Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day - 2010

Memorial Day - 2010

The mixture of Memorial Day and beer always bring out the patriotism in us. Not that we’re not patriotic all year round but the pageantry, the television coverage and war movies brings it to the surface and the beer makes it a little bombastic. This seems to be particularly true of those who have never served in the military. In today’s America, not serving is a matter of choice more than the lack of opportunity. We have had a war for everyone. Mine was the Korean. I never made it to Korea but I tried and I feel good about my service to my country. Oh yeah, I was a draftee. Remember those guys?

My basic training company was sent out of training directly to Pusan except for 6 of us who volunteered for parachute training. Many of my buddies in Company A were killed. I think of them on Memorial Day. But I don’t feel guilty because I wasn’t killed. I am glad that the truce was signed before I was killed. I was in the Korean War because I was just a little too young for the big one, the one I wanted so badly to get in. I have always considered myself patriotic. I was recruited for the first unit of what became the Special Forces at Fort Bragg. I chose not to stay in. If I had, I would have without a doubt been the first into Viet Nam. I don’t feel guilty about that decision either.

I got an email the other day with a recording of the first time Kate Smith sang God Bless America. I was in my early teens then and heard it early. I, like everyone else, was moved. It was a different time then; and a different war. I got tears in my eyes when I heard it again in an email last week. It took me back to those days. WWII was a unique war; probably the only one that we had no choice about. There was no doubt, and there still is no doubt, that our men and women in the service were putting their life on the line to save our existence as a free people. Korea was maybe a necessary war. I’m not sure. The Viet Nam war was not. We thought it was at the time but we were wrong. Right or wrong, the people who fought it were and are heroes.

The last two wars were not necessary and the people who made it happen knew it at the time. The first invasion of Iraq was a fight to preserve our oil supply and I can listen to the argument that it was a good war. I don’t buy it but it is a reasonable argument and the war was executed in a responsible and limited way.

The current ones are wrong. We were misled into them; shame on Bush and his Neocons for lying to us but shame on the democrats for being bullied into it. The facts were there for them to examine. They chose not to.

Today, on this Memorial Day, the facts are laid out naked before us. The invasion of Afghanistan may have been justified but it was not handled well and wasn’t wise anyway. The Invasion of Iraq was the worst combination of folly and malfeasance in the history of our government; and to make it worse, as it became apparent that we could not win it, the corporations who supplied it, discovered almost serendipitously that a low grade war was extremely profitable. As long as the public could be kept unaffected, they decided, they could and should make it go on indefinitely.

A large portion of the population, mostly the right wing, for some reason beyond my grasp, has bought into it. For whatever their reason, they have nothing to lose. Neither they nor their family will be asked to fight. The kids across the track for the most part are induced much in the same manner as we sell cars. We don’t even have to pay for this war. In fact, some of the wealthier citizens even got a tax decrease. What’s not to like.

Fortunately, these people have become a minority. Most now know the facts and want it over. Eventually, Obama will hopefully see the light. He hasn’t yet but he will.

This Memorial Day, maybe the past few, have caused a severe schism in our people. Those profiting from the war have convinced those who are not that the war is a good thing and anyone who opposes it is un-American; “our country, right or wrong” like the Nazis in WWII. “Support the Troops” has come to mean support the war. Never mind that the troops want to come home.

So this Memorial Day as we honor those who have died for us (meaning the people) some of us, most of us, applaud the bravery of those fighting in this war at the same time we want to bring them home before we have to honor them next year after they have died for corporate America. My Grandson is in Iraq now on his fourth deployment, including the invasion of Afghanistan. I talked to him at length last month when he was home on furlough. He wants to come home to a civilian job, his wife and two year old daughter. He doesn’t want to be honored at Arlington next year. He knows he is already a hero, he doesn’t want to become a dead one.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alan Grayson in 2012

Dear Brooks,

On May 30, 2010, at 10:06 a.m, the direct cost of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan will hit $1 trillion. And in a few weeks, the House of Representatives will be asked to vote for $33 billion of additional "emergency" supplemental spending to continue the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. There will be the pretense of debate - speeches on the floor of both chambers, stern requests for timetables or metrics or benchmarks - but this war money will get tossed in the wood chipper without difficulty, requested by a President who ran on an anti-war platform. Passing this legislation will mark the breaking of another promise to America, the promise that all war spending would be done through the regular budget process. Not through an off-budget swipe of our Chinese credit card.

The war money could be used for schools, bridges, or paying everyone's mortgage payments for a whole year. It could be used to end federal income taxes on every American's first $35,000 of income, as my bill, the War Is Making You Poor Act, does. It could be used to close the yawning deficit, supply health care to the unemployed, or for any other human and humane purpose.

Instead, it will be used for war. Because, as Orwell predicted in 1984, we've reached the point where everyone thinks that we've always been at war with Eastasia. Why?

Not because Al Qaeda was sheltered in Iraq. It wasn't. And not because Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. It isn't. Bush could never explain why we went to war in Iraq, and Obama can't explain why we are 'escalating' in Afghanistan.

So, why? Why spend $1 trillion on a long, bloody nine-year campaign with no justifiable purpose?

Remember 9/11, the day that changed everything? That was almost a decade ago. Bush's response was to mire us in two bloody wars, wars in which we are still stuck today. Why?

I can't answer that question. But I do have an alternative vision of how the last 10 years could have played out.

Imagine if we had decided after 9/11 to wean ourselves off oil and other carbon-based fuels. We'd be almost ten years into that project by now.

Imagine if George W. Bush had somehow been able to summon the moral strength of Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, or Martin Luther King Jr, and committed the American people to the pursuit of a common goal of a transformed society, a society which meets our own human needs rather than declaring "war" on an emotion, or, as John Quincy Adams put it, going "abroad, in search of monsters to destroy".


Imagine that we chose not to enslave ourselves to a massive military state whose stated goal is "stability" in countries that never have been "stable", and never will be.


"Imagine all the people, living life in peace."

Sign up to end these wars.


Friday, May 28, 2010

George Bush gates of hell

Thom's blog
George W. Bush opened the gates of hell....
While the Senate approved $60 Billion for more war, the House slashed $24 Billion for the unemployed Workers and state aid to those in trouble. The Afghanistan war is about to go beyond two milestones, with the American death toll surpassing 1,000 this week, and on June 7 it will break the record of the war in Vietnam to become America's longest-ever war. George W. Bush opened the gates of hell when he turned down the Taliban offer to arrest Osama Bin Laden and send him to a third nation for trial and instead began a bombing campaign that has killed thousands of Afghan civilians and alienated the entire world. He then made matters worse by attacking Iraq, a country that represented no threat to us whatsoever, and spent trillions of dollars that he borrowed from the Chinese to do it. President Obama has inherited a mess of epic proportions, and if he doesn't figure out a way to end these wars and convert our military intervention into building schools and hospitals, his most lasting legacy, like LBJ's, will be a disastrous and unnecessary war based on a lie. There's an effort in Congress now to do what Congress did in 1973 and defund the war, although the members of congress are trying to make it more difficult by attaching important amendments to the war funding.

Monday, May 24, 2010

If it's good for business, it's good for America!

Milo Minderbinder

Milo's defining characteristic is his greed. Though he has a talent for business and keeping meticulous track of multiple shipments simultaneously, he abuses his talent by letting his greed run rampant. Welcome to the dark side, Milo. What starts out as an honest desire to feed his men the best food possible turns into an international syndicate whose goods are transported by army planes and that slowly screws the life out of the very men who support it. Milo's greed drives him to attack his own base for profit, conspire with the enemy Germans, raise food prices until men are starving, serve men inedible food (like chocolate-covered cotton), and abandon his friends in need when he hears about an opportunity to make a profit. Milo is all the negative aspects of capitalism rolled into one guy.

However, Milo doesn't see himself as corrupt or evil. He claims to live every waking second of his life by a strict moral code. It's just that this moral code allows for price inflation and betraying one's country for the sake of profit. Milo sees everything in terms of the syndicate. Assets must be secured and utilized no matter what the consequence to the U.S. Once a nation has become a participant in the syndicate, Milo is unable to see that nation as an enemy. He cannot see them as anything but equal shareholders within the syndicate. Interestingly, Milo has a commitment to America and cannot dream of committing crimes against the state. At least what he considers to be crimes against the state. He loathes the thought of bribery, but can be convinced to do anything if it maximizes his profit.

As we said, Milo is a rather blatant symbol of ruthless capitalism. Yes, he obtains the finest foods at the lowest prices. Yes, he makes a fine profit. But he also violates the boundaries of capitalism and the military. And he escapes his duty to fly combat missions because he is busy with the syndicate. The fact that the military and all the other nations within his syndicate bow to his will shows that all human beings respond to money. They worship it, even if they do not worship the American ideals Milo brings with him.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Build it yourself and save

Check out the flow chart for building your own home.

C:\Users\Owner\Documents\Brooksbilt flow chart.tif

To buy the book go to:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thom's Blog

Thom's blog
FreedomWorks & Beck: Everybody wins - except for our nation
Today on its Twitter page, FreedomWorks - the astroturf group run by Dick Armey, the former Republican leader and former lobbyist for the People's Mujahadeen of Iran, the natural gas industry, Dubai Group, Comcast, military contractors and weapons manufacturers, and numerous other corporate interests - announced that it was officially partnering with Glen Beck.
This is a brilliant business deal, which will create huge profits for both Freedomworks and Beck. Beck has the Fox platform, which has turned out most of the people for tea party events, and Freedomworks now has the database of all the tea partiers that they can hand off to Beck, who will then expose them to his advertisers. Everybody wins and makes money - except for our nation, which gets kneecapped since Beck and Dick Armey are open advocates for the interests of millionaires and billionaires and openly hostile to working people, unions, social security, medicare, and want to turn the commons over to the tender mercies of transnational corporations. Their money comes from Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other devoted funders of right wing infrastructure including Exxon Mobil.
Their goal is to take down Democratic or progressive candidates and now they'll have more money and power and a larger media platform

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Tea Party Manifesto

Thom's blog
A Tea Party Manifesto for Every Child
California state Sen. Leland Yee (D) has introduced a bill to stop Texas textbooks from getting into California classrooms. Earlier this year, Texas cut Thomas Jefferson out of textbooks and replaced him with the religious right icon John Calvin - who argued that riches are the sign of god's blessing and poverty is a sign of god's curse - and also tossed out the word "democratic" from the description of the U.S. government, replacing it with "republic" which sounds more like "Republican" - an old rhetorical trick that goes back to Joe McCarthy's time. A new report in the Guardian reveals that the Texas dropped the phrase "slave trade" in favor of 'Atlantic triangular trade." And newly proposed changes in Texas schoolbooks include teaching kids the importance of gutting social security & medicare and how the UN "is a danger to US sovereignty." The Texas school board will be meeting again this week and conservatives have promised to keep chipping away correct years of liberal bias in history classes. Texas serves 4.7 million students and accounts for a large percentage of the textbook market, and they influence what is taught in the the entire US. Textbooks for children are becoming a Tea Party Manifesto.

Monday, May 10, 2010

9/11 an act of murder not an act of war

The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers cost nearly 3000 deaths. It was horrific. Even more horrific is how the Neocons, the oil industry and the right wing evangelists used it as an excuse to invade a country that was totally uninvolved and were no threat to us; in fact, they made us more safe by the mere fact of providing countervailing influence to Iran. It has plunged us into a permanent low grade war, financed by borrowing. Our so-called voluntary military cannot supply the manpower for this war so we have reinforced them with outfits like Blackwater which cost us three times as much as our regulars cost us. Again, this is funded by borrowing. Americans are hypnotized by faux patriotism and are impervious to the cost, both in human life and money, because they don’t have to make any sacrifices for its execution. The troops, for the most part, come from across the tracks and as a “thank you” for our blind support have been given a tax cut.

Even more horrific is the fact that never ending war, either through design or serendipity, has proven to be outrageously profitable. Corporations like Halliburton, Blackwater, General Electric and Mobil Oil are raking in unprecedented profits. Their stockholders are ebullient…and they don’t have to participate in the war…neither do their children. It’s all good!

And our new President is doing nothing to change it. My grandson is in Iraq as I write. This is his 4th deployment including the original invasion of Afghanistan. He got out when his first enlistment was up but was forced back in when he could not find a job that provided enough pay or health coverage for his wife and child. Later he was prevented from leaving because of “Stop Loss,” and then forced into another enlistment. Our voluntary army is only partly voluntary.

He was home on leave for the past two weeks and I had a long talk with him. He says that everyone he knows just wants to come home because they see it as a hopeless war and they just don’t care anymore. Never mind what you see on the news networks, the morale is bad. They see NO difference between Bush and Obama. He told me that many were wearing Hillary T-shirts’ before the election because, rightly or wrongly, they thought she would be more likely to end the war.

9/11 was an act of murder not an act of war and it should be treated as such. The monsters who did it are criminals, not soldiers! It’s too expensive and ineffective to treat them as soldiers as if they had a country with borders. They have no army, navy or air force and it’s irrational to attack them with an army, navy and air force. They represent nothing but religious fanaticism at best and human malice at worst. You cannot beat them by destroying the communities they hide in, but beating them is not what this “war” is about. It’s about using them as an excuse for using our military as a tool for economic exploitation. Perhaps some in our government are na├»ve enough to think it’s about protecting our freedom but the international corporations who control our government and their pawns in our government know it’s not!

There is no doubt that they are a threat and must be eliminated or at least marginalized but lets put the threat in perspective. On September 11, 2001, 3000 souls were lost in the attack. In 2001, over 16,000 people in the United States were murdered. In the 9 years since the attack, 148,413 people have been murdered in our nation. The count from terrorists remains at 3000. Where is our outrage, where is our fear? Where is the danger? Where is our perspective? We spend an estimated 76.4 billion, or $250 per person per year for law enforcement in the US. Our military budget in 2008 was 607 billion dollars.

We spend more than any other country in the world on our military; over 7 times more than the second highest which is China, and yet we are less safe than most, if not all, the other western countries. The obvious reason is the extent of our economic invasion of the oil producing countries which are predominantly Muslim. It can be argued that they don’t hate us because of our way of life and our “freedom,” but because of our appetites. If cars ran on olive oil, we would be at war with the olive producing countries.

But regardless of the reason, the threat is real and can’t be ignored. As stated earlier it is a police problem at a level calling for a militarized approach. Not military police as those of us who have served think but of policemen with military training. Having been both the army and the police department, I can say that, given the relatively low level of technology at their disposal, the cops do a better job. Along with their excellent training, they are instilled with an attitude of restraint; a controlled use of deadly force, as it were.

Instead of killing ants with a sledge hammer, we need to go after them with precision with specially trained and specially selected soldiers. There has to be killing, just as there is in civilian law enforcement but it can be done selectively, efficiently and discretely. With even half of that 607 billion dollars a year, we could recruit and train highly selected soldier/cops and provide the kind of human intelligence we need to eradicate the criminals without providing them with recruiting propaganda. We have amply demonstrated that the military approach will not succeed. In the words of a Nuremburg War Crimes prosecutor:

We shouldn't let them kill our principles at the same time they kill our people. And our principles are respect for the rule of law. Not charging in blindly and killing people because we are blinded by our tears and our rage.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thom's Blog

Thom's blog
Is European socialism bleeding like a stuck PIG?
Is European socialism bleeding like a stuck PIG? The conservatives are yelling from the rooftops that we are witnessing the slow death of European Socialism due to massive spending on social programs. They say the countries bleeding the most red ink are Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain or the P.I.G.S. of Europe as they are known in financial circles. Greece has run out of money and is now using German money to prevent total collapse. Portugal may be next followed very closely by Spain. Yet the European countries with some of the most socialist - that is, strong social safety networks - are Germany and Denmark, two countries where things are going just fine. In Germany, for example, every corporation in the country is required to have half of the members of their board of directors appointed by the union representing the workers of the company - the most corporate-intrusive system in all of Europe. In Denmark, not only are healthcare and education free, but they even pay students a monthly stipend to cover food, housing, and books - all the time they're in school all the way up to PhD or MD degrees. So what differentiates Germany and Denmark from Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain? Germany and Denmark never fully drank the so-called "free trade" kool-aid, and thus both have strong manufacturing sectors. Across America you'll find German cars and Danish wind turbines, as well as across those nations themselves. But walk into any store in Spain, Greece, Ireland, or Portugal and you'll find row after row of Chinese-made goods. Twenty years of insane flat-earth free-trade policies have disemboweled the economies of the United States and numerous European countries. The US, for example, has gone from 20% GDP in manufacturing before the election of Reagan to just 11% now. Countries that don't make things don't create real wealth, and thus must turn to Goldman Sachs to help them borrow money. And Goldman hasn't treated Greece - or the US - all that well. The reason why China is not having this problem - and neither are South Korea or Taiwan or Singapore, all countries with strong social safety nets - is because they're strongly protecting their own manufacturing sectors. The way we used to do before Reagan's presidency and then Bill Clinton's throwing us to the tender mercies of transnational corporations by turning US trade policy over to NAFTA and the WTO. Time to reconsider protectionism.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Death Penalty for Halliburton & BP

Thom's Blog
Halliburton & BP - Is it time for the Corporate Death Penalty?
President Barack Obama pretty much stated the obvious when he called the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster."The oil well pouring a river of crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have the normal type of remote-control shut-off switch used in Norway and the UK as last-resort protection against underwater spills, largely because the oil companies themselves are responsible for "voluntary" compliance with safety and environmental standards. It was in 1994, two years into the Clinton administration, when this practice of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse was legalized, about the same time George W. Bush was doing the same thing in Texas, a program pushed hard in the previous administration by Dan Quayle's so-called "competitiveness council" charged with deregulating industry. The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives. Voluntary safety for oil wells, but you and I can get stopped by the police if we don't fasten our safety belts? Eleven people have died because Halliburton and BP wanted to save money. In the first hundred years of this republic it was commonplace for rogue corporations to get the corporate death penalty - being shut down, dissolved, and having their assets sold off. Through the 19th century, it averaged around 2000 companies a year that got the axe. If the Supreme Court now says that corporations are people - and they did - then these corporations should be eligible for the corporate death penalty. Time to break up and sell off the pieces of Halliburton and British Petroleum.
- Thom