Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I managed to bring in about $32,000 in the first 10 months of 2009. This includes the ample salary of the job that laid me off last June, wages from p/t work in my profession, plus p/t work doing computer repair, graphic design, health assessments for insurance companies, selling nutritional supplements, rents from rental units, giving care through In Home Support Services, and unemployment insurance.
I was curious to see where I spent that money. As expected, 13.75% went to groceries for my son and I, that's $93/wk. I don't know about you, but $93 seems to buy no more than 2 bags of food. Lucky for us, we grow a lot of our own food, mostly fruits and vegetables.
11.9% automobile expenses including repairs and gasoline.
4% dining out.
7.5% out-of-pocket medical expenses inc what insurance denied.
35.4% mortgage interest excluding the principle.
23.1% to insurance.
The most surprising portion, 23%, was paid to insurance companies: malpractice insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, homeowner's insurance, cell phone insurance, and medical insurance with large copays that doesn't cover my children who remain uninsured.
Considering that the mortgage interest is a premium on a tangible asset which provides my family with shelter from the elements as well as safety and comfort, our home can be considered well worth the more than third of my income paid to the bank as loan service. But the quarter of my income paid out to insurance companies will never be seen again. It just seems appalling that families need to pay out such a large proportion to a predatory racket that is tantamount to extortion. Insurance lobbies may soon get Congress to make all insurance mandatory.
113% of my income in 2009 was spent on food, automobile, medical expenses, mortgage interest, donations, taxes and insurance. Additionally, I also purchased clothes, house repairs, utilities, telephone & internet services, school supplies, gifts, bank fees, union dues, cleaning supplies, mortgage, credit card debt, travel, and membership in the health club where I work out 2-3 times/week. Going to the movies is beyond our budget; we watch free DVD's from the public library, or stream movies on the internet. I can't afford to pay membership to my professional organization this year, thereby forgoing the perk of free vouchers for uninsured students to get eye exams. Fortunately, I saved some money when I still had a f/t job with benefits, which we now draw upon to survive.
All I can say is that we are the lucky ones. We have kept our heads above water and have not skipped any mortgage payments. By word of mouth and with the help of my friends and unemployment, my son and I have been treading water. The fact that I have to draw upon our savings to keep us afloat is like bailing out the boat while the hole in the bottom gets bigger and bigger. How long will we be able to bail out the boat?
Friday, October 30, 2009
Good Morning Bodhi,
What's your take on this "hot" area? I feel this Administration is making more progress with health reform and global peace that I have seen during my entire life. Love to hear your opinion.
The own our big media corporations that control the mainstream airwaves. Anti-war political candidates are excluded during from airing their voices on mainstream media. They are ridiculed and belittled, with character assassinations. The only candidates that we see on TV are the ones that have agreed to collaborate with the war profiteers.
That said, Obama got elected with a little help from the war profiteers. Don't forget, Obama refused public financing of his campaign and therefore, raised more money than any other candidate in history. A significant portion of his campaign funding came from the war profiteers.
Now that he has been elected, his campaign promise was to get out of and fight the REAL war in Afghanistan where Al'Quida is located. He was never the "peace" candidate. Now that he is in office, he doesn't necessarily have to comply with the generous supporters that want favorable conditions for more war. On the other hand, if he crosses the war profiteers, they will assassinate him - DEAD. If he crosses the peace-niks, they will complain without violence, maybe have another sit-in. If someone constantly had a sniper pointing a killer weapon at you just in case you slipped-up the rhetoric, what would you say?
I believe Obama will maintain perpetual war to keep the war profiteers happy while he tries to slip in some popular reforms under their noses. The same with Wall Street and Health Insurance. He took their money for his campaign also. That's why he is approving more corporate giveaways to banks and insurance companies.
In Peace, Bodhi
I also began with the usual capitalistic hype about Che. He is portrayed as an insane, revolutionary thug. But now I understand that the CIA disinformation campaign prefers to keep us intellectually uninformed, and emotionally charged against such an "enemy" of capitalism. Additionally, American education has historically conflated democracy with capitalism. In regard to Che Guevara, they want us all to be Tea-Baggers. And they have succeeded for 40 years.
Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism are economic systems. Democracy, theocracy, plutocracy, dictatorship, monarchy, feudalism, are political systems. There is nothing automatic about capitalism being a democracy or communism being a dictatorship. Such is the misinformation in our American educational system.
On the contrary, when you think about it carefully, capitalism is an economic model where a corporate CEO that usually answers to a corporate Board of Directors dictates all policies from the top down. There is nothing democratic about it at all. On the other hand, communism is an economic model in which classically, all the factory workers own the means of production equally, and theoretically all have equal say in the management of the assets and the profits. That sounds far more democratic to me. I say classically, because Marx and Engels did not include farmers in the proletariat. Mao Tse Tung was the one who expanded the proletariat to include not only factory workers but also farmers. And I say theoretically because the major models of communism in the world today are dictated in practice from a central committee, quite contrary to the theoretical model. An economic system in which all the workers have a say in the management of the assets sounds way more democratic than the capitalistic system. How did the disinformation campaign ever convince us of the opposite?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Preventable deaths last year in the USA that were not declared a national emergency:
MD errors (iatrogenic) 2,200,000
No medical insurance 45,000
Infant deaths 28,527 (2500 of them from SIDS)
War in Iraq & Afghanistan 5,130 (American GI combat deaths only)
(pvt contractors, deaths in
hospital from war injuries,
friendly fire, and accidental
deaths not included)
Domestic violence 1000-1600
H1N1 flu 2009 593 Only this one is declared a national emergency.
I am confounded at the hullabaloo caused by the H1N1 flu rather than the sharp increase of smoking among youths and young adults, or obesity rates of 1 in 3. I believe the H1N1 " " preparations are nothing more than a drill for the real pandemic in the unknown future.
If only they could get MD's to wash their hands, we could prevent the majority of the 2M annual deaths from people catching a in the hospital (nosocomial disease). Where's the national emergency about this? Maybe they can rush through a vaccine that will prevent hospital patients from catching diseases before entering the hospital. Or better yet, a vaccine that will promote hand washing among doctors. How about a vaccine that will prevent greed in corporate executives?
I believe the declaration of a "national emergency" is nothing more than the means for another corporate robbery of taxpayer funds to pay BigPharma for a vaccine that grandfathered in safety testing from another similar vaccine.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I would like to praise our professor of Constitutional law, now President, for restoring the Executive Branch to its Constitutional role of carrying out the laws written by Congress. Obama is not playing the Unitary Executive of Alexander Hamilton or George Bush. Instead, he is allowing Congress to follow their Constitutional mandate to heed the calls of the electorate and craft legislation for the Executive Branch to execute.
On the other hand, our elected representatives in Congress are jockeying around the issues as usual, not sure whether to represent the electorate or their corporate donors. Therefore, it is paramount that We the People contact our Senators and Representative in Congress in every way and as frequently as possible to tell them what kind of health care we want. Call, write and fax them everyday until health care legislation is passed.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
You asked for my comments regarding your 2002 opposition to the authorization for war in Iraq and the current issue of renewing it.
Since both houses of Congress on both sides of the aisle have been collaborating with the war profiteers against the best interests of the American people, Democracy in America is nothing more than a myth, a ruse to keep the public satisfied. There is barely a handful of honest Congressmen who look look out for the Common Good. They are overruled by the overwhelming opposition of Democrat and Republican sellouts who have ascended into office. At this point in history, the war profiteers are calling the shots.
I recall 1984 when the CIA was mining the harbors of Nicaragua. It was in the alternative press for months before a British ship was struck and became an international incident. Even though a committee of Congress had approved the illegal mines, even though Russian and Panamanian ships struck mines earlier and was denied in the US press, even though the Prime Minister of Nicaragua had formally appealed to the US government against the mines, Congress all pretended to be surprised once the British ship was struck. They all claimed they knew nothing about it. I call that the "pretend game."
Today, Congress on both sides of the aisle continue to play the pretend game when they authorize more funds for a war that now obviously was initiated on false premises. The war profiteers have them in their pockets. And if they aren't being paid off, then they are probably being threatened. It is a sad state of affairs.
As long as the government divides the people with fear and race baiting, the opponents of war will never unite and become the overwhelming majority that they are. There is barely an honest face in Congress. The American people have been sold out.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Is there anything negative about preparing for a disaster? Should we keep our head in the sand? I always say, if it happened once, it can happen twice. When we look back on history, even within the last decade, we see one genocide after another. From the Hebrews killing the Canaanites, Amalekites, and Midianites, the 6 recorded genocides in Chinese history, the several times the Jews were targeted, to the current genocides in Darfur, Rwanda, and slaughter of the Sunnis in Iraq, the list is too long to even mention here, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history) who knows when the leaders in power will choose to scapegoat you or me next? And what if it is a natural disaster instead?
I remember reading the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. She described a scene in which her mother got an early warning that the Japanese were marching toward Nanjing. She put all her family heirlooms into a wheelbarrow with her two children and headed north out of the city. She walked until her wheelbarrow broke, and abandoned it at the side of the road. She picked up her children, one in each arm, and ran until her shoes broke. She discarded the shoes, and ran until the soles of her feet were raw from broken blisters. She was exhausted. She made a difficult decision. She sewed family photos and money into the vests of her children and left them at the side of the road, and continued running. Like Sophie's choice. As war foments around us, as long as governments believe war is justified for any reason, you or I may be the next ones running for our lives.
Does it upset people to think about preparing to escape from an earthquake, flood, or forest fire? Someone called me "negative." I guess it is a negative thing to learn from history. It must be a negative thing to stay in shape in order to rescue your children from potential disaster. I suppose my critics mean it is positive to think of staying in shape to look sexy, or for cardiovascular health, and ignore the oft repeated lessons of history.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The following is my response to President Obama:
Honorable President Obama,
Thank you for the prompt reply to my appeal for Medicare for All. In it, you emphasize that the most pressing issue is affordable, high-quality health care. You then mention insurance reform. Access to health care, high quality health care, and health insurance are 3 very different issues. I believe you are confusing the issues. I disagree with you that these are the principal issues needing reform.
Another major issue is moral. Even Senator Kennedy mentioned the moral issue in his final letter.
The first issue is the moral imperative for a nation to protect its citizens. Protection is not only by military at the borders of the country; we also protect our citizens with laws, police, judges, firefighters, public health, etc., all paid for with taxes. It is a moral imperative for a developed nation to provide health insurance to ALL citizens.
The second is whether it is moral or ethical to profit from ill health? Should health care be a free market commodity? All the aforementioned protective services are free for everyone and not market commodities. I believe a free market for a person's life is immoral.
One of the biggest issues has been the immorality of the health insurance companies which has driven us into this crisis.
Your reform doesn't even mention morals or ethics. You talk about reforming the health insurance industry but not reforming their morals. Selling health insurance for profit is like selling a slave. Slaves also should not be free market commodities, and profits made from trafficking are also not moral. Medicare is a not-for-profit health insurance policy.
Please, don't give this "reform" away to the insurance industry. Make the insurance industry the "private option." Medicare for ALL is the only moral choice.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I contend that Medicare works. Medicare is one of the most popular and successful legislations in American history. Let's build on Medicare to expand it to ALL. Expanding Medicare to all would NOT be "starting from scratch."
Health care for profit by private insurance companies is unethical and obviously doesn't work. We should expand Medicare for ALL with a private option.
Our nation has been attempting to provide health care for all for over 100 years. It took about 50 years of incremental legislation to culminate in Medicare in 1964. Now, 55 years after Medicare, the PUBLIC OPTION will be a tiny step toward Medicare for All.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
I haven't read the Patriot Act, but I seriously doubt that any government agency could force people to be vaccinated outside of the military or prisons. For example, the WHO wants every child to be vaccinated against HepB, but parents still have to sign a permit, and if they don't, there is no penalty whatsoever. Every nation in the world vaccinates their newborns against HepB, a disease of IV drug users. It is a noble ambition of WHO to aspire to wipe HepB off the face of the Earth like it did with smallpox. But parents are free to decline the vaccine. My son got himself vaccinated at age 18.
New York City schools will be conducting H1N1 flu vaccinations in October, when the vaccine will be released. But still, no one will get vaccinated without the parent signing a consent. Most assuredly, there will also be a Waiver to sign for those parents who don't want their child vaccinated. Plenty of parents already sign the waiver for the mandatory school vaccinations.
Undoubtedly, part of the H1N1 flu "pandemic" is the need to sell vaccines. Another is to sell alcohol based hand sanitizer. As a School Nurse, I have noted that schools often think hand washing is too time consuming and uses too much water, so they buy hand sanitizer at $4 per 8 oz bottle. In times of drastic budget cutting, who can afford that???
There are 3 processes to guard ourselves and our children against the H1N1 flu or any other communicable disease.
1) Hand washing. It must include lathering the soap all over the hands for at least 10 seconds, 20 preferred; tell kids to sing Happy Birthday twice while lathering, then rinse. Large numbers of students can be accommodated by mixing some liquid soap with water in a spray bottle, and spraying all the children's hands to lather up while they are waiting in line to rinse. Strategic timing to wash hands is also essential: before eating, after coughing or sneezing into your hand, after blowing your nose, after touching pets like turtles or other reptiles/amphibians, and after using the bathroom, etc.
2) Bolster the immune system with good nutrition and nutritional supplements. Get enough exercise and sleep.
3) Clean all commonly touched areas with an antibacterial cleanser. I suggest 70% isopropyl alcohol because it is cheap and the fumes are non-toxic. Just don't drink it. Clean door knobs, the phone, faucet handles, the toilet flusher, the refrigerator handle, light switches, video game controllers, computer keyboards, remote control, etc. At school, this should be done nightly. If there is a known infected person, it would be prudent to repeat it at midday.
Germs are everywhere all the time anyway. I agree with Foster Gamble, the author of the article in question, that the H1N1 flu may be no worse than any other flu. I am very hesitant to expose myself or any child to a rushed-through vaccine that hasn't yet been fully tested over the long term on large numbers of subjects. I tell the parents at school that vaccinations are an ethical issue that is up to every individual parent.
Unfortunately, we live with a government that devalues the Common Good. Historically, the government has dropped many safeguards and has rushed-through several pharmaceuticals that were not fully tested; they subsequently became fully tested by using the unwitting general public as test subjects without their consent. We have a crisis of trust with our government which protects corporate interests at the expense of the Common Good.
Another huge factor affecting our immune systems is that of pollution. As long as the government allows pollution, and our bodies become toxified with air, water, and soil pollution, our immune systems become impaired. The government would rather vaccinate us than prevent pollution and force the polluters clean up their messes. Once again, our government protects corporate profits at the expense of the Common Good.
So the H1N1 flu "pandemic" may be another way to bolster corporate profits for the vaccine and sanitizer companies. Maybe. Or maybe not. Either way, effective hand washing is the key to controlling the spread of contagious disease. Hand washing and good nutrition is more important now than ever before.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
August 24, 2009
Thanks for your rational and researched retort to Jim's irrational hate and blame scapegoating. You will never convince them with reason and facts.
I have some good friends with sons the same age as mine. The last time I visited them, they spoke the same words as Jim and I was surprised, as usual, that such words could spew forth from intelligent people's mouths. This is the popular issue for a certain subset of arch Republicans. I've heard such virulent hate and blame words from my friends before, yet we have maintained a cordial friendship. I just presume that they have been hypnotized or something, and try to see the merit in their viewpoint. I try to understand what part of them is fulfilled by crude-mouthed rage focused on race baiting. I presume they aspire to be one of the nobles in the neo-feudalistic new world they envision.
There is no way to reason with such people. They are convinced and enraged. It is all part of the fascist tide that the war profiteers are fomenting. If my friends got hypnotized into the frenzy, then the whole tide could become a tidal wave.
I'm glad you speak up to this frenzy with reason; even if you could never convince the fanatics, you can convince the bulk of the normals under the bell curve. I'm glad you speak up for facts, compassion, and reason.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
I heard on the news today that we may be at war with Iran in a couple of weeks. That would please the war profiteers because they make money no matter who wins. But the USA will not be able to beat Iran. The Iranians have learned their lesson and they are ready for us.
No sooner was the fascist Axis defeated in WWII than US Intelligence recruited the defeated Nazi war criminals to fight our allies, the Soviets. The resulting Gehlen Organization of Nazi master spies provided all the intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next decade. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 creating the CIA and the National Security Council (NSC) to oversee it. The initial CIA was populated by operatives from the Gehlen Organization. By 1948, the CIA created a secret wing called the Office of Policy Coordination to carry out "anti-communist" covert operations. I wonder why 3 years after helping us defeat the fascists, that suddenly our government decides to fight our allies, the communists, using our enemies, the Nazi fascists? What was so very wrong about communism that we needed to recruit our worst enemies into a covert wing of government to fight it?
In 1953, under the direction of Allen Dulles, the covert wing of the CIA, which was dedicated to defending freedom and democracy, overthrew the democratically elected center-left leader of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh. At that time, Iran was a budding democracy with a western-leaning population and a secular parliament. The CIA set up the brutal Shah of Iran who promoted Western corporate interests while ruthlessly repressing the Iranian people.
Twenty six years later, the Muslim fundamentalists managed to overthrow the Shah and take 66 Americans hostages. After releasing the women, sick, and people of color, 52 hostages remained. They wanted the Shah returned from the USA to face trial in Iran for his crimes against humanity. Some believe the hostage takers were paid by Reagan campaign conspirators; that's what it looked like to me at the time. The failure of peacemaker President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages led to his electoral defeat. The unintended consequences of the CIA's covert action against a budding secular democracy resulted in the creation of an avidly anti-American militant fundamentalist Muslim theocracy in Iran; our baby.
Once the Shah died, and Iraq invaded Iran, the hostage takers released the hostages moments after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, supposedly as a statement against Carter's support for the brutal Shah. Reagan instituted economic sanctions against Iran and military support to Iran's enemy, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, causing the Iranian Muslim theocracy to work even harder to survive. In spite of the embargo and arming their neighbor, Iraq, CIA covert operations were selling arms to Iran, now known as the Iran-Contra Affair. The CIA used the funds to support the anti-democratic Contras of Nicaragua.
The Iranians have been victims of a series of anti-democratic interventions instigated by the USA. In spite of this, they have developed into the powerhouse of the Middle East. They signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as well as weapons inspection treaties with the IAEA. Although they have used rhetoric against the state of Israel, they have not violated any rules or conventions without first being violated from abroad. Although Iran has not invaded their neighboring countries in the last century and has cooperated with efforts against nuclear proliferation, the United States chooses to make Iran the enemy.
There is currently a steamroller of anti-Iranian militaristic sentiment in the American news media to fight Iran, our unintended baby. Doesn't anyone see that we have meddled enough with Iran? If we start a war with Iran, it may be the last war that the USA ever fights. We have been at war for decades. Our resources are depleted; our national treasury is deep in debt. We have already mortgaged the futures of our unborn great grandchildren to pay for our current ongoing wars. What makes anyone think that we could defeat Iran, who has been preparing to defend themselves against us since we invaded Iraq in 1991? War with Iran at this time will be the biggest mistake ever made by the USA.
OSS created — Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Italy — Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.
OSS is abolished — The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.
Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the "Gehlen Organization," a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia. These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the "Butcher of Lyon"), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler’s). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the "intelligence" the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious "missile gap." To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.
Greece — President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.
CIA created — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC — there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to "perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct." This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.
Covert-action wing created — The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include "propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."
Italy — The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works -- the communists are defeated.
Operation MOCKINGBIRD — The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. The effort is headed by Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA’s media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA’s own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.
Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo. [CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., was Operation Ajax's formal leader.]
Operation MK-ULTRA — Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion. [Most infamous test subject was the Unabomber, Dr. Theodore John Kaczynski, who published the "Unabomber Manifesto" and set 16 bombs.]
Guatemala — CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.
North Vietnam — CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.
Hungary — Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.
Laos — The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an "Armee Clandestine" of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.
Haiti — The U.S. military helps "Papa Doc" Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the "Tonton Macoutes," who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.
The Bay of Pigs — The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But "Operation Mongoose" fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.
Dominican Republic — The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.
Ecuador — The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.
Congo (Zaire) — The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.
Dominican Republic — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.
Ecuador — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.
Brazil — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down "communists" for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these "communists" are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.
Indonesia — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being "communist." The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.
Dominican Republic — A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.
Greece — With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.
Congo (Zaire) — A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.
The Ramparts Affair — The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire "professors" to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.
Greece — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the "reign of the colonels" — backed by the CIA — will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cypress, Johnson tells him: "Fuck your parliament and your constitution."
Operation PHEONIX — The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 "Viet Cong."
Operation CHAOS — The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.
Bolivia — A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.
Uruguay — The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect," is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.
Cambodia — The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.
Bolivia — After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.
Haiti — "Papa Doc" Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son "Baby Doc" Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.
The Case-Zablocki Act — Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.
Cambodia — Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.
Wagergate Break-in — President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.
Chile — The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.
CIA begins internal investigations — William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.
Watergate Scandal — The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, "Deep Throat," is probably one of those.
CIA Director Helms Fired — President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.
CHAOS exposed — Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.
Angleton fired — Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.
House clears CIA in Watergate — The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.
The Hughes Ryan Act — Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report non-intelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.
Australia — The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.
Angola — Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.
"The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence" — Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.
"Inside the Company" — Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.
Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing — Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation ("The Church Committee"), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.
The Rockefeller Commission — In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the "Rockefeller Commission" to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.
Iran — The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA’s backing of SAVAK, the Shah’s bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Afghanistan — The Soviets invade Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the occupying Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.
El Salvador — An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to "normal" — the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.
Nicaragua — Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.
El Salvador — The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter "Christian to Christian" to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.
Iran/Contra Begins — The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be "pressured" until "they say ‘uncle.’" The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.
Honduras — The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious "Battalion 316" then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.
The Boland Amendment — The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to "hand off" the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes "humanitarian aid" donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.
Eugene Hasenfus — Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.
Iran/Contra Scandal — Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.
Haiti — Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that "Baby Doc" Duvalier will remain "President for Life" only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.
Haiti — Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.
The Gulf War — The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA. With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism — in Kuwait, for example.
The Fall of the Soviet Union — The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.
Economic Espionage — In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.
Haiti — The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.
In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: "By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage."
Clinton’s is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don’t know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked.
Furthermore, Clinton’s statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA. These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.
The CIA’s response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church’s fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA’s criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee’s On the Run for an example of early harassment.) However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton’s "Americans will never know" defense is a prime example.
Another common apologetic is that "the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all." There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.
Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: "Which American interests?" The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country’s cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: "Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples’ human rights?"
The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.
Steve Kangas was found dead February 8, 1999, on the 39th floor of Richard Mellon Scaife, 2000 miles from home, shot in the head. This is what happens to those who cross the CIA.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
On DemocracyNow! on Friday, the portrayal of a silent kaleidoscopic view of Iraq from the viewpoint of an Iraqi was sublime. It was a human side of the war unseen anywhere else in America. What a nightmare!
At one point, seeing families carting home the dead bodies of their children and loved ones, I didn't know if I was looking at Israel, or Palestine, or any other place where inflexible, militaristic powers strive to dominate another people.
In Genesis 17, G-d came to Abraham and promised him the land of Canaan. That covenant was marked by the practice of circumcision. Ishmael was 13 years old, Abram, now Abraham, was 99. It was 3 years before the birth of Isaac. G-d told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, and gave the land of Canaan to ALL of the seed of Abraham.
When Joshua crossed the Jordan River and invaded Canaan, the Bible says that they slaughtered all the Canaanites except for the family of the harlot. Save the possibility that the Palestinians might be her descendants, we will assume that the Palestinians are descendants of Ishmael. The Canaanites are gone.
Standing on the platform that G-d gave this land to us, the Israelis feel righteous in taking the land. But they forget that G-d gave this land to our cousins, the Palestinians, also. Ishmael received G-d's blessing 3 years before Isaac did, and again by Hagar's well. The Muslims worship the One G-d, they circumcise their males, they even daven when they pray.
In Genesis 6, the Nefillim walked the Earth and found the daughters of men to be lovely, and they fathered the heroes of old. It is unknown who or what the Nefillim were, but they were not humans but had genetic material that could mate with the aboriginal humans. The first great hero was Noah. Muslims and Jews are descendants of Noah's son Shem. We are all Shemites. We all carry that piece of genetic material from the Nefillin.
The children of Israel were chosen to promote the worship of the One G-d, and to be examples of righteousness to the people. Being chosen does NOT mean exclusive right of possession of the land of Canaan.
The Earth is rapidly shrinking. We are all together on this one lifeboat of a planet. Its the only one we have. We need to find a way to live together in Peace.
There are some that say the purpose of national government is no more than to protect our national borders and to regulate interstate commerce. And for what purpose are our local governments? Some say to keep the peace and to protect the public safety. In fact, the purpose of government is to protect the Common Good.
The Common Good can be defined as those things that benefit all people equally. Usually it includes the police force, fire fighters, and forest rangers, infrastructure of our cities like roads, traffic lights, sewers, sidewalks, and water, gas and electric lines. Clean and safe water, air and soil are included in the Common Good because we all breathe, drink and eat food coming from the soil. Parks and game preserves are also for the Common Good as well as a just legal and political system. And many include the public airways and utilities that produce electricity in the Common Good. Considering that the World Health Organization has proclaimed that healthcare is a basic Human Right, I would also include healthcare in the Common Good.
Our local governments have created Public Utility Commissions to manage the common resources like air, water, rail safety, and electricity for the common good. They have also created sewer treatment plants and clean water facilities to benefit all people equally at a price that is not-for-profit. Yet our government doesn’t have any means to manage healthcare. Nor do they manage the soil. The food grown in our soil is only monitored for coliform bacteria. Organic farmers who try to produce completely safe food are overruled by courts that favor the petroleum fertilized fields growing genetically engineered crops for which long-term safety is unknown. The courts protect the rights of the corporations to use the unsuspecting American public as guinea pigs to test the long-term safety of their products.
A huge issue, which subverts the Common Good, is healthcare for profit. If health care is a human right, then rationing it out only to those who can pay is not serving the Common Good at all. I recently had an annual check-up. The doctor ordered a few lab tests. One test was the urinalysis. Having done many through my job over the years, I’m quite familiar with this test. It entails taking a small test strip out of a jar and dipping it into a sample of urine and then reading the colors compared to the key on the jar label. It takes about 120 seconds to complete the test and record the results. I was charged $80 for this test. This is healthcare for profit.
In the USA, we have a system which trains doctors to serve their own profits rather than the Common Good. It is done by charging huge premiums for a medical education followed by the equally huge cost of setting up a private practice. It is not unusual for a new young doctor to begin practicing medicine with $50,000 debt in student loans and another $50,000 debt in costs associated with opening a practice. No wonder doctors often seem to favor costly interventions in conflict with serving the patient’s best interests. If medical education were not-for-profit, and the new young doctors could be immediately employed in the national health care system, we would be training practitioners that care about their patients’ good health more than about the next payment on their overwhelming debt burden. A system that reaps profits at the expense of public illness is a conflict of interest.
In addition, there is no agency other than the American Medical Association that monitors the safe practice of doctors. Truck and bus drivers, airplane pilots, air traffic controllers, train engineers, all get regular drug urine tests to insure the public safety, but not doctors. Anesthesiologists and surgeons have our lives in their hands, as well as having the means to write their own prescriptions for drugs of abuse, yet no one is charged with the job of monitoring their competence and ability to provide safe care for the benefit of the Public Good. Did your anesthesiologist get a drug urine test before your last surgery?
It would be unthinkable to most people that private corporations could buy up our public utilities like water and sewer and begin price gauging. But, why not? Our Congress has already passed the law (H.R. 6, Sec. 1273, Repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, Aug 8, 2005: Public Law No: 109-58) that allows for the privatization of public utilities. A private corporation will soon be coming to your town to make bids on the local water supply. After that, like with healthcare, it will be rationed out to those who can pay. A glass of clean drinking water could cost $80 like the urinalysis. Price gauging is fair and square among Social Darwinist corporatists. Only the richest shall survive. And when questioned about it, they lie.
I propose that it is the duty and obligation of governments to protect the Common Good not-for-profit. In order to carry out their charge, governments need the support of the people. Therefore governments levy taxes. Residents pay taxes, and their tax dollars pay for roads, bridges, sewer, water, gas and electric lines, police, highway patrol, firefighters, judges, courts, prisons, public health, public schools, public universities, public parks, and governments to administer all these public services. Taxes used to also pay for public hospitals, but such things have now all been privatized in the name of increased efficiency.
There is a small minority of ideological fanatics who believe that governments should be replaced with private corporations which will run everything more efficiently. Those industries that used to be operated for the common good not-for-profit, which have now been replaced by unregulated, for-profit corporations, have unanimously gauged money from the public while the quality of the product or service fell precipitously. The only net efficiencies derived from the privatization process were the ever increasing earnings-per-share for the stockholders.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against private corporations. Competitive markets for commodities and goods are a good thing, but NOT when it entails those items that are strictly and exclusively for the Common Good. Consumer items like clothing, cars, furniture, bicycles, house paint and stereos all have a place in the competitive market. And corporations can also serve the public by producing good products that don’t pollute the environment. Corporations can limit the multiples for the compensation received by top administrators as compared with the lowliest employee. They can make sure their workers are not unfairly exploited and get fair wages and benefits. They can make sure that their workforce, including the Board of Directors and the top administrators, reflect the diversity found in the local area. Pure Capitalism exploits the workers until they can no longer work and then replaces them with a younger worker. Capitalism moderated by social controls prevents slavery, child labor, and discrimination based on gender, sexual preference, race, national origin or religion. Capitalism moderated by social controls provides a 40-hr week, minimum wage, paid leave, overtime pay, vacation time, maternity and family emergency leave, lunch-time, breaks, and much more.
Some corporations find they can’t compete in the global market because they have the extra financial burden of providing healthcare for their employees. This is the justification to move their factories offshore where they can pay lower wages without providing healthcare or other benefits. Essentially, off-shore factories are able to return to the days of pure Capitalism, where collective bargaining for workers did not exist. Yet, the real reason they can’t compete in the global market is because all other industrialized nations provide national healthcare for the Common Good rather than legislating it on to private businesses. Our current government gives tax advantages to factories that relocate offshore rather than providing national healthcare for the Common Good. Obviously, our current government is not fulfilling their duty to serve the Common Good.
Since healthcare is for the Common Good, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of employers to provide it. Healthcare should be provided like water, sewer, roads, police and firefighters, compliments of the government who serve the interests of the Common Good not-for-profit.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Hope is a good feeling based on delusion.
Hope is a tool of exploitation of the hopeless.
Hope is the same platform that George W. Bush ran on in 1999.
Hope is the delusion you use to transfer massive amounts of public wealth into private hands.
Hope is what you give us in exchange for cutting funds for education, safety, and social services.
People hoped you would end war, but you shift war from one location to another.
You hope the war profiteers won't assassinate you as long as you appease them with perpetual wars.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Date: Saturday, May 30, 2009, 9:33 AM
At the Bat Mitzvah’s party on May 23, we had a discussion about the Torah portion, baMidbar. Since this portion includes a census of military-aged men, I asked people to discuss under what circumstances they would be willing to fight, specifically to serve in an army.
While people took the topic seriously, and several moving stories were told, I was unhappy with the level of the discussion. The day after the party, my long-time friend told me a story which illuminates the point that I was trying to make. I wish to share it with you, so we can complete the teaching of this portion.
Before I relate my friend’s story, let me tell you several others. This wouldn’t be a true Torah discussion, if I didn’t include at least one or two apparently unrelated anecdotes.
In one of the Lord of the Rings movies, Frodo contemplates the dangerous burden posed by the magic ring and says that he wished it had never come into his possession. Gandalf replies, "So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
This is precisely why I was displeased with our discussion. There was too much speculation about matters over which we have no control, and too little thought about decisions that we might actually have to make. The political content of our talk struck me as off-topic. Very few of us will influence the course of our nation or events in the Middle East. We are more likely to be asked to put on a uniform, pick up a gun, pay taxes or in some way support a war.
Waging war is quality associated with nationhood. It is no coincidence when the Hebrews formed a nation out in the desert that one of their first acts was to take a military census.
Nationalism is important in the Torah. Certain mitzvahs can only be performed as a nation, so we must have a nation to do them.
This portion occurs as we are counting the Omer from Passover to Shavuot. We are taught that with the counting we are increasing our holiness, so that on Shavuot, we are holy enough to receive the Torah.
On Passover, we are taught that we should regard the holiday’s events “…as though you yourself came out of Egypt.” Even though we gather as a family, we celebrate Passover as individuals. At the time of the Exodus, we have not yet formed a national identity.
In contrast, Shavuot is very much a national holiday. The Torah was not given to each individual Jew, but rather to the nation as a whole. Also, Shavuot is associated with the mitzvah of the giving of the first fruits, a commandment that was given to the entire nation. After coming into the land of Israel, we didn’t give first fruits for several years, because we had to wait until everyone was able to contribute.
We can see that by juxtaposition of these two spring holidays and the increasing holiness as we count the Omer, that forming a nation is a path to holiness. In this context, nationalism, itself, is holy.
Read that last sentence again, because I think some of you will have trouble accepting it. Much of the conversation that we had last Saturday, was an attempt by participants to distance themselves from the excesses of nationalism.
Now, let’s recount another apparently unrelated story. I have heard this same tale told about two different people: Shlomo Carlebach, and a Jewish tzadik (righteous man), who lived in the Midwest and whose name escapes me.
The tzadik was walking down the street with his hasids (students) when he was approached by an admirer. The admirer, probably not Jewish, offered the tzadik a non-kosher cookie. The tzadik unexpectedly ate the offered food. The tzadik explained to the shocked hasids that refusing the gift would have been a worse sin than eating a non-kosher cookie, because it would have publicly embarrassed the stranger.
Some may accuse the tzadik of compromising his principles. Compromise has a bad reputation, maybe unfairly. I think of the tzadik as having decided that one mitzvah was more important than another.
When I heard the conversation last Saturday about what Israel should do, and what constitutes a just war, I became annoyed. We all have a tendency to embrace an unbending, uncompromising purity that leads to separation and moral arrogance. “I am above such petty concerns. I am not part of this. I am better than this situation”
We can get so up wrapped up in our own individual ethical concerns that we don’t acknowledge our responsibilities toward others. We not only refuse the cookie, but do so with a loud proclamation of our religious convictions, not caring how the stranger feels.
Opposing war is necessary, but waging peace does not free us of our collective responsibilities. This is what I meant last Saturday, when I said we all have to “get our hands dirty.” Sometimes, the highest moral approach is not the purest one.
The balance between personal morality and our responsibility to our nation was illustrated by a story that my friend told me. His father was a Conscientious Objector (CO) during World War II. He could have chosen to be the type of CO that refused all military service. He could have refused to cooperate with the System and in the words of Pink Floyd, “…exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage,” i.e. gone to jail.
What his father decided to do was become a medic. That meant that he “compromised” his moral objection to war. He put on a uniform. He carried a gun. He healed injured warriors who went back to combat. He was part of the war machine.
In this case, as someone said of Obama, “For him, compromise is the high moral ground.” My friend’s father did not hold himself superior to the situation. He did not reject the ties that bound him to his neighbors, community and nation. He got his “hands dirty,” in a very literal way with the blood and guts of the wounded.
When faced with the horror of global war, he did not separate himself and say “I will not be part of this.” He acknowledged that whatever moral stand he took, he WAS part of the horror. Instead of debating the ethics of the situation, he asked, “What is the best action that I can do now?” His answer was to heal the injured. Thus, he fulfilled his responsibilities to his country and still honored his anti-war convictions by not killing anyone.
By the way, this discussion was a revelation for my friend. He said he had never thought of his father as holy before. His atheist father was “the last person that you would discuss religion with.” He intends to investigate his late father’s war experiences by asking his mother about them.
Even though he would not kill, my friend’s father could still be counted on by the nation; he was part of the census. His example demonstrates one way nationalism leads to holiness. A truly moral person approaches life with humility. They do not say, “You do not meet my standards. I am better than you, so I will not participate.” Instead, they say, “This is my problem too. How can I help?”
Great drosh, Bill.
You also have opened my eyes to my former father-in-law and helped me to see him in a new light. He may have had his personal peculiarities as a father, but I see now that he was a man of high moral standing in spite of his absolute atheism. He was a man that stood up for his moral beliefs.
I'm told he came back from the war a changed man. I thought that anyone would be changed by war. Now I see that change from a more personal view. He could never truly reconcile within himself that compromise you point out. Although he did his duty for the collective good, he could never forgive himself for the deaths and destruction that he took part in.
In the story of him discovering a man in his bed with his wife while the children slept downstairs, he experienced moral repugnance at the act of cuckolding adultery. Yet he himself never committed adultery.
He had a repeat case of moral repugnance upon discovering that his daughter committed adultery against her husband, the nicest, most regular and honest guy you could meet, as well as an involved father. He couldn't talk to his own daughter for at least 2 years but remained close friends with the X-son-in-law. I'm sure he closely identified with the young man.
He was a card carrying Communist and proud of it until the day he died. He believed in a humble social vision of peaceful equality within community. After the McCarthy era, he laid low to protect his family, and lived happily ever after with his 2nd wife of 40 years as a world class biochemist, the inventor of the "Grow Light," and photo-documentairan of Tompkins County, New York. He was a man who lived life with integrity.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Obama entirely omitted any talk of bringing to justice the ones that sucked all this deficit out of the country, namely the war profiteers. He did make a stinging blow with his mention of a legacy of debt to our grandchildren that they cannot pay as a result of the deficit “we” inherited. Obama sure does give a winning smile after each declaration!
I flashed back on George W. Bush smugly avoiding questions and exuding remorseless arrogance with his body language. I noted the stark contrast between having a moron or a genius as a president. I recalled when 15 million people around the planet demonstrated in the streets against starting the war in Iraq, and God remained silent allowing the war to ensue; I suspected that God had a plan up her sleeve. I deduced that the plan was to let things get so very, very bad, until the Peaceful Cooperative people finally rose up to set things straight. Obama could be the charismatic leader that can renew the spirit of the downtrodden and hopeless, and inspire them to rise up and act in a non-violent cooperative manner to fulfill our highest national aspirations.
I have mentioned in earlier blog essays what I call the "Pretend Game" that our members of Congress play. In review, it is the professed ignorance of obvious events in the news that aren't supposed to be so. For example, the CIA mining the harbor in Managua. This was frequently reported in the alternative press for nearly a year until an allied ship sunk, and suddenly Congress pretended it was previously unknown even though they had voted to fund it. Its the same thing with all the democratically elected sovereign leaders that the CIA have deposed and replaced with dictators supportive of US industrial interests. One such obvious current news item has been the the funding for the war and occupation of Iraq. You might notice that Republicans object to the Obama stimulus package based on "wasteful spending," or deficit spending. Yet they pretend that the last 6 years of deficit spending on our blunder in Iraq didn't exist. They can play this game because the Iraq funds were "supplemental" funds and not actually included in the budget. Therefore, they conclude that it wasn't deficit spending. Obama declared he would change the accounting category and begin to disclose Iraq expenses to the public.
Old cynic that I am, Obama’s speech tonight was one of the best I have heard in years. If only he could make good on these promises, it would be a helluva lot better than the abusive decline of the last 8 years.