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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

4/11/16 — JO’D was BANNED from Ben Taub’s Facebook discussion for the following responses to his article (and his insulting response to my first comment): http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/18/bashar-al-assads-war-crimes-exposed?intcid=mod-most-popular

And here is the exchange:

James Charles O’Donnell III Wow, and here I’ve been reading The New Yorker for Jane Mayer and Seymour Hersh! Turns out, all along, in addition to offering GREAT journalism, The New Yorker also offers UNMITIGATED NEOCON PROPAGANDA (Ben Taub, I certainly hope you’re connected somehow to the Clinton campaign or Dick Cheney, because that’s where you belong). Allow me to share a comment I recently posted on Huffington Post explaining the origins of the conflict in Syria, complete with links to articles that should begin a Westerner’s education on the modern GWOT (a “war” which has the U.S. in bed with radical Salafists for the first time since the CIA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia birthed the FIRST “mujaheddin” in the 1980s — and for the same reason):

The CIA and its allies in Riyadh, Doha, and Ankara have been arming the Salafists, including al Qaeda and ISIS, for close to a decade now. Washington, hell bent on regime-change in Damascus, has effectively revamped its 1980s “Mujaheddin” strategy.

As most of the world figured out years ago, the U.S. strategy in Syria has nothing to do with “democracy promotion” or anything the Syrian people want. The proof of that statement? Washington and the West systematically chose to ignore and marginalize Syria’s indigenous resistance — actual Syrians who vehemently opposed the influx of arms and extremist “rebels” and rejected U.S. entreaties to incite a sectarian war in their country (in fact, the Syrians opposed all of the neocon-advised Western front groups’ calls for violent revolution and “no-fly zones”). That left matters to freshly-concocted “exile” groups and radical Wahhabist proxies happy to turn Syria into a charnel house, with the CIA as their enablers.

Two years ago, Assad had all but defeated the unpopular, foreign “rebellion,” but that was before the U.S. began “bombing ISIS” — actions that saw ISIS, strangely, recover almost all of the territory it had lost (somehow we “bombed ISIS” back into a position of strength — winning again). But when Russia began *actually* bombing ISIS the government of Syria was able to regain its footing. Funny that…

Time to wake up, America: Our leaders haven’t the slightest interest in defeating ISIS or al Qaeda, groups that were created and financed by our despotic Gulf Allies at Washington’s behest. Try reading some non-propaganda, for a change:

1) My own overview (with plenty of linked mainstream sources): http://invitation2artivism.com/?p=944

2) And here’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Seymour Hersh, detailing the choice (under Bush, not Obama, who merely continued the policy) to “Redirect” U.S. Middle East policy after the disastrous Iraq invasion, backing the same people who attacked us on 9/11, simply because they could be counted on to attack Shi’ites and challenge Iran’s influence in the region: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

3) Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has also exposed the MSM’s refusal to honestly report Washington’s support for al Qaeda: http://fair.org/home/reporting-or-not-the-ties-between-us-armed-syrian-rebels-and-al-qaedas-affiliate/

A Striking Lack of Empathy, Part III: The Neocons Keep Killing, Americans Keep…

invitation2artivism.com

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Emmi Bee Lol dude.

Like · Reply · 1 hr

James Charles O’Donnell III Emmi Bee — No need for the “Lol dude” deflection. Don’t be ashamed, just come right out and admit that you can’t read… OR RESPOND TO THE INFORMATION IN MY LINKED ARTICLES. Either way…. dude.

Like · Reply · 1 hr

Ben Taub This is more evidence that there’s a direct correlation between randomly pressing the “caps-lock key” and willingness to believe + propagate conspiracy theories.

Like · Reply · 1 hr

James Charles O’Donnell III Ben Taub — CLEVER DUCK!

Like · Reply · 35 mins

James Charles O’Donnell III Ben Taub — P.S. [oh dear, more caps!] You, Ben, may return to propagandizing the American public. Had you read my linked materials, you might have noticed that my sources include Pulitzer Prize winners and mainstream sources, rather than anonymous government officials and establishment neocons. But you go on calling yourself a “journalist,” you blithe minion, you. Hack away! For empire! What’s a few million dead Muslims to the establishment you serve? Nothing, so long as REGIME-CHANGE wars are pursued, without question — and brother, that’s no “conspiracy theory,” see Saddam-through-Qaddafi-through-Assad! You also might have noted (as a pretend journalist) a short while back, when Gen. Michael Flynn, the former HEAD of the DIA (the Pentagon’s intelligence outfit), admitted to Mehdi Hasan (a real journalist) that the U.S. played a critical role in the creation of ISIS and the proliferation of radical Salafist groups bent on REGIME-CHANGE in Syria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOTiuszCl0c

You might also have noted, some years back, Ben, when the American Enterprise Institute’s representative, Danielle Pletka, acknowledged on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” that Americans pursuing regime-change in Syria made the mistake of “outsourcing” that objective to Qatar and Saudi Arabia — you know, the folks *bankrolling and arming al Qaeda and ISIS* (along with the CIA, as has been reported in the New York Times).

Please, Ben, please, please, quadruple-PLEASE, stop unthinkingly shilling for a policy that is tantamount to genocide. Assad’s no prince, but the people he’s fighting are NOT primarily Syrians. They are radical Salafists backed by Washington and its allies in the Middle East. Just as the Mujaheddin in the 1980s was no conspiracy theory but an actual, shameful part of our history, SO IS THIS DARK CHAPTER. Along with a few despotic, head-chopping, deeply corrupt allies, WE (the US of A) have all but obliterated Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. (So stop with the debunked neocon talking points about Assad’s “use of chemical weapons” — PLEASE. Stop supporting terrorists and their deranged imperialist masters. STOP being a tool.)

(Ya’ see that, Ben? Sometimes ALL CAPS is simply a way of adding emphasis — “italicizing” when doing so is not an option. Capiche?)

Mehdi Hasan goes Head to Head with Michael T…

[Minutes after posting my response to Ben Taub, he DELETED MY COMMENT and BANNED ME from participating in the conversation on his FB page.]

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook the following question, concerning this year’s presidential election:

Quick poll: Do any of you know either:

1) Someone who would vote for Sanders over Trump, but would vote for Trump over Clinton.
2) Someone who would vote for Clinton over Trump, but would vote for Trump over Sanders.
3) Someone who would vote 3rd party or stay home if the choices are Clinton vs. Trump
4) Someone who would vote 3rd party or stay home if the choices are Sanders vs. Trump

I know a person in one, but only one, of these categories. If you know someone (or are someone) in one of these categories, which is it?

My response:

I am a die-hard progressive and a policy/history wonk, to boot, and to me it is abundantly clear that Sec. Clinton is the candidate in the race most closely associated with genocidal policies abroad and institutionalized racism at home. When it comes to policy, she is the living incarnation of all that Trump has come to represent. The victims of policies she has championed over her long, self-serving career number in the MILLIONS, and they are disproportionately black, Muslim, Latino, and POOR. Furthermore, she is a very dishonest politician, completely under the control of Wall Street crooks, industry lobbyists, and neocon warmongers.

For these reasons, I WILL be tempted to vote for Trump over Clinton, if it comes to that (IT WON’T, because Bernie’s going to win).

The sad state of U.S. politics in the 21st century means that a loopy, ugly, dangerous, non-establishment figure, Donald Trump, stands well to the left of Sec. Clinton on SO MANY issues. Also, I don’t believe that Trump is actually some kind of hardcore racist — rather, he’s a shrewd, cynical, and opportunistic politician who understands the toxic environment in which he’s operating. Like Hillary Clinton, Trump is not above a little race-baiting demagoguery in order to win a primary race (Hillary’s conduct in the 2008 primary was as appalling as anything “The Donald” has vomited up). Color of Change co-founder James Rucker has offered a good summary of Clinton’s racist tactics against Barack Obama: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/can-black-people-trust…

To be clear, I think that Donald Trump has said MANY reprehensible things, and I strongly dislike the man and all he represents (please review my “Donald Dump” political cartoon). But at least he holds out some promise of pulling back from the neo-fascist establishment’s monstrous agenda. That agenda, led by Third Way Democrats and Republicans both, is predicated on entitlement-slashing austerity, TPP-promotion (slavery overlooking, national sovereignty effacing “trade” pacts), and endless genocidal wars, with the U.S. supporting al Qaeda and ISIS, even, when it suits Washington’s regime-change agenda. And then there’s the fact that President Obama has devoted his time in office to stealthily restarting the Cold War, backing Nazis in Ukraine and endlessly, needlessly, provoking both Russia and China.

So, let’s not be reductive. Today’s “Democrats” are the most radical right-wingers in our nation’s history, when it comes to POLICY. “Democrats” like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have achieved virtually all of the most extreme policies on the far-right’s long held wish list, including beginning to tear down the famed “Third Rail” under Obama… and then there’s NAFTA, mass-incarceration/disenfranchisement of blacks, HeritageCare, the end of Glass-Steagall, permanent terrorism-fueling wars, hunting journalists and whistleblowers like spies, and the destruction of the Bill of Rights in the name of “fighting terrorism.”

Sure, their rhetoric is far superior to that of the GOP, but that is a simple matter of BRANDING. 90% of today’s Democrats work for the same mass-murdering, biosphere-destroying, freedom-despising, rule of law-dismantling, middle class-crushing FASCISTS as the Republicans do. In fact, as Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford has beautifully surmised, Third Way Dems are NOT the “lesser evil” but the “more effective” of two evil brands, representing the very same interests. Michelle Alexander, in her recent piece for The Nation, has pretty much concurred. BRANDING isn’t everything. And liberal rhetoric, while important, means next to nothing when the substance — the REALITY — is grotesquely, appallingly evil.

In other words, sometimes we have to consider the history and the POLICIES that the candidates have championed. And on that front, Hillary Clinton is one of the most terrifying right-wingers I have ever seen coming for the presidency (#2 after GWB). Trump isn’t far behind, but at least he’s rhetorically interested in reversing the neoliberal/neocon agenda that poses the most significant threat to humanity.

One final point: if a President Trump comes into power (please, NO), the Democratic base might remember to care every once in a blue moon about habeas corpus, torture, indefinite detention, Wall Street plunder, and endless war… Hell, they might even lift a finger to stop fracking, deep-water drilling, and the collapse of the oceans. Whereas under a second President Clinton (please, please, NO), it will be straight back to Nappy Time for the left, while the far-right establishment rolls forward over the Earth’s grave.

[This comment was posted in response to a liberal friend’s observation that Obamacare is actually helping some people.  It’s a reasonable point, but I still felt compelled to remind my friend of the precarious moment that America is in.]

I have very mixed feelings on the ACA/Obamacare. Like this presidency in general, I think the law represents a missed opportunity of historic proportions. However, I’m sure it will do some good, as I know it already has (and I believe it provides a GOOD skeleton for future enhancements). On the flip side, I just read Steven Brill’s excellent piece in Time, “Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” and found a pretty convincing argument that Obama’s signature law does virtually nothing to rein in skyrocketing (and gougingly inflated) healthcare costs. The sad truth is that corporate rule has replaced democracy and the .1% writes the bills and decides which laws will be enforced (I think Glenn Greenwald’s “Liberty and justice FOR SOME” thesis is spot-on). No matter how much I’m inclined to sympathize with this president, the degradation of the rule of law in recent years has been breathtaking, with Obama leading the charge to continue his predecessor’s shocking radicalism (rendition through secrecy through wiretapping through due-process free executions of citizens). Without a dramatic course-correction, Bush-Obama will be remembered as the fatal ONE-TWO punch to constitutional governance and what was once known as American greatness (the middle class is evaporating as I type these words thanks to Bush, Obama, and Wall Street).

[And now, if the reader will permit a brief interruption in my latest blog series, let’s take a quick, surreal walk on the slightly weird (if not totally wild) side.  This one goes out to CJ, Carl & Frank, and sports enthusiasts everywhere (“Crikey, Frank, didja’ see that?  His hook shot missed the net, the hoop, and the entire bleepin’ backboard!”  — “That’s exactly right, Carl…”).]

Last night I had a dream in which I helped save the world with basketball (I’ll allow you a moment to roll your eyes).  And, yes, it was really STUPID.

In my dream, I posted a heartrending blog in which I confessed my patently unrealizable fantasy of attending a weeklong Basketball & Politics Fantasy Camp with a lot of famous people — so we could all, you know, save the world together (surely, I’m not the only one with this fantasy). 

In my dream-blog, I brazenly listed the names of the individuals I hoped would attend camp with me: 

1) A-List’ers: I wrote that among the other campers would be powerful political figures and world leaders, including President Obama, Bill Gates, David Koch, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Hillary Clinton, Wen Jiabao, Warren Buffet, at least one Wal-Mart scion, George W. Bush… and maybe Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (though Bush would be mostly checked-out after Day 1, and Walker, I’m pretty sure, would cheat, throwing some elbows for a few bucks from Koch).  In my dream-blog, I wrote that I would take “full advantage” of my opportunities to assail these folks with some REALITY while goodnaturedly shooting some hoops, enjoying group-prepared meals, and eventually working toward SOLUTIONS (since there are so many perfectly viable solutions — to major crises, mind you — just lying on the shelf, untouched: see Keynesianism, single-payer healthcare, and sustainable energy, for starters). 

2) Progressives: Also on the Basketball & Politics Fantasy Camp roster would be certain luminaries of the Progressive Brain Trust (PBT), the geniuses and hardworking journalists who taught me about the world in which I live.  These are the rock-solid SUPERSTARS whose names should be household words in America — but whose names, conspicuously, are not (truly our best, brightest, and most overlooked).  With their great big brains and extensive knowledge, the PBT could back me up, making their own arguments (better than I can), and hopefully sinking a free throw or two.  Some likely candidates would include: Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Ralph Nader, Bill Moyers, Jane Mayer, Matt Taibbi, Norm Finkelstein, Chris Hedges, Michael Hudson, Paul Krugman, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Antonia Juhasz, Bill McKibben, Michelle Alexander, Lawrence Lessig, Mahmood Mamdani, John Perkins, Randall Robinson, and Naomi Klein (with her indispensable The Shock Doctrine and unstoppable fadeaway).

3) Celebs: Rounding out the list of attendees are some folks I’d just want to be there — MSM gatekeepers and a few celebrities — Establishment Liberals (ELs) and people whose public personas I just plain like and whose work I respect (with some qualifications): Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow, Arianna Huffington, Spike Lee, Janeane Garofalo, Sarah Silverman, Quentin Tarantino, Garfield and Oates, George Lucas, Lawrence Fishburne, Frank Miller, Clint Eastwood…  Sure, some of them would be all over the place, at least initially — politically, I mean (I’m not talking about Tarantino’s traveling or Stewart’s double-dribble) — but they would soon find themselves wholly persuaded by yours truly and the Progressive Brain Trust.  By the end of the week, all the “MSM gatekeepers” in the group would find themselves musing aloud about the GENIUSES they had so consistently marginalized over the years — representing a great loss to generations of Americans (and decades of failed policies).

…It’s a dream, obviously, so IT ALL HAPPENS.  In response to my blog, the potentates, pundits, celebrities, and progressive superstars all show up at camp.  It’s arranged clandestinely, so the press won’t be breathing down our backs and the NSA won’t be recording and storing our every syllable, sneaker-squeak, and fart.  Everyone can just have fun, relax, and be themselves.  With regard to the basketball, we all have an awesome time.  The teams aren’t divided into any kind of factions (political or otherwise), and the composition of the teams is always changing anyway, with new teammates and adversaries all the time.  It’s a friendly game: everyone gets a chance to play, and there’s a lot of patience and generosity (while never losing sight of the competitive spirit of the thing). 

And in the end, the whole week goes phenomenally well: I’m blocking shots, rebounding, sinking threes — and we’re all insisting on reality-based premises, civility and warmth, facts and fair debate (on and off the court).  In no time at all, we campers are no longer talking past each other, but working cooperatively and confidently toward real solutions. 

What a vision!  Together, I and my fellow Basketball & Politics Fantasy Camp attendees “save the world.”  Sweeeeeet.

*          *          *

Okay, it’s a bunch of hooey, but I thought I’d share my “March madness” with you.  Now that we’re all awake again, we can accept the fact that, in reality, America’s secret 21st-century overlord, Dick “Dark Side” Cheney, would crash any such fantasy camp and end up scuttling the whole enterprise.  I can see it all now: Cheney and his goons (Rummy, Addington, Libby, and Yoo) running around shooting everybody in the face.  Oh, they’d call it a “hunting accident” or something similarly innocuous, but it’s not as if the MSM or Congress would investigate much, in any case.  

Please note that I’m not suggesting in earnest that the incident wherein Cheney actually shot his lawyer friend in the face was anything other than a genuine accident; IT WAS JUST A JOKE — like the rule of law in America today.  Speaking of which, it’s also feasible that “Dark Side” would simply have the whole Fantasy Camp taken out with a Hellfire Missile.  (Our current Attorney General, Mr. Holder, apparently agrees with the former VP that the Executive Branch may “legally” kill anyone-anywhere, without a hint of due process — no need to file charges, no checking with the Constitution, just BLAMMO!  How’s that for bipartisan agreement?)

Well, that fantasy sure came to an abrupt halt, didn’t it?  Alrighty, then.  I’m gonna’ go shoot some hoops…