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Engelhardt: Iraq War 4.0?

By: Tom Engelhardt Tuesday November 25, 2014 5:58 pm

This article orginally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three time a week, click here.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Here’s a small suggestion as the holidays approach.  If you want to lend a hand to TomDispatch before the year ends, why not make a donation of $100 (or more) for a signed, personalized copy of my new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. If you’d like to have it signed for a friend this season, go to our donation page, make the necessary contribution, and email me telling me whom to sign it for. As for the rest of you, don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book for yourself or a friend. It’s a great way to spread the word about TomDispatch. By the way, if you want to read an interview Don Hazen and Jan Frel of Alternet did with me on the new book and our ragged old world, click here.

Note as well that there will be no TomDispatch post on Thanksgiving. Tom]

Russians Invade Afghanistan (Again!), Chinese Fight Iraq War (Again!) 
What If It Weren’t Us? 
By Tom Engelhardt

Let’s play a game, the kind that makes no sense on this single-superpower planet of ours. For a moment, do your best to suspend disbelief and imagine that there’s another superpower, great power, or even regional power somewhere that, between 2001 and 2003, launched two major wars in the Greater Middle East. We’re talking about full-scale invasions, long-term occupations, and nation-building programs, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq.

In both countries, that power quickly succeeded in its stated objective of “regime change,” only to find itself mired in deadly conflicts with modestly armed minority insurgencies that it simply couldn’t win. In each country, to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, it built up a humongous army and allied “security” forces, poured money into “reconstruction” projects (most of which proved disasters of corruption and incompetence), and spent trillions of dollars of national treasure.

Having imagined that, ask yourself: How well did all of that turn out for this other power?  In Afghanistan, a recent news story highlights something of what was accomplished.  Though that country took slot 175 out of 177 on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, though its security forces continue to suffer grievous casualties, and though parts of the country are falling to a strengthening Taliban insurgency, it has for some years proudly held a firm grip on one record: Afghanistan is the leading narco-state on planet Earth.

In 2013, it upped its opium poppy cultivation by 36%, its opium production by almost 50%, and drug profits soared. Preliminary figures for this year, recently released by the U.N., indicate that opium cultivation has risen by another 7% and opium production by 17%, both to historic highs, as Afghanistan itself has become “one of the world’s most addicted societies.”

Meanwhile, where there once was Iraq (171st on that index of kleptocracies), there is now a Shiite government in Baghdad defended by a collapsed army and sectarian militias, a de facto Kurdish state to the north, and, in the third of the country in-between, a newly proclaimed “caliphate” run by a terror movement so brutal it’s establishing records for pure bloodiness.  It’s headed by men whose West Point was a military prison run by that same great power and its bloodthirstiness is funded in part by captured oil fields and refineries.

In other words, after 13 years of doing its damnedest, on one side of the Greater Middle East this power has somehow overseen the rise of the dominant narco-state on the planet with monopoly control over 80%-90% of the global opium supply and 75% of the heroin. On the other side of the region, it’s been complicit in the creation of the first terrorist mini-oil state in history, a post-al-Qaeda triumph of extreme jihadism.

A Fraudulent Election and a Collapsed Army

Though I have no doubt that the fantasy of relocating Washington’s deeds to Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, or any other capital crumbled paragraphs ago, take a moment for one more experiment.  If this had been the work of any other power we thought less well of than we do of ourselves, imagine the blazing headlines right now.  Conjure up — and it shouldn’t be hard — what the usual war hawks would be spouting in Congress, what the usual suspects on the Sunday morning talk shows might be saying, and what stories cable news networks from CNN to Fox would be carrying.

You know perfectly well that the denunciations of such global behavior would be blistering, that the assorted pundits and talking heads would be excoriating, that the fear and hysteria over that heroin and those terrorists crossing our border would be somewhere in the stratosphere.  You would hear words like “evil” and “barbaric.”  It would be implied, or stated outright, that this avalanche of disaster was no happenstance but planned by that same grim power with its hand on the trigger these last 13 years, in part to harm the interests of the United States.  We would never hear the end of it.

Instead, the recent reports about Afghanistan’s bumper crop of opium poppies slipped by in the media like a ship on a dark ocean.  No blame was laid, no responsibility mentioned.  There were neither blazing headlines, nor angry jeremiads, nor blistering comments — none of the things that would have been commonplace if the Russians, the Chinese, or the Iranians had been responsible.

Just about no one in the mainstream excoriates or blames Washington for the 13 years leading up to this.  In fact, to the extent that Washington is blamed at all for the rise of the Islamic State, the focus has been on the Obama administration’s decision not to stay longer in Iraq in 2011 and do even more of the same.  (Hence, President Obama’s recent decision to extend the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan through at least 2015.)

All in all, we’ve experienced a remarkable performance here when it comes to not connecting the dots or feeling the need to assign responsibility or accountability for what’s happened in these years.  In some fashion, we Americans continue to see ourselves, as we have since 9/11, as victims, not destabilizers, of the world we inhabit.

To add to this spectacle, the Obama administration spent endless weeks helping engineer a fraudulent Afghan presidential election — funded in part by the opium trade — into a new, extra-constitutional form of government.  The actual vote count in that election is now, by mutual agreement of the two presidential candidates, never to be revealed.  All of this took place, in part, simply to have an Afghan president in place who could ink a new bilateral security agreement that would leave U.S. troops and bases there for a further decade.  If another country had meddled with an election in this fashion, can you imagine the headlines and commentary?  While reported here, all of this again passed by without significant comment.

When it comes to a path “forward” in Iraq, it’s been ever deeper into Iraq War 3.0.  Since a limited, “humanitarian” bombing campaign began in August, the Obama administration and the Pentagon have been on the up escalator: more air strikes, more advisers, more weaponry, more money.

Two and a half weeks ago, the president doubled the corps of American advisers (plus assorted other U.S. personnel) there to 3,000-plus.  Last week, the news came in that they were being hustled into the country faster than expected — specifically into dangerous, war-torn al-Anbar Province — to retrain the American-created, now thoroughly sectarian Iraqi army, reportedly in a state of remarkable disarray.

In the meantime, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, the Pentagon, and the White House continue to struggle over whether American boots can be put on the ground in a combat capacity, and if so, how many and in what roles in a “war” that essentially may have no legal basis in the American system of government. (Shades of Afghanistan!)  Of course, much of this internecine struggle in Washington is likely to be obviated the first time U.S. advisers are attacked in Anbar Province or elsewhere and boots end up hitting the ground fast, weapons firing.

Vietnamizing Iraq, Iraqicizing Vietnam

In the meantime, think about what we would have said if the Russians had acted as Washington did in Afghanistan, or if the Chinese had pursued an Iraq-like path in a country of their choosing for the third time with the same army, the same “unified” government, the same drones and weaponry, and in key cases, the same personnel!  (Or, if you want to make the task easier for yourself, just check out U.S. commentary these last months on Ukraine.)

For those of a certain age, the escalatory path the Obama administration has set us on in Iraq has a certain resonance and so, not surprisingly, at the edges of our world, familiar words like “quagmire” are again rising.  And who could deny that there’s something eerily familiar about it all?  Keep in mind that it took less than three years for the Kennedy administration to transition from the first several hundred American advisers it sent to Vietnam to work with the South Vietnamese Army in 1961 to 16,000 armed “advisers” in November 1963 when the president was assassinated.

The Obama administration seems to be in the grips of a similar escalatory fever and on a somewhat similar schedule, even if ahead of the Vietnam timetable when it comes to loosing air power over Iraq and Syria.  However, the comparison is, in a sense, unfair to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. After all, they were in the dark; they didn’t have a “Vietnam” to refer to.

For a more accurate equivalent, you would have to conjure up a Vietnam scenario that couldn’t have happened.  You would have to imagine that, in May 1975, at the time of the Mayaguez Incident (in which the Cambodians seized an American ship), just two weeks after the South Vietnamese capital Saigon fell, or perhaps even more appropriately in terms of the dual chronologies of the two wars, in December 1978 when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, President Gerald Ford had decided to send thousands of American troops back into Vietnam.

Inconceivable as that was then, only such an absurd scenario could catch the true eeriness of the escalatory path of our third Iraq war.

Four More Years!  Four More Years!

Try to imagine the reaction here, if the Russians were suddenly to send their military back into conflict-ridden Afghanistan to refight the lost war of the 1980s more effectively, bringing old Red Army commanders out of retirement to do so.

As it happens, the present war in Iraq and Syria is so unnervingly déjà vu all over again that an equivalency of any sort is next to impossible to conjure up.  However, since in the American imagination terrorism has taken over the bogeyman-like role that Communism once filled, the new Islamic State might in one sense at least be considered the equivalent of the North Vietnamese (and the rebel National Liberation Front, or Vietcong, in South Vietnam).  There is, for instance, some similarity in the inflamed fantasies Washington has attached to each: in the way both were conjured up here as larger-than-life phenomena capable of spreading across the globe.  (Look up “domino theory” on the meaning of a Communist victory in South Vietnam if you doubt me.)

There is also at least some equivalency in the inability of American leaders and commanders to bring the nature, or even the numbers, of the enemy into sharp focus.  Only recently, for instance, General Dempsey, who has played a crucial role in the launching of this latest war, rushed off on just the sort of “surprise visit” to Baghdad that American officials often made to Saigon to proclaim “progress” or “light at the end of the tunnel” in the Vietnam War.  He met with American Marines at the massive U.S. embassy in that city and offered an assessment that seemed to capture some of Washington’s confusions about the nature of its newest war.

Keep in mind that, at the moment the war was launched, the Islamic State was being portrayed here as a monster movement engorging itself on the region, one that potentially imperiled just about every American interest on the planet.  In Baghdad, Dempsey suddenly insisted that the monster was faltering, that the momentum of battle in Iraq was “starting to turn.”  He then labeled the militants of the Islamic State as “a bunch of midgets running around with a really radical ideology” and concluded that, despite the nature of those formerly giant, now-puny fellows and the changing momentum of the war, it might nonetheless take “years” to win.  On his return to Washington he became more specific, claiming that the war could last up to four years and adding, “This is my third shot at Iraq, and that’s probably a poor choice of words.” Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers recently offered a similar four-year estimate, but tagged an “or more” onto it. (Four more years! Four more years! Or more! Or more!)

Despite their sudden access to crystal balls some 11-and-a-half years after the initial invasion of Iraq, such estimates should be taken with a grain of salt.  They reveal less a serious assessment of the Islamic State than just how shaky America’s top leadership, civilian and military, has become about what the U.S. is capable of achieving in the wake of an era of dismal failure in the Greater Middle East.

In reality, unlike North Vietnam in 1963, the Islamic “State” is a wildly sectarian rebel movement that sits atop what is at best a shaky proto-state (despite recent laughable news reports about claims that it will soon mint gold or silver coins).  It is not popular across the region.  Its growth is bound to be limited both by its extreme ideology and its Sunni sectarianism.  It faces enemies galore.  While its skill in puffing itself up — in Wizard of Oz fashion — to monstrous size and baiting the U.S. into further involvement may be striking, it is neither a goliath nor a “midget.”

General Dempsey can’t know how long (or short) its lifespan in the region may be.  One thing we do know, however: as long as the global giant, the United States, continues to escalate its fight against the Islamic State, it gains a credibility and increasing popularity in the world of jihadism that it would never otherwise garner.  As historian Stephen Kinzer wrote recently of the movement’s followers, “To face the mighty United States on Middle Eastern soil, and if possible to kill an American or die at American hands, is their dream. We are giving them a chance to realize it. Through its impressive mastery of social media, the Islamic State is already using our escalation as a recruiting tool.”

Awaiting Iraq War 4.0

Given all this, it should amaze us how seldom the dismal results of America’s actions in the Greater Middle East are mentioned in this country.  Think of it this way: Washington entered Iraq War 3.0 with a military that, for 13 years, had proven itself incapable of making its way to victory.  It entered the latest battle with an air force that, from the “shock and awe” moment it launched 50 “decapitation” strikes against Saddam Hussein and his top officials and killed none of them but dozens of ordinary Iraqis, has brought none of its engagements to what might be called a positive conclusion.  It entered battle with an interlocking set of 17 intelligence agencies that have eaten the better part of a trillion taxpayer dollars in these years and yet, in an area where the U.S. has fought three wars, still manages to be surprised by just about any development, an area that, in the words of an anonymous American official, remains a “black hole” of information.  It has entered battle with leaders who, under the strain of fast-moving events, make essentially the same decision again and again to ever worse results.

In the end, the American national security machinery seems incapable of dealing with the single thing it was built to destroy in the 9/11 period: Islamic terrorism.  Instead its troops, special ops forces, drones, and intelligence operatives have destabilized and inflamed country after country, while turning a minor phenomenon on the planet into, as recent figures indicate, an increasing force for turmoil across the Greater Middle East and Africa.

Given the history of this last period, even if the Islamic State were to collapse tomorrow under American pressure, there would likely be worse to come.  It might not look like that movement or anything else we’ve experienced thus far, but it will predictably shock American officials yet again.  Whatever it may be, rest assured that there’s a solution for it brewing in Washington and you already know what it is.  Call it Iraq War 4.0.

To put the present escalating disaster in the region in perspective, a final analogy to Vietnam might be in order.  If, in 1975, you had suggested to Americans that, almost four decades later, the U.S. and Vietnam would be de facto allies in a new Asia, no one would have believed you, and yet such is the case today.

The Vietnamese decisively won their war against Washington, though much of their country was destroyed and millions died in the process.  In the U.S., the bitterness and sense of defeat took years to recede.  It’s worth remembering that the first president to launch a war in Iraq in 1990 was convinced that the singularly tonic effect of “victory” there was to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”  Now, all of official Washington seems to have a post-modern, twenty-first-century version of the same syndrome.

In the meantime, the world changed in few of the ways anyone expected.  Communism did not sweep the Third World and has since disappeared except in Vietnam, now a U.S. ally, tiny Cuba, and that wreck of a country, North Korea, as well as the world’s leading state on the “capitalist road,” China.  In other words, none of the inflamed fears of that era panned out.

Whatever the bloody horror, fragmentation, and chaos in the Middle East today, 40 years from now the fears and fantasies that led Washington into such repetitively destructive behavior will look no less foolish than the domino theory does today.  If only, in a final thought experiment, we could simply skip those decades and instantly look back upon the present nightmare from the clearer light of a future day, perhaps the next predictable escalatory steps might be avoided.  But don’t hold your breath, not with Washington chanting “Four more years!,” “Four more years!”

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His new book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).

[Note: A deep bow to Nick Turse for help on this piece. His thought experiments sparked my imagination. Tom]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2014 Tom Engelhardt

 

A Quick Whirl Around the Mining and Fracking Worlds: 25 Nov 2014

By: KateCA Tuesday November 25, 2014 2:32 pm

Celebrate the cycle of life with a Hoop Dance accompanied by Jazz music, both unique to this country.

Today’s article is a combination of news items for both Mining and Fracking, beginning with Mining.  Next week, it’s back to the usual schedule (Mining on Tuesdays, Fracking on Thursdays).  

MINING THE EARTH

*AKThe Pebble Mine is back in the news as a federal judge “temporarily blocked” the EPA’s efforts to stop the mine, following Northern Dynasty Minerals’ objections to the process.

*KY.  A judge has ruled that the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet is “so understaffed they can no longer effectively enforce clean-water rules.”  He also tossed a “$310,000 proposed agreement” between the E&E Cabinet and the Frasure Creek mining company—and ruled that certain environmental organizations be included in resolutions.

*NY. Hedge funds are reportedly betting on the failure of big coal in the US.  8 major coal companies, on average, were down 29% on the NYSE this year. Hedge funds bet “against the stock and debt of mining firms . . ., then snap . . . up the bonds when their prices fall as low as 40 cents on the dollar.”  When/if things improve, the funds will sell the mines at a profit.

*TX.  Parts of TX’s clean air plan have been rejected by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  which, instead, thinks TX should “require 15 coal-burning generating units at eight Texas power plants to install or improve controls that limit emissions of sulfur dioxide.”  TX’s Commission on Environmental Quality had proposed 2155 as the date for TX to have achieved clear skies.  Seriously.

*WV.  Massey Energy ex-CEO Don Blankenship, pleaded “Not Guilty” last week to federal charges of conspiracy, lying to investigators and not complying with safety and health regulations.  He was ordered to not contact family members of coal miners killed in the April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine.  Possibility of 31 years in prison, currently out on $5 million bond.  Gag order imposed on Blankenship, mine-worker family members and lawyers.

*Africa.  Groupe Forrest International of Belgium “has consistently lied about the bulldozing of hundreds of homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo . . . and has denied justice to those affected”.  Groupe Forrest operated the Luiswishi copper and cobalt mine in Kawama, Katanga until 2012.  Apparently there is involvement of the state in the destruction and cover-up.

*Australia.  Gina Rinehart, head of Hancock Prospecting, has plunked down $10 billion to develop the Roy Hill iron ore mine.  She’s complaining about the “negativity” toward mining which, she says, is “critical to Australia’s future.”  Presumably her $10 billion investment means mining is critical to her future, too.

*Australia.  Pssst, Gina RinehartBIS Shrapnel, an “economic forecaster”, says mining investment in Australia is to take the worst fall ever, and soon.

*Australia.  Another mining mogul, Clive Palmer, ran for office in 2013 and allegedly misused in the process $12 million in Chinese-government funds meant for iron mine investment. Why’d he do that?  He’s supposedly worth $1.22 billion, and he’s amusing himself these days by building full-sized replicas of Jurassic Park and the Titanic. He’s even named a political party after himself.

*China.  Following quickly on the heels of the G20 climate summit, China announced “it would cap coal use by 2020 [at] 4.2 billion tonnes”.

*ChinaIron ore’s down 48%, oil down 20%, coking coal down 20%, copper down 7%.  What a few months ago looked like great profits now looks like “a billion-dollar black hole” as China’s commodity prices nose-dive.

 

A QUICK WHIRL AROUND THE FRACKING WORLD

*USA.  The US Navy has announced it can turn seawater into fuel—at $3 to $6 a gallon!

*USA.  The “state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, said the world would have no choice but to forgo developing reserves of oil, coal and gas” if global warming is to be stopped.

Cleveland Protesters Shut Down Major Freeway For an Hour

By: Ohio Barbarian Tuesday November 25, 2014 1:59 pm

Happening now, people protesting the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury non-indictment are shutting down a major freeway near downtown Cleveland. In spite of the best efforts on the part of the local reporter to make it a race issue, most of the protesters are clearly white. So far, Cleveland Police are standing back and just observing. There’s no violence, at least not yet, but things are getting disrupted for sure.

More later as this develops.

<Update: The protesters left the freeway after an hour, apparently on their own volition. As for the police, no riot gear was in evidence; they just stood back and waited it out. How intelligent of them. If they had forcefully intervened, as some of the reporters seemed to be hoping for, there would have been violence and a lot of it.>

The Womb Lottery

By: Alan Grayson Tuesday November 25, 2014 11:56 am

I’m happy that President Obama finally has moved forward with immigration reform. But the six-year-long White House Bad Messaging Plague (WHBMP) continues unabated. We’re in danger of losing the public on this issue even before the first work permit is issued.

President Obama’s executive order removes the loaded guns pointed at the temples of five million human beings, who also happen to be undocumented U.S. immigrants. It is a sincere act of compassion and mercy that has eluded House Speaker John Boehner for years, Boehner’s utterly hypocritical nattering about the urgent need for immigration reform notwithstanding. If Boehner had ever looked up from his shot glass, he might have seen their sad eyes, and felt some urge to confer simple dignity on them.

But that’s not how the White House staff is telling it. Last night, I received the White House staff’s talking points, embargoed until 6 pm. (I received them at 6:03 pm, but nevermind.)

● The President will “help secure the border.” (This is the first thing – the very first thing! – that they said.)

● The President will hold undocumented immigrants “accountable.” How is he holding them “accountable” for entering or remaining in America without permission? By letting them stay.

● The President will “fix our broken immigration system.” How will he fix it? By not enforcing it.

● The President will “prioritize deporting felons not families.” Just as he has deported commas from that phrase, I guess. (Good alliteration, though.)

Please understand: I’m in favor of President Obama’s action – very much so. But this framing by the White House staff just . . . stinks.

Here is a test for you: Is there anything in these talking points that could not have come out of the Bush White House? Answer: No.

I’ve seen a poll or two in my life, so I understand that the terms “secure the border,” “accountability,” “fixing the broken [fill in the blank]” and “families” poll very well. Families, yay! Felons, boo! I’m very happy, and indeed relieved, that we Democrats now have established our bona fides as the anti-felon party.

I noted that the White House’s very lengthy (i.e., numbingly repetitive) talking points never mention Boehner or the Republicans – not even once. Instead, the White House extends its devastating six-year-long attack on “Congress,” which has succeeded in: (a) driving Congress’s approval rating down to single digits; (b) delivering the House to the Republicans in 2010; and (c) delivering the Senate to the Republicans in 2014. If some Higher Being did a retroactive global search and replace on every White House statement since Jan. 20, 2009, searching for “Congress” and replacing it in each instance with “Republicans in Congress,” Democrats would have supermajorities right now in both Houses.

Here is the basic problem: Fox News has gotten into their heads. If you think that the primary purpose of immigration reform is “securing the borders,” then your name is Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity, not Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney or Josh Earnest.

With all due respect, these White House staff talking points are a pitiful effort to put a right-wing mask on a left-wing policy – and a meritorious and virtuous left-wing policy at that. But as Professor George Lakoff has demonstrated, even when you rebut the right wing’s arguments, you’re inadvertently reinforcing them. (As he puts it, “Don’t think of an elephant!” You can’t. Once the subject of elephants comes up, you’re going to think about elephants, whether you like it or not.)

Look, this is important. The basic rules of existence for five million people are in play. Please, just this once, can’t we be progressives? What is so wrong with that?

Let’s try it this way: Every one of us draws a ticket in the womb lottery. Six Waltons had winning tickets; they were born billionaires. The victims of fetal alcohol syndrome have losing tickets; they suffer from terrible physical and mental disabilities.

There are seven billion people alive today. Only a quarter of a billion of them won the womb lottery, and they were fortunate enough to be born in the United States. Almost fifty million more worked the system well enough to acquire U.S. citizenship. But there are over ten million people who love America so much – so very much – that they left behind their communities, their families, their property, their jobs, and they came here or remain here without the permission of our government. They didn’t win the womb lottery, so it’s too late for them to be born here. They feel that they were born in the wrong country. Their passports are not blue. But they want to fix that problem. They want to make it right. They can’t be American citizens by birth, but instead, they desperately want to be American citizens by choice.

Isn’t that a good thing? That people love what we have created so much that they want to be a part of it, and contribute to it. This isn’t a threat, it’s a heartfelt compliment.

My mother is an immigrant. My grandparents were immigrants. We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants, and we are all the children of God. Can we please, please respect each other, and live together in peace and dignity?

Think of it this way: For whatever reason – lax enforcement of immigration laws, oppression in other countries, the need to survive, whatever – these five million people are our new sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. The polite thing to do is to welcome them. Repeat after me: “Welcome to the American Family, and thank you for contributing to the American Experience.”

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Senator Schumer’s Chamber of Commerce Toadiness…

By: jaango Tuesday November 25, 2014 11:23 am

Senator Schumer’s Chamber of Commerce Toadiness

New York Senator Chuck Schumer is attempting to rewrite his history for being ‘captured’ by the Wall Street crowd as well as the Chamber of Commerce, with his latest pronouncement in which he disagreed with President Obama.  And such Schumer has repeatedly proven himself to be a hypocrite, as well.  a hypocrite too.

To wit, the following from Bloomberg Politics.

“Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them” in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. “We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

Schumer said Democrats should have addressed issues aiding the middle class to build confidence among voters before turning to revamping the health-care system. He said he opposed the timing of the health-care vote and was overruled by other party members.

When the Democrats, back cloak room of the Senate chamber discussed Card Check and subsequently, Obama tossed Card Check into the proverbial trash can, Schumer’s allegiance to the Wall Street Crowd as well as the Chamber of Commerce, knew of no upper bounds in gentility when it came to addressing the prevalent issues facing the Middle Class and the Working Class.  However, he sure knew of the lesser bounds in gentility, and thusly, showed his true colors for his newly acquired neo-liberalism and this from a former Progressive in the House.  And obviously, he learned much at the knee and during the  reign of now stellar Senator Hillary Clinton from New York.

And for those of us and who are the “minority” know well that Schumer’s the Big Dunce in American politics. As such, he knows no Shame. And New Yorkers should be embarrassed for having an iconic two-fer, Cuomo and Schumer. And yet, he’s ascended onto the Power Curve as the “messenger” for the Democrats, and this has irritated the hell out me, given that I am a staunch Democrat.

Jaango

Methinks Robert McCulloch doth protest too much

By: Masoninblue Tuesday November 25, 2014 6:00 am

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good morning:

Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s angry, defensive and crazy rant last night criticizing the media and the internet for allegedly whipping up public support for charging Darren Wilson with a crime for killing an unarmed Michael Brown raising his hands in the universal sign of surrender proved beyond doubt that he is unfit to hold the office of Prosecuting Attorney for St.Louis County.

He believed all along that Wilson was justified in killing Michael Brown and should not have been charged. His obvious bias in favor of Wilson, when considered together with the unlawful release of information that was presented in secret to the grand jury, reveals that Wilson did not need a lawyer because McCulloch was his staunchest defender.

Little wonder that Wilson, the cop who refused to fill out an offense report about the shooting, decided to waive his right to remain silent and testify before the grand jury.

The outcome was rigged from Day One and has no legitimacy.

Look at these photographs of the diminutive Wilson, who is 6’4″ and 210 pounds.

Notice in particular the incredibly nasty suborbital eye socket fracture.

The secret reverse star-chamber proceeding seasoned with selective leaks cooked up by McCulloch should be universally condemned.

Over Easy: Putting it all together

By: cmaukonen Tuesday November 25, 2014 4:55 am

Transmitter 1933

Went to Westside Market today to do my shopping for the next two weeks. I knew that on Wednesday it would be a zoo, with tons of people doing last minute shopping for Thanksgiving. West 25th Street paving was finished, so not so big a hassle driving it today. Much warmer with the temps in the 60s but off and on rain.

One of the members of our theatre group set up a private FB group for us all to exchange photos and stories and memories of when we were together putting on shows at the university and sometimes elsewhere. A lot of them concerning how each of us often had to improvise and even make our own props. Or get the set to fit and work in the Science Auditorium, essentially a glorified, oversized janitors closet.

Amazingly we managed to get it all put together for opening night and nearly everyone said how fortunate they felt they were to have had the opportunity to do theatre there even though the facilities were crude at best. The experience had helped and empowered them once they were out in the real world. Such as this set for Journey’s End.

Despite this or maybe because of it, it was fun.

Kind of reminds me when after my father’s death and we had moved down to Florida, I had no money and my radio and electronic stuff was up north somewhere but neither my mother nor I knew where. My father gave it to someone since he did not want to move all that stuff to Florida. So I was there with essentially nothing. I scavenged from behind TV repair shops for old junked TVs and radios and such. Removed the tubes and parts and built amplifiers and shortwave things on pieces of wood and such. Not unlike this. But it was fun and like the theatre experience, I and everyone else learned a lot doing it.

And the satisfaction you get putting it all together.

Immigration problem solved: Israelis got dual citizenship so why not Mexicans?

By: Jane Stillwater Monday November 24, 2014 8:55 pm
     Currently Republicans have their knickers all in a twist with regard to illegal immigration from Mexico, right?  Well, I have the answer to that one.  Let’s just grant dual citizenship to Mexicans.  Then Mexicans in this country will no longer be illegal!  Problem solved.
     “But, Jane,” you might say, “if we do that, America will become overwhelmed and we will lose control of our country.”  Yeah.  That indeed could happen.  Just look what happened when we granted dual citizenship to Israelis.  They took over America quick as a wink.  You might have a point there.
     In 1967, Israeli leaders unilaterally gave the order to attack and destroy the USS Liberty — and our American leaders went along with that http://consortiumnews.com/2014/11/12/behind-the-uss-liberty-cover-up/.  At least Mexico has never attacked a US warship.  There’s that in Mexico’s favor, right?
     Almost no member of Congress and President of the United States has ever been elected in the last several decades without the backing of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  Imagine if Mexicans had their own AMPAC!  Yikes.  http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/us-media-erase-israeli-state-and-settler-violence
     Israel put pressure on America to make the decision to go to war with Iraq — and we Americans are still paying for that mistake.  And let’s also take a look at the Project for a New American Century, America’s current guidebook on how to screw up the Middle East.  At least half the people who wrote that damning document possessed dual citizenship with Israel.  And who benefited from all its resulting endless and bloody wars?  It wasn’t us Americans, no no no.  http://socialistworker.org/2014/11/19/israel-tightens-the-noose
     “But Jane, undocumented Mexicans are taking our jobs!”  Yeah well.  But dual-citizen Israelis are also taking our jobs too.  And our tax money.  And our weapons industry.  And our government positions.  And our real estate agents too.  Re-Max is now advertizing the sale of condos in the Occupied West Bank.  But if we gave dual-citizenship to Mexico too, then Re-Max could be selling condos in Occupied Juarez as well!  I’d buy one.  Would you?  http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/republicans-accuse-obama-of-treating-immigrants-like-humans?intcid=mod-most-popular
     “But what about terrorists?” you might ask next.  You’re right again.  That too could be a problem.  But it is also coming to light already that dual-citizen Israelis have been supporting the ISIS terrorist organization behind our backs all along.  And they still support ISIS.  http://news.antiwar.com/2014/11/17/mossad-backed-jundallah-pledges-support-for-isil/
   So if Mexicans also had dual citizenship, then their ISIS-like drug lords might come with that package-deal too, which would not be a good thing.  But surely an occasional drug-lord beheading south of the border can’t be as bad as the daily beheadings by ISIS, which are sponsored by the dual citizens of Mossad. http://www.globalresearch.ca/israeli-military-support-to-syria-al-qaeda-terrorists-operating-out-of-the-golan-hights/5369619

And then there are all those mass graves that have been recently discovered in Mexico.  According to an article in “The Nation” with the hilarious title of “This Mass Grave isn’t the Mass Grave you have been looking for,” journalist Greg Grandin states, “There were at least 26,000 disappearances and 83,000 homicides” in Mexico.  http://www.thenation.com/blog/190721/mass-grave-isnt-mass-grave-you-have-been-looking

109,000 dead in Mexico?  That’s a mere drop in the bucket in relation to population percentages when compared to the number of Palestinians that have been butchered and/or “ethnically cleansed” by Israelis in the past 60-odd years — almost 80% of all Palestinians.  http://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/19/palestinians_always_live_in_fear_jerusalem.

Mexican drug lords are almost puny when compared with Israeli warlords — who really think big. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/ref-nakba.html
2,133 Palestinians were murdered in Gaza just this past summer alone.  750,000 Palestinians were either murdered or driven off their land back in 1948.  At least 33 known mass grave sites of dead Palestinians have been found and there many more mass grave sites that are as yet unknown.  Along with the American Indian holocaust, the German/Polish/French Jewish holocaust, various African holocausts over the centuries and the Holocaust in Tibet, this Palestinian holocaust is one of the largest and most tragic in history (so far).

What has happened and is still happening in Palestine is very much like that nightmarish WW II ethnic cleansing of Germany, France and Poland.   And, like that earlier tragic time also, we hardly ever hear anything about this ethnic cleansing in the media either except from a few alarmists like me.  All we ever hear about here in America is when a few Palestinians struggle to fight back to protect their families and land — and then they are instantly labeled “terrorists”.  How come Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and Tibetans in Lhasa weren’t labeled “terrorists” too.

And how come no one in America ever hears about the Israeli Caliphate or the Israeli State in the Levant (ISIL) — like we constantly do about its nightmarish ISIS blowback.

All in all, I think that giving dual citizenship to Mexicans is a great idea.  Just look how well it turned out when we gave dual citizenship to Israelis!