Thursday, June 26, 2008

 

The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center in Palo Alto, California

“Our country right or wrong—when right, we keep it right, and when wrong, we make it right.”


If you’re concerned about the perpetual war agenda of America’s military-industrial-media complex, then the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center in Palo Alto, California, deserves your support. www.peaceandjustice.org.

Also, the center is a good model and resource if you wish to establish in your local community a similar organization for peace and social justice.

Voting is wonderful, but it is not enough. Get involved in waging peace and social justice in whatever way you can, large or small. Apathy is the best ally of America’s military-industrial-media complex and warmongers such as George Bush and John McCain.

The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, whose roots go back to the Vietnam War, sponsors many activities each month: protests, leafleting, guest speakers (such as Noam Chomsky, Robert Scheer, Norman Solomon and Amy Goodman), communications with America’s political leaders, monthly live forums on local television, and much more.

Paul George, a grassroots peace activist for more than four decades, leads the Peace and Justice Center and is effective in helping build broad-based coalitions. He has dedicated his life to the center and its goals. You can check out and subscribe to his blog at www.peacerant.org.


Friday, June 20, 2008

 

John McCain’s 100%-Tax-Free Disability Pension—The Bombshell Revelation that Would Disqualify a Democratic Candidate for the Presidency

“McCain is not McAbel.”

For more than 25 years, John McCain has taken a 100%-tax-free disability military pension—now more than $58,000 tax-free per year. The present value of this stream of payments is about $2 million.

Based on McCain’s income tax bracket, the pension is currently worth more than $75,000 annually on a pre-tax basis, which is more than 50% greater than the total annual income of average Americans Joe and Judy Lunchpail. McCain is not required to report these payments on his income tax returns.

To be clear, because McCain served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy, he is entitled to a retirement pension. He earned it. However, the conversion of his pension into a 100%-tax-free disability pension raises questions about the man who frequently rails against the federal government.

McCain currently triple dips at the federal public trough he criticizes. In addition to his tax-free disability pension, he also receives Social Security benefits as a senior American, and a $169,300 salary and full cushy benefits as a U.S. Senator. If we count the additional crony benefits McCain receives as a well-connected career politician, he is in fact a rare "quadruple dipper."

On Friday, April 18, 2008, the McCain campaign reluctantly disclosed that he accepted the 100%-tax-free disability pension when he retired from the U.S. Navy in 1981, about eight years after his return from Vietnam.

Such a revelation would be fatal to any Democratic candidate running for president, but not John McCain. Fortunately, he is protected by America’s Big Media, which over the years have invested too much in the creation and careful nurturing of the “McCain Myth” to start being fair and balanced now, or to even ask questions.

On April 22, 2008, the LA Times reported on McCain’s disability pension in rather ho-hum fashion, and the rest of America’s Big Media viewed the bombshell as no more newsworthy than a minor fender bender.

An important clarification is warranted. Although some bloggers referred to McCain as 100% disabled, the “100%” in the LA Times article refers to the portion of McCain’s benefit that is tax free, not to his disability percentage. The two percentages are likely to be quite different.

We don’t know what disability percentage McCain received, as he has not disclosed this. It would be astounding if it were 100% or anything close to it, say anything over 50%.

McCain is obviously not 100% physically disabled. He is only a small fraction, perhaps one-fifth, as disabled as countless American heroes who have returned home as casualties of the GOP’s endless war on Iraq and America.

After returning in 1973 from his imprisonment and torture in North Vietnam, McCain went though extensive rehabilitation and was sufficiently fit to regain flight status and serve in the U.S. Navy for several more years, until 1981, when he retired with disability.

He then was fit enough to serve for more than 25 years in the U.S. Congress.

He has been fit enough over the years to have countless hundreds of meetings with well-heeled lobbyists, and to accept from them countless millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

McCain’s doctors say nothing to suggest he is physically unfit to be president. His campaign managers portray him as a robust man, even able to hike the Grand Canyon “rim to rim” in 2006.

McCain was fit enough to commit adultery, to divorce his first wife (who had suffered severe injuries in an automobile accident when he was a prisoner of war), and then—before the ink was dry on the divorce decree—to marry his second wife, who by chance had a fortune estimated at $100 million. One year later McCain accepted his 100% tax-free disability pension—welfare for the wealthy.

McCain’s behavior regarding his 100% tax-free disability pension raises several questions—ignored by America’s Big Media—that relate to McCain’s integrity, judgment, morality, and fitness for public office.

1. Was the Navy’s disability program gamed to award extra undeserved benefits to McCain, whose father and paternal grandfather were both famous four-star Navy admirals?

2. When will the American public see the records regarding the awarding of McCain’s pension?

3. What disability percentage was McCain given?

4. Does McCain’s disability consist of both physical and mental disabilities? If his total disability percentage is anything close to 100%, his physical disabilities should make up only part of it, leaving the lion’s share for mental disabilities.

5. More specifically, does McCain suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological disorders resulting from his more than 5 years in captivity? What else better explains his anger and proclivity for war?

6. Why does McCain—who received the best medical care and benefits when he was in the military, and who is one of the most self-righteous “mavericks” and self-styled “straight shooters” in the history of the U.S. Senate—repeatedly vote against giving his brothers and sisters in arms the full medical care and benefits they deserve and need?

[Hint: The words “greed,” “hypocrite,” “public trough con,” “welfare for the wealthy,” and “not his brother’s keeper” should appear prominently in your answer.]

PTSD is suffered by a disturbingly high percentage of America’s finest who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet McCain, who takes care of himself, does so little to help them. But no one should be surprised—after all, a man and a party who have so little respect for America’s foot soldiers cannot be expected to care for the footless ones.

Which brings us back to America’s Big Media. They will ensure that this story has no legs.

John McCain, have you no sense of decency? No sense of shame?


Thursday, June 5, 2008

 

Australia Quits the Bush League of Nations in Iraq

“Another Shrimp Off the Barbie”

The Bush regime’s diminutive sham “Coalition of the Willing” in Iraq got even slimmer when Australia ended combat operations there on June 1. The withdrawal of Australia’s 550 combat troops—who were engaged in training Iraqis, not combat—fulfilled a central campaign promise of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was swept into power last November on the strength of that promise, as well as his promise to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

A small Australian force remains in Iraq to provide security and headquarters liaison and to protect diplomats. Australia, outside the coalition, also remains committed to helping Iraq recover and develop, primarily through $165 million in aid focused on agricultural development.

Fortunately, Australia remains committed to combat operations in Afghanistan, where it has 1,000 troops. Unfortunately, the troops withdrawn from Iraq will not be reassigned to Afghanistan, where they are needed.

Former Prime Minister John Howard in 2003 unilaterally committed Australia to the Iraq invasion, notwithstanding the opposition of 75% of Australians. Many Australians called the coalition the “Coalition of the Silly.”

Howard’s fall from power left George W. Bush as the only significant coalition leader still on his hobbyhorse in Iraq.

No Australian soldier was killed in combat in Iraq, although there were two fatalities, one in 2005 and one in 2006.

Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol—accomplished by Rudd as his first official act in office—leaves the United States isolated as the only large developed nation that has not ratified this global initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Kazakhstan is the only other signatory nation not to have ratified Kyoto.

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