Sunday, November 25, 2007

No More War Profiteers: Demand Financial Policy Recu$als from Elected Officials in Congress and the White House

Your cost for the current wars is estimated at close to $2trillion over the next ten years for a family of four.

Where does it all go?

No-Brainer, long overdue. We need to put a stop to war profiteering and the Washington/corporate/lobby revolving door. Want to stop war? Bleed it dry. Not in human costs, but in capital.

Longtime friend, activist, fellow musician I've recorded with over the years, and cyber-pundit extraordinaire, the Artist General Mike Masley, finally gets his war profit recusal question asked by a major paper after five years of his relentless e mail the Seattle P-I this weekend.  Let's see where this meme goes!  

Artist General's info and plan in the new Seattle P-I piece.

Artist General of the United States

Recusal Editorial

His plan:  To demand recusal from elected officials concerning any private profits they may accumulate due to in-office war policies FOR LIFE after their post was held (yes, for the rest of their lives).  Every journalist in this country ought to put this one at the top of the list for 2008 office seekers as a pledge and begin warming up by making it a lead question at every major press conference from here until next November (and then beyond).

Idea sound strange? What might history say? Does President Eisenhower's farewell address ring a bell? A a revolving door corporate/congress? It's not just for war profiteers, either. We need to stop this democratic chicanery along with the war profiteers and their political puppets.  Think this is a new problem?  Ask marine general Smedley Bultler about war profiteering in the early 20th century.  What'd he say about it?  Read War is a Racket from 1935.  We need to heed these warnings and act.  We can learn from the wisdom of the past.  But we must act in the present.   Following the money from 9/11 to war is a long road, but we need to look at the map to understand this planned navigation away from the public interest by elites to plunder the commonwealth. We need to ask when so much is at stake, who benefits? The Global Dominance Group is a good place to start.

Just look a couple years back even?  See Halliburton and the new tricky Dick. Take the money out of war for the warplanners, and politics will follow.

Again, Marine General Smedley Butler:

"To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

-We must take the profit out of war.

-We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.

-We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes."

See more on War Profiteering as it goes unchallenged by journalists and politicos of many stripes.

It's obvious what we need to do as citizens. We must demand this obvious recusal of Washington's next crew.  Capitalism is the warfare state.  No war profits, no more revolving door deMockracy. This is just such a no-brainer.  And radical, to boot? That's how far gone we are as a republic. The P-I piece below...

Radical Ethics: No bucks from war
Seattle Post-Itelligencer EDITORIAL BOARD
November 24, 2007

Just less than a year from now, Americans will choose a new president. After years of debilitating public distrust, President Bush could assure a better atmosphere for his successor by adopting a rather singular idea, one that is an odd combination of radical thinking and good old American common sense.

President Bush (and, ideally, Vice President Dick Cheney, given his power) ought to promise not to accept any profit from war. In doing so, they would set a new, higher standard of White House ethics that might foster more rational public discourse on issues of war and peace.

The radical part of this idea is mainly its origin with Michael Masley, a colorful, bitingly humorous anti-war activist (he calls himself the nation's "artist general") who has been trying to get the media, Congress, anybody to ask Bush to promise never to accept any profits flowing from any military action he authorizes. But this left-wing, left-coast idea actually reaches into the heartland and history of the country. Americans have always had a healthy scepticism about unholy influence by money and power on military and foreign policy decisions. Indeed, great presidents have voiced the same concerns when they have warned about foreign entanglements (Washington), war profiteers (FDR) or the sway of the military-industrial complex (Eisenhower).

As much as we opposed the misguided Iraq war, we never much liked the "blood-for-oil" rhetoric. The administration could turn down some of the heat with a lifetime, no-war-profit promise. Bush's most ardent detractors (who actually might think the administration was deluded not just by neocon fantasies about promoting democracy but also by a desire to pump up profits of companies with which they have been connected) might find the chances laughably unrealistic. Perhaps, perhaps not.

Bush is said to believe history will look more kindly than contemporaries on the war, an idea that may not be entirely fanciful. Setting a new ethical course for himself and, by example, his successors might help clear the air for re-evaluation.

But even if this administration and Congress ignore the idea, the topic ought to draw discussion among 2008 presidential candidates, who have a lot of air time to fill in an overly long campaign. Forswearing profits from war is very little to ask of someone who would be president. More important, anything that can ease the painful levels of distrust among people for this or future administrations is worth consideration.

(This piece was also posted at Commondreams.)

And if neoconservatives and other somnambulists call the P-I loonies or give the usual guff about war for freedom, occupation as liberation, the need to jail critics to protect America and the other worn, Orwellian doublespeak, ruse lines?  

Ask them to please put Conservatism in Perspective and to recall the lines of another Republican (imperialist) Big Stick wielder of yesteryear, Teddy "Bully" Roosevelt, who once said:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Or how about this one, from a man known as "Mr. Republican" in his day:

"As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government ... Too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think it will give some comfort to the enemy ... If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and it will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur."
That was Senator Bob Taft, after Pearl Harbor no less, in December, 1941.

The recusal is an idea whose time is long overdue and doesn't even approach criticism. It just states the obvious about conflicts of interest in "times of war." Thankfully a major paper has asked in public what should have been codified into law ages ago. Take action now. Call congress. Write the MSM. Make this a major issue in 2008 before it's too late. And while you're at it, suggest impeachment of the V.P. and a genuine investigation into 9/11 unanswered questions. It is the holiday season, after all. Ask and you may receive. But don't hold your breath.

Long live the Artist General! Long live the true Vox Populi!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

State Terror: H.R. 1955 a Weapon of Mass Destruction of Civil Liberties

Concerning the graduated repression of the Nazi regime, the Reverend Martin Niemoller, in 1945, stated, to the effect:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

Though this quote has taken on many forms and endured several disputes, the ultimate interpretation stands. That silence about liberty infractions equals civil death.

Further, on the notion of leading the public headstrong into oblivion, the Nazis said it best:

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”  Hermann Goering, 1946

Thus describes in many ways America today. From 9/11 to the non-sequitor of Iraq we've witnessed the success of establishment deceit, from violations of international law to constitutional abrogation. Not just in foreign affairs, but in domestic terms.

Consider the Ramifications of H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, Americans ought take note.

This is a controversial issue, but, it’s a very important one that threads past to present. The following is a civic exercise and rough draft of thoughts to come...updates soon on the horizon. Until then...

Recently, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1955, Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, by a staggering vote of 404 to 6. In hearings for the bill, testimony focused on political and peace activist groups in the U.S. and linked them with extremist groups abroad and claimed the two were the same in terms of a threat to Americans. This is the same tactic used dating back to the 19th century in America, so it is nothing new. But is it commensurate with American values ensconced in the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence?

Enter the thought police.

The use of propaganda to disinform the public and instill fear in the American population, especially to lead to war has been well established (Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII,Viet Nam and the Gulf of Tonkin, and most recently 9/11, WMD’s and Iraq to name a few). It was also commonplace for Congress to pass laws restricting the rights of citizens in the name of freedom and security. Remember the Espionage and Sedition Acts from WWI used to suppress criticism of government? The A. Mitchell Palmer Raids and the Red Scare after WWI? The internment camps in WWII for the Japanese? Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1950’s and his Communist witch hunts based on false figures and conjecture? COINTELPRO during the Cold War and Viet Nam, all used to clamp down on free speech and assembly rights while the F.B.I. infiltrated peace groups as agent provocateurs and tried to force violence to discredit the antiwar movement and civil rights leaders? All this in the land of the free and home of the brave.

After 9/11 we had the USA PATRIOT Act, the suspension of Habeas Corpus, indefinite detentions, extraordinary rendition, flouting of international law, torture, and enemy combatants with no legal counsel held in off shore military prisons. Now, continuing the trend of rolling back founding principles and stifling debate and dissent, the Congress strikes again. This is a bipartisan measure, so it is not merely a one party issue. The outcry to this recent bill, while just beginning, is also very diverse consisting of veterans, NRA folks on the right as well as many civil libertarians and other veterans on the left. In fact, many groups opposing the USA PATRIOT Act have chimed in already. Read on...

Chief among the claims of those testifying to Congress about the “need” for this bill, which included groups with close ties to government and military industrial complex over the years like the Rand Corporation, was that anyone that questions the official government line on 9/11 is akin to a terrorist or material supporter to terrorism. One speaker, Mark Weitzman of the Wiesenthal Center (ironically founded by Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal to educate the public about war crimes), claimed that architects, engineers, and scientists that questions the official 9/11 narrative are the same as alleged violent Jihadist groups. This is the latest round of official conflation between terrorists and activists in the U.S. recently examined through the USA PATRIOT Act by Nancy Chang in her work “Silencing Political Dissent” at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. Is there a link between these aforementioned groups? No, there is not. But that didn’t stop these folks from simply saying so on the public record while providing no evidence. And Jane Harmon, co-sponsor of the bill, a Democrat from southern CA., didn’t ask for any. Just like McCarthy. See the C-Span Video Footage for more details and context.

Given the government's own admission in several separate studies that they have not concluded how the WTC and towers Building 7 were destroyed, that the official commission report was widely censored by Bush loyalists, and that the F.B.I. dropped it's quest for Bin Laden due to lack of evidence (and the CIA disbanded the unit in charge of looking for him), over a third of Americans when polled still question what happened that day and who was responsible. Even NIST officials conducting the most thorough official investigation into Building 7 in New York claimed their work was flawed and hampered by significant restrictions.

While this in no way implicates any particular parties for the events of 9/11, it does lead reasonable people that have researched the facts to conclude a new investigation is needed and many questions have not been answered. The families of the victims of 9/11 submitted hundreds of questions to the commission, 3/4 of them went ignored or unanswered. We as Americans deserve better. Now these people are being potentially criminalized for their questions and nonviolent actions. Also, more personally, I teach a critical thinking course on 9/11. According to the language in the bill, I could be sent to prison for asking people to think for themselves based on factual evidence. In America, do you think this is appropriate action by government?

Regardless if one believes the counter arguments about 9/11 in America’s recent past, should these people be criminalized for questioning the government and asking for another inquiry into that fateful day? Review materials below, then opine supported by evidence as to what you think about this current situation. This is a civic exercise. Do we really live in a republic, a society based on principles of liberty? If so, we need to examine all of this.


The Text of H.R. 1955:

H.R. 1955

The video on C-Span (see after 39 minutes for specifics) of some supporters:

Video Footage

One of the sites shown alongside terror groups in a guilt by association tactic, this one founded by a Bay Area Republican and 20 year architect, Richard Gage:



911 Blogger


Thought Crime

9/11 Terrorist Conflation

NRA Style Rebuttals

Center for Constitutional Rights Views

General info on 9/11 alternative views and unanswered questions:

Unanswered Questions from 9/11

9/11 Truth

9/11 Research

Random thoughts on 9/11, propaganda, and American history:

Mythinfo Blog

Discourse and widespread awareness through education is one way to address these key issues. Possible discussion prompts with friends, family, and the general public:

Remember, this can be a civic exercise. That's what counts. Watch the video, read the texts, see the reactions and consider the following: Is it commensurate with American values ensconced in the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence? Should people be criminalized for questioning the government and asking for another inquiry into 9/11 related issues? Why or why not? Are nonviolent groups that question the government on 9/11 issues the same threat as alleged Jihadist groups? How do you see this as part of a trend of repression of dissident voices in America? Explain and support. Talk to your family, your friends, strangers, your foes. Give it a go! The survival of our republic depends upon it. This is up to us, the people!

A final word from Benjamin Franklin:

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Where do you stand at this crucial juncture in American history?

Vox Populi

--This posting was also published here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Last Man Out on 9/11

"Truth comes as conqueror only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as friend." Rabindranath Tagore, Philosopher

The testimony of the following, that of William Rodriguez, has legitimate challenges, but remains somewhat unresolved. However, it is a very important story about 9/11 that deserves scrutiny. Read on...

William Rodriquez, the last man out of the North Tower, WTC 1, on 9/11/2001 before its destruction, is a celebrity of tragedy. He had been a janitor at the building for 20 years. Before being rescued from the rubble, Rodriguez himself rescued numerous people from the WTC building. He was lauded by politicians and media heads across the board. He was wined and dined by the 9/11 Commission folks and seen as an all American hero that could be a poster boy for the war on terror. Until he gave his testimony about what he witnessed on 9/11.

Rodriguez heard explosions in the basement of the tower where he was stationed for work. Not only that, but he heard them and saw people running for the upstairs exit badly burned with skin hanging from their bodies. Point of interest- this was BEFORE the first plane hit the North Tower. Rodriguez explains in testimony to the 9/11 Commission (that was not published in the final volume edited by neocon and Condi Rice cohort, Phillip Zilikow) that he heard explosions below, saw burned victims, and THEN heard a huge explosion erupt far above, that being American Airlines Flight 11 at 8:46 A.M. Again, see the link above for more info from Willy's website.

Granted, this is eyewitness testimony, which can be questioned, and Willy puts on a grandiose show. While that may work against him in the long haul, it certainly tugs on the heartstrings, blending fact and emotion. His eyewitness testimony, however, is also quite damning in light of the omissions and distortions of the 9/11 report pointed out by Dr. David Ray Griffin and has been corroborated by other first responders. Also, for further dialogue, see this blog for more thought provocation about this issue. Moving along...

After his testimony, Rodriguez was attacked then studiously ignored by politicos and pundits. However, his testimony ought to be reconsidered in light of all that 9/11 has been used to justify. This is further possible evidence that 9/11 was something other than the official view and grand narrative claim it to be, as put forth by architect Richard Gage regarding the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC7. We ignore this story and these other scientific studies at our peril. The events of 9/11 are worthy of legitimate, transparent, and independent inquiry with public debate, not a sham government cover up underfunded and started over a year later where final Commission Report editors were all close allies of the Bush administration (and also, by the way, it should be stated, that all three major government studies contradicted each other and claimed their own conclusions were improbable at best but won't be debated). Given such farce, we should seek historic counsel. Thomas Jefferson once said that dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Let us all be patriots on this issue, now, in our generation. Let us not be attached to conclusions, merely allow us to see what is real.

I had the pleasure of briefly following Rodriguez on a radio interview prior to a presentation he had in Oakland, CA at the Grand Lake Theater on November 1st. It was on the Peter B. Collins show last week. It is a tale worth hearing with a critical mind for certain, regardless of ones' views on the matter.

All is all, 9/11 is wrought with far more problems than solutions and far more questions than answers. Scholars and researchers like Jim Hoffman, along with Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and Peter Phillips of Project Censored, have done commendable research on 9/11 issues in light of the overall paucity of information that has been reported via American mainstream media. Our "leaders" must be held accountable for this shoddy investigation and obfuscation around 9/11 issues. The victims and the families of that tragedy deserve no less. Truth is a process that reveals the obvious to the world. We need to open our collective eyes and consciousness and not fear what we may see...and then we'll see.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Arthur Schopenhauer German philosopher (1788 - 1860)