ARE WE SUPPOSED TO THINK THAT BILLIONAIRES ARE STUPID?

Listen to Niko House and tell me, honestly, whether you think he’s full of crap or Sen. Warren is… The answer is not hard to reach.

When neoliberal and neoconservative billionaires fund Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren (to the tune of millions) — but not Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard (ever) — are we supposed to think that’s an accident?

Are we supposed to think that these privatization/war-obsessed oligarchs are morons? Incapable of recognizing the politicians who will do their bidding?

Sen. Elizabeth “Cherokee” Warren (who tells Palestinians and Native Americans alike to f’ off) is nothing more than Hillary 2.0 — a neoliberal politician funded by billionaires and oligarchs, and totally willing to lie about it. But she’s “progressive,” says the center-right! (Same as they said about far-right Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite all the evidence that Sec. Clinton spent her career in the neocon vanguard and was *the* candidate of Wall Street and the .01% in 2016, running well to the *right* of Donald Trump!)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who I’ll grant is not the worst of the worst — is about as “progressive” as Barack Obama, the president who normalized torture, assassination, full-society surveillance, journalist-persecution, and the permanent War on Terror.

Even her election, defeating Donald Trump (highly unlikely), would prove a defeat for the left, in the long run.

She’s willing to take PAC money and is funded by the same neo-fascists who backed Sec. Clinton. Because she has never fought for the left, the bourgeois simply love her, and the establishment trusts her implicitly. The genocidal neocons know that they have a champion in Elizabeth Warren.

(All the best reasons we should fear this serially dishonest agent of the far-right.)

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Now on display at the Sun Gallery in Hayward…

Statement of the Artist: James O’Donnell III

If one has spent decades obsessively following politics, economic trends, cultural shifts, and global war, as this artist has, one ends up witnessing an infinite galaxy of plundering Orwellian swine murderously choking The Green, Gaea, Liberty, the Future, the Life, out of our planet… gobbling up the biosphere.

In painting this piece — mindful of James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, James Baldwin’s writing/activism, David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ acclaimed essays — it occurred to me that if we were honest about our country’s historical and spiritual essence, we wouldn’t have a Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, but a Ku Klux Klan Memorial, acknowledging our nation’s white-supremacist, Christian Dominionist heritage and dark soul. (In this painting, that “KKK Memorial” is depicted sunk to the bottom of the ocean, decaying, as befits such a monument.)

This painting bears witness to what its author has painstakingly observed over decades: that the absence of progressive/liberal institutions in a period marked by rising oligarchy and inequality — under a brutal, corporatist establishment (serially racist, endlessly warmongering, bankster-abetting, and democracy-subverting) — has contributed mightily to the rise of modern FASCISM.

The moral and intellectual collapse of the institutional left hasn’t merely given us the Bush/Cheney regime, Donald Trump, Theresa May (U.K.), the Le Pens (France), Netanyahu (Israel), Modi (India), bin Salman (Saudi Arabia), Bolsonaro (Brazil), El-Sisi (Egypt), Macron (France), et al. — and brought us to the precipice of World War III on a barrage of neo-McCarthyite hysteria — the dismal duopoly has also given us melting glaciers, acidifying oceans, Colony Collapse Disorder, and CO2 levels that no credible scientist considers sustainable. It has ushered in Earth’s Sixth Mass-Extinction event, putting millions of species at risk.

It’s likely that the despotic, frack-happy duopoly has given our civilization and world a terminal prognosis, with little chance of survival for any of us in the long run, let alone the millions of people currently in our empire’s crosshairs (Russians, Koreans, Syrians, Venezuelans, Iranians, Yemenis, Somalis, etc.).

These “PIGS” — today’s fascists — are DEVOURING OUR WORLD.

(A child could see it. Millennials, who are not children, see it clearly: Ecology 101 is for the woke.)

Last chance to save the planet, people. No more dawdling. Our final exam is today.

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PUBLIC EDUCATORS SPEAK OUT AGAINST ONE SLICK DEMOCRAT, LIZ “CHEROKEE” WARREN.

“Hope and Change” redux (fool me twice, shame on me)…

Forget her recent policy flip-flops marked by a fair amount of backtracking and waffling on key proposals (including Medicare-for-All), here is a fundamental truth about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s education stance: the Massachusetts senator has long stood with Betsy DeVos, Arne Duncan, and the school privatization crowd. Specifically, Warren has long supported a universal school voucher system and other ways of draining funds out of the public education system — giving public monies to private interests (a policy priority she makes clear in her 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap).

Despite being able to decline to enroll special-needs students — to select their student body from the higher-performing ranks — charter schools generally perform the same or worse than public schools. Meanwhile, the privatization agenda is already turning the public school system into a warehouse for discipline cases, English language learners, and the disabled — all while being held to testing regimes and other metrics designed to break teachers’ unions and close down schools, especially in communities of color.

But that stench of failure doesn’t faze the white-privilege reeking, corporate neoliberal class (nearly all Republicans before the Third Way Democrats took over the party and wiped out traditional liberalism in favor of… whatever the Koch brothers wanted).

For decades, Elizabeth Warren has stood with the oligarchs who are waging an all-out assault on the public arena — the neoliberal cabal that wants to deregulate and privatize virtually every American institution, from the United States Postal Service to FAA inspections to Social Security (which President Bill Clinton and his Republican partner, Newt Gingrich, were keen to privatize).

Nonetheless, her frighteningly slick campaign has become quite adept at offering the right platitudes while cleverly hiding Warren’s true policy preferences, which include: school privatization; greenwashing (rather than ending) the neocons’ genocidal wars in the Middle East; shielding PhRMA and the health insurance industry from the threat of single-payer healthcare; persecuting journalistic “bad actors” and whistleblowers; passing record-setting Pentagon budgets (voting to give Donald Trump more Pentagon funds than he requested); supporting official propaganda and coup attempts against democratic regimes; and promoting RussiaGate and the new McCarthyism.

All of which makes it clear that, despite her new progressive image, she hasn’t changed much from the Republican she was for a quarter of a century. She’s had no problem voting for extreme right-wingers, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, in the 1980’s and 1990’s — and Nixon and Ford, before them. And she only moved to the Democratic Party after its leadership had been taken over by the Koch brothers (with Bill Clinton passing everything the far-right ever wanted, in the name of “centrism”).

But Diane Ravitch — an education policy expert in the vanguard of protecting the public school system from the disastrous neoliberal assault — has questioned Sen. Warren’s sincerity on this issue. Ms. Ravitch, a true hero of educators for many years, continues to use her platform to give voice to lifelong public educators, as follows.

From Ms. Ravitch’s site:

“Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education and a lifelong educator, has a message for Senator Elizabeth Warren:”

(Ms. Burris’s message, in its entirety)

There has been much discussion on this blog and elsewhere regarding Elizabeth Warren’s campaign’s choice of a former charter school teacher to introduce Ms. Warren in Oakland. She was a fellow at GO Oakland, an organization funded by billionaires such as the Walton Family, Arthur Rock and Michael Bloomberg––billionaires who are bound and determined to charterize American public schools. After leaving as a fellow, she continued her relationship by blogging for the organization in 2018, including in her blog links to get readers to sign up for GO emails.

Why does any of this matter?

It matters because when a presidential campaign asks someone to introduce their candidate. It is a carefully vetted and deliberate choice. It is naive to think the introducer is picked from the air in any competent campaign, and the Warren campaign is highly competent.

When Bernie Sanders issued his bold platform calling for a charter moratorium, Elizabeth Warren responded by saying that she too was against for-profit charter schools with no response on Sanders’ call for a moratorium.

Warren said she does not want to fund for-profits. Well, the only funding program she could influence as president, the Charter Schools Program, already does not.

No bold, progressive stand there.

What progressives need to hear from Elizabeth Warren is the answer to these two simple questions.

1. Do you support the NAACP’s charter moratorium?

2. Do you support funding the federal Charter Schools Program–which funds the expansion of non-profit charter schools?

Sanders has made his position clear. When we hear from Warren, it will no longer matter who introduces her…

*       *       *

While it’s good to have an open mind and give people the benefit of the doubt, I feel that progressives already have all the information we need about the lifetime cultural appropriator and longtime conservative, Ms. Warren.

POLITICAL COWARDICE

Unlike Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who resigned from her Vice-Chair of the DNC position to support Bernie Sanders in 2016, Elizabeth Warren has demonstrated zero political courage and has consistently refused to fight for the left.

On November 2, 2017, this allegedly bold leader admitted (first to CNN’s Jake Tapper and then to PBS’s Judy Woodruff) that the 2016 Democratic Primary “process was rigged.”

Then she folded, chastened by the corrupt political establishment she dutifully serves. On November 10th, Warren asserted that the 2016 primary “process was fair.”

And she has never raised the subject again (way to fight for honest primaries and “democracy,” Senator!).

KID GLOVES FOR WALL STREET

Outside of a history of grandstanding and wagging her finger at the banks, Elizabeth Warren has done astonishingly little to champion the 99%. Watching her scold Wall Street executives may be cathartic for some partisans, but it doesn’t amount to much when the Senator proceeds to endorse one of Wall Street’s all-time favorite politicians, Hillary Clinton.

And she endorsed Sec. Clinton after a year of snubbing her natural ally — the only FDR-style candidate in the race, Bernie Sanders — who was filling huge stadiums, bringing millions of new voters into the party, and promising to beat Donald Trump by 9-15%, on average. In 2016, Sen. Sanders was positioned to utterly trounce two of the right’s most loathed figures, Hillary Clinton and her family chum, Donald Trump. Yet Elizabeth Warren spent the entire season on the sidelines, until the most conservative Democrats needed her, at which point, she finally stood up… for the historically racist candidate running to Trump’s RIGHT!!!

Warren’s bloviating at Wall Street execs means even less when one considers that she has never pushed to prosecute in a court of law (like she wants to do with Trump) the criminals whose fraud brought the Western banking system to its knees in 2008. She merely grandstands and scolds bankers for the cameras.

Even more devastating to her “anti-Wall Street” image is the fact that Warren lent her name to the merest fig-leaf “reform” of banking practices (the much vaunted, yet toothless CFPB) — while the leader of her party was bailing out Wall Street on Main Street’s back to the tune of $16 trillion and wiping out the post-Civil Rights Era gains of African-American households, per the Pew Research Center.

While I applaud the Senator’s call for a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall (which would separate commercial banking from investment banking), why hasn’t Warren proposed legislation to repeal the Commodity Futures Modernization Act — a law that legally prohibits the regulation of derivatives (aptly dubbed “financial WMDs” by Warren Buffett)?

As long as the CFMA stands, another crash, far more devastating to our economy, is inevitable.

Yet Elizabeth Warren, bane of the bankers, is silent.

DEPLORABLE FOREIGN POLICY/COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

Sen. Warren has always stood with the oligarchs, at home and abroad, the corporatocracy, and the Military Industrial Complex: on matters of war, the surveillance/police state (she praised Obama’s revised NSA-spying program), and with regard to persecuting independent journalists and whistleblowers (whom she condemns as “bad actors” whose revelations damage national security: the classic right-wing, neo-fascist line, regarding such heroes).

She has voiced support for the continuation of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela — sanctions that the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights likened to a “medieval siege,” calling Washington’s policy a “crime against humanity.”

And like the rest of the neocons in our pernicious duopoly, Sen. Warren demands new elections for Venezuela.

(Why? So the violent faction run out of Washington can bomb more pro-government voting precincts and government buildings? Burn more POC alive? Hang more barbed wire across busy thoroughfares? Firebomb more aid trucks? The U.S. empire has been seeking to nullify the majority of Venezuelans’ votes — by coup or by crook — for decades. And yet, Warren sees Maduro as the problem.)

SO WHAT GOOD IS SHE? HONESTLY?

And recently, she’s backtracked on student loan forgiveness and M4A (Medicare for All). And she’s working overtime to divide the progressive vote for Sanders, paving the way for Joe Biden’s campaign and the DNC to rig 2020 for another sure loser, giving Trump another four years in office.

So, what good is she? Honestly?

Returning to Warren’s history of supporting school privatization…

While some establishmentarians (who LOVE Warren) have tried to muddy the issue, the truth is quite simple: In Oakland, CA, Sen. Warren and her campaign chose to elevate an individual who has long worked to promote charter schools, the think-tank policy fellow, Sonya Mehta. In doing so, Warren was signaling to The Walton Family, Mr. Bloomberg, and the rest of the billionaire-privateer class that she’s still on their side, not the public’s, when it comes to education matters.

Even if she were capable of defeating Donald Trump in 2020 (a dubious prospect, at best), “President” Warren won’t just continue the neocon wars and the neoliberal looting of our society, she will continue the Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump assault on the public education system. She will continue shoving our children into an unregulated private school system that doesn’t require its teachers to have credentials — and is broadly failing — consistently outperformed by a public education system that is weathering a full-scale assault from the corporate class and morally bankrupt politicians like Elizabeth “Cherokee” Warren.

The “Native American” who refused to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux even when they were being brutalized by police, under President Obama, for trying to defend the Ogallala Aquifer from the fossil fuel industry… not Warren’s fight (she’s got bigger fish to fry, aspiring to help “Cuppa” Joe court those moderate Republican votes in 2020).

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Liberals, test your PIQ (Political Intelligence Quotient)!

Select one:

A) I like Joe Biden and think he is our strongest candidate if we want to defeat Trump in 2020!

B) I’m not crazy about Biden, but I’d sure as heck vote for him over Trump!

C) I like Buttigieg/Harris/Beto/Gillibrand/Booker/Klobuchar/Hickenlooper/DINO #9-21 the most!

D) I think Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a strong liberal candidate and our best hope for defeating Trump!

E) I like Sen. Warren a lot, but I think Bernie Sanders is our best hope for defeating Trump!

F) Nearly all of the contenders are just as horrifying as Donald Trump — and Elizabeth Warren is an obvious fraud and warmonger — so I’m enthusiastically backing Bernie/Tulsi!

G) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is the strongest candidate with the best platform, by far, but I would accept her as Bernie’s running mate, if I had to… and Sen. Warren as Secretary of the Treasury or head of the SEC.

Answer key: If you selected (A) or (B) your lobotomy scar has reopened because you won’t stop picking at it with your “Blue No Matter Who” DNC-membership card; if you selected (C) you are a low-grade moron and probably can’t spell Identity Politics, even though you’re extremely susceptible to it; if you selected (D) you’re not a total moron, but an extraordinarily gullible/naive person, with no apparent concern about the anti-Muslim/Arab holocaust that “President” Warren would clearly escalate; if you selected (E) you have precisely half a brain, making you considerably more intelligent than the average American voter (congratulations!); if you selected (F) you’re actually a pretty bright cookie and deserving of several gold stars; and finally, if you selected (G) for Gabbard, you might not be a Genius, technically, but you clearly have an exceptionally high PIQ and a pragmatic mindset, to boot — and you know the surest way to unseat Donald Trump in 2020 (Gabbard/Sanders or Sanders/Gabbard) and pull the U.S. back from the neo-fascism cemented by Bush-Obama… Well done!

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“FREEDOM GAS” — WHAT THE FRACK??!

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has continued where President Barack Obama and Sec. Hillary Clinton left off, pushing natural gas at home and abroad, ultimately dooming the biosphere… only Trump calls it “freedom gas,” because that’s what his political brand demands.

(Obama called it a “bridge fuel” essential to leaving dirty coal behind… a bogus industry talking point, but the mainstream bought it!)

From the Common Dreams article, “Gas Is a Loser, and It’s Time to Move On — Report Debunks Myth that Gas Can Help Fight Climate Crisis”:

“While acknowledging that methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure is a serious problem, OCI argues that merely reducing methane emissions—a solution pushed by the Obama administration—would not make natural gas a climate-friendly energy source.

“OCI’s report—titled ‘Burning the ‘Gas Bridge’ Myth: Why Gas is Not Clean, Cheap, or Necessary’ (pdf)—details five reasons why natural gas cannot be part of any solution that aims to confront the climate crisis with the ambition that the latest science says is necessary to avert catastrophic warming:

“1. Gas Breaks the Carbon Budget: The economically recoverable oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently producing and under-construction extraction projects would take the world far beyond safe climate limits. Further development of untapped gas reserves, including new shale wells, is inconsistent with the climate goals in the Paris Agreement. Even if global coal use were phased out overnight, already-developed reserves of oil and gas would push the world above 1.5°C of warming. There’s simply no room for more gas.

“2. Coal-to-Gas Switching Doesn’t Cut It: Climate goals require the energy sector to be decarbonized by mid-century. This means that both coal and gas must be phased out. Replacing coal plants with new gas plants will not cut emissions by nearly enough, even if methane leakage is kept to a minimum. Current plans for gas production growth drastically overshoot climate safe models and are a bridge to climate disaster.

“3. Low-Cost Renewables Can Displace Coal and Gas: The dramatic and ongoing cost declines for wind and solar disrupt the business model for gas in the power sector. Wind and solar are already cheaper to build and operate than coal and gas in most markets. Cost is clearly not a prohibitive factor to adding renewable generation capacity, whether to replace fossil fuel capacity or to meet rising demand.

“4. Gas Is Not Essential for Grid Reliability: Wind and solar require balancing, but gas is not the only, nor the best, resource available for doing so. Battery storage is fast becoming competitive with gas plants designed for this purpose (known as ‘peakers’). Wind and solar plants that are coupled with battery storage are also becoming a competitive ‘dispatchable’ source of energy. Managing high levels of wind and solar on the grid requires optimizing a wide range of technologies and solutions, including battery storage, demand response, and transmission. There is no reason to favor gas as the primary solution.

“5. New Gas Infrastructure Locks In Emissions: Multibillion-dollar gas infrastructure built today is designed to operate for decades to come. Given the barriers to closing down infrastructure ahead of its expected economic lifespan, it is critical to stop building new infrastructure, the full lifetime emissions of which will not fit within Paris-aligned carbon budgets.

“‘Despite desperate attempts by the oil and gas industry to persuade policymakers that their products have a future in a climate-safe world, a rational look at the data clearly shows otherwise,’ Lorne Stockman, report author and senior research analyst for Oil Change International, said in a statement. ‘Any way you slice it—be it cost, reliability, or climate—gas is a loser and it’s time to move on.’

“OCI’s report comes as natural gas production and exports are reaching new heights under the Trump administration’s polluter-friendly agenda.

“In a press release on Tuesday, U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes touted the White House’s efforts to spread ‘freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy.’

“According to OCI, such efforts are a ‘recipe for climate breakdown.’

“With the Trump administration aggressively pushing natural gas at home and abroad…”

*        *        *

With the Trump administration aggressively pushing fossil fuels at home and abroad… we’ve seen virtually no change from one administration to the next. Sec. Clinton’s State Department was notorious for pushing other nations to adopt fracking. Trump is merely following suit, doing precisely as his old chum, Hillary, did.

And President Obama became the #1 president in U.S. history for domestic oil production, which he increased 88%, per Forbes Magazine. Number One, even as the climate catastrophe was exploding — whereas Texas oilman, George W. Bush, ironically, presided over annual declines of U.S. oil production.

And when Obama became the first U.S. president to open up the Arctic for oil drilling, climate experts, including Bill McKibben, responded unequivocally, saying that such a move “absolutely had to be off limits if we are to have any hope” — that opening up the Arctic for Shell and friends “fatally undermined” Obama’s environmentalist rhetoric and record.

Typical Obama: extinguishing hope and undermining his eloquence with policies worthy of Donald Trump. Policies nearly identical to Trump’s, in fact… buried under artful words and considerable personal grace and dignity.

But what more could we expect from the president who fought to make the Paris Climate Accords a toothless placebo, while millions of American “liberals” cheered? Obama destroyed the international consensus that had formed behind legally enforceable carbon emissions limits and legal liability for polluters. And yet the faux-left pretended he’d accomplished something major for the environment! (Making politicians like Obama more dangerous, ironically, than a scumbag like Donald Trump! At least people notice when Trump tries to surrender the biosphere and future habitability of the planet to industry marauders. Whereas under smooth-talking Democrats, the center-left nods approvingly and goes to sleep while the planet burns.)

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MINIMIZING GENOCIDE…

Unsurprisingly, Newsweek has emphasized a report that drastically undercounts the victims of Washington’s warmongering in the Middle East.

But if we look back over the records of Trump’s three predecessors alone, we see a virtual holocaust of Arab Muslims (predominantly): millions of innocents whose lives were cut short by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Consider the toll of Bush/Cheney’s illegal 2003 invasion: The respected British medical journal, The Lancet, has published peer-reviewed studies by Johns Hopkins Medical Center indicating that well over a million Iraqis were killed before Bush even left office. And the fighting has continued long after his departure (not long ago, Donald Trump was reducing much of Mosul to rubble, killing hundreds of civilians with U.S. airstrikes).

CODE PINK’s Medea Benjamin (working with author, Nicolas J S Davies) have written that the best available data shows that nearly 2.5 million Iraqis died as a result of the neocons’ invasion (which was enthusiastically supported by the majority of Democrats and their party’s future presidential contenders, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, who spent 2002-03 vociferously amplifying the administration’s pro-war propaganda): https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/16/the-iraq-death-toll-15-years-after-the-us-invasion/

And speaking of morally grotesque war crimes, we should never forget that (years before 9/11) Bill Clinton killed “well over a million” Iraqi civilians, mostly babies and toddlers under five years old, with his draconian sanctions — as the United Nations’ Denis Halliday reported before resigning (he’d overseen the sanctions policy, which sickened him to the point that he and two colleagues resigned in protest, ending a 34-year career at the U.N.): https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7.weekend9

Finally, some 500,000 Syrians have died (and 10 million have become refugees) as a result of President Obama’s unconscionable flooding of Syria — a stable nation, basically at peace — with tens of thousands of Salafist militants, including al Qaeda, armed, coordinated, and supported by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar: http://invitation2artivism.com/?p=944

In short, Newsweek’s minimizing the post-9/11 death toll — erasing the vast majority of the victims of modern genocide — is as appalling as it is typical.

And it is monumentally depressing to see so many Americans behaving as if one party or the other is the problem, when it is abundantly clear that Republicans and Democrats are both willful agents of the same despicably evil agenda, which proceeds apace, no matter which party holds power: war, environmental destruction, plundering profiteering, and the eradication of human rights and democratic institutions across the globe.

There is no “lesser” among evils of this magnitude.

*************** ADDENDUM (the rant that preceded the blog) ****************

There is such a thing as history…

(even in what Gore Vidal famously called “The United States of Amnesia”)

And our history provides ample evidence that the United States of America hasn’t been a law-governed, democratic republic since its citizens let the deep state get away with murdering President John F. Kennedy for trying to end the Cold War and U.S. imperialism. Uncoincidentally, that wanton act of savagery was followed by the ratcheting up of U.S. aggression against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, in an illegal war that led to the deaths of 3.5-4 million human beings (including nearly 60,000 U.S. troops, the majority of whom didn’t want to be there in the first place).

Ancient history? Don’t kid yourself.

Consider the recent history of Washington’s anti-Arab/Muslim holocaust in the Middle East, which claimed millions of civilian lives (70-90% women and children, per the United Nations) under Trump’s three abysmal predecessors alone:

On peril of our eternal souls, we should never forget that Bill Clinton killed “well over a million” Iraqi civilians.

(Of course, that was before George W. Bush killed several hundred thousand more — probably well over a million, too — at least, that’s the claim made in a peer-reviewed study which appeared in the respected British medical journal, The Lancet… and that genocidal episode of Bush’s preceded President Obama’s flooding of a stable Syria, basically at peace, with al Qaeda, leading to a conflict that killed some half-a-million Syrians and created 10 million refugees… and that conflict only got going after Assad had met with Syria’s indigenous and peaceful resistance and granted them several concessions, including a multi-party system and term limits for any president.)

But forget, we will.

It’s what Americans do best.

…when not boning up on our hypocrisy and finger-pointing at foreign leaders, in the interest of more and larger wars.

(If only we could work up a little indignation about our own war criminals and call for a modicum of “justice,” here at home, every once in a while! Maybe we wouldn’t have to give so much money to Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and Erik Prince & the privateers… so’s they can go out into the world and seek “justice” for the poor, Arab/Muslim people in the undeveloped places — the millions of “democracy” deprived unfortunates who are so in need of our bombs and missiles!)

You may now resume your blather about the “dictator” Maduro and “eeeeevil” Vladimir Putin and the still unproven allegations that Assad “gassed his own people” (claims that are always taken at face value by the corporate media and never challenged — except by multiple-award winning journalists like Robert Fisk, at least one U.N. investigator upon her visit to Syria, the former British ambassador to Syria, and a handful of respected journalists who’ve spent time in the country…).

But first, let’s reflect, once more, on the genocide that Bill Clinton unleashed on Iraq…

FROM THE GUARDIAN’S ARTICLE (from the year 2000 — ancient history, I realize, back when the Western media practiced journalism; nothing to be concerned about in 2019, now that America is “GREAT AGAIN,” and perfectly qualified to judge/jury/execute the rest of the world, according to Republicans and Democrats, alike!):

“A courtly, eloquent Irishman, Denis Halliday resigned as co-ordinator of humanitarian relief to Iraq in 1998, after 34 years with the UN; he was then Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, one of the elite of senior officials. He had made his career in development, ‘attempting to help people, not harm them’. His was the first public expression of an unprecedented rebellion within the UN bureaucracy. ‘I am resigning,’ he wrote, ‘because the policy of economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that . . . Five thousand children are dying every month . . . I don’t want to administer a programme that results in figures like these.’

“When I first met Halliday, I was struck by the care with which he chose uncompromising words. ‘I had been instructed,’ he said, ‘to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults. We all know that the regime, Saddam Hussein, is not paying the price for economic sanctions; on the contrary, he has been strengthened by them. It is the little people who are losing their children or their parents for lack of untreated water. What is clear is that the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. History will slaughter those responsible.’”

[It sure is a good thing that there is no such thing as "History," here in the Land of the Free... A wholesome place where our government is openly, and without fear of repercussion, assisting Saudi Arabia's genocidal campaign in Yemen, as I type these words. But again, don't let me distract you from important, state-sanctioned diatribes. Official America has enemies -- or targets, anyway. You may resume... "Maduro, Maduro, Maduro... Putin, Putin, Putin... Assad, Iranians, Hezbollah..." Go get 'em, Team Genocide! That'll show Donald Trump!]


MINIMIZING GENOCIDE…


Unsurprisingly, Newsweek has emphasized a report that drastically *undercounts* the victims of Washington’s warmongering in the Middle East.

If we look back over the records of Trump’s three predecessors alone, we see a virtual holocaust of Arab Muslims (predominantly): MILLIONS of innocents whose lives were cut short by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

Consider the toll of Bush/Cheney’s illegal 2003 invasion: The respected British medical journal, The Lancet, has published peer-reviewed studies by Johns Hopkins Medical Center indicating that well over a million Iraqis were killed before Bush even left office. And the fighting has continued long after his departure. Not so long ago, Donald Trump was reducing much of Mosul to rubble, killing hundreds of civilians with U.S. airstrikes.

And Medea Benjamin has written that the best available data shows that nearly 2.5 million Iraqis died as a result of the neocons’ invasion (which was enthusiastically supported by the majority of Democrats and their party’s future presidential contenders, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, who spent 2002-03 vociferously amplifying the administration’s pro-war propaganda): https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/16/the-iraq-death-toll-15-years-after-the-us-invasion/

And speaking of morally grotesque war crimes, we should never forget that Bill Clinton, years *before* 9/11, killed “well over a million” Iraqi civilians, mostly babies and toddlers under five years old, with his draconian sanctions — as the United Nations’ Denis Halliday reported before resigning (he’d overseen the sanctions policy, which sickened him to the point that he and two colleagues resigned in protest, ending a 34-year career at the U.N.): https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7.weekend9

Finally, some 500,000 Syrians have died (and 10 million have become refugees) as a result of President Obama’s unconscionable flooding of Syria — a stable nation, basically at peace — with tens of thousands of Salafist militants, including al Qaeda, armed, coordinated, and supported by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar: http://invitation2artivism.com/?p=944

In short, Newsweek’s minimizing the post-9/11 death toll — erasing the vast majority of the victims of modern genocide — is as appalling as it is typical.

It is monumentally depressing to see so many Americans act as if one party or the other is the problem, when it is abundantly clear that Republicans and Democrats are both willful agents of the same despicably evil agenda, which proceeds apace, no matter which party holds power: war, environmental destruction, plundering profiteering, and the eradication of human rights and democratic institutions across the globe.

There is no “lesser” among evils of this magnitude.
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AS MEMORIAL DAY APPROACHES, A HUMANITARIAN REMINDER…

In modern wars, 85-90% of deaths are civilians — per the United Nations and international aid organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross.

From a 2014 policy statement issued by the nearly 150-year old, 25,000-member strong, physician-founded organization, the American Public Health Association (APHA):

“The proportion of civilian deaths and the methods for classifying deaths as civilian are debated, but civilian war deaths constitute 85% to 90% of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle.”

(Per the U.N.’s statistics, that 85-90% number represents a 70-75% uptick from just 15% civilian casualties in World War I, back when soldiers fought soldiers on battlefields, instead of butchering women and children from remote locations, launching “Hellfire” missiles into densely-populated areas.)

Also appearing in that 2014 policy statement from APHA:

“The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq. During the 20th century, 190 million deaths could be directly and indirectly related to war — more than in the previous four centuries (combined).”

*        *        *

THIS HAS BEEN A HUMANITARIAN REMINDER… as our nation contemplates yet another war in the Middle East, this time against Iran… as hawkish members of Congress and our warmongering corporate media try to cajole and bait our unpredictable, dunce president into a war he has repeatedly stated he doesn’t want.

(Not to say Iran hasn’t been asking for it: In the early 1950′s, Iran had the nerve to democratically elect a leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, who had the radical idea of allowing Iranians to profit from their nation’s petroleum resources rather than letting British Petroleum and U.S. corporations suck their nation dry; in the 1970′s, the Iranian people rose up and deposed the torturing, secret police-employing Shah, Reza Pahlavi, the despotic puppet the U.S. had replaced Mossadegh with in 1953, following the CIA’s violent overthrow of his government; the Iranians also had the chutzpah to say mean things about us after we sicced Saddam Hussein on them — with the WMD we’d supplied him — resulting in one million Iranian deaths; and they said even more mean things about us after U.S.S. Vincennes shot down their civilian airliner in 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew, including 66 children; in the early 2000′s, the Iranians were foolish enough to partner with the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq, only to be labeled members of a (fictional) “Axis of Evil” and targeted anew; and over the last decade, Iran has had the temerity to support liberation movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen, and lend military and other resources to the Syrian people’s fight against al Qaeda and ISIS, two of the CIA’s most important allies in Washington’s regime-change wars. All that, plus not having a nuclear weapons program — per U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and America’s 17 intelligence agencies — making our media and politicians look like jingoist propagandists pushing the genocidal neocon agenda… it’s like I said, Tehran is just plain asking for more economy-crushing sanctions, Washington/Tel Aviv-backed terrorist attacks, and the full Bolton treatment, “Shock and Awe”…)

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ADDENDUM (5/24/19):

The story of Raqqa, Syria, a modern-day Guernica, undercuts the propaganda of the corporate media (“Assad bad, U.S. intervention good”).

From the article (detailing the effects of the U.S., U.K., and French airstrikes):

“…the U.S.-led bombing campaign on Raqqa, Syria in 2017—which one military commander at the time claimed was the ‘most precise air campaign in history’—killed an estimated 1,600 innocent civilians while leveling the city on a scale unparalleled in recent decades.

“The research collated almost two years of investigations into the assault on Raqqa, the groups said in a statement,  and ‘gives a brutally vivid account’ of the enormous number of civilian lives lost as ‘a direct result’ of thousands of coalition air strikes and tens of thousands of US artillery strikes in Raqqa from June to October 2017.”

“Donatella Rovera, a crisis investigator for Amnesty, shared some of what she found in Raqqa in a video the group released along with the report. ‘When I first came to Raqqa after the war, I knew that relentless American, British, and French bombardment killed civilians and destroyed much of the city,’ Rovera said. ‘What I came to discover was that little or no protection was afforded to the thousands of civilians who were trapped in the city,’ she added. ‘Raqqa is the most destroyed city in modern times in terms of percentage. There is no part of Raqqa which has been left untouched.’”

“The U.S. strikes represent the equivalent of one strike every six minutes for four months.”

“Civilians—who for four years had been essentially held captive in Raqqa by ISIS as the armed group set up checkpoints restricting movement, planted land mines in exit routes, and used residents as human shields—suffered fresh brutality from the U.S. and its allies as they claimed to be ‘liberating’ the city.”

[While President Obama and (U.K. prime minister) Theresa May spent years protecting ISIS -- after years of using radical Salafist militants, including ISIS and al Qaeda, to pressure the Assad regime into surrender (an effort that failed) -- Donald Trump, eager to end the mission and withdraw our troops, decided early on to simply raze the terrorists' last strongholds: in Mosul, Iraq, and in Raqqa, Syria. Trump loosened the rules of engagement, guaranteeing a massive loss in civilian lives as a direct result of U.S. airstrikes (and those of our British and French allies). But lest we apply a double-standard, those who readily excuse Israeli war crimes -- operations that routinely kill 50-66% civilians, as in Lebanon 2006 and 2008's Operation Cast Lead, in Gaza -- should be quick to forgive Donald Trump's egregious war crimes, on the same basis: The terrorists used "human shields."]

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EXCELLENT ANALYSIS FROM COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, INTERVIEWED BY SHARMINI PERES

Courtesy of The Real News Network, the following exchange, beginning with an excerpt of Donald Trump being interviewed on FoxNews:

DONALD TRUMP: “…don’t kid yourself. You do have a military-industrial-complex. They do like war. You know, in Syria with the caliphate—So I wipe out 100 percent of the caliphate. I say I want to bring our troops back home. The place went crazy, but if it was up to them, they’d bring thousands of soldiers in. They never want to leave. They always want to fight. No, I don’t want to fight.”

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Larry. He says that he is being pressured by the military-industrial-complex here, being very frank. He says no, he doesn’t want to fight against Iran. Your thoughts on this?

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I think Donald Trump is showing, again, the nature of his mercurial character. I do not think this president wants war. I think he is personally and institutionally, if you will, in his position as president, opposed to great powers doing stupid wars. He said that. He’s opposed to catastrophic, stupid wars like the war in 2003 that we started with Iraq. He’s opposed to this kind of frittering away of American power. He’s got other people around him though, that in his inattention to detail, are doing things— people like John Bolton, people like Elliott Abrams with respect to Venezuela, and so forth. These people are doing things that Trump, I think, in his heart of hearts is opposed to. I don’t think this is a president who wants war. I can criticize him for all manner of other things, but I do not think he wants war.

*        *        *

[My comment: Reading William S. Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable, it's hard not to see the present situation as somewhat analogous: Like JFK, who also communicated privately with his Russian counterpart, Trump is surrounded by a mob of warmongering lunatics with whom he regularly clashes. Maybe it's time to fire John Bolton, Mr. Trump, before he gets us into another catastrophic war.]

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Pareidolia 1: Fantastic Dreamscape Featuring “Good” and “Evil,” and Scenes from the Natural World







This painting represents another of my experiments in image-finding. The process begins with the creation of a purely abstract composition, with no specific objective in mind, save for the generation of an aesthetically pleasing surface with interesting color relationships, movement, depth of space, and the suggestion of form(s).

Once I’m satisfied that I’ve created a well-balanced abstract composition that succeeds on its own merits, I begin looking for images in the chaos. I orient the canvas first one way, then another, evaluating which orientation is the strongest from a design standpoint and determining which orientation yields the most potential in terms of image-finding and a coherent theme.

Having made such determinations, I begin teasing out the images. In the case of this painting and several others from this period, I did so with felt-tip ink pens and highlighters.

Like a Rorschach ink-blot test, the images that suggest themselves to me through this process are revealing of my subconscious/conscious fascinations: fantasy images, organic forms (especially animals), and dramatic contrasts incorporating natural settings (mountains, skies, lakes, greenery, and underwater currents from the perspective of the submerged).

Once I’ve sketched out the images that will populate my final composition, I return to my acrylic paints and render the final forms. Some images are merely suggested, apparitions, while others are more fully realized. My process is very meticulous and deliberative. I often set aside my paintings-in-progress for days, weeks, or months, evaluating whether I’ve brought the composition to a satisfying conclusion or simply halted because I was afraid to ruin the piece.

Pareidolia 1: Fantastic Dreamscape… represents one of the more successful experiments in this series, in my estimation. In any case, I don’t know what more I can do to take it any further. To me, it feels resolved.

Its images include: a towering indigo “mountain” embedded with an alien, cyclopean eye (possibly connected to massive, writhing, blue tentacles); a huge, luminous moon disappearing behind the mountain; a three-headed demon; a two-headed unicorn; red-rock mountains surrounding a cerulean blue lake (right out of the American Southwest); a medieval peasant at work; an impudent, grinning duck; a fearsome dragon with bloodshot eyes; an eyeless wretch from the bowels of Tartarus; a fading polar bear; a mellow, bearded academic, reclining; an astonished pig with a halo; a massive grey rock; a swooping, alien bat-creature; a gigantic, pig-snouted demon holding one of Bosch’s tormented souls under its tongue (and wearing a fuzzy, orange swine stole); a smiling, anthropomorphized pig; a skeleton-warrior wearing a fuzzy hat; a rifle-bearing hunter taking aim at the benevolent spirit of the north; and a “luck dragon.”

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Creating a monster — what Russiagate has wrought…

Noam Chomsky, Princeton University Prof. Emeritus Stephen F. Cohen, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald have all noted the devastation that Russiagate has wrought on U.S.-Russia relations — noting that even if the worst of the neo-McCarthyite allegations were true, they would amount to a “molehill” that has been made into a “mountain” (a veritable Vesuvius, threatening to go Pompeii on all our asses, with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ “Doomsday Clock” moved closer to “midnight” than ever… largely due to the rampant Russophobia that’s reclaimed American discourse, a la the 1950s — save for the sensible dread of global thermonuclear war that far-more rational and moral 1950s’ Americans had).

“Izzy” Award-winning journalist, Aaron Mate — awarded specifically for his Russiagate-skeptical coverage — and acclaimed journalist/author, Matt Taibbi, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist/author, Chris Hedges, have noted the incalculable damage that Russiagate has done to journalism itself.

Thanks to this latest media-wide debacle, fewer Americans than ever trust the media, and an irresponsible demagogue like Donald Trump can allege that the mainstream media is the “enemy of the people” and have that claim resonate with millions of perfectly reasonable Americans.

Already, on so many fronts, this Frankenstein’s monster has terrorized the land and caused irreparable harm, as the highly respected journalists I’ve mentioned — and a handful of others — have observed (David Swanson, Katie Halper, Katrina vanden Huevel, Jimmy Dore, Caitlin Johnstone, Kyle Kulinsky, and the late Robert Parry all deserve honorable mentions here, as well).

And now, Daniel Lazare’s latest piece in Consortium News, “Russia-gate’s Monstrous Offspring,” underlines how post-2016, Russiagating Democrats have done inestimable damage the left, while unraveling some of the best features of President Obama’s legacy.

Here are some key passages from Lazare’s insightful piece:

This was the takeaway from Mitch McConnell’s devastating “case closed” speech last week in which the Senate majority leader jeered at President Barack Obama for mocking Mitt Romney’s claim (seven years ago now) that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”  As Obama famously replied during that presidential debate: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

But that was so 2012. Now, says McConnell, it looks like Romney was right:

“We’d have been better off if the administration hadn’t swept [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion and occupation of Georgia under the rug or looked away as Russia forced out western NGO’s and cracked down on civil society.  If President Obama hadn’t let Assad trample his red line in Syria or embraced Putin’s fake deal on chemical weapons, if the Obama administration had responded firmly to Putin’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine in 2014, to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, and to Russia intervention in Syria — maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened, maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn’t have seemed so very tempting.”

…Like so much out of Congress these days, this was a farrago of lies and distortions.  It wasn’t Moscow that started the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, but Tbilisi.  While Russia has indeed cracked down on U.S.-backed NGO’s, Washington has done the same by forcing Russia’s highly successful news agency RT to register as a foreign agent and by sentencing Maria Butina, a Russian national studying at American University, to 18 months in prison for the crime of hobnobbing with members of the National Rifle Association. The charge that Syrian President Bashar al Assad “trampled” Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons is hardly as clear-cut as imperial propagandists like to believe – to say the least

Lazare continues, observing how today’s Democrats have backed themselves into a corner, shoring up the 2012 Mitt Romney position while effectively repudiating President Obama’s more moderate stance:

…what could Democrats say in response given that they’ve spent the last three years trying to out-hawk the GOP?  Answer: nothing.  All they could do was try to turn tables on McConnell by charging him with not being anti-Russian enough.

Then Lazare delivers a crushing blow to those who somehow think that Democrats and Republicans are at cross-purposes, noting the bipartisan nature of the new McCarthyism:

It’s an across-the-board agreement that the long-awaited Mueller report has only strengthened by regurgitating the intelligence-community line that “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and then cherry-picking the facts to fit its preconceived thesis.

Thanks to the teapot tempest that is Russiagate, rank and file Democrats are now fully on board with the Bush-era neocons and hawkish Republicans, like Romney, who’ve been pushing for a confrontation with Russia for decades.

(Walked right into that one, didn’t you, center-lefties?)

Lazare supports what anti-war progressives have been saying since the start of this propaganda parade: that post-2016 Democrats have unwittingly become the far-right’s best allies, including the rabid neocons (routinely referred to as “the crazies” in government circles, prior to 9/11 — after which they were dramatically empowered and began bathing the world in blood, under Bush/Cheney and, subsequently, Obama/Sec. Clinton… whose husband had given the neocons enough sway under his administration to murder “well over a million” Iraqis, including over 500,000 Iraqi children, thanks to President Clinton’s draconian sanctions — sanctions that denied potable water to millions of citizens of that besieged, oil-rich nation run by the late-Saddam Hussein, a former client of the CIA).

Lazare:

Democrats claim to oppose National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, but the anti-Russian hysteria they promote strengthens the hand of such super-hawks.  It makes military conflict more likely, if not with Russia then with perceived Russian surrogates such as Venezuela or Iran.

And they do so at the expense of their party’s electoral chances in 2020, making it all the more likely that Trump will win a second term in office, something no informed, rational person wants to see.

Lazare:

…even though the Mueller report says “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” somehow “significant evidence of collusion” still exists, as an increasingly unhinged Rep. Adam Schiff maintains.  In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of congressional Democrats, no evidence does not mean no evidence.  In fact, it means the opposite.

Voters are unmoved.  Ten times more Americans – 80 versus 8 percent – care about healthcare than about Russia according to a recent survey.  When CNN pollsters asked a thousand people in mid-March to name the issues that matter most, not one mentioned Russia or the Mueller probe

Besides Fox News – whose ratings have soared while Russia-obsessed CNN’s have plummeted – the chief beneficiary is Trump.

Well, duh. And who didn’t see this coming? Millions of corporate news-following, mainstream Democrats, that’s who. The same casual news followers who failed to recognize that Sec. Clinton, serial racist and ultra-corrupt warmonger, was running consistently, and hard, to Trump’s right in 2016, making him seem a reasonable alternative to millions of war-weary, neoliberalism-crushed voters.

(Could there be a greater unraveling of the few good things that President Obama did in office than a second term for Trump? It’s hard to imagine… outside of the inconceivable damage that a first term for Hillary Clinton might have managed.)

But with the Democratic Party’s adamantine refusal to budge their party to the left (to the actual center, that is) or reform their blatantly rigged primary process, we can bet that another far-right “centrist” with nothing to offer the public will be running against Trump in 2020.

And that’s another losing bet.

Take it from the folks on the left who predicted that Trump — contrary to what virtually all the pollsters and pundits were predicting — stood a very good chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016.

(Did we predict that? Yes, we did.)

And didn’t we “purist” lefties constitute the bulk of the marginalized 10% of Americans who disapproved of George W. Bush’s response to 9/11, as he was laying the ground for his illegal invasion of Iraq — while 90% of the country approved, saying “USA, USA, USA!” and “Maybe it’s good that Gore ‘lost,’ after all?”

Yes, we did.

And weren’t we data-immersed wonks (aka “unicorn lovers”) also among that minuscule percentage of progressive-leaning folks who correctly predicted that Russiagate was going to blow up in liberals’ faces, strengthening Trump and the neocons, while leaving all of the left’s issues neglected and withering on the vine?

Again, we were.

And yet, despite decades of getting it right — including knowing that Bernie was our best bet against Trump in 2016 (and being brutally attacked, maligned, and cheated of our rightful victory) – we, not the reality-averse Clintonites, have been exiled to the wilderness and caricatured as basket cases.

Classic.

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