Sunday, October 20, 2013

Descredited Power

  remind people that it shows a real loss of perspective to highlight only a leader and movement’s errors and forget its important successes, such as those derived from Ch├ívez’s taking power in the first place (at a time when that idea was somewhat discredited on the left),
From Chavez's Way of Doing Politics, by Chris Gilbert

I highlight that quote from this article for the second part of the quote.  That Hugo Chaviez achieved a position of power while 'that idea was somewhat discredited on the left'.  Since then, much has changed in the region, with left-leaning leaders also achieving power in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay and other places.  The region is labeled as a 'resurgance of the left'.

Meanwhile, back in America, the idea of actually taking power remains more than somewhat discredited on the left.  Perusing the comments allowed up on left-leaning websites and articles, one hears a constant theme that voting doesn't matter and that all politicians are corrupt.  This leads to an American left that very rarely seems to even mount a campaign.  In 2012, there was no primary challenge to a pro-war, pro-banker Democratic President who can best be described as a moderate conservative, if not described as Dubya's third term.

Yet, no one in the Democratic party ran against him, and Rosanne Barr was as credible as any other leftwing independent candidate in the general election.

And you see the same pattern in lower level elections.  I live in the highly progressive city of Denver.  There have been 2, count them 2, decent statewide leftwing challenges in the 10+ years that I've lived here.  My representative in Congress is yet another pro-war, pro-banker, millionaire lawyer's wife who is never challenged in primaries and who's Green Party opposition treated his campaign as a joke.  When he paid any attention to it at all.

An reasonable question of logic is to ask "Cui bono?", which is of course Latin for "Who Benefits?"  When the left disappears from the electoral landscape, when there's not a bonifide grassroots progressive campaign in sight, much less a party or a movement, then 'cui bono?'

In the words of Illinois Senator Durbin, 'the bankers own the place'.  Corporate regulation and penalties are almost non-existent.  Corruption appears to be rampant, and I'm referring to the now legalised corruption where payments in the form of campaign contributions are answered by favorable votes and policies. If you want ROI (Return on Investment) in the range of thousands of percent, buying a politician is the best investment you can make. 

Meanwhile, the militarization of our police and the growth of a domestic police state runs rampant.  We are sliding down a slope where we are constantly told that we have to give up one right after another.  When I grew up, a DUI checkpoint was considered unconstitutional.  Now we see the police put entire intersections and neighborhoods on 'lockdown' and consider everyone there a suspect. 

Even when there are rules that are supposed to limit the government and protect our liberty, the government routinely ignores them.  The NSA has been caught in illegal spying on Americans.  This is ignored and nothing happens.  The NSA director openly lies to Congress while under oath at a hearing, and that is ignored and nothing happens. 

Then there is of course our national policy of continuous war abroad.  We've been told for 12 straight years that we are at war.  With no sign of it ending soon.  Since the enemy remains poorly defined, there's no real end in sight.  If the original Al Qaida seems to decline, we'll just shift the war to some other group who is usually happy to accept the role from the recruiting edge it gives them amongst their people.  One thing that 12 years of war has created is that almost every where in the world, anyone who stands up to America is locally a popular hero.

So, a question to the American Left .... how's this working for you?  While you've been off building community gardens, while you've been holding fake protests designed to be ineffectual, while you've been lazily supporting the Democrats as the lessor-evil to the image of the evil Republicans, what's been happening in the world around. you?  Are things getting better or does it seem that everything is getting worse? 

In America, it seems clear that the withdrawal of the American left from the battlefield of politics has been a disaster.  We've been steadily going backwards as a nation.  The trend seems to be accelerating.  And in addition to the old dogmas that argued to ignore politics, you can now add an genuine appreciation that perhaps we are already sliding too fast and too far down the slippery slope to make it even worth trying.

In South America, a renegade paratroop commander ignored the popular wisdom of the left and achieved power.  By doing so, he improved the lives of the majority of people in his country.  He build a political movement that survives his death, and he's sparked a series of other leftist victories across the region.

I wonder what would happen if the American left ever woke up and realized that in order to change anything, you have to first achieve a position of power? 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Democrat Dilemma

The decision of President Obama to back down from his threats to unilaterally and unconstitutionally start hostilities with the government of Syria, and instead to ask for an authorizing vote from Congress has put Democrats into an interesting dilemma.

Lets take a look at my local Democratic Representative, Diana DeGette, (D-CO-1).  She represents most of the city of Denver.  Her district is generally far to the left of her positions, and in this case is almost certainly strongly against starting a war in Syria.  Remember, only 9% of Americans favor a war in Syria nationwide, and a progressive bastion like Denver certainly gives less support to this war than that nationwide average.

Diana DeGette is also a member of the Democratic Party House leadership.  She holds the position of Chief Deputy Whip in the US House.  Her job is to literally or figuratively whip votes into line with what the Democratic Party leadership and President Obama wants.  With President Obama asking for a Congressional authorization to bomb, kill and maim on the other side of the world, she is certainly going to be one of the people talking to the other House Democrats and doing her best to convince or force them to support the President's next war.

Of course, this is exactly the opposite of what the voters in her district would want.  And that reveals the dilemma of a Democratic Party which acts so very, very differently from what it tells its supporters what it wants.  During the campaign season, the Democrats come back to the districts and tell their voters tall tales like saying they are against these wars.  Back during the Dubya days, they all made hay by pretending to oppose Dubya's wars.  Actually, they just opposed the idea of Dubya holding power, believing that they should hold it themselves.  The wars that were growing more and more unpopular with the American people were a handy club to wield in their drive to take power into their own hands.  If you listened very closely, they were actually just critical of Dubya's conduct of the wars, which they portrayed as incompetent.  But they worked hard to blur this stance into a more general myth that the Democrats were against the wars.  This was of course revealed to be a lie when a voter noticed that the Democrats always lined up and voted yes to authorize Dubya's wars, but who can be bothered to pay attention to such details between episodes of American Idol. 

Sticker from Cafe Press
This is the dilemma of the Democrats.  Most of their voters are opposed to the wars.  And the Democrats got elected by pretending to support those same views.  Therefore, most Democratic voters today expect their elected Democrats to oppose the wars.  While at the same time the very war-like Obama administration will be trying to tell the Democrats in Congress that they have to support their party's President in his drive to escalate yet another middle eastern war.


At some point, sure the ability the Democrats to keep up this lie of Orwellian scope in the face of the reality of Democrats who constantly start, support, authorize and fund war after war after war has to fall apart.  Surely there is some limit to the ability of the pro-war Democratic politicians to constantly fool all the Democratic voters all of the time.  And a war in Syria, that almost no one in America seems to want, would appear to be a candidate for the time when this all falls apart on top of the Democratic politicians.

Below is a letter I wrote to Ms. DeGette.  I don't really even expect it to be read by anyone of any importance in her offices.  Probably some intern will open it, take a quick look, and then mark a tally on the 'against' side of the ledger.  They'll then make sure my email address is on their spam-send-list, and then probably just delete it.  They might keep a copy for records, but why bother when they know the NSA already has a copy stored for them.

But, what does seem to count is that those of us who oppose yet another war, yet more bombing, yet mroe wasted billions, and yet more collateral damage in killed and maimed innocent people, at least put our opinions on that for or against tally.  Someone in the office will know emails and calls are running 20-to-1 or 50-to-1 or 100-to-1 against.  If there are any real reporters still around within the US, they might call Congressional offices and ask how the calls and emails are running.  And Congresspeople might even tell the truth for once.  Or, even if they lie, they'll tend to just under-emphasize, so the 50-to-1 against might become 10-to-1 against when they answer the reporters question.   But, if we all speak up now, then there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that the people of this country, that the voters in the districts, are strongly against this next war.

Now would be a good time to call or write your congressperson and let them know how you feel.  You can go directly to house.gov or senate.gov and quickly find email links and phone numbers for your Representatives and Senators.   Or many activist groups will be spreading one-click links to let your views be know.  Now is a good time to do exactly that.  Especially if you are represented by a Democrat.  Let them know with absolute certainty that if they support and follow their Democratic President into this next war, that this is exactly the opposite of what their voters want them to do.

And then, start to organize the campaigns for next year to challenge them.  Now is the time to begin to organize.  Especially if you are organizing a challenge in next year's primaries.  Remember that grassroots campaigns need more time to build and grow and to become the mighty accumulated force that can change the world.  Begin now.



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Sunday, September 1, 2013

A letter to Congress

Since our Great Leader has decided  to allow our nation a slim glimmer of the democracy seen in our former motherland which denied us representation, I felt it was time to actually write my Congress-critter.  Since my general impression of Congress is that they don't listen to anyone who's not giving them a five figure (or more) check, I generally resist the temptation to send them my views.  But, since this is important, and since numbers matter, I hope the following is just one note in a massive flood of messages they are receiving.  Even if the only response it gets in my Congress-critters office is to say "add yet another one to the vote no pile", then at least that's something.

Dear Rep DeGette (D-Co-1st)

Please vote against any authorization to use military force in Syria.  The reports on alleged use of sarin gas by Syrian government forces are so unsubstantiated as to be laughable.  Especially when produced by a government that has a track record of being so wrong so often that it  is either an obvious liar or the so-called intelligence community is the biggest over-funded boondoggle of all time.

And, even if by some weird stroke of luck they happened to actually not be lying this time, then it still doesn't matter as its no threat to America. I don't really care whether Al-Qaida gasses Assad or if Assad gasses Al-Qaida.  And it certainly isn't worth spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to stop.  If nothing else, we can't afford it .

Why is it that whenever we talk about health care or social services or payroll tax holidays we are told that the deficit is a major problem that  must be addressed, but when someone wants to go start a useless and needless war on the other side of the world, then suddenly money is no issue?  Surely its clear to anyone with a brain, and presumably even to Congresspeople, that we simply can't afford this.  Don' t you dare come back pushing more austerity measures to make the bankers happy about the deficit  if  you start this war.  

Please vote No on any attack on Syria.  And if none of the reasons above don't convince you,  then picture  the killed and maimed innocent people, including women and children, that are an absolute certainty if this attack is authorized.  Do you want that blood on your hands and conscience?  Please vote No.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day.

Happy Independence Day

If you are celebrating Independence Day, then you are a lover and supporter of America.  If you are celebrating "the fourth of July", you are a lover and supporter of calendars.

Do you notice how much effort goes into changing the name of the holiday?  Corporate ads are of course a main culprit.  Come celebrate the Fourth of July by going to visit a used car dealer.  Corporate media and 'news' adds in their own degree of this.  Why do they constantly say "Fourth of July" instead of 'Independence Day?

Think about how O'Reilly and Faux Fascist would object if we all took to calling Christmas "the Twenty-Fifth of December" instead.  They'd scream about how we are taking the Christ out of Christmas, and turning a sacred religious holiday into just a day of materialism and consumption.  So, what are the taking out of the Fourth of July?.

To be truly American, go give a King the finger, tell him to stuff himself, tear down his statues and fight his soldiers that come for you when the King wants to call you a traitor for doing the above.  That's America.  That's who our founding fathers were and what they did.  They were officially Traitors, and proud of it.  We celebrate the Independence Day on the fourth day of July in honor of the day they told a King to go stuff himself.

Be a proud American.  Happy Independence Day! Celebrate that we are a nation of Traitors, and proud of it.


We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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 to 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 shown 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. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.




Monday, June 24, 2013

Rights

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Bill of Rights, first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A world turned upside down.

Whistle-blowing citizens who reveal massive surveillance programs that would certainly be viewed as unconstitutional by the writers of the Constitution now flee to Moscow to protect themselves.

 They are fleeing the nation that locks up more of its citizens than any other.
 They are fleeing the nation that conducts surveillance on its citizens.
 They are fleeing the nation that sends in undercover police to any opposition political movements.
 They are fleeing the nation that has massive, militarized police forces.
 They are fleeing the nation that sends in riot police to break up protests.
 They are fleeing the nation that sends agents abroad to kidnap people.
 They are fleeing the nation that operates secret prisons.
 They are fleeing the nation that supports, teaches and utilizes torture at home and abroad.
 They are fleeing the nation that blocks opposition political parties with a 2-party only political system.
 They are fleeing the nation that keeps hundreds of people indefinitely detained without even a kangaroo court military trial at Guantanamo.
 They are fleeing the nation that charges elderly priests and nuns with sabotage for protesting illegal nuclear weapons programs.
 They are fleeing the nation that claims the right to indefinitely detain its citizens.
 They are fleeing the nation that claims the right to murder its citizens.

 When I grew up, Moscow was the capital of the Evil Empire. How the world has changed.
 
 Ecuador has received asylum request from NSA whistleblower Snowden - FM Patino

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Been Distracted Lately?

Did you notice the way North Korea became less of a threat the day two disaffected children of immigrants set off a couple of homemade bombs in Boston?  One day, North Korea is a danger to us all, supposedly about to start both a war that would destroy North Korea and nuke the good ol' US of A.  Suddenly, the next day, poof, North Korea disappears.

If you were paying attention, this told you that the "North Korea Crisis" was a fake.  Theater for your benefit.  After all, a real international crisis wouldn't just end the day another 'big story' took over the headlines. 

The Romans used to have bread and circuses.  The idea that rulers might feed their people has now been derided as 'socialism' and of course banned from any humane debate about what a government might do when it isn't sending eight hundred million dollar bombers, that cost a hundred and thirty five thousand dollars an hour to operate, halfway across the world to fake a nuclear attack on another country.

And these days, you don't actually go to a circus.  You just tune your TV to one of the Circus Channels.  You even get to choose which circus you want to watch.  The FOX News circus, or the CNN circus, or the MSNBC circus.  Or you can watch Cramer the Performing Bear over on the CNBC circus channel.

But, if you occasionally stick your head back out into the real world and notice that what was supposed to be a major threat to our existence and a war that was about to occur suddenly disappears in a puff of smoke when 3 people die in Boston, that's when you realize its all just a circus.

Meanwhile, its been revealed that the Obama administration has been conducting widespread spying on journalists for the AP and FOX News.  And that Obama has also been using the IRS to go after political opponents in the 'Tea Party'.  This of course is no surprise at all to anyone who's been paying attention to the way protest movements like the AntiWar Movement or the Occupy Movement have been spied upon, infiltrated and had legal cases brought against them by federal prosecutors. 

Once, back when America was a nation of laws and had elected at least some people to office who felt they had a duty to live up to the oaths they took to defend the Constitution, we impeached a President for doing exactly that.  Article 2 of the articles of impeachment of Richard Nixon is about the misuse of government power to attack political opponents and journalists.  Today, we just watch the Circus Channels, which of course want to tell you that amazingly enough that there are tornadoes in America in the spring time.

Did this great economy lead to you getting a big raise and bonus this year?  Are you constantly evaluating new job offers that are better than your current job.  Does everything seem to cost more in a country where inflation is under control?  Do you feel like you have more rights and liberties than the generations before you?  Has this policy of constant police and military violence by our government made you feel safer and more secure?  Or can you not even now carry a backpack with some food and drinks and maybe a jacket in case it rains to a public event? 

Don't expect to find any of those questions even asked on any of the Circus Channels?  The whole reason for rulers having a circus is to make sure you aren't asking questions like these.  Of course, the whole idea of a democracy was that citizens would ask exactly these sorts of questions, then utilize their sovereign power to make sure the government was answering and doing what they want.  These days, Democracy and Freedom are a pair of Circus Clowns that arrive in their flag bedecked clown car, take a couple of pratfalls to entertain the crowd, then duck back offstage before the next main act begins.

And don't worry.  If you really liked the North Korea act, its sure to be back the next time there's the promoters need to fill a gap in the lineup of major acts.  Because, when a government rules by keeping its people distracted from what its really doing, then by all means, the show must go on.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

But you told us to vote for this ...


Obama in Plunderland

Link to an article by Norman Solomon, which is quoted below.

Norman Solomon has an excellent piece on the ways that President Obama shafts ordinary people in favor of his big corporate contributors.  This article focuses on the detail of how Obama's corporate fund-raisers are given key government posts.  When you just say 'corporate fund-raisers', it has a nasty ring to it, at least to my ears, but it doesn't really capture the essence of what damage is done when these people are named to key posts like FCC Chairperson or SEC Commissioner.

Barack Obama eventually has the money land in his various fund raising bank accounts.  But its these corporate fund-raisers who the corporate raiders have had on speed dial since at least the last campaign.  They are the ones on the front line.  Visiting corporate offices, wining and dining various wealthy corporate wealthlords.  Calling them up as much as they dared to ask for more and more and more money for the Obama campaign funds.  That's how they 'succeeded' in this American government.  By racking up tallies that put them at the top of spreadsheets of who raised the most money for Barack Obama.

The traffic is not one way, of course.  The corporate wealthlords (I started to type warlords before, but 'wealthlords' just seemed closer to the mark) of course get to use these contacts to express their opinions on exactly what the US government led by President Obama should be doing, or not doing.  Very rarely, their money gives the the ability to say this directly to the President.  But for most of them this is a hand-shake and a five minute conversation at a fund-raising dinner that their 5 or 6 figure contribution bought them.  However, they talk to their local fund-raisers all the time.  The fund-raisers are calling them, and probably doing so often in their quest for more funds.  But each of these calls is also an opportunity to say "hey, how come the FCC isn't letting us rape and pillage as much as we want to?" back to the fund-raiser.  When one of these corporate wealthlords sees a news story they don't like about President Obama hinting he might actually do something humane an decent, its the corporate fund-raiser who's number they have on speed-dial.

Now, they've got a Secretary of Commerce, the FCC Chair, and an SEC commissioner on speed-dial.

To nominate Penny Pritzker for secretary of Commerce is to throw in the towel for any pretense of integrity that could pass a laugh test. Pritzker is “a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser,” the Chicago Tribune reported with notable understatement last week, adding: “She is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family. With a personal fortune estimated at $1.85 billion, Pritzker is listed by Forbes magazine among the 300 wealthiest Americans.”
and

But with countless billions of dollars at stake, the corporate fix was in. As Johnson pointed out, “Wheeler’s background is as a trade association representative for companies appearing before the Commission, a lobbyist in Congress for other FCC customers, and a venture capitalist investing in and profiting from others whose requests he’ll have to pass on. He has no record, of which I am aware, of challenging corporate abuse of power on behalf of consumers and the poor.”
But wait. There’s more. “Nor does Wheeler’s membership on the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board bode well for those who believe Americans’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights should be getting at least as much attention as the government’s perceived need to engage in even more secret snooping.”
To urge senators to reject the nominations of Pritzker and Wheeler, click here.
Those quotes are from Obama in Plunderland, the recent article from Norman Solomon.

I generally like Norman Solomon.  He tends to be on the right side.  But, I can't help but stop to think "Hey, you told us to vote for this guy!"  Norman Solomon not only used his public profile to tell us to support Obama in 2008, but he was a delegate for Obama and the 2008 DNC.

This is more important than just taking a cheap shot at someone for a bad decision they made.  And from his 2012 campaign to get a nomination to run for Congress, and what's he's been saying and writing for the last few years, I assume Mr. Solomon knows that it was indeed a mistake to support Obama in 2008.  He does such a wonderful job detailing the damage this has done.

The reason this is important is that there are more campaigns to come in the future.  And we are certain to see more Wall $treet funded fake progressives like Obama on the ballots.  Not only at the Presidential level, but also aimed at the Democratic seats in the House and the Senate ... as well as your Governor and to a lessor extent state legislatures.  American politics today is full of people who seem to have two characteristics.

The first is that they talk left to their strong Democrat or Democrat-leaning districts and states. Then they go to Washington and do exactly the opposite.

The second is that they seem to be or become personally wealthy and their campaigns are always very well funded.   Usually the most well funded campaign in the race.

If you want a general rule for politics and voting, it would be this.  Never, ever vote for the candidate who has the most money in the race.  Generally this information is released in campaign finance reports during the election.  There's a giant loophole, where the reports for the last part of the campaign aren't released until after the election, but you can still look at the last reports released before the election and know where the corporate moneybags have been dropping their bribes, uh, contributions.

For example, here in Colorado I refused to vote for John Hickenlooper, the supposedly progressive Mayor of Denver who has been Colorado's governor.  I looked before the last election and he had raised millions of dollars more than the other candidates combined.  That's a pretty normal situation when an incumbent governor is a huge betting favorite to win re-election.  Every corporate wealthlord with an interest in the state wants to be on his contributor list and make sure they have the Governor's fund raisers, and probable future cabinet officers and powerful state officials, on speed-dial.  But it was enough to tell me that I should not vote for him.  Today, my lefty and progressive friends in Colorado are sounding shocked that Governor Hickenlooper is taking the side of the oil and gas industry in supporting fracking over citizen democracy.  I have to try to put a fake 'surprised' look on my face when they tell me about this.

In the next election, there will be more well meaning progressives and lefties telling you how its important that you vote for the next wave of Wall $treet financed, fake progressive Democrats.  I bring up Mr. Solomon's 2008 mistakes as a reminder that we should not listen to them.  Mr. Solomon's excellent article, linked to in the sub-title at the top, is a reminder of the damage that occurs when we vote for these candidates.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Bomb in Damascus kills 6.


A bomb exploded on a city street yesterday.  Six people died. 


After the horrors of the Boston bombing, does this resonate with anyone?  The horror of a bomb exploding on a city street.

Except, this bomb was in Damascus.  It was set off by groups supported by the US government.


The target was a symbolic government official, Wael al-Halki, the Prime Minister of Syria.  In the 'news' article about the blast, he's described as wielding 'little power'.  But we are told that this bomb is a good thing because "the attack highlighted the rebels' growing ability to target symbols of Assad's authority"

6 people died in the attack.  The target survived, but one person traveling with him was killed.  The other five people who were killed were just 'passers-by'.  The news article does not bother to give any names.  They are considered unimportant.

Don't hold your breath for any 24 hour tv coverage of the bombing and the aftermath on the US tv networks.  You won't hear any descriptions of the victims, nor stories about how tragic it was that their lives were cut short by a bomb exploding in a city.

You see, this was an American bomb.  Or, if not assembled by Americans, nor paid for directly out of US tax dollars, the bomb was still the work of people our government supports.  Thus, the 'news' coverage of this bomb focuses on the strategy of how this shows that 'our' rebels can target people inside Damascus.

Just for an instance, think of the Boston bombing.  What would you think if you heard a 'news' outlet talking entirely about the strategy of how people were now able to target people in America's major cities.  What would you think if that 'news' coverage ignored the innocent victims of the bombing to focus on messages like that?  Would you think you've wandered by mistake on to some radical website that supports the killings of innocent people, as long as they died for the cause?

That's why its important to notice this bombing.  That's why its important to notice these differences.  Its important because people need to notice how similar events are presented to them very differently. 

Don't get me wrong.  The bombing in Boston was a tragedy that should never have occurred.  But, to me, the same can be said today about Damascus

And, its important to understand that at some basic level, there are people crying today for the dead in Damascus.  Those unnamed, un-pictured dead who's mourners we'll never see.  Five of whom were just as innocent and unsuspecting as the dead in Boston.

If you understand that.  And if you can still cry for innocent lives blown apart in Damascus as well as in Boston, then you are still a human being.  If you think of the dead in Damascus as some sort of victory for our side, then you probably watch too much American 'news'.  You should turn off your TV.  Because your humanity is in doubt, and you are well on the way to believing that its alright for some people to be blown apart by a bomb just because they were on the wrong street at the wrong time.

Be careful. Watching too much 'news' on American TV can lead to that sort of 'radicalization'.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Explaining North Korea

 

Explaining North Korea by Justin Raimondo, April 03, 2013


If you are being bombarded by media claims that North Korea is a threat, and that the US is facing a major military crisis, then you should read Mr. Raimondo's article linked above.  But, here's the part that really captured my attention ....

North Korea’s “military first” policy, which puts military procurement ahead of economic development, has been costly: there are reports of a looming famine this month. As economic conditions worsen, the stability of the regime may be put at risk, in which case Kim Jong Un will need the military to back him up.

Doesn't that sound familiar?  Certainly, the US budget policy for over a decade now has been 'military first'.  The military budget has been guaranteed to rise every year. And right now, there are howls coming from the generals and admirals because finally, after four years of worsening economic conditions in the United States, there is actually talk of minor cuts in military spending.

Massively overspending on the military always puts a hurt on the economy.  Money is being taken away from the citizens and the civilian economy to pay for such excess.  That has to have an impact.  My description of the cause of the United States having the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression from 2008 to the present is that simply too much money has been stolen.   The bankers, the con-artists and the military have all had their hands deep in the pockets of ordinary Americans, and combined they have taken too much out of the economy to line their own pockets.

The inevitable result was an eventual economic collapse. And the reason why we can't seem to get out of our economic crisis has been an unwillingness to do anything to stop the thefts.  The bankers still run the economy, and with the Fed are manipulating the economy to pour billions of dollars every month into covering their bad debts.  And amazingly, military spending has continued to rise every year despite the lack of any real threat.

At the head of an empire, decisions are not made based on what some minor players in a little country like North Korea are doing.  Decisions are made based on the needs of the people who hold great power at the pinacle of the the empire.  Does it seem purely coincidental to you that a supposedly major military crisis happens to arise at the same time that for the first time in over a decade our nation is considering minor and sensible cuts in military spending?

Read Mr. Raimondo's article, and you'll find that this is all pretty normal on the Korean penisular.

The rhetorical hysteria coming out of North Korea is par for the course: this is, after all, the country’s chief (and only) export. Washington knows full well Pyongyang has neither the means nor the intention to attack the United States, in spite of the comic-opera threats – and yet we’re acting as if the threat is real.
And certainly, our ally on the penisula, whom we are supposedly protecting, realizes this.

In Seoul, they are so used to North Korean bellicosity that the response was practically soporific. A South China Post story headlined “Seoul Shrugs Off War Rhetoric from North Korea” reported:
“In Seoul, the Unification Ministry insisted the war threat was ‘not really new.’ The Defense Ministry vowed to ‘retaliate thoroughly’ to any provocation. The United States said it took the announcement seriously, but noted it followed a familiar pattern.”
A familiar pattern indeed: endless bombast, followed by … nothing of much consequence.
 Yet, the United States seems to have been doing everything possible to make the threat as serious as possible and to escalate the tensions and the crisis whenever possible.  The United States flew a flight of B-2 bombers right up to and along the North Korean border.  These are planes that are not only 'nuclear-capable', but who's only real purpose and reason for existing is to attack with nuclear weapons.

After weeks, or even years of threatening and bellicose rhetoric from the United States, what do you think the North Koreans were thinking while we did this.  Those are the sorts of situations that lead to the accidental starting of wars, when someone makes a bad decision.  Today, we can thank our lucky stars that the North Korean military didn't make such a bad decision, and that the only reaction from North Korea was more ridiculous bombast about starting a war.

North Korea knows they would lose such a war.  Not only does South Korea regularly fund the US arms industry by purchasing the equipment for one of the largest militaries in the world, they are of course backed up by America.  North Korea couldn't possibly win such a war, and they surely know this.

This means, the only way a war would really start on the Korean peninsula would be if the North Korea felt pushed back into such an inescapable corner that they felt that war was their only option.  And the United States seems to be doing everything possible to do exactly that.  This is a crisis that could easily be descalated.  But, the Obama administration has consistently been doing just the opposite.

Remember, the most important battle the United States military battle fights every year is the budget battle in Washington DC.  Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake.  The military battles the rest of the country and the economy to claim more and more and more of our tax dollars every year.  And the branches of the military battle each other every year to put more money into their separate budgets at the expense of the other branches.

The 'Asian pivot' has always been about this.  The Terror Wars have been good for the ground soldiers.  But expensive ships and planes are of course useless when you are fighting a 4th generation foe who doesn't have an air force nor a navy.  The Asian pivot is the counter-attack of the Navy and the Air Force in the Budget Wars.  Oh my gawd, we have a crisis in the Pacific where we just happen to need to have a powerful Navy and Air Force to respond.  And of course they'll need lots of new and expensive ships and planes to counter this new crisis.  And of course, you, the American citizen and tax payer will have to pay for this.  Your taxes can't go down, and they quite likely will go up.  And you can't retire.  You can't have decent medical care when you grow older.  No way, we have to pay for new and expensive ships and planes.

The military first economic policy of the United States is one of the major causes of the current economic crisis.  The military first policy is facing its first real challenge in over a decade.  And in response, there is magically a seemingly major military crisis.  Its no surprise that it appears to be the United States that keeps escalating the crisis.  They are trying to hang on to billions of dollars of your money.  Your money that could be used to build mass transit and provide health care and improve schools.  All of which would not only improve your life, but which would also provide jobs here at home.  But, none of that can happen if we continue our military first policy. That's the war that's heating up right now.  The crisis on the Korean peninsula is just theater being created as a part of that bigger war.



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Monday, March 18, 2013

What Americans Don't Know


 My Lai 45 Years Later—And the Unknown Atrocities of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

 by Nick Turse


In short, on this anniversary, I think of all the My Lais that most Americans never knew existed and few are aware of today. I think about young American men who shot down innocents in cold blood and then kept silent for decades. I think about horrified witnesses who lived with the memories. I think of the small number of brave whistleblowers who stood up for innocent, voiceless victims. But most of all, I think of the dead Vietnamese of all the massacres that few Americans knew about and fewer still cared about.


I think of the victims in Phi Phu and Trieu Ai and My Luoc and so many other tiny hamlets I visited in Vietnam’s countryside. And then I think of all the villages I never visited; the massacres unknown to all but the dwindling number of survivors and their families; the stories we Americans will likely never know.


I wonder if, 45 years hence, someone might be writing a similar op-ed about civilian lives lost these past years in Iraq or Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen; about killings kept under wraps and buried in classified files or simply locked away in the hearts and minds of the perpetrators and witnesses and survivors. Four and half decades from now, will we still reserve only this day to focus on these hard truths and hidden histories? Or will we finally have learned the lessons of the My Lai massacre and the many other massacres that so many wish to forget and so many others refuse to remember.
Sometimes, you come across writing that so clear and poignant that there's not much else to say.  I highly recommend clicking on the link above and read the whole piece.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

World View of a War Criminal



One of the wonders of this age is that we get to hear alleged war criminals publicly state their views in interviews where they aren't challenged or asked tough questions.  And when I call Mr. Kissinger an alleged war criminal, its because he's one of several Americans who has to consult an attorney before leaving the country to make sure he's going somewhere he won't be arrested.  In 2001, Mr. Kissinger had to flee Paris in the middle of the night to avoid a court summons.

In the piece linked above, we get to see a war criminal's view of the chances of peace in the Middle East.  He says it won't happen, and don't expect much from Obama's visit.  Which is probably a pretty safe bet given the history.  But the reason he gives for 'why' is rather bizzare.

“I’m not optimistic” about reviving peace talks, in large part because of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties in the region that aren’t inclined to support a “just outcome” with Israel, Kissinger said in an interview airing this weekend on Bloomberg TV’s “Conversations with Judy Woodruff.”
Of course, one problem is that the Muslim Brotherhood isn't that big of a force in Palestine, which is of course the main group the Israelis would need to reach a peace deal with.  There, Israel would be negotiating with the Palestine Authority and Hamas.  The PA controls the West Bank, mainly because they refuse to hold elections.  And Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.  There also, elections are infrequent, and the last contest for power there was a PA coup attempt backed by Israel and the US that was thwarted by the Hamas party that won the last elections held.

The PA has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, like the other groups that have actually achieved power, has shown that its willing to negotiate and reach deals with Israel.  There have been several cease-fire deals between Hamas and Israel, which are usually relatively well enforced by Hamas, but eventually broken by Israel.

So, the world's foremost alleged war criminal says there's no chance for peace, but he blames on a mysterious force that really has little to do with Israel's relations with either the Palestinians or the Syrians.  The one place the Muslim Brotherhood does rule is in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel which has been maintained and enforced by the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt even at the expense of keeping the border closed or restricted between Egypt and Gaza.

Essentially, Mr. Kissinger is just echo'ing the Israeli talking point that there can't be peace because they don't have anyone to with whom to talk.  But that was always a one-sided view that ignores the Arab League peace proposals and the constant willingness of groups like the PA to not only talk, but also to adjust their views to meet Israel's pre-conditions on talking.  And, any side in negotiations that insists on pre-conditions is essentially saying that the other side has to give them what they want before the negotiations even begin.   The only way that moves to a real agreement is if that side was willing to agree to pre-condidtions in exchange.  Israel doesn't do that.  Instead, Israel in the Oslo Accords moved everything the Palestinians would want to final round of negotiations, which was when the talks broke down because Israel wouldn't give anything to the Palestinians.

What isn't mentioned at all is an Israeli government that refuses to commit to peace talks, always places 'pre-conditions' on any talks, which is steadily stealing more Palestinian land through expanding settlements and their Israeli Wall, and which is rather constantly attacking their neighbors.  No, that wouldn't have anything to do with the slim chances of peace in the Middle East.

Mr. Kissinger goes on to reveal his contempt for democracy.

Kissinger said he doesn’t have a rosy view of the so-called Arab Spring that has been widely portrayed as popular uprisings with democratic aspirations."
Of course, that's no surprise since he was a facilitator behind the coup that overthrew Chilean democracy when Mr. Kissinger held sway over Richard Nixon's foreign policy.  Mr. Kissinger assured the Chilean generals of support before the coup, viewed the coup as a good thing, and helped make sure the US turned a blind eye to the arrests, torture, disappearances and killing that was a part of the destruction of Chili's democracy.   (see also Ask Kissinger About Pinochet in addition to the link in the first paragraph.  Many other sources available if you search)

Note of course that the thoughts and musings of one of the world's foremost alleged war criminals is widely available and presented as respected opinion in America, while the alternative views are either in smaller alternative medias or from overseas press.  That tells you a lot about America circa 2013.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lies


Lies you were told on the way to authoritarian government.



Charles Krauthammer's false statement about the US Constitution, by Glenn Greenwald.  Of course published abroad in The Guardian because while the Krauthammer's of the world are free to spread lies about America to Americans, real American journalists have to be published in Britain these days. 

The Constitution does not apply to Americans when they leave American soil.  That's one that we hear often these days.  Apparently all of Washington DC was ok with using drone strikes to kill people from other countries in their country, as well as with using drone strikes to kill Americans who've left the confines of America.  It was only when it became clear that the Obama administration views it as ok to kill Americans in America that there began to be an outcry.

But the, whole notion of it being ok for the US government to murder an American citizen abroad is fundamentally anti-American and is in direct violation of precedents long settled by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled in Reid v. Covert in 1957:

"At the beginning, we reject the idea that, when the United States acts against citizens abroad, it can do so free of the Bill of Rights. The United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its power and authority have no other source. It can only act in accordance with all the limitations imposed by the Constitution. When the Government reaches out to punish a citizen who is abroad, the shield which the Bill of Rights and other parts of the Constitution provide to protect his life and liberty should not be stripped away just because he happens to be in another land."
Mr. Greenwald illustrates how absurd it would be to have the law be anything else.

... does anyone think it would be constitutionally permissible under the First Amendment for the US government to wait until an American critic of the Pentagon travels on vacation to London and then kill him, or to bomb a bureau of the New York Times located in Paris in retaliation for a news article it disliked, or to indefinitely detain with no trial an American who travels to Beijing or Lima or Oslo and who is suspected of committing a crime? Anyone who believes what Charles Krauthammer said this morning - "Outside American soil, the Constitution does not rule" - would have to take the patently ludicrous position that such acts would be perfectly constitutional
 What we see today in America is anti-American statements and beliefs being presented as 'truth' to a public who's education is the result of 40 years of politician attacks and budget cuts towards public schools and teachers.  I guess somehow it sounds logical to people who watch shows about the zombie apocalypse that the constitution might not apply to Americans abroad.  But that is not the case.

And taking that position is a fundamentally anti-American position.  The whole concept of the American constitution was to try to limit the powers of the government.  The American people never wanted an all-mighty central government with the power to detain or kill at will.  In fact, that's exactly what they rebelled against when they told crazy old King George III to go stuff himself.

People who can't deal with a free America with a limited government really aught to go somewhere else and live.  Because that's what America has always been. 
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