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Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 05:04 PM PDT

Shine a Light on Ferguson

by regibaby67

The people of Ferguson are outraged at the death of a black teenager who was not found guilty of any crime, yet was shot down in the street by a white police officer in broad day light.  This is nothing new for black America, or for other poor and minority communities.  USA Today recently revealed a report that there are two black men shot every week in this country by white police officers, and they believe this estimation is the low ball number.  http://www.usatoday.com/...  What the rest of America needs to understand is, this is not just about Michael Brown and Ferguson.  This is an ongoing issue that concerns all minorities, as well as all concerned American citizens.

The people of Ferguson have taken to the streets to demand justice for Michael Brown.  So far, they have received none, and as a slap in the face to an already hurting community, they have now had a curfew instituted upon them by Gov. Nixon.  It was only yesterday that the name of the officer was released, and yet, during that same press conference, a video was played of a local robbery by an unknown assailant, as if offering justification by authorities for the shooting.  When questioned further about the video, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas contradicted his OWN story and said the robbery had nothing to do with the shooting, as the officer on the scene who shot Michael Brown was completely unaware of the robbery.  http://www.stlamerican.com/...  Authorities claimed it was the news media who were demanding the video of the robbery be released, yet how can that be when no one in the media was even aware of the existence of a robbery?  Furthermore, the store in question claimed it was not the media that asked for the tape of the robbery, but the police themselves.  The inference is blatant.  Authorities are trying to assassinate the character of Michael Brown, as some kind of a justification for being shot.

It took almost a week for the name of the officer to be released, yet instead of a promise of justice being served, a video that had nothing to do with the shooting was released, and the community was rightly outraged.  Another representation of a black youth by the media as some kind of criminal thug who deserved what he got.  It is all too familiar to the people of Ferguson, as well as the rest of the country.

Last night, as I was watching a livestream feed from the scene, some looters apparently  broke windows of local stores and proceeded to steal.  Immediately, local protestors headed to the scene, and began standing defiantly in front of the stores to prevent more looting.  They spoke about how they believed the looters were not from the local community, but instead were opportunists looking to cause a disturbance and take advantage of the situation.  On Twitter, one witness spoke of seeing the looters hop into cars with out of state license plates.  Many spoke to those who were on the scene live streaming, yet did not want their faces on camera for fear that their image would be connected to the looters.  Another Twitter post I read was from a local resident, saying she saw on the news in St. Louis that Ferguson PD claimed 200+ demonstrators began rioting, looting, and setting things on fire.  “LIES!” she exclaimed, saying that her and another Twitterer were both there as witnesses, and saw for themselves what really happened.  I watched as the livestream allowed me to listen first hand from those who were there on the ground, how they were upset that the media would portray the violence and the looting, and dismiss those there trying to stand up for justice for Michael Brown to be reduced to violent thugs, as the media likes to portray the angry black community.

A teenager was shot to death in broad daylight by a police officer, simply for walking in the street.  I wonder how the media would have portrayed the incident if it had been in another neighborhood, and the races had been reversed.  Suppose a white teenager walking through Brentwood, California, or maybe  Hartford, Connecticut, had been walking in the street with his friend, and been shot down by a black police officer.  How would that community feel if the police officer was never named, if he was on paid leave, if there was no call by the police chief, or the Mayor, or by the Governor to bring him in for proper questioning, no calls for justice for a child shot dead in the street in broad daylight.  How is a community supposed to feel safe when there is no regard for the value of a young man’s life, and police officers can shoot and kill an unarmed teenager and suffer no consequence, and in fact be put on PAID leave?  There are those in the media claiming the officer in question is worried about his security, that there have been death threats made against him.  Yet a community is still feeling the injustice of their own dead son, and wondering, how much longer will it be before the next son is shot dead by a twitchy trigger finger of a police officer?  How can my son, brother, neighbor, father, uncle be safe in a world where a policeman will shoot you down as you hold your hands in the air saying “Don’t Shoot!”

What has the people of Ferguson even more outraged is the St. Louis prosecutor, Robert McCulloch.  http://www.stltoday.com/...  Not only is his history of prosecuting police officers called into question, he has close ties to police, considering his father, brother, nephew, and cousin “all served with St. Louis police.”  At the press conference today, one question that was asked of Gov. Nixon was if he would be replacing McCulloch in the case.  As with almost every question asked of the Governor by those present at the press conference, the question was never answered, and instead deflected with a “we are worried about safety” non-answer.

As of today, a curfew will be in place from 12am-5am, with no information as to how long this will be active.  Residence are even further outraged by this.  Even watching MSNBC immediately after the press conference, both those hosting and those who were guests on were visibly upset by this newest information.  It seems authorities will continue to distract from the real concerns of the community, and look to instead deflect the questions being asked of the population of Ferguson.  One woman, I wish I knew her name, spoke very plainly in explaining to the Gov. what protestors were most upset about.  People were taking to the streets to demand the officer in question be held accountable for shooting an unarmed teen a week ago, and still, authorities refused to say what would happen to him.  How can there be justice served for an innocent child being shot to death in the street if authorities never hold their police departments accountable?  How can a community be at peace when they know it will only be a matter of time before the next innocent man is killed for no reason by an unreasonable, irresponsible police force?  At least there is some good that is coming from this terrible tragedy in Ferguson.  The rest of the country, if not the international community, is taking notice of what has long been common knowledge in poor and minority communities-  the indiscriminate killing of their unarmed boys and men by police, and the complete lack of justice or oversight over the militarization of our police forces.

It’s about time this conversation took place out in the open in broad daylight.  If you can shoot a man dead in broad daylight, then we can talk about how we are to FIX this problem under that same bright sun.

#Ferguson #JusticeForMichaelBrown

Discuss

Cecily McMillan.

This gross injustice is another example of what is called our “justice” system now.  It flies in the face of anything rational or sane.  It is a world not only upside down, but twisted, broken, bleating.

A woman has her breast forcibly grabbed from behind, SO forcibly that it leaves a handprint on her long after her attack.  http://www.democracynow.org/...  She reacts, as ANY woman would have reacted, by swinging her arm around to STOP the attack.  She discovers it is a police officer who has made the VILE OFFENSE.  What happens next?  Does she file assault charges against a MAN who has VIOLATED her?  No, what happens next is beyond sanity.  Just reading about it, seeing a video of it, makes me physically ill.  She is surrounded by police officers, who beat her so severely, she convulses into seizures, has a rib broken, as if these officers somehow felt “threatened” by this unarmed, non violent woman.  A woman who has done nothing, physically attacked by a man in uniform, and then beaten, punched, kicked by officers of the law.  She is then arrested for “attacking” a police officer, shuttled between jail and hospitals, refused a lawyer, refused ability to contact her friends or family, for 40 hours.  Meanwhile, lawyers such as Meghan Maurus were frantically trying to find her in the system that was quite literally holding her hostage.  

On May 5th, a jury found her guilty of assaulting the officer.  She now faces up to 7 years in prison.  http://www.theguardian.com/...  

If this isn’t a clear message of forcing us into the acceptance of police brutality, I don’t know what is.  I’m sure they knew who she was, having been active in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.  Most of us are familiar with the brutal police crackdown on activists.  Unfortunately, those in the jury were kept from any scenes of what the police did to OWS activists.   http://www.theguardian.com/...  

We have been eased into a society of blind acquiescence, for little if any media is covering this story, or stories like it.  Elementary school age children being taken away from schools in handcuffs for offenses that once had them shaking in fear in the principal’s office, now sit in police precincts, away from parents, or lawyers, for hours at a time.  http://nypost.com/...  Police coming in to schools to take away children in handcuffs?  There has also been many instances of children as young as 8 years old being tased by  either school officials or law enforcement.  And we call ourselves a civilized society?

Or how about the young woman who went to family court over a divorce hearing, and was sexually assaulted by the court officer.  Not only does the FEMALE judge IGNORE her pleas, she is arrested by the same man who sexually assaulted her, as her 2 year old child is taken away.  http://www.rawstory.com/...
Another case of a young girl, Danielle Maudsley, who was tazered by a police officer, causing her to be left in a vegetative state afterwards.  She died 2  years later.  https://www.youtube.com/...  

Yet it gets even worse, for the numerous accounts of youth killed by men in uniform continue to grow.  Take for instance the death of Kelly Thomas.  Unarmed, homeless, and mentally ill, his entire brutal beating, where he begged for mercy as he was kicked, punched, and tasered, was caught on tape.  http://rt.com/...  After they beat him into a coma, he died in the hospital days later.  The police officers who killed him got away with it unpunished.  His is not the only story of innocent men being murdered by trigger happy police officers.  Manuel Diaz was shot dead by police in Anaheim.  When the neighborhood came together to protest, police released a dog on women and children, and shot rubber bullets into a crowd with young children present, hitting at least one young girl.  http://firedoglake.com/...  

Protesters suffer incredible abuse should they try to challenge the senseless crimes their neighborhoods endure.  Poor communities have long known the abuse of police, yet police never get convicted, and never are held responsible for proving the need for such brutal force.  http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/...  

We now have local police forces that have military grade supplies, from full riot gear to tanks.  http://www.truth-out.org/...  We have militarized our police, as they have changed their motto from “protect and serve” to “law enforcement.”  Exactly who’s laws are they enforcing?  

How do citizens protect themselves from an institution that is supposed to be there for protection from criminal behavior, who have in fact become criminals themselves?  Were a group of vigilante men who did not wear a uniform to commit these heinous acts on our fellow citizens, they would be in jail.  Yet, their badge has somehow given them free reign to behave however they please, without punishment, without retribution, without civility, without humanity.  It has become the unspeakable horror that gets no news coverage, no national attention, and yet, it is causing harm to our citizens, our freedoms, our children, our lives.  Who are you supposed to call when a police squad wrongly enters your home over false information they were given?  How does a parent demand justice when their child posing no threat is shot, tasered, or beaten to death by police officers, and no one is disciplined, no one is found guilty of abuse of power, no change is made in their behavior?  When did the abuse and murder of innocent American citizens become standard operating procedure?

It should be no mystery that the rise of the militarized police force across this country coincides with the squeeze being initiated upon the citizens that are struggling for their survival of our corporatized government.  States are still enduring the repercussions of the fall out from 2008-2009, budgets continue to be slashed in social programs, schools, higher education, infrastructure, yet somehow, there is plenty of money to go around when it comes to amping up the police force.  Corporate taxes are at an all time low (and sometimes  none at all) while many cities are seeing more money paid out on Wall Street debt than on the care and maintenance of their streets.  http://pando.com/...  Our government defends it’s position to cut unemployment insurance for those who’ve become chronically unemployed, and like kicking a man when he’s down, has the nerve to cut food stamps to those most in need, while continuing to kiss ass to the Wall Street barons who’ve caused most of this mess.  Audacity of hope?  Audacity of injustice.  

Occupy Wall Street was the result of citizens knowing they were getting screwed continuously by those who hold the power in this country.  The media tried to portray them as a bunch of dirty hippy kids who only needed to get a shower and a job.  The reality was the people who collected at the OWS protests came from a wide variety of average American citizens, all tired of the bullshit rhetoric they were hearing on the evening news that never matched up to the realities they were enduring.  They understood the time had come to do something about it.  That’s why they took to the streets.  That is why they gathered together to collectively work on a new vision of what they believed possible in this country.  The police brutality that resulted, the pepper spraying in the faces of non violent protesters, rubber bullets, unjustified beatings, countless arrests, all messages from not only police enforcement, but from the big bullies in the back offices who were responsible for the hardships Americans have been enduring as well:  Stand up to us, and we’ll crush you.  

We also must consider what implications the NDAA has on our freedoms, and pull all the pieces together for what it means to live “free” in America.  http://www.theguardian.com/...  If the police can kill anyone it deems a “threat” including unarmed, homeless, mentally ill people begging for mercy, or fire rubber bullets and release dogs on peaceful crowds full of women and children, or sexually abuse a woman, and then beat her into seizures, and find HER guilty of assault, or arrest 10 year old children and keep them handcuffed and away from their parents while they “interrogate” them, or take us off the streets, whisk us away to a foreign land, torture us, keep us detained without a lawyer, with no rights, for an indefinite amount of time, then I must say, I can’t understand how it is that terrorists “hate us for our freedoms,” considering we don’t seem to have many left.

Do I know what to do to change it?  Nope.  But we must look at it.  We must acknowledge it’s existence, we must take the time to realize, it’s here, and it cannot continue, because it’s getting worse, it’s spreading, it’s growing, and nothing is being done about it.

These people I’ve talked about, they so easily could have been me.  The young woman in Las Vegas?  The crowd on the streets in Anaheim?  Cecily at a demonstration being groped and then beaten?  Could have been me.  I see myself in them.  They are not a world away, in some foreign, third world country ruled by some monstrous dictator.  They are friends, loved ones, people I’ve known, who are like me, and the people I know and care about.  These are not criminals.  They are not deserving of the treatment they have endured at the hands of such brutality.  So, I must say something.  Will it mean I might be arrested at the next march I attend?  Will some police officer reach out and violently grab my breast, and if I try to get him off of me, will he and other police officers beat me into a pulp, take me away for 40 hours without a lawyer or a loved one, and then send me to prison for supposedly assaulting HIM?!

Yet, it is not the only police I blame completely, although I must admit there are some very bad characters in uniform who should be in jail, as much as those who sign their paychecks, those who’ve given the orders from up on high.  Police are the soldiers that are used to instill fear from those who wish to put us in our place if we fight back, those who will order police to spray pepper spray into innocent faces, those who will try to push us back down when we try to stand up to the violence that is perpetrated against us in the form of corporate tyranny, or Wall Street thievery, or government overreach.  It is a message that is being sent across the country that is basic and brutal:  Sit down, shut up, mind your own business, and whatever you do, don’t fight back, or you will be punished, severely.  We’re gonna steal your pensions, ruin your health, contaminate your food, force you out of your homes, put you in endless debt, poison the air you breathe and the water you drink, and we’re gonna reap billions in profit while you all starve.

It’s not about us vs. the police.  Again, they are a symptom.  They are paid thugs, who are guarding the big boss in the back room.  It’s not about hating the rich, because most people of regular wealth are not to blame.  No, this is about a very small percentage of people who look to take control of everything.  The .001 percent.  

We are all in this together.  

Discuss

Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 06:19 PM PST

Who Will Be The Next Mandela

by regibaby67

Look, ok, I admit it, I am by no means a very good poet. Consider this a work in progress....

Who will be the next Mandela?

Who are the leaders who walk in the path that has been laid.

Who makes the sacrifices
Who unites and does not divide
Who’s soul endures the worst
So they can reveal to us their best

Who stands the test of time
From time and time again
Who does it for their soul
And never for the fame

Who will stand as one
Sworn to a higher cause
Who’s courage gives us hope
Who’s humanity gives us pause

There is great vacancy
That is waiting to be filled
Put your resume together
See if you can qualify
For a replacement that can never be filled

We can say with a certain certainty
He was one who lived so fully
Used every precious moment
To further the cause for humanity
How grateful we can all be
At the glory of his longevity

We know of all the heroes past
Who’s good deeds were too good to last
Who fell from an assassin’s bullet
Their crime was to tell us what they knew

Imagine if John Lennon had seen his 90th birthday
Or Malcolm had one day become the first President of Color
Had lived in the White House
Been the Guardian of Our Future

Or maybe it could have been a President King
Who finally got the chance to Live Out His Dream
Or maybe a Kennedy who retired from his second term
What could he have still done for his country
Travel back in time to the grand days of Abe
A man on a mission took our Abe away
For if he had lived, what things we could say
Instead wondering did he take better days to his grave

Mandela spent decades sitting in a cage
He emerged a greater man than he was going in
With great dignity and a benevolent humanity
He became the President of an evolved country
Look at what a man can do
When he is finally set free

I wonder maybe is there another who sits in a steel cage
Who one day may emerge and be President one day
Is there one for who’s crime there is no victim to be found
Who stood up when others chose to keep sitting down

How brave are those who’s guilt is to show
All it is that they think we should know
Who’s crime is to find a way
To shine a light on the truth
And make the world a better place.

Discuss

Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 02:18 PM PDT

The Cheney Hypocrisies

by regibaby67

Dick Cheney’s been making the rounds promoting his new book called “Heart.”

I will refrain from the obvious irony of someone promoting a book about a thing he does not have.  (ooops...my bad)

There was a great article on the Truth-Out website about this very thing that I hope you take a look at.  http://www.truth-out.org/...  

Not only is Cheney singing the praises of the right wing radicals of the Tea Party who hoped to prevent Americans from receiving the kind of health care Mr. Cheney was lucky enough to receive, his stories about his family’s struggles and reliance on New Deal safety nets proves even more ironic hypocrisy.  

You would think that Mr. Cheney would support a government to offer the same opportunities afforded his own family.  In his 2011 book In My Time, Cheney describes the struggles of his father.  “After scraping by for so long, he found the prospect of a $120 monthly salary and the security of a government job too good to turn down” wrote Cheney about his father’s struggle with employment.  A good, secure government job?  I wonder if that good government job would have been shut down along with the rest of the government as the Tea Party held America hostage with their antics.  I imagine Cheney’s father might have had to struggle to support his family, much like the close to 1 million government workers who were out of a job during the shutdown.  

His father had the great fortune of working for the Soil Conservation Service, a federal agency created to assist farmers and try to prevent more of the tragedies endured during the dust storms of the Great Depression.  It was a part of the New Deal that looked to protect American soil from the aggressive commercial farming which had stripped farmlands of their soil’s nutrients.  It saw the land as a “most basic asset.”  http://history.house.gov/...  

Somehow, the passion that Papa Cheney had spending 30 years of his life protecting the land across this country somehow did not trickle down to his son.  The Energy Act of 2005 was created under Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force in secret meetings. http://www.morphcity.com/...  It’s been a source of endless compromises to American interests, from electricity deregulation scams (thing ENRON), corporate welfare for energy producers ($7 BILLION per year http://www.theatlantic.com/... ), and what is known as the “Halliburton loophole” that has allowed fracking companies free reign to collect natural gas from shale formations, causing unbelievable damage to our “most basic asset.”  

So, here’s the real kicker.  As Mr. Cheney writes, “My dad stayed with the SCS for more than thirty years, doing work of which he was immensely proud.  He was also proud of the pension that came with federal employment - a pride that I didn’t understand until as an adult I learned about the economic catastrophes that his parents and grandparents had experienced and that had shadowed his own youth.”

How wonderful that Father Cheney was able to rely on the PENSION that he earned from working for the government for over 30 years.  Having lived through the “economic catastrophes” that they witnessed during the Great Depression, the reassurance that he would not face an uncertain retirement was a benefit that a young Dick Cheney directly benefitted from.  Yet across the country, pensions have been under intense attack from Wall Street.  http://www.rollingstone.com/...  

As with health care, protecting the land of America, and providing pensions to working Americans, I guess they were good for a Cheney, yet somehow not good for the rest of Americans.

Discuss

Spoiler Alert:  If you are an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan and did not see last night’s episode, don’t read this.  

Though I’m admittedly not a big prime time tv watcher, I decided to join my kids in some evening fare that they were excited about.  One in particular, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  We are lovers of the superhero movies, and The Avengers was a favorite with us.  We were all sad to see Coulson killed off, yet, hey. Looky here!  They brought him back to prime time!  My middle school daughter just loves the guy.

As I was relaxing with the kids, I couldn’t believe my ears when the show name dropped Manning, Snowden, and Aaron Schwartz.  HUH?  

If you don’t know any thing about the show, well, to remain as brief as possible, they are an elite team of government agents who’s home is a huge aircraft that always seems to be airborn, except when they need to touch down to fight the bad guys or protect the innocent.  They’ve invited a young, brilliant hacker to join their force, much to the dismay of a couple of the agents who’s intuition happens to be right.  She’s secretly working for a hacktivist group called Rising Tide, who’s “manifesto” sounds somewhat familiar.  One of her colleagues happened to hack into the S.H.I.E.L.D. data base and released information, which led to the kidnapping of a guy who had a mysterious ability to create a ball of fire in his hand.  Instead of managing to protect him, Skye (hacker chick) led them straight to him, of course after a proverbial roll in the hay.

As the plane raced to save the day, both hackers were being held in some kind of a holding room, both cuffed and full of guilt, Hacker guy and Skye had it out.  A few catchphrases caught my ear.

“So I guess due process isn’t really S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol” Hacker Guy says to Skye.  “They don’t have time for it” was her response, as the plane was headed as fast as possible to save the guy who’s life was in danger due to the leak of information that Hacker Guy was responsible for releasing.  As he throws in a few more “manifesto” tidbits “These people are denying our basic rights,” Hacker Guy states, as Skye defends S.H.I.E.L.D.’s position.  “They’re trying to save someone’s life,” Skye retaliates.  “That’s what they always say to justify invading privacy, Skye.”  

And then the kicker:  “Manning, Snowden, Aaron Schwartz.  These are modern day revolutionaries.”

The agents are listening in, and show their distaste for him immediately.  “The guy’s hiding behind platitudes.  He’s dirty, I can feel it.”  

The team rushes to save the poor guy who’s been kidnapped by the bad people who want to use his powers for evil, and it’s all because this “dirty” Hacker Guy wanted to spill the secrets.  In the end, we discover he’s compromised the whole Rising Tide ideology:  He sold secret information for $1 million dollars.  

The messaging is all too obvious to those who pay attention.

“Dirty” Hacker Guy, who’s “manifesto” is about freedom of information, who calls attention to the secrets that governments keep from citizens, who’s heroes are REAL LIFE whistleblowers, sold secret information for a hefty sum, put an innocent man’s life in jeopardy, and gave the bad guys more power to do their evil work.  When he calls out the lack of due process, he is met with the defense of “They’re trying to save someone’s life!” as the justifiable retaliation.  

There you have it, friends.  That’s how opinions are swayed.  Create an “entertainment” moment, put in real life issues, and shape the imaginary drama to defend the status quo.  

It’s actually more common than you think.  If you understand how the entertainment industry promotes the militarization of our society, then you understand what I’m talking about.  A few movies to ponder:  Zero Dark Thirty, Seal Team 6, Battleship, Black Hawk Down are just a small handful.  The military is more than happy to offer it’s equipment to all pro military movies.  Those that question military standing in movies such as The Thin Red Line, The Hurt Locker, and even Forrest Gump don’t pass the test, and thus, must resort to CGI or make expensive purchases elsewhere.  http://motherboard.vice.com/...  

It is unfortunate that Hollywood is becoming less about the expression of art, and more of a money making machine built on the next big blockbuster that’s guaranteed to give a big return for the investor’s big dollars.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/...  We are missing out on the potential of great art to move our spirits and inspire us, and instead are fed an endless feast of guns, violence, explosions, and mediocrity.  I am a lover of great movies, and even good movies.  I am hopeful that the movie going audiences across the country help support the more independent movies being made, so that we can see more of them.

So, will I continue to watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  Sure, for now.  I hope they might offer a balanced opinion of the one they gave audiences last night.  I’m sure that’s probably a lost cause, but hey, it’s just entertainment, right?  

Discuss

Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 12:49 PM PDT

Dear Son, Don't Drink at College

by regibaby67

Dear Son,

As you get ready to go off to college, there are some important things I need to tell you about, to prepare you for life.  Besides the usual advice of keeping up your grades, studying hard, respecting your teachers, and doing your best to eat right while in school, there’s something else I must warn you about.

Don’t drink too much, son, or you might be raped.

I know what you’re thinking, that a part of the fun of college is the usual binge drinking sorority parties that you will be invited to, or the local house parties that will be adorned with cute young women on the prowl.

I need to warn you, though, if you drink too much, you will be making yourself a potential victim.

You see, when college women drink, well, they just can’t seem to help themselves, and they will be looking for an easy target, most likely, drunken young cute men such as yourself to take advantage of.  It happens all the time, and young men need to prepare themselves for this potential danger.  Young women will ply you with cheap alcohol, and try to get you to go into their bedrooms with them.  So, you have to plan on this possibly happening, and do what you can to protect yourself.  Please don’t get drunk.  You are only making yourself an easy target for these uncontrollable sorority sisters.

When you go out drinking with your buddies, try not to look too handsome.  I know it’s hard for you, son, with those piercing blue eyes and that charming smile of yours, but let’s be real:  All those blue shirts that bring out your beautiful eyes could lead to a woman thinking you are coming on to her, and could lead to you being raped by her.  I think it might be best for you to leave the blue shirts at home for now.  We know that those horny young girls just can’t stop themselves.  Once they start drinking, well, they can’t help but use you as their little boy toy sex machine.  One minute you’re doing shots with your friends, and then the next morning you wake up leaning on the cold wall outside your dorm with your pants around your knees, a beer bottle protruding from your rear, and the overwhelming smell of dirty underwear on your face.

Be safe, son.  See you at Christmas.  

Discuss

Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 02:03 PM PDT

The Truth About Peace

by regibaby67

It seems we are entering a new world.  A hopeful, peaceful world.

Many are probably not too concerned about the relationship between the U.S. and Iran and Israel.  Who really cares, they may think.  Iran is trying to get a nuke.  Go ahead and bomb them.  The world will be safer.  

Let’s go back to some of the basics of the history of our relationship with Iran.  The U.S. was responsible for a CIA coup that removed a democratically elected leader and installed a Western friendly Shah back in 1953.  http://www.iranchamber.com/...  Good for relations with the U.S. and Western countries who wanted access to Iran’s oil, not so good for many of the Persian people, many suffered under his oppressive regime.  Their democratically elected president, Dr. Mosaddeq, wanted to nationalize the oil industry, but British and American interests wanted access to the large Iranian oil fields.  So, they infiltrated Iran and got their way, and gained access to the oil and installed a leader of their choosing.  This led the country towards a “westernization,” which went against many of the more traditional ways of some of the population who valued a more conservative religious society.

During this time, there were Persians who enjoyed the relationship between the U.S. and Iran.  There was a shipment of American goods that were flown in on a weekly basis and sold in Tehran and they were very popular.  American movies were brought in and translated into farsi.  Women were hanging out in bikinis on public beaches.  I know, I saw the photos of my daughters’ grandmother back in the days of the Shah.

Yet, those who were oppressed by the Shah’s regime fought back.  As with the 1953 coup, whispers throughout the country became a fevered pitch, and people gathered in the streets demanding their country back from Western influence and control.  The Iranian people believed what they were demonstrating for would be a better Iran, a better life for Persian people.  Many did not support the take over of the American Embassy, certainly not the holding of hostages.  They simply wanted a better life for themselves and their families.  

What most did not anticipate was the even more repressive regime that would replace it.

The people of Iran did not know that their country would become the religiously oppressive government that turned back the clock on their lives.  While any voices who supported the Shah and who were not happy about the new restrictions imposed by the new regime were quickly squashed, there were also simple freedoms once taken for granted that were soon lost to the people of Iran.  Women were not allowed to speak to a man in public that they were not related to.  Dancing in public was forbidden, women were required to be covered only exposing their faces and their hands, and make up and even nail polish was forbidden.  Even men were not allowed to wear shorts in public.  This was not the Iran that most of the population had envisioned, certainly not the one they took to the streets and demonstrated for.  The loss of personal freedoms was devastating to the people there.

Then came the Iran/Iraq war, a war so destructive that as many as a million lost their lives in the conflict.  The reality was, there were many outside forces playing their hand in the conflict, but none so blatantly apparent as Donald Rumsfled meeting with Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 1983.  http://www.youtube.com/...  The truth is, the U.S. was playing both sides against each other, as well as other countries providing weapons and both real and false information to gain influence.  Chaos creates havoc for warring countries, weakens their military making them vulnerable to outside influence, and causing not only internal turmoil but financial hardships as well.  http://www.iranchamber.com/...  The Persian Gulf is where the oil is, and so the world players have sought to gain influence and military maneuvering to keep control over the flow of those energy markets.

After the experience of a westernized Shah, and for the last 30+ years of a repressive religious regime, the Green Revolution in 2009 revealed an Iranian society ready for a new freedom in Iran.

Most Iranians were not fond of Ahmadinegad, and they are glad he has been replace.  They favor a better relationship with people of the West, and are hopeful that the new president will be able to bring about peaceful resolutions between Iran and the U.S.  I cannot help but be hopeful after hearing President Rouhani speak at the UN, and also the news that he spoke on the phone with President Obama.  

Yet despite President Rouhani’s continuous claims that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, and despite his recent media tour speaking words of reconciliation and peaceful negotiations, and despite actually being able to follow him on Twitter (who’d have ever thought THAT would happen) here comes Israeli President Netanyahu reiterating his hardline approach on Iran, that President Rouhani is not to be trusted, that Israel would in fact act alone if they must to “defend” themselves, and that he knows that Iran is this close  to having a nuclear bomb.  In just a couple days after Rouhani left the U.S., Bibi made a visit to the White House and spoke at the UN with his usual anti-Iran, pro military force bluster.

In the hopes of fostering peaceful relationships in the Middle East, and promoting better relationships between nations, I want to take some time to address some obvious concerns that should be taken into consideration.

Any country and population should be able to defend itself from outside aggression.  Let’s be clear, though, DEFENDING yourself does not imply taking action against another entity that has not indeed perpetrated an attack on you first.  

While I do believe that Israel should have the power to defend itself against outside aggression, I do NOT believe they have a right to attack Iran, or any other country, by any means.  

What most Americans do not understand is one of the reasons why many Muslim countries in the region are upset with Israel, because it is not discussed in the American media.  Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people has been a human rights atrocity that continuously goes unpunished.  Gaza has been suffering horrific conditions for years, their treatment by Israel goes against international law.  80% of the population must rely on humanitarian aid.  http://www.oxfam.org/...  Israel has put up blockades refusing to let Gaza aid flotillas enter the area, claiming there is not a humanitarian crisis.  Estimates say 70% of the population is food insecure.  There are other stories that Israel has used chemical weapons on the Palestinians.  The US media suppressed a UN report from 2009 that stated that Israel did indeed perpetrate such a despicable act.  http://axisoflogic.com/...  Yet, no one is coming to the rescue of the Palestinian people.  Americans are kept in the dark about such actions, despite the fact that US gives $3 BILLION in aid to Israel every year.  Israel is relishing in a booming economy right now, while the American government is shut down.  We are slashing food stamps from the hungry, sequester cuts are harming all areas of American society, yet we can afford to send Israel billions of dollars to support their thriving economy?  And we do nothing when they use chemical weapons against a population of innocent people?

Another area of concern about Israel is the fact that they are the only nuclear threat in the Middle East, yet they refuse to sign onto the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  They also have secret chemical and biological weapons labs that if used could unleash untold terror.  http://www.globalresearch.ca/...  

Countries in the Middle East understand the deep relationship that the US has with Israel.  They also witnessed what happened in Iraq when a country that did NOTHING to provoke a war with America suffered untold horrors at the hands of not only US military, but the private Blackwater militia.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, never had any WMD’s, yet we bombed and destroyed much of the country, murdered tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children, created untold havoc, created torture prisons, and still have a president claiming the standards of American exceptionalism to the UN.

Yet Israel is worried that Iran is going to get a nuclear bomb?

Just for argument’s sake, what if Iran did attain nuclear weapons capabilities?  What would they do with it?  Does anyone in their right mind seriously believe that after witnessing what the US did to Iraq in an UNprovoked war, that Iran would somehow take an aggressive stance and attack Israel (who has the largest military arsenal in the region, including chemical and biological weapons) who happens to be best buddies with the US?  They would be committing suicide, literally, for their country.

Let us not forget that Iran is surrounded by US forces in the region.  From Cyprus to Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iraq and Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and plenty of navy ships in the Arabian Sea, there is no lack of American military might in the area.  http://www.aljazeera.com/...  Imagine if the US had that kind of military might of a foreign country surrounding our borders, after our resources, threatening to take military action against us.  Sometimes we need to imagine slipping our feet into someone else’s shoes to imagine what the reality is for those on the receiving end of our power posturing.

So, what are the solutions?  What are the objectives?  What can be accomplished to resolve the crisis in the area, to foster peace?

I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but let’s state the obvious.  The Palestinian people need to be treated properly, and Israel should be forced to uphold international law.  While Israel has every right to defend itself, it should not have the right to inflict such humanitarian atrocities on a population.  Yes, the Jewish people have a right to their own country, but so do the Palestinians.  How to solve this issue?  There are better people equipped to come up with good answers.  The Palestinians should be allowed to live with dignity and respect, free from oppression.  That should be addressed and supported.

Bibi needs to stop with the threatening of Iran.  Enough is enough already.  Why are we at the mercy of what Israel demands when WE are the ones sending billions in aid to them every year?  Why do we need to send aid to a country that is experiencing a robust economy?  Glad you are doing well, Israel, but guess what?  Americans need help with their own economy, thank you.  

If we are to hold Syria accountable to their chemical weapons, then we must also hold not only Israel, but OURSELVES accountable to chemical weapons.  They are a vile and cruel form of warfare, and while I am against all war, the stockpile that countries have now acquired, ANY country that has acquired, must be held accountable and subject to international laws.  If we are truly to be a country that talks about “exceptionalism” then we must be leaders in the world and not only demand other countries to respect international laws, but follow them as well.

We should also expect that Israel sign onto the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  http://www.jpost.com/...  Israel should not have any authority to decide what Iran does when Israel does not honor international laws.

I hope that President Obama continues talks with President Rouhani.  The people of Iran have suffered greatly from the sanctions imposed by the West.  It’s time to stop this.  The door has been opened for a renegotiation of goodwill between one time enemies.  Iran is not our enemy, and the Persian people do not hate those in the West.  They want a better country for their citizens, and a better future for their children.  The country is suffering 30% inflation, and 20% of it’s country is unemployed. http://www.politifact.com/...  Iran is not a military threat to other nations, it is a rich oil nation.

If we are to be exceptional, Mr. President, then we must stop the assault on the population of Iran, hold Israel accountable to international law, stop allowing the persecution of the Palestinian people,  and encourage peaceful relationships in the region.

Discuss

Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:02 PM PDT

Justified Anger at Wall Street

by regibaby67

Don’t be angry.

I keep telling myself that, each time I sit at my computer to write something about the state of the country.

Let go of the anger.

I feel it rising inside of me, like a slow boil, someone has a flame just below me, and I feel the temperature rising.  I’m fanning myself to cool off, but the fire burns below, and the warmth is gaining.

Maybe I’m describing the tempered feelings of the masses, who spend their time hoping for the best, working hard to get ahead, and keep spinning their wheels to no where.

For a long time, no one spoke to the realities felt by the average American.  The media from on high dictates the dialogue on a regular basis.  In their lofty towers, they tell us the official stories we are supposed to accept.  Beneath it all, something disturbs us, but we cannot figure it out.  Pop another pill and go back to your regularly scheduled program.  Go play some Angry Birds, you’ll feel better soon enough.

Blame The Lazy Poor, living off of YOUR hard earned tax dollars.  Blame The Terrorists, who are plotting endlessly to kill you and your family because they hate your freedoms.  Blame The Illegal Immigrants, who are here to steal your jobs.  Blame The Other Party, because they don’t care about Our Party, Our America.  Our side is Right.  They are Wrong.  Look at how they fight each other on our TV screens.

Meanwhile, the country is falling apart, literally.  There are over 65,000 bridges in need of repair in this country.  http://www.usatoday.com/...  Roads are such a mess in some areas that they are turning them back into gravel.  http://www.texastribune.org/...   While other countries are leading the way in quality and advancement of transportation, we are sadly lacking.  Public schools are limping along, more worried about test scores that enriching inquisitive minds.  And now, our government can’t seem to get it’s act together, so it is planning on shutting down.  Good jobs are becoming harder and harder to find.  Workers are more productive than ever, and making less than ever.

Yet for the Good Ole Boys Club on Wall Street, things are better than ever.  Gee, those guys are just so smart.  How do they manage to do it?  Just a few short years ago, they brought this country, hell, the world, to the brink of complete financial collapse, and now, they’re all back to living large with nary a slap on the wrist.  They’ve got financial “regulators” in their back pocket, lobbyists up on The Hill ensuring that the administration and Congress is taking good care of them, and all the bull shit nonsense they put us through just a few years ago is still going on.  Not only that, but they’ve got their media minions doing their bidding, once a celebrated dance of smoke and mirrors, now has become such a blatant display of ass kissing it’s as if they permanently have brown shit smudges tattooed on their lips.

See?  Hard for me to not be angry at the sycophant suck ups we’re witnessing regularly in the media who not only defend these criminals who should all be in prison for the atrocities they’ve committed against the trusting population of this country, but who shower them with such overblown adulation it regularly brings up the vile in the back of the throat.

Ok, so maybe you think I’m being a bit harsh.  Cool your jets, girlfriend!  Don’t get your panties in a wad!  It’s just how the game is played!  These guys are experts in their fields!  Who else could run these big banks, no one else  has the know how and talent, that’s why they deserve those big ass bonuses!

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, while mom and pop are having their retirements swindled, while we’re finding out 401k’s were a big scam, while John Arnold is running around trying to get at all the pension funds in this country, I know, I know, who am I to get angry at the guys who are just better at playing financial chess than the rest of us?

Let’s face it, America, these guys (and I’m sure many ladies out there, I’m sure criminal banking behavior is an equal opportunity exploitation game) have had it out for us for a long time.  Deregulation and loopholes are their specialty.  If you want some bad banking back round, just go here and read everything Matt Taibbi has written about the financial crisis.  http://www.rollingstone.com/...  Matt ahem, I mean Mr. Taibbi (hey, considering the work he’s done in pursuit of the truth about the financial madness and in defense of the American Public, I adore this man so much I’d practically offer to bear him children, or at least be on a first name basis..hopefully..) has done the work that was desperately needed to inform us as to the calculated behind the scenes schemes and misadventures of the Wall Street cronies.  

Still, girlfriend, why so pissed off?

Oh, let’s just take a look at some of the brown nose ass kissing that’s been in the news lately.  Today, we had Alex Pareene on CNBC in a 3 to 1 take down when he dared challenge the greatness of Jamie Dimon.  http://www.salon.com/...  Never mind the role Dimon has had in ripping off America, he’s making money for stockholders and shares are up, so he’s a hero to the small bubble of the money markets.  It’s amazing how criminal behavior is defended when there’s money to be made.  It’s like DeNiro defending Pesci in Casino for all those bodies buried in the desert outside of Vegas, no one complains as long as the big boys back east are seeing big dollar signs.

That’s not the worst of it, though.  Didn’t you know the head of Goldman Sachs, one of the worst offenders of the financial crisis, Lloyd Blankfein, is only “doing God’s work?”  Or that what Wall Street has really been doing, despite all facts to the contrary (facts is a loaded word on Wall Street, I’ve heard) is that they are responsible for LIFTING people out of poverty.  http://www.cnbc.com/...  

Mr. Blankfein, I’d love to see your data on that.  Oh, or maybe you believed that your fellow Wall Street criminal cohorts were living in poverty conditions before you doled out $16 BILLION in year end bonuses?

That must be it.

Or how about the column by noted member of the Ayn Rand Institute and previous “associate” of Ayn’s, Harry “Bite Me, Poor People” Binswanger claiming that not only should the 99% be giving back to the 1% for all that they do for them, but that Blankfein has done more for mankind than Mother Teresa.  http://www.forbes.com/...    He also believes that top earners should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  It’s as if they’ve turned the “let them eat cake” into a whole new level of grossness, like eat the cake and then eat the shit that results from it, and smile and say thank you sir for every big brown bite.  

If you think this is bad enough, don’t forget the CEO who was bailed out by OUR tax dollars complaining that the anger directed at Wall Street bonuses are equal to the lynchings that went on in the Deep South.  Yes, poor Wall Street banksters are feeling much like a black man hanging from a large tree being hung to death just because of the color of his skin.  http://billmoyers.com/...  

Oh, the woes of those who live in their insulated bubbles of money fraud.  How they reek of the lies and deceit perpetrated on the weak and those in need.  The financial crisis was equal to the Great Depression, and yet the celebrations on Wall Street seem to be not only a continuous backslapping grandstanding in the face of those who are still suffering extreme economic downturn, they might as well be slapping us all in the face with their hundred dollar bills.  http://www.usatoday.com/...   While it’s Champagne and Caviar dreams for those in their big glass towers, the real hardships for ordinary Americans never get much coverage in the Wall Street crony ass kissing newsrooms.  http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/...  

Hmm.  Anger justified.  

Discuss

Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 09:11 AM PDT

Pay Attention To Barrett Brown

by regibaby67

We are living in a new era of information and technology, of online access and control, where how we communicate and share ideas is being accessed, monitored, collected, and stored.

It amazes me how little regard people have over their own privacy, how little anger there is over what has been revealed to us in recent weeks and months as a result of what Edward Snowden has shared.  If I had told you ten, twenty years ago that the government was opening every piece of your mail and photocopy it and storing it, if I told you that every conversation you were having with every person on the phone was being recorded and stored, or that there were cameras in your home that were recording your movements and a government agency was able to watch you, would you be upset?  Or that a government agency had put a tracking device on you and your car and could follow your every move, would that get you riled up?

Yet the American public seems immune to such outrage.  “They’re doing it for our own good, to protect us,” seems to be what people say.  “They have to protect us from the terrorists,” is common as well.  “I have nothing to hide, let them spy, snoop, record, listen, watch, monitor, and store every word we say, type, and send, who cares?”

There is so much more at stake here than just simple snooping.  What is at work here are more than just government agencies, but the private contractors who are doing their bidding.

We are in a time in history when our government cares so very little for ensuring the safety and well being of our citizens.  While media touts the broad overreach of our privacy is indeed for our own protection against “terrorists” the reality for many citizens is that they are being abused by not only our government agencies but also the private corporate entities that they protect.

Take, for instance, the typical American worker.  I could offer endless statistics here, but I won’t, they are easy to find, that tell us how mistreated the typical worker is nowadays, and how unbelievable the corporate profit is, and how high the ratio is for the average worker vs. the income of the CEO.  As a result of the breaking up of many unionized job markets, corporations have stripped workers of many rights and benefits, and wages have been so stagnant that full time employees at minimum wage still qualify for food stamps.  I say full time, yet, even those jobs are becoming harder and harder to find.  There has been an influx of temp agencies across the land, where unemployed gather desperate for work every day.  Large corporate entities hiding in plain sight in massive, unmarked buildings use these day laborers by offering them minimum wage, part time hours, no benefits, no worker’s protections, and no loyalty.  Many times workers are not paid their full wage, or are sometimes injured on the job.  Yet if they complain, they are putting themselves at risk for not receiving work the next day.  These are people who are working to feed themselves and their families, and are barely able to support themselves, yet the corporate entities who employ them as well as the CEO’s and board members who make the decisions are making profits hand over fist as a direct result of the conditions forced upon these low paid workers.  Because people are shuffled around, there is no unity among the workers, which prevents them from organizing and uniting to demand better pay, safer working conditions, and steady hours.  In this way, corporations have crippled not only the safety of unions that are meant to protect workers from such abuses, it is crippling the American family who must adjust to the poverty conditions that result from these poor working conditions.  When American workers are forced to work many part time jobs, work odd hours, and stress over being able to feed their families, the harm it causes the family is never completely told.  

Imagine, though, if workers were to try to organize to demand more fair working conditions.  Do large corporate entities have ties with the private contractors who do the bidding of the NSA?  There was a recent case where Chevron, in response to Ecuadorian activists fighting the large corporation over the devastation that country has suffered as a result of 18.5 billion gallons of oil waste dumped in the Ecuadorean Amazon, received a judgment of $18 billion dollars against them.  They then went and won the rights to private information, including identity information, IP usage records, and email accounts for environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys through Microsoft.

Is this indeed the wave of the future?  That when a population of concerned citizens fighting to protect their land, their people, their livelihood from corporate entities who would poison and pollute with no regard have their privacy compromised by federal judges in favor of corporations?  https://www.commondreams.org/...

Another chilling example of such abuse was recently revealed that fracking companies were using PSYOPS against anti fracking activists who were fighting for their communities.  http://truth-out.org/...   These kinds of abuses of private information should be a wake up call to all Americans as to what is at stake by having all of our information collected, catalogued and stored.  

The fact of the matter is, the information that has been collected can very well be used against us, for whatever reason the government and/or corporate institutions might deem fit.  There is also information that the Occupy Wall Street activists were spied on.  http://progressive.org/... Not only spied on, but possibly infiltrated and had aggressive tactics used to cause violence within what were supposed to be peaceful protests.  http://www.motherjones.com/...  

We are living in an age where our once prosperous Middle Class is descending into poverty conditions, when homelessness, unemployment, and hunger are rising, when worker’s rights and conditions are in terrible condition, when banksters and Wall Street crimes continue to go unpunished, and American citizens are discovering the $50+ Billion dollar industry being used to spy on us all.  Those who have been brave enough to oppose these conditions, who occupied and marched in opposition to what they saw happening, were met with pepper spray and militarized police wielding batons.  

We now have police departments using military style weapons and uniforms, an unchecked, unregulated NSA keeping tabs on every move we make, and corporations and CEOs requesting local law enforcement authorities to work on their behalf to provide security as well as scrutiny over any and all actions of American citizens who answer the call to become activists in the name of challenging the collective abuse of our rights by these said institutions.  Journalists who are doing challenging work by pulling the curtain back and revealing the underhanded actions done by the NSA, such as Glenn Greenwald, are literally being told by other journalists that they are guilty of “aiding and abetting” and should be prosecuted.  We are not only suffering the assault by corporate entities and unchecked government powers, but those who seek to tell us the truth about what’s really going on behind those large doors are being attacked by the very institutions who should be working for the American people to inform us all as to the truth.

What’s happening now is more than just the issue of worker’s rights, and NSA spying, police militarism and anti-fracking infiltration.  Our planet has been under assault over the past several decades from untold amounts of abuse.  This is a fight that is not just about saving ourselves, but saving each other, all of us, from the very real issue of climate change.  It will make no sense to provide workers with better conditions if we are going to stand back and witness our planet becoming so polluted and poisoned it will be uninhabitable.

Over the past several years, we have had some brave truth tellers risk everything to inform us of what was really happening behind the scenes, from Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, Barrett Brown, even Julian Assange.  Yet those who are supposedly working in the press, people in positions of access, are not interested in helping inform the general public as to the abuses that are being committed against them.  Their talking points most likely handed down from their large corporate sponsors who sign their paychecks are to ridicule and marginalize the whistleblower, and President Obama, who when running for office claimed interest in protecting whistleblowers, has not only turned his back on them but prosecuted them more harshly than any other administration before him.  

The next big case on a whistleblower is the case of Barrett Brown, currently facing a century in prison for posting a LINK.  Mr. Brown was working on the connection between NSA and the private information industry who holds all of our information.  There has now been a gag order placed on the case, another reason we should all be concerned about what exactly Mr. Brown found.  The silence from the mass media outlets has been deafening.

Now is the time to focus attention on Mr. Brown’s case.  What people need to wake up and understand is, it’s not just about your right to privacy, which indeed you should expect and demand.  It is how the powers that be have stored your information and is willing to use it against you should you choose to challenge the powers that be to stand up for your rights as an American citizen in whatever means you deem it necessary, whether it means standing up to a fracking industry that is coming into your neighborhood to destroy your community, or fighting an oil company that is poisoning your land, or demonstrating with Occupy Wall Street against large banking institutions who have stolen the wealth of this country with their casino banking practices.  

If we continue to allow the practices of militarized police brutality, NSA spying and infiltrating, and unchecked corporate power, then we are truly headed for 1984.

Discuss

Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 11:02 AM PDT

Another American Misadventure

by regibaby67

The noise is getting louder, don’t you hear it?

The drum beats of war.

I’ve been watching and witnessing and hearing all the reasoning and rational for a war against Syria.  No, you say, this isn’t war!  We’re just going to drop bombs on them for a day or two, a week TOPS.  This isn’t war!  We’re just going to teach them a lesson to not use chemical weapons.  It will be a surgical strike, we will use pin point precision!  Too bad if a few innocent civilians are blown into dust as a result, we MUST ACT!  I hear the word “humanitarian” thrown around as much as I heard “mushroom cloud” over a decade ago.  I hear the defenders spout their talking points.

“Those poor children!  How can we do nothing about those poor children being gassed to death!  If we don’t teach Syria a lesson, then Iran will grow stronger!  The mullahs are listening!  If we do nothing, we will be sorry, it’s going to make us look bad!  How can we wimp out now?  President Obama doesn’t WANT to make war, he’s being FORCED to act!  It’s not HIS fault.  Blame ASSAD.  HE’S the boogeyman who crossed the Red Line.”

And the nerve of them to say that all will be well because we won’t have any boots on the ground, as if that is a moral justification to bomb innocent civilians.  I also hear the empty apologies for Iraq, the statements that this won’t be another Iraq.  We’ll make sure it isn’t.  We’ve got our drone operators in their bunkers in New Mexico, they’re all ready to go, as soon as they finish their lunch.

Here we go again.

I thought we had learned our lessons from Iraq.  I believed I voted (in ’08, I refused to vote for him last year) for an anti war President, who would uphold the Constitution, who would close Guantanamo, who’d defend whistleblowers, go after Wall Street corruption, fight against the surveillance state, and NEVER EVER ENGAGE IN A PREEMPTIVE WAR.  I mean, seriously, the guy is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, for Christ’s sake.  

Anyone else feeling buyers remorse?  

To all those preaching the USA’s moral right to defend all things good and holy, that defend the bombing of Syria as an act of humanitarianism, who claim that we cannot allow Syria to get away with the usage of chemical weapons, let me help you with some well known information that should help you see through the lies, like offering a pair of big boots to  help you wade through the endless river of bullshit they’re throwing at your feet.

Hmmm....shall we start with the most obvious fact?  America used CHEMICAL WEAPONS in VIETNAM.

WHAT?!  you gasp in feigned shock.

What do you think Agent Orange is?  Or Napalm?  Oh, never mind me trying to explain it all to you.  Just take a look at this.

http://www.policymic.com/...

Want to tell me again how the United States of America has the legal and moral authority to bomb Syria again because of the use of chemical weapons?

Didn’t think so.

While the wool has been pulled over our own eyes as to our own moral authority, let’s not forget that in the rest of the world, we have a less than stellar reputation as defenders of freedom and democracy and justice.  Americans tend to have short attention spans and limited memories when it comes to the atrocities that have been committed in our name.  The War on Iraq was seen by the rest of the world for what it really was, an aggressive act of terror against a population that had done nothing wrong.  So too was the War on Vietnam.  Yes, I’m using War ON instead of IN, because Wars are committed ON countries, not just IN them.  The destruction of people, land, property, communities, landmarks, historic institutions, are all included when we drop bombs indiscriminately ON an innocent population.  We’ve created terror, havoc, chaos, and left those who survived with the chemical filth that will affect the people there for generations by causing disease, cancers, and birth defects.  How about the fact that we make regular drone strikes in the Middle East?  For every 1 terrorist that is killed, 50 innocent people are killed.  http://www.policymic.com/...  Hundreds of innocent civilians are blown to bits from American drone strikes on countries we are not at "war" with, yet, somehow, we are the moral defenders of justice.  Open your eyes and read through the lies, please.

Dropping bombs on Syria will not bring about peace.  It will not help the people of that country.  It will not help establish some kind of forward thinking that will teach Assad a lesson.  We have heard the administration say they have proof that Assad is the one who did this heinous act.  What if it’s wrong?  There are plenty of reasons for others to make a chemical weapons attack and blame Assad.

Let us not forget the words of Gen. Wesley Clark:

http://www.youtube.com/...

There are other forces at play here, folks.  They try to lay out a black and white argument of good (US) vs. evil (Assad) but it’s not that simple.  Behind the scenes are power players who deal in death and destruction like a child’s board game, putting lives in the crosshairs for the simple reason that there’s money to be made.  I wish it were that simple.  I wish that I could turn on my television and listen to the men and women who are in the positions of power in our government to do the right thing, that they were speaking the truth to us, and that all those talking heads were really engaged in honest debate on what should be done.  I’ve read enough and witnessed enough history and learned from those who really do speak truth to power that there’s very little truth being spoken on Capital Hill, in those hearing rooms, or in those news rooms.  I’m not saying all, there are the few and far between who do speak truth.  But their voices are few, and as we continue our march to war again, it’s their voices that we need to be listening to the most, yet their voices that are the hardest to hear when our ears are already filled with the drumming of the war machine.

Syria is well armed, and they have threatened retaliation if attacked.  Iran has openly come out against any use of chemical weapons, having suffered the loss of thousands and thousands during the Iran/Iraq war (chemical weapons that the US supplied to Saddam Hussein, I might add).  They are allies with Syria, and they understand full well the implications of American bombs dropping on Syria.  They have already stated that they will come to Syria’s defense.  To them, America dropping bombs on their ally is a an act of naked aggression, having witnessed what America did to Iraq for a decade.  Anyone remember Abu Ghraib?  Is the American memory bank so dysfunctional and broken that we have forgotten the atrocities that our SOLDIERS committed in those torture chambers, the photos that revealed to the Middle East what the US was doing to human beings guilty of no crime?  Russia has also warned against War on Syria, but no one is talking about THAT fact, as they continue to defend their humanitarian rhetoric.  Right now, Russia is sending their war ships into the area.   http://news.yahoo.com/...  To them, America dropping bombs on Syria is seen as an act of AGGRESSION, and somehow, Americans can’t seem to wrap their heads around what this makes the US look like.  Another item that is not getting much discussion is Prince Bandar.  Rumors have been floating around that he has been behind the chemical weapons attack, and he is known to want to see the Assad regime toppled for his own reasons.  

Here’s this:

http://charlesbivona.com/...

I don’t know what the solution is, I don’t have the answer for what’s happening in Syria.  Let’s face it, there are many other areas in the world that are experiencing tragedies full of violence on innocent populations.  Just take a look at what’s been happening in Africa for years, yet we do nothing to help those people.  Considering the “help” we gave to the Iraqi people, they are better off without American intervention.

Don’t think for a moment the military industrial complex isn’t sitting on the sidelines rubbing their greedy hands together waiting to get their hands on Syria.  It’s been in the playbook for years.  To have those who took us into that tragic misadventure in Iraq going on the news shows trying to push Obama to bomb Syria should be all the proof you need to see they are doing the same thing they did in Iraq.

Don’t believe the lies.

Discuss

Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 03:16 PM PDT

Labor Day Reflections

by regibaby67

Today is the day we’re supposed to be celebrating Labor.  Yet for most workers in the US today, those working part time, working without benefits, without job security, the working poor, there is really not much to celebrate.

I remember in my high school, there were other options for those who did not wish to continue their academic careers and go onto college. As described in this Forbes article, many of those choices have been removed from our high schools.  http://www.forbes.com/...

There used to be a time when a family could be supported by one adult working full time.  Benefits were supplied by the company, health insurance kicked in after 30-90 days of work.  Pensions were guaranteed.  A regular 40 hour work week meant time for families to be together.  It meant you could buy a home, take a vacation, put money away for your kids to go to college.  None of these benefits came easily.  Before unions, laborers suffered terrible working conditions  Young children were sent to work to help support poor families.  People worked long hours without breaks, in dangerous conditions.  Does anyone remember the recent Bangladesh factory collapse?  http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/...  Just a hundred years ago, American workers suffered the same working conditions.  http://www.history.com/...   For a look at the suffering of the American worker and the control that corporate owners had over their lives, look up the Ludlow Massacre.  The murder of innocent people, including women and children by state authorities at the request of a Rockefeller is a permanent part of our history that has been hidden from us.  These are the people who fought and died for worker’s rights.

Workers in this country always suffered terrible working conditions, until they finally got together and formed unions.  With the unity and strength in numbers, they were able to form a united voice to challenge the large corporate masters to force the issue of human dignity, demanding livable working conditions and a decent wage.  These victories were not won easily, for many put their bodies and their lives on the line to earn these rights.  No victory for the poor is ever won by gentle persuasion.  Most times, blood was shed.  Many times, entire families were slaughtered.

Today’s workers are suffering terrible conditions, and corporate profits and CEO wages are at an all time high.  We are increasing the number of working poor in this country, those who work full time yet still have the need to go on public assistance for food to feed their families.  Corporations have found ways to avoid certain responsibilities to American workers.  They now force workers onto part time shifts, just beneath the required hours to offer health care.  Corporations have figured out how to cut down their labor and require workers to do the work of what used to take many workers.  Our good paying factory jobs have been shipped overseas to countries that still allow their populations to be exploited the way our workers were exploited 100 years ago.

When the large factories leave their communities to exploit workers in other countries, the communities are left devastated.  With no reliable jobs, there’s no money to be spent, so small businesses close down.  Towns are literally left to die.  

In many communities, Wal-Marts set up shop, the large superstore with the bottom of the barrel prices.  Wal-Marts force any competition out of business, regularly shutting down local small business owners who cannot keep up with the low pricing.  Many times, good union jobs are lost as industry jobs such as the grocery store worker, once earning a decent wage and good benefits, is cut down to a part time, minimum wage job that offers no benefits.  Families have to rely on more than one part time job to keep up with basic needs.  Many have to rely on food stamps to feed their families.

It should be no surprise that many workers are living below poverty levels.  Where does all this corporate profit come from?  Where are these CEOs earning record profits from?  Of course, we already know where the money comes from- directly from the pockets of the American worker.  Cuts in wages and benefits are all cuts to bottom line expenses, all going back to profits for the corporate masters.  Add in our corporate friendly government who offer endless benefits to Corporations, the worker is left to fend for themselves.  Few workers have the protections that unions once offered.  

We have the talking heads on television who blame the poor for their current conditions.  Get a better job, they claim, as if such a thing were so easy.  Hey, I could live on $130 a month on food stamps, claimed one ignorant news caster.  Just think what it will do to your waistline!  The suffering is blamed on poor choices instead of poor conditions trickled down from corporate board rooms.

This is devastating our American families.  Single parents suffer much more than families who have two working adults bringing in paychecks, but either way, kids are left at home alone because working parents are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.  Staying home to raise a family seems like a distant memory to many couples as both are required to be in the workplace.  Stable, reliable childcare is difficult to find, and usually is an extremely high cost to the working family.  The stress endured by the working family adds to the family dynamic, adding to the struggles for families to maintain loving homes as worries about meeting the needs of basic living expenses are difficult to achieve.  Parents have to work through illnesses because they don’t have paid sick days.  Workers have to work while injured because they can’t afford to take time off.  Forget about vacation time, those luxuries are a thing of the past.

The decimation of the middle class has been a terrible reality of our current corporate and governmental policies.  Our workers are being reduced to terrible working conditions and poverty wages, and few are speaking up for them.  At the anniversary for Dr. Martin Luther King’s March On Washington, not much was said about the working poor.  We have millions in need of food stamps, and yet our government allows these food stamps to be cut for the benefit of corporations who are allowed endless tax loopholes, taking their profits and storing them down in the Caymans.  Trillions of dollars that belong back in this country, that should be paid to American workers to earn a decent wage, should be used to rebuild our infrastructure, should be invested in our schools, should be used to pay for universal healthcare in this country.  Instead, trillions are making interest for corporate entities and billionaires who seek to take whatever is left of the wealth in this country.

The trillions taken from the American people in cuts to wages, cuts to benefits, cuts to improving our infrastructure, cuts to our schools, cuts to our government services, cuts to the needy in food stamps and school lunches, cuts to meals on wheels that feed our homebound elderly, cuts to social programs, theft through predatory banksters, theft from a manipulated mortgage crisis, this all represents the Great Theft of America.  The American Dream is not dead so much as it’s been stolen in the middle of the night by the great corporate thieves who would leave the American citizen to die from hunger, from thirst, from choking on poisonous air and left to rot in the desert created from the climate change that will eventually doom the human species.

Time to wake up, America.  Time to take our dreams back from those greedy thieves.

Discuss

Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:22 PM PDT

5 Principles of Propaganda War

by regibaby67

Here we are again, on the verge of another war.  The nightmare of Iraq all over again.

I remember the outrage I felt as I watched Bush and Co. lead us into that misguided chaos.  I knew it was all manufactured bullshit.  Now, we can look back and see what a bunch of malarky it really was.  http://www.motherjones.com/...  And yes, I’m being gentle when I use the word “malarky.”  Believe me, there are many other words I’d like to use.  Trying to watch my tongue, so to speak.

Are we really going to go down this path again?  

We’ve been hearing about the tragedies in Syria for some time now.  The terrible civil war that’s resulted in what most reports claim over 100,000 dead, endless destruction of communities, thousands upon thousands of injured, who knows how many refugees have fled to other countries.  We here in the U.S. can’t imagine what it must be like to endure that kind of violence.  

President Obama has been making the Red Line threat for a while now.  The use of chemical weapons is indeed a terrible, horrific event.  We were told by the President that he would be forced to act if this did indeed happen.  Last week, we found out it has indeed taken place.  This is an atrocity, we are being told.  “It defies any code of morality,” said   John Kerry, it’s a “moral obscenity.”  Yes, Mr. Secretary.  It is a moral obscenity.

The reports that have come out of Syria of a chemical weapons attack, terrible images of dead children, claims that Assad made the order to use chemical weapons on his own population.  We’ve been hearing about what a monster this guy is for some time.  Chemical weapons is the last straw, we are being told, before we take action against this bad guy.  We must take action to protect American interests.

Wait a second.  What American interests?  I thought we were going there to help protect Syrians against Assad?  Isn’t that why we’re going to show him a lesson?  What the heck are American interests, anyway?  

This sounds familiar.

After the fiasco of Iraq, we should all be very aware and concerned when the talking heads start pontificating the need for the United States to bomb Syria to “teach them a lesson” to not use chemical weapons on their people.  It is unfortunate that it appears Obama has backed himself into a corner with all of this “red line” rhetoric, claiming again and again over the last several months that if there was proof that chemical weapons were used in Syria, it would be cause for American intervention.  Many of the same talking heads who insisted we needed to take out Saddam Hussein are now insisting that we need to take the same action on Assad.  Strange how the outrage over children dead from poisonous gas somehow garners the reaction that we should rain missiles on Syria to somehow “save” them.

Now, I admit, I’m not a journalist.  But just a bit of research on the subject has given me a more clear understanding of the situation than what you can get from most of the talking heads on television demanding American forces start another bombing campaign on another country that has not attacked us.

What I’ve discovered is a chilling account by Michel Collon, a Belgian investigative journalist and writer who’s put together the theory of what he calls the 5 Principles of a Propaganda War.  

When you put the Iraq war up against the test, all the pieces fit.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

 1. Hide economic interests.

Yes, indeed, they did just that.  We were told Saddam had WMDs and he was going to use them against us, we were told Saddam was a danger to Americans, we were told we would be greeted as liberators by the Iraqis, we were spreading democracy and joy and freedom to the Middle East!  Yay America!  What they failed to tell you was their profit motives behind the war.  According to International Business Times,

    “...companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels.  Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops.  Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to the analysis by the Financial Times....  The No. 1 recipient:  KBR, which was spun off from it’s parent....Halliburton....  The company was given $39.5 billion.”

I’d say that was a pretty large economic interest.  No conflict of interest at all, was there, VP Cheney?

 2. Hide history of what colonialism did to divide the people of the country.

 Did we really understand the history of Iraq before we went storming in to bring them “democracy?”  Did anyone know or understand the difference between a Sunni or a Shiite or a Kurd?  What we failed to acknowledge was that 75% of Iraqi citizens, an estimated 26 million people, belonged to one of 150 tribes that populated Iraq at the time of our “humanitarian” invasion.  The arrogance of those like Rumsfeld, who spoke of the war estimate claimed “It could last ...six days, six weeks.  I doubt six months.”  We had no clear understanding of the underlying tensions that simmered just below the surface of an ancient population.

 3. Demonize the one you intend to attack

It is much easier to demonize one person than an entire population, although much effort is still being made to demonize Muslims, Arabs, or any person from the Middle East, unless of course they are a Syrian child who’s been killed by poisonous gas.  Saddam Hussein was propped up as the boogeyman who was going to use his Weapons of Mass Destruction against us.  He was the Bad Guy who did terrible things to his people.  It is easier to focus hatred on one man than an entire country, that way when he doesn’t live up to whatever ultimatums we put in place for him, we can call him out on it as it serves our purpose.  In January of 2003, Rumsfeld claimed “Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country” and Bush told us “The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American.”  We were told Saddam could attack us with chemical weapons, and endless lies were propagandized to the American public that Saddam and Iraq had something to do with 9/11, a lie so well ingrained in many American minds that there are still those today who claim this falsehood to be true.  (Good work, Fox News.  I hope that Halliburton offered up a great Christmas bonus for you all.)  

 4. Pretend you are making an intervention to protect the victims.

The Iraqi people would be so happy to have our bombs of freedom rain down on them that we’d be greeted as liberators.  I can still remember the ill feeling I got in the pit of my belly the first time I heard that rubbish.  Those poor Iraqi women, once American forces were there, they were going to be free of their oppression.  Our humanitarian bombs of democracy and freedom were going to bring justice to the Iraqi people who suffered for so long under the wrath of Saddam.  Uncle Sam is coming to save the day!  The terror we caused the people of Iraq, the countless deaths, and the unbearable living conditions those people are still living under today are reminders of how far their promises fell to those we looked to “save.”

 5. Monopolize any debate.

If you believe there was a fair debate in the lead up to the war in Iraq, please take a look at this

http://fair.org/...  

It is widely known that Phil Donahue, the well respected talk show host turned MSNBC news hour host, had been offering the opposing view on the Iraq war.  He had been instructed to have 2 conservative  pro war voices on air for ever 1 liberal anti war voice.  He did not last long.  He was taken off the air, unable to keep up the corporate talking points.   (GE owns MSNBC and is in the business of being a defense contractor.)

It has been proven again and again that war is a racket used by the military industrial complex to create more profit for defense contractors and profiteers.  They convince the masses that a military strike is being made for humanitarian reasons, hiding their profit motive and stifling dissent by either suppressing opposing views or calling them out as supporters of the evil madman they’ve propped up for us to all hate, calling those who are against the war “anti-American” or traitors.  They create a situation where the “good guys” are being forced by the “bad guys” to attack them, creating a twisted logic meant to blame the poor bully for having to beat up the geeky kid in school and steal his lunch money because it was the geek’s fault for walking down that hall when he did.  The bully had no choice but to beat him up and stuff him in a locker.  The aggressor creates the illusion of taking action as a humanitarian response, because our bombs will free the oppressed, save the innocent, create democracy born from bloodshed.  
Journalists are fed the appropriate talking points of untold atrocities displayed for all to see, and the defense of what they deem an appropriate military response is painted conveniently with the brush stroke of humanitarian action.  Dead children paraded on airwaves like sacrificial lambs to the gods of pre emptive war, creating the idea that our cause is sacred, for the bombs we drop are motivated by the need for a retaliation for those little dead bodies.

“Wars do not start with bombs, they start with media lies.” - Michel Collon

I share this with you because I watched the horrors of the pre emptive war with Iraq unfold with barely a challenge to the status quo.  I can’t help but place these same 5 Principles of a Propaganda War upon the tragic events happening now in Syria.  What concerns me is that Syria is definitely NOT Iraq.

General Wesley Clarke, in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, revealed to us the Bush Administration’s original intentions soon after 9/11 was that they intended to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.  “The truth is about the Middle East is had there been no oil there, it would be like Africa.  Nobody is threatening to intervene in Africa.”  This should be a very telling statement indeed.  While we may have a different administration under a different president, we must acknowledge the very real fact that the military industrial complex operates in the shadows whether or not there is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House.

There have already been warnings issued by Iran and Russia of a retaliation if indeed the US attacks Syria.  Make no mistake about it, to drop bombs on a country that has made no threat to us, that has made no clear cut attack upon us, is to declare war with them.  The NeoCon game to make the claim that it will be a “surgical” strike, that there will be “pin point” targets are all to be taken with a very large grain of salt.  How would Americans feel if Syria were to just make a “surgical” strike upon one of our Naval ships in the Persian Gulf?  There is simply no such thing as a small strike.  Syria is a well equipped to retaliate to any of our Naval ships in the area.  There have been threats towards American allies such as Israel.  Iran is close allies with Syria, as well as Russia and China.  This isn’t just throwing a lit match in a powder keg, it’s throwing a live grenade in there.

We have been told that Obama will not wait for the UN report, and will not go to congress to seek approval.  There are claims that Assad was the chemical weapons culprit, yet the fact that we cannot wait for a report from the UN leaves unanswered questions.  After 9/11, we now have the Authorization to Use Military Force, and Obama intends to use it without congressional approval.  We have reached the slippery slope, and our checks and balances are spinning out of control down the abyss towards an unchecked imperialism.

While I am not claiming to be a "journalist," I had the pleasure of reading the following quote by Mr. Collon, that I would like to share with you.  It helped give me the motivation (and, by the way, the nerve) to write the above diary (please note, it's a loose translation from French):

"Praise of the citizen journalist.  The information you can do, you're not helpless, you have power.  You too can be journalist.  It is up to each of us to engage in this battle...information, this battle for the truth."

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