Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Visitor From Pakistan

  I went to the Illinois Green Party state meeting and met a charming man from Pakistan.  He started the Pakistan Green Party in 2002 and they already have 165 elected representatives. 
  I have proportional representation envy!
  He came to the US to tell Americans about the drone attacks on Pakistani civilians.  Over 900 had been killed at the time of the meeting, with a million people driven from their homes in fear.  He thought that we could tell Congress to put a stop to it!   This was an absurd thought to we   Americans.  
   Congress listening to the people they purportedly represent?  As if!  Where did he get these ideas?
   He said that if the USA really wanted peace in the region, we would encourage talks between Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iraq.  Peace?  Why would he think that the US government wants peace?
   Then he said that the people of Pakistan are confused as to why Americans are attacking them.  They believe that Americans are rich and happy, so why would they want to kill other people?
   Again, where do they get these ideas?  
   I remember seeing a bereaved Iraqi father crying on TV.  His wife and children had been killed.  He was saying, "This is the democracy you bring us?"  (Translated by FSTV. I don't speak Arabic).
   I was amazed.  Where did he get the idea that the USA was bringing Iraq democracy?  Isn't this just the crap they feed us?  Why would an Iraqi entertain such nonsense for even a minute?  And to lose your entire family, and appeal to the better nature of the murderers?  To entertain the possibility that they meant well?  This is bizarre!
   Apparently, the American propaganda system is strong enough to influence world opinion against all reality.  Although progressives cling to the belief that oppressed peoples of the world see US imperialism for what it is, I don't think so.  They are just as deluded as we are.
   I am not dissing Mr. Ali.  I was impressed with his passion and intelligence.  I am just marveling at the ability of US corporate interests to create their own reality, and to convince the people of the world that America is prosperous, free and democratic.  
  
  
   


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

At the Mad Hater's Tea Party

After my radio show today, I picked up my leaflets and headed out to the tea party. I thought it would be an open mike kind of thing, and had my "the original tea party was protesting the corporate influence of the East Indies Tea Company on the King of England - an anti-corporate agenda" speech planned in my head.

I get there and a man in a suit is leading a prayer to a group of people in America-kitsch-themed t-shirts waving flags. There was no sound system - not even a megaphone. Well, that sucked.

After the prayer, they split up to go wave signs and teabags at the passing cars. No speeches. I talked to the suit, and he turned out to be a member of the Constitution Party. I told him that the Green Party holds an event every July 4th where we read the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. He shook my hand and thanked me for coming, so I gave him a leaflet, and then went to hand the rest out to the sign wavers. Luckily, my old IT guy showed up and watched my back. (Thanks, Dave.)

Dave introduced me to a guy in a wheelchair and his wife. The guy in the wheelchair handed me his leaflet, but announced that Dave was a liberal, so he wheeled away, I guess to avoid contamination.

I'm left talking to the wife, who was quite out there. She was extremely concerned about the fetuses. Luckily, my leaflet had a picture of an injured Iraqi child on it, so I kept waving it in her face and appealing to her concern for actual born humans. She really didn't care much for born humans. She looked at the injured child and said, "She was given the right to life" I said, "But then American bombs took it away." She said "But the original right was when she was born". I said, "But then after she was born and her parents nutured her and fed her, then American bombs injured her". She said, "We liberated them!" OK, we were getting nowhere. Eventually, she asked if I was an atheist and I allowed that I was, and she totally freaked out! She had to remove herself and go swoon somewhere else.

Interestingly, I read her husband's leaflet and he believes that Obama has declared the USA to be a socialist atheist country. If they believe that, why did meeting a real atheist cause her so much surprise and distress? If I had read the leaflet before, I would have proclaimed myself a socialist atheist. But then I probably would have had to do CPR on her.

Then I headed out to the annual peacenik event at the main post office. There were four people (and I made five) handing out War Resistor pie charts showing where our tax dollars go. Probably over half of the people took them. Many said they knew where their tax dollars went. I tried explaining that a pie chart made it much more accessible. One guy refused the leaflet and then bought the USA Today! I pointed out that if he didn't like pie charts, why was he buying the USA Today? He still wouldn't take my leaflet.

All in all, I've had a pretty productive day, and I haven't even gone to my paid job yet.
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Speech Against the War - March 21st

20 years into the military-industrial takeover of the US, we invaded Vietnam. Back then, we had nowhere near the advanced and computerized WMD we have today. Look at the old pictures of American soldiers shirtless in the jungle heat and compare it to the pictures of our heavily body armored soldiers in Iraq and you can see why it took 58,000 American deaths to kill around 3,000,000 Vietnamese and only 4,000 American deaths to kill around 1,000,000 Iraqis. Like other American workers, soldiers have increased their productivity. I don't know if the pay kept pace.

But our advanced killing machine is not the only change in the last 30 years.
Ownership of our mass media has been concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, until now most media is controlled by 5 corporations. In the 60s, when Senator George Aiken suggested that the way to get out of Vietnam was to "declare victory and leave", it was considered an unrealistic suggestion. It was thought that altering reality in such an obvious way would be rejected by the American public.

Our ruling elite now have the power to create reality, as Karl Rove pointed out. They have not only declared victory in Iraq, but they have announced that they are leaving, and people believe both statements. Victory in Iraq is defined by fewer Americans being killed. And we’re leaving, except for 50,000 US troops to guard the US embassy and bases. And, since there is no corporate media here, we can point out, to protect US access to Iraqi oil.

In the meantime, 1,000,000+ Iraqis are dead, and 4,000,000 have been ethnically cleansed, 2,000,000 internal refugees and 2,000,000 who have fled the country. In six years, the US has not repaired the water, electric or sewer systems to the level Iraqis had before the invasion. We have built prisons for the Iraqis and bases for US troops, however.

Control of the media and modern polling methods have made it clear to our ruling overlords that the portion of Lincoln’s people you can fool all of the time is about 30% of America, or 1 in 3, enough to carry on with their imperial aims.
Way back in the 18th century Voltaire pointed out that "those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

Convinced by the media that the four buildings exploded on 9-11 were the greatest tragedy of human history and that the US was in danger from goatherders in Afghanistan, Americans were easily led into attacking the people of Afghanistan. Then they had to be convinced of the absurdity that Iraq, a country of 25,000,000 people, attacked by the US in 1991, and suffering US sponsored UN sanctions thoughout the 1990s, which killed an estimated 500,000 people, thoroughly disarmed and frequently bombed, was an eminent threat to the USA, a country of 300,000,000 people, armed to the teeth with everything from nuclear weapons to biological and chemical and every other kind of weapon known to humans. Pretending to be convinced of this absurdity, the US committed the atrocity, and the ultimate war crime, of an unprovoked invasion of Iraq.

To compare by population, the Iraqi death toll of one million is comparable to 12 million US deaths. 4,000,000 refugees is comparable to 48 million US refugees. And we’re told to wave our flags in pride at our accomplishment.

Now, under President Obama, the US is turning its sights back to Afghanistan. Although a US friendly puppet government was installed 7 years ago, vast sections of the country are self-sufficient farmers, not dependent on the central government for their well being, and so not susecptible to imperial decrees. These farmers and herders must be broken in order for the US to safely control the country.

But we have a new President so we are being told new absurdities. They still are using the "terrorist" label to scare the 30% of the perpetually fooled, but it’s wearing off for the rest of us.

So here we go with the Democratic line of absurdity, the "humanitarian intervention". All of a sudden, Afghan women are of great concern to us. They have to wear veils! They don’t have equal rights! Muslim fundamentalists are oppressive!
Believing that the US government cares about rights for Afghan women or oppressive Muslims involves forgetting history again.

In 1978 a revolution in Afghanistan tried to improve the lives of the majority of Afghans. 50% of the land was owned by 5% of the people, so land reform was attempted. 90% of Afghans and 96% of Afghan women were illiterate. Literacy programs were started. Women were given equal rights (in principle) and many of them were able to take advantage of this, becoming educated, even professionally. At the least, they were no longer allowed to be sold into marriage or executed for infidelities. In May 1979, British political scientist Fred Halliday said, "Probably more has changed in the countryside in the last year than in the 2 centuries since the state was established".

The US, alarmed by the advances of the Afghan people, started arming the fundamentalist muhjadeen, many of them wealthy landowners. The Afghan government asked for help from the USSR, which invaded, and we know the rest. Although most Americans don’t know that the US spent billions to overthrow the Afghan government, along with billions from Saudi Arabia. But as Zygneviev Bresenski, who approved the arms shipments under Carter, and now is advising Obama, said in 1998, when asked if he regretted supporting the muhjadeen, "What is more important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred up Muslims or the .... end of the Cold War?"

Some peace activists point to the defeat of the USSR in Afghanistan to say that the US can’t win either. This is the wrong frame. There is no one equivalent to the US/Saudi arming, training and supporting of the muhjadeen now. It probably is possible for the US to smash and subject the Afghan people.

But it’s wrong. The US has trampled over the world like a 600 pound gorilla for 60 years now. Millions of people have lost their lives, their ancestral lands, their limbs, their water and their income. Ironically, the people of the US are worse off also. US wealth is concentrated in fewer hands. The rich are richer and the poor are poorer. The same people profiting from the destruction of people’s homes in Iraq and Afghanistan are profiting from people home losses here. Mountains are being blown up in Kentucky. We are told that we can’t afford health care, or teachers or homes for all Americans, but we can afford bank bailouts and endless wars against endless enemies.

We have to take our country back. We can beat our swords into plowshares, or at least turn our war machine into peaceful production. Shut down the military industrial complex and we can cut our taxes by more than half. Let’s use our time, talent and energy to make the world a better place, not a wasteland.
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