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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Facts about Class, Poverty and Downward Mobility

In Current Events, Election Politics, History on September 28, 2011 at 00:26

BY BOB ENGLEHART from politicalcartoons.com

There is a group of citizens that steals from taxpayers so they can sit on their divans and watch their high definition 3D televisions, eat subsidized food products and sponge off the American people. I am of course talking about the ruling elites. Republicans, however, want you to believe it’s welfare recipients that have created our economic troubles when it is unrestrained corporate and bourgeoisie greed that has brought about the economic collapse of the United States.

People project personal and societal problems onto convenient, weak targets such as the poor who have been villainized by the mass media. They are also scape goats for people who still believe in the myth of the American dream. The “American dream” is the idea that if you work hard, you will succeed. Thus, you won’t need welfare; only the lazy and undeserving receive welfare.

The idea of the American dream is one of the most successful pieces of propaganda ever perpetuated. If we believe in the dream, we can dismiss or outright ignore economic, social, and demographic realities that have more to do with economic impoverishment than any supposed behavioral deficiencies on the part of welfare recipients.

You are more likely to fall form middle class to lower class than you are to rise from middle class to the upper class. “The Pew study looked at Americans who were between the ages of 14 and 17 in 1979, and living at home with their parents that year. For teenagers who were part of the middle class in 1979 — defined as the 30th through 70th percentile of income — about 28 percent of them had fallen out of it, meaning below the 30th percentile of income, by 2006.” (link)

Part of the cause of this downward economic movement has been a drop in real wages for all but the top economic earners during that time period. “The Center for American Progress reported how between 1979 and 2007 the average income of the bottom 50 percent of American households grew by 6%; the top 1% saw their income increase by 229 percent.”  (1979-2007).

During the same period, inflation went up about 118% (1979-2007), more than doubling prices. Real wages, wages compared to inflation, has been dropping. But you won’t hear the Republican presidential candidates mention this except as way to blame the poor and attack Social Security, Medicaid and other government programs to aid the lower and middle classes.

Economic class at birth determines your economic opportunities in life, or as Max Weber put it, your class is identified with your market position and it determines your “life chances.”

Those that attack welfare recipients as being lazy and not motivated ignore the reality of class and market position. Of course there are examples of people who have overcome poverty and become wealthy. However, a 2006 study funded by the Center for American Progress showed that there was only a 1% chance of a person in the lowest quintile (bottom 20%) of becoming a member of upper quintile, the top 20% of national incomes.

The Heartland Alliance creates an even bleaker picture of poverty. “Intergenerational elasticity in earnings is estimated to be around 0.6 – this is the correlation in earnings between parents and their children in adulthood. This means that for a hypothetical family of four whose current income is at the poverty line, it would take the descendants of the family 5 to 6 generations (125 to 150 years) before their income will be within 5 percent of the national average.18…African Americans and single mothers and their children are less likely to be upwardly mobile than other groups.20”  (link)

If it was just a matter of working hard, why is poverty rising and wealth more concentrated at the top than ever before? Is it that 80% of Americans are lazy? There is a given amount of wealth in a nation and thus when more wealth is concentrated at the top, there will be more poverty at the bottom.

According to Professor G. William Domhoff in his newly updated “Wealth, Income and Power” (2011), the top 1% wealthy people in the U.S. control 34.6% of the nation’s wealth and the next 19% highest control an addition 50.5%. That means the top 20% wealthiest people in the U.S. control over 85% of the wealth leaving 15% for the rest of us. It is clear that if the poor are stealing from us, they are inept thieves. With the top quintile currently hoarding their wealth, how is a poor person with insufficient education, living in a run down neighborhood with little in terms of “life chances” supposed to dig out of poverty?

Why don’t people hate the corporate criminals who created hedge funds to bet against mortgages Wall Street Banks and mortgages firms originated? Those same companies write tax codes for themselves so they pay little or nothing into our nations treasury. They are too strong and powerful, and if you want to get elected to state or national office, you dare not take them on.

We must dispel the myths perpetrated by the far-right and others that welfare recipients are all lazy, all greedy, all selfish and that they are all stealing from us.

Reason people are poor

It might be news to many people in America, and especially the far right, but people aren’t poor by choice. There are reasons for poverty.

Being poor is harder today, for the economic and political climate around poverty has changed dramatically since President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.  “Over the past 25 years significant structural changes have occurred in the United States that have influenced poverty, making current-day poverty different in some ways from poverty just a few decades ago. These structural changes include transformations in our economic structure such as the shift from manufacturing employment to service-sector employment; the de-institutionalization of people with mental illnesses into community settings; welfare reform, which resulted in a an emphasis on work over welfare; changes in immigration patterns; and skyrocketing rates of incarceration.” (link) Today there is no “War on Poverty”, just a war on the poor.

The current crop of the Republicans want to cut into the social safety net during a recession, a time when more people need help than any other. “Recessions…have a disproportionate impact on lower-income families because they cause rising unemployment, a reduction in work hours, and the stagnation of family incomes – all of which have the greatest impact for those with the least income to begin with.” (Ibid) But Republicans want to use the debt crisis to cut from and eliminate programs to aid the poor  and anyone that’s not a billionaire donor to their party.

Layoffs lead to poverty and government spending creates jobs and reduces poverty. But Republicans don’t deal with economic reality; they live in a realm of ideology devoid of facts. “Unemployment rates, wages, and inequality are used to measure the impact of economic performance on poverty, and all have rather consistently predicted poverty over the past two decades.22”  (Ibid)

Here are some of the reasons someone might enter into poverty or be poor, according to research by the Heartland Alliance.

1. “Individuals in households that experience a loss of employment are the most likely to enter poverty.”

2. A reduction in household earnings. “Almost half (49.3%) of poverty spells begin when the household experiences a decline in earnings.”

3. Low Wages. Having a job is not the answer if wages are too low. One quarter of all workers earn poverty wages.

4. Lack of high a school diploma. Despite the link to poverty, we have a high rate of high school drop outs in the United States.

5. Health care costs are a huge factor in poverty.

And the number one reason for poverty is…

6. lack of jobs.

Support President Obama’s jobs program and his attempts to raise revenue from the top tax brackets. That is one way they would become the “job creators” that they lie about being.

Links to ignorant hatred around welfare reform:
http://thebustednut.net/2011/07/19/idea-how-about-we-change-it-from-welfare-recipients-to-government-handout-grubbing-lazy-fucks/
http://www.angry.net/people/w/welfare_recipients.htm
http://ktsmere.hubpages.com/hub/Lazy-welfare-recipients

Supportive post on welfare lies:
http://www.homehealthinsider.com/2011/02/15/question-for-conservatives-do-you-believe-all-welfare-recipients-are-lazy-neer-do-well-crack-addicts/comment-page-1/#comment-21621

Peace,
Tex Shelters

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The misuses of 9/11

In History, Human Rights and the Constitution on September 9, 2011 at 02:40

For many, the ten year anniversary of 9/11 is an emotionally charged time. People lost friends and loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who didn’t, know people who did.  President George W. Bush had a great opportunity, as did the American people, to use the events of 9/11 to unite us and work together to make the world a better, safer place for all people. Instead, Bush and his White House team used the 9/11 attacks to make money, create disunity among the people, to break international law, to attack our fundamental freedoms and to increase their political power. Here are some of the ways 9/11 was misused by those in power and the people in general and how the events of 9/11 are being misused to this day.

1. We have used the attacks to censor dissenting voices.  The terrorist attacks pushed us to censor our media and toward a war footing. Those that disagreed with the wars were not heard from and war friendly voices at the New York Times helped sell the Iraq war for the administration. Meanwhile, the millions of people who protested Bush’s saber rattling were not heard from. Anti-war protests get far less media coverage today than the much smaller Tea Party rallies.

2. The attacks were an excuse to create an unprecedented surveillance regime. The United States government has a history of spying on the American people under the guise of security and during a time of perceived national threat. The events of 9/11 are no exception. The U.S.A. Patriotic Act, United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, was signed by President Bush on October 26, 2001, barely a month after the 9/11 attacks. This law allows the government to act unconstitutionally in the name of freedom. Constitutional Amendments can be circumvented through the Patriot Act. The protection against unlawful searches and seizures (Amendment IV) is violated by Title III in the Patriot Act. The right to a speedy trial (Amendment VI) is circumvented by the act’s provision for indefinite detentions if a person is deemed a “national security threat”. In fact, all provisions of the Amendment VI can be deemed null and void for security purposes according to the Patriot Act. And the law also eliminates the need for the signing of warrants by judges and almost entirely eliminates the judiciary from decisions in criminal cases regarding terrorism.

3. The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war and unilateralism was justified due to the 9/11 attacks. It has been since WWII that a president got congressional authorization for war. But President Bush took his war power one step further. He decided it was okay to attack nations because of the perceived threat they pose, the possibility that Iraq might have WMDs, and that was enough for most members in Congress. It was also enough for many Americans who supported the war in high numbers when it began. Although many people no longer supports the wars, the wars continue with some signs of a draw down in the near future.

4. Our post 9/11 national security regimen has legitimized torture. Because we were and are angry and wanted revenge, we (Bush and Obama along with Congress) have approved the torture of terrorist suspects even when there is little or no evidence that torture garners reliable intelligence.  The American people supported this torture, even when they learned that it does not work.

5. We used 9/11 to justify the rendition terrorist suspects. Rendition means taking a terrorist suspect from the United States, where we will be judicially banned from torturing them, to a nation such as Syria. Syria is the home of President Assad, known war criminal. And in Syria, they have no qualms about using torture for us on those who may, or may not, be terrorists.

6. People used 9/11 to justify their Xenophobia and Islamophobia. Attacks on Muslims rose in the United States after 9/11 as did the hateful rhetoric. People will argue that this type of behavior is “unAmerican”. I would say that it is very American, and European, and African, and Asian. It’s human. The more we fight the tendency to stereotype a whole community based on the actions of a handful of people, people unrelated but easily tied culturally to the Islamic terrorists, the better.

7. The terrorist attacks were used to increase military budgets and expand our mercenary army. We have spent $208 billion on private contractors for the war effort. There has also been at least $30 billion in waste to contractors. People say we can’t afford food stamps, but they look away when it comes to war spending. The misuse of our capital due to the 9/11 attacks is staggering. This spending has lead to larger deficits and is one of the major causes of our economic collapse.

8. We used these attacks and the wars to reelect of George W Bush. George W. Bush was both reviled, and reelected, because of his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his reaction to 9/11. Ironically, the president who failed to heed national security warnings about a 9/11 type plane attack was praised for “protecting us since 9/11” and reelected. That not only lead to further war spending and huge tax cuts to the top 1%, but it lead to further deregulation of the banking industry and the current recession.

The 9/11 attacks have been used to justify the heinous behavior by a handful of our troops overseas and continuous attacks on civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 9/11 attacks have brought out our racism and xenophobia and shown our worst character. Instead of a nationalistic ceremony of puffery followed by hatred and fear, the anniversary of 9/11 can be somber occasion to remember those lost. It can also be a time to rebuff those that have taken advantage of the attacks for personal gain.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Michelle Bachman’s Not the Problem

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics, History on August 31, 2011 at 01:40

Michelle Bachmann exists as a symptom and a distraction. While the left (and others) writes endlessly about Bachmann, what we need to do is address the ignorant nationalistic and dominionist right-wing ideology from which she sprang.

First, we must address religious intolerance and the moral superiority complex of the far right in the United States.

Bachmann believes in Dominionism, the idea that people of faith are mandated by God to be politically involved. They believe that they need to be politically involved because they are the chosen people and the only ones that can faithfully carry out God’s plan. But Dominionism did not start nor will it end with Bachmann. Dominionism has also been called, “Christian Nationalism”, “Kingdom Now Theology”, “Dominion Theology”, or “Restoration Theology”. Bachmann and her ilk, from George Bush, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and others practice this politicized brand of faith. And even if a candidate is not a Dominionist, groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Coalition with their legislative agenda, Assembly of God (known for funding John Ashcroft’s congressional campaigns) among others push candidates to accept their far-right religion infused legislative agenda. They help choose the Republican Congressional candidates, in many cases being King, or should I say Queen, makers.

From gay marriage, reproductive planning, education, immigration laws, and other policy areas, Dominionists are actively trying to create public policy based on their theology. And if you are not of their faith, you are out of luck. Freedom of Religion is merely an obstacle to dominionists, not a right of all people in the United States. And if you are a practicing Muslim, dominionists won’t care about your immigration status, years of residence, community standing or law abiding history. All Muslims are suspect to the religious right. Herman Cain called forth the specter of McCarthyism by saying that Muslims would have to take a loyalty oath to work for him. Republican leaders fought the Muslim community center in New York City, Oklahoma banned Sharia law  (as if it was about to be applied), among other bigoted acts and fear mongering involving Islam and the far right. Attacks against innocent people in the United States solely because of their Muslim faith increased dramatically after Sept 11, 2001. The language of the Republican party against Muslims only makes such attacks more likely.

If Republicans take over the White House and gain control of the Senate, they will pass Jim Crow style laws against Muslims as soon as they take power. After they are done with the Muslims, the atheists will be next, then non-Christians and so on.

We must also educate each other and our children to fight Republican historical revisionism.

History and economics doesn’t deter the far right from promoting failed economic policies. We have had ten years since the Bush tax cuts, and the far right still argues that tax cuts create jobs. One look at the rise in unemployment since the Bush tax cuts will disprove that theory, and a look at historical tax rates show that high tax rates can be correlated to high employment. Notice, I didn’t say that correlation of high taxes with high employment proves causality, for I am not a Republican who confuses correlation with causality. The point is, there is no evidence that tax cuts create jobs and there is plenty of anecdotal and historical evidence that tax cuts don’t work.

Republicans and the far right also argue that cutting spending at a time of high unemployment will rescue the economy. The fact is that cuts in spending leads to public and private sector layoffs.  This leads to cuts into the amount if money in the economy and thus spending, which leads to further layoffs. But these economic and historical facts don’t deter the far right from demanding spending cuts, nor does it deter President Obama from considering them.

Bachmann and the right want desperately to have a gun in every pot, and so they make up history to meet their gun loving ideology. Sarah Palin, a staunch gun defender, told us that Paul Revere took his famous ride to warn the British not to take our guns. You see, she wouldn’t let historical facts get in the way of her ideology. The truth is that no Congress has ever tried to pass a ban on gun use in the United States, and they never will.

When fear of Islam was failing Bachmann, she called on the fear of the Soviet Union to rescue her. Recently on a Christian radio show, she reminded us what Americans fear, “They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.” Doesn’t Bachmann realize that the Soviet Union is deader than Ronald Reagan?

But it fits in with her fear of the outsider and fear of the foreign, and she won’t let history deter her from calling on that fear to garner support.

Republicans like Representative Kurt Zellers ignore the fact that voting is right in order to pass laws to restrict the vote. When asked about laws restricting voting, he failed to get the facts straight, “I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right.” Actually, it’s a right written in the Constitution in several places.

Republicans ignore the history of the Great Depression where unfettered capitalism created a run on the stock market, overproduction of goods with no buyers, and the worst economic collapse in world history, so far. They ignore this history because it interferes with their free market fetishism. They even ignore the recent history where over production and over investing in housing led to the recent recession.

Instead, the Republican leadership once again call on tax cuts as the solution, because as we have seen, tax cuts lead to reinvestment, right? And tax cuts lead to public spending cuts and leads to more layoffs. The trick is repeating that tax cuts will lead us out of the recession over and over again and convincing enough people that this is true to avoid a complete revolt.

There is also the myth that regulation hurts investment, but there are fewer regulations today then there were in the Clinton era when the economy did well. There is no evidence that a reduction in regulation helps our economy and will lead to investment, unless you count as evidence the self-serving statements of corporations who will benefit financially if they can pollute the environment and poison us with impunity.

“An analysis conducted by the Washington Post at the end of Bush’s first term found that since he took office, federal agencies had begun roughly one-quarter fewer regulations than President Clinton and 13 percent fewer than Bush’s father during their first terms.”

So, if cutting regulations will improve our economy, why after all the cuts in regulations under Bush isn’t our economy booming? The cutting of regulations leading to a better economy is a lie looking for evidence. Yes, we can find examples of over regulation and regulations that might cost us, in the short run. But regulations are put in place for the long term health of the economy.

Author Nomi Prins worked at Goldman Sachs before writing books on economics from an insiders perspective including, “It Takes a Pillage.” The book lays out the facts that a large part of the mortgage industry collapse that lead to the current recession was due to deregulation of the banking and mortgage industry. So much for deregulation saving us. It has instead lead to the biggest economic collapse in decades. Republicans lie about deregulation being the cure all because it would help out their patrons if they didn’t have to be concerned with ethical, ecological, and health and safety concerns when creating and selling their products. Again, they demand larger profits at the expense of people.

Republicans also ignore the history of abortion before and after Roe V. Wade to promote their pro-fetus agenda. Certainly, no one is “pro-abortion.” However, as this doctor points out, it is only option for some women, “The familiar symbol of illegal abortion is the infamous “coat hanger” — which may be the symbol, but is in no way a myth. In my years in New York, several women arrived with a hanger still in place. Whoever put it in — perhaps the patient herself — found it trapped in the cervix and could not remove it.”

And what of the women that didn’t make it to the hospital for medical help? While the statistics on abortion related deaths are uncertain, ranging from 1000-10,000 deaths a year before the Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision, a thousand deaths is too much to tolerate, and banning abortion won’t change the reality that some women will die during an illegal procedure. But in the world of Republicans, a woman’s life isn’t worth that of a fetus, so safe procedures, and contraception, should be banned.

It is clear by all accounts that making abortion illegal won’t end abortions. It will, however, make them less safe for women without means. On the other hand, abortion will remain safe for the wealthy who can travel or hire private doctors to do the procedure. Republicans want to ignore this reality because they live in a fantasy land where unwanted and unsafe pregnancies won’t happen to them and theirs, and everyone has options when they become pregnant. This is not true. Not all women have options when they become pregnant.

Many of the religious right are also against the main tool used to reduce unwanted pregnancies, contraception. No one is “pro-abortion”, and it’s the far right that ignore the real consequences of a ban on abortions for their fantasy-land ideology and hatred of reproductive freedom.

We must acknowledge that Bachmann, Perry and Palin are symptoms and act accordingly.

If Republicans didn’t have Bachmann, they’d have to invent her. For too long the Democrats, progressives, liberals and moderates have let the racism and nationalism of the far right go unaddressed in policy forums. And “professional liberals” spend too much time mocking easy targets like Bachmann while ignoring the systematic exporting of jobs and cash by large corporations and the criminal military contractors like Blackwater that Jeremy Scahill writes about.

While the largest media outlets in the United States talk about Bachmann, apparently unimportant issues like corporate earnings, corporate welfare, poverty, unemployment, and a growing income gap get largely ignored. Poverty continues to be overlooked because it’s depressing and we don’t want to read or watch stories about things we can’t solve. However, “In the past six months, the Post has published online or in print 34 staff-written stories plus 12 wire service stories on Bachmann” and only five about Ron Paul who has spent twelve terms in Congress compared to Bachman’s three. Liberals need to stop adding to the Bachmann chorus and start writing about the issues.

Other underlying issues that must be address so fewer Bachmanns get undeserved press attention include: poverty, income inequality, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, fear of change, election laws and corporate speech, and lies about “family values”.

Let’s work on the issues that concern us and fight the Bachmanns of the world by promoting education, inclusiveness and good governance.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Republican Plans for Amerikkka: A New Stormfront

In Election Politics, History on August 24, 2011 at 16:42

The projected far right’s final solution, platform, for America in 2012

Republicans have been shy about their true agenda. As the economy collapses and wars rage, 2012 is an opportunity to come from behind the shadows of our past leaders and tell America where we stand, a time to demand Americans to follow or be left behind. We are the number one people on the planet, and we need to start acting that way. As the party of God moves further to the right of Joseph McCarthy and Nathan Bedford Forrest, here is my vision for a more expansive America and what I foresee as their 2012 platform. 

1. As part of the Corporate class of America and its allies, we demand that all people unite under a single banner to create a greater United States for real Americans.

2. We demand equal rights for the all people and respect from other nations and the cancellation of all debt to China and all creditor countries.

3. We demand lower taxes, Bibles, and flags to feed our People and tranquilize our excess population.

4. Only Corporatists (People of the Dollar) can be Citizens of the State. Only persons of American blood can be Corporatists, regardless of bank affiliation. No Liberal can be a U.S. National.

5. Any person who is not a Citizen will be able to live in the United States only as a guest and must be subject to registration and strict supervision. Only a Citizen is entitled to decide the leadership and laws of the State. We therefore demand that only Citizens may hold public office, regardless of whether it is a national, state, or local office.

6. We demand that the State make it its duty to provide opportunities of employment first of all for its own Citizens. If it is not possible to maintain the entire population of the State, then foreign nationals, Muslims, gays, gypsies and liberals, (non-Citizens) are to be expelled from the nation.

7. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-citizens who entered the United States after Sept. 11, 2001 be forced to leave the Empire without delay.

8. All Citizens must have equal rights and duties as the Corporostate allows.

9. It must be the first duty of every Citizen to carry out intellectual or physical work at the lowest possible pay except for specialists determined by the state. Individual activity must not be harmful to the Corporate interest and must be pursued within the framework of the Corporation and for the general good of said Corporations.

We therefore demand:
10. The abolition of all income obtained without labor or effort, i.e. the end of all Social Security including SSI, food stamps, disability payments, veteran’s benefits, free lunches for children, tuition deferments without labor, and so forth, to be determined by the Corporate head of state.

Breaking the Servitude of Interest

11. In view of the tremendous sacrifices in property and blood demanded of the Empire by every war, personal gain from the wars must limited to contractors and suppliers to the war effort. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war related media and information not sponsored by the media monopoly and approved by the board of the FCC.

12. We demand the nationalization of all enterprises and moneys to be converted into Corporations or for the use of said Corporations.

13 . We demand profit-sharing in large Corporations to members of Congress that pass laws for them…Please.

14. We demand the large-scale dissolution of old-age pension schemes.

15. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound upper class; the immediate corporatization of the American people, which are to be leased at low rates for profit making enterprises. We demand the most careful consideration for the owners of corporations in orders placed by national, state, or community authorities. We demand the continuation of no-bid contracts so competition won’t drive down costs or profits.

16. We demand land reform in accordance with our Empire’s needs and a law for expropriation of land without compensation for Corporate purposes. Abolition of rent for Corporations and prevention of all speculation in land not by Monsanto and other large agra-business firms and Corporations worth less than $100 billion will be prohibited.

17. We demand ruthless battle against those who harm the common good by their activities. Persons committing base crimes against Corporate profit in general are to be punished by death without regard of religion or race and without due process.

18. We demand the replacement of the New Deal, which serves as a wealth sharing and life saving set of socialistic creeds, by the laws of a pure free market, a market that we will continue to control for our own wealth enhancement.

19. In order to make higher education—and thereby entry into leading positions— available to every able and industrious Citizen, the Corporation must provide a thorough restructuring of our entire public educational system. The courses of study at all educational institutions are to be adjusted to meet the requirements of practical life. Understanding of the concept of the State and Corporations must be achieved through the schools (teaching of the Bible, Ayn Rand and Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom) at the earliest age at which it can be grasped. We demand the education at the public expense of specially gifted children of wealthy parents. We demand that the arts, ethnic studies, and unapproved versions of history be eliminated from the class room.

20. The State must raise the level of national health by means of pharmaceuticals, the banning of alternative medicines, achievement of physical fitness through legislation for compulsory gymnastics and sports, and maximum support for all organizations providing physical training such as MMA organizations and NASCAR. Sports will be a unifying force for America, and thus we will ban all sports in which we don’t excel, like soccer.

21. We demand that more of the budget goes into the creation of a national army.

22. We demand laws to fight against deliberate political lies be eliminated. It is our right to lie, and to the best liars go the spoils.

Thus, we demand:

a) all editors and editorial employees of newspapers appearing in the American language must be American by race;

b) non-American newspapers require express permission from the State for their publication. They may not be printed in the American language;

c) any financial participation in an American newspaper or influence on such a paper is to be forbidden by law to non-Americans and the penalty for any breech of this law will be the closing of the newspaper in question, as well as the immediate expulsion from the Empire of the non-American involved.

Newspapers which violate the public interest are to be banned. We demand laws against trends in art and literature which have a destructive effect on our national life, and the suppression of performances that offend against the above requirements. The Corporostate will determine what “American” means.

23. We demand freedom for all Christian denominations, provided that they do not endanger the existence of the Corporostate or offend the concepts of decency and morality of the American race. The Party as such stands for positive Christianity, without associating itself with any particular denomination. It fights against the Muslim-terrorist spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a permanent revival of our Nation can be achieved only from within, on the basis of:

Corporate Interest before Public Interest.

24. To carry out all the above we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the Empire. Unquestioned authority by the political central Corporate state over the entire Empire and over its organizations in general. The establishment of trade and professional organizations to enforce the Empire’s basic laws in the individual states.

The Party leadership promises to take an uncompromising stand, at the cost of their own lives if need be, on the enforcement of the above points. Houston, August 21, 2011.

A special thinks to the coauthors of the Republican platform.
http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/25points.htm

Remember, friends don’t let friends vote Republican.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

 

Defending the Power Elite in America Against the Interests of the People: The Case of the United States Government

In Election Politics, History on August 3, 2011 at 09:48

This is a special updated edition of an article that lays to bear the problems with government that have been all to evident in the “debt crisis” talks. Not only have the latest talks shown that public opinion means less and less to our federal government, but it demonstrates how the wealthy classes are the protected class in our society. They are protected from taxes to pay for what they receive from us, responsibility to protect the environment, workers and customers, and accountability for the mistakes they made to get us into this recession. Instead of laying out the debt crisis and the problems with the talks, what others have done better than I could, I have laid out what must be done to start the path toward democracy in the United States.  

Defending the Power Elite in America Against the Interests of the People: The Case of the United States Government

The form of our government in the United States is one that is not conducive to change and radicalism. It is set up to prevent big sweeping changes and thus promotes the interests of those in power, the moneyed and political elite. Elections for political office do little to change the underlying body politic, changing one face for another, and are only cosmetic in nature.

There are several ways the status quo, government run by the powerful and not the people, is protected in the United States.

1. The two party monopoly

Many democracies have multiparty systems. Having more parties means more competition, but apparently the two parties in charge only like the mythical competition of the economic markets and the competition on the football pitch. When it comes to political competition, they want to limit it as much as possible.

While I believe that many Tea Party supporters are deluded and extreme if they feel the Republican Party cares about them, they are challenging the two-party monopoly. I support that even if it comes from the far right. The complaints from the left of Obama’s own party makes it clear we could have a more liberal party than the Democrats. But in the United States you have two flavors of political ice cream, vanilla and vanilla bean: same basic corporate flavor with a different name. (link)

Another thing that the two-party monopoly does is limit the acceptable background of politicians in the United States. At the moment, it is unlikely we would have a candidate, let alone a president, from the lower classes like Lula Da Silva of Brazil. To become President in the United States you must be religious (not atheist or agnostic), Protestant (with the exception of President Kennedy thus far), you must have college degree. Being a lawyer is a major advantage and having a business degree is also helpful.

Furthermore, out of our forty-three Presidents, only one has been not all white, and there have been no women. There are no blacks in the current Senate. That is not representative. There are, however, forty-four blacks in the House of Representatives, which is the approximate percent of the population (close to 10%). This amplifies my arguments that the Senate is undemocratic. What about Hispanic representation? Two in the Senate and thirty in the House of Representatives. While the Senate is ruled by wealthy Whites, the House is much closer to what the United States actually looks like. (link) The two political parties in the United States are richer, whiter, and more educated that the rest of the United States. How could they ever have the interests of the working classes at heart when they aren’t one of us? It’s possible, but Congress demonstrates more clearly by the day how out of touch they are.

2. The Constitution

You might be wondering why I put the Constitution on a list discussing the barriers to a more democratic society. There are several reasons, some of which I discuss throughout this article. To put it in broad terms, it is a barrier because it codifies some of the problems with our democracy such as the Senate and the process for electing our presidents. The other reason is the sacred nature of the document. Like the Bible, the Constitution is taken as gospel, until you disagree with it. “But it’s in the Constitution”, or “But it’s not in the Constitution” are oft used phrases when one wants to end political debate. However, like the Bible, the Constitution accepted slavery and even made allowances for it with the 3/5s rule as well as containing other undemocratic policies. (link)

The Bill of Rights, if we adhere to them, is what’s best about our secular/holy document, but the plan of government needs updating, and we need to add amendments protecting people’s voting rights and ending corporate personhood to improve our failing democratic institutions.

3. Winner takes all

In a winner takes all election, you can win a congressional seat by one vote. The loser gets nothing. For example, the Senate candidate in California could win a seat with 6,000,001 votes while the loser gets 6,000,000 votes. That means there are 6 million voters who have no representative of their choosing. If we had a proportional representation system in the Senate (a body I want to dismantle as you will see later), the losing party would get the number of seats in proportion to the votes they received. In the case above, they would get half of the seats, minus one. Thus the “loser” would have a say and those views would be represented. Some people say that the system we have works, so why change it. Take a look at Congress and tell me if it’s really working. (link)

Sociologist G. William Domhoff has made a career studying elections and political systems.  He discusses the advantages of a proportional representation system,

In contrast to a system based on districts and pluralities, countries with systems of proportional representation usually have four or more parties, and would have even more if there wasn’t a minimum vote that has to be reached to receive any seats at all. Although the centrist parties soak up most of the votes, these countries are often governed by a coalition of two or more parties. Roughly speaking, there are left-of-center, center-left, center-right, and right-of-center coalitions. In this kind of system, everyone’s vote counts, and voter turnout is therefore very high. (link)

In Domhoff’s book “Who Rules America”, he reviews statistics comparing winner-takes-all systems versus proportional representation. It is clear from the data that proportional representation systems have much higher voter participation while providing more choices, and they are thus more democratic. The two ruling parties in the U.S. will not allow a proportional voting system that would interfere with their two party monopoly.

The positive side to the Tea Party ideology is that is shows a split in one of the major parties that could, over time, lead to a sustainable third party in America. We could also sustain a left of center party to compete with the corporate Democrats. Until the rules on elections change to allow more third party challenges, rules from registration requirements to costs for entry and proportional representation, citizens are doomed to vote between two inadequate parties.

4. Money Dominated and not Vote Dominated Elections

Money controls politics to a large extent in the United States. Those that defend this say that it has always been this way and that it would be undemocratic to not allow unlimited money from the wealthy to be used in elections. That means Congress is for sale. (link) By allowing unlimited campaign donations for corporations, the Supreme Court has moved the already corporate dominated U.S. Government even further toward a day when one just need buy a seat in Congress without the pretense of voting. Until we limit this money in elections, end the lie of corporate personhood, and treat everyone’s money as equal, our elections will be corrupted by those that can pay the most to have their candidate elected. Read my post about this here.

Post on the Supreme Court “Citizens United” ruling that gives corporations unlimited donation power.

5.
Presidential Election System

Our presidential primary system starts in two less populated states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Iowa primary is not even a vote by the people. It has a caucus (group meetings with the party faithful) that favors party insiders and not candidates with alternative ideas. The primary in New Hampshire has very small turnout. For example, only three to four percent of voters nominated McCain in New Hampshire. (link) So a few thousand votes in a small state decided who would represent the Republicans in 2008.

Furthermore, many state party primaries block those not registered with one of the two major parties from their primaries, and thus they promote the two party monopoly. Independents, non-aligned voters, don’t have a say. Thus, voters are coerced to sign-up with one of the two parties or have no vote in the primaries that determine the choice for president. And by the time the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are over, most of the candidates, often those with the most interesting ideas, have been eliminated. Iowa and New Hampshire, with about 2.5% of the U.S. population, have more say about the nominees that other states.

New Hampshire is mostly rural. So is Iowa. They are also states that have a higher percentage of White people than most of America. So why are those the first two presidential primary states?  If Brown of CA, Scott in FLA and Cuomo in NY (Governors of three populous and diverse states) pushed for a change and asked their legislatures to move up their primaries, the primary system would have an outside chance of changing.

Iowa compared to US demographics
New Hampshire compared to the United States

Other problems with the primary process are the debates that limit participation of candidates, even those on the ballots, and the system of super delegates that allows only party insiders votes. These groups are by nature about uniformity and not rocking the boat, and they insure that no reformer gets on the ballot to challenge the fundamental power of the ruling elite. If a candidate outside the mainstream of the Democratic elite gets a lot of popular support, if they might challenge the neoliberal and imperialist model of our nation state, the super delegates can override the popular vote. So while people say we have a democracy, the choice of candidates is severely restricted by party insiders, money, and the election process.

6. The Electoral College System

We should of course rid our selves of the undemocratic Electoral College system that allows candidates with fewer votes to win the presidency. (link) The electoral college was set up because the founding fathers believed that the average citizen was too easily manipulated and couldn’t be trusted with the direct election of the president, “Hamilton and the other founders did not trust the population to make the right choice.” We are not trusted with democracy, so we can’t directly vote for president and have to rely on the college.  (link)

7. The Senate

The Senate is a “representative” legislative body that gives inordinate power to less populated states that skew toward a more traditionalist, conservative politics. Because they are over represented, less populated states take more resources per capita than more populous states and can block policies that would help the more urban states. It is counter to our stated ideology of one person, one vote. One vote in Montana for Senator is equal to the value of 70 votes in California. It also skews the Electoral College, based on the number of representatives in Congress, toward the less populated states. Before rejecting this unusual idea of eliminating the Senate, read my complete criticism here. (link)

We vote every fall or spring hoping that might make a difference, and some times it does. But As long as we have a two party system in the United States run by money and limited choice, we will never have a government by the people and for the people. Our presidents will also continue to be beholden to corporations such as big oil, big agra, big pharma and Wall Street bankers and investment firms like Goldman Sachs, AIG and Bank of America. Until the rigged game changes, the people of the United States will always have inadequate representation. And, the voice of the majority of the population will be subverted by corporate money and ideology.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

The Lie Behind “Cultural Marxism” and a message to foolish Republican Nativists

In Current Events, Economics, History on July 29, 2011 at 18:12

The term “Cultural Marxism” is used in an attempt keep fear of communism alive and well. It’s not just that people use the term to describe the abhorrent practices like the cultural revolution in China that killed millions of people, it is a term used to attack multiculturalism in the United States.

Like the nativist movements throughout U.S. history that fought to keep the nation pure, meaning White or Northern European (but not Irish), discussions of Cultural Marxism use fear to rile up the poor working class Whites against the impure elements. The historical list of the impure starts with the Irish, then Germans, Southern Europeans, Chinese and today it’s Mexicans and Muslims that are the targets of their ire.

Nativists will use all sorts of logical fallacies to promote this fear. Nativists argue that immigrants are hostile to the native culture and the immigrants presence ruins their “purity of essence”. However, there is no evidence of cross contamination between recent immigrant cultures and White Europeans that hasn’t been mutually beneficial or at the least, accepted by the dominant White culture. Whites don’t complain when they eat Chinese food or enjoy cheap lettuce and strawberries picked by Mexican and Central American labor; it is only during times of economic crisis or when the most recent immigrants start to succeed and move into previously White (or other powerful ethnic ghetto) dominate areas that they became perceived as threats to the White, Christian, Anglo Saxon culture.

When there is a precipitous rise in the population of a new immigrant group, the dominant group will work to exclude these immigrants using legal means and pass laws against them such as The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the recently passed SB 1070 in Arizona that allows racial profiling at traffic stops. Detentions of legal and illegal immigrants is also prevalent today in Arizona, as it was during the a time of great Chinese immigration of the late 19th Century.  And when legal means to exclude immigrants don’t work, extra-legal means such as arson, lynching, threats and murder will be tried as in the case of burning of Black churches in the South, the attacks on the Labor Party in Norway for supporting immigration and attacks on Muslims in the United States.

“…nativist movements resulted at times when there were major social, economic, or political upheavals taking place in the U.S. It was at these times American nativists would blame recent arriving immigrants or ethnic/religious groups different from their own for the troubles that America was experiencing. As a result, it was not uncommon for racist attitudes to develop against these scapegoats.”  (link)

So when times are tough, working class Whites and other poor look for scapegoats for their troubles. The most recent immigrants have less political and economic power and are thus easier targets for discriminatory laws passed as a reaction to fear. Ultimately, these tactics are used by powerful political and economic elites not because the elites fear immigrants, but as a tool to keep the poor fighting each other. It’s a distraction technique that gets the elite’s staunchest allies, the Republicans, elected.  What Republicans won’t mention when passing racist laws is that large corporations use immigrants, illegal and legal, for cheap labor in this nation. So while they decry immigration using nativist language and decry the “Cultural Marxism” of groups that might accept and aid recent immigrants, they use immigrant labor to keep labor costs down and increase profits. And many poor Whites join in the chorus to attack those who came to this country to better their lives like most of our ancestors did.

Why can’t conservatives who don’t like the culture in the United States be like punk rockers in England of the seventies and create their own culture? The fact is, Christian conservatives do, and they have nothing to fear of from us non-conservative, non-fear inducing multiculturalists. Quite the opposite. Like Anders Behring Breivik who killed dozens of people in Norway,  some who rail against this Cultural Marxism will use violence to make their point. The Klu Klux Klan, World Church of the Creator, Hal Turner, and Aryan Nations 88 among some 1,002 such documented hate groups in the United States.

While much of the recent up-tic in hate groups has been fueled by a rise in Mexican immigration, another factor is the election of the first African-American President in the United States. The Souther Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the U.S., writes, Since 2000, the number of hate groups has increased by 54 percent. This surge has been fueled by fears of Latino immigration and, more recently, by the election of the country’s first African-American president and the economic crisis.” (link) Threats of violence by these hate groups is justified on the grounds of defense of culture and the Christian way of life. It is further promoted by the ignorant ramblings of right-wing bloggers and journalists.

Conservative writers use meaningless code words to scare their readers into joining their cause against the immigrant. Linda Kimball wrote in 2007 on the site American Thinker that, “…the New Left lacked cohesion it fell apart as a political movement.  However, its revolutionaries reorganized themselves into a multitude of single issue groups.  Thus we now have for example, radical feminists, black extremists, anti-war ‘peace’ activists, animal rights groups, radical environmentalists, and ‘gay’ rights groups.  All of these groups pursue their piece of the radical agenda through a complex network of organizations such as the Gay Straight Lesbian Educators Network (GSLEN), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), People for the American Way, United for Peace and Justice, Planned Parenthood, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), and Code Pink for Peace.” (link)

Ever noticed that conservatives can’t just write the word “feminist” without the term “radical” attached to it? But I digress. Ms. Kimball is against gay rights, peace, sexuality, justice, and civil liberties. She lists well recognized, evil organizations that promote multiculturalism and she does not need to explain to her audience what is bad about them. Working for equal rights of immigrants and minorities is a scary and “radical” agenda. It is understood in the ultra conservative sphere that groups that don’t live by a White, Christian agenda are all evil. The blogger on right wing websites such a FreeRepublic and Red State Reader use code words like “feminist”, “liberal”, “socialist”, “peace” to signify that these groups are working against their culture and are “Cultural Marxists”. Explaining the actual problems these organizations pose to our society would involve work, and you know how conservatives are lazy and aren’t willing to do the intellectual work to make a logical, cogent argument, right? They just want to live off the hard work of liberals online such as us.

Another great technique is demonstrated in the article by Ms. Kimball, guilt by association. If Ms. Kimball can compare the organizations listed, those working for the rights of Americans, to Soviet Communists, then her job is done. Most of us would agree that Soviet style communism was bad, and thus, these organizations must be bad as well because they are communist. It is easy to get people to fear all social programs when they are not educated in the difference between the Soviets and Social Security.

Many of these hard core cultural conservatives ask, “Who stole our culture?” Well, no one, really. (link)

If you live in a traditionally conservative family, you have the right to go to church, to watch conservative, Christian appropriate television programming, and to read the Bible and related literature. Christian culture is a available everywhere, from the Internet, to the Christian Broadcasting Network, to gospel records, Sunday Sermons on television and in churches all over American, cruises for Christians, Christian singles clubs, and so forth.

So, you don’t like Harry Potter and its promotion of witch craft. Then don’t read the books or watch the movies. I don’t like the religiosity of the Chronicles of Narnia, so I don’t watch the movies nor read the books. No one is forcing their culture on anyone. Culture happens organically, and in our market dominated economy, what sells is what become predominate in the media. Thus, Lady Gaga is a big part of the mainstream culture, like her or not. Evangelical and far-right conservatives want to promote free markets and free speech, until it leads to speech they don’t like.

There are a lot of media from television programs with gay characters to songs that sing about oral sex, that some Christians find objectionable. And yes, they are ubiquitous. But how can you really test your faith if you aren’t tempted? What about the tribulations that the Bible says all Christians must go through?

I don’t like all the war propaganda  in the news and in movies, but I mostly ignore it. It’s called freedom of speech, and it’s part of the United States. If you want to live in a theocracy, Saudi Arabia and Iran would gladly accept you, if you become Muslim. Or get into your time machine and go back to the 12th Century and join the crusades where you can kill for God and country.

Attack the poor and minorities as you are told and be a loyal foot soldier for the United States elites that would just as well see you die as prosper. Or you can put down your sword, love thy neighbor, and get on with your life.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Enough, again, about 9/11

In Current Events, History, World Affairs on June 27, 2011 at 02:32

This is a repost and update in honor of President Obama’s invoking of 9/11 in his latest speech to justify the Afghan war. “On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of the passengers on board one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban – a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them – an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to 0. The vote in the House was 420 to 1.”  (link)

Shut up already about 9/11

The United States is using 9/11 as an excuse to be the world’s police force and to attack Muslim dominated nations. In that spirit, I have performed the following actions:

I kicked an Englishman in the balls today in remembrance of Bloody Sunday and the atrocities in Ireland. I burnt Oxford editions of the collected works of Shakespeare, the British playwright of terror, for good measure.

Throwing bricks through the window of a sushi restaurant satisfied my lust to get back at the Japanese for Pearl Harbor. I do that every December 7. I also like to smash big snouted Romans in the nose for their besting my Celtic Queen, Queen Boudicca, back in the first century. I stabbed a priest for all the pedophilia and betrayal by other Catholic priests for good measure.

Then I gathered some patriots to spit on some Christians as they left their holy church of terrorist training for bombing Oklahoma City’s Federal Building. We also spray painted “Jesus Freaks” on the side of several Christian terrorist training centers. It was the Protestants that killed my Irish ancestors, so we had to go on and burn a few Christian churches (and their terrorist training manual, the Bible) in the process. That will show those Prods that we are right and they are wrong.

Honor the dead, but don’t use their deaths as an excuse to hate, discriminate and hurt and kill others. (link)

Self proclaimed super patriot’s scream, “We must never forget.” Forget what? Forget that you irrationally fear and hate all Muslims based on the actions of a tiny group of fundamentalists?

Shut up about 9/11 already. How about using the historical tragedy as a call to promote peace. Or is that too close to the original message of Jesus?

The article “The United States of Fear” states well how we have sold out our freedoms in the name of fear. (link)

Enjoy, and happy endless wars. And as President Obama said to end his speech justifying continued war, “Thank you, God Bless you, God Bless our troops, and may God Bless the United States of America.” No, God bless you President Obama.

See the text of his speech.

For fun, compare President’s Obama misinformation and lies about Afghanistan with those in Lyndon Johnson’s speech about Vietnam.

Addendum: I am not asking or expecting anyone to stop grieving or remembering the loss, especially personal losses, from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. What I hope is that we stop allowing politicians and others to use 9/11 to justify torture, wars against innocent nations and people, civilian bombing, rendition, assassination and other atrocities.

Yours,
Tex Shelters

Real Security Threats: U.S. Foreign Policy

In Current Events, History on February 1, 2011 at 18:51

Mark Zepezauer’s  book “Boomerang!: : How Our Covert Wars Have Created Enemies Across the Middle East and Brought Terror to America” (Excerpt) is a good primer to the question, “why do they hate us?”  The first reason President Bush thought of was after 9/11 was the tried and true, “they hate our freedoms”.

White House News Release, September 20, 2001:
Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber — a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa. (link) 

No, they don’t “hate our freedoms”, they hate that we have supported the very “self appointed” dictators that kill their people, they hate us because we send in the military to get what we want, and they hate us because for better or worse, that we support Israel even when they are bombing Lebanon or Gaza and killing their people. They hate our economic sanctions. They wonder why we don’t promote the freedoms we purportedly have in the United States in the Middle East.

“”People in Canada enjoy better democracy, more freedom, and greater human rights than we do. So do the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being bombed? Or Norwegian embassies? Or Swedish embassies. No.

“We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom, and human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in third world countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. And that hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism — and in the future, nuclear terrorism.” 
http://www.rmbowman.com/ssn/terror3.htm

We spend billions each year on weapons and intelligence to prop up dictatorships and in an attempt bolster our security. Has supporting the dictators of the past with military support made us more secure?

Representative Dennis Kucinich agrees with Republican Ros-Lehtinen (and others) on Egypt. “One of Congress’ most strident doves said Friday evening that he agrees with the hawkish chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee on her statement on the upheaval in Egypt.” (link)

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As usual when Washington backs corrupt regimes in the name of its war on terror, democracy suffers and things slowly deteriorate.
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/25-9

History of U.S. backed Dictatorships that had Dire Consequences
The Dictators the United States has supported can fill up volumes of books.  http://tfclub.tripod.com/list.html

These dictators were often mass murders and always anti-democratic. A short list follows with the consequences. And when I say, “Backlash” I don’t mean to say U.S. support of dictators was the only cause, but that is was a major contributor, to revolution, terrorism, war and animosity against the United States.

1. Shah of Iran—1941-1979. One of the most infamous dictators backed by the U.S. in the Middle East who killed thousands of those opposed to his rule. Backlash—the overthrow of the Shah and the Islamic revolution. Islamic revolutionaries took over the U.S. embassy in 1979 and held U.S. citizens hostage. The Islamic Republic of Iran destabilized the region and has been a breeding ground for anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist organizations.

2. Western Educated President Diem of Vietnam—1955-1963. Although Diem was considered a weak ruler, the U.S. saw him as the best and only alternative to prevent communism from taking over Vietnam and thus all of Southeast Asian. During the presidential election in 1955, Diem posted his supporters at the polling booths, told them to throw away the ballots of Emperor Bao Dai (anti-Democratic monarch), and thus “won” with 92% of the vote. The citizens protested, so he promptly had 100,000 of them arrested and put in prison. Backlash—a united front against the United States in Vietnam and the Vietnam War that killed over 100,000 U.S. troops and over a million Vietnamese, costs the U.S. billions of dollars and further embedded the military industrial complex in the U.S. government.  (http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/vietnam/vietnamwar.htm)

3. Chiang Kai-shek 1928-1949 Under Chiang, his Nationalist party in China killed millions of peasant farmers. Numbers are hard to obtain for Chiang’s rule, but estimates of 5-18 million murders can be found for the Nationalist Party itself, much of the time under Chiang’s rule.  http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/CHINA.CHAP1.HTM During Japanese occupation in China, the Nationalist party would conscript poor peasants fleeing from the Japanese and the communists and send them off to kill peasants that were allegedly supporting the communists or the Japanese. Backlash—the successful 1949 communist revolution against he hated Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship, a communist antagonist in the most populous nation in the world that would oppose us in conflicts in the East such as Vietnam and Korea and an increase in the arms race. Again, we backed the loser in this conflict and China became communist anyway. Suffice to say, many in the United States couldn’t fully back the murderous Chiang Kai-shek regime and opposed spending much time, money or political capital saving it.

4. Support for the Afghan “freedom fighters”, the Mujahideen—1979-1992 The U.S. armed Muslim fundamentalist forces against the Soviet invasion in 1979. I am not here to argue whether fighting the Soviets was good or bad. Backlash—the Mujahedeen turned into the Taliban, the Saudi funded and manned terrorist group that brought down the world trade centers in New York City on 9/11/2001. Perhaps fighting the Soviets was the best thing, but at what cost. What would have been the worst outcome if the Soviets propped up their communist regime in Afghanistan and we had not given people of questionable motives rockets, M-16s and other weapons of war that lead them to power as the Mujahideen reformed into the Taliban in 1996. Taliban run Afghanistan was the perfect haven and training ground for terrorist attacks around the world. That was made possible by the U.S. (CIA) backed Mujahedeen takeover of the nation.

5. Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq from 1979-2001.  The United States backed Hussein militarily and financially in his war against the Islamic Republic of Iran with billions of dollars in weapons.  The reason Iran was such a problem for the United States was the Islamic Revolution over the U.S. backed Shah of Iran. The murderous Saddam Hussein was used a bulwark against the rising Iranian power. Backlash—Hussein killed thousands of his enemies. During a U.S. encouraged uprising against him, he killed over 250,000 enemies, many of then Iraqi Kurds. He developed a strong military in the region and used his power to invade and take control of Kuwait, bringing on the first gulf war. We supported a dictator to fight a nation, Iran, which rose to power after it overthrew a dictator we had supported. Hussein was so hated in the United States that George W. Bush had to fabricate intelligence, that he had weapons of mass destruction, to justify a second war against the nation.

6. Batista in Cuba—1940-1944, 1952-59.  Many Americans think of Cuba and only know about Fidel Castro’s dictatorship. We should not forget that under Batista elections where rigged, opposition was jailed, and the economy was sold off to the highest bidder in the United States with little benefit to the Cuban people. Backlash—the Cuban revolution to overthrow the Batista regime, the exportation of Cuban criminals to Florida, both violent and mafia supported criminals from the Island, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and the fear of nuclear missiles 90 miles from Florida. And the revolution led to the most enduring and misleading smear campaign against another nation in United States history. Is Castro a saint? No. But at least under his rule, Cuba eliminated diseases and the people are more literate than people are in the United States. Perhaps that is why we hate them. We hate them for their literacy rates.

7. Anastasio Somoza, Sr. and Jr.—1934-79. The Somoza family controlled Nicaragua for the United States corporations for 45 years. And of course, the United States taxpayers foot the bill so corporation could make profit off of Nicaragua’s markets, cheap labor, and cheap farm products.  Corruption, torture and murder were the standard practice for the Somozas when faced with any known opposition. Backlash—The Sandinista revolution overthrew the Nicaraguan government. At first, the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua was recognized by the Carter administration in the U.S. However, Reagan was hell bent on changing that. Reagan broke several international and U.S. laws by mining Nicaraguan harbors, funding death squads called the Contras to fight the Nicaraguan government using torture, murder and terror (yes, we fund terrorists too), and setting up bases in Honduras to fight the Nicaraguan forces. Was overthrowing the government of a small Central American nation worth the price of an estimated 30,000 Nicaraguan lives and political reputation? I am sure some corporations benefitted. I don’t see how the average American did.

8. Morena Manuel Antonio Noriega—1983-89. Noriega was on the payroll of the CIA when he went rouge. They CIA didn’t mind paying him to illegally spy on, arrest, and pass on intelligence to the United States. But when it was discovered that he was spying, arresting people illegally, and passing intelligence onto Cuba, the U.S. suddenly saw all the illegal activity he was involved in. Backlash—a war against a tiny Central American nation, a precedent that makes intelligence gathering in the region harder and Cuba making us look like fools.

9. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt—1981-?  Mubarak came to power after President Anwar Sadat was killed by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1981. Mubarak suspended elections almost immediately after coming to power. The U.S. of course supported this for they fear the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power. He has at least 20,000 political prisoners in jail, has anti-terror laws that allow the police to arrest people for voicing opposition to his rule and has suspended legal rights for the accused. Backlash—pent up anger against the United States has translated into anger against Mubarak who has done little to deal with inflation, unemployment and the economy. In fact, while the Egyptian economy expanded, wages stayed flat. Now people have taken to the streets and the United States is calling for Democratic changes and increased wages. Egypt is considered a key ally in the Middle East, thus, the U.S. has ignored the undemocratic policies while we have ousted or killed democratically elected leaders in Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran and elsewhere when they didn’t fully back the global dominance of the United States. As long as Mubarak supported us, we supported him. Now that forces on the ground are mounting to remove him, the U.S. is suddenly calling for democratic reform.

Our meddling in foreign governments and nations has not made us safer. We have had to pay the price not only on 9/11 but also for other terrorist attacks against us, on our embassies, on our ships and planes and in our cities. Is the financial gain for our corporations and the myth of increased world security really worth the price we pay in lives and treasury? Should the U.S. continue to act counter to our democratic ideals or will we realize that long-term security isn’t possible at the barrel of a gun? And while we pay for this security with our blood and treasure, our real security concerns, food, housing, infrastructure, having an educated populous, respect and cooperation with other nations, continues to erode.

Sources:
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/US_ThirdWorld/dictators.html
http://tfclub.tripod.com/list.html
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Afghanistan/Afghanistan_CIA_Taliban.html
http://www.cfr.org/publication/10551/taliban_in_afghanistan.html

Yours,
Tex Shelters

Why We Remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In History, Human Rights and the Constitution on January 17, 2011 at 16:52

When America celebrates our holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, it is important to remember why we celebrate.

Are we celebrating a man who helped focus the nation on racial inequality? Are we celebrating a movement that helped make America a more tolerant place despite our continued failings? Are we celebrating a man who embodied the sacrifice that called all Americans to give in the name of equality and peace? Let us not forget all the people in the movement, men, women, blacks, Jews, Whites, Asian, Native Americans, everyone. We celebrate a movement for which King was a leader, not just the man himself. Let us not forget the lessons King and so many others have taught us.

Howard Zinn on Dr. King and President Obama:

Peace,
Tex Shelters

 

 

Hero Hypocrisy: Part Two, Support our Troops

In History, World Affairs on January 5, 2011 at 02:19

Whatever your feelings are about the war in Iraq, whether you believe the soldiers are protectors of the free world or merely pawns in the re-election campaign of President Bush, you must support our troops.

The troops are fighting for an ideal. They are fighting to protect the United States and all of its citizens. The troops are fighting for you.
http://www.torchonline.com/2.1261/hawk-or-dove-support-our-troops-1.64378

I have always thought that line of thinking “They are fighting for you” was complete nonsense. How is invading Iraq or Afghanistan “fighting for you” or me? Really? Did it keep oil prices down, secure the oil supply, make us safer than our intelligence services would without all the collateral casualties, did it create more jobs and make us more secure domestically or did it protect the lives of the people in these nations or our troops? Let me take those questions one at a time: no, no, no, no, and no.

During the build up to the wars with convenient lies about WMD, aluminum tubes, and bringing democracy back to Iraq, there were the well-placed patriotic messages to “support our troops.” The translation reads, “Don’t question the war” because that does not “support our troops.”

How much do to the people who encouraged us to “support our troops” really support the troops themselves? I am sure the individuals who were convinced by the lies for the war were sincerely in support of our fighting men and women. But what of Congress and the White House, how much did they “support our troops” that they sent off to war? And how much did the patriotically brainwashed, to support the war for fear of not supporting the troops, realize how little Bush and Congress protected our soldiers?

1. First there were the lies that got us into the wars. Those lies were not troop supporting.

2. Second, there was the lack of body armor and armored Humvees at the beginning of the wars. If you are going to send troops into a war against insurgents using improvised explosive devices and other non-tradition weapons, you should provide them with the best equipment available. Otherwise, you do not “support our troops”. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/31/60minutes/main652491.shtml

3. There is a dearth of psychological services for our troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_16981949

4. Homeless Veteran’s make up 1/3 of all homeless people in the U.S. I guess support for the veteran’s housing needs is not the same thing as support for our troops.

5. Increase in traumatic bran injuries commonly known as concussions and not enough services for returning vets. http://wrair-www.army.mil/images/MilidTBI.pdf

According to a 2010 Rand study, “Fundamental gaps remain in our understanding of the mental health and cognitive needs of U.S. servicemembers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the costs of mental health and cognitive conditions, and the care systems available to deliver treatment.” http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9336/index1.html

So where is the support Congress? Is Haliburton going to help foot the bill for all the injured soldiers after making billions off the war? I didn’t think so.

A nation of heroes
Is a nation in trouble.

Heroes and their deeds are used to promote and promulgate war. Stories of American heroism are great propaganda tools. San Juan Hill in Cuba, the Alamo, Remember the Maine, and the Union holding out at Ft. Sumter as long as they did against all odds during the Civil War are just a few examples of reported American heroism that promoted war.

Internationally the stranded and rescued British Army at Dunkirk in 1940 during WWII, the charge of the light brigade (disastrous though it was), Napoleon’s triumphant return from Italy or Egypt, the Spartans who held back the whole Persian army, are just a few of the mythical triumphs of heroes that spurred war, rightly or wrongly. And the Iraq and Afghan wars are no exception to this.

Back in the beginning of the Iraq War and Bush’s propaganda push, there was the convenient rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch. She is blond and young and American, thus she pulled at the media’s heartstrings. She reportedly “fought bravely”, was injured, and then was rescued from a hospital in Iraq from the clutches of a Muslim doctor. It turns out that she was injured in a car accident, she was not fighting for her gun had jammed, and the doctor who was treating her had told the Americans that he was ready to release her before they entered the hospital without meeting resistance in order to “Rescue Jessica.” http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jessica_Lynch

The story of Jessica Lynch was used at the beginning of the war in 2003 to get public support behind the war. The story was big news at the time and it was a rallying cry. As egregious as this lie of heroism was, it cannot match the most shameful use of a soldier’s death, the Pat Tillman story.

Pat Tillman was an up and coming football player for the Arizona Cardinals. He had spent time in Iraq and was set to go to Afghanistan when the Cardinals intervened on his behalf to get him a deferment.  But Tillman wanted to honor his word and not abandon his comrades in arms. Thus, he is labeled a hero. But he did not die a hero’s death. He died the death of one who was betrayed by the military and sent into harms way on the whims of a president and his military contracting allies.

On April 2, 2004, the 27-year-old Corporal Tillman was in Afghanistan engaging the enemy when he was killed. The military declared the charismatic Tillman, former football star, a hero who died protecting his fellow servicemen and women from harm and awarded him the Silver Star. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/2004-04-30-tillman-silver-star_x.htm What a patriotic story. Even those opposed to the war would have trouble denying this man’s bravery and sacrifice. It turns out that the official story was an outright lie (and yet further evidence we need Wikileaks).  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/27/opinion/27fri2.html

The truth is far less heroic. The truth is that while Corporal Tillman was engaging enemy forces, he was killed by at least three bullets from his own regimen, from not so “friendly fire”. But that wasn’t the heroic end the U.S. military needed to for their war efforts. So they were ordered to lie, to the American people and to Tillman’s family. It was only after his funeral that they revealed the truth. For more details on this tragedy, see the film “The Tillman Story”. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_tillman_story/

Heroism is used to cover up the mistakes and lies of a corrupt government. In the case of the United States, it is used to rally people to a war that many people opposed. It also helped quell stories of those opposing the war. A nation of heroes really is a nation in trouble.

On a positive note, the New GI Bill passed to give reduce tuition and other benefits to our returning vets.
http://www.causecast.org/nonprofit/iraq-afghanistan-veterans-america-iava

Other good anti-war movies
http://www.filmsite.org/warfilms6.html

As always, I ask you to write Congress and the White House to end the wars NOW and join local protests against the Iraq and Afghan wars.

President Obama
CO/ The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500-0004
or phone: (202) 456-1414

Or send note online:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Congressional switchboard 800-828-0498
Just ask for the office of your Senator or Representative

House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/house/house_comments.shtml
Senate: http://www.senate.gov/

Find your Congressperson here:
http://www.votesmart.org/official_congress.php

Check out your local Indymedia center for a protest near you. For Arizona, it’s http://arizona.indymedia.org/

Peace,
Tex Shelters