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Corporatism and Fascism
Corporatism and Fascism
Stuart Taylor: Sure, We Tortured, But Those Responsible Have Suffered Enough -- They've Been Picketed!
National Journal's Stuart Taylor (whose legal analysis is, quite inexplicably, taken very seriously by the Beltway media) acknowledges that the Bush administration tortured detainees, but argues that those responsible have already "suffered" enough for their misdeeds. See, they've been called names, and their public appearances have been picketed:
Of course, when all is said and done, there is little doubt that some CIA detainees were tortured. This is a stain on our nation's honor that should never be repeated. But the responsibility was so widely diffused, across such a large number of honorably motivated officials who tried (and sometimes failed) to stay within the law, that it makes no sense to seek to atone for the nation's sins by singling out individuals for bar discipline or other punishment.
This is especially true when those individuals have already suffered greatly from being trashed as "war criminals," picketed at public appearances, stalked by grandstanding Spanish judges, and otherwise harassed across the country and around the globe.
Sure, John Yoo said it was fine with him if George W. Bush wanted to order interrogators to crush a child's testicles. But the man has been picketed! What more must he endure? Leave him alone! Read more.
On September 11 a Balkans news source cited the chairman of the South East Europe Center at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC, John Sitilides, as claiming that "Although the United States is not focused on the Balkans as it was in the 1990s, the challenges in this region are still reviewed at a very high level in Washington." 
Sitilides founded and was executive director of the Western Policy Center in the U.S.'s capital in 1998 which specialized "in U.S. foreign and security policies in the eastern Mediterranean, Balkan and Black Sea regions," before merging it with the Woodrow Wilson Center and is a "regular speaker on foreign policy at the Pentagon's National Defense University and the National Foreign Affairs Training Center." 
In the news story mentioned above he stated "The recent visit to the Balkans of the US Vice President Joe Biden was a signal that although the region is not the subject of the President’s constant attention, the challenges in this region are still reviewed at a very high level.” 
Biden visited the Balkans this past May and was the highest ranking American official to travel to Kosovo since its unilateral declaration of independence in February of 2008. While in the capital of the breakaway Serbian province he insisted on the "absolutely irreversible" nature of Kosovo's secession - nineteen months afterward still not recognized by 130 of the world's 192 nations - and highlighted that "The success of an independent Kosovo is a priority for our administration." 
While still in the U.S. Senate Biden played a major role in fostering the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in promoting its former republics' integration into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Readers: Can you translate: Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, Japanese, or Bengal? Please read on...
At one of my many events in Kentucky this past week at a delightfully named coffee and beer hangout in Louisville, Ray’s Monkey House, a lovely woman named Trudie came up to me with tears in her eyes and she told me: “Cindy, when you were in Crawford that summer, I thought to myself, ‘this is the beginning of the end of war.’ It might take time, and it might not happen in our lifetimes, but what you started to honor your son will end war.”
If only. If only, we the people could finally realize that it is not up to our governments to end war. Our governments and the War Machine are locked in a violently greedy mutual stranglehold and could not care less about our opinions or our children.
In my opinion, our struggles are in vain when we try to organize each other and ourselves to go begging the Robber Class to reform itself. It’s not ever going to happen. Throughout history we have repeatedly and to no avail, begged for our few crumbs of prosperity and peace and look where it has gotten us…in the midst of an economic depression that is further fueled by the blood of our troops and the blood of strangers thousands of miles away.
The Capitalist system of military conquest to perpetuate itself will never go without a fight. So, we need to forget about our governments and their masters, we need to reach out to each other to make firm promises that we will never allow our governments to use us as weapons of mass destruction to kill or oppress each other again.
That is why I am working so hard on the International People’s Declaration of Peace (IPDoP). It proclaims our essential and intrinsic values as human beings and our basic human right to not be subjected to state sanctioned violence. Read more.
On September 3rd, a dozen or so people demonstrated outside of the Seattle Federal Courthouse, calling for Bybee's impeachment. The action was sponsored by Washington For Impeachment, PDA, World Can't Wait, Backbone Campaign, Code Pink, and Eastside Fellowship of Reconciliation. The action was scheduled for 10:00-12:30 on a Thursday, so (not unexpectedly) the demonstrators were out numbered by Homeland Security forces. In addition to the usual courthouse security, there were 7 white vans parked near the entrance, each containing uniformed, armed guards. The Backbone Campaign brought a large paper mache statue of Justice. Others held signs showing pictures of Bybee's torture victims.
Although torture is illegal under both United States and international law, George W. Bush relied upon Jay Bybee and other lawyers to construct the legal grounds for allowing the president and his representatives to torture at will.
As an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, Bybee released memos that authorized torture under the guise of "enhanced interrogation techniques". These techniques were used at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places. Bybee's torture memos rejected the United Nations Convention Against Torture as too broad. He championed a new litmus test for torture -- the intentional infliction of permanent injury or death.
These memos redefined behavior such as threats of execution against detainees and their families, threats to rape a detainee's female relatives, beatings, and waterboarding as permissible behavior. A few months after submitting the torture memos, Bybee was given a lifetime appointment to one of the top judicial benches in the country.
The Bybee Torture Memo was written in August of 2002, but it was only revealed to the public on April 16, 2009, after years of litigation. Upon its release, the New York Times called on Congress to impeach federal judge Jay Bybee. In an editorial, the New York Times declared that Bybee was, "unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. " In a similar vein, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman has also asked, "Why should a suspected war criminal serve as a federal judge?"
Despite the many displays of public outrage, little has changed since Bybee's memos were exposed. In an April 25, 2009, Washington Post article, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) said: "If the Bush administration and Mr. Bybee had told the truth, he never would have been confirmed," and that "the decent and honorable thing for him to do would be to resign". Four days later, Senator Leahy sent a letter to Judge Jay S. Bybee inviting him to testify before the Judiciary Committee, however, Bybee did not have the necessary manners -- or decency -- to respond to the invitation. No federal judge has ever been impeached for conduct that took place before taking the bench. So far, the senate has been unwilling to break that precedent.
Immune to criticism, Bybee sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Mark Crispin Miller wrote:
Here's an open letter to Obama, from a rightist group including (along with the ambitious Sarah
Palin) members of the PNAC gang that pushed for the invasion of Iraq. Just as, in 1998, they
urged Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, then got their way with Bush & Co. (Dick Cheney being one
of them), they're now demanding that this president "fully resource the effort in Afghanistan."
They're pushing him like this because of rising public (and, therefore, congressional) opposition to the Bush war in Afghanistan. So who will win this time? Will they prevail again, despite the
vast catastrophe they brought down on Iraq (a nightmare that continues)? Or will it, somehow, be the rest of us? ("The rest of us" includes an ever-growing number of our troops.)
Whatever you can do to tell Obama that this war is an atrocious loser, do it loud and clear, and do it now.
The White House and its Democratic allies on Sunday tried to play down the role of a government insurance option in health care legislation as the party in power worked to reclaim momentum on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.
His spokesman described the public option as just one way to achieve Obama's goal of providing coverage to the estimated 45 uninsured Americans without insurance. His senior adviser contended the White House was ready to accept that Congress would reject the idea, though he, too, said it was an option, not a make-or-break choice.
Congressional Democrats took care to say the idea, backed by liberals and targeted by conservatives, is not a deal breaker in a debate that has consumed Washington for the summer and shows now sign of abating.
"I think that's a reasonable way to go. But I think it's important to stay focused on what we're trying to accomplish," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs stressed Obama's commitment to choice and competition and declared the public option "a means to an end, but it is not all of health care." Read more.
Open Left Exclusive: UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Public Option
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance - whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats." When "asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand - as her previous statements had indicated Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions," according to CNN. This was also corroborated by the Associated Press, and by Pelosi's own words, as quoted in those stories.
This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth's lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source - check out this OpenLeft exclusive:
With U.S. Forces in Iraq Beginning to Leave, Need for Private Guards Grows"
By Walter Pincus | Washington Post | Prologue, Highlighted Excerpts and Notes by Michael Schwartz
Michael Schwartz recently read Walter Pincus' WaPo article "With U.S. Forces in Iraq Beginning to Leave, Need for Private Guards Grows." He comments:
Prologue: US presence in Iraq is actually growing
Believe it or not, the U.S. presence in Iraq is growing under the leadership of antiwar president Barack Obama. See the Washington Post article below, which explains that when U.S. troops are “withdrawn,” their jobs are taken over by……mercenaries—the notorious “contractors,” who are hired for fabulous sums of money to sustain the huge U.S. presence there.
And there are some really awful aspects of this process, including:
- The cost of the contractors is substantially higher than the cost of the soldiers they replace. (That is, the cost of the war is going up as the U.S. “scales down” its presence in Iraq)
- “Where private guards replaced soldiers, many more guards were needed to do the same job.” So the numbers and cost of the U.S. presence is going upward, not downward.
- The new contractors are overwhelmingly “third-country nationals” employed by U.S. corporations under contract from the U.S. Defense and State departments. That is, with unemployment at 60% in many places around Iraq, the new jobs created by these contractors are not giving employment to unemployed Iraqis.
- And just to underscore that this is not a process of de-escalating a U.S. presence, the “third country nationals” brought in to replace U.S. soldiers are required to speak English, but they need not speak Arabic. So we learn that the process of cultural imperialism is continuing—there is no effort to have the U.S. presence become blended into Iraqi civil society. In fact, this and so many other actions work to coerce the Iraqis into integrating into the globalized U.S. political economy.
Just another glimpse of the long term effort of the U.S. government to colonize Iraq.
Below is the article Michael was referencing. Specific excerpts which he highlighted are in italics.
With U.S. Forces in Iraq Beginning to Leave, Need for Private Guards Grows
The U.S. recently awarded contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars for more private guards in Iraq.
By Walter Pincus | Washington Post | Tuesday, September 8, 2009
As the United States withdraws its combat forces from Iraq, the government is hiring more private guards to protect U.S. installations at a cost that could near $1 billion, according to the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
9-11 and Oil
By Cindy Sheehan | Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
Friday was the 8th anniversary since the tragedies of 9-11 and before I go forward, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the people who were killed that day, but to also recognize that everyone in this country has suffered whether they know it or not.
On that sunny and bright morning, 8 years ago, I awoke from my sleep to learn that the first plane had hit the first tower. As the events of the day unfolded, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this event would somehow lead to the death of my oldest child Casey, who was in the Army stationed at Ft. Hood, Tx. I went into a tailspin of depression that didn’t break until I fell on the floor screaming after I found out he was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. I wasn’t depressed anymore I was in a pain-soaked, white-hot rage.
9-11 was, of course, the defining moment of this generation. Of course, whether it was an inside job: evil Dick Cheney planning it between heart attacks in his bunker; to the “official story” (yeah, right!); the attacks were exploited to lead to, among other things: get our country militarily mired into three countries by now; torture; Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and rendition (began under the Clinton admin); USA PATRIOT ACT; military commissions act; lack of personnel and equipment to help the victims of Katrina in her aftermath; crumbling infrastructure here in America; collapsing economy; the FISA Modernization Act, etc, etc.
The role that psychologists played in the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies is slowly being made public. Military psychologists, with the full support of their professional organization, the American Psychological Association (APA), advised, implemented, and sometimes initiated programs that are drawing harsh criticism and calls for an independent investigation. When other national and international professional health associations withdrew their support and implicit endorsement of these policies, the APA remained steadfast in their support of the government’s illegal practices. Meanwhile many, perhaps most, members of the APA were unaware of the policies that were being carried out in their name. I shall briefly describe how the APA aided and abetted the U.S. government in Guantánamo Bay and the CIA black sites, and the steps that a number of psychologists are taking to end this unholy alliance.
In Torture and Democracy, author Darius Rejali points out that many decent professionals leave their posts when the state begins to torture, while those professionals who continue to work for the state create a “culture of impunity.” In 2002, shortly after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the American Psychological Association altered its ethics code (PDF), thereby creating it own “culture of impunity.” To a clause that read: “If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict, ” the following sentence was added: “If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.” (emphasis added). As Kenneth Pope, a former chair of the APA’s Ethics Committee who resigned from the APA in protest over these changes and other ethical breaches, recently wrote in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, the APA’s ethics code “now runs counter to the Nuremberg Ethic.” In other words, when American psychologists are charged with unethical conduct, they can claim that they were merely following orders, just as health care professionals in Nazi Germany did when they were prosecuted at Nuremberg.
When the American Psychiatric Association overwhelmingly voted to discourage its members from participating in the interrogation process in Guantánamo Bay, Steven Behnke, the Director of Ethics for the American Psychological Association, emphasized the “unique competencies” that psychologists bring to their role in interrogations, and claimed that psychologists who help military interrogators made a valuable contribution. Furthermore, he argued, psychologists play a vital role in safeguarding the welfare of detainees.
Human rights organizations and congressional oversight committees take a very different view of this collaboration. Physicians for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and the Senate Armed Services Committee document cases of psychologists advising, and in some cases directing, the interrogation of detainees in enhanced interrogations techniques that constitute torture under international law. Read more.
It is hardly a secret that the Religious Right helped elect President George W. Bush and exercised extraordinary influence with his administration. But if we need more evidence, it’s just been put on the table.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government (CREW) has just released a report tallying visits to the Bush White House by major Religious Right players. CREW filed a request for visitor records that coughed up the information.
According to a Sept. 4 CREW press release, the count looks something like this: Read more.
Alluding to the assassination of JFK, long-time high-level CIA analyst says Panetta and the President 'afraid of these guys because these guys have a whole lot to lose if justice takes its course'...
During my interview last night with 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern on the Mike Malloy Show (which I've been guest hosting all this week), the man who used to personally deliver the CIA's Presidential Daily Briefings to George Bush Sr., among other Presidents, offered an extraordinarily chilling thought --- particularly coming from someone with his background.
In a conversation at the end of the hour (audio and transcript below), as I was trying to pin him down for an opinion on whether or not he felt it was appropriate for CIA Director Leon Panetta to have reportedly attempted to block a lawful investigation into torture and other war crimes committed by the CIA, McGovern alluded to a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and noted he felt it likely that both Panetta and President Obama may have reason to fear certain elements of the CIA. Read more.
Economy imperils game-heavy Army marketing centers
By Associated Press | NPR
When the Army installed a Black Hawk helicopter simulator and dozens of combat video-game stations at one of the region's largest shopping malls, military officials said the new marketing effort would likely be replicated across the country.
Since then, the sleek facility has yielded modest recruiting gains while also becoming a target of peace activists who claim video game-hungry teenagers are being enticed — and then numbed — by the virtual violence offered there.
But as the Army Experience Center enters the final year of a two-year pilot program, its fate likely rests on economics more than any protest.
The Army is spending less on marketing because the recession buoyed enlistment, said Maj. Larry Dillard, the center's program director. He doesn't think the military will be building any similar facilities in the near future. Read more.
Toward the latter half of last month the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, "citing officials and lobbyists in Washington," revealed that the Pentagon would reevaluate planned interceptor missile deployments in Poland and a complementary missile radar site in the Czech Republic and instead shift global missile shield plans to Israel, Turkey and the Balkans 
"Washington is now looking for alternative locations including in the Balkans, Israel and Turkey...." 
The news came a week after it was reported that at the annual Space and Missile Defense Conference hosted by the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, Alabama the Chicago-based Boeing Company offered to construct a "47,500-pound interceptor that could be flown to NATO bases as needed on Boeing-built C-17 cargo planes," a "two-stage interceptor designed to be globally deployable within 24 hours...." 
This initiative, much as with the reports of plans to expand the American worldwide interceptor missile system to the Middle East and Southeastern Europe, has been presented as a way of alleviating Russian concerns over anti-missile components being deployed near its borders. But on the same day that Boeing announced the project for a rapid deployable missile launcher for NATO bases in Europe the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Tomas Pojar, was quoted as asserting that a "possible U.S. mobile anti-missile shield does not threaten the U.S. plans to build a radar base on Czech soil because the system is to be a combination of fixed and mobile elements." 
That is, what is being presented in both instances as substitutes for U.S. and NATO missile shield deployments in Eastern Europe may in fact be added to rather than replace plans for Poland and the Czech Republic.
Debbie Sumner prefaces a note from Granny D:
You may know Granny D (Dennis Kucinich does), Any way you can
help her get the word out about public funding legislation? This was
recently sent out through her group PACE (Public Action for Clean
I'm now reading your book Daybreak, and I agree with John Nichols
that you are our modern day Thomas Paine. Thank you for making sure
we're aware of what's been happening and that we need to keep pushing
Congress to fulfill its responsibilities. Granny is still pushing at
P. O. Box 492
Dublin, NH 03444
September 4, 2009
In September the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. will try again to decide
if corporations are persons and, if so, would have all the rights of a
person; and could send as much cash as they consider effective to
candidates running for office. I HOPE THEY DECIDE AGAINST CHANGING
OUR LAWS FORBIDDING CORPORATIONS FROM USING THEIR HUGE TREASURIES TO
INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS.
By now you've likely seen the article explaining how the "United States expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier, increasing its share to more than two-thirds of all foreign armaments deals."
The New York Times reported, "The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before.
"Italy was a distant second, with $3.7 billion in worldwide weapons sales in 2008, while Russia was third with $3.5 billion in arms sales last year — down considerably from the $10.8 billion in weapons deals signed by Moscow in 2007."
Any doubt that "security export" is going to be our role in the global economy in coming years? We won't make clothes, shoes, cars, steel, etc.....we are going to build weapons, invade and occupy other countries, and keep our collective boot on the necks of the people of the world so that we can extract their oil, natural gas, precious mineral resources, their water, and their cheap labor. The US has become the military arm of corporate globalization.
In recent days I've seen several news articles from places like Colorado and New Mexico
heralding the "success" of the military takeover of public schools. This is all part of "security export" strategy as we must now funnel working class kids, who will have few other job prospects, into the military. The economic draft is working quite well.....but the public could care less because these are poor and working class kids and they don't count.
This of course indicates that we are not going to be able to stop the US proclivity toward war making unless and until the peace movement and the general public begins to understand and talk more about this new direction for our nation - security export.
What does weapons production and the need for endless war say about the soul of our nation? What does it say about us as a people that we have to keep killing people in order to provide jobs so people can feed their families? How long are we willing to hand over our children to this endless war machine? How can we expect to have peaceful relations with the world as we continue to militarize our culture and foist weapons on the rest of the world?
What is the peace movement saying about an alternative vision to this security export plan? What is our program for job creation? Why are we not leading on this?
US forces are not withdrawing from Iraq.
Well, its soldiers are. But not civilian contractors. Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to withdraw US troops from the war-torn country, the US is planning to award contracts to protect US installations at a cost to taxpayers that could near $1 billion.
In fact, the Multi-National Force-Iraq just awarded $485 million in contracts just last week, while Congress enjoyed its summer recess. Five firms will handle private security deals to provide security for US bases. It's a neat rhetorical loophole that will allow US officials to say that the country has withdrawn from Iraq, while its contractors remain. Read more.
The Supreme Court may be about to radically change politics by striking down the longstanding rule that says corporations cannot spend directly on federal elections. If the floodgates open, money from big business could overwhelm the electoral process, as well as the making of laws on issues like tax policy and bank regulation.
The court, which is scheduled to hear arguments on this issue on Wednesday, is rushing to decide a monumental question at breakneck speed and seems willing to throw established precedents and judicial modesty out the window.
Corporations and unions have been prohibited from spending their money on federal campaigns since 1947, and corporate contributions have been barred since 1907. States have barred corporate expenditures since the late 1800s. These laws are very much needed today. In the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 100 companies alone had combined revenues of $13.1 trillion and profits of $605 billion. That dwarfs the $1.5 billion that Federal Election Commission-registered political parties spent during the same election period, or the $1.2 billion spent by federal political action committees. Read more.
Will court surrender democracy to corporate interests?
By E. J. Dionne, Jr. | SF Chronicle
President Obama's health care speech on Wednesday will be only the second most consequential political moment of the week.
Judged by the standard of an event's potential long-term impact on our public life, the most important will be the argument before the Supreme Court about a case that could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests.
This sounds melodramatic. It's not. The court is considering eviscerating laws that have been on the books since, in one case, 1907 and in the other, 1947 banning direct contributions and spending by corporations in federal election campaigns. Doing so would obliterate precedents that go back two and three decades.
The full impact of what the court could do in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has only begun to receive the attention it deserves. Even the word "radical" does not capture the extent to which the justices could turn our political system upside down. Read more.
Court "Conservatives" Suggest Readiness to Overturn 100 YO Democratic Principles: J. Sotomayor Suggests More Conservative Way
Court "Conservatives" Suggest Readiness to Overturn 100 year-old Democratic Principles: Justice Sotomayor Suggests More Conservative Approach | Press Release | Sept. 9, 2009
Argument Heard Today Suggest Precedents Limiting Corporate Political Influence Under Threat
Washington, DC--Today's argument in Citizens United v. FEC suggests that the Roberts Court is poised to sweep aside century-old restraints on corporate domination of the political marketplace--unless the wisdom of the Court's newest member proves persuasive when the decision is ultimately written.
As Justice Sotomayor listened to some of her colleagues encourage Ted Olson's argument for overruling key Supreme Court precedents preventing the use of corporate general treasury funds in elections, she intervened to ask a pointed question of Olson: "Are you giving up on your earlier arguments that there are narrower, nonconstitutional grounds for deciding your case?" And Mr. Olson had to say "no." This question by the newest Justice was a pointed reminder that if overruling key precedents is a form of judicial activism, doing so when there clearly are more narrow, statutory grounds for deciding the case is a truly extreme example of judicial activism.
“We Need a Better Change in this Country”–Mom of 17-YO Girl Who Died After Private Insurance Denied Claim for Liver Transplant
...we had insurance. We were covered. We thought we had insurance. So it’s like having insurance and not having insurance is the same thing. People who have insurance and don’t have it, they get the same care. But having insurance and knowing that you do have it, and you are recommended to a certain hospital, because the insurance company only pays if you go to that hospital, you go to that hospital, which in our case was UCLA. We were transferred there. By the way, that’s our fourth hospital within, I would say, three years, because they were jumping us around. And finally, you go there. My son gave her the perfect bone marrow transplant, perfect match. And my daughter needed a liver transplant. And so many requests, so many requests, and they were—the doctors were denied. We were denied, until the California Nurses Association stepped in, helped us out.
We had to get out and go to their headquarters in Glendale, make a scene with our family, the Armenian Youth Federation, our church. Why do we have to do that? I’m a mother who should have been next to my daughter. Only if I knew she was going to die that same day, you think I would have that energy to go out there and do that? I could have been holding my daughter’s hand and praying with her. This is not right.
We speak with Hilda Sarkisyan, the mother of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died two years ago at the age of seventeen after the insurance giant CIGNA denied her claim for a liver transplant. “We need a better change in this country, and I’m willing to help the President to do that…I want to meet him. I want him to feel how it feels not to have a daughter. He has two girls; he should know,” says Hilda Sarkisyan. “If we don’t stop this now, every family is going to have my story in their family.” [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
...in California alone, 45 million claims since 2002, and in the first half of this year alone, their rates continue to skyrocket. Some of these rates ranged as high as 40 percent for UnitedHealthcare’s PacifiCare. And other large, giant insurers like Blue Cross, Health Net, CIGNA, Kaiser were all in the range of 30 percent. So it shows a clear pattern of very high denials by the very insurance companies that people depend upon to assure that they get care they need when they need it.
President Obama begins his final drive for healthcare reform tonight with a nationally televised prime-time address to a joint session of Congress. His speech comes after an explosive August recess consumed by raucous town halls and talk of government-run “death panels.” We take a look at California’s “real death panels.” That’s what the nation’s largest nurses group is calling private insurers, as new data reveals they denied one of every five claims over the past seven years. We speak with Charles Idelson of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
The Pentagon has made remarkable strides in militarisation of space this year, but its techno-schemes are built on the same sandy foundations as the rest of its defence policy, laments Eric Walberg. In April, Air Force Space Command activated a new unit -- the 24th Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas -- to keep pace with “the rapid changes in information technology and allow space and cyberspace capabilities to be more accessible to military ground commanders”, according to the Space Command’s top military officer General Robert Kehler. Kehler called the activation “the beginning of what will be a deliberate and focused effort to develop and evolve cyberspace forces and capabilities.”
In August, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) commenced its 12th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, Alabama, at the shiny new Von Braun Centre, named after the father of Nazi Germany’s missile project and one of the creators of the US ICBM programme, who along with several German colleagues was sent to Huntsville in 1950 (Operation Paperclip) to work on the first live nuclear ballistic missile tests conducted by the Pentagon.
Von Braun -- sorry, I mean Kehler -- told the Space and Missile Defense Conference that global deterrence is necessary to encourage restraint, deny benefits and impose costs to those nations and non-nation states that threaten the Reich -- sorry, I mean the US and its allies. Read more.
Howard Kurtz is still playing water carrier for the Bush administration and their WMD lies used to justify invading Iraq and when called out for it by Daniel Ellsberg who says he'll name names as to who in the Bush administration knew better what does he do? Why try to change the subject of course!
Ellsberg is the subject of a new documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers which debuts this week in New York, Los Angeles and at the Toronto Film Festival. Read more.
Broader Strategy: West's Afghan War Targets Russia, China, Iran
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are expanding their nearly eight-year war in Afghanistan both in scope, with deadly drone missile attacks inside Pakistan, and in intensity, with daily reports of more NATO states' troops slated for deployment and calls for as many as 45,000 American troops in addition to the 68,000 already in the nation and scheduled to be there shortly.
The NATO bombing in Kunduz province on September 4 may well prove to be the worst atrocity yet perpetrated by Western forces against Afghan civilians and close to 20 U.S and NATO troops have been killed so far this month, with over 300 dead this year compared to 294 for all of 2008.
The scale and gravity of the conflict can no longer be denied even by Western media and government officials and the war in South Asia occupies the center stage of world attention for the first time in almost eight years.
The various rationales used by Washington and Brussels to launch, to continue and to escalate the war - short-lived and successive, forgotten and reinvented, transparently insincere and frequently mutually exclusive - have been exposed as fraudulent and none of the identified objectives have been achieved or are likely ever to be so. Osama bin Laden and Omar Mullah have not been captured or killed. Taliban is stronger than at any time since their overthrow eight years ago last month, even - though the name Taliban seems to mean fairly much whatever the West intends it to at any given moment - gaining hitherto unimagined control over the country's northern provinces.
Opium cultivation and export, virtually non-existent at the time of the 2001 invasion, are now at record levels, with Afghanistan the world's largest narcotics producer and exporter.
The Afghan-Pakistani border has not been secured and NATO supply convoys are regularly seized and set on fire on the Pakistani side. Pakistani military offensives have killed hundreds if not thousands on the other side of the border and have displaced over two million civilians in the Swat District and adjoining areas of the North-West Frontier Province.
Yet far from acknowledging that the war, America's longest since the debacle in Vietnam and NATO's first ground war and first conflict in Asia, has been a signal failure, U.S. and NATO leaders are clamoring for more troops in addition to the 100,000 already on the ground in Afghanistan and are preparing the public in the fifty nations contributing to that number for a war that will last decades. And still without the guarantee of a successful resolution.
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me express my awe. The Tuesday before Labor Day weekend, I posted a striking piece by organizer and activist David Swanson, "Bush's Third Term, You're Living It." It was the day his new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, was published. Somehow, he organized websites, blogs, admirers, and friends into a campaign to buy the book at Amazon on that day and it soared to the #1 spot in nonfiction, knocking Glenn Beck's bestseller briefly off its perch. Now, that's organizing for you!
Also a reminder: If you click on any book link (or book-cover image) at TomDispatch and then buy anything at Amazon, TD takes home a tiny percentage of the purchase. So, if you're going to buy there anyway, consider doing it through this website. Also many thanks to those readers who have continued to contribute directly to TomDispatch, some of you, amazingly enough, via recurring donations. You're helping us upgrade the site, get a little extra help, pay a little more to young writers, and generally get by. Many thanks! Tom]
Here may be the single strangest fact of our American world: that at least three administrations -- Ronald Reagan's, George W. Bush's, and now Barack Obama's -- drew the U.S. "defense" perimeter at the Hindu Kush; that is, in the rugged, mountainous lands of Afghanistan. Put another way, while Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.
Imagine for a moment, as you read this post, what might have happened if Americans had decided to sink the same sort of money -- $228 billion and rising fast -- the same "civilian surges," the same planning, thought, and effort (but not the same staggering ineffectiveness) into reclaiming New Orleans or Detroit, or into planning an American future here at home. Imagine, for a moment, when you read about the multi-millions going into further construction at Bagram Air Base, or to the mercenary company that provides "Lord of the Flies" hire-a-gun guards for American diplomats in massive super-embassies, or about the half-a-billion dollars sunk into a corrupt and fraudulent Afghan election, what a similar investment in our own country might have meant. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
The extreme Right wing fringe, in desperate fear of their new Black president, are in a panic over the speech below. They believe this person who's the president who was born in Kenya and who may be the anti-Christ is bound and determined to indoctrinate their children and maybe make them Black by listening - or lefties - or parent haters - or Kenyans - or vegans - or environmentalists - or seekers of public assistance - or socialistcommunistfascist Hugo Chavez Fidel Castro Cubanezuelans - or readers - or lovers of science - or atheists - or lovers of education - or independent thinkers....
NO!! NOT INDEPENDENT THINKERS!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here's the speech:
Arlington, Virginia September 8, 2009