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General Kelly - Historically Ignorant or Hysterically Bigoted?

Bigotry on the brain

 

The events of November 10, 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina provide added evidence to rebut the recent claim by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that the U.S. Civil War resulted from a failure to “compromise.”

On that Thursday nearly 120-years ago a rampaging mob led by a former Confederate Army officer unleashed the only successful insurrection in American history with the violent overthrow of Wilmington’s legitimately elected municipal government.

During that insurrection – allowed to stand by state and federal authorities – dozens of African-Americans were murdered. Insurrectionists ordered hundreds to leave that coastal city including liberal whites the insurrectionists felt embraced blacks by respecting the rights the U.S. Constitution extended to all including blacks.
 
Wilmington insurrectionists burn building of black owned Daily Record newspaper.Wilmington insurrectionists burn building of black owned Daily Record newspaper.
 
Those Wilmington insurrectionists had no desire for compromise because their intent was control through white supremacy. Since those insurrectionists sought to reestablish pre-Civil War total political and economic dominance for whites over blacks, no compromise was acceptable.

The “White Declaration of Independence” issued by those Wilmington insurrectionists asserted whites in that area would, “never again be ruled” by blacks. That Declaration’s “never again” phrase was unequivocal evidence the insurrectionists had no desire to compromise.

The stance of those Wilmington, N.C. insurrectionists, cemented in white supremacy, was similar to sentiments of the Confederates who launched an armed revolt against the authority of the United States government in April 1861.
Confederates disregarded an attempted compromise in the form of a planned amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have barred Congress from outlawing slavery.

Drugged: The Military's Pill Problem

Smoke pot and you're out; get hurt or get PTS on the battlefield, and the DOD drugs you to keep you fighting

 

Most Americans probably assume that any soldier hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG)—peppered with metal fragments, brain bruised by the shockwave from the explosion, and suffering multiple ruptured discs in the neck and spine—would be whisked from the battlefield to a hospital somewhere in Europe or the U.S., treated, and cashiered out of the military with a Purple Heart.

Staff Sgt. Chas Jacquier learned what really happens, though. When an RPG landed next to him in Afghanistan in 2005, spraying him with shrapnel and delivering a concussive blast, he was medevaced to a field hospital and diagnosed with a suspected traumatic brain injury and an injured spine. But when it came to treatment, he was simply loaded up with a medley of pain pills, morphine, “and some other stuff I don’t know about” and sent back into combat just a few days later, expected to resume leading the unit of 25 men under his command.

“They helicoptered me back to my forward base in a sling,” Jacquier recalls. “When we landed, I got out of the sling, grabbed my rifle and climbed into a truck with my men. Fifteen minutes later, we were in a firefight.” He finished his deployment without getting further treatment (other than more drugs) for his injuries, which he said included a fractured neck vertebra. Jacquier is certain that his untreated injuries worsened during this period.

(High Times magazine image)(High Times magazine image)
 

In 2005, the German news magazine Der Spiegel wrote about how the Nazis developed a powerful methamphetamine, Pervitin, and distributed it to Wehrmacht soldiers like candy (35 million pills over the course of the war) to allow them to fight fiercely for days without sleeping. The Allies, for their part, were handing out the potent amphetamine Dexedrine in equally liberal amounts to their troops.

Today, the pharmacopeia of war is much vaster, encompassing not just amphetamines, but also stimulants like Ritalin, antipsychotics like Risperdal, and anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Librium, as well as antidepressants like Zoloft and Lexapro. There are the drugs used to “treat” soldiers on the battlefield—antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs for post-traumatic stress, opioids for pain, a variety of amphetamines to keep soldiers awake, and Ambien and other sleep aids to allow them to rest occasionally, when they aren’t actually fighting.

“Something is clearly amiss,” says Kathy Platoni, an Army colonel in her 60s who deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan as a clinical psychologist on the front lines, treating soldiers for all the stresses and traumas of war...
 

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF, which appeared initially in High Times magazine, please go to: High Times

The Attack on 'Fake News' is Really an Attack on Alternative Media

From Salon magazine:

  This article initially appeared in Salon.com magazine, where it can be read in full.
 

These are tough days to be a serious journalist. Report a story now, with your facts all lined up nicely, and you’re still likely to have it labeled “fake news” by anyone whose ox you’ve gored — and even by friends who don’t share your political perspective. For good measure, they’ll say you’ve based it on “alternative facts.”

Historians say the term “fake news” dates from the late 19th-century era of “yellow journalism,” but the term really took off in 2016, a little over a year ago during Donald Trump’s run for the presidency. It described several different things, from fact-free, pro-Trump online media to sensationalistic and largely untrue stories whose only goal was eyeballs and dollars. During the primary season, Trump himself began labeling all mainstream media stories about him as “fake news.” The idea that there could be different truths, while dating at least back to the administration of President George W. Bush, when his consigliere Karl Rove claimed that the administration “made its own” reality, gained currency when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, caught making stuff up in a TV interview, claimed that she was relying on “alternative facts.”

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The corporate media have responded to being called liars and “fake news” fabricators of news by promoting themselves as “the reality-based community” (NPR), or claiming they are fighting the good fight against ignorance, as demonstrated by the Washington Post’s new masthead slogan “Democracy dies in darkness.” The NY Times has stuck with its hoary “All the news that’s fit to print” slogan, but has added a page-three daily feature listing “noteworthy facts from today’s paper” and has taken to calling out Trump administration whoppers as “lies.”

Last December Congress passed a new law, promptly signed by then-President Barack Obama, that added an Orwellian amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2017. Called the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, this measure tasks the State Department, in consultation with the Department of Defense, the director of national intelligence and an obscure government propaganda organization called the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to establish a “Center for Information Analysis and Response.” The job of this new center, funded by a $160 million, two-year budget allocation, would be to collect information on “foreign propaganda and disinformation efforts" and "proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests."

This might all seem laughable, but as a journalist who has worked in this field for 45 years, in both mainstream newspapers and television and in the alternative media, and as a long-time freelancer who has written for publications as widely varied as Business Week, the Nation, the Village Voice and a collectively run news site called ThisCantBeHappening.net, I have watched as this obsession with “fake news” has turned into an attack on alternative news and alternative news organizations…
 
 
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF, please Salon.com magazine.

"I Made A Horrible Mistake"

Whose Decision Threatened Soldiers' Lives More: President Bush's or Bo Bergdahl's?

 
I’m admitting I made a horrible mistake.
        - Bo Bergdahl’s testimony in his court martial
 
Charging a man with murder in Vietnam is like charging someone for speeding at the Indianapolis 500.
        - From Apocalypse Now

 
Obviously, to ask who endangered soldiers more, President Bush or Bo Bergdahl, is a rhetorical question. The real issue is whether a Dishonorable Discharge, a demotion and a fine is enough punishment for Bo Bergdahl. It's clear by now it’s out-of-bounds (poor etiquette) to suggest our major leaders should be held accountable for bad military decisions that put soldiers in harms way and cost lives. It’s a variant of the bumper sticker, “Kill one person, it’s murder; kill 100,000, it’s foreign policy.” Accountability is like gravity; it slips and falls and tends to find the most susceptible person or entity that can be turned into a receptacle for the blame. Naturally, you wave the flag like crazy while guiding the blame downward. Unless, of course, you were Japanese at the height of their failed, imperial thrust into the world; then, you made martial sounds as you sliced your guts open and a loyal factotum lopped your head off. There's a certain honor in that.

Sergeant, now Private, Bo Bergdahl and President George W. BushSergeant, now Private, Bo Bergdahl and President George W. Bush

The question of moral and political accountability is a perennial one. It’s hard to find anyone in either major party who still holds on to the idea the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq by George W. Bush -- the “war president” and “the decider” -- was anything but a terrible foreign policy decision. As the younger President Bush put it: "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best.” Those of us who cried out in vain from the beginning that the decision to invade Iraq was wrong and could lead nowhere but to even worse disasters now see it as a decision that unleashed a debacle that keeps on paying dangerous dividends. President Bush ducked under the radar after his part in it was over and started doing what he probably should have done from the beginning: He painted not-so-bad, primitive paintings of veterans, dogs and his toes in the bathtub.

The lack of accountability at the top is especially acute right now when nuclear war looms over us vis-a-vis North Korea. Not only does the current commander-in-chief not accept accountability -- "the buck" no longer stops in the Oval Office -- he’s a master in the cultural realm he flourishes in at finding and flogging scapegoats. His “base” will let him get away with, as he famously put it, shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. In Bergdahl’s case, he wanted the man executed. If he had his way, it would be something produced by Faye Dunaway’s character in the film Network: "The Execution Hour".

Hollywood, War Trauma and the Rule of Money

A simple human story In tumultuous times

 
Jason Hall, the screenwriter who wrote the script for the Clint Eastwood blockbuster American Sniper, a well-made piece of hagiographic cinema based on a memoir by Chris Kyle, has made what feels like a corrective on the subject. This time, he's both writer and director of a film that reportedly was initially slated to be directed by Hollywood giant Stephen Spielberg, with Hall as scriptwriter. Whatever inside Hollywood deal-making went down, Hall's efforts have resulted in a beautiful film. There’s nothing fancy, large or loud about this film. There are no special effects that you notice. It doesn’t traffic in heroics at all. It just feels real.

While it's a very different kind of movie, in a way it's The Best Years Of Our Lives, the great 1946 movie about soldiers returning home from World War Two, translated into the language of Post-9/11 Perennial War. This ain't your dad's or your grandad's war; this is warfare of political choice with a professional, volunteer army and the very human complications that come naturally in the wake of such wars.

Adam Schumann (as actor); Miles Teller (as Schumann) and Beulah Koale (as Solo) waiting at the VAAdam Schumann (as actor); Miles Teller (as Schumann) and Beulah Koale (as Solo) waiting at the VA

Matt Zoller Seitz from Ebert.com, describes the film this way:

The film “has been written, shot, edited and acted in such an intimate and unobtrusive way that the result feels like a throwback to an earlier era of American mainstream filmmaking, when it was still possible to base a handsomely produced feature film around observed behavior, and not feel obligated to safeguard against viewer boredom by shoehorning extra melodrama or contrived genre-movie elements into the mix.”

First off, the title -- Thank You For Your Service -- is meant ironically. The story began as a non-fiction book by Washington Post reporter David Finkel, who was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant for his work. As an embedded reporter on the war in Iraq, he wrote an earlier book called The Good Soldiers. He was moved to write the second book when he began to understand how difficult it was for the soldiers he got to know writing the first book when they returned home from the war. Basically, the story is what happens to Sergeant Adam Schumann and two of his unit-mates when they return to the US and leave the Army. Miles Teller plays Staff Sergeant Schumann and Samoan actor Beulah Koale plays the real-life Samoan character SP4 Tausolo Aieti. Both are excellent in the roles. The real Adam Schumann has a small role in the film.

Democrats in Congress are Fighting for the Rich in Their Opposition to the GOP's 401(k) Cut Proposal

Democrats should demand an end to taxation of Social Security benefits

 

If you want to understand why the Democratic Party lost to Trump and the Republicans in 2016, why they'll probably fail to take back Congress in 2018, and why they'll probably lose big in the next presidential election in 2020, just look at their obscene stand on the GOP's proposal to slash the taxable employee deduction for contributions to 401(k) plans from the current $18,000 to just $2500.

Of course the GOP proposal was classic Republican stick-it-to-the-little-guy stuff and in the end the House tax bill announced Thursday dropped it, leaving the deduction standing.

But let's look at what they had been proposing: If you tell someone who makes, say, $80,000 a year, and has been putting away the typical 6% of that, or about $4800 a year, matched by perhaps another $4000 by the employer if lucky, that suddenly he or she will be limited to a tax deductible contribution of just $2500 a year, you are first of all saying you want that worker to be undersaved for retirement, but worse, you're making that employee lose out on perhaps $2000 or so in employer-contributed retirement money each year!

That's outrageous, I'm sure most sentient citizens will agree.
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But what was the Democratic Party's position?

They got up in arms saying that it was outrageous for Republicans to be cutting the tax deductible employee contribution amount from $18,000 to $2500 a year! And they said that instead they want to raise it to $25,000 a year.

This in a country where the average employee who even has a 401(k) plan on the job contributes 6.2% of income, according to the investment firm Vanguard. For a person earning $50,000 a year, that would be $3100, for a person earning $80,000 -- pretty good money for that blue-collar or clerical worker that the Democrats say is their target voter --it would be $4960, for a person earning $100,00 a year, it's $6200, and for a person earning a whopping $150,000 (putting them in likely Republican voter territory), it's $9300.

How many people do you know among your working-class, middle-class, or liberal friends who could manage to contribute more than $10,000 our of their family paycheck, much less their personal paycheck, in a year?

I don't know any. The reality is that 78% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck, unable to save anything. 71% are in debt with net assets that are negative, with more than half of them reporting that they are "over their heads" in debt payments.

So what should the Democrats be proposing as this Republican tax bill gets debated?

First, as a good bargaining point, that the 401(k) deduction limit should be reduced from the 2017 limit of $18,000 (or $36,000 per couple) to $10,000 a year per person ($20,000 per couple).

Second, the savings from cutting the deduction from $18,000 a year to $10,000 must go towards eliminating the tax on Social Security benefits totally.

The 1967 Mobilization Against the War in Vietnam: Confrontation at the Pentagon

An eye-witness report from 50 years ago

hundreds of thousands of protesters confront the US War Machine on Oct. 21, 1967 as Generals and DOD leaders watch from the Pentagon the roofhundreds of thousands of protesters confront the US War Machine on Oct. 21, 1967 as Generals and DOD leaders watch from the Pentagon the roof

 

Note 50 years after the March on the Pentagon:

This month marks the 50th anniversary of a historic event: the 1967 MOBE rally and march on the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands of students, committed leftists and anti-war activists as well as veterans of the Civil Rights movement from all over the nation descended on Washington and put their bodies on the line at the center of the US War Machine. Over 700 were arrested and jailed, among them the author.

In this report -- this journalist’s first piece of newswriting, done at the age of 18 -- I think readers, and especially younger ones who missed the ‘60s, may get a glimpse of the kind of thinking that was going on among those of us who found ourselves coming unexpectedly face to face with the reality of our government as an oppressive global empire, and with the idea that our own government lies.

There is a naivety here that I hope people will understand and see for what it is: evidence of how middle-class people raised in the post-war era as I was had been lured into a sense of comforting illusion even as our nation was overthrowing governments, propping up brutal dictators, slaughtering Third World people on a scale that can only be called genocide, and promoting a Cold War with the USSR which threatened to trigger a thermonuclear war (sound familiar?).

What I missed in my instant, and rather pessimistic snap analysis of the significance of the MOBE at the time was that it actually led to the peace campaigns of both Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to seek another term as President. It also signaled the beginning of a more militant anti-war movement – one which no longer saw the war as just a mistake or a pointless effort, but as part of a vast imperial scheme of global dominance. In my observation about the relatively small number of genuine radicals at the march, I missed the reality that those hard-core radicals were the ones who had been protesting the war early, and who had done much of the organizing to make it happen. I also failed to even imagine that the violence I saw aimed at MPs guarding the Pentagon was almost certainly the work of agents provocateur -- something we learned more about a few years later later when COINTELPRO was exposed.

Despite the shortcomings of my 18-year-old report here, hopefully we can all learn something useful for today by looking back at that crucial event through the eyes of someone whose worldview was profoundly shaped by his participation in it.
 

Confrontation at the Pentagon

Washington, DC (Oct. 26, 1967) -- As I sat on the bus with the other students, all riding down to Washington for the confrontation, there was a whispering question which sat like a knot in my head. I was going down there to commit civil disobedience and probably to get arrested and sentenced to a short stint in jail. Why was I doing this?

I think that there were several reasons I would have give if asked, but none of them really satisfied me. I am opposed to the war in Vietnam. Still, I love this country and a by no means a subversive…I’m a patriot. These two sentences are not mutually exclusive. I’m opposed to the war not because I think we are losing or because we cannot win, but for another reason which I have not completely resolved. It seems to me that the whole of recorded history has been of wars and killing. Right now we are by no means in some millennium, while we humanity, actually contemplate the very real possibility of total self-annihilation and are finally capable of it.

America’s Heroes also Work in Fire Departments, Hospitals and Public Schools

Gen. Kelly needs to zip it

 

This past weekend, my wife and I drove up to Connecticut to attend my 50th high school reunion (which was a great event). But on the way there, we stopped off at a local B&B to drop off our luggage since we’d booked the place for that night. While we were standing just outside the open entryway of the 250-year-old house talking with the innkeeper, there was a loud explosion and a blast of air. It turned out there had been a gas explosion in the inn’s kitchen which, while it didn’t ignite a fire, did severely burn two chefs whose restaurant was catering an event that evening, as well as three waiters.

The victims were brought outside the home and laid on the ground with blankets and we all tried to ease their intense pain, to comfort them as best we could and to keep them from going into shock while waiting for fire trucks and rescue vehicles to arrive.

I mention this because it was so impressive to see the mostly volunteer firefighters from this rural area who raced to the scene in minutes rush straight into the house, unafraid of another blast, to search for any possible victims still inside and to insure that there wouldn’t be any further explosions. Meanwhile, a few firefighters with EMT training started more serious evaluation and treatment of the victims’ injuries.

Firefighters have always amazed me by how astonishingly dedicated and brave they are — and the volunteer ones especially, since they put their lives on the line all the time like that for no remuneration.

This came to mind as I thought of President Trump’s stuffed shirt chief of staff, the retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, and his recent dissing of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL), whom he disparagingly called an “empty barrel” and just a former public school teacher. In Kelly’s stated view, America’s soldiers, especially the ones killed in battle, are the “finest one-percent” of all Americans “because they are the very best this country produces, and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.”

He also said that America’s soldiers “are not making a lot of money,” but “love what they do.”

Gen. (ret) John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff, thinks military people are a cut above ordinary civilian heroesGen. (ret) John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff, thinks military people are a cut above ordinary civilian heroes
 

Clearly, Gen. Kelly thinks that America’s firefighters, it’s EMT workers, or others who work in dangerous, stressful, and often low-paid jobs that are critical to the functioning of this American society, are of a lower caliber than soldiers like himself

This is the most repulsive kind of self-congratulatory militaristic jingoism.

Honor, Sacrifice and Imperial Duplicity

Four Dead in Niger. Anybody Know Why?

 
John Kelly’s defensive scolding from an official White House podium nicely symbolizes the quandary in which US leadership often puts members of our military. On one hand, it was a cry-from-the-heart calling for respect (a return to a “sacred” status of yore) for young soldiers asked to put their lives on the line for US foreign policy. This was given with restrained emotion and gravitas, due to the loss of his own son, Robert, in Afghanistan and the fact he has a second son on a fifth combat deployment. A Marine commander during some very bloody years in the Iraq War, Kelly noted his role sending men (like his sons) to their deaths. Politics aside, one had to respect his candor.

Mali, Niger and Chad and the principals in this story. What happened in Niger? Is Chad the key?Mali, Niger and Chad and the principals in this story. What happened in Niger? Is Chad the key?

But, then, he blew it. He shifted from his experiences to a crass political attack on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a former teacher and school principal now in her fourth term representing the 24th District in the Miami area, an area with many poor, black kids. Speaking to the ambush death of Sergeant LaDavid Johnson in Niger, Kelly shifted radically from bottom-up words about soldierly sacrifice to top-down political mud-slinging in defense of his boss, maybe the most flagrant, bald-faced liar in White House history.

Thursday night, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out, like Kelly, he's a white male product of segregated Boston, a northern city that went through an ugly and painful integration struggle. O’Donnell rightfully honored Kelly for the cry-from-the-heart part of his remarks. But, then, he raked the man over the coals relentlessly for a shameless, ignorant and possibly racist political reprisal attack on Ms. Wilson. He came off as completely ignorant of the fact Ms. Wilson is more than LaDavid and Myeshia Johnson’s US congresswoman; she is a long-time personnel friend of the Johnson family. As a boy, LaDavid Johnson was her pupil in school and went on to participate through high school in a mentoring program she started. She has spent her life in rough areas helping to make decent young men like LaDavid Johnson. Kelly never even mentioned Wilson's name, instead called her an “empty barrel” (whatever that means) and suggested her presence in the car with Johnson’s widow and her listening in on the conversation, which was on speaker-phone, was somehow show-boating. "These are people I've known since they were little children," Wilson told The View. "His uncle went to my elementary school. I was his principal." Johnson's mother died when he was five and he was raised by his uncle and aunt, who were in the limousine with Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Wilson.

Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical To Justice

Ignorance extolled

This history-making black Major League Baseball player called out race prejudice in all sectors of American society including prejudice practiced by U.S. presidents, lawmakers, law enforcers and others.

This player’s poignant observations about the sinews of the prejudice infecting American society focus antiseptic illumination on toxic stances taken by President Trump on the rights of black pro-football players to protest race-based injustices including police brutality.

Interestingly, this player’s critique of patriotism shares some similarities with a stance taken by U.S. Senator John McCain, a man widely respected for his Vietnam War service -- the service that President Trump has repeatedly disparaged because McCain ended up a POW after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam.

In May 2015 McCain issued a report that slammed the U.S. Department of Defense for funneling millions to pro sports leagues to conduct patriotism inspiring events during games. NFL players standing for the national anthem, now the center of controversy between Trump and some NFL players arose largely from that DoD funding that McCain railed against in the report “Tackling Paid Patriotism.”
 
Moses Fleetwood Walker - First Black MLB Player (19th Century) LBWPhotoMoses Fleetwood Walker - First Black MLB Player (19th Century) LBWPhoto
 

This history-making black Major League Baseball player is not Jackie Robinson, the legendary figure who broke the no-blacks-in-MLB barrier in 1947 with his play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

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by Dr. Radut