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Our quadrennial reality TV show: Sorting Through the Bullshit in America

By John Grant


“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. ... The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.”

TV Commercials Urging U.S. Drone Operators to 'Refuse to Fly' Pulled from Air

Cable Provider Has Strong Links to Military Industry, Including Snowden Employer and Drone Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton

CLOVIS, NM – An international cable provider with links to the war industry is refusing to air television commercials produced by U.S. military veterans that are critical of the U.S. drone program, according to vets involved in the production of the spots.

While the controversial commercials – which urge U.S. military personnel to "Refuse to Fly" military drones – have run elsewhere in the U.S. without incident, Suddenlink Cable refused to air them. They were pulled after just a few days of being on the air.

Suddenlink is linked to a financial backer, The Carlyle Group, a major international arms investor which owns drone contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's former employer, according to KnowDrones.com, sponsor of the anti-drone commercials.

Booz Allen Hamilton is now contracting with the U.S. Air Force to do drone targeting analysis, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Suddenlink, the nation's seventh largest cable provider with 1.4 million customers in 17 states, pulled the spots within days of when they began airing in early July in Clovis, NM, seven miles from Cannon AFB. The base is home to the 3rd and 33rd Special Operations Squadrons that are reported to control MQ-9 Reaper drones in the skies over Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen and possibly elsewhere.

Suddenlink, despite repeated requests, refused to give any reason for cancelling the anti-drone commercials. 

The anti-drone commercials have run on FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and other networks on Comcast, Cox and Time Warner throughout the country since early 2015, including near drone operation centers near Las Vegas, Sacramento, New York and Florida. The spots can be seen here.

Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, said Suddenlink's decision to censor the ads may be because Suddenlink is controlled by Altice, owned by Patrick Drahi, described by the newspaper Haaretz as a "Franco-Israeli telecoms billionaire." Drahi is connected to the war industry through his association with the Carlyle and Cinven private equity firms; both are invested in the arms industry, and both are invested in Altice, which bought 70 percent of Suddenlink in May, 2015 for $9.1 billion.

"Suddenlink's decision to kill our ads raises the extremely disturbing possibility of censorship at the behest of Mr. Drahi, Carlyle, Booz Allen and the U.S. military. Through the images of children killed in drone attacks the American people can see the illegality and immorality of the U.S. policy of systematically killing people without due process. Suddenlink's decision to censor the spots shows how powerful the commercials are, and it reveals connections that give power to people who profit from war to literally remove the truth from the public airwaves so that Americans only see the sanitized version of how their tax dollars are killing and mutilating people around the world," said Mottern.

The “Refuse to Fly” message in the ad is reinforced by a letter from about 50 veterans to drone operators urging “drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/assassination missions.”

Via worldcantwait.org.

Assange and the Value of WikiLeaks: Subverting Illusions

By Norman Solomon

Three years after Ecuador’s government granted political asylum to Julian Assange in its small ground-floor London embassy, the founder of WikiLeaks is still there -- beyond the reach of the government whose vice president, Joe Biden, has labeled him “a digital terrorist." The Obama administration wants Assange in a U.S. prison, so that the only mouse he might ever see would be scurrying across the floor of a solitary-confinement cell.

Above and beyond Assange’s personal freedom, what’s at stake includes the impunity of the United States and its allies to relegate transparency to a mythical concept, with democracy more rhetoric than reality. From the Vietnam War era to today -- from aerial bombing and torture to ecological disasters and financial scams moving billions of dollars into private pockets -- the high-up secrecy hiding key realities from the public has done vast damage. No wonder economic and political elites despise WikiLeaks for its disclosures.

During the last five years, since the release of the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, the world has changed in major ways for democratic possibilities, with WikiLeaks as a catalyst. It’s sadly appropriate that Assange is so deplored and reviled by so many in the upper reaches of governments, huge corporations and mass media. For such powerful entities, truly informative leaks to the public are plagues that should be eradicated as much as possible.

Corporate Media Crap Coverage of Sanders Is Norm

There are now articles about the predictable fluff BS horserace personality lifestyle crap coverage by the corporate media of the Bernie Sanders for president campaign (and articles about the predictable non-coverage of the Jill Stein for president campaign).

I wish it would all go away, as I think having no election would be preferable to holding such a broken one, and I'd limit even an open, free, credible, functioning, publicly-funded, fairly reported election to something under 6 months in duration.

But the Sanders coverage is actually far better, not worse, than I would have predicted. And its awfulness is par for the course, as is perhaps pointed out by this exchange I had recently with a reporter from Politico, who addressed me as Congressman Kucinich's former campaign manager, even though I never was that:  

"Hi David,
"My name is --------------- and I’m a reporter at Politico. I'm working on a story about the presidential candidates and how they can stay fit and stay on their diets on the campaign trail. I know that Rep. Kucinich was a vegan when he ran for office and I was hoping you could share your experiences on what it was like on the trail for him. As the Iowa fair heats up candidates will be offered lots of fried food and I just wanted to know how candidates are able to stay on diets, and keep fit. I would really appreciate your insight on this. Please feel free to call my cell phone ----------------. My deadline is tomorrow at noon EST."

I wrote back:

"Supporters were more than happy to prepare and provide vegan food, and I think I understand why they were. If Congressman Kucinich had been elected president in 2005, there's a decent chance that this past decade of wars and environmental destruction and advancing plutocracy and increasing violence and hatred would have moved us, instead, in a far better direction, a direction unimaginable to media consumers who -- the day after Kucinich won the most applause in a debate -- were typically told little more than that he was also there and, of course, what he fucking had for dinner. Do you have a serious question? I would be more than happy to answer one.
David"

The reporter replied:

"The story is about how candidates balance using food on campaign stops to portray a certain image while maintains lifestyle and health restrictions. I was looking for someone who had experience managing it, if you're not interested in an interview, no problem, thanks for your time."

I replied again:

"I was press secretary, not campaign manager, and yet I can assure you that Congressman Kucinich -- in what you may find an interesting twist -- didn't use food to create an image of any sort ever. He used food to fuel his health and his energy, and to ethically relate to a world being ravaged by industrial carnivorism. You can imagine that I'm not interested in an interview if it helps you feel better about the fluff you've been assigned to produce, but please understand my sincere interest in any meaningful, non-'lifestyle' discussion of the U.S. presidency, its candidates, and what we so grandiosely mischaracterize as our democratic elections."

The most draconian information-gathering law yet: The Senate Wants to Make Internet Providers Spies

By Alfredo Lopez


How much noise does the other shoe make when it drops? If the shoe is a law that would complete the development of a police surveillance state in the United States, it's almost silent.

Lila Garrett’s CONNECT THE DOTS. This Monday:

Monday morning  at 7-8AM  tune in (KPFK 90.7 fm) or log on: http://archive.kpfk.org/index.php?shokey=ctd

Guests include:
I share my open letter to Congressman Ted Lieu of Los Angeles about his decision to accept a junket to Israel for freshman Congress people at this critical time.  (You can also read it in the LA Progressive) 

MEDEA BENJAMIN, co-founder of Code Pink & author of DRONE WARFARE on the importance of approving the Iran deal, the alarming increase in our use of drones, protests that work,  and more.

DAVID SWANSON, Director of Rootsaction.org,  author of WHEN THE WORLD OUTLAWED WAR,  DAYBREAK ,   THE MILITARY COMPLEX AT 50, WAR IS A LIE  &  more, discuses Israel’s part in trying to torpedo the Iran deal,  some Congress people’s collusion, risks if we don’t pass it, how to get it approved.

Make deal not war!: Obama’s, and Washington’s, Absurd Choice of a Nuclear Deal or War on Iran

By Dave Lindorff


I don’t know which is worse: President Obama asserting, in defense of the nuclear deal he and his Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Iran, that “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” or the fact that most Americans, and most American pundits, seem to accept that limited choice of options as a given.

New Mural in D.C.: Shooting the "War Thug" Presidents in the Balls

Commemorating U.S. Violence from Hiroshima to Iraq 
 
By Sam Husseini




new political mural has gone up in Washington, D.C. 
 
Well, sort of new. 

The mural has been there for a few years, but it's been transformed just recently. Some might say, made more whole, reborn. 

It's a mural on the side of a restaurant formerly known as the Calvert Cafe. It features U.S. presidents from Eisenhower to Obama with Mama Ayesha, who founded the restaurant that is now named for her: Mama Ayesha's, just near the Duke Ellington Bridge in Adams Morgan. It was originally labored over by Karlisima Rodas. 

The recent transformation involves someone having apparently paintballed all the presidents, shooting them in the balls with red paint. Or trying to. Who ever did this seems to have been richer in inspiration than in sniper skills, which may on balance be a good thing. It's a bit messy, but the intent is fairly clear: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton I, Bush II and Obama -- all shot in the balls. Scrawled on the side is "The War Thugs." 

This is an apparent reference to Obama's comments in April calling protesters against police killings who resort to property destruction "thugs."
 
As USA Today reported: "President Obama doesn't regret using the term 'thug' in describing the violent rioters in Baltimore this week, spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

"'Whether it's arson or, you know, the looting of a liquor store ... those were thuggish acts,' Earnest said.

"In discussing the riots Tuesday, Obama assailed the 'criminals and thugs who tore up the place,' and described them as a distraction from the real issues of police brutality."

An examination of U.S. foreign policy puts the "thugishness" of someone looting a liquor store to shame. From using nuclear weapons, to bombing Vietnam and invading Iraq to deploying killer drones in county after country, the thugishness of these presidents is hard to compete with. 

One could imagine the augmented muralist going a bit further, perhaps giving us a lingering blot where Truman's crotch would be were he in the picture. That would be all too appropriate given that Truman gave rise to our "National Security State" and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki exactly 70 years ago this week. 

The date of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima -- August 6 -- is also the date of the imposition of the sanctions being imposed on Iraq in 1990, exactly 25 years ago, that would ultimately take the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, many of them children. The 1991 U.S. bombing of Iraq and subsequent sanctions set the stage for the killing fields we now see -- or rather, don't see and manage to ignore in Iraq and beyond. Yet, the administration of Bush I is regarded by some so-called critics of Bush II as enlightened. 

From Hiroshima to Iraq, all these presidents have used violence. Massive violence. An augmented mural could include mushroom clouds in the background, and perhaps jet fighters, bombers and killer drones flying overhead. 

Perhaps the greatest violence they've all used is to threaten the world with nuclear weapons. It's not as though the U.S. only used atomic weapons against Japan at the end of World War II. 

As Daniel Ellsberg has noted, the U.S. uses nuclear weapons constantly, like a thief robbing people by waving a gun around. You don't need to pull the trigger to "use" the gun. 

So, take a look at "From Wounded Knee to Syria: a Century of US Military Interventions" by Zoltan Grossman. Among the U.S. aggression most have forgotten is Eisenhower administration issued a nuclear threat against Iraq in 1958 against invading Kuwait. Or that Johnson invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965; how many remember that? Or that the Carter administration began the Rapid Deployment Force, paving the way for future U.S. Mideast wars and began the backing of the Mujahadeen to undermine the Soviets in Afghanistan. 

The paintballing -- a sort of art work thar is literally paint as paint -- recalls the Edward Sorel piece that adorns Robert Scheer's book "Thinking Tuna Fish, Talking Death" -- which features "world leaders" dancing the can-can with missiles as genitalia. 

There's typically a taboo against graffiti artists "tagging" over each other's work and this would seem to violate it, but there's a case to be made that this more competes the piece than defaces it. Some people, including Karlisima, now seem upset by the addition of the paintballs, but murals are not typically done to glorify the high and mighty, and do so for the Great Leaders in traditions that shouldn't be emulated. The labor of putting together the original mural is not destroyed, it's not painted over, but used to make a perhaps unexpected point. Further, the original mural it seems was not so much done to convey a vision the artist as much as commissioned by the DC Arts Commission and various other governmental bureaucratic entities. The mural that used to adorn that wall was of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where Mama Ayesha was born. But it was replaced and the collective wisdom had it that the environs of Washington, D.C. were lacking in sufficiently honoring our war presidents, pretending all is smilingly well as they are brutal. 
 
The new mural now features Mama Ayesha in her beautiful Palestinian dress bring the war makers together, their vulnerability, what they likely had thought of as a source of their dominating power, made evident. And they're smiling, accepting, perhaps gaining in empathy. 
 
As it is, there continue to be sprawling U.S. military bases the world over -- and it's not as if things are getting better by any objective measure -- the U.S. just reopened its military base in the Philippines to little notice. All these presidents have continued the U.S.'s backing of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians as Israel has effectively destroyed a people over their collective tenure. 
 
The paintball artist perhaps admirably exercised restraint from engaging in figurative head shots. After all, virtually every president has killed, not least of all the current inhabitant of the White House, who has commented he's "really good at killing people."
 
The U.S. is killing people using drones in Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Obama is often depicted as something approaching a pacifist by some for not having bombed Iran already. Never mind that he escalated the war in Afghanistan, has now stepped up U.S. bombings of Iraq and Syria, bombed Libya along with NATO, and so on and so on. 
 
But our society, media and art largely ignore all this. They focus on celebrity silliness or, worse yet, treat presidents like revered celebrities when their hands are covered in blood that is all too real.

U.S. Movies and T.V. Shows Have U.S. Army Ratings

The U.S. Army and Air Force public relations offices have responded to a Freedom of Information Act request by releasing huge lists of movies and television shows that they have assessed and, at least in many cases, sought to influence. Here's the Army's PDF. Here's the Air Force's PDF.

The shows and films, foreign and U.S. made, aimed at foreign and U.S. audiences, including documentaries and dramas and talk shows and "reality" TV, cross every genre from those obviously related to war to those with little discernable connection to it.

Films show up in theaters without any notice that they have been influenced by the Army or Air Force or other branch of the military. And they carry ratings like G, PG, PG-13, or R. But the Army's until-now-secret assessments of films also give them ratings. Every rating is positive and cryptic. They include:

  • Supports Building Resiliency,
  • Supports Restoring Balance,
  • Supports Maintaining our Combat Edge,
  • Supports Adapting Our Institutions,
  • Supports Modernizing Our Force.

Some films have multiple ratings. Truth in advertising, I think, would include these ratings on previews and advertisements for films. I'd like to know what the Army thinks of a film. It would make my decision to avoid it much easier. Go ahead and scroll through the Army document linked above, and chances are you'll find out what a movie you're currently interested in or recently saw is rated by the folks who brought you Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and top ratings worldwide for the U.S. as the nation considered the greatest threat to peace on earth (Gallup, December 2013).

Here's a comment from Zaid Jilani at Salon: "The sheer scale of the Army and the Air Force's involvement in TV shows, particularly reality TV shows, is the most remarkable thing about these files. 'American Idol,' 'The X-Factor,' 'Masterchef,' 'Cupcake Wars,' numerous Oprah Winfrey shows, 'Ice Road Truckers,' 'Battlefield Priests,' 'America’s Got Talent,' 'Hawaii Five-O,' lots of BBC, History Channel and National Geographic documentaries, 'War Dogs,' 'Big Kitchens' — the list is almost endless. Alongside these shows are blockbuster movies like Godzilla, Transformers, Aloha and Superman: Man of Steel."

That list is a sampling, nothing more. The full list goes on and on and on. It includes many films about wars or U.S. base construction. There's an Extreme Makeover Home Edition at Fort Hood. There's The Price Is Right's Military Appreciation Episode. There's a C-Span show called "The Price of Peace" -- C-Span is of course often thought of as a neutral fly on the wall. There are, as mentioned above, lots of BBC documentaries -- the BBC is of course often thought of as British.

The documents linked above consist mostly of assessments with relatively little explicit discussion of military influence. But further research has produced that. The Mirror reports on the censoring of an Iron Man movie because the military is -- not kidding -- actually trying to create Iron Man type suits of armor/weaponry: "Directors are being forced to re-write scripts by the United States Department of Defense if the content is deemed inappropriate -- and the big screen hits affected include Iron Man, Terminator Salvation, Transformers, King Kong and Superman: Man of Steel. . . . Last year, President Barack Obama appeared to be joking when he said the U.S. military was working on its own Iron Man suit for troops. But the first prototypes of a super-strong exoskeleton being developed for chiefs by universities and technology players were delivered last June."

Shouldn't viewers of fantasy cartoonish movies know that the Army has been involved and what it rates those films in terms of their recruitment value?

"To keep Pentagon chiefs happy," reports the Mirror, "some Hollywood producers have also turned villains into heroes, cut central characters, changed politically sensitive settings -- or added military rescue scenes to movies. Having altered scripts to accommodate Pentagon requests, many have in exchange gained inexpensive access to military locations, vehicles and gear they need to make their films."

Guess who pays for that?

In fact many of the listings in the documents above originated as requests from film makers to the military. Here's an example:

"Comedy Central – OCPA-LA received a request from Comedy Central to have Jeff Ross, the Roastmaster General, spend 3 to 4 days on an Army post where he will embed himself amongst the Soldiers. This project will be a hybrid of a documentary and a stand up special/comedy roast. Ross, who has gone on several USO tours, wants to participate in various tactical drills and exercises, as well as interview soldiers and officers of all different ranks to get a fuller understanding of what a life in the military is really like, and how extraordinary those who choose to serve truly are. Then on his last day at the base, armed with the personal knowledge he has acquired, Jeff will put on a roast/standup comedy concert for all the people on the base that he has gotten to know during his tenure there. We are working with OCPA to see if this is something that can be supported and, if so, to find the best fit."

These questions as to whether something can be supported are frequent, but in skimming the documents I notice no negative ratings like

  • Supports Resistance to Mass-Murder
  • Supports Peace, Diplomacy, or Intelligent Foreign Relations
  • Supports Disarmament and Wise Use of Peace Dividend

Apparently all news is good news. Even cancellations get good ratings:

"'BAMA BELLES' REALITY TV SHOW (U), The Bama Belles, a reality show based out of Dothan, AL is being cancelled. According to cast member and producer Amie Pollard, TLC will not continue with a second season of "Bama Belles" and is still deciding whether to air the third episode. One of the actors on the show was SGT 80th Training Command (USAR). Assessment: Cancellation of the show is in the best interest of the US Army. Supports Building Resiliency."

Propaganda aimed at foreign audiences is included right alongside that aimed at potential recruits and voters in the United States:

"(FOUO) STATE DEPARTMENT DOCUMENTARY, AFGHANISTAN (FOUO) (SAPA-CRD), OCPA-LA contacted by production company contracted by U.S. State Dept. Filmmaker requesting to film short scene on FOB in Afghanistan and involving use of five soldiers. The short scene will 'involve a female interrupter [sic] working for US forces and her family struggles.' The soldiers will be mostly background and will only have a few lines. Filmmaker requesting to film the scene in the last two weeks of JAN. ISAF/RC-E has expressed willingness to support. OCPA-LA is coordinating with OSD(PA) for approval. ASSESSMENT: Viewership UNK; video product aimed at Afghan national audiences. Supports Adapting Our Institutions."

Perhaps most disturbing are the advertisements for future war-making. There is, for example, a National Geographic series on "futuristic weapons." There's also this video game that seeks to depict a U.S. soldier in the year 2075:

"(FOUO) ACTIVISION/BLIZZARD VIDEO GAME (FOUO) (OCPA-LA), OCPA-LA was contacted by Activision/Blizzard, the largest video game publisher in the world. They are in the initial stages of a new project designed to create a realistic representation of a Soldier in 2075. They are interested in discussing the U.S. Army of the future; equipment, units, tactics, etc. Have scheduled an introductory meeting this week to discuss. While their interests will require an outside paid consultant, our interest is to correctly establish and frame the Army brand within the game while still in development. Update: and met with company president and game developers. Expressed concern that scenario being considered involves future war with China. Game developers looking at other possible conflicts to design the game around, however, developers are seeking a military power with substantial capabilities. ASSESSMENT: Anticipate game release will be very high-profile and comparable to recent ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Medal of Honor’ releases. Will likely sell in the range of 20-30 million copies. Supports Adapting our Institutions and Maintaining Our Combat Edge."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff last month published the nonfiction "National Military Strategy of the United States of America -- 2015," which also struggled to identify a frightening enemy. It named four nations as the justification for massive U.S. military spending, while admitting that none of the four wanted war with the United States. So, after U.S. government consultation with Sony and its depiction of the fictional murder of the leader of North Korea, it's nice to see some hesitation about depicting a 2075 US-China war. But what exactly is a "correct" depiction of the U.S. Army in 2075? Who has credibly suggested that Western "civilization" can survive war and nationalism that long? And where is Hollywood's investment in depicting an alternative future with greater likelihood of actually being sustainable?

The circus is in town: The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015

By John Grant

 

"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."

How We Teach Violence to Children

By David Soleil

As thoughtful, caring parents, we would never want to teach our kids that violence is the answer to any or every problem.  We want our children to learn to get along with others, share, be kind, say "excuse me," and try their best at an empathetic, "I'm sorry."

I thought I was attuned to the violence that surrounds us in American culture.  However, a trip to our local department store with my kids yesterday was shocking.  We stepped into the toy aisles.  Here is a quick rundown of the toys and action figures, in order...

  • Batman
  • Power Rangers
  • Star Wars
  • Elite Force - modern Army/military toys
  • Professional Wrestling

Next aisle:

  • More Power Rangers
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Spider-Man
  • Super Hero Smashers
  • Marvel Comics Characters - Hulk, Avengers, Captain America, etc.
  • Transformers

End cap:

  • Horror Series - Michael Meyers action figure from Halloween movies and Eric Draven from the Crow
  • Game of Thrones
  • Magic
  • HALO

Next Aisle:

  • Super Hero Adventures - these are tiny cute versions of Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman and Hulk for younger kids.

Notice a pattern here?  Every toy, without exception, uses violence and weapons to cause pain and/or death as their solution to problems.  Then, with the Horror Series, we are supposed to play Serial Killer? Seriously?

What message does this send our children?  Violence is heroic.  Violence is the solution to all problems.  Violence is a super power.  

We are aghast and outraged when we see ISIS beheading a person on the nightly news, yet our children play out the same gruesome scenarios with the toys we get them for their birthday, the movies we take them to see, the comic books we buy for them, the shows they watch on TV, and the video games we buy for them.  

What is a solution for this?  Do I want a Selma action figure series at Target?  Perhaps a Gandhi bobble-head?  (Yes, that one exists...)  

While that would be nice, the solution that I seek is to empower parents to take a stand for your values.  Take a stand for peace-making.  Take a stand for selfless service to others, out of compassion and empathy.  Your children are looking to you to define how to interact with the world.  Talk with them about your values, especially at Target, and especially in the toy aisle.  How do you solve problems?  Connect it to your faith or your belief system.  What does it mean to you to be a Christian?  A Muslim?  A Unitarian Universalist?  A Humanitarian?  Who are the super heroes in your life and why?        

Suddenly, those plastic "super heroes" and weapons seem pretty silly and your family's connections, values and relationships have grown much deeper.  Stand strong.  Put peace into their hands.  Leave the violence on the shelf.  

David Soleil, syndicated by PeaceVoice,  is the former Chair of the Leadership Education group for the International Leadership Association, a founder and staff member at the K-12 Sudbury School of Atlanta.

Jon Stewart Blew Last Chance to Ask Obama a Question

Jon Stewart interviewed President Obama for the last time and told jokes instead of asking questions.

If Stewart retires, where will we find someone willing to let Obama spew nonsense at such length unchallenged?

I discussed Obama's interview on RT on Wednesday, and someone asked me to post the Youtube, but RT has to do that, not me. So here's the gist of what I think.

Stewart said to Obama: you've tried bombing and overthrowing leaders and arming rebels and ... what's that new thing ... oh yeah, diplomacy.

Everybody laughed.

Obama talked up the Iran deal.

Stewart should have asked Obama a question, such as, "If you prefer diplomacy in this case, why not in many other cases where you seem to prefer war?" He could have followed up by asking about each war.

Yall Are Talking About War Wrong

Former head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt. General Michael Flynn has joined the ranks of the many recently retired officials openly admitting that what the U.S. military does generates dangers rather than reducing them. (Flynn didn't explicitly apply this to every recent war and tactic, but did apply it to drone wars, proxy wars, the invasion of Iraq, the occupation of Iraq, and the new war on ISIS, which seems to cover most of the actions the Pentagon engages in. Other recently retired officials have said the same of every other recent U.S. war.)

Once you've admitted that the means of mass killing is not justified by some higher end, once you've called the wars "strategic mistakes," once you've accepted that the wars don't work on their own terms, well then there's no way left to claim that they are excusable in moral terms. Mass killing for some greater good is a tough argument to make, but possible. Mass killing for no damn good reason is totally indefensible and the equivalent of what we call it when it's done by a non-government: mass murder.

But if war is mass murder, then virtually everything that people from Donald Trump to Glenn Greenwald say about war is not quite right.

Here's Trump regarding John McCain: "He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." This is not just wrong because of your view of the good, bad, or indifference of being captured (or what you think McCain did while captured), but because there is no such thing as a war hero. That is the unavoidable consequence of recognizing war as mass murder. You cannot participate in mass murder and be a hero. You can be incredibly brave, loyal, self-sacrificing, and all kinds of other things, but not a hero, which requires that you be brave for a noble cause, that you serve as a model for others.

Not only did John McCain participate in a war that killed some 4 million Vietnamese men, women, and children for no damn good reason, but he has been among the leading advocates for numerous additional wars ever since, resulting in the additional deaths of millions of men, women, and children for, yet again, no damn good reason -- as part of wars that have mostly been defeats and always been failures even on their own terms. This senator, who sings "bomb, bomb Iran!" accuses Trump of firing up "the crazies." Kettle, meet pot.

Let's turn to what a couple of our best commentators are saying about the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn.: Dave Lindorff and Glenn Greenwald. First Lindorff:

"If it turns out that Abdulazeez was in any way linked to ISIS, then his action in attacking U.S. military personnel in the U.S. and killing them has to be seen not as terrorism but as a legitimate retributive act of war. . . . Abdulazeez, if he was a combatant, deserves credit really, at least for following the rules of war. He appears to have focused his killing remarkably well on actual military personnel. There were no civilian casualties in his attacks, no children killed or even wounded. Compare that to the U.S. record."

Now Greenwald:

"Under the law of war, one cannot, for instance, legally hunt down soldiers while they're sleeping in their homes, or playing with their children, or buying groceries at a supermarket. Their mere status as 'soldiers' does not mean it is legally permissible to target and kill them wherever they are found. It is only permissible to do so on the battlefield, when they are engaged in combat. That argument has a solid footing in both law and morality. But it is extremely difficult to understand how anyone who supports the military actions of the U.S. and their allies under the 'War on Terror' rubric can possibly advance that view with a straight face."

These comments are off because there is no such thing as a "legitimate retributive act of war," or an act of mass murder for which someone "deserves credit," or a "solid" legal or moral "footing" for the permissibility of killing "on the battlefield." Lindorff thinks a high standard is to target only soldiers. Greenwald thinks targeting only soldiers while they are engaged in war is a higher standard. (One could make an argument that the soldiers in Chattanooga were in fact engaged in war.) Both are right to point out U.S. hypocrisy regardless. But mass murder is neither moral nor legal.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact bans all war. The U.N. Charter bans war with narrow exceptions, none of which is retribution, and none of which is any war that takes place on a "battlefield" or in which only those engaged in fighting are fought. A legal war or component of a war, under the U.N. Charter, must be either defensive or U.N.-authorized. One could fantasize a United Nations without its Western bias accepting an ISIS attack in the United States as somehow defensive against a U.S. attack in what used to be Iraq or Syria, but it wouldn't get you around the Kellogg-Briand Pact or the basic moral problem of mass murder and of the ineffectiveness of war as a defense.

Lindorff might also consider what "in any way linked to ISIS" means for the U.S. side of the war, in terms of whom the United States claims the right to target, from those guilty of "material support" for trying to promote nonviolence in Iraq, to those guilty of assisting FBI agents pretending to be part of ISIS, to members of groups with ties to ISIS -- which includes groups that the U.S. government itself arms and trains.

Lindorff ends his article discussing actions like the Chattanooga shooting in these terms: "As long as we diminish them by calling them acts of terrorism, nobody's going to demand a halt to the War on Terror. And that 'war' is the real act of terrorism, when you come right down to it." One might exactly as well say: that "act of terrorism" is the real war, when you come right down to it, or: that governmental mass-murder is the real non-governmental mass-murder.

When you come right down to it, we have too much vocabulary for our own good: war, terrorism, collateral damage, hate crime, surgical strike, shooting spree, capital punishment, mass murder, kinetic overseas contingency operation, targeted assassination -- these are all ways of distinguishing types of unjustifiable killing that aren't actually morally distinguishable from each other.

It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War

By Dave Lindorff

 

I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.

A tale of sexism, racism and corporate pressure”: Ellen Pao’s Resignation from Reddit

By Alfredo Lopez


The Internet -- always ablaze with controversy -- is a wildfire these days with revelations about more pernicious government spying, deals between governments and corporate "hacker companies", and Ellen Pao's resignation as head of Reddit.

Recognition Of PeaceWorkers

By Mort Malkin
 
An article in a recent issue of the Wayne Independent announced that the Museum at Bethel Woods was offering free admission to all military veterans. Veterans receive benefit from other organizations as well, chief among them the Veterans’ Administration Clinics and Hospitals. 
 
But, why should peace veterans not be offered similar acknowledgement and benefits? Peace Workers may well be performing even greater service to the nation. You may fairly ask, “How would one achieve Peace Worker status?” Certainly Nobel Peace Laureates have already received recognition, but there are many more organizations that can validate such standing. Here are a few in our area: Wayne Peace, the Peace Academy at Liberty, Sullivan Peace and Justice, and one of the Society of Friends Meeting Houses. A selection of others in other communities include: the Dayton Peace Museum, the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, WILPF, World Beyond War, Another Mother for Peace, Code Pink, Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Granny Peace Brigade, and War Resisters League. The US Armed Forces will certify select individuals as Conscientious Objectors. 
 
Peace work is actually more demanding than war. War requires that you just pull a trigger or press a button — boom. Peace needs patience, persistence, courage, creativity, and diplomacy. Frank B  Kellogg, a Republican from Minnesota and co-author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, said, “I know of no greater work for humanity than in the cause of peace, which can only be achieved by the earnest efforts of nations and people.”
 
Now, all the businesses and organizations that want to offer some benefit to  veteran Peace Workers please form a line.

We’re #1...in the heroin business!: US Lost in Afghanistan, But Did Make Afghanistan World’s Top Heroin Exporter

By Jack Balkwill


...The US government pretends to care about eradicating opium production in Afghanistan, while production soars to record levels.  Can this be an accident? 

The largest marketplace for illegal drugs continues to be the United States, despite a decades-long so-called "war on drugs."  Can this be an accident? 

Killing Crabs and Arabs

I lead a sheltered life. Apart from visiting Afghanistan once during a war, the closest I come to danger is in sports, and the closest I come to violence is in emailed death threats from war fanatics -- and even those pretty much dried up when the president became a Democrat.

When rats moved into the garage, I trapped them one-by-one and let them go in the woods, even as people claimed the same rats were finding their way back over and over again, like local troops getting guns and training from the U.S. Army over and over again so they could "stand up" and attack each other someday.

I've been arrested for using the First Amendment numerous times but never had anyone try to use the Second Amendment on me. I'm mostly a vegetarian, considering becoming a vegan.

My weakness is seafood. But I don't have it all the time. If I ever eat crabs, I buy them already cooked, already red instead of blue, already still instead of moving, already a product like a sausage patty or a granola bar only different.

Recently I found myself at a friend's house on the bay dropping cages into the water and pulling them out full of crabs. One should accept hospitality. They throw back the females. They throw back the babies. The crabs are plentiful, local, organic, non-processed. If I eat them from a store I'd be a hypocrite not to eat them from the bay.

But these crabs were blue, not red; rapidly moving, not still. We dumped them into a pot and poked them back into it as they tried to crawl out, noisily scraping their claws on the metal. Their intentions were quite clear, and we knowingly frustrated those intentions as we slammed the lid on the pot and set it on the stove for 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes. Long enough for an enhanced interrogation.

And then I ate the crabs.

But the crabs kept crawling around in my head. Surely there are greater evils than hypocrisy, my thoughts said to me.

Peace activist friend Paul Chappell spoke recently to a large group. If you spent the day playing with and getting to know a five-year-old girl, he said, could you take a baseball bat and kill her with it? People shuddered.

Of course you couldn't, he said. But what if you did it from 10 feet away with a gun, with her head turned, with her blindfolded, as part of a firing squad, or from 100 feet, without getting to know her, or from an airplane high above, or with the remote control for a drone, or by ordering someone to order someone to order someone else to do it, and with an understanding that the girl was part of a subhuman race out to destroy the good people of the world?

When Barack Obama reads through his list of men, women, and children on a Tuesday and picks which ones to have killed, he knows he won't be doing the killing. When he killed a 16-year-old boy from Colorado named Abdulrahman and his six cousins and friends who were too close to him at the time, was it Obama's choice or did he pass the buck? Was it John Brennan's choice? Let's suppose that one of them was presented with the argument for bestowing the royal thumbs-down.

Were they shown a photograph? Was a portrait of evil painted? Abdulrahman's father had said seditious things. Perhaps Abdulrahman had once cheated on a biology test. Maybe he hadn't meant to, but he had seen an answer and then not spoken up -- no saint, he.

Had a recording been played of Abdulrahman's voice? Could his killer, could his ultimate killer whose policy trickled down to the pushing of the button on the videogame that beheaded, burned-to-death, lynched, and drew and quartered him all at once -- could that person imagine what his voice would have been like had he been in an oversized metal pot trying to crawl out?

Seven young friends trying to scrape their way out of a pot of steaming water, as Gulliver pokes them back. Their words are articulate, followed by inarticulate screams. Could Obama cook them? And if he couldn't cook them, how can he conscionably murder them with missiles, along with dozens and hundreds and thousands of others killed with all kinds of weaponry at his order and through his proxies and through the recipients of his weaponry given and sold to other air-conditioned killers?

If forced to do the killing in person, which president or secretary or chairman or senator or congress member would do it? And would we want them to take a stand against hypocrisy out of loyalty to their former self, the distance killer? Or would we want them to awake to the evil of their ways and cease and desist forthwith?

The distancing of killing doesn't just make it easier. It also hides important considerations behind gleaming temptations. The crabs are dying. You know it. I know it. We all know that we all know it. The oysters are dying. The crabs are dying. The ecosystem is dying. And the fact that they taste good, combined with some vague fatalism about overpopulation and six-of-one-half-a-dozen-bits-of-bullshit doesn't change what the right thing to do must be.

I am going to eat no more crabs.

The wars are self-defeating, creating enemies, murdering innocents, destroying the environment, eroding civil liberties, savaging self-government, draining resources, mashing away all semblance of morality. And the rush of tasty power that comes from ordering deaths on a check list like a take-out menu doesn't change any of that.

There has to be a last time we tolerate war.

Is this taking democracy too far?: The Greek People Have Said ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail

By Dave Lindorff


Something huge has happened in Greece, though you wouldn’t know it if you rely on the US corporate media for your information.


Talk Nation Radio: Andre Vltchek on Exposing Lies of the Empire

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-andre-vltchek-on-exposing-lies-of-the-empire

Andre Vltchek is a writer, reporter, playwright, photographer, and filmmaker. He has reported from around the world. His latest book, which he discusses, is Exposing Lies of the Empire. His website is http://andrevltchek.weebly.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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We don’t do body counts: Have Millions of Deaths from America's 'War on Terror' been Concealed?

By Jack Balkwill

 

How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?

Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?

― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land
 

Would Jeffrey Sterling Be in Prison If He Were White?

By Norman Solomon

Last week CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling went to prison. If he were white, he probably wouldn’t be there.

Sterling was one of the CIA’s few African-American case officers, and he became the first to file a racial discrimination lawsuit against the agency. That happened shortly before the CIA fired him in late 2001. The official in Langley who did the firing face-to-face was John Brennan, now the CIA’s director and a close adviser to President Obama.

Five months ago, in court, prosecutors kept claiming that Sterling’s pursuit of the racial-bias lawsuit showed a key “motive” for providing classified information to journalist James Risen. The government’s case at the highly problematic trial was built entirely on circumstantial evidence. Lacking anything more, the prosecution hammered on ostensible motives, telling the jury that Sterling’s “anger,” “bitterness” and “selfishness” had caused him to reveal CIA secrets.

Dog whistlers run for cover: Lone Wolf Racist Terror Backfires

By John Grant


“Our ancestors were literally fighting to keep human beings as slaves and to continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. I am not proud of this heritage.”

Corrupted Coverage: US News Media Still Can’t Get It Right on Race

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Does the intense news coverage examining the tragic massacre inside a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. and coverage exposing the travesty of the white woman who claims she’s actually black mean the mainstream media has finally ‘got it right’ regarding reporting on race and racism?

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