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Mueller cleverly loaded the bases today

...Manafort and Gates indictments, although unrelated directly to the Trump campaign, provide top level officials in that election effort (charges including period of their involvement w/ the campaign), engaged in stunningly egregious criminal behavior, for public consumption.

At the same time, the Papadopolous guilty plea, very likely unveiled today to coincide with the indictments, provides a standard prosecution effort, much like an organized crime prosecution, working the case from the bottom to the top, turning defendants into witnesses for the prosecution along the way.

Mueller has brilliantly covered all bases today, effectively refuting any speculation or spin that he's only ensnaring small fish in his dragnet (strongly signaling that he's fully engaged in prosecuting collusion with Russia, and Russian interference in the election).

Stirring Up The Dust At Ground Zero

. . . this is an essay/article I wrote on September 10, 2006. I would have wanted to write something new for the remembrance today, but I think this says it all for me.

What's missing, of course, is a critique of our current President's attitude and policy response to the militarism the last administration adopted as a result of the sad events of that tragic day. However, I think we can certainly recall Bush's malfeasance and his anti-constitutional power-grab. We can also judge for ourselves where this president has embraced the vestiges of the former CiC's opportunistic militarism, and determine for ourselves whether or not he has adopted or co-opted planks of Bush's 'terror war.' Maybe we can learn something by looking back at our response to the republican President who presided over it all. -Ron

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -- T.S. Eliot

Is there anything more repugnant than hearing bin-Laden's taunting words so close to the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks? I don't mean the latest video he sent Bush to amp up the president's fear and smear campaign. I'm not thinking of the grainy shots of bin-Laden greeting his accomplices out in the open air of his mountain refuge.

Bush has been practicing his new protection scheme this past week with a series of speeches in which, as the explainer-in-chief, he's been methodical and zealous in his elevation of Osama bin-Laden; carefully reciting the most offensive and threatening of the terrorist's statements and dispatches. Beginning in the second in his series of speeches, Bush chose the moment right after he had remarked on the "flood of painful memories" and the "horror of watching planes fly into the World Trade Center", to amplify bin-Laden's gloating remarks that the attack was "an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind." On Sept.11 he'll travel to New York's 'Ground Zero' looking for a pile of rubble and a bullhorn to elevate himself and talk down to us from some lofty perch.

Bush is desperate to revive and re-animate the demoted specter he had called his "prime suspect" in 2001. "I want justice," Bush had said then. "There's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.' Six months after the attacks, however, he simply turned away from his 'hunt' and acted as if he didn't care anymore about catching him. Our forces had Bin-Laden cornered at Tora Bora, and then, he was allowed to escape into the mountains. "I don't know where he is," Bush replied when asked why the terrorist hadn't been caught. "I-I'll repeat what I said, Bush sputtered, "I am truly not that concerned about him."

It's five years from the date of the attacks, and Bush has finally found cause for concern. His party is poised to lose their majority in the House and, possibly, in the Senate. Voter opposition to Bush's occupation in Iraq has pulled his republicans down in the polls and threatens to take away the power that enabled him commit the troops to Iraq and keep them there. The specter of Osama bin-Laden is the only wedge Bush has to rally his dwindling base and convince voters that his party should be allowed to continue to lord over the authority they squandered in the five years since the attacks.

It's strange to hear Bush bring up bin-Laden. Bush has barely mentioned the terrorist since he claimed to be unconcerned about his whereabouts. In fact, the Senate went ahead and unanimously passed a Democratic amendment this week which restored the Pentagon unit charged with finding bin-Laden that Bush just up and closed without offering an alternative strategy or effort. In Bush's updated, 'National Strategy for Combating Terrorism' that he references in his speeches, Osama bin-Laden is mentioned only once, in a reference to his 'privileged upbringing'. Dredging up all of the offensive rhetoric from bin-Laden now is designed to re-inflate those emotions that were so raw right after the horror unfolded; that uncertainty and anxiety which made Americans fold in the face of his consolidation of power.

Bush's own initial reaction to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 was a mix of paranoia and bluster as he cast the fight as a defense of 'freedom' that he said the attackers wanted to 'destroy'. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other," he declared in an address to a joint session of Congress. In his statement at the signing of the "anti-terrorism," Patriot Act, in October 2001, six weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush claimed that the measure would counter the threat of enemies that "recognize no barrier of morality and have no conscience." He sought to assure that the measure "upheld and respected the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution." He ends his statement with a pledge to enforce the law with "all of the urgency of a nation at war."

However, the President neglected to tell us which war he was referring to. The anti-terrorism measure was cobbled together in a few short months to take political advantage of the urge in Congress for a legislative response to the terrorist attacks, despite the president's claim that the bill was "carefully drafted and considered." It was a direct assault on the liberty, privacy, and free expression of all Americans.

From that document came a flood of legislative 'remedies' that would take advantage of the administration's blanket excuse of 'national security' that they and their minions in Congress draped over every stalled piece of legislation that could be remotely tied to their 'war on terror'.

But, their transparent politicking with their new anti-terror tools had nothing at all to do with catching the perpetrators they said were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Their hunt became eclipsed by the violence their Iraq diversion had produced. Iraq became a terror magnet, just as Bush had planned. Instead of just "fighting them over there", our occupation had the effect of producing more individuals with a grudge who would do our troops, our interests, and our allies harm.

No amount of saber-rattling at Iran, showdowns with North Korea, or escalation of troops in Iraq to further prop up the crumbling Maliki regime can substitute for bringing bin-Laden to justice. Five years on the loose has made the terrorist into an inspiration for others who have been provoked by the mindless collateral killings by the U.S. in Bush's dual Mideast occupations. Yet, Bush has decided to elevate bin-Laden even more in his speeches and remembrances leading up to the 9-11 commemorations.

In Bush's radio address for Sunday, he speaks of a 'solemn occasion' and proceeds to muddy it up with more of bin-Laden's taunts. The president advances the terrorist's call for a Caliphate as he bids us to "hear the words" of the terrorist. "Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks, "A great step toward the unity of Muslims and establishing the righteous Caliphate," Bush tells us. "Al Qaeda and its allies reject any possibility of coexistence with those they call "infidels."

Hear the words of Osama bin Laden," Bush says about his partner. In their respective protection schemes, both use the extreme violent reactions of the other to justify their self-appointed roles as saviors and protectors of their followers. Both are counting on their words to elicit fear among their minions and their foes alike, but, Bush is playing bin-Laden's surrogate in this latest promotion; elevating the terrorist to a political equal, looking to give bin-Laden's words a place in our commemorations; hoping Americans will focus on the barbarity and zeal of the attacker rather than his own inability to suppress and capture him.

So, Monday, in his 9-11 commemoration tour, Bush will return to Ground Zero, looking for rubble and a bull horn to elevate his made-up role as protector-in-chief. But, the residents there have gone on with their lives, removed the debris, and paved over the hallowed ground for politicians to come and preach, and for others, to pray.

All that is left in that city of the tragedy of September 11 are survivors and memories; and dust; the scattered remains from those pernicious, poisonous mountains of dust that exploded from the towers as they fell. The dust of the humanity of innocents and terrorists alike co-mingled with the debris, hovering for an eternity before it fell down upon the city; memories and the past inextricably mingled in the miasmic haze.

Bush can do nothing this September 11 except stir up settled dust from that hallowed ground; stirring up resentments and recriminations, deliberately soiling his immaculate cloak. He will not be there to unify our nation, as it had come together on its own right after the attacks. He's coming to Ground Zero with bin-Laden's specter on his sleeve, looking for a political lift out of his swaggering militarism.

He will be looking to widen the divide that he's been nurturing since he ascended to power between those who have resisted his imperious grab for false authority in the wake of the violence, and those who still believe that he's protecting them with his blustering militarism and assaults on our own civil liberties.

However, there is no pile of rubble and humanity left in New York, or anywhere else, that Bush can stand on and bullhorn his way back into the nation's confidence. Some of the disturbed dust has revealed a shameful, reckless indifference to catching bin-Laden, as those individuals in the top echelons of our government who were responsible for directing our nation's defenses ignored the myriad of reports coming from the agents in the field. His 'War on Terrorism' has been nothing more than a scam unleashed against the liberties of blameless Americans, and his collateral military campaigns have had a unifying effect among those combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan who would resist his swaggering imperialism and consolidation of power.

Bush spoke of "vigilance" at the end of his radio address. "With vigilance, determination and courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom," he says, "and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren. That's an amazing contradiction to his own strident use of our nation's military to overthrow and occupy two sovereign nations in his term. It's a load of hubris from Bush, who has pledged to continue the occupation of Iraq "as long as he's president", and has bequeathed the disaster to "future presidents.'"

Abraham Lincoln spoke of our responsibility to vigilance at a debate in Edwardsville, Illinois, on September 11, 1858:

"While the people retain their virtue and vigilance," he said, "no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years."

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoast, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not the reliance against the resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle."

"Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is the preservation of the spirit, which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere." Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your down doors."

"Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage," Lincoln warned, "and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

We must resolve ourselves to vigilance against Bush's campaign to divide Americans into those who support his terror policies that he regards as patriots; and those who resist his imperious assaults on our civil liberties, diversion of forces and resources to Iraq, and his failure to catch the perpetrators defined in the very authorization that he claims gives him the power to ignore our nation's laws and our Constitution, that he portrays as traitors.

"By the frame of the government under which we live," Lincoln said, "these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals."

Come, November we must hasten the return of our democracy to our hands. No amount of fear-mongering from Bush and his murderous specter should be allowed to stand in the way. Bush should not be allowed to dictate our future to us, using the voice of this terrorist's violence.


'Praying for People in Texas'

colmant_‏ @colmant_ 4m4 minutes ago

to Dalai_1

Trump's Arpaio Pardon is a Constitutional Crisis

...you don't need to look any further than the crime he's pardoning Arpaio for.

from Bloomberg:

If President Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, as he broadly hinted at during a rally Tuesday in Arizona, it would not be an ordinary exercise of the power -- it would be an impeachable offense. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring the federal judge’s order that he follow the U.S. Constitution in doing his job. For Trump to pardon him would be an assault on the federal judiciary, the Constitution and the rule of law itself...

Specifically, Arpaio was convicted this July by Judge Susan Bolton of willfully and intentionally violating an order issued to him in 2011 by a different federal judge, G. Murray Snow.

Federal judges don’t much like it when their orders are flouted. Snow held extensive hearings in November 2015, and in July 2016 he issued a lengthy opinion finding Arpaio in civil contempt of court. Snow didn’t mince words. He wrote that the department’s “constitutional violations are broad in scope, involve its highest ranking command staff, and flow into its management of internal affairs investigations...”

Judge Bolton convicted Arpaio of criminal contempt. She found he had “willfully violated” the federal court’s order “by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates’ compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed.” And she held that Arpaio had “announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise.”

This is the crime that Trump is suggesting he might pardon: willful defiance of a federal judge’s lawful order to enforce the Constitution...

Consider that Trump's reasoning for the pardon was made clear in his tweet announcing the deed, essentially praising Arpaio for his anti-constitutional acts (assumed culpable of those crimes by virtue of the pardon) and calling him a "patriot."

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!
10:00 PM - Aug 25, 2017

This is the President of the United States officially approving flagrant violations of the Constitution; openly subverting a bedrock foundation of our democracy which is at the heart of the oath he swore in front of the nation - the Constitution he swore to 'preserve, protect and defend.'

—"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Donald Trump may well be mentally ill, but he's also an ignorant, fearful bigot

I'm inclined to agree with folks who say Trump looked and sounded like a crazy man at his Phoenix rally Tuesday night. But the thing is, he looks even more insane because he's expected to represent the nation like decades of presidents before him.

It's just that it's so shocking, and so completely unnerving to see someone mindlessly trash and discard the collective and evolving efforts of generations of presidencies to be as progressively inclusive and representative of citizens from almost every corner of the nation in their appeal and discourse, that Trump's lurid assaults against broad swatches of our population seem unhinged and demented.

Who, in their right mind, would deliberately alienate and enrage so many of our countryfolk with such debasing and demeaning language from the highest office in the land, while, at the same time, promoting and elevating the most divisive and destructive individuals and elements in our nation?

Donald Trump may well be mentally ill. His mind is certainly susceptible to the strains of age, but his words read like almost every ignorant, fearful bigot who has soiled this land since the first slavers with their captive cargo of Africans landed in Jamestown.

They read like every defender of the crown preceding the American Revolution; like every slave owner who believed more in their superiority than in the unity of the nation; like every reconstructionist legislating blacks out or political empowerment because they couldn't countenance equality; like every anti-suffragist who couldn't bear to live with women as equals; his words tear at the fabric of our society like every segregationist barring the door to opportunity and equality out of self-interest, fear, and outright hatred.

On his face, Trump is a run-of-the-mill, anti-social bigot who uses racism and hatred as weapons to elevate his own sordid view of himself, and also as cruel sport against 'enemies' who dare question why this megalomaniac is being allowed to systematically dismantle our democracy.

What happened last night in Phoenix was truly deranged. Pundits say he was in 'campaign mode,' but this was our sitting president openly heralding his returning America to a time in our history where his crippling insecurities about his fellow citizens were leavened by an equally insecure white, male majority willing and able to legislate *others out of the opportunity and protection they, themselves, enjoyed for decades.

MAGA. Is there any campaign slogan in modern history more repulsive than 'making America great' for the terminally-bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist still among us?

here's Maya Kosoff's take in Vanity Fair on Trump's "I know I told them I wasn't a racist, but I'm still a really big one, okay?' speech in Phoenix:

“The words were perfect,” Trump said of his own words about Charlottesville. “They only take out anything they think of, and all they do is complain. The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you, the decency of our supporters. You are honest, hard-working, tax-paying—and you’re over-taxed, but we’re going to get your taxes down—Americans. It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting divisions. They are trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

For a speech that began, ostensibly, as a call for unity, Trump’s rally was filled with barbed attacks on all variety of people who he said had no place in America. Trump spoke broadly about “liberating our towns” from undocumented immigrants, citing Joe Arpaio, pledging to purge “sanctuary cities” of undocumented immigrants and leading the crowd in a “build the wall” chant. He threatened a government shutdown if the wall he wants constructed between the U.S. and Mexico isn’t approved. And, after the White House said Trump wouldn’t pardon Arpaio during his rally in Phoenix, Trump hinted that a pardon would come. “Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” he asked. “He should have had a jury. But I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s gonna be just fine. But, but, I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that O.K.? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”

Clearly, the 'history' Trump wants to protect and preserve is regressive and evil. It's a call to return to the days where a cliquish, white, male majority made all of the decisions for the nation and acted in their narrow, exclusive self-interest; back to a time where the press kowtowed to authority and was complicit with the government in obscuring the truth from the public; to return to an age in America where racism and bigotry flourished under an umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow; an era where dissent was legislated into obscurity.

It was President Woodrow Wilson (who applied Jim Crow, segregationist policies in the South to the federal workplace) who urged legislative action against those who had "sought to bring the authority and 'good name' of the Government into contempt." He worried in his declaration of war, about "spies and criminal intrigues everywhere afoot" which had filled "our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government."

During his presidency more than 2,000 American citizens were jailed for protest, advocacy, and dissent, with the support of a compliant Supreme Court. The Wilson-era assaults on civil liberties; Schenck v. U.S.; Frohwerk v. U.S.; Debs v. U.S, Abrams v. U.S., were ratified by Supreme Court decisions which actually asserted that free speech in wartime was a hindrance to the efforts of peace.

It's amazing to me how the inhabitants of this land we call America - a country obtained and settled through force and deception by an immigrant, Anglo/Saxon pack of misogynist thugs - can assert their nationalism and detach themselves from the global influences that were essential, critical elements in the establishment of our nation and in the sustaining the people who settled here.

The Europeans were immigrants to this land. The original inhabitants comprised a vast nation of many languages and many different cultures that existed together for centuries. There is no reasonable argument that justified the American settlers systematic removal of these indigenous peoples from the lands that had sustained their ancestors for generations. Here in our own country, there was no reasonable argument for the destruction of the native inhabitants' culture, and the forced imposition of the settler's ideology.

If we're going to make America great (again), we'll need to either return to those troublesome roots, or, accept and build on the promises of successive generations hence who've made deliberate strides to include all of us in the weaving and coverage of the robust and diverse fabric of our nation.

One thing for certain, Donald Trump is a demonstrated enemy to progress in America. He threatens my family, and his actions threaten his rabid supporters' families as well.

Perpetuating the Afghanistan Folly

Back and forth, the ascended,
Leaders hurl their followers,
Into the bloody abyss upended,
None of them can be bothered,

Apart from the ones who do the dying,
There's nothing left for the tyrants,
But to gather up more kindling,
To appease the smoldering silence,

excerpt from the poem, 'Terrorists' by Ron Fullwood

FROM the time of Poppy Bush's opportunistic defense of Kuwait's territory and ports (at the behest of the Bush/Cheney obligations to their Saudi Arabian friends and allies) against Saddam Hussein's army's advance; through his son, Junior Bush's deployments to 'fight them there' in Afghanistan after the 9-11 attacks; to Junior's 'preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq; through Barack Obama's 'surge' and escalation of force in Afghanistan; to Pres. Obama's re-escalation of military force and attacks in Iraq after completely withdrawing there (and attacks inside Syria, Libya, Sudan, Pakistan, and deployments to Yemen); and now to Donald Trump's declaration and bid for a new round of unremitting, unaccountable combat operations in Afghanistan; America is still at war.

Our nation's possessive militarism in Afghanistan and elsewhere has divided our nation from within, and, from without, against our restive allies. This new threat from Pres. Trump of an escalated occupation ignores whatever Afghans might regard as self-determination and sovereignty in their insistence that their country be used as a barrier against the terror forces we've aggravated and enhanced in Pakistan.

The Taliban is an imposture in our government's terror war. Our own invading and occupying military forces are the most aggravating element in the perpetual violence in Afghanistan and the region. Deliberately so.

Yet, the soldiers President Trump is determined to commit to his own 'pollyandish misadventure' are not wanted there by the majority of the Afghan people. Our soldiers have been fighting to control the Afghans, and they've been busy fighting to get the U.S. to release that control.

As far back as November 2011, senior officials in the Obama administration were signaling that the President was exploring a speedier transition of our troops' combat role to training Afghans to provide for their own defense of their dubious government. Tentative plans were said to have been made for President Obama to unveil his revised strategy before the annual NATO summit that May.

Even before the signals and the rest from the White House, there were key developments which made it clear that to continue in Afghanistan, President Obama would either need to undergo another ambitious campaign to rally allies away from their almost certain plans to turn away from their part in the U.S. folly, or the administration and Pentagon would have to devise a way to overcome the mounting problems with logistics, getting supplies to the troops, and the apparent outer limits of the president's belief in what the military forces can accomplish on the offensive against a scattered and determined insurgency.

As if to underscore the folly of their escalated military offensive, U.S. troops all but withdrew from Kandahar, the Pentagon's self-proclaimed 'center' of their terror war in Afghanistan, in a posture of retreat which began the previous October. Under the qualifying language of 'transition' and 'handover', the administration hoped to determinately pull the rug out from under whatever goals and ambitions propelled the President to adopt Bush's dubious defense of the Karzai regime, double down on the occupation, and try to effect a knockout blow to the Taliban resistance.

The mission of our forces in Afghanistan drifted, as in Iraq, to the desperate defense of an Afghan regime which was installed behind the 'shock and awe' of our invasion following the 9-11 attacks. Like the privileged regime in Iraq which was enabled into influence and authority with votes cast in a dubious election by a minority of citizens under the heavy-hand of their country's invaders, the regime in Kabul relied on their own 'Green Zone' of defense of our military forces as their seat of power to lord over the impoverished country.

While true that there was a dual focus on 'al-Qaeda' in Pakistan and on the Afghan-Pakistan border, there was also the effort to 'push back' the Taliban to 'give room' for the Karzai regime to establish itself. That was the reason given by President Obama for the escalation of troops into Afghanistan, and for the escalation of their offensive role.

I don't need President Obama's statement, however, to see clearly that the escalation of hundreds of thousands of NATO troops into Afghanistan had little to nothing to do with the efforts to corner and degrade the Taliban forces in Pakistan identified with al-Qaeda -- other than the forces which were stationed at the border to prevent the Pakistan Taliban from fleeing into Afghanistan as our drones bombed their encampments and compounds. The drone war was the primary offensive against 'al-Qaeda' in Pakistan. The military admitted several times that most of the al-Qaeda fighters had fled to Pakistan long before the offensive.

The thousands of troops surged on the initiative of President Obama into Afghanistan had almost zero to do with the 'small' invasion force which killed bin-Laden. They supported the Afghan regime by providing a perimeter defense in the area around Kabul, and by working to expand the reach and influence of that regime by taking over territory in the south and installing government sponsored rule to replace the Taliban's. The bulk of the forces were involved in chasing down and capturing or killing resisting Afghans - chasing down and killing Afghans that were fighting in opposition to the corrupt Karzai regime that our military 'surged' to maintain and expand in power.

As Sen. Russ Feingold so famously said at the President's announcement of the surge into Afghanistan: Why are we surging where al-Qaeda isnt?

The operation in Kandahar was also meant to be a defining stance to expand the influence of the Karzai regime to the outer provinces. That's why such a big deal was made about establishing an outpost and setting up a provincial government there to replace the Taliban rule which is the norm outside of Kabul. That effort was abandoned, after countless lives lost, without any measurable or lasting, transformative success. The defining mission of the surge was a failure on their own terms of gaining the trust and acceptance of the Afghan people and drawing the rest of the country to accept and not resist the U.S.-enabled Afghan rule.

It's not very likely the U.S.-led NATO will ever be able to emphasize their political aims over the destructive and destabilizing impact on the communities of Afghanistan from the devastating, U.S.-led military offensive. Through the force of our weapons - outside the limits that our constitution proscribes for the use of our military defenses - we represented a corrupt regime and imposed it on the Afghan population, especially in regions which were not engaged in elections that we claimed gave the Afghan government legitimacy.

Even our would-be puppet, Karzai, bristled and balked at the prospect of more destructive NATO conquest in Afghanistan on his behalf. The once-willing accomplice saw the political writing on the wall and settled for the assumption of power wherever the Taliban would allow. His reported outburst at the beginning of the Kandahar campaign, threatening to 'join the Taliban', was a open-warning to the U.S. that he recognized there is no political solution that can be reasonably carved out of the devastating, withering military campaign.

The military was quietly hoping we didn't notice that they didn't actually transform their Afghanistan misadventure from the leveling of homes, the taking of resistors lives, and the destruction of farmland and livestock into the nation-building success that they intended for the mission to highlight.

The premise behind President Obama's initial 'surge' of U.S. troops into Bush's Afghanistan quagmire was to 'push back' resisting Afghans enough to allow some sort of political reconciliation. That effort was predictably bogged down by the difficulty in getting the disparate tribes and factions to accept the central authority NATO has set up in Kabul. There's even more difficulty in getting their installed government to accommodate the interests and demands of the resisting rest of the war-split nation.

The increased occupation was designed to facilitate Afghan elections and to provide the same sort of 'with us or against us' choice that our invading and occupying forces in Iraq offered the citizens there. The plot which which emerged in this Potemkin defense of democracy in Kabul is one which is already well-know to Afghans. Opposition communities would be occupied and intimidated by our forces while supportive communities would be protected and enabled in the run-up to the balloting.

The outcome of the vote resembled whatever minority composition of the Afghan population felt unencumbered by the regime's heavy-hand to cast their ballot in their favor. The result may well have bolstered whatever legitimacy the West wanted to place on their enabled rule in Kabul, but the effect of the increased military activity had a predictable effect of aligning the myriads of Afghans once led to oppose one another, to band together in resistance against their country's foreign invaders.

The U.S. military offensive against the Taliban was an abject failure in achieving it's goals. What happened to the promised ability of the U.S.-led NATO forces to protect the residents of Afghanistan against Taliban blowback from their invasion? The ability to protect innocent civilians from NATO attacks, or insulate them from the negative consequences and effects of the NATO military advance? The ability of NATO to provide and deliver the services and amenities of the central government to the displaced residents? Nonexistent.

There's absolutely no hint in Trump's speech and remarks of lessons learned from the previous president's tragic escalation of Bush's Afghanistan deployment in which over 1000 more troops' lives were sacrificed in Pres. Obama's 'surge' than Bush lost avenging 9-11. Over 2200 U.S. troops have been sacrificed in Afghanistan - 630 of those deaths occurring in 8 years under George W. Bush.

Illustratively, the top three deadliest years of the war -- 2010 (497 deaths), 2011 (362), 2009 (303) -- occurred under President Obama’s tenure. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. fatalities in the war in Afghanistan occurred during the Obama administration, in a quarter of the war's duration.

Bush wrote the script for the U.S. in the region; cast the antagonists in his kabuki play - erected Potemkins of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan to defend in contrived protection schemes where we create the 'enemies' we then claim to protect and defend against.

President Obama maintained and perpetuated that script through his own interpretation of threats to the U.S. or our interests, insisting he has the authority he needs to unilaterally initiate airstrikes; even introduce troops, if he sees fit.

One of the tragedies of 9-11 has been the degree our government's defensiveness has increased with a myriad of justifications to war - maybe not the unbridled military imperialism of the Bush-era, but threatening measures designed to frighten our adversaries away from their own military conquests; their sectarian violence fueled and inflamed by the seemingly deliberate vacuum created out of our own disruptive, self-serving military meddling.

Indeed, Barack Obama, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, actually used that occasion to lay down justifications for war; 'just wars' he called them. The new president wrapped his militarism in a blanket of history in his acceptance speech in Oslo. He spoke with the detachment of a professor lecturing students about a "living testimony" to the "moral force" of the teachings of King and Gandhi who just happened to be commander-in-chief over dual, bloody occupations.

War and peace, in Mr. Obama's presentation, were inseparably intertwined throughout history with America rising above it all - virtuous and correct in the flexing of our military muscle abroad in this age, because of our righteousness in the defining wars we waged with our allies against the Third Reich and Japan. That American virtue, in Mr. Obama's estimation, made evident by our leadership in setting the terms of international patronage, diplomacy, and 'just' war.

The retention of that assumed authority, and it's ready adoption by the Trump administration is a loaded gun just waiting for an excuse or reason to use it.

I don't believe there was ever anything to 'win' in Afghanistan, as President Obama once declared there was, and as Trump asserted yesterday. There has been, however, much to lose in this repeated flailing of our military forces against the Afghan people; against the remnants and ghosts of al-Qaeda. We have already been shown, repeatedly, that our government-building efforts behind the force of our military in the Middle East has produced more individuals inclined or resigned to violent expressions of resistance than it's succeeded in establishing any of the 'democracy' or 'stability' promised.

For an economically crippled superpower pushing up against the admitted limitations of our military, that's enough for the U.S. to declare 'success' and 'progress,' and leave when the president says he will -- if not ahead of time. Instead, these successive presidencies have been content to tolerate the self-escalated sacrifices of our our soldiers as our troops eventually hunker down in Afghanistan, tolerating the tragically wounded and killed and waiting for some moment to declare 'victory' out of their desperate defense of their own lives against the Afghans that the presidents and the Pentagon claim we've been liberating.

We've been in Afghanistan longer than our country fought WWII. No matter to our leaders, though. 'Freedom's' cause for occupation supporters is nothing more than a repression of one group or another within the sovereign nation we invaded into accepting our military forces' false authority over them; and cynical manipulation and control of the Afghan government ruling by the intimidation of our military occupation.

The devastating effect of our military intervention in the region, which has cost so many lives caught up in the way of America's government-building folly so far, only deepened itself with every tweak and correction that intended us to 'win' some sort of 'victory' outside of the pursuit of the original 9-11 suspects (even after the killing of bin Laden during Pres Obama's term).

The counter to that bunk is that nothing at all had been done to address the original complaint of Muslims and Arabs in the way of our nation's swaggering advance across their sovereign borders; that the very presence of our military on their soil is an intolerable aggravation to their religion, values and their wishes - as well as a threat to a great deal of their own safety and security.

As certain as Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City after we withdrew from the Vietnam war, Afghanistan will have some element of Taliban rule after we eventually retreat.

One would hope that the American public would demand accountability from this new administration on the goals they establish behind these new deployments. It should be remembered that the Iraq 'surge' began as a trickle, and, in a year, over 800 U.S. troops had lost their lives as a result of that escalation. What we need to hear from the Trump administration is a clear mission for our nation's defenders in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, which is actually directed toward fulfilling the original authorization to use military force which Congress approved for prosecution against "those responsible for the (9-11) attacks launched against the United States."

The only lesson that our military invasions have imposed on the region is the one which the authors of the deployments purport to oppose; that of the efficacy of military force and violence as an ultimate avenue to power and authority. In Iraq and Afghanistan, those who support the U.S. military-enabled regimes and seek protection behind our dominating forces are considered 'democratic' and legitimate -- while those who choose to be or find themselves outside of that imposed influence are to be opposed as 'insurgent' or 'radical' in their opposition and defense of their chosen territory against NATO's selfish advance.

There aren't many who would question America's pursuit of justice in the wake of the 9-11 plane crashes. Chasing bin-Laden and his cohorts into Afghanistan, and the rout of his Taliban accomplices to Pakistan was a reasonable response to most looking on. Yet, there's a question of how much of the U.S. militarism today in Afghanistan, or now, again in Iraq, can be justified as part and parcel of that original pursuit; or even integral to some defense of our national security as defined in the original authorizations to use military force.

Our nation's citizens didn't start out ambivalent to chasing bin-Laden into Afghanistan. They became ambivalent when that effort was distorted into opportunistic nation-building - all the while with the fugitive terror suspects that were at the heart and soul of the military mission left free to instigate and motivate violent resistance against our nation's strident military presence and activity across sovereign borders, mostly by the virtue of their seemingly deliberate freedom from justice.

The nation became ambivalent when those occupations, in turn, were escalated to advantage the politics behind propped-up regimes. The suspicion of America's military force abroad was born in the 'extraordinary renditions' by our military and intelligence agencies; in summary executions by armed, unmanned drones; and in the indefinite imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans without charges or counsel - many held and tortured as in Gitmo - many tortured and disappeared in 'black sites' in compliant nations. Many are just as suspicious of this president's escalation of force in Afghanistan against the Taliban.

We've been told by the previous administration and the military that there are relatively few individuals thought to be in Afghanistan or Iraq who are al-Qaeda. Yet the U.S. military aggression in defense of regimes we helped ascend to power in corrupt elections is directed against an entirely different 'enemy' who is operating against the U.S. 'interest' in our maintaining ethically-challenged regimes in dominance over the very people we pretend to be defending.

The established practice from politicians in Washington since the Bush-era is to construct mechanisms of preemptive aggression in the vain hope of keeping war at bay. Is there really anything more delusional than fomenting war to prevent war?

Power maims to gain the ground,
Casts bold shadows across fear-ed's face,
Yet, reaps the bare Earth where death stands,
Disturbs dust which was laid to waste,

Shrouds the martyr's bloody veil,
Soils the tyrant's immaculate cloak,
Yet, humanity will prevail,
To spite the war its descendants spoke.

Where does Trump see 'beauty' in confederate monuments?? All I see is supremacy and intimidation.

Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 44m44 minutes ago
Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.

Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump 30m30 minutes ago
...the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!

...this is a very bad person - not merely crazy, sick, or inept - Donald Trump is vile and contemptible.

He's determined to force his inner bigotry on the American public, desperately looking for someone to validate his most racist and divisive instincts and beliefs. He's not fit to enjoy the benefits of our diverse and magnanimous nation, or, much less, be president.

'He might never push the button.'

Steve Silberman‏ @stevesilberman Aug 9
One of the most brilliant and chilling things ever written about nuclear war, by the late Roger Fisher.

The conversation today on Morning Joe is an important one

...it's not trivial, and it's not a distraction.

Their conversation about the way Donald Trump has projected his dislike of women from the highest office in the land is a frustrating one, but necessary. We talk all the time about the 'bully pulpit,' which is basically an acknowledgement of the widespread influence of that office, here in the U.S. and around the world. Trump is setting back the image and reputation of Americans decades and there needs to be a broad and forceful response.

It's unfortunate that, as Trump drags down the prestige of the WH, so many issues and events are begging for his office's attention and care, neglected, unfortunately while he plays golf, plays on twitter, and watches television.

Our own lives are busy, as well. Most of us are working harder for less, struggling to balance obligations and needs with shrinking resources, many of our safety nets under deliberate and relentless attack by the president and his party. Under attack from an administration of millionaires and billionaires whose primary pursuit is feathering their own golden nest, and removing accountability for the way in which the vast majority of us are compensated for our labor.

If we are going to succeed as Americans, we'll need all hands on deck. Trump looks bent on alienating and denigrating most of the folks who we need to move our economy forward. More importantly, the President is giving aid and comfort to those who refuse to value and compensate the work and contributions of women, minorities, and others still struggling to keep pace with their white male counterparts.

What's distressing is that republican government in power is poised and ready to dismantle opportunities, protections, and aid for women and minorities, even as America is poised to move forward with economic and social expansion. Even with all of the shortcomings of democracy and justice, we haven't just emerged from some '50s era suppression of rights and opportunities. Yet, we're threatened by a forced return to Jim Crow and evisceration of protections for women, by a regressive republican majority operating in a frenzy of self-interest like rats in a cheese store.

Trump's relentless attacks on Americans who may disagree with him are a far cry from what we've grown accustomed to over the decades. Most modern politicians take pains to reach out and draw as many folks to their cause as they're able. Trump seems to be waging full-on war against the nation with his lashing out and posturing.

Far cry from other men who asked the nation for a chance to lead the country... like Martin O'Malley, for instance, during the campaign:


"On this stage — on this stage, you didn’t hear anyone denigrate women, you didn’t hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants, you didn’t hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious belief. What you heard instead on this stage tonight was an honest search for the answers that will move our country forward, to move us to a 100 percent clean electric energy grid by 2050, to take the actions that we have always taken as Americans so that we can actually attack injustice in our country, employ more of our people, rebuild our cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more of our people in the economic, social, and political life of our country. I truly believe that we are standing on the threshold of a new era of American progress. Unless you’ve become discouraged about our gridlock in Congress, talk to our young people under 30, because you’ll never find among them people that want to bash immigrants or people that want to deny rights to gay couples."

Apparently, 'bashing' is the exclusive providence of the republican party - their go-to political statement which makes clear they're here to get theirs, be damned about the rest of us - a deliberate strategy to elevate their sweet selves by walking over the rest of America.

Tim Ryan believes we should gloss over issues of race, gender, ethnicity with an economic argument

Ryan on MTP, November 2016 :

I think, in part, we try to slice the electorate up. And we try to say, "You're black, you're brown, you're gay, you're straight, you're a woman, you're a man." The reality of it is there's no juice in that kind of campaign. There's no energy in that because it's divided.

The key to, and-- magic of, good campaigns, is when you pull people together. You unite them around a common theme. And look, if you're black, white, gay, straight, brown, you want a good job. You know, we focus sometimes too much on the minimum wage and we should be talking about living wages and middle class wages and pensions and benefits and the kind of thing that people in the industrial Midwest talk about all the time.


This is a centrist's attempt to sideline concerns particular to gays, blacks, women in favor of what he believes is an all-encompassing economic argument.

What Ryan is angling for is a muffling of the voices of the vast majority of Democratic voters who actually show up at the polls, in order to draw in conservative voters, like him, who can't bear to hear about the needs and concerns endemic to individuals and groups of individuals who choose to organize under our Democratic banner.

Essentially, Tim Ryan wants our party to posture to appeal to republicans. He's envious of the way Trump was able to rally white moderates, reasoning that it was an economic appeal which assuaged their anti-Democratic fever. But Trump did more than sell them on some economic plan. He reached out to stroke the deep resentment those voters were expressing against anyone who didn't look like them or think like them.

Trump ran a lurid and prevaricating campaign which would have been an anathema to his republican predecessors. I'm not talking about the types of campaign rhetoric that came from Sanders during the primary that Hillary's 'Wall Street connections' meant that she couldn't or wouldn't represent the working class. Whatever the truth is about Hillary and that nebulous campaign meme, 'Wall Street connections' couldn't be all that important to anyone who voted for this ruthless capitalist who's demonstrated nothing but antipathy to the people who've worked for him over the entirety of his privileged life.

Trump appealed to the insecurity of some white Americans who have been convinced their share of the nation's economic benefits are being unfairly threatened by blacks, immigrants, and anyone else who dare assert their rightful role in our country's economy. The oft-bigoted demagogue left no dog-whistle behind as he promised to restore these psychologically-displaced souls to their assumed place of prominence in society.

Take the issue of race in the election, for example. If there was one message the white working-class got from Hillary in that campaign, it almost certainly was that black lives were going to matter in her presidency. Hillary challenged white Americans to acknowledge their economic successes and take heed of those who have been left behind in the recovering economy. More importantly, Hillary insisted that white Americans should recognize and appreciate the role race plays in the failure of the black community to fully benefit from the economic recovery.

"For many white Americans," Hillary said, "it’s tempting to believe that bigotry is largely behind us. That would leave us with a lot less work, wouldn’t it? But more than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind."

That seemingly obvious reasoning should be commonplace in our political debate, but these truths have been overlooked throughout our nation's history. Black economic gains have always lagged behind those of white Americans, certainly not just during the Obama administration. In the present economy, blacks have experienced the slowest economic recovery of any group of Americans.

Why would anyone who claims to have the interests of our diverse party at heart want to homogenize concerns like these into phony economic populism which treats everyone on the economic and societal ladder as if we were starting on level ground?

Ryan's argument for condensing our diverse party's myriad concerns and needs into an appeal directed at one group of Americans is not only wrong, it's foolhardy. It's also the 'identity politics' he's denouncing, he's just advocating identifying our party's agenda, primarily, with one group of Americans. White males.

That's basically Trumpism, dressed up in a self-opportunistic appeal designed to unseat a Democratic leader who has endeavored throughout the entirety of her career to represent ALL of our needs and concerns, not just those of a privileged few.
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