Pat & Kevin Tillman: The Words Still Mean Something


Pat Tillman, left, and brother Kevin stand in front of a Chinook helicopter in Saudi Arabia before their tour of duty as Army Rangers in Iraq in 2003.

With the release of the documentary THE TILLMAN STORY, I am taking my cue from Truthdig.com and printing here Kevin Tillman’s 2006 article. This was, as some of you will remember, just before the election of President Obama. We were at the tail-end of the Bush/Cheney years and all the horrors that came with it. Horrors we still live with today despite Obama’s noble efforts to turn back the overwhelming tide of destruction caused by the Bush Administration and its supporters. There are many people out there today who still do not understand what was being done during that time. Nor do they see the decades-long build-up to everything we’ve been struggling with lately that began in earnest with the election of Ronald Reagan way back when.

While Obama stumbles his way through a minefield of past illegal-transgressions, a devastated economy, two ongoing wars, the rape of our Constitution, and a severely fractured society, America still struggles to come to terms with all of the realities expressed in Kevin Tillman’s piece. His words still resonate today and it is imperative that we not forget them.

After Pat’s Birthday

By Kevin Tillman

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after.  It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military.  He spoke about the risks with signing the papers.  How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people.  How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition.  How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice … until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is.  Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them.  Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.  It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.  Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.  Somehow lying is tolerated.   Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.  Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy.  People still have a voice.  People still can take action.  It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

For more on Pat and Kevin’s story, please go out and see the new documentary, THE TILLMAN STORY, now in theaters.

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Pat & Kevin Tillman: The Words Still Mean Something

In God We Trust. Or Else. You Listening, Tiger?


Wasn’t it George Orwell who said, “As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents”?

While folks like Sarah Palin and the staff of Fox News spend much of their time screaming threats of Socialism at their more left-leaning fellow Americans, it seems the hardcore religious right are becoming a more visible entity in this country. I don’t remember there being TV news channels back in the day that were grossly committed to espousing and dignifying the misguided efforts and beliefs of this very odd faction of human beings.

As Obama and his supporters (and many of his critics) try and make changes to benefit the daily lives of Americans, offer them choices, enhance equality and freedom, we still hear the loud, frightened cries of those who have not even yet managed to bring themselves to embrace the notion of evolution. They’re still working on the universe was created in a week” plan. No wonder the Bush Administration and many of its political predecessors had so much trouble planning ahead and projecting into the future. Everything worth accomplishing should and could be done in a week! Mission accomplished anyone?

So while the shouts of “Socialism!” and “Totalitarianism!” persist, we move slowly away from an administration that restricted human freedoms by passing a law that would allow individuals to be placed under arrest with no charges officially filed or rights allowed. And those arrests and subsequent imprisonments were proclaimed “indefinite.” That same administration led us into a preemptive attack on another country for the first time in American history. But unlike Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE, our leaders did so with full knowledge and intent, disregarding the recommendations of the United Nations, who, it turns out, were correct in their assessment of the situation in Iraq. And through all of this, the Bush Administration found every possible way to overturn any criticism that their particular brand of torture was inhuman. They insisted it was not only legal, but necessary. And when faced with legal implications, they actually tried to redefine torture itself so that they could legally continue in their God-mandated actions.

I wonder what Jesus would think about all of this?

It seems odd to me that so many of these Bush supporters and Palin supporters are actually running around in fear of totalitarianism, fascism and big government under the Obama Administration. Especially considering that the Bush Administration and many Republican administrations before (though Clinton can be lumped in here to an extent, as well) catered grotesquely to the massive corporations that have, in essence, become the government of the United States (and, perhaps, the rest of the world). The very fears these people are now espousing and their accompanying accusations were actually flourishing as a reality under their own God-approved world leaders.

There has been few things in my lifetime that seemed more moralistically damaged than the Bush Administration. They not only diminished our hundreds-year struggle to make and keep America “The Land Of The Free,” but they did it under the name of God and Christianity. There is nothing more offensive to my understanding of Jesus and God–any God–than the actions of the Bush Administration and the current portion of Americans still engaged in these beliefs.

Understand, this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. Nor is it an anti-religion issue. This is an argument between a group of people who believe in true freedom and equality –regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation– and a group of people who believe in those things with a set of parenthesis attached. It seems that simply claiming to be a good Christian is enough to justify almost any act of brutality or injustice so long as you can connect it to your religious beliefs and convince yourself that you are on the side of “right.” That you are “chosen” or “saved.” What a terrifying notion. This faith-based bit of simple-mindedness has brought us such God-approved events as the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. It seems that only in retrospect can the public at large recognize the atrocities committed in the name of the Lord.

But what is one to expect from a belief system that suggests believers will go to heaven, while the rest of humanity will spend an eternity in hell? Is this what the universe has been boiled down to in the glorious and creative minds of the human race?

A few weeks back, I wrote a short piece on Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration’s torture policies and I held them up against some of the insightful and thoughtful teachings of Gandhi. One very angry woman wrote to me proclaiming “You’re obviously NOT a Christian man!” I wondered what gave me away? My quoting Gandhi or my not endorsing torture?

Today, Fox News’ Brit Hume commented on golfer Tiger Woods’ one chance to save himself, not only from his current public scandal, but from the very fiery depths of hell itself:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Tiger has spoken openly in the past about his religious beliefs:

“I practice meditation. That is something that I do, that my mum taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together. In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it.”

Clearly the words of a blasphemer.

I wonder how many Americans are out there right now commenting not so much on Mr. Woods’ all-too human difficulties and challenges, but on the indisputable “fact” that he may well rot in hell. He doesn’t need a therapist. He needs to have faith. Not in himself, but in another. And if he does so, he can finally realize that he is not only above the law, but the rest of humanity.

In God We Trust. Or Else. You Listening, Tiger?

Cheney’s Need To Man-Up


Cheney has some serious problems with President Obama bowing respectfully to foreign leaders. And yet he expects Americans to lay down before him and be trampled over by his corporate cronies. This is a man who has taken advantage of more people to get what he wants than any other American figure in recent history. There is a thorough and complete brainwashing that goes on here. And it’s brainwashing through fear, which has always been America’s greatest enemy. And now he’s at it again trying to convince his incurious hordes that Obama needs to “Man-up” or “step-down.”

Commenting on Obama’s bow to the Japanese Emperor during the president’s trip to China, Cheney commented that:

“”There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone. Our friends and allies don’t expect it and our adversaries perceive it as a sign of weakness…

“I think it’s fundamentally harmful and it shows in my mind that this is a guy, a president, who would bow, for example, who doesn’t fully understand or have the same perception of the U.S. role in the world that I think most Americans have.

“What I see in President Obama is somebody who bows before foreign leaders and spends his trips aboard primarily apologizing for U.S. behavior. I find that very upsetting.”

Really? Cause Lord knows the world openly embraced our macho posturing during the eight years of the Bush Administration. Why, we were seen as parent figures, protectors, the good guys, right? Thank God for an evolved America. Leading by example, and all that. You know, like the Bush Administration’s charming,  jingoistic vision of  “cowboy diplomacy.”

No, the truth is Cheney’s view of America has something to do with carrying a gun and shooting your friends in the face. Accident or not, it’s the perfect metaphor for Cheney’s approach to heroism, manliness, and American strength. And anyone who goes “hunting” with this man has what’s coming to them.

What was it Ghandi said?

“The science of war leads one to dictatorship, pure and simple. The science of non-violence alone can lead one to pure democracy…”

Here’s Cheney commenting on war:

“It will be necessary for us to be a nation of men, and not laws.”

Well, that’s never been more on display than in Cheney’s attitude toward war and interrogation. According to journalist/author Mark Danner (Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War):

“According to the Bush administration, the Convention Against Torture allows waterboarding; allows confinement in small boxes; allows sleep deprivation for up to eight days; allows beatings; allows the use of insects and various other things to terrify detainees; allows the use of heat, light, severe cold, prolonged nudity.”

Danner also goes on to describe some other “ineterrogation methods” supported by Cheney:

“[They] threatened detainees with drills, that they were going to drill into their heads, threatened to shoot them in the head or threatened to rape their daughters or rape their wives.”

And now Cheney (and his daughter Liz) are systematically attempting to undermine our current president by suggesting he is “weak.” Danner continues:

“Republicans, in the person of the Cheneys, Kit Bond and others, have criticized the Obama administration nonetheless for starting a witch hunt of Bush administration officials, which clearly isn’t the case.

But as you saw in this lobbying group that Cheneys have now set up, the Republicans see rich political ground to be harvested in these issues. And this goes back really to three months after the attacks of 9/11, when Karl Rove stood up before the Republican National Committee and said, “Americans trust us to protect the country. You know, we can win on this terrorism issue.” And indeed, for two elections, they did win. And the Cheneys are now really trying to set up the Obama administration as an administration that’s weak, Democratic weakness, renouncing torture, renouncing the techniques that supposedly are needed to protect the country.

And I think there’s a very calculated strategy at work here, particularly in the event of another attack. That is, the Obama administration is being put in a position where if there is an attack on the country, it can be very vigorously blamed by the Republicans for leaving the country open to the attack by its supposed refusal to torture detainees.”

Liz Cheney commented on Obama’s bow versus her  father’s own stiff meeting with the Japanese Emperor back in 2007:

“You could also look at the comparison and think, Cheney 2012.”

Eek. Is Cheney really the reigning example of American “strength?”

If you ask me, I think Cheney’s values are now, and have always been, on display for anyone who wants to see them:

“We have to make America the best place in the world to do business.”

“The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world’s oil and lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”

Even Cheney’s comments on Saddam Hussein sound more like another country talking about America’s past and the recent Bush/Cheney’s present:

“Saddam Hussein had a lengthy history of reckless and sudden aggression… and had built, possessed, and used weapons of mass destruction.”

Even in talking about the “terrorist agenda,” Cheney continues to make oblivious comparisons to his own “agenda”:

“Given the nature of the enemy we face today, and the fact that their ultimate objective is to force us to change our policies and to retreat within our borders, the last thing we need is to convey the impression that terrorists can change our policies through violence and intimidation.”

How about that Gandhi fella again:

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”

Choose your leaders wisely.

Cheney’s Need To Man-Up

Torture Probe Offends The Hell Out Of Cheney. Bummer.


s-CHENEY-largeThe actions and reactions of Dick Cheney will be spoken about for decades, maybe centuries. And hopefully they will be a continued reminder–a signpost, if you will–to how America can be co-opted by someone so out of touch, so completely in his own world, as to turn America into many of the things we’ve worked so hard to change in other parts of the world.

Rule number one: America doesn’t torture. Period. This is not a negotiable area. But Cheney and his team of cronies felt–nay, knew–what needed to be done. And the rule of law was irrelevant. Now it’s altogether possible that Cheney truly believed this was what was best for the country. Perhaps his actions, all of them, are based in his deep love for this country and its citizens. I have my doubts about this, but even if it were true, you cannot take the law into your own hands or try to bend, stretch or alter the law to suit your needs.

Now that Attorney General Eric Holder has opened an investigation into the illegal torture practices used by the CIA in interrogating terrorist suspects, Cheney is livid, claiming the investigation “offends the hell out of me.”

Does he not get how his actions and the actions of the Bush Administration offended the hell out of many Americans and other citizens of the world? Clearly not. Cheney and company were rogue leaders. They ignored the rule of law and made a mockery of the constitution of the United States. That’s my opinion. Both now and then.

Cheney claims the use of torture was instrumental in preventing further terrorist attacks on the U.S. That may or may not be true. The newly released CIA documents claim, in fact, that it is difficult to make that assessment. Cheney claims this was the only way to defend the nation. American law suggests there are other ways. More humane ways. And regardless of whether or not these torture practices were effective, the bottom line is Cheney and the CIA may have taken the law into their own hands, regardless of intent. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Even Republican Senator John McCain who, himself, underwent torture as a POW, stated unequivocally:

“I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan. I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq… I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members.”

However, Senator McCain, oddly enough, does not feel there should be an investigation:

“I believe the president was right when he said we ought to go forward and not back. I worry about the morale and effectiveness of the CIA. I worry about this thing getting out of control and us harming our ability to carry out the struggle we are in with radical Islamic extremism.”

It is here that I will differ in opinion with the senator. Law is, in part, a deterrent. It is not simply a punishment for specific behavior. It is in place to create responsibility. If you perform an illegal action, you will be subject to this specific consequence. Individuals or groups who break the law, do so with the knowledge that, if caught, they will face a court of law. If the school of thought with presidents and their administrations is that if you break the law and are caught, there is a good chance you may still walk away unscathed and not have to take responsibility for your actions, then we are opening the door to more presidents and administrations breaking the law with the knowledge that the consequences to them will be little if any. This goes against everything this country stands for, in my opinion. It goes against the very rule of law itself.

There are a lot of people out there, both here and abroad, who want many who worked within and under the Bush Administration to face a court of law to defend their actions. We MUST hold our highest officials to that rule, otherwise we have lost those qualities that make America a shining example of a better, freer way of life. A more civilized way. A way that respects all humankind.

I, personally, think we have a long way to go. But I’d like to see us take some further steps in that direction. Perhaps this investigation is one of those steps.

Torture Probe Offends The Hell Out Of Cheney. Bummer.

Fox’s Shep Smith Drops Appropriate F-Bomb


Shepherd Smith seems to be the only person at Fox News who actually gets angry when people lie and/or mislead. So what the hell is he still doing at Fox!? Well, after dropping the F-bomb on air today while discussing the torture memos, he may not be for much longer. Which would be a shame since he may be the only voice of reason left at the despicable and shameless Fox News. Listen for Shep’s little “Oops” after he realizes what he’s said.

Addendum: To watch another great moment from Shepherd Smith I posted back during the presidential race, check out this Fox News clip of Shep speaking with Joe the Plumber. By the end of the short interview, Shep is openly horrified. 

Fox’s Shep Smith Drops Appropriate F-Bomb