By Reverend Hothoneywater, Special Correspondent
Making my rounds of the internet news-sites today, I found an article on Crooks and Liars headlined as “George W. Bush Admits He’s A War Criminal in New Book.”
I must admit that this supposed news evoked nothing but a big yawn from me and, I suspect, from most every other reader. OF COURSE HE’S A WAR CRIMINAL! Every thinking person on the globe already knows that. Bush might as well have admitted that grass is green or the sky is blue.
The galling thing is that nothing will ever be done about Bush’s criminality. Even W realizes that; which is why he is not only willing but proud to admit it. The admission is no-risk. There is no down side. His deranged fans love to hear it and the sane crowd who hates him can only impotently gnash their teeth in frustration as W’s war criminal successor insures Bush-Cheney & Company can continue strutting the world stage comfortably.
Will you just look at that? Good fortune smiles once again on the U.S. of A. After spending a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000), slaughtering over a million (1,000,000) enemy combatants & bystanders, and sacrificing over sixty-five hundred (6,500) occupation force troops so-far in our endless War on Terror, it turns out that Afghanistan has rich mineral deposits that should be worth one trillion to three trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000 – $3,000,000,000,000). And that is in addition to the oil we didn’t go in there for in the first place.
By Jupiter’s long, white beard! I should have know better than to doubt the good business-sense of our Capitalists. Their noses root-out money like Scout Hogs find truffles. When I stood in front of the local Federal Building almost 9 years ago with my “NO BLOOD FOR OIL!” sign, I had no idea the Afghans also had an immense treasure trove of iron, cobalt, copper, gold, and lithium. Senior American officials say the untapped deposits are “far beyond any previously known reserves.” America will never run-out of batteries. This changes everything!
Of course, the knee-jerk reaction of the hate-America crowd will be to say that our upper echelon knew of, or at least suspected, the presence of this highly desirable hoard. But this is utter nonsense and it is insulting! Our government and the companies that own it are scrupulously honest and above board. As the late, great Richard Nixon was fond of saying: “Let me be perfectly clear” about this: Our fat-cats absolutely did not allow the September 11th attacks to take place as a pretext to get us into war. They never set up our former ally, the CIA asset known as “Osama Bin Ladin,” as a straw-man in order to invade and occupy Afghanistan. They did not do these things so as to remove Afghanistan’s Taliban government, which had opposed a tremendously profitable oil pipeline that would carry crude from Eurasia, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan.
Since our masters did none of those devious things. Why would we doubt them about these suddenly discovered vast repositories of minerals? No, I feel we can rest-assured that they bumbled us into, and kept us in, this ridiculous costly & tragic war with no thought of long-term monetary gain for the elite. America’s corporations would have been happy to simply have the hundreds of billions of dollars they stole through war-profiteering. But then…this…unexpected gift just falls into their laps! CEO’s must be weeping for joy & falling on their knees to thank Beelzebub.
Well, now that we know our newly democratic friends have all this wealth, I think we can all agree that any plans to ever leave their country must be shelved. Will we annex Afghanistan as the 51st U.S. state or merely view it as a perpetual protectorate where we, of course, permanently station our troops? Either way, we can look at history to provide a clue as to how the U.S. will treat a population that gets in the way of exploiting natural resources. Just ask the Native Americans about that.
I would not want to interfere with your holiday-shopping. Lord knows, our battered economy needs any boost it can get. But I felt I should remind you that another Memorial Day finds the United States at war.
In fact, there have been very few Memorial Days on which the United States was not fighting someone, somewhere in the world. Nor was our track-record any less dismal before the establishment of Memorial Day. Our country has actually had very few days of peace and very few periods of peace that spanned into years. Unfortunately, just about the only time America’s leaders talk about peace is when they toss it into a speech explaining why we are going into or staying in a war.
My original intent for this essay was to show readers the many conflicts in which America has involved itself. But the list is simply too long! Take a look for yourself here. I do not doubt that there are times when it is necessary to take-up arms…but this is ridiculous! Since our rebellion to gain independence from Britain, Americans have fought dozens of peoples, including the native American-Indians, Spain, Honduras, Cuba, each-other, Arikara, Paraguay, Germany, and even something called the Chiefdom of Quallah Battoo. Now we are fighting the Iraqis, Afghans, & Pakistanis in a war that just passed $1,000,000,000 ( 1 trillion ) cost. Soon we may be combating the North Koreans & Iranians. The hippies used to say that fighting to stop war is like fucking to stop sex; and there is a lot of truth to that.
What is it with us and our national military fetish? And I purposely use the word “fetish” to denote an icky type of turn on. Take a look at the orgy of movies, tv shows, songs, parades, magazines, bumper stickers, video games, and other professions of devotional love we have for all things associated with the military. A huge portion of our population lap this stuff up with an insatiable appetite. The late, great comedian George Carlin called these people “uniform-sniffers.”
Late 18th through early 19th Century Germany had a similar passion for the ideal of Prussian military discipline and all its overblown trappings such as spiked army helmets, goose-stepping in knee-length hobnail boots, and fashionable dueling scars. That cult-like devotion was in large part responsible for the insanity that caused Germany to destroy itself in two world wars.
Here in modern America we are marching (pun intended) down a similar path to ruin. We spend trillions of dollars on maintaining far too many troops with far too many far too expensive weapons in far too many places throughout our empire. Our “leaders” pick fights as a pretext for invasion in an never-ending and ever-widening crusade to rule the world. Meanwhile, the domestic economy has crumbled and the unemployed, the elderly, the children are told that there will be cuts in the funding that could help them. But there will be funding increases for the war-machine. The pentagon budget is sacrosanct. And one of the main ways our “leaders” keep it untouchable is through encouragement of our national military fetish. Our troops are loyal, brave, and unparalleled; how could we consider cutting the budget for the troops we worship?
Ironically, the uniform-sniffers worship a caricature. That leaves them little awareness or interest in how much this war is costing our soldiers in human terms: the wrecked families, suicides, physical & psychological disabilities, and combat deaths. Our megalomaniacal “leaders” care little to nothing about the troops, they certainly aren’t going to bring those weaknesses to the sniffers’ attention. And so it is up to people like you and I. We must honor America’s present-day troops and the memory of the casualties in that ridiculously long list of battles by doing our best to end all war.
by Reverend Hothoneywater
The oil rig environmental catastrophe taking place in the gulf coast is a national disgrace. Add it to the list. Along with the coal miners recently killed by cave-ins. Also, tack on the soldiers dying for control of Middle East oil to the list. And then remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could be doing a lot more to wean itself off these dirty and irreplaceable forms of energy.
Germany, for example, has set itself a goal of obtaining 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal by 2050. I wouldn’t bet against them; they’ve just finished building a huge offshore wind farm as one of the steps along the path and, thanks to cash incentives to citizens for installing solar panels, cloudy Germany is the world’s #1 producer of solar electricity. And do you remember all that blather during the campaign when candidate Obama pledged to create green jobs? Well, Germany already has over a quarter million jobs in the renewable energy sector and realistically expects many more in the near future. Japan is determined not to be left behind, so they’ve put many incentives in place to drive the their clean energy industries, including putting solar cells on all their public schools by the year 2020. Even Spain has positioned itself as one of the leading nations in solar energy technology.
And yet here in America, if you watch the tv news you’ll often see representatives of our business & politics sit there and pooh-pooh the practicality of these renewable energy sources. The technology is unproven, unprofitable, and can’t possibly supply enough power to meet our American demands. They portray green energy as a myth believed in by either science fiction buffs or the pitifully gullible. Meanwhile, our only real choice is to drill baby drill.
The “no we can’t” crowd finds it in their best interest to keep us enslaved to Big Oil, at least until they find a way to control the Sun. But what America finds impossible - other nations are doing.
Take trains, for instance. And I wish I could. Back in the early 1970′s my mother took me on one of the last runs of a train that went from Dayton, Ohio to Richmond, Indiana about 50 miles away. She wanted me to see what it was like before the trains were all gone. Although trains are one of the most efficient ways to move people or freight, America gave up on them a long time ago. For many decades, the majority of America’s transportation funding has gone into building highways for ever increasing automobile traffic. Back in 1964, Japan started running its “bullet trains” at speeds of 130 mph and has been improving them ever since. China runs trains at 220 mph. Imagine sitting back comfortably and reading a book or taking a nap while you are carried to your destination at 220 miles an hour! Most every developed nation, and a number of the less-developed, has high speed rail service. The U.S. of A. has a grand total of 1 high-speed (150mph) rail line and most the time it operates at an average speed of 63 mph. And I’d say that 63 mph is about double the speed of any American train I’ve ever seen. But at least we’re starting to make some effort in this area, as the 2009 economic stimulus included a relative pittance of funding for “projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”
President Truman first proposed American universal government health care in 1945, calling it “a definite public responsibility.” By 1964, President Johnson got Medicare passed so the government would provide for the medical needs of our senior citizens (and it worked so well that even Tea Baggers love this socialist program). Finally this year, President Obama squeezed through a bill that promised to sort of bring us closer to almost making sure most law-abiding Americans maybe have health insurance even if that still means they may not necessarily receive health care. I won’t go into a detailed description about how civilized nations have managed set-up workable universal health care systems. But here is an excellent documentary from PBS Frontline called, “Sick Around the World.” Watch it and weep for the American people.
I can almost hear some of you saying, “Well then, Parson, maybe we just don’t have the money for all those fine things they have in countries like France or Cuba. And that’s because we spend so darn much of our money helping the poor, and the workers, and the families here in the Homeland. And on top of that, we give away so much darn money to other countries.” Sorry to deflate your hot-air balloon, friend, but the facts show the U.S. is actually one of the stingiest nations with its own people and foreigners.
No, we’re not falling behind because we share so generously with the downtrodden. In fact, the cause of America’s slide is exactly the opposite. Much like the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament Book of Amos, fabulous prosperity for the ruling class has not been tempered with compassion and justice for the poor. God sent the prophet, Amos, to call-out Israel’s rulers about the way they selfishly trampled on the less-fortunate. Then he warned them that their behavior would bring about the near total destruction of their powerful nation at the hands of their enemies. By the way – they didn’t listen.
I would certainly never claim to be a prophet, but I can tell you this: The United States has enjoyed more than 60 years as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Unparalleled riches and power came our way. And it’s our national responsibility to use those riches wisely. Call it God or call it karma, but allowing millions of people to be exploited for the enrichment of a tiny greedy minority is a path to destruction of a powerful nation. Even a nation that has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
But as I said earlier in this essay: “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
On Sunday, President Obama and his eagle-adorned bomber jacket made a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan. While there he also took Afghan President Karzai to task for his government’s corruption. Obama lecturing Karzai about government corruption is like some small-time hood being rebuked by Don Vito Corleone.
And while I’m on the subject of President Bush… oops, I mean Obama. I see our Commander-in-Chief is cutting the 2011 funds for the home heating assistance program by 35% ! The program has seen record applications for assistance each of the past three years. And let me tell you, because I know first-hand, those applications are not easy to make. Here in my city, the poor stand in line during freezing weather in the middle of the night to get in the office first thing when it opens; otherwise no heat for you! People literally camp-out all-night like they are trying to get tickets to a rock concert, just to assure their place in line. As it is, the program has a daily quota of serving maybe a dozen people when three or four times that many are in line, so most the people who need help get turned away. And to add insult to injury, since the process takes most of a business-day to complete, that means applicants often must miss work and, therefore, money in their paycheck. Record numbers of Americans are clinging to this program in order to stay alive and the Prez cuts the funding by a third. And this guy is supposed to be the Liberal/Marxist! Maybe in the 2012 budget he will call for keeping poor people warm by burning them as fuel in the furnaces of rich people’s homes.
In other news, I see Congress has deluded itself into thinking it earned a rest, so it started a 2-week break on Thursday. Technically this is not a break, because our “public servants” are supposed to be going back to the offices in their home states to work & keep in touch with constituents (please let me know if you spot any of them around your town). But before leaving to touch the voters, they blew off a few pressing issues like making sure millions of unemployed will continue to get the money they depend on in order to live. Too bad Obama did not stay in Washington, D.C. because he would have probably called them back into session to tackle this vital issue….Just kidding! Obama cares no more for the plight of the unemployed than does my cat!
One of the main lessons I have learned from the Obama presidency is that dark skin is no automatic indication of a person’s compassion or progressive-politics. Most of us made that assumption (and some still do), helped-along of course by B.O.’s talk of “change.” Now that he is in office we find ourselves stuck with just another reactionary power junkie who prosecutes war while tossing poor people on the trash heap.
Please won’t some Obamapologist remind me again how much better-off we are than if McCain had won?
Afghan civilians were killed by mis-guided NATO rockets while American forces fought to take over the town of Marjah. The linked article says the deaths will be “a blow to NATO and Afghan efforts to win the support of residents in the Marjah area.” Gosh, do you think so?
I’m ashamed to admit this. But back in the mid-1990′s, in what seems now like someone else’s lifetime, I had a great job and money to spare to invest. In one of the financial magazines (I think it was Forbes) I read an article that said the U.S. had, for years, wanted to build a pipeline across Afghanistan so as to move Russian oil to port for shipment. What stood in the way was the Taliban government who would not let it happen. Well, I figured America’s oil company criminals would find a way to clear that obstacle, so I went out and bought stock in a few of the oil companies named in that article (Conoco was one of them). So I was completely unsurprised when the U.S. found a pretense to invade Afghanistan, remove the uncooperative Taliban, and occupy the country for the next gazillion years.
Unfortunately for my wallet, I had to sell the stocks long before 9/11 because I was downsized from my good job & needed immediate cash to survive. Besides, nowadays I could never countenance playing such games with peoples’ lives, especially after I learned first-hand that the rich & powerful can just as easily play with my life too.
My deepest sympathy & regrets to the Afghan people. America has truly become a monster.
I miss my stepfather. But there have been many times during this past decade when I’ve been grateful he died back in 1999. Because, if he weren’t already dead, the new millennium would have probably killed him. I mean from the sheer aggravation of it all.
The 1990′s were tough enough on him. By then he had retired from his workaholic life as a plumber. That gave him time to finally read the newspaper and watch tv shows like “60 Minutes” and “20/20″ and they’d get him all stirred-up. I’d stop by to visit him & mom and he’d be gritting his teeth and swearing at the “scum,” his term for politicians and business moguls who were crooked.
He was born on a farm in Greenville, Ohio, in 1921. He’d slogged through the Great Depression and World War II and seen the difference it made when working people had finally got a piece of the economic pie. He would turn red-in-the-face and rant mightily at the thought of ordinary folks being cheated, lied to, or otherwise kept-down. Good gosh, what would he think about today’s America. We no longer seem to know any other way of life!
Here in the 2000′s the average American is so inundated by double-dealers, con-artists, and crooks of every size that it is impossible to fight against all of it. The phone company deliberately bills customers for services they don’t have and credit card companies put phony fees on their bills, figuring that a few customers will notice and demand removal but most customers won’t notice and just pay. Doctors & hospitals send bills to patients in hopes of getting paid twice, by said patients & the insurers. Speaking of insurers, nowadays the insurance companies expect to only collect premiums without paying claims. Employers fiddle with employee time cards to screw them out of wages and gasoline giants openly gouge the motorists. If you watch closely next time you go through the supermarket checkout, you might find that the sale items are ringing-up full-price on your bill (it’s happened to me often enough that I no longer believe it’s just a mistake).
True stories: in the past few years I’ve received three notices that I could join in class-action lawsuits against the following thieves:
My life insurance company was chiseling its policy holders.
The stock broker I used was shaving a little bit off each of its clients’ transactions.
Until recently, I owned a convenience store/gas station (for that sad tale see my essay, “And Then the Financial Tsunami Hit.” One of the items I sold was propane tanks. Well, it turns out that the major oil company that supplied propane to thousands of stores was padding its costs.
Last night, a friend of mine was late to our dinner appointment. Seems he was online entering a contest held by a popular magazine he subscribes to. When he got to the end of the form, he told me, he clicked “submit” and was informed that he’d thereby signed-up for a subscription to an additional magazine, which would be charged to his credit card. He spent the next half-hour phoning the company demanding to cancel the new subscription.
My real point is that our casino economy is hooked on this sort of crumb-bummery. It seems to have become the lifeblood of Capitalism, along with endless war and the reverse-socialism of taxing the poor to subsidize banksters and Wall Street wheeler-dealers.
The problem is so widespread that one could spend one’s entire life doing nothing else but guarding against being ripped-off. It’s like being out in the woods and beset by a huge swarm of hungry mosquitoes: while you’re slapping at one bloodsucker another dozen put the bite on you. Up until a few years ago, I believed we could count on the authorities to make an effort to catch and punish those who prey upon the innocent. Unfortunately, the authorities now line their pockets in exchange for looking the other way and increasingly they even cook-up schemes of their own.
So keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Defend yourself. But try not to get too angry while you’re doing it; otherwise you might blow a gasket, die, and then the Twenty-First Century criminal-class wins.