Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trump celebrates Black History Month.

February is Black History Month in the US.  Following in the tradition of past presidents, Trump held an event on Monday, Jan. 30, to mark the occasion.  His event was called a “listening session”.  He invited a lot of African-American people from various walks of life to attend the session, and opened the event with his own reflections on black history in the US.

Since we already know the man is a buffoonish carnival barker, it will come as no surprise that his remarks displayed a deplorably shallow knowledge on the subjects of black life, black history, and the contributions of prominent African-Americans throughout our history as a country.  However unsurprising his ignorance might be, what is remarkable is that the sitting president of the US didn’t even bother pretending to be interested in the topic.  He clearly hadn’t even asked a staffer to do some internet searches and come up with some facts on a few prominent blacks that he could mention, or a couple of notable quotes from them that he could include in his introduction.  He couldn’t even bring himself to offer up a single sentence about slavery or the civil rights movement.  There was no symbolic reference to unity or equality.  He never uttered the name Obama, although certainly the occasion must have invoked at least the passing thought of our first black president.  Trump’s remarks were almost entirely about….Trump.

Here’s what he had to say about Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.: “Last month, we celebrated the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history.  You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office, and it turned out that that was fake news.  (Laughter.)  It was fake news.  The statue is cherished.  It’s one of the favorite things in the — and we have some good ones.  We have Lincoln and we have Jefferson and we have Dr. Martin Luther King, and we have — but they said the statue, the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King was taken out of the office.  And it was never even touched.  So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is.  Very unfortunate.”

There ya go; Dr. king reduced to being merely a bust in the White House, which is apparently the sum total of what makes him a famous black person in Trump’s wee little brain.  That was the end of Trump’s commentary on Dr. King.

Trump mentioned Frederick Douglass as well and apparently thinks the man is still alive and is busy doing an amazing job at something or another these days: “I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things.  Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice — Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today.  Big impact.”  Okay, so he knows the names of four black people from history, but he does mention “millions more”, so I suppose that counts for something.  Someone in the press noticed the use of the present tense in Trump’s sentence about Douglass and asked the president’s press secretary about it a day or two later.  Sean Spicer, not to be outdone by his boss in exhibiting blind ignorance to the public, said, “I think he [Trump]  wants to highlight the contributions that he [Douglass] has made.  And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”  Whatever the hell most of that gobblety-gook statement means, it’s obvious as fuck that Sean Spicer doesn’t know who Douglass is either, and also thinks he is still alive and kicking.  Douglass died in 1895.  But you knew that, right?  Because you took a second to freaking “google” it, which neither of these two white crackers did before talking in public.  I’m sure by the time Betsy Devos gets done “improving” our school systems as the new head of the Dept. of Education, nobody else will know jackshit about Douglass either; or about anything else, for that matter.   (She’ll be approved for the position; her brother, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, being such a close advisor to Trump and all guarantees that she will be heading that agency – one way or another.)

Trump made sure to mention his new HUD [Housing and Urban Development] director, Ben Carson, a couple of times, no doubt because the man is pretty much the only black guy he personally knows, and he was present in the room at the time.  Dr. Carson, whose singular qualification for heading up HUD is the fact that he is a home-owner, once said on the campaign trail that he thinks it would be okay to bomb children on general principles.  When asked if he would order airstrikes that might kill innocent children by the thousands, he mentioned operating on kids with brain tumors and how they hated it but later on loved him, and finished his comments by saying,”and by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.”   So in other words, Ben Carson thinks bombing civilians and children is somehow merciful because it finishes the job quickly.  The crowd applauded the twisted fuck for his bedside manner.  He later dropped out of the presidential race, but has found a way to be Trump’s token African-American in the administration.  Trump’s first nod to Carson in his Black History Month intro is a bit condescending to the black community in general.  He said, “I’ve gotten a real glimpse — during the campaign, I’d go around with Ben to a lot of different places that I wasn’t so familiar with.  They’re incredible people.”  They?  You mean black people?  Those people – are those the ones you aren’t so familiar with?  Asshole.  Later, Trump told the gathering that part of Carson’s job is working on the inner cities, and that “Ben is going to be doing that big league.  It’s one of his big things that we’re going to be looking at.”  Then he threatened the “inner cities” with more law enforcement.  Where’s Black Lives Matter when you need them?  Oh, yeah, they weren’t invited to this Black History Month listening session.  “We need safer communities, and we’re going to do that with law enforcement.  We’re going to make it safe.  We’re going to make it much better than it is right now.  Right now it’s terrible [..],” Trump said.  After his opening remarks, Trump had everyone in the room introduce themselves to each other.  One man, a pastor, commented that some gang leaders from Chicago invited him to work with them on reducing violence in that city and that they wanted to focus on social programs.  Studies show that social programs, jobs, and better educational resources are key to reducing city violence, by the way, as opposed to the “stop and frisk” policies and the militarized police forces that Trump endorses.  While acknowledging that the pastor working with these gang members might be a good thing, he nonetheless managed to turn that compliment into a threat:  “If they’re not going to solve the problem — and what you’re doing is the right thing — then we’re going to solve the problem for them because we’re going to have to do something about Chicago.”

I’m amazed that Trump could find enough blacks to fill in all the seats around that table for his “event”.  The man is not interested in the black community, except as a policing problem.  The people who attended, however, seemed quite obsequious and happy to be there, however, so what do I know?

Below is the entire transcript, which I copied from the White House website.  That way, you know I didn’t just make this shit up as some sort of fake news to make the Dear Leader look stupid.  To be entirely honest, I myself did not believe some of the quotes I had read in other sources were accurate; I thought for sure the journalists were mangling the remarks or taking them out of context on purpose.  But here it is – no deletions, no alterations – Trump’s Black History Month event:

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  These are a lot of my friends, but you have been so helpful.  And we did well.  The election, it came out really well.  Next time we’ll triple it up or quadruple it, right?  We want to get over 51, right?  At least 51.  [Teri’s note: I’m not sure to what he is referring here.  The number of states he won?  The percentage of black votes he won?  The number of people sitting in the room at that moment?]
Well, this is Black History Month, so this is our little breakfast, our little get-together.  Hi, Lynne, how are you?
MS. PATTON:  Hi, how are you?
THE PRESIDENT:  Nice to see you.  And just a few notes.  During this month, we honor the tremendous history of the African Americans throughout our country — throughout the world, if you really think about it, right?  And their story is one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work and faith in America.
I’ve gotten a real glimpse — during the campaign, I’d go around with Ben to a lot of different places that I wasn’t so familiar with.  They’re incredible people.  And I want to thank Ben Carson, who’s going to be heading up HUD.  It’s a big job, and it’s a job that’s not only housing, it’s mind and spirit, right, Ben?  And you understand that.  Nobody is going to be better than Ben.
Last month, we celebrated the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history.  You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office, and it turned out that that was fake news.  (Laughter.)  It was fake news.  The statue is cherished.  It’s one of the favorite things in the — and we have some good ones.  We have Lincoln and we have Jefferson and we have Dr. Martin Luther King, and we have — but they said the statue, the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King was taken out of the office.  And it was never even touched.  So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is.  Very unfortunate.
I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things.  Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice — Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today.  Big impact.
I am proud to honor this heritage, and we’ll be honoring it more and more.  The folks at the table in almost all cases have been great friends and supporters.  And Darrell — I met Darrell when he was defending me on television.  (Laughter.)  And the people that were on the other side of the argument didn’t have a chance, right?  And Paris has done an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community.  (Laughter.)  He’s all by himself — seven people and Paris.  So I’ll take Paris over the seven.  (Laughter.)  But I don’t watch CNN so I don’t get to see you as much as I want to.  (Laughter.)  I don’t like watching fake news.
PARTICIPANT:  None of us watch it either anymore.
THE PRESIDENT:  But Fox has treated me very nice — wherever Fox is, thank you.
We’re going to need better schools, and we need them soon.  We need more jobs, we need better wages — a lot better wages.  We’re going to work very hard on the inner city.  Ben is going to be doing that big league.  It’s one of his big things that we’re going to be looking at.
We need safer communities, and we’re going to do that with law enforcement.  We’re going to make it safe.  We’re going to make it much better than it is right now.  Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really — you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show.  I’m ready to do my part — it’s the only time I can see him.  I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this:  We’re going to work together.
This is a great group.  This is a group that’s been so special to me.  You really helped me a lot.  If you remember, I wasn’t going to do well with the African American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting — I won’t go into details, but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years.  And now, we’re going to take that to new levels.
I want to thank my television star over here.  (Laughter.)  Omarosa is actually a very nice person.  Nobody knows that, but — (laughter) — I don’t want to destroy her reputation.  She is a very good person and she’s been helpful right from the beginning of the campaign.  And I appreciate it.  I really do.  Very special.
And so I want to thank everybody for being here.  Could we maybe just go around the room and we’ll introduce ourselves.  And the press can stay for that, and I’m sure they have no questions about last night because it was such a good launch.  We have a fantastic, hopefully, new justice of the Supreme Court.  And hopefully, that will be — he’ll be approved very, very quickly.  He’s outstanding in every way — academically.  He’s done almost as well as you did, Darrell, in college.  (Laughter.)  Not quite, right?  But he’s a great man and I think he’ll be a great, great justice.  And he’s being very well-received.  It was a big evening.  Very big evening.
So, Paris, why don’t we start with you?  Go ahead.
MR. DENNARD:  Pleasure to be here, Mr. President.  Honor to be here.  Paris Dennard.  Thurgood Marshall College Fund represents the 47 publically supported historically black colleges and universities, which I know you are very much in support of.  So it’s a pleasure to be here, sir.
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m glad you’re in support of me because I’d be all — I’d be in the wilderness without you guys.  You are so effective.  I appreciate it.
MR. DENNARD:  Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.
MR. CLEVELAND:  Bill Cleveland.  I’m a retired Capitol police officer, former vice mayor of the city of Alexandria, and substitute teacher in the Alexandria school system.  Glad to be here.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.
MR. MATTHEWS:  Bill is also a Vietnam veteran, sir.
MR. MATTHEWS:  I’m Earl Matthews, sir.  I work for you at the Department of Defense.  I was sworn in an hour after you were.  Also a veteran and a longtime supporter of yours.  I’ve worked for you since late summer.  I’m happy to be here.
THE PRESIDENT:  Lieutenant Colonel — good job.
MS. SCOTT:  I’m Belinda Scott, Darrell’s wife.  New Spirit Revival Center from Cleveland, Ohio.  Pastor of New Spirit.  Great amount of support in the African American community where we are.  We love the Lord, we love our new President, and we are praying for our President on a regular basis.
THE PRESIDENT:  You know, the one thing I didn’t understand about Belinda — I thought they were married maybe five or six years, because look how they look so young.  (Laughter.)  Should you say how many years you’ve been married?
MS. SCOTT:  Thirty-five.
PASTOR SCOTT:  We’ve been together for 38.
MS. SCOTT:  Been together for — but in the Lord –(laughter) —  35, yes.
PASTOR SCOTT:  Two years under — (inaudible.)  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  That’s actually amazing.  I wouldn’t have known.
MS. SCOTT:  But can I say this — I am so grateful that our President gives us that ear to listen to the community — to listen.  And people like us are just here to constantly put that message out into the community.  And we love you for that.  We love you for listening and we thank you for that.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.
PASTOR SCOTT:  Darrell Scott, pastor at New Spirit Revival Center and black Trump supporter.  (Laughter and applause.)  But speaking of the community, let me just say this real quick.  Omarosa, I told you I’m going to try to throw it in.  I was recently contacted by some of the top gang thugs initiative Chicago for a sit-down.  They reached out to me because they associated me with you.  They respect you, they believe in what you’re doing, and they want to have a sit-down about lowering that body count.  So in a couple of weeks, I’m going into Chicago.
THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a great idea because Chicago is totally out of control.
PASTOR SCOTT:  Well, I let him know — I said, we’ve got to lower that body count.  We don’t want to talk about anything else — get that body count down.  And they agreed.  But the principle is they can do it.  These are guys straight from the streets — no politicians — straight street guys.  But they’re going to commit that if they lower that body count, we’ll come in and we’ll do some social programs.  So they’re in agreement.
THE PRESIDENT:  If they’re not going to solve the problem — and what you’re doing is the right thing — then we’re going to solve the problem for them because we’re going to have to do something about Chicago.  Because what’s happening in Chicago should not be happening in this country.
PASTOR SCOTT:  But they want to work with this administration.
PASTOR SCOTT:  They want to.  They reached out — I didn’t reach out to them.  They reached out to me.
THE PRESIDENT:  I understand.
PASTOR SCOTT:  They want to work with this administration.  They believe in this administration.  They didn’t believe in the prior administration.  They told me this out of their mouth.  But they see hope with you.
MR. WILLIAMS:  Mr. President, I’m a member of what we call the media, but we try to be fair and objective.  (Laughter.)  Not all media seems to be the opposition party.  There are those that see the good that you’re doing.  We report it.  I’m just honored to have a seat at the table today.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  And it is — I mean, a lot of the media is actually the opposition party.  They’re so biased and really is a disgrace.  Some of you are fantastic and fair, but so much of the media is opposition party and knowingly saying incorrect things.  So it’s a very sad situation.  But we seem to be doing well.  It’s almost like, in the meantime, we won.  So maybe they don’t have the influence they think, but they really are — they really have to straighten out their act.  They’re very dishonest people.
PASTOR DAVIS:  Pastor James Davis.  We’ve been — Mr. President, we’ve been a supporter of yours from the beginning alongside Mr. Michael Cohen and Dr. Darrell Scott with the National Diversity Coalition.  It helped to bring out a huge number in the black community with respect to the vote.  And we’re still happy to be in support as we go forward.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  You’ve been great.  Thank you, James.
And, Lynne.
MS. PATTON:  Hi, Mr. President.  Yes, I am, as you know, the former vice president of the wonderful charity that your son founded — Trump Foundation.  I’ve been with your family for about eight years now, right, Jared?  And I was an RNC speaker and I will be landing with Dr. Carson at HUD as one of his senior advisors —
THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s great.  You’ve got a good person.
MS. PATTON:  — and Director of the Office of Public Liaison.
THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.  You did a fantastic job.
MS. PATTON:  Thank you.
MR. ROBINSON:  Mr. President, my name is Gerard Robinson.  I’m a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and I was proud to be the leader of the education policy team for the Trump transition.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.
MR. BELL:  Mr. President, good to be with you.  I’m Ashley Bell, Gainesville.  Chairman Priebus called me out (inaudible) African American outreach for your campaign.  I’m glad you support Omarosa, glad to be here, and I’ll be wanting to help you out at the State Department.
THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.
MS. MANIGAULT:  Tucker was a star at the inauguration.
MR. DAVIS:  I’m Tucker Davis.  I ran your campaign in West Virginia, working for you in the —
THE PRESIDENT:  We did well in West Virginia.  (Laughter.)
MR. DAVIS:  Coal miners love you.
THE PRESIDENT:  And we love the coal miners.  We’re going to put them back to work.
MR. DAVIS:  Absolutely.
MS. LEVELL:  Leah LeVell.  I was at the RNC and also at PIC.  And I helped launch the video series every week — the midweek message that reached out to millennials and college students and helped launch the college Republican chapter at Howard University.
MS. MANIGAULT:  That’s Chris LeVell’s daughter.  We snagged her.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, really?  Great job.
MS. ALEXANDER:  Mr. President, Monica Alexander, executive administrative assistant in the office of public liaison, supporting Omarosa.
PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Okay, well, that’s nice.
MR. SMITH:  Mr. President, Ja’Ron Smith.  I’m with the Domestic Policy Council, Andy Bremberg’s team, and I’ll be focusing on urban affairs and revitalization.
THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.
MS. MANIGAULT:  And Howard graduate.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  Howard graduate.  That’s good stuff.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.


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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in civil rights, elections, Uncategorized


22 Nov., 1963

In November of 1963, I was seven years old.  I knew that my parents admired John F. Kennedy, his brother, Robert, and Martin Luther King, Jr. enormously.  A few short months before, in August of ’63, they had taken some of us older kids to listen to King speak during his March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  There were over 100,000 people on the Mall that day.  I was there, sitting on my Daddy’s shoulders while King spoke.  We were back under some trees, and what I mostly remember about that day was that next to me, at eye-level, was a boy about my age.  He had been lifted up by his Daddy to sit on a branch of the tree.  He was a black kid with long, skinny legs.  I was a little white kid with long, skinny legs.  We kept peering at each other and then looking away quickly, checking each other out.  My father leaned in to his father to make a remark about the speech, and they nodded at each other before turning back to listen some more.  This casual and companionable, although they were strangers until that moment, movement of heads moving together so as to hear one another emboldened us children.  The little boy grinned at me and stuck his hand out.  I took his hand and we shook like we had seen the grownups do.  During the rest of the speech, each time we caught each other’s eyes, we burst into fits of giggles.  Kids, you know.  It was a hot summer day, but we were in the shade, and despite the huge crowd, there was no feeling of danger or threat.  We were out with our Dads, our Dads were fine with each other and fine with the day, the crowd was fine with the day, everyone shared their water, and so it was all good stuff to us.  I remember that day because of that little black boy who reached out and shook my little white hand on a hot summer day in the shade.

A few months later, in November, my brothers and I were in the basement of our house where Dad had set up the television.  We were watching cartoons or something, I can’t recall.  We were not allowed to watch much TV and probably the only reason we were watching that day was that my mother had to do some ironing; the ironing board was in the basement and she must have let us turn on the set so she could keep an eye on us while she ironed.  The show was interrupted by a “Special Bulletin” :  the president, John F. Kennedy, had been shot while riding in his motorcade in Texas.  I heard a noise behind me and turned to see my mother sobbing.  She put the iron aside and pulled her apron up to her face and just wept.  It was the first time in my life I can recall seeing my mother cry.  It frightened me a little, and cemented the moment in my brain.

Jack Kennedy died 51 years ago today, on Friday, November 22, 1963.

I want to remember him on this day by posting the text of one of his finest speeches, the commencement address at American University on June 10 of ’63.  He would be dead less than six months later.  He titled this speech, “A Strategy of Peace”.  In this talk, he announced his agreement to negotiate a test ban treaty with Russia and his decision to suspend all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the US.  He noted that the US and Russia had never been at war with each other, and mentioned that Russia had suffered more, and lost more lives, in WW II than any other nation.  No-one then or now talks about that fact of history.  His call to reexamine our attitude toward Russia should be applied to our current “New Cold War” on Russia and is such an apt, although certainly unforeseen by JFK, warning about the present day’s situation that I thought it would be particularly fitting to re-present this speech in his honor.  Not a single one of today’s US politicians is capable of giving such a talk or of thinking this way.  They are mere dogs of war, determined to threaten, invade, and ruin as many countries as they can.  They can only kill and maim, gunrunners for the weapons manufacturers, plotting massive death on weekday mornings over coffee.  They not only have a disregard for humans outside the US, they seem very anxious to  cause as much pain to Americans as possible.  This current group of treasonous and odious “elected representatives of the people” in Congress wrote a law a few years ago, and have renewed it each year, and our current president has signed it each year,  a “law” which gives the President the power to assassinate anyone he chooses, American or not, anywhere in the world.  This “law” also states that Obama, and presumably whomever follows him, can have anyone he chooses, American or not, picked up and held in indefinite detention, without charges or trial, in military prisons.  It never ceases to astonish me that anyone in the United States, or anywhere in the free world, for that matter, would continue to have any truck whatsoever with any of the people who participated in the formulation or passage of this “law”.  We still call the president “the President” and we still call Congress “Congress”, but that is where the similarities between Kennedy and his Congress and this current group of thugs pretty much ends.

At the time of the American University speech, John Kennedy had developed plans for the complete withdrawal from Vietnam by 1965 and was secretly sending feelers for reconciliation with Cuba to Castro.  Both these actions may have led to his assassination.  After he was killed, the Vietnam war escalated and the embargoes on Cuba became set in stone; Obama renews the Cuban embargo every year “for the safety of the US” just as every president since Kennedy has, although the idea that we have any reason for them is laughable on its face.

I want to note this: in his speech, you will read that Kennedy said, “It is discouraging to think that their leaders [he is referring to the Russians] may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent, authoritative Soviet text on military strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims, such as the allegation that American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war, that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union, and that the political aims — and I quote — ‘of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries and to achieve world domination by means of aggressive war.’ […]”   A particularly awful and unforgivable result of today’s politics is that the “fantasy” of the old Soviet propaganda writers has proved to be the factual truth.  Kennedy would never have been able to imagine the world as the US has re-created it now.  You will read other paragraphs like the above, where it is just as apparent that we have become exactly the nation Kennedy thought we simply were too good and too good-hearted to ever become.  He talks of our diplomats; I think of the State Dept. and see Hillary cackling like a crazed, demented lunatic over the thought that we just tortured and assassinated the leader of a sovereign nation, after invading and bombing the hell out of his country.  I see our State Dept. threatening other countries with sanctions if they don’t accept Monsato’s GMO seeds of death or Coca-Cola into their countries, think about our diplomats running guns for the CIA, using mercenaries as diplomatic corp protection, and hear Nuland saying, “Fuck the EU,” after we helped a bunch of neo-Nazis stage a coup in Ukraine.  This is not a United States that Jack Kennedy could even conceive of.  The second to last paragraph is enough to make tears come to the eyes:  “The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough — more than enough — of war and hate and oppression.”

One of the best books about the assassination of Kennedy is James Douglass’ “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters”.  I highly recommend the book.

Of the American University speech, Jeffrey Sachs (American economist) has said, “I have come to believe that Kennedy’s quest for peace is not only the greatest achievement of his presidency, but also one of the greatest acts of world leadership in the modern era.”

I post below the entire text of the speech, omitting only the introductory preamble.  I hope you will read it slowly and carefully so as to grasp the import and vitality of the words.


[Intro: Gives mentions to those who invited him to give the commencement address, accolades to American University, etc.]

I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age where great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age where a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need them is essential to the keeping of peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles — which can only destroy and never create — is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace. I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

Some say that it is useless to speak of peace or world law or world disarmament, and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a Nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward, by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the cold war and towards freedom and peace here at home.

First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions — on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace; no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process — a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor, it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors. So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it.

And second, let us reexamine our attitude towards the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent, authoritative Soviet text on military strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims, such as the allegation that American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war, that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union,  and that the political aims — and I quote — “of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries and to achieve world domination by means of aggressive war.”

Truly, as it was written long ago: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.”
Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements, to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning, a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.

No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture, in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and families were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland — a loss equivalent to the destruction of this country east of Chicago.

Today, should total war ever break out again — no matter how — our two countries will be the primary target. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this Nation’s closest allies, our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combat ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle, with suspicion on one side breeding suspicion on the other, and new weapons begetting counter-weapons. In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours. And even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.

Third,  let us reexamine our attitude towards the cold war, remembering we’re not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different. We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists’ interest to agree on a genuine peace. And above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy — or of a collective death-wish for the world.

To secure these ends, America’s weapons are nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter, and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility. For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people, but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.

Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system — a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished. At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western unity, which invite Communist intervention, or which threaten to erupt into war. Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an example for others, by seeking to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in Mexico and Canada.

Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear. We are bound to many nations by alliances. Those alliances exist because our concern and theirs substantially overlap. Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, stands undiminished because of the identity of our vital interests. The United States will make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples, not merely because they are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge. Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom, but in pursuing the paths of peace. It is our hope, and the purpose of allied policy, to convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each nation choose its own future, so long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.

This will require a new effort to achieve world law, a new context for world discussions. It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding will require increased contact and communication. One step in this direction is the proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and Washington, to avoid on each side the dangerous delays, misunderstandings, and misreadings of others’ actions which might occur at a time of crisis.

We have also been talking in Geneva about our first-step measures of arm[s] controls designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and reduce the risk of accidental war. Our primary long range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament, designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this Government since the 1920’s. It has been urgently sought by the past three administrations. And however dim the prospects are today, we intend to continue this effort — to continue it in order that all countries, including our own, can better grasp what the problems and possibilities of disarmament are.

The only major area of these negotiations where the end is in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security; it would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.

I’m taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two important decisions in this regard. First, Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan, and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking towards early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hope must be tempered — Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history; but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind. Second, to make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on this matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not — We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty, but I hope it will help us achieve one. Nor would such a treaty be a substitute for disarmament, but I hope it will help us achieve it.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude towards peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our own lives — as many of you who are graduating today will have an opportunity to do, by serving without pay in the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service Corps here at home. But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete. It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all levels of government — local, State, and National — to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within our authority. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels, wherever the authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of others and respect the law of the land.

All this — All this is not unrelated to world peace. “When a man’s way[s] please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights: the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation; the right to breathe air as nature provided it; the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can, if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement, and it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers, offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough — more than enough — of war and hate and oppression.

We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we must labor on–not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace.


text from:

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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in civil rights, peace, Uncategorized


21 September, 2014.

Happy U.N. International Day of Peace to all and sundry.

I wish I could think of something really witty to say about this, but there is no statement I could make that is more ironic than simply pointing out that this hopeful holiday has not had any perceivable effect since its inception in 1981.

It’s all just too fucking sad and futile.

You may read about the International Day of Peace here:


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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in peace, Uncategorized


Greenwald to name names?

Updated below.

Glenn Greenwald, the man Edward Snowden handed the NSA “spying documents” over to, has announced that he has neared the end of the material he will release to the public.  If you haven’t been satisfied with the number of documents published through a few media outlets so far, you can buy his new book, which I understand has a couple more new “revelations” in it.  The book is oddly separated from the documents themselves (I gather you can go to a website and download the documents the book mentions for yourself) and has no index (strange editing choice for a book on such a subject).  Maybe there will be more in his upcoming movie, although that is being publicized as the story of how he and Snowden met and planned the release of the documents; no mention has been made that the movie will include any revealing of the document materials.  Now he has plans for the ending point, a final release of one last item, a “Grand Finale”,  which he will publish later this year at his new billionaire Pierre Omidyar-funded website, The Intercept: he is going to release the names of individuals targeted by the NSA.  (What the hell happened to all those other tens of thousands of documents never released?  We just don’t get to see what’s in them?)

According to this Realclearpolitics article, entitled ” Greenwald’s Finale: Naming Victims of Surveillance”:

The man who helped bring about the most significant leak in American intelligence history is to reveal names of US citizens targeted by their own government in what he promises will be the “biggest” revelation from nearly 2m classified files.

His [Greenwald’s] plan to publish names will further unnerve an American intelligence establishment already reeling from 11 months of revelations about US government surveillance activities. […]

“One of the big questions when it comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’,” he said. 

“Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists?

What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer.”

Greenwald said the names would be published via The Intercept, a website funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder and chairman of eBay. […]

From a Commondreams article :

And in an interview with The Sunday Times published over the weekend, the award-winning journalist spoke about a coming “finale” that would expose specific individuals who have been targeted by the powerful spy agency. […]”

Now hold on just a daggone minute.  Greenwald has repeatedly stated that one reason he has vetted the releases with the US government prior to publication is that he and Snowden wanted to make sure that the innocent targets of the NSA would not have their lives disrupted and possibly put in danger by revealing their names.  He has also made numerous times, in what is basically the same wording, the remark that a major factor explaining the slow release of documents is the painstaking work of making sure that the names of individuals targeted by the NSA have their identities (including other potential identifying information aside from their names) redacted prior to public release of any given document.

And the “grand finale” will be…releasing these victims’ names??

I want to be clear: I’m not speculating on what the names are.  I personally don’t care whose names are on the list and am repulsed by the people who are speculating about which names will be revealed.  I am not speculating on whether or not the targets are “innocent”, or what level of “innocence” they hold.  (They are all “innocent” in that none of us should have had our communications spied on, collected, and stored.  Actually, I thought that was one of the major points Snowden had to make.)   Once the list is released, are we all going to pore over the names and opine on who deserved to be spied on?  Are we going to join the NSA in picking out the targets who “deserved” to be targets (based on who we “dislike”) and feign horror over other outed names, saying, “Oh, so-and-so shouldn’t have been a victim of the spying”?

I am not going to play along with that game because it makes me complicit.  It turns us –  all of us the victims and targets in this governmental shredding of our rights – into the same “judge and jury” the spy agencies have been acting as (illegally) all these years.  But that isn’t my main point here.  My point is that when Greenwald has been taken to task for working with the government in vetting the releases, one part of his answer has always been that he needs to keep the targets’ identities secret and secure.  When people complain that the leaks are happening too slowly, he says that it takes a considerable amount of time to redact the names and any identifying information of the victims of the NSA spying in order to protect their privacy and possibly their lives.  He has made these points over and over.

Has Greenwald tried to get in touch with these NSA surveillance victims privately to warn them that they were among the specific targets?  Has he contacted them to ask their permission to out their names on this “grand finale” list?  Is he going to publish every single name he has in his possession, only the names of the people he doesn’t like, or just the names that he thinks will have some shock value?  If he is only publishing some of the names (I am of the opinion that releasing any names is grotesque), how is it that he thinks he is the one who should choose which names to display to the public?  If he is picking and choosing the names on his own, well, by God, what a misuse of power; power that came into his hands only through fate and accident.

I have to say that if the “grand finale” is indeed the naming of the targets’ names, this is weird, inexplicable, and completely contradictory given the lengths Greenwald supposedly went through to protect these people from the beginning.

UPDATE, 3 July:

Turns out Greenwald is going to delay the Big Reveal based on “last-minute claims” from the government that he needs to “investigate”, so my concern over the the so-called list  of names was premature.  He made this announcement via Twitter, where he does his most prolific writing.  That is also where he made the announcement (earlier the same day) that the article was going to be published at midnight on The Intercept:

GG Twitter feed, June 30, 11:56 am:
Tomorrow at 9am ET, I’m doing a @reddit_AMA with @MazMHussain about our new NSA story to be published tonight at midnight on @the_intercept

GG Twitter feed, June 30, 7:32 pm:
After 3 months working on our story, USG today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing

So all his fans were waiting breathlessly at the comment section for midnight.  Midnight happened and then someone pointed out the second “tweet”.  Now they are all making a gazillion excuses for him and praying for his safety.  No-one seems to much question that he claims to have been working on this article for three whole months or that the intrepid whistleblowers can’t blow the whistle on the government because, gosh darn it, once again, the mean old government won’t let them.  It would all be pretty funny if it weren’t so stupid.  Some other reporter just published an article a day or two ago which states the NSA has been collecting emails on the entire planet based on “suspicions” raised regarding 230 individuals.  He did not name the names.  Still, kind of a scoop on Greenwald.

Me, I’m just glad that something is preventing Greenwald from publishing the names of the innocent and illegally targeted.  But I must say, this whole weird episode – the really small number of articles Greenwald has written since getting the Snowden documents, the abrupt statement that he was done with what he was going to write about them (aside from this last Grand Finale) despite the dearth of articles and information, the odd notion that the whistleblower and his chosen oracle vet everything through the same government they are whistleblowing on prior to publication of any articles, Snowden’s recent claim that he still works for the government, Greenwald’s and Snowden’s defense of “some spying” as being “useful and necessary”, the very idea behind the “Grand Finale” and now the indefinite postponement of said “fireworks” – makes it look like Greenwald just pulled the best freaking rick-roll in the history of rick-rolling.

Here’s your Grand Finale, people:


Posted by on May 28, 2014 in security state, Uncategorized


How to spend that extraneous billion.

Let’s say you are one of these guys and have about a bajillion bucks.

 Billionaire investor Warren Buffett saw his net worth soar by an eye-popping $37 million a day this year, according to a survey out Wednesday.

The Berkshire Hathaway boss benefitted from a bull market that saw shares of his conglomerate jump by more than 25 percent in 2013, boosting his net worth by $12.7 billion to $59.1 billion, according to the survey by Wealth-X. That works out to a $37 million-a-day bump in Buffett’s wealth — or an eye-popping $1.5 million an hour.

While Buffet had an outstanding year, the jump in his net worth only got him to second place on the list of the world’s Top 10 richest people.

Microsoft founder and Buffett bridge partner Bill Gates retained the title of world’s wealthiest person with a total net worth of $72.6 billion, up from $61.1 billion last year.

Buffett was followed by casino magnet Sheldon Adelson, who’s worth an estimated $35.3 billion this year.

Silicon Valley took the next three slots with’s Jeff Bezos’ $34.4 billion net worth ranking fourth, followed by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who are now worth $30 billion and $29.9 billion respectively.

New York’s own billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who has been agitating for change in Apple this year, ranked 8th with a net worth of $22.1 billion. His net worth is up 7.2 billion compared to 2012, according to Wealth-X.

Collectively, the top 10 billionaires saw gains of $101.8 billion in 2013, which averages out to an eye-popping $10.2 billion each.

Their combined wealth totals a whopping $347 billion, up from $245 billion last year. Portugal’s gross domestic product was just $212 billion last year. […]

So you are really rich.  And you have a spare billion or two laying around the gazebo and you think that it might be interesting to do something with it.  You know, just for shits and grins.  If you are Warren Buffett, you might pay your back taxes to the IRS [], or then again, you might not.  Well, okay, not.  It would be much more amusing to make at least one little person wealthy through a sporting bet; that’s the American way.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans are partnering to award anyone who fills out a perfect 2014 Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket with $1 billion.

Quicken is running the contest, and is paying Berkshire to serve as “insurer,” which means they’ll be the ones paying out if someone wins.

The prize will be paid out in 40 annual installments of $25 million. If there’s more than one winner they’ll have to share. The winner or winners can also take or split up an immediate $500 million lump sum payment.

“It is our mission to create amazing experiences for our clients. This contest, with the possibility of creating a billionaire, definitely fits that bill,” Jay Farner, President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quicken Loans said in a statement. He added: “We’ve seen a lot of contests offering a million dollars for putting together a good bracket, which got us thinking, what is the perfect bracket worth? We decided a billion dollars seems right for such an impressive feat.”

In addition to the grand prize, Quicken will award $100,000 each to the contest’s 20 most accurate ‘imperfect’ brackets submitted by qualified entrants in the contest to use toward buying, refinancing or remodeling a home. Quicken will also donate $1 million to inner-city Detroit and Cleveland non-profit organizations. Quicken is based in Detroit, but Gilbert owns the Cleveland Cavaliers and the city’s Horseshoe Casino.

The odds are not ideal — a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance.

But it costs nothing to fill out so you should probably do it. The contest starts March 3rd. “March Madness” kicks off March 18.

How fun for Buffett and Quicken Loans.  A one in 9.2 quintillion chance that they will have to pay out.  There is a different way Buffett, or any of the truly rich, could spend a billion, but it would involve actually coughing up the coin, as opposed to the brackets bet, a stunt unlikely to cost them anything in reality.  This other way would also mean helping a whole lot of icky poor people.  Much less campy, to be frank.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) is cutting the size of its projects in a number of countries as it battles a $1bn (£609m, €741m) shortfall in funding and rising costs for several missions, its director said on 3 February.

WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin is in Australia as part of a tour to garner support for the WFP among donor nations and the private sector, to help feed the world’s hungry.

Cousin hopes to convince more individual and private-sector donors, a strategy successfully adopted by another UN agency, the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF receives more than 60% of its funds through such channels as against five percent for the WFP.

Cousin also aims to broaden the agency’s funding base beyond traditional donors such as the UK or the US. She is trying to get emerging market economies such as China and Saudi Arabia to contribute on a regular basis.

Costs are rising for potentially unsafe operations in Syria, where the WFP wants to feed 4.25 million hungry people at a cost of $40m a week.

She said there were “hundreds of thousands of people (in Syria) that we can’t reach on an ongoing basis” but emphasised that where aid was getting through, “it means that we’re making a difference”.

Expensive aerial operations are being debated for the war-torn Central African Republic, where Cousin said more than 50 food trucks were held up at the border awaiting armed escort while about 800,000 internally displaced people needed food.

The WFP chief also said rations were being cut across programmes in nations such as Haiti, Niger, Mali and Kenya, where refugees in the sprawling Dadaab camp suffered a 10% cut in January, after a similar cut in December 2013, “because we lack enough money to feed everybody a full meal”.

“We have about $1bn more in identified need in 2014 than we have projected revenues,” the executive director told AFP.

“Donors target their funds and when donors target their funds it means that (to fund) Syria, those same donors — it’s the same pie, so they cut their funds in other places,” she said. […]

Again, from the first article I quoted:

“[…] Collectively, the top 10 billionaires saw gains of $101.8 billion in 2013, which averages out to an eye-popping $10.2 billion each. Their combined wealth totals a whopping $347 billion, up from $245 billion last year […]”


Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


And now a brief word from our sponsor.

Dear Assorted Assholes,

It has come to my attention that the U.S. Congress has recently passed a budget that cuts extended unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, and continues forward with the sequester cuts to the food-stamp, heating assistance and WIC programs, amongst other programs of aid.  This has been done largely because most members of Congress seem to believe that helping the poor and financially distressed encourages sloth. Some members of Congress have even opined that they are following Biblical teachings by taking these hard-line austerity actions. I must say that I find it perplexing that this same Congress holds the obviously contradictory opinion that giving money to the already wealthy does not encourage sloth, greed, or general douchebaggery.

It also seems that while condemning the more fundamentalist Islamic communities for promoting their sharia beliefs within their own countries, the US military allows some indulgence for supposed Christian messages to be scrawled on bombs or printed on the gunsights of weapons. I understand that Colin Powell and Dick Cheney both personally signed bombs three days before the 1991 bombing of Baghdad’s Ameriyah Shelter, for the sheer fun of it.  Although they did not invoke the name of any deity, such lighthearted glee at the thought of killing other humans is a particularly grotesque example of the worst impulses of man. and see also:

I give a special shout-out to George W. Bush, who claimed that he was told directly by God to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby unleashing the wholesale slaughter of several million people living in countries which had never threatened the United States.

I would like to mention Lloyd Blankfein and Michael Bloomberg by name as well:

Lloyd, back in 2009, after wreaking nearly complete destruction on the economy around the globe, which will not recover as long as people like you are in any positions of power, you claimed that bankers were “doing God’s work”.  That you seemed serious while making such a remark is a pretty fucking sad commentary on the state of your worthless soul.

Michael, you banned food donations to the homeless shelters in NYC, because you think you need to monitor how much salt and other unhealthy foodstuffs the poor ingest.  I’m here to tell you that salt intake is the least of their problems.

Then, when you were asked about a story in the NYTimes on a homeless 11-year-old and her family, you said, “This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not.”

To all those mentioned above and to all the other various assholes, too numerous to list in such limited space, who claim that they are somehow righteous in their hideous acts against humanity, I would like to say: quit blaming it all on me, bitches.

Thank you.

– God

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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized



I am working on a couple of articles, but it may be a day or two before they are up.  In the meantime, here is a bit of music, because dang, sometimes you just need a break.  Some of these will take you back to the day….

In no particular order:

The Troggs; “Love is All Around”:

Tommy James and the Shondells; “Crystal Blue Persuasion”: 

Johnny Nash; “I Can See Clearly Now”: 

Dobie Gray; “Drift Away”:

Buffalo Springfield; “For What It’s Worth”: 

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; “Ohio”: 

Arlo Guthrie; “City of New Orleans”:

Juice Newton; “Angel of the Morning”: 

Paul Simon; “American Tune”: 

Cat Stevens; “Morning Has Broken”:

Bob Marley and The Wailers;  “One Love”:

Led Zeppelin; “Stairway to Heaven”: 

John Lennon; “Imagine”:

Green Day; “Holiday”: 

Pearl Jam; “Masters of War”:

The Beatles; “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, performed by T. V. Carpio in “Across the Universe”:


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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Uncategorized



How to save money on trials and bypass the self-incrimination laws at the same time.  And also bypass “judgment via a jury of your peers” and the need for the prosecution to “prove their case” “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  This may also be skirting on the edge of torture, but who knows what “torture” is?  In any case, we do not “torture”.  That’s our “policy” and we swear it’s the “truth”.  But, hey, there’s “due process” and there’s “judicial process”, according to our US Attorney General, Eric Holder – I’m not sure which this represents.  Maybe there’s a third process out there being invented as we speak.

On the other hand, if this is allowable, there are a few humans (I use the term in jest – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, and a significant number of those currently in office, are not humans as the word is commonly understood) whom we maybe ought to get up there in front of this new process.

Seriously, WTF?  Think about the ramifications of this, without regard to the particular defendant in this case.

Aurora cinema shooting: Judge approves ‘truth serum’ interrogation

James Holmes, the student accused of the ‘Batman’ movie massacre in a Colorado cinema, could be given a truth serum as part of a narcoanalytic interview to determine whether he is insane, as a judge enters a not guilty plea on his behalf.

James Holmes, 25, a former neuroscience PhD student, is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others during a shooting rampage during a ‘Batman’ movie premiere at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, last July.

Holmes faces a total of 166 different counts relating to the shootings.

His defense team had initially said he was not ready to enter a plea, so the judge entered a not guilty plea on is behalf. Judge William Blair Sylvester said Holmes could change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity later, if he chooses to.

His defense lawyers had indicated that he may plead not guilty by reason of insanity. If he does enter an insanity plea, the judge has ruled that he may have to undergo an interview under the influence of drugs –dubbed a ‘truth serum’ – in order to evaluate his mental state.

The process is designed to lower a patient’s inhibition, and is decades old. Judge Sylvester has also ruled that he may be given a lie detector test. […]

Update:  Turns out the Supreme Court already ruled on this issue, back in 1963, although after 9/11 they indicated they might have to defer a bit to the politicians vis a vis this sort of thing with respect to terrorism.   Holmes, of course, is not a “terrorist”; if guilty, he is a mass murderer.  And that is what his trial is for.

“[…] Numerous decisions of this Court have established the standards governing the admissibility of confessions into evidence. If an individual’s ‘will was overborne’ 2 or if his confession was not ‘the product of a rational intellect and a free will,’ 3 his confession is inadmissible because coerced. These standards are applicable whether a confession is the product of physical intimidation or psychological pressure and, of course, are equally applicable to a drug-induced statement. It is difficult to imagine a situation in which a confession would be less the product of a free intellect, less voluntary, than when brought  about by a drug having the effect of a ‘truth serum.’ […]  –  MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN TOWNSEND v. SAIN, 372 U.S. 293 (1963)

“[…] In 1963 the Supreme Court ruled that a confession produced under the influence of truth serum was unconstitutionally coerced, and therefore inadmissible. After that, the use of such drugs fell rapidly from popularity in the U.S.. But truth serums may not be gone for good, as the Supreme Court asserted shortly after 9/11 that terrorism may require ‘heightened deference to the judgments of the political branches with respect to matters of national security.’ […]” –


Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Inaugural Day, 2013.

I can’t add much to anything I’ve been saying over the years, because I keep saying it and saying it and it gets repetitious, so I’ll let a few others add their thoughts.

First, Peter Van Buren on today’s inaugural:

Kitt, in a comment on a previous article:  “Obama set back hope to what feels like possibly the end of time.”

Paul Simon in 1975.  We have not learned – not one damn thing have we learned since then.

(words by Paul Simon, music by JS Bach)

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken,
and many times confused.
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken,
and certainly misused.
Ah, but I’m all right, I’m all right,
I’m just weary to my bones.
Still, you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant
so far away from home,
so far away from home.

And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered.
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease.
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered,
or driven to its knees.
Ah, but it’s all right, it’s all right,
for we’ve lived so well so long.
Still, when I think of the road we’re traveling on,
I wonder what’s gone wrong.
I can’t help but wonder what’s gone wrong.

And I dreamed I was dying.
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly,
and looking back down at me, smiled reassuringly.
And I dreamed I was flying.
And high up above, my eyes could clearly see
the Statue of Liberty, sailing away to sea.
And I dreamed I was flying.

Well, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower,
we come on the ship that sailed the moon.
We come in the age’s most uncertain hours
and sing an American tune.
Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right.
You can’t be forever blessed.
Still, tomorrow’s gonna be another working day
and I’m trying to get some rest.
That’s all, I’m trying to get some rest.


Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


It's hard out here for a sentient being.

It is difficult to keep up with the truth in these strange times in which we live.  The fact that the media prints stories that are so often full of untruth and non-fact, presented as “the news”, makes it harder.  In this peculiar and incomprehensible world, history is being rewritten even as some of us are old enough to remember the actual events being referred to, Congress claims to have done the opposite of what they really just did, and most journalists do not seem to understand the difference.  Most journalists aren’t even curious enough to find out if there is a difference.  One might look at the “fiscal cliff” deal for the latest example.  The “fiscal cliff” was, of course, just a cute phrase coined by Bernanke in an effort to make Congress take drastic measures for no real reason on a deadline imposed randomly on Congress by Congress itself.  Here’s some news for you – we jumped off the fiscal cliff in ’08 when we started giving trillions to the big banks instead of shutting them down and jailing the CEO’s for the fraud perpetrated on the world.  In the cliff deal, Congress claims to have raised taxes on the wealthiest in the country, while fighting the debt and deficit.  In truth, however, the “fiscal cliff” deal raised more revenue from the poorest (in the form of letting the social security ‘holiday’ expire) than the modest income tax increases on the wealthiest Americans garnered, and adds over 4 trillion dollars to the deficit over the next ten years.  I have the suspicion that we will hear a lot more about the corporate giveaways included in the fiscal cliff deal in the next couple of months; we will be told, as though Congress had just figured it out, that the deal increased the deficit and now, sadly, we must give up our Social Security benefits to make up for it.  One might note that we heard nothing about any of this during the fiscal cliff negotiations – not from members of Congress, the mainstream media, or the President.  We are only hearing about it now that the deal is done, and only from a few sources.

Throughout the months of November and December, a steady stream of corporate CEOs flowed in and out of the White House to discuss the impending fiscal cliff. Many of them, such as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, would then publicly come out and talk about how modest increases of tax rates on the wealthy were reasonable in order to deal with the deficit problem. What wasn’t mentioned is what these leaders wanted, which is what’s known as “tax extenders” [3], or roughly $205B of tax breaks for corporations. With such a banal name, and boring and difficult to read line items in the bill, few political operatives have bothered to pay attention to this part of the bill. But it is critical to understanding what is going on.[…]

Most tax credits drop straight to the bottom line – it’s why companies like Enron considered its tax compliance section a “profit center”. A few hundred billion dollars of tax expenditures is a major carrot to offer. Surely, a modest hike in income taxes for people who make more than $400k in income and stupid enough not to take that money in capital gain would be worth trading off for the few hundred billion dollars in corporate pork. This is what the fiscal cliff is about – who gets the money. And by leaving out the corporate sector, nearly anyone who talks about this debate is leaving out a key negotiating partner.

So without further ado, here are eight corporate subsidies in the fiscal cliff bill that you haven’t heard of.

1) Help out NASCAR – Sec 312 extends the “seven year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex property”, which is to say it allows anyone who builds a racetrack and associated facilities to get tax breaks on it. This one was projected to cost $43 million over two years.

2) A hundred million or so for Railroads – Sec. 306 provides tax credits to certain railroads for maintaining their tracks. It’s unclear why private businesses should be compensated for their costs of doing business. This is worth roughly $165 million a year [4].

3) Disney’s Gotta Eat – Sec. 317 is “Extension of special expensing rules for certain film and television productions”. It’s a relatively straightforward subsidy to Hollywood studios [5], and according to the Joint Tax Committee, was projected to cost $150m for 2010 and 2011.

4) Help a brother mining company out – Sec. 307 and Sec. 316 offer tax incentives for miners to buy safety equipment and train their employees on mine safety. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to bribe mining companies to not kill their workers.

5) Subsidies for Goldman Sachs Headquarters – Sec. 328 extends “tax exempt financing for  York Liberty Zone,” which was a program to provide post-9/11 recovery funds. Rather than going to small businesses affected, however, this was, according to Bloomberg [6], “little more than a subsidy for fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp.” Michael Bloomberg himself actually thought the program was excessive, so that’s saying something. According to David Cay Johnston’s The Fine Print, Goldman got $1.6 billion in tax free financing for its new massive headquarters through Liberty Bonds.

6) $9B Off-shore financing loophole for banks – Sec. 322 is an “Extension of the Active Financing Exception to Subpart F.” Very few tax loopholes have a trade association, but this one does. This strangely worded provision basically allows American corporations such as banks and manufactures to engage in certain lending practices and not pay taxes on income earned from it. According to this Washington Post piece [7], supporters of the bill include GE, Caterpillar, and JP Morgan. Steve Elmendorf, super-lobbyist, has been paid $80,000 in 2012 alone to lobby on the “Active Financing Working Group.”  [8]

7) Tax credits for foreign subsidiaries –  Sec. 323 is an extension of the “Look-through treatment of payments between related CFCs under foreign personal holding company income rules.” This gibberish sounding provision cost $1.5 billion from 2010 and 2011, and the US Chamber loves it. It’s a provision that allows US multinationals to not pay taxes on income earned by companies they own abroad.

8) Bonus Depreciation, R&D Tax Credit – These are well-known corporate boondoggles. The research tax credit was projected to cost $8B for 2010 and 2011, and the depreciation provisions were projected to cost about $110B for those two years, with some of that made up in later years.

Conveniently, the Joint Committee on Taxation in 2010 did an analysis of what many of these extenders cost. You can find that report here [9].
[Click on link to see footnotes and Taxation Report – Teri]

Fact-checking Obama on fiscal cliff deal (ah, an exception – at least one journalist did his job):

I have a lot I would like to say about Social Security, but I will save that for another time, for it deserves a post of its own.  Suffice it to say, while Obama was talking about saving the average taxpayer $2000/year in income taxes during the discussions prior to the fiscal cliff deal, he never mentioned the expiration of the “P/R tax holiday”; with the end of that “holiday” included in the fiscal cliff deal, the take-home pay of everyone earning less than 113,000 goes down 2% (after the first 113,000 earned, the current SS withholding threshold, you are exempted from paying into the SS fund).  It is estimated that the expiration of the SS holiday will give about 1.2 tt to the revenue side of the government over ten years, while the tax increase on the wealthy might gain 400 to 600 bb.  Or maybe the wealthiest will pay less than that – they are pretty damn good at hiding their income.  In any case, we commoners will once again have to sacrifice as Congress deals with the debt ceiling.  Remember that the Republicans have already said that they are done with raising revenue – now it’s on to cutting expenditures.  That means taking out medicare, medicaid, social security, WIC, education programs, heating assistance, etc., despite these programs being hit hard repeatedly during Obama’s first term as he “negotiated” with Congress several times over raising the debt ceiling.  The idea Congress has on these issues is simple: the rich must survive in the style to which they are accustomed.  For the rest of us, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Another example of the incurious press at work:

Protesters forced to scale down at Obama inaugural
By By BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A protest group planning to stage a demonstration about unemployment at President Barack Obama’s inauguration says it’s being forced to scale down plans because it won’t have much space on Washington’s Freedom Plaza.

The ANSWER Coalition said Friday that the Presidential Inaugural Committee is taking over the plaza where protests have been held. Protesters will have a 10-yard-wide strip of sidewalk below the plaza.

ANSWER had expected to have bleachers with thousands of demonstrators. National Coordinator Brian Becker says there’s a long history of reserving Freedom Plaza as a place for dissent.

In 2009, the group shared the space with inauguration organizers.

A National Park Service spokeswoman says the protest group applied for the space first but that the inaugural committee has preference under regulations that took effect in 2008.

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

We are not sure exactly which regulations are being cited here.  It can’t be the one regarding secret service events being off limits to protesters, because that one was just passed last year, not in ’08.  []  Not one single article I read about this reconfiguration of the “protest area” after the issuing of the permit gave the actual law in question.  Each simply repeated the claim in the original that there was such a law.  I suppose that in this day of secret laws and secret budgets, it barely matters which law they are talking about.  Hell, maybe there doesn’t even need to be a law; let’s not pass a law and say we did.

In one of those odd coincidences, the protesters seeking the right to assemble on Freedom Plaza during the inaugural are doing so on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  As a nod to the great man, the lesser man currently in the White House offers this on the White House website:

“This year, Martin Luther King Day coincides with the 2013 Presidential Inauguration. President Obama is asking Americans to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader by participating in a service project on January 19.”

Obama in other words: Don’t even think about protesting!  Take your unpaid day off and use it helping some other poor schlub who has it worse than you.  In this great country, the poor help the tired, the lame help the halt, the huddled masses huddle elsewhere, the rich help no-one cuz why the fuck should they, the government wants all your social security to spend on war, and Martin is best remembered as service coordinator.  Why, he would frown upon such divisive and unattractive activities as protesting.

Obama is calmly and coolly rewriting MLK’s biography and legacy.   He turns King into a charity, rather than an outspoken critic of the government and a tireless leader of non-violent protest and advocate of the poor and minorities.  He makes King sound a bit like a dilettante, rather than acknowledge the man’s ideas of a kind, responsible, and responsive government.

The real Martin Luther King, Jr.:

[…] In 1965 King began to publicly express doubts about the Vietnam War. In an April 4, 1967 appearance at the New York City Riverside Church—exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”.  He spoke strongly against the U.S.’s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam “to occupy it as an American colony” and calling the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”.  He also connected the war with economic injustice, arguing that the country needed serious moral change:

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”

King also opposed the Vietnam War because it took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare at home. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs at the same time. He summed up this aspect by saying, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”. […] [He] accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, “mostly children”.[…]

King began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation, and more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice. He guarded his language in public to avoid being linked to communism by his enemies, but in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism. In one speech, he stated that “something is wrong with capitalism” and claimed, “There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” […]

In 1968, King and the SCLC organized the “Poor People’s Campaign” to address issues of economic justice. King traveled the country to assemble “a multiracial army of the poor” that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created an ‘economic bill of rights’ for poor Americans.  The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C., demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.

King and the SCLC called on the government to invest in rebuilding America’s cities. He felt that Congress had shown “hostility to the poor” by spending “military funds with alacrity and generosity”. He contrasted this with the situation faced by poor Americans, claiming that Congress had merely provided “poverty funds with miserliness”.  His vision was for change that was more revolutionary than mere reform: he cited systematic flaws of “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism”, and argued that “reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced”.[…]

The plan to set up a shantytown in Washington, D.C. was carried out soon after the April 4 assassination [of MLK, jr.]. Criticism of King’s plan was subdued in the wake of his death, and the SCLC received an unprecedented wave of donations for the purpose of carrying it out. The campaign officially began in Memphis, on May 2, at the hotel where King was murdered.

Thousands of demonstrators arrived on the National Mall and established a camp they called “Resurrection City.” They stayed for six weeks. […]  – from wikipedia, main article on Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was assassinated just before the Poor People’s Campaign began its march; protesting for jobs and economic equality got him killed.  I know that this wikipedia article on MLK is accurate – at this point in time.  I know that because my entire family admired King, listened to his speeches, attended some of his events, and collected books written about him, some penned while he was still alive.  Goddamn it, I was alive back then.  I was one of the hundreds of thousands who heard his “I Have a Dream” speech live. I wasn’t very old, but I was there, sitting on my Daddy’s shoulders and part of the swaying crowd, chanting and crying and shouting.  I went to Resurrection City with my mother to bring food to the encamped people.  King was a visionary, a radical, a firebrand, a proponent of nonviolent civil disobedience.  It is a good thing to give to the local food bank and we should do it if we can afford to, but Martin Luther King, Jr. was not just a volunteer at the soup kitchen.  The best way to honor his memory is exactly the protest for jobs (now being cut off at the pass), planned for Inaugural Day 2013.  The protest that Obama does not want you to attend.  I assure you, however, that once someone high enough up on the food chain decrees it, the “facts” available on wikipedia will change.  When I first began researching Libya for the series I wrote about our “humanitarian intervention”, wikipedia offered a list of facts about Libyan society and the positive changes Ghaddafi had implemented in recent decades.  (Universal healthcare, free education, nationalized banking and oil, etc.)  Once we invaded Libya and assassinated Ghaddafi, wikipedia scrubbed anything that might reflect positively on Ghaddafi from its articles.  The CIA World Fact Book did the same.  As I followed the story on the Deedy/Elderts murder case, I found that the first articles written in the press had been altered without explanation or scrubbed from the internet altogether.  Apparently, the State Dept. did not like what some of the eye-witnesses were saying about one of their employees.  We are being taught that the facts don’t matter, that history can be altered – hell, we’re even setting the alterations in stone.  [see: ]

But this year’s inaugural message on the WH website is not the first time Obama has sneered at King.  In his acceptance speech upon being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama said the following, excerpted below.  Aside from the extreme irony of using the Peace Prize as a chance to promote war and America’s justification for invading other countries illegally, one must note that he used the opportunity to damn King with the faintest of praise.

[…]Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak -nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.[…]

I was appalled by this speech when he gave it, but let’s not forget that this was the speech he gave and that these are the words he chose.  And that this was a few scant years before Obama destroyed Libya, had Ghaddafi tortured and assassinated, set up his secret assassination matrix and drone policy, before he began bombing 7 or 8 or 9 countries and called everyone thus killed “terrorists” regardless of their affiliations or age, before he killed several American citizens living abroad (one of them a child), signed the 2012 and 2013 NDAAs which allow for indefinite detention of anyone anywhere, killed some poor old man without charges or trial and dumped his body in the ocean – calling him Osama bin Laden – and then helped Hollywood write a movie about the deed.  This was before he decided to send troops into 35 African nations [ ] and before he began sanctioning Iran just for the hell of it.

Yesterday, I caught MSNBC during the “Andrea Mitchell Reports” and was treated to a brief presentation of what we can expect to hear over and over as Congress debates over the debt ceiling and continues further down the path of austerity measures.  Andrea Mitchell is talking to Tom Brokaw here as to his opinion on what Obama should say in his inaugural speech.  Bear in mind that Mitchell is married to Alan Greenspan, whom Matt Taibbi correctly identifies as the “biggest asshole in the universe”, as it was Greenspan who was the main architect of the financial meltdown of ’08.  [Read Taibbi’s “Griftopia” if you haven’t already.]  Brokaw is on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, which tells you what you need to know about his take on things.  In this interview, there is no talk about the possibility of a financial transaction tax on Wall Street or about the criminality of the big banks which created their own black hole in the financial universe, sucking in all the money and hard assets globally.  There is no mention of the cost of the “wars” or the size of the Pentagon budget.  Not a peep about subsidies to big oil and big ag.  No talk about the huge profits and bonuses in the big corporations, much less the hiding of these monies in off-shore accounts to avoid taxation.  No, no, no, this “balanced discussion” on what is considered the leading liberal news channel, between two of our most respected “journalists” consists of this:  Obama needs to take a hard line against the greedy American people.  “Citizens need to start giving back,” Brokaw intones.  And regarding Medicare, well, says Brokaw, “It’s time to take some of the ornaments off that Christmas tree.”  5-minute video clip:

I see the same half-assed, lopsided presentation, sloppy reasoning and incoherent messaging coming from every source imaginable recently.  One of my senators used to direct her staff to answer queries and emails with responses that were at least on topic and cogent.  Now I receive garbled and trite crap like the following from her:

Dear [Teri]:

Thank you for contacting me about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (S. 3254).  It’s good to hear from you.

There were several concerning provisions regarding the indefinite detention of American citizens included in fiscal year 2012’s NDAA.  I believe they were unwise intrusions on the civil rights of American and did little to protect America’s national security.  That is why I voted for Senator Feinstein’s amendment to prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizens who are apprehended in the United States.  This amendment, which had bipartisan support, was included in the final NDAA bill as passed by the Senate.

Our military serves with bravery and dedication.  Over 60,000 American service members are deployed fighting in Afghanistan.  Many have made multiple deployments.  Their families are also fighting on the home front to live normal lives despite repeated absences of a spouse or parent.  Our nation owes our service members and their families an enormous debt of gratitude.  Congress has a sacred trust to provide for their needs.  I believe the fiscal year 2013 NDAA does just this while also defending the civil rights of all Americans.

Again, thanks for contacting me.  Please let me know if I can be of help to you in the future.

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

What a disingenuous and twisted answer to my email asking her (Mikulski) to vote against the 2013 NDAA.  Pretzel logic.  She voted for it, by the way.  So did Ben Cardin, my other senator.  You might note that she does not mention that the Feinstein amendment – deemed to be so convoluted and poorly worded that it was unclear whether or not it did anything at all about protecting the rights of American citizens – was stripped from the final bill by the Senate Armed Services Committee.  What’s the point of bringing up this amendment which no longer even exists in the final version that was signed into law?  If she supported it as the way to “protect our rights” and it is no longer in the bill, how can she yet say the final bill protects our civil rights?

As to any other reason for voting aye, she offers up some warrior worship pablum, which is now extended to include the warriors’ families, who are “fighting on the home front to live normal lives”.  How about this: Let’s stop all the fighting, abroad or at home, real or rhetorical, stop worshiping the flying monkeys and their apparently feudin’ families, end the “wars”, bring the troops home, and tell them to relearn how to be human beings?

Ah.  Too late.  Too late.  They can’t unlearn what the military taught them so well, they are adored for learning it so well, they profit from learning it so well.  There is no incentive for unlearning it.  Senators like Mikulski, all unaware and ignorant of what they do, well-meaning and probably kind to animals and small children, will continue to nonetheless support the random and vicious killing of people all over the world, based on nothing but the suspicions and allegations of a very few men in charge.  All unaware and ignorant, they support teaching warriors to kill for no reason and then demand that these war-machines, these weapons that we deploy – for they are no longer fully human – be given seats at the table and that the poor and hungry at home be stripped of even the scraps thrown to them so that this warrior class can have the orts and leavings as well.  And then we are told to worship them, to admire them, to give to them happily and with gratitude.

That’s Mikulski.  Most of the other senators and congressmen do not act out of such ignorance and misguided “patriotism”.  Most of the rest blandly take their bribes from the arms merchants and oil companies and when asked to respond to questions about why we are giving up our jobs, our social security, or roads or homes to support the “warriors” and the “wars” they fight, they tell their secretaries, “Oh, fuck the constituents.  They’re idiots.  Tell ’em thanks for writing.  That’ll be all.”  Then they laugh and go to play golf with the assistant to the CEO of Ratheon or Halliburton.  Those rounds of golf, concluded with complementary promises of future earnings as lobbyists themselves, discussions of the wealth to be made from sacking this country or that one; that is the Real World to these guys.  On the greens, they don’t even have to pretend to worship the warriors, whom they view as so much hardware.  They trade some quid pro quo with Walmart – you swap out civilians for returning veterans in your employee pool and I’ll guarantee that you get special tax credits for hiring ’em.  And I’ll see to it that you don’t have to worry about their health care costs – they’re covered under the Vet Administration.  Lookie here – the stupid constituents are actually paying for the health benefits and giving up their jobs.  They’ll call both you and me patriotic.  Know what else we can do?  Ask people to drop a few bucks in the “Wounded Warrior” basket on their way out after they’ve finished shopping in your store.  That way, we can cut back on even what we give the vets from the gubment coffer and you get a nice juicy charitable donation to write off whatever’s left of your tax bill.  People are suckers for this shit.  Well, people are suckers, period.  Ha, ha, ha.  ‘Nother Seagram’s?  I can write it off, ya know.

[Walmart actually is planning to swap out some current workers for returning veterans; I did not make that up.  The CEO admitted after this linked article was written that some current workers would have to be let go to accommodate the pledge to hire 100,000 vets. ]

Write down what you remember.  Tell your kids what you remember.  Save original internet articles in full, not just the link, which can be disappeared in a flash.  Listen to the news with an ear out for propaganda and with skepticism.  Keep printed books around – the danger of electronic reading devices like the Kindle is that the text you are reading may have been altered in some way.  How would you know if you have never read the original of what you are buying for your i-shit e-book?  (Although even some of the printed books themselves are now being altered:  Read the books your kids are using in school.  I remember a couple of years ago, my daughter brought me her American History book, updated to include events through 2007, and we both read with puzzlement the final chapter in the book.  One of George W. Bush’ greatest achievements while in office, the book read, was that he “won the war in Afghanistan”.

“Uh, yo Mom,” she said, “aren’t we still in Afghanistan?”

Yes, darlin’, we are.  Even to this day.


Posted by on January 19, 2013 in civil rights, Uncategorized