Sunday, February 12, 2006

Blog Spotlight: Elaine on things that don't get attention

As is usually the case, Elaine nixed all our attempts to highlight her posts. Finally we made the point that she's noting Kevin Benderman and that's an issue she's made a recurring theme at her site Like Maria Said Paz. For that reason (Benderman), she agreed to let us note her post. (She's not selfish, she's just overly modest, as Rebecca says.)

"If we are so powerless and unimportant, why are they spying on us?"

Tuesday but it feels like a Thursday. Hope things are better for you and I also hope you will visit Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's commentary.

Bush Proposes Big Increase in Defense Spending, Cuts in Social Programs (Democracy Now!):
In his proposed nearly $2.8 trillion budget President Bush is calling for major increases in defense spending but deep cuts in Medicare and other domestic social programs. Under the proposed budget, defense spending will increase nearly 7 percent to $440 billion. If approved the Pentagon’s budget will become 45 percent larger than when Bush took office five years ago. The military spending is actually far higher because the proposed budget does not include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One recent estimate put the cost of the Iraq war at $100,000 every minute. At the same time, the president is proposing to make his tax cuts permanent. This would cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed the budget on Monday: "The President's budget request for the Department of Defense represents an increase over last year. It reflects what we believe should be the country's national security priorities. Namely to help defend the United States of America and the American people and their interests, to give flexibility to commanders, to prepare for both conventional and unconventional or irregular warfare, and, importantly, to work closely with partner nations to help them develop the capabilities needed to defeat terrorists within their borders and to co-operate with us and other countries with respect to this global threat."

C.I. addressed this. It's about something but it's not about the people's priorities. There's always money for a new toy, gadget, or any other weapon. When they don't work, it's no big thing. We pour more money down the drain for the next one (and sometimes continue to fund the ones that don't work). We're told that it's for "safety" despite the fact that some don't work, never work, and the fact that 9/11 demonstrated there is no 'safety.'

So our cities are in ruins, our education systems struggle, we don't have national healthcare, we've done nothing, as a nation, to address the homeless issue which has only grown over the last two decades. We don't talk about it much now. We're used to it. The Reagan era cuts created a huge influx in the numbers of homeless Americans. We didn't deal with it under Clinton's two terms.

We've grown used to it. If it bothers us, we'll look the other way or complain to a friend about how "those people" are bothering us just by their presence. Mainly, we just ignore it.

At some point, will we ever address the massive military buildup? Tonight, which feels like a Thursday, I don't think we will. I think we're encouraged to be in this cycle and we've bought the hype for so long that we really can't think out of the paradigm that's been imposed.

Jimmy Carter: Warantless Spying is "Disgraceful and Illegal" (Democracy Now!):
A new critic of the domestic spying program has emerged -- former President Jimmy Carter. He described the Bush administration’s decision to go ahead with the warrantless spying as "disgraceful and illegal." Carter said, "No one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act." Carter made the statement in Nevada at an event where his son, Jack, announced he is running for U.S. Senate.

C.I. pointed out that the Times did a "brief" (from Associated Press) on this event. It noted that Jack Carter was running for the Senate but somehow, careful editing, overlooked the fact that at this event Jimmy Carter had spoken out against the domestic spying. It's so interesting what makes it into the paper of record and what doesn't. Of course, the New York Times has done their part, and then some, to make sure we remain in the paradigm of "danger! danger! we must spend on war!" mode. Currently, they can barely go a day without sounding the drum beat for war with Iran.

It's enough to make you sick to your stomach. So let's note courage rewarded which happens so rarely these days. This item is from the middle of last month and C.I. phoned mid-day. Sensing I was down today, C.I. forwarded it. If you've already seen it, it's worth noting again. However, it was new for me. (The award, not Katherine Jahsinski's bravery.)

"Spc Katherine Jashinski awarded anti-war medal of courage" (Not in Our Name):
Not in Our Name awards "Courage to Resist" medal to Katherine Jashinski
WHEREAS Army SPC Katherine Jashinski became the first woman to speak out publicly against participating in the ongoing Iraq War at a press conference on the morning of November 17, 2005 near the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia.
WHEREAS Army SPC Katherine Jashinski has showed great courage in publicly speaking out against war, including the following that she read at a press conference on November 17, 2005: "Now I have come to the point where I am forced to choose between my legal obligation to the Army and my deepest moral values. I want to make it clear that I will not compromise my beliefs for any reason. I have a moral obligation not only to myself but to the world as a whole, and this is more important than any contract."

So good for Jashinski and applause to Not in Our Name for recognizing her bravery.
This item actually goes to a conversation C.I. and I had with a friend not long ago. First, she called me and I was honestly kind of stunned. Then she called C.I. who went into activist mode. The woman had no idea that anyone in the military had resisted the war. She watches C-Span fairly often and CNN too much. C.I. and I both push Democracy Now! to her but when she's online she always ends up playing games (she doesn't have a dish and DN! isn't broadcast in her area). She's an educated woman and it just stunned me to realize how completely corporate media has been successful in limiting the debate. After she got off the phone with C.I., she called me back and said she was told to ask me about Kevin and Monica Benderman. C.I. had gone over a number of individuals with her (she remembered Camilo Mejias story but had forgotten the other ones C.I. had told her about).

So I started from scratch and spoke to her about Kevin Benderman's stand and the retaliation against him. After we got off the phone, she knew people from the service had spoken out and she knew of two names she could cite as examples (Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman).

There remains a clampdown on this topic as well as on the topic of those who go AWOL. Why is that? The answer brings us to our end quote tonight which answers that question and also addresses the spying issue.

Reality Quote (from Tom Hayden's "No Peace Movement, No Peace"):
Just ask yourselves one simple question: if we are so powerless and unimportant, why are they spying on us? Why are they keeping so many secrets from us? You spy and keep secrets from people you fear, not people you dismiss. They don’t trust you with information. They are afraid of your potential power.

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