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

What a motley crew of spineless, visionless dolts our political elites have turned out to be, from Boehner to Bachmann to Obama (three heads of the same vampire hydra).

Obama, each and every one of his aspiring Republican challengers, and the entire D.C. establishment are all humming the “Austerity” tune played by the Pied Pipers of Wall St.

The “too big to fail” banks we bailed out (to the tune of $20 trillion) now seek to break the middle class using the same weapons they’ve traditionally deployed in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and beyond: debt, austerity, downward pressure on wages, and generally taking an axe to the public sector and all social spending (not to mention plundering natural resources for pennies on the dollar).

Unfortunately, none of our best and brightest political minds seem to have any familiarity whatsoever with ECONOMICS (outside of the “Shock Doctrine” variety).

They seem particularly oblivious to this moment’s historical precedent, the 1930s, failing to grasp the primary lesson of the Great Depression — namely, that America can’t SHRINK its way to growth, but can only INVEST its way to long-term recovery (which solves our revenue problem, down the road).

They also overlook the rather obvious lesson that conservative regulations for banks and a strong social “safety net” provided America with 50 years of widely shared economic prosperity — bookended, now, by decades of boom, bust, and bailouts (thanks to the deregulatory craze beginning in the 1980s).

If our so-called leaders, from the Tea Party “Right” to the Obama “Left,” weren’t a bunch of Wall St.-enamored rubes, then maybe ONE of them would be shouting from the rooftops that the urgent threat to our economy is NOT the deficit but CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT!

It’s time to tax the obscenely wealthy and SPEND:  modernize our infrastructure; put millions to work; make America less dependent of foreign oil, and birth the new economy. (End the wars, for another no-brainer, including the “War on Terror” and the “War on Drugs.”)

But no — not an FDR in sight.

JO’D response to article:  “Ninety Percent of Captured ‘Taliban’ Were Civilians” by IPS News, 6/12/11

This story should surprise no one who has closely followed Petraeus’ career.  He’s ALWAYS been more of a political operative than a military one.

He first caught the media’s eye when he was just a colonel in Iraq, responsible for training the Iraqi National Police in 2006 (sold to the press as “The Year of the Police”).  How’d he do?  In 2007, the GAO and Gen. James Jones reported that the National Police was so rife with death squads (many beholden to Iran) that it should be disbanded outright.

In 2007, after the Republicans’ midterm drubbing, Bush needed a perception shift, something dramatic.  Ignoring the advice of his commanding officer in Iraq, Bush went with the AEI’s plan:  SURGE!

Bush fished downstream until he could find an officer willing to deliver a POLITICAL victory:  David Petraeus.  Gen. Casey was out, and Petraeus was in.

Petraeus paid the entire insurgency to chill out for a while (100,000 insurgents at $300/month each), and used the death squad-ridden police to conduct the ethnosectarian cleansing of Baghdad’s Sunnis (Baghdad went from 65% Sunni to 85% Shiite, and a million new refugees were created).

Billed as “reducing” civilian casualties, the Surge delivered the deadliest year of the war for Iraqi civilians and the U.S. military, too!

But it was a POLITICAL success, as was Petraeus.  The fawning media put the icing on the cake when they essentially quit covering the war.

Thus, was a “hero” born.

JO’D response to HuffPo article (6/10/11) regarding Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s proposal that IRAQ pay us for everything we’ve done “for” them:

Rohrabacher wouldn’t dare utter such nonsense if the media functioned as anything other than a Neoconservative propaganda machine.  But the truth is the MSM has basically glossed over the historic crimes America perpetrated in Iraq.

REALITY:  It’s very likely that over a MILLION Iraqis are dead as a result of Washington’s recklessness and greed.  That figure is based on the Johns Hopkins/MIT study, its methodology praised by many experts, including the top science official in Tony Blair’s government.  (Rather than disputed, that study has simply been ignored.  That’s the kind of “free press” America enjoys these days.)

But these are realities we must confront if we’re ever to defeat al Qaeda, whose cause has been well served by U.S. atrocities (a profound insult to those killed on 9/11):

– We looted Iraq for billions, destroyed a functioning power grid, and made fuel, sanitation, and potable water inaccessible to millions;

– America and our Iranian-backed allies tortured thousands of Iraqis, primarily Sunnis (more than 80% of whom were innocent, per quietly released Pentagon reports);

– The “Surge” employed sectarian death squads and air strikes to transform Baghdad, a city of five million, 65% Sunni, into a city 85% populated by Shiites (in the process, creating a million NEW refugees in addition to the four million we’d already created).

To much of the world America has become the very face of Evil.  It’s high time WE began to make amends.

Any other arrangement would be perverse.

This article represents yet another sorry entry in the NYT’s coverage of the Iraq war. EIGHT YEARS IN, the average report in this newspaper still repeats the same tired canards about Iraq and Moqtada al-Sadr.

Some background:

– Sadr’s movement is the most popular INDIGENOUS force in the country (which is why he has been such a problem for the occupier). His faction has essentially won every major election cycle dating back to January 2005 — but we have worked hard with our former-exile allies to thwart the will of Iraqis, consistently marginalizing al-Sadr (getting al-Maliki to betray him after Sadr delivered the votes that made him prime minister in the first place — something al-Sadr has done TWICE now). After years of providing services and security to millions of Iraq’s most impoverished Shi’ites, Sadr is the only Iraqi leader who can put scores of thousands of followers on the streets at a moment’s notice. He has proven a formidable opponent for this reason, as well as the fact that his movement has demonstrated intelligence, discipline, and restraint (many of the worst crimes attributed to his militia were actually committed by the Badr Brigades, operated by America’s chief Shi’ite ally in Iraq, the Iranian-born Supreme Council).

– Of the main Shi’ite factions, Sadr’s is the LEAST beholden to Iran. It is our allies, the Supreme Council and DAWA, who have much stronger ties to Tehran — in fact, the Supreme Council is entirely an Iranian creation: birthed, constituted, and trained in Iran. The chief reason we have vilified and twice tried to assassinate al-Sadr isn’t that he’s an “Iranian agent” (like the NeoCons’ pal, Chalabi); it’s that he has repeatedly pushed for a timeline for U.S. withdrawal.

– The chief reason we have allied ourselves with SCIRI and DAWA is that they share our interest in carving the country into three semi-autonomous blocks. Because they would split the country in three (contrary to the will of most Iraqis), we tolerate their torturing, secret-policing, corruption, and other anti-democratic conduct, no matter that their government increasingly resembles that of Saddam Hussein. (We didn’t even complain too vociferously when al-Maliki targeted some 600 leaders of the Sunni “Awakening” movement that had routed al Qaeda the previous year, despite the fact that we considered them some of our best allies of the entire war.)

– Far from the worst sectarian leader in the country, Sadr has repeatedly demonstrated solidarity with Iraq’s Sunnis — most notably when his “Mahdi Army” clashed with the U.S. in 2004, protesting Bush’s politically-motivated, militarily-foolish assault on Fallujah, in which U.S. bombing killed upwards of 250 civilians (early reports indicated more than 600 people killed, prompting al-Sadr to act). The U.S. military had advised against the assault on this Sunni city of 250,000 residents, but Bush wanted blood (and theater) after some Blackwater mercenaries were hung off a bridge to cheering crowds in an incident reminiscent of the 1990s fiasco in Somalia.

– Probably the most ludicrous thing Mr. Schmidt writes is that al-Sadr’s militia was “largely defeated” a few years ago. This claim is pure nonsense. The campaign to which Schmidt refers was a complete debacle for the Iraqi military, which was routed in a matter of days. Sadr’s JAM, assisted by Fadhila, controlled every checkpoint in Basra (Iraq’s key oil port and second largest city) in less than a week. American military commanders expressed frustration at the lack of coordination by the army units deployed by the IUG, not to mention the mass defections (funny: Iraqi Shi’ites turned out to be disinclined to go to war with their fellow Iraqi Shi’ites). The end result, U.S. forces moved in and Sadr’s forces melted away, as they had before, to fight another day.

Like it or not, Moqtada al-Sadr is one of the most important players in Iraq and will likely remain so. If we really want peace and stability for that country — which we certainly OWE it — then we need to stop caricaturing its true leaders in our leading newspapers. I’m not saying we need to sing Moqtada’s praises, but we should at least stop reiterating the propaganda that serves as an impediment to working with him in the future.

America has lost an incalculable amount in this war, in terms of lives, treasure, credibility, and moral standing. We should stop fighting the will of the Iraqi people, including in our power-servicing news outlets. Iraqis will determine what happens with their oil. They’ve already decided that their relationship with Iran is at least as important as their relationship with us. With no less than 100,000 Iraqis dead — and possibly several times that figure — as a result of the Bush administration’s greed, recklessness, and mendacity, it’s time for Americans to start being reasonable and HONEST.

The time for cardboard-cutout “bad guys” is past. At long last, it’s time to be halfway decent human beings. There’s still a chance to reclaim our honor… but it will require our humility.

The CRISES we face:

1) Joblessness in America

2) Crumbling infrastructure, roads-dams and education-broadband

3) Imperial national security state with dwindling moral stature and eroding civil liberties

4) Energy paradigm feeds terrorist states and risks global calamity, re: CO2 (per 95% of climate scientists; there’s NO controversy among experts about this dire threat)

Note: The deficit is a priority, but FAR from the first order of business.

The SOLUTION to ALL of these crises: Learn from history!  America, with a greater debt problem than the one we face today, SPENT our way out of the Depression — and frankly, we have areas that desperately need investment.

While our credit’s still good, we need to commit REAL money (not the “Stimulus” bill’s paltry $120 billion for transportation/infrastructure, but something on the order of $1 trillion) to INFRASTRUCTURE modernization. Greening our infrastructure will create JOBS, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (depriving terrorist states of money AND curtailing our “vital security interests” in oil-producing nations, allowing us to end our counterproductive wars); and reduce CO2 — a priority for any sane, informed human being.

Shifting our energy paradigm and modernizing our infrastructure will create MILLIONS of jobs, reviving consumer activity and growing revenue (reducing our debt).  We will end our immoral wars of plunder and reap huge savings.

This is how we create a 21st-Century economy and bright future for America… if only the fossil-fuel and defense lobbies would allow it (too bad they run our government).