Major Regret OR I Told Me So

Even though I saw it coming, Obama’s recent budget proposal to cut Social Security benefits via a Chained CPI makes me want to puke.

 

Cutting benefits for society’s most vulnerable is a callous act. It’s cruel and unnecessary, and I’m deeply ashamed I voted for Obama in November. I knew this was coming and yet I caved at the final hour and cast my vote for someone who is clearly not a Democrat because of my disgust for the Republicans’ voter suppression campaign.

I wish there was a time machine that would give me a redo so that I could cast my vote for someone who doesn’t help the rich get richer at the poor’s expense. Alas, no such device exists and I must live with my vote. And if I’m ever again tempted to vote for someone who clearly doesn’t care about the powerless, I need only remember this sick feeling in my gut. In the meanwhile, I’m making sure my “representatives” know where I stand on a Chained CPI.

Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young’s Last Letter

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world took to the streets in opposition to the invasion. We wrote letters and made phone calls to our so-called representatives in this so-called democracy. We knew an invasion would be a crime against humanity.

I was in San Francisco on spring break with my young family when the first bombs were dropped on Baghdad. Protesters chained themselves in the streets, outraged by what our government was doing in our name. We knew it was a crime, but the people in power did not care. They still don’t care. That invasion didn’t affect their lives except to make them richer and expand their power base. Fear and greed ruled that day, as it continues to rule.

Please read this powerful letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a man who paid the ultimate price for their invasion (from Truthdig – The Last Letter):

Tomas Young

Tomas Young

The Last Letter

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some one million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all – the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level – moral, strategic, military and economic – Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

To: Mr. Tomas Young                                                                                                             From: Tracy Abell

I am so very, very sorry. I wish you peace and comfort.

Friday Five: The Rejoice Edition

1) We survived the onslaught of election calls and advertisements mostly intact.
Bronco Bama girl

Rejoice!

2)  There were some awesome outcomes on Tuesday, including:

  • Elizabeth Warren is now Senator from Massachusetts!
  • Tammy Baldwin is now Senator from Wisconsin!
  • Alan Grayson is back as Representative from Florida!
  • Allen West was voted out of office and no longer represents Florida!
  • Joe Walsh was voted out of office and no longer represents Illinois!
  • Messed-up-in-the-head, anti-women Todd Akin gone!
  • Forced birth nutso Richard Mourdock lost senate race in Indiana!
  • Raul Grijalva is still Representative from Arizona!

Rejoice!

3)  Gay marriage was legalized on Tuesday:

  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Washington

Rejoice!

4)  Marijuana was legalized on Tuesday:

  • Colorado
  • Washington

Rejoice!

5)  Karl Rove (aka Turd Blossom) and his $300 million Super PAC
had a 1% success rate in the elections PLUS he suffered a public
meltdown on FOX News as he begged them to not yet call Ohio for
Obama.

Rejoice!

6) BONUS: Here’s Jon Stewart documenting the collective FOX meltdown.

Rejoice and laugh!

Laughing girl for post 11.9.12
image from morguefile.com

Vote Against Romney or Vote My Conscience?

Several years ago I decided I would not, could not vote for Obama again.
Not because I believe Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist who was
once The Most Liberal Senator Ever; there are boatloads of facts refuting each of these
claims and I wish people would either do the research or shut the hell up.
Really, it’s disheartening to share citizenship with so many people who
grasp at faux issues rather than recognize that our two-party system is offering us
two candidates who operate right-of-center and are both bent on creating an oligarchy.
The differences between Obama and Romney** are mostly a matter of degrees (see the Foreign Policy debate for their Israel love-fest, Iran hate-fest, and who-would-use-more-predator-drones-to-kill-more-Muslims-fest).

Here’s a partial, reality-based list of reasons for my anger at Obama:
climate change inaction
predator drone murders
assassination of US citizens without due process
the Tuesday morning kill list
war on whistleblowers
“Grand Bargain” to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security
income inequality
Wall Street profits
blocked investigation/prosecution of torture
record number of immigrant deportations
Not to mention, the oft-cited truth that while Republicans fear their base,
Democrats hate their base.

There are many other reasons, some less quantifiable than others.
For instance, Obama’s betrayal of young people’s hope and involvement
after he rode in on an overwhelming mandate and then squandered the
opportunity for positive action, thereby creating mass disillusionment.

Also, the fawning Democratic establishment that thinks as long as it’s
a so-called Democrat in the White House, all actions are justifiable (even
those actions that caused outrage when committed by a Republican president).

And a related item: as a result of that Democratic denial, a lack of an opposition party
which means Obama reacts to extremists and continues to move the discussion/policies
to the right with few in power willing to call him out on this, much less put up roadblocks.

So.
After living through what is essentially Bush’s third term, my thinking was I’d be a hypocrite
if I voted for Obama after raging against the Bush administration’s policies for eight years.
I would definitely vote for either Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson or Green Party
candidate Jill Stein.

Then I read Daniel Ellsberg’s piece on why angry progressives in swing states should vote
against Romney/Ryan by voting for Obama. I have huge respect for Ellsberg
as a whistleblower and an anti-war activist, and his words carry tremendous weight
with me. If this nation’s most famous whistleblower believed it was in the country’s
best interest to reelect the president who has prosecuted more whistleblowers
than all previous presidents combined, I needed to think hard about my vote.
After much thought, I decided I’d vote “for” Obama.

020
(Coco doesn’t care about the election, but I thought she’d provide a fun break in the text.)

That decision only lasted several days. Because then I read Matt Stoller’s piece
making the progressive case against Obama, and I remembered all over why
I didn’t want to cast a vote in Obama’s favor. I would vote Anderson or Stein.

But then I read Dan Froomkin’s article about the betrayal of progressive activists working on a multitude of issues. These are people who devote their lives to activism and who were shut down by the Obama administration, yet some of them believe it’s still best to reelect Obama rather than Romney. If they could swallow their disappointment and keep fighting Obama on those issues, maybe I could, too. After all, the LGBT community put the pressure on him and he finally came out in support of gay marriage (a HUGE step and one for which I give Obama absolute credit.)

Tomorrow is election day and I still don’t know how I’ll vote.

I have never been more conflicted about a presidential vote in my entire life.
I have always been disappointed in the candidates and have always voted the
“lesser of two evils,” but I don’t know if I can do that again.

But no matter what, I will cast a vote for president.
(And I can only hope if Obama loses Colorado by one vote,
Zebu doesn’t keep his promise to throw a rock at my head).

**While it’s true Romney/Ryan are bat-shit crazy regarding women’s reproductive rights,
the Democrats are always willing to use women’s health issues as a bargaining chip
so I’m not convinced it’s a big enough reason to vote against my conscience on every other issue when the Dems happily enable the erosion of women’s reproductive rights.

Hey, That’s My Line!

As many of you know,
I am partial to the word PREVAIL.

It is my rallying cry and motto,
my personal talisman.

So it was hard enough discovering PREVAIL
is also a brand of adult underwear.

But now this?!

I have to share my glorious PREVAIL
with these poster boys for All That Is Wrong With This Country?!
(Just to be clear, I’d be equally sickened if it was Obama
or any other enabler of the 1% on the cover).

Ah, well.
PREVAIL means To be or become effective; win out. To succeed. To triumph.

I know what I must do,
and if I begin to lose my way
there’s always a reminder.

 

Hey, That’s My Line!

            

As many of you know,
I am partial to the word PREVAIL.

It is my rallying cry and motto,
my personal talisman.

So it was hard enough discovering PREVAIL 
is also a brand of adult underwear.

But now this?!

I have to share my glorious PREVAIL 
with these poster boys for All That Is Wrong With This Country?!
(Just to be clear, I'd be equally sickened if it was Obama
or any other enabler of the 1% on the cover).

Ah, well.
PREVAIL means To be or become effective; win out. To succeed. To triumph.

I know what I must do,
and if I begin to lose my way
there's always a reminder.


 
                                                 

Occupy!

                  

The wealthy and powerful have  laid waste to our environment and economy,
destroying people's lives via high-stakes gambling that carries no risk for the 1%.

So the 99% decide, finally, they've had enough.

How does the 1% respond to the peaceful, patriotic protests calling for social and 
economic justice?

With militarized police forces wielding guns and nightsticks.

While Wall Street criminals are free to continue their pillaging,
the police are removing citizens from streets and parks in cities across the country.

Welcome to the United States of America in 2011.


                                                                                    image from morguefile.com
        

I am the 99%.
I stand with #OccupyWallStreet and every other occupation around the world.

                    

#OccupyDenver

                

Yesterday I went to OccupyDenver.org to find out what supplies were needed
and after loading up a plastic bin with various items, I drove downtown and
joined OccupyDenver.

Approximately 70 tents were set up on the grass in front of the capitol building
on land that is designated state park property.

There were canopied structures along the sidewalk for check-in, donation drop-off, and
Thunderdome, the kitchen that served hundreds of meals per day for the past several weeks.

While I was there, supporters dropped off cases of bottled water, cash, and small US flags.
People came by, made their own signs using available cardboard and a crate full of markers,
and protested along Broadway for a while.

I didn't make a sign because I had so many thoughts and issues and emotions in my head,
I couldn't focus enough to be coherent. Instead, I selected an enormous sign from the pile:

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?

For a couple hours I held that sign next to a woman who'd been inspired to her first political action
by the courage of those speaking out via occupations around the country. 
She has a young son and we talked about the various ways things are royally messed up for our children.
She said, "No wonder there's no one message out of all this. So many things are wrong, how do you
pick just one?"

True, that.

Here's one of the many intelligent young people leading the way:

Here's one of the many senior citizens in attendance holding his I'M PROUD TO BE A MOBSTER sign:

While it felt good to connect with the 99% community, I felt down much of the time
because about a half-hour after arriving, I learned the CO governor, Denver mayor, and
CO attorney general had held a press conference saying they were evicting the protesters
that night. For their safety and well-being, don't you know.

Early this morning, police in riot gear descended upon #OccupyDenver and broke up
their camp. Twenty-three people were arrested and belongings were thrown in the trash.

Please check out this slideshow from Denver Post photographers. 

This protest is far from over.
#OccupyWallStreet is still going strong and there are over 100 occupations taking
place around the country (and in several cities around the world).

Thank you to all the people who honked and waved in support yesterday.
And to the angry man who flipped us off as he drove by, I wish you'd consider this:

             
               

Westen on Obama

      

If you read only one op-ed piece in the next week, read 
What Happened to Obama? by Drew Westen

Here’s a taste:
When Barack Obama rose to the lectern on Inauguration Day, the nation was in tatters. Americans were scared and angry. The economy was spinning in reverse. Three-quarters of a million people lost their jobs that month. Many had lost their homes, and with them the only nest eggs they had. Even the usually impervious upper middle class had seen a decade of stagnant or declining investment, with the stock market dropping in value with no end in sight. Hope was as scarce as credit.

In that context, Americans needed their president to tell them a story that made sense of what they had just been through, what caused it, and how it was going to end. They needed to hear that he understood what they were feeling, that he would track down those responsible for their pain and suffering, and that he would restore order and safety.

Yeah, we all know what story he chose to tell that day and in the two-and-a-half years since.