James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, September 21, 2007

A real American hero

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, 2007, I got a quick look at a genuine American patriot, a man of courage, conviction and commitment.

No, not some strutting general with all the medals his peers had awarded them, as they award each other, for being in some safe haven near where people are being killed, or for playing war games well, or whatever else all those ribbons truly represent.

Neither was it a soldier who, in desperation or a moment of anger-driven madness, committed some genuine act of physical and perhaps moral courage. (Nor a phony who was given a medal because that's more politically useful than courtmartialing him or her.)

I was headed east on 46th Street in south Minneapolis, about to cross the bridge over Hwy. I35W –- a portion of it that remains open -– on my way to visit a hospitalized friend.

At one corner of the bridge, on 46th Street, stood a man, all alone, holding a sign, hand lettered with something like Magic Marker on a piece of cardboard obviously cut from a box.

Across 46th from him, in the spot occupied by some such person for a few hours every day, was a another man, younger, with an equally crude sign that said “Homeless. Please Help. God Bless.” I think they hand off that sign from one to another.

But the sign held by the man I saw first – who was no better dressed nor better trimmed than the beggar -- said “Is it fascism yet?”

He looked embarrassed to be out there, but there he was, holding his little sign where people in the increasing traffic could see it.

I've stood on bridges with signs –- fairly frequently during the run up to Bush/Cheney's war –- but never alone, never when someone else hadn't planned the event and rounded up some of the braver folks among those who hate the waste and stupidity and cupidity of Bush/Cheney's war of greed.

But to go out there alone, just because you're sick of the whole thing, the war and the trampling on the U.S. Constitution, and maybe don't know how else to tell people that the madness must stop -– that's guts.

I'll make a few trips to that spot again, when I can stop, and hope that I find him and can talk to him.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Condemnation" shows need for second party

The phony flap over MoveOn's “General Betray Us” ad demonstrates clearly how desperately this poor country needs a second major political party – if it isn't already too late.

In case you've been watching All O.J. All the Time News, MoveOn ran a full-page ad in the New York Times before Gen. Petraeus made “his” report to Congress on the situation in Iraq. Petraeus is the commander of U.S. forces in what's left of that country. The ad said, to summarize very briefly, that the writer(s) of the report cherry picked facts to support a claim that we're “winning” in Iraq, when, in fact, we have failed.

The ad's headline said “General Petraeus or General Betray Us.”

Of course the Republican right went nuts, on cue. That was more predictable than a sunrise.

And of course the noisemakers of television also went nuts, also on cue. Disgusting, said the right. “Throw MoveOn out of the country” said ever sillier John McCain. “An insult to the general and the U.S. military!” screamed the chorus of yapping heads.

It's been awhile since they've had such a wonderful distraction topic.

O.J. Simpson soon appeared as another distraction, but the Rovians in Congress and the White House couldn't use him to rally the troops, nor did Simpson serve to frighten the cowards in Congress who call themselves Democrats.

On Thursday, George W. Bush, Co-president of the United States, got on television and, using his other expression – the one that's not a smirk – declared the ad “disgusting” and, of course, an insult to the general and the U.S. military.

And the U.S. Senate voted 72 to 25 to “condemn” MoveOn for running the ad, with 22 Senators who lay claim to being Democrats voting for the nonbinding, nonuseful resolution. Minnesota's increasingly embarrassing freshman senator, Amy Klobuchar, voted for it.

Right before the Labor Day break, Klobuchar also voted to allow continuation of warrentless wiretapping against U.S. citizens.

Of course the state's Republican senator, Norm Coleman, eagerly voted to slap MoveOn, but that's to be expected. He has never crossed the Bush/Cheney administration on anything bigger than favoring the Vikings over the Cowboys – and I wouldn't swear he ever has gone that far.

The television news shows Thursday devoted 80 percent of their coverage to the critics of the ad – and that may be a conservative estimate. CNN had several Republican talking heads on air, being delightedly “disgusted,” and let Wolf (Hide me, I heard a shell 12 miles away!) Blitzer mumble a sort-of 30-second paraphrase of MoveOn's response to the attacks.

Quick facts:

-- The truths stated in the MoveOn ad are, indeed, truths. The research was solid, the statements accurate.

-- The ad did not condemn the U.S. military. It did kick hell of of Petraeus.

-- The “Petraeus report” – as a number of newspapers acknowledged in brief paragraphs inside brief articles on inside pages before the general's Congressional appearance – was largely written in the White House. It was a political document.

-- It can be honestly argued that in offering a highly colored and deliberately inaccurate assessment of the status of our military intervention in Iraq, and acting, therefore, as a political front for his mentors in the White House, the general did indeed betray his duty to the American people and his oath of service.

(Incidentally – or not – Petraeus, when stationed Baghdad in 2004-05 told Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser in Iraq's Interior Ministry, that he was interested in running for president of the United States, but that 2008 would be too soon. That was reported in the United Kingdom newspaper, the Independent. The general is widely said to be a very ambitious man and anything but apolitical.)

-- The Senate voted to “condemn” MoveOn for –- what? -– but has never voted to condemn George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or any of their co-conspirators for suppressing intelligence, deliberately falsifying intelligence and otherwise lying to the American people in order to invade another sovereign nation that posed us no risk.

There as been no condemnation for the entirely unnecessary and useless deaths of soon-to-be 4,000 young Americans, or tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the maiming of tens of thousands more of both Amricans and Iraqis, or the destruction of Iraq's economy, infrastructure and way of life.

-- The president has not declared “disgusting” nor has the Senate condemned the “Swiftboating” group that libeled Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and several other patriotic Democratic candidates and office holders, and which is still functioning, using slander and libel as political tools. (And it's chief financial backer also continues as a substantial contributor to the Bush people and right wing Republican members of Congress.)

-- There has been no Senate condemnation of various Republican campaign organizations that have been proven to have used illegal dirty tricks, to have deliberately used clearly illegal means to suppress the votes of ethnic minorities and committed numerous acts to subvert the American electoral system.

Please, contact your senators and tell them how ashamed they should be for that charade of a “condemnation” on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007. Do that especially if your senator is a spinless Democrat who voted for the resolution.

For Minnesotans:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Democrat?)
Bishop Henry Whipple Building, Suite 298
1 Federal Drive
Fort Snelling, MN 55111
(612) 727-5220; fax (612) 727-5223
Web site (from which you can email her): www.klobuchar.senate.gov

Sen. Norm Coleman (Republican)
(651-645-0323; fax (651) 645-0704
Web site: www.coleman.senat.gov

For reasons I won't go into here, and which have no real substance anyway, Democrats decided almost as soon as they became a majority to go on acting as a helpless minority. With a very few exceptions, they have shown themselves to be an intellectually puny and nerve-deficient scrum of space-fillers, the weak side of the ruling party, the Washington Generals to Bush's Harlem Globetrotters.

We do desperately need a second party, but don't look to any “leaders” to provide it. (The Greens, the Libertarians, et al, are forever condemned by their narrowness to be “third” parties.) We must, somehow, create it ourselves.

Maybe we could start with MoveOn.

Just a thought.


Democratic fundraisers are extremely active right now, via land mail and the Internet. My suggestion is reject the Democrats, and tell them why, and send donations to MoveOn.org and other organizations actually fighting for progressive/liberal ideals and causes. You can donate to MoveOn by going to its Web site at http://www.MoveOn.org

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A terrifying book, but read it anyway

By Will Shapira

Empire And The Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate The World. Joseph Gerson, Pluto Press, www.plutobookscom 348 pages soft cover, $28.95.

I don’t know if they test the civil defense warning systems in your hometown but come 1 p.m. Central Time on the first Wednesday of each month in good old Minneapolis, Minnesota---the heart of the heartland--- the sirens are sounded and those of us who know the drill chant, “Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.”

I thought of that immediately after reading only two pages of this incredible book.

Simply stated, Joseph Gerson has written the doomsday book of doomsday books. He only explodes every myth most of us learned in school about the benevolence of America and how we “needed” to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII, and cites one instance after another of how we not only use our atomic weaponry to support a policy of blatant, unabashed and unapologetic imperialistic, capitalistic global hegemony but apparently don’t mind running the risk of starting a nuclear war to advance our policies, knowing full well that such could trigger the war to end all wars and wipe out the human race. (Nothing like sticking by your principles, eh?)

Such statements may sound extreme, but only until you have delved into what may be the most important book written in decades. With all due to respect to the many diligent works on global warming, Iraq, Afghanistan, human and civil rights, poverty, racism, and all of the other extremely important topics of the day, the very real possibility of our country causing not just genocide but omnicide (yes, a new word for me, too) chills the blood, bones and soul and reduces what formerly was an “impossible” abstraction into a frightening reality.

Gerson cites no fewer than 40 occasions since 1946 when the U.S. has broached the threat of nuclear weapons to achieve its goals and he shows that we came closer than anyone ever thought to causing a full-blown nuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Of all the statistics Gerson produces, none is scarier than this: “At the beginning of the twenty-first century, only 51 U.S. strategic warheads would be needed” in a nuclear attack on Russia, “yet Washington’s arsenal numbered more than 10,000 weapons.” (And, mind you, this is being written two days after we learned an Air Force B-52 flew a training mission from North Dakota to Louisiana with nuclear weapons on board. (“Cripes, I just plain forgot to remove them damn bombs before the plane took off; sorry about that.”)

And, adds Gerson, it was during the Clinton presidency that “The Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence” were adopted, committing the U.S. to maintaining “’a fear of national extinction’ in the minds of those it seeks to intimidate.”

In his excellent foreword, Prof. Walden Bello declares that “unless the people of the United States and the world are able to push the U.S. get rid of its nuclear arsenal, there will be no real peace. This book is a forceful reminder of this truth and challenge.” Indeed.

Section by section, chapter by chapter, Gerson effectively and inexorably makes his case. Yet, he is not without hope. While our war-mongering politicians and military personnel may have their itchy fingers on the nuclear trigger, Gerson says peacemakers such as he “have road maps to a nuclear weapons-free world. We can reach the destination of nuclear weapons abolition only if we find within ourselves the moral and political will that has been lacking for far too long…Hope, imagination and resolute will can be contagious. They also are essential for human survival.”

This book is must reading for every American and world politician, every media person, every educator and every student capable of understanding the magnitude of its message and especially every American who can get beyond the conventional un-wisdom of our nation’s lap-dog media and mis-education system and face the awful truth of what our country really is all about and maybe why “they” hate us so much.

Now, will a Ken Burns, a Michael Moore, an Al Gore or some other filmmaker step up and convert Gerson’s book into a film that cries out to be shown in the theatres and on the television screens of the world---before it’s too late?

The nuclear clock is ticking.

Will Shapira, a former news writer for radio and television and retired public relations man, wrote this review for a publication of Veterans for Peace, of which he is a member.


-- For those who missed it, Alan Greenspan, that idol of the right and icon of conservatives, observed the other day that he just can't understand why Americans won't accept the truth of the situation in Iraq – that it is about oil. (That doesn't mean he disapproves; just that we should accept the reality.)

-- Many newspapers outside the United States now are writing about a U.S. attack on Iran as though it is a given and the question is not if but when. Most of reported what most American newspapers have not: That under direction of the White House (as personified by Dick Cheney), the Pentagon has identified about 2,000 bombing targets in Iran and mapped out plans of attack.

-- Hotmail (Microsoft) and AOL and apparently some other Internet carriers are blocking the newsletter emails of TruthOut.org to some of its subscribers. The deliberate censorship appears to be haphazard, or just plain not terribly efficient, as yet, but it's ongoing and probably will become more encompassing with time. You can see an article on the situation at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091307Z.shtml

There is no explanation for the censorship other than political views, though it's not clear why TruthOut was chosen to start censoring views the corporate bigwigs at the various Internet powerhouses don't like. Perhaps it appears more vulnerable than, say, MoveOn with its millions of members and not so dangerous to cross as some of the veterans' organizations such as Veterans for Common Sense. Also, TruthOut is known to be struggling financially of late.

Best thing you can do is send TruthOut money and contact your senators and member of Congress, demanding an investigation and legislation preventing the Net bigwigs from imposing their views on the public.