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Today starts the removal of troops from Iraq…

… and over the next couple of weeks they will be out, with a few thousand (more?) advisors remaining… doing what, I don’t know. There is, I guess, a certain amount of relief being felt, but the government is not making this a huge event. It’s pretty quiet actually.

While looking at comments from warriors and people who made their billions off of war, I found this in the NY Times from 2009 when the forthcoming (2012) pullout was announced:

“Now that the war’s over, we’re going to get to go back to developing exciting new weapon systems, instead of just trotting out the ones that are proven to work,” said a visibly excited Robert Stevens, Lockheed C.E.O., before a reporter informed him of the Senate moratorium on new weapons systems development.

“Oh,” said Stevens, looking flushed, and quickly excused himself.

As for me, the most exciting weapon systems are the ones you dismantle.

Here’s something for Memorial Day: Dance at the Jefferson Memorial and get arrested!

This happened last week. Did you know you can’t dance in a public place? Can’t kiss your girlfriend either.

Welcome to America.

I don’t usually give such coverage to Libertarians… but this is something that really bothers me. I don’t care if there are demonstrators doing what we really saw as demonstrating in the 60s and 70s… public spaces like National Monuments should be open for such demonstrations as long as there is no violence, no interference with others getting to go to or pass through the area, and no profanity or pornography, etc. This little police action… plus the shutting off of a Press camera (freedom of the press should extend to public places)… is more than irritating. It is frightening.

Adam Kokesh is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War and former US Congressional candidate from New Mexico. Adam has testified before Congress and has been interviewed on CNN, Fox, and ABC. As a Marine, Adam was sent to Fallujah in 2004 and received the Combat Action Ribbon and Navy Commendation medal as a sergeant. Kokesh attended graduate studies in political management at George Washington University and holds a B.A. degree in psychology from Claremont McKenna College.

Saturday night thoughts as I watch Doc Martin reruns…

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I’m getting so tired of listening to the conservative candidates, congressmen and capitalists complain about paying taxes at the level they should be… say, at the rate they were taxed at before George W. Bush lowered them.

As you recall, he lowered the taxes while, at the same time, getting us involved in an Iraq war for dishonest reasons without actually putting the expenses in the reported budget. It is as if bookkeeping and government spending had no relationship.

If a candidate cannot say “Yes, I will have to raise taxes, especially on the rich,” then he (or she) is being completely dishonest. As citizens, we should demand tax increases… and demand military cuts (and demand that we get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and just about everywhere else in the Middle East.

So how do we make it happen?

Defining myself politically with the changes that have happened in the last 65 years.

On May 24th I’ll be sixty five and another 1st generation Baby Boomer will be officially “Old” (though, because of our cruddy economy which stands between employment and age, I am already retired and at the mercy of Social Security… which my Congressional leadership wants to do away with).

Most of my adult life I have been a liberal Democrat… in college during the height of the Civil Rights movement and the fiercest part of the anti-Vietnam War campaign, as a working citizen through booms and busts in the economy ending in the major recession we are apparently now out of (except in my house… yours too?)… and I voted as a liberal Dem in the past couple of elections. Now I’m not certain that “liberal Democrat” has meaning anymore.

While I shudder at people who are now called “Originalists” (heard this term on a CATO Institute panel on C-Span, where it was tied as a label on Justice Clarence Thomas),  who think of the Constitution as unchangeable and fixed, I am upset with some lack of adherence to Constitutional regulations which have not been changed in the document, but have certainly been changed in practice.

The power to declare war, for instance, is still Constitutionally the province of Congress, and specifically the House. Yet, from my earliest childhood when Truman got us into the “Korean War” – called a “Police Action” because it was never declared by Congress (and also never ended, btw); to my early adult years when LBJ got us into the “Viet Nam War“, started as a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), again, without the declaration by Congress as a war; to the first “Gulf War” that George H. W. Bush got us into without a Congressional Declaration; to the Second “Gulf War”…also known as the “War in Iraq”… which has really not ended since it was followed by a decade of occupation, which spread from George W. Bush through Bill Clinton to Barack Obama and continues, to some extent, today (although the government would have us believe that it is over); to the current “War in Afghanistan” started by Bush 2 a year before the Iraq War, allowed to simmer over a low flame for a dozen years, then refocused and put into first place by Barack Obama; I have seen the Congress give up it’s war declaration responsibilities and the Executive Administration take the freedom to do whatever they want with the Military it commands.

Whew…sorry for the long paragraph above. I had to get it out, however.

Now we are in a conflict in Libya, not yet called a “War”, although as you watch the TV news you can see that label arriving on swift feet. The President didn’t bother doing anything with Congress on this… they were on vacation (from the tedious job where they work from Monday to Thursday, then spend the rest of their week raising money for the next election) after all… but took the excuse of a U.N. Resolution taking precedence over our National Law and all of a sudden we are in our third Middle East conflict, going on simultaneously with the first two. And we’re doing all of them without a supporting economy… the romance of borrowed funds.

Now I read that the Conservatives in Congress are going to come back this week, from the much needed time off they have had, and express opposition to Libyan war. As Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R – Maryland) said last night:

“The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution.”

Of course, some would say that the Conservative Republican majority in the House, by spending most of their year on voting against anything their more liberal colleagues are in favor of, in areas which have little to do with our current problems, ignoring the unemployment problem the recession has created and deciding to “fix” the economy by defunding most of the services that keep us going, while making sure the rich don’t get taxed, has also been in an affront to our Constitution.

I’m getting more and more upset with both sides of our elected officialdom and with the outrageous empire we have established worldwide with our 200+ military bases and rush to be the “defense” force in countries where there is oil for our insatiable power demands. I am frustrated that, as an individual, there seems to be little or nothing I can do about the situation, with the one exception of pointing the problems out in this blog. Voting doesn’t seem to solve the problem because politicians lie… they run saying they will do one thing…they get elected…and then they become the managers and implementers of the “same old same old.”

The Corporate World eats up the majority of our economic resources. The Corporate world controls the officials their support elects. The Corporate world does not mind that they have allowed our millions of jobs to move to China and India for cheap costs and have wrecked our own economy in the process. Yet they are not a power that is recognized by our Constitution… only by those our Constitution allows us to elect.

I guess I would like to define myself as a “Constitutional Progressive” and no longer as a “Democratic Liberal.” I would like to see us uphold those regulations and responsibilities that the Constitution-as-Amended contains, yet support changes in the Constitution that reflect our current world and the protection of the people in our Nation without depriving them of their rights and input. That means not an “Originalist” viewpoint, but a believer in the social and political equality of citizens and the ability to lead full and meaningful lives in a country that our taxes support.

I don’t know if this is likely, but I will campaign for it as if it is.

Juan Cole, too! Most of the best bloggers on the web have made support statements for Olbermann…

…and many, me included, are just not going to turn MSNBC back on unless Olbermann is restored.

Here’s part of Juan Cole‘s LONG piece… get all of it HERE:

That Olbermann is being treated unfairly is obvious. Joe Scarborough has also donated to a political campaign while at MSNBC. And Sean Hannity at Fox has given far more money to candidates than Olbermann ever did. In fact, Hannity donated to Michele Bachmann, which suggests he is better suited to playing a bit part in a remake of the Night of the Living Dead than to anchoring a major ‘news’ show.

Hell, most of the main Republican candidates for president are working for Fox Cable News! So it goes beyond giving some campaign a couple thousand dollars, nowadays!

Fox argues that Hannity is not a news anchor but the equivalent of an op-ed columnist, a purveyor of opinions, and so may also be a political actor.

But MSNBC has already marked Olbermann also as an opinion person, not a hard news anchor, when it took him off election coverage in 2008. So MSNBC has put Olbermann in the same category as Fox has put Hannity. But one is on the air and the other is not.

MSNBC has a long history of throwing liberals under the bus, despite its recent strategy of trying to use them to counter-program against Fox.

In the build-up to the Iraq War, MSNBC had Phil Donahue, whose evening magazine show was the highest-rated thing on the network. As the momentum for war built, the top corporate management became very nervous about having a show starring an anti-war liberal, so they fired Donahue Rick Ellis wrote at the time that General Electric-owned NBC had commissioned a study of its public image, and that the consultants produced a report in which they wrote, that Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war……He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.” The report worried that the war fever would benefit rival, pro-war, pro-Bush networks and implied that Donahue might succeed in branding NBC in a way that caused viewership and therefore advertising revenues to plummet.

MSNBC replaced Donahue with far right wing shock jock Michael Savage, Dick Armey and Republican Joe Scarborough (who went on to donate to a Republican politician while on the air).

Picked this up at The Political Carnival – Wikileaks is at it again…

Another trove of secret documents about the Iraq war are about to appear… including figures on the actual numbers of civilians who were killed and evidence of torture sanctioned by the Iraqi government we established… 

Here’s part of it… video available at original site:

clipped from www.thepoliticalcarnival.net

Wikileaks: Secret Iraq War Death Toll Set at 285,000

Wikileaks has now leaked:

In what is being described as the largest release of secret U.S. military documents ever, whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks has released a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq, including a secret U.S. government tally that put the Iraqi death toll at 285,000, according to news sources that received advanced copies of the documents.

The documents include evidence of state sanctioned torture by the Iraqi government, new evidence of Iraqi government death squads, and Iran’s involvement in funneling arms to Shiite militias, according to Arab news channel Al Jazeera, which has been able to review the documents before their release.

Al Jazeera has reviewed the 400,000 documents that are being released. WikiLeaks says it will hold a press conference Saturday morning in Europe.

63% of the Iraqi deaths were civilians, according to the report.

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Last “Full Combat” Brigade out of Iraq

I watched on Olbermann as the last “full combat” brigade (440 soldiers)  pulled out of Iraq and rode their Strykers into Kuwait last night (I have no idea how long it takes them to actually get out of the country) leaving 50,000 “non-combat” troops who are to serve as trainers and are not to get into any combat incidents… not to break up fights between Sh’ias and Sunnis, or anything like that.

The American Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, was interviewed and said that this was the keeping of Obama’s promise to get combatants out. The Iraq war is, therefore, ending… but we still have a commitment there. We’ve gone from 140,000 troops to 50,000 and it appears to be a positive mood. The Ambassador’s biggest worry is that there is still not an effective coalition government in Iraq and they are going to have to do it pretty much by themselves.

It is now up to the Iraqis… at least that’s what we’re saying.

I’m also wondering if these troops are going to end up in Pakistan or Afghanistan.