Sunday, August 31, 2008

'Uncounted,' A Film That Will Leave Audiences Angry and Empowered

August 26, 2008 at 22:45:17

'Uncounted,' A Film That Will Leave Audiences Angry and Empowered

by Jason Leopold (Posted by Mary Mancini) Page 1 of 1 page(s)

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Last week, a major electronic voting machine manufacturer reported that a programming error caused votes to go uncounted in at least 34 states when memory cards designed to tally votes are uploaded to a separate computer.

The discovery was made in Columbus, Ohio, during a test of touch-screen voting machines supplied by Premier Election Solutions Inc., formerly Diebold Inc., and communicated to the company's 1,750 jurisdictions via a product advisory alert. Remarkably, Premier claims, the programming glitch went undetected for years despite previous tests of its machines.

The damning report was relegated to the back pages of some mainstream news publications (The New York Times devoted one-paragraph to the issue and buried it deep inside the A section), a reminder of how the media regards issues related to election integrity at a time when the country is about to embark on the most historic presidential election in U.S. history.

The federal Election Assistance Commission said it won't be able to certify repairs made to some of the flawed voting machines because of a backlog. The commission assumed the responsibility of testing electronic voting machines in 2002 but to date the agency has not certified a single machine.

So Premier said jurisdictions that use its decade-old voting machines will have to take measures to deal with the problem in its tabulation software that affect all 19 of its machines because the problems cannot be fixed before Election Day. The company said poll workers will be responsible for checking vote-count servers to make sure all memory cards are shown as uploaded.

When Premier was known as Diebold the company denied that it was responsible for the programming errors found in its machines and blamed the snafus on a "user error" or on antivirus software developed by others.

That the report on the voting machine failures surfaced in the state of Ohio is fitting and filled with irony. Who can forget the now infamous statement uttered by Walden O'Dell, Diebold's former chief executive, during a fundraiser his company sponsored for Bush in September 2003 when he promised that his company would "deliver" the votes needed to keep Bush in the White House for a second term.

Ohio was the battleground state where tens of thousands of votes intended for Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, were handed to George W. Bush. Thousands more went uncounted. Chalk that up to a well-funded Republican machine, which used every weapon in its arsenal, such as shredding voter registration rolls, to make sure Ohio, the state that would decide the outcome of the 2004 election, went to Bush.

In other words, the 2004 election was stolen and the evidence to back up this flat out assertion is overwhelming to say the least.

"The notion of stolen elections is something we assign to Third World countries, but not this beacon of freedom and democracy that we like to view ourselves as," said Bernie Ellis, a prominent election integrity activist.

Although the mainstream media and even some of the more prominent progressive news outlets such as The Nation, Salon, and Daily Kos have refused to touch the story or have dismissed it as conspiracy theory does not change the fact that it happened--again.

Few people understand, or are even aware of what happened in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. Even fewer people realize that history repeated itself during the November 2006 midterm elections.

That's where David Earnhardt comes in.

The Emmy award-winning director has made one of the most important films of the year; an urgent and convincing documentary chock full of disturbing factual data that by the time the final credits roll 90 minutes later you may find yourself firing off an angry email to your congressman/woman demanding they enact serious election reforms.

Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, goes well beyond the electronic voting debate to tell a much more complicated story about the threat to American Democracy. The news that surfaced in Ohio last week only serves to underscore that point.

The film tells the story of the 2004 election and focuses on whistleblowers such as computer programmer Clint Curtis, who describes how he was told to develop software that will "flip" votes from one candidate to another, and Steve Heller, who leaked secret documents about the alleged illegal activities committed by a major voting machine company and was convicted of a felony for doing so.

Brad Friedman, the intrepid blogger whose website,, is the go-to place on the Internet for comprehensive coverage on issues related to election integrity, said in an interview that Uncounted is really the untold story of how "American elections have become like a game of Russian roulette every time you go to the voting booth."

"Both of the major political parties have a serious case of shortsightedness," said Friedman, who appears in the film. "This is a battle about election integrity and that's what I think Uncounted is about. But Democrats are under the impression that by talking about election integrity it's going to keep people away from the voting booth and lower voter turnout. That's bizarre."

In a wide-ranging interview, Earnhardt, who spent the better part of 2008 on nationwide tour of theaters screening his film to a public hungry for information on election fraud, said Uncounted evolved organically.

Earnhardt had been searching for an explanation on how George W. Bush won a second term in office when exit polls clearly favored Kerry. He read the book Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris, who is credited with breaking the story about programming flaws in electronic voting machines and the ease of which they can be hacked and voting results changed. Harris also makes an appearance in Uncounted.

"I assumed we would see a repeat of the 2000 election and a long fight, but Kerry conceded pretty quickly," Earnhardt said. "I was sure the media would then begin to look into these irregularities that took place, particularly in Ohio with the exit polls. I remember sitting in my favorite coffee shop reading The New York Times and looking for a story but there was nothing. Just complete silence. I thought I had to look into this as a citizen because it just didn't seem right."

In April of 2005, just as Earnhardt was contemplating going on the road to search for answers a National Election Reform conference was being held in Nashville, where Earnhardt is based. There, election integrity experts, activists, and computer experts met to discuss reforms and the dreaded 2004 election, specifically, what happened in Ohio.

Earnhardt wasn't yet fully educated on the nuances of election fraud but with more than 30 hours of footage he gathered at the conference he had the makings of his first full-length film.

"I think this is a documentary that takes a 30,000 foot view of this issue of election fraud and explains why people should be concerned," Earnhardt said. "We grew up believing in this dream of what this country is supposed to be and I think people are offended that they are being disrespected, that their vote is being disrespected."

Starz, the cable movie network, picked up Uncounted earlier this month for distribution ensuring the film reaches a wider audience. It premieres tonight, the first day of the Democratic National Convention, at 10:30 PM and again on Thursday at 10:00 PM. Uncounted will continue to air on the network through October. Uncounted gets a prestigious American Film Institute screening Sept. 9 in Silver Spring Maryland, hosted by veteran journalist Bob Edwards. The DVD of Uncounted goes on sale Tuesday.
"As this is one of the most important elections in our nation's history, premiering this thought-provoking documentary is not only timely, but necessary viewing," said Nancy Silverstone, Vice President of Program Acquisitions at Starz Entertainment.

With the presidential election less than three months away, the Republican strategy has focused more on purging individual voters from voter rolls and passing legislation that forces voters to produce photo IDs or even proof of citizenship in order to cast a ballot and combat what Republicans refer to as widespread "voter fraud."

While evidence of systemic voter fraud in the United States has not surfaced, many election integrity experts believe Republicans have used the suspicion of voter fraud as a ploy to suppress minorities and poor people from voting. Historically, those groups have tended to vote for Democratic candidates.

Justin Levitt, an attorney and an expert on voting issues who teaches at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, wrote last year that "the notion of widespread voter fraud ... is itself a fraud. Evidence of actual fraud by individual voters is painfully skimpy."

The numbers are fairly small. From October 2002 to September 2005, 95 people were indicted for federal election related crimes, according to figures compiled by the New York Times last year. Seventy resulted in convictions. Only eighteen of those were for ineligible voting.

Earnhardt agreed that the aggressive strategy employed by the GOP to implement voter identification laws will make it much harder for people to vote come November and beyond. He said the issue will linger and worsen unless Congress starts to get its hands dirty and begins to investigate and take measures correct the problem.

"The reality is our vote is not protected – and it's likely that the 2008 election results will be manipulated – even worse than in 2004 and 2000."

Paradigm Shift; Change Your Life:

August 26, 2008 at 14:09:34

Paradigm Shift; Change Your Life:

by Mike Folkerth Page 1 of 1 page(s)

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Good Morning America, your King of Simple News is on the air.

I find myself in an embarrassing predicament; I’m at odds with the richest man in the world. Warren Buffet believes that the economy will not only get better, but future Americans will live at much higher living standards than those of us hanging around the planet today.

I like Warren Buffet and I respect him for his modest lifestyle, so I hope he won’t take it personal that I can’t agree with his rosy outlook. After all, I’m sure he reads the King of Simple News every morning. Ha-ha.

David Walker, the former chief comptroller general of the U.S. doesn’t agree with Warren either, so that makes me feel a little better. Mr. Buffet didn’t talk about resources, population, energy, or world commerce. He said that we will continue to experience growth. Mr. Buffet believes that growth is good and perhaps if I earned billions of dollars on the single premise of growth, I would say the same. Actually, no I wouldn’t.

It’s not that I believe that your lives can’t get better, I’m positive that they can. What I don’t believe, is that government is suddenly going to get their act together and create that improvement. And certainly that illusive improvement will not be based on growth, in fact, very much the opposite.

I often talk about paradigms (pronounced “para-dimes”), the meaning of which is, “A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.”

I also talk about “paradigm shifts,” which means to shift the very way that we view our current set of paradigms. Let me give you an example of monumental past shifts.

Our world before 1900 (a scant 108 years ago) was based primarily on the horse culture. Everything in life revolved around the horse for power and transport. When the gasoline and steam engines became commercially available, many people scoffed at the idea that these machines could replace the horse. Yet, this “paradigm shift” from the horse to the machine changed the entire world and all the paradigms or assumptions of the past were changed forever.

In 1752, a man returned home from 7-11 one night after picking up some whale oil for his lamp and said to his wife, “You won’t believe what that nut job neighbor Ben is doing. He’s out there in the rain flying a kite.”

Electricity eventually changed all the paradigms. It changed the assumptions, concepts, values and practices of the former beliefs.

Paradigm shifts are also referred to as “thinking outside the box.” In other words, questioning convention. I suggest that doing so at this point and time can change your life in a very positive manner. We can’t change the world, but we can change the way we live in it.

The shift that I suggest is only two fold. “Bigger and more are not always better, and two, growth is not always good.” We live eat and breathe these two basic tenets and they are slowing choking us to death.

We live under the paradigm that those with the most money, the largest homes, and the most personal possessions are the winners. I suggest a paradigm shift to, “Those with the least debt, the most free time, and who are satisfied with the simple things in life are the winners.” Economic recovery for an individual may well require only a shift in thinking.

I also suggest that such a paradigm shift is coming; ready or not. While many will see this as a step down from the consumptive nature of our past borrow and spend economy, I see it as an opportunity to live the real American Dream, not the dream that was created for us by those who benefit from having us work until we drop in our tracks. Or those who suggest that we work until we are 70 or 75 to save Social Security.

America is the greatest place on earth. You are free to shift your paradigms and that may very well shift your entire attitude from one of despair to one of pure wonder. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Mike Folkerth is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed" and is not your run-of-the-mill author of finance and economics. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, restaurateur, U.S. Navy veteran, heavy equipment operator, taxi cab driver, fishing guide, horse packer and few jobs too embarrassing to mention, writes from experience and plain common sense. Mike's humorous systems of "Mikeronomics" and "Mikemathics" drastically simplify the economic and mathematic formulas commonly used by very smart, but terribly sheltered individuals.

Let Them Drink

August 26, 2008 at 12:19:33

Headlined on 8/26/08:
Let Them Drink

by Walter F. Wouk Page 1 of 1 page(s)

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Supporters of the 21-year minimum drinking age ignore the fact that 18, 19 and 20-year old adults are consuming alcohol, despite the law. The 21-year old minimum drinking age has resulted in an underground society of young adults who flout the law -- and rightly so.

The minimum drinking age is discriminatory based on age. It violates the Constitution by forcing states to comply with the federal government . It should be treated with contempt by young adults.

The law insults young adults like Army Specialist. Monica Lin Brown, a 19-year-old Medic from Texas, who is only the second female soldier since World War II to receive the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for valor.(1)

Specialist Brown, of Lake Jackson, Texas, was part of a four-vehicle convoy patrolling in eastern Afghanisatn in April, 2007. A bomb struck one of the Humvees, which wounded five soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through insurgent gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away, according to the U.S. military.

Monica Lin Brown is a courageous young woman and a bona fide war hero, but if she is caught quaffing a beer in her home state of Texas, she would be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor. Her sentence would mandate a $500.00 Fine, 8 to 12-hours of Community Service. Her driver's license would be suspended for 30-days and she would have to attend a Mandatory Alcohol Awareness Course.

And that begs the question: is there a suppporter of the 21-year old drinking age that can stand up and--with a straight face--defend the notion that young adults such as Ms. Brown should be subject to onerous legal sanctions for merely sipping a cold beer with friends or having a glass of wine with dinner.

1. - Female medic earns Silver Star in Afghan war -

Vietnam veteran, editor and publisher of Rabble Rouser


August 26, 2008 at 22:27:53

Promoted to column top on 8/26/08:

by John Little Page 1 of 3 page(s)

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Throughout history nations have had to defend themselves from their neighboring countries constant desire to expand and dominate, all the while eyeing their own possible growth at the expense of these very same nations. The ebb and flow of these kingdoms over time have given rise to giant empires and great conquests, but nearly always these struggles have been between two warring nations in which the victor received the spoils and the loser achieves nothing more than just a footnote in the annals of time.

History is replete with such kingdoms that would grow to immense proportions until the burden of governing itself lead to its eventual downfall, almost always coinciding with a neighboring regime’s rise to prominence quite often over the same exact territory and the same people. These dynasties date back as far as recorded history can go and even before then. But again, nearly every war, every battle, every conquest and every defeat came at the hands of two nations in a do-or-die, winner-take-all, epic struggle that could last for decades up to 100 years and beyond.

According to the Peace Pledge Union, the arms trade, as we know it today, can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It began in the 14th century, when gunpowder was introduced in Europe.

The market for powder-charged weapons grew quickly. Kings and knights wanted cannons to demolish previously impregnable battlements. Far-sighted warlords began arming their troops with portable firearms: old-style pikemen and archers, or mounted knights in armor, were no match for the new guns. It was the beginning of that great and dangerous competition later to be called an ‘arms race’.

Big demand for the latest weapons created a thriving industry. Originally most weapons were manufactured for local users, but some entrepreneurs sold them throughout Europe to anyone who had the money to pay for them. The first steps towards the creation of an ‘international’ arms trade had been taken.

The arms industry first developed in Liège in Belgium. Iron and coal were in plentiful supply there, and the roads and rivers were more than adequate to transport both materials and finished weapons efficiently. The industry soon spread: up the Rhine to Solingen, eastwards to Prague in Bohemia, south into France (St Etienne and Bayonne), Italy (Turin, Milan, Florence, Brescia and Pistoia) and Spain (Seville and Toledo) and westwards across the channel to England (London and Birmingham). These towns and areas are still centers of the European arms industry.

By the time the 19th Century rolled around most fertile battlegrounds had already been blood-stained killing fields many times over. The great disparity in military might that promulgated empires and dynasties in the past no longer existed. In one last attempt at establishing world dominance, several European nations put their mightiest foot forward and promptly had it squashed by their neighbors. It had become apparent to all that going it alone was no longer a viable option. Cooperation between the various groups had become a necessity in order to preserve what they’ve already gained as well as to fend off the collective attempts of other nation groups in the region. . Instead of individual nations conquering their next-door neighbors, groups of nations began forming in a loose-knit alliance that basically proclaimed, "You watch my back and I’ll watch yours."

By the middle of the 19th century a truly international arms trade had been established. It bred its own rogue elements. For example, unscrupulous salesmen knowingly sold defective weapons. Others were happy to follow the long-ago example of Liége by selling arms to both sides in a war: their loyalty was to money-making.

It is said that at the Paris Exhibition in 1881, a man told Hiram Maxim, an American, that if he wanted to make a fortune, he should invent a machine that would help these Europeans kill each other. He did and sold his machine guns to European countries on the eve of World War One, and changed the nature of war. He founded the Maxim Gun Company in Britain to produce his new weapon and licensed it to the British Army and later to the Austrian, German, Italian, Swiss, and Russian armies as well. Maxim died on November 24, 1916, only days before the Battle of the Somme, during which over a million soldiers were killed – many advancing over and over into the machine gun's fire.

The 20th Century saw this rise in group dominance put to its severest tests This fragile fraternal assemblage of countries found their first major application in 1914 when Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Serbia. Serbia refused to extradite the murderer to Austria-Hungary and the fight was on. Austria-Hungary, Germany, Ottoman Empire, on the one side squared up against Russia, Great Britain, Italy and France on the other side with Serbia. Along with the major European nations declaring their allegiances, their colonies were obliged to follow suit. The first real world war was on and it raged for four years. This was the first time that groups of countries fought other groups of countries on different fronts around the globe.

But it would take a second world war for countries to start giving arms to each other. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the world was ill-prepared for the chaos and destruction that followed and no one could have predicted the final outcome in early August, 1945, with the dropping of the first ever atomic bombs: Little Boy on Hiroshima and Fat Man on Nagasaki. In between those two events, unparalleled destruction destroyed over 80% of the production capabilities of most European nations, thus precluding them from being able to manufacture their own military hardware even for purely defensive purposes. For the first time in history major players on the world’s stage were forced to purchase their military armament from another country.

In 1940 the United States of America passed legislation allowing the sale or transfer of military equipment to anyone it chose. The US arms industry grew prodigiously, supplying Britain, France, and the Soviet Union with huge quantities of armaments to fight the Second World War. When that war was over, former allies engaged in a ‘cold war’ between Western capitalist countries and the communist Soviet Union. The Cold War did not officially end until 1991. The USA supplied weapons to any state which opposed the Soviet Union, which also armed its own supporters. Many developing countries were flooded with weapons, with appalling consequences which are still being felt.

Following World War II many of the factories that had been devoted to military production during the fighting were converted back to their prewar, civilian uses. However, the cessation of fighting in Europe and Asia was not greeted—as the end of World War I had been—with a wave of revulsion against American arms makers. Instead, the nation's military industries were widely viewed as a major pillar of American military strength and an important source of technological innovation. Thus, when the Cold War began in earnest, most members of Congress were prepared to support a new round of arms transfers along the lines of the lend-lease program.

The resumption of U.S. arms aid to friendly powers abroad did not occur without prodding from the White House, however. With World War II barely concluded, many in Congress were at first reluctant to authorize significant military aid to the European powers—fearing, as had their counterparts in the 1920s and 1930s, that this would eventually lead to U.S. military involvement in overseas conflicts. To overcome this resistance, President Harry S. Truman and his close advisers, including Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and George C. Marshall, sought to portray the expansion of Soviet power in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean as a vital threat to the Western democracies and, by extension, to U.S. national security.

The first significant test of U.S. attitudes on this issue came in early 1947, when Great Britain announced that it could no longer afford to support the royalist government in Greece—which at that time was under attack from a communist backed insurgency. Fearing that the loss of Greece to the communists would invite Soviet aggression in neighboring countries, including Turkey, President Truman concluded that it was essential for the United States to provide arms and military training to the Greek military. On 12 March 1947, Truman appeared before a joint session of Congress to request funding for this purpose. In what became known as the Truman Doctrine, the president articulated a new guiding principle for American foreign policy: "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

As noted by many historians since then, this speech shaped U.S. security doctrine for the next several decades. Henceforth it would be the unquestionable obligation of the United States to provide economic, political, and especially military assistance to any nation threatened by Soviet (or Soviet-backed) forces. As the first expression of this principle, Congress voted $400 million in military assistance for Greece and Turkey on 15 May 1947; this was soon followed by the appropriation of even larger amounts for these two countries and for many others in Europe and Asia.

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53 year old Californian male - I've lived in three different countries, USA, Switzerland, Mesico - speak three languages fluently, English, French, Spanish - parttime journalist for Empower-Sport Magazine

The False Enemies of the United States

August 27, 2008 at 09:30:39

Headlined on 8/27/08:
The False Enemies of the United States

by John Little Page 1 of 2 page(s)

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From the very beginning, the United States had been a warrior nation. It had just defeated England to gain its independence. But at first, the original thirteen colonies had more out of common than in common. Therefore, it decided to look for a unifying force that would unite the various colonies into a cohesive force. The war against the motherland, England, was exactly what the doctor ordered.

To unify such disparate viewpoints and future goals, the newly formed government knew that it needed as many uniting elements as possible. Fortunately, the then recent war of secession with England provided the necessary catalyst needed at that time. France also became an early enemy of the United States because of their involvement of sinking US merchant ships in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

But these enemies lived far away from US soil and both had been allies at some previous point. Therefore, the US needed another enemy, one that was closer to home and easily vilified. The American Indians fulfilled those requirements and much more. Even though many of these same groups had often come to the aid of the first pioneers and European settlers to arrive in the new world, they were condemned at the same time by the ultra-religious groups who had first come over as heathens, people who did not believe in the God of these newcomers.

There was also a more useful and practical reason to fight the Native Indians in war after war. In order for America to expand, it needed new territories to conquer and although the Native Indian did not understand nor agree with the concept of possessing land, the colonialists were certain adherents who saw the current occupants of the lands west of the thirteen original colonies. The vilification of the American Indian provided the right ingredients to unite the colonists against a common enemy and for a common purpose. What was later termed as Manifest Destiny started out as a series of wars against those Indians who refused to leave their land and emigrate west past the Mississippi River.

Manifest Destiny was a phrase that expressed the belief that the United States was destined to expand from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean; it has also been used to advocate for or justify other territorial acquisitions. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only good, but that it was obvious ("manifest") and certain ("destiny"). It was easy, therefore, for Americans to justify the slaughter of whole tribes and the deliberate infection of others with Small Pox and other diseases against which the American Indian had no immunity.

The only major country to stand in the way of America's march to the Pacific Ocean was Mexico. It is not surprising, therefore, to find Mexicans vilified in the American media and the largest of these wars, the Mexican-American War which lasted from 1846 to 1848 was the first major conflict driven by the idea of "Manifest Destiny"; the belief that America had a God-given right, or destiny, to expand the country's borders from 'sea to shining sea'. This belief would eventually cause a great deal of suffering for many Mexicans, Native Americans and United States citizens. Following the earlier Texas War of Independence from Mexico, tensions between the two largest independent nations on the North American continent grew as Texas eventually became a U.S. state. Disputes over the border lines sparked military confrontation, helped by the fact that President Polk eagerly sought a war in order to seize large tracts of land from Mexico.

But having achieved the grand illusion of a United States whose borders went from sea to shining sea, the US found itself in a particular dilemma. After the great cessations of territory by the Mexican government allowed the United States to link both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, it became obvious that the necessary bogeyman, the longed-for major enemy of the US that could galvanize its people into one common cause, was no longer available.

Not having any external nemeses to speak of, the US decided to turn its bellicose desires inward. For years, northern states had professed a virtual slave-free social lifestyle much to the chagrin of the southern states. To be sure, the African hostage who was dragged to the US through unspeakably horrible conditions did not lead a marvelous life in the northern states even though that person could no longer be bought and sold like a sack of potatoes or a bale of hay. The African-American employment opportunities were relegated to the lowest and hardest tasks of all, often with very little in the way of accommodations and wages. The existence of racism was just as bad in the northern states as it was in the southern states, but the outward manifestation of it was certainly not as readily available.

By 1861, there had been enough erosion of commonality between the two factions that a Civil War inevitably followed. Then, as is often the case now, Americans started off looking at the first battles as a sort of gigantic theatrical play in which the two sides were to enact an ad hoc combat scene for the amusement and pleasure of the crowd in attendance. People would gather on hilltops and sloping ravines in an effort to get as close-up a view of the battle as was humanly possible. Today we have continued this morbid curiosity of ours by demanding that news reporters be present where the military is in action and document and film the action as close to real-time as possible. Of course, this same American population refuses to witness the blood, gore and mutilation which accompany war and the media has actively complied. The US media, while showing with great enthusiasm US soldiers firing machine guns, tank shells and smart bombs at its targets, this same media will refuse to show the end result of such excessive use of force. Therefore, there is practically no footage on US TVs showing the wounded civilians screaming in pain and agony, the understaffed and overcrowded hospitals which lack even the most basic of care, or the morgues and cemeteries where daily hundreds of innocent and dead civilians are taken. As the American Civil War progressed, more and more odium was heaped on the opposing faction by newspapers from both sides.

Throughout the rest of the 19th Century, the conquering of the Old West along with the continued vilification of the Native Indian proceeded with abandon. Indians are considered complete idiots with little redeeming value and are often brutalized for no particular reason. In the South, a new "enemy"- has arisen. Following the defeat of Confederate forces at Appomattox by General Ulysses S. Grant, the seething undercurrent of disgust shared by many Southerners is slowly transformed into organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. These racist groups actively pursue African-Americans across the South. Many innocent Blacks are beaten, mutilated and lynched as a result.

By the end of the 19th Century, however, the US found itself again without a major enemy with which the government could galvanize support from the American people and pursue their hidden agendas beneath the radar of public opinion. With the advent of yellow journalism by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in the mid-1890s, the US and its media finally found a convenient source for its ire. Spain had once been the mother country of nearly every nation in the Americas excepting Canada and the United States and a few smaller nations. By the end of the 19th Century, Spain still held various small territories here, most notably Cuba.

When a boiler room aboard the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, Cuba, on February 15, 1898, Hearst quickly launched his New York newspaper to declare that Spain had deliberately attacked the Maine while it was anchored there. Pulitzer's New York newspaper quickly followed suit and soon the battle cry, "Remember the Maine,"- was being evoked in all areas of the United States. By April 21, 1898, the US was at war with Spain. It is interesting to note that while Spain was being vilified as an imperial nation that enslaved poor countries around the world, most people forgot to acknowledge that the US was also in possession of various territories, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. By the end of the Spanish-American War, the US would add Cuba and the Philippines to its growing list of overseas territories.

Up to this point the US had stayed out of the many conflicts that had engulfed the European continent over the centuries. While Europe set about destroying itself in countless battles of territorial possession and retribution, the US immersed itself in its Manifest Destiny genocidal attacks on Native Americans and brutal conflicts with Mexico. With the defeat of former world power Spain, the US made its debut on the world stage. But it obviously meant that the sacred bogeyman needed to rise in stature as well. During its formative years the US contented itself with small and local enemies, ones that could be easily spotted, singled out and acted upon. The American Indians and later the Mexicans easily filled this role. When the US became a world power, these fear tactics needed to be revised.

There needed to be a new enemy to bring the American people together. They were to get it in an unusual place and an unusual way. Karl Marx had written about a more equitable political solution to the industrial era more than three decades prior, but when Russia was finally taken over by the Bolsheviks in October, 1917, the US government found its golden bogeyman goose. Even though Lenin was far from incorporating most of Marx's suggested reforms, the American government found an "anti-American" bogeyman that they could lay their hat on and which would allow them a virtual carte blanche in any of their global affairs. As long as the US government could state that another country had Communist leanings, the American public gave them a virtual blank check to carry out whatever the government felt was necessary to thwart the "menace du jour."

Thus, in the guise of stopping the spread of Communism, the coming 75 years saw the US overthrowing country after country across the globe. In 1920 and 1922, the US overthrew the Guatemalan government. The American public was told that this was to curb the growth of Communism, but in reality, it was at the behest of the United Fruit Company, an American company located there. This scene was to be repeated time and again in Nicaragua, China, Cuba, Panama, Iran and elsewhere.

Even with the advent of WWI and WWII, the US did not end its portrayal of the Soviet Union as the evil empire. Certainly this thought was put on the back burner as another enemy took over the spotlight. In 1917, the US had allowed the cruise ship the USS Lusitania to embark on its voyage to England. On board were hundreds of passengers, and with them, thousands of tons of armament destined for the British government to be used against Germany. The German government did everything it could to warn people that the ship would be seen as a warship due to its cargo, and that it would be attacked if it left. They even took out a one-page ad in the New York newspapers. Nevertheless, when the U-boats sank her, the US government pointed the finger at Germany and rallied Americans against this new enemy.

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53 year old Californian male - I've lived in three different countries, USA, Switzerland, Mesico - speak three languages fluently, English, French, Spanish - parttime journalist for Empower-Sport Magazine

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Oxymoron of the Century: Freedom Cages

August 27, 2008 at 07:59:45

Oxymoron of the Century: Freedom Cages

by Barbara Zaha Page 1 of 1 page(s)

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Less than eight full years into the new millennium and already we have the oxymoron of the century: freedom cages. Although credit must rightly be given to the GOP for being the first to effectively silence the voice of the American people through the use of unjust Spartan detainment during the 2004 Republican Convention, in Denver, Democrats have heartily embraced the concept of incinerating the sentiments of the people with equal enthusiasm.

Despite the progressives' hollow mantra for change, their use of Orwellian tactics via the newly constructed freedom cages, rightly dubbed "Gitmo on the Platte," defines their aligned allegiance with the current regime. The fate of our eroding Constitution has thus been sealed with bi-partisan support to blatantly deny not only our votes, but also our voices; blindly following Bush's all too convenient mandate, "The Constitution is nothing but a god damn piece of paper."

This assault on democracy demonstrates a blockade so extremely contrary to the precepts this nation was originally founded on, and is no less than an absolute defilement of the Constitution in order to silence those brave, courageous souls who speak truth regardless of the threats wielded by political powerbrokers; essentially, a declaration of war on the American people.

As the newly self-anointed political elite destroy the very essence of democracy, the voice and vote of the people, as a eulogy to a democracy lost, with our outraged indignation let us honor the noble vision of our founding fathers by recalling the famous words of John Adams, "Be not intimidated . . . nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice."

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A not-for-profit consultant specializing in fundraising and development, I have consciously channeled my outrage and frustration at the lawlessness of the Bush regime, the complacency and complicity of mainstream media, and the overall lack of moral clarity and democratic characteristics demonstrated by far too many Americans the past 8 years into grassroots activism and resistance to the political elite. I firmly believe America could be the greatest nation on earth, we have, by intent or default, recklessly delegated our responsibility to subversives with political power and/or connection. It is, in my view, time to separate corporation and state and use our political will for far more than a whispered vote every two years. We are responsible for holding elected officials accountable; whether we voted for them or not is irrelevant. We have created a political situation in which we voluntarily relinquish our vast rights in a democracy, preferring instead to grumble and moan, when those entrusted fail to enact laws and policies that are truly in our best interest. If there is disparity, poverty, strife, unemployment, war, unrest, inequality, insufficient health care, or violations of human and civil rights, then we must hold ourselves accountable for allowing these situations to exist, for allowing those we elected to act inappropriately or fail to address these critical issues. There's an old adage that states, "In a democracy, you get the government you deserve." America at the dawn of a new century has unequivocally proven the truth of that tenant. It matters less to me that you share my values or support the same political party as I do; what matters is that you actively participate in our sacred democracy -- that you prove your voice and use it consistently and constructively. This profile is intentionally less about me and more about the political landscape "we" have created and allowed to fester for decades, culminating in the creation of what is perhaps the most crucial time in our nation's history. Starting with the "me generation" of the 1970's too much focus has been placed on the individual; sadly even at times to such an extent it causes vast suffering of others. These challenging and horrifying times graciously offer a unique opportunity for all of us to look beyond our personal needs and preferences to manifest an interrelated, interdependent global community which seeks the greater good for all.