Images Matter: ISIL Knew That

Big, bold images of barbarism are shocking and shaking our civilization to its very core with the third brutal beheading and murder by ISIL of three:  two US journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and now humanitarian British worker David Haines.  CNN, this was not an execution, but rather an act of barbarism and murder sent out over the airwaves via social media. And somehow they knew that these images would mar the psyche, and forever scar a generation.  Just as the pictures of the Twin Towers collapsing thirteen years ago ushered us to a misguided war, and those of the little girl running down the road burned by napalm forever changed the Baby Boomers from the cover of Life Magazine to make reparations to Vietnam and its people — these barbaric images will stay in the soul of a whole generation and may indeed speed the formation a global coalition to eradicate this evil from our planet.

Images do matter and again the terrorists understand their insidious power. Social media was not meant for this. It was not what the merry team around Zuckerberg‘s Facebook dreamt of late at night; rather, this is the antithesis of the global village they helped to create.

Note: Cross published from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-kraus/images-matter-isil-knew-t_b_5818808.html.

Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

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Why Did We Invade Iraq?

With the Russian takeover of Crimea we are seeing just a bit of the damage done to the world by the invastion of Iraq. We used to be able to say, with some authority, “This is wrong, you shouldn’t do it.” But now everyone can say, “What are you talking about? You invaded Iraq based on a bunch of obvious lies.”

We the People have a right to know why this all happened, don’t we? We need a Truth Commission that investigates how the Bush administration led us to war, how the media was complicit, who made money from it, who tortured people, who allowed “contractors” to act with impunity, etc.

Also, there’s this: Why We Did It, a Rachel Maddow documentary:

Martin Luther King’s Dream Of Jobs And Freedom

Martin Luther King Jr. outlined his dream 50 years ago this weekend. We made much of it happen. Let’s dream some more. Let’s dream about what we could do in the next 50 years.

Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and famously told the country “I have a dream.” Fifty years later there is progress and there are setbacks. We no longer have segregation — separate schools and bathrooms and the rest. Many states finally allow everyone to marry the person they love, but at the same time many states are returning to apartheid-era restrictions of voting rights.

One huge part of the “Jobs and Freedom” Dream that still evades us is the goal of full employment or an income until a job becomes available.

On August 16, 1967 King delivered a speech titled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” addressing the need for everyone to have a job or an income,

…our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available. In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote in Progress and Poverty:

The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves driven to their tasks either by the, that of a taskmaster or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who somehow find a form of work that brings a security for its own sake and a state of society where want is abolished.

A Country Based On A Dream

Our country was founded on the dream that We the People can do things for each other instead of depending on the rich and powerful to throw us scraps.

If you look at our Constitution you see that our country is supposed to be for We the People. And I mean just look at it, not read it. The only words you see from any distance are the words “We the People.” The Founders were making a point.

The Constitution told the world about a dream that “We the People” would build a country that protects and empowers us, where together we do things for the common good, to make our lives better. And for a while we did that.

We have lost sight of that dream. We no longer seem to recognize who our country is for. We no longer talk about the common good.

Who is our country for? Who is our economy for? Certainly a We the People economy would at the very least guarantee that We the People have jobs and an income until a job is available.

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m4s0n501

Elite-Pundit “Grand Bargain” Frenzy Just Like “Run Up” To Iraq War

The “Grand Bargain” is about showing the world that we can hurt people, so they will know we are “serious.”

Reading Jason Linkins’ HuffPo account of elite-pundit thinking about the “Grand Bargain,” Passing ‘Grand Bargain’ Voters Don’t Care About Is Critical To Confidence In Government, Apparently, I am struck by the similarity between the (elite pundit) Joe Klein quote Linkins references, and the elite-pundit thinking about invading Iraq.

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein — who is confident that Congress will agree to a “grand bargain” — says that people like me who contend that voters don’t place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

In other words, Klein is saying the elite punditry has made such a big deal about something we all know is the wrong thing to do, that the public has to see us follow through — “take significant action” — or they’ll lose confidence in the country’s ability to make things happen following a pundit frenzy like this one.

Now let’s remember the words of elite pundit Tom Friedman on why invade Iraq.

Tom Freidman, on Charlie Rose, May 29 2003: (link is CS Monitor, Thomas Friedman, Iraq war booster),

“And what we needed to do was to go over to that part of the world and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically uhm, and, uh, uhm take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble. And there was only one way to do it because part of that bubble said ‘we’ve got you’ this bubble is actually going to level the balance of power between us and you because we don’t care about life, we’re ready to sacrifice and all you care about is your stock options and your hummers. And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad uhm, and basically saying which part of this sentence don’t you understand. You don’t think we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy we’re going to just let it go, well suck on this.”

Friedman said we had to invade Iraq so the world can see that we can use our immense power to hurt people there. Because Iraq is in “that part of the world.”

Joe Klein says we have to do the Grand Bargain to show the world that we can use our immense power to hurt people here, too.

That’s balance for ya.

The “Grand Bargain” is about hurting regular people (“shared sacrifice”) who have been sacrificing since Reagan. The rich have gotten tax cut after tax cut. Their corporations get breaks and subsidies. Wages have been stagnant since Reagan broke the unions, but prices have gone up. People used up their savings, then went into debt. Meanwhile government services for We the People have been cut, cut, cut. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our transportation and electrical and other systems are just a mess. The safety net has collapsed. College has become unaffordable. Poverty is soaring and the middle class is disappearing.

So now regular people have to “sacrifice” to pay off the money the government borrowed to give the rich their tax cuts and subsidies. That’s the “Grand Bargain” in a nutshell.

P.S. Please read Linkins’ piece, it’s short. Linkins concludes,

” … a deal that will further immiserate Americans with painful cuts to earned benefit programs (like chained CPI) at a time when everyone’s still struggling to get by. Why anyone thinks this would restore the public trust is beyond me. Pundits really need to get out more.”

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Questions For 2012

There are so many unanswered questions and contradictions all around us. But like the families of alcoholics in denial we stay quiet and try not to rock the boat. Here are some questions that need to be asked, and maybe 2012 can be the year we start demanding answers.
1) Who is our economy for, anyway?
2) Why did we invade Iraq?
3) Why haven’t we broken up those too-big banks yet? Instead they just get bigger and more powerful.
3a) How long will we continue to let the banks “extend and pretend?”
4) Why do we still let tobacco companies kill more than 400,000 Americans every year?
4a) Why don’t we make tobacco companies pay to clean up all those cigarette butts everywhere?
5) Wouldn’t lowering the Social Security age fix a lot of unemployment and help a lot of people?
6) Is moving a factory to a low-wage country really “trade?” Seriously?
7) If our government is supposed to be of, by and for “We, the People,” what do conservatives mean by demanding “less government?”
8) How come we never, ever see someone from a union on the big TV networks talking about the benefits of being in a union or how and why to organize one?
9) Since we didn’t have big deficits before the Reagan tax cuts, and since the Bush tax cuts didn’t create any jobs … ???
10) Why haven’t there been any criminal prosecutions of Wall Street banksters? (OK, some people are starting to ask that one a lot.)
So Many More
There are so many more questions like those. I guess that’s enough for now. We as a country have to start asking questions again and demanding answers. Hey, that reminds me:
11) When will our mainstream “journalists” start asking questions and demanding answers again, instead of just saying things like “both sides do it” and “if one side says the earth is flat and the other side says it is round, that means that the earth must be oval-shaped”?
Wall Street got bailouts, the rich got tax cuts, people got job loss and wage cuts and longer hours, protests got crackdowns and it’s getting too obvious to ignore. It’s time to stop ignoring things and do something about them.
Please, ask your questions in the comments, and then take them out in public and ask them and keep asking them until you get answers. It’s your right to ask, and your right to demand answers.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Why They Used Torture

One argument against the “ticking bomb” rationale for torture is that it doesn’t “work.” It is useless for extracting real information, but it is a great tool for making people say what you want them to say.
Yet the Republicans tortured prisoners, and defended the practice, saying that it yielded important information. So what is “important” to Republican? Protecting people? Of course not. But getting people to say what you want them to say to justify launching an aggressive war against a country in order to take over its oil fields — now that is important.
Paul Krugman Blog summarizes what is being learned:

Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

Repeat: they tortured poeople to get them to say things that could be used as propaganda to justify invading Iraq to steal the oil. It was never about protecting anyone.

Paying Off Italy?

Read about how a contract for petentially unsafe Italian helicopters that will be used to fly the President might just be a Bush payoff to Italy for helping get us into the Iraq war, in Is the U.S. Paying Off the Italian Government for Forging the Niger Documents?,

that they were doing something extraordinarily wrong. The rigged bidding process bypassed, for example, Marine One pilots who repeatedly sought to give input. They had many safety concerns. At the time of the bid, the helicopter chosen was not certified to fly in the U.S. It was an old model made of heavy materials; this flew in the face of why the President supposedly needed a new fleet: i.e., so many extra security devices had been added to Marine One after 9/11, it was struggling to lift off. In its losing bid, the Connecticut-based Sikorsky, which had manufactured virtually all presidential helicopters since Eisenhower first ordered one, proposed a new model made of much lighter, composite materials.