I wrote a thing

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People are being held in cages.  People whose only ‘crimes’ are to seek safety.  They flee from horrible crimes and terror, only to face horrible terror.  And cages.  Overcrowded, reeking cages.  Guarded by people who have described them as “wild ass shitbags,” “beaners” and “subhuman.”  People who have joked about them dying in cages, or burning them up.  People who text about wanting to “take the gloves off” before hitting a migrant with their truck.

This is disgusting, America.

I can’t begin to imagine the fear that drives people to take the enormous risk of fleeing to this country.  Nor can I ever know the fear of worrying every day that you might be sent back to the very dangerous place you fled from.  Or that your spouse might not come home from work.  Or that your parents might not be there when you come home from school.

But, I do know that I’m not okay with putting people through this.  I’m angry.  So I wrote a thing.  You can read it here…

Just A Little Faster

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark–A Review

IMG_20190304_171357771.jpgI’ve recently finished a book I’ve been anxious to read since hearing of it’s release.  This book is The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski.

I don’t remember where or how I first heard of Duffy and Nowosielski’s work.  It may have been through the excellent documentary 9/11:  Press for Truth.  This film tells some of the story behind the push for answers about the September 11, 2001 attacks through the perspectives of family members of victims.  It’s incredibly powerful.

It may also have been their interview with former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, or their podcast, Who Is Rich Blee.  Around the same time I discovered those, I was also following the site Boiling Frogs Post* which published several reports and interviews about Duffy and Nowosielski’s work.   Their story is an important one that should be getting much more attention than it has.

When I found out they were releasing a book detailing their years of investigation that led to the above-mentioned productions, I knew it would be a must read.  And it is.

Duffy and Nowosielski describe in detail malfeasance, cover-ups, and outright criminal behavior, primarily within the Central Intelligence Agency, both before and after 9/11.  They discuss how the people responsible have been promoted into positions of power, in spite of, or perhaps even because of, their actions, rather than being held accountable.  They point out that these people are still influential and in power within the intelligence community today, a fact that should concern us all.

The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark calls into question the extent to which the government of the United States has used the September 11, 2001 attacks to justify and legalize activities I think most Americans would consider unconstitutional and appalling.  Nearly two decades on, this book should serve as a much-needed wake up call for us all.  It should have us asking if we are still willing to allow our government to continue along it’s increasingly authoritarian and destructive path.

I highly recommend The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark:  The CIA, NSA and the Crimes of the War on Terror.  It’s a courageous example of the incredible importance, the necessity, of good investigative journalism.  It should be required reading for all Americans.

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*Boiling Frogs Post is now Newsbud, a site I no longer follow or endorse.  More on that here.

The Wall That Fear Builds

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Thousands of scary people are pouring over our unsecured southern border to kill us all and destroy our democracy.  Which clearly isn’t being destroyed by corrupt people already here and in power.  Or by the outrageously powerful corporations pulling the strings of those in power.  Or by the lobbyists buying influence over those in power.

No, it’s the scary people pouring over our border.  We must fear them and build a wall.  They are definitely democracy-destroying, drug-packing, murderous, evil people who will first milk the system dry and then rape and kill all US born citizens.  They will definitely not work menial jobs on farms, harvesting the food that feeds America, or other such helpful and important labor.  No, they will steal YOUR job!  They will steal YOUR tax dollars.  And don’t get me started on ISIS and Hezbollah sneaking over our massive, dangerously porous southern border.  Oh my.

But, it’s okay.  We’ve got a national emergency now so we can build a wall that will certainly stop those intent on committing a crime in our country.  Everything will be just fine.  I mean, we don’t need the Constitution anyway, right?  We certainly don’t need rational thought, compassion, cooperation, decency, or any sort of immigration reform.  Nope, we need a wall!  And maybe a few camps where we can safely store all those scary people.  Put them to work and starve them and stuff.

I mean these are seriously, scary, scary people crossing that border.  Not at all like our political leaders.  And certainly nothing like our own ancestors.

 

 

Thought Crimes

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Katie Aguilera

Recently, an article entitled “Conspiracy theorist given important role in reviewing child deaths,” written by Molly Young, was published on the Oregonian’s OregonLive website.  The article discusses the social media activity and public advocacy actions of Jennifer Wynhausen, an employee of Oregon Department of Human Services.  The point of the article seems to be that Wynhausen’s behaviors make her suitability for her job questionable.

This article is a follow-up piece to another OregonLive article, also written by Young, that discussed how the Oregon Department of Human Services lacks transparency and fails to issue reports in cases of children who die as the result of abuse and neglect.  That article was certainly excellent reporting about a very important and troubling issue.  However, Young’s second article reads like a personal attack that essentially accuses Wynhausen of committing thought crimes.

In case you don’t know, thought crime is a reference from George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four.  In that book, they are the “criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question Ingsoc, the ruling party.”

So what thought crimes has this “conspiracy theorist,” Jennifer Wynhausen, that Young writes about committed?  “Wynhausen expressed support for activists who questioned the [9/11] attacks and opposed the military response to them.”  She shared a video in which Jesse Ventura “criticized the federal government for spending so little on investigating the attacks.”  And, “she often questioned the political motives of both Republicans and Democrats…”

The article does describe other thought crimes Wynhausen is guilty of that most people would consider pretty far out there. For example, she liked a video that suggests a government research project caused the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, among other things.

The article offers no evidence that any beliefs Wynhausen holds about any subject matter, whacky or not, have had any effect on her job performance.   However, the article seems to imply Wynhausen’s behavior makes her unsuitable for her position with the Department of Human Services.

The Oregonian spent some time pouring through Wynhausen’s social media history.  Young concludes her article by describing a shirt Wynhausen expressed an interest in.  The shirt says, “I have a beautiful daughter.  I also have a gun, a shovel, and an alibi.”  According to Young, Wynhausen wrote, “I need one of these,” in reference to the shirt.  Young writes, “within weeks, she [Wynhausen] was managing the state’s child fatality reviews.”

When an ordinary public employee likes what is just a variation of an old joke, that’s a problem and she should lose her job.  When the president of the United States makes what is essentially the same joke, it’s hysterically funny.  (“I’ve got two words for you, Predator drones.”  Hahaha.)

The article is disturbing for all these reasons.  To think every single action taken on one’s social media accounts could be considered cause to question one’s job qualifications, mental competence, or character is alarming.  It is also concerning that expressing dissent to empirical war and questioning the 9/11 Commission’s narrative about the attacks are considered cause for public shaming by anyone in journalism.  Perhaps that is the line of reasoning that is to blame for the lack of extensive reporting on the many, many facts that have emerged about the attacks and related history since September 11, 2001.  (No, I’m not talking about holograms and controlled demolition here, see below for more resources.)

This isn’t to suggest that social media posts are never an indication of a person’s mental state or their potential to commit violent behavior.  They certainly can be, as has been seen in countless cases.  But questioning the actions of one’s government, or liking or sharing weird or unconventional theories, is far from hate speech.  It shouldn’t be considered proof of unstable mental health without more corroborating, real-world indications.

In addition to writing about Wynhausen, Young also writes about another activist, Jon Gold, in what can only be read as a disparaging way.  Young wrote, “Wynhausen met with outspoken 9/11 doubter Jon Gold…Gold runs several social media pages dedicated to Sept. 11 ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ and believes the U.S. government has withheld evidence about its role in the attacks.”  Gold posted a response in the comment section of Young’s article, but it was removed.

Gold posted his comment publicly, and also sent it to Young.  He also sent a letter to the editor.  Gold’s entire comment can be read here.  He wrote, “I’ve done my absolute best to try and be supportive of the 9/11 Families seeking truth, accountability and justice, in a court of law.  Many of the families have KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] in the courts as we speak.”  He goes on to discuss his anti-war advocacy and his advocacy for 9/11 first responders.  Gold concludes with, “these are all good things in my mind.  And yet, you tried to use me in an effort to try and paint Jennifer in a bad light.  I just wanted you to know.”

Gold also attempted to post the contents of his letter to the editor on the OregonLive article comment section in which he wrote, “as for Jennifer, I don’t agree with everything she says but who does agree with everything someone has to say?  People are entitled to their beliefs.  If a person’s beliefs are skewed, use information to help someone with their beliefs, don’t try to take away someone’s job because of them.”  His second comment never posted to the site.

In response to an emailed question as to why Gold’s comments were not posted to the comment section, the Oregonian stated, “we in the newsroom are not in charge of monitoring comments on our news stories and deciding which go public. Our company hires a third-party firm that specializes in moderating comments to ensure they comply with web site terms of use.”  It is unclear what terms of use Gold’s comments may have violated.

The Oregonian also published a significantly edited version of Gold’s letter to the editor in a Sunday edition of their print newspaper.  It can be found online here.   A comment from Gold does appear in the comment section of another letter to the editor posted on OregonLive on December 1, 2018, that expresses disapproval for Young’s article.  To date, Gold says he has received no response from Young or the Oregonian and his original comment doesn’t appear on the site.

So, move along.  Don’t question anything your government does.  Or some newspaper will write a scathing report about you, calling into question your character and your suitability for your unrelated job.  You will be publicly shamed for daring to oppose the actions of those in power.  And the ease of internet censorship will ensure any defense of yourself goes unnoticed by the masses.

That’s always worked out so well throughout history.

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Update: 12/11/2018 8:59 a.m.  This has been updated to note that Gold’s edited letter to the editor has been published on OregonLive.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am acquainted with Jon Gold, I consider him a friend, and I have previously written about his book, We Were Lied to About 9/11.

 

*If you want to know more about why I question the official narrative of the September 11, 2001 attacks and related history, I recommend the following books and websites, for a start.

The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielsksi

Who Is Rich Blee?, Duffy and Nowosielski’s interview with former counter-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke.

9/11 Press For Truth, documentary film by Nowosielski and Duffy

Disconnecting the Dots:  How 9/11 Was Allowed to Happen by Kevin Fenton

Triple Cross:  How Bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, The Green Berets, and the FBI and Cover Up:  What the Government is Still Hiding About the War on Terror by Peter Lance.

The Commission:  the Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon

We Were Lied to About 9/11:  the Interviews by Jon Gold.  The interviews are also available to listen to on YouTube.  The first one can be found here.

28pages.org

historycommons.org

floridabulldog.org

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

Broken

 

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America, we are broken.  Own it.

 

So, what are we to do?  Scream at each other in the streets?  Gun each other down in our places of worship and education?  Bomb each other?  Run cars over each other?  Should we barricade ourselves in basements and dark rooms, armed with multiple guns and a computer to spew more fear and divisive hatred at each other from the safe, impersonal distance of the internet?  Curl up in a ball and wait for the inevitable new civil war to come and go and hope to survive?  Is that what we really want?

No?

Then stop acting like it.

Step out onto the street.  Shake the hands of your neighbors.  Look people in the eyes.  Keep your phones in your pockets and interact with people in real life because social media doesn’t represent reality.  Help strangers.  Welcome them into your life.  Forget your biases and truly listen to each other.  Hear each other’s stories.  Remember everything you have ever stood for, fought for, sacrificed for, taken a knee for, worked for, and loved.  Then accept that others have done so too for reasons different than your own.  Accept it and tolerate it.

We are more than our politicians.  We are more than political parties.  We are more than our religions, our races, our genders.  We are humans, and only our humanity can fix us.  So own it.

America, it’s time.

STOP THE HATE.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Meanwhile, In Yemen…

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Katie Aguilera

It is being reported that at least 33 people have been killed in Yemen as the result of Saudi-led coalition strikes that hit a wedding on Sunday, April 22, 2018.  This comes just days after 20 civilians were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in was hit by another Saudi-led coalition airstrike.

But that’s okay, it wasn’t chemical-laden weapons that killed these civilians.  These were weapons likely sold to the Saudis by the US and the UK.  So don’t worry about it when Reuters reports:

“The head of Al Jumhouri hospital in Hajjah told Reuters by telephone that the hospital had received 40 bodies, most of them torn to pieces, and that 46 people had been injured, including 30 children, in air strikes that hit a wedding gathering.”

Or this:

“The attack hit a car transporting 20 passengers south of Taiz province, locals told Reuters. Six bodies had been identified but the rest were charred beyond recognition, they added.”

Let’s just continue to allow the US and UK to sell Saudi Arabia weapons.  Let’s continue to refuel their warplanes so they can keep dropping those bombs.  I mean, just think of the profits.  And, let’s continue to help the Saudi-led coalition select its targets because clearly that’s working.

Don’t worry that the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterras has stated that Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.  “As the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people—three quarters of the population—need humanitarian aid and protection.”  Don’t worry about the starvation, the cholera and diarrhea, the six children under the age of five that die from preventable causes every hour.  Just don’t pay any attention at all to what Gutteras has to say.

“Civilians have been facing indiscriminate attacks, bombing, snipers, unexploded ordnance, cross-fire, kidnapping, rape and arbitrary detention.”

But that’s okay.  It’s our ally committing many of these atrocities after all.  So, don’t worry about it.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

US national security focus to shift

Katie Aguilera

In an address at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on January 19, 2018, US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, discussed details of the first National Defense Strategy to be drafted in a decade.  Mattis stated that terrorism will no longer be the main focus of US security.

“…with great power competition between nations becoming a reality again, though we will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we’re engaged in today, but great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security.”

The unclassified summary of the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, makes it very clear who these great powers are.  It states “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors. As well, North Korea’s outlaw actions and reckless rhetoric continue despite United Nation’s censure and sanctions. Iran continues to sow violence and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability. Despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate, threats to stability remain as terrorist groups with long reach continue to murder the innocent and threaten peace more broadly.”

The NDS is peppered with language that demonstrates the desire for US global dominance.  It states that the Department of Defense will “be prepared to defend the homeland, remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favor, and advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.”

Apparently, the war hawks are feeling the need to remind the world that the US is the mightiest great power, and is willing to do whatever it takes to defend its empire.  After all, these competing great powers have been building up their strength for years while the US has been eroding its own in Afghanistan and Iraq (and everywhere else).  Mattis warned, “if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day.”

What could go wrong?

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