November 11, 2009 archive

Framing a Terrorist for Veteran’s Day

Fort Hood is not an end story. Nor is it a beginning. It is the dead middle of a planned story. It is a story about division and fear tactics, patsies and martial law. Its a story about raising the frog’s bathwater incrementally to boil.

That our Muslim citizens are becoming all suspect is no less devious than the beginnings that created our ability to inter the Japanese, or what created Nazism.

Lets move back to April of 2009, when the US Homeland Security Department reclassified Right Wing American Veterans as potential Terrorists. Wow, this incident conveniently creates an atmosphere for keeping surveillance on the only people who might protect us, should a military coup create havoc in our country.

But further back in the way-back machine is the story about Northcom being deployed as of October 2008 on US soil effectively killing Posse Comitatus, for the express reasons of:

“They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control,” said the Army Times when it first reported on it. These duties would be in addition to dealing with “potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.”

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and these taken together weave quite a pattern. The newest incident justifies ever less freedoms for security.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

36 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 World remembers sacrifice of WWI lost generation

by Rory Mulholland, AFP

2 hrs 45 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – Former foes France and Germany held a joint World War I Armistice Day ceremony for the first time as events around the globe Wednesday honoured the millions killed in the conflict.

In London, Queen Elizabeth II led tributes to the war dead, including the growing number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. But the last British veteran of the 1914-18 conflict boycotted official events.

President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel rekindled the flame on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and vowed that their nations would never wage war on each other again.

Dahr Jamail: Honoring The Vets Who Go Unnoticed

Crossposted at Air America Radio.

Today is Veteran’s Day and every year, veterans are honored on television, the newspapers, parades, etc. We salute the American flag, wear yellow ribbons in honor of the troops, listen to the playing of Taps, watch the 21-gun salutes and hear the speeches about those who gave their lives for freedom and democracy.

But what about those who sacrificed and served their country and speak against the horrors of war? What about those who come back from war never the same? Why do we honor the silent, dead warriors, but not those who have been harmed by war and feel the need to speak out?

Dahr Jamail is an award-winning independent journalist whose work has appeared on National Public Radio, in The Guardian (UK), The Nation, The Progressive, and more. In his latest book, The Will to Resist: Soliders who refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jamail brings us inside the movement of military resistance to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. War is traumatic and many veterans who speak out against their actions (or their government’s policies) want their experiences to be validated, understood and accepted. Yet anti-war veterans organizations are not honored to the same degree as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans. Jamail believes all veterans must be honored, even those who speak out against war. The Will to Resist opens the door to the lives of many servicemen and veterans who speak out against war and killing, and their need to regain their humanity. Jamail talked about what war resisters endure on a daily basis, including the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, TX.

FIXED News, Indeed

Hat Tip to Maryscott O’Connor for this…

So, when the White House Press Office says that Fox News is, oh, a propaganda arm of the Republican Party… THIS is what they fucking mean.

Open Moon


Where Have All the Soldiers Gone

Honoring the vets today, starting with my family

This is a repeat post, which will appear here every Veteran’s Day.

My grandfather was active duty in the Army for all of 3 days during WWII (after his training, of course). He was an artilleryman at the Battle of the Bulge. After 3 days of firing the big guns at the Bulge he was given a medical discharge as he had completely lost his hearing. He came back and worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yards as a tank mechanic.

My uncle served in the Navy in the 50’s before returning to work as a DoD contractor for Sperry, later Unisys, where he joined my father, eventually becoming the company’s manager in charge of all DoD contracts.

My dad, an electrical engineer, was on the original design team for the E2-C AWACS radar at Sperry in 1959. Most of his career was spent developing and testing radars and weapons guidance systems. Many of the battleships, destroyers and carriers out there have been worked on by my father. He was also involved in the development and maintenance of Polaris, Trident and Terrier missile systems while at Sperry/Unisys in Great Neck and Ronkonkoma, and later at Harris PRD/GSSD in Syosset.

My husband enlisted in the Marines at age 17 in 1974. He likes to say he joined as a rebellious act to piss off his parents. They just shook their heads wisely and laughed at him… his father was in the Army and served in Egypt during WWII as an intelligence translator. His mother was in the WAVES and then later joined the Navy, eventually rising to the rank of Lt. Commander, she was one of the Navy’s first female officers. Yes, I call my mother in law “ma’am”. ;-7 Anyway, they both became peace activists in the 1960s.

I served in the USAF from 2/86 to 12/91. I was at Ramstein for most of that. I had a front row seat for the fall of the Berlin Wall and voluntarily extended my tour twice for a year – once to serve in Operations Proven Force/Desert Storm and Provide Comfort/Desert Shield.

However I’ve saved the most interesting story for last.

War, Paradox, Personality, and the American Mindset

This holiday, which denotes the eleventh day of the eleventh month was once called Armistice Day, as it marked the end of hostilities during World War I.  It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that our collective memory of that conflict grows fainter and fainter with each passing year, since it marked the exact instant we grew from a second-tier promising newcomer on the world stage to a heavy hitter.  The European continent had threatened to blow itself up for centuries before then, but with a combination of ultra-nationalism and mechanized slaughter, millions upon millions of people perished in open combat.  Our entrance into the war and world theater turned the tide but the original zeal that characterized the war’s outset had become a kind of demoralizing weariness that our fresh troops and tools of the trade exploited to win a resounding victory.  Our industries revived Europe, making us wealthy in the process, and though much of this wealth was lost in The Great Depression, precedent had been set.  When Europe blew itself apart once more in World War II, their loss was our gain.          

A year ago today I was at Mount Vernon, enjoying a day off at George Washington’s home, taking in the iconic and beautiful view of the Potomac river.  Along with the steady stream of tourists like myself were servicemen and women from every branch of the Armed Forces.  A ceremony at our first President’s tomb commemorating the bravery of all who had served was to be held mid-day and, deciding I’d watch it for a while, I began moving in the direction of the Washington burial plot.  What ringed the tomb was often more interesting than the main attraction.  Case in point, the burial site of the estate’s slaves, which had been given posthumous mention, though the names, dates of birth, dates of death, and individual stories had long since been lost to posterity.  I mused a bit that this was how most Americans living today felt about the Great War.    

The scene struck a discordant note with me in another way.  It’s the same on-one-hand, but on-the-other-hand kind of conflicting emotional response that underlies my thinking about war and those who engage in it.  If I am to follow the teachings of my faith, war is never an option to be considered for even half a second.  Indeed, if it were up to me, I’d gladly abolish it from the face of the earth.  However, I never want to seem as though I am ungrateful or unappreciative of those who put themselves in one hellish nightmare situation after another as a means of a career and with the ultimate goal to protect us.  It is this same discomforting soft shoe tap dance that I take on when I pause to give reverence to the memories of those who established and strengthened our nation, while recognizing too that they were indebted to a practice I consider deplorable.

I would never describe hypocrisy as a kind of necessary element in our society, but a “do as I say, not as I do” quotient that seems to be commonplace in our lives does merit recognition.  For example, quite recently a friend of mine who had lived in France for several months was describing to me the cultural differences in attitude towards sex in our culture versus theirs.  Here, we are indebted to a hearty Puritanism which shames those who engage and scolds those who make no attempt to conceal.  Yet, we still think nothing of eagerly consenting to casual sex and our media and advertising reflect this.  As it was explained to me, in France, sex is everywhere, no one feels as though a highly public display is the least bit out of place or vulgar, no one feels guilty at its existence, but they are much less inclined towards hooking up with complete strangers or faintly known acquaintances than we are.  It is certainly interesting to contemplate whether we’d sacrifice the right to one-night-stands or the promise of frequent escapades if after doing so we would henceforth face no repercussions of guilt and strident criticism for daring to see sexuality as something more than a weakness of willpower and a deficit of character.  One wonders if we would sacrifice achieving something with nearly inevitable consequences attached for the sake of not getting what we want whenever we want it.  The trade off, of course, being we would no longer have to feel dirty or ashamed for having base desires.    

I mention this paradox in particular because the national past-time these days might be the sport of calling “gotcha”, particularly in politics.  The latest philandering politician is revealed for the charlatan he is and our reactions and responses are full of fury and righteous indignation.  “How dare he!”  Granted, one party does seem to act as though it has a monopoly on conventional morality, but if it were my decision to make, I’d drop that distinction altogether, else it continue to backfire.  Yet, this doesn’t mean we ought to take a more European approach, whereby one assumes instantly that politicians will be corrupt and will cheat, so why expect anything otherwise.  Still, we ought to take a more realistic approach towards our own flaws and the flaws of our leaders instead of adhering to this standard of exacting perfection which has created many a workaholic and many a sanctimonious personal statement.  To the best of my reckoning, we must be either a sadistic or a masochistic society at our core.  Perhaps we are both.        

It is easy for us to make snap judgments.  I have certainly been guilty of it myself.  Taken to an extreme, I can easily stretch the pacifist doctrine of the peace church of which I am a member. I can imply that military combat of any sort is such an abomination that everyone who engages in it is beholden to great evil and deserves precisely what he or she gets as a result.  This would be an unfair, gratuitous characterization to make.  Though I do certainly find war and warfare distasteful, I prefer to couch my critique of the practice in terms of the psychological and emotional impact upon those who serve and in so doing speak with compassion regarding those civilians in non-combat roles who get caught in the middle and have to live with the consequences.  Likewise, I would be remiss if I dismissed the role George Washington played in the formation of our Union if I reduced him to an unrepentant slaveholder and member of a planter elite who held down the struggling Virginia yeoman farmer.  Moreover, I could denigrate the reputation of Woodrow Wilson, whose leadership led to our victory in the First World War, by pointing to his unapologetic beliefs in white supremacy and segregation.  I could mine the lives of almost everyone, my own included, and find something distasteful but somewhere along the line we need to remember that hating the sin does not meant we ought to hate the sinner, too.  

The conflict swirling around us at this moment is just as indebted to paradox as the sort which existed during the lives of any of these notable figures in our history.  John Meacham wrote,

…[T]he mere fact of political and cultural divisions—however serious and heartfelt the issues separating American from American can be—is not itself a cause for great alarm and lamentation.  Such splits in the nation do make public life meaner and less attractive and might, in some circumstances, produce cataclysmic results.  But strong Presidential leadership can lift the country above conflict and see it through.


This is what we are all seeking.  While I am not disappointed by President Obama, I see a slow, deliberative approach to policy that is alternately thoughtful and exasperating.  I certainly appreciate his contemplative, intellectual approach, and can respect it even when I disagree with its application.  One of the paradoxical tensions that typify the office of Chief Executive or any leadership role, for that matter, is the balance between power and philosophy.  Meacham again writes,

…Politicians generally value power over strict intellectual consistency, which leads a president’s supporters to nod sagely at their leader’s creative flexibility and drives his opponents to sputter furiously about their nemesis’s hypocrisy.  

If ever was a national sin, hypocrisy is it.  It is the trump card in the decks of many players and it is used so frequently that one can hardly keep track of the latest offender.  If it were not everywhere and in everyone, it would not be such a familiar weapon.  Even if one has to split-hairs to do it, one can always locate hypocritical statements or behaviors.  Politics can often be an exercise in pettiness, and the latest bickering between Republicans, Democratic, liberals, center-left moderates, conservatives, and center-right moderates have morphed into this same counter-productive swamp of finger-pointing.  It is this attitude which keeps voters home and leads to further polarization.  Securing Democratic seats and a healthy majority in next year’s elections will require rejuvenation of the base but also inspiring moderate and independent voters to even bother to turn out to the polls.  What this also means is that we ought to learn how to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and recognize the humanity in our opponents as well.  A scorched-earth strategy works for the short term, but it also guarantees a ferocity in counter-attacks and leads to long-term consequences only visible in hindsight.  By all means, fight for what one believes, but eschewing tact and diplomacy is the quickest way to both live by the sword and die by it.  I’m not suggesting toughness or steel-spines ought to be discarded, but rather that we all have weaknesses of low hanging fruit that make for an easy target, and the instant we eviscerate our opponent by robbing their trees, we should soon expect a vicious counter-attack in our own arbor.        

Maddow destroys Pro-SLAVERY American Corporations “You child labor endorsing, pro-slavery FREAKS!”

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    Very rarely does Rachel Maddow lose her temper. Rather, she usually engages even the worst issues with a snarky, cheerful grin, but if you see the look on her face at the end of this segment you will see the burning rage that I have a LOT of trouble surpressing, especially on topics such as these.

    Behold the TOTAL DESTRUCTION of America’s Pro-SLAVERY capitalist status quo, courtesy of the wit and brilliance of Rachel Maddow.

    Partial transcript and commentary below the fold.


Are your thoughts really yours.  I see this alot.  Even presenting evidence, logical science and the path toward real benevolent actions many people will give me a blank stare and fall right back into “the Matrix”, the culturally prescribed societal norms impressed upon all of us by TeeVee.  These people I can’t save.  I have a choice in my unemployment today of John Travola on Ellen DeGeneres or Dr. Peterson on

I gave up on making the immortality sacred water wheels because, well you just can’t procure the needed materials.

The illusion is different at different levels.

White Power in Black Face


DECRYING Barack Obama as “white power in black face”, hundreds of African Americans marched on the White House today to protest policies of the first black US president, and demand that he bring US troops home.

Do you have to be black to say this without getting everyone’s panties twisted into a Gordian knot or can we call a spade a, uh, er, or can we tell it like it is?

Blue suit, black suit, brown suit – a suit is a suit, born of a white man’s colonial military uniform.

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread

33 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Science

1 Kerry vows US climate outline for Copenhagen

by Shaun Tandon, AFP

Tue Nov 10, 9:03 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Senator John Kerry has pledged to complete a framework of an elusive US climate change deal in time for next month’s high-stakes summit in Copenhagen, vowing not to let the world down.

President Barack Obama’s election returned the United States to active global efforts to fight climate change, but a year later Congress has yet to make good on promises to set the first-ever US caps on carbon emissions.

After a lobbying mission in the US Capitol by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Kerry said Tuesday the Senate, while unlikely to complete legislation, would give US negotiators an outline before the December 7-18 talks in the Danish capital.

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