Bob Higgins

What do Snooki, Hugh Hefner and a Chimp Have in Common with the Bush Tax Cuts?

Posted in Guest Columns, Politics, Robert Greenwald, Uncategorized, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on December 1, 2010
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Bush Tax Cuts

Extending the Bush Tax Cuts: Reckless

From Robert Greenwald:

This video highlights some of the craziness around what extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans could mean in terms of spending. The average amount these tax cuts would give is $80,000, which would allow a rich American to hire the entire staff of the Jersey Shore to appear at a party, or it could pay one month of unemployment for 273 Americans. But when you look at the richest of the rich, say, CEOs of big banks on Wall Street, they would stand to gain even more, reaping between $700,000 and 1.6 million each from these tax cuts.

Extending tax cuts to the richest 2% of Americans would cost our country $700 billion in new debt. At a time when nearly 15 million Americans are out of work, and over 2 million are in danger of losing their homes, Congress’ priority needs to be the 98% of Americans who need the most support.

Tell Congress that they must NOT pass a tax cut for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

Call Your Representatives now and tell them not to spend $700 billion on the richest among us. In this time of high unemployment and housing lost, we need to have better priorities!

Here’s the number for the House (202) 224-3121

Once you’ve made your call, visit here and share with us how it went and why you oppose tax cuts for the wealthy.

Read more at The Huffington Post

Iraq War Logs: Frago 242 – A License To Torture

Posted in History, News, Politics, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on October 25, 2010
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[Editor’s note: Since the 9/11 attacks on US soil, in Iraq and in Afghanistan, torture has often been the first choice when questioning terror suspects. That sad fact hasn’t changed under a new administration, just kept better hidden. It makes no difference whether we are administering torture ourselves or farming out the task to other brutal regimes through euphemistically named programs like “extraordinary rendition” or simply turning our heads while the Iraqis do the job, we are complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the video below The Real News pries the lid back a bit and allows a glimpse into the savage and brutal world of state sanctioned torture. Bob Higgins]

Released US military files reveal an instruction to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities

How the newly released US military files reveal an instruction to ignore detainee abuse and torture by Iraqi authorities; what that meant on the ground; and just how far up the chain of command the order went.

Afghanistan Must End, Petraeus Should Just Fade Away

Posted in News, Politics, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on September 27, 2010
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I’ve long felt that politically ambitious generals are a serious danger to the republic and a dire threat to liberty. For that reason all generals, the entire military, must be kept under firm civilian control. Their duty is to fight when and where and only when and where the civilian leadership, elected by the people, directs them to fight.

Dwight Eisenhower might have said the same thing and, in fact, implied it with this warning in his farewell address upon leaving the White House in 1961:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Dwight Eisenhower Farewell Address 17 January 1961

When generals begin to call press conferences and make statements about diplomatic or defense policy or to disagree publicly with the National Command Authority they need to be slapped to attention and quickly retired and replaced. Harry Truman recognized the importance of this central principle of our democracy when he cashiered Douglas MacArthur. (more…)

Chicken Hawks, Carry Home My Seabag, The Heavy One

Posted in News, Politics, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on September 22, 2010
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The Horror of War by Nigel Smuckatelli

I read a piece last night by Jason Linkins at Huff Post in which he describes the experience of CNN correspondent Michael Ware and Ware’s difficulty in dealing with the memory of the death of a presumably innocent young Iraqi shot execution style by US troops in 2007.

Mr Ware tells of the alleged incident he says he witnessed and filmed in 2007 when working for US news giant CNN, but claims the network decided the footage was too graphic to go to air.

He alleges that a teenager in a remote Iraqi village run by the militant Islamist group, al-Qaeda was carrying a weapon to protect himself.

“(The boy) approached the house we were in and the (US) soldiers who were watching our backs, one of them put a bullet right in the back of his head. Unfortunately it didn’t kill him,” he tells Australian Story.

“We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died.” (more…)

Morning Reads Here in Flyover-ville

Posted in Humor, News, Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on September 14, 2010
  • Pepe Escobar, Asia Times: …as a graphic illustration of Islamophobia defeated, nothing beats what happened in Amarillo, Texas, the same day. David Grisham, the wacko director of one Repent Amarillo organization, who had planned his own Koran-burning session in support of Gainesville, Florida, pastor and instant global celebrity Terry Jones, was about to commit the act in front of around 200 people when, out of nowhere comes … ‘Dude, you have no Koran’
  • Bob Egelko, SanFrancisco Chronicle: State regulators will take their first look today at a proposal backed by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. that would require customers to pay all costs of catastrophic fires, such as last week’s gas-line explosion in San Bruno, that exceed a utility’s insurance coverage. San Bruno blast: PG&E backs bid to bill public
  • Tomgram, Engelhardt and Turse: Oh, those madcap Pentagon bureaucrats and the zany horde of generals and admirals who go with them! Give them credit: no one on Earth knows how to throw a war like they do — and they never go home. The Wacky World of American War
  • Ted Koppel,Washington Post: The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, succeeded far beyond anything Osama bin Laden could possibly have envisioned. This is not just because they resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths, nor only because they struck at the heart of American financial and military power. Those outcomes were only the bait; it would remain for the United States to spring the trap Nine years after 9/11, let’s stop playing into bin Laden’s hands
  • Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed: A wonderful collection of Teabagger drag. The 13 Hottest Fashion Trends At The 9/12 Tea Party Rally
  • David Evans, Bloomberg: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to inform 6 million soldiers and their families of an agreement enabling Prudential Financial Inc. to withhold lump-sum payments of life insurance benefits for survivors of fallen service members, according to records made public through a Freedom of Information request. Veterans Agency Made Secret Deal Over Benefits

Imperial Airliner, London 1930s

In Iraq, the Green Zone is Secure… We Won, We Think

Posted in Politics, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on September 1, 2010
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We lied our way into Iraq traveling north on a highway paved with the lies of a corrupt executive abetted by a corrupt intelligence agency and an opportunistic congress.

Now, we are leaving, traveling south, over the same ugly terrain, covering our retreat with a protective smokescreen of convenient lies from a politically desperate executive and the same congress.

The "mission" in Iraq, declared "accomplished" just over seven years ago, by a strutting little clown on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, 50 miles off the coast of San Diego (just about as far as you can get from Iraq and remain on our actual planet) has now been declared "really accomplished."

I didn't believe the flake in the flight suit then and I don't believe Obama or Biden today.

There is no way to paint a pretty face on the ugliness we have created in Iraq in the last seven and a half years. There is nothing that we can do that will lend nobility to a "cause" that began in the secret cellars of corporate greed, was incubated in public deception and will live on in historic ignominy.

Nothing can erase the fact of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the obliteration of much of their history and culture, the destruction of their infrastructure and of every institution that constitutes a society.

The deaths of more than 4400 of our young people, the physical and emotional crippling of tens of thousands more, the destruction of our economy, the mortgaging of our future, the decimation of American liberty on the alter of war, none of these lend nobility to this "cause," this "crusade."

We leave behind in Iraq nothing to be proud of. We destroyed a country. We stripped an entire country of more than fifty million people, of their professional class, of their doctors and teachers, of their lawyers and artists and left in place a group of contentious and corrupt power mongers feeding at the trough of American tax dollars which will continue to fund a now thoroughly privatized war.

Hell, we "Americanized" the place and in the process of making their country more like ours we managed to make our country look more like theirs.

In the board rooms and executive suites I think that's what they call a "win-win situation."

10 More Years In Iraq, We Must Stay So We Can Leave

Posted in News, Politics, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on August 12, 2010

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Now That's a General!

Before I had a chance to finish my first cup of coffee this morning I was swatted with the news (from Al Jazeera) that Iraq says we “must stay until 2020.”

This shocking news came from Lieutenant General Babaker Zerbari and therein lies the crux of the problem.  Zerbari is a Lieutenant General and Iraq’s most senior military officer.

We send Lieutenant Generals out for coffee and donuts in the morning. We have Bird Colonels sharpening pencils and Major Generals escorting defense lobbyists to strip clubs.

The Iraqis obviously know nothing about running a military operation and haven’t been paying attention these last seven years.

Why they would expect to get significant results, the record of victories that our military leadership is known for with such junior people running the show is beyond me.

Zerbari says that his forces aren’t ready to take over, this in spite of our years of  rigorous training and the payment of countless billions of dollars to every level of Iraq’s military just to get them to fall in at roll call in the morning. (more…)

What’s Behind The Yellow Ribbon In Ohio? Ask Ohio’s Attorney General

Posted in Veterans News by Bob Higgins on May 17, 2010

Cross posted at Veterans Today

The telephone rings just before dinner and you reluctantly interrupt what you’re doing to answer.

“This is so and so and I’d like to ask you for a moment of your time for our veterans,” says the voice on the phone. If you are at all like me, and I expect that you may be, you dislike telemarketers and usually brush them off with more speed then politeness, especially around dinner time.

He tells you that the “Veterans Association” that he represents is a long established charity with tens of thousands of dues paying members and headquarters in more than twenty states. He offers a short list of good works and projects that they have supported in your area and you think that a couple of them sound familiar.

The pitchman is practiced and convincing and when he gives you the address to send your pledge to, you write a check for a ten spot or twenty, maybe fifty bucks, put it in an envelope and put it on the hall table to mail on your way to work in the morning.

Like me you probably derive a small satisfaction from giving, coupled with a bit of guilt that you can’t offer more but, hey, money’s tight everywhere.

This is, fundamentally, how a “charitable organization” known as the US Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) has collected more than twenty two million dollars in the name of veterans over the last several years.

During the past month I’ve excerpted several stories from an investigative series by a team led by St Petersburg Times writers Jeff Testerman and John Martin. If you haven’t done so I recommend that you read the entire series here.  It is an eyeopening trip through a shadowy world of “charitable” fund raising and political donations.


With The Sea And Time Alone

Posted in Veterans News by Bob Higgins on May 28, 2007

Never Forget, Never

Memorial Day, 2007

I remember being twenty one in August of 65, the week of my birthday, and standing alone on a hill near Chu Lai, looking out over the only road and admiring the low angle textures of the light on the South China Sea. The gulls circling above the villager’s fishing boats, pulled high on the beach beyond reach of the tides, the last of the fishermen in the distance walking in twos, returning to their homes for the night.

I stood there alone with the breeze slowly drying my sweat soaked uniform, alone with the taste and smell of the ocean and it’s limitless life, alone with the eternal sound of the surf as it stretched its’ fingers toward the ancient boats.

Off to my left, up the coast a few hundred yards was a mess area, tents and equipment sandbagged against the madness of the day, and a bit nearer to me, two large walk in coolers

I could hear the low humming sound of their generators almost hidden below the steady music of the sea.

From my right on the road below I heard the sound of a six-by coming up from the south where we had been that morning. It passed in front of me and I could see the sweat stained faces of the two Marines in the front seat, and as it went by to my left I could see others in the back.


John F Kennedy: Why I Am A Liberal

Posted in Biography, History, News, Politics, Pop Culture, Veterans News by Bob Higgins on October 18, 2006

A Liberal Definition by John F. Kennedy:

Acceptance Speech of the New York
Liberal Party Nomination

September 14, 1960

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” If by “Liberal” they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of “Liberal.” But if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

But first, I would like to say what I understand the word “Liberal” to mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a “Liberal,” and what it means in the presidential election of 1960. (more…)