Monthly Archives: August 2013

Barack Obama to attack Syria himself in Air Force One

The way that it’s going, if U.S. President Barack Obama wants to bomb Syria, he’s going to have to drop the bombs himself from Air Force One. But he won’t be lonely on his trip; he’ll have “embedded” “journalists” along with him for the ride. And maybe the French will provide some wine and cheese for the mission.

Seriously: The British Parliament’s very wise decision yesterday not to join the U.S. in another boondoggle in the Middle East is a blow to Obama (as well as to Conservative Party British Prime Minister David Cameron).*

Now all that Obama has, pretty much, is the conspicuous silence of most of his fellow Democrats (in name only), most of whom are party hacks who don’t want to buck the Obama White House but who also know that the majority of Americans don’t want a military attack upon Syria — and, of course, the corporately owned and controlled “news” media.

The New York Times on Monday declared in an editorial:

… [President] Obama put his credibility on the line when he declared last August that [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s] use of chemical weapons would constitute a “red line” that would compel an American response. After the first attacks, earlier this year, killed between 100 and 150 people, the administration promised weapons for the rebels but delayed in delivering them.

This time the use of chemicals was more brazen and the casualties were much greater, suggesting that Mr. Assad did not take Mr. Obama seriously. Presidents should not make a habit of drawing red lines in public, but if they do, they had best follow through. Many countries (including Iran, which Mr. Obama has often said won’t be permitted to have a nuclear weapon) will be watching. …

Wow. The Times widely is considered to be the thinking person’s media organization, and is widely to be considered “liberal.”**

Yet the Times’ central “argument” is that once you threaten to do something, you must go through with it — or risk being deemed “weak.” That’s a wise, high-minded stance? Even if something is a really bad fucking idea, you should go through with it anyway — to save face?

My own city’s main “news” organization, the Sacramento Bee, like the Times, also widely is considered to be center-left, yet in an editorial today the Bee proclaims that “The president has previously said there would be consequences if Syria crossed the ‘red line’ of chemical warfare. His reputation – and U.S. standing in the world – will suffer if that turns out to be an empty threat” (apparently the Bee’s editorial writers read the Times…) and “If it can be convincingly demonstrated that the recent massacre in Syria was the result of chemical weapons, and that Syrian forces were responsible for it, Obama will have to act, hopefully with a few allies.”

I’m guessing that that editorial was penned before the British Parliament yesterday voted against joining the U.S. in its latest boondoggle in the Middle East even if it definitively is demonstrated that the Syrian government used chemical weapons as charged.

AFP notes that “It is believed to be the first time since 1782 that a British government has lost a vote about military action,” which to me is a measure of what an incredibly fucking shitty idea it is to militarily attack Syria right now.***

So why are our corporately owned and operated “news” organizations gung-ho on an attack on Syria?

“Corporately owned and operated” is the key.

Corporations love war and the profiteering that goes along with it. Corporations not only benefit nicely in their war-related contracts (as well as in their ongoing regular military contracts) with the federal government, but the U.S. military often opens up other sovereign nations’ natural resources — like Iraq’s oil — to corporations for their free and unfettered exploitation.

War is bad for individual human beings, but great for corporations.

Also, of course, war is great for “news” “coverage.”

This is not new.

The Spanish-American War of 1898, Wikipedia states, “is considered to be both a turning point in the history of propaganda and the beginning of the practice of yellow journalism. It was the first conflict in which military action was precipitated by media involvement.”

Wikipedia goes on to note that “William [Randolph] Hearst, the owner of the New York Journal, was involved in a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and saw the conflict as a way to sell papers.”

I remember how the corporately owned and controlled “news” organizations handled the Vietraq War. First, they (including, of course, the New York Times’ infamous Judith Miller) for the most part uncritically repeated the Bush White House’s lies about the “reasons” to invade Iraq. Like the cowards in Congress, these “journalists” cowed to the post-9/11 hysteria and hyper-jingoism and for the most part dared not question the ever-changing “arguments” for war that the members of the Bush regime were spewing.

Then, when the invasion of Iraq that they’d wanted and pushed for actually came, they treated it like a fucking sports event, like the fucking Super Bowl.

It even had its own slogan: Shock and awe! (Actually, now that I think of it further, it probably was much more like a “professional” wrestling event…)

The “journalists” were “embedded!” in Iraq, they couldn’t tell us enough.

“Embedded,” of course, meant in bed with the White House and the Pentagon.

Sure, the Pentagon allowed the corporate media weasel-whores to feel special, rubbing shoulders with high-ranking military officials while they dutifully acted as public-relations stenographers, not as journalists.

The price for remaining “embedded,” of course, was that the “journalist” never reported anything that the Pentagon or the White House didn’t want him or her to report.

So: Our “journalists” gained some “access” but at the price of being censored. So what good was that “access” for which they had to sell themselves out? When the powers that be are tightly controlling and regulating the “access,” how meaningful can that “access” possibly be?

At this point, Barack Obama’s strongest supporters for a military attack upon Syria, apparently, are France and the American corporate media weasel-whores who want to jump into bed with him.

Former “President” George W. Bush, recall, in the post-9/11 political environment had the majority of Americans, the U.S. Congress, the British government and the corporate media weasel-whores behind him, which allowed him to launch the illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War even against the wishes of the United Nations Security Council.

In this political climate, thank Goddess, I don’t see Obama pulling off any significant military attack on Syria.

If he does so anyway, it will be, I think, a Richard-Nixon-level political mistake that he and his party will regret.

*I heard former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — a war criminal who already should have been executed for his participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq — blathering on news radio this morning that if only Obama had defined the mission in Syria better, and had not “led from behind,” Britain would have jumped right on board.

Never fucking mind that maybe, just maybe, the larger issue is that after the Brits were punk’d big time with the Vietraq War and Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, they didn’t feel like being punk’d by the U.S. government again and so soon after the last time, and so this time, they ignored the White House’s cry of “wolf!”

As much as I’m not a fan of Obama and as much as I oppose his sketchy proposal to attack Syria, we can’t blame this, too, on him; the lion’s share of the blame for it rests squarely on the members of the unelected Bush regime, including Rumsfeld, of course, who lost the trust of the British over the bogus Vietraq War.

**Well, since being “liberal” these days mostly means being a Democrat in name only, a center-right sellout who changes his or her stance on important issues based upon the party affiliation of who is supporting and who is opposing those issues today, the Times actually indeed is “liberal.”

***One who is progressive and sane (which, to me, are one and the same) hopes that the majority of the citizens of the Western world finally are turning against military action as a way to resolve international (and intranational) conflicts and see that militarism almost always only benefits our plutocratic overlords, not us commoners.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Repugnicans might unintentionally save Obama from his ‘red line’

For once, congressional Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ knee-jerk oppositional-defiant stance toward virtually everything that President Barack Obama wants to do might actually benefit the majority of Americans.

Apparently 98 Repugnican Tea Party U.S. representatives (and only 18 Democratic representatives) signed on to a recent letter to Obama that stated:

“While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate — and the active engagement of Congress — prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”

And in his own letter to Obama, Repugnican Tea Party House Majority Leader John Boehner scribbled:

“I respectfully request that you, as our country’s commander in chief, personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.” [Boehner’s full letter is here.]

This is, of course, a 180-degree turnaround from how a cowardly Congress rubber-stamped the Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War in October 2002. (Yes, the unelected Bush regime consulted Congress, but it was just for show; Congress did not wisely deliberate on the cons and any actual pros of the impending Vietraq War, but just gave Bush & Co. what they wanted. After all: 9/11!) Of course, admittedly, the political environment then — that of immediately-post-9/11 hyper-jingoistic hysteria — was much different than it is now.

But it’s nonetheless interesting that the war-loving Repugnican Tea Party traitors would criticize Obama’s threat of attacking Syria over a fabricated “red line” when if it were a Repugnican Tea Party president doing exactly the same thing, the majority of them of course would be on board. Their main concern isn’t that a military attack upon Syria would be misguided and ill-advised (as it would be); their main problem is that it’s Obama who has proposed it.

The inverse of that, of course, is that apparently most Democrats in D.C. apparently are too pussy to openly criticize Obama’s pathetic proposal to take “a shot across the bow” of Syria even though Obama’s “plan,” apparently, consists primarily or even only of that: firing some missiles and/or dropping some bombs upon Syria, blowing some shit up, in order to spook Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Obama promises that the U.S. would avoid getting any further involved in Syria’s civil war than that, but, of course, once you start firing missiles and/or dropping bombs, shit can spiral out of control. Quickly. You can’t promise what will and what won’t happen once you start throwing rocks at the hornets’ nest.

Of course, Repugnican Tea Party intransigence on Obama’s ordering a military attack on Syria might give Obama the political escape hatch from his “red-line” threat that he really could use right about now. Obama could claim that Make no mistake: He really meant what he said about that “red line” — but it was the Repugnican Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives that prevented him from delivering upon his vague threat!

I don’t see what Obama has to lose in being prevented from launching a military attack that the majority of Americans don’t want him to launch anyway.

In any event, I’m not sure which pisses me off more: that more congressional Democrats haven’t publicly opposed Obama’s hare-brained “plan” to shoot rubber bands at Syria because the majority of them are a bunch of fucking cowards and party hacks who refuse to publicly oppose anything that Obama puts forth or that the congressional Repugnican Tea Party traitors oppose Obama’s plan only because it’s Obama’s plan.

But, again, this might be the highest good that comes out of the pathetically paralyzed District of Columbia from January 2011, when the Repugnican Tea Party traitors regained their majority in the House, to January 2017, when we will have a new (hopefully not Repugnican Tea Party) president.

I’ll take it, even though it is only accidental.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Skipping toward another debacle in the Middle East

The elites of D.C. have been out of touch with the wishes of the majority of Americans for years now, but are they really going to launch a military attack upon another Middle Eastern nation — one that borders Iraq, no less — that the majority of Americans do not want? Will U.S. President Barack Obama ignore the right-wing political taunts that he’s a wimp, or will he rush in to Syria like a fool, causing even more civilian deaths?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed yesterday that “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

“Make no mistake,” Kerry added. “President [Barack] Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Wow.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the mega-double standards that are spewing forth right now from D.C.

The casual use of killer drones against poor people in the Middle East is not the use of “the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people”? (Killer drones aren’t heinous? When’s the last time that you had to try to dodge a drone that was trying to kill you? Have you seen “Oblivion”?)

Is the method of the slaughter truly of more importance than the fact of the slaughter itself?

What’s with this fucking nerve-gas fetish?

If I shoot you or bomb you (the conventional way or with one of my “more humane” killer drones), it’s OK, it’s perfectly pardonable, hey, you have to crack some eggs to make a Freedom™ omelet — but if I gas you, that’s really heinous?

March 2003’s so-called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (it couldn’t be “Operation Iraqi Liberation,” because that spells OIL, you see) — the U.S.-military-led invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, which was in violation of the wishes of the United Nations Security Council — and its aftermath caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

If you simply claim, as the goody-goody-two-shoes United States of America always does, that your goal is to bring “democracy” and “freedom” and “liberation” and puppies and kittens and cute, fluffy baby bunny rabbits, does that mere claim justify, does that mere claim excuse, a body count of tens of thousands of civilians?

Oopsie! Your loved ones are dead! But it was for [fill in noble goal here]!

It widely is reported that an estimated 100,000 people, presumably on both sides, have been killed in Syria’s civil war of about two years now. The conservative estimate of the number of Iraqi civilians who died because of the bogus Vietraq War exceeds 100,000.

I’m trying to understand why the vast majority of Americans have not lost any sleep over the staggering number of Iraqi civilians whom the U.S. war machine has snuffed out over the past decade in the name of “liberating” them, but some Americans now claim to care so much about the alleged — emphasis on “alleged” — gassing deaths of a few hundred Syrian civilians.

If it’s really all about the safety and welfare of the Syrian civilians, where is the concern that even more Syrian civilians would die in the U.S.-led military bombardment of Syria and in the further chaos that easily could ensue, just like it did in Iraq? Have we really forgotten all of this already?

Is this about the well-being of Syrian civilians or is this about the United States of America (1) collectively egoistically wanting to save face because President Hopey-Changey proclaimed the Santa Claus- or Easter Bunny-like existence of some “red line” and (2) wanting to periodically flex its big military muscles on the world stage like the narcissistic, bullying nation that it is?

Given the United States’ own track record of the casual slaughter of civilians casually dismissed as “collateral damage” and refusing to be held accountable to any international body, John Kerry’s lofty words — such as “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders” being “a moral obscenity” and the necessity of “accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people” — ring pretty fucking hollow.

If Americans, except for a perma-minority of pro-military wingnuts (most of them chickenhawks) — aren’t clamoring for a U.S. attack on Syria (and they’re — we’re — not) — maybe, just maybe, part of the reason for that is that enough Americans realize how incredibly hypocritical it is of the United States of America to talk of the lawlessness and mass-murderousness of any other nation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Syria’s civil war: Fools rush in

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with a German newspaper in Damascus

Reuters image

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is the new Saddam Hussein: not a nice guy, by all accounts, but is he really worth dragging the United States into yet another war in the Middle East? Is the war hawks’ — chickenhawks’ — interest in American military action in Syria’s civil war actually about the welfare of the Syrian people, or would it be just another opportunity for the U.S. military to flex its muscles again on the world stage (against a much weaker opponent — of course)?

If the allegations that the government of Syria killed hundreds of Syrian civilians with nerve gas are true — I suspect that they are, that the disturbing-enough video footage that I’ve seen of the apparent civilian victims of nerve gas is not faked — I am not sure why this particular method of the slaughter of civilians is considered to be worse than, say, how hundreds of Egyptian protesters were slaughtered by the Egyptian military earlier this month, or how hundreds have been slaughtered by U.S. drone strikes, including the confirmed deaths of almost 100 children.

Hey, how about that “shock and awe” that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians? Talk about “liberating” those Iraqis! We took away all of their problems!

I mean, dead is dead; why, exactly, the use of chemical weapons is a “red line,” as U.S. President Barack Obama put it a year ago, but being shot to death by your nation’s military while you are protesting the military coup against the president whom you’d democratically elected, or being snuffed out by an American bomb or an American weaponized drone, is regarded as A-OK eludes me.

That Saddam Hussein reportedly gassed and killed thousands of Kurds in the 1988, and that the unelected, treasonous Bush regime used this, about 15 years after the fact, as one of its many changing “reasons” to invade Iraq in 2003 (actually, Saddam Hussein was, to Washington, D.C., a “good” dictator, or at least a tolerable one, until he nationalized Iraq’s oil fields, closing them off to Big Oil* — then he was a “bad” dictator) does not mean that every time that chemical weapons are used somewhere on the planet, the U.S. military must invade that nation — because chemical weapons!

I’m not a fan of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but I’m also not a fan of yet another U.S.-led war in the Middle East while the American empire continues to rot from within (one word: Detroit).

And I’m not alone. Reuters reported yesterday:

Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days — just as Syria’s civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken August 19-23, found that 25 percent of Americans would support U.S. intervention if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46 percent would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for U.S. action since August 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6 percent did not.

Taken together, the polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb this week, may actually be hardening many Americans’ resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East. …

I’m not a cold-hearted bastard. The slaughter of one child is the slaughter of too many children. But how many more Syrian civilians would be slaughtered if the United States were to involve itself in Syria’s civil war?

That the president of the United States pronounced the existence of some “red line” and that the U.S. might look “weak” on the world stage if this “red line” materialized but the U.S. did nothing in response — saving face — is not a reason to take your nation to war.

Those who feel differently, those who want to drag us into a war in Syria — well, maybe we can air-drop them into Syria so that they can help the rebels, since they care about the Syrians so much.

But my guess is that, as was the case with the Vietraq War, the majority of those who would drag us to war in Syria are chickenhawks: They’ll talk a mean game — as long as it’s someone else who’s doing the dying.

P.S. In case you think it’s a closed case that the Syrian government gassed Syrian civilians, know this (from AFP):

… Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has said about 3,600 patients displaying “neurotoxic symptoms” had flooded into three Syrian hospitals on the day of the alleged [chemical-weapon] attacks, and 355 of them died.

“Medical staff working in these facilities provided detailed information to MSF doctors regarding large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress,” said MSF operations director Bart Janssens.

MSF president Mego Terzian told AFP that “scientific” proof is still lacking.

“Syrian doctors we work with have no scientific proof. They must take hair samples, for example, and send them to a specialist laboratory,” to carry out conclusive tests, he said. …

So, thus far there is no scientific proof that chemical weapons were used. That’s pretty fucking important, isn’t it?

And even if such scientific proof materializes, would it be impossible that members of the Syrian opposition actually staged the attack in order to draw the U.S. military to their aid? Unlikely, one hopes, but again — would it be impossible?

Syrian rebels, after all, have put the deaths at more than 1,000, but the doctors of MSF are saying 355. I tend to trust the word of the MSF doctors, who don’t have the same political agenda that the Syrian rebels do.

Hopefully the United Nations will be allowed to take the lead on the investigation into whether or not the Syrian government gassed civilians — and hopefully the United States, with its partner in crime, Britain, won’t do what it did in Iraq in 2003: bypass the wishes of the United Nations Security Council and invade a weaker sovereign nation anyway.

*CNN noted earlier this year on the 10-year anniversary of the Vietraq War:

Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.

It has been 10 years since Operation Iraqi Freedom’s bombs first landed in Baghdad. And while most of the U.S.-led coalition forces have long since gone, Western oil companies are only getting started.

Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms.

From ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West’s largest oil companies have set up shop in Iraq. So have a slew of American oil service companies, including Halliburton, the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.

The war is the one and only reason for this long sought and newly acquired access. [Emphasis all mine.]

Oil was not the only goal of the Iraq War, but it was certainly the central one, as top U.S. military and political figures have attested to in the years following the invasion.

“Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”

For the first time in about 30 years, Western oil companies are exploring for and producing oil in Iraq from some of the world’s largest oil fields and reaping enormous profit. And while the U.S. has also maintained a fairly consistent level of Iraq oil imports since the invasion, the benefits are not finding their way through Iraq’s economy or society.

These outcomes were by design, the result of a decade of U.S. government and oil company pressure. In 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.” Today it does.

In 2000, Big Oil, including Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell, spent more money to get fellow oilmen Bush and Cheney into office than they had spent on any previous election. Just over a week into Bush’s first term, their efforts paid off when the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Cheney, was formed, bringing the administration and the oil companies together to plot our collective energy future. In March, the task force reviewed lists and maps outlining Iraq’s entire oil productive capacity.

Planning for a military invasion was soon under way. Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, said in 2004, “Already by February (2001), the talk was mostly about logistics. Not the why (to invade Iraq), but the how and how quickly.”

In its final report in May 2001 (PDF), the task force argued that Middle Eastern countries should be urged “to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment.” This is precisely what has been achieved in Iraq. …

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Giving this here Tweety thing a try!

I never wanted to be a grumpy old man, especially at only age 45, but, after having resisted* for a long time now, yesterday I sent my very first “Tweet” out to the Universe, probably only to be, as Hedwig put it, “internationally ignored.”

My first Tweet yesterday was this:

I’d MUCH rather that my tax dollars pay for Chelsea Manning’s sex change than for another bogus war in the Middle East!

Today, this:

Wingnuts have savaged Chelsea Manning, who killed no one, but find a way to forgive Robert Bales, who murdered 16 Afghan civilians. Sick!

The first Tweet was easy, but the second was more difficult, because I had a little more to say, and so I had to condense it into Twitter’s 140-character maximum, for which — it is true — there is no forgiveness. (I am tempted to change my Twitter username to Procrustes, but I’m sure that it’s already taken…)

Anyway, I frequently leave comments on news items and other postings on the Internet, and some of them are pretty short, so I should be able to do the Twitter thing.

Whether or not I’ll have any following is another matter, but since I’ve been blogging since 2002, I haven’t lost too much sleep over how much of a readership I do or do not have, so it probably won’t be any different with Twitter.

Oh: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, in case you haven’t heard, slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians inside of their homes in cold blood in March 2012. Today he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

I’ve seen wingnuts offer all kinds of defenses for him in the comments sections of news stories.

As I Tweeted, it’s sick: Chelsea Manning, who has not killed anyone or even demonstrably caused the death of anyone, is shown no mercy even by many (if not even most) of those who call themselves liberals, no doubt in very large part because of Manning’s gender issues, yet if you’re a “macho,” presumably heterosexual and gender-conforming white guy, especially a soldier or a cop, in the eyes of public opinion, anyway, you can get away with murder — with mass murder, even.

White male over-privilege is, in my estimation, staggering.

The only “defense”that I can offer for Bales is that it’s grossly inequitable that he’ll have to spend the rest of his life in prison for his having committed mass murder while the much, much worse mass murderers — George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, yes, Barack Obama, et. al., et. al. — not only won’t spend a minute in a jail cell, but most of them will enjoy cushy retirement benefits at our expense.

Anyway, if you truly can’t get enough of me here, I’m at Twitter at @robertdcrook.

*My main point of resistance to Twitter has been my concern that in a society that already is dumbed down enough, discussing important topics in 140 characters or fewer is going to make the American collective intelligence even worse.

However, Twitter hasn’t yet overtaken all other forms of communication, and to me seems more to supplement than to supplant public discourse.

And we all love a good zinger, something that, hopefully, I’ll get better at composing…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On Chelsea Manning

"I am Chelsea Manning. I am female."

The former Bradley Manning (right) is shown at left in a photo (for some reason released by the U.S. Army) in makeup and a wig. Manning says that she now is a woman whose name is Chelsea. That’s perfectly fine with me; it’s no skin off my ass, although it’s difficult for me, admittedly, to get the pronouns straight, because I’m used to Manning being discussed as a male…

I haven’t written much on Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, and maybe that’s because like the former Bradley apparently was waiting until after his trial and sentencing were over before he announced to the world that he is now a woman named Chelsea, I was waiting until after his trial and sentencing to commit a post entirely to her.

Manning — whom I will (do my best to) refer to now as a woman, since that is her wish — is a bit of an enigma. In Manning we see two hot topics, that of whistle-blowing and that of transgenderism. It’s probably unfortunate that because of the Manning case both topics are going to be conflated in the minds of the mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers, but, I suppose, that’s the way that it goes.

First and foremost to me, the 25-year-old Manning doesn’t deserve to sit in prison for 35 years, as she was recently sentenced to do.

Clearly, we have two different systems of “justice,” one for the little guys and little gals, like whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, and one for the plutocratic elite, like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. (Ironically, perhaps, Glenn Greenwald’s last book, titled With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, tackles this very subject.)

Bush and Cheney (and others, including Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice) should be executed for the traitors and war criminals that they are. That’s not hyperbole; I mean every word of that. They are responsible for the wholly unnecessary deaths of more than 4,000 members of the U.S. military and tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the Middle East. I generally am against the death penalty, but when it comes to mass murder, perhaps especially war crimes and crimes against humanity, you don’t deserve to continue to draw breath.

(Point of comparison: Most of or all of the 10 Nazis who were hanged at the conclusion of the Nuremberg trials had not killed another human being with his own hands, but were found guilty of having caused the deaths of others. If we applied the same standards of justice to the war criminals who comprised the unelected, treasonous Bush regime, they would hang, too. [Although I’d go with the more humane lethal injection, of course.])

It cannot be demonstrated that either Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden has been responsible for the death of even one human being, but it’s incontrovertible historical fact that Bush and Cheney are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. Yet Manning is behind bars and Snowden is D.C.’s Public Enemy No. 1 — he had to seek freedom in Russia, of all places, since the United States stopped being about actual freedom long, long ago — while mass murderers Bush and Cheney, because of their status among the plutocratic elite, still roam free among us.

This is nothing like justice, and certainly there is no “liberty and justice for all” in the United States of America. Anyone who asserts otherwise is a fucking liar or a fucking coward or is incredibly fucking stupid or is some combination thereof.

While my philosophy tends to be that Everything Is Connected, I don’t see Manning’s whistle-blowing and transgenderism as fitting together like hand in glove. (Maybe if Edward Snowden announces that he now is a woman, I’ll start to suspect that there is some link…)

Perhaps if Manning was persecuted in the uber-macho military environment for not being macho enough, as she reportedly was, she was more likely to release classified information than if she had been treated well, but even then, it was her mistreatment at the hands of bigoted ignoramuses, not her transgenderism, that was the problem. Let’s not keep blaming the victims and letting the victimizers off scot-fucking-free, as we so much love to do.

As far as whistle-blowing goes: Does any portion of or any individual within the federal government (or of a state or local government) deserve to be shielded from the consequences of his or her or its misdeeds?

Absofuckinglutely not. If you commit crimes or misdeeds with public funds (if nothing else, if you are a government worker, your salary comes from public funds), you can have no expectation to be shielded from the public’s eventually being informed about your crimes or misdeeds, and you cannot hide behind “security” or “state secrets” or some other bullshit for your illegal or unethical behavior.

And as emerging whistle-blower statutes and case law are finding, we’re long past the time when it’s OK to persecute and even prosecute the whistle-blowers while the criminals and wrongdoers go free.

More than anything else, Chelsea Manning is a political prisoner. Her “crime” is that she exposed the war crimes for which the D.C. elite ultimately are responsible.

Manning reportedly is going to ask President Hopey-Changey for a pardon, but of course President Hopey-Changey, whose prime directives are to show the world what a fucking bad-ass he is and to protect the D.C. aristocracy, never would be so bold and so interested in actual justice as to do something like that.

I expect Manning to spend several years in prison, as yet another example of how in the United States of America, there are liberty and justice for only some.

P.S. Reuters reports that Manning said in a statement:

“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning; I am a female. Given the way that I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I also request that starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”

Reuters adds: “An Army spokeswoman said the Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-change surgery.”

Fuck the backasswards, patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic U.S. Army!

If mental health professionals deem it necessary to a prisoner’s well-being, then such treatment should be provided. And our tax dollars should not fund a military that actively discriminates against anyone, including prisoners, whose punishment is the deprivation of their freedom, and not that they must endure discrimination or other unjust or cruel or unusual punishment at the hands of the fucktarded fascists who run — and ruin — our “justice” and “correctional” systems.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dean for 2016!

Des Moines Register photo

Howard Dean, photographed at a speaking engagement in Iowa today, today reportedly refused to rule out a run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Disclaimer: I did not support Howard Dean’s 2004 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. And in 2003 and 2004 I found the “Deaniacs” to be, well, more creepily cult-like than to be inspiring.

When Dean imploded in the snows of Iowa in January 2004 — when he came in at No. 3, behind John Kerry and John Edwards, after the Deaniacs already had painted Dean as all but coronated as the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate — I was pleased, I must admit.

Dean had had his hordes of zombie-like followers converging upon and canvassing all over Iowa in their tacky orange knit hats (their no-doubt-annoying-to-Iowans ubiquity probably harmed Dean a lot more than it helped him, I surmised then and still surmise today), and Dean’s followers struck me as pretty fucking smug, and so it was great to see Team Dean knocked down some pegs.

The “Dean scream” thing, I can say at least in retrospect, was overblown and probably unfair, but at the time I didn’t care, truth be told; I just wanted Dean knocked out of the race, and if that was what it took, so be it.

But don’t get me wrong. I didn’t necessarily feel in 2004 that Howard Dean never should be the Democratic presidential candidate. I just didn’t believe — and still don’t believe — that he was the best Democratic presidential candidate for 2004, when the goal was to boot the unelected George W. Bush from the White House, and when the post-9/11 “war on terror” and militarism still were big (or big-enough, anyway) issues.

I couldn’t see the peacenik Dean (that was the perception of him, anyway) beating the chickenhawk Bush, who quite effectively had used the specter of “terrorism” for political gain, who had milked the fall of the World Trade Center like Adolf Hitler had milked the Reichstag fire.

I, along with millions of others, desperately wanted to deny Bush a second term, and in my eyes it was Vietnam vet John Kerry (contrasted to the Vietnam War-evading cowards Bush and Cheney) whose resume was best matched to accomplishing that.

I supported Kerry from early on, but I figured that his campaign was dead, or at least on life support, no later than in the late fall of 2003, when it sure looked like he was a goner. Then, like Lazarus, Kerry came back from the dead and kicked Dean’s ass in Iowa, the first contest of the presidential primary season. Kerry’s momentum from Iowa quickly made him the front-runner; Dean dropped out of the primary race after he again placed third, this time in Wisconsin, in February 2004.

That Kerry ultimately lost to Bush does not make me believe, in retrospect, that Dean would have been the better candidate. Bush had the incumbent’s advantage, and while I won’t claim that the Kerry campaign made no missteps, I posit that Kerry did significantly better against Bush than Dean would have.

With Dean, I saw an embarrassing, Walter Mondale- or Michael Dukakis-level loss, frankly. At least with Kerry it was close (251 electoral votes to 286 electoral votes, and 48.3 percent of the popular vote to 50.7 percent).

But the political environment of 2016 is shaping up to be quite different from that of 2004. 9/11 occurred almost 12 years ago, for starters.

Let’s face it: Barack Obama in 2008 fairly simply coasted to the White House on the wave that Howard Dean had created.* Obama, whose only “accomplishment” had been a nice, touchy-feely speech that he gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (before he had even been elected to the U.S. Senate), is an opportunist who saw his opportunity and took it.

Although I didn’t support Dean in 2004 primarily for strategic reasons, he’s the right candidate for 2016.

Billary Clinton does not deserve to be coronated (any more than Dean did in 2004), and if Obama gave her a run for her money in 2008 — and he did, obviously (while Dean flamed out after only a month in the presidential primary fight, recall that Obama and Billary duked it out for five looong months) — then I don’t see why Dean couldn’t do so in 2016, especially when Obama in 2008 pretty much had only pretended to be the second coming of Howard Dean.

I would support Dean over Billary for 2016, hands down. I’m more than ready for our first female president, but she would need to be one who is actually progressive, not one who rubber-stamped the unelected Bush regime’s Vietraq War, helped her husband pimp the Democratic Party out to corporate weasels and drag the Democratic Party to right, and who has coasted and capitalized on her husband’s name rather than having actually achieved anything on her own.

Thankfully, there is talk that Howard Dean might be considering a 2016 run. He was in Iowa today (visit Iowa while being a politician, and tongues will wag), and The Des Moines Register reports:

Another presidential campaign is not an immediate goal for Democrat Howard Dean, who came to Iowa today to rake Republicans as either radicals or cowards who are too afraid to stand up to the extreme right.

“At this point, I’m supporting Hillary Clinton,” Dean, a former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate, told The Des Moines Register in a brief interview in Iowa today.

Asked if he’s definitively ruling out a White House bid, Dean climbed into a waiting car and said with a grin, “Ahhgh, we’re done here. Thank you.”

Dean, the founder of a political action committee called Democracy for America, was the keynote speaker at the 57th annual Iowa Federation of Labor Convention at a conference center at Prairie Meadows in Altoona this morning.

Earlier this year, Dean had said he wasn’t ruling out running for president in 2016. He came in third place in the Democratic Iowa caucuses a decade ago, after John Kerry and John Edwards. …

I could support Al Gore for 2016, too, but I haven’t heard that Gore has had any interesting in running for the White House again, and, truth be told, I surmise that Gore is widely viewed as already having lost a presidential election (even though, of course, he actually won it), whereas Dean does not, it seems to me, carry that level of baggage.

And, as I noted, Barack Obama would not be where he is had he not coasted along the path to the White House that Dean already had paved for him. Obama in 2008 undeservedly fairly automatically picked up the energy, the money and the support of the Deaniacs, which propelled him into the Oval Office.

It’s time, it seems to me, for Howard Dean to finally be sitting in the chair in the Oval Office, the chair that Obama fairly effortlessly slipped into but that Dean actually deserves.

*Wikipedia notes of Howard Dean, “Although his [2004] presidential campaign was unsuccessful, Dean is regarded as a pioneer in raising the profile of Internet-based fundraising and grassroots organizing” and: 

Dean formed the [progressive political action committee] Democracy for America [in 2004] and later was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee in February 2005. As chairman of the [Democratic Party], Dean created and employed the “50-state strategy” that attempted to make Democrats competitive in normally conservative states often dismissed in the past as “solid red.”

The success of the strategy became apparent after the 2006 midterm elections, where Democrats took back the House and picked up seats in the Senate from normally Republican states such as Missouri and Montana. In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama used the “50-state strategy” as the backbone of his candidacy.

Wikipedia further notes that although Dean has not held elected office since he wrapped up his chairmanship of the Democratic Party in 2009, “In June 2013, Dean expressed interest in possibly running for the presidency in 2016.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized