Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chris Hedges And The Crucifixion Of Tomas Young

A link to a post.

     Chris Hedges has written an important article about a wounded war veteran who, after almost ten years of excruciating and increasing disability, is facing death.  The story is horrible.  It is not quite unique; but it is quite horrible.

     I think that it is essential that this article get under the noses of as many people as possible, especially  (a)  those who are still unrepentant cheerleaders for our previous (and current) aggressive, pre-emptive Middle East wars,  and also  (b)  those who think "well, mistakes were made -- but it's time to move on."  It is way too early to move on.  It's high time to "support the troops" -- ours, and our enemies' (both sides of which were wounded or killed under our false pretenses) -- by working for their rehabilitation and just compensation.

     What do I think should be done?  I can think of several things.

     1.  As to our politicians, military officer class, and bureaucrats from Cheney-Bush and Obama-Biden on down: Vacate their jobs and their retirement benefits, and instead, put them on mandatory community-service without parole for the next twenty years.  Draw lots:  even numbers, working in VA hospitals in the US; odd numbers, working in hospitals and nursing homes in Iraq, under the authority and supervision of the Iraqi government.

     2.  As to our corporations in the military-industrial complex, including their senior staffs, owners, and investors: "Sequester" their corporate and personal assets to the extent necessary to fund No. 1 above.

     3.  As to the flag-waving, war-boosting churches:  Let them, as an act of contrition, stop displaying the American flag (or pledging allegiance to it) anywhere on their properties, since they are deeply complicit in sullying the reputation of the nation.  (Further suggestion: take the name of Jesus, and any statuary of Him, off your public displays: you've sullied His name, too.  Let your contrition be public, and your faith private.)

     None of the above proposals contemplates violence -- simply a serious effort at restitution, restoration, reconciliation, and repentance.

     I am grateful to Chris Hedges for talking about this.  It's not going to make him wealthy, or popular.  Thanks, Chris, for talking about a real "inconvenient truth."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hugo Chavez, RIP

     I was saddened, though not surprised, when the long-time popular president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, passed away on Tuesday, March 5.  It was expected:  he had been undergoing treatments for cancer for a long time.

     The CIA, and its mentors and minions in the Establishment, are (predictably) delighted, and are clearly looking for ways to restore their pro-Big Oil, pro-rich, anti-poor ways in Venezuela.  Chavez has been an effective thorn in their side for the better part of fifteen years, during which he managed to attract hostility from pretty much all sides in Washington.

     Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, running against the corruption that had deeply infected both major parties in Venezuela.  He promised reforms that favored the poorer classes of people, and, interestingly enough, partially succeeded.  Some statistics indicate that during his years, he reduced the poverty rate from 48% to under 30%.  This, of course, challenged the elites of Venezuela who had firm connections -- and obligations -- to the multi-national corporations and interests that operate out of New York and Washington.   Over the years, mutual antagonisms increased.

     He aroused the ire of the Cheney-Bush neo-conservatives when he referred to American empire as the great problem, and George W. Bush as "the devil," in a speech at the United Nations in 2005.

     In that same year, he angered Pat Robertson, the televangelist who speaks for Jesus to the Religious Right.  Reverend Robertson thoughtfully urged that "we" ought to send in "our" covert operatives to assassinate him.

     All this was, of course, late in the game.  It was known in 2003 that agents of the FBI and the CIA were actively working on plans to assassinate him.

     Which was, of course, also late in the game, since there had been a nearly-successful coup attempt against him in 2002 which followed the usual CIA pattern that has been followed, often successfully, since the CIA's inception (and before that, by the CIA's mother organization, the OSS, that flourished during World War II).  The basic recipe is:  Stir up trouble, inflame the press, fund the opposition, control or split the security apparatus, hope for the worst, use the chaos, and claim, or deny, responsibility.

     In the run-up to the presidential election of 2012, a spate of anti-Chavez stories appeared in the U.S. media, painting him as marxist, or pro-extremist, or pro-Muslim, or too-sick-to-govern, or threatening violence to, or from, his well-connected opponents.  Despite all this, he won re-election handily.

     But Chavez hardly survived to his re-inauguration, and power passed to his vice-president.  Whereupon the "serious" media (Fox, CBS) groused that his successor was "hand-picked" (Aren't vice-presidential candidates usually "hand-picked"?  I'm thinking of Joe Biden and Paul Ryan here) -- and the tabloid media of Matt Drudge and the Right imagined "Hell's A-Burning" almost before his soul could have left his body.

     One could wonder if the US media, whether left or right, was genuinely concerned about violence, or were more interested in fomenting it.  Given their recent track record regarding Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, I think I can guess.

     I am at the point where, if the CIA-media promotes or likes somebody, I doubt them; and if they demonize somebody else, I figure that that person has offended them, which is probably a good sign.

     Which brings me to Mahmood Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, who has certainly been demonized by the CIA-media.  Upon the death of Chavez, Ahmadinejad gave it as his opinion that Hugo Chavez would return alongside Jesus and the Mahdi at the Second Coming.

     Well, I don't suppose that Ahmadinejad or the Muslims can speak too authoritatively about who will be returning with Christ;  but neither do I much believe in the authoritative judgments of Pat Robertson or the CIA.

     Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez, rest in peace.  Your people found reason to love you, and your detractors are, well, your detractors.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Political Pharisees

     Since the time of Christ, much has been said about the Religious Pharisees -- enough that most people of good will would say that they don't want to be a part of that group.  (Though a thoughtful  read of Church history, or a careful examination of one's one soul, might result in the disquieting discovery that the Pharisee mentality is altogether too close for comfort.)

     But my thoughts are here turning to the Political, rather than the Religious, Pharisee.  Like the Religious Pharisee, the Political Pharisee has turned the Law to his own purpose.  He doesn't see the Law as an expression of high ideals of human behavior, or national citizenship, but rather as a means of advancing his own ends through "law enforcement" -- his own ends, in this matter, being personal security, personal gain, personal self-justification, personal insider-status, personal control, and personal power.  It is an agenda that is as addictive and destructive as a meth habit, and at the end, in my opinion, will be in complete contradiction to the free forms of personal liberty and a cooperative humanity.

     The Political Pharisees have made a Long March through our American institutions, and we have an enormous number of them in the nation today --  many in positions of control, and many more wannabees.  Both major political parties are completely controlled by them, and they have enormous sway in our religious and social institutions.

     But at the moment, I want to draw attention to their influence in the Law Enforcement community -- by which I mean, our local and federal police, our local and federal judiciary, and their advocates and detractors in the national media.

     By way of contrast to the Political Pharisees, I encourage you to read the recent post, "My Life As A Tyrant," by a police officer, Chris Hernandez.  He gives an interesting perspective on the pressures and challenges that are faced by the good people who have chosen the career of law enforcement.

     The article inspired quite a few comments, some of which were unprinted, for reasons that the author explains. I found them most interesting, and (mostly) encouraging.  One of them, by Chuck Haggard, led me to his own post from several years ago, "Single Officer Response In Active Shooter Events." 

     While the two articles deal with very different circumstances, neither supports the control-agenda of the Political Pharisees.

     Let us be truthful people, and be willing to discuss the problems that we face, and consider how they might be solved.

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Your thoughts and comments are most welcome.