Friday, September 18, 2009

Violence Is A Dark Undercurrent Of American History Slowly Tear Apart Individuals, Families And Communities.

Violence Is A Dark Undercurrent Of American History Slowly Tear Apart Individuals, Families And Communities.

“Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.”

- Chris Hedges-

But first a quick comment. The Obama Administration decision to abandon the European based missile defense system was the correct decision. Putting that Bush lunacy in place would have recreated the same tensions that existed before the Cuban Missile Crisis when “antiquated” missiles in Turkey were seen as a threat to Russia’s southern soft under belly. This matter is a historical/cultural fabric issue with Russia. The alternative defensive system certainly preferable on many levels. It is only war-mongering right wing elements who see this as caving to Russian pressure, but then they do not have any understanding of anyone else’s culture, only the one that they would impose on this nation at any cost. Let’s face facts. If Russia would over run the nations to its South on the way to a Mideast conflict any system in place will be of minimal importance because we will be witnessing the outbreak of the official WWIII. (Ed.)

Chris Hedges, Who Will Speak At Our Conference In DC, June 11-14, 2010, Challenges Some Of The Conception Of That Conference.

Published on Monday, September 14, 2009 by

Stop Begging Obama to Be Obama and Get Mad

by Chris Hedges

The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country's future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.

The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept.

Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable.

The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam. Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence. We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism.

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have unloaded hundreds of thousands of combat troops, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, back into society. According to a joint Veterans Affairs Department-University of San Francisco study published in July, 418,000 of the roughly 1.9 million service members who have fought in or supported the wars suffer from PTSD.

As of August 2008, the latest data available, about a quarter-million military veterans were imprisoned on any given day-about 9.4 percent of the total daily imprisoned population, according to the National GAINS Center Forum on Combat Veterans, Trauma and the Justice System. There are 223,000 veterans in jail or prison cells on an average day, and an unknown number among the 4 million Americans on probation.

They don't have much to look forward to upon release. And if any of these incarcerated vets do not have PTSD when they are arrested, our corrections system will probably rectify the deficiency.

Throw in the cocktail of unemployment, powerlessness, depression, alienation, anger, alcohol and drugs and you create thousands, if not tens of thousands, who will seek out violence the way an addict seeks out a bag of heroin.

War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I know what prolonged exposure to industrial slaughter does to you. I know what it is to confront memories, buried deep within the subconscious, which jerk you awake at night, your heart racing and your body covered in sweat. I know what it is like to lie, unable to sleep, your heart pounding, trying to remember what it was that caused such terror.

I know how it feels to be overcome by the vivid images of violence that make you wonder if the dream or the darkness around you is real. I know what it feels like to stumble through the day carrying a shock and horror, an awful cement-like despair, which you cannot shed.

And I know how after a few nights like this you are left numb and exhausted, unable to connect with anyone around you, even those you love the most.

I know how you drink or medicate yourself into a coma so you do not have to remember your dreams. And I know that great divide that opens between you and the rest of the world, especially the civilian world, which cannot imagine your pain and your hatred. I know how easily this hatred is directed toward those in that world.

There are minefields of stimulants for those who return from war. Smells, sounds, bridges, the whoosh of a helicopter, thrust you back to Iraq or another zone of slaughter, back to a time of terror and blood, back to the darkest regions of your heart, regions you wish did not exist. Life, on some days, is a simple battle to stay upright, to cope with memories and trauma that are unexplainable, probably unimaginable, to those seated across from you at the breakfast table.

Families will watch these veterans fall silent, see the thousand-yard stare, and know they have again lost these men and women. They hope somehow they will come back.

Some won't.

Those who cannot cope, even by using Zoloft or Paxil, blow their brains out with drugs, alcohol or a gun.

More Vietnam veterans died from suicide in the years after the war than during the conflict itself.

But it would be a mistake to blame this on Vietnam. War does this to you. It destroys part of you. You live maimed. If you are not able to live maimed, you check out.

But what happens in a society where everything conspires to check you out even when you make the herculean effort to integrate into the world of malls, celebrity gossip and too many brands of cereal on a supermarket shelf? What happens when the corporate state says that you can die in its wars but at home you are human refuse, that there is no job, no way to pay your medical bills or your mortgage, no hope?

Then you retreat into your private hell of rage, terror and alienation. You do not return from the world of war. You yearn for its sleek and powerful weapons, its speed and noise, its ability to abolish the lines between sanity and madness.

You long for the alluring, hallucinogenic landscapes of combat. You miss the psychedelic visions of carnage and suffering, the smells, sounds, shrieks, explosions and destruction that jolt you back to the present, which make you aware in ways you never were before.

The thrill of violence, the God-like power that comes when you can take a human life with impunity, is matched against the pathetic existence of waiting for an unemployment check. You look to rejoin the fraternity of killers. Here. There. It no longer matters.

There is a yawning indifference at home about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hollow language of heroism and glory, used by the war makers and often aped by those in the media, allows the nation to feel good about war, about "service." But it is also a way of muzzling the voices that attempt to tell us the truth about war.

And when these men and women do find the moral courage to speak, they often find that many fellow Americans turn away in disgust or attack them for shattering the myth.

The myth of war is too enjoyable, and too profitable, to be punctured by reality. And so these veterans nurse their fantasies of power. They begin to hate those who sent them as much as they hate those they fought. Some cannot distinguish one from the other.

As I stared into the faces of the men from A Gathering of Eagles on Saturday at a protest calling for the closure of the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, I recognized these emotions. These men had arrived on black motorcycles. They were wearing leather jackets. They had lined up, most holding large American flags, to greet the protesters, some of whom were also veterans. They chanted "Traitors!" at the seven people who were arrested for refusing the police order to leave the premises. They sought vindication from a system that had, although they could not admit it, betrayed them.

They yearned to be powerful, if only for a moment, if only by breaking through the police line and knocking some God-hating communist faggot to the ground. They wanted the war to come home.

It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought. It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them. It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994 has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations.

It is we who are guilty for refusing to mass on Washington and demand single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans.

It is we who are guilty for supporting Democrats while they funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain speculative Wall Street interests.

The rage of the confused and angry right-wing marchers, the ones fired up by trash-talking talk show hosts, the ones liberals belittle and maybe even laugh at, should be our rage.

And if it is not our rage soon, if we continue to humiliate and debase ourselves by begging Obama to be Obama, we will see our open society dismantled not because of the shrewdness of the far right, but because of our moral cowardice.

© 2009

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Empire of Illusion

Committee Against Torture

NLGSF Pursuing Ethics Complaint Against Torture Lawyer to Cal Supreme Court »
September 16, 2009

Legal advocates, military leaders and politicians have increasingly advocated for torture as a legitimate interrogation technique - particularly within the George W. Bush administration and particularly since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The NLGSF Committee Against Torture exists to counter this advocacy and advance ideas which had been almost universally accepted until recent years: torture of prisoners is a criminal act that is never justified; and all people deserve due process.

For more information contact Carlos at


NLGSF Petition to California Supreme Court For Review of State Bar Decision Not to Investigate Member William J. Haynes II

NLGSF Request for Review to the State Bar Audit and Review Unit
Attachment: Senate Armed Services Expanded Report
Attachment: Padilla v. Yoo Order Denying in Part and Granting in Part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss

NLGSF State Bar Complaint Against William Haynes
Attachment A: Haynes Memo to Rumsfeld
Attachment B: Senate Armed Services Report
Attachment C: Letter From Retired Military Leaders

NLG White Paper on The Law of Torture and Holding Accountable Those Who Are Complicit In Approving Torture of Persons in U.S. Custody

Letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau urging him to investigate whether Yoo’s conduct violated the Faculty Code of Conduct

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s Response to NLGSF Letter (pdf file)

Torture Timeline (pdf file)

Motion for Recusal or Disqualification of Jay S. Bybee in Police Abuse Case (pdf file)

Follow up Motion for Independent Consideration of Bybee Disqualification (pdf file)

Bottom of Form

Shortly after President Obama announced the cancellation of the Bush Administration’s plans to deploy the European-based missile defense shield program – a program near and dear to the the heart of ex-V.P. Dick Cheney – we learned that Cheney was in residence at George Washington University Hospital for (cough) ‘elective back surgery.’

Coincidence? Maybe…

Did Cheney really check in for a spinal stenosis tune-up, or did Obama’s pulling the plug on Cheney’s overly aggressive missile plans finally push the old man over the top?

Stay tuned. As we speak, hospital employees are no doubt digging through Cheney’s protected medical records to learn whether Dick slipped a disc or blew a fuse. TMZ should have the results any moment now.

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O’Reilly Backs Government Health Insurance Option

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UPDATED The Goldstone Report: Both Israel And Hamas Committed War Crimes

Posted by: Ali Yenidunya in Global, Middle East & Iran

Text of The Goldstone Report

UPDATE 17 September 1045 GMT: Judge Richard Goldstone has written an opinion piece in The New York Times this morning: “Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law. Western governments in particular face a challenge because they have pushed for accountability in places like Darfur, but now must do the same with Israel, an ally and a democratic state. Failing to pursue justice for serious violations during the fighting will have a deeply corrosive effect on international justice, and reveal an unacceptable hypocrisy.”

UPDATE 17 September 1000 GMT: On Wednesday, the leaders of Israel attacked the Goldstone report. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the findings were “a kangaroo court against Israel, whose consequences harm the struggle of democratic countries against terror”. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the outcome was “a prize for terrorism”. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed, “The Goldstone report is seeking to bring the UN back to the dark days in which it decided, under the guidance of states with interests, that Zionism is racism, ” and his deputy Danny Ayalon asserted, “The Goldstone report is a dangerous attempt to harm the principle of self-defense by democratic states and provides legitimacy to terrorism.” Ayalon also stated that Israel would work to enlist the support of Western democracies in a campaign “to prevent turning international law into a circus.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres went even further with the claim:

The Goldstone Commission report is a mockery of history.. It fails to distinguish between the aggressor and a state exercising its right for self defense… The report in practice grants legitimacy to terrorism, premeditated shooting and killing while ignoring the duty and the right of a state to defend itself, something which is explicitly stated in the UN charter.

The United Nations Commission under former South African Judge Richard Goldstone, formed in April to investigate last year’s conflict in Gaza, concluded on Tuesday that both Palestinians and Israelis committed war crimes. The report follows 188 interviews and a review of 10,000 documents and 12,000 photoraphs and videos.

The report says: “Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity.” It says that Israel killed civillians, destroyed non-military facilities and imposed a blockade on Gaza as “collective punishment”. The report, finds these war crimes were a result of direct consciousz decisions of Israeli officials:

Taking into account the ability to plan, the means to execute plans with the most developed technology available and statements by the Israeli military that almost no errors occurred, the Mission finds that the incidents and patterns of events considered in the report are the result of deliberate planning and policy decisions.

On the other side, the reports states that rocket and mortar attacks into southern Israel were “war crimes”:

Where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population.

The Jerusalem Post stated that the report was “nauseating,”as it created an unjust “equivalence of a democratic state with a terror organization” and lacked the context of a decade of terrorist attacks by Hamas. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy reinforced the public view:

Israel is nauseated and furious about a report that did not surprise us in its imbalance, but did surprise us in the lack of any real pretense to balance.. The report is one of the most disgraceful documents in the long collection of shameful documents put out by the United Nations….The immediate message of this report is: Terror pays. It says that terrorists who attack Jews, unlike terrorists who attack Americans, Spaniards, or other Arabs, will earn the protection of the UN.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, said: “The mandate of the Goldstone Commission was one-sided from the beginning and the initiative to establish the commission came from the UN Human Rights Council, which is known for regularly and routinely condemning Israel.”

Hamas’s reaction was just as negative, as its officials claimed that the report was unbalanced and completely misrepresented reality.

Tags: Avigdor Lieberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Danny Ayalon, Ehud Barak, Gaza,Hamas, Israel, Jerusalem Post, New York Times, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine,Richard Goldstone, Shimon Peres, United Nations, War Crimes, Yossi Levy

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 11:13 and is filed under Global, Middle East & Iran. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Bogus Baucus Non-Plan

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday released his much-anticipated version of a health care reform plan, forging ahead without Republican support in an attempt to follow the president's rigorous timetable for passage.

The package was pegged at $856 billion over 10 years, which is less than the $880 billion price tag Baucus previously advertised. It also largely follows the outline given by President Obama a week ago.

The proposal requires all individuals to buy health insurance or pay a fine. It prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or from imposing caps on payouts. It provides tax credits to help low- and middle-income families purchase insurance. And it creates a Web-based insurance exchange aimed at making purchasing insurance, and comparing plans, easier.

"This is a unique moment in history where we can finally reach an objective so many of us have sought for so long," Baucus said in a statement. "The Finance Committee has carefully worked through the details of health care reform to ensure this package works for patients, for health care providers and for our economy. We worked to build a balanced, common-sense package that ensures quality, affordable coverage and doesn't add a dime to the deficit.

"Now we can finally pass legislation that will rein in health care costs and deliver quality, affordable care to the American people," he said.

Baucus' language isn't actually in bill form yet. Senate rules allow the Finance Committee to "mark up" or vote on provisions and amendments as the bill is presented in committee. That is expected to happen next week.

Democratic leaders are aiming for votes in the full House and Senate later this year.

The would-be bill contains two provisions on the controversial issues of abortion and illegal aliens.

Baucus' plan says that federal funds will continue to be prohibited to pay for abortions unless the pregnancy is due to to rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.

However, it allows a "qualified health plan" in an insurance exchange to be free to provide coverage for abortions "beyond those for which federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services are permitted."

As for illegal aliens, the chairman's provision prevents access to the state exchanges obtaining federal health care tax credits and requires citizens to be verified with the Social Security Administration their name, Social Security number and date of birth, and for legal residents to be verified through Department of Homeland Security data.

"Individuals whose claims of citizenship or lawful status cannot be verified with federal data must be allowed substantial opportunity to provide documentation or correct federal data related to their case that supports their contention," reads the language. "Appropriate penalties will apply to the use of fraudulent information or stolen identity information in the state exchange."

The plan would be paid for with $507 billion in cuts to existing government health programs and $349 billion in new taxes and fees. Among them would be a 35 percent tax on insurance companies for high-cost plans.

The language does not fulfill Obama's aim of creating a new government-run insurance plan -- or "public option" -- to compete with the private market.

It proposes instead a system of nonprofit member owned cooperatives, somewhat akin to electric co-ops that exist in many places around the United States. That was one of many concessions meant to win over Republicans.

Obama said last Wednesday during his address to a joint session of Congress that such an idea is an alternative worth considering. The president has backed the so-called public option but made clear in recent weeks that he's open to alternatives for the sake of winning votes.

Baucus is flying solo, for now, on the proposal after months of negotiations with five other senators -- two other Democrats, and three Republicans.

Baucus is still holding out hope for Republican support when his committee actually votes on the bill.

The bill represents the most moderate health care proposal in Congress so far, compared to legislation approved by three committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate's health panel.

In the end, Democrats believe Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, may be the only Republican to support the bill, though she wasn't ready to commit her support Tuesday night. "Hopefully at some point through the committee process we can reach an agreement," she said.

The package drew quick criticism from Republican leaders as well as liberal House Democrats.

"This partisan proposal cuts Medicare by nearly a half-trillion dollars, and puts massive new tax burdens on families and small businesses, to create yet another thousand-page, trillion-dollar government program," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. "Only in Washington would anyone think that makes sense, especially in this economy."

"Forcing through a partisan bill gives the impression that Democratic leadership and the White House are more concerned with political victories than they are with passing lasting, bipartisan health care reform. I hope that's not the case," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, head of the committee tasked with electing Republican senators.

"Seldom have so many waited so long for so little. This is not a negotiation; it is capitulation to the insurance industry," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

However, Blue Dog Democrats, fiscal moderates willing to challenge House leadership on the cost of a government-run plan, looked favorably on the language in early remarks.

"The draft released by Chairman Baucus addresses two central goals of the Blue Dog Coalition and the administration: It is deficit neutral, and it takes real steps to bring down the cost of health care over the long term," said Blue Dog Co-Chairwoman for Administration Rep. Stephane Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D.

The Baucus plan provides for penalties up to $3,800 for those who do not get health insurance coverage.

The penalty for individuals who make between 100 and 300 percent of poverty would be $750 per year -- the fee would be up to $1,500 for families. For individuals above 300 percent of poverty, the penalty is $950 per year -- the fee would be up to $3,800 for families. Exemptions are included in the plan.

Though Obama last week backed some form of preliminary medical malpractice reform - something Republicans have long sought -- the Baucus plan does not legislate such action. Instead it expresses the "sense of the Senate" that Congress should consider such reforms.


Roy Rogers' Horse Saves Health Care

The Senate cannot pass a health care bill with a public option. The House cannot pass a bill without one. The public wants a public option. The insurance industry wants a private mandate. The White House is in trouble on this and is calling upon the Senate to find a way out of this dark passage.

So, Boys and Girls, return with us now as the Senators will take a page from out of the old West. They are going to do what cowboy hero Roy Rogers did when he got in a jam: Call for Trigger, the Golden Palomino. Trigger, the trusty steed who rode to glory against those phantom cattle rustlers who sold insurance against physical harm, provided however that the small town marks bought the stolen beef.

In this scene Trigger will come off his mount of glory at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri and gallop to the mount of glory on Capitol Hill, rear up a dazzling 24ft, and by his sheer electrifying presence rescue the US Senate and the Administration from today's rustlers.

It is Washington, DC, so they promptly slap on a confused Trigger a corporate blanket with corporate logos from insurance companies: Pre-Existing Trigger. Lower Cost Trigger. Patient Access Trigger. The Senators will jump on this horse and ride straight for the sunset. Giddy-up Trigger, past that broken down Public Option dray horse. Gallop into the conference committee with full force. Charge!

I am carried away by prospect of rescue by the one horse I can believe in. Sadly, Trigger will never save us from the rustlers. He'll just stand there, mounted, in all of his spectacular equine power ever poised to spring into action, ever ready to hustle out the rustlers, or something like that.

Thank You. Dennis Kucinich

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