Friday, October 30, 2009

owners of America.

I love this quote from one of his HBO specials on the "owners of America."

"Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice . . . you don’t.

You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying . . . lobbying, to get what they want . . . Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want . . . they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don’t want that.

You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it . . . they’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fuckin' place.

It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in The big club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy.

The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard-working people . . . white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means . . . continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about you . . . they don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you at all . . . at all . . . at all, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care.

That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it..."
— George Carlin

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Max Cleland, Mapping The 'Heart of a Patriot'

Max Cleland, Mapping The 'Heart of a Patriot'

Max Cleland
Enlarge Gregory Heisler

In his new memoir, former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland pulls no punches about the campaign tactics that unseated him and targeted others: "The attacks on [John] McCain, [John] Kerry and me, all decorated wounded combat veterans, are a shameful legacy of the Bush administration, and among the most shameful political stunts in the nation's history."

Max Cleland
Gregory Heisler

In his new memoir, former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland pulls no punches about the campaign tactics that unseated him and targeted others: "The attacks on [John] McCain, [John] Kerry and me, all decorated wounded combat veterans, are a shameful legacy of the Bush administration, and among the most shameful political stunts in the nation's history."

Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove
By Max Cleland
Hardcover, 272 pages
Simon & Schuster
List price: $26.00
Read An Excerpt.
text sizeAAA
October 6, 2009

Max Cleland volunteered to fight in Vietnam, and was rewarded with the Silver Star for his "gallantry in action." But he did not escape the brutality of the war; he lost both legs and his right arm when a fellow soldier accidentally dropped a grenade.

When he returned home, he chose a life of public service and politics, serving variously as a Veterans Administration chief, a state legislator and eventually a U.S. senator representing his home state of Georgia. His public-sector career lasted until 2002, when he lost his U.S. Senate seat to Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss.

During that heated campaign, Chambliss ran misleading and negative ads, using Cleland's procedural votes on setting up the Department of Homeland Security to challenge the sitting senator's national-security credentials and to question his patriotism. Cleland has said that politics and public service had long been the things that gave him purpose — they allowed him to "focus on something outside myself" — and that the end of that career left him "back dying on the battlefield." After 9/11, the loss of his Senate seat and the invasion of Iraq, Cleland suffered a relapse of a long-dormant case of post-traumatic stress disorder and entered Walter Reed hospital for treatment.

His new memoir — titled Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove — is his account of his idyllic Georgia childhood, his life-altering wartime experience and the dark days that followed the end of his Senate career. He joins Terry Gross for a conversation about those experiences.

Excerpt: 'Heart of a Patriot'

'Heart of a Patriot'

Foreword

An Open Letter to America's Veterans

America sends the flower of its youth abroad to fight its wars. Because of that, America's military is always staffed with the stoutest, finest, most courageous people in the country. If as soldiers we are not that way when we enter the military, the military makes us that way by the time we get out. In the end, the military is still made up of everyday people like you and me. As such, most of us have no special skills to cope with the challenges wartime military service presents. Regular life simply cannot prepare a person for the brutish sensory overload of combat.

Coming back from military service in a time of war, we may be wounded in ways that don't show to the world at large. Some of the deepest wounds we suffer may be inflicted without leaving so much as a scratch. No matter what you are feeling when you come home, no matter how crazy you feel inside, know that you are not mentally ill. As combat veterans, we have been through some of the most traumatic life experiences possible. War is as close to hell on earth as anything ever could be. That does make us different from our loved ones back home. War marks us all, some more deeply than others.

As veterans, we have paid a price to serve our country. We have suffered. And we may suffer for a lifetime. The soldier never gets to choose his or her war. The wars choose us, and not all are just. I believe the emotional casualties of the misguided wars may be the hardest of all to bear.

Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove
By Max Cleland
Hardcover, 272 pages
Simon & Schuster
List price: $26.00

The soldier's lot is to be exposed to traumatic, life-threatening events — happenings that take us to places no bodies, minds, or souls should ever visit. It is a journey to the dark places of life — terror, fear, pain, death, wounding, loss, grief, despair, and hopelessness. We have been traumatized physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of us cope with exposure to hell better than others. Some are able to think of their combat experiences as but unpleasant vignettes in a long and wonderful life. It is not to those veterans I am speaking. I love them, but I am not afraid for them.

I am speaking to the rest of my brothers and sisters, those who find themselves trapped in the misery of memories as I was for so long.

For them, I am afraid.

To those veterans I say, you are not alone.

Many of us have been overwhelmed by war. Many of us have been unable to cope on our own with what has happened to us or with what we have done. Many of us have been left hopeless, lost, and confused about ourselves and our lives in ways we never thought possible.

That does not make us victims.

It makes us veterans.

As veterans of war, we are vulnerable to the memories of those experiences for the rest of our lives. Movies, the nightly news, the death of a loved one, even simple stress can serve as a trigger that reminds us of the hell we were once in. Just that remembrance can sometimes be enough to undo all the buckles we used to put ourselves back together when we got home.

Our bodies, minds, and spirits react automatically to these memory triggers. They feel the hurts and fear and horror anew each time. The curse of the soldier is that he never forgets.

Having once felt mortal danger and pure terror, our bodies prepare for it again. That helped us survive on the battlefield. However, what saved us on the battlefield doesn't work very well back here at home. It is impossible to forget our experiences in the military. But it is possible to deal with them positively. It is possible to take control of them.

That's what I've had to do.

I've found in my own life that I had to exude positive energy into the world in order not to be overwhelmed with sadness and grief over what I have lost. My body, my soul, my spirit, and my belief in life itself were stolen from me by the disaster of the Vietnam War. I found solace in attempting to "turn my pain into somebody else's gain" by immersing myself in politics and public service. In particular, I devoted myself to helping my fellow veterans and disabled friends heal. This was a great help to me in my life. But when I lost my reelection bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002, my life fell apart. The staff that had helped me politically and physically so I could keep on running with no legs was gone. The pleasure of having a job worth doing and the money to keep me afloat were gone.

My relationships began to crumble, especially the one with my fiancee.

I went down in my life in every way it is possible to go down. Massive depression took over. I went down with a grief over my losses that I had never known before. I went down thinking that God was not for me anymore. I no longer wanted to live. With the start of the Iraq War, my own post-traumatic stress disorder came roaring back nearly 40 years after I was in combat. I never saw it coming. Thoughts of war and death simply consumed me. I thought I was past that.

It taught me that none of us are ever past it. But all of us can get past it enough to be happy.

When I went down, my sense of safety, organization, structure, and stability collapsed. My anxiety went sky-high. My brain chemicals, which had helped me stay hopeful and optimistic, dropped through the floor. My brain stopped working. My mind, which I had counted on all my life to pull me through and help clarify challenges, fell into despair. My spirit dropped like a rock as all hope I had for a good life went away. I was totally wounded and wiped out — hopeless and overwhelmed. Just like I had been on that April day in 1968 when the grenade ripped off my legs and my right arm. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally, I was bleeding and dying. I wound up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center almost 40 years after I had been treated there the first time. This time around, I was in search of being put back together again in my mind, heart, and soul. When I was there the first time, the doctors didn't really treat our hearts and minds, just our broken bodies. Post-traumatic stress disorder didn't officially exist. Neither did counseling for it. What a world of difference several decades make!

Recovery is possible. There are people who can help.

Through weekly counseling, medication for anxiety and depression, and weekly attendance at a spiritual Twelve Step recovery group, I began to heal. My personal recovery and renewal have taken years. I still talk to my PTSD counselor at Walter Reed occasionally when I need to do so. I still take a low dose of antianxiety and antidepression medication. I still stay in touch with my brothers in my Tuesday night Twelve Step group at the "last house on the block." As a brother in that group, I lean on my fellow attendees, especially my fellow veterans, and feed off their experience, strength, and hope.

Which is why I am writing this open letter especially to those who have suffered what Shakespeare referred to as "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" by getting blown up, shot up, or otherwise wounded in the service of our country. For me, the physical wounds were the first to heal and the easiest to deal with. It is not easy to run for political office or try to run forward in life with no legs. But I've been able to do it. The mental and emotional wounds — and a whole suite of spiritual wounds — have been far more difficult to overcome. They are the most subtle of all, and the hardest to heal. From time to time, I am overwhelmed by the sense of meaninglessness I feel regarding the Vietnam War, in which I was a young participant, and the Iraq War Resolution, which I voted for as a U.S. senator. To keep my sanity, I must not dwell on my part in those disastrous episodes in American history. I try not to blame myself too much. I work on my own recovery and renewal knowing that I can't help anyone else unless I get, as Hemingway put it after his war, "strong at the broken places."

I try to get enough sleep so my mind can regenerate. I exercise. I still walk with no legs, putting my stumps on pillows and sliding across the floor to get my aerobic workouts. Occasionally I do sit-ups and push-ups and curls with weights. I stay in touch with the members of my group and read literature like the Bible, which guides my prayer and meditation and helps me remember that God is with me, not against me. I work on my physical, spiritual, and mental recovery and renewal every day.

Recovery is possible from even the most grievous wounds of war, politics, and life. But we veterans remain painfully aware of our experiences. As my trauma counselor tells me, it is fine to look in the rearview mirror from time to time to see where you've been, but it is much more important to look through the windshield to see where you want to go. We can't let where we've been dominate and control where we are headed. Otherwise, we live an upside-down life.

In addition to trying to muster the courage and the faith to move forward each day, I try to remember that I am blessed to have the grace of God and the help of friends to point the way and help me along my path.

I wish you the same.

Max Cleland
Atlanta, Georgia
2009

From Heart of a Patriot by Max Cleland. Copyright 2009 by Max Cleland. Published by Simon & Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Related NPR Stories

Monday, October 05, 2009

As thoughts collide

By Nance Greggs
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x8685115
I did everything I was supposed to do – encouraged to do, nurtured to do – and now I’m out in the cold, abandoned by those who raised me to be what I am.

I don’t know where I went wrong.

I listened to Limbaugh. I ignored the fact that he was a drug-addled lunatic, and got on-board with his mindless prattlings.

I watched Glenn Beck. I even taught myself how to write words like “Obama” and “Fascist Muslim Communist” on a blackboard, with the appropriate arrows pointing from one to the other, thereby proving the connection beyond a CSI-TV-show-forensics-team shadow of a doubt.

I attended the Town Hall meetings. I displayed my ignorance by insisting I wanted the government to stay out of programs like Medicaid – and I demonstrated my lack of class by shouting what I had to say, instead of engaging in serious discussion with those who held differing views.

I have spent a fortune on flag pins and bumperstickers, under the impression that such paraphernalia would confirm my patriotism – my behavior to the contrary.

I have signed petitions to keep my children from hearing the president talk about working hard in school, because I’ve been told such talk could lead to my kids becoming ”socialtists" (whatever that is, but it don’t seem like anything good.)

I have fought tirelessly against my neighbors (who, I have to say, seem like really nice fellas) from being married because if they’re allowed such, my eighteen-year marriage to my husband will be immediately jeopardized – and I don’t even understand how that works, but I went along with the concept just the same.

I ignored the oh-so-obvious fact that I was being encouraged to vote against my own best interests, to ignore the Christian teachin’s I was raised on – like “as you do to the least among you, so you do unto me” – to embrace the idea that insurance companies have a God-given right to make a profit off the sick and dyin’, to hate anyone who is of a different skin color or religion, or whose first language is other than English – all the while I was being told that my mis-spelled protest signs would be a sure-fire demonstration of my down-home, grass-roots origins – whatever the hell that all means.

So I followed all the rules – and where am I now? Well, I’ll tell ya. I’m now being singled out as part of the “lunatic fringe” by the very people who cheered me on to be exactly what I’ve become. They don’t want to know me now – now that me and those like me are becoming an “embarrassment” to the Party - yes, that SAME party that couldn’t get enough of us when they wanted us to vote for that Sarah Palin chick, what with her "I can see Russia from my front porch” credentials and all.

Well, I.Am.Pissed. Yup, good and proper pissed. I’m an embarrassment? I’m humiliating you? I’m making you look bad every time I open my mouth and spew the bullshit you’ve fed me until I want to gag?

A few months ago you were all, “Oh, yeah, bring it on. Go to the streets and protest everything from Obama smilin’ too damned much to a tax on soda pop.” Now you’re all, “We don’t even know these idiots, or where they got their ridiculous ideas from.”

You want to “distance yourself” from the lunatic fringe? Too bad, too late. You taught us how to be lunatics. You encouraged us to abandon all decorum, all intelligence, all common sense, all behavior that might lend itself to passing ourselves off in public as rational, well-informed, even slightly coherent citizens.

We ARE your children – born of your rhetoric, raised in the light of your bigotry, taught at your knee to spread prejudice and espouse violence, nurtured (when convenient) to act like idiots when it served your cause.

Dismiss us if you will. Distance yourself, as best you can, from everything WE, your offspring, have become at your insistence.

Deny you ever knew us, or ever contributed to our upbringing.

But we all know – as does the world – that WE are your children, and our actions are now, and always will be, the result of your poisonous parentage.

Guess what, Mom and Dad? We're all YOURS - and we're going to be recognized as part of your dysfunctional family no matter what.

You were once anxious to own us - now WE own you.

Learn to live with it - it's not like you have a choice.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x8685115

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past - Telegraph

There goes the neighborhood
By Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat


Ahmadinejad showing papers during election. It shows that his family's previous name was Jewish

A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.

A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.

The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.

more here:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/6256173/Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-revealed-to-have-Jewish-past.html