Peace Patriot's Journal
and I hope that this lawsuit helps to inform and educate the general public about them, and prompts more investigation and deeper thinking about our political system.
We are obviously stuck in war mode--as a society, as a country. Like a broken record, we keep finding ourselves in wars that we oppose--unjust wars, horrible wars. Why?
To my mind, it is just too much of a coincidence that three charismatic leaders who opposed war were assassinated within the space of five years--thence to Vietnam and TWO MILLION Southeast Asians and more than 55,000 U.S. soldiers killed.
That alone cries out for better investigations of those assassinations. And when you look into the investigations, you don't go far before you realize that all three investigations were botched--full of holes, full of malfeasance, full of blatant anomalies.
In June 1968, when he was assassinated, RFK was leading a political campaign to end the Vietnam War and had just that day won the California primary and was headed to the presidency. RFK was even more charismatic than his brother and would have won that election hands down. MLK, who was assassinated a few months before Bobby, in March 1968, had made the decision to openly oppose the Vietnam War, against advice of his counselors (who told him to stick to "civil rights'). This was VERY IMPORTANT opposition to the war--bringing together the huge civil rights movement, supported by many white "northerners" and religious and human rights groups, and, not incidentally, many black soldiers, recruits and draftees, with the growing anti-war movement. RFK (big supporter of the civil rights movement) and MLK (leader of the civil rights movement) were IN ACCORD on opposing the Vietnam War and bringing these issues together to stop what was palpably a racist war in Vietnam (against "the gooks") and egregious racism at home against Black Americans.
JFK (assassinated five years earlier)--as meticulously documented by James Douglass (in his recent book, "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters")--had fired the CIA Director over the invasion of Cuba, had struggled alone (except for Bobby) against nuking the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, had opened backchannels to Nikita Krushchev (to get around the CIA) to avert Armageddon and to begin nuclear disarmament (with the "Nuclear Test Ban Treaty"), had signed orders to de-escalate the U.S. military presence in Vietnam just before he was killed and was planning to run on a platform of world peace in the 1964 election. He had judged that the American people were ready for world peace and would support such a platform. To superficial appearances, in that era (early 1960s), this was a "pie in the sky" misjudgment--but he was absolutely correct. A year after his assassination, LBJ won one of the biggest presidential landslides in history on exactly that platform: Peace! I remember this well--it was my first vote for president. LBJ sold himself as the candidate of peace (against "trigger happy" Goldwater). And I voted for LBJ because of that. I voted for peace--as did something like 60% of the American people. Most of us didn't know that he was lying and was already planning escalation of Vietnam into a major war.
What Douglass establishes beyond question is that JFK--if he had lived to run in that election--would NOT have been lying. He intended to turn the United States away from war. He intended to END the "Cold War"--both the constant threat of Armageddon and all the "local" wars associated with it. Though he had been a "Cold Warrior" himself, he CHANGED. (And so did his brother.) JFK was the first--and has been the only-- president to face Armageddon (decision whether or not to trigger an all-out nuclear war). ALL of his advisors (except Bobby)--the Joint Chiefs--wanted to nuke the Soviet Union while they had missile superiority. They thought they could "win" such a war, though it meant hundreds of thousands of casualties here. JFK judged them to be mad. He refused, sought peace with Krushchev outside of CIA channels and thus signed his own death warrant.
Douglass also meticulously unravels the murder itself and gets as high as Richard Helms as to direct finger-pointing. He pulls together all existing research and his own original research and convincingly nails the CIA for organizing and carrying out the assassination. In addition, he unravels the coverup of the CIA's guilt. He explains why LBJ (whom he doesn't believe was involved in the assassination) agreed to the coverup. The assassination was designed to force his hand to nuke Russia in retaliation. The false trail led through Mexico back to Russia. Hoover (FBI) stumbled upon it and informed LBJ who immediately saw the need for a coverup, for two reasons: 1) So that he would not come under public pressure to nuke Russia for something Russia didn't do; and 2) to protect the "military-industrial" complex and an already war-dependent economy from scandal, so that the war in Vietnam could commence. Three days after JFK was killed, LBJ stated the following: "Now they can have their war." He was speaking of the CIA and Vietnam.
(Note: The CIA in cahoots with U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge had been ignoring and defying JFK's orders in Vietnam and assassinated the South Vietnamese leader who was leaning toward "neutrality" (i.e., peace with the North) in favor of leaders who wanted the U.S. military to fight a war on their behalf. This had been a CIA creation from the beginning--the division into South and North and the prep for war. JFK only gradually began to understand this, ended up opposing it and this became one more reason to remove him.)
"Now they can have their war"--with no peace-minded president to obstruct them. "Now they can have their war"--as a war profiteer/"patriot" substitute for wiping Russia off the face of the earth.
As Douglass points out, some of those involved in the assassination and some of those who favored war were "patriots" who genuinely considered JFK to be a "traitor"--however insane that may seem to us today. That is true to the tenor of the times as to "military-industrial" complex. Some MIC leaders were cynical, some were venal (greedy), some were near psychotic in their hated of communism and some were simply wrong in their equation of war with patriotism. That is how a number of people were lured into looking the other way, as to the coverup. They thought it essential for the country to maintain a war footing and to "fight communism" as a war. They thought that our civilization was at risk. It is very important to understand this, in looking back fifty years to these events. Good people were sucked into tolerating an assassination--to asking no questions about it, to ignoring a pretty obvious coverup. That this was mental illness--a sickness that poisoned our society to this day--did not occur to them. Having lived through those times, I know exactly what Douglass means by this. Many of those who tolerated the coverup, and even some of those involved in the assassination, could not see the evil in this act and the evil lurking in the shadows behind it.
"JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died And Why It Matters." He died because, though a "Cold Warrior" to begin with, he ended opposing war and he was so popular by the middle of his first term, he would have won the 1964 election in an overwhelming vote for peace and would have started leading the U.S. toward peace, with the people behind him. The "unspeakable" is nuclear annihilation (death of the planet), which he almost single-handedly averted and the "unspeakable" consequence of his own death at the hands of those who disagreed. "Why It Matters" is something for us to consider, today. I will explore this in a moment.
Douglass is writing a trilogy. His next two books will be about the RFK and MLK assassinations.
Looking at these three assassinations, it is my own intuition that they are connected. The three events are quite different in their details but what stands out, in hindsight, is motive--the motive of the assassins in the first one ("to have their war") and their having gotten away with it, which may have prompted them to treat similar threats in the same way--that is, remove the next two charismatic leaders who opposed the Vietnam War and favored peace and justice. I don't know if this will be Douglass' conclusion--but he is such an awesome researcher and writer that, if the trail leads back to those first assassins and is a recoverable trail, I trust that he will find it.
Sirhan Sirhan had no discernible motive to kill RFK and there is strong evidence that he was "programmed." In addition, there were numerous anomalies in that investigation that point the involvement of others. James Earl Ray had racist motives to kill MLK, who was of course hated by those who profited from segregation and black inequality. It is intriguing, though, that MLK led the civil rights movement for well over a decade, with no racist bullet finding him. There were numerous opportunities. MLK was out there "in the streets." Only after he had declared his opposition to the Vietnam War was he murdered. Ray later recanted his confession and MLK's family and others believe that Ray did not fire the bullet that killed King.
At the least, these two successive assassinations--following upon the first--were crushing blows to the progressive movement in the country which opposed unjust war and sought social justice. That fearsome, triple demoralization of our people led like a straight and ugly arrow to the horrendous war on Iraq and to the Forever War that the U.S. is now engaged in.
There is a coda to "Follow the money," and it is "Who benefits?" That is not the best place to start an investigation ("follow the motive") but, in the face of doctored evidence and coverups, it can be a helpful guide. That is where I am with the latter two assassinations. As to JFK, after reading Douglass, there is no question in my mind who did it--the CIA, on behalf of the MIC. Douglass is utterly convincing on this point. Did that motive carry over, five years later, to finish off the anti-war movement for good? It seems quite likely to me--but I will need more information on the connective tissue (if there is such) to be as convinced as I am about JFK's murder. I hope Sirhan Sirhan's request for a new trial is successful and sheds new light on these terrible events. And I very much look forward to Douglass' next two books. We need to do some tough thinking about the second part of his title, "Why It Matters."
JFK faced "the unspeakable" in war (nuclear Armageddon) and suffered the "unspeakable" of politics (assassination by those who had sworn to be loyal). It may not seem to matter all these years later and especially to the young who did not live through those events. But, look around you. Do you see a political establishment committed to ideals of peace, social justice. openness and truth? Do you see a people who have the democratic power to stop unjust war? Do you see a democratic people who can even stop the looting of Social Security and Medicare and all public services? In my opinion, everything that we see that is wrong can be traced back to that stunning injustice on Nov. 22, 1963, when the American people were denied their vote on a genuine platform of peace, followed, five years later, by two more nails in the coffin of peace. We are now on a permanent war footing. It started there--with those unspeakable rips in the fabric of democracy. To me, that is "why it matters." We need to speak them now. We need to put our shredded democracy back together. We need to understand what was done and we need to gather our strength to put our country on a better path.
The BBCons have now outdone the Associated Pukes in the use of the passive (no visible actor) English sentence.
I had thought that the A-Pukes could not be topped, with their "His critics say..." technique in their campaign against Hugo Chavez.
"Many Argentines buy dollars to protect their wealth from inflation - thought to be higher than officially stated." --from the OP (my emphasis)
"Thought" BY WHOM?
No quote. No attribution. Nothing. These non-entities who "thought" inflation "to be higher" than government stats, and who are described as "independent experts" further down in the article, move like invisible vampires (no mother, no father, no name, no employer) in the murky swamp beneath this article.
That's the worst of the rightwing/corporate 'news' treacheries in this so-called 'news' article--the anonymous "critics' (if they exist) who are questioning (leftist) government stats on inflation (--"inflation" being one of the big bugaboos used by the rich to steal, hand over fist, from the poor). No attribution. No quote. No way to know WHO is saying that the LEFTIST government is lying.
But there are more rightwing/corporate 'news' tricks (lies, disinformation) in the article. "Many Argentines" don't HAVE "wealth" TO PROTECT. Only the rich few do! MOST Argentines NEED PROTECTION FROM the wealthy shits who don't pay their taxes and engage in every sort of sabotage of their own country, to squeeze yet more profit from the vast poor majority and in efforts to DESTROY the best government that Argentina has ever had!
The CIA, the USAID, the BBCons and all their propagandist 'news' brethren FAILED to topple this good government. Fernandez just won a huge re-election victory--despite multi-millions of U.S. tax dollars spent to defeat her and non-stop bullshit like this from the corporate press. Given that nasty reality--that they couldn't defeat the Fernandez government--they are now bent upon CAUSING panic in the Argentine economy--an economy that Fernandez and her husband, Nestor Kirchner (former prez of Argentina) fought tooth and nail to return to prosperity after the RAPE of Argentina by the World Bank/IMF and its U.S. and European corporate thugs.
Read down the article, and the malefactors in the rape of Argentina are never identified!
"Argentina's recent history of severe economic crisis has caused many people to view the US dollar as a safe haven, and to keep part of their wealth outside the country.
In the 1980s the country suffered periods of hyperinflation.
A financial crisis in 2001-02 caused a collapse in the value of its currency and led the government to freeze people's bank accounts. It also defaulted on its foreign debts." --from the OP
This is what the rich and powerful in the U.S. and Europe DID TO Argentina--the "basketcase" that Kirchner and Fernandez have TURNED AROUND. Jeez, there are such LIES embedded in this BBCon article!
Now read this...
"The new currency controls were introduced a week after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was reelected by a huge margin.
Under her leadership Argentina has enjoyed sustained economic growth.
But inflation has also risen - the government says the annual rate is around 10% but some independent experts put it as high as 25%.
Billions of dollars worth of capital have been flowing out of the country as wealthy Argentines seek to protect their money from inflation and a possible devaluation of the peso." --from the OP (my emphasis)
Not only is this a phantom "crisis"--invented by unnamed ghosts in back alleys outside BBCon editorial offices--but they ENDORSE the bullshit of the super-rich that they are NOT evading taxes.
They are also using the CRIMES of the rich and powerful during the 1980s-2001 period as an argument AGAINST this leftist government's SUCCESSFUL policies in OVERCOMING those dastardly crimes! Even 25% inflation--their phantom number--is better than masses of people starving in the streets. And modest inflation means jobs and incomes for the poor majority, shared wealth, schooling, viable life in a country, economic development and a future! EVEN their lie of 25% is not that bad--with a responsible, justice-minded, good government in charge. They are inflating this number in a Big Lie campaign against good government--against government that benefits all. THEY are the "inflators." The wind-bags. The liars! "As much as 25%" MY ASS!
I've said it before. On the Latin American Left, the BBCons are as bad as the Wall Street Urinal. They may be a speck better than other corporate 'news' sources on some other subjects. On this remarkable and historic LEFTIST revolution in Latin America, which is bringing unprecedented prosperity, social justice and good government to a region that has been looted and plundered by the U.S. and Europe for centuries, the BBCons totally suck. They are liars, disinformationists, distorters, propagandists for this rich and downright jerks on this subject.
The Blairites "down-sized" and purged the BBC--when the BBC got uppity about the Iraq War--and one can only assume that the "organized money" that Blair represents has big time interests in helping the U.S. to reconquer Latin America and loot and plunder it all over again.
except for a few tumbleweeds and the Pacific in the far distance.
Amazing what busy humans can do to a barren landscape, kind of like ants or bees when they determine to do something. Lol! Our predatory capitalists wouldn't like that analogy, but they can do nothing--NOTHING!--without the collective will of the rest of humanity.
Of course, the Pacific Ocean being there made a big difference--roiling the clouds around the region and the Earth, so that fresh water came down somewhere and could be piped in--and furthermore as an attraction drawing would-be Hollywood stars and beach bunnies and lifeguards and the entire Midwest to spread themselves out endlessly over the sand dunes and the rolling hills. My folks were part of that migration. I remember being driven in some antique Chevrolet on the FIRST freeway (Pasadena) to visit my grandparents in L.A. By then, humans had been very busy, indeed--but nothing like what was to come. L.A. still felt almost sleepy, palm trees everywhere, quite beautiful actually, bright blue sky, no smog, red trolley cars going from the center of L.A. to the beaches. The mountain ranges in the distance were so clear you felt you could reach out and touch them. And all the lands we drove--about half of southern California--to get to L.A. from our outlying town, were wide open spaces.
It's neither here nor there, whether L.A. was a mistake. It's what humans do. We colonize. We transform. We have to live with our mistakes--or move on. And we do love moving on. "What's over the next hill?" is written in our DNA.
Though the Earth is precious beyond reckoning--the only matrix of life that we know of--there are trillions and trillions and trillions more Earth's and potential Earths out there, waiting for the next collective genius of science to figure out how to ride gravitons between the loops of time-space, or whatever we need to know to move on. The barrier will be broken. Like the "flat earth" turned spherical, the barriers TO our moving on, fall, because that's what humans do. Then we will be living with our mistakes and moving on to make more mistakes there. Out there, which is not really "out there" at all. It is in here, somewhere, in our brains, as they interconnect. The Universe is here. And won't those future humans laugh and sigh in dismay at the petty little squabbles of their ancestors about evolution and science funding and what to do with their trash--and about "God"? Oh, God, what idiots!
Yeah, I think humans will move on and they will say these things about us, and pity us, and wish we hadn't hesitated so long before embarking on the Great Adventure, all of space-time ahead of us, and within us, and behind us. We--they--will still be making mistakes, probably colossal ones, like ours, thus far, here. And they often won't recognize their mistakes until too late, as we are doing, here, now--for instance, vastly and quickly reducing DNA's genius--variety--to monoculture. Future humans may lament that one very much, for, in all the Universe, though they will find many forms of life, they may never find the specific combinations that occurred here, and though they will artificially develop life and clone themselves and other critters, they may find that there is something missing that cannot be discovered, though they will never stop trying to discover it: the specific signature of Earth. Most of Earth's variety will be gone forever. One "parallel universe" will have been extinguished; all others opened. And they will move on to the next; to many.
The "purists" who would have us repair Earth first and clean up all of our impossible waste, first, before we move on, are mistaken, like old-fashioned school marms, who insisted on clean faces and fingernails, and sitting up straight and paying strict attention, and no jokes, pranks, talk-back or shirt-tails hanging out, when what the children wanted to do was run out in wild joy in the open, free air, climb the trees, play games, get dirty, "run away." It's human nature to run away. It's human nature to escape. It's human nature to move on. And unless the "purists" get control our DNA and change us, we will move on, to "out there," sooner or later.
Perhaps we will start by turning Mars into Los Angeles.
Although "mulsh" (above) has a point about the source. Is this story (of Caroline releasing these tapes) even true? Need to verify that.
In any case, James Douglass' book, "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters," is the very best book on the assassination. He doesn't think Johnson knew and here is how he explains Johnson's role in the cover up.
Within days of the assassination, Hoover (FBI) told LBJ of the CIA's involvement, including their misdirection through the Russian embassy in Mexico to point to the Russians. The CIA and the MIC wanted the assassination to trigger a nuclear retaliation against Russia, because, as with the Cuban Missile Crisis the year before (in which JFK refused their advice to nuke Russia), they believed they had missile superiority over Russia and should take advantage of it, to wipe Russia off the face of the earth, which they thought would be worth it, even with 300,000 casualties here (their guestimate re Russian response). They murdered JFK because he refused to do it and instead initiated peace talks with Krushchev and Castro behind their backs. LBJ did not want to be forced into nuking Russia on false pretenses. So he, too, refused to do it, but he felt he had to cover up their trail and had to yield to the MIC in some way. This is why LBJ stated, three days after the assassination, "Now they can have their war." He was speaking of Vietnam.
Among LBJ's reasons for participating in the coverup was his fear that the American people would pressure him to retaliate if they believed that Russia was behind the assassination. This is how the plot became so very murky, as the coverup proceeded. They had to misdirect the misdirection to Russia. Pieces of it remained in tact. Other pieces were erased. This results in an unfathomable puzzle, with Oswald having been in Russia and so forth.
Douglass tracks the misdirections and the coverup misdirections in overwhelmingly convincing detail, with original research as well as pulling together all previous research. He really does make a slamdunk case for the CIA as the perpetrators. He fingers the perps up to Richard Helms (CIA chief of operations), but can't penetrate the darkness above that. It was probably Allen Dulles who gave the go-ahead, but Douglass is careful not to assert things that he doesn't have sufficient proof for. Dulles was the CIA Director whom JFK had fired for lying to him about the Bay of Pigs. (That failed invasion of Cuba was why Castro agreed to allow Soviet missiles on Cuban soil--to protect Cuba from further attack.)
Because this book is so good, and Douglass' research is so impeccable, and his understanding of that era is so profound, I tend toward his view of LBJ. Part of the coverup. Not part of the assassination.
It is the one point (and virtually the only one) on which I'm not totally convinced--but this may be because it is so difficult to forgive LBJ for the Vietnam War and for other reasons that are irrelevant to his guilt or innocence on the assassination. Douglass solves this unsolved murder. It was the CIA. Whether LBJ was involved or not is really not that relevant. The CIA, using its secret operations, its surveillance and black ops capabilities, and its networks within U.S. military, security and police forces, committed this crime, on behalf of the "military-industrial complex" whose power players wanted and needed a war to justify their existence and the enormous profits they make from the war industry. Douglass gives them this much, that some of the perps believed they were acting out of patriotism, and believed that JFK was literally a traitor for contacting Krushchev and Castro and proposing disarmament and world peace. That is what I mean by Douglass' profound understanding of that era. Patriotism had become THAT distorted during the McCarthyite anti-communist period, just a few years prior to JFK's administration, that the people involved at various levels of knowledge could convince themselves of this justification. It is also critically important to understand their even worse madness about the use of nukes (that was JFK's word for it--"madness"), how close we came to world armageddon and the CIA's and the war establishment's utter refusal to acknowledge what was going on in Russia with Krushchev. (He was standing against HIS military-industrial complex just as JFK was here!)
I tend to think that Douglass knows more about this matter than Jacqueline Kennedy could have known. Possibly she investigated the assassination. I don't really know. But her belief that LBJ was involved in the assassination (if true) is understandable. He looks guilty as hell--especially given his part in the coverup. (Lord, he put Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission--the CIA Director that JFK had fired!) It's difficult to gainsay someone--Jackie--who was so close to this event--her skirt was literally splattered with her husband's brains--and was so affected by it, probably more than anyone in the world. But I hope that these tapes of her views don't result in yet another misdirection--away from the CIA and toward "Texas oil men" and politicians. The latter may have been involved but the plot was such that ONLY the CIA could have done it. It is that secret government that we need to address, as a democracy-- if we are ever going to have a real democracy again--because it is through such secret and unaccountable power that the interests of war profiteers are served. It is this usurpation of OUR power to control OUR government, that occurred that day, that has so harmed our democracy.
Douglass is also brilliant at laying out the war vs. peace motive (with a lot of original research): He tracks JFK's personal, spiritual confrontation with the idea of nuking another country, as the unanimous Joint Chiefs were urging him to do. He had only Bobby supporting him. He refused to do it, and made backchannel contact with Krushchev and Castro (trying to get around the CIA) not only to end this dangerous confrontation but also to initiate a plan for nuclear disarmament and peaceful co-existence of the two world economic systems. Bear in mind that he had vowed to "smash the CIA into a thousand pieces" after the Bay of Pigs (CIA) invasion of Cuba. He knew that they were against him, that the Joint Chiefs were against him and that the entire MIC was against him, on his refusal to nuke Russia and he then went outside of their purview on his decision to basically call off "the Cold War." (He also subsequently tried to de-escalate the U.S. military presence in Vietnam. The CIA was also foiling him there.)
JFK intended to present his peace platform before us, in the 1964 election. And we would have voted for it, overwhelmingly. I know this because I voted in that election. It was my first vote for president. I remember it well. LBJ presented himself as the "peace candidate" --a lie he told even while he was preparing for full scale war in Vietnam. He won that election in one of the biggest presidential landslides in our history, on a platform of peace. The people voted for PEACE, in overwhelming numbers. But LBJ was lying. The tragedy is that JFK would not have been lying.
The choice of a genuine platform of peace was violently taken away from us, by our own secret government--by a specific agency of it--acting for our own war profiteers. The fakery in our public life has only grown worse, year after year, since that day, as the abominations of war and war profiteering have piled up, one upon another. We've been living inside the twisted mirror of Dallas ever since then--with multiple trick mirrors added to it--to keep us looking away from the real problem, that we have no control of our government--that it is run "of, by and for" the war profiteers, who fear democracy so much that they've now installed corporate-run 'TRADE SECRET' vote 'counting' machines, everywhere in the U.S., to keep control of us. The 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines were a "gift" from the Anthrax Congress in the same month--the same month!--as the "Iraq War Resolution" (Oct '02). They fear our desire for peace THAT much. And this fear goes way back--to Nov. 22, 1963.
James Douglass has two more books planned--on the RFK and MLK assassinations. All three murders occurred within the space of five years and I believe that all were related to this internal coup d'etat about war and peace--the war profiteers choosing for us that our society would be about war, not peace. I don't know what Douglass is going to say about these other assassinations. This is my own opinion. All three murders were intended to kill our hopes for a peaceful country. They failed, and that is why we have seen ever-increasing mechanisms of control. Our hopes for a peaceful country remained alive through Feb '03 (nearly 60% of Americans opposed to the Iraq War, all polls)--40 years later. They remain alive today in the hearts of most Americans. But they are still being grievously frustrated by unaccountable secrecy--now in the voting system as well as within our stiflingly secret government, its security agencies and its behind-the-scenes distribution of our treasury and complete usurpation of our sovereignty. The multinational corporations and war profiteers are in such ascendancy, they don't need the CIA to assassinate presidents any more. No candidate who does not agree to be controlled by them will get anywhere near the White House.
That is "why it matters"--the phrase in the title of Douglass' book. We have not yet seen the end of the consequences of Nov. 22, 1963. They grow more ominous every day, on every matter of importance.
rightwing/military coup d'etat in Honduras and refuse to be dictated to by the U.S.!
It's hard to choose among the funny parts of this story but one of them is that the rightwing opposition in Venezuela knows better than anyone how democratic Venezuela is--honest, transparent elections, abundant free speech, in fact, big rightwing advantage in the media--so that they were able to make significant gains in the recent National Assembly elections and can even dream of Chavez dying of cancer and winning the presidency next time. Somehow they've got to keep up this "dictator" shit--until they get elected in the system that the "dictator" helped create!
Like our people during the "New Deal" era, electing FDR to four terms in office, Venezuelans are likely to keep electing Chavez as long as he's on his feet and willing, because he is their "FDR"--but like the Republicans here, then, the rightwing opposition in Venezuela can dream of, say, finding an Eisenhower among their ranks--a "centrist" behind whom they can hide for a while, as they scheme to loot and dismantle Venezuela's "New Deal" and restore the rich to power. This is possible, in a democracy, with sufficient "organized money" (as FDR put it) to work with. They have plenty of money (and not just their USAID funding). Their whining and carrying on about "socialism" cutting into their riches and "dictator Chavez" destroying "democracy" is utter bullshit and they know it. So they have a real problem when a frothing-at-the mouth fascist propagandist like Connie Mack (FL-Diebold) disses Venezuela's democracy. What if they win, in Venezuela's very fair system?
That is one funny. Another is Connie Mack seeking to punish the OAS for its defense of democracy in Honduras--by asserting the opposite of the truth--that the OAS is somehow "destroying democracy" in Latin America by its insisentence on honest elections (non-U.S. State Dept.-rigged elections) in Honduras. Mack considers rightwing coup d'etats and U.S.-rigged elections to be "democracy." In short, Mack now hates the OAS because the OAS has resisted U.S. DICTATION.
And how has it come about that the OAS has finally gotten some balls? Because democracy has succeeded, spectacularly, in Brazil (lead country on restoring democracy in Honduras), Venezuela (first country to peacefully defeat a U.S.-supported coup d'etat), Argentina (leader of the economic resistance to U.S.-dominated World Bank/IMF looters of LatAm countries), Bolivia (elected first Indigenous president, peacefully defeated U.S.-supported white separatist insurrection), Ecuador (the left has provided the first stable government in decades--another "New Deal" in progress), Uruguay (like Brazil, elected a president who had been imprisoned by the U.S.-supported dictator), Paraguay (first leftist EVER elected in Paraguay, after 60 years of rightwing impoverishment including a heinous dictatorship), Peru (the poor ravaged by Bushhwhack "free trade for the rich," just elected a leftist government), Nicaragua (elected Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas to run the country--same people Reagan thugs made war on), El Salvador (ditto--FMLN elected to run the country), Guatemala (first leftist government since the Reagan thugs overthrew the last one and slaughtered tens of thousands of Mayan Indigenous).
These countries in particular, where democracy has succeeded so well that people are ABLE TO elect governments that act in the interest of the people, the country and the region--and won't be DICTATED TO by the U.S. and its corporations and war profiteers--have altered the politics of the OAS, and, indeed, have changed the political, social and economic landscape of Latin America for the better. Latin America has become more democratic than it has EVER been--and has also demonstrated startling economic growth and widely-distributed prosperity, in defiance of all "Wall Street" DICTATES against social spending, public works and regulation. Nearly 10% economic growth over a 5 year period in Venezuela (during the worst of the Bushwhack efforts to topple the Chavez government); Venezuela just designated "THE most equal country in Latin America" (by the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean); 8% percent economic growth in Argentina last year and 10% this year--Argentina, the worst "neo-liberal" basketcase, now with high employment, good wages, booming business and lots of social spending. Bolivia--one of the poorest countries in the region--now with 5%-6% economic growth. Brazil! Such spectacular growth that even "Wall Street" 'analysts' have to take note, though they will NEVER acknowledge the reason: LEFTIST government!
Connie Mack doesn't want a democratic OAS. He wants an OAS that he and his corporate/war profiteer sponsors can DICTATE to, and a Latin America that they can freely loot, plunder and oppress.
So why should the U.S. pay its membership dues to an organization that it can no longer DICTATE TO in the interests of the super-rich?
Because...um...(spit foaming out of the mouth, skin turning purple with rage, wads of thousand dollar bills leaking out of every suit pocket) "the OAS is bent on destroying democracy in Latin America!"
But there is more that is interestingly funny about this situation, and part of it is this: Even in countries that haven't yet succeeded in electing leftist (majorityist) governments yet, and even among rightwing and "centrist" leaders, a new resistance has arisen to U.S. dictates and U.S. interference. Back in 2006, when Bush Jr. did his "tour" of Latin America, Mexico's rightwing president, Calderon, publicly lectured Junior on the sovereignty of Latin American countries, using Venezuela as the example. Of course, Calderon was about to sell out Mexico to the murder and mayhem of the U.S. "war on drugs" but still, it's notable that he felt obliged to publicly declaim his devotion to LatAm sovereignty. Recently, a consortium of Mexican former presidents and other leaders have denounced the U.S. "war on drugs" and called for drug legalization. Colombia--the blood-soaked paradigm of U.S. interference, which the Bushwhacks were trying to use to get up a war against its oil-rich neighbors, Venezuela and Ecuador--has rejected that policy, made peace with its neighbors and is pursuing "south-south" trade and cooperation--the signatures of leftist policy in the region.
Which brings me to CELAC, a new organization that every LatAm country has joined and that has specifically excluded the U.S., and its corporate ally Canada, as members. Some have called it "the anti-OAS." But it is much more than that. It is the harbinger and mechanism for a NEW Latin America, acting cooperatively as a political/economic power in the world, based on the independence, sovereignty and democracy of the member countries. The impetus for the creation of CELAC has certainly been U.S. bullying and domination of the OAS but a far more positive current runs beneath it and beneath the entirety of the remarkable leftist democracy movement that has swept most of South America and parts of Central America. That current is our own "Declaration of Independence," our own rebellion at being ruled by a distant tyrannical power, our own example of democracy, self-rule, progressive social justice and human and civil rights. We were the first to declare our independence. Latin America followed suit, some time later, also declaring its independence from colonial rule, and, then and there, with Simon Bolivar, the dream was born that Latin America could pull together and defend its independence and its peoples' rights. It has taken a long time--for various reasons (among them, the U.S. replacing Europe as the colonial oppressor)--but that is what we are looking at, with CELAC, and all these other remarkable developments. Independence.
So now we have corporate-run 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines here, and a Scumbag Congress with a 12% approval rating trying to destroy everything most of us hold dear about our country--everything we hold in common, everything we do for the common good, everything we have ever aspired to, as the first democracy in the modern world--with fascist operatives like Connie Mack trying to destroy the rebirth of democracy in the rest of the hemisphere.
Not funny, I guess--except in a "black humor" sort of way. ("Dr. Strangelove"?)
What's "funny"--odd, hard to figure--is why he wants to harm the OAS, where U.S. corporations and war profiteers at least still have a voice, with their U.S. and Canadian government advocates as members. Probably he doesn't really want to see the OAS go down, but is just trying to bully its leaders. He may have specific--possibly even personal--goals (telecommunications, sweatshops, in Honduras? war profiteering in Colombia, Honduras and Mexico? cocaine interests?)--or he may just be acting as a general operative for such interests--interests, for instance, that might have to pay some social dues in Honduras, with the OAS peace plan there which includes constitutional reform, or banksters interested in the illicit cocaine profits out of Colombia smoothly flowing north, or the other biggie, oil--using the OAS, for instance, to 'sanction" Venezuela on false "human rights" charges, and even trying, by proxy, to get the OAS to "sanction" Venezuela on false "terrorist" changes, in order to soften it up--Iraq-wise--for destabilization/toppling of whatever kind (Oil War IV?), to get those oil profits out of the hands of the poor and their advocates, and into Exxon Mobil's bloated coffers. He doesn't want to destroy the OAS. He wants to bully and dictate to it, on certain important matters of interest to "organized money."
Hillary Clinton successfully bludgeoned the OAS into the U.S. State Department using the OAS name for an egregiously rigged election in Haiti. This sort of pressure on the OAS is by no means limited to the Bushwhack Party. But the politics of it, here, are interesting as well. Is this Connie Mack destructiveness--not paying OAS dues--the result of Clinton COMPROMISING on Honduras--giving a bit on OAS democracy demands, in exchange for legitimizing the rightwing government that she installed in Honduras (with a U.S. State Department-engineered "election")?
That could be it. The insatiable fascists, backed by Diebold, never compromise. They don't have to. And, by God, they will withdraw from the OAS before they will permit democracy in a U.S. client state that they took such trouble to overthrow the democracy of!
LOL! It's falling on the floor, tears streaming from our eyes, funny! And not.
picks one of the rich elite to run the Haitian rich elite's and the U.S. corporate agenda.
The reason he represents only about 15% of the people is that only about 25% of the people voted in the last election. And the reason for that is that the U.S. FORBADE the Lavalas party--the party of former president Aristide--to be on the ballot. MOST Haitians belong to the Lavalas party.
The election officials, under the most recent former president, (U.S. tool) Preval, said, at the last minute, that Aristide, head of the Lavalas party, had to sign the party roster for the ballot IN PERSON--a rule they made up on the spot. Aristide, of course, was in South Africa, after a coup d'etat perpetrated by the Bush Junta. They said he couldn't fax his signature--he had to sign it in the election office in Haiti. He had long desired to return to Haiti. The U.S.-controlled Preval--although he promised during his own election campaign to bring Artistide back--hadn't granted Aristide a passport back to his own country, of which he has been the ONLY legitimate president in many decades. Thus, SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT of Haitian voters were disenfranchised.
The farcical election went forward. However, SOMETHING happened between the first and second rounds of the 25% election to cause alienation between U.S. tool Preval and his U.S. sponsors. Don't know what it was. Probably had to do with the $9 billions in international aid money that Bill Clinton and Blivet control (yup, Jr.) The U.S. (Hillary) formed its own "election monitoring" group, using the OAS name (which in itself needs to be investigated), comprised of six members of Haiti's traditional oppressors (the U.S., France and U.S. lackey Canada) and one Jamaican. They "recounted" the primary election and bumped Preval's candidate out of the running. The U.S. furthermore arranged for the heinous dictator of Haiti, "Baby Doc" Duvalier, to emerge from his luxury life in France and return to Haiti without valid papers. This could not have occurred without the help of France's rightwing government, the CIA, and the U.S. military (which runs the Haitian airport), and was undoubtedly intended as a warning to Haitians: If they continue to object to U.S.-run fraudulent elections and continue to seek REAL democracy, the price will be getting hacked up or shot by rightwing death squads.
Preval, pissed off at last (probably because he and his cohorts were cut out of the billions of dollars in contracts that are pending), finally granted Aristide a passport. Aristide, the most popular man in Haiti and the best president they ever had, has now returned to Haiti. Unlike "Baby Doc," he had to wait for a valid passport cuz he had to make it through the U.S. military controlled airport to return to his own country. And he and his supporters (75% of Haitians) now have to watch this clown, Martelli--a pop singer with mafia/"Baby Doc" connections--dole out contract pittances to his cronies, while U.S. corporations get most of the money and rebuild Haiti to U.S. corporate specifications.
A look at a map tells you part of why Haiti is such a "prize" to U.S. corporations and war profiteers. Haiti is only a few miles off Cuba (the Guantanamo Bay end) at about 12 o'clock in the U.S. "circle the wagons" region--Central America/the Caribbean--with the whole string of islands that the U.S. wants, from Cuba to Grenada, from 11 o'clock to 3 o'clock, Venezuela's oil coast at 5 o'clock, Colombia (major U.S. client state) at 6 o'clock and Honduras (U.S. supported coup d'etat) at 9 o'clock. This is the area that the U.S. 4th Fleet is now roaming (mothballed since WW II, reconstituted by the Bush Junta), with new U.S. military bases going into Honduras, lots of U.S. military bases already in Colombia (including a new one overlooking the Gulf of Venezuela), and U.S. military bases on the Dutch islands right off Venezuela's oil coast and in other places on the "circle" (more an oval than a circle).
Of these "circle the wagons" countries, the U.S. has bludgeoned about half of them into submission, and most of the other half has formed a barter trade group, ALBA, under Venezuela's and Cuba's leadership, to create collective clout against U.S. bullying and aggression. In fact, Honduras joining ALBA was one of the main reasons that the elected president, Mel Zelaya, had his house shot up in the middle of the night, by the U.S. trained Honduran military, and found himself removed from his own country at gunpoint, with a refueling stop at the U.S. military base in Soto Cano, Honduras.
U.S. military bases. U.S. corporate trade (sweatshop labor, extraction of resources with no benefit to the people who live there, etc.) Those are the main issues in this U.S. "circle the wagons" area. What they are "circling the wagons" against is the rise of South America as a major economic powerhouse, with CLEAN elections and thus with leftist leaders committed to social justice--and also with unity (collective clout) on their minds (recently institutionalized in CEPAC--the anti-OAS, comprised of all Latin American countries and excluding the U.S. and Canada).
Haiti can't have real democracy. Nor can any country in this U.S. acquisition area achieve real democracy or retain their democracy without a constant struggle against great odds. The U.S. has bought and paid for toady leaders in this "circle the wagons" area--including Martelli in Haiti--and is pouring billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars through USAID-NED, CIA and other filters to rightwing causes and candidates, and into U.S. "war on drugs" militarization and mayhem, to cement power in client states (such as Colombia and Honduras) and to soften up resistant countries or countries teetering to the left (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador).
I thought the U.S. toady in Haiti was to be a former first lady of Haiti--educated at the Sorbonne--whose campaign slogan was "capitalism with a friendly face." I was wrong. The U.S. chose a malleable novice instead, one whom Haitians say has organized crime and "Baby Doc" connections. This does not bode well as to the methods that the U.S. intends to use to keep control of the $9 billion in aid money and direct it to U.S. 'contractors,' and to secure this 12 o'clock position in the U.S. "circle the wagons" region. In Colombia and Honduras, thousands of trade unionists and other community activists have been murdered, by the U.S. trained and funded militaries (about half) and by their closely tied rightwing paramilitary death squads. This is what the U.S. unofficially defines as "democracy"--dead labor leaders.
There are SOME indications that the Obama administration is not quite as bad as the Bush Junta on Latin America policy--but that isn't saying much. Not quite as bad. And it looks as if the Obamites have finally gotten a dose of reality from South America's leftist leadership--probably delivered by President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, on Obama's recent visit there--to the effect that Latin America will no longer tolerate U.S. coups (as in Honduras) and now has the collective clout to punish and exclude U.S. corporations and defy the U.S. on its various foreign policy dictates, and the U.S. had better get used to this, if it wants to do its corporate masters' business in Latin America. Rousseff, Lula da Silva's protege, was horribly tortured by the U.S.-backed fascist dictatorship in Brazil. She is strongly committed to the key leftist alliance--Brazil and Venezuela--upon which so much social and economic progress has been built. I think she made all this clear to Obama--that Latin America is now independent and cannot be pushed around any more.
It's quite interesting what has happened in Colombia recently--the CIA pulling Bush Junta tool, Alvaro Uribe, who was actively seeking a war against Venezuela and Ecuador (leftist governments, lots of oil) and his replacement with a new rightwing president, Manuel Santos, who declared peace with Venezuela and re-opened the borders. Bushwhack/Uribe warmongering was especially worrisome to the leftist leadership which now dominates the region. They were appalled at the secretly negotiated U.S./Colombia military agreement which would have meant at least seven MORE U.S. military bases in Colombia (as well as "total diplomatic immunity" for all U.S. military personnel and all U.S. 'contractors' in Colombia).
The Obama administration is pretty obviously protecting and even coddling Uribe--who was running Colombia as a criminal enterprise (protecting him from prosecution in Colombia, likely to cover up Bush Junta crimes in Colombia)--and now wants U.S. corporations to benefit from that bloodsoaked ground--labor and community leadership decapitated, five MILLION peasant farmers displaced from their land by state terror--with the U.S./Colombia "free trade for the rich" agreement, which will sail through the Scumbag ES&S-Diebold Congress as soon as it sails in from the White House. That's what I mean by it is "not saying much" that they are better than the Bushwhacks. They are only slightly better, in that they may have shifted from oil war goals to economic goals, in response to certain realities (including the Bushwhack-induced Great Depression here and the need to cut military spending). (But it would be interesting to study the U.S. "war on drugs" budget, in this respect--it's a major tool for sneakier conquest.)
Haiti needs to be seen in this context. It is NOT the fault of the Haitian people--more than a million of whom are STILL living under tarps--not even tents--tarps!--post-earthquake, while $9 BILLION in aid sits off-shore controlled by the U.S. and used as a bludgeon to destroy Haitian democracy and create a U.S. corporate/military haven. Most Haitians are "dirt poor"--literally living in the dirt--while the U.S. "fixes" their elections and prepares to dole out the billions to U.S. 'contractors" no doubt along the lines of U.S. 'contractors' in Afghanistan and Iraq: 75% of the money stays in U.S. hands and the rest is eked out to U.S.-friendly local mafias. These poor people have been brutally kicked around by the U.S. for many decades--and the earthquake (like U.S. bombing) has created conditions in which the people simply cannot fight back. They are dependent on the U.S. for water and food. They cannot even exist--they cannot LIVE--without pittance help from the U.S. They have no wherewithal to rebel. They are quite a good, democratic and enterprising people, who have shown great kindness and a communal spirit amidst the devastation. But they are suffering horribly--from malnutrition, disease and dreadful living conditions.
What the U.S. is doing in Haiti is appalling. What it did in Honduras is appalling. We can hope that these are anomalies, in an Obama administration foreign policy in South America that is shifting from overt aggression to more realistic goals (U.S. corporate recognition of a new and more level "playing field"), but I think the evidence is overwhelming that they are NOT anomalies in the Central America/Caribbean region--where the U.S. is quite clearly "circling the wagons" against South American economic/political unity.
which is going to make for much smoother, more effective imperial operations.
My theory about this is that when Rumsfeld/Cheney declared war on the CIA, outing its entire WMD counter-proliferation project--cuz they wouldn't manufacture evidence to justify war on Iraq and Iran--and then when the military brass opposed Rumfeld/Cheney's intention to nuke Iran--Junior's junta began to come apart (circa 2005, Bush/Rove vs Cheney/Libby on who was going to take the fall for the CIA outings), and Daddy Bush intervened with his "Iraq Study Group" (i.e. "Iraq/Iran Study Group"), of which Leon Panetta was a member (and deep cover CIA, in my opinion).
Daddy Bush's ISG and the military brass ousted Rumsfeld in late 2006 (after which all talk of nuking Iran went away), a deal was brokered to oust Rumsfeld and de-fang Cheney for the final two years of Junior's term (no prosecutions of Bush Junta principles--Pelosi announced that "impeachment is off the table" and the deal was sold to the winning candidate--"we need look forward not backward") and Panetta was put in charge of the CIA to heal the wounds and help end the war with the Pentagon.
Last week, in a highly unusual event, the head of the CIA (Panetta) switched places with the head of Pentagon (Gates), for more cessation of this internal war. The CIA had killed OBL (or stumbled upon his dead body) long ago, but wouldn't give it to Rumsfeld-Cheney who were trying to destroy the CIA. They kept it on ice. And they've now bequeathed it to the Pentagon (which gets to crow about it) as part of a CIA/Pentagon peace treaty.
And this is why the body was dumped in the ocean. If the U.S. really had the fresh, U.S. special forces-killed body of OBL, they would have turned it over to independent forensic experts to verify identity, cause of death and era of death--as any government with respect for the intelligence of human beings would do, to allay all suspicions. Then they would have buried it anonymously, to prevent the grave becoming an inspiration to jihadists. Their cover story that they didn't know what to do with the body is hilarious, actually. The disinformation line is that, buried at a known location, OBL's grave would become an inspirational place for jihadists--and no country would accept it (as if they seriously considered giving it to another country for burial--LOL!) And we're supposed to believe that the CIA can't bury a body anonymously, such that it will never be found. LOL, LOL and LOL!
It was a GIFT--CIA to Pentagon: "Happy Christmas! The war is over (if you want it)!"
I don't know if my scenario is true--or partly true--or all wrong. It's a lot of guesses (I think pretty good guesses) from the 10% of what goes on that we can see. But I think we had better start learning to be skeptical of comic book narratives like this--the ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden and then--poof!--body gone and all evidence that could verify official accounts, gone--no matter which of our two war parties is spinning the tale (and no matter the differences we may see in them on domestic policy or the differing goals that we project onto them re foreign policy).
The good part of my scenario--if it is true--is that nuking Iran was averted. The risk of armageddon (nuke powers Pakistan, India, Israel, Russia and China coming into it) was very great, in my opinion (something that Daddy Bush and his ISG and the military brass could see and Rumsfeld-Cheney were insanely refusing to see). I cannot be sorry about that outcome. But the bad parts are, a) our government really is totally out of our control--its internal squabbles affect us profoundly, and could even end all life on earth--but we have been denied any say whatsoever in major decisions; and b) the smoother, more effective imperial workings (CIA and the Pentagon on the same page) are not for our benefit nor for the benefit of any other poor majority anywhere--they are for the benefit of the very, very rich, the very, very powerful and the very, vary unaccountable. We are a side-show--an exploitable resource--in their transglobal empire.
Reality narratives like mine ("grow up, kids!") can serve a good purpose, even if they miss the mark. We really do need to understand how much we are lied to and manipulated, and begin to look for practical, strategic ways to restore our democracy. I think the first one has to be to get rid of the 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines--but I tend to think in those terms: where does power actually reside? If the very mechanism of the transfer of power in a democracy is taken over by a highly secretive, far rightwing-connected corporation--ES&S, which bought out Diebold and now has an 80% monopoly over election outcomes--then you had better look there FIRST to restore democracy. PUBLIC vote counting is fundamental. But I don't mean to say that other grass roots movements and educational efforts are not important. I just don't want to see those grass roots efforts go for nothing. Having watched the leftist democracy movement in Latin America very closely, I know that the No.1 reason for the incredible success of that movement has been prior civic work on honest election systems. Without transparent vote counting, you might as well be organizing on Mars. That is WHY it was taken away here (by the Anthrax Congress, in the same month as the Iraq War Resolution--Oct '02!).
My first thought was, well, any group that "goes against the grain" with a starkly different minority view is going to be meet with suspicion, fear, prejudice--at least from some people, and especially from either insecure people or powermongering people. For instance, how would an American who identified himself or herself as a "communist" fare in social, job and political situations? Even though "communism" is no threat whatsoever to their mode of life--and putting aside the long history of insanity in U.S. politics on this matter--self-identification as a "communist" would inspire...suspicion, fear and prejudice.
I was trying to think of something comparable as to "button-pushing." And, indeed, in my youth, "communism" was strongly associated with "atheism." I remember being taught to pray for the "conversion of Russia." "Godless communists" was the negative phrase.
But I feel there is something more at work, as to atheism. And it is this: Religion has been such a handy tool for powermongers of every kind--from bad priests and preachers up to bad, warmongering, torturing, thieving presidents--that its handiness as a power mechanism gets constantly re-enforced by people in positions of power, or who seek power, who have a tendency to try to dominate and exploit others. This is not to say anything about anyone's religious beliefs. It is a comment on how religion gets USED--for bloody Crusades, for witchhunts, for Inquisitions, for devaluing and demonizing women, for supporting rich elites, for impoverishing and exploiting others, for starting wars, for greed, for a long and dreary list of purposes that have nothing to do with, say, "Love thy neighbor."
But that is not why people hold religious beliefs, or why the churchgoers among them go to church (or other religious ceremonies). They do not intend to be exploited or manipulated. Most people are religious for two reasons: 1) They genuinely believe in the core of the religion (say, "Love they neighbor" or, say, for Indigenous Americans, "revere Mother Nature"), and/or 2) for community.
Most religious people are not against others (who don't believe); they have a need to be in accord with with others. The discordant notes are almost always the result of bad priests or preachers, bad members of whatever congregation, bad politicians, who exploit this need for community for vile purposes. You can find their ilk in any organization--businesses, the military, police forces, schools, environmental groups, the fire department, Hollywood film productions, the Bank of America, you name it. Wherever people gather, for whatever purpose, there will always be those who seek to dominate, to gain power and to use power for ill purposes.
And it is these sort of people who demonize "atheism" (or anything else they find useful to demonize). I REALLY don't think that the phenomenon of demonization is unique to religion. But I do think that religion--far, far back to its very earliest origins in human society--has been, first of all, a way to pull people together--to solidify a tribe or community in their common purpose of survival which requires cooperation. It allays individual fears of dying. It brings people into accord. That may even be a definition of "God"--or it's one that I am thinking about, anyway. "God" is what we want to be, what we are striving toward--it is a goal: amity and cooperation in a loving community that values everyone.
That this core impulse of humanity has been diverted at times into demonization and other evil purposes is simply a wrong path--which powermongering selfish leaders have sometimes led people down--USING their need for amity and community to exclude others--to not recognize the humanity and the rights of others, and also to devalue variety.
The odd view in a tribe--or the odd person in a tribe, or the "outside" person--is ALSO necessary to survival and community. The odd, creative person might figure out a way not just to chip a stone tool but to bind the chipped stone to a handle. Their messing around with stones and binding materials may seem very odd, to most of the tribe. But eventually it will benefit the tribe. Human beings began to understand this, at some point, and began to tolerate oddity and to foster creativity.
The odd stranger showing up--from outside the group-may have knowledge of distant food sources or sweet climates, and know the way there. He/she might also be a spy, with a band of murderous warriors following behind. But if human beings had always acted on their fears and suspicions, and had not taken chances with outliers, the human race would have expired long ago. The odd, outlier view is essential to human survival and community, and to what I am thinking of as the ultimate goal of humanity: to be God, in the best sense--to be amicably united.
Seeking to be amicably united also includes our scientific and engineering impulses--efforts to improve our life conditions, even to the point of physically living forever, controlling the stuff of which we and everything else is made, and doing good with that knowledge--for instance, terraforming other planets, turning them into beautiful green matrices of life (--if we don't destroy our only known beautiful green matrix of life before we get there).
Excluding the outlier is the exact opposite of what religion has done for human beings, from time immemorial (pulling people together in common purpose). And it is only when the few powermongers among us get hold of a group, via religion, that religion becomes a vehicle of exclusion--and thus retards human progress. Granted, this has happened quite a lot, but it is not inevitable, and it is not in accord with the initial impulses of religion (to learn, to explain, to calm, to heal, to unite).
The early Christians brought a new idea to the Roman Empire in that the Christians regarded slaves as equal human beings. The Romans were actually not as bad, as slave-holders, as the racist slavery that came later, in our era. Nevertheless, slavery was a deep flaw in the Roman social system which crippled and destroyed many lives and minds, and this needed a correction, for the sake of human progress. The idea was born that "all men are created equal"--not just all citizens of the Roman Empire, but all people, everywhere. This was the original, creative impulse of Christianity--and it extended to women and children as well, who were NOT equal even if they were citizens. It is only later, around the 5th Century, when the powermongers got hold of the Christian religion, and wedded it to state power, that it began to be oppressive and exclusive--a political tool. It took Europe and England about ten centuries to undo the damage to this initial Christianity idea (equality). And there have been many grave troughs in that progress (the slave trade, the decimation of Indigenous Americans, the Third Reich, the Vietnam War--all perpetrated by people calling themselves "Christians"). So the use of religion for power purposes is not to be dismissed as some kind of anomaly that can be easily overcome. It is very dangerous.
I just think that, in considering its dangers--exclusion and demonization being among its most serious dangers--we should understand the difference between genuine belief/community (the desires of most religious people), on the one hand, and the terrorization of the human mind that can occur when individual people think they are "God" and dominate and use others, for their own self-aggrandizement, power or greed.
There is a BIG difference between these two modes of religion, and we only have to look around us for examples to see how important that difference is. Consider the life and works of Catholic Trappist monk Thomas Merton, for instance. He publicly advocated that the U.S. to abandon its nuclear arsenal. He explored the deepest ethics of "love thy neighbor." Or Fr. Dan Berrigan, who went to jail for pouring fake napalm on Draft records during the Vietnam War. I think there are a lot of Catholics like this--I think it's probably the majority. They may not be such activists as these, but they really believe "love thy neighbor."
Personally--having been raised a Catholic--I think even the best Catholics are too attached to the distorted patriarchal architecture of the Vatican power establishment (which derives directly from those 5th century power worshippers who wedded Christianity to the Roman Empire). It's kind of like the English attachment to the Monarchy--a visceral need for stability. Thomas Merton, for instance--truly great and visionary man that he was--obeyed his superiors when they told him to stop advocating nuclear disarmament in public. While the order did not come from Rome (that I know of), it nevertheless reflects that authoritarian structure that even rebel priests (and other rebellious Catholics) seem to need--a need that goes back to the original human reason for creating religion in the first place: community.
In any case, I guarantee you, if you are an atheist, that most Catholics--and probably most Protestants--do not hate atheists. Most Catholics, and I think most Protestants--have grown far beyond the "Godless communist" ravings of the 1950s era, though there are certainly powermongers still in the midst of these religious people, and cynics and evildoers in our political establishment who ally with those powermongers. "Atheists" are a danger to their POWER. And that power is a danger to us all. That is mostly why you meet prejudice--the powermongers using propaganda to enhance their power. They want everyone to believe the same things--just like the 5th Century Church prelates who burned and suppressed all the other gospels and formulated a monolithic ideology which they then got enforced by the state. MOST Christians don't hate you. And the best Christians understand very well that your alternative view is essential to community.
My view of atheism is that it is essential for humanity to realize that God does not exist outside of human beings. WE are the love, the community and the eternal life that most of us posit as being dependent upon an exterior agent--but which, in reality, is what we seek to be. It may be a "fairy tale" that God exists--that God is a sort of person, who lives in Heaven, who is going to reward or punish you in the end. But it is no "fairy tale" that most people want there to be a God or Gods. So what is that virtually universal desire and imaginative creation all about? It is NOT easy to explain.
As I said, I am coming to the conclusion, myself, that it is a goal--that, in a sense, God exists in the future, or in one future, in which all the best qualities of humanity come to fruition--our scientific passions, our various loves, our generosity, our communal spirit, our creativity. We are trying to progress toward that goal. It is the common ideal of humanity. However distorted it may appear at times, a common thread comes through: our best selves in unity with each other. Aldous Huxley called it "The Perennial Philosophy"--the common thread of compassion in all philosophies and religions. But I'm not sure he saw it as the goal of becoming God, together.
And to get there--to Godlike knowledge, wisdom and unity--we have to stop committing the "sins" of exclusion, violence, war, greed, egotism, consumerism, lording it over others, trashing of Mother Nature and all the stupid, unwise, selfish things that most of us know are wrong. These are not going to be punished by a God whom we project as existing. They are simply going to result in us NOT becoming God, together. Our species will destroy itself, and that will be that--a tragic end.
But we have posited, to ourselves, that we CAN go there--to wisdom and unity. And this, to me, is where atheism is so incredibly valuable. To say that there is no God is the truth that we must realize before we can finish our journey to becoming God--to being as powerful, as wise, as knowledgeable and as compassionate, in our collective existence, as most of us imagine God to be--and also to expand and meet others in the Universe who are seeking or have achieved their own projection of God.
I know it sounds a bit "fairy tale"-ish. I was just re-reading this and thinking, 'Wow, where did all this mysticism come from?' I was starting to de-bunk my own thoughts. But I'll leave that to others. I think there is substance here--something going on with us humans that we don't understand very well and need to understand, and that's what I'm reaching for.
I think that I haven't sufficiently dealt with the "dark side": our fear of death before we get to the point--if we ever do--of literally living forever. Scientifically, it seems right over the horizon--but it's not here now--we're all gonna die, as far as we know, and we all want to be special and NOT die, and we humans could get into a pretty ugly fight about who gets the new medical miracles that extend life and may extend it indefinitely.
There are a LOT OF "dark" paths we could go down, to becoming a less than perfect and compassionate collective God--and into stark evil. We've seen it in the past. We see worrisome signs of it today. All those innocent people exploding under our drone bombers are not terribly impressed with the God we are projecting. Their God didn't save them. Our God didn't care. And this is one of many "dark" Gods that we could become, if we don't destroy ourselves (our more likely fate, since our wisdom and our engineering abilities are so out of sync): Overly clever, heartless destroyers who think they are God.
There is the "dark side" in many of our behaviors, and the "dark side" of the universe itself--literal "dark matter" and "black holes" and the incredibly beautiful but incredibly violent lives of stars and galaxies. Do we become God to harness all that incredibly immense energy? Is that our goal--to be the controllers and creators of universes? What kind of Creator will we be? The omens aren't very favorable, that the more powerful we become, the more benevolent we will be. Is our projection of a punishing God--and, in some religious belief systems, a cold-hearted one, who would cast innocents into eternal Hell for the slightest offense, or, in some religions, is the embodiment of horror, suffering and death--the thing that we ARE becoming, or a tidal side-path that we might be pulled further into?
If you are an atheist and believe that this is it, there is no more, you have this life, make of it what you will and then it's over, it must be a great relief not to be doing all the projections that most of us are doing, good and bad. And I would imagine that you look at the rest of us as kind of insane, which we are. We desperately want there to be something more. I tend to side with the rest of humanity in this loony bin of religion. But I don't necessarily think that insanity, in this sense, is a bad thing. It's troublesome and mysterious. And it is neither good nor bad, in itself. It just is. Most people think this way. Most people have this projective need and ability which can lead them way far from reality and way far into bad behavior. The projections, however, have this strain of commonality toward some kind of distant or future collective good. Most people don't realize that they are themselves creating or destroying that distant or future good, NOW. If they would just give up the notion that God exists, they could start taking responsibility for the kind of God that they and all of us together could possibly become, if and when we stop being assholes.
it will be partly because of the ideals of peaceful adventure, peaceful resolution of problems, fairness, equality, curiosity and rational thought that Star Trek inspired in so many people--with that remarkable show in the early 1960s, quite revolutionary for and in its day, and by the follow-up show, Star Trek: the Next Generation, through Season 5, when Star Trek's remarkable creator, Gene Roddenberry, died. The soul quickly drained out of Star Trek after that. Next Generation Seasons 6-7, Deep Space 9 and the rest may have some entertaining moments, but the progressive fervor of the show died with Roddenberry. And I should mention the Star Trek movies which Leonard Nimoy had such an important role in creating. The return of the original Star Trek crew in the movies, after such a long absence, was pure magic (--magic that also did not get passed forward after Roddenberry's death).
But, oh my, when Roddenberry was alive, and actors like Shatner, Nimoy, Patrick Stewart (Capt. Picard) and Brent Spiner (Cmdr Data) took on those roles, with Roddenberry-inspired scripts, Star Trek became the School For How To Be A Human Being! This is hardly taught any more in the academy of public culture. Battlestar Galactic comes close, at times--but it reflects a shattered rather than a hopeful world. Roddenberry's was a hopeful world in which it was POSSIBLE to rise out of our greed and selfishness and myopia and create a better society. He really had the vision. He really laid it out--in a totally unusual way.
Shatner, I adore. There is something about him that is as special and utterly unique as Roddenberry was as a thinker and creator. I love him for his awful music recordings. I love him for his awful commercials. I especially love him for "Boston Legal" (not awful; quite good actually). And, as Mr. Ikon for Star Trek, he is insurpassable as the Cosmic Joke of the Millennium: the reality vs. the ideal! He will NOT be idealized. I love him for this! He is my hero for NOT being a hero and for having NO pretensions whatsoever. None! How PERFECT he is at being FLAWED! Ah! He is divine. He really is.
Nimoy, yeah. I don't know if it's love. How can you not like an actor who turned out to be as intelligent as Mr. Spock. Great respect is what I feel. (I feel NO RESPECT for Shatner! None! What a clown! He just makes me laugh. Just thinking about him makes me laugh. Respect isn't an option. It's irrelevant.) Nimoy created the greatest Star Trek story of all: "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (about the whale). That was truly the perfection of the Roddenberry world view--that there is hope for humanity. With Nimoy, I feel more like he really is Spock and that he would be rather intimidating to meet. He might expect you to live up to Roddenberry's ideals!
I wonder if these are the two sides of Gene Roddenberry--Shatner/Kirk vs Nimoy/Spock. One, a shameless clown. The other, a Headmaster who holds you and everyone in his school to the highest standards of human conduct.
Then there are Picard and Data. Fascinating studies of what it is to be human, what it is to be just, what it is to be educated, what it is to be innocent, what it is to be in command.
Star Trek could be the best that our culture has produced. Happy birthday to two of its ikons! (or rather to Ikon and Anti-Ikon!)
if he were still alive. Hundreds of teachers, union leaders, human rights workers, political leftists, gay activists, youth leaders and others have been murdered in Honduras by rightwing death squads unleashed by the coup d'etat that was AIDED by the U.S., not only by the U.S. military base in Honduras (where the plane carrying the elected president out of the country at gunpoint stopped for refueling), but also by continual infusions of millions of dollars in aid (while LYING to the public about this). And those are only the visible aspects of Obama/Clinton support of the coup. These point to hidden support and collusion in the coup itself, especially in view of what happened next: a U.S. rigged election 'won' by the oligarchy's candidate.
"The visit 'is a declaration that the United States is no longer identified with oligarchic governments'..." --major Reagan bastard Robert White
Total lie. Obama/Clinton actively participated in propping up the Honduran oligarchy's coup d'etat, right next door to El Salvador. And they furthermore evidently kneecapped President Funes in El Salvador, who, given the U.S.-supported coup in Honduras, then withdrew El Salvador's application to join ALBA (Venezuela/Cuba organized barter trade group for Central America/the Caribbean). Funes' obedience apparently earned him this "pat on the head" visit from Obama, in Clinton's on-going efforts to "divide and re-conquer" the region.
It's notable that Obama doesn't dare go to Honduras, where Clinton tried to draw a cosmetic veil over the fascist coup d'etat and literally fixed the election for their "candidate," Lobo. Every reputable election monitoring group in the world REFUSED to have anything to do with an election held under martial law, while leftists were being murdered and brutalized. Clinton brought in groups like John McCain's (U.S. taxpayer funded) "International Republican Institute" to fake an election monitoring operation and to "endorse" that utterly rotten election.
The brave and massive leftist movement in Honduras--brutalized though they have been--would not allow Obama to visit without protest. The fascist government would brutalize them once again--and that wouldn't be the pretty picture that Clinton wants for the corporate newsstream.
And now the U.S. has built two NEW U.S. military bases in Honduras! Honduras, once again, is to be the stepping stool for U.S. aggression in the region--with the most likely initial target being Nicaragua, and El Salvador in its sights, if Funes doesn't behave like a good boy (retain U.S. "free trade for the rich," stay out of ALBA).
I'd guess that Bishop Romero would rejoice that El Salvadorans were able to elect a decent government--one that actually represents the poor majority--but would be appalled at the signs of coming U.S. aggression all around tiny El Salvador, including the fascist coup d'etat and new U.S. military bases next door in Honduras, reconstitution of the U.S. 4th Fleet in the Caribbean, U.S. re-introduction of "Baby Doc" to Haiti and a U.S. rigged election in Haiti, continuing belligerence against Venezuela, the wholesale slaughter of the poor and their advocates in Colombia, the ATF gun-running in Mexico (domination by mayhem), lavish USAID expenditures on rightwing groups all over the region, lavish military spending on the region in the midst of a Great Depression, and other signs that the multinational corporations and war profiteers who rule the U.S. consider the Central America/Caribbean region to be their "circle the wagons" region against leftist democracy and unity in South America.
One of the coup generals in Honduras said that the purpose of their coup was "to prevent communism from Venezuela reaching the United States." (--quoted in report on the coup by the Zelaya government-on-exile). He spoke the raw truth that Obama and Clinton will never cop to. "Communism" in this rightwing general's mouth = clean elections, free health care for the poor, free education through college for the poor, well thought out land reform, help to small business, use of a country's resources to help the people who live there, curtailing the power of "organized money" (as FDR put it), and government "of, by and for" the people in all respects. Venezuela is not a "communist" country. It is a DEMOCRATIC country--and that idea is what must be prevented from "reaching the United States."
Great comment! A principle that should apply to all of Mother Earth's resources--they should benefit the people who live there FIRST and private enterprise second.
Prior to the turn of the last century, private corporations were merely entities chartered BY THE PEOPLE to perform some "common good" service, and were temporary entities whose charters could be revoked for any violation of that "common good" purpose and even without cause. Thus, if THE PEOPLE permitted private investors to build, say, gas pipeline infrastructure, and then unfairly started jacking up the price of gas beyond what local people could pay, that corporation could be de-chartered and its assets seized for the common good.
VERY unfortunately--tragically, disastrously--rich capitalist powermongers ("organized money," as FDR described it)--have managed to reverse those priorities, over the last century, so that private enterprise is king and the "common good" is a chattel, and have furthermore made themselves into everlasting monarchs, which live forever accumulating vast power and wealth, and whose "sacredness" cannot be challenged. Corporations have become the "monarchs" that the people of the Americas rejected in our several revolutionary wars for independence and democracy long ago.
The principle that this union leader articulated is the ORIGINAL principle of the founders of American democracy--which was as much a rebellion against the British East India Company as it was against King George, because the British East India Company and King George were one and the same. This also goes for the Spanish monarch's trade monopolies and equally bad sucking dry of the resources of its colonies in Latin America. The U.S. Revolution and the Bolivarian Revolution both sought independence from MONOPOLISTS-- tyrannical business entities operating under the color of unchallengeable "sacred" monarchies.
Bolivians famously fought this struggle, in recent times, against Bechtel Corporation, which corrupt rightwing government officials had allowed to take over the water system in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Bechtel proceeded to jack up the price of water to the poorest people, beyond their ability to pay, and even tried to charge poor people for collecting rainwater! The Bolivians' rebellion against this modern corporate tyranny spread to the whole country and resulted in a democracy revolution in Bolivia, the successful vote on a new constitution that protects basic human rights (including the right to water) and the election of Evo Morales and a "New Deal" government (like we had once here).
These southern Chileans seemed to be embarking on a similar struggle. But I haven't seen any recent news about it. I suspect that Pinera has managed to defuse the conflict. That seems to be the function of presidents in corporate-run "democracies"--or at least the ones where corporations are keeping their vulture claws more hidden (unlike in Bolivia, before Morales, or here, now). That was the way things were trending in mid-January (the date of the OP's reports).
Whatever the outcome in southern Chile as to the gas resource, we can be very sure that this struggle will arise again and again, everywhere that corporate entities have become monarchs and/or multinational imperial tyrants. This is the 21st century revolutionary struggle. And its main issue is the same as it was during the first American revolutions: Who owns the land and its resources--the sovereign people of the land, governing themselves and the land and its resources democratically, or intruding entities of "organized money" which consider themselves "sacred" and untouchable and have loyalty to no one--to no people, to no country--but, like the monarchs of old, are devoted entirely to their own self-aggrandizement.
mathematician and inventor, Hypatia, the famous female lecturer and head of the Alexandria Library--repository of all the world's knowledge at the time--who was happily teaching mathematics--so devoted to education that she would stop on the street and argue mathematical points with ordinary citizens--who was sending her design for an astrolable off, by letter, to one of her more illustrious former students, Bishop Sinesius of Ptolemais--and was probably thinking of conversation topics or food purchases for one of her evening gatherings of scholars, artists, Alexandrian city councilmen (she was a member) and friends like Orestes, the Roman Prefect of Alexandria, when a mob of crazed desert monks--Christian monks, called Nitrians--under the control of the arch-conservative, local Catholic bishop, Cyril of Alexandria, dragged her from chariot and skinned her alive?
Why does this article about "The Singularity" and artificial intelligence and human immortality bring this ancient event to mind?
It was the first "witch burning" that precipitated a thousand years of darkness, ignorance and poverty in the western world.
It was the end of the Roman Empire--that is, end of universal education, enlightened thinkers, encouragement of scholarship and learning, vast multi-cultural society (due to conquests and absorption of many new people as "Roman citizens"), tradition of tolerance of religious differences (especially in Alexandria), general prosperity, "Pax Romana" (general peace within the empire), some notions of the rights of "plebians" (ordinary people--workers, tradesmen, shopkeepers, soldiers), slavery but it was non-racist and with some notion that slaves were human (could earn their way out of slavery, could be quite accomplished and powerful)--not a perfect system, by any stretch of the imagination, and had deteriorated from a republic to an empire, but still, for its time, the most progressive society on earth and fabulously successful at spreading Roman/Greek notions of scientific inquiry, education, law, engineering, medicine, sanitation, public baths and other civilized endeavors over a vast area of Europe and the Middle East.
Some date the end of all this a bit later. I date it to 415 AD, Hypatia's murder (she was a Roman citizen) by a powermongering Catholic bishop (soon to ascend to "Father of the Church" and "sainthood") and the inability of the Roman government to protect her or to bring her murderer (Cyril) to justice.
There are numerous reasons for the "decline and fall" of the Roman Empire. Probably the most pertinent to our situation--besides the republic deteriorating into an empire--is the matter of resources vs growth. As the centers of this civilization swelled with people, more and more food and raw materials were needed from the provinces, which meant the Roman army constantly extending the borders of the empire by violence and then trying to protect them with military installations linked by its famous road system. This alone was costly--maintenance of a large, permanent army. Rebellions at the edges were forever threatening. (And the Celts managed to penetrate all the way to Rome, at one point.) Incorporation of foreign soldiers with no loyalty to Rome changed army politics. "Bread and circuses" began to prevail in government policy over citizenship and industriousness. The rich grew richer, demanding more luxuries. The ruling class became an albatross--sucking up wealth, rather than creating wealth and spreading it around. The system was unsustainable--as to wealth, resources, population and control.
Very similar to the USA today. We have the additional problem of the literal destruction of the fabric of life on earth. We are not just looking at depleted forests, or silted up harbors, or localized desertification from over-farming, or pollution. We are looking at an empire of transglobal corporations ravaging the earth's biodiversity, everywhere, polluting the oceans, everywhere, and so disturbing the atmosphere that food production has already become unpredictable in many places but may become impossible. And that isn't even the half of it (for instance, potential collapse of the food chain, due to loss of biodiversity and the introduction of GMO's and monoculture).
Continued work on Artificial Intelligence depends on this U.S.-based global economic system--just as Hypatia's advances in mathematics and invention, and her education of yet more mathematicians and engineers, depended on the stability of the Roman Empire. Advances in AI--and advances in other "Singularity" areas (DNA research, etc.)--depend on the material resources for the research being available and on a stable society to support and utilize those advances.
This Slime magazine article does not address the destructive and ruinous organization of our transglobal economy--not surprising, since its owners profit from the destruction and ruination that it wreaks upon us--and I frankly don't know if the Singularity University does so, but I certainly have the impression (from this article) that they do not. How are these great thinkers going to continue thinking their great thoughts--and inventing the future--as our civilization collapses around them?
I have a feeling about Hypatia that she sensed what was coming, and tried to head it off, in her own bailiwick, by being a mediator between the clashing Pagan and Christian view points--the first which had provided this center of learning, Alexandria and its even then world famous Library--and Christian elevation of the dignity (human soul) and needs of the poor majority. This is how Hypatia came to be so famous among the better Christians, like Sinesius. He revered her, though she was a Pagan. To him, she was The Teacher. Her teaching was egalitarian. She welcomed everyone. Pagan, Christian, Jewish and Eastern philosophers and scholars flocked to Alexandria to study in its tolerant atmosphere. And they flocked to her lectures, where she undoubtedly averred that science is a sacred endeavor.
The bad sort of bishops--the ones who formed the intolerant, monolithic Church that we still see today--were at war with science and learning. They were burning books, even then. They burned and tried to utterly exterminate the entire Gnostic canon--the other gospels. And they skinned the last head of the Alexandria Library alive, in their vicious campaign to establish a "patriarchal" church and a cowering society that would bow before these creatures in their fancy robes.
But whatever Hypatia thought or tried to do--and it's hard to know for sure, because they also nearly exterminated her name and works from history--what WE need to do NOW is address the vast injustice of our system and its extremely destructive economic and environmental components so that we HAVE a human civilization that CAN advance toward human immortality or some other evolutionary leap. We are on the very precipice of LOSING human civilization. Whether we leave a few ideas about robots or immortality behind may become completely irrelevant--just as Hypatia's astrolabe became irrelevant for a thousand years. Chances are we aren't going to have a thousand years to muck around in a state of post-Corporate Rule religious insanity and tyranny. Chances are this is it. We either solve the problem of greed and unsustainability or we perish, forever.
John P. Wheeler, a high-placed Air Force and Defense Department consultant who was recently murdered and whose killer or killers are still at large, was a man with a passionate commitment to all of us NOT FORGETTING. He was the force behind the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington on which is inscribed the name of every U.S. soldier killed in Vietnam. Whatever your politics, whatever your opinions about the Vietnam War or any U.S. war, one thing that honorable people do is to NEVER FORGET those who died and never take lightly the political/government decisions that lead to war. John P. Wheeler was such a man. He did not take war lightly. He was devoted to REMEMBERING.
Wheeler was working for the Mitre Corporation, which is at the center of Defense Department high technology--including protection of our air space, high tech surveillance and drone targeting technology--and which was partnered with Ptech, a corporation run by Saudi businessmen with ties to Osama bin Laden. The Bush government actively suppressed news coverage about Ptech.
Wheeler apparently spent several days possibly misdirecting friends and family as to where he was going and what he was doing and he ended up seen on a parking garage surveillance tape on December 30, looking disheveled and disoriented. He was murdered that night and his body found at a landfill the next morning. The police have declared it a murder but no cause of death has been disclosed.
I feel that there is enough weirdness around his murder to warrant a full scale investigation by SOMEONE. I don't trust our government agencies in this case, so the least we can do, it seems to me, is to keep a spotlight on this investigation, so that, if something is being covered up, it is not made easy.
The horror in Arizona has pushed this murder investigation out of the headlines. This is not only a disservice to the man whose passion was REMEMBERING those who died in war, it makes it easier for his murderer or murderers to get away with their crime, especially if it was an inside job. I have even entertained the notion that the horror in Arizona was intended to do just this--take the spotlight off of Wheeler's murder. Wheeler's murder has a feel about it of an assassination hit gone wrong (how he ended up walking around in a dazed and confused state hours before he was finally murdered and his body placed in a dumpster). It may be that too much was coming out about his murder, because of what went wrong with the hit, that attention had to be diverted. There is a very odd news report in this regard of someone on the Wilmington City Council objecting to the local police spending too much time on Wheeler's murder. There was another news report about the police pulling up floorboards in Wheeler's kitchen. And the whole story of his last days on this earth, which was coming out in bits and pieces, is very strange, indeed.
I haven't reached any conclusions about Arizona being a diversion or about his murder in general. No conclusions are possible at this point. And it is still possible that this was a privately motivated murder, unrelated to his work at Mitre or other Defense Department work. It just worries me that information about it is drying up and the corpo-fascist news spotlight--for whatever that is worth--is off.
Here is the thread where I and others had started to compile information about Wheeler's murder, shortly before the Arizona shootings. I ask you to help us all not forget John P. Wheeler. Remember him, as he helped us remember others. Help keep the spotlight ON in whatever way you can.
I just did a little research on this. Here are the links:
Police Trying to Unravel Timeline of Mysterious Wheeler Homicide
(includes a parking lot surveillance camera vid of Wheeler wandering around in a confused state, carrying one shoe)
Final hours of former Pentagon official puzzle his neighbors
Killing of Vietnam Memorial Advocate Baffles Friends, Investigators
The articles stress that he was the man behind the Vietnam War Memorial, but they don't say much about who he was currently working for--a corporation named Mitre, which I had never heard of, which has former CIA Director, former Sec of Defense, former head of the Atomic Energy Commission and former Secretary of Energy James R. Schlesinger as Board Chairman...
(the other Board members) http://www.mitre.org/about/trustees.html
Mitre appears to be at the heart of the U.S. national security state and of worldwide U.S. "security" (war) operations, including government/corporate information and surveillance technology, cyber-defense, aviation system development and airspace security, precision bombing from drone aircraft, and other Defense and Homeland Security systems, and coordination of U.S. defense technology with other countries. Very very big, very very well-connected, very very important company. Take a look at their web site...
Wheeler is described in news articles as having been involved, in particular, in cyber-security...
One thing that puzzles me is this: I can understand how someone who works for the Mitre Corporation, with James Schlesinger as Chairman, can end up in a landfill. Schlesinger must have a lot of secrets he is protecting--from JFK's assassination all the way to 9/11 and beyond. He's been around a long time and is a major player in our corpo-fascist state. And Mitre is right in the middle of the cyber-terrorist world that the U.S. has been busy creating at least since 9/11. But if it was a corpo-fascist state hit, you'd think that Wheeler would have just disappeared and ended up as landfill. A bullet through the head. End of Wheeler and whatever problem Wheeler presented.
What the vid shows is a very disoriented man. Something's gone haywire with him. He insisted to somebody he met along the way, "I am not drunk. I am not drunk." But he surely looks drugged in that vid. Not drunk, more without his wits--memory loss. He told a parking attendant that his briefcase was stolen, his parking ticket was in the briefcase and he couldn't find his car. He wandered around in that state for some time, and was seen by several people, some of whom offered help which he refused. He goes from a drug store in New Castle, to the New Castle County Courthouse parking lot, to the Nemours Building in Wilmington. THEN he disappears and is found in one of the trucks that had driven to the landfill to dump its load on the morning of Dec. 30.
Could be a hit gone wrong. Could be he was being hunted when we see him in the vid, after someone drugged him or hit his head (although I see no wound). If so, how did a targeted man get free or wander around so freely for some hours. Did someone foil the assassin? Then the assassination team re-grouped and found him again?
This was a very important man and possibly one with a conscience, given his work on all of us remembering the 55,000-plus U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam and every one of their names. This was someone who did not take war lightly.
This could be a murder with some other motive (other than "state secrets"). Some have been suggested but they don't seem very plausible. (Would someone kill the man who created the Vietnam Memorial over a building permit?) It could have been a mugging, although, again, he does not look hurt--he looks disoriented, as if drugged. It could have been more of a corporate sabotage or dirty contract sort of situation--that is, related to corporate secrets or bribes. It does have a bit of a mafia hit feel to it--with the dumpster and all.
I don't have a theory about this murder--other than to suggest a corpo-fascist state murder--an assassination, and also his condition in the vid suggests a sophisticated murder plan--that he was drugged, possibly for interrogation--not a mugging--unless the mugger hit Wheeler's head, causing disorientation, without leaving a wound. But then, would a mugger re-find him, kill him and dump his body in a garbage truck? That doesn't add up. What seems most compelling, currently, to me, is who he was working for.*
The police are saying murder; don't know what that is based on, nor what the cause of death was, or any such details. Very little has been released. If it is an official assassination, we may never know the true details.
What I mainly started this thread for is to ask if anyone knows anything about Mitre Corporation, Schlesinger or the other Board members, or Wheeler's particular work or activities that might go to motive.
*(I will just tell you what popped into my head. I follow events in Latin America closely, and something's going on with this Bush tool, Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia during the Bush Junta. Colombian prosecutors are investigating Uribe for massive illegal domestic spying. Meanwhile, someone helped the prosecutors' chief spying witness against Uribe flee Colombia, to Panama, where she was given unusual, overnight asylum. I suspect CIA Director Leon Panetta of arranging this asylum, because I think that Panetta--an old cohort of Bush Sr--has been charged with cleaning up after Junior, and I suspect Junior and his Junta of aiding Uribe's spying and possibly aiding related death squad killings in Colombia. Six other spying witnesses against Uribe have also fled Colombia and asked for asylum--but Panama's president hasn't given it to them yet, possibly because the asylum he gave to the main spying witness is causing him local and regional political trouble--an indication of how unusual this asylum was. It was over the objections of Colombian prosecutors. And the other reason he is hesitating may be that these other six witnesses can't nail Uribe the way the main witness can.
(Further, Uribe and Bushwhack ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield last year arranged the midnight extradition of certain death squad witnesses, to the U.S., on mere drug charges, where they have been "buried" in the U.S. federal prison system--out of the reach of Colombian prosecutors and, again, over their objections--by the complete sealing of their cases in U.S. federal court in Washington DC. So there is a coverup going on, re Colombia. The U.S. government is protecting Uribe--some 70 of whose closest political cronies are under investigation or already in jail for ties to the death squads, drug trafficking, bribery, spying and other crimes. The U.S. is also coddling Uribe, with cushy academic sinecures at Georgetown and Harvard, and with a prestigious appointment to an international legal commission.
(Three other possibly important facts: The U.S. State Department recently "fined" Blackwater for "unauthorized" "trainings" of "foreign persons" IN COLOMBIA "for use in Iraq and Afghanistan." (I don't believe the word "unauthorized.") And, last year, Uribe and Brownfield also arranged a secretly negotiated and secretly signed U.S./Colombia military agreement which included a provision for total diplomatic immunity for all U.S. military personnel and all U.S. military 'contractors' in Colombia. Dyncorp is one of the 'contractors.' Dyncorp may have provided the pilot, the plane and the pinpoint nighttime bombing technology for the U.S./Colombia bombing/raid on Ecuador in March 2008, in which 500 lb U.S. "smart bombs" were dropped on a FARC guerrilla hostage release camp just inside Ecuador's border, killing 25 sleeping people--an act that nearly started a war between the U.S./Colombia and Ecuador/Venezuela.
(Could Wheeler have been involved in, or could he have known something about, U.S. "cyber-security" in Colombia--connected to Uribe's domestic spying and death squad killings, or to the bombing/raid on Ecuador? It would seem to be the sort of thing that Mitre does--and on their map of the worldwide reach of their clientele they include the top western portion of South America (that is, Colombia).)
and I find no substance in it whatever. When you say, "Benevolent Despot or Malevolent Corporate-owned pResident," you are opposing a phantom--a bogeyman, a non-existent creation of the corpo-fascist press--with "Malevolent Corporate-owned pResident." "Malevolent Corporate-owned pResident" does have substance, in my opinion. That was certainly true of Bush. (Obama I would say is "Corporate-owned" but I wouldn't say "malevolent.") But "Benevolent Despot"--or any kind of despot--does not hold up, for Chavez, when you examine the allegations upon which it is based. Name any one of them and I will tell you the other side of the story, which, in every case, I have found more convincing.
I will give you the example of Chavez's de-licensing of RCTV. Much was made of this in our corpo-fascist press, as to Chavez being a "dictator" who was suppressing "free speech." But the facts say otherwise. First of all, the broadcast airwaves in Venezuela belong to the PUBLIC, as they do in most countries. Corporations have NO right to use those airwaves. They have to apply for a license, and most countries put CONDITIONS on those licenses. We once had the "Fairness Doctrine" here (and we most definitely need it again) which REQUIRED businesses using the public airwaves to provide truly balanced coverage of political news and public affairs, as well as public service broadcasting (for instance, broadcasting the entirety of our political conventions). They have to satisfy these conditions or lose their license to broadcast.
And there is no country in the world that would tolerate a private broadcaster colluding with a coup that tried to overthrow the legitimate government--which is exactly what RCTV did. Their owners and execs directly colluded with the violent rightwing military coup in 2002. They hosted the coupsters. They refused to allow any legit government spokespeople on TV. They broadcast false video footage and false information on behalf of the coup.
So, when their broadcast license came up for its 20-year renewal, Chavez very rightfully denied them a renewal. He then gave that airwave over to independent producers with the mandate to provide programming for excluded groups--such as women, the Indigenous and African-Venezuelans.
The first thing that the coup that was supported by RCTV did, after kidnapping Chavez, was to suspend the Constitution, the Courts, the National Assembly (congress) and all civil rights. And once these things were accomplished (but before the people of Venezuela defeated the coup), RCTV and other corporate broadcasters ran cartoons and other trivial programming and banned any information about the coup. The next step would likely have been brutal suppression of anti-coup protests and targeted murders of the members of Chavez's government and other leftists--with the public airwaves basically shut down.
Now tell me: Whose actions more promoted "free speech" in its real sense--the freedom of EVERYONE to be informed, the freedom of EVERYONE to express their opinions and to participate in the political life of their society--Chavez or RCTV?
In truth, Chavez would have been within his rights to storm RCTV studios, the moment that the Venezuelan people returned him to power, and to shut them down on the spot, and arrest the owners and executives. They SPONSORED the coup! But he didn't do that--likely because he wanted to calm the country down. He waited until their license came up for renewal and quite rightfully denied it.
Does it harm "free speech" in Venezuela to have one less rabid rightwing channel in what is a sea of rightwing broadcasters, who dominate TV/radio in Venezuela? Or does it, in fact, ENHANCE the "free speech" of most people to be rid of one of them--the worst of the lot, the one who openly aided the coup attempt? And what about the majority in Venezuela and their right to have the government they elected? Is that not an even more fundamental democratic right--the ultimate act of "free speech"--voting?
RCTV and the coupsters cancelled all of these rights. RCTV then broadcast cartoons while a million Venezuelans poured into the streets and surrounded Miraflores Palace (the seat of government) to peacefully demand the return of their kidnapped president and the restoration of constitutional government. Do those million Venezuelans not have a right of "free speech" that entitled them to COVERAGE of their amazing protest? What kind of irresponsible, vicious, privately interested broadcaster, using the PUBLIC airwaves, would do that--would deny coverage to the most important event in Venezuela's history--and should they not be denied a government license to use those airwaves?
EVERY criticism of Chavez, on this "dictator" "talking point," is like this. It is crap. It dissolves when you understand the context. Chavez has broken no law, and has in fact scrupulously adhered to the Constitution. He is a strong president, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but NOT an autocratic one. He has ENHANCED the ability of ordinary people to participate in government and politics. Venezuelans regularly express their great satisfaction with their democracy in regional polls. In their opinion--the only opinion that counts--they have a great democracy! And whatever "decree powers" Chavez has used have been given to him by the National Assembly, which is ALSO elected. The "decree powers"--a common practice in Latin America--are time-limited and issue-limited. Recently, he was given "decree powers" to deal with catastrophic floods that have made some 30,000 people homeless. New homes and entire new communities need to be built--and the financing and organization of construction and new infrastructure must be seen to. Lula da Silva, in Brazil, recently used "decree powers" to set aside a wide swath of the Amazon for an uncontacted indigenous tribe. This is NOT unusual in Latin America. Like their frequent re-writes of their constitutions, it is merely different from our practice.
Context is all. And context is ALWAYS LEFT OUT of corpo-fascist 'news' articles about Chavez. When Chavez denied a license renewal to RCTV, several other countries' governments had recently done the same, for far less cause. This was NEVER MENTIONED in the corpo-fascist 'news' articles and editorials on Chavez and RCTV.
The corpo-fascist press feels that the power of multinational corporations is deeply threatened by a government that dares to conduct REAL regulation of the public airwaves IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. Their monopolies over 'news' and information are threatened. Their power over public opinion is threatened. THEY are the "dictators," not Chavez. Chavez genuinely represents the majority in Venezuela. Who do they represent? Moneyed interests; the few. Chavez loves debate. He has an hour-long TV show on the tiny government station every week, where he freely gabbles with guests and call-in's on every political subject. Would that WE had a president so willing to freely communicate--to show himself, to defend himself and his policies, to explain, to reveal who he is! Chavez is not a secretive personality. He is wide open. Venezuelans KNOW WHO HE IS. He is NOT repressive, NOT secretive, NOT hiding from anybody. Would a "dictator" behave that way?
Anyway, I ask you to investigate this matter, as I have, before you judge Chavez to be a "despot"--benevolent or otherwise. DO NOT rely in "impressions" from our corpo-fascist media. I view them as participating in a disinformation campaign about Chavez, that I see across the board, in ALL of our media. It is a calculated, propagandistic LIE, on the order of Stalin's "Big Lie" technique--repeating something over and over and over again, until the human mind abandons facts and rationality, and gives in. They hammer Chavez day in, day out, with false, distorted 'news' stories totally lacking in context. To them, a "despot" is a leader who does not yield to corporate/rich-people power. But is that really a "despot"? Or is just strength in a good cause? Is Chavez a "dictator" or is he just a strong leftist leader like FDR? You be the judge. But please do not base you judgement on "impressions" from distorted 'news' stories. Base it on facts and context. Facts and context CAN be found, these days, with the Internet.
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What are the Traitorgate cover-ups covering up?
The reason Fitzgerald hasn't indicted anyone on the Plame/Brewster-Jennings outingS--though he has a number of the outers by the short hairs--Cheney, Libby, Rove, Armitage, Novak--COULD be that he is either suspicious of the story (political revenge) or already knows that it is a cover story.
And that points to Rumsfeld, in my book. Office of Special Plans.
Look at this way: This conspiracy--if it was, indeed, a conspiracy to plant the nukes in Iraq after the invasion--would have two tracks, political and operational. Cheney in the charge of the political end. Rumsfeld in charge of the operational end. Cheney segues the forged docs into a full-scale allegation against Iraq on nukes, and insures that it gets into Bush's SOTU speech (against advice from several agencies). He continues to adamantly defend that charge no matter how often it is totally and completely debunked. Why doesn't he temper it--show a bit of caution (considering the evidence)? Nope. It has got to be THAT charge--over and over. In addition, the whole Junta goes into summer '03 still maintaining that WMDs will be found (--although many will soon switch to "Iraqi freedom" as motive for the war). It's all set up for the phony "find"--and a triumphant Bush-Blair announcement that will smother all criticism, and all talk of "sexed up" prewar intel, and will cement their political positions with their FIRST and foremost justification for the war: WMDs.
Rumsfeld (if this theory is true) has meanwhile got several black ops teams (possibly connected to the notorious Iran/Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, who was present at the Rome meeting of Pentagon Neo-Cons and SISMI in late 2001, where many suspect the Niger forgeries were cooked up) moving nukes illicitly into (or on their way to) Iraq. He's got NYT WMD propagandist Judith Miller "embedded" with the U.S. troops who were "hunting" for WMDs (and, according to reports, actually directing, or trying to direct, their efforts), ready to get the "big scoop" of a WMD "find." (She said she had an "embed" contract signed by Donald Rumsfeld. Whether it's true or not, why would she claim it? It's like saying: "...but they TOLD me there WOULD BE a story"! She had Rumsfeld's word--or the word of someone speaking for him.) And Rumsfeld furthermore permitted the creation of chaos in Iraq--in his failure to stop the looting and the breakdown of all order (in fact laughing at). Civil chaos was a prime condition for planting WMDs in Iraq and then "finding" them. It was also a prime condition for setting up a puppet government to sign the oil contracts, giving away Iraqis' interest in their only resource (--and for massive looting by corps like Halliburton).
Anyway, that's how it would be: Cheney covering the political front--and scrambling to cover up the "incompetence of others" (as he put it in his memo on not wanting Libby to be the fall guy) when the shit started hitting the fan. No WMDs. Nuke allegation based on forgeries. Wilson calling them out on the false allegation. And David Kelly, in England, whistleblowing to the BBC about the "sexed up" prewar intel. It would have been RUMSFELD's responsibility to get those WMDs planted and "discovered." What we are seeing may be the political fallout of his failure to do so. (We are also seeing him gone--with no change in Iraq War policy. Was it the midterm elections? Or was it that he was operational head of this attempted massive deceit--a phony "find" of weapons--which Cheney in now having to cover for--politically and legally?)
Back in early July 2003, Kelly, under interrogation at a "safe house" --after he had been outed to his bosses (late June 2003)--revealed that he knew something MORE (--Kelly "could say some uncomfortable things," is how it was reported to Tony Blair on July 7, 2003 (Hutton report))-- but he promised not to speak of it publicly ("I wasn't about to give away any government secrets" is how Kelly put it).
I suspect that THIS was the trigger for the Plame/B-J outingS. Not Wilson's article of July 6, but rather the report to Blair on July 7 that Kelly "could say some uncomfortable things." (He was already whistleblowing, so it wasn't something that he HAD said--i.e., the "sexed up" the prewar intel--it was something that he COULD say. What ELSE did he know?) He had friends in Iraq--from his visits there as UN weapons inspector. He had told them that if they cooperate with the UN inspections, there would be no invasion. (And he then told a friend that if there WAS an invasion, he would be "found dead in the woods"--a truly haunting prefiguration.) IF there was a scheme to plant the weapons, he was in a good position to hear about it (--and my distant judgment of his character--excellent scientist, true believer in his mission of stopping WMD proliferation--is that he would have been offended by it; this could even have been the trigger for his own whistleblowing--it pissed him off that such deception was attempted or planned.)
IF the WMD-planting theory is true, the Blairites discovery that Kelly knew about this nefarious scheme would have put tremendous pressure on the Bushites (and the Blairites), because it would appear to them that the plot was in imminent danger of being exposed--whether it was or not. How far had it gone? Who all knew? There were a couple of reports in the Islamic press about botched US efforts to plant WMDs in Iraq (--and what happened to THOSE people (local observers)--Abu Ghraib?). Was the CIA itself about to expose them (contrary to their tradition of secrecy)? But mainly, WHO ELSE knew? If the Brits couldn't keep a lid on it, how many people, from how many directions, could come at them, with facts and evidence about this audacious effort to deceive?
So, in their panic, they outed EVERYBODY--the entire network of deep cover foreign agents and contacts, built up over the years, of friends of the US and friends of humanity, whose job it was to keep us all safe from illicit traffic in weapons of mass destruction. The multiple-outing was because they DIDN'T KNOW--who had foiled them, and who knew. Their purpose: 1) to punish and disable anybody who had foiled their scheme (including getting them killed by their own governments or by other bad actors); or (if they were still trying to plant the nukes or other WMDs, in July 2003) to destroy the network of WMD detectors and foilers that was slowing things up. By fall 2003, with the CIA enraged at the assault on its own agents, and calling for an investigation, they had to give it up--and switch to "Iraqi freedom" as the motive for the war (which is just about the time that that "talking point" was brought forward).
Someone upthread asked, why did they kill Kelly, and not Wilson and Plame? I imagine that Wilson and Plame have lived with that fear. But the critical difference between Plame and Kelly may be that Plame, as a NOC and a high-placed CIA operative, is sworn to a lifetime of keeping government secrets, and Kelly was not. He was a scientist on loan to different agencies (including the UN weapons inspection team). He was not a spy (that we know of). He was already whistleblowing. He was "off the reservation," and could not be trusted, when he promised, under interrogation, not to disclose "government secrets."
Also, she has the protection of the CIA--which, if it kills its own, likes to make that decision itself, I would imagine. And Kelly did not have any such protection. The Blair government and British intel agencies cut him loose. They outed him to the press, and sent him home without protection and apparently without surveillance. And if he WAS under surveillance, they let him bleed to death all night under a tree near his house. (--doesn't add up--none of it adds up).
As for Wilson, he, a) comes under CIA protection as the husband of a NOC, I would imagine, and b) sought the protection of widespread publicity for his dissent. Kelly, too, was the subject of a blazing public controversy in England--one caused by his government's deliberate outing of him to the press. He did not seek publicity. In fact, he backed down somewhat under the kleig lights. It may have been his fatal mistake, allowing the "many dark actors playing games"* around him to spin a web of deceit around his assassination. If he had stuck to his allegation 100% (re: the "sexed up" prewar intel--which turned out, of course, to be 100% true), and had not tried to backpedal a bit, and get himself out of the way of the Blairites' pointed guns, his murder might have been significantly more difficult to cover up, and the plan to kill him abandoned. It also may be a measure of the how dangerous he was to the Bushites/Blairites that they had him killed in the midst of the publicity. One more thought: Kelly's murder may have saved the Wilson's. Three WMD-related murders in one week was too much to cover up.
*(On the day he died, Kelly wrote an email to none other than Judith Miller--an old colleague of his--in which he expressed concern about the "many dark actors playing games." She had emailed him, stating that a "fan" of his had told her that he did well in the hearing that week (note: by all accounts, except this one, he did NOT do well--he was severely stressed during the parliamentary hearing at which he backpedaled on his whistleblowing accusations). He wrote back to her that he would know more by the end of the week, and that there were "many dark actors playing games." He added "thank you for your friendship and support at this time." I've recently begun to wonder if that was an ironical tag. Did he suspect her of being one of the "dark actors"? Of how he got outed to his bosses? His emails to other friends of his that day were upbeat and forward-looking--about his daughter's upcoming wedding, and plans to return to Iraq. He may have been worried about "dark actors," but he was not suicidal. He thought the storm had blown over.) (Note: Miller had used him as a major quoted source in her book "Germs" about bioweapons, published just after 9/11.)
*(Notably, Miller has refused to disclose the OTHER topics of conversation between her and Libby (besides Wilson/Plame and the NIE). Fitzgerald had to agree to this, to get her testimony against Libby on his perjury/obstruction. A week after her first conversation with Libby (mid-June) about Wilson/Plame and the NIE, Kelly was outed to his bosses (as the BBC whistleblower)--initiating the train of events that led to his death several weeks later (three days after Plame was outed). And the other thing that Miller has been secretive about is the "dark actors" email itself. She wrote the NYT news obit on Kelly's death, and did not disclose this email, or her close connection to the subject of the article. It was his family who later disclosed the email.)
So--does Fitzgerald suspect or know that there is something much worse behind the Plame/B-J outingS, beyond Cheney and the political coverup, that has caused him to grant immunity to the actual outers (political operatives), and to be digging deeper into this onion, in his stated purpose of understanding WHY these outings occurred? And is it this--that the Niger forgeries were just Part 1 of a yet more nefarious scheme to plant the weapons--a scheme hatched out of the Pentagon, by Donald Rumsfeld, that Cheney is now covering up?
Dunno. And Rumsfeld name hasn't come up at all, so far, in this case (that I know of). Fitzgerald appears to be building a conspiracy case against Cheney. But when you add up all the people whom Fitzgerald has NOT indicted--and the lack of indictments on the outing crime itself (despite a lot of evidence against certain people, just in the available info)--you have to wonder if he isn't trying to go deeper. The non-indictments (so far) could be part of the strategy of nailing Cheney for conspiracy. But the WHY of that conspiracy is still not known, except on a superficial level (effort to silence dissent--political motive).
Originally posted by Peace Patriot in General Discussion
Thu Feb 08th 2007, 01:52 PM
Comment #150 at
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