Joe shikspack

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Date registered: 01/23/2012

Latest posts

  1. Monsters Inc. – Starring Hillary T. Inevitable — 05/12/2015
  2. It’s long past time to take away Obama’s flying death robots — 04/24/2015
  3. The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease — 03/24/2015
  4. Sharecropping — 01/25/2015
  5. Lip Service – Caution Democrats At Work! — 01/14/2015

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May 12 2015

Monsters Inc. – Starring Hillary T. Inevitable

Every now and then one of our “representative” leaders lets the mask slip and Americans get a peek at the monster behind the mask.  The monsters that represent us are well-known elsewhere in the world by the people who are variously invaded, bombed, incinerated by flying death robots, disappeared, held in gulags, tortured, sanctioned, starved, treated to heaping helpings of depleted uranium, attacked with banned weapons like white phosphorus, brutalized by   authoritarian dictators and puppets that our monsters support with weapons Made in America(tm). I could go on, but you get the picture.

One of the most memorable mask-slips of recent times was when the ghastly gasbag Madelaine Albright revealed the sociopathic policy of the Clinton administration – claiming that it was “worth it” to cause the deaths, estimated in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report as 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, to bring Saddam Hussein to heel.

Apr 24 2015

It’s long past time to take away Obama’s flying death robots

Back in 2013, in the aftermath of his murder of Americans Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son, when Mr. Obama was trying to justify his arrogated powers to incinerate people with his fleet of flying death robots, he made certain assertions about the process by which he and his merry minions selected victims [bolding mine]:

First, there must be a legal basis for using lethal force, whether it is against a senior operational leader of a terrorist organization or the forces that organization is using or intends to use to conduct terrorist attacks.  

Second, the United States will use lethal force only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons. It is simply not the case that

all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force.

Third, the following criteria must be met before

lethal action may be taken:

1) Near certainty that the terrorist target is present;

2) Near certainty that non – combatants will not be injured or killed;

3) An assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the operation;

4) An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S.

persons; and

5) An assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.

Further on in the document Obama states:

These decisions will be informed by a broad

analysis of an intended target’s current and past role in

plots threatening U.S. persons.

Fast forward to 2015.

From recent news coverage:

The White House was forced to concede on Thursday that it killed two innocent hostages – one American, one Italian – in a drone strike that targeted an al-Qaida compound despite officials not knowing precisely who was in the vicinity.

Conceding that the operation was not ordered against any individual targets, Earnest said the administration only discovered later that the compound was occupied by Weinstein, La Porto and another American named Ahmed Farouq, who the White House says was a “leader” of the terrorist group.

Farouq was not, however, the target of the operation. The drone strike was not targeted at known al-Qaida members; instead, it was directed against anyone in the vicinity of what the US believed was a compound being used by the terrorist group.

Here’s one of today’s headlines:

White House admits: we didn’t know who drone strike was aiming to kill

Here’s a little additional information:

The targets of the deadly drone strikes that killed two hostages and two suspected American members of al-Qaida were “al-Qaida compounds” rather than specific terrorist suspects, the White House disclosed on Thursday. …

The two US civilians killed, longtime English-language propagandist Adam Gadahn and Ahmed Farouq of al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent, were not “high-value targets” marked for death, he confirmed.

What we have here is very strong evidence that at best Mr. Obama is operating in bad faith with the American people and at worst he is a devious liar.

The standards that he proclaimed in the document entitled “U.S. Policy Standards and Procedures for the Use of Force in Counterterrorism Operations Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities” are nothing but a sham.

To wit: Obama did not know that the persons he incinerated posed “a contniuing, imminent threat to US persons,” Obama did not know to a “near certainty that the [or any] terrorist target [was] present,” and one can only hope that he isn’t lying that he did not know to a “near certainty that non – combatants will not be injured or killed.”

Further, since Obama had no idea of who he was incinerating, it would be impossible to know whether they could have been captured, that the relevant authorities would not have cooperated in “effectively addressing the [unknown] threat” that the unknown persons posed, nor could Obama have known of any other reasonable alternatives existed.

There’s good reason to wonder if Obama ever really knows who is present when he sends his flying death robots. Amy Goodman points out on Democracy Now:

Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, the White House said it had no reason to believe the U.S. and Italian hostages were being detained in the al-Qaeda compound targeted during the operation.

It appears that the methods by which Obama collects information in order to verify to a “near certainty that non – combatants will not be injured or killed” is horribly unreliable and hence amounts to a violation of his stated standards. Frankly, if the intelligence that Obama collects “hundreds of hours of” is this poor, then there would seem to be no reasonable basis for his flying death robot attacks at all.

Regardless of whether use of the intelligence was negligent, it is quite plain that no “broad analysis of an intended target’s current and past role in plots threatening U.S. persons,” was ever conducted, since of course, there was no intended target.

It’s not like this, “let’s blow some stuff up and see who we kill,” is something new for Obama, though:

Secrecy, misdirection and lies have shielded much of the public from the realization that US drone strikes have killed countless civilians in the past decade

For years, the vast majority of drone strikes victims have never been positively identified as terrorists. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has the most comprehensive data on drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, published a study last year showing only 12% of victims were identified as militants and only 4% were identified as members of al-Qaida. This study is backed up by the excellent reporting by McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay, who gained access to years of classified CIA reports to show that the vast majority of drone strike victims were not high level terrorist operatives like the administration claimed.

And we know the government thinks it can kill US citizens overseas without a trial or even a finding by any independent body. Despite a clear public interest in knowing about such an extreme claim to power, the Justice Department has fought to keep its supposed legal authority for drone strikes on Americans completely secret.

When will there be accountability?

Unfortunately, members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee have been the biggest cheerleaders of drone strikes, rather than their biggest skeptics. … If there’s ever going to be accountability for the CIA and military drone program, we need a fully independent commission, divorced from the intelligence committees. Without it, this controversy will just fade back into the background, where it will stay hidden under the government’s ever-expanding veil of secrecy.

Obama has irresponsibly used the vast powers that come with the office of President. His use of the fleet of flying death robots under his command is both a crime and a national disgrace.

To use an idiom that the President is known for, it is time for Americans to step up and take away the car keys.

Mar 24 2015

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

Leaders in Congress, particularly John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are preparing another bipartisan fiasco in order to reward a particularly powerful constituency and stop them from engaging in their annual screamfest.

Every year, due to the structure of Medicare created by previous legislation, doctors and healthcare providers face an adjustment of their pay from the government for services to Medicare recipients. There is a provision in the current Medicare law that creates a “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR) for Medicare payments based upon economic growth. Since medical costs have far outpaced economic growth for years, this means that doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers face a cut in their pay for services to Medicare patients every year.

Because doctors and the healthcare industry have incredibly powerful lobbies working for them, Congress hears their screams loud and clear.

This has resulted in congressional action:

On 17 occasions in the last 12 years, Congress has passed legislation to block such cuts without fundamentally changing the payment formula.

The screaming for Congress to fix this has got Congress’ attention:

Removing the threat of future cuts has been a top goal of lobbyists for the American Medical Association and other doctor groups.

David Dayen has a really good article up on Fiscal Times explaining what Bipartisans Pelosi and Boehner have come up with:

There would reportedly be more means-testing for Medicare beneficiaries, increasing premiums for seniors showing income over $133,000 and couples over $266,000. These seniors would have to pay 65 percent of their total costs under the new plan. This would go up at higher incomes. Means-testing historically dips lower and lower as budgeters try to get more out of beneficiaries, so this continues that ratcheting process for Medicare. It’s not necessarily where this line is set now but where it might go in the future that should cause concern.

Under the deal, new Medigap policies – privately sold but publicly managed plans which fill in spaces in Medicare coverage – would need a $250 deductible starting in 2020. Virtually every senior I’ve ever spoken with says that they need supplementary coverage because Medicare doesn’t stretch far enough. But this would raise out-of-pocket expenses on all 9 million seniors with a Medigap plan, including the 86 percent of these beneficiaries who have incomes under $40,000, and almost half with incomes below $20,000. So this cut hits those who can’t really afford it. (This idea, along with the means-testing, was in President Obama’s budget, incidentally.)

See who gets to pay the bill for this?

The proper term for this is cost-shifting, pushing funding for a public program onto those who get the benefits. Medigap was created to deal with cost-shifting in Medicare, and now Congress may look to shift costs within it as well. And like means-testing, cost-shifting is prime terrain for double-dipping over time.

And look at who doesn’t have to take a haircut:

All of this is being done to protect doctor salaries, which are among the highest in the industrialized world.

Dayen links to this article in the New England Journal of Medicine that shows the majority of healthcare spending goes to salaries:

Of the $2.6 trillion spent in 2010 on health care in the United States, 56% consisted of wages for health care workers. Labor is by far the largest category of expense: health care, as it is designed and delivered today, is very labor-intensive. The 16.4 million U.S. health care employees represented 11.8% of the total employed labor force in 2010. Yet unlike virtually all other sectors of the U.S. economy, health care has experienced no gains over the past 20 years in labor productivity, defined as output per worker (in health care, the “output” is the volume of activity – including all encounters, tests, treatments, and surgeries – per unit of cost). Although it is possible that some gains in quality have been achieved that are not reflected in productivity gains, it’s striking that health care is not experiencing anything near the gains achieved in other sectors. At the same time, health care labor is becoming more expensive more quickly than other types of labor. Even through the recession, when wages fell in other sectors, health care wages grew at a compounded annual rate of 3.4% from 2005 to 2010.

Those doctors must have a really effective union representing them!

Dayen also points out one other less obvious way that the bipartisans will be robbing patients to reward the screaming healthcare industry:

Doctor payment rates are tied to Medicare premiums, as the Congressional Budget Office has explained: “Beneficiaries enrolled in Part B of Medicare pay premiums that offset about 25 percent of the costs of those benefits.” This means that any permanent change to a new doctor payment formula will likely result in a hike to Part B premiums.

Those folks that aren’t represented by powerful lobbies apparently have a couple of days to scream at their “representatives” to stop this monstrosity that will likely cause people with lesser incomes to forego needed medical care. The bipartisans are feeling good about their prospects for getting the doctors off their backs and sticking us with the bill:

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday that prospects were good for passage of a permanent fix to Medicare’s flawed doctor-pay formula that would spare physicians from impending steep pay cuts. …

Earlier on Tuesday, Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that bipartisan legislation had been introduced to change the way doctors are reimbursed for Medicare costs. A vote is expected on Thursday.

Thursday. Hey, that’s not too far away!

Better call your congressperson and share the Secret Word with them. The secret word is “Medicare.”

You know what to do when somebody (even you) says the secret word – scream real loud!

Jan 25 2015

Sharecropping

Who does the world belong to? Are we all just sharecroppers, working for the man in exchange for a share of our birthright?

Sharecropping

Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities. In the South, after the Civil War, many black families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much

High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted, requiring the debt to be carried over until the next year or the next. Laws favoring landowners made it difficult or even illegal for sharecroppers to sell their crops to others besides their landlord, or prevented sharecroppers from moving if they were indebted to their landlord.

There Are 85 People Who Are As Wealthy As Half The WORLD, Oxfam Reports

Oxfam’s “Working For The Few” report looked at Credit Suisse’s “Global Wealth Report 2013” and Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires from 2013 to conclude that 1 percent of the global population controls half of the world’s wealth.

The report also found that the world’s 85 richest people own the same amount as the bottom half of the entire global population.

The ramifications of such inequality may be dire, the report suggests:

This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.

Lyrics

Rigged Rules Mean Economic Growth Increasingly Winner-Takes-All

Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it.

A recent US study presented compelling statistical evidence that the interests of the wealthy are overwhelmingly represented by the US Government compared with those of the middle classes. The preferences of the poorest had no impact on the votes of elected officials.

Lyrics

Unbalanced: 85 Super-Wealthy own as Much as Half the World’s Population

We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest.”Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam Executive Director, states that a continuation of such policies will contribute to inequality for generations to come.

“In developed and developing countries alike, we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children,” stated Byanyima.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest,” Byanyima stated.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled world, already in progress.

Sharecroppers of the World Unite?

Jan 14 2015

Lip Service – Caution Democrats At Work!

HueyPLongLook out! The ghost of Huey Long has taken over for all three of Dickens’ spirits and is haunting the Corporate Democrats. How else to explain the recent conversions of the darling of Goldman Sachs’ and Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Project, the Crown family of General Dynamics and Penny Pritzger of the Hyatt fortune suddenly getting all populist and proposing a free community college education for one and all?

President Obama said Thursday that he would propose a government program to make community college tuition-free for millions of students, an ambitious plan that would expand educational opportunities across the United States. …

The proposal would cover half-time and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average – about a C-plus – and who “make steady progress toward completing a program,” White House officials said. It would apply to colleges that offered credit toward a four-year degree or occupational-training programs that award degrees in high-demand fields. The federal government would cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college for those students, and states that choose to participate would cover the remainder. If all states participate, the administration estimates, the program could cover as many as nine million students, saving them each an average of $3,800 a year.

Mr. Obama will include the program, which would need congressional approval, in his budget for the coming year, his advisers said, and detail it in his State of the Union address Jan. 20. …

White House officials acknowledged in a conference call with reporters that the program was unlikely to win quick approval in Congress.

Huey has also been haunting congressional corporate Democrats, too! Programs and ideas that liberals/progressives and decent people have been politely pushing the Democrats to get behind are suddenly popping up all over! The “Robin Hood” (Tobin) Tax, incentives to raise worker pay, tripling the child-care tax credits – a program that for once redistributes wealth downwards!

All this from an administration that created a budget sequestration process and stood by with its hands in its pockets as a bipartisan deal was cut which rewarded the military industrial complex while failing to address drastic cuts in food stamp benefits and did not extend unemployment benefits for workers displaced by the banksters’ (whom Obama continues to protect) looting of the economy.The same administration that has been aching to cut old folk’s social security to reward his rich buddies. Corporate Democrats came out of the woodwork to support Obama in his attack on poor old folks with rhetoric that would make Frank Luntz wonder which party he works for:

Congressional Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), signaled greater willingness on Wednesday to cut Social Security benefits … Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill that a cut proposed by President Barack Obama in the fiscal cliff negotiations would in fact “strengthen” the program, echoing the claims often made by Republicans about entitlement programs they want to slash. …

The cut involves swapping out the traditional method for calculating cost of living increases, based on the current standard for measuring inflation, for something called a chained CPI, or chained Consumer Price Index.

The cuts would start small, but wind up costing beneficiaries thousands of dollars over time … Pelosi wrapped both her arms around it Wednesday, insisting she does not regard it as a “cut.”

Huey must have clapped these guys upside the head with a spectral clue-by-four!

Nov 19 2014

Can the US political system deal with climate change?

The American “system” has been a bit tardy in its response to climate change. Experts tell us that the longer it takes to make needed changes, the more difficult it will be to make them.

As 350.org’s Bill McKibben puts it:

We’re talking about a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables. Physics couldn’t care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.

Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry. It’s implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which means into melting ice and rising oceans and gathering storms. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets.  Do nothing and you soon have a nightmare on your hands.

We could postpone healthcare reform a decade, and the cost would be terrible — all the suffering not responded to over those 10 years. But when we returned to it, the problem would be about the same size. With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to the timetable set by physics, there’s not much reason to act at all.

Unless you understand these distinctions you don’t understand climate change — and it’s not at all clear that President Obama understands them.

There are lots of reasons why the response of the system has been so slow. There is significant resistance in the system to the sort of changes that need to be made. That resistance has manifested itself in a number of ways, from President Obama using the spies at the NSA to kill global agreements on climate change to the bipartisan popularity of climate change denial in Congress, the media and the public relations industry, despite virtually indisputable scientific evidence.

Resistance is created by a variety of groups based on their perceived interests. Enormously wealthy, powerful corporations and individuals who want to preserve their profits from fossil fuels and related industries, people who rely on jobs created or enabled by fossil fuel industries, people who fear economic chaos and the loss of their comforts due to actions to stop climate change, and politicians whose fortunes depend upon the money and other resources of the fossil fuel industry are some huge sources of systemic inertia.

Nov 10 2014

Mr. Obama’s Bipartisan “Achievements”

There has been a lot of talk, now that the elections are over and the legislature has fallen into the hands of Republicans about what this will mean for President Obama’s agenda and the Democratic agenda generally. This election season my inbox was full of Democratic politicians begging for money to foreclose the possibility of voters choosing the wrong party at the polls, yours probably was, too.

A persistent theme in these begging emails that I was getting was that the (evil) obstructionist Republicans have gummed up our system of government and the Democrats (the good guys) can’t get anything done in order to enact Mr. Obama’s agenda.

Looking at the accomplishments of Mr. Obama and the governing elites, this narrative, of course, is utter rubbish. The government is working. Mr. Obama and the Republicans have been cooperating all along. Great bipartisan advances and accomplishments are indeed being made.

So, what can we expect of this new aggregation of powers? Probably more of what it created before. Hence, let us review the accomplishments that these allegedly competing forces have created together…

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan accomplishments


Two-tiered justice system, rewards for criminal bankers

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept the criminal banksters who crashed and looted our economy free, under-regulated, still dominating the political system, even larger than they were when they were “too big to fail” and paying the largest bonuses since their criminal activities crashed the economy. Mr. Obama’s efforts to prosecute financial frauds were even wimpier and less effective that George W. Bush’s.  Mr. Obama’s much ballyhooed relief program for homeowners injured by the criminal bankster’s behavior failed miserably; some Democrats claim that Obama sabotaged the program behind the scenes. The result of Mr. Obama’s efforts has been to fuel a new era of Wall Street wealth while screwing average citizens:

They didn’t just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.

Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it.

Austerity, benefitting the 1% at the expense of the rest of us

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts (his budgets, the sequester) have imposed the austerity that enriches the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.  On Mr. Obama’s watch, taxes on the rich have decreased, shifting their burden onto everybody else. Mr. Obama was so intent on cutting social security benefits for older folks that the Progressive Change Committee characterized his dropping a particularly nasty proposal to cut benefits by miscalculating the effect of inflation on beneficiaries from his 2015 budget, a “huge progressive victory.” It’s a sad day when progressives consider it a “huge victory” when the depredations of an allegedly, progressive, liberal president and his partners in congress are diminished. You’d think that progressives would get excited about, um, progress rather than lack of regress. The economy delivered to us by Mr. Obama and his Republican colleagues took a lot of wrangling, but as one analyst put it:

Obama is the first President in post-war history (and maybe all of history) whose economy gave more money to the top 10% than the entire value of all productivity gains in his Presidency.  Even George W. Bush didn’t manage that.

Now that’s an accomplishment!

Not to be forgotten as well are Mr. Obama’s actions to crack down on those outraged by the bankster criminals and the impunity Mr. Obama created for those that crashed our economy.

Oct 04 2014

How do you fight?

Lately I’ve been getting deluged with emails from politicians like President Obama, various Democratic Party fundraisers and political organizations that go a little like this:

Dear Joe,

Evil Republicans!

Koch Brothers!

The Senate!

I want to fight for you!

Can you help me out with $3, $5, $10 or more?

Really? These folks want to fight for me?

fight

Look Honey, there’s a fella in a thousand dollar suit who wants to fight for me!

Were these guys fighting for me when they failed to meaningfully address climate change, or when Mr. Obama created and doggedly stuck to his disasterous “all of the above” energy policy? Were these guys fighting for me when they extended yet again the endless war – draining the blood and treasure of America despite the fact that those we are wasting trillions to incinerate pose no imminent threat to the United States? How about when they set up the Catfood Commission and tried to grand bargain away some part of my Social Security benefits? Was “my team” fighting for me when they set up secret trade deals that give corporations vast powers to force their demands on communities and destroy the environment with impunity?

Say, do you remember when Mr. Obama promised repeatedly that his signature accomplishment, Obamacare, would be transparent and negotiated in public on C-Span and then decided that the public didn’t need to see what the choices are? Who was “our team” fighting for when they froze out advocates of a single payer health system and then passed a new law guaranteeing a $100 billion a year subsidy to the insurance industry but leaving millions of Americans uninsured?

How about when a bunch of corrupt bankers crashed our economy, costing average Americans huge amounts of money, robbing state and local budgets of money for citizen services and threw millions of Americans out of work?  Oops, wait a minute…

Sep 18 2014

President Obama’s high-mileage, “new” stupid war

3_presidents
Would you purchase a used war from one of these men?    —>

Three previous American presidents, Bush the elder, Bill Clinton and Bush the younger have all bombed Iraq, declared victory and moved on to lucrative post-presidencies.

President Obama, who called it a “dumb war” long before he developed the foreign policy doctrine, “Don’t do stupid shit,” has now purchased the stupid Iraq war.

Aug 24 2014

There’s a new “worse than Hitler” bogeyman, prepare to bomb some more brown people!

'Destroy_this_mad_brute'_WWI_propaganda_poster_(US_version)There’s a new bogeyman in the middle east. It is a terrible monster of great proportions, a barbaric, sectarian, unrepentant butchery machine. Its name is ISIS and like the previous bogeymen (Saddam, Ahmadinejad, Gaddaffi, Osama bin Laden, Assad and Putin) it is like (or worse than) Hitler. You would think by now government propagandists would get worried that trotting out the Hitler meme so frequently would cause “Hitler fatigue.” Nonetheless, now that the terrible threat has been identified by a news media eager for action and ratings, there is a growing push for America to jump in and start killing brown people again.

So where did this new “worse than Hitler” bogeyman come from? Well, sorry to say it appears that some of our policy geniuses in the US government created it:

The reality of US policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the US has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

… with a good bit of help from some of our frenemies allies:

[I]n the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime. …

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been publicly accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS for months. Several reports have detailed how private Gulf funding to various Syrian rebel groups has splintered the Syrian opposition and paved the way for the rise of groups like ISIS and others. …

“The U.S. Treasury is aware of this activity and has expressed concern about this flow of private financing. But Western diplomats’ and officials’ general response has been a collective shrug,” [a Brookings] report states.

… But in fact, these policy geniuses have been running the asylum installed in government for years and have been allowed to create havoc unsupervised. For these geniuses, the creation of a vacuum of power in the oil-rich middle-east is an accomplishment not a failure:

The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy. …

The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.

In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of being lied to by the US government about the true nature of our wars and policies while being expected to support them based on their lies and deceptions. Their actions of bombing liberally (for “humanitarian” reasons) are clearly not fixing the problems. US covert actions and wars of choice against other nations and peoples only seem to be exacerbating the problems (often long running sectarian and ethnic strife) by larding up the local adversaries with weaponry, which grows the numbers of people who wish America harm exponentially.

Can we (the people), in good conscience support any military action by the US until the government comes clean about the history and chronology of events and fully explains our goals in the process?  If the US is bombing to protect “American interests,” which are virtually synonymous with the interests of large corporations which have no loyalty to anything but profit, then military intervention is morally insupportable.

Years of dubious decisions and foolish policy based upon destroying a series of bogeymen (all of whom are “worse than Hitler”) and their armies for “humanitarian” reasons or to “spread democracy” (which presumably propagates in a wide range of calibers) have left the US government fighting against its own expensive weapons surrendered in haste by armies that the US has hastily stood up without adequate political and social support. In short, our ill-advised policies continue to come back and bite us in the posterior.

It is time for an accounting, not another bombing campaign.

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