Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Sunday News: Lindsey Graham Calls Trump Special Assistant’s Comments About John...

by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, May 13. U.S. Plans to Open Jerusalem Embassy Opposed...

Video: Trump Running Mate Mike Pence Speaks in Favor of War...

So let me get this straight: Donald Trump did not - repeat, did NOT! - oppose the Iraq war (although he falsely claims that...

Video: Thank Goodness Virginia Didn’t Elect Oliver North to the U.S....

According to Iran-Contra felon Oliver North, who thankfully lost to Chuck Robb in the 1993 U.S. Senate election in Virginia, the rise of ISIS...

Remembering the Viet Nam Era

Viet Nam protest photo Protests_zpszyvxdduy.jpg When the neocons planned out the Bush Iraqi adventure the wave of popular sentiment toward the military arising from the first Gulf War had crested and begun to ebb. The undertow was Viet Nam. Somehow they had to make their war invulnerable to criticism. They found a shield: the troops.

Psychological operations directed against the people of the United States are not lawful. But the propaganda was so subtly crafted that the constant mantra, "Support the Troops," was never recognized for the actual message being delivered. The Iraq War was unassailable because to criticize the war was to criticize the troops. Then an unlikely propaganda ally gave the neocons 9/11. Politicians feared airing questions that begged to be asked. The military and veteran bandwagon took on a life of its own. There was no support for mass demonstrations against the war. Senior officers could take bribes and give girlfriends classified documents without indignation from our elected representatives. Support the Troops. What a contrast to the Viet Nam era. But in the end, how much support is there: compare the spending on veterans' programs to that on the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Cry for Maureen, Virginia

All in the Family photo firstFamily_zps5fb5cc0c.jpgEventually there'll be a lesson from the McDonnell trial. For now, though, the revelation is how easily polished politicians can embrace and superimpose parallax and conflicting images without challenge. What we see depends upon where we stand. We too often choose the view that eliminates the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

You might recall that Bob fashioned himself as a friend of business; the "Jobs Governor." Now that it is convenient, he feigns disinterest in the details of business and investment. Even Jonnie Williams recalls an investment proposal putting the Governor to sleep during a plane ride. Many remark that it is a shame that such a fine man finds himself in this situation and look for someone to blame. Maureen is a convenient straw-woman; for them and for Bob's attorneys. Some say that he is so bright that it is surprising that he was taken in by a snake oil salesman. Others believe that he was simply too trusting. This reflects a public persona that he cultivated along a path of retrofitted accomplishments and, as it turns out, malleable, maybe even bankrupt, fundamental values.

Bob was born with the gift of physical charisma; aka good looks. Many people rely on that gift to advance themselves. If you've got it, flaunt it, so they say. But when there is not sufficient desire to develop internally yet personally ambitious, the alternative to interpersonal and intellectual development is building socio-pathological, manipulative skills. Bob McDonnell's accomplishments were singularly adequate and hardly distinguished but sufficient to pass as achievement among a close knit group of Virginia Beach, then statewide sycophants.  

Iraq Trap: Remember, It Wasn’t the “Surge”

 photo 140706AbuGhraib_zpsb1c88e26.jpgThough tempting to believe American military power turned the tide in Iraq when President Bush sent in additional troops and that today that same resolve can save an illegitimate government, neither is true. We learned this lesson in Viet Nam. The military answer is simple. Obama's political choice is not.

Two important forces converged at the moment George Bush decided to throw more troops into the fray against the growing Iraqi insurgency. Neither were military. Neither were affirmations of support. It was the story of choosing the lesser evil as perceived by the Iraqi people.

American military forces committed atrocities that alienated the most important factors in any insurgency: the hearts and minds of the populace. It is a convenient fact that the American people were never allowed to grasp the full impact of Abu Ghraib and other moral lapses committed by our troops and their leadership. That failed leadership extends, by the way, all the way to Washington D.C. and is not limited to the principal resident of the White House. But as my Australian officer classmate, Mal Reardon, liked to aver, "Winners are grinners."

If you love America, you should read this even though it won't be pleasant. But for you super-patriots who love a place that doesn't exist, beware of cognitive dissonance.

In the fall of 2003 the rules of engagement for the invasion of Iraq included sweeping suspected regime sympathizers into custody. The term sympathizer was applied broadly and interpreted by at least one unit to include reporters for Arab news media. As told to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Iraq After The Invasion, one reporter from al Jazeera was taken into custody when he responded to an explosion of a mini-bus in Diyala province north of Baghdad.  He had been detained before and thought it would be the same questions and same result: release after an hour or two. This time was different; he was taken to a prison that had been infamous as a site of torture and execution under the Hussein regime: Abu Ghraib. We had taken part of the facility and used it as a military prison.

Jack Trammell Is a Candidate of Substance

The crowd was unexpectedly large last evening at the home of Clark and Kelly Mercer in Ashland, Virginia. Expecting 50, more like 150 swarmed the unassuming Democratic candidate for Virginia's 7th Congressional District. The excitement was evident. Jack Trammell, has been thrust into a high profile race for Congress.

"I'm going to be a candidate of "yes." I'm going to be about the positive. I want to be able to reach across the aisle; I want to work with people. My career in academia ... I have friends here in the crowd who work at Randolph-Macon ... in academia we learn that research and social science functions within a peer review process where you work together collaboratively to solve problems."

Trammell's open and engaging personality is matched by his genuine sincerity and optimism. These qualities will more than make up for his freshman political status as he campaigns for soon to be former Congressman Eric Cantor's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is reflected in his supporters who are motivated by what is right about America rather than by bitterness and anger toward their own shadows.

"I like to say "yes" rather than "no." I say yes to change; I say yes to diversity; I say yes to ownership of your own body and mind; I say yes to possibilities; I say yes to equity; I say yes to opportunity; I say yes to responsibility to our collective good, we're too wealthy and too successful to stand by to watch that just happen without us; I say yes to a clean environment; I say yes to rules for fair play; I say yes to care before punishment; I say yes to access to healthcare; I say yes to love who you want to love; I say yes to access to education; I say yes to a fair wage."

There is much more to Jack Trammell as we will all discover going forward. My connection with him was immediate and personal as I learned his son attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro and later served in the Marine Corps. Mine served in Iraq; his Afghanistan. Mine returned whole; his was wounded by an IED (sadly, I don't have to spell out the acronym). There's just a whole lot more that I look forward to watching unfold.

Yes, Virginia, Trammell is positively a serious force to be reckoned with.

Veteran’s Day Premier for Philip Forgit’s Iraq Documentary

In 2005, the day he set up his elementary school classroom, Philip Forgit was called up for active duty. He spent the next year in Iraq. Winner of a National Education Association grant, he used that money and his own to fund his film: Lions of Babylon; A Soldier's Story.

What this film seems to be trying to answer is whether Iraq and America, Iraqis and Americans, are better off for the war. After an unsuccessful run for Congress as the Democratic candidate against Rob Wittman in Virginia's First District, Forgit turned to this project. Returning to Iraq during late 2009 and 2010 he recorded the efforts of U.S. and Iraqi troops to keep the peace in Saab al Bor on the outskirts of Baghdad. It focuses on a single troop in a single village but it is a microcosm of something much larger.

Forgit was an intelligence specialist in the navy reserve for 10 years. As such, in his assignment in Iraq he was immersed in the complexities of religion, tribal influences, trade and economic relationships. His perspective is shaped by his personal and professional relationships with Iraqis, both military and civilian. From that perspective, he believes most Americans do not fully comprehend the effect the war has had on themselves or the Iraqis. This is among his reasons for telling this story.

Miller Baker: Health Care Reform “Domestic Equivalent of the Iraq War”

How crazy is this comment (made at a debate at the Greenspring Retirement Community on October 4th in Springfield) by Teapublican State Senate candidate Miller Baker? Let us count the ways.

1. The Iraq War involved an invasion of another country on pretenses that turned out to be highly questionable at best. It has resulted in tens of thousands of U.S. coalition military casualties (both killed and wounded), and very well could end up costing America more money than World War II!
2. Health care reform, what Miller Baker falsely calls "Obamacare," was modeled closely after the Republican 1993 plan and also off of Mitt Romney's health care reform in Massachusetts. That includes the "individual mandate," which was/is a conservative idea to promote individual responsibility, and as an alternative to the employer mandate, which Republicans dislike(d).
3. The purpose of health care reform, unlike the Iraq War to which Miller Baker bizarrely compares it, is of course is to expand access to life-saving health care to tens of millions of Americans. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, for instance, "by 2019, the two pieces of legislation combined will reduce the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured by about 32 million." In addition, "About 95 percent of legal nonelderly residents will have insurance coverage in that year, compared with a projected share of 82 percent in the absence of that legislation and 83 percent currently."
4. Also, according to the CBO, "According to our latest comprehensive estimate of the legislation, the net effect of changes in direct spending and revenues is a reduction in budget deficits of $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period." That's right, the CBO says that what Miller Baker childishly calls "Obamacare" will reduce U.S. deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars, while repealing it - as he and his teahadist friends want to do - will conversely crank up the deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars. Brilliant!

In sum, Miller Baker is wildly wrong and/or utterly ignorant on the impacts of health care reform legislation. As for his comparison to the Iraq War, that is both completely off base and also wildly offensive, crazy and bizarre. If there were any doubt prior to this that Miller Baker was an off-the-right-wing-deep-end Tea Party extremist, there certainly isn't any now. Next Tuesday, 39th district voters need to reject this brand of lunacy: Vote George Barker, keep sanity and competence in the Virginia State Senate!

Please Go See “Fair Game”

The movie about Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, and President Bush's contrived war in Iraq is hitting theatres now, coinciding strangely with the release of Dubya's memoirs. Naomi Watts is Plame, the covert operative with CIA, and Sean Penn is her husband, Joe Wilson, who blows the whistle on the fraudulent story about Saddam Hussein's purchase of yellowcake uranium from Niger, used by Bush and Cheney as a casus belli to excuse their invasion and destruction of Iraq. Whether you need a refresher course in that epoch or not, whether you would prefer not even to think about those tragic and nauseating years, I believe every citizen owes it to him/herself to re-absorb the facts---- the lies, deceit, betrayal, and treachery, and the personal costs, of what Bush and Cheney did---- especially at this time when the conservatives are busily rehabilitating Bush as he roams free on his book tour.