Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Remember it started out as single-payer which, when explained, it turns out some huge percentage of the public wants that. Everybody gets healthcare just like they get fire department and police department protection, and their kids get to go to public schools. Taxes pay for those expenses. But the top Democrats who were busy hustling bribes from the biggest criminals in the medical industry -- doctors' lobbies, hospital businesses, drug dealers -- quickly came out and announced, without debate, that single payer was off the table. They refused to even consider it. Despite the fact that the public wanted it. And in return, Democrats have received millions of dollars in bribes and kick-backs from the Medical Industry.
Then we get some vague, un-defined phrase from Obama about a "public option," except nobody will tell us what it means. I've gotten many e-mails from Obama people wanting me to go knock on my neighbor's doors to rally them to support Obama's "public option." And every time that I ask them what the public option means, they tell me they don't know. They have no idea. It just sounds good. But it doesn't sound good to me. It sounds like meaningless propaganda to me.
Then today we get the "consumer protections" propaganda announcement from Obama. No single payer. No public option. Instead, we get "consumer protections." Just like the protections they passed recently for credit cards. They did nothing to restrict the interest rate charged, or the absurd fees, and instead only said that before the credit card company can send Guido and Carmine out to break your knees, they have to send you a two-week written notice. Big whoop-dee-doo. It is meaningless and does nothing. Here's Obama's ridiculous list of "consumer protections."
1. "No discrimination for pre-existing conditions." What does that mean? "discrimination?" It is a meaningless term in this context. Every time a state moves to outlaw the exclusion of pre-existing conditions, the insurance companies drop it voluntarily. And instead, they say okay, we'll include the pre-existing condition -- but it will cost you thousands of dollars per month extra. It's just a meaningless nonsensical term "no discrimination."
2. "No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays." Who decides what is exorbitant? How about a cap on premiums? No mention of that? They plan to limit co-pays to $40, but raise premiums by $200/month? Meaningless.
3. "No cost-sharing for preventive care." Meaningless. Everybody can go to their local healthcare district and get a free blood pressure, blood panel, weight/fat check every year for little to no cost. "Preventive" care means what in this context? I'll bet it doesn't include mammograms, for example.
4. "No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill." They don't drop coverage anymore. They try to rescind the policy on the grounds that it was fraudulently obtained. Or, they just increase the premiums to the point that they are unaffordable.
5. "No gender discrimination." Nonsense. What exactly does this mean? They'll pay for birth control? It's a throw-away issue. It's supposed to fool women into thinking something good is happening, but it's really meaningless.
6. "No annual or lifetime caps on coverage." A "lifetime" cap is not part of most people's policies for healthcare. They do have yearly caps, and will continue to do so. And besides, most people cannot afford healthcare because the monthly premiums are too much, and they go bankrupt because their share for the medical treatment is too high. This whole issue of a lifetime cap affects a small minority of people. For most of us, this plan by Obama gives us nothing. No relief, no help.
7. "Extended coverage for young adults." So what? Someone 18 can be carried by their parents paying premiums for a few extra years? Meaningless. Of little if any value. People can buy insurance for their kids now by paying for it.
8. "Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid." Again, this is nonsense. I know someone who was 59 and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. His premiums went from $300/month to $1200/month, which he could not afford, so he no longer has insurance. Saying that you can have insurance as long as you pay the premiums does nothing to help people. Of course you can. The problem is that people cannot afford it
Obama and the Democrats have completely abandoned all fair and honest efforts to help the people of this country. Billions for wall street, millions for the politicians, nothing for the people. Where did I just read that Sen. Kerry has collected $9 million this year from the health care industry, in bribes, to get him to oppose any real reform. Sen Feinstein collected $2.0 million. Money well-spent because neither of them will do anything to help the American people.
And then for Obama to have the nerve to send me this lying deceitful e-mail saying that he's doing something to help me -- consumer protections. I know what I want for help: single-payer. Let us buy into medicare, to start, paying premiums at some set amount, based on income. Start by letting everyone over 50 buy into the system. Instead, while this same administration is seeing millions of Americans thrown out of work, barely able to afford shelter, there is no assistance for people to get healthcare. The same people who are least likely to be re-hired because of age, the same people whose premiums are more likely to be high because of age, get nothing from Obama's latest ridiculous "reform" proposals.
I'm not surprised, but I am disgusted.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Here's the basic really bad idea: (1) cheap plastic flip-flop shoes with a slick bottom; (2) wet lawn; (3) steep slope towards the back; (4) me climbing up the slope to feed the birds and squirrels; (5) shoe bottom hits the wet patch, I go into free-fall, do my downhill racer impersonation, ankle snaps with a loud cracking sound, several bones broken, I am down.
So is the sad tale of this blogger, felled by a good deed.
I thought about saying I was skateboarding in a friend's swimming pool and came down hard, or dove off a cliff into a lake and hit something on the way down, or broke it in my kick-boxing competition, or cracked up my car on the racetrack, or fell off my horse in an equestrian event, or landed wrong when I was skydiving, or took a header out of the hot-air balloon when it sprung a leak. But the pathetic truth is I was just filling the bird feeder. Not yet an olympic event, but maybe one of these days. I hope my loud whining doesn't disturb everyone.
Thankfully my obnoxious (is there any other kind?) orthopedic with a crappy bedside manner will operate, put in duct tape, chewing gum and bailing wire, all held together with a few screws, and I will once again be functional although hampered by crutches for the rest of the summer.
Regular blogging operations should resume by Monday the 27th.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Walter Cronkite has died. He was the anchor of the CBS Evening News for many decades, and earned the reputation as "the most trusted man in America." People trusted him when they no longer trusted the presidents or the politicians of their time. People trusted him to tell the truth. He usually closed his broadcasts with the saying: "And that's the way it is." He talked America through times of elation as well as extreme chaos and sorrow, including the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the first landing on the moon, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident and, notably, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Many people believe that when Walter Cronkite came out against the continuation of the U.S. War Against Vietnam (transcript below), that led to much of the nation also turning against that war.
WALTER CRONKITE'S "WE ARE MIRED IN STALEMATE" BROADCAST, FEBRUARY 27, 1968
"Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we'd like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I'm not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw.
Another standoff may be coming in the big battles expected south of the Demilitarized Zone. Khesanh could well fall, with a terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there; but the bastion no longer is a key to the rest of the northern regions, and it is doubtful that the American forces can be defeated across the breadth of the DMZ with any substantial loss of ground. Another standoff. On the political front, past performance gives no confidence that the Vietnamese government can cope with its problems, now compounded by the attack on the cities. It may not fall, it may hold on, but it probably won't show the dynamic qualities demanded of this young nation. Another standoff."
"We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi's winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that -- negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer's almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster."
"To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."
"This is Walter Cronkite. Good night."
Pat Buchanan was on Rachel Maddow's show last night whining about Sonia Sotomayor, saying she is incompetent, not qualified, an "affirmative action" person. It's so funny that Pat Buchanan refuses to admit the obvious fact that if it wasn't for the basic affirmative action policies of our nation, those which set aside all the good jobs for white men, Pat would more likely be slinging beers in some dumpy saloon rather than serving as the tired, old, reactionary, racist, sexist, moron on national TV for what is undoubtedly a grossly excessive paycheck.
Affirmative Action Is A Remedy For Past Discrimination.
The term "affirmative action" has been co-opted by the right-wing, who act as if it was a dirty word. But it is, in fact, a remedy for a long history of discrimination against certain groups in our society -- discrimination which is so complete and devastating, that it is impossible to ever truly remedy it. But affirmative action is a small effort to to do so.
Sotomayor reportedly did not receive as high a test score as did the privileged white children who were competing for spots in her college or law school, but because of affirmative action, she was given some extra points and allowed to attend. The assumption is that as a minority, traditionally excluded, and female, it is important for society to encourage members of the excluded to enter the professions, so our professions will more nearly represent the public. In addition, there is an assumption that schools in some neighborhoods may not be as good, or offer advanced classes, which might unfairly prejudice a student.
In this case, Sotomayor graduated magna cum laude, top 5%, so apparently the premise of affirmative action was validated. Take members from groups which have been traditionally excluded, those who may have been denied the benefits of the upper-middle-class education, and let them come anyway, give them a chance. They did, and she kicked butt.
Of course the real affirmative action in our country has always been the policy that says only white men can get the job. I believe white men are 30% of the population, and probably only half of them have even a college degree, maybe half of that has a professional degree beyond college. That means that 7% of the population (white males with both college and professional school degrees) have historically gotten to take all the good jobs: business, law, medicine, politics, media, corporate, every job that pays over $100,000/year has been exclusively reserved to these few white men, 7% of the total population.
Pat Buchanan, for one example, likely never had to compete against a woman in his youth for any position or promotion, never had to compete against a black person or Hispanic. It's like only he and a few of his white fraternity brothers were even allowed to apply for the job. And now he's whining because once the barriers were removed, it's become apparent that the better and smarter people in our society were never part of his fraternity. And didn't even want to be.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The first man to set foot on the moon was astronaut Neil Armstrong, who made the now famous statement: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
It is impossible to reconstruct the actual awe of most people in the world at that time, at the idea that the U.S. could build a rocket and send it to the moon, with people, and have men get out and walk around the moon. All over the world, no matter what the time in different nations, people ran outside and gazed up at the moon at that exact moment, foolishingly wondering if they could see the outlines of these men, but mostly just wanting to be able to tell their grandchildren that they "stood right in a field and looked up at the moon, clear as anything, at the exact same moment those men walked on the moon for the first time ever."
Who knew whether the surface of the moon would burn them up, or would collapse from under their space ship and bury them forever in hidden caves and caverns on that dark and cold sphere. Who knew if there were aliens, or creatures, or diseases, that would strike a man down who dared to set foot on that surface.
(Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon).
The world believed that if we could send a man to the moon, we could do anything. For some reason, the ability to send a man to the moon was perceived as the outer limit of what would be needed to solve all problems here on earth. Surely if we can walk on the moon we can end war, create peace among all nations. Clearly if we can send a man to the moon, then we can also provide medicine and doctors for the sick, food for the hungry, shelter for those without. All these things were somehow expected to come from the successful space program.
(Armstrong steps out of the spaceship, and his foot is the first ever on the moon).
The sad truth is that the space program has done none of those things. It's not for a lack of knowledge or understanding or science that we do not solve these terrible problems in our world. It's a lack of caring. Even in our own relatively rich country, we refuse to provide shelter, food or healthcare to many of our own people, leaving them to suffer and die rather than lending a hand.
The space program has deteriorated into just another part of the corporate war machine, the U.S. handing out billions to defense industry insiders to build grossly expensive and ultimately useless items so the U.S. can try to control the planets, just like we try to control everything here on earth, for the benefit of the corporations.
Such a sad truth. The space program is of little value or benefit to anyone other than the defense industry. A sad end to what once seemed a noble and inspired calling of a few extremely brave men.
But on July 20, 1969, forty years ago, most people in the world stood in fields and parks and on streets and looked upward and believed, for the moment, that now we can do anything.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"Many critics and viewers, including his artist friends, enamored of Seurat’s ideas and methods, found Ensor’s religious subject matter and murky drawings “fatally retrograde.” (The criticism set him off; he referred to “bizarre Pointillists operating behind the scenes,” of being “surrounded by hostility” and “mean vile attacks.” He condemned Impressionists as “superficial daubers suffused with traditional recipes.”)" http://nymag.com/arts/art/reviews/57723/ "Teeing Up the Twentieth Century - In Belgium 120 years ago, James Ensor let his freak flag fly" (Jerry Saltz, 7/2/09)
"A visual hysteric and geographer of fin de siècle pathologies, Ensor gives us kings defecating on citizens, himself urinating on a wall that reads ensor est un fou (“Ensor is a nut”), skeletons fighting over a pickled herring, waiters serving human heads on platters, flesh-eating ghouls, vomiting comics, and cavorting demons. Even if you find his visions flaky, he’s the advance man for practically everything twentieth-century, including Expressionism and Surrealism. He presages artists as diverse as Miró, Florine Stettheimer, Henry Darger, Cy Twombly, and Verne Dawson." http://nymag.com/arts/art/reviews/57723/
While nations around the world immediately condemned the coup and called for President Zelaya to be returned to the head of the government, the United States government hemmed and hawed, said maybe it wasn't really a coup (just a spat, a tift, a minor disagreement) and has done nothing to sanction the military dictatorship that has taken control of that country.
It is apparent that the coup was directed by the U.S. and designed to send a warning to nations across Central and South America that their continued declarations of independence from the U.S. corporations will lead to their overthrow or perhaps murder. This coup has been relatively bloodless (although some protesting citizens have been shot) but the next one won't be.
So who comes onto the scene immediately to stand up in the U.S. to speak on behalf of the military dictatorship? Lanny Davis, an F-ing Lawyer. (I have a friend going through a divorce who made a comment to me the other day about his "F-ing Lawyer," then he said "excuse me" when he remembered I was an F-ing Lawyer too. I reassured him that F-ing Lawyer is now the official term, having replaced both "Counselor" and "Esquire" in common parlance, at least according to the Dictionary of Common American Phrases).
Lanny Davis who has never seen a dollar so deep in the gutter, so sticky with dog sh*t that he would not pick it up with his lips, Lanny Davis apologist for all things Clinton no matter how horrendous they are.
Lanny Davis, attorney to Bill Clinton, Clintonista-branded on his forehead, Clintonista loyalist. Corporate whore, F-ing Lawyer.
Lanny Davis is now representing the military dictatorship of Honduras, or at least the corporate sponsors of the military dictatorship.
And who is our Secretary of State? Oh that's right. It's Hillary F-ing Clinton.
So Lanny Davis, Bill Clinton's attorney, will talk to Bill's wife Hillary, and they'll agree that the military dictatorship really is good for Bill's trust fund into which he collects donations and bribes and kick-backs from the world -- I believe now approaching a billion dollars. Lucky Bill. Bill the Billion-Dollar Man. All he had to do to get the money was to sell out every single person in his own country.
Wouldn't you think that there would come a time when these F-ing Clintons would stop whoring for dollars, stop sucking the toes of military dictators. Why can't we get rid of these people. By which I mean politically-speaking only. Why don't they go back to Little Rock and bother their own people, leave the rest of us alone.
Look at this bullshit con-job Lanny Davis just gave in statements before Congress. Here's the essence of his position about the military coup, the overthrowing of a democratically-elected government, the kidnapping of the president and forcibly removing him from his country, the shutting down of the TV and news to prevent the public from knowing what was going on, the assault and murder on citizens who protested this coup: Well, we should let bygones be bygones.
Just like the Obama excuse for failing to enforce the law against the thieves and murderers of the Busy-Cheney regime and the Wall Street Criminals, we now have a new international Obama policy which is that whatever happened yesterday should be ignored. Can't we just all get along (said Rodney King after the cops beat the sh*t out of him). I wish I'd robbed a bank yesterday, then if they came to arrest me I would say: Oh, let's not dwell on the past. Call my friends Lanny and Barack, they'll explain.
Of course a minor problem with this don't-look-back theory is that all criminal law enforcement is backward looking: we prosecute people for what they did in the past, not what they might do in the future. If we're going to excuse all crimes done in "the past," then we can shut down all law enforcement in this country.
LANNY DAVIS: "My clients believe that, looking back with the wisdom of hindsight, it could have been done differently that night that the army decided to whisk him out of the country. And I’m not afraid to say that, with the wisdom of hindsight, it probably should have been done differently. As long as those of you—and I know Congressman Delahunt shares that view — are also willing to share the distaste for a president that regarded himself as above the law—in every institution in Honduran society, from the Church to civil organizations, to business organizations, to the Liberal Party, to the National Party, to the Supreme Court and the Congress, every institution found this president as putting himself above the law — if those facts are stated by my friends on the Democratic side, where I am affiliated, and my friends on the Republican side, we can then look forward, as President Obama and Secretary Clinton want us to do, and not argue about past history. Whatever the solution—cannot be imposed by the OAS, the United States, by my friends who are Democrats and my friends who are Republicans—it has to be a Honduran — "
One of the people Amy Goodman interviews on this topic at Democracy Now (link below) is Ken Silverstein, editor of Harpers, who had the following, in part, to say about what is really going on:
KEN SILVERSTEIN: "Well, just quickly, about Lanny Davis, as I had said previously, there’s very little he won’t say or do for money. ...
But look, the military—you know, I love—he says, “Oh, it might have been done differently. Oh, in retrospect, maybe it could have been done differently.” You had an elected president who was whisked out of office. He was overthrown by a military coup. He was taken away in his pajamas and put into exile. This is—you know, when you talk about who is behaving badly, who is behaving illegally, it’s the military in Honduras. So let’s be very clear on that. Davis is just lying in order to further the interest of his clients.
In terms of the other gentleman you mentioned, Ratcliff, he is another—he’s close to Davis. He also has very, very close ties to the Clinton administration. And apparently, during the negotiations in Costa Rica, he has basically scripted everything on behalf of the coup government, so that they don’t do anything without him. I mean, all their answers are canned and written by this guy, along with the help of Lanny Davis.
I think it’s also important to note, if I can just quickly, that when Davis talks about, you know, the unconstitutional behavior, the people who are at the head of this coup are a group of military and business elites who have run Honduras forever. It’s a very, very poor country. It’s as bad as it gets in Latin America. These are the people who want to get rid of the president, who have gotten rid of the president so far. And, you know, you’ve got people around the new government who are—have death squad histories. [CHENEY'S FRIENDS?] You have very, very repressive figures of historic importance in Honduras who are involved in the new government.
And I would also add here that the coup was backed by the apparel industry. [HERE COME THE CORPORATIONS -- U.S. CORPORATIONS ARE BEHIND THE COUP. PREDICTABLY.] And Davis is working on behalf of some Honduran business groups, including the apparel industry, and there are American businesses active in Honduras, like Russell, Fruit of the Loom and Hanes, who are members of the apparel trade group that are backing the coup. So it’s also important to note that you have American companies, and they say, “Oh, we can’t—we don’t want to get involved in this. We’re not political.” So they won’t take a stand on the coup. They have taken a stand. They’re supporting the coup government. And they need to be held accountable for it, as well as people like Lanny Davis."
Of course Obama could stop all of this simply by a phone call to the military dictatorship telling them to step aside and allow President Zelaya to return in peace. But Obama has not done that. Not a word from Obama, the man who apparently loves military dictatorships just as much as Bush and Cheney did.
Dictators Si, Democracia No. Maybe Obama can use that in his next election.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Here's their message to the rest of us: Don't ever say out loud that you have accomplished anything, that you are smart, that you are worthy or entitled to your position, or suggest you are the equal of white men.
That's all that's going on with this whole obsession on the "Wise Latina" comment made by Sotomayor. At some point in what apparently was a speech she gave in many places, she made the comment that as a "Wise Latina" she had a certain perspective on the world which is meritorious. The white men, the Republicans, have gone mad at her arrogance. How dare she. Not only is she female, she's not even white. (Don't ever try to tell Republicans that Hispanics are white -- they get crazed when they hear that).
She'll be confirmed. But the outcome of this hearing will be that women and minorities will be unlikely to say anything good about themselves or their accomplishments in public for fear of being ridiculed by the white men who run things. Can't you just see some Mexican-American woman standing up for herself at work, telling her boss that she's not going to be pushed around just because she's a woman, or just because she's a Hispanic woman, and her boss will come back dripping with sarcasm: "Oh, I suppose you're a "Wise Latina." Is that it?
Stupid white men. Sotomayor won't say it. But the rest of us can. And maybe they are terrified stupid white men, terrified because in their world view a Hispanic or woman should never be nominated for anything. Terrified because our president is not white. Terrified because their share of the bribes has slipped, and they need to turn that around so it will be worthwhile for them to continue to sell their votes. Terrified men often commit horrendous acts in an effort to keep what they have, destroy who they perceive as their "enemy." Which in this case would probably be most of us. Most of us are the enemies of these Stupid White Men.
One more thing: gender and race obviously affect how people view the world and will affect how they interpret and apply the law. That is why it is so devastating that our courts are packed with right-wing white men as judges, and women and minorities continue to be largely excluded from those positions. We need a fairer representation in the courts to ensure a fair application of the law to all. The way things are now, the upper-class white male judges tend to believe other upper class white males and to discredit the testimony of working class and poor people, women and minorities. That's why so many courts consistently rule in favor of corporations in allowing them to loot and destroy our country, and rule against the working people who are the immediate victims of corporate crime.Other than that, this whole thing is a circus. Let's get Medicare for all and end the wars, shut down the death squads being run by the government, create immediate jobs programs, and prosecute all the criminals from the Bush administration and from Wall Street. If anybody up there was really wise, and not corrupt, that's what we would be doing. Instead of this circus. Peeeea-nuts, Pop-coooorn.
"The New York Times is reporting that this secret program that had 'been hidden from lawmakers' by Cheney was a plan 'to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists.' The Wall Street Journal, which originally reported on the plan, reported that the paramilitary teams were to implement a "2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts." [NOTE: see how they always create names to hide the truth. They're saying they had "paramilitary teams." In fact they were running death squads out of the white house.]
Congress is now going to have investigations. They are angry that they were kept in the dark. Now you know how the rest of us feel. The public, the citizens, who Obama and the Democrats keep in the dark about everything. Why is it that when Congress is "kept in the dark," they immediately launch an investigation, but when the public has been deceived and lied to, the Democrats say "No Investigations, No Prosecutions?" Why do they think we, the public, have no right to know anything?
"The House Intelligence Committee is now reportedly preparing an investigation into this program and the Senate may follow suit. 'We were kept in the dark. That's something that should never, ever happen again,' said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein. Withholding this information from Congress 'is a big problem, because the law is very clear.'"
"[T]he program sounds very similar to what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sy Hersh described in March as an "executive assassination ring" run by Dick Cheney that operated throughout the Bush years: 'Congress has no oversight of it. It's an executive assassination ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths. Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us.'" [P.S.: It's also murder.]
"But another pressing issue for the Congress is investigating the Obama administration's adoption of this secret program's central components. .... The Obama administration has not only continued the Bush policy of using drones to carry out targeted assassinations, but has also continued the use of prisons where people are held indefinitely without charge or access to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Under Obama, Bagram air base in Afghanistan is expanding and, at present, hundreds of prisoners are held there without charges. In essence, the Obama administration is doing exactly what this secret CIA program sought to do, albeit out in the open."
Scahill points out that Executive Order 11905, issued in 1976, makes it illegal for any person in the U.S. government to engage in political assassinations. And, to the extent the government would claim that dropping bombs/drones from the air is part of war, the fact is that they are using these weapons against people in Pakistan, and Congress has not declared war against Pakistan nor can they or should they, since Pakistan has not threatened or attacked the U.S. And god only knows who all they've been killing. If a general who was a willing participant in running secret death squads finally called a halt to it because too many innocent people were being slaughtered, then there must have been an awful lot of dead innocent people. We need to find out who was killed, and then arrest and prosecute everyone involved for murder.
We need to stop our arrogant, murderous federal politicians who are running private death squads to knock off their enemies, and apparently think they are entitled to do so. No, people, getting elected to office is not supposed to mean that you have a License to Kill. That's the James Bond line, not the U.S. Constitution.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Well, apparently that would be a big yes. The CIA has been running a "secret" program, apparently under the direction of Dick Cheney, which Cheney instructed the CIA to "keep a secret" from Congress. His own secret goon squad he was running out of the white house with the water-boarding brigade of assassins who work at the CIA. In fact, when Leon Panetta took over as head of the CIA, the secret goon squad apparently even kept it a secret from him.
Except Panetta finally found out about the secret. And when he found out, whatever this "secret" Cheney-controlled CIA program was, Panetta immediately ordered it shut down. So what exactly was the "secret" program being run by Cheney through the CIA, and kept a secret from Congress? Now come on, this is not about a few phone taps on citizens. This sounds like a murder ring. Just like Seymour Hirsch vaguely referenced a few months ago, then pulled it back and said he would not speak about any such thing at that time. Cheney's hit squad, Murder For Hire.
A death squad being run out of the white house by that psychopath Cheney? There is already a report that it was a death squad, and they are trying to soft-pedal it by saying it was a group to murder only al Queda big-shots.
But a decision by Bush or Cheney or by the CIA to run a secret death squad out of the white house, assuming that's what went on, would be illegal. In fact, anyone involved would be guilty of murder. Cheney has no legal authority to run death squads, secretly order that others be murdered. There are strict laws in place to prevent the white house from running death squads -- laws put in place during other times when it was revealed that the white house had been doing just that, such as by multiple efforts to murder Fidel Castro. So the white house and the CIA knew these death squads were illegal, but did it anyway. Did they kill anyone? According to them, even though the program has been in place for 8 years, no, never got anyone. Bull.
"[T]he New York Times reported over the weekend that former Vice President Dick Cheney had ordered that the [secret] program be kept from Congress's oversight committees. Apparently, CIA Director Leon Panetta was told of the program's existence on June 23, four months after he took over the agency. Within 24 hours, he had canceled it and briefed the congressional oversight committees of its existence. Amid the uproar over how and why the agency kept Congress in the dark, one question that has escaped attention is, Why didn't CIA officials tell Panetta sooner?"
"The details and specific target of the program have yet to be made public. Some media reports, citing unnamed officials, say it was a plan to find and kill al-Qaeda leaders abroad. Two former CIA officials tell TIME there's another, somewhat less dramatic, possibility: a plan to conduct domestic surveillance."
Yeah, sure, that's why Cheney's so nervous -- a domestic wiretap. Come on, how stupid do they think we are? Of course it doesn't matter what the truth is, because the Democrats will once again cover it up, and vote to keep the public from finding out.
Once again, we need to remember the obvious: when a government refuses to enforce the laws against the rich and powerful, and instead fills the prisons with petty criminals and drug offenders, then this is not a democracy. It is a police state run for the benefit of the wealthy. A police state in which the rich and powerful can get away with anything -- even murder.
What do we want? Cheney in Attica.
When do we want it? Now.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
"That muttered curse word that reflexively comes out when you stub your toe could actually make it easier to bear the throbbing pain, a new study suggests."
"Swearing is a common response to pain, but no previous research has connected the uttering of an expletive to the actual physical experience of pain."
"'Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon,' said Richard Stephens of Keele University in England and one of the authors of the new study. 'It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain.' Stephens and his fellow Keele researchers John Atkins and Andrew Kingston sought to test how swearing would affect an individual's tolerance to pain. Because swearing often has an exaggerating effect that can overstate the severity of pain, the team thought that swearing would lessen a person's tolerance."
"As it turned out, the opposite seems to be true."
"The researchers enlisted 64 undergraduate volunteers and had them submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. The experiment was then repeated with the volunteer repeating a more common word that they would use to describe a table."
"Contrary to what the researcher expected, the volunteers kept their hands submerged longer while repeating the swear word."
The results of the study are detailed in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal NeuroReport.
Actually, I thought the entire state of Utah was owned by the Mormons.
In any event, two gay men were walking home, cut across the plaza, and, while standing on "Mormon" ground, hugged, held hands, or kissed, and were immediately detained and hand-cuffed by a Mormon goon-squad who demanded that the homosexuals -- not be homosexual while on Mormon land. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/11/gay-couple-detained-after_n_230016.html Don't ask, don't tell, don't hug, don't kiss.
The article did not say whether the Mormon goons wore swastikas on their uniforms. Or just little embroidered shirts with temples and snakes on them.
Anyway, I got a terrific idea. How hard can it be to get two homosexuals, gay or lesbian, or mixed, one with a cell-phone with picture-taking capabilities, start stalking the Mormons, then catch them when they least suspect it and kiss them. Then the one who isn't doing the kissing takes the photo. Snap. Caught-ya.
How about a web-site: International Gay And Lesbian Kiss-A-Mormon.com?
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
A smaller version of this story originally surfaced several years ago when it was discovered that some NewsWorld associates had hacked into phones of some staff of the Royal Family. At the time, several investigations were conducted but concluded that these were "Lone Hackers," that they had acted without the knowledge of anyone higher up at NewsWorld. NewsWorld denied any involvement. That was a lie.
In addition to illegally wiretapping the phones of public officials, the employees of Murdoch's news corporation were also hacking phones of sports figures and heads of sports organizations. A little gambling action on the side, perhaps? Talk about inside information -- knowing the state of mind of key players, or even details of strategy, could lead to a fortune in sports gambling. Or, of course, knowing what politicians intend to do could give someone the ability to make billions in advance by using insider information not available to others. Let's hope England digs a little deeper this time and gets not just a list of who was bugged, but also delves into the question of the purpose of the secret wiretaps. It was more likely done for financial gain, than just for gossip.
"Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims."
"Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories."
"The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills.
Cabinet ministers, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators."
[The newly-discovered evidence] "may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them. The evidence also poses difficult questions for"
• "Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts.
• "Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public."
• "The Metropolitan police, which did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel."
• "The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity."
"The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge."
"But one senior source at the Met told the Guardian that during the Goodman inquiry, officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into "thousands" of mobile phones. Another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at "two or three thousand" mobiles. They suggest that from all three parties and cabinet ministers, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, were among the targets."
".... "Several famous figures in football are among those whose messages were intercepted."
"The paperwork from the Information Commission revealed the names of 31 journalists working for the News of the World and the Sun, together with the details of government agencies, banks, phone companies and others who were conned into handing over confidential information."
[When sued in one case and presented with evidence of these crimes] "News International ... started offering huge cash payments to settle the case out of court, and finally paid out £700,000 in legal costs and damages on the condition that [the person who sued] signed a gagging clause to prevent him speaking about the case. The payment is believed to have included more than £400,000 in damages. News Group then persuaded the court to seal the file on Taylor's case to prevent all public access, even though it contained prima facie evidence of criminal activity."
"Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil described the story last night as 'one of the most significant media stories of modern times'. 'It suggests that rather than being a one-off journalist or rogue private investigator, it was systemic throughout the News of the World, and to a lesser extent the Sun,' he said. Particularly in the News of the World, this was a newsroom out of control." To which I would add: Well, yes. Rupert Murdoch's empire is a "newsroom" out of control. They lie, deceive, defraud, cover-up, conspire, promote fascism and hatred and racism and sexism and everything which is intended to destroy our democracy.
And now it turns out they wiretap sports figures and politicians, breaking the law, covering up their illegal activities, paying hush money to people to silence them, getting courts to "seal" files to keep the truth from the public. How about if our corrupt politicians get off their lazy asses and investigate this guy, break up his "Empire Of Evil," then deport him.
Was Murdoch illegally wiretapping Democrats, then turning that over to Bush-Cheney? We know Bush-Cheney was illegally wiretapping whoever they wanted, presumably for political purposes, and they got away with it because Congress refuses to hold them accountable, passed a special law to prohibit lawsuits against the telephone/utility companies which would have allowed discovery of the names of every person who was illegally wiretapped. Congress has acted to cover up this crime, prevent the public from finding out the truth, protect Bush-Cheney above all else. But why?
We know that Murdoch's Whorehouse at Fox was on the phone every morning with the propaganda wing of the white house dictating to them what story, what lies they should spread that day. Were they acting together -- Murdoch in the private sphere, Bush-Cheney using the offices of the government -- to get illegal wiretaps on every single Democrat in the country?
The most obvious benefit from wiretapping politicians and sports figures is the ability to use secret information for personal gain. If the politicians say they will vote for a new weapon, for example, buy stock in the weapon-maker's company before the public is told that the new weapon will be funded by the government. And of course knowing the inside details of sports players' physical and mental condition before games is an enormous boost in trying to figure out which team to bet on. Is it likely the Murdoch paper and its people risked being thrown in prison just to get some silly gossip about who was sleeping with whom? I'd look for money.
Should we expect an investigation, hearings, perhaps prosecutions in our country about whether Murdoch has been illegally wiretapping our Democratic politicians? How about the baseball players, football, basketball?
Our politicians, so many on the payroll of Murdoch, will probably do nothing, pretend this has nothing to do with us. Under the No Change administration of Obama, the public is entitled to know nothing, everything must be covered-up, information is even more secret and classified than it was under Bush-Cheney, and the looting of our country, and the wars of aggression, must continue unabated. So I would expect nothing.
Don't expect media coverage of this in the U.S. After all, Murdoch owns most of the media in the U.S., and he won't cover it. And "Our" Democratic Congress refuses to enforce the laws to bust up Murdoch's monopoly control of the media, order him to divest himself from this massive ownership of the media which makes our public more stupid and mean every day.
How many U.S. politicians were wiretapped in their home, office, cell phones, by Murdoch and by the criminal wiretapping program run by the Bush-Cheney administration. Is it likely Murdoch would do it in England but not in the U.S.?
Why is it AG Eric Holder refused to admit to Senator Feingold that the warrentless wiretapping program run by Bush-Cheney was illegal? Is it because too many Democrats are being blackmailed by information obtained by the right-wing by illegal wiretaps? Is this how the right-wing continues to control our country? Are they blackmailing every single Democrat in national government? Is that why the Democrats refused to prosecute the financial criminals from Wall Street, refuse to prosecute the Bush-Cheney insiders for international war crimes?
Or is this just wistful thinking? Is everything so desperate that I prefer to think "our" Democrats are victims of a heinous crime involving blackmail, rather than just seeing them as corrupt sleazy sell-outs?
UPDATE: London police announce they have completed their thorough investigation (in 7 hours time, total, surely a record) and concluded no further investigation is warranted. It must be nice to be rich. Keep those pesky old police from interfering with your campaign to destroy the world. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090709/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_newspaper_privacy
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
(The letter "M" for "Monsanto" with a slash through it; message from farmers to agri-business: get out).
Walter Mosley has an article in a recent issue of the Nation titled "Ten Things You Can Do To End World Hunger." His list generally raises issues about food justice or injustice, and starvation. We, as a nation, need to take control of the food production in this country, get the corporations out of food and out of farming. Food should be considered an international resource, belonging to the world and all its people, a sacred treasure to be guarded and protected for each generation, with each person in the world entitled to a fully nutritious diet every day. Our international aid should be directed to helping people get land for family farms, and providing non-chemically-altered seeds and implements, irrigation, to create farms throughout the world to feed the people.
Instead, we have agri-business in the U.S., corporate-control of the entire food supply of the world including seeds, patents to allow corporations to control the food supply of the world, food which is lacking in nutrition, full of chemicals and artificially infused with carbohydrates and sugars, which is making us sick and killing us, while millions starve because they are denied the opportunity to own land and have local farms. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090601/ten_things
The corporate control of food production and the food supply will destroy the earth and everything living in it. They will feed us nothing but poison and fat if they can get away with it, radically increase the cancer and suffering and early deaths in the world, strip all nutrition from food, destroy the "real" food and plants that nature created to substitute genetically modified versions for which they can charge a lot of money, starve more and more people in the world because of exorbitant prices for even seeds, and make sure everyone who buys and eats their products is sick, weak, tired, lacking basic nutrition, and dies early. The corporations always operate to increase profit regardless of how many people they kill in the process.
For example, U.S. agri-business flooded Haiti with cheap rice, under-cutting local farmers and putting them out of business. A few years later, after the U.S. corporations had succeeded in putting local farms in Haiti out of business, the U.S. corporate agri-business jacked up the price for rice (the food staple for Haiti) to the point that the people could not afford it, and there was massive starvation within that country.
One of the biggest players is Monsanto, which is genetically modifying the basic food stuff of life such as rice, wheat, even livestock, so they can claim they are entitled to royalties and license fees every time anyone in the world eats a morsel. In the process of their Frankenstein-lab experiments, how much of the food of the world will they destroy? They are joined in their quest by other corporations who sell us tasteless fruit, nutritionless vegetables, and boxed everything. For a discussion of Monsanto's use of thugs and goon-squads to harass, threaten and intimidate farmers around the country to gain control of our food, see http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805
(Excerpt from the Vanity Fair article, link above):
[A Monsanto thug went into a man's small store in rural America to threaten him in front of his employees and customers, accusing him of violating Monsanto's patents, threatening to ruin him].
"On the way out the man kept making threats. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”
"Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics. "
What is a "genetically-modified" food? Monsanto takes a food plant, such as wheat, and breaks down its DNA in a laboratory, then alter that DNA and insert into it a bar-code type of identifier to show that it is (for example) Monsanto Wheat. They also change the DNA so that the plant can be sprayed with Monsanto's "Round-Up," a pesticide, and the plant won't die. They alter the food-stuff of life so that they can spray it with poison then sell it to us. The plant won't die, but what about the rest of us?
This altered food-stuff is then patented in the U.S. so Monsanto can claim they own it all. If they eliminate all the natural wheat from the world, spread their altered seed on all the continents, the only wheat in the world will "belong" to Monsanto -- chemically created in their laboratories -- and everyone in the world will have to pay money to Monsanto every time they eat a sandwich, or some pasta.
Once the basic food-stuff has been genetically modified in a Monsanto laboratory, Monsanto manufactures and aggressively sells their seeds to grow Monsanto Wheat. The seed package includes onerous contractual provisions obligating the buyers in ways not generally anticipated by a seed buyer.
For example, it says Monsanto can come onto the buyer's property and farm whenever they want, with no notice, at any time in the future, and "test" the crops to see if they contain any Monsanto Wheat. They prohibit farmers from saving seeds from one year's crop to use in growing next year's crop, which is such a fundamental part of farming that it is often the difference between a third world country's people eating, and massive starvation.
They have gone around the world and found farmers who they claim have "saved" Monsanto seeds, sued them, run up enormous legal fees, threatened to take away their farms.
They are trying to develop "Terminator" seeds which will automatically self-destruct at the end of one growing season, so farmers cannot save seeds, and will be forced to buy more Monsanto seed next year. If the Terminator seeds mixed with other seeds, other food supplies, could they end up chemically destroying all the source of food and plants in the world?
You may recall a few years ago a battle between Ben & Jerrys and Monsanto over the issue of the use of chemicals and hormones to force cows to speed up the production of milk used in dairy products. Some people question whether this massive infusion of hormones into our food supply will, for example, create or speed up the growth of cancer in humans. The use of hormones in women as an anti-menopause "treatment," supposedly to fool the body into thinking it's young by forcing into the body large quantities of hormones, has now been associated with a laundry list of sometimes deadly diseases in women including a radical increase in breast cancer among women taking hormones, as well as heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. So if we infuse our cows and dairy products with artificial hormones made by Monsanto, will that have the same effect? Or other negative effects? Does Monsanto have the right to force us to eat the hormone-infused products, or should we be allowed to make that decision by choosing to buy products which are labeled to show they did not use hormones?
Ben & Jerrys was not a fan of the idea of hormone-laced milk products, so they refused to use it in their products. They went further, as nationally-recognized representatives of the old hippie-health-green-environmentally conscious generation of the 60s, and they put labels on their ice cream to advise the public that they did not use the hormonally-infused dairy products. Monsanto went nuts. Among other things, the Agri-Business and chemical industry that is in the process of taking over control of all the food-stuff in the world "lobbied" governments at the state and national level to pass laws making it illegal for any food seller to put on their label the fact that they do not use chemically- or hormonally-infused products. Monsanto wants the public ignorant. They think we have no right to know. We don't even have the right to decide not to use the hormone-milk.
Why is the younger generation so fat? We hear about TV, working mothers, nobody at home, no fresh air or exercise, no adult supervision. All true. But the weight-gain is mostly the result of the fat-and-carbohydrate-and-sugar diets that we feed to our nation. The result of having our entire food supply of the world controlled by corporations, Agri-business. Our food, what we eat and what we feed our children, is like a prison diet. They feed prisoners very high carbohydrate diets, which makes them gain weight, but also makes them sluggish so they hopefully will be easier to control. We're feeding ourselves and our children a prison diet.
The children are fat, unhealthy, full of chemicals, sluggish (mentally and physically in many cases) and are headed for diabetes and heart disease at a very early age, likely followed by death at a young age. Where is the public outrage? As long as the public is kept ignorant by laws which make it illegal for anyone to tell the public what's going on, then we'll keep turning out unhealthy fat kids doomed to an early death. We turn this into an individual, usually female-blaming issue: what's wrong with the mother, why doesn't she serve a better diet? But the fact is this is a national issue, and blaming individuals is just a good cover for the corporations like Monsanto who are making billions of dollars for their insiders while gaining control of the food supply for the entire world.
Monsanto, and the other corporate owners of Agri-Business, do not want the public to know what is going on. They bribe our politicians to pass laws making it illegal for anyone to disclose to us on the labels what it is that's really being sold. Our grocery stores tell us that if we want food that is not covered with poisonous cancer-causing chemicals, they're going to charge us three times as much for the food. So either be rich or die young is the national approach to our food.
When the U.S. sent Paul Bremer into Baghdad after the initial invasion of Iraq, and claimed he was temporarily in charge of that entire country, one of the first things he did was sign documents that legally bind Iraq to honor U.S. patents, such as the patents on the Frankenstein seeds and food.
All food production should be local, controlled by local people. It should be illegal to genetically modify the basic foodstuff of life. In the meantime, buy local when possible. Support or create community gardens, eat fresh locally-grown food, shop at local farmer's markets and stop buying boxed, take-out and instant food. Write letters to your local paper on this subject, and educate your friends. Support programs to help farmers in other countries and stop the U.S. agri-business from being subsidized by the U.S. government, dumping their food on third world countries, and putting farmers around the world out of business.
For more, see Organic Consumers Association and the Millions Against Monsanto campaign, plus other articles on the subject, at: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm
Here are links to Parts 2-10.
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98oI2PmHGA4
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBDN8SuKa7s
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iqFK0Uc1eo
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXgYiV6dtQM
Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBGNOsQFWcE
Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_0LDli8AHY
Part 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JsF7Ss8-cQ
Part 9: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKS-TQqrteA
Part 10: (Film Credits) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm8jSW_E0EU
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Honduras Coup: Militarily-Installed Government Shoots And Kills Supporters Of Ousted President Zelaya
The democratically-elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was kidnapped and forcibly removed from his own country last week by a gang of military thugs, under the direction of a U.S.-trained military person, graduate of the school of Americas. Working under the direction of the U.S.? That remains to be seen. Zelaya tried to return to his country yesterday, but the police and military stopped his plane from landing.
The coup seems to come down to this: the upper class and upper-middle-class have very comfortable lives precisely because most of the people in that country are kept in conditions of extreme poverty. Zelaya raised the minimum wage across the board to try to help the poor people and has proposed other programs to redistribute wealth. The wealthy do not want to help the poor. That's really the whole issue in dispute.
(Citizens march to airport)
President Zelaya attempted to return to his country yesterday. About 100,000 Hondurans peacefully marched to meet him at the airport where he was supposed to land. The dictatorship sent out the police and military goons to prevent the plane from landing. They also shot tear gas and then bullets at the unarmed civilians, causing several deaths.
(Honduras police mass to stop Zelaya from returning to the country)
The U.S. holds the purse strings because of significant money given to that country. Why doesn't the U.S. government simply instruct their well-trained goon to step down and let Zelaya return? Perhaps they want to make an example of him, to threaten and intimidate all other governments in Central or South America who dare to speak out against continued U.S. domination.
Here's a link to a bbc video which clearly shows the attack on the citizens and the police/military shooting.
The photos of the events at the airport are from this link: http://mimundo-jamesrodriguez.blogspot.com/2009/07/tragedy-at-toncontin-army-shoots-and.html
(Zelaya's plane circles airport in Honduras; runways had been blocked by police and military so the plane was unable to land).
(Citizens and police headed towards the airport)
Michael Parenti has an article at ZNet today questioning whether Obama is "innocent" in the Honduras coup, and makes quite a few points suggesting otherwise, a few being listed here:
"First, almost all the senior Honduran military officers active in the coup are graduates of the Pentagon's School of the Americas (known to many of us as "School of the Assassins"). The Honduran military is trained, advised, equipped, indoctrinated, and financed by the United States national security state. The generals would never have dared to move without tacit consent from the White House or the Pentagon and CIA. "
"Second, if Obama was not directly involved, then he should be faulted for having no firm command over those US operatives who were. The US military must have known about the plot and US military intelligence must have known and must have reported it back to Washington. Why did Obama's people who had communicated with the coup leaders fail to blow the whistle on them? Why did they not expose and denounce the plot, thereby possibly foiling the entire venture? Instead the US kept quiet about it, a silence that in effect, even if not in intent, served as an act of complicity."
"Third, immediately after the coup, Obama stated that he was against using violence to effect change and that it was up to the various parties in Honduras to resolve their differences. His remarks were a rather tepid and muted response to a gangster putsch. " http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/21905
(Citizen covered with blood after police shooting in Honduras)
(Citizen covered with blood after police shooting in Honduras)
Here's a link to Democracy Now, and a rush transcript of Amy Goodman's thoughtful reporting on the incidents yesterday and the situation in general inside Honduras. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/6/honduran_military_blocks_ousted_president_zelayas
A final note. Why does it matter? What difference does it make if the U.S. did set up this coup in Honduras? The U.S. has a long history of using our own and other countries' police and military forces to overthrow democratically-elected governments and install puppet regimes, then send in U.S. corporations to get corrupt contracts with the government that allow the corporations to steal all the resources. Why should U.S. corporations be allowed to steal the resources from our neighbors to the south? What about the capitalist's proclaimed embrace of "free" markets? The corporations use the U.S. military to kill the citizens of other countries and let them steal all the resources to increase their own wealth. Nothing free about that. The whole system is rigged, from Wall Street on down. See Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, the book recently given to Obama by Hugo Chavez.
The resources of Central and South America should have been used for their own people, their own development, their own benefit. Instead, the U.S. corporations (and Europeans) have stolen those resources, and often left the countries with nothing, their people among the poorest in the world.
If Obama is really about "change," then now would be a good time for the U.S. to begin working with our neighbors instead of continuing to support military dictatorships and death squads to brutalize the people. Michael Parenti actually compares Obama to Ronald Reagan in his article referenced above. If we are really going to have a change government, we need to stop overthrowing other governments, stop supporting military dictatorships, stop using our strength and our military to oppress the other people of the world. This is the first test for Obama in the Americas. He's failing miserably in the promised "change" in the middle east. What will he do closer to home?
Monday, July 6, 2009
McNamara was asked to join the cabinet of John F. Kennedy, Jr., where he served as Secretary of the Defense. He applied a business model approach to defense issues and to war. When the U.S. escalated its involvement in Vietnam, in 1965, by sending in massive numbers of troops (reaching over 500,000 very quickly) and implementing a blanket bombing campaign in the North, that is attributed to McNamara's advice and analysis of how the U.S. must proceed in order to "win" the U.S. War on Vietnam.
McNamara is often called the "prime architect" of the U.S. War Against Vietnam and held responsible by many for the over 2 million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans who died in that war, as well as for the decision by the U.S. to use chemical warfare on the ground, including Agent Orange, which later caused birth defects, cancer, and deaths of many U.S. veterans and their families and continues to cause high rates of birth defects and cancer in the people in Vietnam.
McNamara applied his business school approach to the war, and implemented the infamous "Body Count" (number of VietCong claimed to have been killed) as the proper measurement for the success of his plans. In 1967, with the war escalating and no end in sight, and anti-war activities increasing, McNamara "resigned" from his position as Secretary of Defense. Some say he was pushed out. He was given the position of President of the World Bank. (Just like that sleazy Wolfowitz.)
In 2003, filmmaker Errol Morris released his documentary titled "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara." It features McNamara talking about his life and mostly his involvement with war, his thoughts on the subject, his perspective long-removed from his original involvement. It is a fascinating film. Some critics rejected it as a belated effort by an old man to repair his bloody image. I thought it was a brilliant film. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Excerpt below.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Economist Nouriel Roubini Says There Are No "Green Shoots" -- They Are Actually Yellow Weeds. Our Economy Is In Big Trouble.
Today I see this link to an article titled "U.S. Job Report Suggests That Green Shoots Are Mostly Yellow Weeds," by the esteemed economist Nouriel Roubini, which article starts with this quote: "The June unemployment report suggests that the alleged 'green shoots' are mostly yellow weeds that may eventually turn into brown manure." Well yeah -- that's what I meant to say.
Mr. Roubini's article (link below) states that even if the recession was technically over by the end of this year, we should expect that our country will continue to lose jobs for another year and a half after that. That means we will have more job losses through at least the middle of 2011, for an additional two years, or twenty-four months. At the current rate of job losses of hundreds of thousands of people very single month, how are working people expected to make it?
Keep in mind that even if the job cuts level off two years from now, by the middle of 2011, that still leaves a lot of people unemployed. Most people have lost 40% of their savings and retirement, and many people have or will lose their homes. Further, even if we see job creation beginning in the summer of 2011, the problem is that the jobs that have been lost under the Clinton/Bush outsourcing programs are the good jobs with good wages, medical, dental, and pensions (i.e. manufacturing), and the replacement jobs tend to be in what is called the "service" sector, meaning jobs for servants -- WalMart WageSlaves -- low wage, no benefits, no pensions, no healthcare, no rights.
It is not a solution to our problems to create jobs in retail so that all Americans can work for wages that are not enough to pay the bills. The result is that people have to use their credit cards and pay 25% interest/year on the charges, just to stay afloat. This is an economy in which most people get poorer over time. That's not acceptable.
"US. Job Report Suggests that Green Shoots are Mostly Yellow Weeds."
Nouriel Roubini (7/2/09)
"The June employment report suggests that the alleged ‘green shoots’ are mostly yellow weeds that may eventually turn into brown manure. The employment report shows that conditions in the labor market continue to be extremely weak, with job losses in June of over 460,000. With the current rate of job losses, it is very clear that the unemployment rate could reach 10 percent by later this summer, around August or September, and will be closer to 10.5 percent if not 11 percent by year-end. I expect the unemployment rate is going to peak at around 11 percent at some point in 2010, well above historical standards for even severe recessions."
"It’s clear that even if the recession were to be over anytime soon – and it’s not going to be over before the end of the year – job losses are going to continue for at least another year and a half. Historically, during the last two recessions, job losses continued for at least a year and a half after the recession was over. During the 2001 recession, the recession was over in November 2001, and job losses continued through August 2003 for a cumulative loss of jobs of over 5 million; this time we are already seeing more than 6 million job losses and the recession is not over."
Mr. Roubini also notes that the actual effect on working people is worse than what is shown in the latest Labor Department unemployment reports. In addition to the people who have simply lost their jobs, many other workers have seen their hours and wages cut, so the total amount being paid to labor, working people, in this country, continues to fall in all possible categories -- hourly wages paid, hours of employment available to people with jobs, plus the unemployed. He also notes that the actual unemployment for the country is currently over 16% if you include the "discouraged" and "partially-employed" workers. People who have lost their jobs are staying unemployed for longer periods of time, another indictator of a worsening economic condition for most Americans.
As unemployment increases and more Americans are unable to find work, that also will lead to further defaults by people on their mortgages, car loans, and credit cards.
About 50% of the sales of homes being reported are foreclosures and short-sales (sales for less than the amount of existing mortgage on the home).
Roubini predicts that housing prices will fall by another 40-45% from their current level, which is already about a 27% drop. Assuming a home had a value of $100,000, and has fallen 27%, it would now be worth $73,000; another 45% drop would mean the value of the $100,000 home would drop to about $40,000. Or, in other words, the value of homes from peak to trough will drop by over 60%. The home that sold for $500,000 in 2005 will end up with a fair market value of $200,000 by the time this whole thing plays out. That's not a projection you will read in the Sunday real estate section which is telling everyone that we've hit bottom, so now is the time to buy. And it also is a very sobering prediction when trying to figure out whether we should demand the right of people to stay in the home and keep paying on the loan. If he's right, the people in default should bail out now, because the ship is going down. (Note: he makes another comment in his article that refers to a 45% drop in total, rather than an additional 45% drop on top of the existing 27% drop, so it's not entirely clear which he is predicting.)
And I might add that, although he doesn't mention it, the commercial rental market is due to take a big hit. Small-level professionals (self-employed real estate brokers, mortgage loan brokers, insurance and annuity sales-people, "financial planners" who are really just insurance and annuity sales-people, tax-preparers, attorneys, accountants), small manufacturing (tool and dye shops) which feed the larger manufacturers, and small retail (hair dressers, nail salons, "beauty" spas, beauty-supply, restaurants, small dress shops or shoe stores), collectively constituting most of "downtown" U.S.A., are dropping like flies in addition to the major businesses going into bankruptcy and closing their doors, and all are walking away from leases. When they don't pay the lease, the commercial building owner doesn't pay the mortgage, which means more and bigger foreclosures, more bankruptcies, more unemployment.