Tag Archive: Iraq War

Just a reminder from 1947

The quote is from a conversation G.M. Gilbert had with Hermann Goering in the jail cell where Goering was being held during the Nuremberg trials, for Gilbert’s book, Nuremberg Diary. And it’s useful to remember as fascism, xenophobia and the casual disregard for the…
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Chris Christie Dixie Chicks himself in London

Christie in London, on Obama:

“I think the President has shown over and over again that he’s not the most effective negotiator, whether you’re talking about the Iranian nuclear talks or whether you’re talking about his recent foray into Cuba. The president has not proven himself to be the most adept negotiator, in my opinion, on behalf of American interests.”

Let me get this straight: This failed governor, target of multiple federal investigations, crosses the Atlantic in a trip paid for by businesses getting huge subsidies from his administration – Michele Brown’s name coming up again in the money changing hands. Hisinternational experience is exactly zero, but he breaks tradition criticizing the commander in chief on foreign soil, and head fakes the reporter asking about that.

Wow. Remember the Dixie Chicks? Remember when Natalie Maines – also in London – told her audience:  

On Syria

Peace Dove pinYesterday at lunch, my friend asked me what I thought of Obama’s decision to order airstrikes in Syria. I had to think about it for a while, because my thinking on it is far from settled.

I wish I had the freedom to decide on the merits whether I think ISIL/ISIS represents a threat to us necessitating air strikes. But the truth is I’m having trouble evaluating current threat clearly because past threat has been sold to us by liars at the highest level. Condoleezza Rice and her mushroom cloud. Shock and awe. Colin Powell and the lie of WMDs. Fox News and the misinformation campaign to convince Americans (including some in my family) that Saddam Hussein ordered 9/11.

Add to that, bonanza profits for war privatizers.  Cost of war in the trillions. Cost of life in the hundreds of thousands. And most of all the failure to spend our treasure on education, American infrastructure, preventative public health, improving the safety net for people struggling here.

The news tells us Americans are war-weary. Is that true of you? Where that shows up for me is concern about missing a real threat because my government has cried wolf for so many years. Is ISIL real threat, or more of the same?  

President Obama huddles in the Oval, 450 NJ National Guard deploy to the Middle East

A few minutes ago, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell walked into the Oval Office to discuss with the President what to do, if anything, if Iraq falls apart. As Iraq falls apart.

At the same time – right now – 450 members of the New Jersey National Guard are leaving Fort Dix in Burlington County, NJ, on their way to a mobilization center in Fort Bliss, Texas. From there, they ship out to the Middle East. To Qatar, near the action. Their families and friends were there to see them off today. Many of those families have been through this routine, and the uncertainty and concern that goes with it. Not that they can’t handle it. We call on military families to be strong, and they do their best to be strong. But what’s required on our end is coherent foreign policy and intelligent decision-making. If we let President Obama’s fix-it strategy chase George Bush’s adventurism and war-profiteering, will we be doing right by these 450 men and women from New Jersey, or the ones we asked so much of for so long already?

If the situation was bad before, it’s a shitshow now.  

Finally, We Can Get Every Student and School Online – For Cheap

Cross Posted from Dan Kurz’s Jersey Globe Blog at http://kurzglobe.blogspot.com/…

Many decades have had their “Moonshots.” They’re The Big Ideas. Typically, they’re supremely-expensive, societally-challenging, disruptive projects that go down in history as  lasting achievements. In the 1930’s it was the New Deal. In the 40’s, it was victory in World War II. In the 1950’s it was the Interstate Highway System. In the 60’s it was, well, the Moonshot (and Civil Rights).

These “Moonshot” projects are costly, but necessary. They’re transformative, and frequently democratic in nature. They are national quests that are underwritten by the Federal government because either the private sector is not equipped to – or willing to – deliver. Yes, America is a capitalist nation, no doubt. We prize private ownership and initiative, but there are things that even the market cannot do. Not on a big level anyway.

The challenge of our age, the “Moonshot,” if you please, is national, affordable, quality connectivity. Everywhere, 24/7. Call it what you will – a national, low or no cost Wi-Fi system, Municipal Internet, whatever.

Internet access is not a civil right, not yet anyway, but a good education is. And I really doubt that you’d be able to find any educator or parent who would not observe that there is no way any student can attain a quality education in 2014 without ready, constant, available broadband access. It’s a no brainer. The entire world is online and competing furiously on an international basis. My own students are well aware that their future competitors are not only in nearby schools but in places like Shanghai and Singapore as well. As a nation, we’re long overdue in bringing free, fast Internet into our public schools. This goal has long been part of our “Moonshot.”

If you asked any person on the street (or me as recently as two hours ago) how much it would cost to bring fast, wired and wireless (Wi-Fi) internet to every school in the nation, a lot of figures would come up. But the bottom line is, everyone – myself included – would tell you the cost would be prohibitive. Hundreds of billions of dollars, at least – maybe more. Most would probably think that it’s worthy goal, perhaps, but really, just not realistic in the near future. It seems like a huge, progressive dream, and something that, in these troubling economic times, might have to be done either incrementally or put on the back burner for more prosperous days.

Then I read an article – a blog post in this week’s Washington Post. According to the FCC and two highly respected organizations in the Ed-Tech world, a price tag has been revealed. For this estimation, this “ballpark figure,” every school in the United States could be hooked up to broadband access, wired and wireless. And we’re not talking about the kind of access you get at home – we’re talking big, thick pipes dedicated to massive amounts of uploading and downloading via fiber optic connections. To do this, it would cost Congress about $4 billion.

When I read the estimation, I gasped. It can’t be that inexpensive. To bring wireless access to every public school in America…that’s just huge. Every school means every school, from the mega-high schools of busy New York City to the rural hamlets of Tennessee…sea to shining sea…etc.  

The implications of such a plan would be revolutionary to say the least. And for this price tag – really the amount that the Federal government probably spends on toilet paper yearly – it’s worth it. We have spent more than a trillion dollars in Iraq since 2003. A trillion dollars! To kill people and break things in a faraway land! And what have we got for our trillion dollars? Iraq is falling apart, Al Qaida’s still on the loose, our allies aren’t any more secure and we have tens of thousands of disabled vets to care for. Why don’t we take just a fraction of such an expenditure and invest it in our children and our communities?

We can do this. We must do this. We can still do great things, but now, apparently, we can achieve greatness with technologies partially bought at places like Radio Shack and The Home Depot. The private sector won’t do it; it’s had a decade to step up to the challenge of bringing affordable and widespread web access to our schools. Instead, our tech companies are focused on what all companies focus on: profits, mergers and acquisitions. That doesn’t make them bad, but it does make them incapable of acting on this level for the public interest.

We can do this. Who’s with me?

Condoleezza Rice Cancels Rutgers Speech

President George W. Bush never backed down when confronted with massive objection and protest against the signature event of his administration, the Iraq War. There were protests – some of the largest in history, and around the world. But he denied what was really going on there, continued the lies the war was sold to us on, and continued to make money for the war privatizers he so closely allied with.

And so did his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

But now, a group of students who did not want Rice to sully their commencement, and many faculty who supported them, have effectively gotten through to Condoleezza Rice.

Rice just canceled her May 18 appearance at Rutgers University, where she was to give the commencement speech, and receive both an honorary degree and a speaker’s fee of $35,000. Rice:

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

Rice still defends her Iraq War record, which surprises no one. And in her statement canceling, added that she “defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas.” Fine. That’s exactly what Rutgers students and faculty were exercising when they objected to Rice’s record as the war criminal she was.

Congratulations, Rutgers students. Congratulations, Rutgers faculty. ProtestWIN.

The Rising: World Trade Center’s glittery spire

The sky was falling and streaked with blood

I heard you calling me then you disappeared into the dust

Up the stairs, into the fire …

                                     – Bruce Springsteen, Into the Fire

That warm clear morning of September 11, 2001, it was public workers who rushed into the the twin towers to save lives. Union people, most of them, running up the stairs. The roll call of our lost first responders was awful: 343 NYC Fire Department firefighters, 23 NYPD officers, 37 Port Authority PD officers. More than 2,000 first responders injured.

Today, a 408-ft glittery spire was lifted high and bolted to One World Trade Center. Now 1,776 feet tall, the WTC was built with union labor. Union members rushed in on 9/11, and the rescue operation. Today’s a bittersweet full-cycle moment for the labor movement, and an achievement for the Port Authority of NY/NJ and all kinds of people whose lives are bound up in those building in some way. What must it have been like today for all the families, many in NJ, who lost people that day, or in two questionable wars after those towers?

What I remember from 2001 is the sense of unity and gratitude for the people who work in service for the public. Marie Corfield, a teacher running for Assembly in LD-16 – I contribute my time to this race – talks about this. About her first day as a teacher; it was 9/11, a day of chaos. And the investment we all felt we should make, in the lives of those who serve the public. That’s what I’m remembering today as that tower rises. Back before Chris Christie and his war on public employees. His union thug talk. His cheerleading of Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin union busting. Before the Christiecrats who ruptured their party from the inside to service him, to cover him, and to grow his power.

Left the house this morning

Bells ringing filled the air

Wearin’ the cross of my calling

On wheels of fire I come rollin’ down here

Come on up for the rising …

                              – Bruce Springsteen, The Rising

Minute-by-Minute on September 11, 2001

World Trade Center

8 months after, the New York Times finally made me understand the chaos inside the towers – an extraordinary piece of research and writing. I’ll give you the link below.

Everyone has a story of 9/11. This photo was from a forgotten roll of film Rob & Brenda Usdin took, found and finally developed with a due date of Sept. 11, 2001. They had no idea what was on it, when they picked it up on September 12th. This is what was on it. It fits my mood.

My cousin Barb posted a photo of herself dancing on the observation deck in 1983, 18 years before. Flight attendants were remembered this morning, by union leaders remembering union sisters and brothers. All across New Jersey, names are recited.

MSNBC is replaying the Today show’s coverage as new layers of horror unfolded live and in real time. It’s what I was watching 11 years ago, as I was visiting my mother in Michigan. “Turn on the TV,” said my mother’s friend Iris that morning. What channel? “Oh, honey – it’s on every channel.”

But all the cameras are at a distance. Sometimes they try to zoom in closer, but the moving specks the camera picks up might be people jumping. The camera pulls back.

It’s irrational, but I always felt out-of-place not being here, when people I know and care about felt under attack. Not under attack as watched on TV, but under attack where they live, work, go to school. There are people in mourning today; for them this day isn’t about the horror unfolding on small flickering screens, but to husbands and sons, wives, daughters and sisters.

Eight months after 9/11, the New York Times published an extraordinary piece of journalism. Using phone and BlackBerry conversations, emails and voicemail, reporters reconstructed the final 102 minutes of what happened inside those towers, when people called their loved ones, what they said, what they realized, what they said was happening.

Fighting to Live as the Towers Died. Read it, read it, read it.  

Rest in Peace, Simon Dedvukaj, all first responders, all our friends lost on that day.