When I served in Vietnam as Advisory Team Leader in Trung Lap, in the heart of the "Iron Triangle" I would have been eternally thankful to have a man like Bradley Manning watching my back! Am investigative video created by The Guardian examines alleged WikiLeaker Bradley Manning's "psychologically condition" before he was dispatched to Iraq, where our Army decided to steal that country's oil, after roughing up their ctizens! Granted, concluding that he was probably not fit for overseas duty, and that security at his station was remarkably lax. The additional reporting provides a fuller picture of Manning's motivations, and discloses just how easy it was for him to hijack classified intelligence. Without our defense, a prisoner like Bradley Manning is defenseless against the media, the military and the government. We can at least spread the word about the Bradley Manning Support Network (http://www.bradleymanning.org/learn-more). Why is Manning's mind the only relevant sign of weakness, disability and pathology in the big media stories so far? Why not the sorry condition of our "corporate state", passing as a so- democratic republic? What is the "normal" psychology of soldiers allowed to beat up someone because he's not much above 5 feet tall? A shame, really, that only Senator Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky, held out so stubbornly against a bipartisan majority on the issue of individual rights?
The former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a new published report, that he had not seen "a shred of evidence" that Iran was "building nuclear, or nuqular", if your name is George W. Bush, who accepted the so-called 9/11 fairy tale about the asbestos-damaged "towers" belonging to "Silverberg". But I digress: Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize recipient who spent 12 years at the IAEA (sorry, NOT EIEIO) , told investigative journalist Seymor Hersh: "I don't believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran." El Baradei, the Nobel Prize recipient, who spent 12 years at the IAEA, told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, "I don't believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran." El Baradei, who is now a candidate for the presidency of Egypt, added: "The core issue is mutual lack of trust. I believe there will be no solution until the day that the United States and Iran sit down together to discuss the issues, and put pressure on each other to find a solution." El Baradei's remarks are contained in in an article by Hersh titled "Iran and the Bomb".
Arianna Huffington, like the millions of Americans who will hit the road this Memorial Day, traveled to Providence, Rhode Island. In her case, it was to receive an honorary doctorate from Brown University during its commencement ceremony. Arianna is best known for her Huffington Daily Brief, but in this case, she wanted to repeat a lesson recalling the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in defense of ours, and to honor who continue to do so: However, as Advisory Team Leader in Vietnam, first near a small Montagnard village north of Kontum, and finally in Trung Lap, in the heart of Vietnam's "Iron Triangle" I witnessed too many problems related to our involvement of other nations' serious problems to feel good about my contribution! North of Kontum, I was asked to provide security for a medical mission, by guarding a helicopter which desperately had to fly to Dak To, which had been overrun by North Vietnamese enemy soldiers. Listening to the screams of the dead and dying, many of them still hoping to return to the United States, requires an extremely hard-boiled SOB. During my next assignment, in the "Iron Triangle" of Vietnam, I walked through a minefield, step by step behind a VietCong Enemy Agent. The enormous perspiration from the back of her cone-shaped hat made me realize that she had no more familiarity with the location of these deadly mines than I did. At the end of that "patrol", I pointed to the dense jungle to our left, and said: "Didi Mau", which means: "Go-go quickly"and, I never saw her face again, though my jungle combat boots still sit on a shelf in my garage. Before I left for Vietnam, my father, who was drafted into the German Army, pulled me aside into a room in our house where my mother could not listen to our conversation, told me: When I served in the German Army, I often had serious conversations with our officers, but in the end, they insisted on volunteering for the most difficult combat assignments. If you are not able to live up to their high standards, I do not want you to return to this house. Well, all of my men did live to tell their stories about Vietnam, and my father smiled at me for my devotion to their welfare!
We, the United States, have an obligation to every last victim of our illegal aggression, because of all the carnage which has been done in our name. Since World War II, 90% of the casualties of war were unarmed civilians, and at least 1/3 of them were children. Our victims have done nothing to us. I still remember our family's hasty flight from our home in Breslau, Germany, (now Wroclaw, Poland, which had been overrun by the victorious Soviet Army). On our way to Dresden, the man whose responsibility it was to bring us to Dresden stopped in the middle of a dark forest, and shut down our boilers, in order to avoid the attention of American fighter planes. His assistant ran outside of our train to notify us, when it might be possible to start our boilers again. After we arrived safely in Dresden, we were greeted by Red Cross nurses, who served us delicious noodle soup. I still remember a few kind faces, who looked inside my baby carriage, at a small child who had not yet been used to the horrors of war. Since Dresden was overcrowded with refugees, the city administration forced us to stay in a large farm house, on a hill overlooking a now burning city. Since our family had just celebrated Christmas in Breslau, I began singing "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht" (Silent Night, Holy Night), while my mother and Grandmother wept uncontrollably! Much later, when I served as Advisory Team Leader near Trung Lap, Vietnam, my team and I were advised by our Vietnamese friends that a Vietcong patrol was hidden in large barrels in a small river. I saw a colorful fruit growing from a tree barely touching the barrel, to which my Vietnamese Interpreter commented: "This fruit, VC eat" Since I was still upset by the shabby treatment by American pilots near Dresden, I decided to keep the VC hiding place to myself, and give our troublesome enemy a fair chance of surviving their war. Getting back to Dahlia Wasfi's comments "We Are The Terrorists", I know that she is right, and I want no part of any atrocity, especially against innocent civilians!
For a change, we need to be honest with the president, with the Congress, as well as with the American people about the consequences of cutting the defense budged, said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his valedictory policy address to the American Enterprise Institute. A smaller military, no matter how superb, will be able to go fewer places and do fewer things. Gates seeks to ignite a debate the country seems reluctant to have. With a federal budget running out of balance by 10 percent of gross domestic product, what are we Americans willing to sacrifice? What are we willing to forgo? What are we willing to cut? The biggest budget items are Social Security, Medicare and Defense. To Democrats, the first two are untouchables. To most Republicans, defense is off the table. Indeed, the likelihood is that any budget deal to which both parties agree will contain escape clauses to enable Congress to avoid the painful decisions, and kick the can up the road. Consider the situation our US military faces: The useful life of the planes, ships, missiles, guns and armor that date to the Ronald Reagan buildup of the 1980's is coming to an end, and the cost of replacement weapons is much greater. A fleet of 2,440 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, for example, will cost over $1 trillion. While we no longer face a Soviet Union with nuclear and conventional forces equal to our own, US commitments have not been reduced, but augmented since the end of the Cold War. Six Warsaw Pact nations were brought into NATO, along with three republics of the old Soviet Union.
The most important war in Libya is not in our news! The casualties are Atlantic bluefin tuna, which though not an officially endangered species has reduced bluefin populations by 80% since 1970. A single bluefin typically sells for $75,000, and the species will be decimated unless the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a nonprofit Watson founded in 1978 intervenes. French, Spanish, German, Italian and Maltese poachers ply these waters with impunity, although the EU has outlawed all fishing there due to Libya's civil war. It's a NATO no-fly zone, which is good news to poachers: No inspectors, no surveillance. "Any boat we find here will be an illegal boat," warns Watson, who says he liberated 800 tuna off Libya last year. Bluefin are not killed upon being caught, but hauled live in huge underwater nets to shore stations, where they can be fattened up like feedlot steers. Sea Shepherd divers slit those nets with knives: It's the latest in a long series of rip-roaring and highly controversial rescue missions involving blades and ballistics, fire and ice, stink-bombs and blood. Sea Shepherd crews have sunk at least 10 whaling vessels by fouling their propellers, intercepting their harpoons, blocking their slipways to prevent loading, and barrage them with foul-smelling butyric acid.
What was Timothy Geithner thinking back in 2008 when, as president of the New York Fed, he decided to give Goldman Sachs a $30 billion, interest-free loan as part of an $80 billion secret float to favored banks? The sordid details of that program were finally made public this week, in response to a court order for a Freedom of Information Act release, thanks to a Bloomberg News lawsuit. Sorry, it wasn't an "interest-free" loan! Make that .01 percent that Goldman paid to borrow taxpayer money, when ordinary folks who missed a few credit card payments in order to finance their mortgages, were being slapped with interest payments of more than 25 percent! One wonders if Barack Obama was fully aware of Geithner's deceitful performance at the New York Fed, when he appointed him treasury secretary in the incoming administration. The president was probably ignorant (as he always is), as were key members of Congress. "I wasn't aware of this program until now," said Barney Frank, D-Mass., who at the time chaired the House Financial Services Committee, admitting to Geithner's "single-tranche open-market operations" program, and there was no language in the Dodd-Frank law supposedly reining in the banks that compelled the Fed to reveal the existence of this program.
Its finally happened: Top House Republicans pressed Obama Wednesday for a detailed plan on budget cuts, and one leading lawmaker accused him of distorting a GOP Medicare proposal at the center of the "partisan divide" over spending. White House press secretary Jay Carney supposedly said that the meeting was "productive" (yeah, right!), despite the absence of any signs of progress. In other words, nothing was done, except the bombing of Libya! Jay, if I may call him that, also made clear that Obama has no intention of letting up on his "assertions" that Republican Paul Ryan's Plan to send future Medicare recipients into the private insurance marketplace will "end soon" .
White Woman Speak Truth: However, our idiotic "President" does NOT seem to care what is about to happen to our country: Young people between the ages of 16 and 24 face an unemployment rate nearly twice that of the rest of the population, according to data from the "Economic Policy Institute". 2010's 18.4 percent rate for youth was the worst in the 60 years that economists have collected such data. Color lines notes that in 2010, 8.4 percent of white college graduates were unemployed, but so were 13.8 percent of Latino graduates, and a "dismal" 19 percent of black graduates. All too often, those bright, shiny new degrees simply aren't worth the paper they are printed on. My undergraduate degree was from Sam Houston College in Huntsville, Texas, and my MBA came from "The University of Texas at Arlington", but I digress: Between those two schools came my service as Intelligence Operations Officer for the 4th US Armored Division in Goeppingen, where Steve Mayfield, a Central Intelligence Man, fresh from Vietnam, tried to persuade me to become a spy for the CIA in East Germany. Although, for a time, I considered his offer, my boss, Colonel Aantero Aakkula, stopped me dead in my tracks: "This is NOT James Bond". If you should be temped to take his offer, let me tell you: The Communist Intelligence People will find you, and you will spend the rest of your time in some dingy East German Jail, and the Americans will not even try to get you out. So I went to Vietnam instead: First as Civil Affairs Officer, and later as Advisory Team Leader in Kontum and Trung Lap, the heart of the so-called "Iron Triangle". Despite all odds, I managed to survive, and remain true to my father's comment: Take care of your men, or do not return to our house! Of course, I was able to keep my promise. After all, I am a Tchermann, and vi take care of those who depend on us!
Dave Lindorff: It's the Military, Stupid! Don't Blame America's Debt Crisis on Social Security and Medicare!
Who's a complainer? I'm a complainer, but New York Times Reporter Gretchen Morgenson has never been on my list! In my book, she has always stood out for the clarity of her analysis, and for her willingness to go after the guilty parties in the political and especially in the banking system, naming names and calling it as she sees it, so it was disappointing to read her latest article, on a new study by Peterson Institute for International Economics Senior Fellow Joseph Gagnon, warning about our nation's growing debt crisis! The Peterson Institute, founded by Wall Street tycoon Peter Peterson, has long been gunning for the Social Security and Medicare systems, which he, and the rest of the Wall Street gang, see as unfairly competing with Wall Street for the assets of the public, and destroys our "free market". Peterson has the odd notion that the two systems are going to bankrupt our country, since they pay out benefits which exceed what retirees pay into the system, and he feels that the proper solution is to cut back on those benefits, increase the taxes collected, or better yet, privatize the systems! Knowing Peterson's agenda to gut Social Security and Medicare, we understand that he would say the solution to the nation's growing debt is to either raise taxes, or cut those two, hugely successful, critically important and broadly popular social programs.
Is the Libyan war legal? Was Bin Laden's killing legal? Is it legal for our "president" to target an American citizen for assassination? Were those "enhanced"interrogation techniques legal? Americans need to know, so that they might escape the "Spanish Inquisition", or by now the "American" version of it! Yes, we have willingly decided to look back into ancient history books, to find out how much torture we can use to make a man (or woman, perhaps even a child, talk to the inquisitors of our "government".) As a veteran who served in Vietnam, and who almost got his ass shot off for these same magnificent rulers, so those of us who survived REALLY, REALLY want to know! My questions, for those of us who understand our "government of the people, sometimes even by the people, and much less for the people, have a right to be upset. To us, memorial day is much more than a date on a new calender, but a painful memory of those we killed, and those who almost killed us! If, in a country theoretically organized under the rule of law, wrongdoers are never brought to justice, and no-one is held accountable for serious crimes, then you don't have to be a constitutional lawyer to know that our citizens actually exist in a post-legal state!
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue, gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotions as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriotic oratory which stirred the deepest depths of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while. In the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war, and cast a doubt upon its righteousness, got such a stern and angry warning, that for their personal safety's sake, they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
YES, the rapid and terrifying acceleration of "Global Warming", which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a faster pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the "power elite" with equal parts of self- delusion: There are those, many of whom, like Obama, (may he rest in peace) hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical data as false. There are others, who accept the science surrounding global warming, but wrongfully insist that the human species (like those of us who watched the complete and utter destruction, including the wholesale murder of the docile citizens of Dresden, with our own eyes) War is Hell, and I am ashamed that I was seduced by our "American Government" to participate in it! But, as always, I digress: Those of us who concede that the planet is warming, but insist that we can learn to live with it, are the most dangerous in our midst. It is horrifying to defeat a resolution that said that "climate change" is occurring, it is caused largely by human activities, "but" causes no significant risks for public health and welfare! How stupid are we? Those who concede that the planet is warming, but insist we can learn to live with it, are as stupid as my Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, who continued to believe in the final victory, "the end Sieg". (the final victory, which only those who remained alive during those terrible days of destruction were "privileged" to "enjoy". If you believe the empty promises of Obama, you, and I include only those who are gifted with a brain by our Almighty God, I advise you to come to your senses, and the distinct possibility that you will not be "in their number, as the Saints come marching in"!
Even as Prime Minister was praising the United States in a speech on Tuesday for imposing tougher sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities, the State Department announced that it was imposing sanctions on a leading Israeli company, "Ofer Brothers Group", for activities supporting Iran's energy sector. While the State Department's decision caused Israel considerable embarrassment, it was the timing that created created the greatest stir. It came soon after Mr. Netanyahu's 'friction' with Obama over using the 1967 borders as a basis for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "Nobody wants to over-interpret the choice of timing," said an Israeli official who was speaking on the condition of anonymity for diplomatic reasons, "but there was no objective reason for the State Department to come out with the announcement on that precise day." "Does this carry meaning? I am unable to tell you, but you cannot blame anyone for being suspicious," he said. The Obama administration dismissed any connection between the sanctions and Mr. Netanyahu's visit. "These sanctions take months" to work through the Department of Treasury's vetting process, a senior administration official said. "There is a process." Still, the awkward fact remains that a corporation owned by one of Israel's most prominent business families has been blacklisted for dealings, however indirect, with Iran.
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I have always found Memorial Day sickening: Churches encourage their veterans to wear their uniforms, as though God himself sanctioned the slaughter of our fellow man! Churches sing hymns of worship to the state instead of hymns about the person of Christ and HIS work. Some churches go even further, and sing "God Bless the USA", or "God Bless America". Too many churches sing the blasphemous "Battle Hymn of the Republic". I know that these practices are widespread, because of the scores of people who have e-mailed me in disgust about what occurred in their churches on the Sunday before Memorial Day. In most cases, it is not even necessary to visit a church on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day to know what goes on inside: Just look at the sign outside the church. Instead of a verse of scripture, or an announcement of an upcoming event, you are more likely to see some patriotic slogan, often with a Christian theme! Yes, we should pray for the troops. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1 that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men", but the act of destroying them as soon as we see the whites of their eyes, was not meant by the author of these words. In Vietnam, in our base near Trung Lap, I ordered my "counterpart", Captain Quoc, to direct fire against a nearby village, from where enemy fire came to my advisory compound. In a few hours, a very old man, hobbling on a crude crutch fashioned from the branch of a tree, and an equally old woman, carrying a tiny baby with our mortar shrapnel in her stomach, and lifeless eyes, virtually on the edge of death, asked to see a doctor. Since our team only had a trained medic, I had to summon a helicopter from the nearby 25th Infantry Division. The child died in transit.
Please forgive the deliberate misspelling on John Schmitt's title - I guess down deep I am still a Tscherrmann, even sou I fought for the US in Vietnam! The great Recession hit harder in the United States than in most of the rest of our world. Among the world's rich economies, we experienced the largest increase in unemployment, trailing only Spain and Ireland. Most advanced economies saw substantially smaller increases in unemployment, trailing only Spain and Ireland, but Germany actually saw its unemployment rate decline. Can we learn anything from countries - Denmark and Germany are currently particularly informative. Denmark had a model labor market before the downturn, but ironically offers a cautionary tale, while Germany's economy has been up and down since unification in the early 1990's, but points one way out of OUR mess: Germany has done well because its labor-market institutions encourage employers to cut hours, NOT workers. Instead of laying off 20 percent of workers, a firm can lower the average hours of its employees by 20 percent. Both accomplish the same goal, but from a social point of view, cutting hours is much better, because it shares the pain more equally, and keeps workers tied to their jobs: The German system gives employers many incentives to cut hours instead of workers. The most obvious is their "short-time work" system, which pays partial unemployment benefits to workers who have their hours reduced. German workers who lose one day of work per week are entitled to receive unemployment benefits equal to one-fifth of the usual weekly unemployment check. Other aspects of the German system also help: Legal protections against dismissal make it cheaper for employers to reduce hours than to fire workers, and many Germans are covered by union contracts that allow flexibility around the length of the work week, and the spread of hours throughout the year. Together, these systems helped to reduce the total number of hours worked in Germany by about 4 percent between 2008 and 2009. Over the same period, total unemployment remained unchanged!
What is the changing role of Pakistan in broad geo-strategic terms, especially the changing American strategy toward Pakistan? The "so-called" recently reported assassination of Osama bin Laden was merely a propaganda ploy aimed at the weak of mind among our American citizens! To understand this, it is necessary to understand how America has, in recent years, altered its "strategy" in Pakistan in the direction of destabilization. In short, Pakistan is an American target! The reason is Pakistan's growing military and strategic ties to China, America's primary global strategic rival: In the 'Great Game' for global hegemony, any country that impedes America's world primacy - even one as historically significant to America as Pakistan - may be sacrificed upon the altar of war. Part 1 of 'Pakistan in Pieces' examines the changing views of the American strategic community - particularly the military and intelligence circles - toward Pakistan. In particular, there is a general acknowledgement that Pakistan will very likely continue to be stabilized, and ultimately collapse: What is not mentioned in these assessments, however, is the role of the intelligence communities in making this a reality - a veritable self-fulfilling prophecy. This part also examines the active on the ground changes in American strategy in Pakistan, with military incursions into the country!
Wow! The "President" will be designating a national day of "honor" to celebrate members of the Armed Forces, who are returning from deployment in support of Iraq, Afghanistan, and "other" combat areas. Though Obama's rhetoric is catchy, it really does nothing to ease the pain of loved ones killed and wounded in combat areas: When I served in Vietnam, first as S-5 of the 1/10 Cav Squadron in the Central Highlands, then as Advisory Team Leader in a tiny backwater north of Kontum, and finally with the same "MOS" in Trung Lap, in the heart of the Iron Triangle, I had to witness a few situations that I would just as soon forget! North of Kontum, we listened attentively on our team radio, while Dak To was being overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers, and the torment of that team's agony still lingers in my mind. Since Dak To was in desperate straits, and their medics had to perform miracles to keep at least a few men alive, I volunteered to provide security next to my compound for the medic helicopter who needed a small respite, so that they could survive until they could practice their magic for the dead and dying, only a few kilometers north of us. Before my assignment to Tri Dau, just north of Kontum, I had a few words with the Chaplain of our 1/10 Cav Squadron, asking him to carry a rifle while he gave "last rites" to the dead and dying in our unit: His answer stunned me: Though I appreciate your concern, there is no need for that precaution. In the past, I have always grabbed the weapons of the dead and dying, and protected these men while I gave them "last rites". Mr. President, there is no honor among thieves, and the best you can do for this country is to stop our wars before more Americans, and our Allies are killed needlessly!
On Thursday, the US House of Representatives backed eternal worldwide war and imprisonment powers for all future presidents, but blocked any ground troops in Libya, except for the ones already there, since the measure included no consequences for its violation. The House also unanimously created a new national holiday to celebrate the Iraq, where we stole that nation's oil, and Afghanistan, where we still use drones, in order to kill the little children, which our drone jockeys can clearly see from their safe haven in our western desert! For that, the House de-funded the US Institute for Peace, and required that all suspected "foreign terrorists" be tried by the military, and not in court, so that justice will finally be done! Amendment #50 was debated last night, and the vote postponed: This is an amendment to strip language out of that bill, which would allow presidents virtually unlimited power to launch and continue wars and to imprison people, all without any involvement of the legislative or judicial branches of our government: This is the current procedure, as exemplified by the Libya War, and by many small and secretive military operations, but its language would make it part of our laws, effectively eliminating the War Powers Act, though in sharp conflict with our Constitution!
When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser "destroyed or murdered" At the time, he didn't give a damn if there might be anarchy and chaos in Egypt. Another mealymouthed politician, Winston Churchill, whose work I saw first hand, when I watched the destruction of Dresden from a nearby hill, spoke of "insolent Arabs, which should be driven into the gutter, from which they should never have emerged". The language of colonialism may have been modified, but its spirit and hypocrisy are unchanged! A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic. The loss of Egypt's Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable - an American-backed counter-revolution is under way, as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power-shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution. The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control: Libya is the immediate opportunity. The NATO attack on Libya, with the UN Security Council assigned to mandate a bogus "no fly zone" to "protect civilians", is strikingly similar to the final destruction of Yugoslavia in 1999. There was no UN cover for the bombing of Serbia and the rescue of Kosovo, yet that propaganda still echoes today! Like Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi is the "new Hitler", plotting genocide against his people, but wait: NATO is doing that for him!