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.
A year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, questions still swirl around its collapse. Lawrence MacDonald, whose book A Colossal Failure of Common Sense came out in July 2009, maintains that the bank was not in substantially worse shape than other major Wall Street banks. He says Lehman was just put to sleep. They put the pillow over the face of Lehman Brothers and they put her to sleep. The question is, why?
The Lehman bankruptcy is widely considered to be the watershed event that changed the rules of the game for those Wall Street banks considered too big to fail. The bankruptcy option was ruled out once and for all. The taxpayers would have to keep throwing money at the banks, no matter how corrupt, ill-managed or undeserving. As Dean Baker noted in April 2009:
Geithner has supposedly ruled out the bankruptcy option because when he, along with Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, tried letting Lehman Brothers go under last fall, it didn’t turn out very well. Of course, it is not necessary to go the route of an uncontrolled bankruptcy that Geithner and Co. pursued with Lehman. . . . [But] the Geithner crew insists that there are no alternatives to his plan; we have to just keep giving hundreds of billions of dollars to the banks . . . , further enriching the bankers who wrecked the economy.
Although Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Monday, September 15, 2008, it was actually “bombed” on September 11, when the biggest one-day drop in its stock and highest trading volume occurred before bankruptcy. Lehman CEO Richard Fuld maintained that the 158 year old bank was brought down by unsubstantiated rumors and illegal naked short selling. Although short selling (selling shares you don’t own) is legal, the short seller is required to have shares lined up to borrow and replace to cover the sale. Failure to buy the shares back in the next three trading days is called a :fail to deliver.” Christopher Cox, who was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008, said in a July 2009 article that naked short selling “can allow manipulators to force prices down far lower than would be possible in legitimate short-selling conditions.” By September 11, 2008, according to the SEC, as many as 32.8 million Lehman shares had been sold and not delivered a 57-fold increase over the peak of the prior year. For a very large company like Lehman, with plenty of “float” (available shares for trading), this unprecedented number was highly suspicious and warranted serious investigation. But the SEC, which was criticized for failing to follow up even on tips that Bernie Madoff’s business was a ponzi scheme, has yet to announce the results of any investigation.
Colonel Bowman, Joel Hirschhorn, Professor Griffin, many other outstanding engineers, scientists and just simple citizens think there is a lot of fishy stuff going on about the official version of the 9/11 event. They do not believe all those official reports, point at the obvious inconsistencies and demand a new, independent investigation. Why? They will get nothing from it. Moreover, such activity places them on the collision course with the political honchos currently at power and those had already proven such their ‘nice’ qualities like vindictiveness, deceit, ruthlessness and total lack of any conscience. Then why? What are they trying to accomplish? If by any chance a new investigation reveals something, so what? We are at war! Osama himself did not deny that his people did it. Case closed. Let’s kick some butt!
There is only one reason why those people engage in those endeavors: they are free. Freedom is a spirit; it not provided but it is either in you or not. The environment to nurture that spirit can be provided and the people we are talking about are the product of that environment- they are the real, quintessential Americans if I ever saw ones.
Once and for all they declined to be fed that BS and opted for the truth seeking.
That commitment is based on the great American feature- the fearlessness of the free individual, the self- confidence of the professional who knows that he/she can not only survive but prosper on his/her own by the application of his/her skills only. Yes, that individualism, that perseverance of the shrewd loner is the source of that behavior and if we want to praise something uniquely and most valuably American we should appreciate the DARE and bless the ones who are not afraid to go against the flow. They unite, they can become a many but it takes only one, everyone alone to make the first step. Those people are Americans, the products of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
They stay tall like that great man Cinque from the movie Amistad, a free man, chains or no chains. And that spirit of freedom matters the most. Oh, it matters a lot!
Five minutes before the Pentagon was hit on September 11, 2001, a training exercise being run by a US intelligence agency just over 20 miles from the Pentagon was set to include the scenario of a small private jet plane crashing into a building. It is unclear whether the scenario was played out, or if the exercise had been called off by that time.
Important details of the exercise, which was being conducted by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) at its headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia, are revealed in a document obtained by the 9/11 Commission. The document, titled “Early Morning Flight Activity September 11, 2001,” was part of a series of 9/11 Commission records moved to the US National Archives at the start of this year.
Exercise Observers Meet at 9:00 a.m.
The NRO exercise, which had been planned for several months, was set to commence at 9:00 a.m. on September 11, when its observers would meet to be briefed. The observers and exercise role players were to move to their positions for the exercise 10 or 15 minutes later. In the exercise scenario, a Learjet 35A with two pilots and four passengers on board would take off at 9:30 a.m. from Washington Dulles International Airport. This airport, which is located four miles from the NRO headquarters, is where American Airlines Flight 77–the plane that reportedly hit the Pentagon–took off from earlier that morning.
About a minute after the Learjet took off, an explosion would be heard, and the pilot would complain that one of the engines was on fire and he was losing altitude. Around 9:32 a.m., the plane would crash into tower 4 at the NRO headquarters. Since the Pentagon was hit at 9:37 a.m., this means the crash in the scenario was scheduled to occur just five minutes before the actual attack occurred at the Pentagon, which is 24 miles away from the NRO headquarters.
I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The [Norad air defense] tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.
It’s been eight years since 9/11 and much has changed in this country since that dark day.
What didn’t change, however, was our inability to take time to reflect on the meaning and implications of this tragedy.
Instead, we panicked to the point that we still are unable to view the day clearly or logically, let alone respond to it responsibly. In some instances we have been willing to give up our civil liberties in the name of national security and fold against an aggressive presidency that was adamant about swooping up as much power as it could—ostensibly to protect us from the terrorists. The result? Terrorism has neither been reduced (as if it could be measured) nor have our fears of it subsided despite an investment of nearly $1 trillion on two wars. And now, after a year into the financial crisis, our uncertainties about jobs, health care and middle class life have only multiplied.
But let’s look at one notable moment when people attempted to deal with the horror of 9/11: New Yorkers were helping each other and being nice to each other. They cried together and comforted one another in the midst of death and loss. Likewise, citizens from all over the world sympathized with America and genuinely felt badly that terrorism had come to our shores. It looked as if there might be a “great turning” response to violence.
But once the politicians and the media got a hold of 9/11, they resorted to the usual rallying cry for revenge and retaliation. Americans acquiesced by waving their flags and displaying them on their cars, their houses, on their lapels, everywhere. (One older German woman told me it reminded her of Hitler and the Nazis.) Such activity helps to win public support but it ended up a missed opportunity to respond to tragedy in a new and different way.
Truth be told, Americans don’t deal well with tragedy. After the initial shock is over and the recovery effort begins, we generally resort to going on with our lives as though nothing happened. The fallout of this approach is that we are overcome by sadness, anger, fear, or denial over what has happened—and it stops there.
It seems that every time someone such as myself attempts to encourage our Christian brothers and sisters to resist an unconstitutional or otherwise reprehensible government policy, we hear the retort, “What about Romans Chapter 13? We Christians must submit to government. Any government. Read your Bible, and leave me alone.” Or words to that effect.
No doubt, some who use this argument are sincere. They are only repeating what they have heard their pastor and other religious leaders say. On the other hand, let’s be honest enough to admit that some who use this argument are just plain lazy, apathetic, and indifferent. And Romans 13 is their escape from responsibility. I suspect this is the much larger group, by the way.
Nevertheless, for the benefit of those who are sincere (but obviously misinformed), let’s briefly examine Romans Chapter 13. I quote Romans Chapter 13, verses 1 through 7, from the Authorized King James text:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
Do our Christian friends who use these verses to teach that we should not oppose America’s political leaders really believe that civil magistrates have unlimited authority to do anything they want without opposition? I doubt whether they truly believe that.
For example, what if our President decided to resurrect the old monarchal custom of Jus Primae Noctis (Law of First Night)? That was the old medieval custom when the king claimed the right to sleep with a subject’s bride on the first night of their marriage. Would our sincere Christian brethren sheepishly say, “Romans Chapter 13 says we must submit to the government”? I think not. And would any of us respect any man who would submit to such a law?
Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.
There are many ways in which our government has invaded the precincts of private citizens, the method of earning a living. Our government is in business to the extent over owning more than 19,000 businesses covering 47 different lines of activity. This amounts to a fifth of the total industrial capacity of the United States.
But at the moment I’d like to talk about another way. Because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent.
One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.
Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We had an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.
So, with the American people on record as not wanting socialized medicine, Congressman Ferrand introduced the Ferrand Bill. This was the idea that all people of social security age should be brought under a program of compulsory health insurance. Now this would not only be our senior citizens, this would be the dependents and those who are disabled, this would be young people if they are dependents of someone eligible for Social Security.
The former congressman promises significant revelations on a Fox News show Friday night. hat tip: Vindy.com
By David Skolnick
Traficant, released Wednesday from federal prison, told the crowd of about 1,200 that he came to the event because of the overwhelming support he’s received.
“You’ve been too supportive for me to fail to show,” he said.
It was Traficant’s first public appearance since his release. He called in to an outdoors radio program on WKBN-AM on Saturday.
Traficant began speaking at 5:03 p.m. Sunday at an event that included a polka band and an Elvis Presley impersonator.
Quoting Nelson Mandela, Traficant said: “If you want to know the true nature of a country, you must go through its prisons.”
“I know America. I’ve seen the other side of it, and I don’t like it.”
Mandela is the former president of South Africa who had served 27 years in prison in that country for speaking out against its government.
Traficant, of Poland, also criticized the U.S. government for being “involved in wars with very little interest for ourselves. Our children are being shipped back in body bags. Nobody’s opening their mouth because people fear our government.”
As I read the many editorial columns and articles in support of Obama’s speech, I can see that many writers are very upset and emotional over criticism of Obama’s action. They also are clueless concerning the reasons why his address is unwelcome. They are name-calling. They are not bothering to mention, much less rebut, the reasoned objections of people like me.
I can at least articulate my reasons for objecting.
Such a speech blurs or crosses several boundaries that I believe there are good reasons to have in place.
The President’s constitutional powers are explicit. They include the “executive Power.” They include being “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States” and a few more listed in the Constitution, including preserving and protecting the Constitution. They do not include addressing schoolchildren.
If the President were to live up to his oath to preserve and protect the Constitution, he would request that Congress repeal all its laws regarding education. Section 8 of Article I lists the powers of Congress. Education is not on that list. So when the President addresses schoolchildren, he breaks his oath in several ways. He does not have that power, and he affirms and solidifies a power assumed by Congress that Congress does not have. The President is failing in his sworn duty. Those who think that the President’s speech is helpfully teaching civics are mistaken. His speech is conveying and confirming anti-civics and anti-Constitutional lessons.