Terrible feeling of déjà vu

I wore this shirt while camping this week. Its message is just as timely today as it was when I bought it during war criminal George W. Bush’s presidency.

The back reads:
What is the Downing Street Memo?
On May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a July 2002 memo from the head of British intelligence, who had just returned from Washington, to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Written seven months before the war in Iraq began, the memo says that President Bush, contrary to what he told the American people, had already decided to go to war and, even worse, that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Meaning, the Bush administration was intentionally fabricatinng evidence linking Saddam to WMD and terrorism in order to trick the American people and Congress into going to war. 

The more things change the more they stay the same. The greedheads/warmongers of the military industrial complex can’t ever get enough.

On the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, G.W. Bush is still a war criminal

In March of 2003, my family took the train from Denver to San Francisco during our sons’ spring break. Wildebeest was 9-years-old and Zebu was 7. As had millions of people around the world, we’d marched and demonstrated and written letters and called our representatives to say NO TO WAR ON IRAQ.

Didn’t matter. Bush said he wouldn’t shape his policy according to public opinion, even when it was the whole freaking planet screaming NO.

We were in a hotel when it was announced that the U.S. had begun dropping bombs. We were outraged and heartbroken. So were many, many people in San Francisco. The police were out in full riot gear, looking very nervous.

Over the next days, people chained themselves to manhole covers and blocked streets.

Protesters were everywhere. So were the cops.

That Bush-Cheney invasion, powered by lies and fear-mongering, made the oil companies and mercenaries much richer, while destroying the lives of millions of Iraqis.

Now it’s March of 2017, and people are saying they miss George W. Bush. Unbelievable. George W. Bush is a war criminal, plain and simple, and the repercussions of his crimes continue fourteen years after he wrongly invaded another country.

 

.

On becoming numb and desensitized

I just saw this tweet:
adam johnson iraq tweet

I responded with this:

And now I can’t stop thinking about how for years and years I maintained an Iraq death toll sign in my front yard. Every day I looked up the death tolls for Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops, and changed the numbers on the sign. The sign Zippy and I kept chained to our locust tree after other versions were stolen. The sign that resulted in vandalism and harrassment from people in our neighborhood. The sign that was my voice after my elected “representatives” refused to listen to me and the millions of people around the globe who took to the streets to demand the United States NOT invade Iraq in 2003.

Death toll numbers as of August 8, 2014

Death toll numbers as of August 8, 2014

That photo is from a post on August 8, 2014, when Obama started bombing Iraq some more. I never put it out again despite the ongoing, never-ending death and destruction following the U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Which brings me back to Adam H. Johnson’s tweet and my shame.

The corporate elites and imperialists count on us to be apathetic due to overwhelm, but it’s on me that I’ve let the people of Iraq slip off my emotional radar. Just as it’s on me that I’ve pretty much become numb and desensitized to every single instance of death and destruction. I don’t want to feel numb and desensitized, I really don’t. I’d rather be angry and in the streets with a pitchfork.

But everything feels like too fucking much.

 

 

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.

Another Perspective on Fort Hood

    

There are many out there beating the "Muslim=haters" drum
regarding yesterday’s tragedy.
This essay provides insights not provided by the shrieking media.


Focusing on Ft. Hood Killer’s Beliefs Are an Easy Out to Avoid the Deeper Reasons for the Massacre

That alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is a Muslim is not enough to explain the motive for the attacks
By
Mark Ames, AlterNet. Posted November 6, 2009.<!–

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It’s hard to pinpoint what’s the most shocking thing about Major Malik Nadal Hasan’s shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas. I’ll start with this: there’s nothing all that ground-breaking about it. Happens all the time, it’s just that we’re a nation of amnesiacs who forget all the unpleasantries, and refuse to learn the valuable lessons.

For starters, Fort Hood is located in Killeen, Texas — where one of the deadliest rampage shootings in American history took place in 1991, when an unemployed ex-Navy enlistee, George Hennard Jr., crashed his pickup into a popular cafeteria, pulled out two handguns (Hasan also used two handguns), and murdered 23 people before taking his own life. The day before the massacre, Hennard was eating a hamburger in a local restaurant watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and, according to the manager, “When an interview with Anita Hill came on, he just went off. He started screaming, ‘You dumb bitch! You bastards opened the door for all the women!’”

So yesterday’s Fort Hood shooting isn’t the worst or most deranged mass-killing in Killeen’s history — not by a longshot. The mainstream media is enabling the screaming about the Muslim traitors in our midst, but Hasan killed far fewer Americans than the white, racist George Hennard. And they were bested by the federal government in nearby Waco Texas, in 1993, when federal forces slaughtered some 75 men, women and children in the Branch Davidian compound.

But in what may seem like a strange coincidence, Maj. Hasan and Killeen are connected to another American shooting rampage. Killeen held the record for America’s worst shooting massacre until 2007, when Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 33 fellow students. And Malik Nadal Hasan graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997. Both Hasan and Cho were bullied and harassed — Hasan’s cousin told reporters that after 9/11, his military comrades regularly abused him, calling him “camel jockey.” But the cousin insisted that Hasan’s opposition to the war didn’t grow out of the bullying, but rather from the stories he heard while interning as a psychiatric counselor to veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Hasan even hired an attorney to try to come to a settlement with the US government and leave the service, but they wouldn’t settle for a deal and instead forced him to deploy. He apparently fought it up to the day before his deployment — and instead of going to the war, he brought the war to the US military.

As is often the case, the wrong lesson was learned, and the solution was more guns and more militarization of society: after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007: a new pro-gun student group was formed, calling for the arming of as many students as possible. The group is called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, and today it claims over 40,000 members on over 363 campuses. Likewise in 1991 after the Killeen shootings, the state of Texas responded by enacting a law freeing up gun owners to carry concealed weapons. It was President Bush who signed the law as TX governor in 1995 — and it was also Bush in 2008 who signed the first federal gun control law in 13 years after the Virginia Tech massacre.

So Hasan, whose parents came to the US from Palestine, had plenty of personal connections to “Made in the USA” violence and massacres; and yet there’s a frantic attempt to make him out to be a crazy Muslim monster hell-bent on killing Americans. Why would he need to take inspiration just from them, when Americans already provided so many excellent examples of how to mass-murder fellow Americans?

Fort Hood, the largest military base in America, has seen its share of violence as well. For one thing, it holds the record for most soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan — 685 so far — and though we don’t know the figures, it’s reasonable to assume that Fort Hood is responsible for a sizable percentage of the tens or hundreds of thousands killed in those countries since America invaded them. Over the same period, 75 soldiers have committed suicide at Fort Hood, ten in 2009 alone — the highest of any base. In just one weekend in 2005, two soldiers who’d returned from Iraq killed themselves in separate incidents. Last year, in something right out of Full Metal Jacket, Specialist Jody Michael Wirawan, 21, of the 1st Cavalry Division, shot and killed his lieutenant, then killed himself when police arrived. And life in Killeen isn’t much nicer: it has one of the nation’s lowest median incomes and highest crime rates. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier was killed by a Killeen cop who claimed he killed the soldier after being dragged underneath his SUV; the dead soldier’s mother filed a lawsuit claiming that the cop was notoriously out-of-control and violent, and that he shot her son while the car was pulled over.

All of this violence and despair led Fort Hood’s commander, Lt. General Rick Lynch, to build a post-traumatic stress disorder complex called the Resiliency Campus, featuring a Spiritual Fitness Center for soldiers to meditate, and a Cognitive Enhancement Assistance Center. As though a spiritual fitness workout routine could resolve the underlying cause of why a Resiliency Campus was built in the first place.

if the government really were concerned about all the suicides and PTSD cases, they could have prevented Mj. Hasan’s murder-suicide mission before it happened. It would have been easy: Hasan had pleaded with his superiors not to be sent to Iraq, where he was scheduled to be deployed, but his requests were denied. RIght-wing bloggers like Michelle Malkin and some mainstream outlets have seized on reports emerging that Hasan supposedly voiced opinions sympathetic to suicide bombers. But if he was an Al Qaeda sleeper-cell suicide bomber himself, it makes no sense why he’d a) argue with fellow soldiers that the wars are wrong and we should withdraw; and b) that he tried to get out of being deployed to Iraq. The 9/11 terrorists did their best to “blend in” and pretend like they were as American as apple pie, because the point is not to draw any attention to yourself if you’re a terrorist planning to suicide bomb a military base. Moreover, the timing of his shooting, the day before he was to be sent off, shows that his desperation had reached the limit. What this suggests is that the massacre could have been avoided if Maj. Hasan’s objections were taken into account.

Maj. Hasan’s opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars puts him where the majority of Americans are today. And he’s not the first soldier at Fort Hood to protest the war. Desertion rates have soared since the Iraq invasion, and Fort Hood has had some high-profile objectors making the news this year, such as Spc. Victor Agosto, who was court-martialed in August after he refused to go to Afghanistan, and Sgt. Travis Bishop, who filed for conscientious objector status after serving in Iraq for 14 months.

Going back to Vietnam War, Fort Hood was famous as the site of one of the first anti-war protests in 1965, when the so-called “Fort Hood 3” refused to be shipped off on the grounds that the war was wrong and illegal. Three years later, the movement expanded: hundreds of African-American GIs protested plans to deploy them to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and 43 were court-martialed. It was a heroic act: US troops and cops staged one of the bloodiest police-on-citizen episodes in modern history. In 1971, the Fort Hood United Front, made up of soldiers from the base, marched into Killeen, even though the city refused to grant them a permit; hundreds were arrested. 

Today, if you read through some of the forums out of Fort Hood, the antiwar mood is clearly strong and clearly a problem for the authorities. So they’ll do their best to paint Maj. Hasan as a Muslim loon. The rightwing has been trying for years now to equate opposition to the wars with pro-terrorist, anti-American sentiment, and by the poll numbers today, that would make most Americans anti-American terrorists. 

You can already see the dark, rank heart of the American Soul in anonymous messages posted on underground right-wing sites like Free Republic, a few of which are posted below:
 
Why is anyone surprised?

We already have a DIRTY MOSLEM TRAITOR in the Oval Office.

What’s one more moslem piece of garbage?

*         *         *

[Quoting a previous posting] **If you are Islamic, you may not serve in our military. Period.**
 
I’m getting closer to:
 
If you are Islamic, you may not serve in our military live in this country.
 
Period.

*         *         *

I’m getting closer to:

If you are Islamic, you may not live.

*         *         *

The story is still fresh and there’s a lot we don’t know, and there are still a lot of conflicting reports and confusion. Since Hasan will be tried in a military court, the American public will only learn whatever the military wants us to learn. And to a nation slipping deeper into its own amnesiac fog, the last thing we want to learn are the painful, threatening truths.

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See more stories tagged with: afghanistan, walter reed, rage murder, ft. hood, nidal malik hasan

Read more of Mark Ames at eXiledonline.com. He is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.
           

Hey, Joe!

Zippy called a few minutes ago to tell me Joe Biden was on the street outside Zippy’s office, buying something from a street cart.  I’m hoping Biden bought a time machine.  The man needs to go back and undo his role in enabling the fear-mongering Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq.
                             

Please Call If You Can

The U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote today on further funding for the occupation of Iraq.

The Democrats are poised to cave into the Bush administration (again).  I’m so tired of our so-called leaders enabling this war criminal.

If you’re tired, too, please call and voice your opinion.  If you believe there should be no more funding without a withdrawal timetable, then tell your elected officials.  If you believe the only money that should go into Iraq is for reconstruction projects so the Iraqis can again have water, electricity, schools, etc., then tell your elected officials.  Whatever your feelings, call your representatives and let them know.  Please.

The capitol switchboard is 1-800-614-2803.  (An operator will direct your call).

Edited to add this photo.  These are the current numbers as of today (verified deaths):

Personal Yet Universal

In August of 2004, my health crashed.  Diagnosis was first Lyme disease then chronic fatigue.  I went from an incredibly strong person who ran, lifted weights, hiked, swam, etc. to a woman with no energy who spent the day in pajamas, napping three or four times each day.  Friends drove my children to and from school.  My husband did EVERYTHING around the house.  I had difficulty concentrating, could not multi-task, and overall was mentally fatigued.    

I eventually regained some strength but experienced a near-constant buzzing/humming sensation throughout my body, and pain in my hands and legs.  I still could not think clearly and was easily overwhelmed.  I became depressed.

 

In the summer of 2006, I happened upon an article about post traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue.   The article mentioned a book called WAKING THE TIGER by Peter Levine.  I read the book and realized I was suffering post traumatic stress!  But how could that be?  I hadn’t been assaulted, hadn’t experienced a natural disaster or lived in a war zone.  Well, I learned trauma can accumulate in our systems.  The time I’d been rear-ended, the various dental procedures, the C-section, all those experiences left residual energy in my system (I think of it as by-products of the adrenaline my body put out during those fight/flight moments), and my body reached the tipping point.  Hence, the buzzing/humming sensation.

In October I began weekly somatic experiencing therapy in which I learned to discharge that unwanted energy from my system.  It’s an amazing process and I’m thrilled to say I’ve regained much of my strength and vitality.  I’m not 100 percent yet but I’m running again, I can multi-task, and I’m not so easily overwhelmed.  Also, the process helped me understand the ways I disassociated in order to survive.

So why am I writing about this now?  Yesterday’s news out of Virginia Tech brought back many of those old “symptoms.”  My legs buzzed, my hands ached, I couldn’t think clearly, and I cried.  And cried.

And then I thought about these two news briefs from yesterday:

BLACKSBURG – A gunman massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech … The bloodbath ended with the gunman committing suicide, bringing the death toll to 33.

BAGHDAD – In the northern city of Mosul, a university dean, a professor, a policeman’s son and 13 soldiers died in attacks … Nationwide, at least 51 people were killed or found dead.

And I cried even more.

Because I realized I’m still living the post traumatic stress profile in regards to Iraq.  Even though every morning I maintain this sign, I’ve disassociated from that tragedy.  The civilian death toll is so high I can’t even visualize those numbers (I realize the “official” number is much lower than the actual death toll).  I can’t imagine what it’s like waking each morning with the knowledge there’s a very high probability someone you know will lose someone they know that day. 

The Virginia Tech tragedy plays out each and every day in Iraq.  Not the same circumstances but the same cycle of horrific violence and heartbroken families.  Yet I don’t cry about Iraq on a daily basis.  I won’t allow my mind to dwell on the terrifying reality of night raids, rapes, executions, explosions, starvation, and disease.  I’ve forced those thoughts from my mind in order to survive.   

And that scares me.  Because when we become numb to the lives of other beings (human and otherwise) on this planet, atrocities occur and our collective health is damaged.

I don’t want to “disassociate” the fact that we all love our children.  That we all want a safe, happy, and healthy future for those children.  And that every parent grieves the same way.

Today I grieve for everyone on the planet.

 

 

 

CALL-IN FOR PEACE –UPDATE

I received this message from Progressive Democrats of America (PDA):

Today (Tuesday) is our day to lead in the unified phone campaign to get Congress
to finally stand against Bush’s unending war in Iraq.

In the last few hours, we’ve learned of a possible amendment to Bush’s
supplemental Appropriation request for $93 billion more for Iraq.
The
amendment, written by our allies, would call for a fully-funded withdrawal of
U.S. troops within a set timetable.
This would mean that a vote for the
appropriation would be a vote against the war.
This is an exciting development –
a longshot, but worth fighting for.

So when we call our Congress members today, ask them to support a “fully-funded
withdrawal with timetable” amendment to the Iraq supplemental. But if such an
amendment is NOT adopted, insist that our Representatives vote NO on the
supplemental.

Our special toll-free number into Congress is 1-888-851-1879.

Don’t stop after calling your own Representative. To ensure that a “fully-funded withdrawal”
amendment comes to the floor for a vote, contact one or two members of the Democratic
leadership: Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY), Chair, Rules Committee (which decides
whether amendments get to the floor); Speaker Nancy Pelosi; House Majority
Leader Steny Hoyer (MD); Rep. Rahm Emanuel (IL); Rep. James Clybourn (SC). Make
your call(s) toll-free l-888-851-1879 -- or call 202-224-3121.

Thank you!

CALL-IN FOR PEACE Tuesday, March 6

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and its allies are coordinating a
unified phone campaign to get Congress to reject additional Iraq war
funding – the Bush supplemental appropriations request for $93
billion more. With the Democratic leadership signaling weakness and
half-hearted amendments aimed at undermining the escalation but not the
war, the coalition is phoning in a loud and clear message: NO MORE
FUNDING FOR WAR. VOTE NO ON THE SUPPLEMENTAL. BRING OUR TROOPS HOME.


Toll-free number into Congress is 1-888-851-1879.

Points to consider when calling your Senate and Congressional offices:

Most Iraqis – both Sunni and Shia -- want US troops out of their country and most
believe attacks on our troops are justified.

US military force is no solution in Iraq; diplomacy, not war, is the solution.

US public sentiment via the polls in November and in opinion polls expresses a
strong desire for the US to get out.

Congress has the Constitutionally-granted “power of the purse,” and the DUTY
to end the war by cutting off war funding, except what’s needed for the prompt,
safe, orderly withdrawal of all our troops.

The US must NOT build permament military bases in Iraq.

Please take several minutes to call your senators and representative.

The number is 1-888-851-1879.

Thank you.