Read All About It…Here!

So many things have been happening in the news this week–The NPR Williams firing, the latest Wikileaks leak, Bank mortgage fraud, DU weapons fallout in Fallujah, a sane person running for Texas School Board, the deepening crisis of joblessness — I feel I should offer another perspective on them:

America's Happy-News Media

When I lived in China back in the early 1990s, it was entertaining to read the Chinese newspapers, all of them state-owned. In them, China’s government was always making excellent decisions, the economy was always improving, the leaders of other nations were always praising China’s leaders, and the economic “reform” initiated by that wise elder statesman Deng Xiaoping, was producing a miracle rebirth of the nation.

These stories were jarringly at odds with what I saw when I travelled to the countryside, and found that farmers were being expected to eke out livings for their families on plots of land smaller than the footprint of some Americans’ houses, that baby girls were being abandoned in orphanages when farm families bore a son, because of child-limit policies that made having a girl a big financial burden–especially since the tradition of girls going over to the family of their husband meant that not having a son could be a death sentence for parents in their old age. They were jarringly at odds too, with the misery I witnessed all the time among the tens of millions of rural migrants who flooded cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and other major metropolises looking for contract work, and with the appalling pollution of water and air (when I lived in Xi’an for five months, I could count the number of days I was actually able to see the round circle of the sun in daytime because of the perpetual smog that enveloped the city).

But say one thing about China. People there knew they were being fed a line of crap in their newspapers and on TV.

What Are They Hiding? Obama Administration Defending Black Site Prison at Bagram Airbase

A victory for the government in a federal court in New York City Monday marks another slide deeper into Dick Cheney’s “dark side” for the Obama Administration.

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been seeking to force the Pentagon to provide information about all captives it is holding at its huge prison facility at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul in Afghanistan, Federal District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York has issued a summary judgement saying that the government may keep that information secret.

The lingering question is: Why does the US government so adamantly want to hide information about where captives were first taken into military custody, their citizenship, the length of their captivity, and the circumstances under which they were captured?

 Torture USAParwan Prison at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan: Torture USA

America and Obama Hit Bottom: Pressuring Child Soldier to Plead Guilty to Murder Violates International Law and Basic Common Decency

As the author of The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), I never thought in my lifetime that I would see a president reach the depth of moral decay and depravity of President George W. Bush, but sad to say, our current president, Barack Obama, has managed to do it, and what makes it worse, as a former Constitutional law professor, he knows better.

This president’s moral nadir was hit yesterday, when he allowed a military tribunal based at Guantanamo to pressure Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured, gravely wounded, and arrested at the age of 15 in Afghanistan, and held at at Guantanamo now for nine years, to plead guilty to murder.

Khadr’s crime? He was in a house that was struck by a US air strike and then raided by US special forces during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. The gravely wounded Khadr was accused of tossing a grenade at advancing US troops, which killed US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, and caused another soldier to lose an eye.

Omar Khadr at age 15, the time of his capture by US forcesOmar Khadr at age 15, the time of his capture by US forces

Although Khadr, after nine years of harsh confinement at Guantanamo, and facing a military tribunal, has pleaded guilty in a plea bargain, after insisting for nine years that he did not throw the grenade (there is no living witness to his having done so), one issue here is that even if he did toss it, that action would have been seen as that heroic act of a gravely-wounded young fighter facing a superior enemy force, but for the fact that the US is claiming Khadr was not a legitimate soldier, but rather a “terrorist.”

New Report: Racism Still Pollutes Tea Party Ranks

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), head of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, constantly dismisses charges about racism roiling within the ranks of the Tea Party, despite her fingerprints frequently appearing on racism-tinged stink bombs.

For example, Tea Party starlet Bachmann denies charges that racism is embedded in her demand made during a September Capitol Hill press conference for halting the long delayed $1.2-billion court-approved settlement to black farmers for documented discrimination by the US Agriculture Department.

Bachmann called for holding up that settlement, already stalled by US Senate Republicans, until a federal investigation examines her poorly substantiated claim of “massive and widespread fraud” in that pending settlement.

Bachmann’s name appears a few times in “Tea Party Nationalism,” the extensive report released recently examining Tea Party activities around America that documents the leadership roles of individuals in the tea-bag movement who also hold leadership posts in fringe organizations including anti-immigrant, pro-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Selling the 'Founding Principles” Like a Used Car

The government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and major social transformations to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights we hold as fundamental today.
– Thurgood Marshall on the bi-centennial of the Constitution, 1987

On Saturday, October 9th at 7:31 in the morning, Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, picked up her phone and dialed Anita Hill’s Brandeis University office phone and left a taped message asking Professor Hill to pray and, then, apologize and explain “why you did what you did with my husband.”

Mrs. Thomas later described her call as an “olive branch.” Hill saw it differently and called the campus police and the FBI.

The phone call led to a front-page story in The New York Times and stories in other papers and on the web. It raised many questions as to why Mrs. Thomas did what she did. It also resurrected the sordid controversy of her husband’s appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Vote for Judy, Not the Spineless Puke

So in August I went back to Wisconsin, which was glowing green under a brown cloud of mosquitos. Lotta water this past summer, and the most mosquitos since, oh maybe 1965, which is when the Schmoes first played in public at the ninth grade Halloween dance at Van Hise Junior High in Madison. We were called the Misfits then, and have been through a few name changes and personnel adjustments, but it’s basically the same five guys playing the same three chords for 45 years. After performing at our high school reunion party (Class of ’69) every five years over the decades, we figured, “Who knows these three chords better than we do? Isn’t it time we recorded an album?”

And we did. Three Schmoes (Bo Bally Schmoe, Timmy Schmoe and me, Chuck E. Schmoe) came back to Wisconsin, and joined the two Schmoes (Stevie Schmoe and Eddie Schmoe) who were still living there, and we recorded a whole album guided by the same light that has always illuminated our aesthetic path: No Good Songs Have Been Written Since We Went Through Puberty. I mean, why write new songs when Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs already wrote all the good ones?

The Schmoes on their new (and first) album coverThe Schmoes on their new (and first) album cover

Up the Revolution!: Arise Ye Homeowners of America, You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Mortgages!

The American Revolution, for all the pious talk about freedom and the Rights of Man, was at bottom simply a matter of people not wanting to pay their taxes. It was about rank self interest, and it was a powerful movement.

That rank self-interest could spark a new revolution–hopefully one that will still also advance the cause of freedom and the Rights of Man.

Two issues are rushing to the fore that could have most Americans grabbing pitchforks, guns, shovels, bats, mop handles, and whatever else they have handy that could be useful in the streets.

Deception and Devastation: The Ignored Dark-Sides of Suffering Joblessness

Two of my oldest and dearest friends in life are unemployed and suffering – facing full-blown collapse monetarily and mentally.

Both have graduate degrees, multiple skills, commendable work records and zero job search success despite diligently scouring every source available during the past two years.

Oh, another important factor in the equation of my friends’ exile from employment ranks. Both friends are over fifty, a seeming Bestial Mark during this era when brazen age discrimination trumps traditional discrimination based on race, gender and disability.

Amplifying the anguish my friends harbor already from feeling their joblessness is somehow their fault are increasing reports that employers are refusing to hire unemployed people, citing their jobless status as evidence of their worthlessness as employees.

There may be job fairs, but there are no jobs. Is that fair?There may be job fairs, but there are no jobs. Is that fair?

Employers, according to recent media reports, manufacture myths about the jobless, such as the jobless are unemployed due to poor work performance or that the currently employed are more current in needed proficiencies.

One friend’s downsizing had nothing to do with poor performance and that friend avoided layoff-induced “obsolescence” by returning to college and taking training for additional skills.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Think

Psychoanalysis enables us to point to some trace or other
of a homosexual object-choice in everyone. … It can be traced
back to the constitutional bisexuality of all human beings.
Sigmund Freud

If Sigmund Freud is right that all humans are “innately bisexual” and if Alfred Kinsey’s research is right that all humans fall somewhere on a bisexual continuum – then it’s clear the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is a matter, pure and simple, of un-Constitutional repression.

I realize I may not have a very developed appreciation for the nuances of bureaucracy and government. But if one values honesty over repression, this policy just doesn’t make sense.

Alexander The Great, one of the greatest military leaders in history, swung both ways. Lawrence of Arabia was the homosexual military genius instrumental in forming the Sunni-ruled Iraq we invaded and turned upside down in 2003.

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen all say they are ready to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy put into law 17 years ago.

The House passed a repeal law in May by a wide margin. The Senate was expected to follow suit, but last month the bill was defeated.

“The whole thing is a political train wreck,” Richard Socarides, a gay rights advocate from the Clinton administration, told the Associate Press after the Senate loss.

But even if it had passed into law, effective repeal was still up to the military. A “trigger” amendment tacked to the bill would have allowed the top brass to drag their feet on repeal or veto it indefinitely.