June 28, 2006

Contemptuous and Disgraceful Greed

The Republican House of Representatives has, once again, rejected increasing the minimum wage. In the last nine years, Congress has given itself a total $15 per hour raise (amounting to over $31,000), but it has refused to support Democratic attempts to raise the minimum wage for poor working Americans from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour.

The Republicans call the New York Times "disgraceful" for revealing the Bush monitoring of SWIFT bank account money transfers. Who is more disgraceful?

Cowards and Traitors

The Republican Party has its campaign together for November. It is going to attack Democrats as cowards and traitors all the way through the 2006 elections.

It's going to be up to a sufficient number of Americans who have had enough of this crap to reject their distortions and propaganda. But here's the gist of their campaign: The liberal Democratic Party, as represented by anyone who criticizes the Bush administration in particular, or Republican policies in general, is a traitor or a coward.

Republicans are patriotic Americans fighting a global war on terror, supporting our troops, protecting the flag, not cutting and running like cowards. Republicans monitor terrorist telephone calls and terrorist money transfers. Democrats don't care. If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists.

Burning the flag is traitorous and Republicans, the real Americans, the real patriots, are going to do something about it. Democrats are flag-burners.

Cutting and running in Iraq is cowardice. Republicans, patriots all, will stay the course and win the battle for democracy. Democrats are cowards.

Terrorists are making telephone calls planning attacks and transferring money through banks to be used for those attacks, and Republicans are going to discover their plans and stop terrorist attacks. Democrats are traitors by criticizing these patriotic actions, and they will be the cause of terrorist attacks in the future. They are disgraceful and traitorous, not to mention cowards.

How the Democrats respond to this onslaught will determine, in great part, how Americans vote in November. Unfortunately, in the face of this kind of determined attack, Americans may forget just how bad the Republicans have been for most of them, for America, and for the rest of the world.

June 24, 2006

Had Enough?

A recent speech by Barack Obama is well worth the read.

Here is some of what he had to say:

You know, you probably never thought you'd hear this at a Take Back America conference, but Newt Gingrich made a great point a few weeks ago. He was talking about what an awful job his own party has done governing this country, and he said that with all the mistakes and misjudgments the Republicans have made over the last six years, the slogan for the Democrats should come down to just two words:

"Had enough?"

I don't know about you, but I think old Newt is onto something here. Because I think we've all had enough. Enough of the broken promises. Enoughof the failed leadership. Enough of the can't-do, won't-do, won't-even-try style of governance.

Four years after 9/11, I've had enough of being told that we can find the money to give Paris Hilton more tax cuts, but we can't find enough to protect our ports or our railroads or our chemical plants or our borders.

I've had enough of the closed-door deals that give billions to the HMOs when we're told that we can't do a thing for the 45 million uninsured or the millions more who can't pay their medical bills.

I've had enough of being told that we can't afford body armor for our troops and health care for our veterans and benefits for the wounded heroes who've risked their lives for this country. I've had enough of that.

I've had enough of giving billions away to the oil companies when we're told that we can't invest in the renewable energy that will create jobs and lower gas prices and finally free us from our dependence on the oil wells of Saudi Arabia.

I've had enough of our kids going to schools where the rats outnumber the computers. I've had enough of Katrina survivors living out of their cars and begging FEMA for trailers. And I've had enough of being told that all we can do about this is sit and wait and hope that the good fortune of a few trickles on down to everyone else in this country.

You know, we all remember that George Bush said in 2000 campaign that he was against nation-building. We just didn't know he was talking about this one.

...I don't think that George Bush is a bad man. I think he loves his country. I don't think this administration is full of stupid people - I think there are a lot of smart folks in there. The problem isn't that their philosophy isn't working the way it's supposed to - it's that it is. It's that it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

The reason they don't believe government has a role in solving national problems is because they think government is the problem. That we're better off if we dismantle it - if we divvy it up into individual tax breaks, hand 'em out, and encourage everyone to go buy your own health care, your own retirement security, your own child care, their own schools, your own private security force, your own roads, their own levees...

It's called the Ownership Society in Washington. But in our past there has been another term for it - Social Darwinism - every man or women for him or herself. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford - life isn't fair. It allows us to say to the child who didn't have the foresight to choose the right parents or be born in the right suburb - pick yourself up by your bootstraps. It lets us say to the guy who worked twenty or thirty years in the factory and then watched his plant move out to Mexico or China - we're sorry, but you're on your own.

It's a bracing idea. It's a tempting idea. And it's the easiest thing in the world. But there's just one problem. It doesn't work.

[Thanks to PJB for the link]

June 22, 2006

Recalling Orwell

[Originally published by Nieman Watchdog April 25, 2006 Reprinted with permission from Wick Sloane]

Recalling Orwell: “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

By Wick Sloane

“Detainee.” “Rendition.” “Water-board.” “Enemy combatant.”

These evasions have slipped their quotation marks and entered the language, garroting forty percent of the Bill of Rights on the way.

Take a two-click refresher. First, go to the Bill of Rights itself.

Then to George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language.

Over-quoted and seldom read, the Bill of Rights and Orwell’s essay shout at us all as our president and his protectors in our grand Washington, D.C., buildings, torture the values of the nation, using stilted, evasive language as one of their weapons. Both the Bill and Orwell are easy reads. In spite of what equivocating Supreme Court nominees suggest about complexity, the Bill of Rights is barely one page long, written in English that requires no translation today.
The Orwell essay is about the vigilance democracy requires from any citizen. “Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

That wind today blows to hide just this: Grabbing a human being, locking him up, pouring water down his throat, jailing him without end or a lawyer or any charges.

The four of the ten Amendments Cheney, Rumsfeld and friends sneer at:

IV – Against unreasonable search and seizure and requiring warrants.
V -- Another over-quoted but seldom read, insists on due process, and wartime variances are regarding offenses by our troops.
VI -- A speedy and public trial, in the district where crime committed (not secret prisons in foreign lands). Informed of the charges.
And VIII – Against excesses including cruel and unusual punishment.

“Detainee.” What about prisoner, inmate, captive, even jailbird?

“Rendition” is a weak rendering of kidnap, abduct, seize, or take hostage.

“Waterboarding?” Why doesn’t CIA Director Porter Goss say “cramming a hosepipe down a man’s throat, turning on the water and then holding his head in a toilet, just to the point of drowning”? The Oxford English Dictionary Online (paid subscription only) offers “water-board” as a noun, a gutter, not as the Abu-Ghrabian verb from the Pentagon. Remember, the U.S. has yet to atone for what history books still call “interning” Japanese Americans in World War II.
Just a year ago, at Easter dinner I asked a poet what she made of “detainee” as a regular word. She had just failed in several tries to visit her undocumented cleaning lady in prison. It seems that local police broke into the cleaning lady’s apartment and took her to a state prison. No lawyer. No visitors. No confirmation for her family where she was. The cleaning lady remained in prison for a month and the U.S. deported her home to Guatemala.

No one disputed her immigration status. Immigration, though, is federal. Local police making arrests? State prisons? How many Pell Grants or child immunizations to imprison a cleaning lady for a month? This was in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, places with some connection to the Bill of Rights. No press interest on the issues of this woman’s detention despite calls to news organizations. Not a peep. Silence. No surprise to Orwell, I fear.

A year later “detainee” has company in common usage. Who’s in charge? I wrote William Safire, “On Language.” No reply. Nothing doing with two consecutive Public Editors at The New York Times. Even Amy Goodman, always-outraged host of Democracy Now, who should know better, uses “detainee.” No reply from anyone on why they let the politicians bend us with the “detainee” winds. Silence, too, from The Nation magazine. So what?

I agree with Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director, in the group’s (poorly copy-edited) annual report: “Any discussion of detainee abuse in 2005 must begin with the United States, not because it is the worst violator, but because it is the most influential.”
This turned my mind to President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright, stretching in all directions to avoid the word “genocide” for murder, slaughter, killings, massacres in Africa. Carnage neither would tolerate in Times Square. Thinking of that, I clicked back to the OED. “Genocide” itself came to life in the euphemism ward.

From the OED, quoting the Sunday Times in October 1945: “The United Nations' indictment of the 24 Nazi leaders has brought a new word into the language – genocide. It occurs in Count 3, where it is stated that all the defendants ‘conducted deliberate and systematic genocide – namely, the extermination of racial and national groups…’”

“Genocide” is not exactly easy on the ear or soul, but it’s not as jarring as “slaughtering,” “shooting,” “starving,” “gassing,” and “hanging” six million human beings. Or people.
I checked with my friend Eric Freedman, a Constitutional scholar at Hofstra University, who is working on establishing rights for the people locked up at Guantanamo. Can verbal evasions cost lives?

“Yes, ‘genocide’ does invoke lots of treaties,” Eric wrote. “And, BTW, ‘enemy combatants’ is a portmanteau phrase made up by the administration to cover up the fact that they are not applying the Geneva Conventions to the purported war (the correct legal terms are things like ‘privileged’ and ‘unprivileged’ belligerent, ‘prisoner of war’).”

“To portmanteau” is to combine words. Lewis Carroll may have been the one to invent the term. A Constitutional question crossing paths with Alice in Wonderland makes me miss Al Haig’s formulations, such as, “That's not a lie, it's a terminological inexactitude. Also, a tactical misrepresentation.” In spite of his evasive language, Haig, by comparison, really wasn’t up to much mischief.

Orwell reminds us in closing Politics and the English Language that linguistics at home are important. If words today aren’t as important as Kevlar vests in Iraq, they are important nevertheless. In our courts and in our polling booths, on our computer keyboards and from our own solitary voices.

“One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase – some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse – into the dustbin where it belongs.”

Or the local police may break down our door next.

Wick Sloane is Chief Operating Officer of Generon Consulting in Massachusetts and a visiting fellow on higher education finance at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
E-mail: wsloane@well.com

June 20, 2006

Where Workers Come Second

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
June 15, 2006 Thursday
Late Edition - Final

Where The Hogs Come First


Think pork. Sizzling bacon and breakfast sausage. Juicy chops and ribs and robust holiday hams.

The pork capital of the planet is this tiny town in the Cape Fear River basin, not far from the South Carolina border. Spending a few days in Tar Heel and the surrounding area -- dotted with hog farms, cornfields and the occasional Confederate flag -- is like stepping back in time. This is a place where progress has slowed to a crawl.

Tar Heel's raison d'etre (and the employment anchor for much of the region) is the mammoth plant of the Smithfield Packing Company, a million-square-foot colossus that is the largest pork processing facility in the world.

You can learn a lot at Smithfield. It's a case study in both the butchering of hogs (some 32,000 are slaughtered there each day) and the systematic exploitation of vulnerable workers. More than 5,500 men and women work at Smithfield, most of them Latino or black, and nearly all of them undereducated and poor.

The big issue at Smithfield is not necessarily money. Workers are drawn there from all over the region, sometimes traveling in crowded vans for two hours or more each day, because the starting pay -- until recently, $8 and change an hour -- is higher than the pay at most other jobs available to them.

But the work is often brutal beyond imagining. Company officials will tell you everything is fine, but serious injuries abound, and the company has used illegal and, at times, violent tactics over the course of a dozen years to keep the workers from joining a union that would give them a modicum of protection and dignity.

''It was depressing inside there,'' said Edward Morrison, who spent hour after hour flipping bloody hog carcasses on the kill floor, until he was injured last fall after just a few months on the job. ''You have to work fast because that machine is shooting those hogs out at you constantly. You can end up with all this blood dripping down on you, all these feces and stuff just hanging off of you. It's a terrible environment.

''We've had guys walk off after the first break and never return.''

Mr. Morrison's comments were echoed by a young man who was with a group of Smithfield workers waiting for a van to pick them up at a gas station in Dillon, S.C., nearly 50 miles from Tar Heel. ''The line do move fast,'' the young man said, ''and people do get hurt. You can hear 'em hollering when they're on their way to the clinic.''

Workers are cut by the flashing, slashing knives that slice the meat from the bones. They are hurt sliding and falling on floors and stairs that are slick with blood, guts and a variety of fluids.

They suffer repetitive motion injuries.

The processing line on the kill floor moves hogs past the workers at the dizzying rate of one every three or four seconds.

Union representation would make a big difference for Smithfield workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been trying to organize the plant since the mid-1990's. Smithfield has responded with tactics that have ranged from the sleazy to the reprehensible.

After an exhaustive investigation, a judge found that the company had threatened to shut down the entire plant if the workers dared to organize, and had warned Latino workers that immigration authorities would be alerted if they voted for a union.

The union lost votes to organize the plant in 1994 and 1997, but the results of those elections were thrown out by the National Labor Relations Board after the judge found that Smithfield had prevented the union from holding fair elections. The judge said the company had engaged in myriad ''egregious'' violations of federal labor law, including threatening, intimidating and firing workers involved in the organizing effort, and beating up a worker ''for
engaging in union activities.''

Rather than obey the directives of the board and subsequent court decisions, the company has tied the matter up on appeals that have lasted for years. A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling just last month referred to ''the intense and widespread coercion prevalent at the Tar Heel facility.''

Workers at Smithfield and their families are suffering while the government dithers, refusing to require a mighty corporation like Smithfield to obey the nation's labor laws in a timely manner.
The defiance, greed and misplaced humanity of the merchants of misery at the apex of the Smithfield power structure are matters consumers might keep in mind as they bite into that next sizzling, succulent morsel of Smithfield pork.

June 15, 2006

With "Friends" Like These.....

...we don't need enemies.

The Real News Project (Russ Baker) has an intensive, in-depth report about 25 so-called Democratic political consultants and how they make their money. Quite frankly, when you take a close look at these machers (Yiddish for "big shots"), they don't appear to be much different from Republican machers. All you have to do is follow the money. Big PHARMA, tobacco, war profiteers (essentially the corporate military world), and all the other usual suspects employ them for a vast variety of promotional and public relations purposes. And they are paid really well.

So the same guys and gals who advise Democrats - liberals, progressives and moderates alike -- on how to win on issues like reforming the corporatocracy, reforming the electoral process, social justice and human rights, are the same guys and gals who work the other side of all these issues on behalf of big money. One perfect example is described by Baker this way:

At the very least, it’s tricky to be the strategy adviser to a Democratic candidate who supports publicly-funded universal health insurance when one has spent years working for insurance interests that vehemently oppose any changes.

But these kinds of conflicts have never stopped the movers and shakers of the world of politics. The presence of conscience or honor is never at issue.

The full story is well worth reading. It describes, in detail, the craven behavior of 25 pretty well known Democratic Party consultants.

Although I did not agree with Ralph Nader that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000, or between John Kerry and George Bush in 2004, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to make that argument the more the two parties and their constituent hacks blend into what Russ Baker calls "indentured servants of corporate America."

June 04, 2006

Unity 08

I watched a Democrat, Gerald Rafshoon, and a Republican, Doug Bailey, on C-SPAN this morning talk about the organization they have helped to found, Unity 08, which seeks to nominate a unity ticket for President in 2008. What they mean by a unity ticket is either a Democrat for President and a Republican for Vice President, or vice versa. Or, for that matter, an Independent for either position combined with someone from either major party. Or maybe even two Independents.

It was heartwarming (snicker, snicker) to watch these two old political foes sitting in each other's laps and making nice while talking about the good old days when they were top political advisors for President Gerald Ford and Governor Jimmy Carter, battling it out for the Presidency 30 years ago (30 years ago!) in 1976. Each of them made it clear that, back then, there were no personal attacks as part of their campaigns. Rafshoon said the worst he got from Bailey was that Jimmy Carter was "untested." They both agreed that the worst the Carter campaign did was attack President Ford's actual record. As Candace Olson would say: "How divine." (If you don't know who she is, you don't watch enough Home and Garden TV.)

They and their organization want to bring back civility and "unity" to American politics, but I am afraid that they want to do it in a political environment that is far different from what it was 30 years ago. Even though the Republican Right and the Christian ideologues were beginning to forge an alliance that now dominates American politics, it was, then, not yet in control of the Republican Party. What is different today is that religion has blended so intimately with Republican politics that personal Christian beliefs make it impossible for compromise. True believers cannot compromise their personal Christian beliefs. And if one's personal political life is driven entirely by one's personal Christian beliefs, there can never be a political environment that allows for the kind of political civility and unity that Bailey and Rafshoon seek.

And what makes all this much worse than it was in 1976 is that we have a large and influential group of people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and John Gibson who daily spew the kind of lies and hatred that never allows for moderation or compromise. And they do so on behalf of the Republican Party as if they were official spokespeople for the Party, and not one Republican calls them on their bilious lies and distortion.

Worse, we have a press corps whose power to serve the public interest has been dramatically circumscribed and limited by a profit-driven corporatocracy. In 1976, how many of us could imagine an entire news network dedicated to worshipful partisan reporting and commentary on behalf of the Republican Party, 24 hours a day?

As the press has lost its way in American politics and no longer serves as a persistent and effective watchdog over government, Christian fundamentalism has intruded in government in ways we once could not imagine. Religious ideology has increasingly become the driving force of government service.

The icing on this ugly and bitter cake is how our political campaigns have become perverted by money in ways we were only beginning to see in 1976.

Doug Bailey and Gerald Rafshoon can't imagine having treated each other with the level of disrespect that reigns today, but they are not going to bring back the kind of civility and "unity" until three things happen:

1. Americans successfully oppose the unconstitutional impact of religion on our government;
2. the press takes back its independence and starts to serve the public interest once again;
3. and the devastatingly anti-democratic effect of money is removed from the political process.

An Inconvenient Truth

BY ROGER EBERT, originally from the Chicago Sun Times / Jun 2, 2006

I want to write this review so every reader will begin it and finish it. I
am a liberal, but I do not intend this as a review reflecting any kind of
politics. It reflects the truth as I understand it, and it represents, I
believe, agreement among the world's experts.

Global warming is real.

It is caused by human activity.

Mankind and its governments must begin immediate action to halt and reverse

If we do nothing, in about 10 years the planet may reach a "tipping point"
and begin a slide toward destruction of our civilization and most of the
other species on this planet.

After that point is reached, it would be too late for any action.

These facts are stated by Al Gore in the documentary "An Inconvenient
Truth." Forget he ever ran for office. Consider him a concerned man
speaking out on the approaching crisis. "There is no controversy about
these facts," he says in the film. "Out of 925 recent articles in
peer-review scientific journals about global warming, there was no
disagreement. Zero."

He stands on a stage before a vast screen, in front of an audience. The
documentary is based on a speech he has been developing for six years, and
is supported by dramatic visuals. He shows the famous photograph
"Earthrise," taken from space by the first American astronauts. Then he
shows a series of later space photographs, clearly indicating that glaciers
and lakes are shrinking, snows are melting, shorelines are retreating.

He provides statistics: The 10 warmest years in history were in the last 14
years. Last year South America experienced its first hurricane. Japan and
the Pacific are setting records for typhoons. Hurricane Katrina passed over
Florida, doubled back over the Gulf, picked up strength from unusually warm
Gulf waters, and went from Category 3 to Category 5. There are changes in
the Gulf Stream and the jet stream. Cores of polar ice show that carbon
dioxide is much, much higher than ever before in a quarter of a million
years. It was once thought that such things went in cycles. Gore stands in
front of a graph showing the ups and downs of carbon dioxide over the
centuries. Yes, there is a cyclical pattern. Then, in recent years, the
graph turns up and keeps going up, higher and higher, off the chart.

The primary man-made cause of global warming is the burning of fossil
fuels. We are taking energy stored over hundreds of millions of years in
the form of coal, gas and oil, and releasing it suddenly. This causes
global warming, and there is a pass-along effect. Since glaciers and snow
reflect sunlight but sea water absorbs it, the more the ice melts, the more
of the sun's energy is retained by the sea.

Gore says that although there is "100 percent agreement" among scientists,
a database search of newspaper and magazine articles shows that 57 percent
question the fact of global warming, while 43 percent support it. These
figures are the result, he says, of a disinformation campaign started in
the 1990s by the energy industries to "reposition global warming as a
debate." It is the same strategy used for years by the defenders of
tobacco. My father was a Luckys smoker who died of lung cancer in 1960, and
20 years later it was still "debatable" that there was a link between
smoking and lung cancer. Now we are talking about the death of the future,
starting in the lives of those now living.

"The world won't 'end' overnight in 10 years," Gore says. "But a point will
have been passed, and there will be an irreversible slide into destruction."

In England, Sir James Lovelock, the scientist who proposed the Gaia
hypothesis (that the planet functions like a living organism), has
published a new book saying that in 100 years mankind will be reduced to "a
few breeding couples at the Poles." Gore thinks "that's too pessimistic. We
can turn this around just as we reversed the hole in the ozone layer. But
it takes action right now, and politicians in every nation must have the
courage to do what is necessary. It is not a political issue. It is a moral

When I said I was going to a press screening of "An Inconvenient Truth," a
friend said, "Al Gore talking about the environment! Bor...ing!" This is
not a boring film. The director, Davis Guggenheim, uses words, images and
Gore's concise litany of facts to build a film that is fascinating and
relentless. In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie
review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you
do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you
decided not to.

Am I acting as an advocate in this review? Yes, I am. I believe that to be
"impartial" and "balanced" on global warming means one must take a position
like Gore's. There is no other view that can be defended. Sen. James Inhofe
(R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, has said, "Global
warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." I
hope he takes his job seriously enough to see this film. I think he has a
responsibility to do that.

What can we do? Switch to and encourage the development of alternative
energy sources: Solar, wind, tidal, and, yes, nuclear. Move quickly toward
hybrid and electric cars. Pour money into public transit, and subsidize the
fares. Save energy in our houses. I did a funny thing when I came home
after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth." I went around the house turning off
the lights.

An Inconvenient Truth

[Thanks to PJB]

June 03, 2006

Republican Can't Identify American Corporations Anymore

"I'm telling you, I don’t even know what an American corporation is anymore, frankly. For the most part, these multinational corporations have absolutely no loyalty to a particular country. They have a loyalty to the bottom line, and they couldn’t care less about what happens in the United States. They are looking at their profit margins. I think it’s getting more and more difficult to actually identify an American, quote, corporation."

From an interview conducted by Tavis Smiley with Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo From the Tavis Smiley Show via ConcordiaDis via Five Before Chaos

An interesting fellow, Tancredo's campaign contributions reflect his apparent unhappiness with so-called American corporations. He receives very little in the way of corporate money. An odd Republican, indeed. But don't get too excited, his positions on most other Republican issues are as right-wing as they get.

Iraq is Not a Video Game

The top coalition operational commander in Iraq has directed his subordinate commanders to conduct training in "core warrior values" for all coalition forces, highlighting the importance of adhering to legal, moral and ethical standards on the battlefield, military officials here announced today.

American Forces Press Service BAGHDAD, June 1, 2006

I can't help wonder whether this kind of training is too late, and too little. American men and women in Iraq are exposed on a daily basis to life-threatening situations. Every Iraqi they look at is someone who might want to kill them. Every car driving by them, at them, or near them is potentially filled with explosives. Every corner they turn in their vehicles represents a possible IED trap.

The American flag waving, grateful Iraqi does not exist (other than as a dream in Donald Rumsfeld's head). Hatred, resentment, and outright opposition are the order of the day. Can any of us imagine how incredibly scary it must be to run a checkpoint, or go on patrol, or drive in a convoy? Can any of us not imagine having our fingers on the trigger ready to blow away anything or anyone that might threaten us? How would we react if a friend was killed standing right next to us and we were so fearful and on edge that we wanted to respond right then and there? For those readers (I presume, mostly male) who have played a personal shooter video game I think you know what I mean.

I am not defending any possible criminal behavior by American troops. I am trying to understand it. Our government has created this nightmare scenario for our American men and women by its foolhardy war. I hold it responsible for placing American men and women in circumstances they should not have to be in.