americans, the bulk of it from Salvadoran families linked to death squads. An off-shore tax haven in Panama provided Bain with the secrecy needed to attract the approximately $6.5 million from the Salvadoran families in what many human rights experts would call “blood money.”
If that's how you get wealthy, then I can see why I'm dirt poor these days. I've got a conscience. I could never dream of approaching the backers of death squads to get the money to start a company that would then proceed to throw Americans out of their jobs to make money.

I guess if I thought that way, then I could be President of the United States.  But I prefer not to have blood dripping from my hands and the misery I've caused other people on my head.


Sunday, August 19, 2012


Remember when candidate Obama used to rant and rail against Bush for shackling science inside Federal agencies?

Confirmed: US government spies on federal staffers

So, did you expect change?  Did you expect that perhaps an FDA under Obama might actually worry about the health and safety of Americans, instead just protecting and promoting the profits of the Big Health Corporations?

According to the FDA, staffers had their computer activity monitored and logged over concern that employees were disclosing trade secrets. Those agents, however, argue that they were spied on to ensure that they were not reporting internal corruption to Congress. And while the Post’s expose examines the government’s attempts to chill any employee’s attempt at blowing the whistle on wrongdoing, it only begins to open up what great lengths the feds are willing to go to.

In January, six FDA scientists filed a lawsuit against the agency in US District Court over claims that they were unlawfully spied on after approaching Congress with their concerns that their office was allowing the approval of medical devices that posed a risk to the public. When the Post reported on those claims at the time, they unearthed emails dating back to early 2009 that showed that the FDA had intercepted emails between agency whistleblowers and congressional staffers.

“Who would have thought that they would have the nerve to be monitoring my communications to Congress?” Robert C. Smith, one of the plaintiffs, told the Post at the time.
So, is that the "Change" you voted for?  A massive (and expensive) crackdown on whistle-blowers to make sure that news that potentially unsafe medical devices are being approved for the market.

There were other options for "Change" on the 2008 ballot.  By this point, its obvious America chose the wrong one.  But, those options will be on the ballot in 2012.  To get "Change", all you have to do is to vote for someone different this time.


Will you vote in favor of murdering innocent civilians?

In the upcoming election, will you vote in favor of murdering innocent civilians?  The choice is yours.  There are names and parties on the ballot that proudly support the policy of murdering innocent civilians.  There are choices on the ballot that oppose this policy and would end it.

And to be perfectly clear, a vote for Obama and the Democrats is a vote saying you think its just absolutely wonderful that we are killing innocent civilians.  A vote for Romney and the Republicans is also a vote for murdering innocent civilians.  The votes you can cast that would oppose this policy would be for people like Jill Stein of the Greens, Gary Johnson of the Libertarians, and Rocky Anderson and his new Justice Party.

Cover-Up of Civilian Drone Deaths Revealed by New Evidence by Gareth Porter via Truthdig

The detailed data from the two unrelated sources covering a total 24 drone strikes from 2008 through 2011 show that civilian casualties accounted for 74 percent of the death toll...

This isn't terribly surprising, unless you get your news from CNN, as this same story also tells us that Obama's drone warriors have been deliberately targeting mourners at funerals and rescue workers trying to save people after the missile explosions.

Just stop for a second, and think about how you would have felt if Al-Qaida had planned the 9-11 attacks such that there were follow-up attacks on Ground Zero in the days after the collapse of the buildings with the explicit goal of trying to kill the people who were digging through the rubble looking for survivors. How would you feel about that? That's exactly the planning and policy of Obama and his drone warriors.

The data on 13 drone strikes targeting funerals and rescue efforts reported by the BIJ in February similarly contradict the NAF tally of deaths. The NAF recorded a total of 90 to 176 dead in 12 strikes which the BIJ was able to confirm as targeting rescuers or mourners; 77 to 153 of the dead were listed as "militants," whereas only 13 to 24 were listed as "civilians." But eyewitnesses and other sources considered reliable in the localities reported that between 80 and 107 civilians had been killed in these attacks on rescuers or mourners. That suggests that the higher estimates for "militants" usually included the civilians killed in those strikes.

Mr. Porter is focusing a bit on the difference between what some people claim as the number of 'civilians' and 'militants' who are killed during a drone strike, and what reporters who actually talk to people on the ground find out. But to me, the big shock of this piece is that we've launched at least 13 drone strikes that have DELIBERATELY TARGETTED MOURNERS AND RESCUE WORKERS.

Is that the America that's a shining beacon on the hill? Is that the American that people like George Washington froze at Valley Forge to create? Is that the sort of America you believe in?

If it is, then go proudly vote for Romney or Obama, and you'll get more and more and more of the same. If this is not the sort of American you believe in, then vote for somebody else.

As a footnote, let the record show that in 2008 some 97% of American voters expressed approval for murdering civilians in this fashion.  Less than 3% of American voters voted for the candidates that would oppose and end this policy in 2008.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Journalism v. Propaganda

Journalism v. propaganda
The US and Israel blame Iran for the suicide attack in Bulgaria, but offer no evidence for the accusation


 Glenn Greenwald noticed the same thing I did. That America's media immediately took up the cry that this was Iran, and that they did so based on no facts whatsoever .... only that PM Netanyahu and later the US Gov said it was so.

Neither is exactly a reliable source. Anyone remember Iraq WMDs? Or that portions of the US Gov have been saying that Iran is developing nuclear weapons when the IAEA, US intelligence and most of the intelligence agencies in the world have been saying they have not been for nearly a decade now.

Shouldn't journalists ask for some proof? Or maybe talk to the authorities in Bulgaria where this happened and see what they say?
"...even though the Bulgarian Foreign Minister said: “We’re not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation.” All The Paper of Record knows is that U.S. and Israeli officials have blamed Iran and Hezbollah, and — as usual — that’s good enough for them. Identified, Confirmed and Corroborated."

This is no longer journalism.  Which means no sensible or thinking person should be paying any attention to it.  If you want to understand the world, the first thing to do is to stop reading the NYT or paying attention to any other news source that tells you this.  If you do, then in order to really understand the world, you have to be able fact-check what they tell you and get the lies, like that Iran is surely behind this, out of your head.  Its easier just to pay no attention at all to this junk.

Use this is as a test.  Right now, if any news source tells you that Iran is behind this, without any real, tangible proof what-so-ever, then you should stop paying any attention to what they say.

Do I know if Iran was behind this?  No.  Do I know that Iran was not behind this?  No.  What I know is that there are no facts available yet.  So anyone who's telling you either statement is feeding you BS.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Decline of the News

The Relentless Decline of the News by STEVEN HIGGS

Gallup Polling shows public confidence in the 'news' at an all time low.  This of course is an under-reported story by the 'news'.

If you get your view of the world from the media, it seems the world trusts the world's most trusted new source and the fair and balanced reporting.  So, this Gallup Poll is a welcome reminder that many, many people see this as schlep unrelated to their lives, and has learned not to trust the people who's lies about facts about Iraq's WMD's helped contribute to the deaths of 4,500 Americans in a needless war.

And given the sheer awfulness of the coverage of a modern American policitcal campaign combined with the media overload associated with that, these numbers are only likely to drop in coming months.

The article contains a fascinating breakdown of eras

While the poll’s historic fits and starts could be tied to specific events, four distinct periods can be delineated throughout the nearly four decades that newspapers have been included in Gallup’s annual confidence poll. 
1973 to 1979 – Public confidence in newspapers, then the most dominant source of news for American citizens, soared from the high 30s to the peak at 51 percent. 
1980 to 1982 – Public confidence in newspapers declined more precipitously than it had risen, falling to 35 percent. 
1983 to 2000 – Public confidence in newspapers averaged in the mid-30s, fluctuating between 29 and 39 percent. 
2001 to 2012 – Public confidence in newspapers steadily declined from 37 percent to 25, with a low of 22 in 2007.

I became old enough start trying to look at the world around me, and watch the news and read to try to understand it, during that first era.  This was the hey-dey of investigative journalism.  This was Woodward and Bernstein exposing Watergate, and then the era when investigative journalists at every news outlet wanted to make the same sort of name for themselves by exposing corporate or government or military fraud or abuse.

The second is the Reagan era of Morning in America, when the corporate media declared that Americans were 'tired' of 'bad news'.

The third is the era when corporations took over the ownership of previously independently owed newspapers, tv stations and radio stations.  Its the era when the walls between the corporate business arm of these operations and the previously sacrosanct news operations came tumbling down.

The there's the last era which could be called the Bush BS era when the 'news' seem to give up the concepts of facts and reporting and just became propaganda organs.  This is the era when all the 'personalities' on the 'news' put American flags on their lapels and said they'd do whatever they could to serve.

My favorite scene in V for Vendetta is near the end, when the Great Leader is trying to control his people by speaking to them on the tele, and there's only empty chairs in front.  That's the most potent weapon the people have against a corporate media that today just wants to sell to them and manipulate them .... DON'T WATCH.  Turn it off.  If TV News doesn't help you to meaningfully not only understand the world around you, and to participate to change the world around you, then turn them off.  Walk away.  Leave just empty chairs in front of the TV.

That's how we pull aside the curtain to reveal that the mighty wizard who has dominated our lives is really just a silly and powerless little man sitting at some controls.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

As an exercise, take note of who uses the proper and correct name for the holiday.  Especially from politicians and businesses.

You'll notice how most want to call the day "The Fourth of July", not Independence Day.  One would almost get the impression they don't want you thinking about "Independence".  Instead, they just want you to think its a box on a calendar and that its all about fireworks and buying stuff.

Stop and think about how O'Reilly and others would react if everyone wanted to refer to Christmas as "The Twenty-Fifth of December".  You'd hear screams about how they want to take Christ out of the holiday.

Seems like most of the people who want to tell you how to think want you not to think about concepts like "Independence".

On a related note, also take note of how often you hear all of the text of the Declaration of Independence.  You hear the beginning part this time of year, although even that seems to be more and more rare as I get older.  But how often do you hear all of the following.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Something to think about on Independence Day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Look out kid, its something you did ...

... don't know what but you're doing it again. -- from Bob Dylan of course.

 December Surprise? From Rubin to Pelosi, Wall Street & DC Dems Push Post-Election Austerity
On a recent Meet the Press face-off between Democrats and Republicans, a politician claimed we urgently need to cut government spending. He embraced a plan to slash vital government programs and gut retirement security, while actually cutting taxes for the rich. The only tax hikes in his plan were targeted toward the already-devastated middle class. 
Then it was time for the Republican to speak.
You get to be fifty years old in this surrealistic world, and you start to see things you never thought you'd see. In the 2008 elections, I watched as the Labor movement went out and went door-to-door for Wall Street's candidate. Who would have thought I would have ever seen that?

 It was obvious before the last election that Barrack Obama was Wall Street's candidate. You just had to see the money that had backed Dubya move over behind Obama in the campaign finance reports to know that. Obama raised nearly double what Dubya and his Pioneers had raised in past elections, over $700 million, while the McCain campaign signed up for public financing because they didn't think they could raise more than about $90 million in the general election. And, Wall Street was the leader on Mr. Obama's contributor lists, especially during the important early days when his surprisingly strong fundraising established him as "anybody-but-Hillary" candidate in a crowded Democratic primary field.

Yet, there were the labor unions out going door-to-door for the candidate heavily backed by corporate and Wall Street money. What did they think was going to happen? 

The results have of course been predictable. Wall Street has been given everything it wanted by this Administration, while Labor got stiffed. Modern politicians view money as the key to victory, so its money that rules. Wall Street got their people placed in all the key economic positions in the government, hundreds of billions of direct public bailout dollars, and immunity from prosecution for their crimes. Labor got nothing. Even the weak promises made by Mr. Obama during the campaign were abandoned after the election.

And now, its happening again.

And its about to get worse after the election. The Democrats have been pushing Wall Street's austerity measures for the economy. Except, they've toned it down a bit for the election. That doesn't mean that Obama has seen the light and is about to become the progressive superman that was the mythical image created by Wall Street money in the last election.

It just means that the Democrats will wait until after the election to stick the knife in your back.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Agents in the Mist

Here is an outstanding article about who undercover FBI operations are targetting and how they do it. As well as an article about the real and violent domestic terrorists that exist but who are ignored by the FBI.

 How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing 'Terrorists' - and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook By RICK PERLSTEIN at RollingStone
"The antiwar movement soon learned whom to be afraid of: people who don’t quite fit in, who always seemed ready to volunteer for anything (if you’re on the FBI payroll, you don’t need a job), people pressing violence when everyone else in the room preferred peace. In the 1972 "Camden 28" trial of Catholic left conspirators who tried to steal and destroy registration records from a local draft board, the star witness got his breaking-and-entering training from the FBI and swore in court that the accused never would have raided the building absent his leadership. Although the people the FBI preferred to recruit were the sort who had trouble keeping jobs anyway
I heard a short version of this years ago ... "The person who is urging you to do something violent is the FBI agent in the room."

 This is the advantage of non-violent protest. The movement and the people within the movement are the more strongly protected from such FBI targeted attempts to entrap them because a non-violent and peaceful and even generally law-abiding protest movement is automatically going to say no and no again to the FBI provocateurs.

 And then, if the FBI break in and claim that home brewing equipment is really a plot to make molotov cocktails because you have empty beer bottles in your possession and because you bought gasoline while living in an urban society based on internal combustion engines, then it will be easier to make this look ridiculous if you have an open track record of non-violence and a willingness to stay within the laws as much as you can and still protest and act politically in a society where that is increasingly being made completely illegal.

 And the sad thing is that while the FBI is entrapping dumb anarchists who think its cool to sit around and talk about acts of violence with an FBI provocateur wearing a mic, there really are people out there planning real violence. These are the people who gun down abortion doctors, or who plant bombs in parks during concerts at the Olympics. They are really out there. They are the groups like the people who blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. There really are domestic terrorists in our midst.

 But when the FBI picks its targets for political means and not based on a real analysis of exactly how big a threat some people really are, then this is what you get. FBI agents in photo-ops with some sucker's home brewing kit, while the people who really want to shoot you or blow you up go about un-molested.

So, how do we change this?  If we don't like this as the people who compose this society, then how do we change it?  Well, elections are coming.  We know this sort of FBI behavior stays exactly the same through Republican and Democrat Presidents and through Democrat and Republican Congresses.  That is self-evident after the last 12 years or more.   Thus you know a vote for either party is a vote for more and more of this misguided law enforcement.  At this point, isn't it obvious that to get change you are going to have to vote for one of the other names and parties that are almost always on an American ballot.

And the good news for activists is that political campaigns are an excellent place to organize peacefully and non-violently and still pretty much legally.  Think of a political campaign as essentially a long protest and series of events based around a central object of electing a certain person for elected office.  What's the difference between a protest outside a Wall Street bank and a political candidate wanting to hold an event or rally outside a Wall Street bank?   And if a city won't give you a permit to have your campaign rally, well now you have a message for your campaign about how they won't let you protest outside a Wall Street bank which should give you plenty of opportunities for you and your supporters to say why you want to protest outside the Wall Street bank.

So how about it ... how about we all get real political this year and try to see how much we can do as opposition campaigns to House, Senate and Presidential candidates all across this country?

Change comes suddenly.  From the Soviet Union to Berlin to Cairo, we see it come when all of a sudden all the people realize that they can go out into the streets and demand change, that they can do so relatively safely because of the numbers, and that they can really affect change because of their great strength in numbers that they only then realize that they have.

In America, the Obama campaign of 2008 won because everyone heard the words Change and Hope and rallied to his side.  It wasn't their fault he was lying.  The lesson is that Americans are hungry for Change and Hope.  A movement that provides even a hope of that Change and Hope could really catch fire in the America that still desperately needs some Change and Hope.

The warning signs are there.  We saw what was essentially a controlled burn in 2008.  But if anything four years of rule by the Democrats and Obama have only stacked the timber higher as nothing changed and there's even less hope and the only thing we got is the sure knowledge that the Democrats are liars.  In 2011, we saw that dry brush spark and smolder with the Occupy movement.   It certainly inspired quick and violent acts to make sure it was stomped out as thoroughly as they could.

The American landscape is ready for Change.  What it needs is a movement that can convince Americans that they can achieve it.  We know they want it.  We know they are willing to vote for Change and Hope.  We know they are willing to come out in numbers and volunteer and donate to a rising movement.  What we need to do is to provide the opportunity.  We don't even have to provide the movement.  They'll do that when they come, and we'll need to be willing to let them do that then.  We just need to provide the opportunity.  The opportunity is starting up opposition, anti-war, anti-Wall Street political campaigns in every House, Senate and Presidential race in this country.  Build it, and they will come.   And then everything will change and be possible.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Vote For War

A vote for Obama is a vote for war.

That is very plain and clear at this point, and backed up on two fronts. The first is the record of the last four years where we've seen...

  • Obama carry through precisely the Iraq strategy outlined by Bush and Rumsfeld.
  • Obama twice "surge" the Afghan war and triple the number of US troops there.
  • Obama start a war in Libya, and do so in way more un-constitutional than anything Bush and Cheney ever tried.
  • Plus all the other little wars that have continued and started during Obama's years.
The second is the clear statements from the Obama administration that they will go to war with Iran after the 2012 elections.  They are currently conducting negotiations with Iran in a very provocative way, by raising their demands even before negotiations begin to now include the complete elimination of Iran's civilian nuclear power program.  If only the US would offer to match them in that.

This is actually rather rare in American history. There have been very few elections where it was well known that electing a candidate as President would lead to a war, or the willing continuation and expansion of ongoing wars.

Honestly, a vote for Obama or McCain in 2008 was a vote for war.  In 2004, a vote for Bush was a vote of confirmation of his policies of voting for war as well as a vote to continue those wars.  But in 2004 a vote for Kerry was also a vote to continue those wars.  So, the recent trend is to have candidates about whom it can be clearly said that a vote for them was a vote for war.

You probably have to go back to 1972 to find another such case. In 1972, a vote for Nixon was a vote for war.  But even then, this sitting President talked far more about how he was the man to end the war than anything else.  His opponent, George McGovern was clearly a vote against the war.  In 1968, a vote for Humphrey was a vote to continue the war in Vietnam started by Kennedy and Johnson, but a vote for Nixon was also likely a vote for war.  But again, in stark contrast to today, both sides talked about how they would end the war, with Nixon touting his secret plan to end the war.

1952 was as much a vote on how to end the Korean War than anything else.  In 1944, war was a given, and the vote was more of a choice as to who should best conduct it.  But then you have to go back pretty much to Lincoln.  The 1940 election was before Pearl Harbor, and President Roosevelt's foreign policy that was leading to that attack wasn't much up for debate.  America's involvement in World War One happened between the elections, and in 1916 Democrat Woodrow Wilson ran promising to keep America out of that war.

In 1860, a vote for Lincoln was a vote for liberating the slaves, and also largely a vote for a war to make that happen.  The choice on the ballot was to vote for a Democrat who would prevent a war by defending the practice of slavery. The Mexican War happened in Polk's third year, and was wrapping up by the time of the 1848 elections, when people like Abraham Lincoln started to make a name for themselves by speaking out against it.  Before that, the US didn't really start wars, so a vote for President wasn't really a vote for starting a war one way or the other.

So, we are in a rather unique historical place.  Its very rare for the US public to get such an open vote on a President who all but promises to start another war, this time with Iran, right after the election.  Its even equally rare to get a chance to vote on a sitting War President who is openly proclaiming his support for continuing these Terror Wars that Dubya began.  

How will you vote?  Are you going to vote for war?  If you vote for Romney or Obama, you most certainly are voting for a war with Iran.  But there will be other names on the ballot.  And you do have a choice.  Are you in favor of yet another war?  Do you want blood on your hands?  In this fall's elections, you will have a very clear choice in your vote for President.  And probably at other offices down the ballot where you will also find Independent and 3rd Party candidates who would oppose a war with Iran.

How will you vote in 2012? Will you vote for war?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily

Render to Caesar, Extraordinarily by Ray McGovern

As always, Mr. McGovern is very much worth reading. He ends with ...

Granted, now that drones have come into their own, it is much easier to kill folks rather than to capture and "render" them — like Jesus was rendered to the Romans by the corrupt religious authorities.

Good Friday is a day for pondering such things. While I believe what happened to Jesus gives those of us of Judeo-Christian heritage an additional, highly poignant reason to do so, my atheist friends have warned me against attitudes boarding on snobbery.

One said, "You don’t have to be a Christian, Ray, to know instinctively that human beings simply must not torture other human beings." He is right, of course.

And my friend’s caution reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Kurt Vonnegut who, at one point named himself Honorary President of the American Humanist Association:

"How do humanists feel about Jesus? I say of Jesus, as all humanists do, ‘If what he said is good, and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?’

"But if Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being.

"I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake."

Are you human? Or, are you a rattlesnake? Then again, I might be insulting rattlesnakes. I don't think I've ever heard of rattlesnakes torturing other rattlesnakes. Maybe the question should be are us monkeys capable of being as good as rattlesnakes.

Kurt Vonnegut Was Very Real

I Am Very Real, By Kurt Vonnegut

On a site who's secondary title is "Correspondence deserving of a wider audience". So very true. This is Kurt Vonnegut's response to his books being burned by Americans. This is a letter to the North Dakota School Board head who had ordered the burning of his books. It ends with the following passage.

I read in the newspaper that your community is mystified by the outcry from all over the country about what you have done. Well, you have discovered that Drake is a part of American civilization, and your fellow Americans can’t stand it that you have behaved in such an uncivilized way. Perhaps you will learn from this that books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own.

If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the eduction of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books–books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.

Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.

Kurt Vonnegut

This happened nearly 40 years ago, when Americans were still outraged by the banning of books and censorship. Today's America is very different. And so it goes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Drone and the Cross

The Drone and the Cross by BRIAN TERRELL

There's a famous quote from the 1930's by novelist Sinclair Lewis "When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the “Pax Romana” it imposed on the known world. The history of empires is banal and predicable even in its cruelty and the United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Empire will always be on the technological cutting edge, from bronze swords to nuclear missiles, with each advance extending the reach and the catastrophic potential of successive imperial powers, but the history of empires is really one single tragic story told over and over again with incidental variations.

Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its “Pax Americana” are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs. Just as Rome considered Jesus a “high value target” for execution, it is unlikely that today’s world empire would view Jesus’ life and teaching with any less suspicion. Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

If Jesus wasn't killed by an American drone, he'd probably be captured and held in an orange jumpsuit down at Gitmo. Meditate on that for this Good Friday and Easter. Our empire probably wouldn't tortuously kill Jesus by nailing him to a cross and leaving him in the hot sun to die a slow and agonizing death. Instead, we'd torture him to learn the names of his so-called disciples that make up his terrorist cell, then we'd send him to Gitmo for more slow psychological torture and leave him in the hot tropical sun in those cages to slowly rot and die.

Can anyone honestly read the words of Jesus Christ that have been passed down through the ages to us and honestly believe that modern America is a Christian state? Oh, we my have lots of churches and symbolic crosses. But, as a nation we torture and kill around the world and at home we leave our poor to suffer and die in the streets with their feet unwashed. Both Jesus and Jefferson would be ashamed of this nation that acts in their names. And the rulers of today's America would target each with drones for elimination.

And, just in case you had any doubt about where this is heading, the US Air Force is seeking contracts to continue to expand the Drone Wars eight fold between now and 2016. This expansion is entirely of the newer, bigger drones designed to launch killer missiles.

Air Force ramps up drone war BY JEFFERSON MORLEY

A Struggle of Memory Versus Forgetting

East Timor: A Lesson in Why the Poorest Threaten the Powerful by John Pilger

Mr. Pilger is being brilliant again. Please read. If only to remember.

Milan Kundera’s truism, "the struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting," described East Timor.

Visiting Australia last November, President Barack Obama issued another of his veiled threats to China and announced the establishment of a US Marines’ base in Darwin, just across the water from East Timor. He understands that small, impoverished countries can often present the greatest threat to predatory power, because if they cannot be intimidated and controlled, who can?

If you support the USA as a "predatory power", then vote to re-elect Obama. If you think America is supposed to be something better than a robber-state, don't.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can BRICS Tear Down a Wall?

Five Challengers of the Neoliberal Jackboot

As Mr. Prashad points out, the recent "BRICS" conference (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) was woefully under-reported in the USA. If you just simply view American corporate "news" as a propaganda and advertising machine, this is no surprise. One of the constant themes pounded into American heads on a daily basis is "there is no alternative". Needless to say, a conference of nations trying to form an alternative can't be reported on within that larger, constant message.

Such mischief has finally enraged the BRICS states. They have thrown their support behind the UNCTAD round, and have pledged to work in a united fashion to contest the North’s protectionist policies regarding its agriculture, to push for reform of the financial system, and to create an autonomous development platform for the South. To the point about the financial reform, the Delhi Declaration pointed out, “It is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible macroeconomic and financial policies, avoid creating excessive global liquidity and undertake structural reforms to lift growth that create jobs.” A majority of the world’s workers are now in vulnerable employment or in the informal economy. Austerity programs make life harder for these workers, who are often made to carry the burdens for family members who lose formal sector employment. Austerity might create GDP but it will not create jobs.

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff told the press that the monetary policy of the North “brings enormous trade advantages to developed countries, and results in unfair obstacles to other countries.” To counteract this, there is now a move to create economic linkages outside those of the dollar-denominated financial system dominated by the North. The BRICS states created a new credit facility in local currencies, so that BRICS states and others can now trade with each other without recourse to the dollar or other such “international” currencies. This reduces the transaction costs for intra-BRICS trade as well as threatens the dollar from its pedestal as the main currency of international trade.

The BRICS states directed their finance ministries to research the possibility of the creation of a new development bank, a Bank of the South (a BRICS version of the South American Banco Sur, founded in 2009 with an initial capital outlay of $20 billion, to supplant the hegemony of the World Bank and the IMF). The new BRICS bank, it is hoped, will mobilize resources for infrastructure and development in the BRICS states and in other developing countries. If it were influenced by the Banco Sur, the BRICS bank could be a practical venue for the creation of a new institutional foundation outside neoliberalism.

This is of course how empires fall. They overreach. The powerful men who surround the King only think of their own personal enrichment, and in doing so force the empire to act against its own best interests and instead only serve the interests of the powerful.

Twenty years ago, no one could have imagined a bloc of Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and most of the "Global South" joining together. American policies have forced this. When America became a sole superpower, and then sought to abuse that power by forcing the entire world into economic subservience at the threat of endless wars, America created BRICS. If not BRICS, then there'd be some other gathering together of the nations of the world to try to create a bloc that could challenge or at least withstand Washingon's might. The fact that its necessary for their survival means that it must exist. Perhaps the only surprise is how long its taken to come together.

This is how empires fall. And, of course, the fall of the empire, and the BRICS in the wall that lead to that collapse, will be woefully under-reported in the official organs of the empire. Don't count on the Czar to tell you about the revolution. The good news is that word will get around. Its there if you look for it. Even if they make the internet illegal, or so restricted to corporate selling sites as to be worthless, look around, the word will be out there. Maybe printed by some samzidat press and secretly passed around as mimeograph copies to activists willing to take a risk to know a little truth. But, the truth will be out there.

These days, you have to look for the truth. Its out there. It always will be out there. Just remember that, and don't forget to look. You just got to poke around. Don't forget to poke the link above and read a fuller account of the BRICS conference and movement.