Tag Archives: politics

If You See Something, Say Something

By Jill Dalton

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I’m finding New York City harder and harder to deal with. First, I’m accosted by the “If you see something, say something” signs painted on the steps in the subway stations.  And once I’m on the train there’s the disembodied voice straight out of Orwell’s “1984” warning me, “If you see a suspicious package, we have the right to search all bags and backpacks; if you see something, say something;” and on and on it drones.  

And the other evening, as I exited from the 5th Avenue/Bryant Park stop I came upon two police officers standing by a table with a large sign that read, “We have the right to search your bags.”  I wanted to take a photo, but I was running short on time, and would have needed to situate myself so as to not be detected, so instead, I kept moving.  And then there are the ubiquitous security cameras I see everywhere, including in Central Park.   

It’s really all about fear isn’t it?  Be afraid.  “Be very afraid” is the message the security state wants to convey; because when people are afraid they’ll do anything to feel safe, including giving up their civil liberties.  The Soviets used this fear tactic in the 50’s, and then the Bush Administration incorporated this tactic into their propaganda bag of tricks.  Remember those red/orange/yellow terror alerts?  

And now the kinder, gentler face of American empire, the Obama Administration, uses fear to control us with their pathetic, lame excuses for massive spying on U.S. Citizens.  “Be afraid.  Yes, be very afraid.  After all, the terrorists are coming!  But we’re here to protect you.  We spy on you for your own good.” 

Really?  Is anyone actually buying this anymore? 

Since 9/11 the security state has systematically taken our civil liberties away, and Americans have barely uttered a whimper.  President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law on October 26, 2001. The title of the act is a ten letter bacronym that stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing 

Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.  The act was in response to the September 11th World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.  According to Wikipedia the act,

significantly weakened restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ gathering of intelligence within the United States; expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.

Then Obama extended three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act on May 26, 2011:

roving wiretaps, searches of business records (“library records provision”), and conducting surveillance of “lone wolves” – individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorists groups.

photo-28After Bush was caught spying, the solution found and implemented was FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).  But FISA has proved to be a rubber stamp—2,000 or more requests for domestic spying, and all but one was approved.

The NSA (National Security Agency) is caught spying on Americans and to rectify the situation “the senate passes the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) amendments act which overhaul government eves- dropping rules in terrorism and espionage cases, granting immunity to telecom companies that participated in domestic surveillance.  Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) votes for this bill.  — Washington Post

Once FISA was installed many of us assumed the spying had stopped.  Au contraire.  And now, so as not to be outdone, Obama has used the USA PATRIOT Act to illegally spy on Americans as well. 

Top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian illustrate what the FISA court actually does – and does not do – when purporting to engage in “oversight” over the NSA’s domestic spying. That process lacks many of the safeguards that Obama, the House GOP, and various media defenders of the NSA are trying to lead the public to believe exist. 

           No individualized warrants required under 2008 FISA law.

Glenn Greenwald, “FISA court oversight: a look inside a secret and empty process.  Obama and other NSA defenders insist there are robust limitations on surveillance but the documents show otherwise.”

After 9/11 Congress gave the government a blank check, and thus began the surveillance state.  Now 70% of this mass spying is privatized, with little or no government oversight.  They’ve built huge computers in Utah to house all the data.  Several whistleblowers have come forward to report the abuse, which included a spying program called Trailblazer that used $6 billion in taxpayer money and was a total bust.

I guess it’s not enough to have TSA scanners in airports radiate you; if you refuse to be radiated, never fear, some TSA lackey will gladly grope you.  I stopped flying soon after they infringed upon our 4th Amendment right of illegal search and seizure.

In New York we have the Stop and Frisk law, which is used to harass mainly black and Hispanic males anytime the police feel like it without probable cause.  This has resulted in racial profiling, illegal stops, and ignoring of privacy rights.  And guess what?  It’s only a matter of time before this draconian practice moves out into the rest of the population.  The privatized security state marches on, and the only word it knows is, “More!”  You see, to the corporate security state, we’re all potential terrorists.

Recently when Bloomberg was criticized over Stop and Frisk his response was, “ . . . I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. 

And then there’s the drone program, where we learn from The Washington Post: 

The FBI has received clearance from federal aviation officials to conduct drone surveillance operations in the United States on at least four occasions since 2010, according to public records and U.S. officials.

And if that isn’t disturbing enough, according to the same article, “Congress has directed the FAA to open domestic airspace to drones by 2015.”  

The ACLU has this to say about drones on their website: 

U.S. law enforcement is greatly expanding its use of domestic drones for surveillance. Routine aerial surveillance would profoundly change the character of public life in America. Rules must be put in place to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of this new technology without bringing us closer to a “surveillance society” in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the government. Drone manufacturers are also considering offering police the option of arming these remote-controlled aircraft with (nonlethal for now) weapons like rubber bullets, Tasers, and tear gas.

Numerous states are considering (and some have passed) legislation regulating the use of drones. You can see a chart summarizing the developments around the country here. Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to change airspace rules to make it much easier for police nationwide to use domestic drones, but the law does not include badly needed privacy protections. 

Turns out drone legislation has been, “proposed in 42 states, enacted in 5 states, and is still active in 29 states.”

 According to the New York Times article, “Rise of Drones in U.S. Drives Efforts to Limit Police Use.” 

A federal law enacted last year paved the way for drones to be used commercially and made it easier for government agencies to obtain them. The Department of Homeland Security offered grants to help local law enforcement buy them. Drone manufacturers began to market small, lightweight devices specifically for policing. Drones are already used to monitor movement on the United States’ borders and by a handful of police departments, and emergency services agencies around the country are just beginning to explore their uses.

Turns out Mayor Bloomberg is all for spying and having drones hovering above New York City.  He’s quoted as saying on his radio program, “Oh, it’s Big Brother; get used to it.”

Amazing how much disdain Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama and most of our elected officials have for civil liberties–other than their own, of course.  Seems they’re just not that into the Constitution.  It makes sense–the corporatists and their criminal buddies, who run the “too big to jail” banks, Wall Street, and the corporations that run our government–need drones to protect their self-interests.

Bloomberg brags, “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.”  Actually, they are nowhere near seventh; it’s more like ninety-seventh, but who’s counting?  According to Detective Abad Nieves’ “We are in the business of scaring people–we just want to scare the right people.” The NYPD has been rife with corruption, from rape to intimidation, harassing, pepper spraying, and beating Occupy protestors, as well as gunning down black teens over marijuana.  The NYPD has expanded into the largest police force in the U.S. with surveillance and military capabilities.

In an email published by WikiLeaks, an FBI official joked about how shocked Americans would be if they knew how egregiously the NYPD is stomping all over their civil liberties.

Check out “Nine terrifying facts about America’s biggest police force” by Tana Ganeva and Laura Gottesdiener.

So yes, Big Brother is alive and well, and flourishing in the U.S.  Our freedoms are systematically being stripped from us, our police forces militarized, and the NSA is data-mining every phone call, email and social network site, and all in the name of protecting us from terrorism.  You see, the powers that be know what’s coming.   As the economy gets worse for regular Americans, and climate change brings more disasters, and resources become less available the corporate security state is afraid of mass civil disobedience and unrest.

And if you have the unmitigated gall to actually report abuses of the corporate security state or the military industrial complex (Snowden, Manning, Assange, Drake, Greenwald, Hastings, etc.) you’ll be vilified, demeaned, and hunted down with the full intention of silencing and destroying you.  No one is off limits.  Seems real journalists (investigative reporters) are in the crosshairs as well.

The First Amendment to our Constitution protects freedom of the press.  Our press is supposed to report abuses by our government, but instead these talking heads who pose as reporters on TV are merely sycophants on the corporate tit.  And they not only spew the state’s propaganda, but condemn and openly chastise any reporting by real journalists who have the courage to stand up and speak truth to power.  And because of this new attack on journalists real sources have dried up according to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.

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In Greenwald’s interview on Meet the Press, Dick Gregory accuses him of “aiding and abetting” and asks, why shouldn’t he (Greenwald) be charged with a crime?  And then there’s the recent untimely death of Michael Hastings (who wrote the famous Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal forcing McChrystal’s resignation), was met with much ridicule by many of these actors in the corporate media, calling themselves reporters, yet serving only to protect their overblown salaries and the status quo.

Glenn Greenwald and Snowden have really blown the cover off the whole corporate security surveillance police state that’s been covertly put into place.  And like many whistleblowers and journalists before them, they’re demonized by the security state and the corporate media whores posing as journalists.

And now that the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, and the American people are outraged our senators cry fowl; “How could this happen?”  It happened because they voted for it and their outcry is merely posturing because they got caught. 

The NSA is not about protecting us from terrorists; it’s about protecting our corrupt security state from us.  And I for one will not go quietly into that good night.  So here’s to those of us who refuse to remain silent. 

Like Greenwald said in his talk to the 2013 Socialism Conference in Chicago 

Courage is contagious. If you take a courageous step as an individual, you will literally change the world because you will affect all sorts of people in your vicinity, and they will affect others, and they will affect others.  Never doubt your ability to change the world.

It doesn’t matter who you are as an individual or how formidable or powerful the institutions you want to challenge are.

He (Snowden) is a person with zero power, zero prestige, zero position, zero privilege, yet he, by himself, has literally changed the world.”

 Indeed, and so have you, Glenn Greenwald.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. —  Margaret Mead

So, to all the whistleblowers, truth tellers, real journalists, occupiers, and individuals who stand up and speak out about the injustices and cruelties being done in our name, I thank you.  I salute you.  I commend you.  I emulate you.  You give me hope.  It’s time to join with these great spirits in truth, justice, and peace.

 Fear not!  Like Greenwald said:

 You don’t need to be afraid.  Stand up to the US government, and be defiant, and exercise your constitutional rights.  Ultimately, we know we have rights we ought to exercise, and the only way they can go away is if we give in to fear.  Do not be afraid.

If you see something, say something.

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Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out: Socialism 2013 Conference

Socialism 2013—Glenn Greenwald:  Courage is Contagious + Trnascript

Timeline of electronic surveillance under Bush and Obama from 2001 – 2013.

Michael Jackson:  Somebody’s Watching Me

Sometimes I Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

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Go Back To Sleep America at Your Own Peril

by Jill Dalton

Go back to sleep America.  The election is over.  The “lesser of two evils” or as Glen Ford so aptly labeled him the “more effective evil” has won and all is well with the world.

You cast your faux fear vote for your faux president who was actually selected and installed by the corporate powers to serve the corporate police state that’s been put into place over the past 30 years, and is now accelerating at an alarming rate.  The irony is many actually believe their vote matters and global warming doesn’t exist and we’re fighting the good wars and fracking will save us from peak oil and taking our rights away will keep us safe and we’re number one.

Sure we’re number 1.  Number 1 in income inequality, #1 in incarceration rates, #1 in building and exporting weapons, #1 in military spending.  In fact, we’re the #1 terrorist organization on the planet.  Our main exports are: murder, torture, death and destruction.  We’ve managed to create terrorists where there were none.  Terrorism is like a cancer and when it’s attacked it metastases and spreads around the globe.  Our child poverty rate is 23.1% second only to Romania.  We rank in the low 20’s in science and math scores so go back to sleep America.

The sociopaths have taken over the asylum and are hollowing or harvesting our country out from the inside.  Our manufacturing sector has plummeted from 70% in the 1960’s to a meager 17% today.  Corporate power, aided and abetted by our bought and paid for legislators, are exploiting us and destroying the environment in the process. 

I believe these white male supremacist hate the feminine and therefore degrade, defeat, demean, abuse, rape and pillage Mother Earth every chance they get, and when she fights back with a Katrina or a Sandy they deny climate change.  These male white supremacists treat us human women with the same distain and disrespect.  They’re dangerous dinosaurs that have not evolved and are running scared.  You only have to look at blowhards like O’Reilly or Limbaugh to see the pattern.  But all bullies are really cowards, hiding their fear behind racism, sexism and vitriol, and when you stand up to a bully they invariable back down as you’ve exposed them for the ugly pathetic little tyrants they are.  Their only power lies in our silence, and obedience. 

We know the truth, and we have the power.  Our Constitution still reads “we the people” not “we the corporations.”  It’s up to us to rise up and stand up for our rights, and our planet.  For our mother earth, women’s rights, economic equality, a peaceful world, a peaceful homeland, good food, good schools, good jobs and healthcare for all not just the rich.  These are basic human rights.

But we’ve given our power away.  We’re no longer citizens we’re consumers.   We’re passive.  We vote and think we’ve done our civic duty, and then go back to sleep till the next bogus election comes around complete with its negative attack ads, non-issues and corporately sponsored participants. 

Issues are never discussed because that would be too dangerous to the corporate state, and the American people might wake up and ask, “Yeah, why don’t I have a good job and healthcare, why can’t my kids get a decent education?  Why are we bailing out the bankers and Wall Street and foreclosing on homeowners?  Why are we spending trillions on illegal wars?  Why are our police forces militarized?  Why is my income the same as it was in 1968 while productivity is up, and CEO’s are making millions?”  Why?  Because the corporate state is about profit and control, and we’re merely pawns in their game of greed where, to borrow from Chris Hedges, “the only word they know is, MORE!” 

They ignore our cries.  50% of all Americans are either in or near poverty.  Our children go to sleep hungry and homeless but we’re too busy propping up a dead system that serves the 1%.  It’s actually much less than the 1% but no need to split hairs here.  Sure the economy works for them.  Their kids go to private schools; they have healthcare, a few nice homes and eat non-GMO food so it works for them.

I received an email from an old friend recently and inside was a rant from a woman proclaiming how all these poor people are freeloading off Obama’s welfare state because they receive food stamps while she, on the other hand, has to work very hard at her job, and why should they get a free ride?

I wrote back, “Seriously, you’re concerned about a poor family of four receiving $70 a week in food stamps?  What about Wall Street and the too big to fail banks who’ve been given $16 trillion of our taxpayer dollars, or 1 trillion a year being spent on illegal wars.  What about the tax cuts for the rich, and them not paying their fair share?”  Seems she’s been indoctrinated, as many have, in the Ayn Rand philosophy.  It’s the let’s blame the victim mentality.  Let’s point the finger at those who have no power, no voice, and can’t fight back. 

Her rage is understandable but completely misdirected.  But that’s how the corporate propaganda machine works.  And with many Americans no longer able to think, and instead spouting sound bites and platitudes with no real thought process behind them, we see how dangerously misguided this (it’s every man/woman for themselves) group think has become.

Our school systems are being privatized or corporatized, as they issue standardized tests, so students can parrot back the group think because people who’re able to think are dangerous to the corporate state.  It’s much harder to manipulate and control us when we’re able to process their crimes, and connect the dots. No matter corporatizing our school system will destroy the creativity, and ingenuity that Americans are known for.

“We the people” have the power yet we stand silent to these corporate forces, and merely obey as our rights are stripped away; our jobs sent overseas, our homes foreclosed upon.  We turn a blind eye to Obama’s drone attacks, illegal wars, collateral damage, “Kill List,” assassinations of American citizens, the signing of the NDAA and H.R. 347.  And like the Germans in the 1930’s we remain mute to these atrocities.

“First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984

Go back to sleep America. 

And don’t forget to numb out by watching “Dancing With the Stars,” or some other mindless reality TV show, and fake corporate news that doesn’t deal with any real issues just like the campaign, and the faux debates because remember, “You can’t handle the truth.”  And if all else fails we can always entertain ourselves by shopping for cheap stuff made in China at Wal-Mart we don’t need as long as we’re distracted and preoccupied the powers that be have us right where they want us, and will continue to loot, murder, plunder, and steal.

And now it’s time to get austerity passed.  It’s time for Obama’s grand bargain with the Republicans, which he can’t wait to install and we all see how well that’s working in Europe with their massive demonstrations.  I believe Obama was put into office to do what no Republican could ever get away with.  He’s here to tell us they’re cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

No one would dare mention all our fiscal problems could be rectified by allowing the Bush/Obama tax cuts for the rich to expire, reducing the military budget, ending these illegal wars, bringing our troops home. Do we really need them in Germany and England almost 70 years after WWII?

Go back to sleep America.

And with the advent of Citizens United both parties have been co-opted by big money, and are beholding to their corporate puppet masters.

The Republicans make no bones about it.  They tell us they hate everyone who isn’t white, male and rich.  Okay, I don’t like it but at least they tell you to your face, “We hate you, we’re stealing your stuff: Social Security, killing Medicare and Medicaid because we hope you get sick and die, and we’re giving all your money to our fat, rich billionaire friends, we’re killing all entitlements except corporate entitlements, we’re looting the treasury, and we don’t care what you say.  We’re “the deciders.” They claim to purport free trade, which is anything but, and the Ayn Rand philosophy of “I got mine so who cares about you” individualist, and while we’re at it we’re going to drown government in the bathtub, as we collect our fat government pensions, free healthcare, FEMA help, and whatever else the government wants to dole out all the while proclaiming how horrible “entitlements” are.

But honestly, I guess I prefer that to the lily-livered Democrats who feel the same way about us, but lie about it to our faces in their Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain” and “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” bull crap kind of way.  I’d rather know where I stand than listen to their sniveling excuses and lies.

So now Obama and the Democrats will pretend they’ve got our backs, and the Republicans will refuse to do anything but cry fowl and demand more tax cuts for the rich or “job creators,” as they’ve falsely renamed them.  If that were true we’d be rolling in new jobs.  Then Obama will make his usual pathetic excuses, “Gee sorry, kids I tried but the Republicans are just so mean, and I have no backbone, and no negotiating skills, and no character, and it’s the best I could do, and can’t we all just get along?” 

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong, which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” 

Frederick Douglass

This is why all change is and always has always been brought about by social movements.  It’s truly up to “we the people” to change things.  It’s up to us to raise holy hell, and demand our constitutional rights, demand a green sustainable economy, demand single payer for all, demand Social Security be protected, demand an end to these illegal wars of aggression, demand an end to the bank bailouts, demand the too big to fail banks be broken up, demand economic equality, demand decent paying jobs, demand an end to torture and prosecuting whistleblowers, demand accountability for the bankers and Wall Street crooks, as well as the Bush/Cheney/Obama criminality.  These men are traitors to the U.S. Constitution and should be held accountable, but until “we the people” demand justice nothing will change. 

I was grateful to see Elizabeth Warren won her Senate seat along with other progressive candidates such as Alan Grayson, Sherrod Brown, Harkeem Jeffries and Tammy Baldwin.  According to Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) progressives took 30 seats in all defeating several right wing extremists but we cannot rely on them either.  It’s up to us.

As for Obama my prayer is Americans will wake up, and smell the corruption.  Our consciousness will be raised, and we’ll demand our civil liberties back, demand a stop to drone attacks, illegal wars, assassinations of American citizens, refuse to be spied on, or illegally searched at airports but alas Americans seem to love giving their rights away.  The American dream has become a nightmare.

In Nader’s new book:  “17 Solutions,” he assures us, “It’d only take 1% of the population to take up their civic duty as a hobby to turn this ship around.  It’s easier than you think,” he espouses.  “We must organize, attend rallies, occupy local congressional offices with specific demands, occupy courtrooms” and demand our rights.  It’s up to us to do it.  Stop capitulating at every turn. 

We must hold this president accountable.  We’ve put no pressure on this guy, and he’s run slipshod over the Constitution and us, and very few seem to notice or care.  By voting for “the lesser evil,” (I voted for Jill Stein) the so called liberals are accessories to his crimes, and are now officially irrelevant.  And just because you voted for him doesn’t mean he’s got your best interest at heart.  It doesn’t matter what he says.  It’s what he does that counts.

The Unions, what’s left of them and, in fact, the entire liberal class has sold out.  So forget about them.  They’re a waste of time.  Focus on solutions not problems.  Whatever we put our attention on multiplies.  Solutions.  Action.  “We the people” have the power, but like Sleeping Beauty we’ve fallen asleep.  Obama’s no Prince Charming.  There will be no revivifying kiss.  His power lies in us staying asleep.

Come on.  We’re Americans.  Get it together. It’s up to us.  We allowed this insanity to happen by ignoring the truth, and now it’s time to act before it’s too late.  No more excuses.  No more fighting over wedge issues.  The whole point is to keep “we the people” distracted and divided, fighting over nonsense, so the corporate powers can continue to rape, pillage, and steal from us. It’s the oldest trick in the book.

“United we stand, divided we fall.”

Patrick Henry

If we’re to survive as a species and a country we must come together and take back our rights, our dignity and our Constitution.  We only need to remember the truth and act.

Go back to sleep America at your own peril. 


Bearing Witness to 11 Years of an Illegal War of Aggression

by Jill Dalton

The moment I emerge above ground from the South Ferry Station in lower Manhattan I must appear lost.  I’m not lost just disoriented, which happens from time to time when I arise from the subterranean bowels of the New York City subway system.  The man standing at the corner asks, “Need a cab?   “No.” I reply.  “I need 55 Water Street. “ The cabbie points, “Two blocks down—on the right.”  And off I go.  I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been to the Vietnam War Memorial in New York or Washington, D.C. for that matter. 

I’ve never much felt like paying homage to these lost souls as it brings up too much pain from my own life with a Colonel father who served in three wars.  His Swan Song was Vietnam.  Our entire family had to deal with the ramifications of the aftermath of that war and we never fully recovered.  My father returned from his tour of Vietnam a different man and the country he’d given his total love and undying devotion to and his family had changed.  Our living room became the new battleground. 

I no longer saw my father as the mighty war hero from WWII or the savior of the Nazi horror but as a cog in the military war machine of death and destruction being perpetrated on innocent people in some land far, far away that we had no business being in.  Back then it was called the communist threat.  The Domino Theory was how they justified it.  “It we don’t stop the communist they will take over the world one country at a time.”

My father and I were mostly estranged from the time I was eighteen until right before his death, which was twenty-three years later.  We reconciled and made our peace shortly before he died, and all these years later I’ve come to know and understand him, and now realize we were both fighting for the same thing just from a different perspective.

So visiting these war memorials has never held any fascination or deep burning desire for me, but after many years of healing I realize it’d be an honor to stand side-by-side with other like-minded peace activists and Vets as well as active duty military who believe, as I do, these wars of aggression are wrong and must end now.

These illegal wars are destroying our country and the men and women who serve it.  Tens of thousands of untold innocent people in the Middle East have been murdered and for what?  War profiteers who make billions on death and destruction run these illegal wars of aggression.  This is why these wars are not discussed.  They are in fact taboo.  Whenever I mention “the wars” to even close friends I am, for the most part, met with silence.  Like I’ve brought up a very impolite and distasteful subject that shouldn’t be discussed in polite company.  Other times I’m met with out and out hostility, and the argument becomes about, well, we’re not the only bad guys or I’m called angry and unpatriotic for not supporting our troops.  Like I’m supposed to wave the flag, wear a yellow ribbon, and shout rah, rah like the so-called patriots who follow blindly without knowledge or understanding of what’s really going on–as if being willfully ignorant were a virtue. 

What these people and many others like them do not understand is the people who are the most critical of their government and this country are the one’s who care and love this country the most. 

At the entrance to the memorial I’m greeted by a cheerful woman handing out or I should say trying to hand out pamphlets to passersby, which no one takes except me, as she asks, “Are you aware today’s the eleventh anniversary of the war in Afghanistan?”  To which I reply, “Yes, I am and that’s where I’m going.” 

The headline on the flier reads, “Awakening from the nightmare of war.  Afghanistan:  11 years too long, Veterans say bring ‘em home, Keep ‘em home!”

And the quote at the bottom of the page reads,

To begin the process of change, to stop the war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern blacks did, as antiwar protestors did.   Howard Zinn, historian/political activist

Civil disobedience?  Justice?  Not exactly subjects most Americans are interested in. It seems most would rather discuss what over the hill, has been or wanna be star will be humiliating themselves on “Dancing With the Stars” this season. 

Vietnam Memorial

Once inside, the memorial is rather underwhelming.  Certainly nothing like the one in Washington.  There are about fifty or so people milling about so I scope out the situation, and find a bench that isn’t too wet to sit on, as it’s been raining on and off all day.

I’m excited as Chris Hedges, Margaret Flowers, Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese, as well as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan veterans are scheduled to speak. 

I strike up a conversation with a woman who sits on the bench next to me.  Turns out she’s a Vet, but luckily got out in the 90’s, and now travels around the world teaching organic farming.  She just finished walking the Appalachian Trail and is headed to Florida the next day, as the cold is not to her liking.  Can’t say as I blame her, but Florida? 

 I no longer celebrate the Fourth of July or Columbus Day.  I do not wave the flag of hatred, racism or aggression our flag has come to symbolize, but I’m not the only one.

Combat veteran and poet Jenny Pacanowski steps to the microphone and waves her arms in the air.  “I’m a female combat veteran.  Take a good look cause you’ve probably never seen one.”  Jenny explains she rehabilitated herself through art.  She then reads her powerful poem about veterans suicides, “Parade.”  Here’s a section from the poem.

The funeral procession from Syracuse airport to Ithaca NY was over 50 miles long.

Dragging his dead body through town after town of people, families and children waving flags.

The fallen HERO had finally come home.

I wonder how many children who saw this, will someday want to be dead HEROS too.

I did not wave a flag that day or any day since my return.

I live in a dream called my life. Where the good things don’t seem real or sustainable.

I live in the nightmares of the past called Iraq and PTSD that never run out of fuel.

Is it better to be dead hero?

Or a living fucked up, addicted, crazy veteran?”

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, a hero of mine, a rare man of integrity, intellect, empathy and honor reads from his piece, “The Maimed.”  And irony of irony when Hedges speaks, as if on cue, a large fireworks display begins in the distance.  It sounds like bombs bursting in air, and because he’s been in so many conflicts, he doesn’t even flinch, he just calmly reads.

It is only the maimed that finally know war. And we are the maimed. We are the broken and the lame. We ask for forgiveness. We seek redemption. We carry on our backs this awful cross of death, for the essence of war is death, and the weight of it digs into our shoulders and eats away at our souls. We drag it through life, up hills and down hills, along the roads, into the most intimate recesses of our lives. It never leaves us. Those who know us best know that there is something unspeakable and evil many of us harbor within us. This evil is intimate. It is personal. We do not speak its name. It is the evil of things done and things left undone. It is the evil of war.

Bishop George Packard

Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard served in Vietnam, and was arrested with Occupy Wall Street, calls these wars a “lethal and toxic absurdly from corporate America” and continues “America has lost it’s conscience.  An entire generation has gone to waste in this insanity.”  

Reverend Eric Johnson, a son of a Veteran talks about the pain and stress of war, and how wars don’t end at 10 p.m.  “We want justice. We are witnesses.  They close the memorial at 10 p.m., but war does not end at 10 p.m. “ He asks, “What do we want?”  And the crowd shouts back, “Justice!”  “What do we stand for today?”  Again we reply, “Justice!”

Sgt. Mika Turner

Then, a handsome young soldier I’d noticed earlier and taken a few photos of speaks and my heart breaks. 

My name is Micah Turner.  I’m 24 years old and I’ve served four combat tours. More soldiers have committed suicide then have been killed in these wars.  One month ago today I deserted my unit and tonight I will turn myself into the military police.  Thank you for letting me speak.

Kevin Zeese from Occupy D.C. emphasizes,  

The empire economy is not working for us or others.  We steal resources and workers in other countries.  These wars are for transnational corporations.  We must 1.  Take the profits out of war and 2.  Live by the rule of law.  Both parties are guilty.  These presidents should be in prison.  We have the right to peaceful assembly.

Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician who, like many of her colleagues, left the medical profession because it was impossible to deliver high quality health care in this environment, turned activist and proponent of single payer healthcare for all, has been arrested more than once for this worthy cause.  She calls these wars a health crisis and assures us, “This is not the ruling class but the looting class.”  Here’s her powerful open letter to President Obama regarding Single-Payer healthcare. 

You can also watch Dr. Flowers in action as she confronts Wall Street investors trying to profit from health care. 

Another young soldier, Javier Ocasio, tells the story of how he awoke and became involved in anti war activism.  He was suffering from horrible PTSD and was unable to communicate with his young daughter.  His wife would implore him to please spend time with her but he just couldn’t.  And then the unthinkable happened, his daughter died suddenly, and he asked if he could carry her body to the morgue.  He recounts how heavy her lifeless body was, and that’s when he made the connection.  He thought of all the parents in the Middle East who have to carry their dead children’s bodies and miracle of miracles he woke up.

How many more years will we continue these illegal wars of aggression?  How many more innocents have to die in our name?  How many more soldiers have to commit suicide?  How many more souls need to be laid waste?  How many more citizens have to lose their homes, their jobs, go without healthcare?  How many more children have to go hungry?  How many more have to be incarcerated? How many more of our rights have to be taken away?  How many more Gulf oil spills covered up with corexit or Fukushima’s? Where is the outrage as our rights are systematically stripped away as our country is hollowed out from the inside? 

Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.  Americans have allowed, and are colluding with their own demise.  We remain silent just like the German.  We are obedient and compliant.  We merely obey.  We stand mute and docile as they radiate us at airports or pass the NDAA in the dead of night with never so much as a whimper from the brainwashed, non thinking, non questioning consumers who genuflect to the lies and misdeeds of this nation, and instead worship at the cult of illusion.

What will it take for Americans to awaken from their slumber?   


“Is It Fascism Yet?” is Published on Amazon.com

by Jill Dalton

I’m proud and excited to announce my first eBook, “Is It Fascism Yet?” has been published on amazon.com and can be purchased for $4.99 by clicking here.  It will download to your Kindle.  If you don’t own a Kindle you can download the app for FREE to your computer.  Thanks for your support.  I hope you enjoy the book and please feel free to write a review.

Is It Fascism Yet? is a collection of blogs I wrote beginning in January 2011 to shed some light and try to understand the dangerous changes this country is undergoing. I’ve revised and updated the blogs and included over 70 photographs, which I took while attending Occupy Wall Street rallies and other recent demonstrations as well as 21 powerful images by the insightful political satirist, Tracy Knauss.  My articles have been published on: Dandelion Salad, OpEdNews, Reader Supported News, Progressive Activist Voice and NationofChange and several made it to the #1 position.

My blogs incorporate, among other things, the ever growing threat of fascism in our country, our illegal unjust wars, the military industrial complex, the corporate coup, the right wing agenda and the collusion of the corporate media, the dismantling of our rights and the Constitution, the Democrat’s and Obama’s capitulation to the right, the so-called debt crisis, the shock doctrine, Wall Street and the too big to fail banks, the Occupy movement and police brutality, to name a few.

When I was about 11 years old my father, a highly decorated Colonel in the U.S. Army who fought in three wars: WWII under Patton, Korea and Vietnam, took me to Washington, DC to the Lincoln Memorial where he read the Gettysburg Address off the walls to me. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” These powerful words fell from his lips into my heart.

My father had a deep abiding love for this country and he instilled that love in me. Although we were estranged for many years due to our opposing political views over the Vietnam War, I’ve come to understand we were both fighting for the same things just from a different perspective.

My writing’s are also a call to action. We must all stand up to the corporate forces of darkness that threaten our very existence and say, “Enough! No more! Not on my watch!”  We are one and together we can ignite change. We deserve to live in a clean, healthy, peaceful world but it is up to us to make this happen.

“But remember, this power of the people on top depends on the people below. When people stop obeying, they have no power.” Howard Zinn


BILL CLINTON RIDES AGAIN

by Jill Dalton

I received an email from a friend yesterday morning discussing the two political conventions and touting the brilliance of Bill Clinton’s speech and how amazing he is.  Well, I have a few things to say about Bill Clinton and the two political parties and their Hollywood spectacles err I mean conventions.

Image by Tracy Knauss

But first, let’s give credit where credit’s due.  Clinton has massive amounts of charisma otherwise he couldn’t have achieved the political things he did.  Clinton is a masterful politician and for more insights into his character and how he uses his gifts I recommend watching “Primary Colors.”  But let’s be fair, no matter what’s said about him he did balance the budget, no small feat, and left us with a surplus.  I acknowledge and commend him for that. 

However, he also managed to:

Deregulated Wall Street by getting rid of the Glass Steagall Act (Banking Act of 1933), which was put into place after the stock market crash of ’29 to prevent that kind of catastrophe from ever occurring again and once those regulations were removed allowed the recent global meltdown to occur.

He also signed NAFTA into law and swore up and down on a stack of Bibles NAFTA would be great for creating jobs and we believed him and yes, it created millions of slave labor jobs overseas.  This so called “free trade” agreement sent millions of our jobs to China, India, Vietnam, etc. never to return home again and left our factories to rot, collapse and decay and now millions of Americans find themselves without a job and with no hopes of ever getting another one unless they want to work some menial service sector job–McDonalds comes to mind.

What else?  Oh yeah, he gutted welfare all the while feigning his “I feel your pain” rhetoric.  This guy’s good.  He’s a topnotch politician and brilliant at his craft.  He knows how to manipulate the public to protect his corporate sponsors. 

Something else I found disturbing in Clinton’s speech at the DNC was when he said, “focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity.” 

Hmmm.  This sounds suspiciously like what Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party of Italy said, “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

But as bad and deceitful as Clinton may be he pales in comparison to the blood lust of the Republicans.  They can’t wait to sink their fangs into us.  The Republicans are corporately owned and operated and proud of it.  They stand proudly for the 1%, Wall Street and corporations while managing to hate women, immigrants, blacks, Latinos, gays, the elderly and anyone with half a brain or a moral conscience. 

These Republicans or white male supremacists have become the American Fascist Party.  All hate.  All fear mongering.  All the time.  No ideas, no ideals—just right wing/Ayn Rand ideology.  I got mine so screw you and if you don’t like it–screw you.

The Democrats are also corporately owned and operated but struggle somewhat with this dilemma.  They, under the leadership (if you can call it that, more like spinelessness) of Obama, have moved so far to the right as to be unrecognizable.  They sold out.  They’ve become what the Republican Party used to be.

Yes, with the passage of Citizens United by our right wing Supreme Court, corporations are now people and can pour untold billions into our political elections to buy up candidates at will.   Like Elizabeth Warren said at the convention, “The system is rigged,” and both parties take their marching orders from Wall Street, the big banks, corporations and the 1%. Running for office is big business and has nothing to do with “we the people” or running our country.”  Voting for either party at this point is tantamount to voting for our own demise. 

I for one won’t be fooled again.  But what to do?  We have no choice you cry.  But you see we do.

There is another choice.  We have other political parties, which haven’t sold their souls to the corporate, blood-sucking Vampires, at least not yet.  Ask yourself what’s the reason third party candidates aren’t allowed in the debates or on the ballots.  Why?  Because we don’t live in a democracy that’s why.  We live in an Oligarchy where the 40 richest families in the US own 40% of the wealth and control the government. 

Also if Americans actually saw there’s a real choice out there they might just wake up and vote these thieving, deceiving, lying, conniving, no account, treacherous bastards out of office.  And believe me both political parties suck at the government tit with their Cadillac healthcare and huge pension packages and hold their greedy little hands out to receive graft from the corporate trough all the while calling the rest of us lazy welfare or unemployment whores for not being able to find a job that doesn’t exist or pay for corrupt, bloated healthcare we can’t afford.

So it’s time to awaken from our slumber, turn off the TV, put our thinking caps back on and get our boots on the ground.  Gandhi did not defeat the British Empire by posting on Facebook or signing petitions.  Although I still do that too.  He put his body in front of the machine.

There’s a better way.  Watch Bill Moyers interview with Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein & Cheri Honkala. 

Together we can do this.  We have the power.  

But remember, this power of the people on top depends on the people below. When people stop obeying, they have no power. 

— Howard Zinn

What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but “who is sitting in” — and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.” 

Howard Zinn

Count me in.