Friday, June 29, 2012

ObamaCare and the Future of SinglePayer with Dr. Margaret Flowers

National Conference Call

ObamaCare and the Future of SinglePayer with
Dr. Margaret Flowers


Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox is proud to present a national Conference Call with Dr. Margaret Flowers who is a leading singlepayer healthcare activist. 

Let's cut through the mountains of propaganda to discover what's in the bill and what's not in the bill and its implications for 2014 and beyond...

Also, we need to bring our ideas, energy and input to the call to continue the principled and necessary fight for medicare for all. 

This conference is limited to 200 people, and the line will be open 5 minutes before and closed when the call reaches 200 people.

If you would like to ask Margaret a question or give input, then send your comment or question to 
Cindy Sheehan via email at: anytime before the call.

You will get a chance to ask Margaret your question or give your input during the call.

The call will be from promptly:

 8 Pm to 10 Pm Eastern
7 Pm to 9 Pm Central
5 Pm to 7 Pm Pacific





Any other questions, please email Cindy at:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Corporate-care: Looking for Loss in all the Wrong Places

by Diane Gee

I'll be honest. I haven't read the decision on "Obamacare" by the Supremes. I left that to my lawyer acquaintances. I read the spin with disgust and dismay. I usually read pending legislation before opining, but c'mon, so much has been made of this thus far that it doesn't really take a rocket scientist to figure out what would, hence did happen. The Supremes backed forced-purchase. The decision pivoted on the idea that the mandate "was justified as a tax. Because people who don’t obtain insurance pay a tax to the IRS, the mandate was within Congress’s power to raise taxes for the general welfare. As a result, the Affordable Care Act was upheld."

Got that? Its ok because its ALWAYS ok to tax the poor more. If you can't afford to directly pay the Insurance Companies, the Government will make you pay it as a tax and give it to the mother-fuckers anyway, dig?

That is the real problem. But Duh-merica's wee heads are exploding for all the wrong reasons. And Liberaloi-duhs are celebrating against their own interests too.


The right is calling it Socialist and a loss. They want to be free to cough up their hard earned dollars to whatever Insurance company that will have them. You know, the people with ACTUAL death panels, where high quarter profits is the end game and refusing treatment is the means. It is the direct OPPOSITE of Socialism to force us to purchase something from a company whose sole goal is the profits of the few. Socialism is about the welfare of everyone being served, not a few 1% shareholders of Giganto Insurance Inc.™

I quote another misguided fool: "These socialist scum have no idea what they support. They are too busy cheering for Bill Gates saying kill grandma to hire more teachers."

I mean really? This is how the Powers that Be obfuscate any real perception of what is going on in this country. The reason we have no money for teachers is that our taxes have been rerouted to bailouts (read welfare) for Billionaires. They not only don't pay taxes, they get refunds, tax credits, loopholes and offshore the rest. Medicare has never had death panels. However, Insurance Companies regularly refuse treatment for reasons of "cost."

Let me examine the flip side of the coin, here too.

Quoting how "good" it will be for "the poor," well meaning liberaloids tell us from on high what is in our best interests... with their PHD's, their BMW's and their Gym memberships, they "know" whats best for us. I mean, for gosh sakes, these people get their hands dirty work with us every day, and Obamacare is a blessing!

Except for the part, where for those of us feeding our kids ramen noodles at the end of the month? Its not. But they won't hear of it. "It will be CHEAPER!" they cry. Cheaper being relative to the cc's of O-negative you can pump out of pumice. Which, by the way is none.

"Women can still get free pap smears and mammograms!" they squeal with delight! "Except if they found anything, people like me couldn't afford the fucking chemo." Oh wait, thats right, we can lose our homes by buying the Insurance they mandate we have, so we will be covered. Unfortunately, you have to have an address to get any of these services. Ask any homeless person. Besides, surely that will, like any other crumb thrown us, surely be rescinded after the (s)election.

"Change comes incrementally," they lecture. Like the change from forced car insurance and home insurance to now forced health insurance? I SEE which direction these changes are going, its the little we have left being siphoned off to the top. This is not, nor ever shall be a "step" towards Universal Health Care. No more than the PAT ACT was temporary, or the Wars would be over once we got Bin Laden. No more than Affirmative Action which has now been betrayed, was permanent.

This is a CLASS WAR, to those of you seeking the solace of your blinders. I know it hurts to read, I know how hard it is to admit it. You need a win so bad, that you will settle for anything that isn't outright murder as a win. Wait, this administration outright murders, too. So much for THAT argument. Here's the truth:

The corporations just got a big win again. Their for-profit industry just gained the constitutional right to make you pay them for your very health and life. By law.

Think about that.

This is THE loss, but not the only loss.

The real loss, is that much like rape-scanners and wiretapping, this will become the "new normal" for our citizenry, who prefers the slow-froggie boil to jumping out in the cold clear air of reality.

They will have to realize what we really have lost.

All control of our lives to the Corporation and their Puppet Government.

They will have to see what they really have become.


That is the Greatest Loss of All.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trumpeters for the Elites: Obama, Elections, and "The Nation"

By Edmund Berger

                Presidential election season. It’s that magical time every four years when the airwaves become clogged with torrents of campaign ads, soundbites, and over the top rhetoric spewing forth from both sides of the aisles, the time when the sense of patriotism is most compelled to act out the tradition of civic duty. It’s the ultimate expression of the “American Experience,” and fittingly, it is the time when all conversation, all debate, and the majority of dissent gets put on the shelf as our eyes turn towards Washington. It’s that magical time every four years when those outside voices are pulled through the Beltway’s doors and begin to cheer for their home team, regardless of whatever criticism they had spoken outside of the electoral cycle.
                A good case in point is The Nation magazine, the intellectually sophisticated organ of the progressive and populist Left. The longest-running weekly publication in America, The Nation is currently presided over by Katrina vanden Heuvel, the daughter of a wealthy heiress and a prominent diplomat and corporate lawyer. She’s a self-described “progressive,” and has the stripes to prove it: for one, she’s an adviser of the World Policy Institute, a Rockefeller Brothers Fund-subsidized World Federalist-style think-tank that was, for quite a few years, housed at the forward-thinking New School for Social Research in New York City. For another, she’s also affiliated with the Institute for Policy Studies, an organization that has long been charged by the Right as being a “Marxist front organization” operating in America. This charge persists despite the fact that their work has long been financed by the aforementioned Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the AFL-CIO labor federation, all of which have utilized their leftist veneer to disrupt more radical, particularly Marxist-oriented, social movements. Moderate philanthropies also subsidize The Nation, such as the MacArthur Foundation – moneyed heavyweights that further assist the “non-mainstream media” by providing cash to Mother Jones. MacArthur, alongside most of the foundations mention above, also fund the Council on Foreign Relations – an organization described by Laurence Shoup as the “citadel of the American Establishment” and “the most influential of all private policy planning groups.” (1) Curiously, here again we can find the progressive Katrina vanden Heuvel, achieving a front-row seat to the process through which policy is made in America.
                Despite her impressive pedigree in the moderate establishment of the Professional Left, vanden Heuvel has broken from the typical party line several times over the actions of President Obama. For example, in December of 2010 she published an article in the Washington Post with the title of “Obama: On the way to a failed presidency?” (2) “Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the Democratic Party left him before he left the party,” she begins, before adding “Like many progressive supporters of Barack Obama, I'm beginning to have the same feeling about this president.” She continues to assault Obama’s continuation of the war in Afghanistan, his free trade agreement with South Korea, and his embrace of the attitudes and socio-economic philosophies of the “Beltway elites.” She returned to the Post to further critique Obama in June of 2012, condemning the administration’s “kill list” of terrorists marked for death by drone strikes. (3) Similarly, one of the chief editors of The Nation, Christopher Hayes, has spent time amongst the establishment as a fellow at the MacArthur Foundation-funded New American Foundation (a “Third Way”/centrist Democratic Party-oriented organization with a membership that boasts figures like the pro-globalization pundit Fareed Zakaria, Francis Fukuyama of The End of History fame, Jonathan Soros, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt) before attacking America’s divisive economic system in the recently published Twilight of the Elites.
                Both Hayes’ Twilight of the Elites and vanden Heuvel’s Washington Post piece were published on June 12th, and seemed to confirm the growing trend of left-wing disenfranchisement at the Democrat Party (excluding of course MoveOn, who recently came out and endorsed Obama). But just a matter of days later, on June 27th, The Nation sent out a short email blast with the simple of title of “Remember?” Within it is a reminder that on June 28th the Supreme Court will vote on whether or not the so-called “Obamacare” is constitutional. “No matter how they come down, we’ve got to show that we’re behind the President on this,” the email reads. “If you agree that access to health care should always be a right—not a privilege—sign this petition to stand with President Obama.”
                There are multiple problems that rise to the surface with this email. First, Obamacare should not be confused with a universal healthcare system – the true culmination of the healthcare-as-a-right ethos – because it is a mandate-based structure that relies on the continued existence of the private healthcare industry, as opposed to outright nationalization. Essentially, it’s a form of forced consumerism masquerading as progressive reform. This is exactly why in 2009 some 4,525 lobbyists, representing 1,750 healthcare and pharmaceutical companies (as well as the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), descended on Capitol Hill to influence the legislation. (4) In its current form, it’s a massive hidden subsidy to all of these industries. Furthermore, to drag up a tired talking point, Obamacare’s initial inspiration came from the current (alleged) opposition, Mitt Romney – and Obama even met with three of Romney’s advisors in drafting the legislation.
                But the issue isn’t truly Obamacare. The email, at a glance, is a simple petition for a progressive-seeming cause. But what is does is project an image vital for Obama’s reelection campaign: for so long we’ve seen the real face of Obama, the face of a “1%er,” a warhawk, a corporate sellout. By bringing Obamacare back up from the corridors, offices and legislative channels of Washington, these truths are replaced with the image of Obama the Fighter, standing up for the everyman and defending the underclasses against the unscrupulous plutocrats in the Republican Party. This is further confirmed when one notes that the email is not directly a product of The Nation, but instead a sponsored ad from Mike Ryan, the policy director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The DCCC, in turn, is the critical body for helping Democratic politicians get elected; it plays an absolutely vital piece of the Democrat Party’s inner machinery.  
                Ryan was most likely brought into his important position by the DCCC’s current chair, Steve Israel (D-NY) for whom Ryan served as a legislative director. Prior to this Ryan gained experience as a senior legislative assistant to Robert “Bud” Cramer (D-AL), a conservative-leaning Democrat that voted for the invasion of Iraq, as well as the later re-authorization of the Patriot Act. His rightist leanings are further amplified by his position in the Blue Dog Coalition, the formal grouping of “moderate” Democrats in Congress – a position he holds right alongside Steve Israel. Typical “Third Way” advocates much akin to their “RINO” equivalents on the other side of the aisle, Blue Dog Democrats have attacked typical liberal ideals such as welfare, and have continually acted in favor of free trade, business interests, and more often than not, pro-war efforts. Thus, it’s probably unsurprising to note that Obama once told the Congressional conservative democrats “I’m a Blue Dog at heart.”
                It’s a worrying state of affairs for what we conceive as independent media. Publications such as The Nation hold themselves up as both muckrackers and vocal outlets for the progressive Left, the “ultra-opposition” inside the liberal sphere. How are people supposed to trust the information and the insights within the magazine or on its website if it is so willing to allow itself to become an unofficial apparatus of one of two (largely indivisible) political parties? One may write it off as simply another ad in the midst of campaign season, but that’s the thing about ads. They make seem rather innocent, but they take information and imagery that may or may not have a neutral character, and turn it into a tool, a means for an end that will surely benefit the person pushing the ad than the person buying into what they’re selling. As such, and particularly in the case of electoral campaigning, the ad is a form of propaganda, and its appearance in relation to The Nation - and coupled with its funders and the institutional affiliations of many of its figureheads (5) – casts doubt on the publication’s validity as a whole.
                Of course, as noted above, people like vanden Heuvel frequently operate within the policy-making establishment, with her presence on the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) coming directly to mind. While this particular organization had been the breeding ground for membership in Bush Jr.’s administration, its expertise has been featured prominently in the age of Obama. Laurence Shoup, writing for Z Magazine, identifies a slew of CFR players that have surrounded the president: Secretary of the Treasury and former Federal Reserve chief Timothy Geithner; National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers (who had been the Treasury Secretary of CFR member Bill Clinton, husband of Obama’s Secretary of State); the late Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s “Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan”; General Stanley McChrystal, former military commander; General David Petraeus, current CIA director; Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense; and a vast array of advisers and other non-elected appointments. (6) Of course, vanden Heuvel has shown her willingness to oppose aspects of the wars that many of these CFR members unabashedly support. But the fact remains that the CFR, a diverse and often fragmented group as opposed to a unified opinion bloc, is one of the most powerful playgrounds of an elite whose age that Chris Hayes claims we’re in the dusk of. It is an organization that has opposed the ideals of democracy that The Nation professes to support: “Representative democracy… cannot be worked successfully, no matter what the basis of election, unless there is an independent, expert organization for making the unseen facts intelligible to those who have to make the decisions… Public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound…” wrote Walter Lippman, one of the CFR’s early board members. (7) With the organization’s commitment to secrecy and its connections to the press, it’s hard to see how these views reflect any differently today.
                To further bolster her credentials in the arena of electoral politics, vanden Heuvel is also a member of the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, which aims to network progressive activists with Congressional representatives. Co-founded by Lorelei Kelly (who comes from the earlier discussed New American Foundation), the foundation draws much of its membership from the Institute for Policy Studies, with the presence of not only vanden Heuvel, but also the institute’s current director, John Cavanagh, and its early leader Robert Borosage. Its membership also includes Bill Fletcher, a former high ranking official at the AFL-CIO and the co-chair of United for Peace & Justice. Most importantly, these individuals are joined by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd – the two founders of MoveOn, Obama’s astroturing mechanism of choice when it comes to rallying grassroots activism in his bids for the White House.
                We tend to think of the elites who dominate us as those who dwell in corporate boardrooms or sit in the Oval Office or on Capitol Hill. But its election season, and the Beltway begins to extend itself far beyond the Washington D.C. city limits, across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains and far beyond. When power is to be gained and networks are the key, activism becomes advertising and people become extensions of the political machine. It’s important in this time, perhaps more than any other, to uncover these networks and ask ourselves what it is exactly that we’re fighting for.

1. Laurence H. Shoup “Bush, Kerry, and the Council on Foreign Relations” Z Magazine October, 2004.
2. Katrina vanden Heuvel “Obama: On the way to a failed presidency?” The Washington Post, December 7th, 2010
3. Katrina vanden Heuvel “Obama’s ‘kill list’ is unchecked presidential power” The Washington Post, June 12th, 2012  
4. Joe Eaton “Lobbyists swarm capitol to influence health reform” iWatch News, Center for Public Integrity, February 24th, 2010  
5. I’ve written about other connections with The Nation in “Harnessing People Power: Co-Option at Work in America Today” Swans Commentary April 23rd, 2012; and “Harnessing People Power Continued: The 99% Spring and the ‘Professional Left’” Swans Commentary May 21st, 2012
6. Laurence H. Shoup “Finance Capitalists, the CFR, and the Obama Administration” ZMagazine, January, 2010
7. Quoted in Michael Barker “Elite ‘Democratic’ Planning at the Council on Foreign Relations” ZNet, February 25th, 2008

Revolution: A Love Story Book Tour With Cindy Sheehan - Videos

Thanks to Joe Anybody, and Gordon Sturrock.

Cindy speaks in Portland

Cindy speaks in Eugene

David Rovics opening for Cindy in Portland

Trade-offs for the Faux-gressive set by Ted Rall

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night: The Tragic Death of Brian Arredondo

Guest Blog

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night: The Tragic Death of Brian Arredondo

Linda Pershing, with Lara Bell

Brian with Fr. Carlos at memorial for
Ales, shortly before Brian's death

Brian Arredondo never really recovered from his brother’s death in the Iraq War. When they were kids, Brian adored his older brother Alexander and tagged along with him whenever he could. They were often seen playing together in parks and schoolyards in communities surrounding Boston, Massachusetts, and Bangor, Maine, where they grew up. As teens the two boys were perfect targets for military recruiters: first-generation Americans on their father’s side (he emigrated from Costa Rica), working-class youth (Alex attended a technical high school where much of the curriculum focuses on job training), living with their mother after their parents divorced when they were young. Promises of career training, male camaraderie and “becoming a man,” appeals to patriotism, a $10,000 signing bonus, and funding for college enticed Alex Arredondo to join the marines, just a month before September 11, 2011.

Brian was distraught and seemed to lose his focus and motivation when Alex enlisted. Shortly thereafter, he dropped out of high school at the beginning of tenth grade. On August 25, 2004, a sniper’s bullet to the head killed Alex during his second deployment to Iraq. Brian’s world fell apart. On the day Alex was killed, military officials came to his mother’s house in Bangor to notify the family. Brian, 17 years old at the time, was home alone. He guessed why they were there, but they wouldn’t tell him the news until his mother, Victoria Foley, arrived. As they waited around the corner in the government van, Brian got an emotional call from his father, Carlos Arredondo, who was living in Florida at the time and had also just been notified about Alex’s death. Brian became desperate, punching holes in the walls as he paced the floor, waiting for his mother to get home. After she arrived, Brian tried to call his father to talk with him again. His distraught stepmother, Mélida Arredondo, answered the phone and told Brian to turn on the television: news coverage of a burning van outside his father’s home. Reporters announced that Carlos Arredondo had set fire to the van and been caught in the blaze. In disbelief Brian saw his father on fire, rolling on the ground, trying to extinguish the flames. Carlos lay unconscious in a hospital intensive care, burn unit for two days and nearly died from the incident. Nine days later, accompanied by two medics, he attended Alex’s wake, funeral mass, and burial on a stretcher, wrapped in bandages and with a morphine drip to numb the pain. The story made international news.

Arredondo Brothers by Gina Johnson
Eventually, the war in Iraq took the lives of both brothers. Flash forward seven years to December 19, 2011, when Brian’s mother and her partner found Brian hanging from the rafters of a shed in the backyard, where he had been living. No longer able to quell his despair, Brian killed himself at the age of 24. Near his body all he left was a copy of an email instant conversation between his stepmother Mélida Arredondo and a marine in Alex’s unit, who had been at his side when Alex died. Brian committed suicide the day after U.S. troops were “officially” withdrawn from Iraq.[1] Perhaps he couldn’t face the fact that, unlike other soldiers, his brother would not be coming home.

The gross inequality between the rich and the poor in our country define this story. Try to imagine an alternate reality: what if Jenna Bush, the daughter of George W. and Laura Bush, enlisted in the marines and were killed by a sniper’s bullet in Iraq?  Imagine her twin sister Barbara struggling with debilitating depression and taking her own life seven years later. Would Bush and his cronies have been so willing to invade Iraq and launch a war if their own kids were going to pay the price? It’s unthinkable, of course, because the Bush twins had so many other options: Barbara attended Yale, and Jenna was offered a job as a correspondent on “The Today Show” after she graduated from college. Military recruiters target rural and lower income youth and first-generation Americans who have more restricted access to college and careers.

When soldiers die in battle, we tend to focus on the grief of parents and spouses. Siblings often fall through the cracks. Looking back at the years since Alex’s death, Mélida Arredondo commented that Brian’s life had been a “downward spiral” of anguish, depression, and self-destruction. Family members repeatedly reached out to Brian and tried to get him professional help for his depression, drug use, and trouble with the law. He accepted his family’s legal, monetary, and employment assistance but declined counseling. Instead, Brian put on a good front, smiling broadly and assuring the family that he was doing fine, or that he had made a new start and would do better in the future.

In retrospect, it’s clear that Brian was in distress. After Alex’s deployment to Iraq and subsequent death, Brian started self-medicating with drugs, which he often hid from his family. With time, his drug usage became more serious. He pleaded with parents and friends to loan him money, which they later learned he used to support his drug habit. He began using marijuana, and then cocaine. After one violent confrontation with the police, Brian was admitted to Bridgewater State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation in April 2011. The clinical evaluation report noted that Brian admitted to using Percocet and heroin at least once a day; hospital intake workers discovered injection track marks all over his arms.

After he was arrested for having an open alcohol container in his car, reckless driving, and several accidents, the state of Maine took away Brian’s driver’s license. He became dependent on parents and friends to transport him, which made working a job very difficult. On occasion he worked with his father and was employed at a pizza restaurant and as a janitor, but he never worked for more than a few months at a time. For most of the past seven years he was unemployed, which only exacerbated his feelings of helplessness and dependence on others.

This wasn’t the first time Brian tried to kill himself. While military officials were at his mother’s home, informing her about Alex’s death, Brian slipped away and ran into the street, looking for oncoming traffic. Later he told his parents that he wanted to be hit by a car. Still reeling from Alex’s death, in 2006 he tried to hang himself with an electric cord but failed when the cord broke. And in 2011, when police tried to arrest Brian on outstanding warrants, breaking in to the backyard shed while he was sleeping, he raised a machete and dared them to them to shoot him.

His troubled relationships with young women and problems with anger management signaled another facet of his distress. Almost immediately after his brother’s death, Brian became involved with a young woman—perhaps to replace his close relationship with his brother. Her father didn’t approve, had a violent confrontation with Brian, and got a restraining order to prevent him from coming to their home. Their relationship was rocky and punctuated by abusive and destructive behavior. A second young woman also pursued Brian. There was jealousy and abuse on all sides. There were multiple incidents involving interpersonal violence and destruction of property. Girlfriends and parents called the police, who arrested Brian several times. By 2011, Brian faced a number of misdemeanor and felony charges, which had escalated in the past several years. He was scheduled to go to court on December 21, 2011, two days after he died. His mother recalled that Brian told her that he expected to be sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison, which probably wasn’t a realistic assessment. Francis J. DiMento, Jr., his attorney, told us in an interview that he thought it unlikely that Brian would do jail time for these offences (Interview, June 7, 2012).

In response to Alex’s death, Mélida and Carlos Arredondo began to speak out about their experiences. They became peace activists and advocates for support services for military personnel and their families. Carlos creates memorials designed to raise awareness about the significance of Alex’s life and sacrifice, using his military boots and uniform, medals, large photos of Alex and Brian, and numerous other mementos with personal meaning.[2] Sometimes he also displays a full-size coffin, calling on viewers to visualize the real cost of war in terms of individual human lives. Mélida and Carlos are well known for their activism in the Boston area, where they have lived for many years. They make it a point to meet with public officials at community events, sharing with them the stories of their sons’ deaths and advocating for support services for military personnel and their families. In retrospect, since Brian’s death they have worried that they didn’t pay enough attention to him, wrapped up, instead, in their grieving for Alex and their dedication to activism. His mother, Victoria Foley, sorrowfully recounted that he seemed depressed and remote in the days before his suicide, and her attempts to get Brian into counseling were unsuccessful. The boys’ deaths have taken an enormous toll on their families. The loss has redefined their lives forever, leaving them to deal with the deep despair of losing two children to the Iraq War.

This tragic series of events is a brutal reminder of the devastation that war brings: two young sons dead, with parents and family members left to wade through the unbearable grief, self-blame, devastated lives, and the narrative of youth dashed to pieces by death and sorrow. Brian never really accepted his brother’s enlistment in the military or his death in Iraq. In response, his life became a succession of dangerous actions and disastrous decisions, sending him down a path to self-destruction. It’s certainly possible to interpret Brian’s suicide as an expression of hopelessness. It’s also possible to consider that Brian ended his life as an act of resistance, reminiscent of Dylan Thomas’ epic admonition to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” 

Perhaps—compounded by substance abuse, problems with interpersonal relationships, dropping out of school, and troubles with the law—it was a refusal or inability to accept that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq made sense. Many Americans willingly accepted, or remained silent, when Bush and his advisors launched these foolish wars, and as Obama continues them, increasing drone strikes in the region and ramping up U.S. involvement in Afghanistan while withdrawing troops from Iraq. Many stood on the sidelines watching as other people’s sons and daughters—usually the poorest and those with the fewest options—were swept up in the patriotic fervor, recruited by the military, and sent off to fight. Now we pay the price of public apathy and complicity. The deaths of Brian and Alexander Arredondo diminish us all.

[1] See reports that the U.S. is planning to “replace its direct occupation both with an army of State Department contractors inside Iraq and a massive deployment of combat troops in Kuwait” (Ditz, Jason. “US Abandons Largest Iraq Base: 20 Left.” Retrieved June 16, 2012, Journalist Tom Bowman reported that the U.S. continues to supply 15,000 diplomats to Iraq, “making it the largest U.S. diplomatic operation abroad. Those diplomats will be protected by a private army consisting of as many as 5,000 security contractors who will carry assault weapons and fly armed helicopters” (Bowman, Tom. “No U.S. Troops, But An Army Of Contractors In Iraq.” NPR. Retrieved June 16, 2011, In October 2011 White House aides told reporters that
4,000-5,000 defense contractors will remain in Iraq, and that “a few US military personnel will be based in Iraq temporarily from time to time, just as they are in
other countries with links to the US such as Egypt and Jordan, White House aides said. These would primarily be trainers helping out with new equipment bought from the US, such as F-16 fighters Iraq purchased last month” (MacAskill, Ewen. “Iraq Rejects US Request to Maintain Bases After Troop Withdrawal.” The Guardian. Retrieved June 16, 2012,

[1] See Pershing, Linda, with Nishelle Y. Bellinger. “From Sorrow to Activism: A Father’s Memorial to His Son Alexander Arredondo, Killed in the U.S. Occupation of Iraq.” Journal of American Folklore 123(488):179–217.

Linda Pershing, Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, California State University San Marcos,


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jimmy Carter’s Penance?

By Missy Beattie

In a New York Times (NYT) opinion piece, Jimmy Carter opens with: “The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.”

I read these words and focus on the present tense of “is”. And I think: When was this country ever anything but an imperialist nation? When was the US anything but an enemy of human rights? And I think about the blood on the hands of Jimmy Carter whose presidency was a devastating illustration of inhumanity.

Here’s a significant example: It was Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski who were responsible for the rise of the Taliban and arming and training the mujahideen. Brzezinski wrote the ending of Carter’s State of the Union Address, delivered on January 23, 1980:
An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.
Afghanistan, in the late 1970s, was a secular country, providing free education to men and women. And it was allied with the Soviet Union. When the US recruited Islamic fundamentalists to come to Afghanistan for CIA training, the Soviets were drawn into war.

The Reagan Administration continued its predecessor’s aggression in Afghanistan.

Carter’s legacy includes not only Osama bin Laden and the mujahideen, but, also, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Khmer Rouge, and the Shah of Iran.

Later, after leaving office, Carter, assumed the role of “impartial” election monitor. He traveled to Haiti after arranging a meeting with Bertrand Aristide who was running for president of the country and demanded that Aristide withdraw. Aristide’s offense: He was supported by an overwhelming majority of Haitians and wasn’t a puppet of the US government. Refusing, Aristide went on to win the election but, later, was ousted in a coup supported by the US. Carter’s original choice, Marc Bazin, backed by the US, was appointed Prime Minister. Carter defended General Raoul Cedras, a member of the governing junta responsible for the murder of thousands of Haitians who supported Aristides, saying, “I believe he [Cedras] would be a worthy Sunday school teacher.”

In 2006, Simon and Schuster published Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, in which the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize states, “Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."

I’ve wondered, often, if this, along with the former president’s work with Habitat for Humanity, is his attempt at redemption.

Carter closes his NYT piece with this call to action:
As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years.
It’s impossible, though, for “concerned citizens” to make our voices heard in a “Washington” that listens and is lulled only to and by Wall Street greed. Certainly, Carter knows this.

Freedom of Choice

No comment....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tangled, Weakening Webs: Paraguay, Syria and the Last Ditch Efforts of a Crumbling Elite Class

I'm not going to say I know a lot about South American politics. I do know more than most people in the United States do, which is to say "nothing". So, even knowing next to nothing I am seeing a bigger pattern here, one of panic, one of over-extending themselves everywhere while trying to retain of a World increasingly set against the Powers That Be in the US.

I know this is hard for the average North American to think about. In our minds, before the Western colonization there was nothing here. Ok, a few Pocahontases and some really weird people who made pyramids and cut people's heads off. Then after we got here, anything South of our border reads like this to Joe Six pack: "All them Mexican countries... lessee, drug lords, poor people trying to steal our jobs, then further down, all there is is jungles and a few resorts." If you press them a little, they might remember that "One of those countries has some oil, got too big for their britches and some of them are downright pinko, like that Castro." They have no idea about any of our interventionism in South America and the Caribbean. To them, it is a no-mans land, other than a place to go on vacation in some enclave of whiteness and drink too much rum. A place that must not be able to run themselves, they have so many regime changes... never once thinking that those changes are due to a constant battle between US interests and the people trying to be autonomous and free of our tyranny.

Chances are, none see our hand in the Coup d'etat in Paraguay.


A primer:

I've written much about it, how Clueless of the Caribbean we are when it comes to places like Haiti and Puerto Rico struggling to be free of us I wrote last June. Has awareness improved?

Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela have just submitted to the UN for the 13th time a request that Puerto Rico be free and independent.

Meanwhile, the ACLU is reporting the US-backed Police in Puerto Rico documented cases of "excessive force, sometimes deadly, to suppress speech, subdue protesters, and target ethnic and racial minorities" against those who want Independence.

What follows is formulaic US puppets' accusations of it being "about" drugs, and asking for our intervention. This, in turn, overshadows the fact that we recently overturned PR delegates the right to vote in committee.

So much for representation, eh? See the full chart in my "clueless" post for more detail on places like American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands, Gitmo and others. Its hard to get to express the depth of our control without giving at least a brief history lesson.

Here's a news flash! THE USA DID 9/11 BEYOND ANY REASONABLE DOUBT. The first one, I mean.

...the torture and murder of thousands upon thousands of Chileans were "disappeared" or outright assassinated by the brutal killer Pinochet in 1973? More than 130,000 citizens were imprisoned in the following years for daring to want the right to self-determination.

This was another CIA backed attempt to stop the People-based government of Allende, a leftist and replace him with a brutal dictator from the furthest reaches of the neo-con right. President Salvador Allende was murdered in the coup, though there are claims he committed suicide.

Right now, there are student protests happening in Chile in opposition to the Chilean government's trying to privatize education; the student march to stand for it being a social right. They feel it should not be a profiteering enterprise. This is HUGE, yet nary a word about the "Springs" happening on our own continent makes our press.

You weren't supposed to notice the Honduran Coup June of 2009.

You aren't likely to even have heard of the attempted coup in Ecuador after they cut themselves out of the IMF.

You have no idea in this time of economic hardship, that we are throwing 20 MILLION at overthrowing Chavez in their election. Your tax dollars tamper with elections in a sovereign nation, while you cannot get health care. Nice, eh?

We, here are painfully unaware of the perpetual war on ALBA Nations waged perpetually by the US/Western money interests.

The Contras being backed by our drug/arms sales to overthrow the People's movement is the closest we get to having a clue about our thousands of interventions in South America.



So, the latest Western intervention, coup d'etat just happened in Paraguay. Fernando Lugo, former Catholic Bishop was a leftist struggling to help the poor and return some of the stolen by the rich lands to the people. Reactions have been almost unanimous in denunciation of this act, but other than Venezuela fairly toothless.

We have been intervening in Paraguay for years, propping up the rightist Laino in the early 80's. This is no different. We could not let a leftist stand, and surely had a hand in the parliamentary trickery that ousted a legally and democratically elected even "kind of" leftist remain in power.

Even Uruguay voted to not let the new President attend a MERCOSUR summit! Only Costa Rica and Uruguay have been traditionally the "whitest" and most western-friendly of nations, have remained relatively untouched by our CIA. Lets face it, they were friendly enough to our interests to not have needed to. Yet Costa Rica, long holding a face-value "nuetral" status has since 2010 allowed US troops on their soil under the ever-hand "drug danger" allegation that nearly always is the smoke screen for pushing back on any leftist movement. If the people want power, if the people want to thrive from their own resources, rather than allow a few rich Norte Americanos to profit off them? Drugs or "human rights violations" are always the go-to cover story.

These are the bare bones of the stories that make up the atrocities done by the US to our Southern neighbors. A primer, if you will. We on the left are more prone to questioning what is happening in our Middle Eastern and African forays... yet pay so little attention to what is happening on our own continents.

I wonder what it is about Junes and Septembers with our CIA and S.A.?


It is becoming more and more apparent daily that Syria and all her atrocities is backed and funded by the CIA and that the Houla Massacre was the act of NATO allies not Assad.

Lets see, that would be Syria that just made trade agreements with Iran and Venezuela. Syria, whose allies and trading partners Russia and China refuse to allow the US to create another Libyan type fiasco.

Any of us remotely aware at all realizes that Iraq was over oil, and Iran will be over control of the Straits of Hormuz through which it flows.

Iraq and Af/Pak over-extended our troops, but the uptick, hell tsunami of dronings have eased the need for boots on the ground.


We are now in:

Iraq Afghanistan Pakistan Somalia Libya Syria Yemen Uganda

We are banging the drums of war at, and infiltrating Iran as well.

We are suddenly militarizing and overthrowing at an increasing rate any leftist countries in South and Central America.

We are arming drones against our own civilians and calling them enemy combatants with kill on sight orders.

It really does plead for the leap of logic to explain why now, why when the US economy is about to crash, when all Western Nations are about to be sucked down the swirling ponzi drain of inequity with us, would they possibly want to expend the time and energy to work so hard to subvert other Nations?

The answer my friends is couched smack dab in the question with those with eyes to see.

The US has become the bane and bully of the World, and is rapidly losing traditional Western support among traditionally "with them" Nations. At least among the people who are demonstrating in Occupies around the globe. They are desperate that the Nations trading outside their interests do not spread the most frightening thing of all: The idea that post-collapse we must never again allow an Elite Class to exploit resources up to the hand of the few at the expense of the many.

Strategically, they know that there is really no more they can tap out of a broke, unemployed and largely unemployable class of serfs in the United States, and are looking for smaller, less armed Countries from which to create a new base for their hegemony.

If nothing else, taking over a smaller country and setting up a dictator there, insures somewhere to hide for our War criminals, much like the Nazis did after their War Crimes.

If this "ship" is going down, they are in a mad scramble to snatch and grab what they can, where they can, and hoard it to tide themselves over whatever Armageddon they have created.

The BRIC countries, those who have decided to trade outside of the dollar; the ALBA countries, anyone with even soft-pink economies like the Scandinavian countries all are enemies to their goals. The former seen as "evil to be destroyed"; the latter as "stupid nanny states to be punished" in their propaganda.

There is no portend of a Global Revolution than the desperation of the Predatory Capitalist Class to grossly over-extend themselves in order to hedge their last minute bets on either surviving, escaping or controlling things from somewhere else on a smaller scale, where they still may live as Kings among paupers.

Because to them? The only other option is unthinkable.