Saturday, July 30, 2016

The UN and NATO: Buyer beware!

     In 1970, Nixon bombed the hell out of Cambodia.  Absolutely no good came of that.  In 2003, Bush bombed the hell out of Iraq.  Nothing good was accomplished there either.  In 2011, Obama bombed the hell out of Libya.  Another disaster as well.

     And now Trump and Clinton are both claiming that if we elect either one of them to the presidency and give them a chance to bomb the hell out of Syria, Russia and Dallas, everything in America will magically become totally chill.

     In 1970 I found a twenty-dollar-bill on the ground and was elated.  "Should I take all my friends out to dinner at Sizzler or just pay half my rent?  Or both?" I asked myself.

     In 2003, I made twenty bucks at a garage sale, enabling me to buy a nice steak at the Berkeley Bowl and go see "Whale Rider" at the Shattuck.

     In 2011, I lost twenty dollars.  It must have slipped out of my back pocket when I reached for my library card.  $20 gone?  No big deal.

     In 1970, the UN and NATO at least pretended to be working toward world peace.  In 2003, the UN and NATO finally showed their true colors as pawns of the American wannabe empire.  In 2011, it was crystal-clear to anyone with even toosh knowledge of American foreign policy that the UN and NATO were merely minions of Wall Street and War Street.

     In 1970, 2003 and 2011, America continued to spend at least half of its national budget on the defense of corporate interests.  But did that huge amount also include paying for keeping NATO and the UN running too?  And for all their overt and covert military operations as well?  And also for their humongous shopping list of bombs, tanks, bribes and who-the-freak knows what all else on the side?  Probably not.

     I think that it's fairly safe to say that America's "wars" of empire have pretty much gutted our economy in the past 35-odd years -- but do we Americans really need to spend all that extra money on supporting the pretense that the UN and NATO are impartial peacekeepers who are benefiting mankind -- and not just gross tools for corporate interests, war dogs and gun clubs?

     Just think of what all else we could have been spending all those billions (or even trillions) of dollars on for all these years.

     "Buyer beware!"


 Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.


More good news from Aleppo, Syria

     My Syrian friend just sent me this new update from Aleppo -- and as usual it reads like some Cold War CIA noir plot to destroy yet another democracy somewhere else in the world (as well as our democracy at home of course -- but that goes without saying).

     Here's the report:

     "The news from Aleppo is really good, all about capturing that notorious district of Bani Zayd, where [US-supported terrorists] used to shell innocent civilians daily with mortars of their handmade rockets that we Syrians call Hell Cannons.  Video clips show the huge amount of shells that were kept in their storage that the terrorists were planning to use.  No more shells and bombs from that district. 

      "The eastern part of Aleppo city is under siege now, and [US-supported] terrorists are preventing civilians from leaving.  From one side the terrorists are using them as human shields; and from the other side they want civilians to suffer in front the mainstream media so they can blame it on the Syrian army and Assad.  Ch. 4 News and many other news outlets have already started to twist reality and show only all-propaganda news, where the real good guys are shown as the bad ones, and vice versa.  They are sympathizing with the terrorists and playing all the media games and tricks of claiming the [terrorists'] losses to be civilian losses, and ignoring any humanitarian accomplishments by the Russians and Syrians."


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Is the DNC eating its young?

    Ah, the Democratic National Committee -- they have just overstepped their mandate.  Again.

      Ever since the Repubs blatantly stole the 2000 election for George W. Bush and his posse of snobby elites, we've totally come to expect all sorts of flat-out shameless hanky-panky from the Grand [snake-Oil] Party.  But to see hanky-panky coming from the Dems as well?  Not so much.  Those were our guys, playing for the home team, supporting the salt of the earth, defending the working class.  We used to think that the Democratic Party was above that kind of stuff.

      Now we've got the DNC fudging up elections from New York to California just like they were GOP corporate-fascist shills riding into town on elephants instead of donkeys.  Who would have thought? 

      "But give us an example, Jane," you might say.  Here's a good one.  The guy in charge of voting in San Diego has just admitted that ballots cast for Bernie Sanders have been changed to ballots cast for Hillary Clinton -- and they were changed by using White-Out.  Yes, you read that correctly.  White-Out.  Really?

      And then there is the strange case of Congressman Alan Grayson, the people's choice for Senate in Florida.  Grayson does all the things that we Democrats love -- stuff like supporting America's working class and keeping Wall Street from throwing us out of our homes.  Booyah for him!  But does the DNC support him?  Hell, no.  That would be too obvious.  Instead it supports his rival in the primary, Patrick Murphy.  Even President Obama is now campaigning for Murphy.  Huh?

      Murphy used to be a Republican until he re-registered as a Democrat in order to run against Grayson.  No wonder the DNC loves Murphy!

     Not to mention all those WikiLeaks e-mails detailing how the DNC eats Bernie Babies for lunch.

      And now we are going to be stuck with either a Clinton Dynasty for president or Donald Trump.  Greatest nation in the world?  I think not.

      But by far the worst of all this Democrat hanky-panky is how DNC is now eating its young -- happily chomping down on the Millennials like they were gummy bears or Fritos.  All we had to do was watch its convention to know that.  Bon appetite, DNC.

     And now the Millennials also hate you, DNC -- as well they should after the DNC has done everything it can to disenfranchise the "Bernie Babies".  But twenty years from now, when the Democratic National Committee is some sort of decrepit non-relevant dinosaur and all alone, only then will it be sorry that it ate its young.  

PS:  The DNC isn't the only one to be eating its young these days.  Congress, NATO, bankers, Israeli neo-colonialists, US-backed ISIS, Exxon, etc. are also really good at eating our young too.  Did you know that Exxon was aware of the dangers of climate change as far back as 1968?  To these elites, our children are just so many gummy bears.

PPS:  In early August, I'll be attending the American Bar Association convention in San Francisco.  Which reminds me that a hecka lot of young lawyers newly minted from law school are Millennials too -- and they are devoted to upholding the Constitution.  So, DNC, you had better watch out.  And, GOP, you too have been warned.  No more free lunch for either of you.


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Black, old & poor Americans: Would you feed or defend them?

      I'm currently reading Sebastian Junger's book, Tribe, and on page 110 he says that the difference between human beings and other primates is that we humans systematically share our food and "altruistic" defense -- whatever that is.

     According to Junger, "The earliest and most basic definition of community -- of tribe -- would be the group of people that you would both help feed and help defend."  Now where, exactly, does America lie on that particular spectrum?  Apparently, we've gots almost no community at all!  Apparently national unity is dead in America. 

      If we are ever going to make America great again then, according to Junger's criteria we need to include feeding and defending our fellow Americans in that equation.  And, boy, is that never gonna happen!  Just look at Ferguson, Dallas, Katrina, Baltimore and Philando Castile.  Just look at all the cuts to food stamps and attempted cuts to Social Security.

    Just look at all the starving and homeless people we Americans pass on the streets of our cities every day.

    Just look at how America spends its wealth "defending" people in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. but doesn't spend hardly anything defending poor people or Black people or old people who are living right here at home.

    Would anybody in White America feed and defend a Black man or Black woman these days?  Or even a Black child?  And now our corporate-bought Congress is trying to do away with MediCare, has already foreclosed on our homes and wants to cut Social Security all to Hell too.  Face it, guys.  Almost no one with any power here in America is going to defend or feed you if you are Black or if you are Old or if you are Poor.  Get over it.  You are not part of the tribe.

     Black people get attacked by police.  Old people get attacked economically.  Poor people are being chased out of town.  Only rich people in America seem to belong to a tribe.

     Junger goes on to warn us that "Modern society has gravely disrupted the social bonds that have always characterized the human experience."  What?  Now Americans aren't even human either?  Apparently not.

PS:  On a personal level, who would you yourself feed and defend?  How far does your own tribe extend?  Would you feed and defend a woman?  A child?  A senior citizen?  How about a Muslim?  A Jew?  A Black person?  An Asian?  Someone who lost their job to corporate outsourcing?  An American?  Any American?

PPS:  On a national level, voters in this election cycle are finally stepping up to defend old, Black and poor Americans -- finally realizing that they could be next in the corporate cross-hairs.  

     Remember how traditional conservative Establishment Republican candidates used to fear that angry Tea Party candidates would steal their seats?  Well, now traditional conservative Establishment Democrat candidates are starting to fear that grassroots movements like the Bernie Babies are going to steal their corporate-owned seats too.

     For instance, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who has sold out to Wall Street and War Street on just about every level, is now being seriously challenged by Tim Canova  And Alan Grayson, a friend of you and me (not Wall Street), has taken on Dem kiss-ass Patrick Murphy -- and Grayson has tremendous grassroots support from grateful Americans who still love their country more than $$$.

     Establishment (sell-out) Dems, you had better watch your backs too.  There are still a lot of us Americans left who can't be bought out by Wall Street and War Street.  Yay!


Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Moral injuries, our vets' latest open wounds

     I understand that, in times of war, soldiers might sometimes get their legs blown off -- but did you know that soldiers can sometimes get their souls blown to bits as well?  And that sometimes it can hurt as badly as any open wound to the body?  Yes, this is actually true.

     Recently I attended a talk by Marine chaplain Fred Tittle.  His subject was "Moral Injury" and apparently he now sees a lot of that kind of suffering at the VA clinic where he works.

     Here's what Google says about it:  "Moral injury is now being recognized as a signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but with roots as old as war itself.  Veterans who have participated in or witnessed intense human suffering and violence may experience moral injury which extends beyond psychological effects to a veteran’s spiritual, emotional, and social belief system.  This has a major impact on veterans’ mental health and their interactions with loved ones, community, and service providers."

     Apparently places like Mai Lai, Abu Graib, Haditha and Bagram are as bad for the souls of our soldiers as IEDs are for their bodies.  Power may corrupt -- but fighting in an immoral "war" corrupts one's soul absolutely.

     When Bush lied through his teeth in order to destroy Iraq and Afghanistan, he forced a moral injury down the throats of America's soldiers as well.  When Obama lied through his teeth in order to destroy Ukraine, Libya and Syria, he too forced moral injuries down the throats of America's soldiers.  And now those same soldiers, having now returned home as vets, are suffering deeply for these leaders' gross abuse of their powers.  

    What to do about it?  How about saying, "Never again!" and finally putting an end to gross and immoral "wars".  That's a start.

PS:  Let's also consider moral injuries on a larger scale.  Did Eichmann suffer a moral injury when he ran his Nazi concentration camps?  Does Netanyahu suffer a moral injury when he sends young Israelis to kill women and children in Occupied Palestine?  Did Clinton suffer a moral injury when she came, she saw, he died?  And did that Roman soldier suffer a moral injury when he stabbed Jesus with his spear?  And what about  the corporations who pollute our air -- because they are legally "persons" too -- will they suffer moral injuries as well?

    If you are a cold-hearted bastard and do evil deeds, are you committing a moral injury to yourself?  Or is it only a moral injury to those under you, the ones who are forced to carry out all this evil?  And is "I was only following orders" really a valid excuse for landing a mortal blow to your soul?

      And when the entire human race is extinct due to "war" and pollution caused by "war," will it be too late for anyone to suffer a moral injury?

PPS:  Veterans for Peace is holding its national convention in Berkeley, CA this year.  Oliver Stone and Helen Caldicott will be speaking.  Be there or be square?  Be there -- and be in the ranks of some of the most moral people in the world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Books, wars  & Br-exit: Is "Cali-exit" next?

    I just love going to book conventions -- and I bet you would too.  As many free books as you can carry home in your suitcase?  Visiting a city that you would never otherwise consider going to?  Meeting interesting authors and hearing what they have to say?  What's not to like!

    Plus, as a war correspondent, I can easily visit many of the places where all these "wars" are actually originating from.  Why go all the way to Syria or Yemen or Gaza and get shot at when it's much easier to go to the very places where those bullets that the neo-colonialists shoot are actually being made and the bombs they drop are actually being paid for instead -- the United States of America.  Plus it's a hecka lot cheaper and you don't have to fly as far.

     The American Library Association convention was in Orlando, Florida this year -- and it was Big Fun.  Almost every major publisher was represented in its huge exhibit hall and there were librarians everywhere, the salt of the earth.  Surprisingly, a main publishing theme this year seemed to be books about fleeing North Korea.  And fleeing Afghanistan.  And fleeing K Street.

     One especially interesting freebee was Julissa Acre's new book, My (Underground) American Dream, a page-turning story about how Acre rose from being an undocumented immigrant to becoming a Goldman Sachs vice-president.  She also talked about how undocumented immigrants pay over 20 billion dollars yearly in various taxes and Social Security charges -- for services that they can never receive.

     And my favorite publisher of all time was at the convention too -- Soho Press.  Always the best.  Best books, best authors, best after-parties!

     I also spent time flogging my latest book, the library edition of Mecca & the Hajj: Lessons from the Islamic School of Hard Knocks.  High point of my efforts?  When some distinguished curator of a Middle Eastern collection at a well-known university library actually showed interest in it!  "This book reads as if Mark Twain had gone on Hajj and then written up his adventures.  It's deep, meaningful -- and hilarious," I said.  He promised to read it.  Yay!

     And speaking of war, don't let anybody fool you about Br-exit.  The Brits didn't leave the European Union because they were racist.  They left because they were sick and tired of paying for Bush's wars, Obama's wars and possibly Trump and Clinton's wars.  "NATO?  I've got better things to do with my money than use it to support Nazis in Ukraine and ISIS in the Middle East."  It's the wars, stupid. 

     And speaking of Br-exit, a whole bunch of Californians are also starting to feel the same way about the good old USA.  "Why do our schools have to deteriorate and our bridges crumble just because Obama or Clinton or whoever wants to sell us yet another war?"  Why indeed.

     Perhaps it's time that we consider a "Cali-exit" election too.

     But then I read Andre Vlechek's article on Br-exit and, as usual, he nailed it.  "Everybody in Europe now wants more, more and more.  Screw austerity!  'Give us more benefits!  Provide us with better wages, job security, and shorter working hours!'  What is shocking is that (oh so innocently!) those demands are only made for the chosen bunch – for the Europeans and North Americans – not for the rest of the globe that is actually paying the bill….  And has been paying it for hundreds of damned years, suffering horribly from everything, from slavery, colonialist plunder, genocides triggered by Europe, terrorism against its liberation struggle, to the multi-national corporate looting." 

     According to Vlechek, nobody mentions the cruel "austerity" programs that Syrians, Libyans, Yemeni, Ukrainians, Africans, Indonesians and Latin Americans are now suffering at the hands of Europe and America.

      Nobody mentions that Europeans and Americans are complaining about their "austere" standard of living, but that it is actually based on the fact that the rest of the world is barely living at all so that Europeans and Americans can have what they have now -- only by sucking the rest of the world dry.

       Perhaps we lucky ducks of European descent should just stop whining and make sure that everybody in the entire world has the same standard of living as us -- whatever that may turn out to be.  Let's work to make the entire world "great" again.

     How to do that?  You'll find all the ideas and instructions you would ever need just by going to your local library and checking out some books.  And of course you can always order my book Visions of a Lost and Future World from Amazon.  That too will help.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

July 4th in Damascus: Syrian lives matter

July 4th in Chicago:  Senior citizens' lives matter.

July 4th in Kabul:  Afghan lives matter.

July 4th in South Bronx:  Homeless lives matter.

July 4th in Benghazi:  Libyan lives matter.

July 4th in Jakarta:  Sweatshop workers' lives matter.

July 4th in Juarez:  Mexican lives matter.

July 4th almost everywhere:  Women's lives matter.

July 4th in a Florida prison:  Leonard Peltier's life matters.

July 4th in Saigon:  Vietnamese lives matter.

July 4th in Ferguson:  Black lives matter.

July 4th in Congo:  Miners' lives matter.

July 4th in Nigeria:  Oil workers' lives matter.

July 4th in West Africa:  Child slaves' lives matter.

July 4th throughout the world:  Babies' lives matter.

July 4th in Port au Prince:  Haitian lives matter.

July 4th in Arizona:  Immigrants' lives matter.

July 4th in Odessa:  Ukrainian lives matter.

July 4th in Sanaa:  Yemeni lives matter.

July 4th in Orlando:  Gay lives matter.

July 4th in Sandy Hook:  Students' lives matter.

July 4th in Texas and Oklahoma:  Young women's' lives matter.

July 4th at Wounded Knee:  Original Americans' lives matter.

July 4th in Honduras:  Ordinary lives matter.

July 4th in Berkeley:  My life matters.

July 4th in Flint:  99% lives matter.

July 4th in Baghdad:  Iraqi lives matter.

July 4th in Warsaw:  Jewish lives matter

July 4th in Gaza:  Palestinian lives matter.

July 4th in Tibet:  Buddhist lives matter.

July 4th in Mecca:  Muslim lives matter.

July 4th in Bethlehem:  Jesus' life matters.

July 4th in Europe and America:  Yes, even imperialist neo-colonialist fascist lives matter too -- but only to the extent that they honor the lives of others as well.

     All humans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- not just American and European demi-god wannabees.