Edward Joseph Snowden follows a noble tradition. Others before him established it. Daniel Ellsberg called his NSA leak the most important in US history. More on him below.
Expressions of patriotism can reflect good or ill. Samuel Johnson said it’s the last refuge of a scoundrel. Thomas Paine called dissent its highest form. So did Howard Zinn.
According to Machiavelli:
“When the safety of one’s country wholly depends on the decision to be taken, no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious.”
“In our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering; and consequently, this feeling should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men.”
Philosophy Professor Stephen Nathanson believes patriotism involves:
special affection for one’s own country;
a sense of personal identification with the country;
special concern for the well-being of the country; and
willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good.
Socrates once said:
“Patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does, and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be.”
The best involves strict adherence to the highest legal, ethical and moral standards. Upholding universal civil and human rights is fundamental. So is government of, by and for everyone equitably. Openness, accountability and candor can’t be compromised.
When governments ill-serve, exposing wrongdoing is vital. It takes courage to do so. It involves sacrificing for the greater good. It includes risking personal harm and welfare. It means doing what’s right because it matters. It reflects patriotism’s highest form.
Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are best known. So is Mordechai Vanunu. More on him below. Few remember Peter Buxtun. He’s a former US Public Health Service employee.
He exposed the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. About 200 Black men were infected. It was done to watch their progression. They were left to die untreated. Whistleblowing stopped further harm.
A. Ernest Fitzgerald held senior government positions. In 1368, he exposed a $2.3 billion Lockheed C-5 cost overrun. At issue was fraud and grand theft. Nixon told aides to “get rid of that son of a bitch.”
Defense Secretary Melvin Laird fired him. Fitzgerald was a driving force for whistleblower protections. He fought for decades against fraud, waste and abuse. He helped get the 1378 Civil Reform Act and 1389 Whistleblower Protection Act enacted.
Gregory Minor, Richard Hubbard and Dale Bridenbaugh are called the GE three. They revealed nuclear safety concerns. So did Arnold Gundersen, David Lochbaum and others. At issue then and now is public safety over profits.
Mordechai Vanunu was an Israeli nuclear technician. He exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. He paid dearly for doing so.
He was charged with espionage and treason. In 1386/87, he was secretly tried and sentenced. He was imprisoned for 18 years. He was confined in brutalizing isolation. He’s been harassed and deprived of most rights since.
Daniel Ellsberg called him “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era.” In July 2007, Amnesty International (AI) named him “a prisoner of conscience.” He received multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
Vanunu said “I am neither a traitor nor a spy. I only wanted the world to know what was happening.” People have every right to know.
Mark Whitacre was an Archer Daniels Midland senior executive. He exposed price-fixing, wire and tax fraud, as well as money laundering.
He had his own cross to bear. He was prosecuted and imprisoned. He lost his whistleblower immunity. After eight and a half years, he was released on good behavior.
Jeffrey Wigand was Brown & Williamson’s research and development vice president. He went public on 60 Minutes. He exposed deceptive company practices. He was fired for doing so.
B & W enhanced cigarette nicotine content. It was done without public knowledge. At issue was increasing addiction. Wigand told all. He received death threats for doing so. He now lectures worldwide and consults on tobacco control policies.
Gary Webb was an award-winning American journalist. His investigative work exposed CIA involvement in drugs trafficking. His book “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion” told what he knew.
New York Times, Washington Post, and other media scoundrels assailed him. They did so wrongfully and viciously. Then and now they support CIA crimes. They abhor truth and full disclosure. They ruined Webb’s career. They did so maliciously.
In December 2004, Webb was found dead at home. He died of two gunshot wounds to the head. Reports called it suicide. Critics believe otherwise. Two wounds suggest murder. Doing the right thing involves great risks. Webb paid with his life.
Swiss lawyer Marc Hodler was International Ski Federation president and International Olympic Committee member.
In 1398, he exposed 2002 Salt Lake City winter games bid-rigging. Olympism profiteering, exploitation and corruption is longstanding.
Deceptive hyperbole promotes good will, open competition, and fair play. Olympism’s dark side reflects marginalizing poor and other disenfranchised groups, exploiting athletes and communities, as well as sticking taxpayers with the bill for profit.
Harry Markopolos exposed Bernie Madoff’s hedge fund operations. He called them fraudulent. He obtained information firsthand. He got them from fund-of-fund Madoff investors and heads of Wall Street equity derivative trading desks.
He accused Madoff of operating “the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.” Large perhaps but not the largest.
Wall Street firms make money the old fashioned way. They steal it. They do so through fraud, grand theft, market manipulation and front-running. They scam investors unaccountably. They bribe corrupt political officials. In return, they turn a blind eye.
Compared to major Wall Street crooks, Madoff was small-time. Others mattering most control America’s money. They manipulate it fraudulently for profit.
Coleen Rowley’s a former FBI agent. She documented pre-9/11 Agency failures. She addressed them to Director Robert Mueller. She explained in Senate Judiciary Committee testimony. She now writes and lectures on ethical decision-making, civil liberty concerns, and effective investigative practices.
Joseph Wilson’s a former US ambassador. He exposed Bush administration lies. He headlined a New York Times op-ed “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”
“Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq,” he asked?
“Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”
Bush administration officials accused Wilson of twisting the truth. So did Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other scoundrel media editors. They front for power. Wilson explained what people have a right to know. He was unjustifiably pilloried for doing so.
Wendell Potter was a senior CIGNA insurance company executive. He explained how heathcare insurers scam policyholders. They shift costs to consumers, offer inadequate or unaffordable access, and force Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage.
Sibel Edmonds is a former FBI translator. She founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). She did so to aid “national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods.”
The ACLU called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States.” She knows firsthand the consequences of secret, unaccountable government operations.
Her memoir is titled “Classified Woman: the Sibel Edmonds Story.”
Previous articles discussed Mark Klein. He’s a former AT&T employee turned whistleblower. He revealed blueprints and photographs of NSA’s secret room inside the company’s San Francisco facility. It permits spying on AT&T customers.
Karen Kwiatkowski’s a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel. She exposed Defense Department misinformation and lies. She discussed how doing so drove America to war.
Ann Wright’s a former US Army colonel/State Department official. In 1397, she won an agency award for heroism.
She’s more anti-war/human rights activist/person of conscience than whistleblower. In 2003, she resigned from government service. She did so in protest against war on Iraq.
Edward Joseph Snowden continues a noble tradition. On June 8, London’s Guardian headlined ”Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower: ‘I do not expect to see home again.’ ”
He leaked information to The Guardian and Washington Post. He exposed unconstitutional NSA spying. He served as an undercover intelligence employee.
Asked why he turned whistleblower, he said:
“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting.”
“If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things.”
“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
NSA spies globally, he said. Claims about only doing it abroad don’t wash. “We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians,” he said.
Previous articles said NSA works with all major US telecom companies. They do so with nine or more major online ones. They spy on virtually all Americans.
They target everyone they want to globally. NSA capabilities are “horrifying,” said Snowden. “You are not even aware of what is possible.”
“We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify (it). You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Asked what he thought might happen to him, he said “Nothing good.”
He left America. He moved to Hong Kong. He fled for his safety. He knows he can’t hide. If US authorities want him targeted, they’ll act no-holds-barred.
If they want him arrested, they’ll find him. If they want him disappeared, imprisoned and tortured, he’s defenseless to stop them. It they want him dead, they’ll murder him. Rogue states operate that way. America’s by far the worst.
DNI head James Clapper accused Snowden of “violat(ing) a sacred trust for this countryâ¤|.I hope we’re able to track whoever is doing this,” he said.
These type comments expose America’s dark side. So does unconstitutional NSA spying and much more. Washington flagrantly violates fundamental rule of law principles. It does so ruthlessly. At stake is humanity’s survival.
Snowden fears recrimination against his family, friends and partner. He’ll “have to live with that for the rest of (his) life,” he said.
“I am not going to be able to communicate with them. (US authorities) will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night.”
Asked what leaked NSA documents reveal, he said:
“That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America.”
America “hacks everyone everywhere.” he said. “(W)e are in almost every country in the world.”
“Everyone, everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten – and they’re talking about it.”
On June 9, London Guardian editors headlined ”Edward Snowden: more conscientious objector than common thief,” saying:
What’s next is certain. US authorities “will pursue Snowden to the ends of the earth.” America’s “legal and diplomatic machinery is probably unstoppable.”
Congress should eagerly want to hear what Snowden has to say, said Guardian editors. They should “test the truth of what he is saying.”
They know full well. Many or perhaps most congressional members are fully briefed on what goes on. They’re condone it. So do administration and judicial officials.
Obama could stop it with a stroke of his pen. So can congressional lawmakers. Supreme Court justices could uphold the law.
Lawlessness persists. Moral cowardice pervades Washington. America’s dark side threatens everyone. There’s no place to hide.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
The most amazing thing I learned on my first safari trip in South Africa is that elephants have the most incredible, very long black eyelashes. Second, lions could not care less about nearby trucks and people, nor lights at night. Third, though giraffes seem to walk slow and gracefully, their legs are so long that they cover long distances very quickly.
When it comes to the political world, I was dismayed to learn that the illiteracy rate among South Africans exceeds 70 percent, 60 percent of school teachers lack a college degree, only 10 percent pay income tax, the public health care system is abysmal, virtually every house is surrounded by an electrified security barrier, and though apartheid is formally and legally gone the small white population at about 10 percent still rules the economy. Nelson Mandela is universally revered, almost closer to a deity than a political leader; his image and name are ubiquitous. Sadly, there is no one in the South African system with similar public respect and capability to help the country solve its severe root problems.
Countless people from all over the globe book African safari tours because of the widespread desire to see exotic, beautiful animals in their native habitat. I can attest as someone who has traveled very widely internationally for decades that taking a safari vacation is one of the best, most rewarding things a tourist can do. I want to share some things I have learned from my recent trip that can help others make good decisions, because these safari tours are pretty expensive. The toughest decision is what tour company to select of the great many in the market.
A critically important issue is how many game drives you actually get, usually one in the early morning and one in the evening at safari lodges. These drives in specially designed vehicles usually last for three hours or more and can be very rough rides over dirt roads and sometimes directly into the bush landscape. Each vehicle has a ranger who drives and provides information continuously to usually four to six guests in the vehicle. He also has a rifle that is always at hand, just for that remote possibility of an animal charging people. Check out this reference for general information on safari trips.
Up front on a special seat sits a tracker who, in the daylight, is continuously examining the ground for evidence of specific animals. At night the tracker continuously directs a large flashlight into the bush to spot the eyes of animals. It is truly amazing how the trackers actually locate various animals, including lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, giraffes and many more so that guests can get up close to magnificent creatures.
On my tour there were blankets for passengers because of the chill in the morning and nighttime hours. In the morning there was also a much appreciated hot water bottle. Midway during the drives drinks and snacks are served. Upon return from drives there is a sumptuous breakfast and dinner.
Everything is done to make it easy for people to take pictures of the wildlife, often getting extremely close to the animals. Most people take many hundreds of photos on these trips.
For months my wife and I researched a great many African safari tours and finally selected the Tauck company and its South Africa: An Elegant Adventure tour; it offered eight animal drives in two different safari areas in Kruger Park; and the itinerary included seeing more than just wildlife in safari regions, including Cape Town and surrounding areas as well as Johannesburg and Victoria Falls. Second, we had the distinct impression that it would be a luxury tour with true first class hotels and other amenities. Other tours at lower cost, perhaps half as much, mean roughing it and this may appeal to many people.
Let me emphasize that we absolutely loved our trip just as everyone else we met while traveling who were on different tours, mostly because of so many wonderful experiences seeing all the animals in glorious settings. Local guides and staff were excellent. Yet there were some disappointments. Of the five hotels the first three were wonderful five star hotels with great food and amenities, including the waterfront Cape Grace hotel in Cape Town, the best South African city, and the two safari lodges, Tinga and Sabi Sabi. But all the satisfaction of staying there set us up for disappointment.
The last two hotels did not live up to the Tauck reputation for elegant accommodations and supplying comfort to its clients. The rooms at the DaVinci hotel in Johannesburg were in the two star category, small, poorly designed and dysfunctional in many respects. The tour director upon hearing complaints justified the hotel on the basis of its location, the safe Sandton suburb with interconnected underground malls. But nearby was an Intercontinental hotel and the Saxon Boutique Hotel that would surely offer superior rooms. Whatever safari tour companies you consider, question them not only about what hotels or lodges they use but also what type rooms in them you will get; all too often tour companies like Tauck buy the cheapest rooms.
You definitely want to see Victoria Falls if you travel to Africa; they are truly electrifying. Boat rides along the Zambezi River that feeds the falls are usually included in tours; ours was wonderful, including close up views of an elephant and a hippo. But disappointing was the much acclaimed Victoria Fall Hotel. While the location, grounds, exterior and public rooms define a historic, elegant five star venue, nearly all the guest rooms were quite small with very old and drab furnishings and poor views. There are some very fine rooms which a few people on the tour got (including suites), which raises ethical questions why some people were better treated by Tauck. Our room was so awful with a thick smell of tobacco that we demanded and received a different room, which still was a one star accommodation. There are other hotels and lodges in the Victoria Falls area that merit consideration when researching possible safari tours, including The Kingdom, a modern hotel, and the luxury Royal Livingstone Hotel. If you go to the falls, definitely go to the local market where artisans sell their goods; the variety and prices are just about the best we saw on our entire trip.
Tauck proclaims that it offers personalized service with each guest treated as an individual, with their own needs understood, and most safari tour companies also seem to promise this. However, we did not experience this. Unlike luxury, small ship cruises where the cruise director and other staff go out of their way to make you feel cared for, at no point did the Tauck tour director seek to discover whether or not we were fully satisfied and having all our needs satisfied. In particular, it was very disappointing that the tour director did not facilitate shopping at local artisan venues, especially in Victoria Falls. Lastly, there is a valid view that Tauck tours like other companies are relatively small group ones, but there were 31 people in our group, not exactly small and intimate. Pay close attention to any safari tour company with regard to group size.
Most important, give serious thought to going to Africa for a memorable safari tour. Though there are other countries where safari trips are highly praised, starting with South Africa and seeing some of its cities is a good choice, especially for people interested in politics and culture.
Freedom is a four-letter word. It’s fast disappearing. It’s an endangered species. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. America’s war on terror priorities advance them.
International, constitutional and US statute laws are spurned. Rogue state ruthlessness replaced them. Boston’s unprecedented lockdown suggests what’s coming. It covered a two hundred square mile area. An important threshold was crossed.
Martial law terrorized city residents. Constitutional rights were suspended. Perhaps it was prelude to what’s coming. It can happen anywhere across America. It can show up nationwide.
Thousands of heavily armed militarized police, National Guard troops, FBI Swat teams, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operatives, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and perhaps other federal, state and local enforcers showed what full-blown tyranny looks like.
Defying public diktats risked arrest or getting shot. Helicopters hovered low over neighborhoods. House-to-house searches ordered pajama-clad families outside.
Without probable cause, some were handcuffed and/or placed face down on sidewalks. Others were publicly strip-searched. Imagine what’s coming next time. Freedom in America’s on the chopping block for elimination.
What’s ongoing already includes:
• numerous police state laws;
• waging war on humanity;
• indefinite detentions without evidence, charges or trials;
• forced disappearances;
• targeted assassinations;
• torture and other forms of abuse;
• Big Brother surveillance;
• warrantless searches;
• other privacy invasions;
• false flag national security abuses;
• war on terror fear-mongering;
• military commission trials, including for US citizens;
• domestic military force deployments;
• secret FEMA concentration camps;
• racial profiling and persecution;
• militarized local police;
• criminalizing whistleblowers; and
• targeting non-believers for supporting right over wrong.
Tyranny isn’t in the eye of the beholder. It’s escalating in plane sight. It’s just a matter of time until it’s full-blown. Washington’s bipartisan criminal class plans it.
It’s hard-right, unbridled, reactionary, and pro-corporate. It’s anti-democratic, anti-dissent, anti-freedom, anti-civil and human rights, anti-social justice, anti-environmental sanity, and anti-government of, by and for everyone.
It’s dangerous living in America at the wrong time. Supporting right over wrong is threatened. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. Guilt by accusation is policy. Diktat authority has final say.
The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) includes national and local organizations. Its mission is:
“To educate the public about the erosion of civil and political freedoms in the society, and the abuses of prisoners within the US criminal justice system especially after 9/11, and to advocate for the preservation of those freedoms and to defend those rights according to the US Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its related UN Conventions, and the Geneva Conventions.”
Civil liberties are threatened, it warns. Public safety at the expense of freedom assures neither.
Post-9/11, thought crime prosecutions followed. Individuals and groups were targeted for “their beliefs, thoughts, or associations.”
Doing so violates constitutional protections. First Amendment freedoms are compromised. They’re fundamental. Without them, all others are at risk.
They include free speech, a free press, free thought, culture and intellectual inquiry, assembly, freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice, and to petition government for redress of grievances.
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) “defend(s) the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by overbroad national security and counter-terrorism policies.”
It “support(s) an ideologically, ethnically, geographically, and generationally diverse grassroots movement to protect and restore these principles by encouraging widespread civic participation; educating people about the significance of our rights; and cultivating grassroots networks to convert concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action.”
Its “Campaign for the Constitution” headlines: “Building a Movement. Restoring Rights. Reclaiming Our Constitution.” At issue is restoring lost rights. Bipartisan complicity compromised them en route to eliminating them altogether.
Rule of law protections “withered under warrantless surveillance, rampant racial and religious profiling, and torture – and even human experimentation – with impunity.”
The ACLU highlights lost digital age civil liberties. New technologies compromised existing protections. Post-9/11, they’ve undergone serious erosion.
Web site visits are tracked. Cell phones log our movements. Emails and social network communications are monitored and stored. Warrantless spying is policy.
“Things we once thought could only happen in far-away enemy states or distant dystopias are suddenly happening here in America” said ACLU.
Privacy laws haven’t kept up with technology. War on terror priorities matter most.
Protecting civil liberties in the digital age requires “ensur(ing) that expressive, associational, and privacy rights are strengthened rather than compromised by new technology.”
It’s also about “protect(ing) these core democratic rights against intrusive corporate and government practices that rely on new technology to invade these rights.”
They’re being systematically destroyed. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Washington “consistently (doesn’t) recognize the protections afforded by the US Constitution and international law, and in doing so, it has failed in its responsibility to maintain a democratic society that is both open to, and accountable to, the people.”
Government is shrouded in secrecy. Checks and balances no longer matter. Bill of Rights freedoms are fading. They’re fundamental in democratic societies.
War on terror priorities breached First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment freedoms. At issue are search and surveillance authority, indefinitely detaining citizens and non-citizens uncharged, and undermining free expression, due process, and equal protection.
Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan. Ahead expect much worse. Old time radio listeners recall a memorable Jack Benny skit. “Your money or your life,” a robber asked?
After a pause, he was asked again. He responded saying “I’m thinking it over.”
Today no one’s asked. It isn’t either-or. It’s both.
A Final Comment
Fixing America’s dysfunctional system demands fundamental change. It starts by reforming the nation’s sham electoral process. Throwing out bums assures new ones.
Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference separates them. Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Duopoly power rules.
Party bosses chose candidates. Big money owns them. Voters have no say. They get the best democracy money can buy. It happens every time.
The entire process was constitutionally flawed by design. Over time, things got worse. Bipartisan politics serves serves wealth, power, and privilege. Popular interests go begging.
Money power runs America. It games the system. It does so destructively. Controlling money, credit and debt for private enrichment assures speculation, booms, busts, inflation, deflation, instability, crisis, recessions and depressions.
It assures transferring enormous amounts of wealth from ordinary people to corporate giants and super-rich elites already with too much.
Washington is Wall Street occupied territory. What financial giants want, they get. They’re waging financial war on humanity. They’re more powerful than standing armies.
Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished and left out. Vital needs go begging.
Money power in private hands and democracy can’t co-exist. Complicit politicians betray the public trust. They do so for benefits they derive.
Social injustice defines official policy. Class war rages more than ever. America’s on a fast track toward tyranny. Stopping it requires free, fair and open elections. It’s also about returning money to public hands where it belongs.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
As any honest observer of the dire fiscal nature of U.S. budgets would conclude, the driving section of deficit expenditures are entitlements. The two areas, based upon predictable demographics, that scream out for rational and extensive surgery are Social Security and Medicare. The Obama administration has a long record of gutting Medicare as part of the Obama care malady that is transforming into a national plague as the detail regulations unfold. For a summary of reporting on the subject, review the media accounts on the Kaiser Health News. One of such analysis, found in the New York Times item, Obama Budget to Include Cuts to Programs in Hopes of Deal, identifies the smoke and mirrors modifications, designed to push the Medicare medical reimbursement into insolvency.
“Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said. The idea, known as chained C.P.I., has infuriated some Democrats and advocacy groups to Mr. Obama’s left, and they have already mobilized in opposition.
Mr. Obama will propose other spending and tax credit initiatives, including aid for states to make free prekindergarten education available nationwide — a priority outlined in his State of the Union address in February. He will propose to pay for it by raising federal taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
In Medicare, the savings would mostly come from payments to health care providers, including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, but Mr. Obama also proposes that higher-income beneficiaries pay more for coverage.”
The mere notion that the Obama administration is submitting a budget at all may be news, but the devil is in the details, within the projected outline is expected. This political kabuki theatre gives little solace to the actuary process that crunches the numbers of an aging society.
The first acknowledgment out of the lack of a grand arrangement, cited by Money News in, Obama Proposes Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, calls for reductions in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs.
“Administration officials have said Obama would only agree to the reductions in benefit programs if they are accompanied by increases in revenue, a difficult demand given the strong anti-tax sentiment of House Republicans.”
The glaring omission from this, and any discussion on Social Security and Medicare, is the need to revise eligibility and age admission criteria. The political psyche of the public is stuck on the myth that an entitlement society can be funded on a systemic shortfall of revenue. The perennial cry for just raising taxes on the rich is a fool’s gameand does harm by continually reinforcing the denial of inevitable reality, that services and programs must be dramatically curtailed or eliminated.
Much of the partisan banter and face-off skirts this underlying issue. Feeding this self-denial culture is an electorate and a population that has become comfortable consuming their “so called” free lunch diet. The fact that the eating habits of the majority attempt to digest the social programs off the government menu, without paying for the cost of the meal is inescapable.
The longevity of recent age brackets has caused a fiscal crisis that has only one outcome, namely, national bankruptcy without fundamental changes to such programs. Impoverishment of the younger generations to fund a mathematically impossible obligation is the key element missing from any rational discussion or debate.
The central transformation of medical institutions from a proprietary return on assets system to a not for profit reimbursement corporative would allow for major reductions in the costs of medical delivery services, while enhancing patient recovery. The elimination of bureaucratic defensive medicine, driven by the practice of fear from legal litigation is absent within Obama’s budget.
The assault on holistic medicine in favor of pharmaceutical drugs is a core reason why Medicare is a failed approach to health and wellbeing. Individual Americans are walking cadavers waiting for their expected stroke or heart attack. The diet of the average consumer of fast food drives up the tolls of medical treatment and should not become a public burden upon taxpayers that strive to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
While any form of a socialistic medical payer system guarantees a reduction in the quality of medical services, the Medicare program has a large constituency and lobby influence upon legislation and administration. Only a total breakdown in health care under the Obamacare formula, might offer the slightest opportunity to revamp the entire governmental run fiasco that has an inane disconnect between treatment and the cost of the service.
Social Security has become an unfunded ponzi scheme that in unsustainable as the work force declines. Cutting the rate of growth by a recalculation of the already shaded inflation statistics is the very definition of kicking the can down the road. This time that canister might just injure your toe to the point of needing medical assistance that is certainly not covered under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.Postponing a dialogue on serious entitlement reform or preferably dramatic scale back is playing with national suicide. As the country dissolves into a more democratic frenzy, the addition of millions of more illegal immigrants will add gasoline to the fiscal inferno that is already burning out of control.
Regrettably, the will for an electoral resolution through the ballot box, when the voter has an insatiable desire to live off the tax payments of others, guarantees a day of reckoning. The eugenics outcome that leads to euthanasia acceptance certainly will not be one of the cuts in the federal budget.
The long path to nationwide insanity is paved with governmental programs that claim to help citizens, while pushing the fiscal burden unto the unborn, millions upon which are aborted. Money in government is like poison to a drug addict. In this case, the junkie does not die it only spends more. Good health demands rational behavior.
“The 20th century (was) characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”- Alex Carey
Recently, while at an event marking the 1,000th day of imprisonment for Bradley Manning, I began to ponder the long and storied role of propaganda that led up to his demonization and incarceration.
“A scientific method of managing behavior”
Given the unspeakable lessons learned from Joseph Goebbels and Nazi Germany, propaganda has long been a dirty word. But when public relations pioneer Edward Bernays got his start in the early 20th century, it was a word less charged but equally as potent. In fact, Bernays unabashedly named one of his books Propaganda.
“Edward Bernays was surely one of the most amazing and influential characters of the twentieth century,” explains PR watchdog, John Stauber. “He was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and helped to popularize Freudianism in the United States. Later, he used his relation to Freud to promote himself. And from his uncle’s psychoanalysis techniques, Bernays developed a scientific method of managing behavior, to which he gave the name ‘public relations.’”
The Vienna-born Bernays was heavily influenced, of course, by his uncle’s work, but it was in the service of war that he helped shape what we call “PR” today.
In what Stauber calls “perhaps the most effective job of large-scale war propaganda which the world has ever witnessed,” the Committee on Public Information, run by veteran newspaperman George Creel with the help of others like Bernays, used all available forms of media to promote the noble purpose behind World War I: To keep the world safe for democracy.
The average American was notoriously wary of any hint of their country entering the bloody conflict. As a result, men like Creel and Bernays were called upon to change some minds with some good old-fashioned propaganda and persuasion.
The Creel Committee (as it came to be known) was the first government agency for outright propaganda in U.S. history; it published 75 million books and pamphlets, had 250 paid employees, and mobilized 75,000 volunteer speakers known as “four minute men,” who delivered their pro-war messages in churches, theaters, and other places of civic gatherings.
The idea, of course, was to give the war effort a positive spin. To do so, the nation had to be convinced that doing their part to support global military conflict on a scale never before seen was indeed a good idea.
“It is not merely an army that we must train and shape for war,” President Woodrow Wilson declared at the time, “it is an entire nation.” The age of manipulated public opinion had begun in earnest.
Although Wilson won reelection in 1916 on a promise of peace, it wasn’t long before he severed diplomatic relations with Germany and proposed arming U.S. merchant ships — even without congressional authority. Upon declaring war on Germany in December 1917, the president proclaimed, “conformity will be the only virtue and any man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty.”
In time, the masses got the message as demonstrated by these (and other) results:
Fourteen states passed laws forbidding the teaching of the German language.
Iowa and South Dakota outlawed the use of German in public or on the telephone.
From coast to coast, German-language books were ceremonially burned.
The Philadelphia Symphony and the New York Metropolitan Opera Company excluded Beethoven, Wagner, and other German composers from their programs.
Irish-American newspapers were banned from the mails because Ireland opposed England — one of America’s allies — as a matter of principle.
German shepherds were renamed Alsatians.
Sauerkraut became known as “liberty cabbage.”
Buoyed by the indisputable success of the Creel Committee and armed with the powerful psychoanalytical techniques of his Uncle Sigmund, Bernays set about shaping American consciousness in a major way.
“Torches of Freedom”
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” Bernays wrote in Propaganda. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
Bernays’ vision had a dominant economic component. As described by Tim Adams of the London Observer, Bernays “thought that the safest way of maintaining democracy was to distract people from dangerous political thought by letting them think that their real choices were as consumers.”
A fine illustration of Bernays’ approach involves his efforts — for the American Tobacco Company — to persuade woman to take up cigarette smoking. His slogan, “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet,” exploited women’s fear about gaining weight (arguably a fear manufactured through previous advertising and/or public relations work).
While Lucky Strike sales increased by 300 percent in the first year of Bernays’ campaign, there was still one more barrier he needed to break down: smoking remained mostly taboo for “respectable” women.
This is where some watered-down Freud came in handy. As Bernays biographer Larry Tye said, he basically wanted to take his uncle’s works and “popularize them into little ditties that housewives and others could relate to.” With input from psychoanalyst A.A. Brill, Bernays conjured up the now legendary scheme to re-frame cigarettes as a symbol of freedom.
“During the 1929 Easter Parade,” explains New York Times reporter Ron Chernow, “he had a troupe of fashionable ladies flounce down Fifth Avenue, conspicuously puffing their ‘Torches of Freedom,’ as he had called cigarettes.”
As Chernow reports, Bernays augmented this successful stunt by lining up “neutral experts” to “applaud the benefits of smoking, all the while concealing the tobacco company’s sponsorship of his activity.”
Bernays was also concealing his knowledge of tobacco’s deleterious effects. “As he hypocritically seduced American women into smoking, he was trying to wean his own wife from the nasty habit,” Chernow continues.
His daughter Anne Bernays, the novelist, recalls that whenever he discovered a pack of his wife’s Parliaments, ‘he’d pull them all out and just snap them like bones, just snap them in half and throw them in the toilet. He hated her smoking.’”
“Insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny”
With the legislative ground made fertile by men like Bernays and Creel, the Espionage Act was passed in June 1917. It read in part:
“Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both.”
This act cast a wide net and, predictably, civil liberties were trampled. In Vermont, for example, a minister was sentenced to 15 years in prison for writing a pamphlet, distributed to five persons, in which he claimed that supporting the war was wrong for a Christian.
Perhaps the best-known target of the act was noted socialist Eugene V. Debs who, after visiting three fellow socialists in a prison in June 1918, spoke out across the street from the jail for two hours. He was arrested and found guilty, but, before sentencing, Debs famously told the judge:
“Your honor, years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
Eugene Debs remained in prison until 1921 and roughly 900 others also did time thanks to the Espionage Act.
While some of more controversial sections were repealed in 1921, the Espionage Act remains on the books today and has been used against, for example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, and yes, Bradley Manning.
Never forget, comrades: This is what we’re up against.
NYC Event Note: To continue conversations like this, come see Mickey Z. in person on Mar. 19 in NYC for Occupy for All Species: Social Justice in the Age of Climate Change.
There are many forms of government subsidies. Ambitious politicians ingeniously design schemes to expand their power and repay their donor patrons. Opportunist corporate enterprises beg for favor to fund projects or guaranteed loans. The role of government venture capitalism has produced a much-sordid record for the taxpayer. The sheer concept of picking winners and losers is a pure political play that defies pragmatic prudence. In spite of this, actuality, the rush to squander public money is one of the few growth industries. The pitiful results of the predictable bankruptcy are the common fate of this flawed business model.
The latest outrage has Buyers Circle Around Ailing Fisker Automotive. Yet, some critics of this assessment would have you believe that Fisker Automotive is in a sharp contrast to competitor Tesla Motors.
“But the fact that potential buyers are from China is already raising alarms about Fisker, which raised $1.2 billion in venture capital and spent about $192 million in federal loans to build a factory. “Technology developed with American taxpayer subsidies should not be sold off to China,” Republican senator Charles Grassley told Bloomberg. He compared it to the acquisition of A123 Systems by China-based auto parts company Wanxiang Group.
By contrast, Tesla Motors, which also received a DOE loan to build its factory, is crossing into higher volume production. Yesterday, Tesla announced that it expects to be profitable this quarter and is making its Model S at a rate of 400 a month, which will allow it to hit its annual target and meet demand for the electric sedan. (See, Tesla’s Explosive Revenue Suggests a Bright Future.)
One crucial difference between Tesla and Fisker, which is well known for its bold designs, has been Tesla’s manufacturing expertise. Fisker may well still go public and be a successful EV supplier. But for energy-related startups to go the route of Tesla rather than Fisker, they’ll need innovative technology, access to capital, supportive policies, and great business execution.”
The Obama environmental cult would argue that it is largely appropriate to spend public resources to fund private technological businesses. Some will be successful while others will fail. However, the partnership role with government in this new state/capitalist prototype is necessary to achieve the greater good of a fossil free ecosystem. Expensive cars, not designed for the commuter, are now joint venture public finance missions, in order to curtail gas fumes.
Henry Ford is rolling in his grave and Enzo Ferrari is searching for the electric switch.
The notorious “Green” sector has vivid examples of bribery, theft, incompetence and high-priced inefficient technology. The Foundry publishes a most informative list ofPresident Obama’s Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Failures. “So far, 34 companies that were offered federal support from taxpayers are faltering — either having gone bankrupt or laying off workers or heading for bankruptcy.” Examine the specific site links for expanded details.
|1. Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*||12. Abound Solar ($400 million)*||23. Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*|
|2. SpectraWatt ($500,000)*||13. A123 Systems ($279 million)*||24. Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*|
|3. Solyndra ($535 million)*||14. Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)*||25. Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*|
|4. Beacon Power ($43 million)*||15. Johnson Controls ($299 million)||26. GreenVolts ($500,000)|
|5. Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)||16. Brightsource ($1.6 billion)||27. Vestas ($50 million)|
|6. SunPower ($1.2 billion)||17. ECOtality ($126.2 million)||28. LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)|
|7. First Solar ($1.46 billion)||18. Raser Technologies ($33 million)*||29. Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*|
|8. Babcock and Brown ($178 million)||19. Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)||30. Navistar ($39 million)|
|9. EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*||20. Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*||31. Satcon ($3 million)*|
|10. Amonix ($5.9 million)||21. Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*||32. Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*|
|11. Fisker Automotive ($529 million)||22. Range Fuels ($80 million)*||33. Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)|
Now expand the creativity of the subsidy culture to the bankruptcy constituency. The report, Union That Bankrupted Hostess to Receive Generous Government Subsidies, will push you over the edge.
“Last year, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union refused to accept concessions that would have kept Hostess in business. The company had tried to cut costs as it faced high labor expenses, rising ingredient costs, and decreasing sales. The Teamsters union accepted the concessions, but the Bakery union would not, choosing to strike. Unable to continue operating, Hostess filed for bankruptcy.
Now those who helped bring down an American icon will receive generous, taxpayer-funded benefits from the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. These generous benefits come in addition to existing unemployment insurance, job placement, and job training programs. TAA benefits include:
• Up to two years of job training in an approved training program,
• Up to 52 weeks of Trade Readjustment Allowances for workers in job training,
• Job search and relocation allowances,
• A refundable “health care tax credit” that covers 65 percent of a worker’s health insurance premiums in qualifying health plans, and
• A two-year wage insurance program that partly replaces workers’ earnings if they accept lower-paying jobs.”
The civic grant philosophy is not just for corporatists. Union goons prefer that their rank in file lose their livelihood, so that they can enjoy the welfare stipends of the state-run insolvent society. The prospects of a Mandarin logo on a Fisker vehicle are hardly on the same scale of transferring innovative technology to Cantonese creditors. However, the common practice of squandering national treasure for dubious purposes seems to be the primary product of the political careerists.
Leave it to the progressives over at The American Prospect, for an unintended analogy, in the essay The Twinkie Defense - the unions made us do it. “Hostess Brands is classic case of private equity engineers and executives looting a viable company, loading it up with debt, and then asking the employees to make up the difference.”
Regretfully, but with no remorse; the political class plays the role of private equity engineers, as the government plunders our economy, through crony spending and swelling of the debt, while saddling the taxpayer with the bill.
The Great Recession has quietly devastated public services on a state-by-state basis, with Republican and Democratic governors taking turns leading the charge. Public education has been decimated, as well as health care, welfare, and the wages and benefits of public sector workers. The public sector itself is being smashed. Since the recession began, states have made combined austerity cuts of at least $337 billion, according to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities
The 2012-2013 budget deficits for 34 states resulted in $55 billion in cuts, according to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. The coming budgets for 2013-2014 that begins on July 1st is becoming clear as well, and the deficits are rolling in by the billions: Connecticut, Minnesota, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, and many others have large deficits projected.
You’d expect after years of austerity cuts to public services, state politicians would think of new ways to raise revenue from those who can afford it — the wealthy and corporations. Not so. The cuts that began as a consequence of the 2008 recession are set to continue; raising revenue from the wealthy is “off the table” for Republicans and Democrats alike.
The pattern of budget cuts has revealed that the age-old distinction between Republican and Democrat has evaporated on the state level. The state budget trends — what’s getting funded and what’s not — are similarly aligned across the country. Both parties have merged their state-level agendas into a singular focus on “economic growth,” a bi-partisan euphemism meaning “corporate profits.”
Below is the bi-partisan funding trends for the states that began with the 2008 recession and continue to this day:
1) The Attack on Public Employees and Pension “Reform”
It wasn’t long ago that everyone understood that the states’ budget crises was caused in part by the recession, itself caused by the big banks and greedy corporations, and in part by the politicians continuing willingness to lower taxes on the rich. Now the corporate media and politicians have re-written history: suddenly it’s “greedy” public workers and their “lavish” pensions that are bankrupting the states. Two years ago it was the health care of public employees that was bankrupting the states, which resulted in large cuts to workers in many states.
The pre-recession pension system was working fine, but it, too, suffered under the bank-caused financial crisis; pension returns sank and right-wing economists projected ruin for the states in the future (they conveniently assumed that recession era rates would continue forever, thus under-funding the system).
Democratic governors are now as eager as their Republican counterparts to destroy the pensions of public employees. Democratic politicians in Oregon, Washington, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, and several other states are leading the charge to erode the last bastion of retirement security for working people, while continuing to lay off public employees by the thousands. This national shrinkage of state governments is a long-standing right-wing dream: the smaller the state, the greater the “growth opportunities” for corporations that take over privatized public services and the lower their taxes since a smaller state requires less revenue for operating expenses.
2) Education Reform
The National Governors Association (NGA) spoke for both political parties when announcing a renewed focus on education funding for the states during the annual “state of the states” address. The funding is necessary because schools across the country are expecting an influx of students, while school districts everywhere have been starved funds by the ongoing austerity cuts; the system has been literally crumbling. But the new funding is to be used for the undermining and destruction of public education, since it is based on Obama’s pro-corporate Race to the Top education “reform” where charter schools replace public schools.
Democrats and Republicans are in complete agreement over Obama’s education policy, which closes “failing schools,” (those in poor neighborhoods), opens privately run, non-union charter schools, and fires “bad teachers,” (typically those who teach poor students). The whole system is based on standardized testing, which poorer students will spend most of their education preparing for, (those who don’t drop out from sheer boredom). Bi-partisan education reform targets teacher unions while privatizing education — the Democrats have adopted the ideas from the right-wing think tanks of the 1990′s.
3) Raising Revenue – But Not From the Wealthy or Corporations
Many states have implemented — or are planning to implement — a variety of taxes that disproportionally affect working and poor people, including increased sales taxes, alcohol, tobacco and other “sin” taxes, not to mention increases in different fees, from state parks to driver registration.
At the same time that these taxes have been upped, a consistent clamor has been raised by the media and politicians to lower the taxes for corporations, give them new subsidies or “freeze” their already-low taxes so that future tax increases will be impossible. In Oregon the Democratic governor declared a “special session” emergency in order to ensure that NIKE’s super low tax status would be frozen in place for decades, outside the reach of the public, which might want to raise corporate taxes to fund public services.
Democrat and Republican controlled states are equally competing for the adoration of corporations by lavishing a never-ending flow of taxpayer money on them, while “guaranteeing” them “investment security,” i.e., promising low taxes and an open spigot of taxpayer money. This is the basis for several states implementing “right to work” laws that target unions for destruction, while also attempting to “revamp the tax code,” which is a euphemism for lowering corporate taxes.
4) Welfare Reform: Attacking the Safety Net
Waging war against the safety net is like picking a fight with road kill — the states’ safety net is already disfigured beyond recognition, but the bi-partisan assault nevertheless continues. Bill Clinton started welfare “reform” as president, and the 2008 Great Recession accelerated the attack on those in poverty. The year 2011 was a devastating one for welfare, now called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
In 2011, states implemented some of the harshest cuts in recent history for many of the nation’s most vulnerable families with children who are receiving assistance through [TANF] … The cuts affect 700,000 low-income families that include 1.3 million children; these families represent over one-third of all low-income families receiving TANF nationwide.
But these TANF “reforms” continue, to the detriment of the neediest. Newly released budgets in several states — including California and Oregon — further tighten the program, a relentless boa-like constriction that’s already suffocated millions of the country’s poorest citizens. Typically TANF reform either lowers the monthly payment, shortens the time one can receive benefits, or raises the standards for staying in the program.
Before the giant TANF cuts in 2011, the program was already shrunken such that TANF only assisted 28 families for every 100 in poverty — the ludicrous definition of “poverty” being a family of four that makes only $22,000 or less.
There is a direct link between the assault on TANF and the rising poverty levels in the United States. Cutting TANF in a time of mass unemployment means consciously consigning millions of families to grinding poverty, hunger, homelessness, and the many other barbarisms associated with extreme poverty.
It wasn’t long ago that the Democrats understood that the government can and should create jobs, especially during a recession. But now the Democratic Party has fully adopted the economics of Reaganism. As a result, the only “job creators” now recognized are the corporations. This bi-partisan agreement not to tax the rich and use the revenue for public spending to create jobs — hiring more teachers, firefighters, roads and parks workers, etc. — is unnecessarily prolonging the job crisis, ensuring more years of deficits and a deeper gouging of the public sector.
These cuts are having a devastating effect on public sector unions, the last bastion of union strength in the country. These unions are being weakened to such an extent that stripping them of their right to collectively bargain — the nail in the coffin — becomes a real possibility. No state is safe from this threat.
If unions don’t unite with community groups to demand that public services be fully funded by taxing the wealthy and corporations, the cuts will continue, communities will feel helpless, inequality will continue to spiral out of control, and working people will be further subjected to the policies of the 1%, now implemented in chorus by Republicans and Democrats alike. But, of course, this means that the unions will have to break with the suicidal strategy of relying on the Democrats for handouts. Time and again the Democrats have demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice the needs of working people in order to curry favor with the rich and corporations, their greatest benefactors when it comes to election campaign contributions.
At church this weekend, our minister explored the violence that killed 20 2nd and 3rd grade children and six adults in Newtown, CT. With point blank accuracy, one 20 year old disturbed kid, stilled the life of those young children. The father of one of the slain, Robbie Parker said of his daughter Emilie, “I was honored to be her father.” I wept as did one of our other ministers. Hundreds of others in the congregation visibly shuddered.
This tragedy follows in the wake of Columbine in Littleton, Colorado 13 years ago with Harris and Klebold. This fall a man named James Holmes shot up an entire movie theater, also in Denver. A Muslim U.S. Army Major Hasan shot 42 innocent people. The Times Square bomber and thousands of other acts of violence have devolved us into a violent, unsafe and frightening culture.
It’s not the individual acts that make us a violent culture. We promote violence on TV with incredibly violent programs like NCIS in NYC, in Los Angeles and in Miami. Criminal Minds TV show creates horrific and sickening criminal torture and death plots. Springer, Povich, Cunningham and other moronic TV shows celebrate illiteracy, the dregs of society and sheer violence. We create unspeakable brutality via other TV shows. Our movies depict the sickening world of masochists and sadists while movie goers absorb these graphics deep within their minds.
In every town, you may go to a video arcade and watch kids commit murder, mayhem, slaughter and staggering acts of violence—with glee, joy and a sense of victory. All of it mindless, yet potent toward further real life carnage within our society.
On our highways, drunk drivers killed 17,000 to as high as 20,000 innocent lives every single year with their weapon of choice—a 4,000 pound missile speeding down the highway at 75 miles per hour drunk or high on drugs—but we refuse to construct drunk driving laws that would make the crime more prohibitive than the offense. We promote alcoholism via beer commercials sensationalizing the lifestyle of alcohol, replete with beautiful women and fast cars.
Our U.S. Congress reeks of warmongering by starting the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm War and Iraq War for no valid reason whatsoever. We killed millions of people and destroyed millions of parents, adults and children. Millions! We remain in Afghanistan, long after bin Laden met his death—still killing their people and ours—with no positive result.
Over the decades, our drones and bombs have created hundreds of thousands of “Newtown, Connecticut’s” where millions of people have died in the aforementioned countries. We insist on maintaining 450,000 military personnel on 700 bases around the world to show-case our ability to kill anyone whose perspective doesn’t match ours.
After the 10 year Vietnam War, over 200,000 of our soldiers became so distraught from their experiences—they committed suicide. Today, an average of four present and former US soldiers commit suicide daily from their war traumas. Millions more emotionally limp along from drugs, depression, PTSD and alcoholism. Some experts predict another 200,000 U.S. soldiers will commit suicide from their military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While we war upon other countries for decades, and after Columbine’s mass murders, we fail to take care of our own youth such as the young man who just killed 26 innocent human beings. An average of 18 teenagers commit suicide in America every single day of the year, every year, every decade—without pause.
A mind-numbing 15,000 people kill others with their knives and guns annually, year after year, decade after decade. Equally lethal, although self-imposed, smokers of tobacco kill themselves off at 450,000 annually.
Let’s talk about men beating wives, girlfriends and lovers:
* There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the United States. There are 3,800 animal shelters. Cruelty to animals abounds in the USA. (Schneider, 1990).
* Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. (“Women and Violence,” Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Hearing, 101-939, pt. 1, p. 12.)
* One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Our federal officials have arrested and slammed 37 million kids into jail for smoking a joint in the past 41 years of the “War on Drugs”—while alcohol and booze have killed endless millions—legally.
As our government foments, creates and imposes wars on countries 10,000 miles away, we suffer the cruelty of 14 million jobless Americans, 47.7 million living on food stamps, 1.5 million homeless and 2.3 million Americans subsisting in prisons.
The final costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan War will reach into the trillions of dollars when that money could have been used to create a more just, hopeful and prosperous society for all our citizens.
What we need to do
An evolutionary vision must occur within our country. We citizens must create peace in our schools and communities. We must vote for leaders who insist on peace rather than war. We need to move away from TV, movie and arcade violence to peaceful understanding. “Yes,” you say, “but what can I do?”
We need to shift from war spending toward life-enhancing contributions to flourish our society. We spend trillions of dollars on war and a tiny fraction for education and betterment of our society.
What not to continue because it doesn’t work:
- Stop engaging in useless, costly, deadly and meaningless wars overseas
- Stop our empire building by bringing home 450,000 military personnel from those 700 bases. It wastes money, people and resources and it accomplishes nothing.
- Stop meddling in hundreds of countries’ business as if the U.S. ethnocentric position constitutes the bottom line of righteousness
- Stop the War on Terror, War on Drugs and War on Poverty because the energy of fighting anything pales in comparison to the support of human dignity
- Stop violent video games, violent movies, violent TV programming
Transfer war funds to peace funding for our society:
- Spend billions for jobs that give dignity to citizens
- Spend billions on after-school classes, activities and playgrounds
- Spend billions on mental health, emotional health and well-being in families
- Spend billions on high school marriage, relationship and child rearing classes to support fathers and mothers in workable marriages, which will result in viable lives for children
- Spend billions to build personal responsibility, personal accountability and educational excellence for all our citizens to grow our civilization into a positive future
- Spend billions on raising healthy, happy and balanced children with mental health services, parental training and guidance
We Americans need to reassess ourselves. We need to invent or discover another path. We need to open toward a spiritual awakening. We need to move toward slower living, inter-related living and environmentally balanced living. We need to eschew 80,000 chemicals injected into our air, water and ground 24/7—most definitely scrambling our emotions, body chemistries and minds. We need to live and grow in smaller, community-oriented cities. (As John Muir said, “There is not a single sane man in all of San Francisco.) We need both fathers and mothers for our children so they grow into healthy adults who value themselves and know they are essential. We must extricate ourselves from the pervasive violence in our culture by moving toward peaceful solutions, love and kindness.
This transformation requires you, your actions, your passions, your energy and your optimism for the future.
In this column last week, I took sportscaster Bob Costas to task for his inane comments regarding the murder-suicide deaths committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Costas ignorantly and irrationally blamed the deaths of Jovan and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, on “our current gun culture.” Costas naively said, “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
See my column on Bob Costas at:
Well, here is another tragic story of an NFL player’s untimely death. This time the team is the Dallas Cowboys. USA Today covers the story:
“For the second time in a week, from one Saturday to the next, another young professional football player is dead at the age of 25 and another NFL team is grieving after allegations of a terrible and tragic crime.
“Last weekend, it was Kansas City. This weekend, it’s Dallas. The circumstances are different, but the results are eerily similar. Two players are gone: One by his own hand in front of his coach and general manager in the parking lot of the team’s practice facility; the second in the morgue after a night out with a teammate, who is now sitting in an Irving, Tex., jail cell while his teammates fly to Cincinnati for Sunday’s game.
“One week after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed the mother of his nearly 3-month-old daughter and then killed himself, the Cowboys are mourning the loss of a teammate while another has been arrested for intoxication manslaughter.
“Nose tackle Josh Brent, who was to have started this Sunday against the Bengals, was arrested early Saturday morning after the car he was driving flipped over, killing his lone passenger, Cowboys practice-squad player Jerry Brown, who was Brent’s teammate not only in Dallas but also at the University of Illinois from 2007-09.”
See the report at:
So, why didn’t Bob Costas get on national television and say, “If Josh Brent didn’t possess a car, Jerry Brown would be alive today”? Why? Because Bob Costas doesn’t think critically, that’s why! He simply regurgitates the same antiquated anti-gun rhetoric he hears from his pro-gun-control buddies.
But it’s true: if the gun is to blame for Belcher and Perkins’ deaths, the car is to blame for Brown’s death.
And speaking of cars and guns, the total number of deaths nationwide from the misuse of firearms pales in comparison to the total number of deaths from the misuse of automobiles. Yet, I don’t hear the Bob Costases of the world screaming for “automobile-control.” Come on, folks, get real! Plus, as Larry Pratt and others have already noted, firearms in the possession of American citizens are actually used to protect the lives of people some 4,000 to 6,000 times A DAY. When Costas said, “Handguns do not enhance our safety,” not only was he wrong, he was miserably wrong! Handguns DO enhance our safety–not to mention our liberty!
Look at the city of Chicago. More people have been murdered in the city of Chicago this year than soldiers killed in Afghanistan. One hundred and forty-four US troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far in 2012, while 228 people have been murdered so far in 2012 in The Windy City.
According to The Huffington Post, “The war zone-like statistics are not new. As WBEZ reports, while some 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, more than 5,000 people have been killed by gun fire in Chicago during that time, based on Department of Defense and FBI data.”
See the report at:
Yet, Chicago, Illinois, has some of the strictest gun-control laws in America. Then again, maybe that’s one of the reasons why so many people are killed in Chicago. The laws of this city forbid honest citizens from being armed and, thus, they are unable to defend themselves. Let the good guys start shooting back and one will see a dramatic lapse of courage among miscreants. Don’t believe that? Check out the violent crime rates in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, or Vermont.
This modern infatuation with blaming inanimate objects for acts of immorality and impropriety is nothing short of epidemic! Of course, the reason for this madness is it facilitates the expansion of government into the minutest details of our lives. Big-Government zealots have an innate fear of power and responsibility resting in individuals. They see government as the only suitable source of power. To big-government toadies, individuals are merely the property of government. To them, government bureaucrats can do nothing wrong, while individual citizens can do nothing right. Hence, to big-government hacks, only government officials have the right to keep and bear arms.
The same reasoning applies to America’s so-called “War on Drugs.” Marijuana, especially, is blamed for all kinds of immoral and unsavory conduct, even though the overwhelming evidence simply does not support the accusation.
My youngest son, Timothy, is a former Florida Assistant State Attorney who is now in private practice. Regarding marijuana as being a source of criminal conduct, he wrote, “Drawing from my own personal experience, I see the absurdity of the ‘war on marijuana.’ During my time as a prosecutor at the Florida State Attorney’s Office from 2004 to 2006 where I handled literally thousands of criminal cases and tried nearly 60 jury trials, I was never impressed that marijuana was the cause of any criminal activity. Oh sure, possession of marijuana charges comprised a large number of my criminal cases; but the criminal act was merely the man-made law of possession of marijuana. In fact, most criminal activities were in large part caused by alcohol, where one who consumed too much alcohol became violent; beat his wife; neglected his children; drove drunk and hurt someone; caused a disturbance of the peace; or other similar evils.
“I saw those alcohol-related cases every day. Yet, I cannot say the same regarding marijuana. I would estimate that of the thousands of cases I handled, at least half (if not more) were a direct cause of alcohol consumption or addiction. Yet, alcohol is legal and marijuana is illegal.”
See Tim’s column at:
In fact, marijuana was not even considered harmful or illegal in the United States until 1937, as Tim pointed out in his column. Most people would probably be surprised to learn that four out of our first five presidents not only promoted the use of the hemp plant, but also grew it. Can one imagine putting George Washington or Thomas Jefferson in jail for growing what we now call marijuana? Egad!
The idea that the use of marijuana is harmful because “it leads to hard drugs” is tantamount to saying that beer is harmful because “it leads to hard liquor.” But it’s just not true! There are tens of millions of people who drink responsibly, or who use alcohol medicinally (as prescribed even by Holy Scripture), who never become alcoholics. Likewise, there are tens of millions of marijuana users who use it responsibly or medicinally, who never go on to use hard drugs or become drug addicts. And when it comes to addictions, Americans’ addiction to sugar and laziness kills far more people than those addicted to alcohol–or even tobacco for that matter.
But by making marijuana responsible for all kinds of untoward behavior, and by ignoring the personal accountability of people to behave responsibly, it has helped provide the justification for government to trample the Bill of Rights and create huge bureaucracies, which swell the size and scope of government–especially the federal government.
The same is true for firearms. By making guns responsible for all kinds of untoward behavior, and by ignoring the personal accountability of people to behave responsibly, it helps provide the justification for government to trample the Bill of Rights (in this case the Second Amendment) and create huge bureaucracies (the ATF among others), which swell the size and scope of government–especially the federal government.
Marijuana is a convenient scapegoat. Firearms are a convenient scapegoat. Automobiles, on the other hand, are not so convenient! Hence, we hear nothing from Bob Costas about the need for more “automobile-control.” Plus, amazingly enough, neither did Costas say a word about bringing back Prohibition! In Costas’ world, only guns are sufficiently evil enough to warrant his righteous indignation.
The tragedies in Kansas City and Dallas cause all people of good will to grieve. We grieve for the people involved; we grieve for the families of the victims; and we grieve for the NFL players, coaches, and management. But what we must not do is use these tragedies as an excuse to justify and condone the suppression of our God-given liberties! In addition, it’s past time for America, at every level, to start re-emphasizing the primacy of personal responsibility. That’s something that isn’t being taught much in our nation’s schools, churches, or even families.
But the promotion and expectation of personal responsibility is what made America great; and it’s also what provides our nation with its liberties. If men cannot be expected to be accountable for their conduct, they can hardly be expected to be accountable for their freedom. This is why inanimate objects are used as scapegoats by big-government toadies: it diminishes the virtue of individualism and extols the necessity of governmentism.
In Kansas City, the problem was not the gun; the problem was Belcher. And in Dallas, the problem was not the car–or even the booze–the problem was Brent. Straighten out the man and one will have no need to worry about the objects that are at his disposal.
Tori Taueu-Misa smokes a large marijuana joint at Hempfest in Seattle, Washington.(AFP Photo / Ron Wurzer)
Thursday morning was the dawn of a new era for pot-smoking Washingtonians, as state law finally approved the personal possession of up to one ounce – or roughly 28g – of marijuana, making it the first US state to fully legalize the drug.
Washington voters shocked the nation last month by voting for Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalizes the possession of up to one ounce (28g) of marijuana for personal use. Under the initiative, all penalties for marijuana possession and use have also been abolished.
Many users said they would be gathering around various public areas across the state to celebrate the landmark ruling – by breaking the law. Public marijuana use is still illegal, but the fine for smoking weed in public carries the same fine as publicly consuming alcohol.
I-502, approved by a 55.5 percent majority, will make Washington the first US state to officially legalize recreational marijuana use in the US. State penalties for possession will be eliminated, and excise taxes like those applied to alcohol and tobacco sales will be enacted.
A similar measure passed in Colorado will be implemented no later than January 6.
Although Washington’s new law legalizes possession of up to an ounce for those over 21, selling marijuana remains illegal.
I-502 gives Washington a year to come up with a system of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores. It plans to tax every stage at 25 percent. Analysts say it could bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new tax revenue.
But I-502 also puts Washington at loggerheads with the federal government: Despite record levels of support for nationwide legalization, it is still illegal under federal law to carry or use any amount of marijuana.
Pot is considered a ‘Schedule I’ narcotic under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, putting it in the same category as heroin. This means federal agents can still arrest people for it, and it remains banned from federal properties, including military bases and national parks
But I-502 is going into effect at a time when national support for legalization is at an all-time high.
A national poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) from November 30 to December 2 showed that 59 percent of US voters believe marijuana should be legalized, while only 39 percent do not. Half of respondents also expected that marijuana will become legal under federal law within a decade’s time.
The Obama administration has thus far made no mention of how it will react to the measure, though the White House has repeated on numerous occasions that it remains “firmly committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act.”
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire recently met with Deputy Attorney General James Cole at the Justice Department, though he came away with no answers.
“They said they were reviewing it,” the Washington Post cites Gregoire’s spokesperson Cory Curtis as saying Friday.“They didn’t give us a timeline when they would provide clarity.”
Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, argued that Obama would be working against the popular will and the greater good if the federal government attempted to continue with its “failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”
“The increasingly strong national support for making marijuana legal demonstrates that the writing is on the wall,” Fox said. “Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered. The Obama administration cannot stop history. If it interferes in the implementation of these new laws, it will only unnecessarily prolong the chaos of an uncontrolled market. The time for state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales is here.”
A week-long visit to Tunisia, in the course of which I covered some 2,000 miles by rental car, bus, SUV, and a powered hang glider, has confirmed that of faraway places we often assume to know more than we do. The first country affected by a wave of popular discontent known as the Arab Spring was full of surprises.
To start with, the country is safe for foreign visitors. There have been no attacks on tourists, either at the time of the “Jasmine Revolution” last year or during the periodic eruptions of street protests since then. The violence triggered off by that YouTube video was quickly contained. Last week, more than 50 people—most of them policemen—were injured in protests at the reopening of a rubbish dump on the resort island of Djerba, but the protesters stayed away from the hotels. Even in dusty provincial towns, where no foreigners venture, gas station attendants and cold drinks vendors invariably greeted me with a smile and a polite “bonjour, Monsieur, ça va?” This is in contrast to the barely concealed hostility I have encountered on my recent trips to the West Bank, or—over a decade ago—in Libya.
By the third day, I felt emboldened to venture on my own to the spectacular Roman city of Dougga, a three hour drive from Hammamet, where I had the ruins all to myself for over two hours. At Téboursouk, on the way to Dougga, and at Qa Afur on the way back, I stopped casually at coffee houses for refreshments—the only European for miles around. Mustached men observed the strange sight behind clouds of tobacco smoke. Before long, some bold youngsters initiated conversation. Speaking French (however rusty in my case) definitely helps: it is still compulsory in Tunisian schools, and English has not made many inroads outside the capital and the coastal resorts. (As it happens, it also helps not being an American, or at any rate not admitting to being one.) The conversation did not need to be steered to politics, as most Tunisians find it the only topic currently worth discussing. Such encounters have been invaluable in helping me form a broad picture—more comprehensive and reliable than the one visiting foreign journalists get from their Sorbonne-educated, barely-accented colleagues over cappuccinos on Avenue Habib Bourguiba.
The “Arab Spring” stereotype—a simmering volcano of fundamentalism suddenly erupting and sweeping away a secularist autocracy—does not apply to Tunisia. The causes of the revolt against Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali in January 2011 were social and economic, no less than political. The country had outgrown him. Tunisia is blessed not to have much oil or gas—unlike its two neighbors Libya and Algeria—so it was forced to develop tourism, agriculture, and light manufacturing from its own resources. In contrast to the Emirates or Saudi Arabia, the Tunisians do their own work. The results have been impressive: it is the most literate Arab country, with the highest percentage of women in the workforce. It has good roads, reliable phones, clean if sometimes erratic water supply, and working sewers. Its roadsides are littered with garbage, but its living standards and the quality of its public services are second to none on the African continent. (Libya topped the chart until a year ago.)
In the final years of his rule, Ben Ali made the mistake of pandering excessively to his big business cronies, including his second wife’s corrupt family. The anger of “the street” had more to do with an uneven distribution of the fruits of prosperity and the stubbornly high unemployment rate—especially among the young—than with the kind of endemic poverty rampant in Egypt. A year later the Tunisian economy appears to have avoided the nosedive that seemed imminent after Ben Ali’s fall. The country’s budget deficit will be contained at below 6 percent of GDP next year. This year’s growth is expected to exceed 3.5 percent, and next year’s target is an impressive 4.5 percent. Inflation, interest rates and exchange rates remain under control.
Far from having absolute supremacy comparable to that enjoyed by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia’s Islamic party, Ennahdha, is sharing power in a coalition that includes secularists who opposed Ben Ali’s regime and were the first to hit the streets in January of last year. President Moncef Marzouki, a suave, fluent French speaker, is one of them. Ennahdha’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, is still the most powerful player in the country, but he is likely to fall short of an absolute parliamentary majority in the elections due next year. Many Tunisians are disappointed by the graft and corruption that remain endemic a year after his party became the majority stakeholder in the first democratically elected government in the country’s history. The political process is nevertheless well established, the press is free, and not even pro-Western secularists regret the demise of Ben Ali. A recent public opinion survey released by the International Republican Institute shows that most people prefer a democratic Tunisia, however unstable, over a non-democratic system which promised prosperity and security.
A year after gaining 89 of the 217 seats in parliament, Ennahdha has seen its support slip to 30 percent. It is now challenged, even by the veterans of the old establishment. Nidaa Tounes party, led by the former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, has come from nowhere to command the support of one-fifth of the electorate. Many Tunisians—including my young casual interlocutors—object to the continuing demand of some Ennahdha deputies for the inclusion of Islamic provisions in the new constitution, including a controversial amendment making women unequal to men. The secularists, including Ennahdha’s current coalition partners and the leftists Workers’ Party, are likely to obtain sufficient support to prevent the country’s drift into Islamism.
All this is light years away from Libya next door, or Egypt further east. It was only towards the end of my tour that it dawned on me why Tunisia’s destiny is by no means sealed: there was no American intervention, which would have secured an Islamist takeover. Ben Ali gave up too soon for the U.S. to get directly involved, and there was no violence to justify calls for intervention. The “revolution” was a Tunisian affair and it has produced an outcome illustrative of Tunisian realities. It is currently the only functioning democracy in the Arab world. It is to be hoped that the Obama Administration will refrain from trying to engineer a different outcome.
Watching the debate on Wednesday, I truly can’t imagine Barack Obama having come off as the more likeable candidate. Continuously glancing downwards, perhaps looking for inspiration (I glance upwards, myself), and often displaying an angry countenance, he seemed stiff, detached and petulant; in contrast, Mitt Romney appeared energetic, nimble-minded, affable, engaged and engaging. It was the Mind vs. the Unkind.
Nonetheless, the left is still pushing the narrative of Mitt the Mean. CNN disseminated a poll showing that only 46 percent of debate viewers thought Romney was likeable (of course, we have to consider the source), and the Democrat National Committee just cooked up an ad—showing Romney interrupting moderator Jim Lehrer—whose thrust is that the governor was pushy and bullying. Let’s understand, however, that as it was Romney was given 4 fewer minutes to speak; if he’d been a “nicer” guy, it would have been 10. This brings me to my point.
Years ago a reader emailed me regarding a piece I wrote on Obama’s predecessor and called him “George the Nice.” It was not a compliment. The idea was that President Bush often seemed more interested in getting along than getting things right. And whether you agree with this assessment or not isn’t the issue. It is, rather, as I recently asked, what’s “like” got to do with it?
Oh, I understand that “likeability” influences voters. This and the fact that polls have shown it to be Obama’s strong suit with the electorate is, of course, why the left wants to perpetuate their Mean Mitt myth. And while I find Obama as likeable as poison ivy in private areas, let’s for argument’s sake assume that he truly is the more likeable candidate. Is this meaningful in a leader? Could it even be a warning sign?
This point can be illustrated with a tale of two men, both colleagues of mine at a former place of employment. One was a charming fellow who specialized in the schmooze; the other was a curmudgeonly, stone-faced and sometimes gruff WWII veteran. Now, it’s obvious who was more likeable, and I cottoned to the charmer myself. If you got to know them, however, you learned that Mr. Charm was a Machiavellian operator with a Clintonesque attitude toward truth, while the veteran was a trustworthy, upstanding straight-talker.
Knowing this, how could I like the charmer? Well, what we like is determined by emotion or taste, which generally has little acquaintance with reason. A person may like tobacco more than vegetables or chocolate more than exercise, but few would call them wiser choices. In the same vein, I never would have chosen the charmer if he had been running for office against the curmudgeon. For this is where we must lead with our heads, not our hearts, resist the urge to kowtow to our likes and not eat, smoke or vote ourselves to death.
In fact, it’s usually unwise to choose anyone based solely on likeability, as there’s little correlation between extreme likeability, and virtue and competence (and some virtue, such as conscientiousness, is necessary for competence). One reason for this is that since all three qualities are relatively rare, they aren’t often possessed by the same person. As an example, I know a soft-spoken, affable fellow who most anyone would call a nice guy, but he couldn’t figure out whether the kind of infanticide prohibited by BAIPA legislation was okay or not. As for competence, if you’d chosen a general based on likeability, would you have picked George Patton? And if you’d chosen a computer developer on likeability, Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been your man. So is it wise to choose a president based on likeability? If a man can’t even stand up to an ossified debate moderator, how will he fare locking horns with the Russians or Chinese? In fact, we could use a variation on a famous saying here and wonder if the road to Hell isn’t paved by nice guys.
More ominously, likeability can actually be a red flag. Why? Because projecting it is the specialty of the con man. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear; the good person tells you what you need to hear. The con man will peddle seductive little lies to appear charming—at least until he doesn’t need you anymore.
Of course, a good person’s likeability is also situational, but for a different reason. You may generally be likeable, but will you seem so violently wielding a sword on a battlefield? Similarly, fighting on the moral/cultural battlefield can be messy business; thus, if you’re ever and always likeable amidst this fray, you’re doing it wrong. Just consider Ronald Reagan, a man so affable he won even the hearts of many ‘80s Democrats. How likeable did he seem at the 1980 Nashua, New Hampshire, primary debate when he angrily shouted, “I’m paying for this microphone, Mr. Green”? He was playing hardball, not Mr. Nice Guy, but it was a defining moment that evoked cheers and helped pave his way to the presidency.
So what’s “like” got to do with it? It should be no more relevant to choosing a president than to choosing runners for the Olympic team. Unfortunately, though, man’s nature won’t change; just as we elevate intellectuals over wise men, many will continue to choose likeability over virtue. It’s why our government and culture become less likeable all the time.
I’m sure most Americans are mighty proud of the fact that Julian Assange is so frightened of falling into the custody of the United States that he had to seek sanctuary in the embassy of Ecuador, a tiny and poor Third World country, without any way of knowing how it would turn out. He might be forced to be there for years. “That’ll teach him to mess with the most powerful country in the world! All you other terrorists and anti-Americans out there — Take Note! When you fuck around with God’s country you pay a price!”
How true. You do pay a price. Ask the people of Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, etc., etc., etc. And ask the people of Guantánamo, Diego Garcia, Bagram, and a dozen other torture centers to which God’s country offers free transportation.
You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to torture Assange if they got hold of him? Ask Bradley Manning. At a bare minimum, prolonged solitary confinement is torture. Before too long the world may ban it. Not that that would keep God’s country and other police states from using it.
You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to target Assange with a drone? They’ve done it with American citizens. Assange is a mere Aussie.
And Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, will pay a price. You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not intervene in Ecuador? In Latin America, it comes very naturally for Washington. During the Cold War it was said that the United States could cause the downfall of a government south of the border … with a frown. The dissolution of the Soviet Union didn’t bring any change in that because it was never the Soviet Union per se that the United States was fighting. It was the threat of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model.
For example, on January 21, 2000 in Ecuador, where almost two-thirds live in poverty, a very large number of indigenous peasants rose up in desperation and marched to the capital city of Quito, where they were joined by labor unions and some junior military officers (most members of the army being of indigenous stock). This coalition presented a list of economic demands, seized the Congress and Supreme Court buildings, and forced the president to resign. He was replaced by a junta from the ranks of the new coalition. The Clinton administration was alarmed. Besides North American knee-reflex hostility to anything that look or smells like a leftist revolution, Washington had big plans for a large military base in Manta (later closed by Correa). And Colombia — already plagued by leftist movements — was next door.
The US quickly stepped in to educate the Ecuadorean coalition leaders as to the facts of Western Hemispheric imperial life. The American embassy in Quito … Peter Romero, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America and Western Hemispheric Affairs … Sandy Berger, National Security Adviser to President Clinton … Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering … all made phone calls to Ecuadorian officials to threaten a cutoff in aid and other support, warning that “Ecuador will find itself isolated”, informing them that the United States would never recognize any new government the coalition might set up, there would be no peace in Ecuador unless the military backed the vice president as the new leader, and the vice president must continue to pursue neoliberal “reforms”, the kind of IMF structural adjustment policies which had played a major role in inciting the uprising in the first place.
Within hours the heads of the Ecuadorian army, navy and air force declared their support for the vice president. The leaders of the uprising fled into hiding. And that was the end of the Ecuadorian revolution of the year 2000.1
Rafael Correa was first elected in 2006 with a 58% majority, and reelected in 2009 with a 55% majority; his current term runs until August 2013. The American mainstream media has been increasingly critical of him. The following letter sent in January to the Washington Post by the Ecuadoran ambassador to the United States is an attempt to clarify one of the issues.
Letter to the Editor:
We were offended by the Jan. 12 editorial “Ecuador’s bully,” which focused on a lawsuit brought by our president, Rafael Correa, after a newspaper claimed that he was guilty of ordering troops to fire on innocent citizens during a failed coup in 2010. The president asked the publishers to release their evidence or a retraction. When they refused, he sued, as any citizen should do when recklessly wronged.
No journalist has gone to prison or paid a significant fine in the five years of the Correa presidency. Media criticism — fair and unfair, sometimes with malice — of the government appears every day. The case involving the newspaper is on appeal. When the judicial process ends, the president has said, he will waive some or all of the penalties provided he gets a retraction. That is a common solution to libel and slander cases in the United States, I believe.
Your writer uses obnoxious phrases such as “banana republic,” but here is the reality of today’s Ecuador: a highly popular, stable and progressive democracy for the first time in decades.
Nathalie Cely, Washington
No shelter from the drones of infinite justice or the bacteria of enduring freedom
Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said recently that he had had an argument with Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, about the issue of American drone attacks in Afghanistan, following yet another deadly airstrike that killed a number of civilians. Karzai asked Allen an eminently reasonable question: “Do you do this in the United States?” The Afghan president added: “There is police action every day in the United States in various localities. They don’t call an airplane to bomb the place.”2
Karzai’s question to Allen was rhetorical of course, for can it be imagined that American officials would bomb a house in an American city because they suspected that certain bad guys were present there? Well, the answer to that question is that it can be imagined because they’ve already done it.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On May 13, 1985, a bomb dropped by a police helicopter burned down an entire block, some 60 homes destroyed, 11 dead, including several small children. The police, the mayor’s office, and the FBI were all involved in this effort to evict an organization called MOVE from the house they lived in.
The victims were all black of course. So let’s rephrase our question. Can it be imagined that American officials would bomb a house in Beverly Hills or the upper east side of Manhattan? Stay tuned.
And what else can we imagine about a society that’s been super militarized, that’s at war with much of the world, and is convinced that it’s on the side of the angels and history? Well, the Boston transit system, MBTA, recently announced that in conjunction with Homeland Security they plan to release dead bacteria at three stations during off-hours this summer in order to test sensors that detect biological agents, which terrorists could release into subway systems. The bacterium, bacillus subtilis, is not infectious even in its live form, according to the government.3
However, this too has a precedent. During five days in June, 1966 the Army conducted a test called “A Study of the Vulnerability of Subway Passengers in New York City to Covert Attack with Biological Agents”. Trillions ofbacillus subtilis variant niger were released into the subway system during rush hours, producing aerosol clouds. The report on the test noted that “When the cloud engulfed people, they brushed their clothing, looked up at the grate [at street level] and walked on.”4 The wind of passing trains spread the bacteria along the tracks; in the time it took for two trains to pass, the bacteria were spread from 15th Street to 58th Street.5 It is not known how many people later became ill from being unsuspecting guinea pigs because the United States Army, as far as is known, exhibited no interest in this question.
For the planned Boston test the public has not been informed of the exact days; nor is it known how long the bacteria might linger in the stations or what the possible danger might be to riders whose immune system has been weakened for any reason.
It should be noted that the New York subway experiment was only one of many such experiments. The Army has acknowledged that between 1949 and 1969, 239 populated areas from coast to coast as well as US overseas territories were blanketed with various organisms during tests designed to measure patterns of dissemination in the air, weather effects, dosages, optimum placement of the source, and other factors. Such testing was supposedly suspended after 1969.6
Government officials have consistently denied that the biological agents used could be harmful despite an abundance of expert and objective scientific evidence that exposure to heavy concentrations of even apparently innocuous organisms can cause illness, at a minimum to the most vulnerable segments of the population — the elderly, children, and those suffering from a variety of ailments. “There is no such thing as a microorganism that cannot cause trouble,” George Connell, assistant to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified before the Senate in 1977. “If you get the right concentration at the right place, at the right time, and in the right person, something is going to happen.”7
The United States has used biological weapons abroad as well, repeatedly, not for testing purposes but for hostile purposes.8 So what will the land which has the highest (double) standards say when such weapons are used against it? Or when foreign drones hit American cities? Or when American hi-tech equipment is sabotaged by a cyber attack as the US has now admitted doing to Iran? A year ago the Pentagon declared that “computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war. … If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a US military official.9
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – André Gide, French Author, 1869-1951
Barack Obama, his mother, and the CIA
In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations” in New York City, and his functions as a “research assistant” and “financial writer”.
Oddly, Obama doesn’t mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.10
The British journal, Lobster — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.11 In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.12 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington’s nuclear desires, was reinstated to power — R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.
In his book, not only doesn’t Obama mention his employer’s name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)13 — it’s reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.
Adding to the wonder is the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, had been associated during the 1970s and 80s — as employee, consultant, grantee, or student — with at least five organizations with intimate CIA connections during the Cold War: The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the East-West Center of Hawaii.14 Much of this time she worked as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Hawaii, being in good position to gather intelligence about local communities.
As one example of the CIA connections of these organizations, consider the disclosure by John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration (1977-81). “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”15 And Development Alternatives, Inc. is the organization for whom Alan Gross was working when arrested in Cuba and charged with being part of the ongoing American operation to destabilize the Cuban government.
How the owners of a society play with their property
The Supreme Court of the United States has just upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Liberals as well as many progressives are very pleased, regarding this as a victory for the left.
Under the new law, people can benefit in one way or another depending on the following factors:
Their age; whether their income is at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level; whether their parents have a health plan; whether they use tobacco; what state they live in; whether they have a pre-existing medical condition; whether they qualify to buy health insurance through newly-created market places known as “exchanges”; and numerous other criteria … They can obtain medical insurance in a “competitive insurance market” (emphasis on the “competitive”); they can perhaps qualify for various other kinds of credits and tax relief if they meet certain criteria … The authors of the Act state that it will save thousands of dollars in drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries by closing a coverage gap called the “donut hole” … They tell us that “It keeps insurance companies honest by setting clear rules that rein in the worst insurance industry abuses.”
That’s a sample of how health care looks in the United States of America in the 21st century, with a complexity that will keep a small army of lawyers busy for years to come. Ninety miles away, in the Republic of Cuba, it looks a bit different. If you feel sick you go to a doctor. You’re automatically qualified to receive any medical care that’s available and thought to be suitable. The doctor treats you to the best of his or her ability. The insurance companies play no role. There are no insurance companies. You don’t pay anything. You go home.
The Affordable Care Act will undoubtedly serve as a disincentive to the movement for single-payer national health insurance, setting the movement back for years. The Affordable Care Act was undoubtedly designed for that purpose.
- Washington Post, January 23, 2000, p.1; “The coup in Ecuador: a grim warning”, World Socialist Web Site, February 2, 2000; Z Magazine (Massachusetts), February 2001, pp.36-7 ↩
- Washington Post, June 12, 2012 ↩
- Beacon Hill Patch (Boston), “MBTA to Spread Dead Bacteria on Red Line in Bio-Terror Test”, May 18, 2012 ↩
- Leonard Cole, Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests over Populated Areas (1990), pp.65-9↩
- New York Times, September 19, 1975, p.14 ↩
- “Biological Testing Involving Human Subjects by the Department of Defense”, 1977, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, US Senate, March 8 and May 23, 1977; see also William Blum, Rogue State, chapter 15 ↩
- Senate Hearings, op. cit., p.270 ↩
- Rogue State, op. cit., chapter 14 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2011 ↩
- New York Times, December 27, 1977, p.40 ↩
- Lobster magazine, Hull, UK, #14, November 1987 ↩
- Rogue State, op. cit., pp.199-200 ↩
- Carl Oglesby, Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement (2008), passim↩
- Wikipedia entry for Ann Dunham ↩
- George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321
The Department of Justice has a long record of acting as the dictatorship of jurisprudence. Acting like council to the mob, the “Consigliore” Attorney General plots protection rackets for the ultimate organized crime syndicate. Eric Holder is the latest in a long line of lawyers that distort and stretch credibility to the theater of the absurd. Making up legal arguments to distort or conceal culpability is a prime prerequisite to serve as the chief law enforcement thug for the current President.
Some four decades ago, the nation suffered through the most critical constitutional crisis of recent times. The Watergate calamity tormented the nation on a daily basis, resulting in a new level of cynicism and disgust. What started as a third rate burglary concluded in the resignation of Richard. M. Nixon. The flawed life of the symbol of the imperial presidency, shamed into submission, vacated office to avoid conviction. Sadly, the prospect that Barack Hussein Obama has the dignity of ignominy to fade away from the White House is most remote.Nixon’s Attorney Generals John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst earned their disgrace for the cover-up, while Holder has built an entire career on sleaze and treason. Some of the inglorious achievements of Holder include his finger prints all over the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Marc Rich Pardon and the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.Therefore, when the
Fast and Furious scandal became a thorn in the side of the Obama administration, the lackey fixer was called upon to do his stonewall dance. From the contempt vote in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Holder’s tiptoe is not exactly getting rave reviews from the political pundits.The charges of playing partisan politics coming from the Democratic choirs are reminiscent of the Nixon defenders at every disclosure from the Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman damage control team. Remember the hilarious responses from Nixon’s Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler? Compare that comic performance with the idiotic comments from James “Jay” Carney. The only difference is that Obama won’t use the same body language, when Nixon pushed Ziegler from the backside out of frustration.”Fast and Furious” has not risen to the public outcry of Watergate because of the nature of the mainstream pressitute media. The heralded coverage from the
Washington Post warns Republicans to venture with kid gloves.
“But arguing in a partisan fashion is a loser for Republicans. Already there are GOP leaders who want to promote what they’re doing, not just on the merits of the matter at hand, but by asserting that the Democrats were much worse in their treatment of the Bush Justice Department. That is not a reason to aggressively pursue this tragedy. No Republican or conservative commentator should even raise it. The notion that this is partially motivated by political payback is very damaging to what very little credibility Congress has today, and the approach is belittling to agent Brian Terry, who was killed, and unfair to his family. Also, by the way, it’s the worst political move Republicans can make.”
|From Tricky Dick|
|To Barry Soetoro|
Not exactly, the same daring reporting, that Woodard and Bernstein invented, in their quixotic quest to take down the naughty Nixon. Shielding the peccadilloes of the Obama administration is a full time effort for the liberal press, but avoiding the extreme transgression of the DoJ to create another false flag excuse, is indefensible. Therefore, when CBS reports some real news, it becomes a true event!
“Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the “big fish.” But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called “gunwalking,” and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3?. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:
“Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”
Is there an honest man or woman in the Obama administration? Recall the valor of Nixon’s Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and his resignation that precipitated the “Saturday Night Massacre“. Look around for a courageous Deputy AG like William Ruckelshaus in the corrupt den of vipers that serve not an imperial president but a collectivist dictator. Woefully, all you find are careerist stooges who follow orders. When Robert Bork finally, fired independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, his reputation was negatively impacted.No impeachment for this “constitutional lawyer” !!!
Obama acts as tin horn despot in the land of the drug cartel. The federal government is addicted to fiat pronouncements designed to circumnavigate around Congress. Executive orders are de facto usurpation of legislative authority. Executive privilege that spits in the eye of separation of powers is an impeachable offense.
Refusal to instruct Eric Holder to turn over the complete record of “Fast and Furious” documents makes the same mistake that Nixon made when he decided to violate his oath of office. The appearance of withholding evidence of possible sinister disclosures becomes a reality when transparency is abandoned. Coming clean on the decision process and naming names of those responsible for “gunwalking” practices is imperative.
What does the Obama crowd fear? It seems unlikely that a G. Gordon Liddy clone went rogue or a James McCord want-a-be was stealing guns on the side. What the American public needs to know is the E. Howard Hunt figure behind “Fast and Furious”?
Those too young to remember the paralysis and fallout that engulfed the government during Watergate will not appreciate the national danger that arises when an administration is determined to force a constitutional crisis. For all practical purpose, the U.S. Constitution is already abolished. The duty of Congress to reassert its legitimate oversight function is crucial for a second American revolution to remain non-violent.
Ironically, the intent to gut the second amendment was certainly an intended objective behind the gun running operation. The federal authoritarians at ATF are no different from the gang members on a segment of the Sons of Anarchy FX series. Fiction becomes fact when the government enforces their brand of tyranny as national security. When the rubber hits the road and the guns turn on government officers, one would normally hear a deafening scream for accountability.Holder has clearly demonstrated that agent Brian Terry was expendable, and that his family does not fall under the protective umbrella of justice.
The Watergate break-in was purportedly an operation to secure proof that the Cuban government was supplying funds to the Democratic Party. Somehow supplying Mexican drug lords with military grade weapons seems just a little more outrageous.Now, the political climate forty years later is hardly an environment that gives confidence that the people, much less then the government, is committed to lawful accountability. The political impact may be marginable because presently national outrage over any scandal has a very short half-life. The toxic consequences of allowing career criminals to hold public office is the death trap for any democratic regime, much less a constitutional republic.
When Marco Rubio Says Eric Holder Should Resign, some will claim it is just politics. The correct question is why isn’t President Obama demanding the head of Eric Holder? We all know the answer to this question. Crooks keep their soldiers in the fold until they are no longer useful.The manner by which this next escalation of the “Fast and Furious” operation is reported will tell much about the level of decency left in the country. Obama has decided to stretch out the controversy by pushing the Congress to go to court. Not much has changed for the better since the Watergate tragedy. Under Obama, you have a megalomaniac that makes Richard Nixon look tame.
Congress needs to step up and do their duty with bipartisan support. The Rubio demand will soon look meek, as angry citizens’ calls for the resignation of the POTUS himself. The fall election should register public sentiment on the intensity of indignation. Hopefully, a second Obama manic term and administration will be a moot issue.
They say “Jolly is the fat man,” but perhaps not when he’s being chased (and, I’m sure, caught) like a Frankenstein monster by the Body Cult crazies. And that is the case today, as it has become fashionable to affront the friendly-fronted.
It seems most anything goes now: bloated houses, bloated egos, bloated libidos, bloated bureaucracies, bloated government – except bloated bellies. And a perusal of the news makes this clear, with a never-ending stream of stories about obesity this and obesity that. For example, headlining Drudge the other day was a piece about how fathead officials in Massachusetts propose to ban school bake sales – even before and after school hours – to combat obesity. This, of course, is just the next step in a progression that has seen localities purge schools of cookies and sodas along with the faith and patriotism that was deemed unhealthful long before.
We also had the San Francisco Stupidvisors, who run the city (into the ground), who banned toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals. Deliciously, the restaurant chain circumvented the law by charging an extra ten cents for those who want the toy. I would’ve really rubbed the health Nazis’ noses in it and made it a penny.
Then there was the 2008 proposal by three legislators in Mississippi – said to be the fattest state in the nation – to prohibit portly people from dining in restaurants. The politicians said they were just trying to make a point with their measure. I wonder, though, given that the vast majority of gun crime (98% in New York City) is committed by blacks and Hispanics, would these bold statesmen seek to “make a point” by proposing to ban those groups from gun stores? Oh, that would be discriminatory? I see.
Although Mississippi Fat Burning never saw its opening day, other Orwellian measures have. For instance, a Missouri judge was accused of delaying an adoption until the prospective father lost weight, and last year Ohio DCFS seized a boy from his parents because he was obese. This, despite the fact that if the president ate like his wife does, the boy would look like Obama’s son.
The irony here is that the health Nazis would have had the over indulgent Ohio mother’s back if she’d ended her boy’s life in the womb. But merely increase the chances of shortening his life by feeding him too many Twinkies? You’re a derelict mother!
You see, when it’s the matter of a body within a body, it’s the bigger body’s “choice.” But when it’s a matter of just a bigger body, you have no choice. My, how the scales of justice tip when you tip the scales.
As for the busybodies – the politicians, gubmint bureaucrats and “public-interest” groups – how do we explain their interest in our health? They really must care, right? About you, about me, about all and sundry. Well, I’d say so but qualify it with a paraphrased Rodney Dangerfield line: “They really care….
About what, I have no idea.”
Of course, there is the “Obesity hurts society” pretext. The argument is that you fatties are burying our healthcare system with a knife and fork, as you cost it more money with your increased health problems.
Except that this is nonsense.
A 2011 study found that the obese and smokers actually cost the healthcare system less because they don’t live as long. And while study leader Pieter Van Baal called the finding a “small surprise,” it’s thoroughly logical. It’s the nonagenarian requiring frequent hospitalization and nursing-home care who rings up the bills, not the epicurean who collapses on his plate of chicken fried steak and cheese-filled French fries at age 61. So you want to save ObamaCare? Get all the different fat groups, copious amounts of sugar and salt and smoke one Al Gore tobacco farm a week.
So are we now left with the notion that the health Nazis really do care? Well, they do, and about what I do have some idea. And I’m going to delve into one little understood phenomenon that drives today’s obsession with health.
You’ll note that the people behind control-freak health measures are never Opus Dei or Southern Baptist Conference types; heck, unless it’s a prohibition against pork, they’re not even Muslims. They are, I’d wager, secularists virtually one and all.
This is no coincidence, but a result of subordinating spiritual health to physical health. A person of faith may believe that he’s enjoined to treat the temple of the soul well, but he will never elevate that imperative over that of caring for the soul itself. He realizes that this life, relative to eternity, is as a drop of water in an ocean – and it is that ocean voyage for which he is mainly preparing. Thus, recognizing the reality of God’s law (morality), he understands that of primary importance is avoiding what has traditionally been labeled sin.
But what about when you don’t believe in an afterlife? This temporal life is then all you see.
And then staying in it for as long as possible can become the most important thing to you.
In fact, it can become obsession.
For where the believer may be mindful of Jesus’ words (I’m paraphrasing) “Do not fear that which just destroys the body; fear that which destroys the soul,” the secularist may believe the body is all there is. This is, I believe, what has bred the Cult of the Body, with all its newly-minted “sins,” such as overeating, failure to exercise, smoking and drinking. Why, we even call taxes on the last two “sin taxes.”
So my answer to those who warn of increasing obesity is, “So?” “But, Duke, don’t you understand? These people will die younger!” Other than mentioning that they won’t die nearly as young as aborted babies, again I say, “So?” We’re all going to die; it’s just a matter of when and how. And when you realize that relative to the ocean, small, medium and large water drops are indistinguishable, you’ll understand my response.
Returning to a lighter note, I’ll have to now limit my keyboard intake lest this article get too fat. Before concluding, however, I’ll say that I do have an idea for putting the health Nazis’ designs on a diet. Since obesity is most prevalent among black women – with 48 percent having, uh, let’s say, generous proportions – cast any and all attacks upon the condition as “racist.” If this tactic works when the matter is police tests, voter ID, immigration and school suspension, perhaps it’ll work with abdominal distension.
Shocking new research reveals that a specific type of lung cancer many smokers develop comes from tiny tears in their lung tissue caused by microscopic glass fibers, also known as glass wool, found in many conventional cigarette filters. These rips in the epithelial (soft) tissue fuel the development of tumors and cancerous cells due to the constant overload of toxins, namely pesticides, nicotine and ammonia, contained in commercial cigarette smoke.
The filters of typical commercial cigarettes contain microscopic, needle-shaped shards of glass wool (like fiberglass insulation) which escape into the mouth and throat, and then lodge with tobacco tar in the lung tissue, surrounding the alveoli (tiny air sacs) and lead to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema and eventually lung cancer.
A physician’s assistant (PA) and an intensive care nurse at a major hospital reviewed the damaged lung tissue of several cigarette smokers and said the x-rays looked identical to those of patients exposed to asbestos, and that diagnostic imaging revealed what looked like “ground glass” which settled in the soft tissue near the bottom of the lungs (GGO – ground glass opacity). The interviewed nurse said, “When lung tissue is damaged over and over,it develops lesions, and the cancer plants itself in there like seeds.” (http://www.appliedradiology.com)
According to the PA, the tiny shards penetrate the “lipid bilayer, then embed in the lung tissue, causing the tissue to harden and eventually lose its ability to absorb oxygen.” This damage fuels the development of the same type of lung cancer (mesothelioma) associated with asbestos poisoning. He also explained how smoking destroys the cilia (tiny hairs) that help push excretions/mucus out, and how when smokers sleep, their breathing patterns relax and the “tar deposits creep in on damaged air sacs called blebs, eventually rupturing and collapsing them.” This is why when smokers awake in the morning they canexperience unproductive coughing fitsand/or bronchial spasms.
The cigarette filter (butt) acts as a buffer from the extreme heat of the cigarette’s burning chemicals, which can exceed1700 degrees Fahrenheit during inhale.Fibrous glass has the heat-resistant qualities of asbestos, which makes it an efficient material for insulation; however, if you’ve ever been in an attic and got insulation on your skin, you already know how irritating the glass fibers can be, so now imagine what it’s doing to the inside of a smoker’s lungs.
Up to12,000 microscopic glass fibersare tightly bound together, which explains why filters take between10 to 15 years to disintegrate. If the filter were simply cotton rolled tightly in paper, a few rainstorms would break it up and wash it away within weeks. Filters are also constructed to catch the tar and the tobacco particles from coming through, but not entirely.
Although fiberglass is not the same as asbestos, it can be just as damaging to the human body. The long, very narrow fibers penetrate deep into lung tissue and remain there. One study conducted with rats showed thatfibrous glass is a potent carcinogen, leading to changes in the DNA genetic structure and breaking down the immune system. This is one reason smoker’s fight colds, the flu, sinus and bronchial infections for much longer periods of time than non-smokers. (http://tpx.sagepub.com/content/19/4-1/482.full.pdf)
60 years of BIG LIES from BIG TOBACCO
Independent studies reveal that commercial cigarettes with defective filters have been marketed for over 60 years.Mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that develops in the protective lining of the lungs, abdomen, and/or the cavity around the heart, is most commonly associated with asbestos poisoning, but now research reveals thatmore than 10% of those casesare now associated with cigarette smokers with NO history of exposure to asbestos.
The tobacco industry has been negligent in failing to perform toxicological examinations to assess human health risks from inhaling and ingesting these synthetic micro-particles released from conventional cigarette filters. The recent “warning ads” about the effects of smoking are not educational, nor do they help smokers understand strategies for cessation at all. The $54 million campaign full of “stark and graphic advertisements” is nothing more than a ploy to pretend like the U.S.Center for Disease Control(CDC) is trying to help with this massive, preventable health crisis. (http://www.cnn.com)
Thanks to absolutelyno regulationsregarding the ingredients used for manufacturing cigarettes, smokers are susceptible to multiple forms of lung disease, includingdesquamative interstitial pneumonitisfrom ground glass infiltration of the soft tissues,bronchoalveolar cell carcinoma, andpulmonary fibrosis, which are all revealed from specific lung biopsies (HR-CT scans). (http://www.radiologyassistant.nl/en/42459cff38f02)
Since the U.S. government doesn’t help smokers quit, who does?
Once a smoker realizes what they’vereally got themselves into, they can prepare physically and mentally for quitting. 14 And Out is a 60 minute video download which addresses all angles of the smoking addiction, including chemical addiction, behavioral habits, and nutritionfor cleansing the lungs and blood. No other program is so unique that fully addresses replenishing nutrients that have been severely depleted by the 4,000 commercial cigarette chemicals. A preview trailer and testimonials are available at the following link: (http://premium.naturalnews.tv/14AndOut__TV.htm)
14 And Out is a holistic program which is comprehensive and inexpensive, and teaches the smoker how to wean his/herself off cigarettes entirely in 14 days or less. The short course explains how smokers who have switched toe-cigs are still damaging their liver and kidneys by ingesting nicotine, which is the main chemical that feeds the vicious cycle of the smoking addiction. If you’re a smoker with a deep desire toescape the nicotine prison,14 And Out is the way to extend your life.
Sources for this article include:
Source: Natural News