Sep 20, 2012
Torture is official policy. So is Murder, Inc. Death squads operate in over 120 countries. Special forces and CIA operatives are licensed to kill. US citizens may be targeted at home or abroad. No one anywhere is safe."
US elections are farcical. Obama and Romney represent two sides of the same coin. Neither offers choice. Democracy never existed and doesn't now. Rhetoric substitutes for reality.
Republicans and Democrats offer the worst of all possible worlds. Ordinary people are entirely shut out. Growing numbers reject both parties for good reason. Money power owns them.
"Are you better off" than four years ago, asked The New York Times? "There is really no reason for any hesitancy. The country is unquestionably better off than it was in 2008."
Fact check: True to form, The Times offered a litany of lies. Bankers, other corporate favorites, and war profiteers fared handsomely. They still do.
America's 99% got stiff-armed. Most US households were thrown under the bus.Virtually no jobs were created. Full-time/good pay and benefit ones are disappearing. Real unemployment approaches 23%. In the Great
Depression, it reached 25%. Serious efforts were made then to reduce it. Virtually nothing is done now.
US Census figures confirm half or more of US households living in poverty or bordering on it. Record numbers need food stamps to survive. Congress plans cuts when they're more than ever needed.
Feeding America says over 50 million Americans face hunger. One in six people are affected, including over one in five children.
Political Washington ignores food insecurity. Serving corporate interests and imperial warmongers alone matter.
Duplicitous political convention rhetoric was enough to make a brash brigand blush. Banality took center stage. Demagogic deception hid reactionary extremism.
Convention delegates and ordinary people inhabit worlds apart.
Pre-scripted yammering was predictable. Republicans showed contempt for human needs. Phony populism hid a similar Democrat agenda.
Privilege alone matters. Ordinary folks increasingly are on their own sink or swim. Obama's first term reflected it. Betrayal and failure defined it. Another four years assures more of the same and then some.
The man promising hope and change broke every major pledge made. Four demagogic years did Lincoln one better. He fooled most people enough to matter. He's beholden to big money. He never cared about ordinary
people and doesn't now.
"Yes we can" conceals his dark side. No pun intended. He's a consummate con man. It's easy to know when he's lying, just watch his lips move.
Throughout his political career, he's been pro-corporate, pro-war, pro-Israel, anti-populist, anti-civil and human rights, and anti all values real democrats support.
He put Wall Street crooks in charge of looting the nation's wealth. He furthered the greatest wealth transfer in history. Rules, regulations, legal restraints with teeth, and taxes were slashed to help them.
Plans are on track to make America resemble Guatemala.
Full-time/high pay/good benefit jobs are disappearing. So are social services. They're on the chopping block for elimination. The nation's middle class is targeted for destruction. A huge underclass is replacing it. America's more than ever militarized to control it.
Police state laws threaten freedom. Big Brother spying is policy.
Privacy is a figure of speech. First Amendment rights and dissent are endangered. Tyranny, torture, corporate empowerment, and permanent wars define Obama's agenda.
He exceeded the worst of George Bush's harshness, lawlessness, and belligerency. Imagine what he plans if reelected. He waged war on Islam, Latino immigrants, animal and environmental rights activists, whistleblowers, people of color, the poor, anyone challenging state power, and civil rights lawyers who defend them too vigorously.
In Obama's America, only the privileged matter. Growing numbers of others are on their own hungry, homeless, and jobless.
He looted the nation's wealth, wrecked the economy, ravaged one nation after another, and continues waging war on humanity.
He executed two Latin American coups. Honduras' democratically elected president was ousted. So was Paraguay's. He militarized Haiti, opened the country for business, occupied it for plunder, rigged its election, installed a pro-Western stooge, and increased the growing burden of impoverished Haitians who deserve better.
He supports the world's worst despots. He sucks up shamelessly to Israel. He spurns long denied Palestinian rights. He plans war on Syria and Iran. Neither nation threatens anyone. America and Israel menace humanity.
He presides over a bogus democracy under a repressive police state apparatus. Habeas rights, due process, judicial fairness, and other civil liberty protections are quaint artifacts increasingly discarded.
Torture is official policy. So is Murder, Inc. Death squads operate in over 120 countries. Special forces and CIA operatives are licensed to kill. US citizens may be targeted at home or abroad. No one anywhere is safe.
Summary judgment means no arrests. No Miranda rights. No due process.
No trial. Just a bullet, bomb or slit throat. It's official Obama policy. Diktat authority affords justice to no one ordered killed.
It also lets Obama order US citizens arrested and indefinitely held without charge or trial. No proof is needed, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Constitutional protections no longer apply.
US military personnel may arrest and indefinitely detain anyone globally. No one anywhere is safe. Tyranny is policy. Obama seized virtual dictatorial powers. Anyone designated a potential enemy of the state, true or false, is targeted.
Political prisoners fill America's gulag. It’s the world’s largest by far and one of the worst. Muslims and people of color are most at risk. America's super-rich and corporate crooks are free to do what they please. Bad as things are now, expect worse.
War rages against labor. Budget-strapped states get little help. Welfare is being cut. So are Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for the needy, and other New Deal/Great Society programs.
Public education is being commoditized. Plans call for making it another business profit center and ending government's responsibility.
Health care is being rationed. Only those who can afford it will get help when they need it.
Food and drug safety don't matter. Nor do clean air or water. Small farms and businesses are being destroyed. Large ones are bigger and more dominant than ever.
Wall Street ones are up to one-fourth larger today than four years ago. They're double their size a decade ago relative to the economy. Ordinary Americans are much poorer and more deprived.
Financial reform was fraudulent. Institutionalized grand theft is policy. Business as usual lets Wall Street run the country. Consumer protections don't exist.
The worst of bad practices continue. Rules either don't exist or are made to be broken. Bankers get what they want. Ordinary people get scammed.
Obama promised "change you can believe in." He delivered betrayal instead. He's anti-progressive, hard-right, reactionary, belligerent, pro-corporate, and anti-populist. He's heartless, merciless, morally corrupt, and soulless.
Austerity is policy when help is needed. Draconian cuts were enacted.
Many more are planned. Eliminating trillions of dollars in social service spending is policy. Democrats are in lock step with Republicans.
Corporate handouts, tax cuts for the rich, and Pentagon spending remain virtually untouched. Bad as things are now, imagine America in four years under either party.
Obama plans more of the same and then some. Romney is a religious extremist/corporate crook/socially destructive/imperial rogue.
He and Ryan plan exceeding the worst of Obama. Both are unapologetic.
They're indifferent to human need and welfare. They represent everything wrong with a broken system. It's too corrupted, dysfunctional, and rotten to fix.
They're frontmen for financial zed America, super-rich privilege, and imperial lawlessness. They guarantee worse wide awake nightmares than Obama.
America's choice in November is none. Bad as things are now expect worse. Bipartisan complicity assures it.
Stephen Lendman, Harvard University, Progressive Radio News
AUGUST 10, 2012, AT NOON: 51 YEARS AFTER THE CHEMICAL WAR BEGAN IN VIETNAM, WE SHOULD BE SILENT IN MEMORY, THEN TAKE ACTION TO REMEDY
To take action go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/
There are images from the U.S. War against Vietnam that have been indelibly imprinted on the minds of Americans who lived through it. One is the naked napalm-burned girl running from her village with flesh hanging off her body. Another is a photo of the piles of bodies from the My Lai massacre, where U.S. troops executed 504 civilians in a small village. Then there is the photograph of the silent scream of a woman student leaning over the body of her dead friend at Kent State University whose only crime was protesting the bombing of Cambodia in 1970. Finally, there is the memory of decorated members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War testifying at the Winter Soldier Hearings, often in tears, to atrocities in which they had participated during the war.
These pictures are heartbreaking. They expose the horrors of war. The U.S. War against Vietnam was televised, while images of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have intentionally been hidden from us. But what was not televised was the relentless ten years (1961-1971) of spraying millions of gallons of toxic herbicides over vast areas of South Vietnam. These chemicals exposed almost 5 million people, mostly civilians, to deadly consequences. The toxic herbicides, most notably Agent Orange, contained dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen (causes cancer) and by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen (causes birth defects).
From the beginning of the spraying 51 years ago, until today, millions of Vietnamese have died from, or been completely incapacitated by, diseases which the U. S. government recognizes are related to Agent Orange for purposes of granting compensation to Vietnam Veterans in the United States. The Vietnamese, who were the intended victims of this spraying, experienced the most intense, horrible impact on human health and environmental devastation. Second and third generations of children, born to parents exposed during the war and in areas of heavy spraying — un-remediated “hot spots” of dioxin contamination, — suffer unspeakable deformities that medical authorities attribute to the dioxin in Agent Orange.
The Vietnamese exposed to the chemical suffer from cancer, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and skin and nervous disorders. Their children and grandchildren have severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases, and shortened life spans. The forests and jungles in large parts of southern Vietnam were devastated and denuded. Centuries-old habitat was destroyed, and will not regenerate with the same diversity for hundreds of years. Animals that inhabited the forests and jungles are threatened with extinction, disrupting the communities that depended on them. The rivers and underground water in some areas have also been contaminated. Erosion and desertification will change the environment, causing dislocation of crop and animal life.
For the past 51 years, the Vietnamese people have been attempting to address this legacy of war by trying to get the United States and the chemical companies to accept responsibility for this ongoing nightmare. An unsuccessful legal action by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies in U.S. federal court, begun in 2004, has nonetheless spawned a movement to hold the United States accountable for using such dangerous chemicals on civilian populations. The movement has resulted in pending legislation HR 2634 – The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011, which attempts to provide medical, rehabilitative and social service compensation to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, remediation of dioxin-contaminated “hot spots,” and medical services for the children and grandchildren of U. S. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese-Americans who have been born with the same diseases and deformities.
Using weapons of war on civilian populations violates the laws of war, which recognize the principle of distinction between military and civilian objects, requiring armies to avoid civilian targets. These laws of war are enshrined in the Hague Convention and the Nuremberg principles, and are codified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Optional Protocol of 1977, as well as the International Criminal Court statute. The aerial bombardments of civilian population centers in World Wars I and II violated the principle of distinction, as did the detonation of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9 of 1945. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese people were killed in an instant, even though Japan was already negotiating the terms of surrender.
The use of Agent Orange on civilian populations violated the laws of war and yet no one has been held to account. Taxpayers pick up the tab of the Agent Orange Compensation fund for the U. S. Veterans at a cost of 1.52 billion dollars a year. The chemical companies, most specifically Dow and Monsanto, which profited from the manufacture of Agent Orange, paid a pittance to settle the veterans’ lawsuit to compensate them, as the unintended victims, for their Agent Orange related illnesses. But the Vietnamese continue to suffer from these violations with almost no recognition, as do the offspring of Agent Orange-exposed U.S. veterans and Vietnamese-Americans.
What is the difference between super powers like the United States violating the laws of war with impunity and the reports of killing of Syrian civilians by both sides in the current civil war? Does the United States have any credibility to demand governments and non-state actors end the killings of civilians, when through wars and drones and its refusal to acknowledge responsibility for the use of Agent Orange, the United States has and is engaging in the very conduct it publicly deplores?
In 1945, at the founding conference of the United Nations, the countries of the world determined:
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
If we are to avoid sinking once again into the scourge of war, we must reaffirm the principles of the Charter and establish conditions under which countries take actions that promote rather than undermine justice and respect for our international legal obligations. The alternative is the law of the jungle, where only might makes right. It is time that right makes might.
August 10th marks 51 years since the beginning of the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam. In commemoration, the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign urges you to observe 51 seconds of silence at 12 noon, to think about the horrors of wars which have occurred. We ask you to take action so as not to see future images of naked children running from napalm, or young soldiers wiping out the population of an entire village, or other atrocities associated with war, poverty, and violence around the world. We urge you to take at least 51 seconds for your action. In the United States, you can sign an orange post card to the U.S. Congress asking it to pass HR 2634. This would be a good start to assist the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange as well as the next generations of those exposed to these dangerous chemicals in both Vietnam and the United States.
Jeanne Mirer, a New York attorney, is president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. They are both on the board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign.
To sign the petition, go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/
Photo: victims of American chemical weapons