08 November 2009

Gone Too Soon


My friend would have turned 42 yesterday. Instead, she passed away before her 39th birthday. It was not inevitable.

I am supposed to turn this situation into something positive.

I am supposed to be happy for the joy she brought to so many people's lives, to believe she is looking down upon all of us and smiling, to know she is in a better place and at peace.

What I know is that her life was taken too soon.

Not because of some inherited genetic deficiency, but because of cultural negligence and complacency.

I am befuddled at a society that refuses to ackowledge and address the obvious causes of such an epidemic while so many of our friends and family members perish.

(Though here, I speak of cancer ...  you can substitute what you will, and it will still likely fit... )

We are the architects of our own doom.

Will we ever learn?

How many others will be lost prematurely?

12 September 2009

The Racists Are At It Again

Tens of thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of people -"a cross section” of America, said NBC - protested against their best interests and for the interests of the multi-trillion dollar “health” insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical industries today.

Besides the fact that this event speaks to the profound infiltration of the inaccurate and fallacious mainstream corporate media messages into the highly impressionable psyche of Americans, it speaks to the fact that many (perhaps most?) white Americans are simply racist.

People are and have been losing their homes, going bankrupt, and dying because of inadequate health insurance and rejected claims for service for which they paid for decades, while industry insiders (including insurance employees, pharmaceutical employees, and even doctors) have raked in the dough.

We just rid ourselves of a President and Vice-President who lied about erroneous links between Al Qaeda and Iraq, who lied about torture, who committed war crimes against the Geneva conventions, who put us trillions of dollars in debt to launch and maintain two needless wars, yet during their reign, they were not even called to account for their multitude of criminal behaviors.

Now … now that the man occupying the White House is BLACK, people are out in the streets because they are afraid of the government spending money on medical care for all Americans?

Of course, Medicare-for-all, i.e., a single-payer government sponsored medical care system would save the government and all of us BILLIONS of dollars in wasteful bureaucratic spending. This system is actually the most fiscally conservative of all medical care options. And neither the Republicans nor the Democrats (save for the progressive caucus and a select few others) have the intellect, the compassion, the sense, nor the gonads to support such a simple, sensible, humanitarian plan.

The absurdity and insanity of it all is too sad to even laugh at.

But what we see at this inane D.C. protest today - and by the way, the President that you all so hate was not even in D.C. today, you brilliant wunderkinds – is not about medical care. It is not about government spending.

Where were you when the Bush administration lost - yes LOST - 9 Billion dollars that was airlifted to Baghdad and just went “missing”?????????

This display is all about racism, plain and simple.

These people are too selfish, stupid, and racist to be given any consideration whatsoever.

The fact that these protesters are given any credence at all demonstrates how selfish, stupid, and racist the rest of America is too.


(photo courtesy indybay.org)

07 September 2009

Exposing American Racism



As Bill Maher so accurately noted, the Democrats have moved to the right and the Right has moved into a mental hospital. As it stands, Democrats now simply affirm all of the ideologies that Republicans used to. Need proof? Look into history. Look into the policies and bills that have passed through Congress and the White House over the past couple of decades. Hell, Richard Nixon passed more progressive legislation than almost any federal Democratic official in the past twenty years. Barack Obama’s administration has continued nearly in lock-step with the previous George W. Bush administration, with few exceptions.

So, then, these facts beg the question: Why do Republicans disapprove of Obama, considering that he is promulgating their own agenda?

Their answers are that he is a:
Socialist
Communist
Liberal
Progressive
Terrorist
Fascist
Illegal Alien
Racist

The fact that these characterizations are contradictory notwithstanding, they are also completely inaccurate.

What then is going on here?

Simple.

Obama does not represent progressives; he and nearly all Democrats do not represent liberal ideals any longer.

Obama does not represent change in terms of political and social principles; he is a corporatist like all of those before him.

Yet, he is change: he is a change of skin color.

What we have here is a national case of word substitution.

When people complain that Obama is a “socialist” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is a “communist” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is a “liberal” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is a “progressive” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is a “terrorist” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is a “fascist” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is an “illegal alien” they mean he is “black.”

When people complain that Obama is a “racist” they mean he is “black.”

Let’s call a spade a spade.

The only rational explanation to the hatred and dissatisfaction of Barack Obama and his policies by the Right is that they are racists.

They are racists.

Why are we listening to racists?

They are racists.

They should have no voice.

P.S. The recent forced resignation of Van Jones from his post as “green jobs czar” demonstrates the power of the racists. While war criminals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney roam the streets freely and continue in their lives of extreme privilege and immorality, Van Jones’ only fault is the so demonized trait of “living while black.” Oh, and perhaps his other fault is attempting to help the environment and help those other young people who also carry the trait of “living while black."

(photo courtesy of the National Organization for Women)

25 August 2009

Torture and Capitalism




With all the revelations about U.S. government-sanctioned torture, of how Cheney claims torture brought important information to light, and of how those claims are refuted by actual facts, it is easy for us to fall into some common traps.

For one, Cheney’s claims might lead us to believe that there is merit in talking about whether or not torture is useful. This canard plays into the fiction spun by the torturers. We can argue and prove that torture does not produce good intelligence, but what if it did? Would that excuse it? The entire subject is moot since torture has but one purpose: to force prisoners to say what torturers want them to say. It does not extend beyond that and never has throughout history.

In the Medieval period, the Church or the secular state could confiscate land of all who were hanged/burned/drowned after confession under torture. This was quite profitable for the powerful. To increase profits, they not only obtained a confession of guilt for witchcraft or heresy, but a list of “accomplices.” Names of friends and family extracted under the duress of torture gave the torturers an excuse to torture more people before absconding with their property in an ever-widening circle. This went on until the public would no longer tolerate it in that area, and the inquisition would move to the next town. The torturers of that time no more believed their own cover story than Cheney et al. believes our torture of prisoners made us safer after 9/11. Torturers didn’t believe in witches and heretics; that was simply their lie so they could extract capital from their victims, mining the resources of the populace. 

Little has changed. Torture is one means to a capitalistic end. It creates a fiction that spreads to the masses to allow the powerful to exploit the people. Today, to get common folk to accept war and torture and to continue to extract money from taxpayers for corporate welfare, many techniques are utilized, including: nationalism, corporate funded PR, false stories put out by corporate-owned media, and claims based on “science” co-opted and paid for by industry. Falling for any of these traps allows the powerful to escape responsibility for their deceptions and crimes as they reap tremendous profits from the people around the world.

Where does that leave us in our present discussion of U.S. torture policy? We might dig directly into the onion rather than be diverted by its outer layers. When torture is used, we should discern what fabrications the torturers wanted their victims to confess to and why, rather than get mired in pointless corollaries.

By their own admission (and membership), the Cheney regime endeavored to strengthen the “Project for a New American Century” agenda. This is a global corporate agenda; pointing out their corporate ties confirms this. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; Halliburton gained noncompetitive contracts in Iraq. Bush has ties to big oil; our troops invaded, then guarded oil fields while ignoring the plight of the people and their culture as Baghdad was looted, and on an on.

With torture, any story can gain credence if someone is forced to confess to its validity, since anyone will say anything under torture. In short, it is a way to gain a competitive edge in the capitalistic market place. Want an excuse to go into Iraq to secure oil for your friends and family? Get someone to confess to a lie (weapons of mass destruction, say) that supports your military position so you can invade an oil-rich nation. You can make someone say “I am a fish!” if you like; it doesn’t matter how outrageous the story. They would even confess to being sexual partners with Satan and confirm that their family performed similar perverted acts under the light of the moon. It’s a powerful tool, but it is never used to actually extract unknown information. It is meant to create fictions written by torturers for a purpose. 

So given that any torture policy throughout history is simply a means to create false evidence for economic gain, what should we be talking about? Should we say that we are a good people who do not torture? That would be replacing one fiction with another. America, like any power, has always tortured, killed, and abused people for its own ends. Vigorously waving a flag won’t change that. Should we say that it is ineffective for gathering information? That concedes that torture should be used under some circumstances, which is fallacious.

Given that the “Bush” regime had an agenda to enhance corporate power around the globe, the real concern should be: What lies were put into existence and for what specific purpose? To do so strips the onion to its core, exposing the agenda of the torturers. Only by doing this can we decide what steps to take regarding criminal prosecution and future actions to remove torture from our national toolbox.

However, this discussion is off the table, and it will remain so. A few scapegoats might be thrown into the fire as they were with the Abu Ghraib affair. Obama, being a good right of center corporate Democrat, has unequivocally stated that he wishes to “look forward, not back” so all this torture nonsense can be swept under the rug. Eric Holder will investigate torture, but only cases in which the torturers tortured outside the letter of the torture policy. To do any more, to penetrate the onion, would be to condemn Obama’s corporate paymasters and our whole way of life.

For we are capitalists and consumers, cheering on behemoths like big oil, big pharma, big agriculture, and of course our huge military machine, which consumes at least half of our federal budget every year once you add up all its conveniently separated parts. Our global military domination that Americans support is our brutal arm sweeping aside everything non-corporate in the world. Regurgitated fictions about keeping our children safe, a war on terror, liberating the bombed-out masses in “Iraq/Af/Pak," and, yes, fictions obtained through torture, pave the way. 
  

02 July 2009

Progressives Owe Ralph Nader an Enormous Apology


Much of the American public used Barack Obama as their mirror throughout the 2008 election cycle. They wanted an end to war, equality for minorities, universal “socialist” health care, tougher environmental regulations, corporate accountability. They looked at Obama and saw what they wanted, even though he never professed to espouse these values and never committed to any promises in these veins. Just like Bill Clinton in 1992, the disgruntled masses projected their hopes, fears, and aspirations onto the candidate for change, and he happily obliged by appealing to their needs with all rhetoric and little substance. Here was a bright, intelligent, attractive, somewhat self-deprecating and enormously charming man from a difficult background who no-doubt faced tremendous challenges on his path to power. Here was a man who could understand all of us who did not fit into that infamous “base” of George W. Bush’s. Here was the antithesis to the last eight years. How could we possibly elect the first-ever American President of color, following what some call the worst administration in the history of the United States, and not have the sweeping reform and reconstruction we so needed? How, indeed. We certainly enjoy our reflections, don’t we?

Certainly, it’s too soon to tell what the full Obama presidency might bring, but the little glimmers of hope – such as the organic White House garden – pale in comparison to the outrageous missteps - continued war in Afghanistan, refusal to prosecute torturers, further unjustified arrests and detainments, no significant climate change, energy, or toxic substance regulations, no support for single-payer health care, and approval of additional mountaintop removal for coal. The list of problems is endless.

It’s time America learns the audacity of truth, rather than the denial and phoniness of hope. We need to stop feeding ourselves the self-help “nothing but positivity” soup (along with our genetically modified non-food products) and nurture ourselves with the broth of reality. There is no shame in a cynical truth. Those progressives who faced being ironically called racists for not supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 election were and still are decried for their “negativity” and “pessimism” in not blindly believing the hype. There’s no question that it is wonderful for America to have a President of African-American decent. There’s no question that Barack Obama is better than anything the Republicans could offer. But is that all we expect? Why do we not want the best for ourselves?

We have had a better choice for the past three elections and yet time and time again, few have had the boldness to be bulls rather than sheep and vote for the man who has selflessly served us all for his entire career and professed the truth in all of its unpleasantness. We can still hope that Obama will get better. Indeed, we should make him get better and not accept his expedient excuses. But in the meantime, we need to offer our most humble apology to the man who prophetically predicted this outcome and who always had nothing but our best interests at heart – the hero, Ralph Nader.

Slaves and Bulldozers*, Plutocrats and Widgets

There is not an industrial company on earth, not an institution of any kind - not mine, not yours, not anyone's - that is sustai...