Cosmicrat's

RAT'S NEST

Things you should gnaw
TO SEEK ILLUMINATION, ONE MUST OFTEN LOOK INTO DARK PLACES



'RATS' spelled backwards is 'STAR'


the Dove of Peace
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


political links
rat now
cabdrivers guide to phoenix

myfriendlyuniverse.com
MYFRIENDLYUNIVERSE.COM
technorat
cosmic spaces blog

360 RAT TIMES

Rat's Multiply Blog

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OPINIONS?

Email A page for humor, truth, social and political commentary, and philosophical thought. Know more, think more, and laugh more.

A NOSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL AS WELL



A New Anthem for Our Time
A suggestion for new lyrics appropriate for 21st-Century America.



Obama in Berlin

Obama's Blueprint for Change
A full and complete description of all his policy positions


The Obama Family

Friend, Do You Like Kids?
A pictorial essay created by a friend of mine from China. No matter what your politics, religion, or country may be, look at it. Think about it. Whatever we might think of other people's governments around the world, the people themselves are basically the same as us. They have the same basic needs, and, like us, want most of all to live and love and raise their children in peace.


We need a way to say 'NO' to war!



Huge Erections are Dangerous
Very tall buildings are unneeded risks

OCCUPY PHOENIX

Tweaking the Traffic Environment

Hail, Columbia, and Farewell

GROUCHO SINGS THE BLUES

-Tragedy on the home front

Ties that Bind

The Cab Ride
I didn't write this one, but it's definitely worth reading.

HOW NOT TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Advice for terrorists.

VASCECTOMY:
All Juice, No Seed...Enjoy the vas' difference!

DRUG PEACE
If at first you don't succeed...

COPYRIGHT LEFT
Greed has stretched copyright until it broke


E-VAPOR: A Great Substitute for Smoking




bumpersnickers by angel; see links page for site link

Experiencing Election Day 2004

BUSH'S INTELLIGENCE FAILURE

As You Chews
Ruminations of the Cosmic Rat


A DIGITAL INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE
An easy-to-learn system to transcend languages...can you DIGIT?

READING LIST

courses in alternative thinking

Douglas Adams: HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY...RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE...

Douglas Adams' speech at Digital Biota 2 Cambridge U.K., September 1998: Is there an Artificial God? Read this!

robert anton wilson: THE ILLUMINATI TRILOGY...SCHROEDENGER'S CAT TRILOGY... THE COSMIC TRIGGER... et al... deoxy.org

Samuel Clemens: LETTERS FROM EARTH

Kurt Vonnegut: SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE...PLAYER PIANO...CAT'S CRADLE...THE SIRENS OF TITAN...GOD BLESS YOU MR. ROSEWATER...et al

Vladimir Nabokov: PALE FIRE...LOLITA

spider robinson: CALLAHAN'S CROSSTIME SALOON... TIME TRAVELERS STRICTLY CASH

fritjof capra:THE TAO OF PHYSICS
a. c. weisbecker:
COSMIC BANDITOS

Hunter S. Thompson ..FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, et al

phillip k. dick: DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?

timothy leary: THE PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE... Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Robert Heinlein..HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL...THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST...TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE...et al

Harlan Ellison: I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM...LOVE AIN'T NOTHING BUT SEX MISSPELLED,,,DANGEROUS VISIONS

Aleister Crowley: MOON CHILD...NECRONOMICON

Isaac Asimov: THE FOUNDATION TRILOGY

Even if I didn't say 'et al', read their other books if you have time, too. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it's a start

This is the new home for RAT NOW
RAT NOW archives

Weapons of Mass Distraction


Who used poison gas in Syria? The answer depends on who you ask. No side of the question has any more credibility than any other when it comes to knowing and being truthful. No one who answers to Trump can believed, because Trump himself is a prolific serial liar, and he, unfortunately is Commander in Chief.

The Syrian government and their ally, Russia, would be just as likely to lie if it served their interests.

No one, however, has explained why it would have made sense for the Syrian government to knowingly use chemicals. They are winning back territory. They want the support of the people, and to be able to govern once the terrorists are defeated. And they know the kind of reaction chemical warfare brings.

It does make sense for the ISIS/Al Qaeda/rebels to perpetrate such an attack to blame, and weaken support for, the government. They have no problem killing civilians in Syria or anywhere in the world, and often brag about it. They deliberately kill and maim in the most gruesome and horrifying ways, and locate themselves amid civilians so that any attack on them will cause innocent deaths.

Logical motive doesn't prove guilt, but since we lack believable facts, logic is what we have to work with. It is possible, of course, for governments to act irrationally. Ours certainly has.

Just what is so special about chemical warfare in the first place that it requires an outside nation to respond to punish it? Killing people is wrong, and killing many people is wronger. Causing pain and suffering before death adds to the wrongness. That's what war does. Are conventional weapons-- bombs, rockets, grenades, and automatic rifles really much more humane than poison gas?

The allies firebombed Dresden and Tokyo in WW 2. The US A-bombed 2 Japanese cities. The US used napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam. The US helped Sadaam use poison gas against Iran, and used depleted uranium ordnance in both wars against Iraq, causing a huge increase in cancer and birth defects for decades afterward.

While nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945, we have maintained huge stockpiles of them and the means to deliver them anywhere. We claim the option to use them, even in a first strike.

So, what standards are we upholding and presenting to the world? Are we really the moral authority on humane infliction of death, disability, and pain in warfare?

Has it been determined that people strongly prefer to have their limbs torn off in an explosion, or their flesh riddled by bullets to death by poison gas? No, we have picked one of many means of destroying lives in war to use as a tool of propaganda, hoping to distract from our responsibility for the huge death toll in Syria, and to promote regime change. Whether the accusation is true or false doesn't matter for that purpose.

We, the people in this imperfect democratic republic need to focus on principles and resist being manipulated into approving attacks on the enemies that are created to distract us. Whether it's a foreign leader, or a domestic minority group designated for hatred, the purpose is much the same, and it is one of the oldest con games in politics.

STRANGER THAN FICTION


The Man in the High Castle is a story involving alternate reality.
It’s an interesting, complex drama series. Simply, imagine Germany and Japan having won WW II, one of the many courses that history could have taken. It is not just a story about Americans trying to take back their occupied country, but about the nature of reality itself.

Right now, this concept seems more than just an intriguing story idea. We’re experiencing an actual reality that seems as bizarre and unlikely as any fictional screenplay. And the star of this reality show has his own high castle, a skyscraper known as Trump Tower.

If anyone ever elected President, or, for that matter, any losing Presidential candidate, has ever behaved as outrageously during and after a campaign, it has been kept a secure secret. There are long lists of facts about him, past and present, that no one would have imagined would ever be acceptable to voters.

Facts, however, seem to have become unimportant in politics. Trump utters complete and obvious lies in public speeches without any care that they are believable, just to elicit the desired emotions in his followers. Whether they actually believe them, or are just willing to suspend disbelief doesn’t matter. They act and vote as if they were hearing the truth.

The lies and inconsistencies add extra unpredictability to his true intentions on both foreign and domestic policy. However, his choices for cabinet and staff appointments give us some clues about his likely agenda.

The Trump appointments

(1) Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt, 48
The attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, denies climate change is real. He is one of Big Oil's greatest allies. Pruitt viciously attacked the EPA and its efforts to stop air and water pollution, using talking points written by energy lobbyists to publicly attack Obama's Clean Power Plan. This is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.

(2) Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, and member of the transition team. He was the infamous architect of the anti-immigrant Arizona SB-1070, parts of which were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011. He has said the new administration could push ahead rapidly on construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall without seeking immediate congressional approval. He said in an interview that Trump's policy advisers had also discussed drafting a proposal for his consideration to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. He has also lead efforts to restrict voting rights under the guise of eliminating voter fraud. Kobach hosts a weekly radio program in Kansas City, where he has trafficked in conspiracy theories about President Obama and immigrants.

(3) Foreclosure profiteer Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary. This former Goldman Sachs executive got rich running a foreclosure machine, kicking working Americans out of their homes using techniques a federal judge called “harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive.” He foreclosed on well over 36,000 homes. Mnuchin’s number one priority is ttacking the Dodd-Frank reforms reining in Wall Street

(4) Misogynist, racist Jeff Sessions, Attorney General. A Republican-led Judiciary Committee deemed him too racist to confirm as a federal judge in 1986. Sessions would be responsible for enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws, despite a history of calling a black subordinate "boy," joking about supporting the Ku Klux Klan, and calling the ACLU and NAACP "un-American." His anti-woman agenda is so extreme he voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and said "I don't characterize" grabbing women by the genitals "as sexual assault.

As Alabama Attorney General, a court found that “even having been given every benefit of the doubt, the misconduct of the Attorney General in this case far surpasses in both extensiveness and measure the totality of any prosecutorial misconduct ever previously presented to or witnessed by this court," wrote James S. Garrett, a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge. The misconduct was "so pronounced and persistent," Garrett wrote, that "it permeates the entire atmosphere of this prosecution."

(5) Wall Street billionaire Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, who made his money as a notorious "vulture investor." The so-called "king of bankruptcy," he offshored American textile jobs to China and Mexico. 12 coal workers controversially died at his mine in West Virginia. But he complains that the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons. Ross is best known for investing in failing steel and coal firms and selling them for profit.

(6) Vice President-elect Mike Pence is a fervent denier of science and a religious zealot. He has advocated teaching intelligent design and creationism in schools. In 2000, he wrote that “smoking doesn’t kill,” in 2009 wrote against embryonic stem cell use, that global warming is a “myth,” that the earth is cooling and that there is “growing skepticism” among scientists about climate change—all the literal opposite of the truth. Instead of changing a law that would have stunted the spread of HIV, he advocated trying to cure homosexuality, resulting in the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana history.

[7] Rex W. Tillerson President and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, Secretary of State. He dismissed climate change with: “What good is it to save the planet...?” He lobbied President Obama to lift sanctions against Russia for Arctic drilling. Awarded Russia’s “Order of Friendship” by Vladimir Putin himself!

[8] Secretary of Defense: James "Mad Dog." Mattis, 66
A retired four star Marine general, Mattis commanded US forces in the Middle East and Southwest Asia from 2010 to 2013. He has said "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.", "Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people.” A scholar of warfare, he is said to have a particular interest in the challenge posed by Iran. To become secretary of defense, Mattis would have to get a congressional waiver from a law that bars generals from serving as defense secretary for seven years after leaving active duty.

[9] Department of Education: Betsy DeVos, 58 A wealthy activist and Republican mega-donor from Michigan, she is an enemy of public education. She advocates for charter schools and school vouchers, alternatives to local government schools, and the use of tax credits and vouchers to allow parents to opt out of the public school system. Privatizing education gives an advantage to religious schools that are likely to deny evolution, and teach biased history. It will undermine public schools by using funds that should go to improve them

[10] Health and Human Services: Tom Price, 62
A tea party Republican Representative from Georgia, Price wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, and cut Federal funds to Medicaid, and de-fund Planned Parenthood.

[11] Homeland Security: John Kelly, 66 The retired Marine general most recently led the US Southern Command, which covers US military operations in Central and South America, including Guantanamo. He wants to end “political correctness”, militarize the border with Mexico, and he favors using torture on detainees.

[12] Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson, 65 So far the only African American named to Trump's cabinet. The religious conservative with no experience in elective office, opposes the goals of the Fair Housing Act, to diversify subsidized housing locations to neighborhoods with access to transportation, jobs and decent schools. showing distressing ignorance of HUD’s mission, and of the history of housing segregation.

[13] LaborSecretary: Andrew Puzder, 66, whose company has been cited for overtime violations by ... the Labor Department The chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns fast food chains Carl's Jr and Hardee's, is opposed to raising the national minimum wage. He also backs the increasing use of automated technology to keep labor costs down.The new secretary will be in charge of keeping Trump’s promise to dismantle many Obama-era rules covering the vast work force of federal contractors.

[14] Transportation Secretary: Elaine Chao, 63
The Taiwan-born former US labor secretary under president George W. Bush also served as the deputy secretary of transportation in his administration. She was the first Asian-American woman to serve in the cabinet and is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She doesn't seem enthusiastic about Trump's idea of a massive infrastructure investment. Chao is also one of 11 directors on the board of Vulcan Materials Company, which calls itself "the nation's largest producer of construction aggregates." Chao plans to leave that post should she be confirmed, but would get a stock payout in April 2018. Chao will also get cash payments for the value of her stock in the industrial company Ingersoll-Rand, Wells Fargo bank and the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp media company beginning in January 2017.

[15] Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley, 44 As South Carolina's governor, Haley rose to prominence when she led efforts for the divisive Confederate flag to be pulled from the state's capitol following a 2015 massacre at a historic black church in Charleston. The daughter of Indian immigrants was sharply critical of Trump during the election campaign.

[16] David M. Friedman, nominee for ambassador to Israel a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” Through decades of Republican and Democratic administrations, the embassy has been in Tel Aviv, as the State Department insists that the status of Jerusalem which both Israel and the Palestinians see as their rightful capital — can be determined only through negotiations as part of an overall peace deal. Mr. Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, has said that he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the occupied West Bank and he supports building new settlements there, which Washington has long condemned as illegitimate and an obstacle to peace.

[17] White House Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus, 44
Head of the Republican National Committee, Priebus is a seasoned political operative who can build bridges between Trump and a skittish Republican leadership, particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan, a longtime ally.

[19] Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon, 68
The wrestling tycoon and two-time Republican candidate for the US Senate from Connecticut, will now be responsible for supporting America's 28 million small businesses, which employ around half the country's private-sector workforce. McMahon, a failed Senate candidate from Connecticut, was with her husband, Vince, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest donors.

[20] Chief Strategist: Steve Bannon, 63
A key figure in Trump's victorious election campaign, Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart, a favorite news source of the so-called "alt-right," supporting racism and white nationalism. His appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

[21] CIA Director: Mike Pompeo, 52
A strident critic of the Iran nuclear deal, the hawkish Kansas congressman was elected in 2010 to the House of Representatives, where he was a member of the hardline Tea Party faction and one of the leaders of the controversial Benghazi Committee that targeted Trump's Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton. Pompeo is a member of the House Intelligence Committee

[22] National Security Advisor: Michael Flynn, 57 A top military counsel to Trump, the retired three-star general, a veteran of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has courted controversy with extreme statements that critics say border on Islamophobia, but has taken a more flexible line on Russia and China. The national security advisor is not formally part of the cabinet but is usually one of the president's most influential advisors.

[23]White House Counsel: Donald McGahn, late 40s A former commissioner and chairman of the Federal Election Commission, McGahn represents "elected officials, candidates, national state parties, political consultants, and others on political law issues," as a partner at the Jones Day law firm in Washington.

[24] former Governor of Texas Rick Perry to head the Energy Department. That's one of the agencies Perry promised to eliminate -- but famously forgot the name of -- during the 2012 Republican primaries. Perry's not only unfit to lead the Energy Department, he's another climate-denying champion of Big Oil. Despite its name, the primary purview of the Energy Department is to protect and manage the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

[25] South Carolina Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Freedom Caucus fanatic has rejected the inescapable truth that the United States of America would default by failing to raise the debt ceiling. Mick Mulvaney as the Director of Default Denial, risks an American—and a global—economic catastrophe. He has questioned whether the federal government should spend any money on scientific research, including medical research.
A combination of millionaires, billionaires, outsiders and even a few politicians who oppose the work of the very agencies they've been tapped to lead.

Trump: “If you look at wars over the years—and I study wars—my life is war,” Trump was given five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. Fellow billionaire Richard Branson recounts a story in which Trump said he would “spend the rest of his life destroying the lives” of people he felt had betrayed him. In The Art of the Deal, Trump bragged, “I love getting even.”

Trump has also pushed the discredited link between vaccination and autism, and appointed advisers who favor cuts to both NASA and the National Institutes of Health, which funds critical biomedical research.

The final popular vote total for this election is in: 65,844,610 for Clinton, 62,979,636 for Trump.
Of their total, 128,824,246 Clinton had 51.11%, 2,864,974 more votes than Trump
Counting minor candidates, she got 48.2% to his 46.1%
In the final count, Clinton surpassed President Barack Obama's 2012 total by 389,944 votes
Trump's claims of a massive landslide victory are belied by past statistics, which place his win at 11th narrowest.

If all the electors had voted in accordance with their states' results during meetings on Monday, Trump would have garnered 56.9% -- or 306 -- of the 538 available electoral votes. Two defections lowered his final share to 56.5%.
Hillary Clinton beat President-elect Donald Trump by 2.1% in the national popular vote. Her nearly 2.9 million vote advantage is the largest raw total among candidates who did not win the presidency. Only two others, Andrew Jackson (1824) and Samuel Tilden (1876) won by a larger percentage without also claiming the White House.


The Myths That Gave Us Trump

This is not about the myths that Trump supporters believed. That is another story entirely, which will probably tell itself.

It was the falsehoods that too many non-Trumpists believed that resulted in giving the election away to a candidate who got fewer votes than Romney did in 2012. People who should have been intelligent and educated enough to demand facts, not myths, rumors, and snide cynicism, instead bought the bullshit and sold it to their friends.

Please read the following article:

THE MYTHS DEMOCRATS SWALLOWED THAT COST THEM THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
BY KURT EICHENWALD

Normally, liberals, progressives, humanitarians, human rights advocates, etc., even radical ones, are not followers of most conspiracy theories. It's usually the far right, or alt-right, the paranoid survivalists, the ignorant gold-standard fans, who make up stories about Jewish bankers, new world orders, and lizard people.

That's not to say that there have not been a few inadequately-solved mysteries, some involving fallen buildings.

But during this election many who should know better seemed to lose their capacity for critical thinking. Normally we are quick to point out the irrationality and fact-averse nature of conservative rhetoric. It seems we need to guard against that among our own side of the spectrum, at times when some of us become so focused on the ideal as to react emotionally against the reality of compromise which democracy imposes.

Many of those who participated in the Clinton-bashing believed that she would surely win anyway, as media were predicting, and saw no harm in their rhetoric, advocating a protest non-vote or useless choice. As we now know, there was a great deal of harm in it.

Failure to vote for the LESSER of two evils is a vote for the GREATER evil.

There are still a few who continue to defend their divisiveness, which now requires saying that maybe Trump won't be as bad as he promised to be. Really?

--cosmic rat November 20, 2016.

NOVEMBER 8 2016

Usually, when an election produces tragic results, it is the opposition, and those who supported it, to be blamed. That is partly true in this one. Their candidate and his party used an unprecedented barrage of lies which they had crafted into a virtual storm of deception over several years and unleashed on the public. They blatantly stoked fear and hate against vulnerable minorities, and the ignorant and mean-spirited responded enthusiastically, in numbers larger than we hoped existed.

But that was only part of the story. The horror of November 8, 2016 was wrought not so much by our enemies, but by those who should have been our friends. People who believe that health care and a good education should be a right, not a commodity; people who do not hate and fear immigrants and people of other religions, cultures, and colors; people who believe workers should receive a living wage, a fair share of the wealth they produce. We should be able to count on these and others, not to agree on every issue, but to unite against a clearly disastrous political threat.

Many did unite-- more, actually, than voted for Trump. But not enough in the right states to make a difference. Some, instead of supporting the candidate who could have buried Trump in a landslide victory, spent the weeks before the election ranting about her faults, hurling accusations and insults at her, trying to convince everyone around them not to vote, or vote for a minor candidate with no chance of winning. They seemed obsessed with political perfectionism. They were like the children no one wants to play with because they want everything their way, or not at all. Either they don't understand the basics of politics, or they're too in love with their self-image as radicals that they're willing to sacrifice our progress and the hope for more

That is not how progressives are supposed to behave. Whether moderate or radical, our focus should be on our fellow human beings, seeking every bit of justice, equality, and shared well-being that is possible for everyone that we can.

If we must fight one another over personalities, over whether a progressive is not progressive enough, insulting our own closest allies, then we will accomplish none of our goals. Our disunity will make us easy prey to the reprehensible forces of divisive hatred, of greed, of selfish disregard for the common people. That will enable the defeat of us all by a coalition of the worst. That is what happened on November 8.

According to the Arizona Republic: With just over 97 percent of the votes counted, it's becoming apparent Arizonans were not enthusiastic about Tuesday's election. The Arizona Secretary of State's office now counts 1,975,407 votes cast statewide, for a turnout of 55 percent, so far the lowest level of voter participation during a presidential election in years. The number will rise as the rest of the ballots are tabulated, but it won't come close to recent elections. The nationwide turnout was about the same.
In my previous article, I said I thought Hillary would win easily, but that we shouldn't be complacent. I was wrong about the first, right about the second. News media thought she'd win, and said so. How many didn't bother to vote?

All of you who said not to vote, or vote for pointless third or fourth parties, who constantly attacked the woman who was by far the best of the two real choices-- you got what you wanted. Low turnout. Apathy. Do you like the result?

Do I sound angry? Yes, I am. My anger is not so much against the opposition, but at those who claimed to be progressive, left-wing radicals, liberals, on the side of the common people, but who BETRAYED us.

Those who supported Bernie Sanders, that was fine. So did I. But remember this: he didn't betray you; you betrayed him! He did the right thing. He called on all of you to support Hillary Clinton, to unite to defeat Trump. He asked you to vote, and elect progressive Democrats to Congress. Instead, you did nothing but whine, and attack our best hope of averting what happened, a good liberal Democratic woman who stood for and worked for care and protection for children and the disadvantaged, for women's rights, for universal health care. You called her evil and corrupt, though you had no proof. Like the Republicans, you made your case with speculations, implications, irrational assumptions. You even adopted some of their propaganda.

Progressives are supposed to have intelligence and education on our side, more than the opposition. How is it that some fail to understand politics, or refuse to THINK? Basic reason alone should have been a better guide.

Those of you who still think you were right, enjoy the President you elected.

Within our country, Trump's rhetoric has brought the vermin out of the woodwork. The deplorable slime whose only sense of power is to consider themselves superior to those identifyably different. Now they feel empowered, vindicated by the sense that there are so many of them.

Countless acts of hate have been reported following the election.

They aren't really the majority they think they are. Because of the pseudo-leftists who cared only to destroy the better candidate, and because of the apathetic, because of those who wait to be excited and inspired and ignore leaders who are merely intelligent and rational, the bigots of America were handed the win on a silver platter.

Do you ask why I, as an advocate of peace, love, and tolerance, openly hate bigotry, intolerance, and predatory greed? I don't see that as a contradiction at all. When needless harm is being done to the common people, especially minorities, I cannot remain neutral.

--COSMICRAT 11-10-2016

EXAMINING THE CLINTON CRITICISMS

The Republican party and its backers and funders have spent a great deal of time and money over three decades, constructing and distributing a collection of myths designed to destroy the chances of Hillary Clinton becoming President. Obviously they consider her the most able threat to their corporate agenda, a woman who not only opposes their goals, but has the intelligence, political skill, and cunning to defeat them decisively.

Their methods are lifted from the techniques used by Hitler's Nazis and by covert intelligence operatives in any number of nations' spy agencies since then, including the CIA. It could be called psychological warfare, character assassination, propaganda, or simply The Big Lie. If you tell enough lies enough times to enough people, eventually a surprising number of people will begin to believe them, even if there is no evidence to support them, and even if they can be (or have been) proven to be distortions and misinfomation.

The strategy is not to convince other Republicans, most of whom already had their own reasons to oppose her, but to spread doubt among Democrats and liberal independents who would otherwise not hesitate to endorse her.

Just as with voter suppression laws, they hope to keep enough voters away from the polls to enable their candidate to win.

It appears that their plan did not include the mistake of allowing an outrageously unacceptable person like Donald Trump to be nominated. True, none of the 17 primary contenders would have appealed to anyone outside of Republican ideology. It would have been important to defeat any of them to protect and continue the progress we have made. But Trump's lack of qualifications, unprincipled hate-fueled demogoguery, and offensive personal behavior are especially repellent, even to many Republicans.

Although Hillary Clinton should win easily, we cannot afford to be complacent or to accept the error of wasting votes or not voting. We need to understand the nature, source, and falsity of the anti-Clinton propaganda. If it were a matter of just Republican ideological attacks, they would be easy to ignore, but they have spawned a liberal version that has led some to attack Clinton and threaten a “protest” vote. It should not need to be said just how disastrous that could be. On one hand, Clinton proposes a liberal agenda that we should be happy to support. Historically, Presidents have at least attempted to fulfill pledges made. We would have a President likely to be sympathetic to further changes as need arises. On the other hand, a Trump win would assure little or no progress, and a struggle to maintain the advances we have made to date.

If Hillary had to spend her campaign rebutting allegations, she would have little time to speak her positive proposals and her vision. But we should study these issues rationally and specifically, not leave them as a nebulous cloud of doubt. There are several topics that need to be addressed:

[1] The Clinton Foundation
[2] The manufactured scandals
[3] Paid speeches and donations
[4] Foreign policy


The Clinton Foundation
Bill and Hillary Clinton's Global Initiatives represent one of the biggest attempts to improve the lives of people around the world that has ever been implemented. It is, and should be, a source of pride, not just for the Clintons and those who are helping fund and implement it, but for our country as a whole.

But Hillary's opponents are attempting to spin it into some sort of corrupt scheme, though there is no factual evidence that it is anything other than well intended and beneficial to those who need help.

Haiti
Haiti has long had systemic problems politically and socially, and has also suffered from foreign exploitation and interference. Its problems date back to the failure of the early US to support its successful overthrow of slavery. Haitians tend to distrust both its own government and foreigners, often with good reason, but that makes it more difficult for sincere and honest organizations to gain their confidence. Not everything the Initiative tried has succeeded as planned.

The Clinton Foundation has been actively engaged in Haiti since 2009, with the creation of the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network after a series of hurricanes devastated the country. In 2010, following the subsequent earthquake that struck the country, the Clinton Foundation Haiti Fund was created as an initiative of the Clinton Foundation. Here is what it has done there:

history of the clinton foundation in haiti

The Clinton Foundation has been focusing on economic diversification, private sector investment, and job creation in order to create long-term, sustainable economic development.

Overall, though, many thousands of lives have improved, and are continuing to improve. This Washington Post article describes the accomplishments, as well as the natural impatience of those still waiting for change.

How the Clintons' Haiti development plans succeed — and disappoint

The Clinton Foundation is an operating foundation. The money raised by the Foundation is spent directly on our programs, and not as grants to other charitable organizations. The majority of the Clinton Foundation's charitable work is performed and implemented by our staff and partners on the ground. We operate programs around the world that have a significant impact in a wide range of issue areas, including economic development, climate change, health and wellness, and participation of girls and women.

This is important to remember when attempting to evaluate the foundation's finances. It does not exist merely to collect donations and then hand them out.

Members of the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,600 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 435 million people in more than 180 countries.

THE MANUFACTURED SCANDALS

Most everyone knows by now that the Clintons did nothing wrong in an Arkansas real-estate investment. That was investigated exhaustively, finding no wrongdoing.

So was the attack on the Behghazi US Consulate. Clinton did nothing wrong regarding that. Congress, on the other hand, failed to provide adequate security funding. Yet the House conducted some 9 investigations attempting to blame the Secretary of State

The case on the email server is over. No harm was done by it, and neither Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, nor Condi Rice did anything prosecutable. Hillary's use of private email would probably have gone unnoticed, as did Powell's and Rice's, if it hadn't been for the Republican attempt to use the Benghazi tragedy politically.

If you need a more detailed explanation, read
Admit It. The Clinton Email Controversy Bothers You, Yet You Don't Actually Know What the Clinton Email Controversy Is How a poorly explained mistake continues to threaten the political career of the former Secretary of State.
That won't stop Republicans from repeating accusations over and over, of course.

SPEECHES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton gave many speeches for which they were paid impressively high fees. It's nice work if you can get

Here are some other people who can do that:
$50,000 --- Charlie Rose, TV talk show host
$80,000 --- Malcolm Gladwell, Author: Blink, and Outliers
$100,000+ --- Bill Maher
$150,000 --- Condoleezza Rice
$200,000+ --- Jerry Seinfeld
$200,000+ --- Lady Gaga
$200,000+ --- Larry The Cable Guy, comedian
$400,000 --- Ben Bernanke, Ex-Fed chairman
The speaking fees the Clintons made are not unique. They are NOT paid only to politicians an organization wants to influence. If the amounts seem high, so do the salaries of sports stars and corporate CEO's.

If you are offered a lot of money to speak, why would you refuse? If you don't need it all, you can donate to a worthy cause. That is what Bill and Hillary did with a large chunk of it. And a rational person would not use the occasion to criticize the audience. If the organization needs criticizing, you would use another venue to do it.

Accepting a speaking fee does not imply a promise nor an intention to treat the payer more favorably. Neither does accepting a campaign donation. Donations can mean that the donor approves of a candidate's positions, or they can mean the donor hopes for favorable treatment. The candidate is under no obligation to a donor.

If a politician does favors as a result of a donation, that is corruption. But unless that happens, there is no basis for an accusation.

Corruption does exist in our system, and we are right to examine and scrutinize any suspicious interactions. But fairness to honest public servants requires that we do not jump to conclusions without evidence.

FOREIGN POLICY

No candidate who has not already served a term as President has been the subject of such speculation and accusation regarding her intentions in foreign policy as Hillary Clinton. There is no question that her experience has afforded her extensive knowledge in the field, and she has helped to implement policies and actions of the Obama administration. But the President has made it clear that he is the decision maker, and the Secretary of State is only one of the advisors he listens to.

Even the President cannot control or predict all the outcomes in which the US is involved. The world is full of sovereign nations and non-national groups acting according their own perceived interests. And, there are powerful interests within the country that limit the extent to which a President can determine courses of action.

Asserting that the State Secretary is responsible for unintended bad outcomes or even mistakes in foreign policy is either misguided or intentional attempts to undermine her popularity among Democrats.

Hillary Clinton National Security

Foreign Policy Magazine endorses Hillary

Keeping the nation as much as possible at peace with the rest of the world is not just about saying how much you want that. Every challenge to that goal is different and often complex, with many factors and other nations to consider. Sometimes you have to emphasize the strength of your own position to make diplomacy appreciated and respected.

Because, both here and abroad, some perceive women as weaker leaders, it can be even more important for a woman President to present a tough-minded image. That doesn't mean she is less desiring of peace

The Clearest Choice in History

As we approach the US Presidential election of 2016, I can imagine no previous decision that was easier for sane intelligent people to make. Hillary Clinton is obviously a better choice than Donald Trump.

If my title seems an exaggeration, consider that many choices in the past seem more obvious in retrospect, especially when the wrong option was chosen, but less clear in advance.

Yet a small but vocal segment of progressive voters continue to be almost as critical of Hillary Clinton as the opposition, with as little reference to actual fact as is common in Republican diatribes.

It is pointless, since the choice of a majority of Democrats has been clearly made. Though aspects of the primary rules need fixing, such as eliminating superdelegates and always allowing independents to vote, and though there was evidence of bias in party officials, none of these factors would have changed the outcome.

Bernie Sanders started with the disadvantage of being far less known. Many voters who may have agreed with his positions also believed that nominating someone too far left, might risk losing the general election.

Those two factors determined the outcome. Sanders' campaign was an excellent effort, and served to stimulate interest in the issues, educating millions of voters. Because of him, there will be many more Democratic voters, far outweighing any division that the primaries may have created.

Sanders has now endorsed Clinton, having negotiated as much improvement to the platform as he could. We should be united 100 percent in the effort to defeat Trump.

The vocal dissenters are not so much a real problem as they are puzzling, and we should be able to understand what led to this phenomenon. It seems unnatural.

To put this in perspective, even before Bernie's endorsement, 85% of his voters said they would vote for Hilllary, assuming she won the nomination.
New poll: vast majority of Bernie Sanders supporters now plan to vote for Hillary Clinton

Most of us, I think, base our votes on positions on the issues.
The criticisms seldom mention those, despite the easy availability of information on them.

So, where does this emotional anti-Hillary propaganda come from? For a long time Republicans have considered her a formidable foe, perhaps more so than Obama. They have long been publishing any and every possible accusation, without regard for facts. Much of it is designed to harm her credibility among Democrats, since they can take their own party's opposition for granted. Their purpose has been made easier because, though she is widely respected and admired for both principles and ability, it seems she doesn't inspire love by enthusiastic fans. Hating Hillary An artcle by Michael Arnovitz examines the way negativity is created and exploited.
The only thing both teams seem to share is the insistence that Hillary is a Machiavellian conspirator and implacable liar, unworthy of society's trust. And this claim of unabated mendacity is particularly interesting, because while it is not the oldest defamation aimed at Hillary, it is the one that most effortlessly glides across partisan lines. Indeed, for a surprisingly large percentage of the electorate, the claim that Hillary is innately dishonest is simply accepted as a given. It is an accusation and conviction so ingrained in the conversation about her that any attempt to even question it is often met with shock. And yet here is the thing: it's not actually true. Politifact, the Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking project, determined for example that Hillary was actually the most truthful candidate (of either Party) in the 2016 election season. And in general Politifact has determined that Hillary is more honest than most (but not all) politicians they have tracked over the years.

The use of accusations of dishonesty toward Hillary seem to have originated with conservative writer William Safire, who wrote a scathing and now-famous essay about Hillary Clinton entitled, Blizzard of Lies. In the piece he called her a congenital liar. Despite the fact he was wrong in all his accusations, Republicans have been using it ever since.

Republicans are well known for their disregard of facts, and NOTHING they have come up with to accuse her of has been proved true. Why would any non-Republican give them any credibility? Part of the lack of enthusiasm toward her has to do with sexism. Even some liberals can be subconsciously affected by old perceptions of the proper role of women.

Thinking About Hillary- A Plea For Reason

For an extensive examination, an online book excerpt is well worth reading: The Hunting of Hillary
The Republican war with the Clintons began with Bill, of course, and though they caused his administration a great deal of trouble, they failed against him.

They see Hillary as more vulnerable, yet seem to fear her even more.

It should not be hard to see that when the political organization we want and need most to defeat, puts that much effort into discrediting the Democratic candidate, then she is probably our strongest ally against them.

--Cosmicrat July 23 2016

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.

HUMANIZING CAPITALISM



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.

INCOME



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 OPPORTUNITY

A 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:

[1] Is it a necessity, and if so is it affordable by those earning a minimum wage?
[2] Does it benefit society as a whole, as well as the individual, by being provided?
[3] 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 [1] and [2]. 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.

[1] Worker pay must comprise a fair and significant share of the profits of their employer.
[2] Minimum wage must be raised, and required to be increased to meet the cost of living.
[3] Excessive incomes must be taxed heavily, to discourage waste of wealth in general, and corporate profit in particular.
[4] 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.
[5] 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.
[6] 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.
[7] 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 History

Those 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.
--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

Video version

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 One

Ending 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:
[1] 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.
[2] 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.
[3] 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?
Precedence: IMMEDIATE
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 Wars

I 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 privacy

It 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


Mr. President:
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 INSANE

Have 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

Rat's Nest