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Ralph Lopez's blog
Thank you Rep. Grijalva and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) for submitting the People's Budget. Now, what is it?
It's a lot to go through, but it's important to summarize the main points. Slogging through the slightly wonkish language of CPC's summary the question can be answered in short by answering the question: Who takes the hits?
Both Obama's and Ryan's budgets are most notable for what is NOT on the table. CPC corrects this. The thumbnail version of the CPC budget is:
- Medicare/Medicaide, Social Security, and education do not take the hits
They have almost made a clean getaway, still looking over their shoulders but receding into the distance. Question: how can we cut the debt and balance the budget without cutting a single program or hurting a single person except those who will have plenty left? The genius of the current robbery taking place in Washington as they prepare to slash entitlements as the "big ticket" items on which we are going to have to make "hard choices," is that there is another big ticket item which, along with Pentagon spending and wars, put us here in the first place.
Funny, I don't see anything on "Debt Clock" about this all-time greatest theft in world history, the Wall Street bail-outs, up there with what are often called the "big three" responsible for most government spending: Social Security, Pentagon, and Medicare/Medicaide. Where is "bail-outs?"
You Can Help End the War in Afghanistan, Push it Down to the 'Hood
As congress votes Thursday, March 17th on whether or not to continue military operations in Afghanistan, which in one week costs as much as Wisconsin's entire estimated budget deficit, it is critical to understand why disapproval of having our troops in Afghanistan is at an all-time high, an astonishing two-thirds of Americans, but congress keeps passing the money. The reason is most people in your neighborhood, if you are represented by a Democrat, don't know that he/she keeps voting for it (unless yours is one of a very small number of solid "no" votes listed below.)
You've got to wonder who they are. Even my friends on the right wing of the spectrum, in discussing Bradley Manning, grudgingly admit that he has yet to be convicted of anything and cannot be punished before he is tried. "So try him then put him away, but yea, you are still innocent before found guilty, ok, so what?" -- is a typical small debate victory, before going on to the rest of the work of trying to explain why Bradley Manning is a hero who was doing exactly what, in 2005, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:
“It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member [in Iraq], if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to try to stop it.”
But online one can get the eerie feeling of a disconnect:
We know this: the optics of modern helicopter gunships are crystal clear at vast distances. The image below is from the attack on men in Baghdad in 2007 at a range of one mile. This is from the video released by Wikileaks which includes an attack on a wounded man crawling on the ground. The distance can be calculated by the known speed of a .30 cannon round and the clocked time between vibrations indicating the commencement of fire, and the rounds striking the men and the ground. At a mile, the helicopter is not much more than a speck in the sky, which explains why the men seem so unconcerned. They probably didn't even see it.
In the "accidental" killing of nine Afghan boys, ages 9 to 15, collecting firewood last week, the range was close enough for a surviving boy to report:
As Obama's crime of the destruction of Bradley Manning continues to unfold before our very eyes, Manning friend David House now tells us that over 8 months in isolation with movement and sleep restrictions placed on him have been having their intended effect. House has told MSNBC that by the end of January Manning appeared "catatonic" and that he had "severe problems communicating," with it having taken House nearly 45 minutes on a recent visit to engage in any meaningful way (video below.) House said Manning's demeanor was as "if he had just woken up and didn't know what was going on around him." Manning was "utterly exhausted physically and mentally...it was difficult to have any kind of social engagement."
"Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortensen has disputed the notion that corruption and insecurity prevent the kind of basic development which would address what is well-known now as the raw fuel for the Afghan insurgency: hunger, starvation, and economic misery which keeps the ranks of the Taliban filled, who courtesy of the American taxpayer as well as the opium trade is able to pay fighters the excellent wage of ten-dollars-a-day. Mortensen says the question is not whether five-dollar-a-day jobs building war-torn infrastructure can be created, which young men would jump at, but whether it is done correctly.
Those Democrats who still support Obama and purport to support Bradley Manning are forgetting one thing: as Commander-in-Chief, Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ultimately determine what charges will be brought, or even who will be prosecuted. That is because in the military, the chain of command is all. If the Commander in Chief tells you, "I need this man to show me where a landing on a beach should be, to save the lives of thousands of men, let him go," you have to let him go.
Make no mistake, if this were the Bush/Rumsfeld Department of Defense trying to execute Manning, we would be surrounding the White House. That's because Bush acted like a commander-in-chief, and it was easy to ascribe the real responsibility. Obama doesn't act like a CINC. But that doesn't mean he isn't one.
Last night, Hillary Clinton had just delivered the line "and then they pulled the plug" during her speech on freedom of expression in Egypt, and smiled slightly, when the two security goons pounced on 71 year-old Ray McGovern, who had been standing with his back turned to her no more than 20 feet away. McGovern was wearing his Veterans for Peace t-shirt in silent protest of the wars, uttering not a single, solitary word. Taken aback by the suddenness and violence of the assault by the two smirking young thugs, one in a uniform, McGovern managed to call out as he was manhandled out of the room: "So this is America?' McGovern was then double-handcuffed, jailed, and left bruised and bloodied from the encounter.
Clinton never broke stride, paused, or even batted an eyelash. Her demeanor was such that she could have been drying her nails.
After all but 67 Democrats voted against the Orwellian "Patriot Act" last Tuesday along with 26 Republicans breaking with the GOP, the principle of no search without a warrant from a judge, citing what you are looking for and probable cause, took a step toward being re-established when extension of the Patriot Act failed. Today the House leadership will be having a do-over, under different rules which will require a simple majority vote. But if the votes cast by anti-Patriot Act Democrats hold and the 67 "Wall of Shame" Democrats are lobbied to switch theirs, the measure passed right after 911 without most members even reading it could go down in a historic defeat.
With the political winds shifting and 26 Republicans, about half of them newly elected, now forming a 148 vote "pro-Constitution" block along with over 120 Democrats, the hardcore gaggle of Democrats who keep voting with the likes of Michelle Bachmann (R-MN,) Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Mike Pence (R-IN) on Constitutional issues can be identified.
The principle of no search without a warrant from a judge, citing what you are looking for and probable cause, took a step toward being re-established last night, when extension of the Patriot Act failed, with a "do-over" vote expected as soon as tomorrow. Everything which was predicted about the Patriot Act, that it would be abused and its use expanded beyond non-terrorism-related cases, has come true.
As Mubarak continues to play for time and release statements offering to release protesters who have been, and are being, snatched off the streets and tortured in secret prisons, Professor Robert Springborg, Naval Postgraduate School and an expert on the Egyptian military, tell us that he believes the military’s leadership is orchestrating the events, allowing attacks against the protesters by pro-Mubarak forces.
"Behind the scenes, the military is making possible the various forms of assault on the protesters. It’s trying to secure a transition for itself. There’s lots of evidence that the military is complicit, but for the most part Egyptians don’t even want to admit that to themselves."
This confirms the plan to keep Mubarak and his henchmen in the country long enough to conduct a systemic war of torture and attrition against the protesters, whom every day thugs are dragging to Intelligence chief Suleiman's secret prisons. All Obama is doing is buying time for them to do their dirty work.
It's notable that this NYT article is one of CNN's Ivan Watson's "Must Read" tweets, yesterday:
WE had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated. They left us all night in a cold room, on hard orange plastic stools, under fluorescent lights.
As the U.S. stubbornly clings to its defacto support of Mubarak by continuing military aid even while issuing beautiful words of support for democracy, the war of attrition on peaceful protesters continues. NPR reports 5,000 injured last night and today as attacks continue to be portrayed as "clashes" between "pro-Mubarak" demonstrators rather than what they are: attacks by government-paid thugs and out-of-uniform security forces, backed by snipers who are dropping protesters from a distance and thugs pulling organizers out of the crowds.
As morning breaks in Egypt Mubarak-hired thugs are attacking protesters with gunfire, many dead already. Fears are there will be a massacre all morning. The proof is here that the "pro-Mubarak" demonstrators "clashing" with anti-Mubarak freedom fighters are all security forces out of uniform and criminals let of out jail and paid to attack peaceful people.
This was Tweeted from Tahrir Square today, a security forces ID captured from a plainclothes thug who the protesters caught. We can use it to remind the world with one image that the "chaos" is actually a brutal attack by Mubarak. Let's make this goon famous. Post it everywhere.
Buttresses Nicholas Kristoff's vital report.
The New York Times' incredibly courageous Nicholas Kristoff is bearing witness to what the Egyptian protesters already know and are telling the world, that the "pro-Mubarak" crowds attacking peaceful protesters are government-sponsored thugs.
Kristoff just posted at his Facebook:
I was in Tahrir today, and I must say that "clashes" is the wrong word for what happened. This was a violent government-sponsored crackdown using thugs.
Turning to Nick's blog he reports:
Obama's reiteration, pointed out best in Robert Naiman's Just Foreign Policy blog, that Mubarak lead an "orderly transition" is precisely what opposition leader El Baradei has been complaining bitterly about. The Egyptian people do not want Mubarak to lead shit. They want him to leave the country, now.
Our astute Naiman writes:
Tuesday During State of Union is "Free Bradley Manning, President Obama Order Charges Dismissed!" Night.
During Tuesday night's State of the Union speech starting at 9pm EST, flood the White House switchboard for the duration of the speech with calls to "Free Bradley Manning, President Obama Order Charges Dismissed!" Start 1/2 hour before the speech begins!
Please put out this call on your Facebooks and blogs.
Also the main site for Watch the State of the Union Meet-up locations seems to be:
You'll find the meet-ups at bars and homes in your neighborhood. Pass out Free Bradley flyers, ready to print flyer here:
Next go to the MoveOn Facebook. Post a "Free Bradley Manning, President Obama Order Charges Dismissed!" on their wall. http://www.facebook.com/moveon
What they found out through Wikileaks was even too much for the Tunisian Army, the levels of corruption and wealth-plundering as Tunisians.struggled daily with sky-high unemployment and rising food prices. This is amazing. For once the army, accustomed to simply following orders, refused to turn its guns on the people, forcing the dictator to flee.
This is an exciting time for the anti-war movement, but also a time to not drop the ball. Support for the war in Afghanistan has been driven down to 34% thanks to peace activist education and opposition, which could be anyone who cares enough to send an informative email to his or her pro-war relative. But how low must it get before Congress stops passing budgets in support of continued military operations? The problem is that the disapproving yet relatively uninformed public is not making the link between the wars and their own representatives, and Obama, without whom the wars could not continue.
Having twice attempted suicide at Fort Campbell, Ky., then sent to a mental institution near the base, the Army nevertheless declared him fit for duty and ordered him to Afghanistan.
After his arrival at Kandahar early in 2010 he was so troubled that the Army took away his weapon and forced him into counseling on the air base, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator. But he was assigned a roommate who was fully armed. C.I.D. investigators have identified the M-4 with which Sergeant Senft was killed as belonging to his roommate.
He was from Grass Valley, in Northern California, about as ordinary a town as you can imagine.
When we think of Bradley Manning, many of us tend to think of either a Wikileaks document dump or the attack in the video in which two Reuters reporters are killed after a group of Iraqi men are fired upon by an Apache attack helipcopter. Dismissed as justifiable by Army investigators under the rules of engagement due to the presence of a rocket launcher found on the scene, this loses the real reason Manning may have leaked the tape, if he did, and perhaps one of his strongest defenses. Anything but naive about what took place daily in Iraq, Manning was not shocked by the initial attack on the Iraqi men, and wrote to Adrian Lamo:
A congressional subcommittee has reached the conclusion that the Pentagon is knowingly providing major support for the Taliban, ignoring hundreds of complaints from Afghan trucking contractors, who are being forced to pay massive "protection payments" to insurgents in order to avoid attacks on convoys carrying US military supplies to American bases. The Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. John Tierney, interviewed dozens of witnesses in Dubai, including contracting officers of the 484th Joint Movement Control Battalion, and Afghan truck contractors who “self-reported.” The truck contractors who self-reported had already complained to the US military about the protection payments to insurgents.
Controversial Tillman Commander Promoted, Soldiers Allege Ordered "360 Rotational" Civilian Massacres
A controversial commander who helped recommend Pat Tillman for the Silver Star as part of a campaign to glamorize Tillman's death has been promoted to full colonel.
"Libby native Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, the deputy chief of staff-effects coordinator for the 1st Infantry Division, was promoted to colonel during a recent ceremony in Basra, Iraq."
And why wouldn't they? The war is making everyone rich (except us, who pay the bill.) Reported practically before the ballots in all the states had been counted:
WASHINGTON: Republican lawmakers who now control the US House of Representatives said on Thursday that they would try to prevent President Barack Obama from withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan as he planned...
Remember Charlotte Dennett Who Aired This Prosecute Bush Ad in Vermont in 2008? She's back, and She's Going to Win on Nov. 2nd!
Brothers and Sisters,
Here we go, another helicopter in Afghanistan down, no enemy fire involved. Why is it that since the Wikileaks document dump revealing that the Taliban has long had SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) I don't believe it? The AP reported "Nine NATO Troops Killed in Afghan Helicopter Crash" including a "large number" of Americans (meaning probably "most"):
The cause was not immediately clear. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the helicopter, but NATO said there were no reports of hostile fire.
There you guys go again. I'm just going to say it: that thing was shot down.
A UK Guardian review of the Wikileaks document dump showed:
Update - The military has taken the highly unusual decision to deploy the 3rd ACR in the middle of the night, tonight, under cover of darkness. The protesters have stated they will confront the deployment with "radical, direct action" whatever the hour. See latest update video below. If you keep your computer on tonight with this page up it will automatically play when broadcast recommences.
Using webcam technology, the anti-war soldier's coffee house outside of Ft. Hood, Texas is providing video updates and webcasting live the protest against redeployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment this month to Iraq. Protesters include active-duty soldiers (off-duty), veterans, soldiers families and supporters. Ft. Hood is the largest military base in the nation. The Under the Hood Cafe website reads:
Falling down the rabbit hole: Media trumpets Obama's spin that the "last combat brigade" has left Iraq even as the Pentagon acknowledges to AFP that "while the remaining 50,000 troops will no longer have a formal combat mission after September 1, they will be well-armed and possibly coming under fire as they join in manhunts for Al-Qaeda figures or other extremists."
"I don't think anybody has declared the end of the war as far as I know," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told MSNBC.
"Counter-terrorism will still be part of their mission," said Morrell, referring to the fight against militant networks.
Once again, as many soldiers who have turned against the occupation have stated, these are not isolated nor even unexpected events. This is the nature of a brutal military occupation in which the enemy is the entire populace and the goal is control of resources or to maintain geopolitical fragmentation of a state.
Outspoken Iraq veteran Ethan McCord says of another incident caught on video, of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 on a wounded man and those trying to help him, words that are applicable to the entire occupation (I refuse to call this a war. A war has two sides with armies facing each other who have roughly the same firepower. This is a slaughter.)