“They’ve got to want it more than we do.”

I’ve waited a very long time to post this article or one like it — almost all of my Planet Waves tenure, in fact. It isn’t a very long read, considering the gravity of its content, but then … what more is there to say? We’re finally out of Afghanistan.

Yes, there are still American boots on the ground in hundreds of places across the world where they don’t belong — we are still hubristic enough to think our interests more important than anyone else’s; opportunistic enough to intrude wherever we think we might gain resource and influence; arrogant enough to assume American ‘exceptionalism’ is built on military might and capitalism rather than devotion to democratic values. But at least we can finally say — as the Russians did, with considerable relief — that Afghanistan’s future is not our business, that what happens next in that country is up to its citizens.

And yes — they’ve got to “want it more than we do.” We spent ourselves attempting to establish a functional central government in this no-mans-land, let alone one with democratic underpinnings. That’s always been a fools errand and history repeats when we don’t remember.

Let’s remember next time.


U.S. Marines End Afghan Operations, Prepare Withdrawal
Kay Johnson, Reuters via Huffy

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The last U.S. Marines unit and final British combat troops in Afghanistan officially ended their operations on Sunday as they packed up to leave the country and transferred a massive military base to the Afghan military.

The American and British flags were lowered and folded up for the final time at the regional headquarters of the international military, 13 years after the toppling of the Taliban’s radical Islamist regime launched America’s longest war.

The timing of the troops’ withdrawal from the base in the strategic province of Helmand was not released for security reasons.

Camp Leatherneck is the largest U.S. base to be handed over to Afghan control as the coalition ends its combat mission at the end of the year, leaving most of the fight against a resilient Taliban insurgency to Afghan army and police.

British forces transferred the adjacent Camp Bastion at the same time.
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Bend — or break

In this broader discussion of our many differences, it’s a no-brainer that we need to put ourselves in the other guys shoes … toe in, toe out … to see if the water is as chilling as it’s touted to be. Here, on the Left, we are accused of being too soft, too tepid, too undisciplined, not tough enough on all the ills of the world. Pushovers, as it were.

The Hawks are screaming today, lead by wee Lindsey Graham (whom Bill Maher gleefully references as John McCain’s bitch) calling for more aggression and leadership … wah wah wah … and that water is waaaaay too hot.

Indeed, today I listened to just about every Sunday pundit from the moderate to Right-leaning, talk about how Obama is asleep at the switch and how America is virtually leaderless. If you suck up the Kool-aid on this level, you’ll agree with those who believe it’s un-American not to keep the rest of the world on a choker-chain, obedient to our might (makes right? Not!)

And yet, if you examine the numbers on most progressive issues, you’ll find that the populous at large wants less war, more safety nets and government regulation, more dialogue and — most definitely — solutions to the many problems we suffer … answers to which, should Obama lead on them, will not be tolerated nor supported from the Right.

They want more military solutions but won’t fund military expansion. They want more boarder control and answers to the dilemma that’s put hundreds of thousands of children in our care, but they won’t fund immigrations needs. No matter what the need, always the fault of this black president, it won’t be funded so they can continue to bitch, non-stop, about lack of leadership. It’s just freekin’ tiresome!

This is a post containing two letters to those who will not flex, about why they should — and a MoveOn petition asking Hillary to flex on GMO’s. That last is especially worthwhile considering the recent decision by the House Agriculture Committee that the American public is just too damned dumb to understand the science (and necessity) behind modified foods.

Quick, excellent reads for a weekend. Excellent pieces to pass on to anyone who is beginning to question some of their hard-core stance. The GMO petition is an activist/op.


Letter to Boehner: What the hell, pal?
OPEN LETTER TO JOHN BOEHNER published in the Cincinnati Inquirer in response to an op-ed by Boehner entitled “Obama is trampling the Constitution”
July 15, 2014

John, I consider you a friend of mine. We’ve known one another for well over 50 years. Our parents knew each other, were friends and neighbors in Reading. Our family businesses were directly across the street from each other for over 70 years. But John, what the hell are you doing?

You’ve got nothing more pressing to do than sue a president who was elected twice by the majority of voting Americans?

You say “the majority of Americans are frustrated.” I agree, but not with this president. They’re frustrated with the childishness of those purporting to serve all the American people.

The majority of Republicans are frustrated. Sure, I get that. But everything shouldn’t come to a halt because you don’t control the White House. By the way, you better get used to that too. You won’t get that back by appealing to Old White Guys.

John, whatever time you’ve got left in Washington, roll-up your sleeves and get Washington moving in the correct direction. Not this “we block everything you want” and “you block everything we want” mentality.

Now, how about a round of golf at Sharon Woods on Sunday? On me. I’ll need 2 a side.

Your pal, Mooch
Jerry Mouch, Wyoming ++
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The Corporate States of America

Corporate expansion. What can stop it now? That little leak in the dike of Constitutional law that holds back a flood of special interests has turned into a flood, already, thanks to our muddled Supreme Court. This is going to be spectacular by the time it plays out — and I hope Alito has to eat every word he wrote [THIS LIFETIME, don'cha know!]

Here are three reads on corporate hijinks. The first is an excellent piece from the LA Times on Hobby Lobby. The next two are short reports that indicate how corporations have already pushed the envelope. “Privatize” — a concept that has entered every area of our lives and will leave us less able to function as a nation on every level.

But the corporate Supremes have opened Pandora’s Box, on this one. The sword cuts both ways. For instance:

Hobby Lobby Eco-Fallout: Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedom?
Gary Wockner, EcoWatch
July 1, 2014

Remember this one? “Be careful what you wish for.”


Danger sign: The Supreme Court has already expanded Hobby Lobby decision
Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

-Can just anyone claim a religious exemption to Obamacare now? Courts say yes

-The Supreme Court has already expanded the “startling breadth” of the Hobby Lobby case

-Obamacare challengers can now dress up their claims in religious garb–but how will we know they’re sincere?

The Supreme Court has already expanded the “startling breadth” of the Hobby Lobby case Obamacare challengers can now dress up their claims in religious garb–but how will we know they’re sincere?

The Supreme Court wasted no time in delivering a message to anyone who thought its Hobby Lobby ruling was limited to religious objections to coverage of purported abortion methods:

You’re wrong.

The day after handing down the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday, the court issued orders pertaining to six pending cases in which employers claimed religious objections to all contraceptive services required under the Affordable Care Act. The court either ordered appeals courts to reconsider their rejection of the employers’ claims in light of the Hobby Lobby decision, or let stand lower courts’ endorsement of those claims.

In at least one of those cases, the sincerity of the employer’s religious objections is open to question. That shows why allowing a broad “religious” exemption from a federal law can be atrociously bad policy. More on that in a moment.

Tuesday’s orders are just the beginning: The Becket Fund, the religious law firm that represented Hobby Lobby in its legal case, lists 49 pending federal cases in which for-profit companies have brought purportedly religious objections to the ACA. An additional 51 cases involve nonprofit organizations. The floodgates aren’t about to open–they’re already open.

Obviously, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent called the Hobby Lobby ruling “a decision of startling breadth,” she didn’t even scratch the surface.
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Ready to Rumble

Here’s your think-piece for the solstice weekend — a really interesting read, and a blast of enthusiasm from an unlikely source.

Robert Steele, former insider who knows where the bodies are buried, thinks the revolution is coming and it will be from the bottom up. Sounds like a man of the people!

Favorite quote:

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.”

Save this one for later if you don’t have time today, but get to it — you’ll be glad you did.


The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy
The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth
Nafeez Ahmed, EarthInsight via Guardian

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.

With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference.

The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’
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Your Inner Populist

I’m a populist. I suspect you’re one, as well. We average citizens are populists when we need to be, when the red flags are waved, when it becomes apparent that we’d better do something soon or reap the whirlwind.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a populist is one that adopts “a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.”

Yep, that’d be us.

Here are reads on the “new” populism. The first is from Jim Hightower, sincere populist of the First Water. The next two, and the link, are excellent analysis from Richard Escow, having to do with the Campaign for America’s Future May conference on populism. The last is a take-down of Escow’s articles for faux-populist rhetoric, as well as his group as a shill for establishment Dems. It’s hostile and cynical, which is ok with me as long as it tells the truth as the author sees it. I don’t see it quite that way, but he makes a few good points.

Still, if we are going to move into a “new” era, see things with “new” eyes, we have to give up this kind of polarization. I find all these reads helpful and encouraging. Hope you do too.


Jim Hightower: Has the United States Gone Crazy?
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

It might appear that the U-S-of-A has gone bonkers. So let me clear up any confusion that you might have: Yes, it has!

Yet, it hasn’t. More on that in a moment.

First, though — whether looking at the “tea party” congress critters who’ve swerved our nation’s political debate to the hard right, or at the peacocks of Wall Street who continue to preen and profit atop the wreckage they’ve made of our real economy — it’s plain to see that America is suffering a pestilence of nuts and narcissists in high places. These “leaders” are hell bent to enthrone themselves and their ilk as the potentates of our economic, governmental and social systems, and they are aggressively trying to snuff out the light of egalitarianism that historically has been our society’s unifying force.

Bill Moyers, America’s most public-spirited journalist, summarized the state of or nation in these terms: “The delusion is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe to sit at the seat of power.” Symptoms of this national insanity include these examples:

— We can’t even keep the doors of our government open. In October of last year, Washington’s tea party Republican faction, unable to win the budget cuts it had demanded, threw a procedural fit to get what its acolytes wanted. Their stunt literally shut down the nation’s government for 16 days and bled $24 billion from the U.S. economy. They won nothing except the widespread public scorn they earned for being self-aggrandizing political fools.

— Lloyd Blankfein, bankster-in-chief of Goldman Sachs, runs a financial casino that has bilked its own customers, been so reckless that it took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout to keep it afloat and lobbied furiously to kill regulatory reforms that would’ve reined in its ongoing destructiveness. So has this wrongdoer faced prosecution and jail? Ha! Blankfein continues to reign, retaining his CEOship at Goldman and hauling in $23 million last year in personal pay.

— A narrow, five-man majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that corporations are “persons” with the right to spend unlimited sums of their shareholders’ money to elect or defeat whomever they want — and to do so secretly.
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