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Sunday, January 30, 2011


Now she wants democracy in Egypt?

The big story on the news today is that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that the U.S. wants to see a "real democracy" in Egypt. Really? Is that what providing a dictatorship with billion dollars a year for decades was all about?

Of course, we all know what those billions were for. Considering that Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel, the only country that has actually attacked Egypt since Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, the only possible target for those weapons are the very people who are in the streets of Egypt right now, the ones Clinton wants to pretend she supports. And, to state the obvious, Clinton being forced to claim the U.S. wants a democracy in Egypt is a complete tribute to the power of the people. Without the Egyptian people being in the street, there is no way such statements would have come out of the U.S. administration.

Naturally, Clinton couldn't just pay lip service to the alleged U.S. desire for democracy in Egypt without trying to turn it into a slam against Iran, since she doesn't want the U.S. people to lose focus on our "real" enemy. She doesn't want in Egypt "a democracy for six months or a year and then evolving into essentially a military dictatorship or a so-called democracy that then leads to what we saw in Iran." Really, Hillary? Just what did we see in Iran? An election where, while candidates did have to be "approved" to run (as in the U.S., but here the approval comes from the bankers, not the clerics), there was without question a democratic election. Some have claimed the election was "stolen," but the proof for that allegation is thin gruel indeed. For sure that election was a hundred times more democratic than the last Egyptian "election," about which the U.S. government said not a negative word (just as the election in another U.S. client, Afghanistan).

Thursday, January 27, 2011


U.S. Government on Egypt: "Restraint on both sides"

Ah, it's the old "both sides are guilty" stance. From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "We call on all parties to exercise restraint." State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley, asked by Al Jazeera about Egyptian government forces firing on protesters with rubber-coated steel bullets and locking up hundreds of protesters in notorious prisons: "We want to see restraint on both sides." And Vice-President Joe Biden:
Biden urged non-violence from both protesters and the government and said: "We’re encouraging the protesters to – as they assemble, do it peacefully. And we’re encouraging the government to act responsibly and – and to try to engage in a discussion as to what the legitimate claims being made are, if they are, and try to work them out."
As the Christian Science Monitor put it so plainly: "Egypt's protesters, if they're paying attention to Biden at all, will certainly be wondering which of their demands thus far have been illegitimate."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"Discretionary" spending

President Obama proposes to:
"freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president."
Notice how military spending, which he gets to in the subsequent sentence, is not "discretionary." Apparently the U.S. simply has no choice but to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, continue bombing Pakistan, continue building more weapons (including new improved nuclear weapons), etc. It's kind of like Social Security - for war-profiteering corporations and imperialism in general.

I'm not going to analyze the entire hour of blather; it's really not worth the time. I will say that the one thing that really annoyed me is Obama's repeated use of the word "win." Not "succeed" or something positive on our own, but "win," as in "we're going to win, and the people in other countries are going to lose." Really, truly disgusting.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Unclear on the meaning of "impartial"

Looks like State Dept. spokesperson P.J. Crowley has a bit of an unfamiarity with the meaning of some common English words, as his reaction to Israel's absolving itself of guilt in last year's assault on the Freedom Flotilla demonstrates:
"We think that this is an independent report, credible and impartial and transparent investigation that has been undertaken by Israel."

Friday, January 21, 2011


"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...about McClatchy's math skills

McClatchy's Nancy Youssef (generally a reporter I respect) is out with an article today about the cost (financial only) of the misnamed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The problem is that Youssef simply prints the GAO press release without question. The GAO report says that the cost has been "$193 million over six years" (costs which basically stem from the cost to retrain replacements for those kicked out).

What's the problem? Well, DADT has been in effect (note, not "was", but "has been" - it's still in effect) for a lot more than six years - since 1993, to be exact. And why didn't the GAO include those costs? Because "the military had been unable to determine the cost of "don't ask, don't tell" prior to 2004, because not all the services could provide information on training expenses." Oh please. First of all, just because "not all the services" could provide information, they still could have included the costs for those who did. And, whatever GAO did or did not calculate, McClatchy's Youssef certainly could have provided the reader with a simple "back of the envelope" calculation.

I'll do it for her. The report includes the expulsion of 3,664 gay and lesbian soldiers out of a total of the approximately 13,500 service members expelled since the policy took effect. Without factoring in inflation, which will make my calculation slightly high, that projects to a total DADT cost of $711 million, the better part of a billion dollars and one heck of a lot more than the $193 million figured offered by the GAO (and McClatchy).


The NY Times misremembers the sinking of the Cheonan

Today's New York Times offers the reader a simple view of history:
Beijing has still not condemned North Korea for torpedoing a South Korean warship.
Of course the Times conveniently "forgets" that the evidence that such a thing happened is, to say the least, disputed. Perhaps they did so because the only evidence I can find searching the Times's archives that they have even mentioned that fact was in a one-paragraph "brief" from the AP, one paragraph which refutes every significant piece of "evidence" offered that North Korea was responsible.

But, no matter. To the Times, it's sufficient simply to repeat the charge as if it's a proven, undisputed case. Because it's a safe bet that no one in the "establishment" - no one in the corporate media or in the Democratic or Republican parties - will challenge them.

Friday, January 14, 2011


The continuing effort to co-opt Martin Luther King

In a speech at the Pentagon's commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. that beggars belief, the Pentagon's General Counsel today invoked King to back U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack."
Later, discussing King's invocation of the "Good Samaritan," he dared to use the analogy to apply to America's military in Iraq and Afghanistan, just off to "help a neighbor in need."

For this gentlemen's benefit, let's start with just a mild quote on the subject from Dr. King:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."
Then let's close with what Dr. King really thought about America's military role:
"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government."
That was April, 1967. If anything, the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world" in 1967 has become an even greater purveyor of violence in 2011.

For more on the real Dr. King, suggested reading.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Ye olde double standard

Barack Obama on a bombing in Egypt yesterday which took the lives of 21 people:
"The perpetrators of this attack were clearly targeting Christian worshipers, and have no respect for human life and dignity. They must be brought to justice for this barbaric and heinous act."
Barack Obama on Luis Posada Carriles, the terrorist responsible for the deaths of 73 people in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976, and an Italian tourist during a string of hotel bombings in Havana in 1997:
" "
Posada Carriles has been residing in the Miami since he entered the United States illegally in 2005, more than 5 1/2 years ago. Venezuela formally requested his extradition on June 15, 2005, a request which the United States Government, first under George Bush, and now under Barack Obama, has continued to ignore. Apparently having no respect for Cuban life and dignity doesn't qualify as a "barbaric and heinous act" in Obama's eyes.

On Jan. 10, Posada finally goes on trial in El Paso...for perjury. Demonstrations that day (and the day before) will greet him, and send a message to Obama - "Justice for the victims of anti-Cuba terrorism! Extradite Posada! Free the Cuban Five!"

Saturday, January 01, 2011


The "contested" election in Belarus

If there's one thing that Americans (and most other worldwide readers of the Western corporate media) know about the recent election in Belarus, it was that it was "contested." Virtually every occurrence you'll find with a Google search for the phrase "Belarus elections" is preceded by the word "contested."

Now in fact, it was "contested" in one sense of the word. Despite finding words like "dictator" and "authoritarian" in conjunction with Alexander Lukashenko, there was in fact a "contest" in the election, with multiple candidates. It just so happens that Lukashenko, an immensely popular President, received 80% of the vote.

So on what basis was this election "contested" in the other sense of the word? Was it like the election in Ivory Coast, where one candidate was actually declared the winner by the electoral commission, but then the incumbent had some votes declared invalid? Was it like the election in Iran, where there were at least specific charges of vote-rigging, albeit without the slightest significant hard evidence to back up the charges? No, neither of the above. As far as I can tell, there isn't a single actual charge to back up the assertion that this election is "contested." It's simply a case that the winner wasn't a Western-backed candidate, and so, despite the winner receiving a decisive 80% of the vote, the CIA, Western governments, and the Western corporate media were all prepared in advance with claims that the election is "contested," thus attempting to discredit Lukashenko in the eyes of the world, and hopefully (a desperate hope in this case, but still a hope) foment yet another "color revolution" to install a government more subservient to the imperialist world. So tight is the relationship between imperialist governments and their subservient media that specific charges aren't even necessary.

A highly worthwhile article with more on the subject is here.

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