Thursday, June 26, 2014

Iraq Demands United States form a more inclusive government

Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, expressing 
dismay at failure of US democracy
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki spoke for his parliament and cabinet today when he urged the United States to form a more inclusive government that was responsive to more than just the minority of extremely wealthy individuals.

"Polls show less than half of Americans approve of President Obama's performance, record public distrust of the US Congress, and little change economic, trade, budget, tax, and foreign policy regardless of which of the two major parties is in control of the White House or Congress," said Maliki.

"Further, recent studies have shown that American politicians are far more responsive to wealthy donors and past and future employers or business cronies than they are to their constituents even when what the wealthy want conflicts with the wishes of their constituents or actually harms them," he added.

"Therefore, for the stability of the United States and because of the effect their large economy and military presence has on the rest of the world, we ask that they dissolve their government and reconstitute a "salvation government"  that is more inclusive of the vast majority and their economic interests and diminishes the influence of money in policy-making, whether through the inclusion of smaller parties or establishing means of direct democracy at the national level or whatever it takes," he concluded.

Maliki went on to say that the United States could learn from Iraq's mistakes before the US suffers an insurgency of its own.

Maliki could not resist ending on an ironic note. 

"You know, the US could even learn a thing or two about democracy from us. The American people wanted to end their government's occupation of Iraq almost as much as Iraqis did.   The Iraqi government responded appropriately, negotiating for the withdrawal of foreign troops, while the US negotiated fiercely to keep troops in the country and now looks for a way to reintroduce them, despite 72% of Americans saying the war was not worth it.  If you think that's democracy, then Iraq still has some hidden WMD's I'd like to sell you."

Sunday, March 09, 2014

selfish reasons for Americans to worry about what happens to Russia

It seems that since the end of the Cold War, the financial elite have become more brazen in screwing the middle and working class (and even a lot of the rich) and buying politicians more openly to help them do so.

They may have been more circumspect in the past because for all its flaws, communism would look more attractive to Europeans and Americans if we were still treated the way we were in the robber baron era, and while the Soviet Union was a going concern, it would look like a realistic rather than hypothetical option.

So we got the original "Third Way" between capitalism and socialism, smoothing the corners and rough edges off capitalism enough that people didn't think too much about alternatives.

Once the Soviet Union was gone, the financial elite seem to believe Francis Fukuyama's pronouncement that it was the end of history and they had won. Without an alternative for people to look to, the Third Way became three-quarters of the way to fascism and back to the era of Charles Dickens--smoothing the edges off capitalism was too expensive when the rich could just keep the tax money that costs in their pocket, and then privatize any surviving government services, so the tax dollars that are collected end up back in their hands.

If that is how they treat us now, regardless of whether you think Putin is a nice guy, do you think the financial elite are going to treat us any better once they don't even have Russia as a major REGIONAL obstacle?

If they replace every government that doesn't do business on terms the IMF, World Bank, Wall St, oil companies and the like dictate, is that going to make life any better for the rest of us?

When the sun never set on the British Empire, far from helping the folks back in England, those were the darkest days of the Industrial Revolution, when men, women, and children worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Have our lives gotten any better since we've gone from one of two superpowers to the SOLE superpower in the world?

If not why should we expect to get any better if the continue to isolate Russia and take away their oil and gas business until they become a super-sized Somalia?

Previous post on Russia post-Cold War

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Obama sends Bush to teach Syria how to kill civilians legally

Syrian President Bashir Assad being advised
by former American President George W. Bush
In a last ditch effort to avoid air strikes and cruise missile attacks on Syria,
President Barack Obama has deployed former President George W Bush as a special envoy to instruct Syrian President Bashir Assad on the how to kill civilians without committing war crimes.

"No one alive knows more about this than former President Bush," Obama said. "He has by some estimates, authorized the killing of over a million Iraqi men, women, and children and untold tens of thousands of Afghans--all without committing war crimes or human rights violations. That's why I gave him immunity for actions taken in those wars just the other day."

Bush had already arrived in Syria and begun what he called his "Cheneying" of the young president of Syria.

He took a brief break to explain the advice he's giving Assad in an exclusive interview with Fox News.

"See, first thing I told him is we're the deciders.  We decide what's the right way to kill terrorists.  And that's the first step.  Only kill terrorists.  And they can come in any gender or age or sexual oriented minority."

The Fox interviewer Chris Wallace asked if he advised Assad against the use of chemical weapons.

"Of course I did! That's the first thing I said! There's nothing more bad than killing someone with a gas that leaves their body mostly intact.  I told him a real leader uses weapons that blows them bodies into pieces and buries them in rubble so it takes their relatives a while to find them and put them back together."

"See when they're busy doing that, they can't be terroristing as much."

"So explosives are the only weapons that are moral?" Wallace asked.

"I never said that," Bush bristled.  "We got stuff that can burn people to death. Inside and out at the same time.  And they can't put it out even in water.  They just kinda run around like a Bugs Bunny cartoon till they run out of juice, heh heh."

"You can also take them out one at a time Old West style with good old bullets even if you have to do it from a helicopter to get more of them like reporters and kids trying to help terrorists we're in the middle of killing."

Wallace asked if killing, even if limited to these legal methods, won't generate more enemies for the Assad regimes.

"You know I don't really think about that.  But if you think that's a problem, you can bring some people in and ask them how they feel about your leadership.  Sometimes you have to use special 'enhanced' interrogation methods we've developed like waterboarding to get an honest answer out of them."

"Don't those methods sometimes lead to additional deaths?" Wallace asked.

"Not that I know of.  I mean not people that wouldn't lose their life later anyway."

Wallace said there may be some limits to how Bush's experience could apply to Syria since President Assad is killing his own people and Bush was killing people on the other side of the world.

"Chris, that's what's great about America. We know how other people need to do things even if we haven't done it ourselves yet."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WHITE HOUSE PETITION: fully pardon Bradley Manning

There probably are and will be more of these various places, but posting one on the White House website makes it harder for them to say haven't seen it, and for others who stumble across it on their site, it will be like a scarlet letter.

Who knows, it might even force Obama to act.

SIGN HERE & pass it on to your friends.


Pardon Bradley Manning and reduce his sentence to time served. 
His 35 year sentence is greater than that given to uniformed members of the military who tortured or massacred civilians, and typically got ten years and served far less. 
The Bush admin lied about their case for war led to the deaths of thousand of troops and a million Iraqis but weren't even tried. 
A prosecution witness in the Manning trial said NO deaths resulted from his leaks. 
Manning's leaks exposed war crimes and helped spark the Arab Spring democracy movement. 
The only "damage" he did was to the ability of our government to lie to our people about the means and motives of our foreign policy. 
Clean up the corruption and moral squalor in corridors of power in Washington instead of punishing the person who exposed it. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

NSA launches lip reading drones in United States

New leaks reveal for the first time that the NSA is using drones to spy on in person conversations within the United States.  Predator drones are taping all conversation outdoors and many indoors observable through windows not blocked by drapes or blinds.

An unnamed high-ranking official in the Obama administration said average Americans should not be concerned about their privacy being invaded.

“We’re just collecting meta-data,” the official said, adding, “like who is talking to who, where, and when, and the general tone of the conversation, you know, whether it’s friendly, business-like, or furtive. We’re certainly not recording the content of the conversations.”

Critics of the program have disputed this, noting that the NSA has advertised in many deaf publications for lip readers to serve as analysts.

The Obama administration has responded that lip-reading of the actual content of conversations will only be done when there is suspicion of a terrorist activity, like non-violent protests of tar sand pipelines or further Occupy protests of financial crimes on Wall Street.

The administration official said the lip reading program will be discontinued once their acoustic sensors are able to isolate individual conversations from background noise.

They had no comment on why the drones were armed.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guatemala Chamber of Commerce says genocide conviction "will will discourage foreign investment"

Forensic anthropologist, 
remains of genocide victim, 
possible relatives of victim

Democracy Now has been covering the genocide trial of U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, but more damning than any details of any atrocity are the reactions of the business community and what it reveals about how they use governments like Montt's, not just in the past but today.

Most macabre is the recent quote by security guards at a mine who said protesters didn't realize that the mine "generates jobs" (a Republican talking point) before they opened fire on the protesters.

Most people don't care  or even know about communism, socialism, free market fundamentalism, or whatever. They just want decent working conditions, to be able to take care of their family, and have their employer subject to the rule of law if they don't provide the other two.

That is obviously intolerable to corporations in their dealings in the Third World--and increasingly in America and the developed world.

Eventually Americans are going to realize that the companies they work for see us the same way they do Bangladeshi garment workers and Indian miners in Guatemala, and we will change things.

If not, look forward to being buried in rubble during of sixteen hour shift or being shot for not respecting "job creators" in the near future.

democracy nowOne of the remarks that Pérez Molina made in response to the verdict against Ríos Montt—he was echoing the comments of the American Chamber of Commerce, which represents the U.S. corporations in Guatemala—was to say that this verdict will discourage foreign investment in Guatemala. It’s a very revealing comment, because foreign companies, when they come into a country and are looking to invest, they want some laws to be enforced, like the laws on contracts, and they want other laws not to be enforced, like the labor laws and the laws which stop them from murdering their employees if they try to organize unions. In the ’80s, the leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce described to me how they would sometimes turn over names of troublesome workers to the security forces, and they would then disappear or be assassinated. Fred Sherwood was one of the Chamber of Commerce leaders who described that. And now, with this verdict, it seems that Pérez Molina and the corporate leaders and the elites in Guatemala, in general, are worried that they may have a harder time killing off workers and organizers when they need to.
And it’s especially relevant right now because there’s a huge conflict in Guatemala about mining. American and Canadian mining companies are being brought in by the Pérez Molina government to exploit silver and other minerals. The local communities are resisting. Community organizers have been killed. There was a clash in which a police officer was killed. So Pérez Molina has imposed a state of siege in various parts of the country. And just the other day, the local press printed a wiretap transcript of the head of security at one of these mines, in this case the San Rafael mining operation, where the security chief says to his men, regarding demonstrators who were outside the mine, he says, "Goddamn dogs, they do not—they do not understand that the mine generates jobs. We must eliminate these animal pieces of . We cannot allow people to establish resistance. Kill those sons of ." And the security people later opened fire. This is the way foreign companies operate, not just in Guatemala, but around the world. I mean, it’s this kind of non-enforcement of law that made possible the Bangladesh factory collapse that killed over a hundred workers. And now they’re worried in Guatemala—

Friday, December 21, 2012

Following NRA lead, Republicans now ban gun-toting action stars from party

Republican House Speaker John Boehner at press
conference ousting gun-toting action stars 
Republican House speaker John Boehner announced at a press conference today that the Republican Party would no longer accept campaign donations, acknowledge endorsements from,  promote as candidates, use as spokesmodels, or invite as guests on Fox News any celebrities who make movies or TV shows that glorify gun violence.

This followed quickly on the heels on NRA President Wayne LaPierre's press conference that said in response to the Sandy Hook shooting, "Guns don't kill people, TV shows and movies kill people."

"The evidence that media violence  on TV and in movies leads to violence in real life is overwhelming," Boehner said.  "Every single mass shooter that I know of has watched TV or been to a movie."

This represents a major policy shift for Republicans who have long touted the support of action stars like Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, and the late Charlton Heston, all of whom have high on screen body counts.  The GOP even successfully ran action star Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor of California, who won in spite of his inability to pronounce the name of the state.

"We can no longer even indirectly endorse their glorification of violence," Boehner said. "Nor will we accept the support of directors or producers of shows  and movies that glorify violence or accurately portray wars like the War on Terror and tactics within that war that our party voted for."

Boehner said the shunning will also extend to candidates and donors  who profit from the sale and distribution of violent movies like Mitt Romney, whose Marriot Hotel investments profited from cable and pay per view movies featuring violence and other objectionable content.

Boehner was quick to point out that the ban does not extend to all celebrities.

"There is still plenty of room in our party for David Spade, Drew Carey, Britney Spears, Jeff Foxworthy, that ball buster chick from Law & Order, and that funny gay guy who is still in the closet. He just brings me to tears.  And he makes me laugh too."

Boehner said the excommunicated action stars would be welcomed back into the GOP if they promised to make only non-violent movies in the future.

"There are several other kinds of movies besides shoot 'em ups," he said. "Chick flicks, coming of age movies, disease movies, movies about freaks, retards, and well-behaved minorities, comedies and romantic comedies."

"You know even Arnold Schwarzenegger has made comedies like Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Junior, and the Austrian version of The Birdcage.  I for one would love to see him star in a remake of The Notebook before another Terminator movie, or a remake of that wonderful movie about his home country, The Sound of Music."

Boehner was asked about the status of Republican celebrities who make violent movies that do not use guns as weapons like Sarah Michelle Gellar, who as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, drove stakes in the hearts of innumerable vampires.

"Staking, stabbing, strangling, bludgeoning, garroting, drowning, smothering, those are all acceptable family entertainment," Boehner responded. "But the minute someone picks up a gun for anything other than hunting, shooting a burglar, or a person of color who makes you feel uneasy, a moral line has been crossed.  So, yes, Buffy is perfectly acceptable."

Boehner was asked how the Republican Party decided this was the correct response to the tragedy in Connecticut.

"We did a lot of soul searching," he said, "and a little bit of math.  We get a lot more money from the NRA than celebrities."

NOTE: Within hours of the press conference, the Television Manufacturers association released a statement saying to their knowledge, no one has been killed by the new flat panel TV's but only by the older, heavier tube sets that crushed some people. They added that those who still have tube TV's can get an excellent price on a flat panel model this holiday season.