Sunday, May 25, 2008


This year’s Memorial Day brings us nearly another thousand fallen American soldiers to remember. How many more will be sacrificed to the Bush/Cheney political machine and war profiteering industry? Perhaps we should ask Johnny Bomb Bomb Iran McCain. After all, he is a true believer in permanent war and most assuredly will continue the endless slaughter.

We recognize the loss and suffering of countless thousands of Americans and perhaps millions of Iraqis to Bush and Cheney’s war for re-election, power, and profit.

Unlike the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan may be accepted by more of the American people. But its consequences will not be known for years to come. Will it make us safer? Will it inspire more hatred for America? Will it result in another failed military adventure? We can only hope the sacrifices there will be justified.

I want to share my thoughts about one brave American soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. I wrote a piece last August that I believe is still relevant. It is about Pat Tillman. It is also about how the Bush Administration cynically exploited his death and how another government acted similarly.

You may have seen Mary Tillman on TV recently. She has written a book about her son and the ordeal her family was put through in discovering the truth about his death. She talked about her book Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman on 60 Minutes and Countdown: with Keith Olbermann. I’m sure she was on other programs as well.

She is still searching for the truth and I hope, for all our sake, she finds it. She said she is nearly certain her son was not murdered. It is a terrible thing to think such an act is possible to consider.

Her son Kevin Tillman was in the same Ranger unit as Pat and he testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last year. Here is part of what he said.

"Over a month after Pat’s death, when it became clear that it would no longer be possible to pull off this deception, a few of the facts were parceled out to the public and to our family. General Kensinger was ordered to tell the American public May 29th, five weeks later, that Pat died of fratricide, but with a calculated and nefarious twist. He stated, quote, “There was no one specific finding of fault,” end-quote, and that he, quote, “probably died of fratricide,” end-quote. But there was specific fault, and there was nothing probable about the facts that led to Pat’s death.

The most despicable part of what General Kensinger told the American public was when he said, quote, “The results of this investigation in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Corporal Tillman,” end-quote. This is an egregious attempt to manipulate the public into thinking that anyone who would question this 180-degree flip in the narrative would be casting doubt on Pat’s bravery and sacrifice. Such questioning says nothing about Pat’s bravery and sacrifice, any more than the narrative for Jessica diminishes her bravery and sacrifice. It does, however, say a lot about the powers who perpetrated this.

After the truth of Pat’s death was partially revealed, Pat was no longer of use as a sales asset and became strictly the Army’s problem. They were now left with the task of briefing our family and answering our questions. With any luck, our family would sink quietly into our grief, and the whole unsavory episode would be swept under the rug.

However, they miscalculated our family’s reaction. Through the amazing strength and perseverance of my mother, the most amazing woman on earth, our family has managed to have multiple investigations conducted. However, while each investigation gathered more information, the mountain of evidence was never used to arrive at an honest or even sensible conclusion.

The most recent investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Criminal Investigative Division of the Army concluded that the killing of Pat was, quote, “an accident.” The handling of the situation after the firefight were described as a compilation of, quote, “missteps, inaccuracies, and errors in judgment which created the perception of concealment.”

The soldier who shot Pat admitted in a sworn statement that just before he delivered the fatal burst from about thirty-five meters away, that he saw his target waving hands, but he decided to pull the trigger anyway. Such an act is not an accident. It’s a clear violation of the rules of engagement.

Writing up a field hospital report stating that Pat was, quote, “transferred to intensive care unit for continued CPR,” after most of his head had been taken off by multiple .556 rounds, is not misleading. Stating that a giant rectangle bruise covering his chest that sits exactly where the armor plate that protects you from bullets is being, quote, “consistent with paddle marks” is not misleading. These are deliberate and calculated lies.

Writing a Silver Star award before a single eyewitness account is taken is not a misstep. Falsifying soldier witness statements for a Silver Star is not a misstep. These are intentional falsehoods that meet the legal definition for fraud. Delivering false information at a nationally televised memorial service is not an error in judgment. Discarding an investigation that does not fit a preordained conclusion is not an error in judgment. These are deliberate acts of deceit. "

Maybe it’s true about what “The soldier who shot Pat admitted in a sworn statement”. It is unfortunate that so many other “sworn statements” about the incident have turned out to be totally fabricated. What we know for certain is the Bush Administration and Defense Department cannot be trusted.

Here is what I wrote last August.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two Soldiers And The Other “N” Word

It’s not that the behavior of our government has never reminded me of a certain totalitarian German regime of the last century. It’s the fact that reckless accusations of some person or group being Nazis are thrown about with little sense of accuracy or restraint.

A good example of this hysteria can be found in the words of one Bill O’Reilly. Apparently he was very upset at some fleeting post by a reader of the anti-war liberal website called the Daily Kos. Old Bully O’Really went so far as to accuse them of being a “left wing Nazi hate site,” and “like the KKK. It’s like the Nazi Party.”

So are we to think that Nazis are those folks who oppose a militaristic regime? Are Nazis the people who protest against leaders that attack a sovereign nation based on fear-mongering and outright propaganda? Are Nazis opposed to unprovoked war? Are Nazis the radicals who want our Bill of Rights restored?

Or are Nazis just people who don’t like O’Reilly?

Doesn’t this all seem more than just a little backwards here? Since when have Nazis become anti-fascist?

On the other hand, we can see more than one similarity between the methods of the Bush Administration and those of the Third Reich. Both regimes seized power undemocratically. Both regimes lied to their citizens. Both regimes initiated a war of aggression. Both regimes regarded anyone who dissented as enemies. Both accused political opponents of defeatism. Both regimes spied on their citizens. Both regimes turned their militaries into a police force to be used against their own populations. Both regimes claimed the authority to indefinitely incarcerate its citizens on secret evidence.

Another characteristic of a totalitarian regime is its elevation of every person in uniform to the status of hero. This is true of Germany in the Second World War and it is true of the US Government in the Glorious War for Bush’s Re-Election. Er, I mean Operation Iraqi Freedom.

We all need to respect and support our fellow countrymen in the armed services. They didn’t start this mess. However, calling them all heroes leaves the meaning of the word “hero” so much emptier. What is left to distinguish those who do perform above and beyond the call? As the vets often say, the heroes are the ones who don’t come home.

Let’s take a look at two soldiers who wore different uniforms but shared the honor of being heroes. These two soldiers were loyal, even when their countries invaded and occupied nations that did not attack their homelands. They grew to reject the belligerent and authoritarian leadership forcing their people into unjust war and national disgrace.The two soldiers died and were honored with extravagant and patriotic memorial services. The memorials were used by the governments to bolster support for their wars and to distract the people from the ugly truths emerging from the conflicts.

The first soldier was Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox. He was a brilliant leader of the German Wehrmacht in Europe and Africa during WWII. He was the youngest man ever to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshall. His famous Afrika Korps was victorious until abandoned and unsupported by Hitler.

Realizing Hitler was destroying his country, Rommel joined those who were conspiring against the dictator. They understood there was no way to legally arrest Hitler, so they determined it was necessary to assassinate him. After von Stauffenberg’s bomb failed to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, Rommel was soon implicated.

He was given the choice to commit suicide or face trial and execution. To protect his family from reprisals, Rommel chose the former. Desperate for a hero to present to the public, the Nazis told the German people Rommel had succumbed to war wounds and was given a lavish public memorial.

The other soldier was a brave and patriotic young man named Pat Tillman. Foregoing a lucrative professional football career, he volunteered to join the army to defend his country after the attacks of September 11th. When Bush decided to invade Iraq, Tillman thought it was wrong and illegal, and that it was not part of the war against those who attacked the US. He began to talk about his opposition to the invasion. He even suggested to others that they not vote to re-elect Bush.

Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004 while serving in Afghanistan. The American people were told that he died fighting the enemy and was to be posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Silver Star. While leaders in the Pentagon and White House knew the official story was not true, he was given a splendid hero’s memorial service that was televised to the nation.

This was just the event needed by the administration to boost patriotism and support for the war in Iraq. As we remember, it was in April of 2004 that things started to turn very bloody in Iraq. The Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr urged his Mehdi Army to rise up against the American occupiers. Our casualties increased and the chaos worsened.

Only later did Tillman’s family and the nation learn that Pat was killed by “friendly fire.” There was no battle with the enemy and he was killed by either one of his comrades or some other unknown figure. The army medical examiners suspected that it was possible Tillman was murdered. He was shot three times in the forehead from close range with an M16 rifle.

The reports were a whitewash, complete with army officers boasting that they shook off further criminal investigations.

I am sorry to admit that I can even consider it possible that this man was killed, or even executed, by some shady rogue element in the field. It is sad to conceive the very idea that some private Blackwater mercenary goon or government spook silenced a high-profile outspoken military man of conscience.

No matter how Tillman died, his sacrifice was profanely and obscenely exploited into a shameful betrayal of all that is noble in our nation’s character.

One would expect this kind of treachery from Nazis. It is deeply painful to see these fascist tendencies in our own leaders.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Simple Reason

The simple reason why the entire Republican Party, and most of the Democrats, aren't run out of the government by now, is the fact that the corporate media are in bed with the corporate government.

I'm not sure who first coined the phrase, but it is becoming more accepted as the new reality. We are living under the rule of a Military/Media/Industrial Complex.

The recently revealed, and largely ignored, evidence is the disclosure by the New York Times of a calculated corporate/military propaganda incursion into national news media. High ranking retired military plants posing as "analysts" were insinuated onto the nation's TV screens to polish the stained and tarnished image of the Decider's disastrous wars and barbaric methods of detention.

I guess it was none of our business that most of these cheerleaders for Bush's war were also executives, lobbyists and board members of companies with military contracts.

And it would be no surprise that Chief Puppet General Petraeus would be tight with this group.

The April 20, 2008 New York Times story provides a revealing picture.

"But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.

These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

One of the first items of business was delivering the good news about Club Gitmo.

“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.

The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”

In January 2007, as Bush was preparing to launch his escalation, I mean "surge" in Iraq, retired Army Colonel and Fox "analyst" John C. Garrett e-mailed the Pentagon for instructions.

“Please let me know if you have any specific points you want covered or that you would prefer to downplay."

And then there's this little item for all you fair and balanced types.

"Pentagon officials helped two Fox analysts, General McInerney and General Vallely, write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Mr. Rumsfeld".

Rumsfeld was obviously excited with his new propaganda tool. He wrote a memo urging them on to greater glory.

“Focus on the Global War on Terror — not simply Iraq. The wider war — the long war.”

“Link Iraq to Iran. Iran is the concern. If we fail in Iraq or Afghanistan, it will help Iran.”

Message Force Multipliers. Now there's a great tag for a deliberate psyops campaign directed at the American people.

As we hear the war drums and saber rattling getting louder and louder for war with Iran, we can be secure in the knowledge that great efforts are being made for the brainwashing of America. We Americans must never be allowed to think that our wars are for power and profit.

Herr Goebbels would be proud of them all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Impression For May 14, 2008

John Edwards finally endorsed Barack Obama today in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The sight of the two of them sharing the stage provided an uplifting vision of the kind of unity that has been sorely lacking lately for the Democrats.

Edwards spoke first. He talked about a metaphorical wall around Washington DC that separated the people from what is supposed to be their government. He talked of how the special big money corporate interests had taken control of Washington, and that the barrier keeping most Americans out of their government needed to come down.

It was Edwards at his populist best.

Then Obama spoke. Within his own rousing speech he said something that hit me as rather surreal. He said something about restoring Habeus Corpus and the Constitution.

RESTORING Habeus Corpus and the Constitution!

The very fact that the United States of America has a presidential candidate who promises to BRING BACK the very essence of our cherished freedoms is astounding in itself. What the hell has happened? This is something that would have been some sort of twilight zone sci-fi scenario from just a decade ago.

Then there’s the guy on the other side. John McCain as a POW was the very object lesson of what someone would say after undergoing physical abuse and torture. He said what his captors wanted him to say. It did not matter if it was the truth or not. McCain said anything to get his tormentors to stop.

When the waterboarding torture scandal broke, McCain boldly claimed that this is not about the enemy. It is about who we are. But when the opportunity came for him to vote to make waterboarding illegal, he decided that some torture was a good idea after all.

Soon American voters will decide who they want to be their next president. Will they choose the man who wants to restore our foundations of freedom, or the guy who promises more wars, along with his new acceptance of some old-fashioned torture?

What's most disturbing of all is why is this even a question?

Is this a great country…? Or what?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


There are certain questions that occur to many citizens, here in the former constitutional democratic republic of the United States of America. They are questions that are never asked by the corporate media. Who are these so-called neo-cons? What is there about Bush that is the exact opposite of his claims about being a “compassionate conservative” and a “uniter, not a divider”? What kind of political leadership has hijacked the US Government? Who has done more to destroy the American way of life and Bill of Rights than any terrorist could hope to accomplish? Why does the Bush Administration flagrantly act like they are above the rule of law? What is it about Cheney that makes him embrace the “dark side”?

And why is there such harsh reaction by right-wing propagandists like Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly to these questions? The shrill voices of the radical right have accused those who express dissent as being anything from insane to treasonous. Of course, the corporate media and politicians who are paid off by corporate money would prefer that these questions go unasked.

We can offer our gratitude to former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean for helping us find answers to these questions. His 2006 book titled “Conservatives without Conscience” gives us valuable insight into the dark recesses of the radical right-wing mentality that has dismantled so much of our national integrity and honor. If anyone has ever given you a Rush Limbaugh book, this is the one for you to return the “favor”. For that matter, you owe it to yourself to get the book.

Dean gives an excellent summary in a BuzzFlash interview.

“In post-World War II, a group of social scientists were very concerned or very interested to find out if what had happened in Italy and Germany under Mussolini and Hitler could occur in the United States. They initially undertook their work with a little bit of empirical study, but mostly relying on Freudian psychology. And they did conclude that there is clearly an authoritarian personality. They issued their report in a book by Adorno and others that was called “The Authoritarian Personality”.

This research has really never been totally refuted. But other social scientists were critical of it because of its Freudian basis. So they quickly began studying to see if this personality type held up based on pure empirical study, by which I mean anonymously asking people questions that would reveal their personality types, their attitudes, their dispositions, and what have you. The work on authoritarian followers showed a personality that is easily submissive to authority, be it political, religious or even parental. They submit quickly, and once they do, they become very aggressive in pushing that world view of that authority. They become submissive because they find great comfort psychologically in submitting. It helps them remove the ambiguities of life. And if they’re frightened by events, then this gives them a sense of security. And they’re typically very conventional in their lifestyle.

There are also, however, a lot of very negative traits which I’ve outlined in the book. They are very self-righteous. They are not self-critical. They have very little critical thinking about their own behavior. They are often nasty and mean-spirited. They are bullies. They are prejudiced. And the higher they test on these questionnaires and scales, the more conservative they are. You don’t find people on the left testing the same way. It’s very interesting. You cannot get even statistically significant numbers of people on the left that fall in this category of followers.
On the other side are the leaders. They are typically men whose desire in life is to dominate others and to be in charge. They are very aggressive when they do so. They are highly manipulative. They are also people who have absolutely no appreciation of equality of others. They see themselves as superior, and they are amoral in their thinking. They, too, have a host of other negative traits that are in many regards similar to the followers. It’s not a very pleasant personality type, but it is certainly there. And it has certainly been established scientifically and corroborated and confirmed, time and time again. And this is clearly the core of the conservative movement.”

Dean relied on Professor Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba for much of his reference material. Dean even includes a little tool for assessing the right-wing authoritarian personality. The Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale includes a survey of opinion concerning a variety of social issues.

We learn that features of the Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) personality include a high degree of submission to authorities, high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities, and a high level of conventionalism.

No surprises there.

Altemeyer gives us a peek into how authoritarian followers think. The characteristics of their thinking immediately conjure up images of all the notorious scoundrels of the Bush Administration. They include:

1. Illogical thinking and sloppy reasoning
2. Compartmentalized minds
3. Double Standards
4. Hypocrisy
5. Blindness to themselves
6. Profound ethnocentrism
7. Dogmatism

I’m no psychologist, but I think I can add dishonesty and treachery to the list of characteristics, since the end always justifies the means to these arrogant jerks. And they always believe in the myth of their own moral superiority. Americans, along with the rest of the world, have now learned how dangerous and destructive these thugs really are.

However, this is my own opinion. You can see for yourself and draw your own conclusions. You can also find out where you are on The Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale.

Professor Altemeyer has generously made his book available for free online at The Authoritarians.

“What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.” – Adolph Hitler

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mission Accomplished Day '08

Happy Mission Accomplished Day!

Who can forget the stirring images of our most famous AWOL flier dressed up in his Victory in Iraq ceremonial flight suit? Bush proclaimed, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

I remember the great shouts of joy erupting from Bush’s triumphant True Believers.

“Woo Hoo! God Bless America! We killed ‘em good! That’ll teach those Iraqis for hittin’ us on 9-11!”

And the gullible self-satisfied national press swooned over their dreamy new heart throb. There would be no more wussy whining from Democrats in this brave, new and mighty Republican States of America. The media’s worshipful chorus filled the air with glorious praise:

"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits."(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)

"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)

"If image is everything, how can the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete with a president fresh from a war victory?"(CNN's Judy Woodruff, 5/5/03)

"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

Wow! That was enough to take ones breathe away.

Let’s take a fond look back at that great moment for American war criminals and profiteers. Let’s have another peek at some of those proud words from our flying fuhrer.

I am sure there are some more deep truths to be found in the War President’s message.

“The Battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men — the shock troops of a hateful ideology — gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions.”

Could this be from the same guy who later said, "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11 attacks"? Go figure.

“In the Battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained.”

We sure did, didn’t we? What do you mean; there’s been a significant resurgence of the Taliban? Don’t tell me that’s not a mission accomplished by now. Didn’t we win the Battle of Afghanistan?

And how about this one?

“The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.”

I’ll bet those True Believers still consider hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqis a”crucial advance”. The problem is it turned out to be a crucial advance OF terror.

And I am also sure that those same authoritarian personalities still believe Saddam was an “ally of al-Qaida”.

Now let’s see what we can find that is certain.

“And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more.”

That’ll teach those hippy peaceniks. Just don’t worry about all those weapons of the former regime that DID find their way into terrorist networks. That’s not our fault, is it? What’s that you say? There never WERE weapons of mass destruction? Let’s not go there. That’s all old news.

Some of you may be wondering how the fifth anniversary of Mission Accomplished is being celebrated in the White House.

It issued a presidential proclamation making the day "Law Day U.S.A., 2008." If that doesn’t make you all feel better, then remember it is also National Day of Prayer. That should keep us happily distracted.

I’m sure Bush was distracted enough to avoid looking out the window and seeing Americans United for Change. In a patriotic remembrance of the anniversary, they were unfurling a 50-foot replica of the Mission Accomplished banner.

God bless ‘em.