Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brownshirts Dressed in Blue?

I wrote the article below on 2 September 2004 after the police corralled hundreds of people and held them on a rat infested pier until the RNC was over. We have continued to deteriorate to the point that we now have candidate's thugs beating up any opposition. And the right is praising them! I see little difference between being Bushwhacked in 2004 and living in the Obamanation today, except that the wars and torture and giveaways to the rich are even wider, more brutal, and more blatant.

Brownshirts Dressed in Blue?
Steve Osborn

I have observed the Republican fascist takeover of our government with great trepidation, as I am a student of history. The parallels with the Germany of the 30's are frightening. The Weimar Republic was under attack and the economy was failing. They could have balanced the budget, but chose not (or were not allowed) to tax the wealthy Junkers, the owners of most of the agriculture and heavy industry of Germany. Instead, the burden fell on the middle classes.

Hitler had written his plan for Germany and the World in Mein Kampf and there was little of freedom in it. The Nazis had a small minority in the Reichstag, but there was a large organization of thugs known as the SA, or Brownshirts. These stormtroopers protected Hitler’s rallies by driving off or beating up on the opposition. They destroyed polling booths and drove off opposition party voters at the polls, stole ballot boxes, and generally brutalized any opposition. Hitler made a pact with the army Officer Corps and the Junkers, that the army would be rebuilt and supplied. They would be given free rein. The Junkers would not be taxed or their profits reduced by the Nazi government. They poured huge amounts into the Nazi coffers, which was used to fuel a propaganda machine unmatched until today.

The Nazis finally won and took power. Hitler quickly suborned the Reichstag into a rubber stamp congress for his programs. He used a phony terrorist act (The SS set fire to the Riechstag Building and blamed it on the communists) to clamp down on the people, for their own security of course.

“Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of freedom of expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permitted beyond the legal limit otherwise prescribed.”

No, that is not a quote from the PATRIOT ACT, it is taken from a decree “for the Protection of the People and the State” (AKA the Enabling Acts) issued on 28 February 1933, the day after the Reichstag fire, suspending the seven sections of the Weimar constitution which guaranteed individual and civil liberties. It was described as a “defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state.”

Once the Nazis had consolidated their power, newspapers or radio stations expressing opposition were either shut down, or the Brownshirts destroyed their presses and offices. As the newspapers were suppressed, they were “bought” by Nazi propagandists. Soon, all that one heard or read in Germany was the Nazi’s “fair and balanced” viewpoint. Soon, it was death or a concentration camp for those who disagreed or even listened to another viewpoint. Labor unions quickly came under fire and were abolished. The various churches who tried to protest were silenced or outlawed. Pensions were erased and labor laws were abolished. New ones were substituted which left the workers with no right but to do what they were told. Then came the book burnings and an attempt to erase anything that did not agree with the Nazi view of the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not equate Bush with Hitler. Bush doesn’t have Hitler’s charisma, nor is he anywhere close to as intelligent. I am just trying to point out that the United States is poised on a slippery slope and the lesson is there to be read in fairly recent history.

In both Italy and Germany, the government and big business were closely tied and business had the right to unlimited profit. The government passed laws against organized labor and repealed any laws that guaranteed worker’s rights. Pensions were repealed and the funds returned to business and government to use as they wished. Both governments invented foreign enemies that “threatened their existence.” The people were expected to approve any measure that protected them from those enemies. People who protested these policies were automatically classified as traitors or enemy agents. They were tried, often in secret tribunals, and executed, or just disappeared, often to a concentration camp. Ethnic groups were singled out as scapegoats and persecuted, often winding up in concentration camps. The above description is only a thumbnail sketch of what happened, but one can get the idea.

The result in each case was a nation whose citizens were bombarded with only one point of view until they came to believe it, who marched lock step with their leader right into the abyss, dragging millions of innocents along with them. In four years, we have gone from a respected nation that worked with the world to try to make it a better place, to a nation hated and despised for being a bully, a liar, a killer, a torturer and a gross polluter, raping the environment for private profit and greed.

I would like the United States to be remembered as something better; as a nation of law and empathy and respect; as a nation with a marvelous Constitution and Bill of Rights that is a model for any emerging nation. Watching the actions of the NYPD suppressing the people exercising their First Amendment rights, while the major “fair and balanced” media ignored it, made me realize how fragile these freedoms and that Constitution have become under the Cheney/Bush regime. These latter day Brownshirts are rapidly gaining power. We the People are rapidly running out of options and we had better exercise them at the polls before it’s too late.
930 words
2 Sept. 2004

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Blog of Sorrow

It has been very hard to blog lately. Every time I go online, the situation gets worse. Every day, the slide from Fascism to Nazism is accelerating. The oil volcano is increasing (see page 19, just ahead of the want ads, stale news) The wars are widening, more civilization is being destroyed in the name of Profit, the god of the Corporate Oligarchy.

I wrote this poem some years ago,


Far out at sea, the unbroken great blue circle
Ever changing yet ever the same.
Standing on the bowsprit I gaze into the deep, clear, blue depths
Or out to the horizon. Sometimes there are dolphins!

At night, the heavens are filled with myriad stars, far more than are seen on land.
They stretch out to infinity, eternity,
The only human interlopers,
The satellites moving in their straight lines from horizon to horizon.

Below in my bunk I am lulled by the quiet hiss of the bow wave,
The rasping zzzzip of passing dolphins,
Distant songs of humpbacked whales echoing from the deep,
And the quiet tread of watchstanders passing on the deck above my head.

Diving on the reef, I pass beneath the stands of kelp
Rising like fluted columns
Which spread overhead, muted light filtering to the sea floor
Like sunlight through stained glass

Walking on the floor of a great virgin forest,
The first branches spread a hundred feet overhead.
Wild rhododendrons provide splashes of color
And my gaze stretches for miles.

Standing on a windswept ridge, gazing at a rugged, snow shrouded peak.
Mighty rivers look like tiny rivulets, running from beneath the glaciers.
The tree line is far below me,
And on the eroded cliff beside me, seashells!

These are my cathedrals.
This is where I feel close to my God,
In the quiet wonder of God’s creation,
Far from the works of man.

Steve Osborn
23 August 2002

I wrote that poem to reflect a life I lived and loved for many years. Now, the reefs are becoming lifeless, coated with blobs and streamers of oil. My heart is close to breaking as I watch film of dolphins and whales struggling to breath as the inhaled oil turns to pneumonia, filling their lungs with fluid.

The trees have long been cut down, being replaced with vast tracts of cheap houses.

In the valleys, the glaciers are receding. The peaks become less snow-shrouded every year.

Only the seashells remain.

I wrote the poem out of joy, out of love. Now it seems to be but a requiem for times gone by.

An oil company CEO will have to write the next poem about the sea, but I don’t think I’ll read it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

End to Nukes? Not while our corporations run things!

Desmond Tutu has an article on ending nuclear weapons. In it he said, "Two-thirds of all governments have called for such a treaty, known as a nuclear weapons convention, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has voiced his support for the idea. Only the nuclear weapon states and NATO members are holding us back."

And therein hangs the tale. The major nuclear powers hold Security Council seats. When the UN was set up, the "winners" of WW-II were not about to be told what to do by a couple of hundred small nations. Therefore, the SC was formed and has veto power over anything presented by the UN.

You can see how that works when the UN overwhelmingly votes to restrict Israel's genocide, or its aggressive wars; and especially when they try to force Israel to divulge any details of its massive nuclear weapons program and its nuclear arsenal. The US vetoes it and Israel pats it on the back, says "Good boy!" and receives its annual $3 billion gift in weapons technology and hardware, courtesy of the US taxpayer.

As long as the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex (MICC) can maximize its profits through war and nuclear technology, we will not see any progress.

The United States government is supposed to be governed, and limited by, a Constitution put in place by "the consent of the governed," We the People. In actuality, if two-thirds of the American populace were to rise up and insist on an end to nuclear weaponry, or to war itself, our alleged Representatives would check with the MICC, who would tell them to vote "No" or face losing their corporate contribution gravy train.

We would quickly find out what the voice and opinion of We the People is worth, as we have many times in the past. The wishes of a few billionaires outweighs the will of the people at a ratio of about three or four billionaires to two hundred million people.

The United States has turned into a fascist government, a marriage of government with big corporations. We the People have only the duty to provide tax money and cannon fodder for our wars of aggression. We are no longer citizens of the United States, we are now subjects of the American Empire, just as we were subjects of the British Empire and the King of England prior to 1776.

If you look at what is happening in the Gulf today, you can see the proof. BP has done incalculable damage to the world's ecosystem, damage which continues to grow. Has the government stepped in, taken control, mobilized most of the planetary oil recovery experts and equipment, seizing BP's funds to finance the effort?

No, BP is still in charge, doing what they wish, holding off any outside agencies, refusing to divulge vital information, and telling the government to back off. The government has even been running reporters off the Louisiana beaches and confiscating cameras.

However, we will have a Blue Ribbon panel to investigate the spill! Just like the Warren Commission and the 9-11 Commission, where little of substance is investigated and, after the whitewash, will be classified and put into sealed archives for the next generation to read, if any...

Do you think we still have a representative government? Technically, yes, but it represents the corporate "persons," not We the People.

End nuclear weaponry? Not unless the Corporations agree. They won't.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Citizen or Subject?

Until 234 years ago, the American People were subjects of His Majesty, the King of England. They were governed by His Majesty’s Government, far away and caring little for its distant subjects except for the money which could be extorted from them. Laws were piled on laws, taxes upon taxes. This caused much unrest, except for the very wealthy who had connections to His Majesty’s Government.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in which he said “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

“He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

“He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

“He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

“He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

“He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people...

“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

“He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

“He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

“He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

“For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

“For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

“For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

“For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

“For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

“For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

“For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

“For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

“For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

“He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.”

This is but a portion of the grievances the American People had against the King and his government. However, as subjects of the King, we had no independent power, even for the redress of grievances.

As you read the above, did certain similarities suggest themselves to you with modern America?

After a long and bloody war, the American People won their freedom and became Citizens of the United States of America. With the memory of being subject to a king fresh in their minds, the Congress wrote a document, the Constitution of the United States, and appended the first ten amendments to it, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights does not enumerate the rights of the American Citizen, it forbids the government from interfering with those rights. As a matter of fact, the Tenth Amendment states "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People." It established the means whereby the three branches of government were to be a system of checks and balances to prevent any one of the three gaining too much power, and thereby, to avoid a dictatorship.

It was not foreseen that the three branches of the government would become the paid agents of the wealthy, cooperating to control the people and curtail the Bill of Rights, and, in fact, most of the Constitution.

We are once again under the control of an effective dictatorship where the Rights of Man are ignored or circumvented by illegal and unconstitutional laws. Our so called “representatives” ignore We the People, listening only to the wealthy corporations and cartels which the Supreme Court has designated “persons.”

A huge agency has been created, “Homeland Security,” which has been given the right to overrule the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, to pry into every citizen’s home, business, communications. There are ever growing lists compiled; no-fly lists, border crossing lists, dossiers compiled on anyone who protests what is happening to our nation. Minorities are again coming under the eye of the government and discrimination is running rampant. We have the highest per capita percentage of people in prison of any nation. Exposes have been made of collusion between judges, law enforcement, and the private owners of prisons to be sure the population continues to increase, to the profit of the owners.

Business such as the oil companies are granted immunity for their crimes, and the government agencies that are supposed to be safeguarding us and regulating them are run by industry managers of the same industries, appointed by “our” government.

Reread the complaints above from the Declaration of Independence. Better yet, read the whole document. Look at the position of the average American, today. Then, tell me, are we Citizens of the Constitutional Republic of the United States, or or just Subjects of the American Empire?

Anchor of Liberty

We've all grown up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance; every morning at school, in offices and at assemblies. How much thought do we give to that pledge and its meaning?

I pledge allegiance to the flag... What is a flag? Webster’s describes it as a piece of cloth or bunting with distinctive colors, patterns or symbolic devices used as a state symbol. In general it is an easily recognized symbol of a nation or group. Our flag has gone through many incarnations from the Grand Union flag of the revolution through an ever increasing number of stars as states were added to the Union. The flag of the United States, “Old Glory,” has flown proudly as the ensign on ships protecting our shipping from both the British, and Barbary pirates, in the 1800'’s, from the crest of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima in World War II to the moon and beyond, as painted on Voyager, now on its way to the stars. Sadly, it has flown just as proudly at Wounded Knee, Manzanar, Mai Lai and Fallujah.

Of the United States of America... What is the United States of America? It is a vast country, bounded on the East and West by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, by Canada to the North and Mexico to the South, not to mention Alaska and Hawaii beyond those boundaries. It is the home of diverse people and cultures and has every extreme of climate and geology.

And to the Republic for which it stands... What is a Republic? “It is a state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote (the electorate) and is exercised by representatives elected directly or indirectly by them and responsible to them.” What is it that makes our republic so unique in the annals of history? It is the three documents bequeathed to us by the founders of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. The founders of this nation had had their fill of autocratic government, unresponsive to the needs and wishes of its citizens. The Declaration of Independence spelled out that every person had the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inalienable means that it cannot be taken away or abridged. It also declared that every man had the right to rebel against those rights being infringed. After a long and bitter campaign, the United States of America was born. A Constitutional Convention was held in which the framework of government was hammered out. When completed, it was a remarkably brief document consisting of seven articles which concisely spelled out the rights, privileges and obligations of all three branches of government and how each of the three should provide a system of checks and balances on the others so that no branch of the government could assume dictatorial power or infringe upon the rights of the people. Included was the process by which the Constitution could be amended. When the Constitutional Convention had drafted the document, almost as an afterthought it was decided that there should be an enumeration of simple acknowledged principles of the rights of man. The list of an American citizen’s rights was to be an absolute barrier to infringement by the government upon the citizenry. (An interesting fact; If you carefully read the Bill of Rights, you will note that it does not enumerate our rights, it forbids the government from interfering with or taking away these rights. The rights are inherent.) These were added as the first ten amendments to the Constitution and called the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the irrevocable law of the land, the nation’s ultimate guarantee of human dignity for every American.

One Nation, under God, indivisible...The First Amendment declares the separation of church and state, but nowhere does it state that belief in a Supreme Being is something that cannot be professed publicly or shown in public places. Neither does it ban prayer in public. Rather, the separation of church and state was to guard against the growth of any sort of ruling theocracy such as had been seen throughout much of human history, where the church ruled and dictated human behavior according to its particular beliefs. Indivisible because since the civil war, we have hung together as one nation despite our differences.

With Liberty and Justice for all. Those ten amendments are that guarantee. They cannot be abridged regardless of expediency. Nowhere else in the world does a citizen enjoy the enumerated rights and benefits guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The President takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, as do the Senate and the House. The Supreme Court is to enforce those Constitutional guarantees and see that neither of the other two branches of government violates or tries to set aside those rights. It is the duty of every citizen to see that the Constitution and Bill of Rights is protected. Without them, the United States of America is nothing special, just another big country ruling its people any way it sees fit. And the people become no more than servants of the state.

I would urge everyone to obtain a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution including the Bill of Rights and study them carefully. It is only by knowledge that we can acquire wisdom and only by informed wisdom that we can maintain our unique and inalienable rights and freedoms.

Friday, April 9, 2010

On Missiles, Drones and Bug Splats

It's getting harder to blog these days. Every article on the net, nationally and internationally, seems to be more war, more preparation for war, mostly by the US. Now we are developing an “ICBM” with a “conventional” warhead, so we can strike anywhere in the world within ten minutes. Most of the major nations of the world have spent a lot of money to be able to track and respond to a missile attack. The last time it was attempted to launch this program, it was “shot down” by cooler heads, even in the military. The argument, now, is that we will notify any nations that are crossed by the missile not to worry, “It is not a nuke. Trust us, would we lie to you?”

The Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC) that is making billion$ off the war machine are not about to lose their best cash cow by committing peace. Somehow, they can get billion$ more for weaponry and experimental weapons, but poor kids can’t get enough milk to prevent rickets.

The greed of this Oligarchy is unbounded and it is based on war. One simple way to predict where we are heading is by looking at Afghanistan and Pakistan. Every Pashtun that objects to foreign occupation and fights back against the invader is, by US definition, a terrorist or insurgent. Therefore, we can kill him, his family and friends. Every time we do so, we recruit even more to the cause of expelling the invader. Now we are “looking into” the Special Forces killing of a family and the attempted coverup by the military.

We raid and kill, from the sky, from the ground, with impunity. Our “brave” drone pilots sitting in Nevada, (Do they wear leather bomber jackets, too?) flying their computer screens classify their body counts as “bug splats.” Not humans, not even collateral damage, bug splats! What you get on your windshield on a Summer’s day.

The Pentagon has announced that the “F-35" fighter development program has jumped from an estimated $178 billion to $328.25 billion with projections that it could go even higher as inflation continues. That is jut one program. Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and other Offense Contractors have dozens more running in the wings, soaking up anything available in overruns.

The Pentagon says it costs a million dollar$ a year to keep one soldier in Afghanistan. It costs probably a hundred thousand dollar$ to keep a drone flying and to launch a Hellfire missile on a village compound. Lord only knows how much is expended for each air strike. The cost of keeping task forces of carriers and their supports in the area must be hundreds of million$ if not billion$. Apparently, all this must be expended to chase an estimated hundred or so “terrorists” around the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, while we create legions of courageous fighters intent on our extermination because of our raids and killings.

Now, here is where the rubber meets the road. The Pashtun make their weapons in caves, cost negligible. They make their ammunition in caves, cost negligible. It takes a bullet or two to kill or wound a million dollar warrior. You do the math.

Of course, to the MICC that is fine. Most of the money ends up in their pockets and, in a depressed and stagnant economy, there are lots of hungry Yanks to send “over there.” Cannon fodder is cheap and plentiful and the MICC gets a great dividend for seeing that they are sent out there.

Even if we eventually lose, the MICC makes out, for they will get billion$ more to build weapons to "avenge" our losses! The main loss, however, is ours, for we have lost our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our Independent Judiciary, our privacy, our checks and balances that were to protect us from dictatorship.

As I have said before, read some history, look at the parallels, then see where we are headed. Then, marshal up the guts to “head it off at the pass.” We are really running out of time, folks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Fairly Subtle Conversion to Fascism

Chris Hedges wrote an interesting article, published on CommonDreams,

Is America ‘Yearning For Fascism?

It quickly got almost three-hundred comments. One commenter likened what is happening in the US to Nazi Germany. A response to that was that we were being very disrespectful to equate the trashing of a synagogue here, a “few broken windows” with the holocaust, which killed millions.

I felt constrained to answer, and decided to put it in the blog lest we forget.

When people come apart at the seams because someone compares the US to Nazi Germany; "A few broken windows to the holocaust," I must point out that National Socialism started out with a few thugs breaking the heads of the opposition, vandalizing homes and buildings. As the power grew, the thugs became the SA, brown-shirted armband wearing arrogant thugs, using quasi-military training. Slowly, as their power grew, they became more intrusive. Finally, as Hitler came to power, the SA could enter your home, search it for any sign of opposition, or Jewish artifacts, trash your home, drag you into the street where you might be "shot while trying to escape." The alternative was a concentration camp.

It wasn't until the SA became internationally embarrassing to the Reich that Hitler instituted the "Night of the Long Knives," killed off the SA leadership and rid himself of possible competitors. After that, the "rehabilitated" SA and the SS really began their works of terror and the "final solution."

My point? Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, started small. They could even have been stopped early on, but nobody did anything. For the most part, they were treated as a bad joke. By the time the people realized they weren't, it was far too late.

It is starting small here, too. But it is growing and our apathy is giving it strength through non-resistance.

Read Sebastian Happner's Defying Hitler. It is an authentic journal by a German boy who grew up during WW-I and lived through the chaos that followed. He fled Germany in 1939, when it was becoming apparent that his chance of survival was becoming minuscule. One of the stories was of a group of friends of varying political persuasions who used to get together, sample good wine and talk. At the last get together of this group, one said to Happner, "For expressing those opinions, I should report you to the Gestapo, but as we are old friends, I won't this time." He waited in fear for several weeks for the knock on the door in the middle of the night, before he finally decided that his "friend" had not turned him in.

Haven't we been trained in the past decade or so to watch what we say or what we write? Political correctness! Think carefully before you open your mouth to be sure there is no possibility that some group might take offense, turn you in, have you arrested, sue you for everything you own. Any opinions expressed should be carefully vetted to see that it won't lose you your job, your place in the community. We went through that when I was in High School and McCarthy was running amok. We foolishly thought that was all over when he finally overreached himself and took on the army.

The ones we consider "crazies," the Tea-Baggers and others of their ilk need not worry. Their opinions are approved by Miniprop and the Thought Police, i.e., Homeland Security (HS) , as is the continually increasing intrusion into our lives and privacy "for our own good and safety, " of course.

Remember the program in Bush's early administration which Congress refused to ratify? Knowing government, they've gone ahead and done it anyway. "Citizens, watch your neighbors. Report anything unusual, or any controversial opinions expressed, for evaluation by HS. Remember, terrorists are everywhere and only your vigilance can root them out."

Millions of Americans on "no-fly" and "border watch" lists, travel restricted. Our e-mail, phone conversations, and even spoken conversation in our homes may be recorded and data mined. The list is growing by some twenty-thousand a day! If millions of Americans are considered potential terrorists and put on watch lists, then perhaps it is the government who should be on the lists, should be restricted by We the People from committing their excesses, but sadly, it won't be.

When the day comes that a large part of We the People are looking out through the razor wire, we will understand, but by then, it will probably be too late.

Obama's speech to the troops at Bagram Gulag and air base, (wearing his leather "Bomber's Jacket" reminiscent of Bush and his "Mission Accomplished" flight suit ) should be a wake-up call to us all. Endless deaths, of soldiers and peasants, endless war for oil and minerals and pipeline routes. The same sort of arguments Hitler used as he took small country after country.

Obama is just a shill, a mouthpiece like his predecessor. He just speaks better English. The Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex that Eisenhower warned us about is very powerful, very wealthy, and has bought the government, lock, stock and barrel. War is the most profitable thing in the world and they are not going let it go as long as they are in charge. They are in charge.

Thomas Jefferson once said, When the government fears the people, that is freedom. When the people fear the government, that is tyranny."

Be afraid, be very afraid. Better yet, start thinking about how to turn this runaway freight around, or at least stop it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A New START or the Beginning of the End?

I see that Obama and Medvedev are beginning to consider a new strategic arms reduction treaty! Now we can START again where we left off a couple of decades ago. I don't see Israel joining in, however.

We and the CCCP were mutually destroying our nuclear arms and delivery systems. Teams from the opposite country oversaw the destruction of warheads, the filling in of missile silos, etc. It was not a panacea, as the treaty left enough nukes to wipe the planet out twenty or thirty times over instead of several hundred, but it was a start. It was working well. Then Bush made an agreement with Yeltsin, called the START II Treaty. "Let's not destroy our weapons and warheads, we'll just put them in storage,” and so it came to pass.

When we had a Constitution, the President was to follow the "Law of the Land." International treaties, when ratified by the Senate, were part of the Law of the Land. Abandonment of a treaty was breaking the law, a good cause for impeachment, being the violation of the public trust.

Nowadays, under the doctrine of the Unitary Executive, apparently no agreement is worth the paper (or Parchment) it is written on, if it doesn't go along with whatever the Unitary Executive of the day (And his/her master or masters) wants.

I am a nuclear veteran and have spent much of my life working for nuclear disarmament and World Peace. Nothing would make me happier than to see the nuclear scourge removed from the earth.

In 1967, the US Senate unanimously ratified the Outer Space Treaty [AKA Peaceful Uses of Space Treaty] which banned WMD’s in space. This treaty, the Law of the Land, has been derided as "quaint and obsolete" by the US Military Establishment, just like the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners. They were both unilaterally discarded by Bush and his cohorts. The Military has said it fully intends to "arm the high ground” which will allow the United States "Full-Spectrum Dominance," i.e. world control, a PNAC goal for many years.

It would be quite easy to correct all of this, if we still had a functioning Constitution, but alas, that apparently is not to be.

Someday, somewhere, some misguided or fearful person is going to set off one of these damned things, which will trigger a massive response. Before the contrails have had a chance to disperse, the world will be reduced to a handful of hunter-gatherers trying to live on a poisoned planet with a poisoned atmosphere. The gains, the treasures of art and thought of several thousand years accumulation and study, will become ash drifting on the wind.

And on the moon, a pile of junk and some footprints in the soil will proclaim to the universe, "Kilroy was here."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ohhh Boy! ObamaCare!

Well, the alleged Health Care Reform Bill has passed the House and the self-congratulatory hoopla has begun. The lobbyists have worked long hours, and spent million$ on their minions as usual. So, Big Pharma, Big Med, and Big Insurance get more billion$ of our tax money and We the People get tossed a peanut or two to keep us happy.

Meanwhile, Big Pharma continues off-label drug sales, despite fines and judgments against them, and Big Chem/Big Ag continue to put poisons on our crops and into our ground water on a global scale.

Now that the Supremes have given big corporations the “right” to spend as much as they want to “convince” legislators to do their bidding, I fear it will be a cold day in Hell before We the People get any actual legislation in our interest. Apparently every bill that is proposed is gone over with a fine tooth comb by lobbyists and special interests to make sure nothing interferes with profits or control. After those vital corrections have been made, then the Oligarchy allows a vote and, through the magic of money, makes sure the vote is “correct.”

“It can’t happen here,” you say? Too late, it happened years ago, but they kept it under the table in those days. Now, they can lay it on the table in full view and it is just a corporation, masquerading as a “person,” exercising his “civil rights.”

As was said in Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Those with the big bankrolls are the ones that are “more equal.” The rest of us are just "equal."

"Cheer up," he said, "things could be worse!" So I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Oligarchy is coming out of the Shadows

Over the years, the Oligarchy has stayed in the shadows, slowly gaining power, manipulating the economy, buying officials. Each election cycle, their power has grown. Their wealth has grown.

Now, they feel enough in control to start coming out of the shadows, climbing out from under their rocks.

Why do they feel safe now? Just as in Nazi Germany, they have gained control of the legislative branch, the executive branch and now the judiciary. Hitler said that control of the judicial system was necessary, as then anything you did was legal, anything the opposition did was illegal. It really simplified things.

The Oligarchs now holds about 98% of the wealth and power, world wide. They have left 2% for 98% of us to fight over, to feed, house, clothe and find health care for our families. That way, they don't have to worry about us forming a coalition that could sweep away their puppets. We're too busy trying to eat.

Remember, like their parents, the "Robber Barons" of the 19th Century, the Oligarchy feels that the natural order of things is a handful of powerful people controlling everything, and a huge number of sick, ragged, starving serfs with their hands held out, watching the limos drive by, willing to work for pennies to survive.

They are getting very close, my friends, very close indeed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Day of Two Sunrises

This was written to honor and mourn the victims of the Castle-Bravo H-Bomb blast on 1 March 1954. the Marshallese still suffer, but were conned by the government to sign off responsibility for a cash grant. (wampun for land?) Now it is fifty six years, and the malady lingers on.

* * *

The Day of Two Sunrises

My brother and I went to play
By the boats pulled up on the beach.
We raced and played tag
And chased land crabs in the predawn light.

The sun began to light the east
As it always had before,
Suddenly, a second sun arose in the west
Where never the sun had risen!

We ran to Mama to ask her what and why.
She did not know and the new sun died
As quickly as it grew.
In the Men’s House, they talked and remembered.

The day began as always, the men to fish in their outriggers,
The mothers cooking and digging taro, gathering plantains
And watching over the children
Who played at fishing and gathering and ran and played tag.

Suddenly, from the sky fell white powder!
Once a missionary had told of snow. Perhaps this was snow!
It came down covering everything. It was sticky.
We played, and scooped it up and threw it at each other. It was fun!

That evening I did not feel so well. My eyes hurt and my stomach turned to water.
My brother’s body was covered with blisters and his skin began to fall off.
Mother was vomiting, too, and her beautiful hair
Began to come out in handfuls.

Mother wondered if it was the snow, so she washed us,
But the water was filled with snow and the scrubbing removed the skin.
Soon, the whole village was sick, and the animals, and the plants,
All were sick.

After two days, the strange men came, in boats with a large mouth
Which dropped open on the beach and white clad creatures came out.
They wore masks with strange eyes and a long round mouth.
They pointed sticks at us which buzzed and crackled.

They pointed the sticks at everything, the trees, the well, the fish,
And listened to the buzz and crackle, then made marks on little boards they carried.
Finally they left, but told us we were very sick and not to eat
Of the fish, the coconuts, the plantains, the taro, that they were now tabu.

The men returned in their large boats and said our island was now tabu.
They gathered us up, leaving everything behind
We were taken to another place where we were poked and bled.
We looked so terrible that the people must have been afraid.

They wore the strange white suits when they looked in on us.
My brother looked the worst, like an old man with scabs
Which broke and bled and his teeth fell out
And then he was dead.

Mama became an old woman with patchy hair
And always a sickness.
Each time she saw me, she cried.
I was so sick, so tired, and then one day I died.

* * *

In memory of the Rongalapese and other Islanders who were poisoned by Castle Bravo (13.5 megatons, 1 March 1954) and other bombs. Just collateral damage in the quest for knowledge and power.
Steve Osborn
25 February 2004

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

10 year old Palestinian boy a public enemy?

I read a sad story on CommonDreams this morning. It was about a ten year old Palestinian boy, dragged from his bed by soldiers and beaten so badly that he sustained internal bleeding. This was apparently in reprisal for his having told what happened to him earlier that day when he and his twelve year old brother were arrested by the IDF (Israeli Defense Force).

I felt committed to comment on this, and what I have seen happening for a number of years in Israel/Palestine. My comment is below. It is so sad that any dissent in Israel is apparently being suppressed by force.

* * *

The Israeli government learned well from the Nazi government, but they learned the wrong lessons. They have forgotten the Warsaw ghetto and the heroic resistance of the Jewish youth who held off the Germans until they finally cleared the ghetto with massive armor and troop action.

The lesson? Oppressed peoples fight, even against overwhelming odds.

The Nazis executed or sent to concentration camps any dissident voice. This in addition to the "Untermenschen" needing "extermination," i.e., Jews, Slavs, etc.

The Israeli government now has its own untermenschen, the Palestinians and, the Arab peoples in general. One of the government's people said a few years ago, "The entire Palestine population is not worth one Jewish fingernail."

In France, the Resistance fought on even against terrible reprisals. One act of sabotage, one killing of a Nazi, left whole villages being rounded up and shot. Still the Resistance fought on.

Now, I read, that it is illegal for an Israeli citizen to protest the government's actions. They are rounded up and jailed immediately as, I don't know, terrorists, terrorist sympathizers, perhaps just as protesters, but none-the-less, they are removed from public view and little is allowed to be published about it.

In short, and sadly enough, the Star of David could be replaced by the swastika in the Israeli flag and there would be little difference. People have said, "But the Israelis haven't killed millions, so they can't be compared to the Nazis!"

Remember, when the Nazis started, they hadn't killed millions either. Just beat up and killed opponents. Then dispossessed and jailed many more for having dissident opinions. With power, the cruelty and nastiness was unleashed on all who disagreed with them.

Israel has an estimated 200 to 400 nuclear armed missiles ready to go, largely due to our $3 billions per year that we give them (out of our taxes), mostly in advanced military hardware and advanced military technology. Israel has never admitted to having nukes. They sign no treaties, allow no inspections, but have said that, if it looked like Israel was ever going to be defeated, they would exercise the "Sampson initiative." That would be to launch all their nukes at the various capitals of Europe and the Middle East, to take everyone with them.

We used to have mental hospitals to put such people in so they could do no harm to themselves or to others. I guess the modern tactic, just as with Nazi Germany, is to cower in fear and appease, appease, appease.

At StratCom, the bar against using nukes preemptively against non-nuke forces has been removed. I imagine we can probably add our 3,000 plus ICBM's to Israel's 400, as we seem to do whatever Israel tells us.

I see a terrible end approaching, and see no way to head it off.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Black Hole Theory of Government

I wrote and had this article published on 4 August, 2007. I wrote it as a warning. Now, it has continued to grow until perhaps it is too late.
* * *
I WAS reading a paper on astrophysics when I suddenly made a connection which may explain our government and how it now operates. The Universe is a vast place, billions of years old and not filled with, but with a plenitude of stars of various sizes and types. These are formed into galaxies, which are formed of clusters of stars, dust from which new stars are born, nebulae, etc.

Galaxies and stars all have life spans. They are born and die over a span of hundreds of millions to billions of years. We might make an analogy that galaxies are like nations, in a way. They are made up of millions of stars of various ages, sizes and attainments, just as a nation is made up of millions of people of various attainments.

Most stars are average, providing a background of light much like the stars in our galaxy which we call the “Milky Way.” Some stars come to our notice, through brilliance, or proximity, like some people do, through genius or notoriety. People like Jefferson, Franklin, Voltaire, Di Vinci, Brahms, Einstein, King. Then there are Novas, Like Mozart, whose brilliance flared briefly and whose light echoes through time.

There have been bright stars whose legacy lives on in echoes of hatred and prejudice, such as Hitler and Stalin. Would that those would be mementos of things not to be repeated, but apparently such is not to be.

Then there is another phenomenon. The Black Hole. These are stars with an enormous wealth of mass. They tend to be short lived as a star, but when they collapse, that enormous mass gets to be so dense and concentrated that it is able to attract and hold everything that comes within its “event horizon.” It catches and absorbs all matter, energy and light that comes within its purview. We cannot see a Black Hole, as no light or energy escapes it for us to see and measure. Scientists are able to verify that they exist due to disturbances in the space-time continuum around their suspected positions. It is now postulated that they may exist at the bright center of each galaxy, invisibly consuming the substance of the galactic core and as its mass grows, its effects spread out consuming still more.

“How does this relate to government,” you ask?

Look at what has happened to nations and governments in our recorded history. To bring it closer to home, look at what has happened to the United States over the past few decades. Laws have been passed giving enormous corporations the same freedoms as individuals. Those corporations then use the power of enormous wealth to overcome the rights of the single individual or small group with no wealth with which to fight.

As this enormous wealth accumulates, the principals controlling the corporations begin to fade from view, but the wealth and power continues to accumulate at an ever increasing rate, and it soon begins to disappear. Look at Halliburton and KBR for instance in Iraq and post Katrina New Orleans. Hundreds of millions vanished without a trace and yet they get still more “no-bid” contracts.

It has been postulated that any person, say in a space ship, that crosses the event horizon of a Black Hole will be stretched and eventually torn apart by the steep gravity differential. What do we find happening to people that have dealings with these human Black Holes? They, too seem to stretch and distort, losing their principles, their honor, their sense of decency, until they vanish into the Black Hole of wealth and power.

In the past six plus years, the United States has been moved into the proximity of these corporate military and industrial Black Holes and its wealth and honor and people are being stripped away at a steadily increasing rate. Pensions, jobs, wages, the wealth of the US Treasury, all have vanished, or are vanishing, into the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Executive Black Hole. As the Black Holes acquire this mass, it only makes them greedy for more. Is it too late to break away from this decreasing orbit? I don’t know, but it will require an enormous expenditure of energy by We the People to do it. If we just sit here on spaceship earth and do nothing, we will all be swallowed up.

To continue the analogy, scientists have advanced a theory that perhaps the Black Holes are acting as a conduit, transferring this enormous mass , perhaps to another galaxy through “worm holes” in space. Our Black Hole government seems to fit in with this possibility also, for as the wealth vanishes here, it is possibly appearing in China, Russia and other foreign governments and exchanges. Much may be in the Black Holes of Switzerland. Just as certain is the fact that, as we have lost it, it is going where we will never have a chance to get it back.

Again, I ask, can we break free while we still have enough fuel and supplies to navigate to safety, or will we procrastinate until we have run out of fuel and helplessly crash into the Black Hole, to vanish from the earth forever?

The choice belongs to We the People, but time and resources are running out.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our Schools, No Child Left un-Brainwashed?

Ignatius Loyola said, “Give me a child for his first seven years and I'll give you the man.

Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
And, he wrote, “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.

In Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Fascist Italy, the children were not taught to think, they were fed propaganda until it came out of their ears. The result was millions of obedient robots who would do what they were told, follow orders without question, turn on any student who showed independence and report him to the authorities.

In due time, they became good obedient cannon-fodder, concentration camp guards, knowing that, in following orders, they were doing the will of their leaders.

At one time, the US had an envied educational system. All children had an opportunity for an early education. Those with abilities could continue on to college. They were taught to think, to evaluate, to discover, to create. The system was very successful in creating an educated populace that could think for itself. It could see errors in government and try to correct them. It had enough talent to select leaders who likewise felt an obligation to leave the planet, or at least their office, better than they found it.

The Oligarchy and the Pentagon made use of its stable of “lone crazed assassins” to get rid of most of our leaders. As the Oligarchy slowly gained control, they stayed in the shadows, always acquiring more power. They bought politicians, jurists, the Media, and others of influence, until they gained control. Meanwhile, they attacked the school system, dragging it down, dumbing it down, until it produced few thinkers, few critics. Schools are now reduced, for the most part, to indoctrination centers where children are taught to memorize the party line and regurgitate it on command.

Now that the Oligarchy has about 98% of the wealth, and has bought a vast majority of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the government, it is coming out into the open. As Hitler said, when you control the courts, whatever you do is legal, whatever your enemies do is illegal.

We are seeing that in the latest SCOTUS decision to remove restrictions on how much money the Oligarchy can use to buy or bribe legislators. We are watching as the civil rights, obtained at so much sacrifice by We the People, are being slowly eliminated by SCOTUS.

In my article If it was Good Enough for Hitler..., I pointed out the fact that the courts have repeatedly backed the school boards as having the right to fire any teacher who doesn’t toe the line and teach only what the school board tells it to. Teachers in many districts can no longer answer student’s questions except by giving them predigested answers, approved by the school boards, or telling them to ask their parents.

When the case I mentioned in my above article hits the Supremes, we will probably see the death of any independent thought in the school systems.

Then, indeed, Loyola, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Big Brother and the Oligarchs will have won. We will have a generation of brainwashed little robots to do the bidding of the government which, they will be absolutely certain, knows best. They will have been taught to hate foreigners, worship the flag, enlist in the military to help purge any different thought or customs of our “enemies” around the world. And above all, they will have been taught to root out any deviance of thought or action in their friends and neighbors, “enemies of the state.”

When I was a little boy, I only knew one definition of “concentration.” So when I heard of concentration camps, it sounded like a place where you could think. Later, I realized it was a place where they put the thinkers. Bush had KBR build a lot of them here. I’m sure Obama and the Oligarchy will find a use for them.

Remember, NorthCom is training combat brigades in the “suppression of civil dissent,” at the same time that government policies are creating still more homeless, hungry, thirsty, sick people. I fear that when the kettle finally boils over, they will be ready.

Years ago, I read that one of the Founders of this Nation stated that, “We would have freedom as long as these letters remain on this parchment.” I looked at a recent photo of the original document and the ink has faded to near illegibility. Perhaps he was right.

By the way, if you can read this blog, thank a teacher.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If it Was Good Enough for Hitler...

I wrote and published the article below on 27 March, 2006. The incident happened on 10 January, 2003. The case has wound its way through the courts, each time getting even more control over the schools by the school boards and limiting the teaching ability of the teachers. I am reprinting it in reaction to Obama's latest attack on education. i.e., Fire the teachers, close the schools.

Since 2003, the educational situation has steadily worsened, the teachers reduced to teaching their kids to be parrots, memorizing and regurgitating by rote, the answers to the tests demanded by the government. Read this carefully, the situation is more insidious than you think.

* * *
If it Was Good Enough for Hitler...
Steve Osborn
28 March 2006

Back in 1950, my wife was fourteen and in the eighth grade. The subject was History or Current Events. The Cold War was in full flower and Joe McCarthy was in his ascendancy. She had been told that Communism was evil and she was scared to death of Stalin, as she and the world had heard many tales of his murdering or imprisoning millions of his own people. The teacher was holding forth on the evils of Communism when Adrienne asked, “What is Communism?”

The teacher hushed the class, went to the intercom and called the Principal’s Office. Then she told Adrienne to go to the Principal’s Office.

“What for,” she asked?

“You’ll find out,” was the answer.

When she got to the office, she was told to wait, that the principal had called her mother to come and get her and take her home. When she arrived, Adrienne and her Mom were taken into the principal’s office. Adrienne and her Mom were told she must never ask that question again. The Principal told her that answering that question could get the teacher fired and the school in trouble. All Adrienne needed to know was that communism was evil and that we had to hate it and fight it. Talking about communism apparently made you a “Pinko.”

Eventually, McCarthy and HUAC overreached themselves and passed into history. People were again free to discuss political systems and philosophy without being pilloried. People remembered the Bill of Rights and freedom of speech.

Since the appointment of der Bush as President by the Supreme Court, the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been under increasingly heavy fire. The fraudulent election of 2004 has increased the pressure. The revised PATRIOT ACT has further eclipsed the founding documents of our country. Unfortunately, little attention is paid to the Constitution and Bill of Rights in school classrooms today, so most people don’t know what they are having stolen from them.

Today, an article by Matthew Rothschild in the Progressive Magazine published on Monday, March 27, 2006 by the Progressive caught my eye.

Judge Rules Teachers Have No Free Speech Rights in Class

On January 10, 2003, a teacher of fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Clear Creek Elementary School in Bloomington Indiana was leading a class discussion on an issue of Time Magazine’s “Time for Kids.” This was a regular routine and part of the school’s curriculum. Some of the articles related to the imminent Iraq war and one mentioned a peace march.

One of the children asked the teacher if she would attend a peace parch. She answered that she usually honked her horn when she went by a local demonstration that said “honk for peace.” She said she felt it was important to seek peaceful solutions before resorting to war and that was why they trained the kids to mediate disputes on the playground, to seek peaceful solutions to their own problems.

According to the records, apparently a student mentioned the conversation to a parent, who complained to the school that her teacher had advocated “peace.” The teacher was told never to discuss the war, or “peace “ in her classroom again.

At the end of that day, Principal Rogers circulated a memo, entitled “Peace at Clear Creek,” that said: “We absolutely do not, as a school, promote any particular view on foreign policy related to the situation in Iraq.” And she canceled the annual “peace month” that the school had been holding.

The case has now been tried with the above verdict. The ostensible reason for her termination was a poor work evaluation, though the evaluation before the incident had been effusive in its praise of her as a teacher. The poor evaluation was written and entered into the court records two years later, long after her dismissal.

On March 10, Judge Sarah Evans Barker dismissed Mayer’s case, granting summary judgment to the defendants.

The judge said the school district was within its rights to terminate Mayer because of various complaints it received from parents about her teaching performance.

But beyond that, Judge Barker ruled that “teachers, including Ms. Mayer, do not have a right under the First Amendment to express their opinions with their students during the instructional period.”

The judge ruled that “school officials are free to adopt regulations prohibiting classroom discussion of the war,” and that “the fact that Ms. Mayer’s January 10, 2003, comments were made prior to any prohibitions by school officials does not establish that she had a First Amendment right to make those comments in the first place.” The judge also implied that Mayer, by making her comments, was attempting to “arrogate control of the curricula.”

And the judge gave enormous leeway to school districts to limit teachers’ speech in the classroom.

“Whatever the school board adopts as policy regarding what teachers are permitted to express in terms of their opinions on current events during the instructional period, that policy controls, and there is no First Amendment right permitting teachers to do otherwise,” Judge Barker wrote

So, it is now official. Teachers can teach only the approved party line, with no interpretation, discussion or opinions expressed.

Hitler said the same thing to the teachers in the Third Reich and I'm sure Kindly Uncle Joe Stalin made the same thing clear to his teachers in the CCCP. We can hope that this will be reversed by a higher court, but when I read the article to my wife, who is a retired teacher, she said, "I would never have believed this could happen again in the United States."

Every little thing that can be done to chip away at the Constitution and Bill of Rights is being done by the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. If the children are now to be taught only the approved curriculum, to be accepted without comment, we may wind up with the equivalent of a Hitler Jugend or a Soviet Young Pioneers here in the United States.

It is way past time to Wake Up, America or lose what has made the United States great, and respected, throughout most of the world. If der Bush and his gang can stifle independent thought and discussion even in our schools than we are truly lost. As Adrienne has said since 2001, Bush and his gang are like the bullies on the school playground that all the teachers hate and the children fear.
* * *

As I mentioned above, each hearing has upheld the school board's rights and restricted the teacher's right to teach, and by inference, the student's right to learn.

If this ever hits the Supreme Court, we know how it is going to go, don't we?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Every Day is an Anniversary

Every day another death, or more.
Blown apart, shot, starved,
Military or civilian, young or old,
Innocent or guilty, they die.

Looking back through history;
Egyptian, Jew, Babylonian,
Greek, Roman, European or American;
As today, they died.

Peaceful farmers raising their crops,
Came the conqueror, they died.
Poets writing of Peace.
A Dictator’s decree; they died.

Lovers picnic in a mountain meadow.
Overflies the drone, a missile fires;
Blast of fire and steel.
Must have been terrorists, they died.

Collateral damage is a convenient term.
Doesn’t sound like weeping widows,
Crying children and shattered homes.
Just pay them compensation and forget them.

Forget them all, soldiers, civilians, young and old.
Forget the wasteland of war, the trampled crops.
There are always lots more where they came from.
Forget that every day is an anniversary.

Steve Osborn
28 May 2006

And now, they, and perhaps us, are just "bug splats."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whatever Happened to Empathy?

I wrote this several years ago, but the situation seems to have gone downhill ever since. Empathy and compassion are now weaknesses, to be treated with contempt.

Years ago, empathy used to be imbibed with mother’s milk. If you did something thoughtless or inconsiderate, mom or dad said, “How do you think that made them feel?” or “How would you feel if someone said (or did) that to you?”

Eventually, you learned to reflect upon the beliefs, customs and feelings of other people, not only in foreign countries, but in other areas of your own. If you were really lucky, your folks or your buddy’s folks subscribed to National Geographic magazine. After you got over your pre-adolescent sniggering over the occasional naked breast, you began to realize how diverse and rich in customs our beautiful world was. Now, with the advent of home entertainment centers and global satellite links, the world has shrunk to the size of our livingroom. With this benefit, we should be far beyond provincialism and jingoism, but unfortunately our current obsession with the “bottom line” seems to have blunted many of our human sensibilities. Empathy seems to have faded. The ability to put yourself in another’s place is now looked upon as a weakness. This extends not just to foreign nations and customs, but to our own.

The jobless and homeless in this nation, whose numbers are legion, are not freeloading parasites. They are, for the most part, people whose living has vanished as company after company has closed plants and “outsourced” the work to countries where people work for a few dollars per day, then move them even further when they find a place that accepts pennies per day, or perhaps just a bowl of rice. These companies, or their managing staff, look upon every dollar spent on employee retirement funding, medical plans, or workplace safety, as money wasted; money which could go into their pockets or into the acquisition of yet another company which can be raided and dismantled for profit.

To these people, the workers they displace are not people, they are merely ciphers. There is no empathy, they do not put themselves in the place of those desperate men and women trying to feed, clothe and house their families.

Albert Pike, writing for Freemasons in the nineteenth century said, “Teach the employed to be honest, punctual and faithful as well as respectful and obedient to all proper orders: but also teach the employer that every man or woman who desires to work, has a right to have work to do; and that they, and those who from sickness or feebleness, loss of limb or bodily vigor, old age or infancy, are not able to work, have a right to be fed, clothed, and sheltered from the inclement elements: that he commits an awful sin against Masonry and in the sight of God, if he closes his workshops or factories, or ceases to work his mines, when they do not yield him what he regards as sufficient profit, and so dismisses his workmen and workwomen to starve; or when he reduces the wages of man or woman to so low a standard that they and their families cannot be clothed and fed and comfortably housed; or by overwork must give him their blood and life in exchange for the pittance of their wages: and that his duty as a Mason and Brother peremptorily requires him to continue to employ those who else will be pinched with hunger and cold, or resort to theft and vice: and to pay them fair wages, though it may reduce or annul his profits or even eat into his capital; for God hath but loaned him this wealth and made him His almoner and agent to invest it.”

When Pike wrote this, the industry of the United States, and that of other industrialized nations, was controlled by the robber barons, or “Captains of Industry,” as they preferred to be called. To get an idea of the condition of the working class, one should read some of Dickens’ novels, set in the slums of industrialized England.

Many writers, including Dickens, brought enlightened views as to the dignity of man, as our Constitution had put forth the rights of man. The great depression of the 1930's brought forth Franklin D. Roosevelt, who instituted programs to provide jobs, and to see that none should be left to starve after their working years had ended. World War II left the world with hope, as the United States set out to help rebuild a ravaged planet. The United Nations was established so that all nations, all peoples, would have a forum to solve disputes without resort to war and violence; to promote programs to end famine, ignorance and poverty. To a degree, this worked. It was not perfect, but at least it provided a forum for understanding. People had empathy. They could put themselves in other’s places and understand and feel their problems. Slowly, we were taking steps forward.

Suddenly, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, which should have been a time of hope, we suddenly reverted to the days of the robber barons. Greed and expediency outweighed every other value. Laws and treaties which had given hope to the world were unilaterally discarded. The wealthy were given breaks beyond their wildest dreams. We suddenly became the power which, with overwhelming military force, could stand astride the globe, dictating what other nations must do, making war upon those that did not kowtow to the new power.

Whatever happened to empathy? How did the world suddenly become inhabited by good, red-blooded Americans and a bunch of gooks, slopes, ragheads, hadjis and any other pejorative which makes them seem less than human? How did the world suddenly become us and them? How is it that no one’s beliefs and concerns have validity except ours? How has it come about that the world is now divided between us, our few allies, and a world of terrorists?

Islam is not a religion of terror. It is a kind and loving religion, drawing its influence and origin from the time of Abraham. It regards the religions of Israel and Christianity as also being, “People of the Book.” Unfortunately, it has its fanatical adherents, just as we do, but in the main, the Muslim peoples are no different than us. All they ask of us, of the world, is the chance to live in peace, to raise their families and provide food, clothing and shelter for them. To educate them and teach them to live in peace when their generation matures. These are hard lessons to teach in the midst of death, starvation, war and killing. When this is all you know, you lose your ability to have empathy and put yourself in another’s place. You then grow to learn that there is you and the enemy, and you kill the enemy. If you have no hope, then life becomes cheap and it is easy to sacrifice it; to strap a bomb on your body and walk into a building full of humans, who are no longer humans, but the enemy, and push the button.

Somehow, we must take hold of our destiny and our lives and return to a path of peace and construction. War, greed and destruction is not working. A good start would be to once again learn the skill of empathy, and learn again to put ourselves in another’s place. As we would not be treated, so should we not treat others. Come to think of it, isn’t that covered in the Golden Rule?

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Nuclear Veteran Remembers

In 1956, I was at Bikini in the Marshal Islands for the H-Bomb tests. It haunted me for years. In 1983, The Day After, a film for TV, caused me to write of my experience. I sent copies to the UN, to the Kremlin, to the White House, and to my legislators. Barbara Boxer read it on the floor of the House on Hiroshima Day, 1984. Sadly, the message is still needed, the situation worsening even when some of the, then, major players are no more.

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Stephen M. Osborn

Where does one begin, in responding to The Day After? For me, it can have many beginnings. I remember, as a seven or eight year old boy, looking with awe at the Bikini battered ships at the Bremerton Navy Yard. Then, I grew up in the cold war rhetoric of the late- forties and fifties.

In 1956, as a young navy man, I was at the thermonuclear tests at Bikini, code named Operation Redwing. The first bomb exploded was, we were told, a twenty megaton plus thermonuclear device, to be detonated at an altitude of twenty thousand feet. Our observation point was to be aboard ship at a distance of thirty miles from ground zero. That is a long way; about as far as the doctor was from Kansas City when the first bomb went off in the movie [The Day After, 1983, TV]. It is not far enough.

Most of the crew was ranged on deck, wearing blast goggles and facing aft, away from the blast. I was not on deck as there were not enough goggles to go around. Instead, I picked a spot in a passageway, about thirty feet forward of a light well. Any light coming in would have to come from the direction away from the blast, down about a twenty foot well, then penetrate the passageway. I had my back to the well. During the final countdown, I wrapped both arms across my eyes, one over the other. I could hear the voice on the ship's intercom; 5...4...3...2...1...ZERO.

Suddenly, I could see light, right through my arms! The heat was intense, as though I had my back to an opened furnace door. The silence was deafening. After what seemed like minutes, but was probably a few seconds, the light began to fade. As it grew dark, I eased one arm away from the other and the light was back, but again fading. When it was gone, I moved my other arm. The light through my clenched eyelids was painful, but it continued to fade and I gradually opened my eyes and began backing toward the light well. As the light continued to decrease, it finally got to the point where I could squint up the light well at the sky. The light was brilliant, the sky an intense blue. I climbed out of the well and peeked forward around the shelter of the conning tower, directly at the cloud and the, now fading, fireball.

My first impression was of a weird beauty. The cloud was sharply defined, like a thunderhead, and had a fluorescent, amethyst colored glow, which tinged toward a dark red. It is impossible to communicate the scale of the cloud. We were thirty miles away, yet the feeling was similar to when one stands beneath a huge redwood, watching the trunk taper away above you, to be surmounted by a crown of spreading branches far overhead. At thirty miles, it was as though we were right at the base of the cloud looking up, rather than out, at it.

We stood there in silence, looking at the cloud and quietly commenting on the colors. On the right side, close to the cloud, we could see two bright, stationary lights. They were visible for a short while, then they faded.

Over two minutes had passed, then the voice on the intercom began the countdown for the shock wave. 5...4...3...2...1...Zero. The pressure wave at that distance was not violent; there was an increase of about one atmosphere, enough to make your ears pop; the sound was a long low rumble lasting about thirty seconds.

The sun began to rise, lighting the outside of the cloud and overpowering the internal glow. The cloud was identifiable for much of the day, with the. top being slowly torn to rags by the jet stream.

We steamed back to the atoll, rather sobered by the experience. We were quite curious about the mysterious lights we saw beside the cloud. About a week or so after the shot, I was speaking to one of the scientists that had been aboard. He said they also had been puzzled by the appearance of the lights. They finally concluded that what we saw were two bright stars, essentially as we would have seen them from outer space. Apparently, the heat of the explosion was so great that it literally burned away the atmosphere around the fireball. As soon as the temperature dropped sufficiently, the air collapsed back around the envelope, the starlight was attenuated and they disappeared.

We spent, if memory serves, about six months at Bikini. Every so often, we would steam out for a shot. Frequently, we would go out, muster on deck in the pre-dawn, the countdown would proceed, then, "The shot for today has been canceled," and we would steam back to the anchorage to try again the next morning. This might go on for ten days or more before they would finally set it off..

Once, the wind shifted after a shot and we were battened below in the stifling heat while the ship tried to run from under the fallout. Personnel that had to go topside were decontaminated and their clothes were taken for disposal. After a couple of days, we headed for Kwajalein, some four hundred miles away, until it was "safe" to return to the atoll.

Following one, either underwater or surface burst, the cleanup crews told of fish falling out of the coconut palms. The swimming float that had been anchored with huge concrete blocks in the lagoon was found floating at sea. Two of the blocks were found in the middle of the island.

The final shot of the series found us eighteen miles from ground zero. The heat was incredible; though this was a much smaller bomb, possibly a tactical warhead. The shockwave jolted the whole ship backwards several inches. It felt as though my whole body was struck by a sledge hammer. The sound was one sharp crack, as though a rifle or firecracker was fired off next to my ear.

After a few days spent dismantling the establishment on Nan Island, Bikini Atoll, we steamed for home.

In later years, I had nightmares of the bombs going off, where I would be standing, crying, realizing that some SOB had finally pushed the button and it was the end of all things. I would wake up covered with sweat, pulse racing and face wet with tears. Gradually, that dream receded, until I saw the rockets blasting out of their silos in The Day After. I was sitting with my arm around my son's shoulder. Suddenly, I began to shake and my eyes filled with tears. Each time another took off, it got worse. I knew what was going to happen, I had been there!

Since the program, it has been continually on my mind. Watching that reptilian Buckley, "Megadeath" Scowcroft and Kissinger sit there, speaking in Orwellian doublethink, explaining that more is less and death is peacekeeping, made me wonder how long these aging, frustrated cowboys are going to be allowed to determine how much youth and innocence is to die for this "ism" or that one, Weisel, Sagan, even McNamara, made sense. This is one fragile green and blue planet.

Buckley and company brought to mind the lectures we got from some Bircher neighbors, when taking our children trick-or-treating. We shouldn't trick-or-treat for UNICEF because UNICEF gave milk to "commie babies!"

There are no "commie babies" or "free world babies." There are just babies and children and youths and adults, all with their hopes and dreams. The man in the street in Moscow, London, Paris or Athens is no different from the one in New York or in Mill Valley. We are all frightened and we all simply wish to be left in peace. The Russian and the European may want it more, because they have been overrun by war at least twice this century. They know what war on the home front means, something no American has suffered on the mainland since the civil war.

Every man, woman and child on this planet must let his government and political leaders know that nuclear terror must cease. It is no longer a viable option, if it ever was. The odds of a mistake are far too great and there is no way to retrieve the error, once an attack/counter-attack has been launched.

By virtue of our alleged intelligence, we have assumed stewardship of this planet and all of the creatures upon it. We have shown great callousness and ignorance in the exploitation of earth's natural resources, the casual dumping of toxic wastes and the wholesale slaughter of entire species. With wisdom and patience, some of these blunders can be retrieved, but with the development of nuclear technology, we have met our destroyer, one way or the other, if we do not call a halt to it. We cannot dispose of spent fuel and refining waste in a safe manner. The cancer and birth deformation rate has risen enormously since we began using it, there is no defense against nuclear attack or terrorism and there have been few signs of sanity or good judgement among those entrusted to do our thinking for us. Papers discussing an acceptable number of megadeaths in a nuclear exchange are not of strategic value, they are obscene, a visible manifestation of insanity and immorality.

Mankind has always had a tendency for its technology to outstrip its moral growth, It is time we begin to slow down the technical race and begin to think, not of what is expedient, or will show the greatest short-term profit, but what will benefit the planet and ourselves in the long run. What kind of agriculture will leave the land fertile and productive for a thousand years and more? What processes can be used that will leave only biodegradable wastes? Does society's existence depend on an endless flow of gadgets and novelties, designed to fall apart almost immediately? Must everything be designed to wear out in two or three years? Is it possible to recycle our mineral resources rather than continually mining more and allowing worn out products to decay, or simply rust in storage? Can't we produce crops and see that they are distributed, rather than stored to rot? Why don't we make a major effort to harness and use wind and solar energy for power and make a greater effort to reduce energy needs?

Let us pledge to make a start by informing all world leaders that nuclear war is out. The people of this planet will take no more of fear and terror!

Then, with this as a starting point, let us, as stewards of a fragile .planet, begin the process of healing and growing, individually and as a species, to the point where all of this will seem an horrible, impossible nightmare. A lesson to be forever remembered, but never repeated. It is up to us.

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In the article, I made no mention of my bout with radiation poisoning. The fear I felt as my gums bled and my hair came out in clumps every time I combed it. I eventually recovered and, so far, have survived.