Category: Heroes

True war heroes

| March 29, 2014 | Reply

Many of us “Support the U.S. Troops” in the Middle East even though we have no idea what they are doing on a day to day basis. There is no significant news reporting from the areas where the soldiers do whatever they do, so many Americans fills this vacuum with hopeful imagination. I don’t. I assume the worst. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and there is no sunshine where the U.S. military is operating in the Middle East. At any time over the past ten years, you could read 100 consecutive days of most any local newspaper, and you wouldn’t know anything about the day to day conduct of members of the U.S. military. You would barely know that we were at war. There have been no meaningful photos and no stories to advise us of what is really going on, where our heavily armed military encounters civilians.

Nonetheless, in our ignorance, we declare ALL troops to be heroes, clapping for them at baseball games and other social events, having no idea what they are actually doing. Imagine honoring any other profession, not having any self-critical information with regard to that person’s activities. “Ladies and Gentlemen, let me hear a round of applause for Joe, who is a great musician,”imagine everyone in the room clapping, even though none of them had ever heard of Joe, and none of them have heard him play even one note.

Sometimes we do learn what a soldier has actually done, and sometimes it is a actually the story of a hero. Take the case of Hugh Thompson, who stepped up to do what was right, at his own risk:

Returning to the My Lai area at around 0900 after refueling, he noticed that the people he had marked were now dead. Out in a paddy field beside a dike 200 metres (660 ft) south of the village, he marked the location of a wounded young Vietnamese woman. Thompson and his crew watched from a low hover as Captain Ernest Medina (commanding officer of C Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment) came up to the woman, prodded her with his foot, and then shot and killed her.

[More . . . ]

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Why Bradley Manning is a hero.

| August 2, 2013 | Reply

In this ten-minute video, Cenk Uyguy discusses the verdict against Bradley Manning, declaring him to be a true hero.

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Elizabeth Warren tells the OCC and the Fed that their job is not to hide evidence of lawbreaking

| April 13, 2013 | Reply

Senator Elizabeth Warren educates Daniel P. Stipano, Deputy Chief Counsel, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Richard Ashton, Deputy General Counsel, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. They look surprised that they should actually be looking out to help out victims of the banks and not helping the banks to hide evidence of law-breaking by those banks that conducted illegal foreclosures. Thank goodness we have Senator Warren on the job.

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Hero worship of Bill Clinton

| September 20, 2012 | Reply

At Salon.com, Matt Stoller questions the liberal hero-worship of Bill Clinton:

Back in June, Clinton angered Democrats nationwide by calling for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy. He also spoke glowingly of Mitt Romney’s “sterling business career,” getting in the way of an effective line of attack by the Obama campaign. And in terms of deregulation, Bill Clinton was one of the patron saints of the crisis: pushing through the final repeal of the Glass- Act, which legalized the heretofore illegal merger of Citigroup; signing the Commodities Future Modernization Act, which fully deregulated derivatives; and reappointing bubble blower Alan Greenspan to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve.

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Address to graduating students: “If everyone is special, no one is.”

| June 11, 2012 | Reply

English teacher David McCullough, Jr. sharply challenged the new graduates of Wellesley Massachusetts High School by telling them that they were not special, because they were substantially like numerous other “special” students out there. He repeatedly warned the audience members that to become special, they would need to earn it.

Many of McCullough’s ideas walk the line between offensive and inspiring–they will offend some people because his message is a stinging indictment of the status quo. He delivered a message that we can’t become special by continuing to watch our TVs, or even by clicking on our keyboards. There is no substitute for self-critical thought, hard work in the real world, and a pure heart.

I admire McCullough for having the guts to say the things he said up at the podium. Watching him reminds me that excellent teachers are real heroes in a world filled with fake heroes. It makes me a bit sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to be one of McCullough’s students back in high school. Listening to his message mostly makes me proud that there is someone out there who can teach so much in twelve minutes.

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Shame on America for prosecuting Former CIA officer John Kiriakou

| April 14, 2012 | 1 Reply
Shame on America for prosecuting Former CIA officer John Kiriakou

Shame on America for prosecuting Former CIA officer John Kiriakou. But America’s actions are understandable because Kiriakou embarrasses America by saying true things like this:

  • On Iraq: “The answer to why we’re still in Iraq to this day has almost everything to do with the failures of leadership in 2003 and 2004 and, in some cases, the ascendance of rank deception—deliberate distortions of the facts on the ground.”
  • On FBI waste: After raiding a Taliban “embassy” in Pakistan in early 2002, Kiriakou’s colleague “found something interesting and provocative. A file of telephone bills from the Taliban embassy revealed dozens of calls to the United States . . . For ten days leading up to September 11, 2001, the Taliban made 168 calls to America. Then the calls stopped. The file, amazingly, was in English . . . The calls ended on September 10, 2001, and started up again six days later, on September 16.” Years after sending the phone records to the FBI, Kiriakou followed-up and his FBI contact “replied that it was like a scene out of that Indiana Jones movie. The files were still in those [original] boxes, in an FBI storage facility in Maryland . . . What a waste.”
  • On CIA’s deception about waterboarding: “Now we know that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied. . . it was a valuable lesson in how the CIA uses the arts of deception even among its own.” (Previously, the CIA told Kiriakou that Zubaydah was waterboarded only once and cracked, which fiction Kiriakou repeated in a television interview because his own agency lied to him.)
  • On Torture: “But even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated – not in one case or a thousand or a million. If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. . . . There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security.”

Jesselyn Radack has the story.

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The alleged wackiness of Dennis Kucinich

| March 11, 2012 | 2 Replies
The alleged wackiness of Dennis Kucinich

Rep. Dennis Kucinich recently lost his race to return as a Congressional representative of Ohio. The blame for his loss sits largely at the door of the cowardly news media, which would rather make a cartoon of Kucinich than give serious heed to his well-formulated arguments.

At Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald also laments the way the establishment media has treated Dennis Kucinich. Greenwald argues that the media blithely painted him as wacky because of Kucinich’s friendship with Shirley McLaine (who believes in reincarnation). The media loves to report that (according to McLaine) Kucinich once “claimed to have an encounter with a UFO.”

For these “sins,” the establishment media advises that we are not to take any of Kucinich’s political positions seriously. Greenwald dismantles this insanity in two stages. First, he compares the alleged beliefs of Kucinich with the purported beliefs of most politicians, which the news media gives a free ride:

[Are any of Kucinich’s beliefs] any more strange than the litany of beliefs which the world’s major religions require? Is Barack Obama “wacky” because he claims to believe that Jesus turned water into wine, rose from the dead and will soon welcome him to heaven? Is Chuck Schumer bizarre because he seems to believe that there’s some big fatherly figure sitting in the sky who spewed fire and brimstone at those who broke the laws he sent down on some stones and now hovers over him judging his every move? Is Harry Reid a weirdo because he apparently venerates as divine the “visions” of a man who had dozens of wives, including some already married to other men? Neither the Prospect nor the Post would ever dare mock as “wacky” the belief in invisible judgmental father-figures in the sky or that rendition of life-after-death gospel because those belief systems have been deemed acceptable by establishment circles.

Step two of the analysis is to step back to see the political views of Kucinich that have been ridiculed by the mainstream media:

[More . . . ]

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Wikileaks wins Australian version of Pulitzer Award

| November 27, 2011 | 1 Reply
Wikileaks wins Australian version of Pulitzer Award

Glenn Greenwald reports that in recognition for breaking stories like this, Wikileaks has been given Australia’s highest journalism award.

The Walkley Awards are the Australian equivalent of the Pulitzers: that nation’s most prestigious award for excellence in journalism. Last night, the Walkley Foundation awarded its highest distinction — for “Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism” — to WikiLeaks, whose leader, Julian Assange, is an Australian citizen. The panel cited the group’s “courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency,” and hailed it for having “applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.” As I’ve noted before, WikiLeaks easily produced more newsworthy scoops over the last year than every other media outlet combined, and the Foundation observed: “so many eagerly took advantage of the secret cables to create more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime.” In sum: “by designing and constructing a means to encourage whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange took a brave, determined and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency that has empowered people all over the world.” What makes this award so notable is that the United States — for exactly the same reasons the Foundation cited in honoring WikiLeaks’ journalism achievements — has spent the last year trying to criminalize and destroy the group . . . It is telling indeed that the U.S. — with the backing of its subservient allied governments — has devoted itself to the destruction of the world’s most effective journalistic outlet.

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Bill Moyers explains the concerns of Occupy Wall Street

| October 31, 2011 | 1 Reply
Bill Moyers explains the concerns of Occupy Wall Street

Bill Moyers recently gave the keynote speech at Public Citizen’s 40th anniversary Gala. In addition to the video of that speech, I have transcribed various excerpts from his excellent speech. During his speech, he made it quite clear that he fully understands the concerns of the occupy Wall Street protesters.

Except for the bracketed material each of the following is a quote by Bill Moyers at the Public Citizen 40th Anniversary Gala:

While it’s important to cover the news, it’s more important to uncover the news. One of my mentors at the University of Texas told our class that “news” is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity. And when a student asked the journalist and historian Richard Reeves for his definition of real news, he answered, “The news you and I need to keep our freedoms.”

[We now have what historian Lawrence Goodwin has described as] “a mass resignation of people who believe the dogma of democracy at a superficial level, but who no longer believe it privately.”

We have a decline of individual self-respect on the part of millions of people.

We hold elections knowing that they are unlikely to produce the policies favored by a majority of Americans.

The property qualifications for federal office that the framers of the Constitution expressly feared as an unseemly veneration of wealth are now openly enforced, and the common denominator a public office, including for our judges, is a common deference to cash.

Barack Obama criticizes bankers as fat cats and then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 per person. And that’s the norm. They get away with it.

Let’s name it for what it is: Democratic deviancy, defined downward.

Politics today is little more than money laundering in the trafficking of power and policy.

Why are the occupiers there? They are occupying Wall Street because Wall Street has occupied America

Citizens United: Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many.

[At the 12 minute mark of the video, Moyers discusses corporate personhood and the laws damaging public welfare resulting therefrom]

The Roberts Court has picked up the mantle: Money first, the public second, if at all.

[At the 14 minute mark: the damage done by Citizens United]

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