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  • by OPOL

    31 comments / new

    I have several old friends who turned into rwnjs. One of them, who never had a political thought in his head, married into republican money and now he is one. He disowned me when he found out I wasn't, and we were once best friends (we hitchhiked across country together when we were teenagers). Another of them is a staunchly pro-military rw christian who served in the navy decades ago and still can't get the martial music out of her head. She hasn't disowned me but is mystified why I don't see everything in the same simplistic terms that she does. It's all very simple to her.

    She has included me on her mailing list and is in the habit of blasting the list with rightwing spam. We have had issues with it over the years. I resent being sent such mindless crap and have explained that to her...to no avail. I still get blasted with it. I know, I should just not open the email...but I can't help myself. That she keeps sending me this stuff, knowing full well how I feel about it, pisses me off. We've been over all this quite a few times as I have tried valiantly to make her see that Jesus wouldn't approve of all the killing.

    The latest blast was all about how our glorious troops are out there keeping us safe. It was a slide show of pictures of little babies sleeping on cammo uniforms, tearful children sending their parents off to war, stoic old men with chests full of medals, old glory, mom and american pie, and prayers, lots of prayers. It was all Jesus and soldiers. And in this fantasy, war was a good and noble thing. There were no bodies or explosions or limbless veterans...or homeless ones. There were no orphans.

    The religious framing in the following is simply an attempt to get through to her, relate to her on her level, and point out the logical inconsistency of Christians supporting war.
    ...
    Dear old friend,

    I have asked you numerous times to not send me this right wing crap. It's upsetting to me and you have no right to force it on me. How hard is it to take me off your mailing list?

    I don't want to get into a back and forth with you over this because we live on different planets. On my planet, glorifying war is a sin.

    Stop it.

    Randy
    ...
    After firing off that email, I wrote the body of this diary, but never sent it to her. Instead, I wrote again and apologized, mentioning that I'd written a screed in reply but saw no point in sending it to her – being as how we live on different planets and all. She didn't contradict me, so I never did.

    I offer it here as a heartfelt commentary on war.
    ...
    Old friend,

  • 12 comments / new

    Michael David Rosenberg of Passenger, from the CD Whispers . . .

    We should stare at the stars and not just the screens,
    You should hear what I'm saying and know what it means,
    To sing, sing at the top of your voice,
    and love without fear in your heart.

    Chelsea Manning:

    FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — When I chose to disclose classified information in 2010, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. I’m now serving a sentence of 35 years in prison for these unauthorized disclosures . . . the concerns that motivated me have not been resolved. As Iraq erupts in civil war and America again contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance.

    Bowe Bergdahl grasps fully what is happening in the wars we finance:

    The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting.

    In the US Army you are cut down for being honest, but if you are a conceited brown-nosing shit bag you will be allowed to do what ever you want, and you will be handed your higher rank.

    In the military, conceited brown-nosing shit bags are elevated in rank and the honest are cut down; in the corporate system conceited brown-nosing shit bags become CEOs and the honest are cut down; in the political system conceited brown-nosing shit bags are rewarded with higher office and the honest are cut down. Conceited brown-nosing shit bags control our banks and corporations, they control the federal government, the state governments, the courts and the police, they write our "laws," they "report" the "news." They have no interest in the truth, it has no meaning to them, it has no relevance, no importance at all. They have no conscience, no remorse for the damage they keep inflicting on this country. They're confident they will never be held accountable for it.

    But they will be. They will be held accountable for all of it.

    Bergdahl:

  • 34 comments / new

    Money is violence

    Our system of money visits violence on people.

    Economic sanctions are an obvious example:

    In case you're not video enabled, here's a transcript of a portion of the conversation between 60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl and Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright on May 12, 1996:

    Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."

    What Stahl and the ghastly gasbag Albright are discussing are the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq allegedly in order to compel Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait and pay reparations, but more likely the unstated plan was to induce the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Saddam.

    Economic sanctions are the weaponization of money. Government talking heads call this "soft power," because apparently arranging for the slow, wasting death by starvation and disease of hundreds of thousands of children is a lot nicer than bombing them or sending soldiers to terrify and shoot them.

    Richard Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz had a particular gift for expressing the barely repressed beliefs of the most reprehensible people in the country. According to Wikiquote, Butz said two memorable things while Secretary, one was the tasteless, racist joke that got him fired, the other was the following:

    "Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the U.S. negotiating kit."

  • by OPOL

    7 comments / new

    I've heard people criticize Lawrence Lessig, accusing him of being a scammer or somehow not on the up and up and Hedges has been under attack recently, accused of plagiarism. I'm skeptical about these criticisms and accusations based on my sense of who these fellows are. I don't see willful dishonesty in these guys, but I can sure see why certain special interests (read status quo ante, or rule of the 1%) would want to attack them.

    The crowd that dominates us all are afraid of populists like these. They both hail from the elite ranks, it's true, but they seem honest about that. In my view, one's socio/economic background (high, low or in-between) should not disqualify anyone from anything as long as they don't misrepresent it, it doesn't distort their frame of reference and they are genuine advocates for progress.

    Hedges defends himself:

    Statement from Chris Hedges

    Statements made in Christopher Ketcham’s article in The New Republic are false and attempt to damage me personally and professionally. The failure by The New Republic to verify the charges by assigning an editor or fact checker to vet the story and contact me or the publications involved, violates the most basic tenets of journalistic ethics. Ketcham has been attempting to publish these allegations for more than a year. His queries engendered lengthy investigations into his charges by The Nation Institute, Nation Books and Truthdig, all of which found no basis for his charges, as they state in the article. 

    Read more at The New Republic

    That such an accomplished and brilliant writer who has devoted his career to telling the truth would purposely stoop to plagiarism defies credulity. I don't believe it for a minute. I also don't doubt that he will continue to be attacked. After all, he's on our side. The slime machine is on the attack.

    Any writer is potentially vulnerable to plagiarism charges in that writers constantly read (taking words into their brain) and write (turning words from their brain into writing). Unconscious and unintentional 'copying' can conceivably happen to anyone, particularly writers who read and write a lot. Again, the thought that Hedges is not smart enough to know that getting away with actual plagiarism in the age of Google is virtually impossible, is preposterous.

    These two speak to me, particularly Hedges. Lessig has more faith than I do in the existing system, but I like his thinking about it and I think he's earnest and has a clear understanding of the problem. I agree with him that if there is hope for reforming our system it starts with campaign finance reform and getting the influence of big money out of the system.

  • 9 comments / new

    Gerardo Cerdas of Grito de los Excludios, (Cry of the Excluded) . . .

    Working people and our natural resources are being terribly exploited. We're up against a huge monster, an economic, political machine of monstrous proportions. It would be very easy for us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up the struggle entirely and say "To hell with it. There's no way we can overcome these massive forces.

    I have become a leaf in a burning forest . . .

    A forest fire burning below trees as they begin to ignite

    How many of us feel that way? When we see the flames raging all around us, the flames of corporate greed, of Wall Street fraud, of political and judicial and media corruption. That fire keeps blazing, keeps spreading, keeps consuming everything in its path because the "firemen" in Washington keep pouring gasoline on it. And every time we reelect them, they thank us by pouring even more gasoline on it.

    The corrupt bankers, the greedy CEOs, the craven politicians want us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up. They want us to be afraid to take on the massive forces exploiting us, they want us to feel that we'd have no chance, that we will never be strong enough, that we will never be unified enough, that we will never be organized enough. They want us to believe that confronting them would be a terrible mistake, that we'd be getting in way over our heads.

    T.S. Eliot . . .

    If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?

    Indeed.

    The bankers, the CEOs, the politicians, the "lawmakers" of the One-Percent know all too well what they've done to us, they know their time is running out, they know the clock is ticking, they know what's coming.

    Occupy Wall Street gave them an ominous preview of it.

    Glen Ford, Truthout . . .

    The Minerva project paid Cornell University researchers to find out when social movements reach a 'critical mass' of people – a 'tipping point' at which they become a threat to the powers-that-be. In the language of 'terrorism studies,' the human beings involved in these social movements are 'contagions,' as in vectors of disease. Neutralizing them becomes a job for 'warfighters.'