Archive for category Military Industrial Complex

The Mind Your Own Business Act

I love the fact that Alan Grayson was able to get back into congress along with Elizabeth Warren. NOW when I get the old, “they’re all the same” refrain, I can say, “well not exactly”.

Alan names his amendment to H.R. 1960 the, “The Mind Your Own Business Act”. When was the last time you heard somebody in congress come up with a plan that didn’t have an Orwellian name? Republicans are always so proud of people on their side who just come right out and say what they think. It’s usually crazy as hell, but they say it anyway. Alan shoots from the hip too, but it sparks something in your brain that says: this really makes sense. Also, for years, Republicans were prohibited from disagreeing with anything a Republican in the hierarchy said. Grayson can say he disagrees with Obama’s stance, because he’s a Democrat. That’s my hope.

MSNBC is supposed to be “the liberal channel”, so why is the host of this segment trying to “get something” on Grayson for insinuating the Nazi’s would have loved to have a “Total Information Awareness” type of system that is going in to full gear, very soon. Grayson answers a question with a question, but it’s a good one, which the host, basically, answers by saying, ‘I’m the one asking the questions here’.

The question Grayson asks is,

How do you feel about the fact that the Government is keeping a record of every single phone call that you make?

I’m totally perplexed at the media coverage Edward Snowden is getting at this late date. He’s not the only whistle-blower on this matter. We have known for many years the government had planned to collect, and has been collecting as much information about every one of us as they could. Now that they are close to having the ability to get EVERYTHING, we get polls that tell us Americans WANT to have all their private information collected to…

AND I’M REALLY GETTING TIRED OF HEARING THIS…

Keep us safe.

If the government is serious about keeping me safe, they’d stop spending so much money on secret surveillance, prisons and war. What I really need to keep me “safe” is single payer healthcare and “food security”.

I think Grayson’s best quote in the video is this:

Martin, you are completely missing the point. The point is that we’re taking measures that are not correlated in any sense with our safety, and even if they were it would be beneath our dignity as human beings. That’s what this is all about. All right, listen. You could always make people safer by taking extreme measures. If, for instance, we lowered the speed limit to 10 miles per hour, people would be safer. If we outlawed knives and forks, people would be safer. If we made everybody fly on the airlines naked, people would be safer. None of those things corresponds to my sense of human dignity, and I think I’m not the only one who feels that way….

If you’d like to support congressman Grayson’s amendment, you can sign up here.

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NBC ‘Reality’ Show: War For Fun and Profit

I’ve seen the promos, and wondered out loud if this is an actual show or just a clever satire of corporate-sponsored “reality” TV. Turns out that NBC is truly going to air “Stars Earn Stripes,” an incredibly stupid faux-war celebrity contest co-hosted by retired U.S. general Wesley Clark. Bear in mind that NBC is owned by defense contractor GE, which profits from the normalization of permanent war.

Dean Cain, Dolvett Quince, Eve Torres, Laila Ali, Nick Lachey, Picabo Street, Terry Crews, and Todd Palin will compete in allegedly dangerous warlike activities — in which no one gets hurt. None of them have ever served in the real military.

RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a petition at StarsEarnStripes.org challenging NBC to tell the truth about war.

Dear NBC,
Your entertainment show “Stars Earn Stripes” treats war as sport. This does us all a disservice. We ask that you air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months. (StarsEarnStripes.org has provided a few resources to help you with your research.)

It’s not a revelation that American corporate media don’t tell the truth about war. However, this is ridiculous. “Reality” TV has never departed this much from actual reality. General Clark ought to be ashamed of himself — being a tool of the military-industrial complex is bad enough, but he’s gone too far now.

More info: NBC Invents War-o-tainment

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald weighs in:

It’s actually necessary that America have a network reality show that pairs big, muscular soldiers with adoring D-list celebrities — hosted by a former Army General along with someone who used to be on Dancing with the Stars – as they play sanitized war games for the amusement of viewers, all in between commercials from the nation’s largest corporations. That’s way too perfect of a symbol of American culture and politics for us not to have.

UPDATE: ‘Stars Earn Stripes,’ NBC Reality Show, Criticized By Veterans And Military Reporter

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The Consequences of the Invasion of Iraq – Exactly the Opposite of What the Bushies Proposed

In a devastating article, Dan Froomkin observes:

Ten bloody and grueling years later, Iraq is finally emerging from its ruins and establishing itself as a geopolitical player in the Middle East — but not the way the neocons envisioned.

Though technically a democracy, Iraq’s floundering government has degenerated into a tottering quasi-dictatorship. The costs of the war (more than $800 billion) and reconstruction (more than $50 billion) have been staggeringly high. And while Iraq is finally producing oil at pre-war levels, it is trying its best to drive oil prices as high as possible.

Most disturbing to many American foreign policy experts, however, is Iraq’s extremely close relationship with Iran. Today, the country that was formerly Iran’s deadliest rival is its strongest ally.

In other words, the Neo Cons were not just wrong but absolutely 100% wrong, their predictions turned out exactly 180 degrees from what actually happened.

Predicting what’s next in Iraq is next to impossible. In virtually no scenario, however, do things turn out how the neocons intended.

“Whatever [the war] was about, which was never entirely explained, it hasn’t worked out terribly well,” said Freeman, “and in fact Iraq continues to evolve in ways that are, if not fatal to American interests, certainly negative.”

At this point, I’m even more certain the Iraq war was not worth what it cost.  It was a colossal waste of time, resources, lives – an exercise in imperial vanity and posturing that was so destructive in every imaginable way, more costly, more ruinous than anyone  predicted.

We need a national truth and reconciliation commission.  We need it now.

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Silent Film Star Speaks

Charlie Chaplin was WAY before my time, but when he got the chance to do “speakies”, he used his time wisely.

The reason I never knew about this film is obvious:

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Free Bradley Manning!

I really hate associating myself with Michael Moore or Bradley Manning with an insignificant post, because I’m not anywhere near worthy, but:

From Michael Moore:

A Man in Tunisia, a Movement on Wall Street, and the Soldier Who Ignited the Fuse

Protesters chant slogans against the political party of former President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, on January 21, 2011. The city was where Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, had a confrontation with a municipal inspector that eventually led to his self-immolation in front of the governor’s office in protest. The act fatally burned Bouazizi and is said to have sparked the protests that toppled President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali’s government.

It’s Saturday night and I didn’t want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.

One year ago on December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government’s repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.

Three months ago on December 17th, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York’s Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks — and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions — has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% — and now there is no turning back.

Twenty-four years ago on December 17th, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial — simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush’s State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’)

The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business — and clearly those who don’t want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.

Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption — cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire — well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.

People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods — the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep — and in just a year’s time! When anyone asks me, “Who started Occupy Wall Street?” sometimes I say “Goldman Sachs” or “Chase” but mostly I just say, “Bradley Manning.” It was his courageous action that was the tipping point — and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning’s gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.

And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he’s received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin’ medal. He did what great Americans have always done — he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.

The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.

The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war — and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.

But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.

I know, I know, c’mon Mike — it’s the holiday season, there’s presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We’ve done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.

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Posted Sans Comment

The never ending story of a quack, thats gone to the dogs. (Because everything feels better after a muppets reference)

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You Must Watch This Special Comment

Keith Olbermann has said that his first “special Comment” resulted from the horror of what happened in New Orleans, but the subject of that first comment was something Donald Rumsfeld said while he and Bush came to Salt Lake City in August of 2006. I can’t help but think that Keith was inspired by the huge demonstration that resulted here as a result of Bush’s visit.

This latest comment is special indeed, because now Keith has more freedom to speak then he has ever had before on “Current TV”.

Update: Just happened to visit Michael Moore’s website and he is top-posting this video too with this excerpt:

“Where is the outrage to come from? From you! … The betrayal of what this
nation is supposed to be about did not begin with this deal and it surely
will not end with this deal. We must find again the energy and the
purpose of the 1960s and early 1970s and we must protest this
deal and all the goddamn deals to come.” – Keith Olbermann

That’s right folks! Find out why you don’t know anything about the Freedom Riders.

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Solitary Man Ambushes “Gang of Six” and All Three Branches of Government

Well, OK! Ambushes usually involve hiding behind opaque objects with deadly weapons. Reasonable people don’t always need to go to that extreme.

Sometimes words can get a point across perfectly well:

Congratulations Sen. Coburn.

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A Must Read at the HuffPo: Why Military Spending Won’t Be Cut

Andrew Bacevich has a compelling piece at HuffPo, with the provocative title “Cow Most Sacred.”

He offers 4 points that explain why military spending won’t be cut.

  1. Institutional Self-Interest
  2. Strategic Inertia
  3. Cultural Dissonance
  4. Misremembered History

Items 3 and 4 are interdependent.

For instnace, the cultural dissonance is a debate about patriotism and whether or not patriots can oppose war:

[The Vietnam] War’s end left these matters disconcertingly unresolved.  President Richard Nixon’s 1971 decision to kill the draft in favor of an All-Volunteer Force, predicated on the notion that the country might be better served with a military that was no longer “us,” only complicated things further.  So, too, did the trends in American politics where bona fide war heroes (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John Kerry, and John McCain) routinely lost to opponents whose military credentials were non-existent or exceedingly slight (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama), yet who demonstrated once in office a remarkable propensity for expending American blood (none belonging to members of their own families) in places like Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  It was all more than a little unseemly.

The misremembered history erases the ambiguity and nuance from WWII:

he passage of time has transformed World War II from a massive tragedy into a morality tale, one that casts opponents of intervention as blackguards.  Whether explicitly or implicitly, the debate over how the United States should respond to some ostensible threat — Iraq in 2003, Iran today — replays the debate finally ended by the events of December 7, 1941.  To express skepticism about the necessity and prudence of using military power is to invite the charge of being an appeaser or an isolationist.  Few politicians or individuals aspiring to power will risk the consequences of being tagged with that label. 

In this sense, American politics remains stuck in the 1930s — always discovering a new Hitler, always privileging Churchillian rhetoric — even though the circumstances in which we live today bear scant resemblance to that earlier time.  There was only one Hitler and he’s long dead.  As for Churchill, his achievements and legacy are far more mixed than his battalions of defenders are willing to acknowledge.  And if any one figure deserves particular credit for demolishing Hitler’s Reich and winning World War II, it’s Josef Stalin, a dictator as vile and murderous as Hitler himself. 

Read the whole thing.

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Hollywood and War

Fox “news” viewers will, no doubt, see this as final proof that the “Hollywood types” have gone over to the other side, Three very high profile Americans have given an interview to Al Jazeera, but it doesn’t look as though their host – although visibly upset – has edited the interview in any way to make the Americans look bad. I wish the same could be said of the American media, but we just like playing dirty, I guess.

Why would Chris Hedges, Oliver Stone, and Michael Moore do such a thing? Probably because they knew the media in America would edit, censor or simply not do an interview about the complicity of Hollywood in the art of promoting war. It is astonishing to learn that the Pentagon is more then willing to offer access to military hardware and consulting as long as Hollywood plays by their rules which may include spectacular death scenes using technology. Torture is also permitted, but only if the torturer pays a price.

It’s a fairly long video, but very well done and illuminating.

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The Failure of the Western Way War

Hat Tip to the HuffPo for this powerful piece from Andrew Bacevich.

Reality, above all the two world wars of the last century, told a decidedly different story.  Armed conflict in the industrial age reached new heights of lethality and destructiveness.  Once begun, wars devoured everything, inflicting staggering material, psychological, and moral damage.  Pain vastly exceeded gain.  In that regard, the war of 1914-1918 became emblematic: even the winners ended up losers.  When fighting eventually stopped, the victors were left not to celebrate but to mourn.  As a consequence, well before Fukuyama penned his essay, faith in war’s problem-solving capacity had begun to erode.  As early as 1945, among several great powers — thanks to war, now great in name only — that faith disappeared altogether.

Among nations classified as liberal democracies, only two resisted this trend.  One was the United States, the sole major belligerent to emerge from the Second World War stronger, richer, and more confident.  The second was Israel, created as a direct consequence of the horrors unleashed by that cataclysm.  By the 1950s, both countries subscribed to this common conviction: national security (and, arguably, national survival) demanded unambiguous military superiority.  In the lexicon of American and Israeli politics, “peace” was a codeword.  The essential prerequisite for peace was for any and all adversaries, real or potential, to accept a condition of permanent inferiority.  In this regard, the two nations — not yet intimate allies — stood apart from the rest of the Western world.

And this passage:

Events made it increasingly evident that military dominance did not translate into concrete political advantage.  Rather than enhancing the prospects for peace, coercion produced ever more complications.  No matter how badly battered and beaten, the “terrorists” (a catch-all term applied to anyone resisting Israeli or American authority) weren’t intimidated, remained unrepentant, and kept coming back for more.

And this one:

If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars (and from their Israeli equivalents), it’s this: victory is a chimera.  Counting on today’s enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky. [snip]

By 2007, the American officer corps itself gave up on victory, although without giving up on war.  First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, priorities shifted.  High-ranking generals shelved their expectations of winning — at least as a Rabin or Schwarzkopf would have understood that term.  They sought instead to not lose.  In Washington as in U.S. military command posts, the avoidance of outright defeat emerged as the new gold standard of success. 

And this devastating conclusion:

Nearly 20 years ago, a querulous Madeleine Albright demanded to know: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”  Today, an altogether different question deserves our attention: What’s the point of constantly using our superb military if doing so doesn’t actually work?  

In his books, Bacevich has strongly condemned the bipartisan madness of American politics unquestioned belief in our military greatness.  The cost of war has vastly outstripped any possible rewards of victory.  The real battles are not fought with guns and bombs and tanks; they are fought with words and are fought not on fields or city streets but in hearts and minds.  That is a battle we can win but we have to show up and thus far we haven’t.

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Rep. Grayson: ‘The War Is Making You Poor’

Somebody (Glenn?) told me today that there is no progressive agenda in Congress. So what’s this?

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

Next year’s budget allocates $159,000,000,000 to “contingency operations,” to perpetuate the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s enough money to eliminate federal income taxes for the first $35,000 of every American’s income each year, and beyond that, leave over $15 billion that would cut the deficit.

So let’s do that instead.


More on HuffPo.

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