Sunday, October 23, 2011

Obama's War Revisited

After watching President Obama tell the world all military actions are over and all military personnel will be out of Iraq by years end. I started thinking of the last ten years and our involvement in Bush's Imperialism. 

I wrote the following piece two years ago and we are still in Afghanistan with no end in sight. President Karzai has stated he wants the USA out of his country and last week he stated if Pakistan was attacked he would support Pakistan over the United States.This is our puppet. The man we supported to be its leader and now he would fight us. I have to ask once again what are we doing in the Middle East.

                                                          * * * * * * * * * * *

I have been following the accounts of the fierce fighting going on in Afghanistan. The battle at a remote outpost and the attacks on other outpost over the last year are right out of Hollywood. But instead of Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. fighting Bedouins some place in the Middle East pin downed and outnumbered by relentless native fighters. Our heroes are unidentified American solders pin downed like their make believe British cousins.

The battle this past weekend was 12 hours of relentless firepower aimed at our heroic troops. From all reports our boy’s camp was breached and we held on till the air force could come to the rescue. 8 brave men died. In last summer’s attack at another outpost, the camp was overrun. That camp was dismantled days later because our men were sitting ducks.

Battles like this have been going on in Afghanistan since we started setting up outpost camps there. This year has been the deadliest year since our invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The battles are deadlier and deadlier. General Stanley McChrystal says we need more men or the Taliban may retake the countryside. We have been in this new assault on the Militants since before the Afghan elections. Militants that’s the new name the Department of Defense now calls the people who want to kill as many Americans as possible. These are the same “militant” fighters who fought the Russians in the 1980’s. They were called the Mujahedeen then and the weapons the current Afghan rebels are using against us were probably given to them 29 years ago by our own Government so the Mujahedeen could fight the Russians. That would have been the Reagan and Carter administrations. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

My gut reaction when I read these reports is “send more troops! ” That visceral emotion of revenge takes over my mind, like when I first saw those old action movies. I want the Afghan fighters dead. But, then I think of the Russians and the British before them and I say to myself

“Why are we still in Afghanistan?”
I know why good old George W got us there to begin with. Too bad he lost sight of the real reason we went to war. Instead he listened to Cheney and after driving the Taliban out of Kabul we stopped chasing Al Qaeda and the Taliban after they retreated into Pakistan. I'm not sure, nor do I believe our Military knows who these militants are. I just read a European report on Afghanistan stating many Militant fighters are actually coming from Uzbekistan via Pakistan. The war in Iraq was so successful in creating new militants out of presents they are coming out of the woodwork to fight the infidels and defend Islam. I also know there are some suggesting we should finish what we started. That is exactly what hawks said in 1968 to Nixon.

It is really time to bring the troops home. Not in two years. Not next year. The troops need to come home now. Start the pullout now and have all of our troop’s home by spring. Get the boys out of harm’s way and pull up stakes in the remote areas. Winter is coming the “militants” will be hunkered down in villages in Pakistan or in caves in the region. Perfect timing; just come on home. No one will notice. We won’t tell anyone. One day we are there, one day were not. Now you see us, now you don’t. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Take a ride on the Reading and proceed to the nearest C130 personal carrier and get out of Dodge as fast as we can.

It seems our puppet government in Kabul is as corrupt as another puppet government we propped up 40 years ago in Saigon. Richard Nixon told Americans we would be out of Viet Nam in one year. The war played on and on and we lost another 25000 men and women. It took us 6 more years to finally come home. We are not going to be in another Viet Nam, we already are in another Viet Nam. Richard Nixon inherited Viet Nam from Lyndon Johnson. Barack Obama inherited Afghanistan from George Bush. Just like Nixon, Obama told us he would end the war. I sure hope history does not repeat itself and President Obama has the guts to cut bait and get out of Afghanistan. We have seen so much death, so much destruction this decade. It needs to stop now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I Support the Occupy Movement

People have asked me what is going on with the Occupy Wall St. movement and what it is all about. I can only tell you what it means to me.

I turned 60 this year, I have had a job continues since I am 16. I have never been laid off, never collected a dime of public assistance and never been fired. From the time I entered college in 1969 the American Middle class has shrunk and wages have been on a steady decline. This decade the middle class lost 7% of wealth. The middle class who had 401k saving plans have lost substantial value. The middle class home owners have lost value in their biggest investment and some are upside-down and owe more than the house is worth. It cost more today to raise a family than ever before and wages have been stagnant for 40 years.

Over that time from 1970-2011 the wealth of the top 1% of the country has gone up over 300%. The disparity between the rich and the middle class is now at the greatest disparity it has been since 1929.

Middle class families cannot afford to send their children to college. It will be the first generation where the children of college educated parents will have less representation in college than their parents.

The American middle class is at a cross road. Will we be sheep and let the rich fleece this country or will we step up and say no? I am marching in the Occupy Knoxville demonstration against the state of the country. 

We are in two endless wars which is feeding the American war machine to the tune of $6 billion a week. The Department of Defense budget is 52% of the country’s GDP. The rest of the world is at 25%. 

Our politicians from both parties are allowed to accept uncontrolled amounts of money from corporations. The money trading hands in Washington has rendered our Government ungovernable. Political gridlock is the norm and ideology and social engineering by the right wing is a cause for alarm. Republicans have attacked women, education, civil rights, and labor all for their right wing conservative religious based ideology.

15 million people are unemployed. 56 million people are living in poverty. We have more black men in prison than in college. The unemployment rate in the black community is over 20%. The unemployment rate in Hispanic neighborhoods is pushing 18%. Minorities lost more than any group under the weight of the recession.

Corporations have been told by a corrupt Supreme Court that they can throw as much money into elections as they want. We have Supreme Court Justices who are accepted gifts from people who have cases before the court, openly taking trips and money from special interest.
I do believe the number one reason the country is in this mess is because of the debacle of the last decade. From the moment George Bush took office the Republicans had total control over the Government. It was the Bush Administration who blundered into Iraq, leaving the only legitimate reason to go to war in the first place as an after thought. Top the unfunded expense of the wars with the largest tax reduction for the wealthy in the history of the republic and a unfunded prescription drug plan and we were drawn into a perfect storm of economic ruin. If that was not enough the Republicans push through the repeal of the Glass - Steagall Act. Bill Clinton says he made a mistake on signing off on the repeal. Glass - Steagall was enacted as a result of the Great Depression. This was done under the disguise of "modernization".  The Bush Administration left the country in $9 Trillion dollars in debt spending money and reducing taxes.

All of these things plus some other issues are the reasons why I am marching. Pick a reason to take to the streets, there are many. This is the only way this government will change its behavior. Wall Street is the heart of our countries financial institutions and in 68 when we marched to end Viet Nam we took the march there. Nothing has changed. Take to the streets; show your dissatisfaction with our government and plan a march on Washington. Lets put the 15 million people without jobs on the streets of protest.
If you love America and are afraid of the future come out to a demonstration near you. The fate of our economy and our country is in your hands. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

America Under Attack

I was a participant in the Occupy Knoxville march this past Friday. I have been known to speak my mind on matters close to my heart; peace, intolerance and poverty to name a few. Today GOP leaders called my constitutionally protected freedom Un-American.

I have been involved in trying to make America a better place since I sat in Brother Richard's Government class at St. Augustine Dioceses High School in Brooklyn, NY. It was here my politics were formed. In 1968, the world was exploding, riots in the streets, the Viet Nam war raging, and Europe was tense from Russia’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. Friends of mine were getting drafted and sent to Viet Nam, some came home in body bags, some came home to racism and bigotry, some came home so messed up heroin became their best friend. I was a year away from learning my fate.

I knew the war was immoral long before I stepped foot in Brother Richard’s class. My Catholic education certainly cemented that philosophy in my soul. There I learned to think for myself, question authority and that knowledge is power. I also knew our government was not always right and people ordinary people have to take a stand and say so. Acts of civil disobedience are necessary in a true democracy and people need to test our democracy to make sure it is working for the people.

I marched on Wall St then and when I was marching down Market Square this past Friday I was expressing my constitutional rights of speech and assemble. Both of these freedoms are not just guaranteed they are in the Bill of Rights. The founding fathers thought so important the first ten amendments have their own designation.

The Freedom to speak your mind and to speak it with people who think like you are two of the reasons we demanded our freedom from England. Today, GOP leaders called people expressing their opinions as Un-American. If they think speaking out against the government is Un-American then do they believe our founding fathers wrong? Do they believe we don’t need these freedoms?

What the GOP said today is the same thing the Right wing said in 1968. The same verbiage is spewing out of their mouths. Their rhetoric is as hypocritical as is their memory. These are the same people who condoned Tea Party Republicans expression of the same constitutional rights just a couple of years ago.

I am protesting because the Government is broken and it is not governing. The GOP and the Democrats have let the Middle class down for the last 40 years. They both have sold the American Dream down the river for power and wealth. The Middle class has lost ground since 1970. Today the disparity between the rich and the middle class is at the same level of disparity as of 1929.

The disparity of wealth was a direct cause of the Great Depression. As the wealth of the 1% grows there is a correlating depression of wealth on the remaining 99% of Americans.

Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in his book “The Price of Civilization” (Sachs, 2011) “At root of America’s economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite.” These words resonate when you see an America in decline, an America with 56 million people living in poverty, and another 50 million living one pay check away from poverty.

I was born in the 1950’s, the golden years of America. The 1950’s were a time of exploration, building, and a beginning of the end of social injustice. There is not a Republican or Democrat who will argue the fact America under President Eisenhower was the greatest decade of America. It was Eisenhower who built the interstate roadway system. It was under Eisenhower’s Department of Justice that ended segregation in the South. It was the Eisenhower administration that started NASA.

President Eisenhower was a Republican. He had a social conscience. He loved his country. He was a true leader. The middle class grew to its all time highest percentage of people ever in the country. There were jobs. Americans worked in factories, and in plants building things that were shipped everywhere in the world. America had the highest standard of living of any industrialized country.

The federal tax rate during from 1950-1959 was from 17% - 84%. There was no talk of big government. The government was responsible for building our way out of the Depression, beating fascism and rebuilding the American infrastructure and economy.  

Dr. Sachs is so right, in his premise “The Price of Civilization.” What are you as an American willing to pay for our American Dream? Are you willing to let corporations control our government? I am not. I am not ready to roll over and die like the GOP wants me to do. I am not going away and I will never stop speaking out against the government as it is today.