Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More on Why They Hate Us

 * See my previous post on how our freedoms are being eroded because of the war on terror
 * The map above is an indication of maybe why we are the target of so much terror
 * See the list below for a more detailed view with dates and countries
 * Note the number of countries with Islam as the dominant religion
 * How many of those Muslim nations are currently living with democracy from U.S. efforts

As I have written in the past and shown documentation for, the U.S. has taken actions in it's history that have created animosity in many regions of the world.  Doing things that upset other nations is not unique to America, nor is it unique to they way the world works.  If it were otherwise, humankind might not have had the history of endless war that it has had since it's early days. And our actions, however bad in some cases, do not make us the worst nation in the world, but there must come a time when we cease to deny our status as an empire, however defined, and to more clearly define what we are and what our course should be moving forward, now that we are the lone superpower. 

Whether called empires or superpowers, the largest and most powerful states in history have been in the inevitable position of determining economics, trade, war and other big issues, simply by virtue of their power.  It's in the nature power for this to be the case. And that power can be used of good or ill; usually it's some combination of both. 

But what makes the U.S. the target, increasingly, of so much animus around the world, particularly since the late 1800's and the Spanish-American war, when it's external empire began to grow in earnest, is how many countries we are involved in. Not only does the U.S. have over 600 military bases that it admits to, there are many others that are not talked about. But that is another story. 

Conservatives who deny the U.S. is an empire simply cannot face facts;  they see it as a negative concept.  The usual reply is that the U.S. exports democracy and freedom and prosperity. There is some truth to this.  One could argue that our role in two world wars was crucial to their positive outcome, for example.  And certainly many Western nations rebuilt after the war, with U.S. assistance, and do have freedom and prosperity versus whatever would have happened if the Axis powers prevailed in WW II.  But a look at the list below of our activities in so many countries makes it a bit difficult to claim that in all these cases we were exporting democracy; in many cases our motives had nothing to do with altruism or creating democracies.  

Keep in mind, missing from this list is our support of the overthrow of elected leaders and the installation of dictators in Chile (Pinochet) in the 70's, Iran (The Shah) in the 50's, and many others around the world.  A complete list would take a lot more space, but suffice it to say, the U.S. has a long history more of supporting not so much democracy, but it's own and other Western nations economic interests.

  • Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
  • Guatemala 1954
  • Indonesia 1958
  • Cuba 1959-1961
  • Guatemala 1960
  • Congo 1964
  • Laos 1964-73
  • Vietnam 1961-73
  • Cambodia 1969-70
  • Guatemala 1967-69
  • Grenada 1983
  • Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
  • Libya 1986
  • El Salvador 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1980s
  • Iran 1987
  • Panama 1989
  • Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
  • Kuwait 1991
  • Somalia 1993
  • Bosnia 1994, 1995
  • Sudan 1998
  • Afghanistan 1998
  • Yugoslavia 1999
  • Yemen 2002
  • Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular no-fly-zone basis)
  • Iraq 2003-2011 (Second Gulf War)
  • Afghanistan 2001 to present
  • Pakistan 2007 to present
  • Somalia 2007-8, 2011 to present
  • Yemen 2009, 2011 to present
  • Libya 2011
  • Syria 2013?
To read the the article from which this list was taken, please click on the link below. 

Blum is a writer who reports what many main stream media do not wish to discuss. For the many American's who do not know much history and who were shocked by 9/11, perhaps reading Blum, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein and others will help them to understand why 19 men flew planes into buildings 12 years ago.  It was not religious fanaticism alone.  One can easily argue that Western occupation of many Middle Eastern nations, even looking only at 1800 to present, and using them like pawns, is also a large part of the reason for the war on terror. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Wise Man---Ben Franklin

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

– Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks, the federal government still attempts, indeed increases, their Orwellian machinations to eviscerate the Constitution. It started with the Patriot Act......and even with a Democrat in the White House and control of Congress, both parties continue to invade our privacy, renewing the Patriot Act, giving the NAS excessive powers and more. 

Many nations like to keep a constant state of war and fear going to unify the masses, but also to confuse them and obfuscate their other activities that might not stand up to scrutiny:  such as unheard of surveillance, the recent banking meltdown, for which no one has been criminally charged, privatizing the military during our two recent wars, at great cost to taxpayers and generally letting big business run our country, allowing the debt to reach $17 trillion, to mention a few.  

Even in Franklin's day, the disingenuous use of threats, real or imagined, was an excellent tool to exert government control, by promoting fear. 

Who doesn't remember the color coded alert system?  Tom Ridge, who ran things, later admitted they had no idea what all the colors and levels meant. Indeed, in a rare act of honesty by any politician we read: 

In his book The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, Ridge says his resignation was due to an effort by senior Bush administration officials to raise the nation's terror alert level in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.

  1. Jump up to:"Ridge: I fought raising security level before '04 vote"Political Ticker (CNN). August 20, 2009. Retrieved         2009-08-21.
  2. Jump up to: Bedard, Paul. "Tom Ridge on National Security After 9/11", U.S. News & World Report, 19 Aug 2009.

This is about as cynical as politicians get.  His statement is a pretty blatant example of how wise it is to heed Franklin's warning; not that we need much more proof of the Bush/Cheney/Neo-Con cabal's duplicity in exaggerating the terror threat which seized control of our nation's policy for 8 years, starting out with a stolen election. 

9/11 was a terrible act of war; not that many acts of war are not terrible.  But from a military and geo-political point of view, it was an excellent tactical and strategic move rolled into one. It doesn't take much study to learn how Western Europe and the U.S. have been in this region since the 1800's dividing and colonizing the various countries, all of which accelerated after the discover of oil (leaving aside the Crusade's and Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1789 as reasons for anti-Western feelings). 

Here is a video on Mid East oil, which is what the war on terror is all about, but the governments of the West are terrified to admit it.  Fighting over natural resources is as old as civilization, so where's the harm in admitting it?

Yes, there is an element of fundamentalist religious fanaticism in the 9/11 attacks, but if you look at what the West has done in the region in terms of arbitrarily dividing nations, creating new borders across ethnic, tribal and religious lines, and installing or supporting dictators such as The Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, arming bin Laden when he fought the Russians, etc., it's not difficult to understand the blowback when it happens. And our biggest ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, that we support and sell arms to, is one of the most unfree nations in the world, to which U.S. government turns a blind eye. Then again, Saudi Arabia holds quite a bit of our debt, so there is a limit to how much we can upset them.  Why didn't Mr. Bush attack them, since most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi's ?

The war on terror, which has dragged on----with how many further attacks?----has continued to erode the freedoms of most Western nations and even today some people debate Mr. Snowden's leak of the unconstitutional blanket spying on American's.  There should be no debate here.  The man deserves a medal for informing the citizens of the world about the level of U.S. spying on not just some of its people, not just those likely to be terrorists, they now want all the phone records, email and web habits of the whole population.  And who can forget the librarians of the U.S. who stood up the the feds when they wanted to snoop on our library books?

The biggest lie Bush II ever told was, "They hate us for our freedom".  That may be a small element of the fundamentalist Muslim worlds distaste for Western values, but mostly the region abhors the West because of our economic imperialism, which, to accomplish, often is what leads to Western support for the most heinous regimes. So as the oil flowed and royal families and dictators amassed great wealth, the masses starved and were fed propaganda by their own governments that blamed the infidel West for their poverty and plight. And history has shown, this creates a breeding ground for suicide bombers. 

And when they retaliate, we are shocked.  Most citizens of the Muslim nations are not only poor and unfree because of their governments actions, but also by their governments' collusion with fundamentalist, religious Islam that they cynically use as a tool to control their people. And it's not just the poor, however; many terrorists are well educated, which shows how fundamentalists religion of any type can override rational thought.

The Saudi Royal family walks a thin edge in making billions of secular oil dollars while paying lip service to the clergy, which, if it chose to, could start a religious revolution and topple the regime.  But again, name the last time you heard a U.S. politician decry their sharia law or not allowing women to drive cars........

The Saudi and other dictatorial Muslim states cynically use religion and ignorance to oppress their people;  the U.S. uses the bogey man of "terror" to oppress it's people.  So far they are getting away with it.  I have yet to see protests in the streets over government spying.  Too many Americans are busy with smart phone apps and info-tainment to notice. 

It's the exact same process under two different systems of government---but the results on limiting freedom are the same. 

What is really shocking is not the continued erosion of privacy under Obama but his escalation of the drone wars in several nations, creating more enemies by the day and even killing 4 U.S. citizens to date. I didn't think Hellfire missiles, that you don't even hear coming, constituted due process. I don't think any of these people were ever charged with a crime, to boot. 

What if another country used a Hellfire missile to take out a citizen of their nation on U.S. soil and killed a dozen other people and leveled a few homes in the process?

No, Mr. Bush, they don't hate us for our freedom.  They hate us for very valid reasons---imperialism, bombs and the dictators we support--- and the alleged war on terror is a smoke screen to allow the U.S. government to run amuck, just as Ben Franklin warned us about.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why is Obama so much like George W. Bush the War on Terror and undermining our freedom and privacy

Link to The Guardian article about Obama June 15, 2013

I voted for Obama both times. I haven't changed my mind nor do I regret my votes, but I am puzzled about some of his actions in office.  Bush never had the intelligence to lead the country, but could have muddled his way through his time in office because even mediocre presidents are surround by so many bright people that, barring major world events, they can serve their time without too much damage to the nation or world.

Less than a year in office the world did, however, experience an event of historic proportions, one that greatly extended beyond the tragedy of thousands of mostly civilians killed on September 11, 2001.

The U.S. had to defend against such attacks.  The problem with Bush and his Neocon entourage, was that he went to Afghanistan and began killing the perpetrators, but then went and began a war in a country not remotely involved in the 9/11 attacks. It became a quagmire, cost a few trillion dollars and even current history proves his motivations were unrelated to 9/11 and his reasons for war were fiction; and we have created even more Muslims enemies than before. 

Fighting a stateless enemy in asymmetric warfare is very difficult at best. The last thing the world needed in 2003 was the wrong war in the wrong country.

His other major error, or set of errors, was his laying waste to so many of the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens:  The Patriot Act, extreme rendition, obliterating habeas corpus, illegal searches, wiretaps and much more.

While I am not against fighting terrorists, I am truly shocked that Obama continues with, and even expands, so many Bush era erosion's of our freedom and privacy.  It was bad when Bush did it, it's bad when Obama does it and, even more worrying, these bills keep getting passed in bipartisan fashion; which means both major parties have engaged in wide-spread attacks on our freedoms with the premise of fighting a war on terror.  And bipartisan support from a Congress and Senate who cannot agree on what day of the week it is on just about every issue, is cause for concern and public protest, and voting anyone out who votes on these measures.

The nation can fight a war on terror without listening to every phone call, reading every email, and detaining U.S. citizens without cause or even filing charges and all the rest. I understood it when Bush did it.  I don't understand why Obama is the same and getting worse on these fundamental issues.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Penn Gillette on Creationism

Why America is behind so many other countries in science and math?

Creationism is just one issue confronting the U.S. in its ranking in education, but it tells us a great deal about the overriding problem with American education.  First, creationism and  intelligent design are not science.  They are a new version of an old concept created by biblical literalists to impose religion on education and violate the constitution, by giving the discredited idea a new name.  There are back door attempts, in many states, to get god into public schools. The idea, by whatever name its called, is not science.  To believe it, one has to believe the Earth is 6,000 or 12,000 years old, for example.  The falsity of this fact speaks volumes about the fundamental problem we face with proponents of these incredible ideas.  

Can a rational discussion even take place with anyone who does not believe in the age of the Earth? No, so the battle will be won in the court room with the help of the Constitution.

They call evolution "just a theory".  Clearly, they are ignorant of the scientific method and the meaning of the word theory. They also claim there is no proof of evolution, when proof abounds in every textbook, university, museum and all the related sciences which support evolution: geology, chemistry, physics, paleontology and genetics.  Again, there is no opportunity for reasonable discussion with those who cannot look up the word theory in the dictionary and simply deny 200 years of recent science. 

It would seem that a debate of such an established fact of science would not warrant the time involved.  But as of the present day, states, mostly with the worst educational systems in the U.S., are still trying to force non science into schools.  Their cause is pretty well lost and the courts generally rule against them, but given the ranking of U.S. K-12 students in the world, wouldn't everyones' time be better spent actually working toward improving this sad state and not fighting people who possess a first century view of science.

They have little hope of success, based on past court rulings, but they are a nuisance nonetheless that take up resources, impugn the reputation of the nation; and it would really be less of an issue if they were just the lunatic fringe, but they are not. They are a large group, these fundamentalist Christians, whose view of science is, ironically, closer to fundamentalist Muslims than almost any other major religion. See chart below.

Given the size of those who wish to infect the minds of children with non science, we unfortunately have to take time to make sure they loose every court battle, and over time this problem will diminish. 

Penn Gillette Video Part 1

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

George Carlin in 2004
America's owners
Warning: graphic language

A few years before our recent meltdown, George Carlin had 3 minutes of monologue that sounds like he wrote it in 2009---- after Bush started the trillion dollar bailouts, followed immediately by Obama's bailouts.  Both parties have been increasingly corrupted by K Street lobbyists, Wall Street and a very small number of global corporations.  When they all lost on their spurious financial transactions that created the bubble, they got the government to bail them out.

Today the stock market is at record highs, but Americans still experience a lot unemployment and underemployment and we have $16 trillion in debt that may not be surmountable; so who is making all this money in the market? Maybe the banks and corporations that were bailed out and went right back to making billions, while most of America is still in the trenches? 

While our plutocrats claim to be free market capitalists, nothing could be further from the truth. No real capitalists, whether a car company, bank, insurance company or mortgage lender would accept a hand out for abject failure.  

But they are not really capitalists anymore. Most were, once. And then they realized that the more lobbyists they hired, the more they could influence (such a polite word for it) the politicians to "deregulate" banking and business.  They had the SEC turn a blind eye and had the Fed in their pocket for when the bill came due, to give them our tax dollars, and as time went on, competitive, free market capitalism become an unnecessary hindrance.  Better to make bigger and bigger bets, because the 99%, without their consent, will bail you out with their children's future. As Carlin says, we have no choice. It's an illusion. The 99% could not have stopped the bailouts of this historic failure because Bush, followed by Obama, controlled our money and could not print it fast enough and give it to the very people who imploded the economy; and who, by the dumbest of luck, make mighty fine contributions to both parties, because greed and avarice play no favorites.  

It's odd how the these alleged capitalists gladly take billions in handouts, but think universal health care, feeding the poor and other basic social security for the elderly and for the unfortunate is going to bankrupt us and turn us into a socialist state. Perhaps they worry that there will be less bailout money available to them the next time they tank the economy.  They are nothing, if not pragmatic. Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics did not turn out fools. Look at the great job Milt did in Chile with his buddy Pinochet. 

America is owned by fewer and fewer of it's citizens all the time.  And if you have ever read a bit of history, then you know what happens when wealth disparity becomes too great, and the money becomes worthless. Empires collapse. Those at the top, however, can hop in their G5 and choose to live in any one of their marvelous homes around the globe, where it is a little more comfortable, at least until the dust settles. 

David Stockman's new books lays it all out very clearly.

The Great Deformation
The Corruption of Capitalism in America

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jon Stewart 

Some humor to show that America needs some work in weeding out the first century thinkers in our midst. From homophobes to the science deniers, its time for those capable of rational thought to move the unlettered, ignorant and stone age crowd back into their caves so that history may progress.  The United States is not Iran.  We are a secular democracy in spite of the Tea Party, George Bush, Ann Coulter and the other purveyors of revisionist history whose goal is nothing less than to undo our history of progress.  We need to demolish the tyranny of those who pervert religion, free enterprise, The Bill of Rights and just about everything else that makes our country free. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mission Accomplished 

Not to beat a dead horse, but with the debt the U.S. is in, about $16 trillion dollars, everyone needs to remember where a good amount is from:  the Bush War on Terror. While the Right blames Obama for many things, it is good to remember 8 years of Bush and his contribution to our debt, our standing in the world and the death of thousands of American soldiers in a war the country was lied into.

from Slate March 28,2013

Kennedy School professor Linda Bilmes finds that the all-in costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will measure in the $4 trillion to $6 trillion range when all is said and done. But that's not the most terrifying element of her survey of the fiscal impact of the "war on terror" and related undertakings. What should really strike fear into your heart is her finding that "the largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid."
That's because equipment lost or destroyed in the wars is going to have to be replaced, interest on the money borrowed to finance the wars is going to have to be paid, and most of all because health care and disability benefits are going to have to be paid well out into the future. The wars not only lead to a lot of people being wounded, but inspired Congress to make the welfare state for veterans substantially more generous than it had previously been. In addition, the practice of battlefield medicine has improved substantially which means we ended up with an unusually high share of wounded soldiers to dead ones by historical standards.
It's a great illustration of the Norman Angell point that starting wars is a bad idea. What conceivable "oil weapon" could be wielded against the U.S. economy due to lack of military hegemony in the Persian Gulf that would approach that cost?
Predictions that didn't exactly come true

"The likely economic effects [of a war in Iraq] would be relatively small.... Under every plausible scenario, the negative effect will be quite small relative to the economic benefits."
Lawrence Lindsey
White House economic adviser
September 16, 2002 

"It is unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars and highly unlikely that we would have to contribute even tens of billions of dollars." 
Kenneth Pollack
former director for Persian Gulf affairs
National Security Council
September 2002 

"The costs of any intervention would be very small." 
Glenn Hubbard
White House economic adviser
October 4, 2002 

"Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction."
Ari Fleischer
White House press secretary
February 18, 2003

"When it comes to reconstruction, before we turn to the American taxpayer, we will turn first to the resources of the Iraqi government and the international community." 
Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
March 27, 2003

"There is a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be US taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people. We are talking about a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." 
Paul Wolfowitz
Deputy Secretary of Defense
testifying before the defense subcommittee
of the House Appropriations Committee
March 27, 2003

"The United States is very committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid." 
Mitchell Daniels, director
White House Office of Management and Budget
April 21, 2003

"The allies [have contributed] $14 billion in direct aid." 
Dick Cheney
vice presidential debate with
Democratic candidate John Edwards
October 5, 2004
Actually, only $13 billion was pledged, and on the date Cheney spoke only $1 billion had arrived. As of October 28, 2007, the National Priorities Project estimated that the share of Iraq War costs that had been borne by American taxpayers exceeded $463 billion. --C.C.&V.N.