Sunday, May 31, 2009

While She's At It, Can She Change Her First Name To Carol?

The National Review, one of the right-wing propaganda organs, ran an article last week saying that the nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, is an inappropriate nominee because of the way she pronounces her last name, with the emphasis on the last syllable: (actually it's the first and last): SO to may OR. This white male clown thinks she should change the pronunciation so that it sounds more like Oscar Mayer.


Maybe she could just shorten her last name to Mayor. That would get rid of that whole ethnic pronunciation issue.

While she's at it, can she change her first name to Carol, or Susan, or something more -- American?

Then if she can just grow a penis, she'll be good to go.

Breaking News: Sonia Sotomayor Is Not A White Male.

As of the most recent estimates (2008) there are around 305 million people in the U.S., of which only about 100 million are non-Hispanic white men, and 154 million are women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

That means that only about 33% of the population of the U.S. are non-Hispanic white men. Despite that, white men have 99% of the good jobs with the big paychecks, the golden parachutes, the titles and pensions and healthcare for life, the positions that dictate not only who will live and die, but who will eat or starve, who will see a doctor and who will not, whose suffering will be caused and whose will be relieved, who will have shelter, who will have food, who will be comforted. They not only are the majority of the faces on our TV news at night, but they own the TV News, along with the newspapers, radio stations, and magazines.

White men also have a disproportionate number of seats in the Senate and House of Representatives. We have had exactly Zero female Presidents of the United States, although we certainly had a good deal of hoopla about how radical and amazing and wonderful our democracy is because we allowed one female to actually run for President this last go-round. We've had Zero female Vice Presidents. We have had zero female candidates for the Presidency on either of the two major political parties, and one female Vice President candidate on the ticket for either of the two major political parties. Ever.

Which is really just another way of saying that women are excluded from equal opportunity or participation in our society. That is throughout society, in every arena, every institution.

Once in awhile, perhaps because of a lull in the news, as a thoroughly inadequate token, a woman gets nominated or suggested or considered for one of the better jobs in our society, and then all hell breaks loose. The media, the boys who work at Rupert Murdoch's Whorehouse as well as the starched shirts at the prestigious high-brow media institutions such as the New York Times, all gang up together to pummel the woman.

We immediately hear, almost in the same breath as the announcement of her name, that she is not qualified. She never is -- women are just too stupid. (Given that George W. Bush, a white male, a moron, was President, I think white men might want to stay away from that whole "inherent intelligence" argument). We hear from the media that the female candidate is lacking in the necessary experience or background. She's not tough enough. If things get stressful, or confrontational, or there's too much pressure, she'll just break down weeping. She may have a nervous breakdown if she got the job because women are so sensitive. It's really not ladylike anyway. She doesn't have the mental acuity for the position. She wouldn't like it.

Then we hear the other side. She's a bitch. She's too overtly sexual, comes on to men, shows her cleavage during the day and her skirts are too tight and too short. Or she's ugly, doesn't bother to wear mascara or make herself up, dresses too matronly, isn't stylish, isn't pretty enough for the job, she's kind of a dog. She's a lesbian, or, if she's not, then she slept with all her (male) bosses to get the job. She's nasty, she's too tough, she's a ball-buster and a man-hater. Of she loves men and she's a slut. She's biased -- against somebody, and in favor of somebody else. She can't be trusted. She's not honest and, besides, her nanny is a little suspicious. What kind of a daughter/mother/wife is she with that level of ambition. It's unseemly for a mother to want a job with this much pressure outside the home, which means she'll neglect her children, and we don't want to do anything to break up the "family values" of our nation.

Here's what we know about Sonia Sotomayor. She's not a white male. That's it.

We know very little about her career, her personal beliefs to the extent they are mirrored in her judicial decisions. We know very little about her judicial record.

But we probably know enough to make some general statements. She's from the Bronx, she went to an Ivy League college and law school, and got good grades. She was a prosecutor in New York City, which is a job for somebody with political ambitions. It is also traditionally a conservative job, for people who want to put criminals into prison. Remember the prisons, the growth industry in our country, the new "affordable housing units" for our black and Hispanic male population, the "economic opportunity zones," for those unemployed males that our society does not want out on our streets. She worked to prosecute people, undoubtedly mostly non-white males, and put them in prison. So much for Solidary Forever or El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido.

Next she went to work for a private law firm in New York. I doubt they were representing indigent third world people fighting for their rights against corporate America. More likely she worked for corporations, representing their interests. Which are almost always against the interests of the majority.

Then she became a judge. The key criteria for becoming a judge is to be exceedingly political, almost more so than for somebody who wants to be a politician. To get a judge position, you have to suck up with great enthusiasm to the party leaders in your area, fund-raise and then fund-raise some more for the party, show you are loyal to party above all else, prove you are a conservative, party-line hack willing to support whatever the party says, support whatever politicians they run. Not a lot of anarchists end up getting the party's support to become a judge, but without the party's support, there is no chance of becoming a judge. This is true for both Democrats and Republicans. Only party-loyalists and fundraisers get the positions.

Once on the bench, her record is described as somewhat mixed -- possibly more liberal on some issues, possibly more conservative on others, generally middle-of-the-road.

So we know nothing about this woman beyond a biographical sketch that establishes one thing: she is pretty much like most of the other appellate-court level judges in the country, not right-wing and not left-wing, just somewhat in the middle.

Because her record and biography is not that exciting (if it was, she wouldn't be a judge) the media has to invent things to attack. And what the media has come up with is the old tried and true "she's female and therefore unqualified," with the bonus that "she's Hispanic and a racist." Because she has publicly stated before that her background as a Hispanic (Puerto Rican) female gives her a certain perspective on life that a white male does not have, the media calls her a racist.

God, I'm already so sick of this debate. She's not exciting, she is qualified. I'm not excited nor horrified about her nomination. Let's wait and see if anything more comes out that would justify either supporting her enthusiastically or opposing her. Until and unless that happens, let's move on. We need three more women on the court after her, and that assumes Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues in her position. We should have 5 female Supreme Court Justices because our country is over 50% female. So far in our history, we've had exactly two females ever sit on the Supreme Court. So let's get on with it. Confirm Sonia Sotomayor, stop participating in this nonsensical debate about her gender and ethnicity even deserving mention -- because it's irrelevant. Let's get back to ending the war and creating jobs and prosecuting the Wall Street Criminals who are destroying our economy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's "International Slap-Women-In-The-Face-Then-Spit-On-Them" Week. Go Susan Boyle!

It's been a big week of men, mostly in the media, attacking women. Must be a lull in the other wars, so they can always turn to stomping on women for a good laugh. When I say the men did it, I mean they led the attack, and the self-loathing well-paid female hookers who are temporarily supported by these men join in the gang attack, cheering on the men, telling them they are such studs.

We started with the Republicans calling Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, a Pussy, a Bitch, and a Hag. I don't see any difference between calling her a Pussy and calling her a Cunt, except that these cowardly men are just too clever by half, and they want to pretend that they weren't calling those names at all. Christian Right to a man. White privileged powerful men, and the way they deal with a powerful successful woman is to call her a Cunt. And a Bitch. And a Hag. The last name is of course supposed to be a criticism of her appearance. I don't know, but she's in her late 60s, and I think she looks really good. She certainly looks better than that decrepit drug addict on the radio, or any of the men who work at Rupert Murdoch's Whorehouse.

Next up, the boys went after Kate Gosselin. For those not in the know, Jon and Kate Gosselin are a young married couple who needed medical assistance to get pregnant. On their first pregnancy, they had two children. They decided to go for one more, but somehow ended up with 6 more. All of the kids are adorable. And there is a reality show about this family called Jon and Kate Plus 8. Jon and Kate are having marital problems, and he's moved out. The media is all over this.

It is being reported that Kate is the one who set up the reality TV show, got a book deal for herself, and is the one who thinks this entire arrangement is a terrific deal because, with 8 kids, the two of them would have a very hard time supporting the kids. So because of this show, they now have a big new home, and hopefully the kids will have money for college. But here's the thing: reportedly Jon and Kate have received $10 Million for this reality TV show, plus the book deal. Ten Million Dollars. Holy Cow. And she's the money-earner in the family.

So the media is going after this woman like she's a mass murderer, calling her terrible things, saying how mean she is to her husband, what a terrible mother to the kids. They want to bury her up to her head in the ground and stone her to death. [No, I just made that part up]. And the reason she is such a terrible person? Nobody has explained. Her husband has been (allegedly) screwing around with a 23-year-old, but Kate, who is earning the money and doing the primary caretaking of the kids, is the bad one. For reasons never really explained.

I figure any woman who gave birth 8 times can be just as grouchy as she wants. And if her husband wants to leave, bye. She's cute, and she'll find someone new. And she's a money-machine!

But here's the really sickening part of this: the media is now printing stories saying that the government should take the 8 children away from Kate Gosselin. Actually take away her children from her. Because she's made a lot of money. Because her husband screwed around on her. Because ... she's female, she's successful, and the pack wants to see her punished.

Finally, we have the saga of Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old singer from Scotland who is the unlikely pin-up girl from an English TV show called "Britain's Got Talent." In case you missed it, Susan Boyle had an audition that blew the roof off the auditorium, singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables. Link below.

The TV show has performances every week, with people getting eliminated, then they have the semi-finals, and the finals are this week-end. In the semi-finals, Susan Boyle sang Memory from "Cats," and her voice broke in several places. It sounded to me like she hadn't warmed up. But the media turned on her immediately, attacking her, saying she was all washed up, it's over.

In the midst of the media frenzy, Susan Boyle watched the semi-finals in a bar, and when somebody said something positive about her competitor, she said "F-Off" and walked out. Then the frenzy really began. The newspapers have been covered with stories about Susan Boyle using the F word, and telling the obnoxious media to F-Off. Because women are not supposed to use the F word, or to tell anyone to F-off. And women are not supposed to be successful at 47, particularly if they look like a typical 47-year-old Scottish office worker, not so glamorous.

I say this:

(1) To the Media: F-Off.

(2) To Susan Boyle: You Go Girl.

You know what these men really want from women? Obedience. They just want women to know "their place," as meaningless and unimportant as a rodent, silent servants and sex workers that any man can and might rape or kill at any time for any reason with no legal consequences. Like stepping on cockroaches or swatting flies. If the women don't know, or they keep refusing to learn, then the men will beat it into them. With hands, fists, laws, media, banishment, kicks, hits, slaps, or switches. What is wrong with men?

(Taliban men beating women in public)

(Women in burkas being beaten with a stick.)

Aaron Copland (1900 - 1990)

Aaron Copland was an American composer of the 20th century. His early work can be described as traditional European-influenced classical music. But while still a young man, Aaron Copland began composing a uniquely "American" style of music, incorporating jazz, Mexican-American, and other influences unique to the United States. He composed for symphonies but also for ballets and movies.
Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1900. He studied in Paris for several years, and later got a Guggenheim grant that provided him with financial assistance that allowed him to devote himself to composition. He produced traditional classical forms of composition until he was in his mid-30s, at which time he decided that he wanted to create a new style of music which would appeal to a broader audience. His first popular work was "El Salon Mexico" (1936).

In 1942, Copland was requested by the conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to write a "Fanfare" (a short piece for brass and percussion) to be used at the opening of their performances. During World War I, some composers had written "fanfares," and this orchestra wanted to bring back the custom. Copland wrote "Fanfare for the Common Man," which remains one of his most popular works.

(Aaron Copland [right] with Leonard Bernstein [left]).

In 1942, Copland also composed "A Lincoln Portrait" and composed the "Rodeo Suite" for a ballet.

In the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Copland began composing music for the film industry. Among the soundtracks he composed were "Of Mice and Men" (1939) (for which he received an academy award nomination), "Our Town" (1940), "The North Star" (1943), and "The Heiress" (1949) (for which Copland won the Academy Award for Best Music).

Although working for the film industry brought Copland some popularity and financial support, it also got him drug into the red-scares of the late 1940s and the 1950s. Basically, some right-wingers in Congress launched an inquisition in this country claiming that communists had taken over everything, including the movie industry. Secret lists were prepared which supposedly identified hundreds of people who were communists, and who were using the movie industry to sell Americans on communist ideas.

Some of the people who were hauled in front of the Congressional inquisition committee (House Unamerican Activities Committee, or HUAC) refused to testify on the grounds that their associations with others and political beIliefs were not the proper subject of government inquiry under the First Amendment Freedom of Association. Ten of those people (the "Hollywood Ten") were convicted of contempt of court and sent to prison. After that, others who were called in front of the committee relied on the fifth amendment (refusal to testify on the grounds it might tend to incriminate) and could not be held in contempt. But many, those who refused to testify and some who did testify, some who were never even called, were put onto a Blacklist and nobody in Hollywood would give them work after that.

Copland's name was included on a famous list of alleged "Reds," and was called before Congress in 1953. The list was called "Red Channels," and was put together by a few of J. Edgar Hoover's Boys in Taffetta and an extremely right-wing television producer. Copland had spoken in favor of the Communist Party in the 1930s, which was enough to condemn him. He denied that he had ever belonged to the Communist Party, and there was no evidence that he had, although membership was perfectly legal.

Despite the fact that Aaron Copland had never been a Communist, the mere fact that he had ever said anything good about the Communists was enough to have him banned from many forums. For example, his composition "The Lincoln Portrait" had been included in the list of music to be played for Eisenhower's inauguration concert, but when Copland was called a Red by Congress, the piece was removed. The "Red Channels," with its allegations against hundreds of people, unsubstantiated and without evidence, was sent to every person in the movie industry who was in a position to hire talent. Copland, along with many others, could not thereafter find work in the movie industry.

The Fanfare For The Common Man

"Fanfare for the Common Man" (1942) is one of Copland's most famous works. It was recreated by Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1977, a rock group which had also done a version of Copland's Hoedown in 1972. Fanfare was used as the opening to a Rolling Stones album entitled "Love You Live," and used by the Stones again as the opening of one of their concert tours. Bob Dylan has used Copland's Fanfare to open some of his shows.

Fanfare has been used by many television sports shows as their opening theme. It has been used in U.S. Navy recruitment commercials, and was featured in the movie "Saving Private Ryan." It has been chosen by space shuttle crews as their wake-up music, and used by sports teams as their theme for home games. It was played at the beginning of the "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial," as well as being played in a concert prior to the inauguration of Bill Clinton.

In 1944 , Martha Graham asked Aaron Copland to compose music for a ballet that she was going to create, although she did not yet know what would be the theme or subject matter of the ballet. Copland was simply asked to compose music for "an American Ballet." His working title was "Music for Martha." Copland composed the piece "Appalachian Spring," which is also one of his most famous pieces. Once the music was completed, Graham choreographed and composed her ballet using a story from a Hart Carne poem called "Applachian Spring," which is how the music was named. Copland was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in composition for "Applachian Spring."

From Appalachian Spring:

(Aaron Copland in his later years)

Another one of Copland's popular pieces was the "Rodeo Suite," also composed in 1944. Hoedown, from Rodeo Suite:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Men In The United States Military Are Raping Men and Women Prisoners in Iraq. President Obama Is Covering It Up.

Barack Obama, the new President of the United States, the man who campaigned on a platform of having opposed the U.S. War Against Iraq from the get-go, the man who campaigned on a promise to end the U.S. War Against Iraq, the man who proclaimed to the world that he was different, he would not support or cover up or participate in or sponsor or allow the continuation of kidnapping, torture, and murder, that same President Obama is today continuing the policies of the Bush-Cheney regime, directing and authorizing the kidnapping, torture, and murder of people from other countries, has just authorized the military to release a statement to the public that the U.S. will continue to occupy Iraq as our colony for at least 10 more years, has already authorized a secret war against Pakistan, has refused to honor the law and release the prisoners against whom there is insufficient evidence to try them, has announced an entirely new adoption of the tool of dictators everywhere stating that the government may simply engage in preventative detention, imprison people forever without charges, without counsel, without rights, without a trial.

And President Obama is also directly and personally covering up the men in the United States military who have been raping men and women in Iraq as a weapon of torture. That's right: Rape. I've read that some of the children who were kidnapped and imprisoned at Guantanamo were raped, but cannot find a link right now. Who's next? Grandma? Do we have some big strong marine with steroid-biceps and tatoos of Mom all over his pec-implants who wants to rape Grandma? Is there any exemption for children under 6? No?

One of the retired generals who conducted an investigation into Abu Ghraib (like having Wall Street investigate itself) said he doesn't see any purpose to be served by releasing pictures of the rape other than a legal one. Well, yes. The purpose would be to enforce the law. Exactly. The purpose would be to enforce the law of our nation against rape, and bring to account the rapists in our military and the people who directed them. We should also allow the victims to receive monetary compensation, assuming the military didn't kill them after they were done with the gang rape.

I'll bet anything the rapists were "Christians," probably screaming out scripture as they pounded some little boy's butt until it bled to the cheers of his fellow Marines, all of whom apparently stood by and allowed it to happen, but made sure to get photos on their i-phones to send back home to their girlfriends. Are they all insane? Are we feeding them all amphetamines to ensure they will be psychotic, and commit acts of barbarism on command? Do you think Sean Hannity would say rape is not torture, and would he offer to allow himself to be raped -- for charity?

These rape photos, which include pictures of both women and men prisoners being raped by members of the United States Military (was it the few, are they proud, or was it the guys from the army of one?), were obtained in connection with an investigation into abuses at Abu Ghraib as well as 6 other prisons, specifically including 400 identified instances of abuse. This was systematic and institutional, not a case of a few bad apples. The systematic, institutional torture of prisoners was ordered and directed by people at the top of the Bush Administration. They need to be tried and imprisoned. If people in the Obama administration try to cover it up, they should be prosecuted and imprisoned for obstruction of justice and for ratifying and adopting the barbaric conduct.

This is how it works: if it is okay for the government to torture, rape and murder prisoners from some other country, it's okay for them to do it here too. That's what this is. It's just the beginning. It's going to get worse unless we stop it now. And Barack Obama not only refuses to do anything about it, he wants to just cover the whole thing up, let the bad guys go free, and send the signal out to the military: Keep On Raping, Boys. Have Fun. The Few, The Proud, The Rapists? An Army Of Fun? Is it any wonder we have such a high level of violence and suicide among vets, when their own government is teaching them to be murderers and rapists?

It's beginning to seem like the United States Empire and the institutions that own and control the world -- Wall Street, the Banks, the politicians they own, the corporations, and the U.S. military -- are really in charge of everything, and the President and Congress are just a circus for the peasants, a diversion to keep us distracted. And to waste our money making campaign contributions, as if that will make any difference at all.

What change? Exactly what has changed?

"LONDON (AP) -- A former U.S. general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Obama's administration does not want released. Retired Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the U.S. investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, told Britain's Daily Telegraph in an article published Wednesday that he agreed with Obama's decision not to release the pictures.

"I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them," Taguba was quoted by the Daily Telegraph. "The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it."

"The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib exploded after photos taken by soldiers appeared in 2004. According to the Telegraph, the new photos depicted much more serious abuses than previously documented. One photo reportedly showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner and another was said to show a male translator raping a male detainee, the Telegraph reported.

"The Telegraph said the photos relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 at Abu Ghraib and six other prisons."

Remember this one? A group of U.S. military men murdered an entire family so they could take turns raping a 14-year-old girl, then murdered her? Reportedly four U.S. soldiers decided they wanted to rape 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza. So they went to her home, took her mother, father, and her 5 year old sister into a bedroom and killed them, then took turns raping the 14 year old girl. When they were done repeatedly raping her, they shot her in the head and killed her, then set fire to her body.

The perpetrators of this rape and these murders were prosecuted and found guilty. But if we had never invaded Iraq, or if the top leadership in our country had not directed the military to use torture and rape on the occupied territory, none of this would have happened.

I suppose if anyone wants to prosecute the people who ordered and directed the rape, the top leaders of our country during the Bush regime, the Obama Administration will say that what they did is a top secret, classified, so the trial cannot go forward. Or, maybe President Obama will announce another new policy, like the preventative detention one. He could just issue an Executive Order saying that anyone who is rich and powerful, from Wall Street to government to private board rooms, is exempt from any liability for anything they do. They'll call it the Obama Doctrine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alzheimer's: The Drug Industry's Disease Of The Month

Are we suddenly having an Alzheimer's epidemic in this country? I hear more about Alzheimers than I do about almost any other disease. I see it on the news. Major celebrities out fundraising, trying to get money for research: Find A Cure. Those local news "human interest" stories showing some old guy or lady, maybe a little confused now, talking about the tragedy of 90-year-olds who can't remember their kids. HBO with a multi-part special.

I'm listening to the radio right now, and they are advertising a clinical trial for victims of Alzheimers. And, perhaps not coincidentally, I see major Drug Dealers (aka pharmaceuticals) advertising on television that we can help dad, or grandma, by giving them some (probably very expensive) drugs to "fight" Alzheimers. These commercials always have the cute little kids, the grandkids: Help Charlie's grandkids have a little more time with him. So emotional, so manipulative. I would bet good money that these Drug Dealers will soon be convincing the Medical Industry in this country that every person should start taking their miracle drug at age 50, and take it forever, to "help fight" against Alzheimers. I see and smell money in this sudden nationwide panic about the plague of Alzheimers.

So I decided to look it up. And was very surprised to find that this is not nearly the epidemic that we are being sold. Maybe the Drug Dealers are just pushing drugs, like Social Anxiety Disorder drugs for people who have ever felt shy or uncomfortable. Maybe this particular problem is receiving so much attention because the people getting it are older, white, relatively privileged people with paid medical care.

Here's how it breaks down. There are about 40 million Americans over the age of 65 (out of a total national population of 305 million). That means 13% of the total population of this country is over the age of 65. Of those 40 million Americans over the age of 65, 5 million have Alzheimers (12% of the over-65 crowd). That means about 1.6% of the total population of the United States has Alzheimers: a pretty small percentage. Even for all Americans over the age of 65, only 12% of them have Alzheimers.

Now, what do these people over the age of 65 have, that the rest of us don't have? Paid national healthcare. Which means that however small a percentage of the population they are, the drug companies, doctors, and hospitals make lots of money "treating" older Americans. And these Medical Industries have an incentive to get the rest of the country to contribute money for research to find new drugs which the drug companies can sell to older Americans. Or to create national scares, using fear tactics, to get the country to invest in research to create new drugs to treat older Americans.

But let's go further. 6 million of the 40 million people over 65 are actually over 85 years old. Of the people over 85, it is estimated that half of them have Ahzheimers. So it appears to be concentrated in not just seniors, but in very old people. That means that only 2 million people between the ages of 65 and 85 have Alzheimers, which is about 6% of the people in that age group.

So here's the question: why the sudden obsession with Alzheimers? I don't question that it is a terrible disease. I've known people who had relatives with Alzheimers, and it is an awful thing to watch the deterioration. But the same is true of cancer. So why the focus on Alzheimers?

Let's look at colon cancer. The risk begins much younger than for Alzheimers, and doctors recommend screening begin at 40. 150,000 new colon cancer cases are found every year. It is a disease with a high cure rate if found early. The best means of detection is a colonoscopy, a procedure which involves sticking a tube and camera up into a patient's colon and having a look-see to find evidence of early cancer.

The colon cancer screening test costs over $1,000.00. For people with any kind of deductible on their health insurance, that means the test is not covered. For people without insurance, obviously there is no coverage. We could save thousands, possibly even millions of lives simply by having a government-sponsored healthcare system which would allow Americans to take advantage of this life-saving test that is already here, already available, doesn't require any further "research." All you need is money. But a big percentage of Americans will not get this test because they can't afford it. And that means they will die, needlessly, for lack of money to pay for this simple, available test.

I can't see fund-raising to get more money so the drug industry can develop more drugs to treat a disease that mostly affects very old people (who happen to have national healthcare) when our country does not provide the funding for the rest of us to take advantage of already existing, common, simple testing methods that could save our lives.

So I guess I won't be kicking in any money so "little Chuckie and Susie, the grandkids, can have a more time with grandpa." I'd suggest that Chuckie and Susie, and their parents, start demanding healthcare for themselves, because without a national single-payer healthcare system, it's unlikely they'll make it past 50, nevermind past 85 like old grandpa.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

We Are A War Mongering Nation.

We are a war mongering nation.

If we stayed out of war, and let other nations work out their own problems (with the exception of the obvious need to intervene to prevent genocide), everybody would be much better off. Certainly the U.S. would be because we would have enough money to pay for everyone to go to college, work a 35-hour week, retire at 50, have complete medical and dental coverage provided by the government. And we could live like the Europeans do, taking long vacations and holidays. Actually live our lives instead of just working from cradle to grave to make the criminals on Wall Street rich and pay for endless wars.

The world would be better off, too. We could have a world tax on wealth, and use that to help people in third world countries to improve their own communities, build housing and schools and hospitals, develop local sustainable agriculture, preserve their own culture, and protect against their exploitation by corporations and puppet dictatorships who serve them. Instead of using our tax money to murder our neighbors, we could use it to help them.

The politicians and media tell us that we can determine the cost of war by adding up numbers: number of U.S. dead and wounded; number of dollars spent. But this is silly. We need to add up the number of people we kill in other countries when we attack them, then multiply that by 50 because that's how many family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors knew that person we killed, and will hate the U.S. forever for having done so.

Nobody has ever included in the domestic cost of war the mental deterioration and damage caused to the people that we send to war. Now there is some small effort to quantify something that the medical community has created, a disease-model name, called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The military wants to convince the publid that only a small percentage, a few of those we send to slaughter, have mental problems when they return. But the truth is that they all have mental problems when they return. If they witnessed or participated in slaughter, they will have mental problems for the rest of their lives, and their family, neighbors, and community will pay a terrible cost.

What the military is labeling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is just the preliminary evidence of the natural and inevitable response to having witnessed or participated in slaughter. For some, it will not surface for years after the return, but everyone is damaged. People who we send to war are changed, forever changed. When they come back to this country they bring their trauma with them. It significantly adds to our national level of alcoholism and drug addiction, spousal and child abuse, suicide, homicide, and early death. But nobody includes those numbers when determining the "cost" of war. Those are the hidden costs borne by the shamed women hiding inside their homes with black eyes and broken bones. They are the hidden costs borne by the children who are terrorized by their own father's neverending rage. Which generation gets to skip this, which generation is allowed to grow and heal, war-free in this country? None. The war never ends.

Below is a partial list of U.S. wars against other nations, involvement in wars, and interventions. I did not include everything from the list, just for about the last 100 years. It's simply too much war.

(From PBS Website: A Chronology of U.S. Military Interventions From Vietnam To The Balkans)

And from Z Magazine:">


China Boxer Rebellion
Philippines Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
Cuba Seized from Spain
Puerto Rico Seized from Spain
Guam Seized from Spain
Nicaragua Marines land at Port San Juan del Sur.
Nicaragua Marines land at port of Bluefields
Panama Annexed Canal Zone 1914
Honduras Marines intervene in revolution
Dominican Republican U.S. troops sent in
Korea Marines land, Russo-Japanese war
Cuba Marines land
Nicaragua Protectorate set up
Honduras Marines land during war with Nicaragua
Panama 1908 Marines intervene in election
Nicaragua 1910 Marines land in Corinto


Honduras U.S. military intervenes in civil war
China Continuous occupation 1911-1941
Cuba U.S. troops intervene
Panama 1912 U.S. troops intervene
Honduras 1912 U.S. troops intervene
Nicaragua 1912-33 U.S. troops, 10-year occupation
Dominican Republican, 1914
Mexico 1914-1918, series of interventions
Haiti 1914-34, 19-year occupation by U.S. military forces


Cuba 1917-1933: U.S. military occupationeconomic control.
World War I
1918-1922 Numerous interventions in Soviet Union.
Panama 1918-1920 Military control.
Honduras 1919 U.S. Marines land.
Guatemala 1920 U.S. troops intervene in labor dispute.
China 1922-1927 Naval troops deployed to China.
Honduras 1924-1925 Military landed twice during unrest.
Panama 1925 Marines used to suppress striking workers.
China 1927-34 Marines stationed throughout the country.
El Salvador 1932 Warships sent during Marti revolt.
World War II 1941-1945


Puerto Rico 1950 U.S. assisted in crushing rebellion.
Korea 1951-1953 U.S. War Against Korea.
Iran 1953 CIA overthrows democracy, Shah installed.
Vietnam 1954-1975 U.S. War Against Vietnam
Lebanon 1958 Marines occupy against rebel group.
Cuba 1961 U.S./CIA directed invasion by exiles.
Iraq 1963 U.S. coup kills leader, brings Saddam Hussein back to run the Secret Service.
Indonesia 1965 CIA-assisted army coups kills 1.0 million.
Dominican Republican 1965-66, Marines land during election dispute.
Guatemala 1966 U.S. Green Berets intervene, work against rebels


Cambodia 1969-75 U.S. illegal war
Laos 1971-73 U.S. directs South Vietnamese puppet government invasion, carpet-bombs the country.
Chile 1973 CIA/Henry Kissinger-backed coup ousts democratically elected president Allende and installs military dictator Pinochet, leading to the torture and murder of thousands.
Angola 1976-92 CIA assists rebels backed by South Africa.
El Salvador 1981-1992 U.S. military "advisers," pilots, soldiers assist military dictatorship in war against citizens.
Nicaragua 1981-1990 CIA-directed and secretly funded war against citizens on behalf of dictatorship.
Lebanon 1982-1984 U.S. Marines support Phalangists; U.S. military bombs and shells Muslim population.
Grenada 1983-1984 U.S. invades country.
Honduras 1983-1989 U.S. troops engage in various activities in support of dictatorship.
Libya 1986 U.S. sends pilots, drops bombs to assist in overthrowing the government.
Bolivia 1986 U.S. troops conduct raids in various parts of the country, purportedly in "war on drugs."
Iran 1987-1988 U.S. sides in Iraq in war against Iran, delivers to Iraq various weaponry including chemical warfare for Iraq to use against Iran.
Panama 1989 U.S. sends in troops, overthrows government.
Saudi Arabia 1990-1991 U.S. stations troops and jets in Saudi Arabia, plus over one-half million other troops in Oman, Qatar, Behrain, UAE, Israel.
Iraq 1990- U.S. conducts air strikes, invades Iraq and Kuwait, creates no-fly zone, blockades.
Somalia 1992-1994 U.S. leads United Nations occupation.
Bosnia 1993 U.S. involvement in war between Bosnia, Serbia, former Yugoslavia.
Haiti 1994 U.S. troops intervene against sitting government, restore Aristide to office.
Sudan 1998 U.S. missile strike on apparent pharmaceutical plant alleged to be a weapons plant.
Afghanistan 1998 U.S. missiles strike inside Afghanistan allegedly attacking Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Yugoslavia 1999 U.S. and Nato air strikes re Serbia, Kosovo; occupation of Kosovo through NATO.

2000 - present

Macedonia 2001 U.S./NATO forces intervene against Albanian rebels.
Afghanistan 2001- U.S. bombs, invades, occupies after 9/11 attacks on U.S.
Columbia 2003 - U.S. military engage in warfare on behalf of dictatorship and against rebels, either as "war on drugs," or as security mercenaries for oil corporations protecting their oil pipelines, used to take oil from the country.
Iraq 2003 - U.S. invasion, bombing, occupation.
Haiti 2004-2005 U.S. marines land after Aristide is ousted by local rebel group.
Pakistan 2005 - CIA missile, air strikes, special forces raid alleged al Queda and Taliban villages.
Somalia 2006 U.S. Special Forces assist Ethiopian invasion to topple government of Somalia; air strikes and missile attacks, plus naval blockade.

Why should the United States be invading and attacking all these other countries? China, Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Yugoslavia. Is there any place on earth that people are safe from us? Why do we keep invading Haiti? Why don't we help them instead of killing them? The U.S. has military troops all over the world. We, the citizens, pay for that. Who benefits from it? The corporations who use the presence and threat of the U.S. military to force countries to turn over their resources to the corporations.

Our military is used as private security, mercenaries, hit-men for the corporate CEOs. Much like the state-sponsored Explorers of Europe from hundreds of years ago would go out in big ships, well-armed, "discover" some country, claim to own it, then kill all the people and steal all the resources. We are doing the same thing, just with a modern twist. Instead of the King, or Queen getting all the gold and jewels, now we have the CEOs who have the military come back and lay this wealth at their feet. It's so ludicrous that people claim we are a religious nation, when the truth is that we spend most of our money, time, effort, and resources in murdering other people around the world and turning our backs on the misery and suffering that we cause.

The citizens pay for this. Our treasury goes to paying for more and more wars and military invasions and occupations. This does not make us safer. It makes everybody in the world hate us. And the government tells us that there is no money left for us. No money for roads, no money for schools, no money for healthcare. We are taught to expect nothing for ourselves, as if we are the lowest of the low: no job security, no education, no healthcare, no homes, no public transportation, no vacations, no sick leave, no holidays. We get nothing. In contrast with people in every other developed country in the world, who have relatively comfortable lives compared to the misery and exploitation of working people in this country.

We need to stop these wars, and we need to tell our government that from now on, we are out of the war business, and we are in the nation-building business, starting with our own nation. Instead of sending bombs to blow up other countries, let's use the money to re-build our own nation. Instead of sending the navy to provide protection for the shipping industry that is carrying resources away from third world countries, we should let those people keep their own resources, and use our money to protect our own people from illness by creating a national healthcare system.

Masters Of War (Bob Dylan)
Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desk
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Memorial Day Order, 1868: To Strew With Flowers The Graves Of Comrades Who Died In Defense Of Their Country.

Memorial Day was established in 1868 to honor and remember those military people who died in defense of the nation against the "rebellion." So the guys who fought for the North were to have their graves strewn with springtime flowers. For all the dead guys who fought for the South, nothing.

It's time we stopped filling our cemeteries with young dead men who have died needlessly in war. Putting flowers on somebody's grave doesn't bring them back to their families, and doesn't give the dead guy back the 60 or so years of his life which was stolen because his nation went to war.

If we absolutely must go to war, let's make it a rare occurrence rather than something we do routinely. Let's stop resource wars -- wars of aggression we wage against other countries to protect the claims of corporations that they are entitled to steal resources. We need to get out of the war business. Our nation is broke, and one reason is because we just keep starting wars, and stealing all the money of our citizens and giving it to the war industry. Our nation is also morally bankrupt. We cannot have a democracy when we continue to wage wars against the poorest people in the world to steal their resources, lie about why we're invading them and murdering their people, kidnapping, torturing, murdering generations of young men to prevent them from defending their own countries. We are on the wrong side of history. Most of our politicians take bribes and kick-backs to support these resource wars, while the citizens of this nation are going broke. End the Wars, stop the killing.

"Harvest of Death," by Timothy H. O'Sullivan (photographer) 1863.
Slowly, over the misty fields of Gettysburg--as all reluctant to expose their
ghastly horrors to the light--came the sunless morn, after the retreat by
[General Robert. E.] Lee's broken army. Through the shadowy vapors, it was,
indeed, a "harvest of death" that was presented; hundreds and thousands of torn
Union and rebel soldiers--although many of the former were already
interred--strewed the now quiet fighting ground, soaked by the rain, which for
two days had drenched the country with its fitful showers."

(Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Alexander Gardner wrote these words to describe the now-famous photo above, taken by Timothy H. Sullivan, and commonly referred to as "Harvest of Death." This was a picture taken of the dead in the U.S. Civil War after the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 - July 3, 1863).

Memorial Day Order

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan
II. It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective.

—General Orders No. 11 Grand Army of the Republic Headquarters

Friday, May 22, 2009

What Shall We Call The CIA?

If the cops are called the Boys in Blue,

and the FBI are called the Boys in Taffeta (it was J. Edgar's favorite fabric),

Then what shall we call the CIA?


Dick Sings A Hymn Of Violence To His Murderous Choir While A Fearful Nation Waits For The Dawn.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Al Queda in the Bronx? (The Bronx Is Up And The Battery's Down). Entrapment, Entrapment, Entrapment.

A few decades ago, rich people fire-bombed entire neighborhoods in the Bronx. But they weren't called terrorists -- they were called landlords. And nobody did a thing to stop them. My how things have changed in the Bronx.

It's being reported today that there was a "major" FBI sting in New York City, in the Bronx, arresting four men (al Queda in the Bronx?) who reportedly were planning to (1) blow up a Synagogue, and (2) shoot airplanes out of the sky. But they couldn't do anything until the FBI sent in some informant to infiltrate (or create) their "organization" (did they sit around a trash can and drink beers and talk shit every day?). Not only did the FBI "infiltrate" the "organization," but they also (1) offered to provide explosives to be used in blowing up a synagogue, and (2) offered to provide a weapon that could blow airplanes out of the sky. It took the FBI an entire year to get these four losers to participate at all (who knows how much money they were promised), and even at that the FBI had to actually drive the guys to the "scene of the crime," and stand there and instruct them what to do, so they could be arrested. And called "terrorists."

So let's see: we've got four probably losers who hang out together and talk trash. Then the FBI, working with some right-wing Republican in Congress decides to "infiltrate," and provide a plan for insurrection, plus provide the weapons. What's in it for the FBI? How actively are the Republicans and the state police (FBI, CIA) working together to re-terrorize (is that a word?) the American public, to justify torture and international war crimes, so there will be no hearings or prosecutions? Would they go so far as to invent evidence? Well.... yes, actually. They already invented evidence to use to invade Iraq. They're actually pretty good at it.

Read the story in the New York Times (link below) and get the details of this absurdity.

Given the well-documented history of the FBI in not just framing people and creating false evidence, but out-right murder, I would never assume anything they say or report is truthful. The fact that this entire "investigation" took a year to complete stinks to high heaven. If these men were such a danger to society, then why were they allowed to roam our streets for an entire year

My guess is that they are four loser-nobodys, low-IQs, just like those dudes from Florida who wanted to make a revolution, and whose demands were that they wanted new boots. People like this are used and manipulated by the state police forces to create a phony crisis. I'll bet anything that these four will be held under some terrorist statute that will prevent their attorneys from providing them with a basic defense to the charges. Or even presenting a defense. You know -- "National Security" and all that. Or maybe this will be a test of the new policy of "preventative detention" by which our government claims they can lock us up forever, without trial. You know. To "protect" us.

If somebody wanted to blow up a building, they could get gasoline and soda bottles. If they wanted to kill people, they could get a gun. This whole story stinks. It's like the FBI came up with some truly bizarre scenario to maximize the level to which the public could be terrorized. I'm betting we'll see three things at work in this phony story: Entrapment, Entrapment, and Entrapment. This will undoubtedly be used by the Republicans to justify their torture and international war crimes, and to support the further elimination of our basic constitutional rights. Will it be used by the Democrats to justify the planned war against Pakistan, and Obama's just-announced policy of preventative detention without trial?

What does the New York Times report in its article on May 22, 2009, titled "N.Y. Bomb Plot Suspects Acted Alone, Police Say"? Here are a few important points.

1. The four men who were arrested are described by local cops as "petty criminals."

2. They were acting alone, not with any terrorist organization. (Until the FBI got involved, anyway).

3. All four men had previously been in prison, for petty crimes.

4. The FBI found these four losers by sending informants into a Muslim mosque, and looking for -- poor people?

5. The "plot" consisted of the FBI informant wooing these men for a year, buying them meals, (did the FBI buy these men the SUV they drove to the "crime scene?") and promising them -- what? Millions of dollars? Even at that, the FBI informant, who told the four men he represented some foreign group, spent an entire year before he could get them to agree to do anything. Even then, the four men did nothing. The FBI gave them something which they said was a bomb, and drove them to a synagogue, then sat there and waited for the men to put the bomb out front. The FBI gave these four men something they said was a missile, and the FBI was supposedly going to drive the men to an airport where they would then shoot down airplanes. The four men did nothing. The FBI apparently planned the crime, got the "weapons," got together their "crew," maybe gave these men an SUV, maybe gave them money, maybe promised them millions. Whose the real criminal here? This is so weak that the case should be dismissed immediately.

6. The U.S. Attorneys' office describes the four as "extremely violent men." That's not what the local cops said -- the cops who know these guys. The local cops said these guys are petty criminals. Not based on their conduct. They didn't do anything except what the FBI informant told them to do. We already know the FBI is extremely violent. But these four men have no reported history of violence of any kind. So why would the U.S. Attorney's office come up with the description of "extremely" violent men? I'm guessing because they're going to be held forever, without a trial. Or maybe with some secret trial.

7. Three of the men are U.S.-born, one was born in Haiti. All four men are being reported by the FBI as being Muslim, although family relatives do not confirm that. For example, Wanda Cromitie is a sister of one of the four men arrested. She said: "she was shocked to learn of her brother’s arrest while watching television this morning. She said she was unaware that her brother may have had extreme political views, and that she had last spoken to him about two years ago when she thought he was working at a Wal-Mart or Kmart store. " [Which could make anyone have extreme political views]. “'Right now, to me he’s, like, the dumbest person I ever came in contact with in my life,' Ms. Cromitie said. She added that as far as she knew, he was not a Muslim, but said 'they do a little time in jail and they don’t eat pork no more.'”

8. The FBI sent informants into a Muslim mosque in the hometown of these four men several years ago at least. "At the Masjid al-Ikhlas mosque in Newburgh where the men first met the F.B.I. informant, they were not considered devoted members, said an imam at the mosque, Salahuddin Mustafa. He also said that the man he believes was the informant showed up about two years ago and started inviting people to meals, where he would talk about jihad and violence.

9. An assistant imam (like a minister or pastor) at that mosque said that one of the four men appeared to be mentally ill. He "often talked in circles, showed signs of paranoia and kept bottles of urine in a messy apartment. 'He has some very serious psychological problems,'" (the assistant iman said.)

10. Therefore, according to the New York Times, the FBI sent an underground informant into a Muslim mosque, and that informant would invite poor ex-con members out to meals where he would talk to them about violence and jihad. Yes, that's called inciting violence. What exactly did the FBI promise these four men? Money?

11. Actually, these four men were given up by another guy who had been caught in criminal activity, and agreed to be an informant to the FBI in exchange for staying out of prison. This weasel told the FBI that these four losers wanted to attack the U.S. That's how this all began. Or so the FBI claims. Some weasley criminal turned these four guys in so he could stay out of prison. And even at that, it took the FBI an entire year to get these four guys to go along with this ridiculous "plot" to attack a synagogue.

It gets better. The FBI informant actually drove these four losers to the synagogue and watched (or instructed) one of them placing packages (supposedly with explosives) inside cars parked out front. The four bad guys and the FBI who directed the whole "plot" were inside a black SUV. Whose car was this? Did these four men even have a car? The newspaper calls the driver a "cooperator." Is that the same as FBI Informant? The FBI immediately moved in from all sides, including in armored vehicles, smashed in the windows of the SUV (why?) and made the big arrest. Of Al Queda in the Bronx.

The newspaper reports that none of the four resisted at all. Yet the place was swarming with FBI and cops: "'Other police officers, along with members of the Joint Terrorist Task Force, the F.B.I., and the state police, were also on hand, and moved in and took those individuals away.'"

Then to cap it off, we have a new term, "aspiration." The FBI is claiming that these four men "aspired" to be bad guys, but did not have the materials or abilities to do so. Good thing the FBI jumped in to direct, encourage, and pretend to arm them. Entrapment. And a waste of taxpayer money. "A federal law enforcement official described the plot as 'aspirational'meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives — and described the operation as a sting with a cooperator within the group." Aspirational. They aspire to commit crimes. A "cooperator" in the group: that's the FBI plant who came up with the plan, promised money to the others if they would go along with it, got the phony weapons, and was in charge of the entire bizarre incident. This is a new low.

Here's another good one: "The shadowy figure of the F.B.I. informant is, in many ways, a driving force of the plot laid out by prosecutors." Well yes, driving force. He invented the whole thing. He created it. Delete "in many ways."

So, what's really going on with these two-bit criminals being set up like big-time terrorists? Find some ex-cons including one who's crazy, probably poor and unable to find work. Tell them what to do, pretend to represent some wealthy foreign group, provide them with the pretend weapons, promise them what? Millions of dollars? All set up by the FBI.

Here's the proper role for law enforcement: (1) when there has been a crime committed, they investigate, find evidence, turn it over to a prosecuting attorney who decides whether to file charges; (2) if they hear of a planned crime, investigate that, gather evidence to be used to stop the crime. But it is not the proper role of law enforcement to manufacture crimes, to try to get other people to commit crimes so the law enforcement can act like big shots when they arrest the guys. Which is what appears to have happened in this case.

The government got four losers and set them up to take a fall as some big-time Al Queda in the Bronx. But for what? I'd say it is to (1) re-terrorize the public, make people fearful, (2) convince the public that torture and wars of aggression are necessary, so there should be no hearings or prosecution or punishment of those who committed those crimes, (3) provide further support for the elimination of the constitutional rights of the citizens of this country.; and (4) maybe test out the new "preventative detention" theory being floated by our federal government, the idea that they can jerk us out of our homes at any time and throw us in prison, without trial, forever. You know -- to keep the country safe.

The FBI: Fibbers, Bulls***ters and Incompetents.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Credit Card "Consumers' Rights" Bill Does Nothing To Help The Consumers

The Senate just passed an empty law they call a "reform" of the credit card industry. The Democrats will undoubtedly proclaim across the land, I'm guessing by tomorrow in e-mail solicitations, that they are working hard to help the people of this country, protect them from the predators on Wall Street. But the Democrats will be lying when they make those claims, as will President Obama who undoubtedly will use this in his re-election campaign.

The media will also lie about it, trying to fool the public into believing this law does something to help the people. But the only thing it really does is to further defraud the public.

There are a few nonsensical provisions that will have no effect whatsoever. They can't use a dragnet clause (to say a default on anything else, like a mortgage, is a default on their credit card so they can raise the interest). Big deal. Somebody's house is in foreclosure, their credit card is not the biggest thing on their mind. They give people a little bit longer before the late fees hit, but they leave the late fees in there -- which, combined with other ridiculous punitive fees raised $20 Billion for these Loansharks last year alone.

But here's the worst part of all. A new provision says that anyone under 21 must either prove they are able to pay the credit card or have their parents be co-signers. The Democrats claim that this is to "protect" young people from getting credit cards if they're unable to pay them. But the truth is that this is just a sneaky, deceptive way to fool adults to take on responsibility for their children's obligations -- 18 through 21 -- when right now, there is no such obligation. An 18 year old defaults on a credit card, tough luck Citibank, try to collect. Under the new law, Citibank will go grab Mom and Dad's paycheck. Even for a 20-year-old who lives on their own, and has a full-time job. Citibank will now go take the money out of Mom and Dad's checking account. Thanks to the Democrats, who undoubtedly will claim this is another big benefit for working Americans.

Last week, someone introduced an amendment to cap interest on credit cards at 15%. It was shot down. The Democrats have the majority in the Senate, but they also take the most bribes from the credit card industry. So they said no way. The federal government loans money to the credit card industry at 1/2 % interest per year. The credit card industry turns around and loans that money to American citizens, but charge 25% interest per year, and they rake in about a 24% profit per year. Talk about obscene loansharking practices.

This week, somebody introduced an amendment to "limit" interest to 36%, and that was shot down too. No, the Democrats cried, we must let the credit card companies charge 50% interest if they want, because they pay us so much money in bribes.

What we should do is just pick a date, then stop paying and stop using our credit cards. Tell Congress to get up off their fat, corrupt asses and pass a real reform of credit cards to limit interest to 10%, eliminate late and other fees, and make the new interest rate retroactive to January 1 of this year.

What do you call a government that lies to the citizens, deceives them, pretends to be a democracy but actually sells their votes to the richest corporations in the world, lets businesses take the jobs to other countries, watch their own people be thrown out of work and forced to borrow money just to survive, then lets the loansharks charge 25% or more for a simple loan? A corrupt, deceitful, fraudulent, useless, traitorous dictatorship.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Permanent War And The Destruction Of Our Country

Chris Hedges has an article over at Truthdig (link below) which he titles "The Disease of Permanent War." He raises some good points. Why do we need to stay in Iraq? Why are we escalating the war in Afghanistan? The New York Times reports we're using chemical warfare now in Afghanistan (white phosporous). Why? They're poor people who live in rubble. What do we want? To pulverize the rubble, kill all the people? Why are we staging a proxy war in Pakistan, escalating our military commitments in the region? How can we ever fix our economy, create jobs, improve our schools, fund social security, get healthcare, if all our money continues to be used to wage wars against people in other nations? How will we ever have peace if we keep waging wars against other people?

Here's the introductory paragraph from the Hedges article, with the link:

"The embrace by any society of permanent war is a parasite that devours the heart and soul of a nation. Permanent war extinguishes liberal, democratic movements. It turns culture into nationalist cant. It degrades and corrupts education and the media, and wrecks the economy. The liberal, democratic forces, tasked with maintaining an open society, become impotent. The collapse of liberalism, whether in imperial Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Weimar Germany, ushers in an age of moral nihilism. This moral nihilism comes is many colors and hues. It rants and thunders in a variety of slogans, languages and ideologies. It can manifest itself in fascist salutes, communist show trials or Christian crusades. It is, at its core, all the same. It is the crude, terrifying tirade of mediocrities who find their identities and power in the perpetuation of permanent war. "

The U.S. War Against Iraq Is A Christian Crusade To Conquer The World (And Steal The Oil)

We still don't know how 9/11 happened. Even if al Queda was behind it, we don't know, for example, why some of the hijackers trained at a Florida flight school run by an ex-CIA guy. Or why the D.C. FBI prohibited the Minnesota FBI from looking inside a hijacker's computer in advance of 9/11 -- if they'd let them go ahead, the attacks might have been prevented.

We don't know if Bush and his gang had enough information before 9/11 to know exactly what was going to happen, but decided to sit back and let it happen because, consistent with the Project for a New American Century policy paper of 1998, they were all fanatics who believed that in order to strengthen the military state in this country, it was necessary to have a new Pearl Harbor.

We have no reason to believe the 9/11 commission, because Bush and Cheney refused to cooperate with it.

But some things are pretty clear. We know that the Bush Regime used the 9/11 attacks to justify privatizing many of the traditional functions of the military, giving no-bid contracts to Republican businesses like Blackwater and Halliburton which, in turn, kicked back enormous bribes to the Republicans. We know that they used 9/11 to allow their friends to loot the U.S. Treasury (and pay enormous kick-backs to the Republicans). We know that they used 9/11 to wiretap most of the Democratic politicians (which may be one reason the Democrats won't do anything -- that plus the bribes they take). We know that they used 9/11 to justify kidnapping, torturing, and murdering people without any lawful or judicial basis for doing so. We know that the Bush Regime disavowed the responsibility of the U.S. to comply with treaties, including the treaty against torture. We know that they destroyed evidence to make it harder for any of them to be subjected to international war crimes tribunals.

Post 9/11, we know that the first response of the Bush insiders was to say "Oh good, now we can invade Iraq." But Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. And the CIA people, and intelligence people, told the Bush gang that 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq.

We have recently learned that Cheney ordered prisoners be kidnapped and tortured, and forced to "confess" that Iraq did have some involvement with 9/11, so they could use the coerced confessions as a cover for their plan to start a war against Iraq. So they could have a "defense" to international war crimes charges, which they've always known were a strong possibility if the truth ever came out.

As for George W. Bush, it's hard to say how much he understood because he does seem to be either really stupid, beyond our ability to understand stupid, or brain damaged.

But we do know that the people around him manipulated him into the war on Iraq in part by convincing him that God was speaking to him, God wanted him to start a war. Bush even said that God told him to do it.

Now we know it's even sicker than that. GQ got ahold of the artistic covers that were prepared for the secret, confidential briefings given to Bush to try to support the planned war against Iraq. The covers are drawings showing American military people going in to slaughter Iraqis, but covered with quotes from the Bible to justify the slaughter. It's really sick stuff. The people who have been running our country for the past eight years are insane. Fanatics. Crusaders interested in slaughtering the non-Christians of the world, and indoctrinating the young military people into believing that is their job as well: kill for Christ. Don't think for a minute that they won't turn on us, the people of this country who are determined to be not sufficiently "Christian," if somebody tells them that God says they should do so.

Maybe we need to purge the military. At a minimum, we need an investigation and public hearing to get religion out of our military. The military may have a job to do, but it's not based on what somebody thinks God wants. It's based on civil decisions made by Congress.
Here's the link.

Supreme Court Rules: Women Are Second Class Citizens And Have No Legal Rights.

The Supreme Court ruled against women today. Again. Not surprising, since they do that every chance they get.

I would not be surprised if they next affirmed a decision from a lower court upholding a new Texas law requiring all women to wear Burkas, or to stay inside unless accompanied by a male escort, or authorizing stoning to death of any woman who wears lipstick without her husband's permission.

The fact that the highest court in our land exhibits such ongoing, committed hatred towards women should make all women in this country sleep uneasily at night. I'm not entirely surprised at Alito and Roberts, both of whom are fanatical right-wing extremist Catholics of the most bizarre version, probably wearing those metal leg-rings with spikes going into their flesh under their hair-shirts and pants every day to show their devotion to God, to show their commitment to upholding the Catholic Church's hatred of women. And Clarence Thomas never did one bit of work since getting his cushy seat on the court, just asking what did Alito say then saying "Yeah, me too." But I'm surprised that only two of the judges saw fit to condemn the appalling violation of law based on gender discrimination and historical bias against women.

The Supreme Court sends the clear message that women do not matter, and businesses and government should do everything in their power to enslave women and deny them their rights.

Remember, not long ago the Supreme Court upheld a "gotcha" rule that gave a free pass to companies that discriminate against women in pay by saying that if the woman doesn't find out about it pretty quickly, and file suit, then she will be barred. The fact that businesses try to keep their discrimination a secret, and prohibit employees from discussing their pay, held no sway with this team of bigots.

So today we get another ruling from the court affirming discrimination against women in the employment field. The issue before the court was whether, if a woman had taken maternity leave during her career, could that period count towards her pension eligibility. The court ruled no, screw the women. In summary.

In 1979, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, and it barred businesses from treating pregnancy leaves differently from other disability leaves. But the Supreme Court said that if the materity leave was taken before that, the business could deny the woman employee credit for her maternity leave, even though that same business would give the male employee credit for a disability leave due to a back problem, or surgery, or cancer. Discrimination is okay under the law, according to these women-hating extremists on the court, as long as the victims of discrimination are female.

So based on this ruling today, any man who was out on disability before 1979 for a medical condition can count the period of his absence as part of the time he needs to qualify for a pension. Any woman who was out on disability before 1979 for a pregnancy can not count that time towards her pension. Straight-up gender discrimination. And the Supreme Court, with its crew of women-hating fanatics, says that's just fine with them.

Which is why we need 5 women on the Supreme Court. All this discussion about do we need "another" woman on the court, or should President Obama ignore issues like gender and instead choose based on "merit" is doubly offensive. First, there are as many qualified women for the spot as there are men. Second, I don't see the issue as "choosing" based on gender. I see it as disregarding the traditional biased method of choosing based only gender and race -- white and male -- rather than choosing based on merit.

If merit was the criteria, then half the judges on all the courts would be women, so obviously the selection process has historically been based primarily on gender and race considerations. White men represent about 35% of the population, but they hold about 90% of the top jobs in this country, including the judge positions. That's because of bias against everyone else. In fact, given the relatively few people with a college degree -- let's even say half -- it really comes down to 17% of the people in this country (white males with college education) get 90% of the best jobs set aside for them based solely on race and gender. It's pretty nice to have most of the competition barred from entry.

Does it make a difference having only men on the courts? You bet. Ask any woman who has been the victim of discrimination in hiring, promotion, wages and benefits. Which means, ask any woman who works whether she has suffered economically because of gender discrimination. Almost to a person, they have. Now the court says it's okay to steal from women.

"The high court overturned a lower court decision that said decades-old maternity leaves should count in determining pensions. .... Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer dissented. ... The decision could affect thousands of women who took pregnancy leaves decades ago and now are headed toward retirement. A closely divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that time should count in determining pensions. The Bush administration had urged the court to reverse the San Francisco-based appeals court, with Justice Department lawyers arguing that a decision favoring the women might harm other employees who could lose expected benefits if the company cannot afford to put more money into the pension system. "

[In 2007, Lily Ledbetter sued for discrimination] "after finding out after almost two decades that she made less than her male peers. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote in May 2007, threw out her complaint, saying she had failed to sue within the 180-day deadline after a discriminatory pay decision was made. " [Congress since passed a law reversing the effect of the Ledbetter decision].

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Secret Military Tribunals: If It Was Good Enough For Stalin, It's Good Enough For Us!

President McCain announced this week that another one of the Bush policies that would continue during his administration was the practice of taking people from other countries, kidnapping and torturing them, holding them in secret prisons around the world operated by the CIA murdering thugs and barbarians and their friends, the dictators and despots of the world and, for any prisoner who actually survives years of this, they will be "tried" before secret military tribunals which will hand down a "guilty" sentence, then order these prisoners be murdered. (Sorry about that President McCain bit -- it's getting harder to remember that "we" won).

And, consistent with a secret state police, military, and death-squad criminal enterprise committing state-sponsored kidnapping, torture, and murder, the evidence of those activities by our government will remain secret, probably shredded, to protect the worst criminals in our country from eventual prosecution for war crimes.

Any questions?

We've all heard how Stalin controlled the Soviet Union with an iron hand, staging what we call show trials and mass executions, re-writing history to eradicate evidence of his crimes. But who knew that the United States would choose to follow some of the most reprehensible practices of Comrade Stalin.

For example, in order to get legal authority for arresting and executing anyone he wanted, Stalin passed a law relating to "terrorist organizations and terrorist acts." Really. There were special laws which applied to anyone accused of belonging to a "terrorist organization," or accused of having committed a "terrorist act." One of the most important provisions of these new laws against "terrorism" was a speedy, abbreviated investigation and trial without the benefit of counsel or any appeal, and speedy executions. Just like we do.

Anybody who caught the eye of authorities could be labeled an "enemy of the people," subject to the show trials and mass executions. Of course the people arrested were also tortured. Does any of this sound familiar?

At the same time that the nation and its institutions were under attack from within, with purges against some, including certain ethnic minorities inside the country, the Stalinist regime also began rewriting the history books, and preparing propaganda materials to cover up and/or justify their conduct. Does any of this sound familiar? Not only is Dick Cheney doing his comeback Tour of America, but he's got an entire staff in the Congress promoting the view that international war crimes "Keeps Us Safe," and torture is good. If they weren't guilty, they wouldn't confess. Or if they weren't witches, they wouldn't drown.

Murder by the state is not just being supported by the Republican party, but the Democrats are also now in it up to their eyeballs, covering it up, refusing to allow the citizens their right to have hearings and prosecutions, to have the laws enforced.

What do we call it when the government refuses to enforce the laws? Isn't that a dictatorship?

Historians estimate that as many as 700,000 citizens of the Soviet Union were executed during the Stalinist reign. How many people will die because of the U.S. international war crimes in the middle east?

Assuming we had legitimate grounds to invade Afghanistan, to stop anyone inside that country from attacking us again, we had no grounds to invade Iraq. We had no legal reason to be in Iraq, so obviously have no legal grounds to have kidnapped or imprisoned or tortured or mudered any person from Iraq. And we have no legal grounds to invade Pakistan, although it appears we've already done so.

At least Stalin stayed mostly within his own boundaries. How far will the American Empire go?

If we have kidnapped someone who is not a "prisoner of war," and we do not have legitimate and sufficient evidence to prosecute this person for any alleged crime in a court, with an attorney, with due process, with equal protection of the laws, then we must let that person go. "Permanent detention," another thing President Obama ratified this week, is a tool of dictators. It's what England did to the Irish. It's completely inconsistent with any theory of law.

We had no grounds under any circumstances to move people from one country and drag them to another one. If we kidnapped somebody in Iraq, they should be returned to Iraq and should be tried in Iraq in front of a jury of Iraqis if we claim they committed some "crime." An Iraqi who fought against the U.S. invasion did not commit a crime in the traditional sense of the word. Doesn't everyone have the right to fight against an invader? In that circumstances, it seems to me they should have been considered prisoners of war and held subject to all the rights of the Geneva Convention for prisoners of war -- no torture, no abuse.

If we have legitimate grounds to charge someone with a crime, then do so, and have a public trial in the country where the alleged crime occurred. If we do not have grounds to charge someone, and we still take the position the person is not a prisoner of war, then they must be released. Those are the only two choices of a civilized nation, a nation of laws. Secret trials, and detention forever without charges or trials, are the tools of dictatorships, not a democracy.