Posts Tagged ‘war’

OTHER MEN DIE

August 22, 2016
Victory is a state of mind.

Victory is a state of mind.

OTHER MEN DIE

And the old vet was up in his studio bedroom in Mom’s attic

Painting magic eyeballs on his fingertips

To go with the mystic spirals on the backs of his hands

And he told us about seagulls in the early dawn

Of feeding them barehanded

Palms stretched to the skies

Lying upon his back on the wet sand

Observing the feathered feeding frenzy

Of the messy, greedy birds

That pecked his fingers and palms and wrists

Opening red puncture wounds

And he loved it

Because it brought him

So close to life.

And I saw that vet by another name

Sitting cross-legged in swim briefs

In wind-tossed dune reed grass

In cold wind whistling off a Winter Pacific

And I asked

“Why do you sit in the freezing cold, Shane?”

And he replied

“Because, at least I know I’m alive.”

And so it goes

jl/PDX/1-13

A Decent World

WAGING WAR FROM A BURNING HOUSE

No More Troops to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, so forth, so on

Dear President Obama,

Stop sending troops to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, so forth, so on.

I am a Vietnam Era veteran.  We stood nearly twenty years while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the present Reagan-Bush corporatist neo-conservative miasma.

Look at how the radical right Republicans have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor.  The self-destructive insanity of the radical right Republican way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.  We are fighting a war for the life of the republic, as a result.

These are politically motivated corporatist wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  These bloody-handed murderers-by-proxy began their plunder of the American nation by taking the Peace Dividend away from us after the Berlin Wall fell.  They shifted to terrorism as the object of their monolithic war machine, and plunged the whole world into wrack and ruin.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s continued pursuit of it.

End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys, or corporatist oil barons and banksters.  We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

laststroke

AND WHAT ABOUT THESE MERCENARY BANDITS YOU HIRED?

Quit outsourcing government jobs to private contractors.  The People can get the job done better for less cost and for the community’s and not just a few individuals’ profit.

The performance of mission critical security functions by profit-driven contractors is counterproductive and often immoral and criminal.

It’s bad for the morale of our real American troops to see these overpaid and pampered bought-and-sold mercenaries.  I know because I have nephews and nieces who have served in our military in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Talk to real American troops to hear it.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s list of inherently governmental functions that these mercenaries must not perform should include: guard services, convoy security services, pass and identification services, plant protection services, the operation of prison or detention facilities, and any security operations that might reasonably require the use of deadly force; and, from support of intelligence activities (including covert operations), interrogation, military and police training, and repair and maintenance of weapon systems.

Machiavelli famously wrote that mercenaries might be trusted for only two things: to demand more money; and to run out when the chips are down.  Don’t buy champagne for mercenaries, use our money wisely to equip and protect our real American troops.

Finally, have you given any thought as to what is to happen if these mercenaries decide they’ve got a better business proposition from our archenemies?  Or, face unemployment?  In Europe unemployed mercenaries set off the Hundred Years’ War, which might properly be called the “Rape, Murder and Plunder Crusade.”  The “Holy Crusades” were invented by the Pope as a safety vent to send these murder mavens packing out of town to do their dirty deeds. We prefer killing “heathens” to our own to this very day. But that can change.

STOP - SAVE

Don’t forget to click on the images for MORE information, or a larger image. Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the Man in the Moon. We’re in this together. All the best! j

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GOD RESTED reprise

July 6, 2011

Islands w/ apple.

AND GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE (Humor):

And God created the universe in the wink of an eye.  And the wink was a billion billion years long, and a trillion, trillion years wide.  When it was done, everybody wondered what He had done, for it was all new and different, and nobody knew where anything was, and nobody knew what to make of it.

Everybody in those days was the angels, archangels, seraphim and cherubim, and they only knew what they knew, which wasn’t much, but mostly concerned with telling God how great He was, and God was getting to the point where He didn’t know if what they said counted for very much.  He knew what it would be before they said it, because that’s just the way they were, and He should know because He made them that way.  Which was “Catch 22” because how do you get an unbiased review from palace courtiers and the pep squad?

No brainer, god had to create somebody absolutely ignorant about how he or she got here.  It would behoove everybody already present to become invisible to maintain the mystery.  This new somebody would receive skills and abilities sufficient to pose ultimate questions, and to invent answers to them.  They were to be guided by various natural clues and signposts, wandering know-it-alls, and ambiguous events anonymously reported.  The new somebodies would arrive naked in the world, and cobble together reasons and whys from the smorgasbord laid before them, with an occasional stick up the ass to keep them moving. (more…)

TO THOSE WHO SERVE

May 27, 2011

MEMORIAL DAY 2011

TO ALL THE MEMBERS LIVING AND DEAD WHO HAVE SERVED TO PROTECT THIS GREAT FREEDOM-LOVING COUNTRY:  THANK YOU.

Victory is a state of mind.

I Remember

I’ve always been embarrassed that I didn’t go “in-country” in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or anywhere else that Johnson – and later Nixon – sent people to die when I served in the United States Navy 1966-72. Go figure.

As it was, I got to call myself a Vietnam Veteran, and not a Vietnam Era Veteran, because my unit directly supported troops in active combat. We did it at a distance, but we learned too much about the killing fields anyhow.

Joining the Navy was a careful decision. At the time I got my draft notice – order to appear for physical examination, I was older than the norm – largely teenage boys 17 to 19. I was 21 and college educated. I had a brand-new degree while most of my mates sufficed with high school diplomas, maybe a GED, or nothing. Because of the draft there were a lot of guys like me snatched up because they didn’t have enough college credits to avoid the call; or no wife and children; or a rich daddy like George Herbert Walker Bush to buy us into the Texas Air National Guard; or a “critical” behind-the-lines position exempted for a “vital” job; or, were not clever, credible, or courageous enough to claim conscientious objector status.

After my service, I celebrated the 7-year end of the Statute of Limitations on Felony Draft Avoidance with a friend who refused induction and worked for the World Without War Council as a draft counselor for high school students. He told the whole truth, including the right to appeal, obtaining conscientious objector status, and what to do if running was their choice, so the Military enlistment personnel hated seeing him walk into the high school auditorium on Career Counseling Day.

Another friend ran to Canada and was eventually pardoned by Jimmy Carter. The FBI used to send agents to hide in the bushes to watch his mother’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas, just in case the homesick sentimental draft dodger came home for the holidays. I guess they had to cover all the bases in their thorough-thorough way, but the mind boggles at the expenditure of tax dollars – particularly when multiplied by all the other refusals and dodgers at the time, multiplied by all the really important serious crime that might have been investigated instead.

The ratio of will to won’t go was 6-4 in Bay Area San Francisco then. With 40% refusal, the feds only prosecuted celebrity dodgers like Joan Baez’ husband David, whom they sent to some Country Club prison in southern California. Not a bad gig, but he was Baez’ husband and thus too high profile to treat roughly? We didn’t do “Extraordinary Rendition” then; we got beat to crap the “regular” way – behind the scenes, without witnesses by professional peace officers who knew they were breaking the law and every imaginable moral imprimatur, and didn’t give a shit.

One friend received a deferment so that he could create experimental concrete products for the Navy. One creation was an equipment pad able to withstand several “thousand” fathoms pressure on the bottom of the ocean. My friend designed the perfect pad, but the Navy had no equipment advanced enough to place upon it. If they ever do, they’ve got a pad down there, waiting.

Another friend received a deferment to assist a marine biologist in placing transistorized heat sensors inside seal vaginas in order to study changes of body temperature as the animal slid from land into water, and vice versa. His job was to sneak up on sleeping  female seals from behind and…  It beat a foxhole.

Another friend went conscientious objector and was assigned to hospital cleanup for two years. He emptied bedpans and did any other job considered too lowly for higher hospital staff. The feds called it “Alternative Service,” but they looked down on it, like punishment, prison, or just like lifers in the military looked down on draftees.

Draftees bleed like everyone else, but they were only doing so (the lifers reasoned?) because they were forced to do so, and not (I reasoned) because they were boneheaded enough to make a voluntary career choice of it. With all the respect I truly have for the volunteer regular military, I never figured out how anybody could feel superior because of that.  That is the dichotomy in supporting the troops – they are killing people, yet they are heroes for doing so and we owe them our deepest support and respect. However, I voluntarily enlisted to avoid the “draftee” stigma. Being in the service was tough enough.

I also enlisted to choose my service. I chose the Navy. Army folks were up to their asses in the mud and blood; I think the survival expectation for a grunt touching down in a hot landing zone was eleven minutes. Their helicopter pilots – their only open officer program at the time – were being shot down one a week. It was a shockingly quick waste of a four-year college degree.

The Marines was a no-brainer, don’t go there. A high school chum who went off to war with them two years previously had come home whacked out. He wanted to get an M-16 and “go on up to Colored Town and clean out all the niggers. We’re gonna have to do it sooner or later. Better up there than down here.” (It’s always best to go someplace else to kill people than it is to do it in one’s own home. Think of the carpets). His eyes clearly showed how scared and hurt he was. He made me sad.

The Air Force was a prime option. They appeared to do most of their fighting two miles above the ground and then went home to the officer’s club on a nice protected base hundreds of miles from any danger, but it wasn’t recruiting at the time. Everybody wanted to be in the Air Force. Even G.W. Bush had to get Dad to pull big-time strings just to get into the lowly Texas Air Guard (and then the ratty little twerp went AWOL! – What a disgusting man, good at avoiding and starting war; “Georgie Porgie ran away”. I don’t think any president should have sole power to declare war – under any circumstances – especially one who has never fought one).

Next best? The Navy rode around in great big ships some two miles off shore and occasionally threw boxcar sized shells at the North Vietnamese, or steamed around making a show of military might and presence and fathering mixed foreign bastard babies. Navy chow was also rumored to be great, even better than Air Force grub. I didn’t know enough about sea duty to worry about it, yet. And I’d never heard of Mekong Delta Patrol. Of such stuff are great personal decisions made. What was it Rummy (Donald Rumsfeld) said? “There are the known-knowns that we know, and the known-unknowns that we know we don’t know; and then there are the unknown-unknowns that we don’t know at all.” And those are the little beauties that get you every time.

[Click images for added info, comment].

End of the Tunnel

A SIDELONG VIEW OF THE VIET NAM WAR

I was stationed on Guam, during the war,

A territory of the U. S. of A.,

From which the B-52s took off,

With their burden of bombs,

For old Hanoi and Uncle Ho,

Crewed by men in cowboy and other funny hats,

With box lunches,

For they’d be home for supper,

And a drink at the air-conditioned bar,

After the fall of the bombs on Nam,

And the lunch-box debris drop,

On the Russian trawler,

Bobbing at the three-mile limit,

Listening to our radio on the island shore.

I saw the B-52 Commuter War,

From beginning to end,

Up for the 7:30 a.m. launch,

Home for the 5 o’clock p.m. whistle,

And, in between,

The men in the cowboy and other funny hats

Never heard the sound,

As they rode high,

Twenty minutes from lunch,

And, two miles above the killing ground.

LET’S CELEBRATE LIBERTY:

We are brave Amerricuns,

With big fat guts,

Suckin’ beer and wavin’ flags,

And kickin’ faggot butts!

We hate useless sentiments,

Or to be reminded of our fears,

We just like tons of cornchips

And good cold cans of beer.

We like fundamental religion,

Satellite rock-roll t.v.,

Women with tight zippers,

And the death penalty.

We like Ronald Reagan,

Nooclear devices by the score,

Death to Arab nationalists,

And oh, so much more!

So light the dollar-sized button,

Illuminate the statue bold and brass,

Bring on those tall ships sailin’,

Kill all who give us sass.

For we are brave Amerricuns,

Standin’ on freedom’ shore,

Got here in our rowboats,

Drove the red bastards from our door.

Yes, we are brave Amerricuns,

You can tell we’re that, you commy,

Because we got us guns and god,

Pickup trucks, baseball caps and Ronny!

Fill 'er Up!

One Nation Indivisible.
Graduation Parade

ODD SHOTS and IDLE PENSEES #5

May 18, 2011
Gene Kelley danced past Joe's in "Singing in the Rain."
Gene Kelley danced past Joe’s in “Singing in the Rain.”

OLD BLACK MAGIC:

“Separateness is a useful illusion.”  – The Big Kahuna.

Separateness is a youthful illusion.  Jl.

“God, the original Tony Soprano.” – church sign, Simpsons.

The ancient Sumerians had no concept of guilt or sin.  Later, the Renaissance considered a life unencumbered by revealed religionReligionists study “The Book” in preference to studying themselves; they put enormous energy into it, which if applied to the exploration of self, might produce a more fulfilling result.

Monotheism is the flip side of intolerance.” – TV Travel Channel on sacred sites, explaining Amarna, Egypt.

Note: In the typical Christian, Moslem, Jewish life, Life is a pain.  One must suffer and hopefully endure until the bitter pill of death is administered.  Within that pain is the typically human drive to pursue happiness.  Happiness is fleeting, of course, but its pursuit keeps us busy, which alleviates the pain, and the fear we have of death.  Pursuing happiness is an attempt to overcome and/or keep the pain at bay as long as humanly possible; but it is just a pastime after all, not a destination.

“[When I die] all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.” – Rutger Hauer, Bladerunner.

INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIORS:

“What is it like to feel a stranger?” – – PBS question.  Senator Craig?

I wrote: “Ryan’s wagon was parked by the curb with its tailgate down.”  Spell check gave me: “The curb with its tailgate down parked Ryan’s wagon.”  Typed: “Ryan’s tailgate was parked with its wagon down at the curb.”  Speel check not trubled.  Glow figger.

Monte Markham as the voice of Plutarch.” – credit, Cleopatra, A&E Classroom. Get central casting!  He doesn’t even sound like Plutarch.

She boasted she could shoot and manage a horse as well as a man.  (Duck, guys!).

“There’s never been ANYTHING like it.” – Shaq, for Icy Hot.

We have different views of art.  He draws a stick.  I struggle for “stickness.”  8/97

Creative people routinely demonstrate how to get from here to there.  10/97

Q: “Just when are you coming down to earth, young man?”  A: “When it’s all over, I hope.” – Fred Astaire, The Sky’s the Limit.

“No doesn’t mean no.  It means you gotta cut a corner, work harder, and beat the system.”  – Baloo, Disney’s Tailspin, 1/94.  Walt Disney, always a powerful force for strong evangelistic coporatist morality.

“We want to talk about reducing nuclear weapons, particularly the kind that kill people.” – Casper Weinberger, Nixon’s Secretary of Defense, CBS News.

Mr. Begin has offered to let each member of the PLO to leave Lebanon carrying an arm.”  Dianne Sawyer, 6/30/82.  But leave the other arm and both legs behind.

“On a farm with no watch dog, the fox rules the roost.” – Ancient Sumerian proverb.

“NEVAH GO THIRSTY AGAIN!”

“Don’t drink alone, Scarlet.  People always find out, and it ruins the reputation.” – Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), Gone With the Wind.

DAMN LIBERAL CONSERVATIVES:

Against “tax and spend bleeding heart liberal socialist democrats,” place “rob, rape, and ruin selfish warmongering radical conservative republicans.”

Said of the Congress:  “They have to find a way to institutionalize the existing situation, so they don’t have to fix it.”

“It’s the lie you tell yourself that matters.” – Inspector Morse, ’95.

“No sensible man would allow himself to be sent to war to defend a politician.” – Minister, The Dreyfus Affair.

Q:  Why do we serve the systemA:  Because it’s comforting in its routines and, like any abused child, we’d rather keep the horror we’ve got than deal with fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of change.

Our national debate has become timid.  The Neville Brothers sing, “You can tell the truth, as long as you don’t tell too much.” So what can one do about it?  Here’s a starter list:

  • Stick up for your rights – your own integrity matters more than loyalty to a negative cause.
  • Stimulate sympathy – there are social and political reasons for what we do. The social reasons create the greatest measure of self-identification and response.
  • Speak only from factlisten, especially when you don’t agree.
  • Use a variety of sources of information; try to understand the other view.
  • Act. Do something positive everyday.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves.”

LAST COMMENT:

Pain is an itch we can’t scratch.  All life is pain in the Buddhistic sense.  Its temporal fleeting nature is a constant bitter sweetness, forever a tear on the edge of beauty, a sigh on the cusp of grief.  We only get it for a moment, and sitting in silence, alone, we can feel its presence somewhere, always within, always informing, if we will it so.

Peace and Love,  brothers and sisters.  Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the Man in the Moon!

JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER:

Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 by The Guardian/UK

Human Activity Is Driving Earth’s ‘Sixth Great Extinction Event’.  Population growth, pollution, and invasive species are having a disastrous effect on species in the southern hemisphere, a major review by conservationists warns, by Ian Sample.  Earth is experiencing its “sixth great extinction event” with disease and human activity taking a devastating toll on vulnerable species, according to a major review by conservationists.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/28-11

Stonewall

SNEAKY PEOPLE

May 11, 2011
The Poet Dines Alone
The Poet Dines Alone

Excerpt: SNEAKY PEOPLE, unpublished novella.

Okay, this is a story about me.  It’s my diary, so I can write about anything I want – even things I wouldn’t tell other people (especially other men).  I’m a sneaky person.  I come from a long line of sneaky people – really sneaky people.  We’re part of the anonymous swarm that comes out like rats – day or night – picking off top or bottom of the midden heap (depending upon status in the pack) – seeking sustenance while awaiting the ever-approaching End of the World.

Which is pretty much occurring every day.  The End of the World is both cumulative and individual specific.  On the upper end of the End of the World Scale is Climate Change, which promises wholesale extinction (and, some bitch winters and summers between now and then); and, on the other is the latest starving Somali, homeless person, or helpless geriatric.  Somebody’s pretty much meeting the End of the World every single second.

I was born in San Francisco a bit before the mid-point of the Twentieth Century.  My parents were apprehensive about the spreading World War of that time and, I believe, my arrival was an oasis of joy for them – odd as that seems to me now.  My birth was an opportunity for them to hold the rest of the insane world temporarily at bay, basking in the momentary glow of life’s continuity.  Like all young people, they huddled secretly under the covers with their arms around each other, whispering about futures and possibilities – hopes.

My presence – miniscule and infantile – was accepted as God’s reassurance that all of us – each one: Dad, Mom, and Jr. – would come out all right.  In the end, the enemy would be defeated and the world brought majestically into the bright, painless peace of Forever After and the New Deal (which sounds like a rock group and if someone cops the name, I’ll sue).

However, my parents honestly felt that they were finishing the “undone business of World War I” – there were still German vermin to exterminate and, unexpectedly, the sudden need to fumigate Italy and delouse Japan.

Shortly after I was born, father was sent to the war by our beleaguered government and mother moved in with his mother – grandma – and three maiden aunts who were all destined to have affairs with transient servicemen who “might be killed in a matter of weeks,” and were.  None of my aunts’ fellahs made it back.  One aunt went bonkers, one married a dull-witted postman, and the third wed a fat automobile dealer and got a divorce from the rest of us.

Anyway, we waited at grandma’s for dad to come home.

He arrived late at night three years later.  He was flown into San Francisco International and taxied seventeen miles to his mother’s Oceanside home – to his wife and growing son.  I looked up at him as he stood over my bed.

“Did you fly home?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said with a pleased laugh.  “Do you remember me?”

“I have your picture,” I replied, pointing to his image on my dresser.

He looked at himself in the photograph for a long time, silent and withdrawn.  The day the photo had been taken, he had been a young soldier, vibrant, self-assured, and alive.  His face now was subtly different from the one in the photograph mounted between fifty-caliber machinegun rounds.  In the picture he was young and proud with new sergeant’s stripes on his Eighth Army Air Force uniform.  Standing there looking at himself, he was weary and grim.  A trace of the young man remained – a hint of optimism, which fired his eyes.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said at last, hardly believing that this would and could be so, that the bombs were left far behind, and gratefully forgetful that half the world’s population was still awakening in a world of ruins – picking hungrily through the rubble, hunting rats for nourishment.

I learned that he’d been in photo reconnaissance.  I liked the sound.  The French word “reconnaissance” had a lean mean underground battlefield resonance.  I was a romantic kid.  (That drove Dad nuts – among other things).  I learned, too, one evening when he was drinking, something he did more and more, that he had helped empty a rocket-hit orphanage one night in downtown London, carrying out its dead and dying children and their bloody parts.

He saw and lived with death as a routine for three years.  His photograph war souvenir album had pictures of massive bombers dumping lethal rain on Dresden, Berlin, German gun emplacements in Normandy, French coastal towns, war ships and hospitals, trains, cars, horses, wagons, canals and villages.  Now, home, he attacked normal civilian life as if it was the new enemy.  He had lost time to make up, things to do, family to feed and a top to possibly find.

In his free time, he watched boxing on the new-fangled television, tense with pleasure waiting for the knockouts, heavy K. O. punches, and T. K. O. s swimming in blood.  He watched the gymnastic exhibitions of professional wrestling until he realized that the mayhem wasn’t real.  He watched John Wayne repeatedly and successfully storm Iwo Jima.  He saw Errol Flynn shoot his way single-handedly through the entire Japanese Army in Burma.  He observed as Jeff Chandler really died of pleurisy while filming a mediocre account of Merrill’s Marauders on location in Imperial Indochina.  Pa’s latent violence had to translate into real life.

He punched Ma.  He punched me.  He drank himself finally and completely to death.  In his scarred wake, he left two sons, one daughter, and his frightened, yet indefatigable wife.  He also left behind the lingering echoes of Henry David Thoreau, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Father was a desperate man.

I’ve thought since that he was born in belief, raised in faith, condemned to hell, pardoned to purgatory, and eventually dispatched to…wherever he went.

Mother always said, “The War changed him.”  This is certainly so – I’ve seen other young men come back from Korea and Viet Nam.  They all have Dad’s eyes.  The men who fought at Salamis probably looked that way too.  Bloody fields and death process slowly.

Because of all this, justifications of violence appall me.  Its price is too high.  Brought home in the eyes of our young men, violence compounds as it seeks its vent.  Within the peacetime marketplace it ripples out on a high, spreading across the schoolyards, streaming into ghetto back alleys, finding its way into the boardroom.  Man against man, clan against clan.  So it goes, as Vonnegut says, and I?  I go on, watching to left and right, mindful of the dangers on the street, wary in my sleep – as restless as I was at the mouth of my cave one million years ago.

The history of mankind is a dry narration of famous battles, famous generals and famous kings, interspersed with profiles of failed political, social, economic and religious systems, which all rose and fell on the profit line.  The chronicle of anything else is incidental, a coffee table book.  Art, music, literature, dance, theater, magic are a sideshow to the main show.  Those things are the province of dreamers, romantics and fools.  For, if anyone is able to live a placid life, outside the maniacal slashing and hacking of whole peoples intent on the obliteration of other whole peoples, then one is, indeed, fortunate.

Life is a series of accidents.  Chance, not choice, governs (although, why we are in one spot at a particular time and not in another may be divinely inspired).  However, I doubt there is a Master Plan.  Master plans and master crimes require cumbersome plotting.  One can, or should be able to see their patterns, but impulse fires most of us.  We deal with consequences afterward, which is when they should properly be dealt with, I guess.

I’d like to do something to help my fellow human beings, but I don’t know what.  Everybody’s fighting and clawing, biting and scratching.  I’m hiding.  Scared to death.  Who wants to attract attention?  The threat to life may be worldwide conflagration, or in the mouth of some filthy city alley, with a knife wielding, coked-up assailant standing over one’s punctured corpse.  “Neither a peacekeeper, nor a lender be.” It’s too painful, too expensive, and too dangerous.  Experience is a great teacher; if we survive the lesson, but we’re still not gonna get out of this alive.

I wish I could stop the clock.  Turn back time until I’m just short of the primordial ooze – watch by degrees the slow progression of life.  See just how long it takes to make a human being out of all that gloop.  Think about just how quickly that complex organism can cancel itself out with a single bullet.

The universe is infinite.  I don’t really understand what that means, and it’s expanding, but into what?  It’s cosmic and vast and when you think about it, without the artificial augmentation of religious zealotry, perhaps meaningless.  Even so, this ship was pilotless before we knew that it had no pilot and continues so and nothing changes that.  Either way, I don’t expect the Creator to wash my dirty laundry or lift my heavy load.  It’s clear I gotta hoe my own corn.

I am alive, well, and living past the immoral end of the Twentieth Century and on the ignorant cusp of the early Twenty-first – unhappily still under threat of the nuclear-bomb, dismayed by Russians and Chinese, the System and the decay of the World, as ever.  “Is it just for the moment we live?”  You betcha.  What’s it all about, Alfie?  The End of the World is only a heartbeat away.  Whether one is one of a half million blown away at Hiroshima, drowning alone in the pool of a cliffside villa in Monterey, or choking in the arms of a lover on a sunny Egyptian Sunday.

Well, Diary, that’s my Summer Vacation.  I’m going home now.  Wonder what I’ll find?  It’s still the End of the World and Sissy Wagner doesn’t love me anymore.  Who’s going to do my laundry?

— JL:PDX, 8-09

Little Brown Bat with White-nose disease.

IMPORTANT LINK: Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.

Bats are on a clear trajectory toward oblivion.  The Center for Biological Diversity has warned that the bat crisis is dire while calling for more funding to try to determine what, exactly, is killing America’s bats — and how the disease can be stopped.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/bat_crisis_the_white-nose_syndrome/index.html

Little Brown Bat with White-nose disease.

WAR and PEACE reprise

August 6, 2010

Older Letters to elected Officials and speculations on and about the subjects of war and recession, with links to today’s realities.  Not much has changed, except for some of the faces of the players.  Some issues are career opportunities for foot-dragging, do-nothing profiteers and cowardly politicians.  It is plain that the People must lead. 

ARAB-ISRAELI LOVE-FEST:

Ltr to Ron Wyden, Senator, OR. – January 8, 2009

The ancient Arab-Israeli confrontation is not worthy of support on either side.  Only some radical change of policy will break this savage inhumane cycle.  The Senate‘s recent unequivocal support of Israel is disgraceful.  Why do we support violence from anybody toward anybody?  Why not give peace a chance?  It has never been done, and we seem instead incapable of overcoming our religious, ethnic, and other generational prejudices.  We support people who coach their children to kill their enemies’ children.  This is madness.  It is insupportable.  The morass of the middle east does not reveal a champion for the United States to support, and Israel cannot claim the Holocaust as refuge or excuse for a holocaust of its own making that it refuses to stop.  Hamas‘ despicable actions are not an excuse for Israelis to murder, and the dead children they describe as collateral damage are not an acceptable cost for their security.

Murder and violence are what they are, not the stuff of virtue, right, or decent national policy – Israel’s, Palestine‘s, or the United States’. I urge you to re-think this issue outside of its historic insanity – and the personal blindness of culture and peer pressure.  Help devise an alternative approach to international murder and mayhem.  Help, too, to take the United States off its century-long war status.

Yours in sorrow and regret.   j

EXIT STRATEGY:

I am a veteran and senior citizen.

Ltr to Representative Earl Blumenauer, OR –  July 26, 2005   10:32 AM 

Subject: Please support House Joint Resolution 55, toward ending the Iraq occupation.

The war in Iraq has been a personal project for George Bush using American lives and treasure.  I believe he is ruining the world’s finest military.  For what?  He fights like the boneheaded English general Kitchener at Gallipoli, who observing the troops running uphill against Turkish guns said, “Stout fellows these Englishmen, they always run for the thickest part of the fence.”

Added to which, Bush’s war toys don’t work?  They do if they’re just designed to fill the pockets of his war-profiteering cronies; that’s what they accomplish.

I was glad to see that Rep. Jones is leading a bipartisan effort to press President Bush to create an exit strategy and timetable for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.  Being an occupying force with no end in sight only fuels insurgency there.

I ask you to join the thirty other members of Congress already cosponsoring the resolution, and to support it by voting for it.  Thank you for your consideration.

IRAQ DEBATE:

Personal historical view – February 14, 2007; 3-1-08 rev.

Colin Powell said, “Don’t get into war unless it’s absolutely necessary, and when we do, go to win, no half measures,” but it doesn’t apply very much in real life.

As a Vietnam veteran, I know Johnson‘s phony Gulf of Tonkin Incident fished us into war (I was drafted).  He bought into the radical right’s communist containment scare.  The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars wrote:

“In part, the process of deception has also been unintentional.  Much of the rhetoric and many of the actions that have accompanied our… involvement have been ad hoc responses to situations of stress: a cumulative series of reflex moves and lunges produced by deepening executive anxiety, defensiveness, alarm, desperation, and even a sensed state of siege.  Similarly in rhetoric, our ‘national honor,’ ‘[enemies] with nuclear weapons,’ and the goal of ‘peace with honor’ – all have misled the public.  At the root of executive deception is a vast amount of executive self-deception – or, .to put it bluntly, stupidity.”

America blithely ignores offers of friendship and makes enemies as fast as we can throw the first sucker punch.  This is not military sense; it’s a bad case of ideology and invention over reason and fact.  But, Americans don’t run out when the fight’s tough – see: Khe San.  We stood nearly twenty years (dating from Eisenhower putting the first American boots on the ground in the Fifties when the French got tossed out) while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the Bush leadership miasma.

We are now fighting a war for the health and life of the republic. Look at how the radical right Republicans and Tea Party and War Democrats have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor. The self-destructive insanity of the radical right way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.

These are politically motivated wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s current pursuit of it.  End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys.

We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

COST OF DOING WAR WITH YOU: – 3/21/08

Ltr to Rep Blumenauer; Recession and the War

The recession will force states to cut back their budgets.  Most likely, the cuts are going to affect the services that working families need to survive.

The Iraq war costs Americans more than $338 million a day.  We borrow $343 million every day to finance it.  Gas prices are close to double what they were before the war.  Oil hovers around $100 barrel [sic].

That money could help people who are hurting.  For less than we spend on the war, we could pay for affordable housing, healthcare, or education scholarships for hundreds of thousands.

Our skyrocketing debt is a growing drag on the economy, slowing recovery and robbing generations of a secure future.  Iraq sucks up the resources we need to make our economy work again.  MoveOn writes, “The tradeoffs are stark: bombs or unemployment insurance, billions for Halliburton and Blackwater, or help for people on the verge of losing their homes because of the sub prime meltdown?”

Economic forecasts will be grim as long as we continue to dump billions into a reckless war that has no end in sight.  The excessive and increasing degradation of our domestic economy is an attack on the nation.  Thank you for continuing to oppose this excessive, costly and ultimately criminal war.

LAST WORDS:

A secret reformation helped to create the United States of America; it eradicated many of the weeds of prejudice; a spirit of freedom and moderation was diffused.  The liberty of conscience was declared a common benefit, an inalienable right; the free government introduced the practice of toleration; and the narrow allowance of the laws was enlarged by the prudence and humanity of the times.  In the exercise, the mind understood the limits of its powers, and the words and shadows that might amuse the child can no longer satisfy adult reason. – Paraphrase – Gibbon, p1937.

Maybe human civilization has progressed; it depends upon what you’re measuring.  Human progress and perfectibility are two man-made ideals without much moral evidence to support them.

“One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.” – Travis at the Alamo quoting Thomas Osbert Mordaunt, Verses Written During  the War, 1756-63.

“Sin sangre, y sin lagrimas, hay no es gloria.” – Santa Ana (“without blood, and without tears, there is no glory”).

“The urgent consideration of the public safety may undoubtedly authorize the violation of every positive law.  How far that or any other consideration may operate to dissolve the natural obligations of humanity and justice is terrible to contemplate.” – Gibbon, p830.

Politician 1:  “Why do politicians treat everyone else like idiots?”  Politician 2:  “Probably, because they voted for us in the first place.”  — Poirot, “The Incredible Theft,” BBC, David Suchet.

INTERESTING LINKS:
An American Hell: Don’t Turn the Page on History.  Facing the American world We Created, by Tom Engelhardt, www.TomDispatch.com. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/24

San Francisco Dems Tell Pelosi to Support McGovern ‘Afghan Exit’ Bill, by Tom Gallager, www.commondreams.orghttp://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/24-3

Can America Prevail on Afghanistan/Pakistan Front? No! It’s Obama’s war now, and a Vietnam-like quagmire is dead ahead.  by Helen Thomas, www.Minneapolis/St.PaulStarTribune  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/23-13

Blackwater Seeks Gag Order, by Jeremy Scahill.  www.thenation  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/23-2

Biden: Afghan War is ‘Worth the Effort’.  www.bbcnews  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/23-0

RADICAL and NOT RIGHT:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/23-2  Christian Right Aims to Change History Lessons in Texas Schools.  State’s education board to consider adding Christianity’s role in American history to curriculum [and dump all reference to labor unions among other exclusions; the larger issue is that Texas textbook decisions affect every state in the union; textbook monopoly ONLY consults Texas education board!], by Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian/UK
End of the World!

NOTHING HOLY in HOLY LAND

June 9, 2010

Last Sun

Living By the Sword

Helen Thomas

Amidst all the outrage about veteran journalist Helen Thomas intemperately saying what so many on the left, including many Jews, feel but more politely say – “The Jews should get the hell out of Palestine” – some are defending her for what she likely meant, adding meaningful context to the trap of sound bites. Three activist Jews speak out here, and Al Jazeera offers thoughtful analysis here on the sea change in public opinion that Thomas represents.

–Abby Zimet
Discuss…http://www.commondreams.org/further/2010/06/09-1

NOTHING IS HOLY IN THE “HOLY” LAND:

Any claim to “holiness” in ownership of the “Holy” Land, by any constituent of any side, is preposterous.  People of every persuasion have been killing each other over this crap hunk of real estate for thousands of years, to no apparent resolution, pretty much to malign purpose, and to the point of certifiable mental disease.

Their feuds are mindlessly generational, and they routinely dishonor their prophets and messiahsPeace is an illusion, reason is a poor orphan; “right” is confused with “rite;” and “hope” is just a word.

The people of the “Holy” Land are primarily useful to International Capitalists as trade route and pipeline handlers – since ancient times.  Their demographic division is a matter of greed supported by superstition.  Their migratory waves have pushed each other back and forth from Baghdad to Cairo for six thousand years.  Don’t let ‘em kid you, the protagonists have been a blood thirsty bunch for a mighty long time – no foolin’.  The “Holy” Land has always been incredibly harsh and savage; and its peoples have never been any different.  This is a piece of earth that people kill and die over repeatedly.

In practice, “god” – whatever Her, His, or Its name is – is a “get out of jail free” card for murder, and a justification for crimes against humanity and the planet.  Most cultures condone and/or pardon violence done to the “Alien Other.”  Fathers teach sons, who teach sons, who teach sons how to hate.  In that sense, the peoples of the “Holy” Land are not unique – just amazingly obsessive about that little crap hunk of real estate.

Who’d be so damned stupid as to stick his big old idiot foot into that “holy muck?”  Perhaps, a megalomaniac, a psychopathsectarian nut, or an oilman.  In the “holy” land, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed sang about morality, peace and love in mind-numbing chorus.  In the Sixties, the Beatles sang, “Give peace a chance.”  In the Seventies, John Lennon added, “All you need is love.”  Of course, nobody listened to any of those do-gooders, and we now sing, “Waist deep in the Big Muddy, and the Big Fool says to Push On!”

It’s very hard to believe that any respectable or self-respecting god might have any interest and/or want to claim any responsibility for the disastrous generational holocaust in the so-called “Holy” Land.  Self-deception is, indeed, the fundamental core value of the human race.  It enables us to do so many terrible ungodly things that a conscience and compassion might prevent.

“The Israel of the Bible was established altogether by the sword,” Thomas Paine American founding father wrote, “and that in the worst use of it – not to terrify, but to extirpate.  The Jews made no converts; they butchered all.”  What are they doing differently today?

Related article:  MY STORY BEGINS  Religion is Bunk.

What George W. Bush and Ramses the Great Have in Common.

G.W. Bush’s recent efforts to rewrite his history remind me of Ramses the Great (pharaoh of the biblical exodus, if you believe).  He is called “great” because he managed to live longer than any other pharaoh and used the time to build more monuments to himself than all his predecessors and successors combined.  He had a factory that just turned out busts of his head so that he could knock the heads off other pharaohs’ statues and put his in their place.  Therefore, fifty percent of the monuments in the Nile Valley are his!  He advertised himself shamelessly: painting and carving the story of the Battle of Kadesh on every wall and pillar in sight.  Kadesh was not even a draw and Rameses quickly signed a peace treaty with the victorious Hittite King, and went back to Egypt with his tail between his legs (or maybe it was just his kilt).  He nearly got himself killed at Kadesh and almost lost the whole Egyptian army due to his egotistical rash decisions and actions as an inexperienced military leader (he was the Decider), but he declared near defeat as victory, and covered up the fact that he almost lost the farm – not just for himself, but for the entire kingdom of Egypt.  And that’s why G.W. Bush’s recent rewrite of his history reminds me of Ramses the Great, pharaoh of the biblical exodus, if you believe.  G.W. became president of the United States by the skin of his teeth and the lies on his lips: the same way Ramses II became “Great.”  – 11/04.

Related article:  ALICE and YUYA  Moses the Egyptian.

WAR and RUMORS of WAR

Not since Watergate and Nixon has so much been said about the bald lies and active criminality of our rulers.  There’s no hero or other path to save us.  We were already in a twilight phase of our greatness when befuddled Ronald Reagan declared “morning in America.”  Twenty years later, the “boy emperor” George W. Bush, took us fully into the Dark Ages, pursuing shortsighted goals accelerating our decline.  We see signs of the West after Rome’s fall: religion triumphant over reason; education and critical thinking decayed; religion, state, and the apparatus of torture integrated – the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment; and our culture politically and economically marginalized.  It’s a process no society can undergo and still remain free.  Yet the capitalists, Republicans, and neoconservative fundamentalist Christian American population are aggressively proud of it.

Bush believed he was on a mission from god, and faith trumps fact.  Yet, if a nation can’t see reality correctly and persists in acting upon faith-based delusions, its ability to hold its own in the world is pretty much foreclosed.  We survey a cultural death valley: secondary schools with teachers afraid to teach evolution to un-evolved students; pervasive hostility toward science from benighted legislators; religion used to explain terror as a cosmic conflict between good and evil rather than in terms of political process.  In a New York Times poll, 59% of Americans believe that the faithful will be taken up into heaven in the ‘Rapture’ (perhaps, in blue jackets and tennis shoes?  I propose straitjackets).

Fundamentalism and democracy are foes.  The opposite of Enlightenment is tribalism, groupthink, and blind obedience.  Detention without trial, denial of attorneys, years of interrogation in isolation are now standard American practice, and many Americans don’t care.  The Bush administration discussed canceling the 2004 presidential election citing possible terrorist attack!  Since it wasn’t done, it was obviously safer and easier (for them) to rig electronic voting (see John Conyers’ D-Ohio report).  In the 2003 University of Connecticut “State of the First Amendment Survey,” 34% of Americans said the amendment went “too far;” 46% thought there was too much press freedom; 28% felt newspapers shouldn’t publish without government approval; 31% wanted public protest of war outlawed during war; and 50% thought government should infringe the freedom of “certain religious groups” in the name of the war on terror.

Advertisers and politicians assure us we’re the richest, most envied people on earth and that’s why rag-tag bombers want to blow us up.  We’re not actually people in the eyes of national ownership; we’re unreliable consumers comprising an overworked, underpaid work force not in the best of health (we’re 37th behind Saudi Arabia, the former Texas Whitehouse’s Best Friend).  Despite Halliburton’s boom profits, Bush’s wars of aggression made us broke.  We borrow $4 billion per day to keep afloat.  Who finally pays this massive debt?

How eager we are to be slaves.  Bush said he was a “wartime president,” but there’s no war, despite all his murder and destruction, “terror” is an abstract noun like “liar”.  Bush’s illegal unilateral ravaging of Iraq isn’t moral or legal because he appeared to be elected twice.  He’s done things we’d impeach him for under the old republic, but corrupt Republicans at all levels of government, including the judiciary, protect him by not doing their duty to impeach him, let’s say, for his incompetence in Louisiana.  “Nice job, Brownie,” my ass.

Our founders thought two-year terms for congress was as much democracy as we’d need, so they didn’t provide recall legislation in the event a president wasn’t up to the job and lost the people’s confidence between elections.  Thus, since “all things come to pass,” as Ecclesiastes has it, we had to wait until most of our citizens were hurt before he left office to go hide in his second Eden in Crawford.  We’re paying interest on his awful debts, and the troops not killed or maimed have to settle for just being alive and in one piece.  Or, would, if Obama wasn’t now abusing them.

Related article:  WAR and TOXIC TEXAS TEXTBOOKS  Waging War from a Burning House.

BLAST FROM THE PAST:

“Inflammatory oratory and a radical catchall program, important as they were for a fledgling party out to attract attention and recruit mass support, were not enough, and Hitler turned his attention to providing more…  What the masses needed, he thought, were not only ideas – a few simple ideas, that is, that he could ceaselessly hammer through their skulls – but symbols that would win their faith, pageantry and color that would arouse them, and acts of violence and terror, which if successful, would attract adherents (were not most Germans drawn to the strong?) and give them a sense of power over the weak.

“In Vienna, …he was intrigued by what he called the ‘infamous spiritual and physical terror’ which he thought was employed by the Social Democrats against their opponents.  Now he turned it to good purpose in his own anti-Socialist party,  …Hitler organized a bunch of roughneck war veterans into ‘strong-arm’ squads…These uniformed rowdies… soon took to breaking up [meetings] of other parties.  Hitler boasted to police, ‘We got what we wanted.  Ballerstedt did not speak.’  As Hitler told an audience some months before, ‘The National Socialist Movement will in the future ruthlessly prevent – if necessary by force – all meetings or lectures that are likely to distract the minds of our fellow countrymen.’”

– William L. Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Related article:  REPUBLICAN INSURANCE NAZIS

Last Words:

“I have no friends in the diamond trade.”  – bumpersticker.

Buddha Swirl

BUDDHA at JLegry’s Gallery

BLOODY DIRTY OIL

June 1, 2010

Why Obama Should Put BP Under Temporary Receivership by Robert Reich June 1, 2010 by Robert Reich’s Blog

It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way for the public to know what’s going on, be confident enough resources are being used to stop the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge.

If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

The Obama administration keeps saying BP is in charge because BP has the equipment and expertise necessary to do what’s necessary. Under temporary receivership, BP would continue to have the equipment and expertise. The only difference: the firm would unambiguously be working in the public’s interest. As it is now, BP is responsible first to its shareholders, not to the American public. As a result, the public continues to worry that a private for-profit corporation is responsible for stopping a public tragedy.

[Five reasons for taking such action:]

The President should temporarily take over BP’s Gulf operations. We have a national emergency on our hands. No president would allow a nuclear reactor owned by a private for-profit company to melt down in the United States while remaining under the direct control of that company. The oil meltdown in the Gulf is the environmental equivalent.  READ MOREhttp://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-5

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His “Marketplace” commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes. 

 BP Clashes with Scientists over Deep Sea Oil Pollution

Oil Plumes

 Obama team ‘incensed at being kept in the dark’ as company denies existence of underwater oil clouds  by Chris McGreal June 1, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

BP has challenged widespread scientific claims that vast plumes of oil are spreading underwater from its blown-out rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The denial comes as the oil giant prepares for a new operation to put an end to the worst oil spill in US history – which could see the leak get worse before it gets better.  The company’s challenge to scientific studies puts it further at odds with an increasingly angry Obama administration, which accuses BP of minimizing the size of the leak to limit the size of probable fines.

BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, said it had no evidence of underwater oil clouds. “The oil is on the surface. Oil has a specific gravity that’s about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity.”  Hayward’s assertion flies in the face of studies by scientists at universities in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, among others, who say they have detected huge underwater plumes of oil, including one 120 metres (400ft) deep about 50 miles from the destroyed rig.

BP’s claim is likely to further anger environmentalists and the White House, which is increasingly suspicious of the company’s claims to be frank and transparent. The president’s environmental adviser Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy director, Carol Browner, has accused BP of misstating the scale of the leak.

The start of the hurricane season has added more urgency stop the oil flow.

Forecasters are predicting an unusually high number of storms over the next six months. A hurricane is likely to disperse oil spread on the sea over a wider area and push it deeper into marshlands and other inland areas, making the environmental disaster worse.

The US military has ruled out taking charge. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, said military chiefs looked at available equipment and concluded “the best technology in the world, with respect to that, exists in the oil industry.”

A day earlier, the former US secretary of state, Colin Powell, said the military should step in because the crisis was now “beyond the capacity” of BP to stop. “.READ MOREhttp://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/06/01-2  

Nigeria’s Agony Dwarfs the Gulf Oil Spill. The US and Europe Ignore It 

Nigeria's Agony

The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades by John Vidal, environment editor Sunday, May 30, 2010 by The Observer/UK 

We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike. Ahead lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garages and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.

 The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for months.  Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”

In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico.  Worse may be to come. One industry insider said: “Major spills are likely to increase in coming years as the industry tries to extract oil from increasingly remote and difficult terrains. Future supplies will be offshore, deeper and harder to work. When things go wrong, it will be harder to respond.”  Spills, leaks and deliberate discharges are happening in oilfields all over the world and few people seem to care.  Big oil companies act as if they are beyond the lawWhat we conclude from the Gulf of Mexico pollution incident is that the oil companies are out of control.  It is clear that BP has been blocking progressive legislation, both in the US and here. In Nigeria, they have been living above the law. They are now clearly a danger to the planet. The dangers of this happening again and again are high. They must be taken to the international court of justice.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/30-0

BP Faces FBI Probe over Oil Spill by Giles Whittell, Robert Lea, Ian King June 1, 2010 by TimesOnline/UK  

BP’s future as a global concern was at stake tonight after the US Attorney General, announced that he was launching a criminal and a civil investigation into the Louisiana oil spill.

As Eric Holder made his announcement, the British company’s chief executive fought to halt a headlong slide in its stock price.

After losing a third of its value in just six weeks, BP is expected to promise shareholders their full annual dividend in a last-ditch bid to retain their loyalty. More than £12 billion was wiped off the company’s value today alone, as Mr Obama dispatched his top prosecutor to Louisiana and vowed to bring to justice those responsible for what he called “the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history”.

Shares in what used to be Britain’s biggest company endured their worst day’s trading in more than two decades, dragging down the FTSE 100 index and with it the value of dozens of leading pension funds.

Any cut in BP’s dividend would be a traumatic event for the company. It last cut its payout to shareholders in August 1992 after reporting its first-ever quarterly loss.

With much of today’s share price fall being attributed to fears that the company may have to cut its dividend, BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, is expected later this week to assure investors that the payout will be maintained.

The company’s share price fell to as low as 412.25p at one stage today before a partial rally. That followed an admission from BP that the cost of its repeated failed bids to stem the flow from the blow out, the clean-up operation, and early payments of claims by affected American and by states around the Gulf has already topped $1 billion. BP is privately putting the total cost of the disaster at $4 billion by the end of the year.  READ MORE:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/06/01-6

Israel Reveals Its True Face

The murder of these peace activists will count. Sanctions must surely be the price by Ahdaf Soueif June 1, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

This will count. A flotilla of relief boats attacked in international waters. Armed commandos boarding a vessel carrying supplies for a besieged civilian population. More than 10 peace activists reported killed. This has to be made to count.

The dead have joined Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, James Miller and Brian Avery in giving up their lives for the Palestinians. None of these young men and women went out to die or wanted to die or was accepting of death. Each and every one of them ultimately believed that they were safe; that there was a boundary – call it a boundary of legality, a boundary of civilisation – that Israel would not cross. They were wrong. And in proving them wrong, Israel has revealed, once again, its true face to the world.

My anger and my sadness are so great that I have to deliberately draw a deep breath from time to time to ease the bands I feel around my chest. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that millions of people in the world are feeling the same. People everywhere see and understand what is happening. Many of us feel that Palestine is nearing its South Africa moment. This latest outrage must push it closer. And it will.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-2

Ahdaf Soueif is an Egyptian writer, novelist, political and cultural commentator

Related article:  NOTHING IS HOLY IN THE “HOLY” LAND:  Any claim to “holiness” in ownership of the “Holy” Land, by any constituent of any side, is preposterous.  People of every persuasion have been killing each other over this crap hunk of real estate for thousands of years, to no apparent resolution, pretty much to malign purpose, and to the point of certifiable mental diseaseREAD MORE:  FOX NEWS, HOLY LAND, SUPERMAN

SIGN THE PETITION

PETITION FROM AVAAZ

Dear Friends,

Israel’s deadly assault on a flotilla of aid ships headed for Gaza has shocked the world.

It’s an outrageous use of lethal force to defend an outrageous and lethal policy — Israel’s blockade of Gaza, where two thirds of families don’t know where they’ll find their next meal.

The UN, US, and nearly every other government and multilateral organization have called on Israel to lift the blockade and, now, for a full investigation of the flotilla raid.  But their words aren’t backed by action. The European Union, Israel’s top trading partner, could change Israel’s course — if the people of Europe and the world demand it.

Let’s call on Catherine Ashton, EU Foreign Affairs High Representative, to demand that Israel comply with an international enquiry and lift the Gaza blockade — or lose its special trade relationship with Europe. To be heard, we’ll need a massive outcry; click to sign the petition and then forward this message.

LIFTING THE VEIL

March 28, 2010

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Reform by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship March 27, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

That wickedly satirical Ambrose Bierce described politics as “the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

Bierce vanished to Mexico nearly a hundred years ago — to the relief of the American political class of his day, one assumes — but in an eerie way he was forecasting America’s political culture today. It seems like most efforts to reform a system that’s gone awry — to clean house and make a fresh start — end up benefiting the very people who wrecked it in the first place.

Which is why Bierce, in his classic little book, The Devil’s Dictionary, defined reform as “a thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation.”

Give the victors their due: the bill Obama signed expands coverage to many more people, stops some very ugly and immoral practices by the health insurance industry that should have been stopped long ago, and offers a framework for more change down the road, if there’s any heart or will left to fight for it.

But reformation? Hardly. For all their screaming and gnashing of teeth, the insurance companies still make out like bandits. Millions of new customers, under penalty of law, will be required to buy the companies’ policies, feeding the insatiable greed of their CEO’s and filling the campaign coffers of the politicians they wine and dine. Profits are secure; they don’t have to worry about competition from a public alternative to their cartel, and they can continue to scam us without fear of antitrust action.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/27-0

Earth ‘Entering New Age of Geological Time’ by Murray Wardrop March 27, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK

The Earth has entered a new age of geological time – the epoch of new man, scientists claim.

Humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes on the planet that we may be ushering in a new period of geological history.  It is feared that the damage mankind has inflicted will lead to the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history with thousands of plants and animals being wiped out.

The new epoch, called the Anthropocene – meaning new man – would be the first period of geological time shaped by the action of a single species.  Although the term has been in informal use among scientists for more than a decade, it is now under consideration as an official term.

A new working group of experts has now been established to gather all the evidence which would support recognising it as the successor to the current Holocene epoch. It will consider changes human activities have brought to Earth’s biodiversity and rock structure as well as the impact of factors including pollution and mineral extraction.

It is hoped that within three years, their case will be presented to the International Union of Geological Sciences, which would decide whether the transition to a new epoch has been made. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/27

Celebrating (Mourning) a Culture of Lies by Robert Freeman March 28, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Tomorrow, March 29th, marks the thirty-seventh anniversary of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam. You won’t hear it celebrated in any mainstream media, though it should be. Or more precisely, it should be mourned. Vietnam is the first war America ever lost.

It should be remembered so that we might learn the lessons of that loss. They are many, they are profound, and they could inform so many of our policy decisions today: that withdrawal from immoral wars doesn’t mean the end of civilization as we know it; that even America’s seemingly limitless resources are, in fact, limited; that masses of engaged, moral individuals can constrain the reckless, destructive folly of renegade elites.

Perhaps the most important lesson of Vietnam is that policies based on lies will ultimately fail, for in an open society it is the consent of the governed that is required to sustain major policy initiatives. A government can either earn that consent, or it must forfeit the essence of its democracy. If lying becomes its essential modus operandi, a nation ceases to be a democracy. Rather, it becomes a criminal conspiracy of self-interested insiders donning the trappings of democracy in order to gull the credulous.

It is time to grow out of our materialistic fetishes and begin cultivating the personal and civic maturity we like to fancy we possess, but which we don’t. It is time to grow up and accept the burdens of mature citizenship, among the most important of which are a capacity and a willingness to tell the truth, letting go the comforting but corrosive lies in the confidence that courage mustered now will yield not only greater self respect today but a more sane, a more decent, and a safer society in the future.

It is important that we commemorate Vietnam, both to mourn the objective horror of what it was, but also to redeem our capacity to tell the truth, to ourselves, about ourselves. Only in that way can we begin to reclaim the country and the people we want to imagine ourselves to be.

Robert Freeman writes on economics, history and education. His earlier piece, “Is Iraq Another Vietnam?” was also published on CommonDreams.  He can reached at robertfreeman10@yahoo.com. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/28-3

Related:  https://johnlegry.wordpress.com/politics-mostly/organized-irresponsibility/

The Rage Is Not About Health Care by Frank Rich March 28, 2010 by The New York Times

THERE were times when last Sunday’s great G.O.P. health care implosion threatened to bring the thrill back to reality television.  On ABC’s “This Week,” a frothing and filibustering Karl Rove all but lost it in a debate with the Obama strategist David Plouffe. A few hours later, the perennially copper-faced Republican leader John Boehner revved up his “Hell no, you can’t!” incantation in the House chamber – instant fodder for a new viral video remixing his rap with will.i.am’s “Yes, we can!” classic from the campaign. Boehner, having previously likened the health care bill to Armageddon, was now so apoplectic you had to wonder if he had just discovered one of its more obscure revenue-generating provisions, a tax on indoor tanning salons.

But the laughs evaporated soon enough. There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank. And as the week dragged on, and reports of death threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families.

How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence. The arch-segregationist Russell of Georgia, concerned about what might happen in his own backyard, declared flatly that the law is “now on the books.” Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now. Last week McCain even endorsed Palin’s “reload” rhetoric.

Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company.  Frank Rich is a regular columnist for The New York Times.  He is the author of many books, including The Great Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/28

INTRODUCING WORLD WAR III

Have a Nice World War, Folks by John Pilger March 28, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.

According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.

Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”

This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.

In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.

John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film-maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s highest award, that of “Journalist of the Year,” for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/28-5 

RIGHTWING PROPAGANDA, RUBBERBAND BALLS

January 7, 2010

Celebrating Cronkite While Ignoring What He Did

GET A NEWSPAPER?

We are fools to allow corporations like FOX, or subversive rightwing billionaires like Pete Peterson and Rupert Murdoch to determine our national information policy, control our public airways, and own our means of civic communication.  We are fools to allow them to continue to distort our national consciousness, or to interfere with our right to meet and discuss and decide as a unified national community.  We are fools to allow them to keep us ignorant and apart. 

Peterson and Murdoch are propagandistic liars, and consistently anti-American.  The co-opted cowardice of all the so-called “real” (read “infotainment”) news organizations, including the major television networks, convinces me that we need a reformed public ownership of uncensored airwaves, subject to strong democratic citizen oversight.

Here’s the latest outrage, hitting newspapers this time:

Conservative Mogul Buying Up Reporters to Promote His Regressive Agenda By William Greider, The Nation.

Pete Peterson, the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security, has created a “news network” hooked up to the Washington Post.

He’s baaack — the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security. This time, Pete Peterson has invented his own “news network” to promote his right-wing rants about shrinking the only retirement security system available to millions of working people. Peterson styles himself as a patriot saving the nation from fiscal insolvency and has committed $1 billion to that cause (a chunk of the wealth he accumulated at Blackstone Group, the notorious corporate-takeover firm). His efforts might be dismissed as ludicrous — except money does talk in Washington, and Peterson is now buying Washington reporters to spread his dire warnings.

The retired mogul has created a digital news agency he dubs “The Fiscal Times” and hired eight seasoned reporters to do the work there. “An impressive group of veteran journalists,” Peterson calls them. I hope they have shaken a lot of money out of this rich geezer. Because I predict doing hack work for him will seriously soil their reputations for objectivity and independence.

With his great wealth, Peterson could have also bought a newspaper to publish his dispatches, but he did better than that. He hooked up with the Washington Post, which has agreed to “jointly produce content focusing on the budget and fiscal issues.” (This media scandal was first uncovered by economist Dean Baker.) The newspaper is thus compromising its own integrity. It’s like buying political propaganda from a Washington lobbyist, then printing it in the news columns as if it was just another news story. Shame on the Post, my old newspaper. I predict a big stink like the one that greeted the Post when its publisher decided to hold pay-for-access “salons” for corporate biggies.

The first TFT “dispatch” to appear in the Post — “Support grows for tackling nation’s debt” — made no mention of Peterson’s crusade. But it featured the same devious gimmick the financier has been peddling around Washington. Congress should create a special commission of eighteen senators and representatives empowered to to make the “tough” budget decisions politicians are loathe to face — slashing benefits, raising payroll taxes or both. Other members of Congress would be prohibited from changing any of the particular measures, and would cast only an up-or-down vote on the entire package, no amendments allowed.

Supposedly, this would give them political cover. Look, no hands. We just cut Social Security but it wasn’t our fault.  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/media/144961/conservative_mogul_buying_up_reporters_to_promote_his_regressive_agenda

HERE WE GO AGAIN?

A visionary approach committed to the fight against climate chaos would use power to dramatically re-engineer failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs, instead of leaving industry unchanged.  Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.

Imagine if the three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision.  By the time Copenhagen rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.

What will happen as the Democrats face the employment crisis?

Jobs: The One Issue That Can Sink Democrats in November By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog.

If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

Just about everything you’ll hear coming out of Washington starting now is really about November’s mid-term election. The gravitational pull of the midterms was already apparent last year, as Republicans marched in perfect lockstep to vote against whatever the President and Democrats proposed (Republicans always have authoritarian discipline on their side, which is why they’re Republicans), but you haven’t seen anything yet.

The Democrats have enough votes to enact health care — the hurdle Bill Clinton failed to jump, contributing to the Republican takeover in 1994 — but when it’s enacted, expect the spin machines on both sides to be at full throttle. And because health care legislation won’t be implemented for another three or four years (depending whether the House or Senate versions prevail), Americans won’t be able to test the veracity of these wildly divergent claims. So don’t count on health reform to help Dems next November — nor harm them, either.

Foreign policy is just as unlikely to tip the scales. Sad to say, absent a draft most American families will read about American deaths in Afghanistan much the way they’ve absorbed the U.S. body count in Iraq — as news items rather than personal tragedies. Nor will Iran’s nuclear capabilities, North Korea’s missile launches, Pakistan’s tumult, or Yemen’s terrorists have much electoral effect — unless terrorists commit an atrocity in America or on American travelers. Needless to say, China’s decision about whether and how much to revalue its currency, although important, will affect the votes of about three Americans (and I think I know all of them).

Issue Number One — the overriding concern that will determine more than anything how many seats the Democrats lose next fall — is jobs. If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

But why would employment be 10 percent or above next November? Surely, you say, there are enough signs of recovery that we can count on a lower rate. Don’t be so sure. Here are likely scenarios, with my probabilities:  READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/144954/jobs%3A_the_one_issue_that_can_sink_democrats_in_november

GOT A JOB?

 

Joel Waul, 28, climbs on top of his rubber band ball on the driveway of his home in Lauderhill, Fla., Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. Waul, a 27-year-old who works nights restocking a Gap clothing store, has spent the last six years carefully wrapping and linking and stretching rubber bands of various sizes into the ball shape. The Guinness Book of World Records declared it the world’s largest rubber band ball in 2008. Photo/Alan Diaz

Which brings up the basic question: Why?