Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Bits and Pieces of life in Wonderland

As usual, there are a number of things I want to write about. Too many things. I strictly avoided the news, in any form, for better than ten years. Given the current state of things, I felt I could no longer afford that psychological luxury.

So, now I am bombarded with a flood of information and more things going on than you can shake an opinion at.

The Shiavo farce has been one of the most ridiculous bits of noisy mindless spectacle that one could imagine. It's like something Kurt Vonnegut might have written in his hey day.

I dunno, feeding the undead seems strange to me. Undead may be the proper term for what is left of the woman, given that most of what was her brain, is now spinal fluid. A ghastly, ghoulish piece of political bullshit, is what this has become.

I did find a very interesting site that you might want to know about. Watching America is a news site that posts on line news articles, from around the world. The topic of the site is, how people around the world view America. The non English articles are translated into English. I am finding it an interesting read and a valuable resource. Check it out if you haven't already.

I think it is an important site, for Americans. The corporate/FCC media barricade around America is almost impenetrable unless you have a good short wave radio, or an internet connection. That internet connection is useless unless you know how to search and unless you develop a bit of discernment regarding information sources. I think that one of the reasons Americans have such an unreal attitude about their place in the world, is because they have no idea how little they know of the world.

The Watching America site intends to make it easier to get a good cross section of just what the world thinks about America and its' actions. It isn't all negative, but it is a very different perspective that people should expose themselves to.

Moving on with this morning's report: President Bush may fall off the news for a day or two. At 11:08 a.m. ET, a very large earthquake happened just off the coast of Sumatra. In the same region as the earthquake that created the recent tsunami. The US Geological Centre categorizes this 8.2 r event as a "Great" quake, the highest of their seven levels of seismic events, as described by the US Geological Centre.

This not good, ladies and gentlemen. Thailand has been the first country in the region to issue tsunami warnings to its' coastal populations. I do not want to wake up tomorrow to news of another great catastrophe. I do not wish to hear more preachers and Imams gleefully pronouncing their gods' judgment on the victims of a natural event. Its like they are bragging because it didn't happen to them.

These outpourings of religious 'love' are always, shall we say, instructive?

For instance, back to the Shiavo fiasco; I find myself wondering, if any of the ignorant jerks with megaphones, screaming and insulting the cops outside that Florida hospice, have ever had the experience of following a loved one into a hospice. Such disregard for the peace and sanctity of the dying and their families and friends, speaks absolute volumes about the real spirit behind these people.

To paraphrase something once said to me, by an evangelist preacher who never sold out to mammon, "Observing and judging the spirit motivating these actions, I conclude that their God is my Satan."

I'm not a religious person and do not believe in such entities as Satan, demons, angels and Gods. But, in a psychological and even sociological sense, the words of my friend still hold true.

In other news: It seems that President Bush, our Fearless Leader, has been fibbing about the safety of nuclear facilities and stock piles of spent nuclear fuel. It seems that commercial nuclear facilities like dumping their atomic waste in standing pools of water rather than in more attack resistant dry storage facilities. Why? The commercial industries say "it is unnecessary and too expensive." In other words, it will cost something.

The problem is, that these water pool storage tanks are open to a variety of terrorist scenarios, from the possibility of attack with a very large explosive device to insider theft of spent nuclear rods. Like so called depleted uranium, spent nuclear rods are very, very dangerous materials.

Yet, ever the corporate go boy, the president assures us the nuclear industries are safe, as they are. You would not want our patriotic corporations wasting money, taking responsibility for the dangers they create. This, in spite of a government sponsored report that warns of the grave dangers.

Let's see, since 9/11, the airports have become difficult and restrictive for the public and still fail every serious test of their security measures. The constant colour coded terror alerts were nothing more than an irritating piece of political stage setting, for the elections.

Port safety is under constant criticism and now we see the President is lying, again, about nuclear security.

I ask you, other than terrorize immigrants, especially Arabs. Other than locking up and threatening people with opinions disliked by this rightist regime, other than providing this government with the power to pry into every aspect of a citizens life, without court supervision or charges being laid, what has this damned Patriot Act and this anti-terrorist hysteria done for us?

Nothing good. It has helped usher us into a war that had nothing to do with terrorism. It has distracted the population away from what this exceptionally dishonest government is doing, to their county and the political and economic future of all Americans.

America marches head long into economic, military, and political disaster while many of its citizens and congressional representatives obsess over a dead woman and the Michael Jackson trial.

While obsessing with the "get the freak", Christian and politically motivated hysteria, a very dangerous legal precedent has being set, in allowing what is essentially hear-say evidence to be entered in to a serious criminal case. As dangerous as this precedent is, the majority of sleep walking Americans nod their heads sagely. Anything to get the little freak. He's a weirdo, he must be guilty.

So, are we now willing to allow rumour and hear-say, regarding former blackmailers, to be entered as evidence? Blackmail and cheap character assassination, donning the mantel of objective evidence? Screw the constitution. Get the weirdo. Don't trouble your little minds with the real world implications of the courts precedent setting evidence ruling.

Mean time, the Florida State legislature marches along with it's bill to deprive university professors of the right and necessity of teaching unpopular subjects containing unpopular ideas.

You don't like your grade, if you think your lousy, poorly researched, poorly written, undocumented essay, got a failing grade because your prof disagrees with your half baked beliefs, Hell, sue the bastard. Skip the egg head work and litigate your way to a degree.

Tragically, and it is a tragedy, a very large percent of the population does not understand, even vaguely, the crucial importance of academic freedom. That is, freedom of thought in places of learning.

There is an old story, likely a myth, where in, Alexander the great, after conquering Athens, met one of the great Philosophers of the City. A famous one, but which one, I forget. Alexander, as new King and head of a great army, asked the wise man if there was anything, at all, he could do for him. The philosopher paused, looked up at Alexander and said, "Yes, you could move, you are blocking my light."

Just how far the philosopher wanted Alexander and his army to move, I don't know. But, I know that if George Bush the Small, and his allies actually wanted to do something for higher education in America, they would leave academic freedom alone, and quit blocking the light.

But, blocking the light is exactly what this regime is about. Isn't it?

Links regarding academic freedom in the US of A.

Silencing Speech on Campus, The Nation, April 4, 2005 issue:

Relevant pieces, from shortest to longest:

Article one.
Article two.
Article three.
Article four.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Poor George

It's been a rough couple of weeks for King George. Three months into his second term, his approval rating has begun a rapid swan dive. And it seems to bother the King, very much.

Wolfowitz is headed for the top of the World Bank, only because he has been forced out of his base of power, among the neo-cons and Generals of the Pentagon. Ousted because Big Oil money does not like the war, and what it has become, and because the neo-con dream of privatizing the Iraqi oil industry runs counter to the interests of Big Oil.

That may sound outrageous to some. Allow me to explain. The large oil corporations of the US were all for going in and killing Sadaam and his immediate supporters. They had their own military plans.

They already had his Bathist replacement picked out. Another strong man, who would maintain the countrys' infrastructure and internal security and be friendly to the US and the Oil Companies interests. Maintaining the status quo, strengthening their own position with OPEC, freeing up Iraqi oil, for the world market, all with out a messy, politically dangerous war. Another Sadaam, good for maybe another twenty years.

The oil companies in America are making record breaking profits. They have no desire to break OPEC. They want their own puppet at the OPEC table. Again, the rising price of oil at the producer level, has only benefited the American oil companies. They are making record breaking profits as I write.

Big oil does not want to destroy OPEC by privatizing Iraq's oil, thereby countering OPEC's ability to control the price of oil. The neo-con idea of privatization, and the neo-con approach to the war, run directly counter to the interests of the major share holders of the big oil corporations. Not light weights in American power politics.

So, things are getting complicated for King George who owes much of his good 'fortune' to big oil money.

Conservative Senators and members of Congress, from both sides of the isles, are building opposition to the far reaching powers given to the government and the Executive Office under the Patriot Act. Conservatives are beginning to realize that they too may become victims of a law that ignores the constitution, the legal lynch pin of the American system.

Many of his former Christian-Right allies are pulling away from the fold, some because they have begun to realize the President is a shifty, back tracking liar, that has used them. Some because the blatant, obvious as a whore's hooters hypocrisy, of Bush intervening in the Terri Shiavo case, is too much for anyone to bear.

George screwed up again. Eighty two percent of the population disagrees with what he is doing, regarding Terri Shiavo. But damn the peasants. If the filibuster rules get changed, under the cover of all the Shiavo smoke and mirrors, he will stack the Supreme court with the kind of Judges that would have heard the very weak Shiavo case. The kind of judges that know when to support the needs of the King.

What do mere citizens know about these things?

Mean while, the revelations about the fake news distributed from the White House and dutifully presented as actual news by media outlets, has caused more Bush believers to doubt their faith.

More and more, top Republicans and noted Christian gay haters, are getting outed for sex with little boys, child porno, and or taking it up the bum from Bulldog and his roguish Marine playmates.

Ordinary Americans refuse to believe, that the new bank and credit card company sponsored Bankruptcy Bill, is good for debt ridden Americans.

As if enough people weren't already grumbling and disturbing the King's rest, a damned grass roots anti-war movement has come alive in America. Something George greatly fears and thought he could control via the marvelous co-operation given by the media. If no body know there's a movement, it won't matter. It seemed to work in NYC during the Republican convention. The largest demonstrations and mass arrests in New York City history, and barely a blip in the news, anywhere in America.

Still, a real cross section of Americans are disbelieving George's excuses for his war and they are daring to speak up about it. Some dare to say he is losing the war. This should not be happening to a noble War Time President, who worked so long and hard, and told so many huge lies, to create his war. George figures he deserves to have it his way. It's his war, his 'mandate', and his country, damn it!

But that devils' invention, the internet, has become a leak in the media/information wall erected by corporate media and policed by the FCC, the sworn enemy of independent media.

In spite of all the best efforts and great successes in controlling American information media, the reality of all his many, many lies, speaks much louder than his words. Just when he was getting ready to go back on his promise to stick to the all volunteer army, and reintroduce conscription.

I wonder, if Bush still believes his directions come straight from God? Does he believe all the many people, from every place in life, who doubt him and distrust him, are all merely tools of evil? Allowed by God, to test his resolve? A scary thought, boys and girls.

I nearly wept with laughter, listening to one of the most vindictive men to ever grace the Oval office, practically begging Democrats and detractors to quit criticizing him and his policies.

What kind of wimp crap is that? The first time this vicious, no holds barred, wielder of character assassination (McCain, Kerry, AARP, to name only three), begins to feel a bit of heat from the fires he has started, he takes it personal and wimps for sympathy.

Damn! Somebody put this worm back in the garden. He has a natural place in life but it is not the Presidency of the United States.

I've said before: George Bush has been a very useful puppet for Cheney, and the Neo-cons behind him. With his many personal flaws and weaknesses, Bush will make an even better fall guy.

Personally, I would not begin the cheering yet. His most viscously destructive acts are still ahead of him and us. Tyrants, dictators, and fools like Bush, do not go gentle into that good night. He will rage against the dying of his power.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Baby Steps, Learning Quickly

Awareness is awakening in America and a movement is being born. If you only get your news from FOX, CNN, and the other corporate media outlets, you are missing some important things happening in America.

Which is exactly what the corporate news is largely about, keeping your attention focused on the wrong things. While painting a picture of the world that more nearly reflect what Karl Rove and the corporate/government theorists want you to see.

Truthout.org has a page of stories from actions around the country, here. I have spent some time today, searching out and reading info regarding protests and actions around the country, on this, the second anniversary of this war. It cheers me more than anything I've seen lately. I feel much less alone today.

Even Vancouver, on the draft less side of the border, had two thousand people marching in a steady downpour . Go here for pics of Vancouver march.

The number of actions and the average number of participants was much, much higher than this time last year. Actions leading up to the anniversary stepped up, around the country.

Students are fighting to counter the lies and deceptive tactics of military recruiters on campus. Many school administrations are assisting police in the on going attempt to silence opposition voices. In the process, those administrations are helping to build a campus movement. The more repressive their measures, the more heat generated. the faster resistence will grow.

It's all good.

Large numbers of veterans, and veterans and soldiers families, participated all over the country. In Fayetteville, NC, at Fort Brag, the demonstrations were three times larger than last year, with participants from a growing number of veterans and military family groups.

To have these people, representing the soldiers and the veterans, in such numbers, so early in the struggle, is very encouraging. The signs indicate the campus is starting to catch up.

Trade unions were involved, in a big way in many cities. For a list of cities where actions took place and a lot of the photos' go to Indybay.org

New faces appeared almost every where. I've received numerous emails from people in different cities telling me that they saw people out, this week end, that they had not seen before. In some places lots of new young faces appeared and others talked about the numbers of baby boomers who showed their faces.

The impression I get from the news one must look for on the net, and from what I have read from many participants, is that the anti Iraq War movement is well and truly arising among the American people.

It occurs to me that those who see the world only through the corporate media filtre have no idea something is happening, yet. That means George Bush doesn't know it yet either, I suppose. Until Karl lets some one tell him about it, he just won't know. I'd like to be the proverbial fly on the wall when he begins to figure it out. George doesn't handle bad news well. Especially this kind.

Staying with the reality community, we can not expect too much too quick. Therein lies the road to despair. Trust me, I know. Been there, done that. Don't go there.

One great day to celebrate the work that went into making those actions happen, will not stop the war. Won't even slow it, but some of the big steps have been taken now. There is a long siege ahead of us. We are like flees battling a Leviathan. It is a long fight that all together we will win, we will weaken the beast beyond repair. But it will not happen quickly.

We are in for a long fight and the casualties are yet to come, on the civilian side, but they are coming.

It will be interesting to see what effect the appearance of an anti-war movement, spawned before the reinstitution of the draft will have. It will certainly strengthen the no draft argument. The military reality won't go away and neither will a pesky, politically dangerous anti-war movement.

It's a pickle for the neocons and the war supporters in Washington.

If you have not already done so, I urge you to visit the links above. Read the stories, look at the many great pictures. Do a google search or go to your best news sites and read and see for yourself that a movement, is arising, among the people of America. It is just taking baby steps but it is growing and learning fast.

Then, find something you can do, something you want to do, to lend your shoulder to the wheel of democracy . It's a long trip, pace yourself for a long run. Something to give yourself a reason to be out on the streets.

Small, persistent, consistent, smartly applied pressures, can combine to topple anything. Even Bush, Cheney, and their neocon masters.

Here is a very personal idea about movement building. I believe it is profoundly important for us to have real gratitude and appreciation for anyone who steps up to plate in these times. I believe we should not hesitate to support each other in the ways that we reasonably can. The best way we can support the greater cause is to support each other, without undue regard for what we get out of that support.

Ideally, the support is mutual and strengthens us all. Making us difficult to break. Hard to isolate. More flexible in our responses to danger and adversity.

In contrast to despair, it pleases me greatly to see the stirrings of this movement in America. To see people in America reflecting the saner voices of Europe and the rest of the world. The cultural wall between Americans and the rest of the world is a very bad thing.

I have every reason to believe that the great majority of my readers are progressive thinking people. To you and to myself I want to say, have heart. We've only just begun to fight. In the long run we will win.

The constant flow of bad news, of lies, deceptions, crimes denied and wiped away, while innocents are condemned to prison, death, illness, and deprivation, can easily drive the strongest minds to despair and defeatism.

Beyond the dismal managed reality of FOX and the gang, there is something real stirring in America. The one thing Cheney, George, and the neocons are afraid of. A vibrant ground up movement of conscience, stopped Richard Nixon. George and Cheney are even more flawed than Agnew and Tricky Dick Nixon.

We are still living in the darker regions of Wonderland but the picture is much brighter than it was a year ago. Have heart, we will see it through to the other side of this toxic era. We can win. We might win back America.

A video of the large demonstration at Fort Brag in North Carolina.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Honour and Character of a Nation

Nations, like individuals, are perceived to have a character. That character is demonstrated in a number of ways. Health care, street crime rates, poverty, access to services, air quality in the cities, etc, are some of the indicators used to determine the character and the livability of a society.

The United States consistently scores low in most of these areas. For instance: While Americans spend more on health care, per capita, than any other country, it ranks something like 27th in services actually delivered, because the American ideal, the medicine for profit model, creates world class care for those who can afford it, while it presents very poor care for a majority of its citizens.

Over whelming medical bills are the chief cause of personal bankruptcies in America. What does that say for health care in such a supposedly rich country? The first question that will come to mind, for many is, "Who's rich in this rich country?"

That has become a good question in a country whose national wealth is so heavily concentrated in the hands of a few big time corporate families.

The specific indicator of a nation's character and honor, I want to talk about today, is how we treat the veterans of our armed services. An important one because it is the back side of the patriotic rhetoric used to recruit these citizens. It is, in deed, where the rubber meets the road regarding the governments sense of responsibility to and for those who have given so much to the nation and the government.

I have learned things in the last couple of days, that are at once, enraging, depressing, and just plain shameful. It really makes you wonder what kind of people can do these things and still sleep at night and whistle "On Ward Christian Soldier" as they set such tragedies in motion.

The next couple of stories are two examples of the reality awaiting many returning vets.
As you may already know, a huge percentage of Vietnam era veterans either are or have been on the streets, for lengthy periods of time.

Many, suffering from untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, have suffered for years with no help, what so ever. It took the government and department of veterans affairs over thirty years to admit to the existence PTSD. Simply because the powers that be, refuse to accept any responsibility for the damage they do and the cost they create. The blame is placed on individuals who are punished for being so afflicted.

Iraq injuries differ from past wars: More amputations, brain traumas By William M. Welch of USA Today. In spite of the title, this is an almost cheery article about some of the things being done for seriously wounded vets. As one would expect from USA Today, the article focuses on the advanced technology of modern prosthetic limbs, by way off letting you know about the marvelous things that could be done.

It fails to mention how difficult it will be to get such wonderful things out of the VA, or how long the backlog is for treating returning vets. Of course, the massive budget cuts were not mentioned. It was a 'feel good in spite of it all' article.

The article starts with details about the nature of wounds being dealt with in this conflict. The combination of improved body armor and the powerful explosive weapons being used, (taken from American control) mean that men are surviving blasts that would have previously killed them. Surviving with massive debilitating injuries such as multiple amputations and serious brain trauma. Many of these are people that will require medical assistance and living assistance for most of their lives.

Here is a short quote from the article:
"The VA is financing research into a variety of new technologies to help amputees, including high-tech prosthetic limbs and regeneration of tissue. A study underway at the VA's center in Providence, in collaboration with Brown University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is exploring the potential for restoring greater function after limb loss."

This all sounds great until you realize the VA is grossly under funded, grossly under staffed, and the line ups of new cases are getting longer every week. Add to that, a minimum $10 billion (the smallest estimate I've heard) bucks was just axed from the VA budget, to help pay for the one point seven Trillion dollar tax cut for the rich.

A bit closer to reality, is this article, The New Wave: Our Future Homeless (vets) is found a blog called the Junkheap of History.

A quote from the article: “John Staresinich is a Purple Heart veteran who has slept in cracks in highway overpasses and abandoned cars, camped out in thin tents next to railroad tracks and fought off rats and bugs in Chinatown flophouses.In December, he was diagnosed with severe combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder -- 32 years after returning from Vietnam -- and is now getting help from the federal Veterans Affairs in Chicago. He says it took more than a year of begging that agency.
"Soldiers from Iraq are going to come back with PTSD," said Staresinich, 54. "I hope they treat them sooner than they did me."

Something wicked this way comes. A large percent of Vietnam era veterans, are or have been, homeless for significant periods of time. Many are ill, physically disabled, and or mentally traumatized to the extent that they are unable to work or care for themselves. Many have been denied VA treatment or assistance for thirty years until Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was finally recognized by the Veterans Administration.

Iraq war veterans are already beginning to appear in homeless shelters. Often wounded in one sense or another, they are discharged by the Army one day, the next day, still ill and still recovering from often serious wounds, they are on the street. With no job. If they don't have families, or their families are unable or unwilling to help them, they rent a room and apply for medical assistance from the VA and begin waiting. It is probably going to be a very long wait. Mean while you are sitting somewhere with your injuries, getting broker by the day.

Imagine, that you are suffering the emotional and mental effects of combat, unable to sleep, afraid to sleep because of the dreams and night terrors, unable to relate to being sick, in a world that is utterly oblivious to you and what has happened to you, in the service of your country. The nation that was so proud to 'support our troops' until you got messed up in combat. Then, you disappear. Blind, legless, or traumatized, it don't matter. You disappear.

Especially for people with no family support, the step from the barracks to the street can be very fast. The effects on families of these returning vets is profound, as well.

The stress and unending burden of years of care and heavy medical expenses, destroy families. Living with a loved one who has come back changed, in strange, often frightening ways, is beyond the coping resources of many.

I've known men who had what in the vernacular of the day was called, "the thousand yard stare". The look of a person with a profound emotional detachment. A barrier that nothing gets through. People are talking about that thousand yard stare again. That "Marine Look" as some Marine wives attempt to describe it.

A person trying to get back from that mental hell hole, to reclaim himself and his life again, has a very long road and an extremely difficult road ahead of him, with out proper professional care. Families can help but they are not equipped to dealt with something they can not understand. Something so profound.

A few months ago, in another blog posting, I said: I want you people who voted Republican to remember that, when they take your kids to fight for Cheneys' millions. When beauty comes home in a body bag, when athlete of the year comes back permanently mangled, when your once cheerful lad returns changed and estranged from you in ways you could not have imagined, remember, YOU asked for it. You made it all possible.

I feel I must say it again. It is happening. It is not a future event. But, very few seem to really care. It is a terrible thing yet there is very little media mention of such problems for vets. When there is, you get a 'feel good about it' fluff piece like the article from USA Today, as mentioned above.

Listen carefully, the so called "all volunteer Army" is about to go the way of the dinosaur. It is being burned up and chewed up bit, by irreplaceable bit. The economic draft is not working anymore. The Army is no longer a rational alternative to poverty and poor job prospects. Poor job prospects have become a rational alternative to death or dismemberment.

Give it what ever bureaucratic sobriquet you like, the Draft is on it's way back and will be operating by this summer. The present Army can not last another year with out a massive injection of new soldiers and equipment to replace exhausted Reserve, National Guard and regular Army and Marine units, now long in the field.

Keeping in mind the terrible state of VA care for seriously wounded vets, remembering the nature and severity of wounds characteristic to this war, and not forgetting that the draft is coming to families near you in the near future, ponder what this president and this government have done to the VA, in the latest budget.

I've said before that the budget is a true reflection of the real agenda behind the
Bush and neocon rhetoric. It is where the moral rhetoric meets hard reality..

I have a somewhat cynical saying, all mine, that I believe pretty well sums up the lesson in this budget. Having spent much of my life in and around the music biz, I eventually came to the conclusion that Money, not imitation, is the most sincere form of flattery. Imitation may be copy right infringement and money says the record company means some of the crap they hand you.

You see, the music biz is full of people that want you do freebies. Only they don't call it a freebie because then they might owe you something for providing free entertainment at their successful bar or for their premeir or what ever. They tell you how wonderful you are, how you are a star on the rise, and this gig is going to be Great Exposure for you.

You know they really like you when the check doesn't bounce.

This budget is the flip side of the Army contract that says "You Giveth, We Taketh Away".

Like the record company, Bush and the war supporters say, "We love our troops, they are the finest most honorable and bravest people in America". Over and over they say it. But, when they have squeezed every thing they possibly can from you, broken your body and your mind and disrupted your life and every thing you are, you are suddenly characterized as a "drain on national security".

In other words, you are on your own, we want to forget you, you suddenly unpatriotic drain on our security.

Magnetic ribbons become an endlessly repeating bad joke in the eyes of veterans and active soldiers, as the grandstanding of official liars, wears thinner and thinner.

Read'em and weep as the saying goes. The underhanded methods of presenting this budget, refusing to make projections for future cuts and effects beyond 2006, the specific nature of the cuts, and the very direct effect on returning vets, tells you about as much as you need to know regarding the reality behind the rhetoric and lies of Mr. Bush. He knows he's lying but that is what sociopaths do.

The numbers speak volumes. This article, from Common Dreams, is written by Ashley L. Decker. Herself, the daughter of a Vietnam veteran who still suffers from exposure to Agent Orange. Ashley also suffers from genetic problems directly attributable to her father's exposure to Agent Orange.

A quote from the article: The House of Representatives have recently voted on the 2004 budget which will cut funding for veteran's health care and benefit programs by nearly $25 billion over the next ten years. It narrowly passed by a vote of 215 to 212, and came just a day after Congress passed a resolution to "Support Our Troops." How exactly does this vote support our troops? Does leaving our current and future veterans without access to health care and compensation qualify as supporting them?

The Veteran's Administration, plagued by recent budget cuts, has had to resort to charging new veterans entering into its system a yearly fee of $250 in order for them to receive treatment. It is a sad irony that the very people being sent to fight the war are going to have to pay to treat the effects of it.

How's that for 'supporting our troops' ? Makes you feel good to be an American, don't it? We support our troops as long as they are healthy and still in uniform. As soon as they are used up, we just toss'em, like no refund bottles. What good is a used up hero, eh? Is that not the American Way?

The great American comedy never stops with the laughs. First those brave and noble Congress people vote for a hearty and self soothing "Support Our Troops" resolution, then set about dismantling the only support available for our returning troops. Yes, that is a shining example of what has become the American way.

This next article is from the News Tribune, in Tacoma, Washington. The article details some of the damage that will be done to veterans in Washington State, a state which has the fifth highest number of ex-military personnel among its citizens. What is talked about here is happening all over the country.

A quote from this article: WASHINGTON – More than 10,000 Washington state veterans could face a $1,000-a-year increase for their medical care under a Bush administration budget proposal, a veterans advocacy group says. And state officials warn that the White House spending plan could force out roughly half of the 600 residents at Washington’s three veterans homes, possibly resulting in the closure of one of them.

“It’s almost hopeless for the average vet to get taken care of,” said John Kenny, who fought as a machine gunner in the Philippines and New Guinea during World War II. “It’s a scandal.”
The administration has proposed charging some veterans a $250 annual fee for access to medical services provided by the Veterans Administration and more than doubling the copayment for prescription drugs from $7 to $15. The new fees would apply to single veterans making more than $26,000 annually and married veterans making about $30,000 annually.
In addition, the Bush administration budget would significantly reduce federal support for state-operated veterans homes and impose new limitations on who can be admitted.

What can I say about this? Thousands of vets are on their way home. Many with serious debilitating injuries. The VA is already struggling and failing to keep up. We love to shout empty slogans about 'our troops'. While laying off nurses and closing clinics, hospitals, and homes.

I've written this with a particular eye to young men who are thinking of joining the military or facing future conscription. Please, be aware, that if you are one of the very many who will be killed or injured in this conflict, you will count for nothing, in the grand schemes of things in America.

You will be, "a drain on national security" to quote a White House nob.

Here is one last little issue, that I will write about in greater detail, later. Depleted Uranium, which is packed into a variety of munitions, is proving to be much more danger than originally thought.

It has been demonstrated, by the army, that the DU in a twenty mm round is partly vaporized upon contact with any hard surface, rocks, building, or Armour. In larger munitions such as artillery and tank shells can vaporize as much as 100 percent of the DU inside it.

The vaporized DU forms microscopic aerosol particles which are then breathed in by those in the vicinity of the firing. Which is pretty much everyone in Iraq. These micro particles, unlike normal sized particles pass through the blood brain barrier with ease. They end up deposited in the brain, liver, kidneys, pancreas, you name it. The micro particles stay there and do much more damage, including more genetic damage, than than conventional sized radio active particles.

These problems are showing up in the vets and the children of vets from the first Gulf War. Coming home in one piece does not mean you have survived the war. Or even that your future children have survived the war.

Of course, the VA and the military and the government are refusing to even admit, much less take any responsibility for something the world has been warning them about for some time now. DU is very dangerous and most of the soldiers in Iraq are being exposed to vaporized DU, many on a daily basis.

It took the VA thirty years to admit the existence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are a long way from admitting and taking responsibility for the wave of cancer loaded vets and genetic deformities, in their children, that have already been created by DU.

Young people considering the army or just waiting for the draft, keep these things in mind. No matter what that recruiting officer tells you, you will be an utterly expendable counter in this game of money and power. The pride offered in the wearing of that uniform will melt away very quickly when you realize just how valuable you really aren't, to those whose interests you serve.

Trust and loyalty are necessarily two way streets. The present government is loyal only to its' own aspirations, which in many ways, are profoundly disloyal to the country and its people. They do not deserve your trust.

You give, they take, that is the true law of the land and will remain so as long as you are willing to give yourself away so easily.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

If it Weren't So Horrible...

Reading the news and doing some research regarding how things work in the New America, I'm constantly floored by the rich black humour of it all.

I mean, George Bush lecturing Putin, about the dangers of sliding into totalitarianism will someday be the stuff of comedic dramas set in this period.. Bush lectures Putin about the importance of a free press, while his neocon allies have destroyed the independent press in America. While George himself is involved in creating propaganda, disguised as news, and stacking the White House press corps with shills. It would be hilarious, were it not for the terrible reality behind the joke.

My impression of this particular incident is that it was put on, primarily for the benefit of the home audience. George Bush resolutely defending democracy and the free press, to a bunch of Russian would be totalitarians. That proves America is a free democracy and the press is free, and we are the good guys. Don't it?

When I was a young guy in Alabama, I remember having a very simplistic idea about the basic difference between authoritarian communist countries and the capitalist countries. The idea came directly from the Communism verses Democracy class in the 11th grade. However the conclusion was greatly frowned upon by Mrs. Vines, the matronly history teacher who was the perfect bitter, myopic, bovine personality for disseminating the obedience propaganda that made up most of the 'study' material of 11 th grade history.

My theory, in a sentence, was that Communist societies controlled society with police and detention while capitalist societies just starved you out if you say or do what the elite doesn't like.

I was reminded of Mrs. Vines during the press conference with Bush and Putin. A reporter asked Bush if opposition writers were not fired in the United States. And George smiled and said something like, That's the difference, the government doesn't fire them, the editor fires them, or the publisher, or the owner of media outlets fires them. He was grinning his fool face off while saying it.

What he's telling Putin is that corporate totalitarianism with the outward appearance of democracy and a market driven, corporate owned, "free press", is the way of the future.

What he is telling the American people is that "We are right. We are the givers of democracy and enemies of evil." Preaching quite the opposite of what he does in the world.

That, of course, is what the rest of the world sees from America. Bloody tyrants who persistently say the very opposite of what they mean. People for whom peace means the destruction of anyone seen to be in the way of the great neocon plan to control the worlds' economy. People for whom liberty means obedience to the financial and political needs of corporate power.

A few days ago, I had a long telephone conversation with a friend who lives in southwest Texas. He was telling me how the right wing born-agains have taken over all cultural events in the town and any business that does not support them is boycotted by the 'good' people.

An annual Christmas festival that had ran for a number of years was taken over by the local Evangelicals. There was no music except hymns and most of the booths were put up by dour faced Christians handing out "Sinners Will Burn" leaflets, and businesses not selling Christianity along with their products, were boycotted. The very people who put up most of the money for the event were boycotted for not being Christian enough. It was a financial disaster, of course. Which was part of the idea.

My friend says no one will even speak against it because, as my friend said, "They operate like a gang, they target people they don't agree with."

The police and members of city council are part of it and they make life expensive and dangerous for those they consider to be the wrong type. Perfect Brown shirts without the uniforms. Playing exactly the role played by the SA during Hitler's rise to power.

They don't wear uniforms and they don't talk the same racial propaganda, yet, but they play the same intimidating role and the same social enforcement role played by the Brown Shirts, not all that long ago.

In the same conversation, my friend expressed dismay and real resentment regarding the way that Europeans and much of the world now view Americans. He said, "It's a kind of racism, you know."

I know how he feels and yes there is a straight up bias involved. But, understanding the feeling well, I know that the very people my friend is afraid of, in his home town, are the people who now represent Americans to the world. People don't like dumb, arrogant, ignorant nazis. They never have and never will.

The idiocy that Americans seem to revel in, such as the gayness of Sponge Bob, their fanatical hatred of gays, and non Christians, their inability to grasp simple cultural concepts, their fear of everything that isn't them, makes it difficult to see through the mainstream well enough to see the people that don't represent that.

Everything you see in the media that comes from the States, reinforces the stereotype. More liberal thinking Americans are painted with a bad rap but we are stuck with it until enough of us stick our heads above the ground to be seen.

The difficulty is that you can't stick your head up as an individual without getting smacked down in one sense or another. Being in Canada gives the illusion of some protection but it is a very thin protection.

We must put ourselves into the struggle against what is happening or be eaten, in the long run. Simply rolled over and absorbed. Few at a time until America is entirely safe for naked corporate control.

Germans turned out in humongous numbers to express their attitude toward America and the danger it presents to the world. Kept far from the sight of Fearless Leader. Mean while, the US media almost completely ignore what Europe is well aware of. There lies the mental divide between Americans and Europeans.

Europeans and the people of the world outside America, know many things that Americans are not allowed to know. Ignorance refers to a lack of knowledge and information. We are all born in that state but to stay that way, your whole life, requires work.

For my American friends, esteemed colleagues, and loved ones who do not represent this ugly new version of the American identity, you have the sympathy of much of the world but you are very hard to see. Very hard to separate from the background of your fellow citizens.

I believe we must recognize that it is up to us to alter this. It is not fair, but fair is a rare element in the human world. Like truth, fair is not a common thing.

What truth comes from the mouth of George Bush? Next to none. In what way is the application of American power fair to those who bear the burden and live in the rubble of countless broken lives?

The everyday lives, dreams, and ambitions of an entire nation of people shattered and made waste by American corporate greed. Greed directed, financed, and staffed by American corporate employees and literally thousands of Americans working as mercenaries.

Where's fair?

There is a real world price to pay for everything we do and for everything we don't do.

Bush is doing surreal stand up with Putin as his straight man and I'm wondering what happened to the rotten tomatoes.