GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
The Dove of Peace flies from site to site through as many countries as possible. Please help it make a line around the globe by taking it with you to your site, by giving it to someone for their site, by passing it on to another continent, or to the conflict areas of the world...
My thanks to Cosmic Rose
The Cosmic Cabdrivers' Guide to the Universe, in its various sections and blog pages, is dedicated to providing useful information and stimulating thoughts, ideas, and humor for intelligent beings everywhere, seeking peace, justice, and equal prosperity for all. Contributions and feedback are welcome.
The Cosmic Rat
WHAT'S A COSMICRAT?
As President Obama said, the obligation of a citizen does not end at the voting booth.
When the President is right, he should receive our support, and he needs it to defeat the obstruction of the corporate-sponsored regressives.
When he is wrong, we need to speak out. The people need to take control of foreign policy, not let it control us. Military and economic aggression must be stopped. Covert subversion must stop.
But our obligation to act STARTS at the voting booth. Our duty to THINK about that action, to understand how essential it is, to understand how much is at stake for our nation, and for the world, comes long before that. DO NOT LISTEN to the misguided who tell you it doesn't matter, that there is no difference.
Income inequality is still getting worse. Immigration is not reformed. Warmongers threaten diplomacy and make peace harder to achieve. Even basic gun control laws are blocked. American citizens are being denied voting and reproductive rights in many states. We are not doing nearly enough to promote clean energy and protect our climate, all because of obstructionist Republicans who are elected by voters controlled by prejudice and corporate propaganda, allowed to win by the apathy of the cynics.
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CONTROL GREEDY DENTISTS!
Home Dental Repair Forum
E-VAPOR: A Great Substitute for Smoking
MULTIPLY BLOG ARCHIVE
Multiply.Com has closed, but my words will live on
The people should be the deciders! We should have a National Referendum for any proposed war or hostile military action.
MEMORIAL DAY Remembering the sacrifices of our own citizens is not enough. We also need to remember those our country has killed in the wars we have waged.
The Politics of Skin in America
Remote Control War --February 8,2013
The Right To Keep And Bear...Slaves
What does the Second Amendment to the US Constitution have to do with slavery? That's a good question. The answer is: everything. --January 21, 2013
Through the Looking Glass
Newly added: Links to the Wikileaks Insurance Files: download them with bit-torrent and keep them safe!
Links to over 700 mirror sites for Wikileaks, perhaps the most important web phenomenon of the decade.
I strongly support Wikileaks and anyone who is dedicated to revealing the truth to the people of the world, including:
Bradley Manning, nominee for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament submitted a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee for the Peace Prize for his 'individual effort to have an impact for peace in our world.
The revelations-including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq-have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about American overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement. Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues, and so I urge the Committee to award this prestigious prize to accused whistleblower Bradley Manning.'
President Barack Obama:
We have re-elected the President, an important and vital achievement, but there is work yet to be done. We must urge him, Congress, and one another to continue to build a more fair and humane economic and social system at home, and a foreign policy that is more peaceful and just.
Seattle, Washington... Phoenix Arizona
Edmonton, Alberta... Kansas City, Missouri.
St. Petersburg Florida... Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
London, England... Vilnius Lithuania,
Tel Aviv, Israel... Baghdad, Iraq
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
(Home of CosmicRat)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Birthplace of CosmicRat)
(A friendly, peaceful place)
AFGHANISTAN OCCUPATION DEATHS
It's Time to Leave the Afghans in Peace.
The Affordable Care Act represents the greatest advance in providing healthcare to Americans since Medicare. More improvements are needed, but in the meantime, use it, appreciate it, and tell your friends.
We are not winning the struggle to reduce excess carbon dioxide. It is getting worse, and climate change is already showing adverse consequences. Click above for more information.
Link to the Cosmic Cabdrivers' Guide! Here's my icon.
Mutual links are welcome; just email me with yours.
Human population growth worldwide is a matter of great concern. It is the underlying cause for excessive CO2 pollution and poverty and hunger in many places. If Earth is to be our sustainable home for future generations, we must control our birth rate.
The two estimates below of Iraqi war deaths have different totals. The first, lower number is bad enough, considering the war was unjustifiable.. Read the explanations to decide which is more accurate.
Chomsky on Civil Liberties, Obama and the Future of Progressive Politics by STEVEN DUREL
GASOLINE PRICES 2005-2011 -A reference to refute Republican lies.
River Bend Blog The real story from inside Iraq
The Right to Migrate
STOPPING DESPOTISM--the Al Gore speech
An eloquent and insightful statement about the danger from the Bush Administration.
THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
An unpleasant job, but someone has to do it.
THE LESSONS OF WORLD WAR ONE
People and politicians alike knew the truth then. Why didn't that help?
VOTE COSMICRATIC We need one world government.
THE DANGER IN RELIGION
Many think of religion as a gentle and good thing, but it is also being used to cause violence, destruction, and loss of freedom.
THE ATTACK ON TRICKY DICK
Did the government learn nothing from the failed Nixon assasination attempt?
COALITION POLITICS IN AMERICA
How the Republicans win elections, and what we should do about it
PROGRESSIVE TALK RADIO ONLINE
SEATTLE AM 1090
REGULATE BANKS AND WALL STREET
STRENGTHEN CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT OF INTELLIGENCE
PASS THE CLEAN ENERGY ACT
GET THE CORPORATIONS OUT OF POLITICS
END THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN
INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE WAR CRIMES
SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
EQUAL RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
END GOVERNMENT SECRECY
Health Boundaries Bite
Health boundaries can permanently impair and range from misdiagnoses to stress.
FOR A GOOD CAB RIDE TRY:
FOR THE BEST LIMOUSINES AND LUXURY TRANSPORTATION CALL
Desert Rose Limousines
The Trap of IndividualismThe ideology that calls itself conservative often promotes policies and acts in ways that seem not to make sense, and use tactics without principles, except to win at any cost.
One thing that tells us that the ideology is secondary to the purpose. Usually we think in terms of an ideal, or set of ideals, inspiring a plan of implementation. With conservatives, it is the opposite. Their motivation is simple: greed. The ideology is built around the purpose of allowing an elite minority to continue to exploit the majority, who they hope to convince is an acceptable state of affairs, or at least prevent from effectively offering resistance.
An article I recently read on the subject of the American gun culture and the promotion of the Second Amendment revealed some insight into a key aspect of the devious design of the manufactured ideological web, and how it serves them.
From 'Operation Wetback' to Newtown: Tracing the Hick Fascism of the NRA
The right to bear arms, an amendment that has been twisted loose from its original purpose, resulting in a heavily armed population in a society where that is not only useless but dangerous as well, serves to give gun owners a sense of personal power that is only an illusion. It turns them from a part of a society to a collection of individuals, distrusting other individuals, unable and unwilling to cooperate and organize with others to defend their common interests.
Individualism: It sounds like a very positive concept. We are all individuals, with the right to be ourselves, say what we like, and do things in our own, perhaps nonconformist, way.
But there is another side to individualism, and that is the side the conservatives use against us. Human beings are at their most effective when they work together to achieve common goals. That is the very basis of human civilization. Sharing our knowledge, discoveries, and effort is what built our fantastic advances in technology, science, and art. It has also enabled us to free ourselves from tyrannies.
Human beings would not exist today if we had not learned to cooperate. Every living being has a drive for self-preservation, but we and other social animals evolved an innate tendency toward group preservation. Individually, we are vulnerable; together, we survive and prosper. Empathy is a vital survival trait. We often help and protect others, at risk to ourselves. Groups in which members did not have that instinct usually failed.
Beyond mere survival, our social nature, as we developed our ability to communicate, share, and pass on knowledge and ideas to future generations, made us the dominant species we are today. Of course we don't all think alike or have the same abilities. Our individual nature is also important, resulting in new ideas, inventions, and specialization.
When our ancestors reached the point of building structures, devices, and organization enabling us to be reasonably sure of daily survival, some, having acquired more wealth than others, began to believe that they did not need the rest of society. They felt that their wealth and the power it enables made them independent of, and superior to, the majority of their fellow human beings.
This was an illusion then, as it is now. It not only ignores the history of collective human contributions to reach the current level, but the interdependent support of the entire population. This thought of being apart from the masses is nevertheless attractive because it seems to excuse the elite from responsibility for their impact on the rest of society.
It has never been too difficult for the ordinary people to realize that the wealthy elite at any point in history use their power to obtain much more than their fair share of available resources with little or no regard for those they exploit for material gain. The wealthy and powerful know this, and the cost of their position is to live with a degree of fear that their power will not protect them from a unified and purposeful mass of common people, once those people decide that inequality and injustice have gone too far.
In the past, alliance with an autocratic government was good insurance for the elite. It was the basis for feudalism, and, as industrialism developed, a marriage of state and corporate power, as in the British Empire, or fascism. The fascism of Nazi Germany was very attractive to some American capitalists, at least until the war made their advocacy 'politically incorrect'.
In a democracy, wealth and power must rely on two methods: direct financial influence on elected representatives and propaganda to influence the electorate. They have been quite successful with both in the US.
Perhaps the most insidious and effective themes of propaganda is the promotion of individualism as an ideal opposed to collective organization and action. With this twisted notion of opposing the two complementary traits which have actually together built our civilization, they seek to isolate each person from every other person.
As the above linked article points out, the individual 'right' to own and carry firearms, no matter how unnecessarily deadly, gives the owner the illusion of personal power and independence, while increasing his level of distrust and fear of every other person, especially if there are perceivable differences between them.
Those who attempt to organize people for collective action are portrayed as wanting to rob others of their individuality. Naturally the excesses of communist governments fed into this line of propaganda for many years, and was so pervasive that it is still useful.
The propaganda seeks to label any idea but unregulated capitalism as 'communist' or 'socialist'. Over the last 40+ years the definitions have been escalated to the point of attacking the reforms by Roosevelt and those who followed him that actually saved capitalism from itself.
Even democracy has been attacked, both rhetorically and tactically by those seeking to limit the right to vote. Democracy is, after all, the ultimate in collective, cooperative action. It enables the majority, who are not rich and powerful, to limit the priveleges of the 1% to control their lives.
Our ability to use the democratic tools available to us is constrained only by the opposition of the propagandized. The best thing any of us can do is to teach someone to think.
-cosmicrat December 23, 2012
Stop Monsanto!A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a mixed GM diet. Adverse effects of GM crops found.
Millions March Against Monsanto: A Global Awakening Covered Up by the Media
Over 2 million people peacefully took to streets around the world to protest the poisoning of the global food supply by the biotech giant, Monsanto.
The public is finally being informed, even if it takes marches and demonstrations to bring attention to the problem.
Monsanto and Co. are quietly trying to take control over the everyday fruit and vegetables we eat.
At least the EU is fighting them, and has recognized the threat Monsanto poses to the world's health and food supply.
Most corporations are greedy, but usually they at least produce something of value, even if they charge too much and pay workers too little.
But Monsanto is the closest thing to a criminal enterprise you can find that is still legal. It shouldn't be legal. This is a company that tries, and often succeeds, to PATENT LIFE. It would be hard to get more insidiously evil than that.
This summarizes the Monsanto threat well:
Monsanto, the chemical giant that gave us poisons like Agent Orange and DDT, has a super-profitable racket. Step 1: Develop pesticides and genetically modified (GM) seeds designed to resist them, patent the seeds, prohibit farmers from replanting their seeds year to year, then send undercover agents out to investigate and sue farmers who don't comply. Step 2: Spend millions lobbying government officials and contributing to political campaigns, get former Monsanto bigwigs into top government jobs, and then work with them to weaken regulations and push Monsanto goods into markets across the world.
Monsanto is driving an industrial farming takeover -- trampling small farmers and small businesses as vast monoculture. farms of single crops leech the land of nutrients, diminish genetic diversity, and create dependency on fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. The irony is, it's not clear that the decimation of natural, sustainable farming has brought any boom in crop yields. Just more profit for the corporations. Our governments should step in, but Monsanto's lobbying obstructs them.
Monsanto's near monopoly is breath-taking, with patent rights over 96% of the GM seeds planted in the US. And despite concerns about health and safety, the same patents allow Monsanto to prevent any farmer or scientist from testing their seeds! Still, a few countries have banned or restricted Monsanto products.
They claim their products cost less, but often farmers are lured into multi-year contracts, then seed prices rise, and they have buy new seed each season and use more herbicides to keep out 'superweeds'. In India, the situation is so dire that one cotton area has been called 'the suicide belt', as tens of thousands of the poorest farmers have taken their lives to escape crippling debt.
(from an Avaaz.org email)
Seeds of discontent (Texas Observer)
Monsanto sued small farmers to protect seed patents, report says (The Guardian)
Political contribution discloslures (Monsanto)
The Real Monsanto Protection Act: How The GMO Giant Corrupts Regulators And Consolidates Its Power (ThinkProgress)
Monsanto Protection Act put GM companies above the federal courts (The Guardian)
Biodiversity for food and agriculture (UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
Monsanto's harvest of fear (Vanity Fair)
Wikileaks shows US pushes GM on EU (The Guardian)
USDA Greenlights Monsanto's Utterly Useless New GMO Corn (Mother Jones)
Crop Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research (New York Times)
Additional sources (Avaaz)
Millions Against Monsanto
Occupy Monsanto-- As Monsanto has occupied our farms and foods, it's time we take them back.
The World According to Monsanto-- a documentary
-cosmicrat April 9, 2013 (updated April 26)
Repairing American Capitalism
THE INEQUALITY PROBLEM
As nearly everyone is aware, the people of the United States have an economic problem. It is not that the nation as a whole is not prosperous. The recession is over, unemployment is down, and profits are up. The problem is that economic inequality is growing. It is worse than it has been in a very long time. It is worse in this country than in any other major industrialized nation in the world. Our economy produces vast wealth, and fewer and fewer Americans are getting their fair share. We are working harder and longer and getting less for it.
Generally speaking, this is the predictable result of inadequately regulated capitalism. But what we need to determine is what exactly is wrong, and how best to reform the system to correct it.
Income inequality increases poverty and reduces the standard of living for all but the wealthiest. But more than that, it is a descent that will over time drain the ability of the entire economy to produce enough to support our population. Corporations, those who run them, and those who provide for them, will continue to pocket their profits for some time to come, as wealth continues to flow from the many to the few. But this is not sustainable in the long term. The giant serpent is swallowing itself.
The mass of consumers will be able to afford less. Cheap imports and outsourced products will have to become even cheaper if they are to be sold in sufficient quantities. Foreign labor will not become cheaper over time, but more expensive as emerging economies develop.
Poverty is not just a problem for the poor. Those who advocate just ignoring poverty, or blaming it on the poor, are also the ones who complain about the cost of maintaining social safety nets. The effects of poverty, a greater incidence of crime and violence, often impact the non-poor as well, and costs more for law enforcement. That, in addition to prejudice, contributes to police abuse and brutality as well, which has its own costs, both in funds and in divisiveness.
Perhaps it would be a form of justice if we allowed this absurd system of economics to destroy itself. To finally see the expressions on the faces of its advocates and its greedy users when they come to realize its fatal flaw might be a satisfying victory. But long before complete disintegration, or perhaps the popular revolution, the devastation and misery wrought on millions of human lives would be the toll.
No, we need to fix it now.
The absurd notion of the capitalist ideologues that the system can run itself, and repair itself must be discarded. We need to make extensive structural alterations, and not to simply treat the symptoms and rescue the victims.
The fact that many corporate CEO's are paid at a rate over 400 times what the average worker makes, illustrates income inequality quite well.. Higher minimum wages help. When union membership was much higher, fairer wages for all were maintained by collective bargaining. Corporate heads and business owners often consider their workers no more than a commodity to be bought or rented as cheaply as possible. That needs to change.
What the 1% don't want you to know
Workers must share significantly in the profits made by the employer. This cannot be a mere token, but a portion that will acknowledge that it is the workers who create the wealth.
The minimum wage must be increased to provide adequate income nationwide, indexed to cost of inflation and to higher cost of living in each state or local area. There should be no additional legislation needed to keep it current.
Since only a small percentage of workers today are represented by unions, create an agency within the Department of Labor to which workers can appeal, which will then investigate and determine if unfair wages and/or working conditions exist. If necessary, they will have the power to mandate the needed changes.
Naturally, some abilities, along with good luck, will bring higher incomes than others. Extreme incomes, however, far more than can be spent or needed for financial security, are a waste of wealth, and should be taxed heavily. When paid to corporate executives, they reduce the share of the profits that should go to the workers.
RESTORING JOB OPPORTUNITYA sustainable economy requires that the vast majority of products sold to consumers be made in their own country, providing good jobs to the workers among them. Outsourcing of labor by US companies must stop. Import duties must once again do their proper job: assure that imports do not compete unfairly with domestic manufacturing.
This will, of course, make consumer goods more expensive. That is one good reason for the cost of living index automatically adjusting the minimum wage. Balance can and will be achieved between income and living costs. The huge advantage of domestic manufacturing, providing income for workers who can then purchase the products from companies that can then hire more workers, makes it highly preferable to the labor outsourcing and importing, whose profits leave workers out of the cycle.
One factor in employment, automation, is not necessarily something to avoid. It may result in fewer jobs, but if the automation is well chosen, it does not merely replace a worker at the same cost. It increases the productivity of the operation, enabling more profit to be shared with those still employed.
As automation becomes more sophisticated, we will, as a society, need to deal with the result that fewer workers will be needed to produce enough goods and services for the entire population. The traditional source for income, work, may become optional. We will have to devise ways to distribute income that are not tied to employment.
That is not yet an immediate problem. In addition to all the outsourced jobs that need to be re-domesticated, there is a big backlog of infrastructure rebuilding and repair that has been ignored by those in government who needlessly avoid funding it.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE?
When deciding whether a given product or service should be provided or subsidized by the government, or be left mostly to private enterprise, there are certain questions to consider:
 Is it a necessity, and if so is it affordable by those earning a minimum wage?
 Does it benefit society as a whole, as well as the individual, by being provided?
 Would the provider have a monopoly in a given area?
The right policy is important in assuring effective equality of income. More pay, important as that is, is not enough if privatization has made it harder to afford basic needs.
Both education and health care meet both criteria  and . Health and education benefit our entire society, and it should not be left to chance or fortune that they are obtained by all.
Utilities like electricity, water, gas, and internet connectivity, usually local monopolies, are best provided by government, or at least tightly regulated. They need not be free, but kept affordable, and entirely subsidized when life or health would be endangered by their lack.
The expectation that employers should provide health insurance is not an optimum system. In the past, it was a means of forming a group to insure at a lower average risk than individuals. The group of "all people" is larger and better for the purpose, and eliminates the dependence on a job for coverage, as well as not adding insurance cost to payrolls.
Health care should migrate away from private insurance policies altogether, which add a private profit to the total cost, and government administrative costs to any subsidization. Lack of universal health care results in public health problems that affect us all. Both physical and mental ailments too often go untreated until it is too late.
Higher education was relatively affordable through the 1970's, and was often pursued for its primary purpose, to become a more informed and aware human being and citizen. The secondary purpose, specific training for a career, was not limited to potentially high-paying jobs or professions. Teachers, artists, musicians, etc., could study just as easily as doctors and lawyers.
The extreme cost increase of colleges has perverted higher education. Accruing a huge loan debt requires at least a potential high income after graduation to enable repayment. Learning for its own sake, or interests that may not be so remunerative but enrich both society and personal satisfaction, is now difficult for the non-wealthy. We are in danger of having an increasingly ignorant electorate, and a less creative population, less able to contribute to public discourse in many ways.
When higher education does contribute to higher incomes, the poor should definitely have equal opportunity to obtain it. Education also contributes to the ability to organize communities and public interest groups, helping to overcome disadvantages.
The notion that a public employee's pension, having been negotiated and agreed to, could later be altered by law to save money, is most reprehensible and contrary to the principles of the contract. No local or state government should be permitted to do that. Since the cost of a pension was knowable from the beginning, any difficulty in meeting that cost is due to poor management: failure to put funds aside, or using those funds for something else.
Taking income away from the retired is a low blow, and one from which it is hard for them to recover.
Income inequality, increasingly impoverishing us all except the wealthiest, is growing too rapidly for minor adjustments to correct. It needs strong policy changes, and it needs them soon.
 Worker pay must comprise a fair and significant share of the profits of their employer.
 Minimum wage must be raised, and required to be increased to meet the cost of living.
 Excessive incomes must be taxed heavily, to discourage waste of wealth in general, and corporate profit in particular.
 To protect the large number of workers not represented by a union, the Department of Labor must form an agency to investigate unfair practices reported by workers, and mandate correction.
 Import duties must be restored and used for their proper purpose: to prevent unfair competition with domestic products. American companies that outsource labor will have their products considered imports and taxed appropriately. This can be implemented gradually over a couple of years to give the companies time to return to domestic manufacturing.
 Health care and higher education must be provided to all at low or nominal cost. It is not only in the national interest that all have unobstructed both, but the burden of their excessive costs must be removed for low or limited income people.
 There must be no attempt to reduce pensions or other income of the retired or disabled. Though that should be illegal already, Republicans have done it in some states. so a national ban is needed.
Millions of Americans are less and less controlled by the old propaganda, dispensed for decades by the corporate capitalists, that equated democratic socialist programs with the excesses of Soviet communism. Absurd as that has long seemed to thinking informed people, repetition over generations has burned the lies into the minds of many, while other countries around the world have surpassed us in caring for their citizens. We have stood by and let corporations buy our politicians and judges, and much of our media. This has become abundantly clear.
We need more than a President who is on the side of the people,. We need an entire Congress.
--CosmicRat March 13, 2016
It's HistoryThose words are often said to mean It's over and done with. It belongs to the past.
But that isn't the right way to look at history. The story of human events is not a mere collection of isolated facts. It is a live, connected flow of human actions and words and motives, each affecting the next. The past, both known and unknown, touches us, making us what we are, guiding what happens next.
We need to know history, or we will constantly be surprised, not so much by what will happen, but WHY it will. Yet teachers of history, writers of books, and keepers of records often lie, or omit important parts, to handicap our understanding.
We are usually taught the history that makes our country and its leaders look good. That is the least important part. The mistakes, the crimes, and the secrets are what we need to know about.
The point is not to make everyone a cynic, thinking that all leaders lie or have bad motives. It is to learn the truth about the rights and wrongs, the wise and honest, the inept and deceptive. Elaborate imagined conspiracy theories come from knowing too little, not from learning too much.
Here is one example, a mostly-unheard story of the first Iraq invasion.
Highway of Death: 22 Years Later
...over 60 miles of coastal Highway 8 from Kuwait to Iraq, a division of the Iraq’s Republican Guard withdrew on Feb. 26-27, 1991.
Baghdad radio had just announced Iraq's acceptance of a cease-fire proposal and, in compliance with UN Resolution 660, retreating Iraqi troops were ordered to withdraw to positions held before Aug. 2, 1990.
'U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours,' says Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American journalist. 'It was like shooting fish in a barrel,' one U.S. pilot said.
This was Iraq invasion #1, that was supposedly justified. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, done because Kuwait was stealing oil from Iraq, happened after Sadaam told the US Ambassador his plan, and he was told the US wouldn't interfere.
We all know Bush #2 lied to start a war with Iraq, but so did his father. It seems to be a family trait.
Sometimes what is left out of history is not what happened but what might have happened
If Winston Churchill had gotten his way, World War Two might not have ended the way it did, but continued against the USSR. Operation Unthinkable
Churchill ordered his Generals to come up with a plan. They added up the numbers, and showed him. The Russians had a much bigger army and more figher planes than the Allies, and would have almost certainly won easily.
Of course the idea was abandoned, but Stalin learned of Churchill's intentions, making the Cold War inevitable.
From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.Br> --William Blum
US Foreign Policy
--cosmic rat, Jan. 5, 2015
Here is a list of articles by Andrew Gavin Marshall- insightful chronicles of history and current events. They provide an essential background to understand the nature of world politics.
Egypt Under Empire, Part 3: From Nasser to Mubarak
Global Power Project, Part 8: Banking on Influence with Wells Fargo
Egypt Under Empire, Part 4: Dancing Between Dictatorship and Democracy
Global Power Project, Part 9: Banking on Influence With Morgan Stanley
Aboriginals threatened by present, not past
Probably Possible: A Simple Poem for a Big Problem
TransCanada Corporation - Kings of the Keystone Pipeline: Global Power Project, Part 10
Empire Under Obama, Part 1: Political Language and the 'Mafia Principles' of International Relations
Global Power Project: Exposing the Institute of International Finance, Part 1
Empire Under Obama, Part 2: Barack Obama's Global Terror Campaign
America's Secret Wars in Over 100 Countries Around the World: Empire Under Obama, Part 3
For a different, and I think even more insightful view of the role of Presidents in all this, I suggest this article: JFK, Obama, and The Unspeakable
The military-industrial complex, more powerful today than ever, imprisons the president. A U.S. president is always accompanied by a military attaché bearing a nuclear code that can incinerate the earth. That gun to the world is a gun to the president. When he accepts the power to kill everyone, the president becomes a prisoner morally and politically to the demands of our national security state. Whether his name is Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, or Barack Obama, once he accepts nuclear power over the world, his permissible movement as president is confined to a very tight space -- tighter than we as citizens might imagine.
Stopping the Next OneEnding a war that has already started is difficult. It usually takes months or years. The leaders who started it seldom are willing to admit they are wrong, even if they know it. It is too horrible a mistake to acknowledge. So, protests must be organized, voters educated and mobilized to replace the leaders with new ones who will correct the mistake. That takes time, and meanwhile deaths mount and destruction spreads.
The time to stop the next war is before it starts. The twisted thinking and the misinformation must be challenged and corrected before they can trigger the plunge into violence. There may still be time to stop a US attack on Syria if rational and knowledgeable voices can be heard.
Leaders in a democracy, before committing an act of war, have at least 3 obligations:
 Listen to the people. Never assume that the people do not understand when given all the facts, nor that they have already decided by having chosen you as a leader. Respect their will on this issue right now.
 Act according to the law. Follow international law, which allows genuine self-defense and provides a means for consensus for actions needed to stop or punish wrongdoing. Legal non-defense action is difficult for a good reason. It can be vetoed by one nation, just as a jury conviction requires all members to agree. That is a needed protection, not an inconvenience to be resented or evaded.
Following American Constitutional law, Congress must authorize the action. Acts of war SHOULD be hard to get approved.
 Consult independent experts. Those with interests in the outcome, and those who believe their job is to justify whatever they think you will decide, will be shouting advice already. Seek out those with the knowledge, but without a stake in the issue. Avoid those with visions of empire, those with prejudices, and those with a love for force.
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity are the kind of experts whose views are worth seeking out and listening to.
Obama's trouble: 12 U.S. Intelligence Officials Tell him It Wasn't Assad
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as 'plausible denial.'
The memorandum goes on to provide detailed information and analysis that SHOULD be carefully studied before doing anything else.
--cosmic rat September 8, 2013
Too Many WarsI spoke below of the harmful metaphorical wars that we fight among ourselves. Not satisfied by wreaking death and destruction on others outside our borders, we attack our own rights and freedoms. We fail to fully respect freedom of speech, press, belief, and privacy; the human rights of our own people.
Yet the ease with which we allow our politicians to compromise our rights and the equality of our justice is directly related to the calmness with which we assent to our nation's real and deadly aggression against other nations.
Casualties of War - Putting American Casualties in Perspective
This article was written in 2003, so it does not even include the needless mayhem committed in Iraq. The numbers it does include are horrible enough. We know that we send far too many of our own countrymen to their deaths, but we often fail to think of what we have done to others.
In all our major wars we have lost 2,757,196 (up to 2003; add about 5000 since then). Vietnam, a country that never attacked or even threatened ours, lost that many in ONE war, the one we waged against them.
Yet there are still a few, out of misguided, twisted patriotism, who criticize those of us who protested, demonstrated, and spoke out to end that bloody crime against humanity. Millions of us who raised our voices are unknown, ordinary people, but among us were celebrities like Jane Fonda, who courageously risked her acting career to draw national attention to this noble cause. I am proud of her, as I am of Martin Luther King, who also condemned the war, and Abbie Hoffman, and all the other leaders and followers in the cause of peace.
Those who expose wrongdoing; who point out mistakes, are NOT traitors; they are the true patriots, who really love our country and the principles it stands for.
--cosmicrat August 18, 2013
Now there's a war on privacyIt is bad enough that the US has almost constantly been either waging or causing foreign wars thoughout our history, fighting them with boots on the ground, fingers on the buttons, or proxies (other people's boots on the ground), but there are also metaphoric wars on a whole list of things.
The fact that they are not literally wars does not mean they are not serious, and not destructive and dangerous.
We have Republicans waging a war on women, targeting their rights to control their own bodies.
There's the war on drugs, which the drugs are winning, the narcs profiting, and the people are losing.
Then we have the war on terror, which is both absurd and counterproductive. It serves to increase terror by keeping the fear levels high by exaggerating the danger of harm from actual terrorists. It also tends to recruit more terrorists every time one of them, or an innocent bystander, is killed or captured. Of course, this is how it perpetuates itself, to continue supporting the anti-terror industry. Keep Americans afraid, and keep pissing off the extremists.
Growing out of that war, but becoming one of its own, is the war on privacy. It amounts to massive violations of the 4th Amendment, exploiting all forms of electronic communications.
Knowing that this is ocurring, some people wonder why privacy is important; why the authors of the Bill of Rights thought it was important enough to devote a whole Amendment to it. After all, they reason, if I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care? That line of thinking could be applied to other freedoms as well. If you don't use your freedoms of speech, press, religion, and you're never accused of anything for which you would need a fair trial, why care about any of your rights?
Yet even people who may be apathetic about any or all of these liberties, when they are asked what is good about America, will say: It's a free country. Somehow the idea of being free, and feeling free, is important to almost everyone, even if they don't understand what freedom consists of and how we keep it.
For all of us who DO understand why freedom is important, we need to know exactly how it is being threatened and infringed. That is why we should be grateful to those heroes like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning who took risks and made great sacrifices to reveal the truth, and to journalists using the free press to inform us all.
Two articles in the Washington Post explain a lot about what is being done.
NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program
'The top-secret PRISM program allows the U.S. intelligence community to gain access from nine Internet companies to a wide range of digital information, including e-mails and stored data, on foreign targets operating outside the United States. The program is court-approved but does not require individual warrants...Acquiring data from a new target: The supervisor must endorse the analyst's 'reasonable belief,' defined as 51 percent confidence, that the specified target is a foreign national who is overseas at the time of collection.'
So the safeguard for Americans is merely to require a slightly more than half-sure opinion of two NSA spies that ONE side of a conversation is from a foreigner. And we're expected to believe that even this loose criterion is always followed, trusting those whose job includes deceiving the American people.
Read the whole Post article: the graphic slides are helpful in understanding it. If you would like to download it and read it later: PDF VERSION
The other article reveals the weird thinking of professional spies: DHS warns employees not to read leaked NSA information
'By Josh Hicks, Published: July 15
The Department of Homeland Security has warned its employees that the government may penalize them for opening a Washington Post article containing a classified slide that shows how the National Security Agency eavesdrops on international communications.'
Penalized for reading a NEWSPAPER? If you haven't figured out that ALL our freedoms are interconnected, threatened, and must be protected, think about that.
--cosmicrat July 20, 2013
Are We Apathetic Enough Yet?We all know how blatantly and disgustingly anti-women, anti-worker, anti-minority, and generally anti-humanitarian that todays extremist Republicans are. They are virtual parodies of themselves. Stupidly anti-intellectual, they are easy to blame for everything that is wrong with American politics, constantly obstructing anything progressive and constructive.
They would not exist, however, without readily available funding from those whose interests they serve. To be sure, some of the wealthy that support these extremists are just as stupid, except for their ability to make money, but beyond them, behind the scenes, lies another level of influence. They have been the subject of endless conspiracy theories, full of exaggeration and speculation.
The silliness of some theories does not mean they do not exist and wield power, however. The careful, factual research of Andrew Gavin Marshall reveals a great deal about them.
The most famous report issued by the Trilateral Commission in the mid-1970s suggested that due to the popular activism of the 1960s, there was a 'crisis of democracy' that it defined as an 'excess of democracy,' which needed to be reduced in order for 'democracy to function effectively.' According to the Trilateral Commission, what was needed was increased 'apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups' to counter the 'crisis' being caused by 'a highly educated, mobilized, and participant society.
GLOBAL POWER PROJECT, PART 2: IDENTIFYING THE INSTITUTIONS OF CONTROL
The idiotic extremist Republicans serve the corporate elite by keeping progressives busy countering their stupidity, diverting us from paying attention to their worldwide exploitation of both humanity and the environment.
It is no accident that the cost of a college education has, in 30 years, gone from affordable to as costly as a house, requiring huge student loan debts for all but the wealthy, and making education for its own sake impractical. Educated people motivated toward participating in politics are a danger to the elite.
Exploited populations in other parts of the world may rise up and eject the corporate predators. The corporations will only turn to easier targets. It is the American people who hold the key to bringing our multi-national companies under control. We can only do that when we are aware and united voters, enthusiastic participants in the democratic government we are supposed to have.
--cosmicrat July 10, 2013
An open letter to President Obama
I have been your supporter through both elections, and for good reason: we agree on nearly every issue- matters that I believe are very important for our country and a vast majority of the people in it.
I have also supported you for what I believed were your principles and your intent: to restore the American rights, freedom, and system of justice, and to conduct our foreign policy toward more peaceful relations with the rest of the world.
I still believe you desire those goals, and I understand the impediments. But you are veering off course.
Truth is what makes trust possible. It makes justice possible. It makes democracy possible, because without it, the people cannot make informed decisions. We must be able to trust those we elect to give us honest facts. The people should not need to make extraordinary effort to discover them.
A certain amount of temporary secrecy is understandable and acceptable, but secrecy about matters which the people, through their representatives, must be able to approve or disapprove, and about which we must be able to directly express our opinions-- that secrecy is unacceptable.
When it happens that such matters are kept from us, our free press, and those who value truth and the right of the people to know it, provide an extremely valuable service to the American people.
Individuals like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are indeed heroes of truth. A government with a leader who stands for the truth should never engage in retribution. It should honor and protect those who reveal the truth to the people, and who give their government the opportunity to correct the deception, to eliminate the wrongdoing that was exposed, and to honestly apologize to the people, which is the only pathway to regain their trust.
All charges should be dropped against both Manning and Snowden, and any attempt to charge Julian Assange or to suppress Wikileaks should cease as well.
- cosmicrat June 25, 2013
INTERVENING IN SYRIA WOULD BE SERIOUSLY INSANEHave we learned no lessons from Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq?
Have we forgotten that it was the Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda, most of them from Saudi Arabia, that did 9/11? Do we really want them winning in Syria?
Most Americans are against involvement, and we need to get loud about it.
There are many issues that need our attention, but this one is the most urgent. We need to tell the President and Congress to BACK OFF of Syria.
Interfering in Syria, including covertly fomenting dissent in the first place, followed by the rhetoric that worsened it, and now supplying the weapons that will only multiply the deaths, is a mistake.
The fault has been thinking of nations as chess pieces in a global power game without understanding the nature of each of them, including the internal balances that are needed for stability, governmentally and socially.
The kind of sectarian warfare that we unleashed in Iraq is already ongoing in Syria. It is not about freedom and democracy. It's about which sect gets the power. A secular government can keep relative peace between them. Take that away, and you get religious extremists on both sides, each trying to eliminate the other.
This article asks the question Is the U.S. Actively Trying to Prolong the Syrian Civil War?
After all, that is exactly what it WILL do by arming the rebels. That is the kind of cynical manipulation that has been used for decades, having no regard for the human lives it ends or ruins, as long as they are elsewhere.
Since its creation in 1947, the CIA has mounted approximately 3,000 major operations and 10,000 minor operations of this nature, every one of them illegal and many of them bloody and gory beyond comprehension. According to former CIA agent John Stockwell (who was involved in several such operations), by 1988, over six million people had been killed as a result.
In an interview with Amy Goodman on March 2, 2007, U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.), explained that the Bush Administration planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. While the sequence of invasions seems to have been revised to some extent, the plan appears to be progressing nicely for the psychopathic lords of empire. But wait! The Bush government isn't in power anymore! Obama's in charge now, right? How can the Obama administration be following a foreign policy of subversion and mass murder that was devised under another president's leadership? Unless the president really isn't the 'commander in chief'. Unless the position of the president of the USA is little more than a ceremonial one, and some other group, that transcends changes in administrations, actually dictates government policy. But that wouldn't be democratic, so obviously it's not true.
Or is it?
Syria's Bloody CIA Revolution - A Distraction?
We've done it before to Syria. In 1949 the CIA engineered a coup in Syria, overthrowing its democratic government.
According to Joseph Massad, a professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, the coup was sponsored by the United States CIA, a conclusion in agreement with other historians such as Professor Douglas Little, and declassified records. The coup is also described by author Irene Gendzier, who states that CIA agents Miles Copeland and Stephen Meade..were directly involved in the coup.
Again, in 1957, we tried it again and got caught red-handed. August 12, 1957
Covert United States foreign regime change actions
This lists only some of the better known ones. There are many more.
Stay out of Other Nations' Civil Wars
The Cato Institute says: This is precisely the sort of conflict America should stay out of. The case against joining the Syrian fratricide is simple yet overwhelming: Americans have nothing at stake that warrants going to war. War should be a last resort, employed for interests that are truly vital. War should not be just another policy choice for impatient internationalists and frustrated social engineers
US should stay out of Syria, American expert warns.
Now you have jihadi fighters on the one hand and Hezbollah on the other, and it really doesn't look like there's much to choose between, Walzer said. It's almost impossible to describe a desirable outcome in this civil war, and if you don't have a desirable outcome, you can't intervene.
United Nations officials say at least 93,000 people had been killed through the end of April in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, and that the number was almost certainly over 100,000 by now.
Considering this, the alleged 150 killed by a chemical weapon are supposed to be a red line? Are they nuts?
Never mind that the chemicals were probably used by the rebels, who have actually been caught with canisters of the stuff.
--cosmicrat June 17, 2013
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