May 262014
 

Memorial Day

I won’t wish you a happy Memorial Day.  There’s nothing at all happy about remembering mostly young men and women, who who have sacrificed their lives in the service of this nation.  Honoring them is a solemn occasion.  I add to their number two students from Jackson State, four students from Kent State, and others who were killed opposing war, whose deaths were covered-up.  Their service is equally worthy of honor.

Although I have opposed the wars in my lifetime, I fully believe that while hating the war, we must cherish the warriors.  Politicians, and we who elect them, are at fault for criminal wars, not the soldiers.

While some Veterans groups try to use this holiday to focus our attention on them, but this is not their day.  We have Veterans Day to honor their service, but let me close with a message for veterans this Memorial Day: Thank you for being good enough at your job that you came back, and in so doing, saved us the pain of honoring your loss.

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May 042014
 

0504KentState

Forty-four years ago today, Richard Nixon and the Republican Party committed a horrid crime against the people of the United States and murdered four of them in cold blood.  Please join me in remembering these fallen heroes and all who put life and limb in jeopardy through their opposition to the Vietnam War.

Both those who fought in and those who fought against that immoral war were doing what they believed to be their duty.  All are worthy of honor.

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Jan 302014
 

0130SOTU

Barack Obama entered the rotunda an embattled President, beset by few real issues but by a wide variety of Republican lies and media distortions.  Frankly, I hoped he would come out swinging.  He exceeded my expectations, albeit in a completely different way than I had envisioned.  Most of his proposals should be pleasing to the left, but he made them in terms that should appeal to the middle, whose support he must win back to help Democrats hold the Senate, improve their standing in the House, and retake many State governments.  I think that his speech was a huge success.  You decide for yourselves.  I have the speech in it’s entirety for you.  I also have four misrepresentations Republicans call responses.

Here is a transcript of Obama’s address, as planned.

Obama’s SOTU Address:

I have seldom seen better oratory.

The Cathy McMorris-Rogers Response:

Toxic Sugar Alert!

Too much sugar will rot your teeth, but this sugar will rot your brain. It has nothing to do with Obama’s speech. Isn’t it ironic that, to counter the many valid assertions that Republican’s waging their War on Women, she sold herself out to that war, in addition to standard Republican lies.

The Mike Lee Response:

Barf Bag Alert!

This speech is a combination of class warfare, revisionist history, factual distortion and projection. You can fertilize your lawn with this one.

The Ted Cruz Response:

Double Barf Bag Alert!!

The background noise, the most relevant portion of the speech, is dubbed in to support the lie that Cruz is responding to the speech from the chamber right after the speech. However, the fool released it before Obama’s speech.  Like Keystone XL, he should never have been allowed to cross the border.

The Idiot Response:

Triple Barf Bag, Trashcan, Shoe and Pocket Alert!!!

This "response" was recorded two days before Obama’s SOTU speech. Idiot, Son of Idiot, Named after Idiot performed a major feat by setting the record for number of lies told in 10 minutes or less.

In summary, I find it easy to see why Obama did not go out of his way to slam Republicans.  The Republicans did it for him.

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Sep 112013
 

11-911

Twelve years ago this morning, the first airliner hit the tower, as I was about to leave for work.  When I arrived, I learned about the second hit.  My duties that day were to contact top executives of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in New York on behalf of our client, a major developer of computer operating systems, to arrange site visits and one-on-one executive interviews for our client’s research team.  What timing!  I felt uncomfortable calling, but the account exec’s assistant, an airhead and a Republican, ordered me to go to work.  Many of my executive contacts were in the Twin Towers.  I got on the telephone.  Nobody was answering, and many of the lines were out of order.  I did get through and spoke to a man in one of the towers above the fire, who knew he would not survive.  He said he couldn’t dial out and gave me his home number.  He asked me to call his wife and tell her he loved her.  I did.  She was pretty hysterical.  Who could blame her! That shook me up so much that I went to the account executive’s office, and told him I was done for the day.  He asked me what idiot had told me to call into New York under these circumstances.  She blushed and left the room.  Because of that experience, I cannot think of 9/11 without my heart going out to the people who lost loved ones that tragic day, and I consider it imperative to do whatever we can, within reason, to prevent a reoccurrence.  One failing, in that regard, is that we often ask who and how, but all too seldom, ask why.  So as we remember the events of 9/11/2001, perhaps it may help if we consider the other 9/11, 9/11/1973.

Twenty eight years earlier, the roles were reversed.  Instead of being attacked, the US had arranged and was assisting an attack to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile, and the installation of one of the most infamous dictators of the twentieth century, Augusto Pinochet.  An article by Peter Kornblug from August 2003 describes and explains those events.

11allende

On September 14, 1970, a deputy to then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger wrote him a memo, classified SECRET/SENSITIVE, arguing against covert operations to block the duly elected Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from assuming the presidency. "What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets," noted Viron Vaky. "If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat to us., e.g. to our survival. Is Allende a mortal threat to the U.S.?" Vaky asked. "It is hard to argue this."

Kissinger ignored this advice. The next day he participated in a now-famous meeting where President Nixon instructed CIA Director Richard Helms to "save Chile" by secretly fomenting a coup to prevent Allende’s inauguration. When those covert operations failed, Kissinger goaded Nixon into instructing the entire national security bureaucracy "on opposing Allende" and destabilizing his government. "Election of Allende as president of Chile poses one of [the] most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere," says a newly declassified briefing paper Kissinger gave to Nixon two days after Allende’s inauguration. "Your decision as to what to do may be most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year…. If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, result will be steady draft toward modus vivendi approach."

11kissinger_pinochetHad Washington adopted a "modus vivendi approach," it is possible that Chileans, indeed citizens around the world, would not be solemnly commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. In the United States, the meaning of this anniversary is, understandably, overshadowed by the shock and tragedy of our own 9/11. But Chile reminds us that the topics of debate on US foreign policy today–pre-emptive strikes, regime change, the arrogance of unilateral intervention, unchecked covert action and secrecy and dishonesty in government–are not new. From the thousands of formerly classified US documents released over the past several years, the picture that emerges strikes some haunting parallels with the news of the day.

Chile, it must be recalled, constitutes a classic example of a pre-emptive strike–a set of operations launched well before Salvador Allende set foot in office. Nixon ordered the CIA on September 15, 1970, to "make the economy scream" and to foment a military move to block Allende from being inaugurated six weeks later, in November; the Chilean leader had yet to formulate or authorize a single policy detrimental to US interests. "What happens over [the] next 6-10 months will have ramifications far beyond US-Ch[ilean] relations," Kissinger predicted in a dire warning to Nixon only forty-eight hours after Allende actually took office. "Will have effect on what happens in rest of LA and developing world; our future position in hemisphere; on larger world picture…even effect our own conception of what our role in the world is."

As in the distorted threat assessment on Iraq, this was sheer speculation–unsupported, indeed contradicted, by US intelligence. In August 1970 CIA, State and Defense Department analysts had determined that "the US has no vital national interests within Chile," and that the world "military balance of power would not be significantly altered" if Allende came to power… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

For many years, the United States has treated the rest of the world, particularly third world nations, as the private reserve of an American economic empire, repeatedly using force, usually covertly, any time a nation had the audacity to suggest that their resources should benefit their own people, not US corporations.  Neither party is blameless, but the majority and most heinous of such actions occurred  during Republican administrations.  In the twentieth century, the United States overthrew more democratically elected governments and installed more dictators than any other nation ever has.  No nation can stand toe-to-toe against the US on the battlefield, so guerilla tactics are the only option available to nations who would oppose us.

We should also remember that there would be no such thing as Al Qaeda, had not Republicans under Reagan financed it’s formation to perform terrorist attacks against the USSR.

I do not hate this country.  I love the USA enough to insist that we return to practicing the principles we claim to profess.  These are the lessons we need to learn to prevent future terrorists attacks against the US. If we practice oppression, we guarantee resistance.  If we practice partnership, we will usually get cooperation.  We need to stop trying to control other countries by force,  To forestall terrorism, we must first stop participating in and supporting terrorism ourselves.

For the last lesson, let’s return to the story with which I began.  Shortly after the account executive agreed that I was done for the day, the company shut down for the rest of the day too.  Several of us gathered around the TV in the lunch room.  Knowing that I am politically involved, coworkers asked me what was going to happen.  I told them that I thought Bush would use the attack as an excuse to do two things: to invade Iraq and to curtail civil liberates guaranteed under our Constitution.  The last lesson is this.  If we adopt the tactics of evil to oppose evil, we become no different than the evil we oppose.

Even if we do all that, we must still be vigilant.  Sadly there are forces in pseudo-Islam that pursue hatred against America, just as there are forces in pseudo-Christianity that pursue hatred against Muslims, both for their own respective right-wing political agendas.  Both are equally dangerous.

This article appeared here previously two years ago.  I consider it worth bringing back.

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Sep 062013
 

TCCCTo a large extent, I’ve been talking about Syria in both pros and cons, but have not committed myself one way or the other.  That is because, I consider the issue far too important for a knee-jerk response, a practice that has been all too common across the political spectrum.  I have carefully considered both sides of the issue and am now prepared to take a position, with the caveat that I have no disrespect for those who choose the opposite position, as long as they did their homework before doing so.

It is wrong to conflate Syria with Iraq and Afghanistan.  We entered Afghanistan as a Republican attempt to wrest control of the Caucuses gas fields from Gazprom, the Russian natural gas company, by running a pipeline from the Caspian Sea, through Afghanistan, to Karachi, Pakistan. Bush even installed a pipeline expert working for Unocal, Hamid Karzai, as Afghanistan’s puppet President.  We entered Iraq as a Republican attempt to carve up their oil fields for Big Oil and establish a major military base outside of Saudi Arabia.  Both of these incursions were intended as conquests.  Both were carried out with Republican levels of competence.  Both failed.  This is not the case with Syria, in which the action  is intended to be short-term airstrikes only, with no boots on the ground.

The intelligence appears valid, as even most opponents agree.  Among the few who do not are Putin, WND, and Rusk Limbarf.  When those three agree, you can be virtually certain that the opposite is true.

Ideally, the attack is intended to do so much damage to Assad’s chemical weapons capability, that it will seriously degrade his ability to use them, and to take out so much of his command and control infrastructure, that he will fear our response should he use them again.  If it works, it could save a lot of Syrian lives, and lives in other countries where leaders may consider using chemical weapons.

Here’s the rub.  Now that Obama has announced his intentions, Assad has dispersed his chemical weapons and delivery systems into heavily populated areas, making them more difficult to destroy and increasing the collateral damage of any attempt to destroy them.  Obama would have been better served to get authorization from Congress in secret and attack without prior publicity.  Regardless, civilian casualties are likely to be high.

Another downside is that, if we bomb Syria, and Assad turns around and uses chemical weapons again, then what?  We are forced to either escalate or appear impotent.  That’s a lose-lose scenario.

I have tried to weigh the upsides and downsides to determine which way would save more lives.  In the final analysis, I just don’t know.  I  tend to distrust anyone who claims to know, because, in the fog of war, the best of plans become instant chaos.

So, which ever option I choose, it is as likely that I will be wrong, as it is that I will be right.  Given a situation, where I can so easily be wrong, that if I am, I choose to err on the side of peace.  I would vote No.

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Jul 172013
 

filibuzzards

The senate is now voting on cloture for Richard Cordray, Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CFPB, brain child of Elizabeth Warren to help protect you and I from criminal Banksters.  Republicans object ot the agency having any leadership at all, because they object to any obstacles to prevent criminal Banksters from preying on you and I.  Cloture requires sixty votes.  Without them, Reid has promised to invoke the Constitutional Option to change the Senate rules with respect to the filibuster of Presidential Nominees to the Executive Branch.  On the other hand, if cloture is achieved, we will wait for the next of the seven nominees Reid said must all pass.

The vote is still going on, but enough Republicans caved out of fear of the rule change to Cordray’s nomination moves ahead to an up or down vote and is virtually certain to be confirmed.

The final vote was 71 – 29.  Finally getting Cordray through was a big win for Democrats.

Then came the bad news.  With victory in hand, Harry Reid humped a few Republican legs, whined, rolled over and played dead, making another deal with Bought Bitch Mitch and McConJob.  Republicans will confirm four more nominees.  Democrats will replace two.  Republicans will go right back to using the filibuster for obstruction.  Reid does not think that will happen.  He has a gentlemen’s agreement, AGAIN.

 

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Assuming that we hold the Senate, we need a new Majority Leader.  If Republicans take the Senate, you can be sure that they will change the rules the first time Democrats filibuster.

Reid-LegHound

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May 242013
 

24OSpeech

Photo credit: Rolling Stone

My expectations for Barack Obama’s speech yesterday were guarded at best, given the deficits in his transparency to date.  I was pleasantly surprised.  To begin, here is the complete video of the speech, or, if you prefer, the complete text of the speech is here.

On the use of drones, I mostly agree with him.  While innocent people have been killed in drone strikes, the odds are very high that more innocent people would be killed in a strike with conventional bombs or a ground attack by infantry.  I support requiring a court to authorize drone strikes.  I also support transferring control of drone operations from the CIA to the military.  Frankly, the CIA spends far too much effort in field operations.  The more of their resources they spend on operations, the less effective they have become at their main purpose, intelligence gathering.  That puts us all at greater risk.

On Guantanamo Bay, I think these steps are all he can do without Congress.  The prison there would have been closed years ago, had Congress not intervened to prevent it.

Chris Hayes discussed the speech with Keith Ellison (D-MN).

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I particularly liked Obama’s willingness to give back power. I do not remember seeing any other President do so.

I found Medea Benjamin from Code Pink both rude and offensive.  Her tactics were worthy of the Republican Party.  She used a technique called piling on or dump trucking.  It involves evading honest communication with a barrage of so many different complaints and accusations that the other person cab not reasonably answer all at once.  I am very familiar with it, because it is one of the ‘criminal thinking errors’ that I teach prisoners to recognize and avoid using.  I have never seen a President stop to give a protester an opportunity to have an honest dialogue in the middle of a major speech.   She blew it! She was not interested in that, and that is a shame.

All things considered, I thought it was one of Obama’s most effective speeches ever.  How those ideas are transformed to action remains to be seen.  Of one thing we can be sure.  The Republican Party will do everything possible to sabotage his efforts.

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