Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Mainstream consensus: Israel is an apartheid state
What? You don't believe me? Jimmy Carter, you'll recall, took a lot of flak from the "establishment" (politicians, pundits, and media) for using the word "apartheid" in conjunction with Israel, even though he was insistent that he was only referring to the West Bank, not to "Israel proper," and has subsequently apologized even for that. So how can I claim there is a "mainstream consensus" that Israel is an apartheid state?
Well, consider the recent news. Here's The New York Times reporting on the latest development:
Israel announced Monday that it would build nearly 700 housing units in Jewish areas of Jerusalem.And here's AP, making things even more explicit:
Israel announced Monday it is building nearly 700 new apartments for Jews in east Jerusalem.Now I ask you: how much clearer a description of an apartheid state can you imagine than describing a country as having "Jewish areas" or building houses "for Jews"? Can you imagine reading an article that read "the United States has announced that it will build housing for Blacks (or Whites!)," or referring to "Black (or White!) areas" of Washington, D.C.?
By the way, I can't find an official statement from the Israeli government, but I'm guessing that their "housing tender" did not include any mention of "Jewish housing." That it was "Jewish housing" was understood, and so well understood that both AP and The New York Times labeled it as such, without any prompting. Apartheid? You bet, even though you can also bet that neither AP nor the Times would be caught dead using that word.
Update: By the way, the proper legal term under international law is "occupied East Jerusalem," not "Jerusalem" as the Times has it or "east Jerusalem" as AP refers to it.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Who's the terrorist?
In Detroit, one would-be terrorist failed to ignite explosives which might have brought down an airplane. On the other side of the world, more successful terrorists succeeded in killing ten more civilians, including eight schoolchildren. Of course they didn't "mean it." It was an "accident." Those bombs just had a mind of their own.
Meanwhile in Miami, another terrorist named Luis Posada Carriles who succeeded in bringing down a plane and killing all 73 people on board continues to enjoy the hospitality of the United States, protected from standing trial for his crimes.
Of these three, which one do you suppose will consume our attention for weeks on end? Which one do you suppose will be the only one to be labeled a terrorist in the U.S. corporate media?
Meanwhile in Iran...
The U.S. continues its hypocrisy. Obama condemns the "violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens...[who] have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights." In yesterday's actions, Press TV reports that "Nine residential buildings, 9 vehicles, 7 shops, 2 banks and 3 power stations were set on fire [by anti-government protestors]." I wasn't aware that was a "universal right." Do you really think that if that happened in the U.S., that anyone would express shock that 300 people were arrested? Indeed, more people than that are routinely arrested in the United States during entirely peaceful protests.
In addition to trumpeting the arrests, of course the media is focusing on the deaths which occurred yesterday in Iran. The numbers vary from media source to media source, but one thing is entirely in common - not a single U.S. corporate media source (or Democracy Now for that matter) reported what Al Jazeera did about the nature of the deaths: "Referring to four of the deaths, [Ahmad Reza Radan, Iran's deputy police chief] said: 'One fell off a bridge, two died in car accidents and one was killed by a bullet. As the police was not using firearms this [death] is suspicious and it is being investigated,' he said."
Now you can (and should) take that with a grain of salt. Police departments (and militaries) routinely lie about deaths they are responsible for - the prisoner who allegedly "hanged himself in his cell" etc. But given the scant evidence in anyone's possession, these claims are as credible as any other. Indeed, they are more credible than the claims that "police fired into the crowd" and yet managed to kill almost no one; with crowds packed that tightly, you wouldn't have to be much of a shot to kill scores of people. Add to that the rather specific nature of these claims, which add a certain credibility in that they could be at least potentially easily disproven if false (e.g., someone "killed in a car accident" won't have a bullet in their body). So at the very least, the claims of the Tehran police deserve to be reported. They were not.
Obama continues his 3rd Bush term
The best defense is a good offense, international law be damned. That's the Bush doctrine, and that's the Obama doctrine as well:
"Third, I've directed my national security team to keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country...the United States will...do more than simply strengthen our defenses. We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland."But it's more than just the similar actions of the two Presidents. It's the way they lie to the American people about the justification for those actions:
"Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans."This is doubly nonsense. First of all, if the claims of Al Qaeda are to be believed, and in this case there's little reason not to, just as with 9/11 the object of this attempted attack wasn't "our security," but protecting their security. They object to having the U.S. military occupy and attack their country. What a surprise. And second of all, there is no evidence that Al Qaeda has any concern whatsoever about the values in this country, whatever kind of society they wish to create their own country.
Pure b.s. straight out of the Bush playbook. Obama sounds better saying it. More's the pity.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Summing up the world
Micheael Prysner of ANSWER and March Forward! sums it up:
"Our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land whose names or policies we don't understand. The real enemy is a system that wages war when it's profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it's profitable, the insurance companies who deny us health care when it's profitable, the banks who take away our homes when it's profitable. Our enemies are not several thousand miles away. They are right here in front of us."
A much longer audio interview with Prysner and James Circello, also of March Forward!, can be found here.
March 20! Get off your computer and into the streets!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Lenin's Tomb gives us an excellent summary of the atrocity that was the Israeli assault on Gaza, one year ago, lacking only a reminder of the U.S./U.K./Egyptian/"Western" complicity in that ongoing genocide. Amira Haas shows us what happens to Palestinians who take the non-violent approach to resistance, specifically, they get arrested and jailed (and, although she doesn't mention it, go completely unmentioned in the Western corporate media, e.g., try searching for "Mohammad Othman", in contrast to protesters arrested in, e.g., Iran). Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter is busy apologizing "for any contribution he may have had to Israel's negative image." As if anything he's had to say could hold a candle to what Israel has actually done. And finally, Khalil Bendib weighs in:
Update: Neve Gordon also reviews the history of Palestinian non-violent resistance, and Israel's history of violent response to it.
On a different subject, are you one of those who thinks Mumia Abu-Jamal is a "cop-killer," or, for that matter, that the U.S. "justice" system shouldn't require quotation marks? If so, read the history of Veronica Jones, a key witness against Abu-Jamal who was coerced by police to do so, and later recanted (in a later court hearing) even under threat of perjury (and was arrested as a result).
Elsewhere, Ted Rall takes on Obama's "good enough" "revolution." I disagree with Rall about MP3's (convenience is a factor that has value, say I as I sit here listening to Nat King Cole sing Christmas carols on my computer while my "higher-fidelity" stereo system is nowhere nearby), and I would hardly use the word "revolution" in conjunction with Obama even in jest, but still a good column. And finally, Rall's graphic commentary on the situation:
And last but not least, following up on my "Not one of them is Cuban" post below, take a look at what a country whose public health care is not an "option" but simply universal can do for pregnant women in the face of the H1N1 flu. Proactive health care, the mark of a country which puts people's needs first.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Not one of them is Cuban
UNICEF reports today that 146 million underweight children in the developing world, and that not one of them is Cuban. Indeed, UNICEF reports that Cuba is the only country in all of Latin America and the Caribbean that has eliminated severe child malnutrition.
As a reminder, there are other categories in which Cuba can claim the same distinction:
900 thousand children die every month because of poverty: not one of them is Cuban.Cuba isn't perfect, or heaven on earth. It is a society which puts people's needs first, and it shows.
200 million children in the world sleep on the streets today. None of them is Cuban.
250 million children under 13 have to work in order to survive. None of them is Cuban.
More than one million children are forced into prostitution and tens of thousands have been victims of human organ trafficking. None of them is Cuban.
25 thousand children in the world die every day of measles, malaria, diphtheria, pneumonia and malnutrition. None of them is Cuban.
By the way, to compare Cuba to another "tropical island," consider today's news from Hawaii:
Public schools in Hawaii are closed most Fridays, rats scurry across bananas in an uninspected market, and there may not be enough money to run a Congressional election.
Friday, December 18, 2009
American "contractor" arrested in Cuba, part II
In case you still think that American "contractor" (and possible CIA agent) arrested in Cuba was just some innocent do-gooder, you'll want to read this article which is not from the Cuban press or some leftwing source favorable to Cuba, but the Miami Herald. What it makes clear is that people such as this know perfectly well that what they are doing is illegal.
And don't be fooled by what amounts to misdirection with the lumping together of people distributing "aid" and people distributing money or material goods to dissidents in the hopes of promoting subversion of the government. I know many people who have gone to Cuba to bring aid (e.g., to victims of the recent hurricanes), and not one of them was worried that they were doing anything illegal. Indeed, they were all welcomed with open arms.
Also, don't be fooled by the term "pro-democracy." As it does everywhere in the world (including right here in the U.S.), the U.S. government (and media) use the term "democracy" when what they really mean is "capitalism." The U.S. government isn't sending agents to Cuba to promote "democracy." They are doing so to promote capitalism.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Barack Nixon and his policy of Afghanimization
Quote of the Day
"Capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity. Capitalism—and I’m speaking about irrational development—policies of unlimited industrialization are what destroys the environment. And that irrational industrialization is capitalism. So as long as we don’t review or revise those policies, it’s impossible to attend to humanity and life."A reminder about Morales' recent speech at the U.N. calling for "rights for the planet" to match rights for human beings.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales, speaking today in Copenhagen on Democracy Now!
And a reminder of the best and most important slogan to come out of Copenhagen:
Update: Someone else agrees with Evo (besides me, I mean):
"¡Cambiad el sistema, no el clima!"
Change the system, not the climate!
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described capitalism and materialism as root causes for the world's environment crisis.Update 2: Unsurprisingly, Hugo Chavez echoes similar thoughts:
Addressing a UN sponsored climate change conference in Copenhagen, he said that the capitalism is based on interfering in nature and encouraging people to use natural resources more than they need.
"Profit-making approach to the world resources must be avoided," he said.
"Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species....One could say there is a spectre at Copenhagen, to paraphrase Karl Marx...almost no-one wants to mention it: the spectre of capitalism."
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The insanity that is capitalism
The Senate has just voted down attempts to allow "re-importation" of drugs from other countries like Canada. Is that insane? Yes, but not nearly as insane as the fact that "re-importation" is even an issue in the first place. Drugs made in the United States, shipped to another country, and then shipped back to the United States.
Is there any wonder the planet is being destroyed when such things can occur, all as a result of capitalism - the production of goods for profit rather than for use?
Update: And while I'm on the subject, is there anything more insane than being offered "medical advice" from television commercials paid for by drug manufacturers?
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Yet another war for the U.S.?
It isn't confirmed, but you surely wouldn't want to bet against it:
Yemeni Shi'ite rebels accused the U.S. air force on Tuesday of joining attacks against them, and killing at least 120 people in a raid in the north of the poor Arab state.
The planet is threatened by a holocaust. Glaciers are melting all over the planet. The Greenland ice sheet is melting so much that new islands are being uncovered. The North Pole is not far from being free from ice in the summer. New England is losing its ability to make maple syrup. And in the face of all this evidence, we have...Americans. Americans, of whom only 4 in 10 "believe" in evolution. Americans, who believe in miracles (89%), the devil (68%), hell (69%), ghosts (51%), astrology (31%) and reincarnation (27%).
And now, in the face of planetary holocaust, we have either 26% or 33% who don't believe the earth is warming. We're not talking here about the cause of the warming, just the warming itself. Shocking? Yes. And, sadly, no.
"U.S. Contractor" detained in Cuba
The headlines a few days ago warned Americans about the latest "provocation" by the Cuban government. "Cuba Detains a U.S. Contractor " warned The New York Times. "Cuba detains contractor for U.S. government" according to the Washington Post. And all he was doing, as the subhead in the Post says, was "handing out mobile phones, laptops to activists." I mean, it's an outrage right?
Um, no. The Post tells us that "the contractor...works for Bethesda-based Development Alternatives...that...was awarded a government contract last year to help USAID 'support the rule of law and human rights, political competition and consensus building' in Cuba." In other words, he (or she) is a contract employee of the U.S. government, every bit as much as Blackwater employees in Iraq or any other, performing work under contract to the government. We get a bit of "misdirection" from the Post who then tells us that "Under Cuban law...a Cuban citizen or a foreign visitor can be arrested for nearly anything under the claim of 'dangerousness.'" But it's not "dangerousness" which is in question here, it's espionage.
The Times takes a different tack. After a long detour to discuss the American media's favorite Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez (read an in-depth analysis of her here), and to talk about Cuba's "hard-line tactics" and "draconian laws," it finally gets around in paragraph 11 (past the point where it will appear in most papers that pick up the story) to the essence of the matter, referring to "the contractor’s covert conduct — which included entering Cuba on a tourist visa without proper documents." Note that word "included," by the way, but even if all (s)he did was to enter Cuba on a tourist visa while carrying out "business" (promoting subversion) under a U.S. government contract, that's a serious offense in any country. It's called being an "unregistered agent of a foreign country," and in this case, it's a foreign country whose stated policy is "regime change" towards Cuba. Hardly a benign situation.
Here in the United States, five Cuban men (the Cuban Five) are serving long prison sentences (eleven plus years already and counting) for being unregistered agents of Cuba. Were they trying to pass out money to antiwar groups or leftist political parties, doing their bit to promote the overthrow of the U.S. government? Hardly, they were infiltrating right-wing terrorist groups and trying to (and succeeding) prevent acts of terrorism against Cuba. Heroic acts. Unarmed, they could easily have lost their lives on that mission. Instead, they lost their freedom to the U.S. government.
So don't cry for me Argentina. And don't cry for some U.S. contractor who was caught while trying to promote the overthrow of the Cuban government. And don't think for a second (s)he's going to be charged with "dangerousness."
By the way, in what I've written above, I'm taking the report at face value that this company and this person is simply a "contractor" doing work under a contract with the U.S. government. Eva Gollinger, who is quite well-informed on these matters, has a different take. She claims, based among other things on their record in Venezuela, that the company, DAI, is actually a CIA front organization, and that the person apprehended is therefore a CIA employee. And who am I to disagree?
A few nights ago I watched the documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," and last night finished up with the "extras" (the footage that didn't make the final cut). A really worthwhile film (including the extras, which often aren't), a portrait of someone who was not only a great talent but someone who tried to make a difference (and who earned the enmity of the U.S. Government as a result). Definitely recommended.
Just one fact I learned (from an interview with Geraldo Rivera, no less!) which I'll pass on. From the day John left the Beatles, he never performed a single concert for money. Every single appearance was a benefit for (or just supporting) one or another progressive cause.
Do I wish we had someone of John Lennon's stature supporting the antiwar and other progressive causes today? You bet I do. Because, although it's masses of people who ultimately can cause change, it's often individuals like Lennon who can inspire them to do so.
Imagine there's no heavenThe most beautiful song ever written (or sung).
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
The Chutzpah Award
There are always numerous contenders for the Chutzpah Award. Barack "War is Peace" Obama accepting the Nobel "Peace" Prize was certainly a strong contender. But really, giving them a few extra bonus points since "chutzpah" is a Yiddish word anyway, shouldn't the Israelis really have long-since retired the award? I mean, what else can you think when an Israeli leader has the nerve, the temerity, the chutzpah, to call on the U.N. to sanction Iran for its nuclear activities?
Israel, which unlike Iran isn't even a signatory to the NPT. Israel, which alone amongst the world's nations (as far as we know) maintains a huge nuclear arsenal while refusing to acknowledge that open secret? Israel, which is in violation of more U.N. resolutions than you can shake a stick at, dating all the way back to 1948 and Resolution 194, and right up through its refusal to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission. Israel, whose leaders openly threaten to attack Iran.
That Israel has the chutzpah to call on the U.N. to sanction Iran, a country which is in full compliance with its obligations under the NPT.
Update: One more point on the "right of return" mentioned above. Yesterday Flashpoints played Electronic Intifada editor Ali Abunimah's keynote speech to the recent National Campus BDS Conference (an important speech well worth listening to in its entirety). Abunimah made the following point very much worth remembering, however obvious it might seem: "The Palestinian refugees are denied the right to return to their homeland for the sole reason that they're from the wrong ethnic group. That's simply unconscionable [and, I might add, racist] in the 21st century." Remember this the next time someone wants to dismiss this demand as some kind of "pie in the sky" idea.
Sorry, relocating a prison is not the same as closing it. Especially when you plan to continue to hold the same prisoners indefinitely without benefit of trial (or charges, for that matter). They might as well just rename Thomson, IL as "Guantanamo by the Mississippi." Doesn't quite have the same ring as "Guantanamo Bay," but I don't think the prisoners will notice much difference.
Just for the record, and I'm hardly the first to say this, indefinite imprisonment without prospect of trial is, without any question in my mind, torture.
Update: Why I like FOX News' Shep Smith: just now, listening to him report this event, he said, repeating twice for emphasis, that the detainees being transferred were "suspects, not terrorists; suspects, not terrorists." I'll be interested to see if any other news program makes that distinction. Most politicians certainly won't. The Governor of Illinois, for example, speaking now, refers to "those who have committed crimes against our people." But, as Smith just pointed out, the detainees being transferred haven't been convicted (nor again, even charged) with any such thing.
Second update: National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones says this is going to "take away an important recruiting tool for terrorists." Does he really think terrorists are that stupid that it's the name "Guantanamo" that is the key fact, rather than the imprisonment (and torture, physical or otherwise) of those inside?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Laugh-out-loud Quote of the Day
"Today, everyone agrees that the recession is over."Really? Me, I'm guessing that there are several million people who have lost their houses and millions more who have lost their jobs who don't quite see it that way.
- Larry Summers, Obama's top economic advisor
Terrorists attack mosque.
News Silence at 11.
A few days ago Jewish "settlers" in the West Bank burned a mosque in a Palestinian village, destroying more than 80 copies of the Koran in the mosque's library and leaving racist and terrorist graffiti including "Price tag - greetings from Effi" [i.e., this is the "price" the settlers will extract from you Palestinians because they have been "punished" by the (non-existent) settlement "freeze"] and "We will burn the lot of you" [no explanation needed there]. The event has been reported in all the Israeli media, been condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and even condemned by the American Consulate General in Jerusalem.
Despite all this, however, this event has received, as far as I can tell, zero coverage in the U.S. corporate media. CNN International did run a story, British sources like BBC and The Times covered it, but in the New York Times, it was only "fit" for their "blog", not the actual newspaper (does the print edition still claim it's "All the news that's fit to print"? I haven't seen it in a while). And that the was high-point of U.S. coverage. Chances that more than 1% of the American population heard about this story? Less than 1%.
Nor is this a one-time thing. Israeli colonizers (a.k.a. "settlers") routinely uproot Palestinian olive trees. Yet the last reference I could find to such an action in the New York Times was from 2003!
All the news that's fit to print? No, all the news that fits the storyline they want you to believe. Is there any wonder Americans have different opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than even their European counterparts? It's because they see a different "reality."
Update: I should add, this actually happened a couple days ago. With the difference in time zones, I was giving the U.S. media the "benefit of the doubt" and waiting an extra day to see if anything showed up. I needn't have bothered.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tony Blair: No WMD? No problem.
Tony Blair says he would have invaded Iraq even if he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, but "you would have had to use and deploy different arguments." Why? Because "I can't really think we'd be better with him and his two sons still in charge."
So that's it, then. If Tony Blair thinks Britain will be better off without Kim Jong-il heading up North Korea, or Raul Castro heading Cuba, or, for that matter, even Nicolas Sarkozy heading France, then an invasion will be justified. It's his philosophy of "just war." Not "just" as in "righteous," "just" as in "only."
Get ready for the next escalation: Somalia
The U.S. has already been involved with war against Somalia, both directly and indirectly. But today there's this potentially ominous news (ominous for the people in Somalia with the U.S. target on their backs):
Somali Islamist insurgents have imported terrorist tactics and technology used with deadly results in Iraq and Afghanistan, threatening the African country's beleaguered government and causing alarm as far as Washington.Go reread Obama's recent speeches at West Point (in particular) and in Oslo. Based on today's news story, there is nothing he has to say about why the U.S. if fighting in Afghanistan that doesn't also apply to Somalia.
The Somali insurgents offer refuge to terrorists and may also provide territory for training for a strike on the West, said Juan Zarate, the former U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Terrorism. Recruits in jihadist training camps in Somalia are already taught how to use firearms and explosives, according to local and U.S. officials.
Obama on "Total War"
A lot of attention was focused on Obama's defense (and expansion of the concept of) "just war" in his Nobel Prize speech, but none on the concept of "total war." Here's what he had to say about that:
Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of "just war" was rarely observed...Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations -- total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent...To hear Obama speak, you'd think the concept of "total war" was a concept which perished with World War II. But in the very next war, 18 of North Korea’s 22 largest cities were at least half flattened. American bombers destroyed the irrigation dams that provided water for 75% of the nation’s food production. "Total war" at its "finest." In Vietnam, more of the same. John McCain the "war hero" was shot down while bombing a light-bulb factory.
In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war...a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.
In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War.
In the First Gulf War, more total war. The United States deliberately and systematically destroyed the Iraqi water system, knowing in advance that "this could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease," and then during the decade of economic war ("sanctions" is the polite word) which followed, intentionally kept them from being reconstructed. One million Iraqis, half of them children, died as a result of this deliberate policy of "total war," the policy which U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (in)famously once pronounced as "worth it" (it being the deaths of half a million children), and another aspect of the "war on civilians" that Obama "forgot" to mention.
Yugoslavia? Still more "total war," with the destruction of water systems, power and heating plants, hospitals, universities, schools, apartment complexes, senior citizens' homes, bridges, factories, trains, buses, radio and TV stations, the telephone system, oil refineries, embassies, marketplaces and more, all in a deliberate effort not to defeat Yugoslavia militarily, but to force the civilian population to cry "uncle" and overthrow their own government due to the hardships they were suffering.
One could make a case that the two most recent U.S. wars have finally broken from this pattern. But if the U.S. wasn't deliberately destroying civilian targets during the second war against Iraq, it's mostly because the sanctions regime had left little left to target. Hospitals were targeted though, proving the "total war" policy was still in effect even if it had little to work with. Likewise in Afghanistan.
Nor should we forget the war which Obama didn't see fit to mention, the U.S.-supported Israeli war against Gaza at the beginning of this year. True "total war," with hospitals, schools, factories, and just plain civilian houses all targets of the destruction.
"Total war" a thing of the past? If only.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Rethinking Obama's speech
Just on one point, don't get alarmed! I noted several times Obama's mentioning of civilian deaths, e.g, "In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers." He says "The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states -- all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos."
And at first, I thought he was just saying these things as an indictment of war. But on thinking about it, I believe his message was quite different. It was his way of excusing civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Gaza as well, his way of saying "look, folks, s**t happens in war, so don't blame us when civilians die, it's just a fact of life."
Of course it is no such thing. Yes, once in a blue moon civilians are really "killed in the crossfire," or die because "combatants were hiding behind them." But far more often than not, they're killed because those with the power, those with the bombs and the drones and the airplanes, just don't value the lives of their targets very much, and are willing to fire their tank shells and drop their bombs on the mere suspicion that they might accomplish some military goal. And even worse, they include (with Gaza and Yugoslavia being prime examples) amongst those "military goals" making the civilian population suffer enough to overthrow their own government.
That, in my opinion, was Obama's message. It was the opposite of any kind of apology or plea for such things to end. It was a justification for them to continue.
Scenes from a war
An article in today's San Jose Mercury News describes the latest effort of the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund, bringing 15-year-old Mariam Al Shafei here to the Bay Area to fit her with an artificial eye. Mariam lost her eye in January, when an Israeli tank that was part of the assault on Gaza fired shells at her neighborhood as she was eating breakfast. Mariam was "lucky"; her 4-year-old neighbor was killed.
Unsurprisingly, Mariam wasn't the first member of her family to be a victim of Israeli war crimes. "Her father, Hassan, 45, was working in the family's strawberry field four years ago, when he was killed, along with six other civilians, by an Israelis tank shell."
But of the various atrocities described in the article, this is the one that really struck me:
She marvels at how few American children are missing arms or legs.Just let that sink in.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Barack and Eli, a dialog
Barack: The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible
Me: With most of those new ways being thought up by the good old U.S. of A.
Barack: World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.
Me: With one hell of a lot of them perishing in the atomic bombing of two cities in Japan, plus the fire-bombing of dozens more.
Barack: Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.
Me: Oh, Barack, don't be so modest. I would never call you (or George Bush or Bill Clinton) "small men," yet you have killed more than two million Iraqis in the last few decades.
Barack: In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.
Me: Will he mention the four million Iraqi refugees, who have been for all intents and purposes totally forgotten by the world? The four million Palestinian refugees who his government is complicit in denying the right to return? No, he will not.
Barack: We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.
Me: Will he acknowledge even that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not "necessary or morally justified"? No, the only mention of Iraq is in conjunction with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Barack: As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.
Me: An insult to Dr. King. "Living testimony to the moral force of non-violence" my ass, pardon my French.
Barack: I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.
Me: Really? 44,000 Americans die each year because of lack of health insurance. How about doing something about that "threat to the American people," instead of having to pare down health insurance "reform" to nearly nothing because of its "expense"?
Barack: Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms.
Me: First of all, al Qaeda barely has "arms." 9/11 was accomplished with a handful of men and box-cutters, as we all know. The "arms" al Qaeda has probably consists of a handful of rifles and maybe a few RPGs. Second of all, why couldn't "negotiations" accomplish anything? After all, al Qaeda claims to be inflamed by A) the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia; and B) U.S. support for Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. Aren't those problems that are in principle amenable to negotiation?
Barack: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
Me: We don't seek to impose our will? Give me a break. What did we seek to do in Panama, or Grenada, or Yugoslavia, or Iraq, or Afghanistan? Install new governments of our choosing or favorable to the U.S. What do we seek to do in Cuba, Venezuela, etc.? The same thing. If that isn't "imposing our will" or seeking to do so I don't know what is. And I've already spoken to this nonsense about "enlightened self-interest": "Our children and grandchildren" will be better off if the rest of the world is living in slavery, providing natural resources and goods to us at the lowest possible price.
Barack: So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions."
Me: Sorry, no. War is not a product of "human nature." It is a product of economic institutions, and in our day, that means capitalism and imperialism.
Barack: The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait -- a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.
Me: The "world" did not support the invasion of Afghanistan or of Iraq. The U.S. and its allies did. Neither invasion was approved (in advance, anyway) by the U.N., and it is doubtful that a majority of the world's people or countries supported either invasion. Hell, only a bare majority of the U.S. Congress approved the invasion of Iraq (the first invasion); if they were using the new "60-vote" standard, it wouldn't have even passed the Senate.
Barack: I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.
Me: "Humanitarian"? 79 days of bombing Yugoslavia and many, many deaths in order to force a change of government, to prevent a "genocide" which wasn't happening?
Barack: I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions.
Me: Guantanamo: still open. Torture: who knows? Secret prisons still abound. And Obama's administration is as we speak trying to dismiss a suit against torture-justifier John Yoo. America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions? Does that means that the U.S. plans to do something about Israel's flaunting of those conventions by establishing colonies in the West Bank?
Barack: First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior -- for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure -- and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.
Me: Few regimes have broken the rules longer than the one in Israel. Is he starting a campaign for sanctions against Israel? Perhaps a campaign to punish the United States for invading Iraq illegally?
Barack: But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.
Me: Any "race" requires more than one participant. How can there be an "arms race" in the Middle East. Oh yes, because one country who refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty already has nuclear weapons. That would be Israel, whose name does not appear in this speech. And, by the way, since the nations "arming themselves for nuclear war" includes first and foremost the United States, any country being threatened by the U.S. (of which there are many) is surely justified by Obama's logic in "not standing idly by" but in fact preparing to defend themselves.
Barack: It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.
Me: Article 25 of that Declaration reads: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." Will Obama being doing something about enforcing that article (among others)? 67 homeless people have died this year right here in Santa Clara County, one of the richest counties in the United States. What does Obama have to say about their human rights?
Barack: For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
Me: Take a look around you, Barack. You might start just a block or so from the White House.
Barack: It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
Me: We don't need any more of your "hope." What the people of the United States (and the world) need is deeds. Putting your money where your mouth is, instead of watching education and access to food and health care be cut day by day as more and more money is funneled into the war machine.
Barack: It perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities -- their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we're moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden.
Me: The conflict in Palestine doesn't originate with race, tribe, or religion. It originates in land, in occupation. Muslims and Jews (and Christians) lived together in Palestine in peace for a long time before the United Nations decided that it was a "land without people" which could simply be given to other people without bothering to consult the inhabitants.
Barack: And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan.
Me: Can we get our facts straight? "Our country" was not attacked at all; 9/11 was not Pearl Harbor. The World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings were attacked, different in quantity (mostly thanks to incredible luck) but not in character from Tim McVeigh's attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, which has never been described as an "attack on the United States." But, more importantly, this attack did not come "from Afghanistan." It was planned in Germany and executed by people right here in the United States, who came from a variety of countries, mostly Saudi Arabia, and none of them from Afghanistan (or Iraq). The "inspiration" may (or may not) have come from a guy living in Afghanistan, but the attack itself - no.
Update: I should have noted that for someone who involved the name of Dr. King no less than six times in his speech, he might have included one of Dr. King's most famous lines:
"The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."
Stop the war...on the world!
I went to a meeting last night to begin planning for March 20 actions against the war(s). Although organizations are all invited to have their own leaflets and slogans within a common framework, the ANSWER leaflet looks like this:
Of course I agree with all those demands. But what strikes me is this: we who demonstrate are constantly being criticized by the media for having "too many demands." Let there be one "Free Mumia" or "Save the Whales" banner amidst a thousand "U.S. Out of Iraq!" banners, we'll be told the demonstration was "reminiscent of the sixties" with a hodgepodge of demands. But here's the thing: a wide range of demands are connected, and never before have those connections been as transparent as they are right now in the midst of the economic downturn. Which is why I think it's time to proudly embrace that myriad of demands, with the "Stop the war...on the world!" slogan.
As I was traveling to the meeting, for example, over the radio came the news that the Los Angeles School District is planning to lay off up to 8000 personnel next year unless voters approve a new tax and teachers swallow pay cuts, all because of an expected $470 million budget shortfall. And all I could think of was the figure "$1 million/soldier/year" for the escalation of the war against Afghanistan, and that just 470 fewer soldiers (29,530 instead of 30,000!) and 8000 jobs could be saved (and actually a lot more, since those people buy groceries, and clothes, and toys, etc., from people who in turn buy groceries, clothes, and toys, etc., in the standard "multiplier effect") Imagine what could be done with the money saved from sending 30,000 fewer soldiers to Afghanistan! Or bringing all 100,000 of them home, as well as the 118,000 from Iraq! These connections are becoming clearer and clearer, and although slogans like "Money for jobs and education, not war and occupation" and "Money for healthcare, not for warfare" have long been part of antiwar demonstrations, now is the time to give them even more prominence.
And, although my "Stop the war...against the world!" graphic has included "Global Warming" since the day I created it in December, 2005, with the climate summit in Copenhagen going on, the double-meaning of the word "world" in that slogan has never been more appropriate. The world (the planet) may in a sense be collateral damage in the sense that it's not an intended target, but it's every bit as much a victim of capitalism and imperialism as are the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and the others around the world directly in the cross-hairs.
Stop the war...on the world!
History is made
Today, U.S. President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to numerous warmongers and war criminals in the past, with Henry Kissinger perhaps the most notorious. But never before has the prize literally been handed to someone who was at that very moment escalating at least one (Afghanistan) and quite possibly two (Pakistan) wars he is responsible for, not to mention also occupying another country (Iraq) and providing vigorous support for the occupation of another (Palestine), and not to mention carrying out active economic warfare (blockades) against at least four countries (Cuba, Iran, Gaza, North Korea), one of which (Gaza) is perhaps the only country in history to be simultaneously occupied and blockaded.
Before I get to Obama's speech, which I'll address in another post, I really think I need to repost a portion of a speech given 30 years ago at the U.N. by someone who really deserves the Nobel Peace Prize:
Mr. President, distinguished representatives: Human rights are often spoken of, but we must also speak of humanity's rights. Why should some people walk around barefoot so that others may travel in expensive cars? Why should some live only 35 years so that others may live 70? Why should some be miserably poor so that others may be exaggeratedly rich? I speak on behalf of the children in the world who do not even have a piece of bread. [applause] I speak on behalf of the sick who lack medicine. I speak on behalf of those who have been denied the right to life and human dignity.
Some countries are on the sea; others are not. [applause] Some have energy resources; others do not. Some possess abundant land on which to produce food; others do not. Some are so glutted with machinery and factories that even the air cannot be breathed because of the poisoned atmosphere; [applause] while others have nothing more than their emaciated arms with which to earn their daily bread. In short, some countries possess abundant resources; others have nothing.
What is their fate? To starve? To be eternally poor? Why then civilization? Why then the conscience of man? Why then the United Nations? [applause] Why then the world? One cannot speak of peace on behalf of tens of millions of human beings all over the world who are starving to death or dying of curable diseases. One cannot speak of peace on behalf of 900 million illiterates.
The exploitation of the poor countries by the rich countries must cease. I know that in many poor countries there are both exploiters and exploited. I address myself to the rich nations, asking them to contribute. And I address myself to the poor countries, asking them to distribute. Enough of words. We need deeds. [applause]
Enough of abstractions. We need concrete action. Enough of speaking about a speculative new international economic order that nobody understands. [applause] We must speak of a real, objective order that everybody understands.
I have not come here as a prophet of revolution. I have not come here to ask or to wish that the world be violently convulsed. I have come to speak of peace and cooperation among the peoples. And I have come to warn that if we do not peacefully and wisely resolve the present injustices and inequalities, the futurewill be apocalyptic. [applause] The sounds of weapons, of threatening language, and of prepotent behavior on the international arena must cease. [applause]
Enough of the illusion that the problems of the world can be solved by nuclear weapons. Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick, and the ignorant, but they cannot kill hunger, disease, and ignorance. Nor can they kill the righteous rebellion of the peoples. And in the holocaust, the rich -- who have the most to lose in this world -- will also die.
- Fidel Castro
Monday, December 07, 2009
"Afghanistan is not Vietnam"
In the past few days we've heard from various people including President Obama and today Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that "Afghanistan is not Vietnam," and the number one reason they seem to advance in support of this proposition is that "there are 42 nations joining the U.S. in fighting in Afghanistan." Well, to begin with, that's about as close to a bald-faced lie as you can get without tripping the lie detector. There may (or may not) be 42 nations involved in the "Coalition of the Billing," but only 24 have suffered fatalities, and most of those were no more involved in the "fighting" than were innocent Afghan civilians. In fact, only a handful are actually involved in the fighting. Only two aside from the U.S. have fatalities in the triple digits (Canada and the U.K.), and only a few more even in the double digits. And, lest you forget, the same was true in Vietnam. South Korean forces, for example, suffered almost 10% of the deaths as did the U.S., and Australian, New Zealand, and Thai forces all suffered significant casualties.
So the idea that the war against Afghanistan is different because multiple nations are participating in the slaughter (o.k., Obama and Mullen didn't quite use those words) simply doesn't hold up. But what really doesn't hold up is the idea that it makes the slightest difference to the analogy. The analogy with Vietnam isn't based on the nature of the occupation forces, its based on the nature of the resistance. A resistance which opposes the occupation of its country, and will fight indefinitely and with great tenacity and self-sacrifice, to oppose that occupation, because unlike the soldiers of the occupying forces, they actually have a stake in the matter. And that resistance isn't affected by whether they are fighting an occupation by one country, or five, or 43.
The real story of the Honduran elections
A report from on the ground in Honduras by the Real News Network exposes the lies surrounding the fraudulent Honduran election which permeate the corporate media (12 minutes long but well worth it):
The Afghanistan "withdrawal," further clarified
Defense [sic] Secretary Robert Gates helpfully quantifies that "withdrawal":
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates denied Sunday that President Obama had set an "exit strategy" for Afghanistan, and he forecast that only a "handful" of U.S. troops may leave the country in July 2011, when a withdrawal is due to begin.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
The potential for socialism advances in Bolivia
In not unexpected news, Evo Morales won re-election as Bolivian President by a 63-27 margin (based on exit polls). Not at all guaranteed, and perhaps even better news:
Morales' allies also won a convincing majority in both houses of Congress.As in Venezuela, we can expect the U.S. (including, mark my words, liberals as well as the "establishment") to start talking about the lack of "democracy" after these free and fair elections. Meanwhile, talk of the joke that was the recent Afghan election has virtually disappeared from the media.
Friday, December 04, 2009
The Afghanistan "withdrawal," clarified
I and others have already pointed out that "beginning" a withdrawal, even if it actually comes to pass, is far from a withdrawal. National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones confirms that today, loud and clear, for those who are hard of hearing (or comprehending):
"This is not a withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan in 2011, it is a decision to turn over to the Afghans some of the responsibility where they are ready to accept that responsibility. But in no manner, shape or form is the United States leaving Afghanistan in 2011.""Freezes" that aren't freezes, "withdrawals" that aren't withdrawals; who should we credit - Lewis Carroll or George Orwell?
How rich are the rich, and how beholden is the Congress?
Very. The House voted today to make the current estate tax rate permanent, setting it at 45 percent for individual estates worth more than $3.5 million. If that sounds like a progressive thing, think again. First of all, all the Republicans and some of the Democrats would like to abolish the tax altogether. And if this bill didn't pass (or doesn't; it still hasn't passed the Senate, but I get the impression it will), here are the consequences: If Congress does not act, the estate tax will disappear in 2010, then return in 2011 under the higher rates -- 55 percent and a $1 million exemption -- that existed before President George W. Bush took office.
And the difference between 45% above estates of $3.5 million and 55% of estates above $1 million? An estimated $234 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. That's the gift which the Congress is giving to the rich, a gift which could pay for healthcare, or to eliminate the budget deficits of all the states, or any number of things which would benefit tens of millions of people, rather than the tiny number of people who are actually affected by this tax.
And remember that "60-vote requirement" in the Senate which is seriously distorting the debate on healthcare and so many other issues? Well, by that same requirement, just 40 Democrats in the Senate could defeat this bill, thereby allowing the older, higher tax to come back into effect and generate $234 billion in revenue. Will that happen? I wouldn't bet on it.
Nobel Peace Prize Winner to Escalate Second War
Afghanistan wasn't enough, the U.S. is escalating the war in Pakistan as well.
There's still time to reconsider, Nobel Peace Prize Committee!
Thursday, December 03, 2009
No to Escalation! No to Occupation! Troops Out Now!
Yesterday in San Francisco:
Multiple channels carried excellent coverage of the demonstration, some for as long as three minutes. Even though the demonstration wasn't huge (500 people), the coverage surely reflects an acknowledgment by the media of the significant public discontent with the war and in particular the escalation.
On March 20, major national antiwar coalitions are joining together for national marches against the war in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Now is the time to start building to make those marches so massive that they can't be ignored.
Ehud Barak puts an end to the "2-state" fantasy
Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, had this to say yesterday:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with four West Bank council heads in his office on Wednesday, and stressed to them that "the settlement blocs are an inseparable part of Israel in all future negotiations with the Palestinians. The Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea are regions that are dear to my heart."If it wasn't obvious to everyone before, it should be obvious now that Israel's idea of a "Palestinian state" is one that exists somewhere else. Gaza maybe. Somewhere in the future (that will always remain the future). But definitely not the West Bank.
Oh, and by the way, that settlement "freeze" that was pretty thin ice to begin with? It just thawed completely, as Netanyahu gave permission for new building in an area which was neither East Jerusalem, a municipal building, or a project already under construction.
Update: Oh, and while we're on the subject of promises broken the day after they're made, that "Afghanistan exit" that will "begin" (even as ill-defined as that word is) in July 2011? Not so much. Fingers were crossed and all that.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Peace through war, exit through escalation
I'm not going to bother with a complete deconstruction of Obama's speech; if you want that, see WIIIAI.
Rachel Maddow zeroed in nicely on one of the key implicit points of the speech - Obama's endorsement of the radical, illegal, war criminal "Bush doctrine" which says the U.S. has the right to attack countries which might threaten us at sometime in the future even if they don't threaten us now (though even Bush had to pretend he was attacking Iraq because of actual WMD's; whatever he might have wanted, he could have never sold the invasion of Iraq to the Congress, much less to the American people, if he had said the U.S. was invading because Iraq might have WMD sometime in the future). But, as Maddow notes, the Administration admits there is no threat now, but justifies the war to prevent Al Qaeda from establishing bases in some future Afghanistan in which the Taliban has sufficient control to allow such a thing. And, I should note, every word of the justification that Obama advanced for fighting in Afghanistan applies equally to Pakistan, and there is no reason whatsoever to believe he doesn't think so, or that the obvious may follow from that.
Just a few remarks of my own:
Obama: "What we have fought for -- what we continue to fight for -- is a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity."Of course this is just platitudes, and actually nonsense. "Our children and grandchildren" will be better off if the rest of the world is living in slavery, providing natural resources and goods to us at the lowest possible price. But, taking Obama at his word, we know that he doesn't think "freedom" is something that exists in numerous countries in the world - China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe, the list goes on (and of course wouldn't include countries which belong on the list, like Saudi Arabia, but which are on the list of "good guys" so the don't count). So Obama's rationale for why the U.S. is in Afghanistan says we should be sending troops to all those other countries too, to fight for "freedom." The freedom of the grave, just as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, one key point I will steal from WIIIAI. The press picked up a lot on the talk of "exit strategy," which is of course just a lot of hot air. But, as WIIIAI notes, it wasn't even that hot, with Obama talking about how we could "begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011." "Begin" is a loaded word. The U.S. still has 38,000 troops in South Korea, more than 50 years after the end of that war.
Two final notes. First, we had a huge success in San Jose last night. The San Jose Peace & Justice Center organized a demonstration which attracted about 35 people, but, importantly, a news crew from the local Fox affiliate, KTVU (Ch. 2). The first minute of their 5:00 p.m. news featured a full minute of our demonstration, with favorable commentary from the on-air anchor, followed immediately by the President walking out to give his speech! Nice lead-in! Mission accomplished!
And finally, some good coverage on Russia Today last night featuring ANSWER Coaliton coordinator Brian Becker:
Republicans: the Democrats' best friend
With a President who can talk peace while practicing war, and Congresspeople (with a handful of exceptions) who can talk LGBT rights and women's rights while selling gays and women down the river, only the nature of the Republicans can possibly make Democrats look good. And they're giving it their best shot. Today the Republicans are in Congress, complaining about how the health insurance reform proposals are going to seriously damage Medicare. These are of course the same Republicans, or their successors, who did their best to prevent Medicare from ever coming into existence!
Then they complain about how the proposed changes are going to make old people die sooner. Have they not read the reports that 44,000 people a year are dying right now because they lack health insurance? Why is it that they're concerned with hypothetical old people in the future, and not very real people in the present?
And just now on the news, one of them was complaining that the recently issued mammogram guidelines were going to be used by insurance companies to refuse payment for mammograms until age 50, and using that complaint to indict the proposed health insurance reform bills. Does he not realize that most people are insured by those insurance companies right now, and that denial of care by insurance companies, whether using some government guidelines or guidelines of their own that they made up, is one of the major problems with the health insurance system that we have now?
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