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Why I Cannot Envision Voting for Obama in November

12:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Scahill – Shaye – Obama

Jeremy Scahill is one of the most curious, thorough and courageous journalists working anywhere today.  As a writer, his book on the growth of military contractors such as Blackwater (now known as Xe Services LLC, uh – Academi), Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, won the George Polk Book Award.  His work with Democracy Now and The Nation is highly regarded by people concerned with the continuing abuse of American imperial power in the Obama administration.  Being a realist in terms of how Obama is conducting armed foreign policy has led to his being marginalized by apologists for these policies.

Scahill’s bottom line is that these policies, particularly the killing of hundreds of innocent people (if not more!) by our growing fleet of armed drone aircraft, are counter productive, and against our country’s long-term interests in many ways.  His latest article for The Nation, Why is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?, deals with aspects of that bottom line.  The article is far more chilling, though, in some of its content and message.  It shows quite clearly how the Obama administration’s manipulation of some of the new powers it asserts for the chief executive are beyond troublesome.  The secretiveness of this administration is no secret on the real left.  Not expressed in Scahill’s article, nor in Glen Greenwald’s thorough assessment of it, is what bothers me most about this administration’s growing uses of secrecy and extra-constitutional powers to go after its perceived enemies abroad – and here:

Once an American chief executive takes on new powers, his successor never backs down from that position.  Not even when, as Obama clearly did in 2008, the new president has promised on the campaign trail to ratchet these powers down a notch or two.

Here’s Greenwald’s description of some of what Scahill and others have uncovered, regarding the imprisonment in Yemen of another courageous journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, at the direct behest of Obama.  The White House is disturbed that Shaye uncovered a major Obama lie regarding civilian deaths from drone strikes:

There is one reason that the world knows the truth about what really happened in al Majala that day: because the Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, traveled there and, as Scahill writes, “photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label ‘Made in the USA,’ and distributed the photos to international media outlets.” He also documented the remnants of the Tomahawks and cluster bombs, neither of which is in Yemen’s arsenal. And he provided detailed accounts proving that scores of civilians, including those 21 children, had been killed in the attacks. It was Shaye’s journalism that led Amnesty International to show the world the evidence that it was the U.S. which had perpetrated the attack using cluster bombs, and media outlets to reveal the horrifying extent of the civilian deaths. Shaye’s work was vindicated when WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable — allegedly provided by Bradley Manning — in which Yemen’s then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh joked with David Petraeus about continuing to lie to the public: ”We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Saleh, perhaps under pressure from the White House, had Shaye imprisoned without charge, tortured and abused:

Despite that important journalism — or, more accurately, because of it — Shaye is now in prison, thanks largely to President Obama himself. For the past two years, Shaye has been arrested, beaten, and held in solitary confinement by the security forces of Saleh, America’s obedient tyrant. In January, 2011, he was convicted in a Yemeni court of terrorism-related charges — alleging that he was not a reporter covering Al Qaeda but a mouthpiece for it — in a proceeding widely condemned by human rights groups around the world. “There are strong indications that the charges against [Shaye] are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Scahill. The Yemen expert, Johnsen, added: “There is no publicly available evidence to suggest that Abdulelah was anything other than a journalist attempting to do his job.”

Shaye’s real crime is that he reported facts that the U.S. government and its Yemeni client regime wanted suppressed. But while the imprisonment of this journalist was ignored in the U.S, it became a significant controversy in Yemen. Numerous Yemeni tribal leaders, sheiks and activist groups agitated for his release, and in response, President Saleh, as the Yemeni press reported, had a pardon drawn up for him and was ready to sign it. That came to a halt when President Obama intervened. According to the White House’s own summary of Obama’s February 3, 2011, call with Saleh, “President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai.” The administration has repeatedly refused to present any evidence that Shaye is anything other than a reporter, and this is what State Department spokesperson Beth Gosselin told Scahill in response to his story:

“We are standing by [President Obama’s] comments from last February. We remain concerned about Shaye’s potential release due to his association with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We stand by the president’s comments.” When asked whether the US government should present evidence to support its claims about Shaye’s association with AQAP, Gosselin said, “That is all we have to say about this case.”

So it is beyond dispute that the moving force behind the ongoing imprisonment of this Yemeni journalist is President Obama. And the fact that Shaye is in prison, rather than able to report, is of particular significance (and value to the U.S.) in light of the still escalating American attacks in that country. Over the past 3 days alone, American air assaults have killed 64 people in Yemen, while American media outlets — without anyone on the scene — dutifully report that those killed are “suspected Al Qaeda insurgents” and “militants.”

This White House policy is not only stupid, it is dangerously blind.  And arrogant in a profoundly un-American way.

It is blind to how history works on a global scale.  And, importantly, it is blind to how a possible GOP successor to this president might use these same tools of dictatorship against what he or she perceives to be a threat, foreign – or domestic.  During the past few months, Obama and the U.S. Congress have undermined the Constitution in so many ways, it is hard to keep score.  Just this past week, we’ve been given the anti-Occupy H.R. 347, that would make our citizens’ protests outside the White House felonies.

I’ve never voted for an incumbent president before.  It doesn’t look like that will change.  This really sucks, as I’ve got a feeling that the Israel Lobby will be backing whichever jerk the GOP pulls out of their hat in Tampa, and that they might be powerful enough in the 2012 scenario to be the final arbiter of who ends up winning in November.

The dilemma for me is not whether or not I will vote for Obama, but how strenuously I’ll be backing an alternative candidate, such as Dr. Jill Stein, should she get the Green Party nomination.

But – no matter what – I cannot in good conscience consider marking Obama on my ballot.

Here’s Scahill on the Alyona Show last week – America Cannot Kill Its Way to Peace:

This Has Never Happened Before – Active Duty Troops March on White House for Ron Paul

9:33 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Presidents Day, 2012.

Although the Pentagon and individual services strongly discouraged active duty military personnel from participating in Monday’s march on the White House by veterans and service members supporting Ron Paul, hundreds of them joined the thousands in the march and White House demonstration.

The demonstration had this poignant moment:

Standing at the gates of the White House, hundreds of veterans and active duty service members, including Schlegel, turned their backs.

Together, they saluted one second for every service member who has committed suicide during Barack Obama’s presidency.

After eight minutes of saluting, they observed a 21-minute silent prayer – one second for every service member who died abroad during President Obama’s term.

Coverage of this unprecedented event has been light in the mainstream media.  So has the fact that Paul has pulled in about twice as much as the president from serving military, and over 20 times as much as his leading GOP rival from this constituency, Mitt Romney.

The group formed up at the Washington Monument, then marched on the White House:

The group then marched in formation back to the Washington Monument.  The numbers of civilians walking behind the official veterans and active duty marching to show that “Ron Paul is the Choice of the Troops” was reported to be over 1,000 family members and supporters.  The official march of the troops and veterans themselves is believed to have been an additional over 900 people.  It is unclear at this time, how many members of the public may have been in the crowds to observe this historic public statement by our veterans in support of Ron Paul for President of the United States.

This was clearly a unique anti-war march by our nation’s veterans and perhaps could be referred to as one of the most unique in recent history.   The official march was heard in cadence to:  “End the Fed”, “President Paul”, “End the Wars” and “Ron Paul Revolution, Legalize the Constitution”.

There was initially to be active duty also participating in the march.  It is unclear after a warning was said to be issued by top military brass in the last couple of days whether the numbers of active duty members that actually marched today was affected by this warning instructing them not to participate.

Here’s video of the gathering at the Washington Monument:

And Here’s video of the march.  There do appear to be many active service members there, though one cannot be sure.  No doubt the Defense Department and Secret Service are busy  going through their photos and videos, trying to determine which people there are indeed active duty.  Will they be given the Lt. Dan Choi treatment?

Obama Redefines No Child Left Behind as “No Child Left With a Behind”

1:44 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Obama took this kid’s hands.

Give the president a hand.

Now he’s pressing to make it easier to do that to more kids.  As long as they’re enemies of our increasingly failing, flailing state.

I. Cluster bombs have long been one of the most important components of of the American terror arsenal.  They have been outlawed by 111 countries.  The main opponent of that global policy is the United States.  I hoped that would end when Obama was elected.

Boy, was I stupid.

Not only did he get this kid all but whacked, he’s killed hundreds of other little boys and girls a lot like him, and his people try to lie to cover it up.  The cluster bomb attack:

Amnesty International has released images of a US-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions, apparently taken following an attack on an alleged al-Qa’ida training camp in Yemen that killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children.

The 17 December 2009 attack on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area in the south of Yemen killed 55 people including 14 alleged members of al-Qa’ida.

>“A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful. The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Further description of Obama’s weapon of choice on Yemeni, Iraqi, Somali and Afghan kids:

Shortly after the attack some US media reported alleged statements by unnamed US government sources who said that US cruise missiles launched on presidential orders had been fired at two alleged al-Qa’ida sites in Yemen.

“Based on the evidence provided by these photographs, the US government must disclose what role it played in the al-Ma’jalah attack, and all governments involved must show what steps they took to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries,” said Philip Luther.

The photographs enable the positive identification of damaged missile parts, which appear to be from the payload, mid-body, aft-body and propulsion sections of a BGM-109D Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile.

m>This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to carry a payload of 166 cluster submunitions (bomblets) which each explode into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150m away. An incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects.

The initial Obama response:

Amnesty International has requested information from the Pentagon about the involvement of US forces in the al-Ma’jalah attack, and what precautions may have been taken to minimize deaths and injuries, but has yet to receive a response.

The expanded, current Obama response – he wants to kill more and more kids in these never-ending wars:

Britain is backing a US-led plan to torpedo the global ban on cluster bombs, in what MPs and arms campaigners fear is an attempt to legitimise the use of weapons that are widely deemed to be inherently indiscriminate.

In recent years, the UK has played a leading role in trying to rid the world of cluster bombs. It is one of 111 countries that have signed up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, is on target to destroy its own stockpile, and has ordered the US military to remove any submunitions it holds on British soil.

But The Independent has learnt that the UK Government is supporting a Washington-led proposal that would permit the use of cluster bombs as long as they were manufactured after 1980 and had a failure rate of less than one per cent. Arms campaigners say the 1980 cut-off point is arbitrary, and that many modern cluster bombs have far higher failure rates on the field of battle than manufacturers claim.

The international community is gathering in Geneva next week to discuss the proposal, which will be tabled as a new protocol for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons – a UN treaty from the early 1980s that forbids the use of “excessively injurious” weapons such as mines, booby traps, incendiary devices and blinding lasers.

The world’s major cluster bomb manufacturers – which include the US, Israel, Russia, China, South Korea, India and Pakistan – have all refused to sign up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. They plan to push through a less restrictive treaty in Geneva next week.

Arms campaigners say the draft proposal would effectively legalise almost all cluster bombs and be a nail in the coffin of the hard-won cluster bomb ban, which is all but two years old. Austria, Norway and Mexico are leading opposition to the American-led proposal.

II. My first experience with people exposed to U.S. terror policies involving cluster bombs was over 38 years ago, in early 1973.

I was music director of a Seattle radio station – KRAB FM.  I was in Vancouver, BC, hoping to get an interview with a Chinese musician, as part of my efforts to put a human face on Chinese artists at the time the U.S. was beginning to show some sanity in our relationship with China. Two of my station colleagues, Roy Harvey and Karen Engstrom, were also in Vancouver, interviewing Scandinavian doctors and nurses who were passing through Vancouver on their way back from Hanoi-Haiphong, to their homes.  These medical practitioners had just witnessed our first massive cluster bomb campaign, an important, but yet largely unrecognized aspect of Operation Linebacker II, sometimes called Nixon’s Christmas.

I sat in on two of their interviews.  It was unnerving.  What was being described was an intentional campaign to destroy innocent North Vietnamese civilian infrastructure, bodies, souls and hopes.  The weapons, cluster bombs, were insidious in the way they enhanced Linebacker II‘s goals.

The bombs’ bomblets were, according to the Swedes, Finns and Latvians we listened to, clad in magnesium.  Inside were fiberglass balls and shards, white phosphorus and propellant explosive.  In use in the campaign, they penetrated human flesh in seemingly innocuous and medically operative ways.  But the X-ray machines could not detect the fiberglass balls and shards.  They were causing hemorrhage.

When doctors attempted to find what was causing the hemorrhage, they had to excavate into wounds to the point that victim after victim simply bled to death during the fruitless searches.

The doctors and nurses said that the injuries so overwhelmed the Hanoi-Haiphong medical infastructure that they begged the country’s leasdership to “return to the negotiating table” with the U.S. regarding the stalled peace negotiations.  According to them, it worked.

Although I had experienced hatred directed to me as an American before these interviews, it was my first experience like that from people with whom I had thought there would always be rapport.  They did not hide their hatred for me.  They couldn’t.

I was ashamed.

Almost needless to say, National Public Radio, with which we had recently begun to affiliate at KRAB, did not want to touch Harvey and Engstrom’s report with a ten-foot pole.  Pacifica only aired a very sanitized version of their efforts.

While driving back to Seattle from Vancouver, we were listening on the radio to Dmitri Shostakovich’s profund tragedy, his 8th string quartet on the radio.  I finally understood the work.  He had written it in Dresden in 1960, after seeing first-hand the remaining destruction from the U.S.-U.K. firebombing of that city in February, 1945.

The horror Shostakovich had felt finally struck home.  I cried openly, in front of my friends, who were also so shaken by our introduction to how people feel about U.S. use of cluster bombs on innocent civilians:

Part One:

Part Two: